Both Hong Kong protesters and cops have taken up laser pointers in support of their goals; protesters have used them to blind CCTVs and pinpoint vigilante thugs who assaulted them; cops use them to identify targets for snatch-squads. Read the rest
OK, it's not quite Dr. Crusher's dermal regenerator (seen above), but Arizona State University researchers have demonstrated a laser system for sealing wounds. The system involves a sealing paste -- made from silk protein mixed with gold nanorods -- that bonds with skin when heated with a laser. From IEEE Spectrum:
To use a laser to seal skin, one must focus the heat of the light using some sort of photoconverter. (Chemical engineer Caushal) Rege’s lab opted for gold nanorods and embedded them in a silk protein matrix purified from silkworm cocoons. A silk protein called fibroin binds to collagen, the structural protein that holds together human skin cells. When near-infrared light hits the gold nanorods, they produce heat and activate the silk and skin to create bonds, forming a sturdy seal...
They are currently watching how the laser-activated seals hold up in living rats. If that goes well, they’ll move to pigs, and perhaps eventually, humans.
Is a wooden lock as tough as one made out of metal? Nope. Is buying a lock easier than building one? Absolutely. Is a lock you made with your own two hands significantly more badass than anything you can purchase, ready-to-use? Without a shadow of a doubt.
If you're looking for an unusual woodworking project to undertake, Matthias Wandel has you covered. You can buy the plans for his wooden mechanical lock, here. Once you do, you'll also get access to the plans for a laser cut iteration of the project. While it might not provide the level of security that you'd want for keeping your valuables safe, the level of whimsy that this project could bring to a woodworker's life looks like it would be hard to beat. Read the rest
A feasibility study in the Astrophysical Journal explains how a powerful laser on an Earth mountaintop, focused through a huge telescope, could shine a light of infrared radiation that would be detectable up to 20,000 light years away. While some scientists are concerned about alerting extraterrestrials to our presence, I agree with something said to me by Ann Druyan -- co-writer of Cosmos and many other works with her husband Carl Sagan -- when we were working on the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition: It's rather cynical, she explained, to think that a extraterrestrial civilization advanced enough to notice us and make the long trip to Earth would be so emotionally stunted as to purposely destroy us upon arrival. From MIT News:
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The findings suggest that if a high-powered 1- to 2-megawatt laser were focused through a massive 30- to 45-meter telescope and aimed out into space, the combination would produce a beam of infrared radiation strong enough to stand out from the sun’s energy.
Such a signal could be detectable by alien astronomers performing a cursory survey of our section of the Milky Way — especially if those astronomers live in nearby systems, such as around Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to Earth, or TRAPPIST-1, a star about 40 light-years away that hosts seven exoplanets, three of which are potentially habitable. If the signal is spotted from either of these nearby systems, the study finds, the same megawatt laser could be used to send a brief message in the form of pulses similar to Morse code.
The FDA has sent warning letters to seven companies selling quack "energy based" vaginal rejuvenation "therapies," in which repurposed laser and radio-frequency-based tools that are used to remove warts and precancerous growths are used to scorch peoples' vaginas, a process that is claimed to have benefits for sexual dysfunction, urinary problems, dryness, "laxity," itching and a host of ills. Some of these companies specifically target breast-cancer survivors. Read the rest
In development for several years, the Photonic Fence is an anti-mosquito laser weapon that's apparently now being tested in a real world situation. I hope when it hits the market it still looks like a crazy contraption from a 1960s science fiction film! From the company site:
One potential use of the Photonic Fence is to create a virtual fence that detects insects as they cross its plane. When an invading insect is detected, our software is able to estimate the insect’s size and measure its wing beat frequency. Using this method, not only can the system distinguish between mosquitoes, butterflies, and bumblebees, but it can even determine whether a mosquito is male or female. This is important to know because only female mosquitos bite humans. Once the software establishes that the insect is a valid target, it tracks the mosquito in flight, runs a safety check to ensure no innocent bystanders are in view, and then activates a laser to zap the mosquito. The Photonic Fence could be set along the perimeter of clinics or other strategic areas to control mosquitoes without endangering humans or other animals.
From Wired UK:
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When Intellectual Ventures co-founder and former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold came up with the idea of a bug-killing fence in 2010, the intention was to use it to improve public health in Sub-Saharan Africa. Now, however, the Photonic Fence has become a commercial project with a particular target: the Asian citrus psyllid. This insect invader has reduced citrus production in Florida by at least 70 per cent over the last 15 years.
Evan built this nifty mechanical laser show on his 3D printer. The gizmo has two rotating cams that tilt a laser pointer up and down and from side to side in such a way that it draws different 3D shapes. In this video he explains the math behind it. You can download the model at Thingiverse
These laser-cut masterpieces, reminiscent of stained glass windows, are inspired by geometry found in Gothic and Islamic architectural ornamentation in an attempt to capture a reverence for the infinite. “I am interested in the conceptual migration from the permanence and massiveness of stone to the fragility and intimacy of paper,” he mentions in an artist statement.
Measuring tapes can be a pain to use solo, and just wanted to measure some stuff around the house. This compact laser measure is perfect.
Honestly, I was sold at compact and laser, but the ability to measure stuff with one touch of a button is pretty handy. Good for measuring distances of 6 inches to 50 feet, or basically what you need around the house, this Bosch measure is accurate to 1/8 of an inch. Literally all it does is measure distance, and it only has one button. This unit is super simple to use.
If you just want to center a painting on a wall without begging a friend to come over this is a great tool!
Artist Matthew Herbert has successfully created edible record albums that he laser-etched into a variety of foodstuffs, then played and displayed at London's Science Gallery. Read the rest
"If your thoughts were in the future, you loved electronics and music, and you had a vivid visual imagination, what profession would you choose?"
A laserist for a psychedelic light show at a planetarium, 'natch!
In this fantastic 1977 video, meet Glenn Thomas, the laserist behind the Laserium "Cosmic Concert" at L.A.'s Griffith Observatory, who performed 12,500 shows over 25 years.
Far fucking out.
This fellow made a 40W laser shotgun that is quite powerful and, yes, ridiculously dangerous. Read the rest
The all-caps and the exclamation points are mandatory. Read the rest