Sometimes it’s hard to know whether to take an engineering project seriously. This is one of those times. Laser weapons to kill mosquitoes. Today, on Engineering Works!
If you’re a Star Wars fan, or if you lived through the Strategic Defense Initiative anti-missile defense project in the 1980s, you know all about using lasers as weapons. From Han Solo’s laser pistol to the Death Star, laser beams lanced out and zapped whatever was in front of them. Great stuff, in a movie. A similar idea, to use powerful lasers to destroy ballistic missiles, was proposed in the 1980s. It never quite worked, and after a while the money ran out.
Now, engineers are hard at work developing laser weapons to go after somewhat smaller targets. These lasers are aimed at mosquitoes. The engineers are quite serious. Mosquitoes infect more than 700 million people a year with malaria and other diseases. The idea is that small computer-controlled lasers will zap the mosquitoes before they can bite humans.
It works in demonstrations just like in the movies. The main problems involve calibrating the computers that identify targets so the lasers don’t shoot at humans or good bugs. Everyone involved is confident they can make it work.
As for us, we’re going to stick with good old mosquito repellent. See you next time.
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Start the discussion: It’s easy to poke fun at ideas like this, but if it works, it’s nothing to laugh at. Malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases are serious problems in many areas, and any good idea to cut down on them probably should be looked into.