Laser Kills Mosquitoes Like Brin's Bee Zapper

Physicists have created a laser weapon that targets mosquitoes. It is hoped that by finding an effective weapon against mosquitoes, the incidence of malaria could be reduced. Today, malaria kills about one million people every year around the world.


(Mosquito Zapper)

"We'd be delighted if we destabilize the human-mosquito balance of power," says Jordin Kare, an astrophysicist who once worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the birthplace of some of the deadliest weapons known to man. More recently he worked on the mosquito laser, built from parts bought on eBay.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the device is the brainchild of Lowell Wood, an astrophysicist who worked with Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb and architect of the original plan to use lasers to shield America from the rain of Soviet nuclear arms.

Dr. Wood suggested that the old "Star Wars" laser shield idea could be used to zap mosquitoes.

Demonstrating the technology recently, Dr. Kare, Mr. Myhrvold and other researchers stood below a small shelf mounted on the wall about 10 feet off the ground. On the shelf were five Maglite flashlights, a zoom lens from a 35mm camera, and the laser itself -- a little black box with an assortment of small lenses and mirrors. On the floor below sat a Dell personal computer that is the laser's brain.

The glass box of mosquitoes across the room is an old 10-gallon fish tank. Each time a beam strikes a bug, the computer makes a gunshot sound to signal a direct hit.

To locate individual mosquitoes, light from the flashlights hits the tank across the room, creating tiny mosquito silhouettes on reflective material behind it. The zoom lens picks up the shadows and feeds the data to the computer, which controls the laser and fires it at the bug.

Not only can the laser target a mosquito, it can also tell a male from a female based on wing-beat.

I'd hesitate to credit this idea to Dr. Wood. Instead, consider David Brin, who wrote about a laser-based bee zapper in his 1990 book Earth:

At least the bee zapper was working. For years their hives had been under siege by Africanized swarms, seeking to take over as they had everywhere else in the area... But a few weeks ago Claire had found a net reference by a fellow in Egypt, who'd discovered that the African strain beat their wings faster than the tame European variety. Burrowing into archaic TwenCen military technology, he had adapted sensor-scanning designs from an old defunct project called "Star Wars..."

Like a glittering scarecrow, the cruciform laser system watched over her squat hives. When she had first turned it on, the surrounding fields had come startlingly alight with hundreds of tiny, flaming embers...
(Read more about Brin's bee zapper)

From WSJ; thanks to an anonymous reader who contributed the tip and the reference.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/16/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Dune Fans! Power Your Devices With Sweaty Shirts
Yet another power source from humans.

Zero Mass 'Vaporators' Pull Drinking Water From The Air
Did you think of Star Wars?

Integrated Circuits Printed Right Onto Fabric!
'...a shirt that displayed email on its sleeve. - Margaret Atwood, 2003.

Drones Guided By The Mind Alone
'His treads left no tracks upon the floor...' - Clifford Simak, 1961.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

A 'Genuine Nanorobotic Production Factory'
'Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically, purposefully - constructing something...'

Neuromorphic Computer Offers Non-von Neumann Architecture
Fires faster than brain at 1/10K energy.

Evorus Your Crowd-Powered Conversational Assistant
'...the DS [Daily Schedule] was suddenly transformed into a valued confidante.'

Mealworms Food Of The Future
Get your grubs on.

Alibaba's AI May Read Better Than You
'Mike ... could accept other languages and was doing technical translating - and reading endlessly.'

Musk's Boring Flamethrower
'Skeletons in tatters. Burned by a flesh gun'

Humanity Star LEO Advertisement?
'Everyone has noticed those enormous advertisements...'

Nissan ProPILOT Slippers Are Self-Parking, Autonomous
Beyond science and fiction.

Atomristors - Atomic Memristors - Using Thin Nanomaterials
'I could almost feel those little tunnel junction neuristors working, forming their own interconnections as I operated it.'

Bigelow Prepares Inflatable Lunar Hotel
'Suddenly, hitherto unheard-of sums of money became available for investment in civilian orbital stations.'

Drunk Driver Of Tesla Claims Autopilot Was In Charge
'Mr. Garden, you are in no condition to drive.'

Medical Exoskeleton From Cyberdyne Gets FDA Approval
It's been a long road for HAL-5; I started writing about it in 2005.

Fungi-Infused Concrete Repairs Itself
'I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily.'

Shiftwear Display Shoes
'He unlaced her shoe and glanced at its readout.'

NASA SEXTANT First With X-Ray Nav In Space
'You need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'

GM Introduces Cruise AV With No Steering Wheel
'How about the steering wheel?' ... 'I do not need one.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.