Laserglow drops their… prices

Got an email from Laserglow.com with a price reduction on their high power laser pointers. I haven’t used their lasers so I can’t comment on their quality and reliability but if you’re looking for more power to play with you might check them out.

Laserglow.com has reduced ALL prices on EVERY Aries and Hercules Series high-powered handheld laser by 20 to 45%!

Owning a high-powered (20-400mW) handheld laser has never been so affordable. This price reduction was brought about by the recent popularity of our products among hobbyists and professionals. As a result, we have increased production and subsequently dropped prices. For full details on our new pricing structure, please see www.laserglow.com.

In addition, use the Voucher Code 106221132 on our website before Monday, November 6th, and get an additional 5% off any purchase!

Limited time 5% discount is only applicable to orders placed on the Laserglow.com website. Promotion is not valid on Purchase Orders or orders placed over the phone. Promotional code is valid from Friday October 27 to Friday November 4th, 2006. All prices quoted are in US dollars. Prices subject to change without prior notice.

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Happy Halloween Charlie Brown!

40 years ago the Great Pumpkin was almost seen on TV for the first time when It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown aired. It’ll be on TV again tonight but even if you miss that, take a look at some clips on www.peanuts.com.

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Combat lasers closer to reality?

According to their latest press release, Northrop Grumman is one or two steps closer to having a powerful battlefield laser ready for the troops.

Compact laser weapons powerful enough to perform many basic military missions are getting closer to accompanying U.S. troops wherever they go due to rapid advancements Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) is making in high-energy, solid-state lasers, exemplified by a company-funded laser weapon named Vesta

According to the company the laser is rated to put out 15kW with an indefinite run time with no degredation of beam quality. During their demonstration they achieved beam quality of less than 1.3 times the theoretical diffraction limit.

By comparison, a typical industrial laser for welding would have a beam quality exceeding 20. Weapon system applications typically seek beam qualities of 1.5 to 2. Beam qualities less than 1.5 for high-power lasers are considered outstanding.

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Laser TV too good to be true?

I last mentioned Arasor in my previous post on laser TV but it appears that once again if something sounds too good to be true, it just might be missing some parts.

Smarthouse is reporting that Arasor is facing lawsuits from several directions and even has Mitsubishi publicly wondering why they weren’t invited to the very public announcement of the laser device since they’re apparently (they don’t know) will be manufacturing the displays used.

The Company who earlier this month rolled out a Laser TV which directors claimed was set to be the killer of the plasma screen is facing the potential of ongoing legal claims as it attempts to get Laser TV off the ground. Arasor and two of its directors Simon Cao and Larry Marshall have received notice from Nomad Networks Pty Ltd, Photon Engineering Pty Ltd, Southern Cross Lasers Pty Ltd and Dr Adam Weigold claiming that they intend to make a claim against the Arasor Group for breach of contract and breaches of Section 52 of the Trade Practices Act.

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X-ray laser groundbreaking

Building has begun on the facilities for the LCLS x-ray laser at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC)

The laser is expected to go live in 2009 and will produce pulses of laser light brighter and shorter than any other laser in the world.

The LCLS represents the 4th generation of machines designed to produce synchrotron radiation for scientific studies, an idea originally pioneered at SLAC in the 1970s. Synchrotron radiation, in the form of x-rays or light, is typically produced by electrons circulating in a storage ring at nearly the speed of light. These extremely bright x-rays can be used to investigate various forms of matter ranging from objects of atomic and molecular size to man-made materials with unusual properties.

Unlike a circular storage ring, the LCLS will produce x-rays using the final 1/3 of SLAC’s existing linear accelerator, in conjunction with long arrays of special magnets called "undulators." These powerful devices also owe their existence to research conducted at SLAC. Because undulators produce intense pulses of radiation lasting barely a billionth of a second, the LCLS will work much like a camera’s flash, enabling scientists to take images of atoms and molecules in motion, shedding light on the fundamental processes of life on an unprecedented scale.

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October 19th set dance workshop

Connemara Set turn the ladyThe set dance workshop held by Maldon Meehan and Ronan Regan is over and was great fun.

They spent two hours showing us the basic steps for the Connemara Set and running us through the figures after which they gave us a demo of Sean Nos dancing to show us all what the footwork is really supposed to look like!

Ronan also played fiddle for several of the figures and while we learned the footwork which was great to listen to and helped to keep us on track at a speed slower than the CD. I’m sure our neighbors wondered just what was going on 🙂

Afterwards we hung out for a while and talked while enjoying some of the goodies brought by various attendees.

It was a great workshop and we’re looking forward to seeing them again one day. If you get a chance to attend a workshop with them definitely don’t pass it up.

A few more pictures are available in our gallery.

