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Scientists Invent World's First Anti-Laser

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the what-about-my-anti-anti-anti-anti-anti-laser? dept.

Science 241

Velcroman1 writes "Two scientists at Yale University have built the laser's first doppelganger: the anti-laser. While a conventional laser emits a constant beam of light in one direction, the anti-laser simply does the opposite. It takes that same steady light stream and interacts with it in such a way that it absorbs and cancels out the light. And scientists hope the strange creation could help the fight against cancer. A. Douglas Stone, one of the two researchers behind the project, said he came up with the idea for a 'nega-laser' when working with equations for a random laser with his partner in crime, Hui Cao. 'I figured, if we just somehow illuminated the cavity, and replaced the gain medium with something that tends to absorb light, we could essentially reverse the process,' Stone said. Oh, that makes sense."

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241 comments

I want... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237172)

an anti-laser pointer.

Re:I want... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237406)

An anti-green-laser pointer would be nice. Presenters: why not just use a regular red laser pointer? Green ones always seem to be too bright.

Re:I want... (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237810)

An anti-green-laser pointer would be nice.

Yes. This would make a perfect Christmas gift for airline pilots!

Re:I want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237896)

An anti-red-laser pointer would be nice.

Presenters: why not just use a regular green laser pointer? Red ones always seem to be too dim.

FTFY.

A lot of people cannot see red laser pointer (or red color for the matter), while green pointers are much more visible.

Re:I want... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238448)

Is it maybe because you've been to too many presentations using green lasers?

Re:I want... (1)

Message (303377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238080)

We always prefered green lasers because the red lasers often washed out on Plasma/LCDs

Re:I want... (1)

grantek (979387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237482)

The article says it's basically a module that absorbs light and converts it to heat, but if you had some kind of opto-electronic stuff in there, I guess it might end up being a useful receiver for fibre-optic communications?

Re:I want... (3, Interesting)

TamCaP (900777) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237566)

I am pretty sure current light sensing technology is doing just great when it comes to that.

I on the other hand, wonder if it's possible to improve the device to work as an efficient energy "receptacle" / converter. Like a wireless power cable. You could then "beam" energy i.e. in space (where there is no atmosphere to kill all your photons) to your sattelite. One could also think about using fiberoptic cable instead of copper for energy transmission, but I don't see a real application for that (except maybe some exotic noise issues).
Yeah, the invention doesn't have many obvious applications. But it doesn't mean scientists & engineers will not come up with one at some point.

Me too... (2)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238020)

I want a device that I can point to a screen and make the slides [microsoft.com] disappear

Challenge for biologists: (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237184)

Now it's up to the biologists to create anti-sharks

Beam of darkness? (4, Funny)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237208)

It shoots a coherent beam of darkness!

Re:Beam of darkness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237310)

Ah, the Dark Sucker (0)

White Yeti (927387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237342)

Shoot, you beat me to it...

Re:Beam of darkness? (1)

joeme1 (959209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237402)

That would be the absolute coolest thing in the world. I've been a long time fan of the darksucker theory, to have an actual darksucker would be extremely fun. Lots of applications in a physics classroom.

Re:Beam of darkness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237746)

I've got darksuckers installed all in my house - they're commonly called 'lights'.

Did you mean 'lightsucker' instead?

nega-laser (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237210)

"nega-laser"

I think the prefer vernacular is African-American-laser

Yes, Dr. Scott... (2)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237216)

...an anti-laser capable of emitting a beam of pure anti-anti-matter.

Oh great. (5, Funny)

towelie-ban (1234530) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237236)

Now they'll create freaking anti-sharks to attach these to.

Re:Oh great. (1)

drpimp (900837) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237632)

more like seals with freakin' anti-lasers ... fine then back to the natural hierarchy

Throw me a bone here! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237238)

All I wanted was frickin' nega-sharks with anti-lasers on their heads. Is that too much to ask?

