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December 18, 2019 30 mins

Forget Dr. Evil and his ridiculously evil plans... lasers are so much more practical than that! In this episode, Will and Mango discover why lasers are perfect for precision-cooking your bacon, how they can be used as chopsticks, why washing dishes is so much better when it's done by laser, and a simple laser trick for keeping pesky pirates at bay. Plus, we take a look at the very strange way Texas tried to educate aliens about queso. (Spoiler: It involved a laser.) 

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to Part Time Genius, the production of I Heart Radio.
I Guess what will? What's that mango? So Earlier this year,
the mayor of Austin, Texas used a laser beam to
send a recipe for kiso to the moon. It's impressive,
but I have to ask why exactly did he do this? Well,

according to his press release, this is what he said, quote,
we choose to send keeso to the moon and maybe
someday chips as well, not because these things are easy,
but because they are hard. So maybe maybe that's the answer.
But I think the real reason, and this is serious,
was to uh to teach future aliens how to make
keso in case they ever stop off at our moon,

which is a serious bit of intergalactic hospitality. I think, wait,
you're you're saying it's just the recipe, like the aliens
will have to supply their own chips and cheese. I
guess it's less hospitable when you when you put it way,
But still the Mayor's heart I think was in the
right place. His name is Steve Adler, by the way,
and the recipe he chose is a local favorite in Austin,
and it was sent to the Moon as part of

a lunar library that was stowed aboard a SpaceX rocket,
the Falcon nine. Oh like they Okay, I was I
was confused on how you were saying they had sent it.
I was actually hoping they kind of like carve the
case a recipe into the Moon, like with a laser
or something. But I guess sending it on a rocket
is that's a little bit more practical, I guess, yeah,
and a little less like cartoon supervillain. I guess that's true.

All right, Well, then how does the laser fit into this?
So the laser is actually what made the whole library possible,
because they didn't just send a one page case a
recipe to the Moon. The lunar library also included some
other quote unquote light reading and it includes the entirety
of Wikipedia um in English, tens of thousands of books,

and a key to translate everything into five thousand different languages.
So sending a hard copy of all those things clearly
wasn't an option, and instead the mission crew used a
power full laser to etch the entire library, letter by letter,
into this super light radiation proof nickel disk. And just
in case the aliens who find to have bad eyesight.
All the information on the disc was also laser encoded digitally,

so the aliens can put it up on their view
screens or whatever they have. All Right, so all of this,
like the laser ch case, a recipe, all of Wikipedia, this,
this is all actually on the moon. Now, yeah, I
mean there's a bit of a twist. The moon lander
that was carrying the library crash landed on the Moon,
and this was on April eleven, so so the mission
wasn't exactly a success. But the good news is the

library probably did survive. According to a spokesperson for the Foundation,
small light objects like our library do better and impact.
It was probably thrown a few kilometers away a thirty
million page frisbee on the Moon. I like to think
about certain first like that, if you think about it,
this was the first frisbee with a case of recipe
on it ever thrown on the Moon. I mean that's

pretty cool. Yeah, And and it was all made possible
by lasers, which kind of sums up our show today.
When you think of lasers, it's mostly like death rays
from sci fi movies and whatever. But as the Lunar
Library shows, the truth is that real world lasers have
much more interesting applications than just blowing things up, from
levitating objects to precision cooking bacon. There are lots of

weird things you can do with a laser beam, and
we're gonna take a whole look at a bunch of them.
Let's dive in. Y Hey, their podcast listeners, welcome to

