Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Curved Laser Beams Could Help Tame Lightning

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the do-they-come-with-curved-sharks dept.

Earth 184

Urchin writes "Laser beams just gained a new property — they can curve through space. That's what happens when ultrashort laser pulses pass through a phase pattern mask and a lens, which together shift the most intense region of the beam from the center to the right-hand side. The asymmetry in the pulse causes it to drift progressively further to the right along an arc as it travels. The laser beam is so intense that it ionizes the air it passes through to create a curved plasma channel. Those kinds of channels can be up to 100 meters long — direct them at thunderclouds and they could first trigger lightning to spark and then act as a convenient but short-lived lightning rod to guide it safely to the ground, according to some researchers."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Curved sharks? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27583609)

Will they swim in a circle?

Re:Curved sharks? (4, Funny)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583743)

This looks like a clever anti shark plot to me. Eventually the curved beam will go all the way around and kill the shark itself. No thanks, I'm sticking to straight shooting lasers on my sharks. Nice try, Austin.

Re:Curved sharks? (0, Redundant)

s74ng3r (963541) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583899)

"..trigger lightning to spark and then act as a convenient but short-lived lightning rod to guide it safely to the ground.. "

bad idea for the sharks-with-frickin-curved-lasers in the ocean.

Re:Curved sharks? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584339)

Yawn. Yawn. Frickin' obvious memes ahoy!

And they taunted Raiden II (3, Funny)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583613)

"Yeah, curving lasers, very viable".
"Lasers shoot straight, stupid!"
"So this beam is some kind of plasma or what? Laser? Are you kidding?"
Now they will all see! My sharks will be able to shoot lasers from behind a corner!

Re:And they taunted Raiden II (2, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583749)

I often wonder how many "obvious" ideas will be seen as completely retarded in not so many years.

"They thought objects attracted each other."
"How? By pure will? By magic?"
"They called it gravity."
"Friking morons. No wonder they blew up Earthone"

Re:And they taunted Raiden II (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27583957)

Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he requested something called "wheat germ, organic honey and tiger's milk."

Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.

Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or... hot fudge?

Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.

Dr. Melik: Incredible.

From Sleeper [wikipedia.org]

Re:And they taunted Raiden II (1)

Mygster (1532097) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583765)

"Yeah, curving lasers, very viable". "Lasers shoot straight, stupid!" "So this beam is some kind of plasma or what? Laser? Are you kidding?" Now they will all see! My sharks will be able to shoot lasers from behind a corner!

What the H... are you talking about?

Re:And they taunted Raiden II (3, Informative)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583801)

Re:And they taunted Raiden II (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584225)

Raiden II, Schmaiden Spoo [wordpress.com] . Also let us not forget to order the French Fries [wikipedia.org] (I couldn't find a good screenshot, but some of you surely remember "french fries and onion rings" - homing laser and super blaster.)

Re:And they taunted Raiden II (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27585227)

Just because you watched Wanted and Austin Powers in the same weekend...

Filament propagation. (5, Interesting)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583617)

So, this is a neat twist on an older idea [wikipedia.org] .

I can't really imagine a practical use for this (a lightning rod seems like a much cheaper solution) but it's pretty nifty science.

Practical Use (1)

aduchate (656665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583747)

Two words:

Laser Saber

The Star Wars RPG explains this is the way laser sabers are supposed to work.

Re:Filament propagation. (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583789)

>>So, this is a neat twist on an older idea

They bent the laws of physics!

Re:Filament propagation. (2, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584205)

They bent the laws of physics!

No, the laws of physics bent their beliefs in how things should work.

(I was going to write "... bent their theory" but it don't feel appropriate.)

Re:Filament propagation. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27583819)

I can't really imagine a practical use for this (a lightning rod seems like a much cheaper solution) but it's pretty nifty science.