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Controlling chemical reactions by playing labrinth

Alright, not literally but the National Research Council Canada reports that a team of NRC researchers have developed a method of controlling chemical processes at the quantum level using laser pulses.

The team of Dave Townsend, Albert Stolow and Benjamin Sussman describe their experiment as analogous to a game of labrinth.

A player controls the tilt of a board in order to guide a steel ball through a maze of holes; in this case a molecular scale game. The knob the researchers used is an ultrafast laser pulse (shown here as a wiggly black arrow) which re-shapes the hill (or tilts the board) as the molecule is sliding down the slope, using an interaction called the Dynamic Stark Effect. In this molecular ‘Labyrinth’ game, the interaction deflects the reacting molecule towards valley A rather than valley B. The breaking of the chemical bond associated with this process is illustrated on the left. A key aspect of the NRC approach is that the molecule does not absorb the laser light during this re-shaping.

According to Albert Stolow, the NRC team leader, the tool used to alter molecular landscapes has implications beyond the control of chemical reactions. One example already mentioned is in the area of quantum information either to directly encode molecular scale information or to control molecular scale switches. Another application is in developing novel forms of optical microscopy of live cells, where quantum control methods can be used to sharpen images, enhance sensitivity and perhaps even perform molecular scale surgery on individual cells.

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Using lasers to deliver drugs

As I mentioned in this previous article, lasers are being used in various ways to help medical patients.

One team in Switzerland has come closer to creating a method that is workable, depending on the safety and reproducability when using nanoparticles.

A team led by Jeffrey Hubbell of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) has found a way to bind water-insoluble cancer drugs to nanoparticles by exposing the two to argon laser light for one hour.

The nanoparticles have internal spaces used to trap the drugs and channels through which they can be released.

The investigators created these nanoparticles from two different polymers that crosslink to each other when exposed to light from an argon laser for one hour. They then added the nanoparticles to a solution of doxorubicin and evaporated the solvent used to dissolve the anticancer drug. Nearly half of the drug in solution became encapsulated within the nanoparticles. The researchers note that the resulting nanoparticles contain a protein-repelling surface coating that should result in favorable pharmacokinetic behavior.

Experiments to test the drug-release characteristics of these nanoparticles showed that maximum release occurred at approximately eight hours and then remained close to that level for a week. The data imply that release occurs through a diffusion mechanism, that is, drug travels through channels in the nanoparticle to the nanoparticle surface, as opposed to a disintegration mechanism in which the nanoparticle falls apart and releases drug.

Their work has been published in the European Journal of Pharmecuetal Sciences.

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Using lasers to detect radiation

FAMU laser researchersThe Tallahassee Democrat reports that professor Lewis Johnson and his team at Florida A&M University are working on a laser system to produce plasma gases and enable radioactive isotopes to be detected more quickly and at longer distances.

In the event of an underground nuclear blast, it
can be days, weeks or months before nuclear particles leak into the air
and are carried by wind to somewhere they can be measured, he said. Yet
soldiers seeking a dirty bomb someday might carry a portable laser in a
Humvee.

The FAMU research is only into its second year of a $5.5-6 million grant but hopes that some day the technology could be used by people on the ground to saves lives.

At the moment it can take days or weeks to detect radiation leaking from the ground after a nuclear test and their hope is that using lasers, detection can happen much more quickly.

On the other hand, I hope Mr. Akpovo doesn’t normally stick his fingers into the laser like he’s doing above since any laser capable of creating plasma will take those digits off.

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Boeing achieves first light for ACTD

Star Wars is a bit closer.

During the "low-power" flight tests, which began Oct. 10 and conclude this fall, the ATL ACTD system will find and track ground targets at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. A low-power, solid-state laser will serve as a surrogate for ATL’s high-power chemical laser.

To prepare for the tests, the ATL aircraft, a C-130H from the U.S. Air Force 46th Test Wing, was outfitted with flight demonstration hardware at Crestview Aerospace Corp. in Crestview, Fla. The hardware includes the beam director and optical control bench, which will direct the laser beam to its target; weapon system consoles, which will display high-resolution imagery and enable the tracking of targets; and sensors.

It will be interesting to see how this develops but for the peaceniks out there, don’t fear as the weapon can be used in non-lethal means.

ATL will destroy, damage or disable targets with little to no collateral damage, supporting missions on the battlefield and in urban operations. ATL will produce scaleable effects, meaning the weapon operator will be able to select the degree and nature of the damage done to a target by choosing a specific aimpoint and laser shot duration. For example, targeting the fuel tank of a vehicle could result in total destruction of the vehicle, while targeting a tire might result in the vehicle stopping without injury to the driver.

That’s something I’d really like to see.

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