Part Time Genius. I'm Will Pearson, and as always I'm
joined by my good friend Manguesho Ticketer and on the
other side of the soundproof glass, carrying on the show's
proud tradition of thematic prop comedy. That's our friend and
producer Lull. Just look at that mango. He brought in
his own laser pointer from home, waving it around on
pointing to all these different objects. I mean, it's not

a useful tool in his line of work, but he's
made the effort anyway. I mean, it's always putting in
the atah. I mean, it's that kind of spirit that
we we really appreciate it around here absolutely. And and
laser pointers are actually a good place to start because
they really aren't much different from the lasers we use
in research or defense. In either case you're dealing with
the device that works by amplifying a highly concentrated beam

of light a k A laser beam. So the main
difference between these devices is their power level. Right, The
maximum allowance for a laser pointer in the US is
a measly five milliwatts, but other kinds of handheld lasers
can rage anywhere from twenty five milliwatts all the way
up to a thousand. And that's what would have been
used to edge the case or recipe into that disk, right, yeah, exactly,
which is also why they're used for laser removals and

and certain kinds of surgery. And those procedures aren't just
for humans either. For instance, I read that some aquariums
has started using a seven d milliwatt laser to remove
harmful polyps from their coral Apparently the laser can burn
a poll up away so early that it won't ever
grow back, and the whole process only takes about ten seconds.
I mean, it does make you question at least a

little bit how safe these laser pointers are really. I mean,
I know they're weak, but if you think about sort
of like their larger cousins and destroying pole ups whole
cloth and a matter of seconds like the five milliwott
versions must do some small scale damage on their own,
I would think, right, yeah, and and that's actually why
you're never supposed to look directly into the beam of
a laser pointer, because if you're to do that, which

again you shouldn't, what happens is that a small portion
of your retina will be bombarded by like this highly
focused light. And when that happens, the optical nerves get
overloaded and you wind up seeing all these little floating spots.
So it really is frying your retina, just not as
quickly or decisively as like one of the stronger lasers,
right and and so when we talk about modern lasers
used for defense, it's that ability to temporarily blind and

really disorient people that's in play. It's not like blasting
through armor or blowing apart buildings. For example, in law enforcement,
there's something called a day their laser, and it's used
for riot control. It's basically like a larger version of
a laser pointer. It's about the size of a flashlight,
but it's got a two fifty milliwatt beam and it's
effective from about thirty yards away. So if someone looks

into the beam, they can lose sight for up to
fifteen minutes and feel nauseous for even longer. So the
idea is really to incapacitate a rowdy crowd all at once,
and there's no need for physical contact, I guess. I mean,
I could see how that'd be useful in some like
really drastic circumstances, but it still feels pretty extreme to
use these on civilians. But you know, there's one application

where it seems a little more appropriate, and that's when
ships use these dasers to ward off pirates. Have you
heard about this, I haven't. It's called sea lays, and
the stock version is a whopping five thousand milliwatts, twenty
times stronger than the flashlight that you mentioned, But if
you want it beeped up, you can actually get one
all the way up to twenty thousand milliwatts. So the

base model alone, though, is strong enough to be seen
from nearly three months away. So the idea is that
at a distance, you could signal the pirates not to
come any closer, like a warning shot, basically, than if
they continue to approach anyway, the daser's real effects would
start to kick in. The pirates would find themselves nauseas, disoriented,
and of course temporarily blind, which just doesn't seem pleasant. Yeah,

and and that's like consumer grade tech, Like anyone on
the streets can buy the stuff. Well, they go for
about a hundred thousand dollars a pop, so so maybe
not anybody off the street, but anybody with a hundred
thousand dollars in their pocket. They are available for civilians. Yeah.
Of course, the military has their own brand of daser lasers,
and these go back as far as the early sixties,
when the first real laser was invented. Their early reports

of a so called I popper developed by the Air Force. So,
according to this nineteen seventy two edition of the Post,
quote the strangest of weapons was dreamed up in the
early sixties as a means of exploding the eyes of
an enemy soldiers and their officers from distances of more
than a wile. Giant pulse lasers would sweep back and

forth across the battlefield, blinding anyone who looked directly at it.
That's sort of terrifying. Was it ever used in combat?
Thankfully not? I mean, the military eventually decided that exploding
the enemy's eyes from a mile away might not be
the most honorable form of engagement, And in and update
to the Geneva Conventions actually banned the use of any
laser weapons that cause permanent blindness, So this idea was

