7 mind-boggling uses for frickin' laser beams

What's different about this laser weapon is that it's solid state - there are no vast vats of chemicals sloshing around like in the USAF Airborne Laser, arguably making it much more fit for purpose as a military weapon in the long-term - something on which most military experts and US government sponsors seem to agree.

6. Lasers in any colour you like

One of the biggest obstacles to the more widespread uses of lasers is that scientists, engineers and consumer tech makers have to keep coming up with new materials and techniques to produce lasers of different colours.

That may sound silly, but it's well-known that Sony spent millions of man hours and piles of cash on searching for the secret to blue laser light creation for Blu-ray - the chief reason being that different colour lasers have different focal lengths, which in Blu-ray's case enables the pits on a Blu-ray disc to be packed in more tightly, increasing storage capacity. Phew.

[Picture credit: University of Rochester]

Scientists at the University of Rochester say they've cracked that conundrum by coming up with a new kind of nanocrystal that enables different colour lasers to be made from the same materials, making them much cheaper and easier to produce - and that could have profound implications for the gadgets we know and love: imagine a pocket money PS3, for example.

[via Physorg]

7. Making stars on planet Earth

The Large Hadron Collider may or may not turn the Earth into a massive black hole, but over at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US, scientists are working on something even more exciting - the creation of stars on Earth.

[Picture credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory]

Its National Ignition Facility (NIF) houses a network of 192 lasers, the light from which - it is hoped - can be amplified and filtered to eventually create nuclear fusion - the atomic reaction that gives our sun its awesome power.

[via Wired]