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Lasers – 20 Things You Did Not Know

Diagram of The Ruby Laser
The Ruby Laser

Erika K. Carlson has recently had her article entitled, “20 Things You Didn’t Know About … Lasers” published in Discover Magazine. Here are a few of the more interesting items.

As we have noted recently the Nobel prize in Physics the past two years has involved lasers. And for many years readers of this blog we have been tracking the use of lidar to uncover lost civilizations around the world, but I bet you didn’t know that a grad student of one of the “inventors” of the laser, Gordon Gould claimed that he designed one before the Nobel prize laureates. As proof of his claim he was awarded the patent rights in 1977, nearly 20 years after the original discovery.

Lasers Find Hidden Buildings - Mark Walters via Sketchfab/CC 4.0

Lasers Find Hidden Buildings – Mark Walters via Sketchfab/CC 4.0

The record for the world’s most powerful laser goes to China’s Superintense Ultrafast Laser Facility (SULF). It has fired a single laser pulse equivalent to 5.3 petawatts. That’s a quadrillion, 10 to the 15th watts.

The world’s largest laser is California’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) which is about the size of three football fields. This megalaser can deliver the same amount of energy released by a couple pounds of TNT to a target the size of a pea.

Ultimately, researchers want to use NIF’s energy to trigger a nuclear fusion reaction, squishing the nuclei of hydrogen atoms together to make helium and producing energy the same way stars do.

The Department of Defense is developing systems that can take down drones and even small planes and boats. A laser could vaporize your lidar UAS.

For the full article click here.

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