Then You are not imagining hard enough. Cheaper or not cheaper, it depends on the height of the lightning rod. Higher the tip, wider the safety zone - we could save on individual lightning rods and current surge ducts. Eventually, maybe we could tap on the charged layers of atmosphere and drain them to harvest energy. Perhaps we could "puncture" (short circuit) cumulonimbus clouds in controlled fashion and thus trigger hailstorms before they encroach crop-farming areas. We could use very high plasma columns as SLF vertical ground plane antennas. We could form free-space atmospheric plasma channels to be used as very high voltage/low current power lines bridging across great distances without a single power line tower in between. We could tase tanks on the field, warships on the sea and even airplanes in the air (using two opposite high voltage sources from two distant points simultaneously). We could also tase civilians, steel-frame buildings etc. but I hope we wouldn't. We could create giant radius induction loops in the air for whichever purpose. Ah, if only Tesla was still with us today, he would probably found myriad of cool applications for this ...

Wait. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584297)

Didn't Aperture Science already invent this?

Re:Filament propagation. (3, Insightful)

Potor (658520) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584317)

Let me imagine further.

If this becomes a standard response to thunderstorms, it won't be long before people blame the government when they or their property get hit by lightening. Hell, discrimination lawsuits could emerge, depending on how the government allocates its resources. And if this is a private service, expect civil lawsuits.

It is fortunate that lasers and sharks go together on /., for the lawyers could end up profiting from these suggested uses.

Re:Filament propagation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584373)

If you were Tesla at a Halloween party, fashion yourself a tin foil hat from leftover Hersheys kiss wrappers, pretending you're Buck Rogers. Later that night, while sitting in a fold up chair having cigars with the boys, fire your laser gun into a cumulonimbus cloud and let out a big fake cough, "Man, these are good cigars!"

Re:Filament propagation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584547)

ITS TRUE

We human being are so intelligent when it comes to understanding our environement. We know everything about it, lets control weather!!!

Re:Filament propagation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584749)

Take several of those and you got yourself a decent shield emitter.

Re:Filament propagation. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584799)

None of those things, save an over the horizon weapon, benefit significantly from the nature of this specific implementation. The laser in this example is not somehow so efficient as to make all the ideas you mentioned more possible.

It ain't a lightening rod (2, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583855)

The lightening rod is just for silly editors. If the idea works, it is a thundercloud discharger, grounding it. The idea being that it would stop strikes where you don't want them.

A lightening rod works after the fact and only on a very small area.

Say a thundercloud approaches, you can A: have lots of very tall spikes penetrate it so it discharges. B: create a grounding effect with some kind of plasma arc or C: put lightening rods all along the storms path hoping that the thunder will hit the rod, not something else.

So no, lightening rods are not an alternative in the same way that crash barriers are not an alternative to safe driving or safety belts.

It are a lightening rod (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584719)

This is not a "thundercloud discharger" unless your thundercloud is within 100 meters of the ground. They aren't, and most of those who are get called "tornadoes", but we can use blades of curved ionized air to cover a building's roof. So it could be used as a local lightning guide. And if it glows, it can also be used as decoration.

Re:It ain't a lightening rod (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584913)

Sure it ain't, it's a lightning rod. We don't have enough mana storage to use rod of lightening at this point in time.

Re:Filament propagation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27583885)

This could have many uses around airports....

Re:Filament propagation. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583971)

This could have many uses around airports....

Do you mean for blowing up flocks of birds?

Re:Filament propagation. (1)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583921)

A few the nice features of the airy beam: the plasma conduit keeps the beam in focus; it tends to be self-healing, which means that small objects such as raindrops will not interfere with the overall path; the light from the plasma pulse does not propagate in the same direction as the beam, so it won't burn out your laser detector at the other end.

These features could make it very useful for communications purposes.

Another use which was mentioned was high-altitude spectroscopy. Instead of needing a sample of the upper atmosphere to put in your spectroscopy device, you could use an airy beam to get the atoms excited and analyze the output from down on the ground.

There is also the bessel beam [wikipedia.org] which has some similar properties to the airy beam, and has been around a while longer.

Re:Filament propagation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27583951)

Maybe you can harness the energy of a lightning? Might be a new power source...

