Last year, Northrop Grumman demonstrated a laser system that could disable small boats by setting their motors on fire from a distance. In a press release yesterday, it showed some images highlighting entirely new levels of destruction wrought by its latest laser system, Firestrike.
No, it's not the plot of some ridiculous new low-budget action movie: the House Armed Services Committee's Strategic Forces panel has asked the Missile Defense Agency to figure out how much it'll cost to unscrap the Airborne Laser Testbed and put it into action against the North Korean ballistic missile threat.
Shut the windows, lock the doors, and prepare to use your children as human shields, because the Germans have gone and developed a quantum rainbow photon gun. That shoots quantum rainbow photons. EVERYBODY RAINBOW PANIC!
French scientists have shown in a series of lab experiments that they can exert long-range control over exactly where bolts of lightning hit using laser-induced plasma filaments. Repeat after me: "Muahahahaha!"
Asteroids aren't something to be concerned about on a day to day basis, but once every couple hundred years or so, we get hit with a doozy. The last one hit Siberia in 1908, so it's about time to start to come up with a defense plan, and one new idea involves a bunch of tiny satellites with solar-powered lasers.
Rounding out our rather comprehensive vending machine coverage as of late (there are VMs for raw milk, devastating emergencies and, of course, cupcakes), here's perhaps the most ridiculous of them all. Doritos has erected a massive 56-foot-tall shrine to its cheese-powered product down in Austin, Texas for SXSW, which also happens to double as a laser-blasting concert stage.
What's about four times the width of a human hair and goes from zero to existing in four minutes flat? If you guessed "that race car with the flat tires in the picture right there," you'd be right. It's small, it's fast and there are lasers involved.
Fusion is the way our sun powers itself. It's clean, it's efficient, and all you need is hydrogen, which we've got a bunch of stashed away in the ocean. We've been having trouble making fusion happen here on Earth, because we don't have any suns lying around to do it for us, but this could be the year where we make it happen, efficiently, with giant lasers.
Lasers really are the future of pretty much everything, including computer chips. HP has been experimenting with photonically-interconnected microprocessors that promise to eventually be able to increase the processing power of today's fastest supercomputers by a factor of a hundred.
On Sunday, a group of amateur astronomers in San Antonio fired a one-watt blue laser up at the ISS and scored a direct hit, a first in ISS history. And instead of getting hunted down and arrested (which is what usually happens when you shoot lasers at flying things owned by the Feds), they got a congratulatory email from an astronaut.