It's Possible to Steer Freakin' Lightning with Freakin' Lasers

Illustration for article titled Its Possible to Steer Freakin Lightning with Freakin Lasers

Supervillains rejoice: scientists have developed a way of steering lightning using lasers. I repeat: steering lighting with lasers. And they told me it could never strike in the same place twice!


Admittedly, the team of French scientists have only so far done this in labs, but it still works a treat. The team can create a "virtual lightning rod" by using pulsed lasers to create a column of charged gas in thin air. That means that the lightning zips down the column of charged particles preferentially, eventually making its way to what is supposed to be a less attractive spot for the lightning to hit.

The research, published in AIP Advances, claims that it could be used to shift the spot that lightning strikes by up to 50 meters. While the researchers have their thoughts on maybe, you know, saving lives using the technology, the supervillain in all of us knows full well that this should appear in the next Bond movie. [AIP Advances via PhysOrg]

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Rodney McKay

Jamie, I think you've accidentally inspired a great new gadget with your "steering lighting with lasers" typo (in the "I repeat:" line): I use a lot of steerable spotlights in my house, and often want to reposition them onto whatever I'm working on. Wouldn't it be cool to just be able to point a little laser (or maybe just a simple LED flashlight) where you wanted the light to be, and have the closest spotlight automatically center itself on that point? This would be especially useful for spotlights that aren't within easy reach.