Re:Filament propagation. (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584091)

Yeah, and maybe some kind of...flux capaciter could use it. But lighting generates energy in the jigawatt range. I don't know what you could do with that much power, except maybe travel through time.

Re:Filament propagation. (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584489)

Don't anger mighty Thor!

Re:Filament propagation. (1)

joquius (1200905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584457)

Even cheaper would be a short prayer to Zeus at the end of the morning forecast.

Re:Filament propagation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27585055)

Find a way to store the electricity in a huge capacitor or battery and you can use lightning as a power source since you now know where it will strike. That's some pretty green energy.

Just gained a new property (5, Funny)

BPPG (1181851) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583625)

just gained a new property

wait, what? I don't think that's how science works...

Re:Just gained a new property (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27583681)

Technocracy just devulgarized another effect.

Re:Just gained a new property (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583837)

Nice. :D

Direct them at people ... (0, Redundant)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583647)

Those kinds of channels can be up to 100 meters long -- direct them at thunderclouds and they could first trigger lightning to spark and then act as a convenient but short-lived lightning rod to guide it safely to the ground, according to some researchers Direct them at people, and you can hit them with a laser _and_ send a couple of thousand volts through the resulting ionized air at almost the same time. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Re:Direct them at people ... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27583683)

That'ss called an electrolaser [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Direct them at people ... (1)

Pikiwedia.net (1392595) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583853)

This could be used to build a Laser-taser! Hopefully, the laser beam is also non-lethal.

Re:Direct them at people ... (1)

Walzmyn (913748) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583975)

Are these triggered lighting strikes not going to come straight back to the laser machine and, ergo, the people standing there running it?

Re:Direct them at people ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584065)

Place the laser machine and operators inside a Faraday cage.

Re:Direct them at people ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584707)

And what of the thunderclouds that are 200 meters above ground?

Lightening taimer (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27583649)

Who can tame lightning? The goatse-man [goatse.fr] can!

Obligatory (4, Funny)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583655)

Igor, fire the lasers!

Re:Obligatory (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584763)

Igor. Pull The Switch!

Tesla coils (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27583663)

... is there anyone who thinks they aren't cool?

Re:Tesla coils (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583707)

yeah, I'd say they're hot.

Transformers the Movie (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583719)

This could finally explain the scene at 8:05 of this clip [youtube.com] !

Re:Transformers the Movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27583735)

I know just about nothing about transformers, but I'd assume those are rockets not lasers. The curvy ones not the straight ones.

Re:Transformers the Movie (3, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584105)

Those are obviously blasts of concentrated energon, not lasers. As such, they move slowly and in discrete units. As an added bonus they're easier to draw.

Re:Transformers the Movie (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584239)

Ah, but later on in the Sharkticon pit they talk about "photon charges" with regards to their ammo, which could very well imply lasers. Since this is about robots and sci-fi-ish stuff, we must presume that it's all internally consistent!

Can they be used only once? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27583759)

The laser creates an ionized path that leads right to the laser ...

Re:Can they be used only once? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584649)

When we worked on this at Los Alamos we used a mirror near the ground. The laser beam was 30 meters from the mirror so the lightning would only destroy the mirror and not follow to the laser.

Sounds Familiar... (1)

FalleStar (847778) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583799)

Is it 2008 again? [slashdot.org]

I assume... (1)

sykes1024 (1159247) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583807)

...that this only works with lasers fired in an atmosphere? This would not work in space, right?

Re:I assume... (1)

PotatoFiend (1330299) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583845)

...that this only works with lasers fired in an atmosphere? This would not work in space, right?

Why, do you know something about space lightning you'd like to share?

Re:I assume... (2, Interesting)

jandoedel (1149947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584227)

i guess he was thinking about conservation of energy and momentum? shooting something with momentum (yes, light has momentum) should make it go in a straight line, not a curved one, unless other forces are also involved, like in refraction by the atmosphere for example. In space, no atmosphere, so maybe no curved lasers?

