• Question: How can lasers be used and can they be used for fun or home technology?

    Asked by JayZ2002 to Natalie on 20 Nov 2015.
    • Photo: Natalie Garrett

      Natalie Garrett answered on 20 Nov 2015:

      Lasers are amazing! You will probably have a CD player, or a Blu Ray player at home – these devices have lasers in them. They are used in a similar way to the old vinyl record player which used a needle to run across bumps in the record. The laser reflects off the spinning disc, and the disc has features on the metal that encode for data, which the machine can read and interpret as sound and visual signals. So clearly, lasers can be used in home technology.

      You’ve probably seen teachers use laser pointers at some point. These are limited to a power that is safe (less than 1 milliWatt) so it’s OK if it gets into your eye by accident, it won’t blind you. This is just one other application for lasers.

      The lasers in my laboratory are much much more powerful than this (over 2000 times more powerful) and they could blind you if the laser light got into your eye, so you have to wear safety goggles to protect yourself if you use them. I use these lasers to take pictures of biological samples, like here you can see an egg sac inside a creature called a Daphnia (a rather cute kind of crustacean): https://i.imgur.com/5qhPn.jpg?1

      Don’t forget to vote for your favourite scientist today! (Obviously I hope you vote for me, but you should vote for your favourite).