Unless you’re some kind of expert, defining a laser accurately is going to be a little tough. As common as it is, one would think it’s just a simple light or beam but it’s a bit more complex than that.
According to the dictionary definition, a laser is an instrument that makes use of the vibration of atoms or molecules between energy levels. This produces a beam of radiation.
But for a more detailed explanation, you can read the difference between light and laser. You might also find this video helpful:
What’s funny is that the acronym would have been more accurate if it were “LOSER” which would have stood for “Light Oscillation By Stimulated Emission Of Radiation”. Of course, that never really took off for obvious reasons.
The Use of Lasers
Lasers are used in everyday life. It is integrated into society so seamlessly, which makes it quite easy to take it for granted.
The use of this device is so far-reaching. It is employed in something as simple as a pointer for a slideshow presentation and something as complicated as nuclear fusion.
Here’s a list of a few ways lasers are used:
- Cutting, welding, drilling
- Various forms of surgery
- Cancer treatment
- Target designators
- Laser cooling
- Laser scanning
- Hair removal
- Tumor removal
- Optical Storage
- 3D scanners
It’s absolutely fascinating, and some functions might even be new and revolutionary. Take a look at how they are used here:
Lasers are so incredible that these have caused serious inspiration in the SciFi community. If you’re a George Lucas fan, then it’s amazing how lightsabers represent such a harmonious fusion of engineering and high fantasy.
With the exponential growth in technology and engineering, perhaps in the future, we’ll actually be able to see these laser-inspired high fantasy weapons become fully realized. With its widespread use in today’s society, I do feel quite hopeful.
The possibilities are endless:
Quick History of the Laser
The first successful laser was called the ruby laser which was invented by Theodor Maiman in the year 1960. But there’s some controversy on whether he is truly the first one.
Gordon Gould invented the MASER. This is another acronym short for “Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”.
But because he did not have his work patented until 1959, there were those who took the opportunity. Gould began on his optical laser in 1958 and he was actually the first one to use the word “laser”.
Kinds of Lasers
Based on the many uses of lasers, one might easily hypothesize that there are different kinds of lasers. Of course, although it’s essentially the same technology, I wouldn’t think that you would use surgical lasers to play with your cats.
There are actually a few classifications of lasers and they have varying functions. Note that the list below provides just a few of the many laser examples and applications out there:
|Type||Laser Examples & Application|
|Gas lasers||Carbon dioxide laser: Interferometry, holography, spectroscopy, barcode scanning, alignment, optical demonstrations.|
|Xenon ion laser: Scientific research|
|Argon laser: Retinal phototherapy, lithography, confocal microscopy, spectroscopy pumping other lasers.|
|Chemical lasers||Hydrogen fluoride laser: Research for laser weaponry, used in continuous wave mode|
|COIL (Chemical oxygen-iodine laser): Military lasers, scientific and materials research|
|Dye lasers||Dye lasers: Research, medicine, spectroscopy, birthmark removal, isotope separation|
|Metal-vapor lasers||Copper vapor laser: Dermatologist use|
|Helium–cadmium metal-vapor laser: Printing, fluorescence excitation examination, scientific research.|
|Solid-state lasers||Ruby laser: Holography, tattoo removal|
|Chromium-doped chrysoberyl laser: Dermatologist use, LIDAR|
|Holmium YAG laser: Tissue ablation, kidney stone removal, dentistry use|
|Semiconductor lasers||Semiconductor laser diode: Telecommunications, holography, printing, weapons, machining, welding|
|Vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser: Telecommunications|
|Others||Nuclear pumped laser: Research, weapons|
|Free-electron laser: Atmospheric research, medical use|
Acronyms Turned Words
The English language continues to grow and adopt foreign, slang, and abbreviated words into its extensive vocabulary. Of course, this also includes acronyms that are now recognized as actual words in the dictionary.
An acronym is formed from the initials of words in a phrase. For instance, “FBI” is an acronym for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
We may have encountered or even used plenty of words that are actually acronyms. In fact, I had no idea that laser was one of them until it was discussed in school.
When I learned this, I wondered if other familiar words were actually acronyms. Here are several terms:
|ZIP code||“Zone Improvement Plan”|
|SIM card||“Subscriber Identification Module”|
|GIF||“Graphics Interchange Format”|
|CAPTCHA||This one is a lengthier phrase:|
T-uring Test to tell
|SCUBA||“Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus”|
|CARE package||At first, this was short for “Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe” but later, this was changed to “Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere”|
|POG||“Passion fruit, Orange, Guava”|
|RADAR||“Radio Detection And Ranging”|
|SONAR||“Sound Navigation And Ranging”|
|AWOL||“Absent Without Official Leave”|
|SWAT||“Special Weapons And Tactics”|
|TASER||“Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle”|