Senior Editor
02.12.10 32 Comments

When I read that Intellectual Ventures lab had built a laser, used it to kill a mosquito, and filmed it at 6,000 frames per second, I was sort of expecting to see the mosquito explode or get vaporized in slow motion.  Instead, the laser turns just half of one mosquito wing into a tiny plume of smoke and the mosquito slowly plummets out of the frame like a Japanese Zero.  Which in a way is even more badass.

At this year’s Technology, Entertainment and Design conference, Nathan Myhrvold demonstrated a “Death Star” laser gun designed to track and kill mosquitoes in flight. The device was crafted from parts purchased on eBay by scientists at Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures Laboratory. [Wired]

If played in real time, these segments would be roughly 1/10th of a second long. [Intellectual Ventures]

So they built a laser to kill mosquitos out of parts they bought on eBay.  Big deal, I just ordered a pizza off the computer. Meanwhile, the Wired article explains that the idea is to use it to eradicate malaria.

As Myhrvold explained, a child dies every 43 seconds from malaria. Current methods for eradicating the disease aren’t working very well. There’s no viable vaccine yet, and although mosquito nets work, people don’t always use them. When given free nets by public health organizations, many people in the developing world use the nets for fishing instead.

Hmm, so you’ve been giving these people mosquito nets, but they didn’t use them for their intended purpose… and your solution is to give them lasers?  Yes, I can’t imagine how this could possibly go wrong.

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