actually put to rest. So weird that they're like rules
to wark like that, But why don't we move towards
some of the more wholesome ways to use a laser beam?
For instance, did you know that judges have started using
lasers to help score gymnastics competitions. I had not heard this,
and I'm curious why this is necessary, Like what was
wrong with the old way of scoring competitions. So the

main problem is that humans can sometimes miss important details
when deciding the outcome of a sporting event. And that's
true even with instant replays. In fact, there was a
study on gymnastics competitions, and this was back into thousand fifteen,
and it concluded that up to sixty of athlete errors
go totally overlooked by judges. And so the solution of
that is to shoot a bunch of lasers at the
gymnast I guess, well sort of. I mean, there's this

Japanese electronics company, it's called Fujitsu, and it's been working
to develop three D laser sensors that can capture a
gymnast movements and analyze them on the spot as I
guess numerical data. So the idea is to use these
recordings as a supplement to the judge's own observations, and
if there's an error they didn't cash, the system will
draw their attention to it. And if a judge ever

needs evidence to back up a ruling, the system can
provide that too. I see. So then it's kind of
like the motion capture that's used in the you know,
the digital characters for movies like Gallum and Lord of
the Rings. Is it kind of like that? Yeah? I mean,
except in this case, the gymnast doesn't have to do
backflips while wearing like a suit covered in those ping
pong balls. In said, there's a series of lasers that
track their movements in real time and then transmit the

data to a software program, and that way there's a
detailed record of every move the athlete makes, no matter
how fast or complex it is. And this includes everything
from like the placement of their joints to the exact
angles of their movements. That sounds pretty amazing. Actually, and
you said, this is already being used in competitions. Fujitsu
announced the deal last fall with the International Gymnastics Federation

and they've already tested the system at a handful of
competitions this year, and and the goals really to roll
it out in earnest at the Gymnastics World Championships in
late September. But beyond that, Fujitsu is hoping the laser
system will become the go to tool for judges, not
just for gymnastics, but also for things like figure skating
or any other sport where they're like scoring inconsistencies and

and involves decisions about precise movements. That's pretty cool, But
I actually want to take us back to laser pointers
for a second, because there's a practical use for them
that I never would have thought about before we were
doing our research this week. And apparently home care nurses
sometimes use common laser pointers as a way to enable
their patients to communicate. So, say a patient has limited

mobility as well as difficulties speaking. In a case like that,
a nurse might attach a laser pointer to a pair
of eyeglasses or maybe the rim of a hat, and
then the nurse would set up this communication board filled
with common phrases plus all the letters of the alphabet,
and you know, and the patient could express themselves by
pointing to whatever it was they wanted to say. That's funny.

It's it's like the simplest use of a pointer, but
it's also to communicate in such a specific way. It's
so much more clever than, uh than you know, just
using it to get a cat to run around a room.
Speaking of which I know, we both found some scientific
uses for lasers that were equally unexpected. But before we
get into those, let's take a quick break. You're listening

to part Time Genius, so we're talking about all the
surprising things you can do with a laser. So just
keep in mind that even though you theoretically could do
these things, you probably shouldn't do all, or actually any
of them. The point you could use a high powered
laser to heat a material to well over a million degrees,
the atoms of that substance would cease to exist and

you'd be left with a soupy mix of electrons and ions,
what scientists lovingly referred to as plasma. But again, that
doesn't mean you should do that. So don't do that, Mango. Yeah,
I mean you definitely shouldn't do that. Recreating the core
of the sun in your living room is not recommended
by this show. Well that's a good call on a
less dangerous, but just as difficult side of things. It's

also possible to use a laser to levitate tiny objects.
So this is something I'm fascinated by, but it makes
zero sense to my mind. I mean, lasers burn and
melt and singe, so how could that possibly transfer into
making something float in mid air? I agree, I mean
it's not very intuitive for layman like ourselves, but it
helps to remember that light, including laser light, is made

