Brian Turner, captain of the Kansas City Space Pirates, sent me a pointer to this story. An excerpt:
In recent test-blasts, Pentagon-researchers at Northrop Grumman managed to get its 105 kilowatts of power out of their laser — past the “100kW threshold [that] has been viewed traditionally as a proof of principle for ‘weapons grade’ power levels for high-energy lasers,” Northrop’s vice president of directed energy systems, Dan Wildt, said in a statement...
The next step is to start trying out the ray gun, outside of the lab. The Army is planning to move the device to its High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range. Testing is supposed to begin by this time, next year.
Brian says that this laser should “…take care of whatever Ben has in mind. ‘Ben’, of course, is Ben Shelef, CEO of the Spaceward Foundation, host of the Space Elevator Games. This year’s Games are using an 8-kW laser to propel climbers a full kilometer high. A 105 kW laser like the one in the story should do considerably better.
In a post I put up in June of last year, I wrote how Brad Edwards said that passing the 100kW threshold for solid-state lasers was an important step in having the technology in place to build a Space Elevator. That makes this story potentially very significant.
And, in other laser news, it looks like they now may now have another use. According to the Wall Street Journal, Jordin Kare, the ‘laser guy’ behind the LaserMotive team is trying to use lasers as a weapon against mosquitoes. The real target here, of course, is malaria, a deadly disease carried by mosquitoes. From the article:
In a lab in this Seattle suburb, researchers in long white coats recently stood watching a small glass box of bugs. Every few seconds, a contraption 100 feet away shot a beam that hit the buzzing mosquitoes, one by one, with a spot of red light…
“We’d be delighted if we destabilize the human-mosquito balance of power,” says Jordin Kare, an astrophysicist who once worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the birthplace of some of the deadliest weapons known to man. More recently he worked on the mosquito laser, built from parts bought on eBay.
If mosquitoes ever develop immunity to lasers, like they have to DDT, then we’ll all be in trouble…
(Picture thumbnails are from their respective articles. Click on them for a larger version. There are several pictures on the ‘Mosquito Laser’ story page.)