Is this as cool as it sounds? (1)

Cheeba Racer (652671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237246)

Because it sounds like they just figured out how to turn off a laser...

Re:Is this as cool as it sounds? (1)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237360)

Sound more like they figured out how to shine it into a box full of dark stuff.

Re:Is this as cool as it sounds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237524)

No, it means when we finally get around to invent the laser gun, we'd already have a defense for it.

or uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237252)

you could just use a mirror.

Re:or uh... (2)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237302)

Since this absorbs light rather than reflects it, I think the correct response is or you could just use anything that is opaque (e.g. a brick wall, a thick piece of cardboard, your cat).

Re:or uh... (1)

atrain728 (1835698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237730)

I can't speak for brick walls or pieces of cardboard, but cats tend to catch fire when lasers are shined on them.

Re:or uh... (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238282)

Depends on the power of the laser. Besides, they've still blocked the laser for at least some period of time.

Frickin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237256)

How will this affect the Anti-Shark population?

Opposite? (1)

domulys (1431537) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237284)

It just sounds like they turned the laser off.

Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237298)

They can use it to zap the anti-news slashdot keeps posting.

Re:Maybe... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238494)

They can use it to zap the anti-news slashdot keeps posting.

Ah, so I'm NOT the only one who noticed that this article linked to a Fox News story.

Anti-news, indeed. Or, to use the terminology from this story, "nega-news".

prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237308)

Sure, their idea sounds fancy, but really it's just needlessly complex. I've discovered a material that provides the same effect, but much more cheaply. Additionaly, it can be applied to nearly any surface.

It's called matte black paint.

This post has been brought to you by equal parts ignorance and pedantry.

Re:prior art (1)

adonoman (624929) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237842)

If you shine a laser on a matte-black painted surface, can you see the dot where the light hits? If so, then it's not absorbing all the light - just a portion of it.

Polarity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237322)

Obviously they just reversed the polarity.

Re:Polarity (2)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237448)

I think it's more complicated than that. You'd definitely need at least a tachyon burst.

Re:Polarity (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238146)

this could be an important safety measure to prevent crossing of streams...

scientists? (2)

bugi (8479) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237326)

I'm shocked. I would've assumed it was priests, or maybe economists.

Isn't it just Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder (1)

kmdrtako (1971832) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237334)

non sequitur Harry Potter reference

OK - so I RTFA... (1)

ScientiaPotentiaEst (1635927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237336)

... yet I can't help thinking that it's akin to the classic black body. Light hits it and is absorbed. I assume the energy is re-emitted from said anti-laser in the form of heat or some-such.

No doubt there's more to it than this. But TFA isn't clear.

Re:OK - so I RTFA... (2)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237392)

But you didn't RTFC from the diagram, "In the anti-laser, incoming light waves are trapped in a cavity where they bounce back and forth until they are eventually absorbed. Their energy is dissipated as heat."

Re:OK - so I RTFA... (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237766)

Heat... what? Infrared radiation? Molecular motion?

I'm sure this is an important and interesting advance, but I found that description singularly uninformative.

Re:OK - so I RTFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35238404)

So? Read their paper.

Re:OK - so I RTFA... (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237408)

Yes, there's more to it than you think: the device in question is a coherent absorber (just as a laser would coherently emit electromagnetic radiations), so it's fundamentally different from a black body, which abides to Planck's law of blackbody radiation.

Re:OK - so I RTFA... (2)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237444)

The impression I get is that they have managed to achieve an ideal absorber for a specific frequency.

That's what a classic black body is, but there is nothing in the real world that behaves this way.

Re:OK - so I RTFA... (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237786)

What happens to other frequencies? Are they transmitted? Absorbed? Reflected?

If they're absorbed, what's special about this frequency? Is the heat radiated from it in some other way than as a standard blackbody radiation?

