| Someday lasers will melt away your fat cells like so many
pats of Plugra
Fat is under fire once again, this time in the crosshairs of a free-electron laser at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Virginia. By carefully limiting the laser’s wavelength, researchers found a way to heat up different tissues at different rates, sending fat up in (figurative) flames while the contents of neighboring cells (most importantly, water) remain pleasantly cool. Tests on skin samples show promising results: Fat cells get about twice as hot as surrounding tissues. The fat is thus destroyed, and the body processes and removes it just like any other waste. Scientists have high hopes that the laser will one day erase ill-intentioned fat from all corners of the body. Possible targets include clogged arteries, acne-ridden skin and, yes, the occasional patch of cellulite. —Eric Mika
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.