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Laser

NASA is developing a laser-based instrument for deployment on the International Space Station that will probe the depths of Earth's forests from space in a bid to reveal more about their role in the planet's carbon cycle. After its completion in 2018, this Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) lidar will join the likes of the Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite in studying Earth's vegetation on a global scale. Read More
If you've ever gone outside on a foggy night and shined a laser pointer about, you’ve seen two things: how flashy a raygun it makes, and the problem laser weapons face in such conditions as fog and rain scatters the energy that should be destroying missiles. However, in recent tests at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, Boeing and the US Army have shown that their High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) is capable of successfully locking onto and taking out targets in very laser-unfriendly foggy, rainy, and windy maritime conditions. Read More
In what may be one of the most mind-bogglingly surreal experiments ever floated, scientists at the US Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) will attempt to discover if the universe is "real" or merely a holographic 3-D illusion that we just think is real. Using high-powered lasers, the scientists intend to determine if space-time is a quantum system made up of countless tiny bits of information. Read More
Finger-prick tests to monitor blood glucose levels can be the bane of a diabetic's life. In a move that could put an end to such tests in the future, researchers at Princeton University have developed a non-invasive way to test blood glucose levels using a laser. Read More

Plugging neatly into your smartphone headphone jack, the iPin is a super-compact laser pointer compatible with iPhone and Android phones that comes with a handy presentation control app and is designed to ensure you're always presentation-ready. Read More

When we last heard from German cyberpunk weapons hobbyist Patrick Priebe, he'd made a set of X-Men-inspired goggles that incorporated burning lasers. Some time before that, however, he showed us a wrist-mounted, laser-sighted crossbow that he'd created. Now, he's just completed a new-and-improved "semi-automatic" take on that crossbow. Read More
Peeking around a corner has long been a staple of spy films and TV, from Get Smart to 007. Researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada have found a better way than poking a makeup mirror about, however: a camera system that can reconstruct the shape of objects using diffusely scattered laser light. Read More
When someone suffers from a gastrointestinal disorder such as celiac disease, Crohn's disease or irritable bowel syndrome, it's standard practice for doctors to take a look at the state of their small intestine. This is typically done by having them drink a rather unpleasant-tasting barium solution, and then submitting to x-rays, an MRI or ultrasound. According to scientists at New York's University at Buffalo, however, all of those imaging techniques have serious shortcomings. Their proposed solution? A stiff drink of nanojuice. Read More
To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, there was a time when 3D metal printing was like a dog walking on his hind legs – it wasn't done well; but you were surprised to find it done at all. Now that laser sintering or Selective Laser Melting (SLM) is used for everything from printing rocket engine components to semi-automatic pistols, the time for surprise may b long past, but the technology still has plenty of room for improvement. That's why researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) are working on simulations to improve the speed of 3D laser printing and the quality of the final product by using higher-powered lasers. Read More
While the International Space Station may be mankind’s outpost for the conquest of space, it still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to a decent YouTube connection. That’s because, for all its sophistication, the station’s communications system is still based on 1960s radio technology and has all the bandwidth of a soda straw. That changed this week as NASA took a step into the video age with the test of its Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) demonstrator, which saw a laser used to beam a video to Earth in seconds instead of the usual minutes. Read More
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