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Jeudi, 29 Décembre 2011 12:30

Three Smart Things About Lasers

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  • 12:00 pm  | 
  • Wired January 2012

Illustration: Mauro De Donatis

  1. The power of the first laser was measured in Gillettes. In 1960, before there was a precise scientific measurement, Theodore Maiman defined the strength of a beam by the number of Gillette razor blades it could cut through. A Gillette equals about 1.5 joules; today’s strongest laser produces about 1.8 million joules, or 1.2 million Gillettes.
  2. NASA will use them for hi-def broadcasts. We currently send messages through space with radio waves, which is like using dialup—it takes 90 minutes to beam a stinkin’ photo down from Mars. NASA plans to have a laser-based system ready for testing by 2016. If it works, astronauts won’t need to worry about missing an episode of Community while on the Red Planet.
  3. Generally, you shouldn’t look to sci-fi for a vision of future technology. But a lot of the laser tech in Star Wars is actually feasible: Scientists seem to be making progress toward real, functioning tractor beams, laser weapons, and 3-D holograms. All well and good, but where’s my damn lightsaber?

Source: Transportation Security Administration

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