Tag Archives | Lasers

Chinese Announce Anti-Drone Laser System

NOTE: This is probably not how the lasers will look. andrea.pacelli (cc by-sa 2.0)

NOTE: This is probably not how the lasers will look.
andrea.pacelli (cc by-sa 2.0)

好哇!

Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

In a world increasingly populated by drone aircraft, systems designed to counter such machines are increasingly on the mind of world governments.

Weapon developers in China have announced the successful testing of a ‘laser defense system’ designed to target and destroy small-scale drones, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

In a statement released Sunday by the China Academy of Engineering Physics, cited as one of the system’s co-developers, the laser system is able to “shoot down various small aircraft within a two-kilometer radius and can do so in five seconds after locating its target.”

The report in Xinhua boasted that the system has had a 100 percent success rate in trials, shooting down “more than 30 drones” during testing.

According to the report, this system would be used for anti-terrorism efforts inside the country and to destroy unauthorized “low-flying” drones that pose a threat to public safety.

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‘Optogenetics’ Uses Light To Tweak Brain

criminalbrainNPR reports on a new medical tool that could pave the way toward innovative treatments for depression, seizure disorder and other conditions.

Excerpt:

When President Obama announced his BRAIN Initiative in April, he promised to give scientists “the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action.”

An early version of one of those tools already exists, scientists say. It’s a relatively new set of techniques called optogenetics that allows researchers to control the activity of brain cells using light.

“This is fantastic,” says Elizabeth Hillman, a biomedical engineer at Columbia University. “We can turn things on, turn things off, read stuff out.” In short, she says, it provides a way to observe and control what brain circuits are doing in real time in a living brain.

Eventually, optogenetics could not only help explain diseases like epilepsy and depression, but offer a way to treat them. But the technique needs some refinement before it can be used in people or in remote parts of the brain, Hillman says.

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Scientists Create Living Cells That Can Shoot Lasers

cyclopsNo, the above is not an exaggeration. I’m fine with nixing flying hovercars so long as we get this. Discovery writes:

The researchers report that they were able to create bright laser pulses that lasted a few nanoseconds with a single cell. Amazingly the cells were not damaged during the production of the laser light but were able to withstand hundreds of pulses.

The project took place at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine in Massachusetts. The key to this breakthrough involved the use of the widely studied protein known as green fluorescent protein. This protein, which was first discovered in jellyfish, has (as the name implies) the property of generating light.

Although there are no immediate plans to use this technology, the erosion of the barrier between optical technologies and biology could open many doors in therapy and research.

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US Navy’s High Energy Laser Gun Smokes Boat (Video)

Given the U.S. Government's propensity for starting wars in the 21st century it probably won't be long before we see these high-energy lasers in battle. Here's what the Office of Naval Research had to say about the test:
Marking a milestone for the Navy, the Office of Naval Research and its industry partner on April 6 successfully tested a solid-state, high-energy laser (HEL) from a surface ship, which disabled a small target vessel...
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Yale Scientists Unveil ‘Anti-Laser’ Technology

Devin Powell reports for Discovery News:

A new antilaser device absorbs laser beams so well that barely a scrap of energy escapes. But if its whimsical name conjures up Star Wars–style visions of laser armor, curb your enthusiasm.

Photo: Yidong Chong/Yale University

Photo: Yidong Chong/Yale University

“This is the worst laser shield you could ever invent,” says Douglas Stone, a physicist and member of the Yale team that describes the device in the Feb. 18 Science. Because the antilaser soaks up energy, “R2-D2 would melt into a puddle if protected by our device.”

Instead, the prototype antilaser — which absorbs only a narrow range of infrared wavelengths — may be useful for designing light-based devices integrated into electronic computer chips.

Other researchers have created similar devices, called coherent perfect absorbers, by repeatedly bouncing light between a mirror and a piece of absorbing material. What’s new, Stone says, is the discovery of the fundamental principle that makes these devices work: time reversal.