Captain's orders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27583815)

Set Asymmetrical Ionizing Plasma Channel creating short light pulses to stun!

"they can curve through space" (0, Troll)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583861)

"they can curve through space"

Errr...no...

" The laser beam is so intense that it ionizes the air..."

Do I need to point out the obvious incompatibility between the two statements?

Re: "they can curve through space" (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583891)

Yes. That is not at all obvious to me.

Re: "they can curve through space" (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583983)

OMG There's no air in space!

Wait, I wonder if it was the other meaning of "space"...

Re: "they can curve through space" (1)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584375)

Ah, so you reckon the summary wasn't talking about space as in "all that regions outside the Earth's atmosphere" but was talking about space as in "the limitless three-dimensional expanse where all matter exists" just so we didn't get confused with lasers that curve through time? :)

Re: "they can curve through space" (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584093)

"they can curve through space"

Errr...no...

" The laser beam is so intense that it ionizes the air..."

Do I need to point out the obvious incompatibility between the two statements?

This is what high energy "space war" lasers--or more precisely the beam aiming/focusing systems--have been fighting with for a long time when dealing with the atmosphere. Send a very high powered beam through the atmosphere... You get ionization and heating. The center of the beam heats/ionizes more rapidly. That causes defocusing or "thermal bloom". Air (wind) traveling through the beam has a greater distance to travel through the center of the beam than at the edges, resulting in greater heating/ionization, the resulting change in density across the beam surface causes the beam to bend.

You've basically got hold of one end of a string--looking down a beam path that's constantly wiggling around--and constantly trying to correct for the intervening atmospheric effects to keep the beam on target by manipulating one end of a string. Which is why we still don't have effective anti-missile laser systems.

That said, for the purposes descibed in TFA, this should be much simpler and much more feasible.

FrWost pist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27583875)

election to 7he s4ow that *BSD has

Tesla tanks (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583929)

"Beware of these Tesla Tanks they appear to have few vulnerabilities!"

Oh really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27583945)

So what the article is saying is, light bends when it goes though a lens?

OH MY GOD!!1 CALL THE COPS!!!!11

Titor already did it.. (2, Funny)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583973)

We've already seen bent lasers [anomalies.net] since 2000 [wikipedia.org] ;)

What are u talkin about ?? (1)

byulzzi (1531865) | more than 5 years ago | (#27583995)

Okay, I could understand the words but together? HELP PLZ, we aren;t all pro's, we need EXPLANATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Proper Response... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584015)

After reading this summary, I think I speak for everyone when I say--lolwut?

Pffft (1)

craklyn (1533019) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584031)

Scientists (and natural phenomena!) have been bending light through space for a long, long time.

Personally, I won't be impressed unless I see light bend through space-time. THAT would be a feat!

Bent light now merits NEWS ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584037)

The problem isn't curving the plasma beam ... it's deflecting and splitting the beam at aribtrary multi-dimensional angles as it passes through the dilithium chamber. If you haven't dispersed the warp plasma evenly across the distribution matrix, you'll never be able to form or sustain a stable warp field. (Wha-hey! Foigen-glavin.)

Geezus, people ... how is "Scientists Can Now Bend Light" any more a headline than, say "Research Indicates That Water Is Wet" ???

...so frankenstein 2.0 will finally have ... (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584045)

a method to gather sufficient energy to boot up all of the cells at once, and LIVE ONCE AGAIN

Re:...so frankenstein 2.0 will finally have ... (2, Interesting)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584899)

I would like to point out that the original 'Frankenstein' novel by Mary Shelley makes no statement connecting a lightning strike with animation of Dr. Frankenstein's golem. There is reference to a lightning striking a tree during his youth, and his amazement at natures power, but that is all.

comentariobovino.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584057)

hmmmm [comentariobovino.com]

one word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584059)

lightsaber - highly curved laser

Taser (2, Interesting)

Woek (161635) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584077)

Could this also be used to initiate a set of conducting paths for tasers? That would increase their range quite a bit...