up of photons, and those photons exert a special kind
of force known as radiation pressure, and that's really the
key to what scientists call optical levitation. So when you
have a really powerful beam of light, the radiation pressure
it exerts is sometimes strong enough to overcome the force
of gravity. So if you aim a high enough power

laser beam at a super light object, the force of
the lights pressure can actually propel it forward or even
lift it off the ground, which makes a little more
sense to me. I guess. So, so are like solar
sales an example of this, uh this technology, Yeah, that's
it exactly. I mean most people have probably seen one.
They're they're like big gold colored square sheets attached to

the end of a space probe or another small spacecraft,
and the reflective surface harnesses radiation pressure from sunlight, and
that in turn propels the craft through space. But you're
saying it's possible to float something with a laser here
on Earth as well. I mean theoretically, yes, the principle
behind it has been proven in a lab setting, but
a real world test is still years away. And if

that works, the researchers would be able to push around
tiny particles that are too small to control through other means,
and even cooler than that, they'd be able to power
real life micro machines, by which I don't mean the
tiny monster trucks that used to be popular when you
were kids, even though those are just as awesome as
levitating things, but rather things like flying a teeny tiny

camera over a volcano or through the wreckage of a
building or something like that. That's pretty cool. Well, since
you brought up radiation pressure, I do have to tell
you about this other weird application Gabe told me about Basically,
you can use to focused laser beams to create what's
known as optical tweezers, and this allows scientists to manipulate
objects smaller than a single micron, like a unit of

measure that's equal to about thirty nine millions of an inch,
or in other word, it's really really small. And and
so this works because of radiation pressure from the lasers. Yeah. So,
so when you have a laser beam on other side
of the object, the resulting forces actually work together and
allow you to grip the object, so you can kind
of think of it like laser beam chops six. That's cool. So,

so is this something that was just recently discovered or
what when Gay row up I I thought so too.
But but researchers first created optical tweezers back in the
nineteen eighties and they've been improving on the concept ever since.
In fact, the biggest limitation to the technology was finally
overcome just a few years ago. For the last thirty
years or so, there was always a cap on how
finally you could focus a beam of laser light, and
the result was that anything smaller than a hundred nanometers

couldn't be gripped by the tweezers. So I'm a little
rusty on the micro measurements, like how small is that
compared to the microns that you mentioned earlier. I'm embarrassed
to admit that I'm a little rusty on these measures. Yeah, well,
if I didn't have a shooting paper in front of you,
I would not A hundred nanometers is equal to just
point one microns. So we were already dealing with incredibly

small forms of matter before that, like the organelles inside
a living cell, or or a particle of bacteria. But
these are even smaller than those, and our laser chopsticks
just couldn't get ahold of them. But back in two
thousand fourteen, researchers and institute in Spain finally figured out
how to focus laser light to such a fine degree
that they could actually manipulate particles as small as just
fifteen animators. And so what kind of stuff does that

actually allow them to do so much stuff? Okay, enough said,
I mean, we'll never really understand. In fact, I'm just
going to defer to scientific American on this one and
and tell you that possible applications include, quote, building, medical products,
with nano scale exactness, manufacturing nanocrystal geometries for electronic devices,

and manipulating single molecules such as proteins. Right right, I
guess that that sounds good, I think, but we've still
got a few strange uses for lasers to talk about,
including a couple that are strictly just for laughs. But first,
let's take one more quick break. Welcome back to part

time Genius. Okay, Well, so we've talked about what lasers
can do for aliens, and for sports judges and for scientists,
but let's be selfish for a minute and talk about
what lasers can do for us. All right, Well, how
about this one. You can use a laser on your
dirty dishes and have them cleaner than they've ever been before. Like,
say goodbye to your dishwasher. You really won't need it

from here on out because of lasers. Well, in my family,
I'm actually the one who washes the dishes, and I'm
always looking for an excuse to throw out my dishwasher,
So so tell me more. All right, So it's pretty simple, really,
Like you talked about burning polyps off a coral earlier,
and it's it's the same premise here. Except with all
the grease and oil and mystery crust that gets stuck
to your cookware. You just install this device that kind