Re:OK - so I RTFA... (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238004)

A classic black body absorbs all frequencies. This is a very specific frequency absorption. No idea what it'd be useful for, but it's still a technically impressive capability that wasn't available before

Re:OK - so I RTFA... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238164)

A classic black body absorbs all frequencies. This is a very specific frequency absorption. No idea what it'd be useful for, but it's still a technically impressive capability that wasn't available before

Like a ballpoint pen able to function in zero-g?

Re:OK - so I RTFA... (5, Informative)

IICV (652597) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237740)

All they really needed to say was that it's the time-reversed counterpart of a laser. Calling it an "anti-laser" makes it sound like it shoots out a beam of darkness or something like that (which could be cool, but physically impossible).

Why this is neat is that, because it's the reverse of a laser, it'll absorb some frequencies almost perfectly while ignoring others. The reason why they said this would work for cancer, for instance, is that you could embed some of these dudes in the cancer (there's techniques for that, I have no idea how they work) and then bombard them with a laser frequency that normally passes harmlessly through humans. Areas without these reverse-lasers will be unaffected, but areas with them will get really hot, killing the cancer. We use similar techniques already (with I think gold, I'm not quite sure) in order to localize radiotherapy, but I believe that the radiation used in the current methods still kills a lot of normal cells on its own.

Re:OK - so I RTFA... (3, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237802)

All they really needed to say was that it's the time-reversed counterpart of a laser. Calling it an "anti-laser" makes it sound like it shoots out a beam of darkness or something like that (which could be cool, but physically impossible).

Why this is neat is that, because it's the reverse of a laser, it'll absorb some frequencies almost perfectly while ignoring others. The reason why they said this would work for cancer, for instance, is that you could embed some of these dudes in the cancer (there's techniques for that, I have no idea how they work) and then bombard them with a laser frequency that normally passes harmlessly through humans. Areas without these reverse-lasers will be unaffected, but areas with them will get really hot, killing the cancer. We use similar techniques already (with I think gold, I'm not quite sure) in order to localize radiotherapy, but I believe that the radiation used in the current methods still kills a lot of normal cells on its own.

You win. Mods, please get the parent to +5 Informative. It's clearly the best post on the story.

Defensive uses? (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237350)

Can you install this near the cockpit of planes, making them immune to the dreaded blinding green laser attack? Or for that matter, make something immune to laser guided missiles?

Inverse tachyon pulse (1)

thib_gc (730259) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237380)

It sounds just like an inverse tachyon pulse, really.

Lasers (1)

deathtopaulw (1032050) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237382)

Lasers have always confused me, and maybe someone smarter than me can explain this. Why can't you just hold up a mirror, or create something even more reflective to make weapons grade lasers useless? Isn't it just light?

Re:Lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237460)

If you had a perfect mirror, you could. Any real mirror will absorb part of the incoming light - a laser powerful enough to be usable as a weapon would damage the mirror pretty quickly.

Re:Lasers (1)

Skidborg (1585365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237704)

But since 99% of the light is headed back at the guy who fired it at you, is that a problem?

Re:Lasers (1)

MasterPatricko (1414887) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238398)

It would be pretty hard to aim a mirror to reflect a laser exactly back to where it came from. A corner cube [wikipedia.org] is what you want. Depending on the reflectivity of the mirrors used, it would absorb some energy, but a significant portion of the energy would be reflected exactly back to where it came from - the perfect laser defense.

Re:Lasers (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237496)

1) Dirt
2) Being highly reflective like that makes you vulnerable to other less sophisticated and frequently more effective things than high-power lasers, like radar-guided interceptor missiles. We have not seen very many examples of lasers used as direct "destroy it" weaponry because it's actually pretty hard to destroy something at a distance with a laser. ICBMs are a good candidate because they are frequently in operating conditions close to the limits of the structural materials - add a little heat and it behaves as the "straw that broke the camel's back". However, a super-shiny ICBM becomes easier to hit with stuff like Aegis BMD.

