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500 terawatt shot -  The preamplifiers of the National Ignition Facility (Photo: Damien Je...

Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility (NIF) have achieved a laser shot which boggles the mind: 192 beams delivered an excess of 500 trillion-watts (TW) of peak power and 1.85 megajoules (MJ) of ultraviolet laser light to a target of just two millimeters in diameter. To put those numbers into perspective, 500 TW is more than one thousand times the power that the entire United States uses at any instant in time. Pew-Pew indeed ...  Read More

The flight time of the Stalker UAS has been improved by 2,400 percent using a wireless las...

Late last year, DARPA researchers upped the standard two-hour endurance of Lockheed Martin’s Stalker small unmanned aerial system (UAS) by a factor of four using a propane-fueled compact solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). Now the flight time of the aircraft has been improved by a whopping 2,400 percent, with a test flight lasting more than 48 hours using a laser power system to wirelessly transfer power to the UAS from the ground.  Read More

A lightning bolt travels horizontally down a plasma channel from the LIPC before deviating...

Thought that title might get your attention, but shooting lightning bolts down laser beams is just what a device being developed at the Picatinny Arsenal military research facility in New Jersey is designed to do. Known as a Laser-Induced Plasma Channel, or LIPC, the device would fry targets that conduct electricity better that the air or ground that surrounds them by steering lightning bolts down a plasma pathway created by laser beams.  Read More

Scientists are proposing that spacecraft could use solar-powered lasers to deflect an Eart...

The threat of an asteroid hitting our home planet may not an immediate one, but it better be tackled before it becomes imminent. The brief visit of the 99942 Apophis asteroid in 2004 served as a reminder that a collision with Earth is by all means possible. Scientists have been working on a solution since then, and several bold plans were hatched. The latest one comes from Massimiliano Vasile and Christie Maddock from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, who reckon we should build a spacecraft fitted with solar-powered lasers.  Read More

Bouncing blue laser light off the skin provides a non-invasive way to determine levels of ...

Have you had your daily serving of vegetables? This seemingly simple question is in fact very difficult to answer, for children and adults alike. Luckily, a new handheld laser scanner devised by researchers at Yale University and the University of Utah promises to put a swift end to veggie dodging, while also helping scientists to measure exactly how our diet affects our health.  Read More

Lasers have long been used for military applications, as in this US Air Force test, now th...

Weeds are pesky things. They grow everywhere and, by definition, where they’re not wanted. Whether a large-scale farmer or a weekend gardener, everyone who has tried to raise crops has wished that there was a ray gun that could just blast the wretched things out of existence. Now, thanks in part to researchers from the Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) at the Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany, that frustrated daydream is closer to reality. Through the use of low-powered infrared lasers, the team has found a way to inhibit weed growth without harming neighboring plants, providing an alternative to expensive, hazardous and environmentally-damaging chemicals.  Read More

Researchers have demonstrated a tractor beam using a Bessel beam (not pictured) is theoret...

Last year, we looked at three potential “tractor beam” technologies being evaluated by NASA to deliver planetary or atmospheric particles to a robotic rover or orbiting spacecraft. At the time, the third of these, which involved the use of a Bessel beam, only existed on paper. Researchers at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) have now proven the theory behind the concept, demonstrating how a tractor beam can be realized in the real world – albeit on a very small scale.  Read More

Laser Spoke measures your pedaling power

Modern electronics have given us the means to measure nearly every part of our performance – speed, distance, vertical, heart rate, etc. But there are still other variables that go unmeasured by the average athlete. The Laser Spoke provides a simple aftermarket solution for tracking cycling power.  Read More

The Gamma laser was tested against the skin and components of a BQM-7 drone

Practical laser weapons came another step closer to reality recently as defense contractor Northrop Grumman tested the latest version of its Firestrike solid-state lasers. On May 1st, the company announced that it had completed trials at its Redondo Beach laboratory of a more powerful and rugged generation of its slab lasers, that combine with improved sensor capacities to create a general laser component that can provide the military with a wide range of greatly enhanced defensive and offensive laser capabilities.  Read More

The LaserSaber lightsaber could make your Star Wars fantasies come true

I doubt there are many Star wars fans out there who haven't, at one time or another, fantasized about owning a lightsaber. These are the weapons favored by Jedi and Sith, resembling a sword but with a blade formed of colored light. To have one at your disposal is the dream of geeks everywhere; a dream that has edged closer to becoming reality with the LaserSaber.  Read More

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