lasers stories

Think you're a Star Trek fan? In 1996, Barbara "The Commander" Adams shocked a lot of people by showing up for jury duty in a full Next Generation uniform, complete with Tricorder and possibly a phaser (she would have to check the sidearm at the door). She was very boldly trying to live in Gene Roddenberry's vision of the 23rd and 24th centuries. The world of 2011 may not seem much closer to the world of Trek than 1996, but it's actually possible for the average person to enjoy some of the technology and indeed even the environment of Star Trek in every day life. While some of the future technology, like transporters, tractor beams and cloaking devices are still in the laboratory, below is a list of items available to the consumer to either buy or build.
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.