Twenty years ago hand-held, pen-sized red lasers appeared in the market place. More recently, green lasers are becoming increasingly common, amongst surveyors, business types, teachers, amateur astronomers, and the public in general. In amateur astronomy, green lasers are very useful for presenting tours of the night sky, and are being adapted for aiming telescopes. Unfortunately there has been practically no clear, quantitative information available about the possible hazards presented by lasers, green or red. Through some combination of ignorance, a Star-Wars mentality, and sheer stupidity, many owners of lasers have created hazardous situations for aircraft, automobiles and trains. Earlier this month a man in California was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for aiming a green laser at planes. In the U.K. there were 461 laser attacks on aircraft in the first nine months of 2009. Such incidents are occurring world-wide.
Roy will show quantitatively why an apparently harmless beam of light from a pen-sized laser powered by a couple of AAA cells is potentially so hazardous.
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