of looks like really like a table lamp, I guess,
and you put in your kitchen and then you never
have to scrub another baking sheet or non stick pan again.
You don't even have to control the laser by hand.
It is totally automated, so the beam just scans back
and forth over the pan or whatever it is that
you're clean. It just burns the grease right off of there.
It's pretty amazing. Wait, so it's going to leave something

behind right like, like it doesn't just vaporize all that gunk.
That is true, like there should be some food ash
left behind. But that's not the case actually, because the
laser cleaner also comes with a built in nozzle that
sucks up whatever the laser leaves behind. I mean, this
is just amazing. And the coolest part is that these
two functions occur simultaneously. So the surface of the pan

just goes from pitch black with grease too shiny and
clean right before your eyes. It's like some kind of
low key kitchen magic. It should totally be an informercial.
This honestly feels like you're infomercial pitching. I am kind
of also, I'm sold because you know, I'm the designated
dishwasher and I hate scrubbing pans in the most It's

definitely a pretty amazing invention. You can find the videos
of this thing online. You just look up laser age
TV on YouTube and look for the laser cleaning of
a baking tray. But if you do, make sure you
turn up the sound because you can hear the food
waste just sizzling away with every sweep of this laser.
It almost sounds like an electric shaver or something, and

it's all just weirdly satisfying. Yeah, I bet you know.
I'm already sold. But my only qualm is if it's
kid friendly to have like lasers in your kitchen. Oh, mango,
it is absolutely not kids, say, and it's it's really
just for large scale kitchens and bakery is not something
you'd want to keep around the house. In fact, this
might actually be the strongest commercial laser we have talked

about today. You remember the sea lays thing that ships
used to scare off pirates, right? Yeah? Sorry, are you
suggesting this technology? It can be used to clean pirates.
To you know what, that's actually a great idea, but
it's not exactly what I'm getting at here. But as
strong as that was, it maxed out at twenty thousand milliwatts. Well,
the laser for this cleaning system is six times stronger

at one and twenty thousand milliwatts. But if you want
to know the real deal breaker, here's another scary umber.
Forty thousand dollars. That's actually the going rate for your
own laser cleaner. I don't know, sending my kids to
college for getting clean dishes and I have to wear
it feels like an even trade. Possibly, but all right,
well fair enough, So so tell me how this strikes you,

though mego laser cooked bacon. I'm listening, all right. So
there's this mathematical science professor in Tokyo named Kintaro Fukushi,
and a few years ago he partnered with a guy
who runs a maker space in Japan, and together they
designed this laser cutter that can perfectly fry the fatty
part of the bacon, leaving the rest of it completely untouched.

That's interesting, but why not cook the bacon all the way? Well,
you could definitely set it so that the whole piece
of bacon was cooked. Like. The setup uses imaging software
to build a map of each bacon strip, and then
you can set the laser to aim at whichever parts
you want. I love that this is like probably the
most complicated way to cook bacon ever. But uh, I

still don't understand, Like why would you want partially raw bacon?
Like did they leave it that way on purpose? I mean,
I love how much this is bothering you instead of
just focusing on the amazing technology. I mean, the truth
is they left the meaty parts of the bacon uncooked
for a couple of reasons. First, it showed off the
mapping feature for their laser cutter, and second, it was
a way of honoring the raw food tradition in Japan,

like seafood is you know, the big example, but there
are lots of traditional Japanese dishes that call for raw
chicken or pork. Eating raw meat is much less common
in Japan these days, but some people still prefer their
bacon only slightly browned. That's really interesting. I've never heard
of that. Here's another unusual application for lasers I just
learned about. According to the research from the Lincoln Lab
at m I T it's possible to beam a secret