Re:Taser (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584909)

Shamelessly stolen from a previous post - the military version of what you're describing: The Electrolaser [wikipedia.org] .

Triggering lightning (2, Interesting)

modrzej (1450687) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584087)

From the coverage in cited New Scientist article, it isn't clear that curved laser beams have any advantage in triggering lightning over straight beams. As it is said, it would be fun to see that curved lightning. Sounds rather like pure fun, no big scientific breakthrough, as it comes to atmosphere control.

Personally (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584115)

While this is useful to redirect lightening away from areas, I would think that this might be useful to capture lightening. There is a LOT of energy in a bolt.

Re:Personally (1)

jandoedel (1149947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584269)

actually, no:

"However, even just the electrical current of lightning is considerable -- 20,000 amps on average, the same as 100 steel welders. But the power is on for only a brief fraction of a second, so the total power is actually small, only enough to power a 100-watt light bulb for six months."
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/about/information/science_faq.html#1 [nasa.gov]

Re:Personally (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#27585037)

wait, what? from NASA? I believe there is a unit inconsistency there. Of course, after the Mars probe crash, maybe we shouldn't be surprise.

"the power is only on for a fraction of a second, so the total power is actually small"

that should state the total _energy_ is actually small. That energy would only power a hundred watt lightbulb for 6 months.

Second, 6 months = ~15.5M seconds, making total energy about 15.5e6 sec x 100W = 15.5e8J, or 1550MJ. Car analogy: The average Prius battery holds ~1.3kWh (4.7MJ) of which half is regularly used (~0.6kWh or 2.3MJ)

Harnessing or collecting that lightning thus could charge 3565 Prius batteries. That's pretty significant if those numbers are right. Of course, capturing such a high power energy source without losing it all to heat would be a neat trick.

Finally, we all know the power of a bolt of lightning is about 1.21 GW, which can do some pretty amazing things

No more "Don't taze me, bro!" ? (4, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584141)

Like this:

Direct them at tasers and they could first trigger lightning to spark and then act as a convenient but short-lived lightning rod to guide it safely to the ground, according to some researchers."

If a laser could intercept the dart before it hits you ... I can just see it now - instead of tin-foil hats, geeks will be wearing their anti-taser laser phasers.

Re:No more "Don't taze me, bro!" ? (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584639)

Actually, the opposite has already been used, there is a very bulky taser that instead of using darts (I think you're talking about stun guns, right?) uses lasers to ionize a path. With this tech you could make it curve and zap those geeks from a distance.

Re:No more "Don't taze me, bro!" ? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#27585001)

I believe it's called a "plasma taser", of all things. I last read about them half a decade ago, good to hear they made it to the market if only because the name's awesome.

Re:No more "Don't taze me, bro!" ? (1)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 5 years ago | (#27585107)

anti-taser laser phasers

Try saying that ten times fast!

Everyone remember phaser test? (3, Insightful)

kulakovich (580584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584189)

The failure of the first particle beam/laser hybrid was due to the particles deviated from target because of their mass, falling out of the laser's beam.

So that's fixed now?

kulakovich

Well-known problem with high-power optics (5, Informative)

Richard Kirk (535523) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584293)

Normally the refractive index of a material is quoted as a constant. However, light radiation will slightly distort the electron levels of the material they are passing through, and this will have effect the refractive index. Normally this effect is very tiny. However, if you design high-power lasers, then it can become a nuisance. If you have a bright spot to your beam, then this will locally raise the refractive index. This will, in turn, cause the light to come to a line focus, which raises the intensity even more. If you do not design high-power optics to account for this, then a flat, uniform beam of light can spontaneously divide into a set of filamentary hot spots, which can smash your expensive optics.

There is another process, more usually associated with high-power ion beams. An ion beam that travels a long distance in air can twist like a garden hose squirting water. The ion beam heats up the air it is passing through, which creates a kind of pipe through the air as the hot atoms move away. This is a nuisance if you want to make the beam go in a straight line. One way of keeping an ion-beam weapon firing straight is to put a laser pre-pulse to heat a straight line through the air for the ion beam to travel down.

