Sunday, May 31, 2009

digression: the US unveils a spanking new superlaser

The term "superlaser" is familiar to geeks who read Star Wars spinoff novels. It refers to the enormous, planet-destroying laser mounted on that infamous, moon-sized space station known, charmingly, as the Death Star. It seems that America now has its own superlaser-- one that will ostensibly be used primarily for scientific reasons, such as the creation of fusion reactions. (The laser will have military applications, but not necessarily as a weapon.)

Me, I want us to use that laser (well, it's actually a collection of lasers) for only one purpose: to melt the head of that huge, bronze Kim Il-sung statue in Pyongyang-- the one in front of which tourists are obliged to place flowers and make a show of reverence. I'd love that.

Unlike in the movies, laser beams generally aren't visible unless they're traveling through a medium filled with floating particles (e.g., smoke), thereby causing diffraction, which makes the beam visible to those standing alongside it. No diffraction, no visible beam. Ah, how wonderful it would be for a group of tourists to look up on a clear day and see, to their shock, Kim Il-sung's head smoking and melting for no apparent reason.


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