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Scientists Control Worms’ Minds Using Lasers

single-worm-neurons_1Mind control via laser is a reality, but so far has been used exclusively to make tiny worms wriggle and lay eggs (which they would be doing anyway). Scientific American reports, with no word on when this will be applicable to human subjects:

Scientists have come a step closer to gaining complete control over a mind, even if that mind belongs to a creature the size of a grain of sand. A team at Harvard University has built a computerized system to manipulate worms—making them start and stop, giving them the sensation of being touched, and even prompting them to lay eggs, as seen in the video above—by stimulating their neurons individually with laser light, all while the worms swim freely in a petri dish. The technology may help neuroscientists for the first time gain a complete understanding of the workings of an animal’s nervous system.

The worm in question, Caenorhabditis elegans, is one of the most extensively studied organisms in biology: researchers have completely mapped and classified its cells—each individual has exactly 1,031— including its 302 neurons and the 5,000 or so connections among them.

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Laser Attacks On Planes Rising

Warning for laser beam, symbol D-W010 according to DIN 4844-2

Warning for laser beam, symbol D-W010 according to DIN 4844-2

Years ago pilots were developing the symptoms that indicated laser attack (retina damage, seizures etc, vision loss) and were dismissed as unrelated medical issues. Now there is too much evidence to ignore, and too many incidents to brush them aside. Marnie Hunter for CNN:

A spike in the incidence of people pointing lasers into the cockpits of planes has the Federal Aviation Administration worried and encouraging public vigilance.

“It sounds silly, but this is a serious problem,” wrote FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt on Wednesday in a Department of Transportation blog post highlighting the agency’s concerns.

“Why is this dangerous? Lasers can distract pilots or temporarily blind a pilot while he or she is taking off or landing an aircraft,” Babbitt said.

This year, 2,200 instances have been reported nationwide. In 2005, there were 283 reports of people pointing lasers at planes…

[continues at CNN]

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U.S. Navy Uses Laser To Shoot Down Drones (Video)

OK, this is pretty cool - at least if you were the kind of kid who loved Flash Gordon, Star Trek or any other sci fi movies or TV series with laser weapons ... report from CBS News:
The U.S. Navy has used a a laser weapon to shoot down four unmanned aerial vehicles in a test that rings up memories of Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" missile defense shield in the 1980s.
The successful test of the Laser Weapon System off the coast of California was announced...
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Laser War In Space To Prove Einstein’s Theory Of Relativity

This is pretty cool science! From PopSci:

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is currently the biggest science experiment in operation, but it may have to pass that mantle on soon enough. A collaboration between NASA and the ESA plans to launch three spacecraft into orbit around the sun 3 million miles apart, then have them shoot lasers at each other, all in the name of proving the existence of gravitational waves, the last piece of Einstein’s relativity theory that is as yet unproved.

LISA

Einstein’s general relativity predicts several things, such as gravity’s ability to bend time light and the constant speed at which gravity travels. But a means to prove the existence of gravitational waves — huge ripples in time and space that flow outwards from the collision of huge celestial bodies like black holes — has eluded scientists for years.

The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, or LISA, aims to do just that.

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Light Rain: Lasers Could Trigger Downpours on Demand

Military_laser_experimentFrom the Daily Mail:

People in drought-stricken countries could one day create rain clouds on demand thanks to laser technology. Physicists have discovered that firing short laser bursts into the air can trigger the formation of water droplets. The breakthrough technique could help stimulate rainfall in the future.

Scientist Jerome Kasparian and his team from the University of Geneva wanted to find a more environmentally friendly alternative to cloud seeding. This 50-year-old process attempts to artificially induce showers. A red laser pulse ionises the air and triggers the condensation of water droplets to create a cloud, which is illuminated by a green laser

Rockets carrying silver iodide particles are scattered in the sky. The particles act as ‘condensation nuclei’ around which water drops can form. Dr Kasparian said cloud seeding is not an efficient method despite decades of development. He added: ‘There are also worries about how safe adding silver iodide particles into the air is for the environment.’

The researchers realised laser technology could be used to create an alternative technique.

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