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.
After 16 years of development and an investment of somewhere around five billion dollars, the Air Force has decided to retire their Airborne Laser test bed, a 747 fitted with a rotating turret in the nose that could shoot down ballistic missiles from long range with a giant chemical laser.
Let me just say that one more time: laser-powered carbon nanotube exploding drug grenades. We have them.
You know how we keep saying that everything works better with lasers? It looks like our trusty old magnetic platter hard drives are no exception, since blasting them with laser pulses instead of magnetic fields can apparently make them perform about a thousand times better.
An X-ray laser generating pulses a billion times brighter than any x-ray source prior has heated an ultra thin sample of aluminum to a record 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit. That's hotter than then sun's corona!