message directly into someone's ear using a laser. So you
can actually be walking along and all of a sudden
you hear a whisper in your ear, But it's not
coming from the person next to you. It's coming from
someone eight feet away that you haven't even noticed. Who
just shot a laser at your ear. That is so
creepy sounding. So how would this even work? Like, what
do lasers have to do with transmitting sound? According to
the research team behind this, it works because laser light

excites the moisture in the air around the target's ear.
So basically there's a phenomena called the photoacoustic effect, and
because of that, the water vapor in the air will
absorb the lasers emission. And then what that produces sound? Yeah,
the water vapor gets so excited by the laser that
it actually starts to vibrate an audible frequency. All right,
So let's say you live in a dry climate, like
with this not work there, I feel like I might

have to move to a desert just to escape this
weird thing. Well, it actually does work there because even
if you're somewhere dry, there's still usually enough water in
the air to produce the effect. You maybe wouldn't hear
it as strongly as you might in wetter environment, But
even then, the researchers think the volume of the sound
has more to do with how well the water absorbs
the sound, rather than how much water there is in
the air. That's terrific, you know, I'm still trying to

decide if this is fascinating or horrifying. Like, on one hand,
it would be pretty fun to beam whispers back and
forth without leaving a paper trail or like disturbing people
around you. You can even have a conversation from across
a crowded room, which would make for like an amazing
party trick or a spy trick or whatever. But on
the other hand, it's easy to imagine like companies beaming
ads into our ears at all hours of the day.

Like imagine walking past a coke at at a bus
stop and it triggers this like motion sensor, and as
you walk away, you hear someone like playing the company
jingle in your ear, and things could start to feel
super dystopian like pretty quickly. With something like that around, Wow,
I would be pretty unnerving. Yeah, it's it's so weird, right,
But but amazingly, that's not even the scariest potential use

for sound based lasers. Wired had this article recently about
how hackers will soon be able to use lasers to
speak to any kind of computer that uses voice commands.
So we're talking smartphones, tablets, even home assistance like Alexa,
Siri and and Google Home wes. You're saying the microphones
and those devices will respond to the light of a
laser just like they would respond to a sound. Exactly so,

according to the researchers who discovered this was possible, if
you point a laser at a microphone and change the
intensity to a precise frequency, the light will somehow stimulate
the microphone's membrane at that same exact frequency. They are
completely sure yet what causes this light as speech effect,
but the result is that the microphone reads the incoming
light as a digital signal, just like it does with sounds.

So if you were in a room when this happened,
you wouldn't actually hear anything. The laser voice is completely silent,
but the microphone inside your device would respond as if
it had just received a voice command. All right, So
what about the voice assistant that's on your phone, Like,
like on my phone, series only responds to commands if
I'm the one who speaks them. So does that make
smartphones immune to these kind of laser attacks? I mean,

they've got a slightly better line of defense than smart
speakers like the Amazon Echo or the Google Home. Those
don't have the kind of voice authentication you're talking about,
and that makes them especially vulnerable to light commands from hackers.
But that said, if a hacker had a recording of
your voice or was somehow able to reconstruct it, they
could actually adjust the frequency of their laser to match
the sound of your own voice and then use the

to issue commands to your phone. So what what kind
of commands are we talking about? Exactly? I mean, it's terrifying.
They can make online purchases, unlock your car, adjust your thermostat,
open the garage door. It really just depends on the
kind of system that's being hacked and what the user
has it hooked up to. And the worst part is,
because of how intense a laser beam is, hackers could

use this trick even on devices that are hundreds of
feet away. So if you have a home assistant that
responds to voice commands. Your best bed is to keep
it away from any windows. If it's in the hackers
land of site, then it's in the land of their
fire too. Yeah. That's that's interesting. You know, I thought
we were selling a dishwasher laser in this show, but
it turns out we're advocating for really heavy curtains and blinds.