In this particular case, the development isn't really a defense against laser weapons - it appears to be a tuned perfect absorber with zero reflectivity.

Re:Lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237518)

If you had a perfect reflector, you could. But perfect reflectors don't exist. Every mirror or mirror-like substance absorbs at least some of the energy of the reflected light - specifically, it's converted to heat. Even a fraction of the power of a weapons-grade laser converted to heat is a lot of heat, and melting a mirror even a tiny amount generally drops the reflectivity dramatically. End result - your mirror will reflect for a fraction of a second before it turns into slag.

Re:Lasers (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238236)

If you had a perfect reflector, you could. But perfect reflectors don't exist. Every mirror or mirror-like substance absorbs at least some of the energy of the reflected light - specifically, it's converted to heat. Even a fraction of the power of a weapons-grade laser converted to heat is a lot of heat, and melting a mirror even a tiny amount generally drops the reflectivity dramatically. End result - your mirror will reflect for a fraction of a second before it turns into slag.

By contrast, this perfect absorber converts the entire energy of the weapon-grade laser into heat. The attacker would be thankful to you for mounting one on the target.

Re:Lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237544)

I'm pretty sure that a powerful enough laser would simply cut through the mirror since the mirror's surface isn't 100% reflective.

Re:Lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237690)

The error in your thinking is not one of concept but one of degree.

A reflective surface would indeed reflect some of the energy from the laser thus reducing it's effectiveness. This is similar to how curved metal armor will deflect a bullet thus preventing damage from the bullet.

The problem however is that just like the curved metal plate which defects the bullet but absorbs some of the kinetic energy can be damaged and even penetrated by a sufficiently large and fast bullet, a reflective surface will only reflect a portion of the laser's energy and the rest will become heat. So a sufficiently powerful laser would still be able to melt through your mirror.

You might say that just means you need a better reflector, and you'd be right, a better reflector would require a better laser to melt it, but there is no such thing as a perfect reflector so what you have is an extension of the arms race between weapons and armor that has been going on since the days when a wooden club was first pitted against a good sized turtle shell worn as a helmet.

Prior to the existence of weaponized lasers there was no point in developing anti-laser armor. Especially since the properties that make good anti-laser defenses are counter productive for other purposes (like stealth where you want to reflect as little EMR as possible). Now that lasers are making in roads as a viable military weapon you can expect to see anti-laser technology appear in the near future, which will force an improvement in laser technology that will in turn force an improvement in anti-laser armor, etc.

I have anti-laser shields at home right now! (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237400)

I call them "walls"

Its called a D.A.S.A.R. (3, Funny)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237454)

That's "Darkness Amplification by Stimulated Absorbance of Radiation"

Re:Its called a D.A.S.A.R. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35238226)

I find their emissions unstimulating.

Cancer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237464)

Odd this will be able to treat cancer: 0.

Re:Cancer? (1)

IMightB (533307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237712)

translate as "We're looking for funding.".

Media (1)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237494)

Scientist: We have an amazing toy! It does weird stuff, but nothing useful. In fact it's so weird, we don't even know what's happening. Who knows, once we figure it out, we might find that it is similar to radiation therapy used today to combat cancer.

Reporter: The scientists believe that someday it could be used in our fight against cancer

Editor: hmm... it's not really that big of a story. The only thing that makes it interesting enough to print is the bit about cancer.

Final printed version: It CURES cancer!

Re:Media (1)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237640)

That's how academic funding works. If it doesn't kill people or cure cancer, you're basically begging on the street.

Re:Media (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237788)

With that logic, killing cancer patients is good money

Re:Media (1)

cstepan (731228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237672)

Gah. Even worse, the article quotes the physicist talking out his ass about cancer therapy:

“Already, radiation for cancer does something like this but uses a different principal. And it can only shrink tumors near the surface of the skin. But in our case, CPAs may be able to reach a bit deeper.”

