- 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.
- 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.
- 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