What’s the application? The use of lasers to provide an entertaining light show for humans, dogs, or cats.

What problem(s) is it the solution to? 1) “How will I entertain my dog or cat?”

2) “How can we distract people from the fact that Roger Daltrey has no voice left?”

Why are lasers essential? Lasers provide coherent beams of light, which remain small over very large distances, allowing you to project a small spot or a tight beam across a room, or even a football stadium.

Why is it cool? Duuuuude! Lasers, duuuuude!

Why isn’t it cool enough? 1) It’s fundamentally just a toy. 2) No amount of laser light could keep the Who’s halftime show from being kind of sad.

(This post is the first of twelve highlighting amazing laser applications, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first laser. These posts serve as a lead-up to an audience poll asking what the coolest laser application is, so if you like lasers and radio buttons, watch this space over the next week or so.)


  1. #1 Zeynep
    February 8, 2010

    The overall stage design for the show was really well-done, I thought. The lasers added to it. And, well, laser light. Always pretty.

  2. #2 Chad Orzel
    February 8, 2010

    The stage was very well done, and the light show was good. Shame about the singing, though.

  3. #3 Gray Gaffer
    February 8, 2010

    Then of course there is the original Laserium show, started in Griffith Park Planetarium in the mid-70’s, sadly displaced to a warehouse in Van Nuys when the whole building was lifted up for remodeling. They still give command performances, recently however lost a venue location at Hollywood and Vine.. I only lately discovered it is actually a performance, not a recorded effects show. Uses a 8′ long 6W argon-neon (?) white laser, lots of light bench stuff, and about 30 or so specialized deflectors and prisms at stage edge. Seriously, do not gaze directly at emitter with remaining hemisphere.

  4. #4 Romeo Vitelli
    February 8, 2010

    You’d think a physics-savvy dog would know enough to trace the light back to its source.

  5. #5 Gray Gaffer
    February 8, 2010

    “You’d think a physics-savvy dog would know enough to trace the light back to its source.”

    It is my experience that about 1 in 3 cats figure that out almost immediately, the rest never do.

  6. #6 Kathryn
    February 8, 2010

    It took my dog about 2 minutes to figure out where the light was coming from. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

  7. #7 CCPhysicist
    February 8, 2010

    And the two survivors of “The Who” knew it was sad, both singing and playing. Pete just laid down his guitar, smiled, and went out to punch the time clock.

  8. #8 Joseph
    February 8, 2010

    All this time nobody’s mentioned the speckles? That’s what lasers are for. Showing the speckles. ;)

  9. #9 Joseph
    February 8, 2010

    Good to know we weren’t the only ones who weren’t very impressed with the half-time show. Even *with* the wardrobe malfunction.

  10. #10 bramki obrotowe
    February 9, 2010

    Silly mutt :)

  11. #11 mollishka
    February 9, 2010

    It took my cat about two minutes to figure out where the red dot came from. Which means that now she gets really excited when she sees the laser pointer because then she knows there will soon be a red dot to chase.

    Also, there’s no way a silly light show can compete with the awesomeness of cats (and, fine, dogs or toddlers) chasing red (or green) dots.

  12. #12 Tim Eisele
    February 9, 2010

    “about 1 in 3 cats figure that out almost immediately”

    Of course, sometimes it doesn’t matter. One of our cats would find the laser pointer, poke it with her paw while looking at me pointedly, and then when I picked it up she would watch where it was aimed so she could pounce on the dot immediately. Then she would chase the dot like a crazy thing for as long as I cared to run it.

  13. #13 Kaleberg
    February 9, 2010

    Laser shows must have been a lot better in the old days. Check out the old Fountains of Wayne song, Laser Show:

    They come from Bridgeport, Westport, Darien
    Down to the Hayden Planetarium
    We’re gonna space out to our favorite tunes
    We’re going straight to the dark side of the moon

  14. #14 CCPhysicist
    April 23, 2010

    Laser and light shows were a lot better in the old days. More organic, rather than some canned digital movie. Heck, one of them even had rain along with lightning and thunder!

    But my reason for dropping back in here is to point to a recent xkcd cartoon about cats and lasers:


New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.