Tag Archives | Lasers

Lockheed Martin’s Laser Weapon

via Lockheed Martin:

Lockheed Martin’s 30-kilowatt fiber laser weapon system successfully disabled the engine of a small truck during a recent field test, demonstrating the rapidly evolving precision capability to protect military forces and critical infrastructure.

Known as ATHENA, for Advanced Test High Energy Asset, the ground-based prototype system burned through the engine manifold in a matter of seconds from more than a mile away. The truck was mounted on a test platform with its engine and drive train running to simulate an operationally-relevant test scenario.

“Fiber-optic lasers are revolutionizing directed energy systems,” said Keoki Jackson, Lockheed Martin chief technology officer. “We are investing in every component of the system – from the optics and beam control to the laser itself – to drive size, weight and power efficiencies. This test represents the next step to providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for military aircraft, helicopters, ships and trucks.”

The demonstration marked the first field testing of an integrated 30-kilowatt, single-mode fiber laser weapon system prototype.… Read the rest

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Scientists capture first ever image of light acting as a particle and a wave

Ryan Whitwam via ExtremeTech:

Despite being a well-established tenet of modern physics, the particle-wave duality of light can be a real mind-bender. This approach to understanding the universe was pioneered by scientists like Albert Einstein and Max Planck, eventually leading to quantum mechanics. Researchers have been trying to visualize light in both forms ever since, but haven’t had success until now. A team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) claim they’ve devised an experiment to photograph light as both a particle and wave.

Einstein’s eureka moment in the study of light came when he described the photoelectric effect. When UV light hits a metal surface, it results in an emission of electrons. Einstein explained this phenomenon by proposing that light can act as a particle in addition to a wave. We now know these particles as photons, but that term wasn’t coined until later. Subsequent experiments have confirmed the dual property of light, but actually seeing both at once would be something.

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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)


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.


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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