Ummmm...no. Not even close. Radiation therapy can "shrink tumors" anywhere in the body, not just near the surface of the skin. Unless he thinks the prostate is near the skin surface. I don't know how much "deeper" he plans on going.

Cancer? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237502)

I hope a diamond-encrusted gold bust of my magnificently pale ass will help to fight cancer. Doesn't mean it will, and it doesn't justify the ridiculous cost of following through with such an endeavour.

Something tells me these Yale guys got their tenure renewed not too long ago.

Re:Cancer? Really? (2)

md65536 (670240) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237774)

I hope a diamond-encrusted gold bust of my magnificently pale ass will help to fight cancer.

A bust of your ass?

bust
n.
1. A sculpture representing a person's head, shoulders, and upper chest.

What does your face look like?

Do you have someone busting your ass right now?

"Doppelganger"? (3, Informative)

Artifice_Eternity (306661) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237508)

Two scientists at Yale University have built the laser's first doppelganger: the anti-laser.

I do not think this word means what you think it means. [wikipedia.org]

Re:"Doppelganger"? (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237700)

I do not think this word means what you think it means.

That's OK, the entire article doesn't mean what the reporter thought it meant.

Re:"Doppelganger"? (3, Insightful)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237920)

Um "A doppelgänger (pronounced [dplg] ( listen)) is a tangible double of a living person in fiction, folklore, and popular culture that typically represents evil. In the vernacular, the word doppelgänger has come to refer (as in German "doppelt(e)") to any double or look-alike of a person." from your link right there it clearly is being used in the "evil twin" sense

Re:"Doppelganger"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35238262)

I can't even pronounce [dplg].

Re:"Doppelganger"? (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238348)

I a way it does. In traditional usage a doppelganger was not only identical to you, but if you met your doppelganger, you would both die.

It's a bit of a stretch, but you could say that the light of the laser is "killed" by meeting it's doppelganger, i.e., the opposite of the conditions that gave it birth. (Mind you, I agree that it's quite a stretch.)

Mirror? (1)

prodigyx (1829004) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237510)

I invented an anti-laser too. I call it a mirror. And it has 101 other uses!

Now Just integrate that into airplanes.... (1)

L473ncy (987793) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237552)

If we could put one of those on an airplane and rig up a system that could target people lasering aircraft, pilots wouldn't have to worry about being "lased" while they're on final approach. It's a serious problem and as a private pilot I have no sympathy for people who lase aircraft, especially during final approach when you're going "low and slow" or when you're doing your base/final approach.

Re:Now Just integrate that into airplanes.... (1)

Jakester2K (612607) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237922)

I read in a novel about a system that could detect an incoming mortar round, determine its point of origin, and fire a round aimed at that point, within seconds - hopefully hitting it before the mortar team cleared out.

Dunno if it exists in real life.

Wouldn't it be cool if the same concept could be applied to flight-decks, deflecting the beam away from the pilot and causing it to blind the dipsh!ts who lased?

Great... (1)

jam244 (701505) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237588)

Now we have to invent anti-sharks!

Doppelganger? (1)

ChasmCoder (1818172) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237590)

I thought a doppelganger was a "Twin" or as Dictionary.com says "–noun a ghostly double or counterpart of a living person." Wouldn't this be more like the antithesis of a laser? Just throwing that out there.

Re:Doppelganger? (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237706)

Anything goes when reporting on science.

Re:Doppelganger? (1)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237900)

I think they were going for the evil twin angle which makes some sense (a doppelganger can be a reference to an evil twin)

Re:Doppelganger? (1)

ChasmCoder (1818172) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238126)

Ok, that would make more sense if interpreted that way. I guess I am just not up on all the definitions :D Thanks!

Re:Doppelganger? (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238460)

I don't care what Dictionary.com say, the only ghostly thing about it is that if you met it you would both drop dead. Others couldn't tell you apart, not by vision, not by touch. I don't know if the legends say anything about smell or taste. But I think it's also supposed to speak with your voice.

