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Lasers To Replace Sparkplugs In Engines? 351

An anonymous reader writes "For more than 150 years, spark plugs have powered internal combustion engines. Automakers are now getting close to being able to replace this long-standing technology with laser igniters, which should enable cleaner, more efficient, and more economical vehicles. Price and size have been issues holding up such an advance, but a Japanese team is set to announce they've overcome those hurdles."

Using Lasers To Generate Random Numbers Faster 149

Pranav writes "Using semiconductor lasers, scientists from Takushoku University, Saitama University, and NTT Corporation achieved random number rates of up to 1.7 gigabits per second, which is about 10 times higher than the second-best rate, produced using a physical phenomenon. Future work may center on devising laser schemes that can achieving rates as high as 10 Gbps."

Surgeons Weld Wounds Shut With Surgical Laser 151

Ruach writes "The promise of medical lasers goes beyond clean incisions and eye surgery: Many believe that lasers should be used not just to create wounds but to mend them too. Abraham Katzir, a physicist at Tel Aviv University, has a system that may just do the trick and is proving successful in its first human trials."

Sanyo Invents 12X High-Speed Blu-ray Laser 194

Lucas123 writes "Today Sanyo said it has created a new blue laser diode with the ability to transfer data up to 12 times as fast as previous technologies. The laser, which emits a 450 milliwatt beam — about double that of previous Blu-ray Disc systems — can read and write data on discs with up to four data layers, affording Blu-ray players the ability to store 100GB on a disc, or 8 hours of high-definition video."

Room Temperature Semiconductor of T-Rays 110

Fallen Andy noted a Physorg story that says "Engineers and applied physicists from Harvard University have demonstrated the first room-temperature electrically-pumped semiconductor source of coherent Terahertz (THz) radiation, also known as T-rays. The breakthrough in laser technology, based upon commercially available nanotechnology, has the potential to become a standard Terahertz source to support applications ranging from security screening to chemical sensing." "What did you do at the office today, honey?" "Oh, I just demonstrated the first room-temperature electrically-pumped semiconductor source of coherent Terahertz radiation. How was your day, dear?"

World's Newest, Most Powerful Laser Comes Online 110

deglr6328 writes "The OMEGA EP laser at the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics was dedicated today at the Robert L. Sproull Center for Ultra High Intensity Laser Research. The new laser, which has been in design since ~2002 will, at 1 kilojoule per 1 picosecond pulse, be the highest energy petawatt-scale laser ever created by far. For a fleeting fraction of a second, it will deliver a beam of infrared light at 1054 nm that is more powerful than the total energy consumption of all human activity on the planet, to a tiny spot the size of the head of a pin. Previous petawatt scale lasers such as the one created at Lawrence Livermore labs in the late '90s and (dismantled in 1999) were capable of only several hundred joules per pulse. The new OMEGA EP laser will be able to manifest power densities sufficient to examine Unruh and Hawking radiation-like phenomena in the laboratory and will have the capability to directly produce nuclear reactions through ultra high electric field initiated photodisintegration."
The Military

Israelis Sue Government For Laser Cannons 736

An anonymous reader writes "Residents of a southern Israeli town want a real-life laser cannon to protect them against Palestinian rocket attacks. And they're suing the national government, for failing to provide the ray gun defense. The U.S.-Israeli Tactical High Energy Laser project was widely considered to be the most successful energy weapon ever built. But the toxic chemicals needed to generate THEL's megawatts of power made the thing a logistical nightmare. It was scrapped. Now, the residents of Sderot want it back. And they're taking Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to court to make it happen."
The Military

Hearing Voices? Could Be the Lasers 225

An anonymous reader sends us to Wired for a piece about some declassified Pentagon research from 1998 that has been revealed in a freedom-of-information filing. Apparently the Pentagon has investigated lasers that put voices in your head, among other non-lethal technologies such as microwave heating. The report suggests the techniques could be useful for controlling crowds or in negotiations. There is no context for the research or any indication whether it has continued, although the microwave heating bit sounds rather like the Active Denial System we have discussed recently.

