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Scientists successfully divert lightning bolt using super laser


Paris: In a breakthrough development, scientists at the Polytechnic Institute of Paris were able to divert lightning strikes using a laser beam aka super laser. The team of experts guided the strikes from thunderbolts to areas where they won't be able to cause any damage.

According to data, lightning kills over 4,000 people every year and causes billions of dollars worth of damage.

The new technology will be useful in protecting key infrastructure projects like power stations, airports, launchpads, and other buildings. As of now, the only protection against lightning is lightning rods first designed in 1749 by American polymath Benjamin Franklin in 1749.

Researchers shot a laser beam from the top of a Swiss mountain and guided the lightning from over 50 metres. The device, a trillion-watt laser, used in the experiment weighs about five tonnes and can fire up to a thousand pulses in a second. The laster creates a virtual lightning rod mimicking metal conductors that intercept the bolts and divert their currents.

We wanted to give the first demonstration that the laser can influence lightning - and it is simplest to guide it," said lead author physicist Aurelien Houard. He added that a similar laser was tested in New Mexico in 2004 but it failed due to not emitting enough pulses per second. A bolt of lightning happens in milliseconds.

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TAGS:lightningsuper laser
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