Back to the Future? (1)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584325)

Doc Emmett Brown could've used something like this. Then he wouldn't have had to swindle the Libyans, and he wouldn't have gotten shot for it. Kinda makes you wonder if we can attach one of these to a capacitor that can hold 1.21 JigaWatts (or several times that for several lighting strikes).

I see a problem... (1)

Bazman (4849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584429)

So, you fire your laser up into the thundercloud, and it causes the lightning strike to follow it back, directing several million amps into... your laser. Good luck with that then.

Also "In Soviet Russia, laser looks into eye! (of storm)"

Re:I see a problem... (1)

drerwk (695572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584659)

Mirrors are cheap. Beam goes along near the ground to the mirror, which is surrounded by lighting rods.

More urgent question (3, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584447)

How fast can it cook 2000 pounds of Jiffy-pop?

Curvature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584487)

Fox: I want you to curve the laser
Wesley: How am I supposed to do that?
Sloan: [walking in] It's not a question of how. It's a question of what. If no one told you that lasers flew straight, and I gave you a pulse laser and told you to hit the target, what would you do? Let your instincts guide you.

An Actual Picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584495)

http://www.freewebs.com/weirderandweirder/weirdTitor.bmp

An actual picture of the beam, courtesy of John Titor.

This fP for GNAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584573)

I too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27584601)

I, too, can produce a curved stream of particles. I use it to write my name in the snow.

GREAT!!! (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584677)

Now that we can forcefully predict (or force) the location of where lightning will land, that means we can build containers to capture all that energy instead of letting it go to waste!!!

No connection (5, Insightful)

dexmachina (1341273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584729)

Christodoulides's team's work could be combined with his to help aim the laser pulses and plasma channels at specific targets, such as clouds, although he points out that the laser pulses can also be guided using mirrors. "But it would be fun to see curved lightning discharges," he says.

This article is cool up until the lightning bit. As the quote from TFA shows, there's absolutely no connection between the curved lasers and the technique for triggering lighting. As far as generating an ion channel goes, the curved laser does nothing a straight laser can't. The only connection between the otherwise completely disconnected bits of research is that the lightning guy commented on the curved laser stuff and essentially said that while using mirrors is more feasible in his project, using curved lasers would look cool.

Everytime someone comes up with an interesting discovery in science, people invariably ask what it's good for. Ditto for math. The problem is that a lot (most?) research is done for its own sake, to discover new things, rather than having any particular application in mind. History has shown that applications tend to come later, and in the places you least expect it, so it pays to just be curious. People thought group theory was just weird abstract shit until someone figured out how to use it in applied chemistry.

It's said when the need to immediately justify every new discovery has gotten to the point where an article needs to include a completely contrived and ridiculous application just to placate people.

Re:No connection (1)

dexmachina (1341273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27584745)

Sorry...that's "sad". Not said.

I never knew this about lasers... (1)

paralaxcreations (981218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27585089)

I never knew that they created their own channels to travel through, though I guess it makes sense. I seem to recall scientists of yore once thinking that light traveled along its own self-generated aether. I guess plasma channels are kind of like that, so it would appear we've come full circle (Light creates its own medium to travel through, no it doesn't, it kind of does.)

Does anyone know if all light behaves this way or just lasers (Or lasers of a certain intensity)? Better yet, a resource that is (at least somewhat) plain English where I could get a primer on light behavior? I really know nothing about this and would love to learn more.

Re:I never knew this about lasers... (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#27585207)

"I guess plasma channels are kind of like that, so it would appear we've come full circle (Light creates its own medium to travel through, no it doesn't, it kind of does.)"

Kind of stretching the point, do you think? I mean, light traveling through a vacuum wouldn't create a plasma channel. It happens it's passing through air, and the energy of the light modifies the properties of the air it's passing through. When a boat passes through the water and creates a wake in the water, is it 'kind of creating its own medium to travel through'? When I'm hiking in the woods and leave a footprint, am I somehow creating a medium to travel through?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?