The most powerful lasers now being built, such as the forthcoming Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) project underway in Europe, may approach the physical ceiling of laser intensity -- they may turn out to be the most powerful lasers that ever can be built, says a new article on the PhysicsBuzz blog.
That finite limit on how intense a laser can get is hypothesized to exist because, at sufficiently high energies, matter can be created out of light.
When a high-powered laser fires, causing photons to impact electrons at a tremendous velocity, it is possible for matter -- a positron-electron pair -- to be created by the impact, as was demonstrated in a Stanford experiment in 1997. When such matter is created with a sufficiently high energy, it in turn can emit photons that move fast enough that they create their own matter. This cascade effect can have as much energy as the laser itself does, and result in the destruction of the laser.
It is predicted that the effect will be visible in the ELI project and other lasers currently being built.
so what? now star wars style laser battles are possible...oh science
I think hey are saying that Star Wars style laser battles are NOT possible . COnfuSiNg article
No Star wars battles are possible. You must not forget that these lasers are PULSED, not continous like a laser pointer. When and if we can build CW lasers in the petawatt range we will see some very devestating weapons emerge. Just remember that todays chemical lasers operate in the Megawatt range and can destroy missiles. a Petawatt is a one TRILLION times the power of a Megawatt laser is. We have plenty of room to grow.
cue imperial march theme song and princess leia crying prepare to blow up alderaan in 3 2 1.
No it says the opposite. If they had that kind of power they would destroy themselves and not the target.
That's total hogwash. If continuous they would just destroy themselves that much faster.
can we drill a hole with it?
I don't know what makes people think Star Wars weapons are lasers. They clearly look like plasma "rays" to me, including the light sabers.
LOL, Someone mentions lasers and everyone jumps to star wars...
that was the point, it was assumed they were lasers, and than that was disproved so they became plasma...but this article says that at a high enough energy the laser actually becomes high energy matter. allowing it to become links instead of steady stream. it says the laser is destroyed by this new matter, but that matter still exists, so it basically transforms laser into matter. making star wars lasers, lasers again, and not plasma.
... So you are trying to tell me that the death star pictured above is not real nor possible? :'(
08/11/10 at 8:37 pm
That's total hogwash. If continuous they would just destroy themselves that much faster."
When the article says it would destroy the laser; it means the actual light would convert to matter. I does not mean the device creating the laser would blow up.
When I think about "lasers", I think Dr. Evil from Austin Powers. Maybe it is worth investing in nuclear power energy research if the most theoretically powerful "lasers" can't blow up planets and stars.
First of all I would like to say shame on Popsci for having a person who knows very little about lasers and light write about this subject. This article does not really provide any new information on lasers and unfortunately the information is mostly wrong.
First off, particles of light, photons, only go one speed. They don't go "fast enough" as the article explains.
As a physicist let me explain. Photons, i.e., particles of light only go one speed, which is about 3.0x10^8 m/s. Why is this? Basically it's because they don't have mass. However, photons do have momentum, which is dependent on their wavelength; the more photons you have at a given time the more momentum. A photon's energy is transfered to electrons via its momentum. The so called theoretical limit does not have to do with the "speed" of the photons, it has everything to do with how many photons you can cram into a given amount of time. Since photons can occupy the same space, electrons can't, you can concentrate large amounts of energy into a very short time with a laser pulse. This is peak power, energy/time, which is measured in Watts. You should be able to figure out the rest on your own.
Popsci, please have a scientist review your articles. This stuff is confusing people, not informing them.
I think we should all just call them "lasers", which is a more inclusive term. Thanks, Dr. Evil.
Cutting edge tech and everyone cant stop talking about Star Wars, hell even me... ><
And here I thought all photons had the same speed. Physics sure has changed a lot since I went to school.
Great, what can we use this for? WWIV?
In response to the comment:can we drill a hole with it?
>X< The answer is exactly Yes, but in reverse.
I think the new laser can start with a hole and create matter around it
Could the physics behind these matter producing lasers begin to explain dark matter? Intergalactic collisions and supernova spew gazillions of photons @ the speed of light.
No, but I think it could explain quasars
Wait; Let me get this straight...
They're wanting to build a huge, very expensive and very resource-unfriendly laser to test a theory that, if correct, would blow the whole fucking thing to bits...
Science, you so silly =^_^=
IMA FIRIN MAH LAZOR
What? Somebody had to say it.
Well, I say we put this technology to good use and do what we humans do best by firing it at the moon. Although depending on how well collimated it is we might just be creating a fifty-mile wide beam of light.
So, if a petawatt laser is a billion times stronger then the lasers that pwn drones, how big an explosion (if an explosion could occur) are we talking?
In conclusion it selfdestroys at use. Funny twist, another comedy of populizing science. And why is everybody that fast by relating to weapon nonsens. Get over it, the most powerful weapon is not having to use a weapon anymore.
Stoopid is not reading correctly. It is stating that upon impact with electrons, the laser beam would create matter. That is not saying that suddenly you have a beam of matter. The matter would be created inside the laser device and destroy the laser device itself. Otherwise there would be no upper limit to laser output.
I just hope they have the decency to put on a show where they vaporize a whole bunch of stuff, especially if it's funded with taxpayer money. Why even bother making lasers like that if you're not gonna turn something into a puff of fire & smoke on national TV?
wait we can create matter out of light? what happened to "matter cannot be created or destroyed only converted to another form"?
star wars happened years ago so it is possible second they already have lasers that are used as weapons such as to fight merkabrah and other spacecraft that is hostile to earth
Do your research!!!!
So can a small handheld laser that can fit easily in your pocket, now be lethal like a gun?
Sure will make it easier to commit murder without being caught.
Matter and energy are interchangeable, which is why the sun burns and nuclear weapons go boom. There are environments where light can be slowed down to about the speed where you could see it moving. This happens at the center of the sun.
Now, rather than create matter by concentrating intense laser light on a point, I would rather create anti-matter. My plan is to use time-reversed laser light (yes, there is such stuff) and see if that does the trick.
Anti-matter is a really neat commodity and if I become the world's leading supplier of it I could buy my own World Series team.