I feel like at this point, I mean, it really
all goes back to what we were saying earlier. Just
because we can do all of these things with lasers
doesn't mean we should. I mean, for my part, I
think I'll just stick to using them to point at
things and we'll leave the rest to the professionals. Yeah,
that's probably a good idea. But before we bow out
of this laser game for good, let's fire off a
few more rounds in today's back off. Yah yah h

m okay. So I wanted to start with this one
because it's something I always forget, which is that the
word laser is really an acronym. It stands for light
amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. And the other weird
thing is that most of that name was actually taken
from an earlier technology that amplified microwaves instead of instead
of light waves. So some mazers, I guess, yeah, exactly.

I I used to think masers were some kind of
made up science fiction version of lasers, like in the
old Godzilla movies, the military always rolled out these tanks
with satellite dishes on them to to fight the monsters,
and they were called maser cannons. But it turns out
that those were a real thing, and they actually predate
lasers by about a decade or so. Plus they're effective
against Godzilla, which isn't nothing. I mean, that's that's impressive. Alright. Well,

back to lasers. If today's show has you craving a
few more lasers in your own life, you could always
head to No Man's Land for the most remote game
of laser tag on the planet. So Originally built during
the Victorian era, as this British sea fort, the aptly
named No Man's Land is an artificial island that never
saw much action and was ultimately decommissioned during the nineteen fifties.

So from there. The fort had a single brush with
fame back in the seventies, when it served as a
location for a doctor who episode, apparently it was home
to a race of these evil bipedal reptiles called the
Sea Devils. Then, in two thousand fifty No Man's Land
entered the strangest chapter yet when it was converted into
a luxury hotel and entertainment resort. These new features of

the fort include twenty two bedrooms, a cabaret bar, a sauna,
plenty of shops and restaurants, and of course, a twenty
one room laser tag labyrinth that winds through the entire
lower level. And if you think about, like, who doesn't
want to play laser tag in the basement of an
abandoned sea fort, it just sounds pretty awesome. Um. In
November two thousand seventeen, a British laser lighting Companies set

the world record for the largest laser light show of
all time. This is at a convention in Las Vegas.
The company made history with a thirty minute laser show
that featured to staggering different lasers. The show culminated in
a seven minute finale that lit up the Nevada sky
with a massive one thousand, three d seventy seven watts
of laser power and again for reference, the average laser

pointer uses just five milliwatts. Yeah, that's a lot of juice.
That's that's interesting, all right. So we've run through a
bunch of different applications for lasers today, but back in
the sixties when they were first being developed, no one
was really sure how you could actually use these things.
In fact, the inventor of the laser didn't even really know.
His name was Theodore Maymon, and despite building the first

functioning laser for Hughes Laboratories in nineteen sixty, he later
referred to his creation as quote a solution seeking a problem.
And the good news, as I think we've shown today,
as they're turned out to be all all kinds of
problems that lasers can actually help solve. Yeah, that that
is true. But I have to point out there's at
least one major problem that lasers could potentially create in

the future, and that is, of course, the warping of
space time. You know, I thought for sure this was
gonna be about some like real life death star or something.
But what do lasers have to do with space time?
So this all comes down to gravity. Light carries energy,
and because of that, light has its own gravity. But
the gravitational force created by laser light is scientifically speaking,

a little bit funky. It turns out that when you
rotate a laser beam, it's gravity actually warps the nearby spacetime,
which you might recall is basically the fabric of the universe.
So as the beam rotates, spacetime curls along with it.
And I know this all sounds kind of scary and
world ending, but don't worry, because the researchers behind this
discovery have a much less upsetting way to think about it.

According to them, the reality warping effect is like if
you put a ball into honey and spin it, the
ball kind of drags along the honey around it. You know,
I'm not sure that's any more reassuring, but it is
fun to imagine the fabric of the universe is honey.
So I really feel like for that alone, you've earned
the trophy for this week, Mango. Congratulations. Well, it is

an honor. As always, I do think we should thank
Gabe for doing the heavy lifting on this episode, as
he does for most episodes. But but lasers are so
complicated and you did so much research for it. But
I think that's it for today's part Time Genius from
Will gave Lowell and myself thank you so much for listening.
We'll be back next week with another new episode. Part

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