Friday, 15 March 2013

Blue Lasers. The UAE's Newest Toy.

A military scientist operates a laser in a tes...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Gulf News reports, bothering to give us remarkably little background, on the arrest of a Yemeni man in Sharjah for selling 'blue lasers'. The report is linked for your scanty erudition here. It was Sharjah CID wot made the nick.

Blue lasers are nasty little things. Thanks to quantum advances in laser technology, you can now buy a hand held 1.5 Watt 450nm laser 'pointer' for under Dhs 1,000. They're freely available on the web with sellers such as this one happy to mail you a device.

Most will be aware of the prevalence of red laser pointers in the UAE's cinemas - and there have been numerous reports of dolts pointing red lasers at planes. Well, blue lasers are the Chuck Norris of hand held laser devices - they can actually burn skin, pop balloons, ignite matches and cut plastic. Needless to say, merely a passing flash of one of these babies directly into an unprotected eye could cause permanent retinal damage. In fact the reflected light from a handheld blue laser can cause retinal damage.

They're every schoolboy's dream.

In a number of applications, they're useful things. They're the technology behind Blu-Ray discs - basically, blue lasers operate at a lower waveband than red or green lasers and so can be more tightly focused, allowing manufacturers to read more data in a smaller space. But that also means they can be used to produce more powerful lasers with lower power requirements - in this case actually dangerous devices with no useful application beyond burning things and hooning around. They're based, in case you were wondering, on gallium arsenide diodes.

It would appear from Sharjah CID's action that hand-held blue laser 'pointers' are being effectively banned in the UAE (although I've seen no announcement to that effect - and Gulf News certainly doesn't bother to clarify this). But I would submit that's no bad thing...
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