:+: Green Lasers :+:
On this page, you'll learn how green lasers are made, what types there are on the commercial market, how they work, and why you shouldn't shine green lasers at airplanes.
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How a green laser works:
To understand how a green laser works, we'll cover the basics of how a laser works for those who don't know, already.
What is a laser?
First off, the word laser is actually an acronym. An acronym is a word that is made of initials of other words.
Some examples of acronyms are RADAR (RAdio Detection And Ranging) and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
LASER (usually written without all capital letters) stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.
How a laser makes a beam
A laser has coherent light. No, that doesn't mean the laser can talk, it means that it's organized like a marching band marching down a street, their feet all walking to the same beat.
The laser beam itself is only one color. You can also say monocromatic, if you want to be cute. The older computer monitors were like this. Not very good for playing video games more advanced than "Pong", but most computers then were used by businesses or researchers.
It is also a tight beam, not like a light bulb or a flashlight. A flashlight puts out light much like a shotgun shoots. It spreads in a cone of light, and the light doesn't light up things as well as it does near the point of origin. A laser beam, on the other hand, stays together in a fine beam for a much longer distance. A red laser pointer of the semiconductor or diode variety that you can buy as a toy may be able to put a dot onto an object at night around 1,500 meters away. If you use it in a very heavy fog, you will see the very thin laser beam coming from the laser.
In a simple laser, a flash puts light into a rod or other component, where the atoms become excited, and some of the atoms within it emit photons, which bounce back and forth between a set of mirrors. One of these mirrors isn't totally reflective, and is 'half-silvered', and the laser beam comes through that.
Green lasers and airplanes
(Why you shouldn't shine a green laser at an airplane.)
Even the low powered green lasers you can buy on the Internet from Websites when they are used to shine in the eyes of pilots may cause them to abort the landing of the planes, which will use up more fuel. The airline, when they discover who shined the green laser into the airplane, may decide to charge you for that fuel, and that stuff isn't cheap...
Even if they're totally incompetent, and have no imaginations or technical knowledge, the price of that fuel will be added to ticket prices, so you'll be hurting others by doing it.
While a CO2 laser would be more dangerous to an aircraft, and is invisible to the naked eye, most people can't get their paws on them. Which, considering how violent humans are, is a good thing... But, many people know where to buy a green laser (and some can build them) so the odds are that they're going to be looking for those with green lasers.
There's a federal law against shining a laser at a commercial airline flight.
Determining the source of the laser is relatively easy. Simply putting a thin layer of green colored film over a color camera lens (most of the newer CCD cameras used for security are these types unless they're used specifically for dark areas, where black and white cameras are used, usually with IR lights, which the un-aided eye can't see, but give the black and white cameras more light) should make the beam show up very nicely. And since this would only cost them a few cents per camera, an airport or an airline isn't going to mind doing that for a few cameras if the pay-off is charging somebody for the fuel they wasted and to make an example of some poor kid who probably got a green laser for a christmas present. :-P You know who you are. LOL
Laser beam colors and wavelengths
Most of you are probably not interested in learning about the full EMG spectrum, so we'll just talk about visible light.
A red laser like those cheap ones mentioned above, produces a beam of light around the 650 nm (nanometer) range, which to the human eye appears as the color red. Another laser which produces a red beam of light is a gas laser you've probably seen every time you've gone to a store since the 1980's or thereabouts depending upon where you live. It's the HeNe (helium-neon) laser, and it's usually seen at the check-out, when store employees pass a product's UPC code over a scanner.
A green laser however, produces a beam of light around the 532 nm range which to the eye appears as a green beam.
The green laser's beam, whether it's a pulsed green laser or a steady green laser beam when you hold down the button like most green laser pointers, being signifigantly brighter than a red laser's of the same power output (possibly as much as 55 times brighter), can be seen further away, and, when used at night, or in dark places, especially where there is a lot of moisture (like fog), or smoke, the beam can be seen almost as a solid beam with little specks glittering in it.
The green lasers you can buy probably use DPSSFD (Diode Pumped Solid State Frequency Doubled) technology to make the green laser beam. Unless you think you can find an argon gas laser that's cheap and can be made the size of an ink pen. ;-)
Fun and educational things you can do with a laser
(That hopefully won't get you into trouble.)
Shining them through different types of alcohol at a bar, or bouncing it around the mirrors in a bar. Some of us have been doing this for years. ;-)
Teaching people how to identify the constellations and the names of the individual stars in the night sky. For best results, this should be done at two places. One, far outside of the city's light pollution so they can see thousands of stars, and the other, inside the city, so they can recognize them after they get home (if they live in the city).
Shining it down a long road or a bike trail at night when you're alone on it and there's no lights there. Very cool looking when the fireflies are out, too.
Giving pets something to chase around the house. You shine it onto the wall that they're looking in the general direction of and move it around slowly, or you shine it on the floor that's to the left or right of them, but not between you and them because it may reflect into their eyes and hurt them.
Giving the clueless authorities a clue
Should somebody tell the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security how to detect these and other things (many of which terrorists don't have enough imagination to think of), or give them the links to this and other pages which would explain it to them? It's doubtful that it would do any good whatsoever. After all, if they ignore people who try to tell them about modern day slavery and serial killers, and let them continue killing people, why do you think they'd be interested in doing anything about people shining low powered lasers at airplanes? :-P
If they're serious about fighting terrorists, they should hire tech-savvy and paranoid people who have some military and civilian security experience, who not only know about technology (and repressed technology) but actually use it. They'd tell them about lots of other ways terrorists could do nasty things to people that they've never imagined. WEG
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