Some people must have really thought identical twins were scarey.

I always figured .. (0)

fayd (143105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237622)

an anti-laser was just a flashlight /shrug

A laser receiver, not an anti-laser. (2)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237664)

An anti-laser would emit light in every direction except for a tightly focused beam.

And what about anti-sharks with... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237716)

....anti-fricking laser beams on their heads?

Uh? What about those?

Yea, you better go get 'em Frau if you know what's good for ya!

*snap* *snap*

I've got it! (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 3 years ago | (#35237780)

1) Anti-laser

2) ?

3) Profit!

Re:I've got it! (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238304)

1) Anti-laser
2) Cancer
3) ?
4) Extra research budget!

FTFY

to be used in optical computers? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35237860)

BBC article on the same subject talks only about using in optical computers.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12453893

Re:to be used in optical computers? (1)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238038)

Thank you - that is much more informative than the fluff-piece pointed to by the summary.

Fox News? (2)

meustrus (1588597) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238086)

Why are we getting ours news from Fox? For every concrete nit-picky criticism I can make about the article (improper use of the word "doppelganger", the strangely "compressed" quotation at the end) there are some serious conceptual issues with the article as well. I'm not convinced the author understands half of what's going on. I've gotten the distant impression from the interviews that this is a device that takes in a laser light and dissipates the light into heat, but the article seems to be implying any number of things from an EMP-like device that cancels out lasers to a laser shield. There was no adequate explanation of how the device could be used for cancer treatment. Finally, and the one thing that gives the article that special Fox News touch, is the subtle but definitely present underlying tone of "This technology will be the death of us all, because science is really complicated, I don't understand it, and I don't like things I don't understand."

Re:Fox News? (5, Informative)

IICV (652597) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238206)

The article is absolute shit, but if you ignore everything the journalist wrote and just read what the physicist said you can get an idea of how this works.

Basically, it's the reverse of a laser; the physicist meant "anti-laser" as in "anti-matter" (because if you reverse the flow of time, anti-matter looks like regular matter).

Normal lasers take power in and emit light at a specific frequency; this thing takes light in at a specific frequency and emits power. In other words, if you take a video of a laser and play it backwards, that's this thing.

Saw this in Nature - useless. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35238098)

I saw this in Nature when it first was published. It's completely useless. Basically what they are suggesting is putting weak absorber inside a high-Q cavity. The result? High absorption at the fabrey-perot modes. Surprise, surprise.

Guess what - absorbing light isn't particularly difficult. This is probably the most overblown waste of memory I have every read.

And sharks everywhere... (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238196)

... just heaved a huge sigh of relief.

Evil scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35238216)

In related news, evil scientists are working feverishly to invent anti-sharks.

For sale TODAY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35238322)

I have for sale today a combined laser/anti-laser device. It has the laser and anti-laser integrated, so that the end result is a powerful canceled-out beam. The device looks just like a laserpointer with the batteries removed.

Inquiries only from interested parties, please.

cool story bro (1)

RockGrumbler (1795608) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238440)

"According to Stone and other physicists, the creation of the anti-laser -- the eggheads refer to it as a coherent perfect absorber (CPA) -- has been one of the defining technological innovations of the past century. So could this anti-laser have just as much impact on society’s future?"

Considering the source, that eggheads comment comes off as pejorative. Cool editorializing bro.

Nonsense, this is just interference (1)

ScottyB (13347) | more than 3 years ago | (#35238540)

This is just constructive or destructive interference of two beams of light, no different than a resonant-cavity photodiode, which has existed for 20 years. Lasing, if you recall, is stimulated emission, represented by one of Einstein's coefficients. The opposite physical process, which is the opposite Einstein coefficient, is absorption, which is always stimulated (there's no such thing as spontaneous absorption). We've long known about "anti-lasing"--it's called absorption.

Nothing to see here, move along.

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