lasers stories

It's the anniversary of the laser, that amazing little bit of technology that can burn your eyes out while enabling everything from CDs to LIDAR. The very first laser was invented by a physicist named Theodore Maiman, who used a synthetic ruby crystal to produce pulsed red laser light 51 years ago today. We've come a long and dangerous way since then, and in the gallery below, check out some of the many ways that beams of coherent light can be used to do amazing things.
The European Commission has approved the construction of three gigantic new research lasers, with the option for a fourth that would, for an instant, be several hundred times more powerful than the entirety of the power generated by our civilization. The hope is that this will be enough energy to actually conjure virtual particles out of nothingness.