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"Human beings hardly ever learn from the experience of others. They learn; when they do, which isn't often, on their own, the hard way."
- Robert Heinlein

Ultraflash  
  A device that sterilizes the skin by a pulse of light.  

Before entering the Wildfire research facility, researchers must sterilize.

A steel-walled cubicle, with a helmet on a peg. The sign said "This is an ultraflash apparatus. To protect head and facial hair, place metal helmet securely on head, then press button below.

Hall had never heard of ultraflash, and he followed directions, not knowing what to expect. He placed the helmet over his head, then pressed the button.

There was a single, brief, dazzling burst of white light, followed by a wave of heat that filled the cubicle. He flet a moment of pain, so swift that he hardly recognized it until it was over. Cautiously, he removed the helmet and looked at his body. His skin was covered with a fine, white ash - and then he realized that the ash was his skin, or had been: the machine had burned away the outer epithelial layers.

From The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton.
Published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1969
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