U of MI Produces Strongest Laser Ever 244

eldavojohn writes "Weighing in at a mere 20 billion trillion watts per square centimeter and containing a measly 300 terawatts of power, the University of Michigan has broken a record with a 1.3-micron speck wide laser. It's about two orders of magnitude higher than any other laser in the world and can perform for 30 femtoseconds once every ten seconds — some of the researchers speculate it is the most powerful laser in the universe. 'If you could hold a giant magnifying glass in space and focus all the sunlight shining toward Earth onto one grain of sand, that concentrated ray would approach the intensity of a new laser beam made in a University of Michigan laboratory ... To achieve this beam, the research team added another amplifier to the HERCULES laser system, which previously operated at 50 terawatts. HERCULES is a titanium-sapphire laser that takes up several rooms at U-M's Center for Ultrafast Optical Science. Light fed into it bounces like a pinball off a series of mirrors and other optical elements. It gets stretched, energized, squeezed and focused along the way.'" And ... cue the evil chortling.

Is a Laser Data Link 1.5 Million Kilometers Feasible? 304

An anonymous reader writes "On the Canary Islands last week, a team from Oerlikon Space demonstrated the feasibility of a laser link across a distance of 1.5 million kilometers for the first time ever. In the future, laser links like this one will be able to transmit data across huge distances through the universe far more rapidly and efficiently than is possible using conventional radio links today."

Photonic Laser Thruster Promises Earth to Mars in a Week 413

serutan writes "Using lasers to drive spaceships has been a subject of interest for many years, but making a photonic engine powerful enough for practical use has been elusive. Dr. Young Bae, a California physicist, has built a demonstration photonic laser thruster that produces enough thrust to micro-maneuver a satellite. This would be useful in high-precision formation flying, such as using a fleet of satellites to form a space telescope with a large virtual aperture. Scaled up, a similar engine could speed a spacecraft to Mars in less than a week."

Using Lasers to Speed Computer Data 85

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "The start-up Lightfleet has developed an unusual way to use lasers to speed the flow of data inside a computer, hoping to break a bottleneck that can hamper machines using many microprocessors, the Wall Street Journal reports. The company plans to sell servers it predicts will be much more efficient than existing systems in tackling tough computing problems. Tasks could include automatically recognizing a face in a video image or sifting through billions of financial transactions for signs of illegal activity. These machines will attempt to sidestep some of the problems associated with parallel computation by ensuring all processors are connected, all the time."

67-Kilowatt Laser Unveiled 395

s31523 writes "Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California has announced they have working in the lab a Solid State Heat Capacity Laser that averages 67 kW. It is being developed for the military. The chief scientist Dr. Yamamoto is quoted: 'I know of no other solid state laser that has achieved 67 kW of average output power.' Although many lasers have peaked at higher capacities, getting the average sustained power to remain high is the tricky part. The article says that hitting the 100-kW level, at which point it would become interesting as a battlefield weapon, could be less than a year away."

Lakes Found Under Antarctic Ice Using Space Lasers 77

Reverse Gear writes "There is a new study circling the media about new lakes found underneath the antarctic ice sheets that apparently empty and fill back up quite fast. 'The scientists allay fears that global warming has created these pockets of water. They say these lakes lie some 2,300 feet below compressed snow and ice, too deep for environmental temperature to reach. However, it is necessary to understand what causes the phenomenon as it can facilitate an understanding of the impact of climate change on the ice sheet in Antarctica.' NASA also has some information on the technique used to detect these lakes."

Detecting Tailgaters With Lasers 1136

stoolpigeon writes "Police in Arizona are using laser range finders to detect and ticket tailgaters. An officer can now measure not only the speed of passing vehicles but also how close they are to one another. The detectors described in the article are built by Laser Technology Inc., a company that provides lasers for traffic control, engineering, and even tactical/military solutions. The article mentions how tailgating is connected to many accidents and incidents of road rage; this observation fits my experience."

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