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back to article British boffin builds cool maser after argument with wife

An obscure Japanese research paper, some second-hand equipment on eBay, and a British scientist's argument with his wife have become the catalysts for creating the world's first room-temperature microwave laser. It's also around 100 million times more powerful than current models. Masers (Microwave Amplification by Stimulated …

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Mount a couple on SpaceX's Dragon capsule and we can invade Mars properly.

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Boffin

Well

Have an arugment with the Mrs first then fire them off.

It seems this yields better results.

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Joke

Meanwhile in America...

a number of generals and admirals all have suddenly raging stiffies for no reason they can fathom...

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Re: Meanwhile in America...

Real Genius - Operation Crossbow

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Meanwhile in America...

I wondered why I haven't seen Mrs Oxborrow around for a while.

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Terminator

He'll be inventing a total perspective vortex if he has any more arguments with his wife....

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Happy

Well I'm hoping she'll just whisper the word...........

.........Phaser in his ear next time.

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"In an infinite universe, the one thing sentient life cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion."

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JDX
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Very good, I hoped someone else would see that connection.

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FAIL

IF he invents it _for_ her, then there isn't much point, is there?

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Thumb Up

Can they be made waterproof?

Can they me made small enough to fit on the frikkin' sharks?

This is seriously good news though.

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Joke

Re: Can they be made waterproof?

Sorry, but that won't work. The sharks would cook themselves and then explode. Just like gerbils!

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Re: Can they be made waterproof?

That's okay, we have lots of them.

What? What do you mean endangered?

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Coat

Re: Can they be made waterproof?

Nah, there's plenty. Just look at them piled high on that Chinese fishing boat there.

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100 Million

"The results exceeded expectations, with maser emissions around 100 million times stronger than anything achieved before."

To me this fairly -screams- "measurement error". (Not that it is, but that's what comes to mind.)

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Mushroom

Re: 100 Million

That's probably what they were thinking before they set of the first atom bomb.

"No.... It can't be that powerful, surely!"

... Bang ...

"Bloody Hell!"

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Happy

Re: 100 Million

When I hear such figures I always think of Kent Brockman reporting on the Kamp Krusty episode.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I've been to Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and I can say without hyperbole that this is a million times worse than all of them put together. "

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JDX
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Re: 100 Million

No, that was why they invented it :(

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Re: 100 Million @ Atom Bomb

dont know if this is true or not as I got it second hand but its a great story anyways.

Apparently before the first atom bomb test Oppenheimer and the gang had a betting pool going on the effects. It was evenly split between those that believed the test would ignite the atmosphere and extinguish all life as we know it and those that thought it wouldnt.

Probably not true but conjours up a great mental image of boffins sweating bullets...

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Mushroom

Re: 100 Million @ Atom Bomb

Just to burst your bubble, based on the assumption that they're at least slightly smart, this story is not true.

Mainly because betting on whether or not you're going to be alive to collect your winnings is stupid.

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Gav
Boffin

Re: 100 Million @ Atom Bomb

Only stupid if you're the one betting you won't be alive. The one betting they will be alive wins either way. Alive and they win the bet, dead and they don't have to honour the bet. Just the slight downside of being dead, but if that's going to happen, it happens whether they have bet on the outcome or not.

So overall, the ones betting on dead are the stupid ones. Which has got to be good news, as you can then discount their estimations on the outcome.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 100 Million @ Atom Bomb

How narrow-minded of you. There are other reasons to make wagers than to collect winnings. That's why mathematicians sometimes play the lottery, while less sophisticated minds avoid it because it's "a tax on the ignorant".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 100 Million @ Atom Bomb

I'm betting most wouldn't knowingly set up a picnic table on a motorway at midnight though ;)

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Mushroom

Re: 100 Million @ Atom Bomb

Depends on the Motorway, does sound like a laugh though.. these days though, nanny state and all, they'd throw away the key. How does one unknowingly do it? Sounds like a solid defence, "sorry officer, I have no idea what happened, one minute I was in the shower and then..."

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Anonymous Coward

Fantastic result. Can they modulate it?

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Fantastic result. Can they modulate it?

At this point, they can only get a single burst and haven't yet achieved CW emission, so no, not yet..

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Pint

Historically MASERs have been used to amplify weak signals.

They were used to amplify the first geosynchronous satellite transmissions between ground stations and AFAIK are still used for deep space signals by NASA.

Such huge amplification offers some interesting possibilities.

amplifier (with suitable battery) + mobile phone = hot takeaways anywhere.

Just another small step in the rise of civilisation.

Gentlemen we salute you.

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Re: Historically MASERs have been used to amplify weak signals.

Actually the problem wasn't how much you'd amplify the signal, but how little noise you had. And MASERs cooled down to low temperatures were quite silent. A room temperature MASER would just amplify the thermal radiation of your room. That's useless for satellite communications.

If you get the chance, get once of those cheap RF-meters used to allign satellite dishes. Connect them to a dish, misallign it, then place your hand in front of the LNB. You'll be surprised that (unless you aimed it at another satellite) the value will actually go up.

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Re: Historically MASERs have been used to amplify weak signals.

At these alleged amplification values

amplifier (with suitable battery) + mobile phone = hot testicles more like.

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Anonymous Coward

Mobile phone.. heating food.. you've not really thought that through, have you?

The invention of a maser does not suddenly make batteries contain thousands of times more energy.

It takes a lot of energy to heat food. My microwave would deplete my phone's battery in less than 26 seconds.

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Re: Mobile phone.. heating food.. you've not really thought that through, have you?

I think you missed the "with a suitable battery" comment......

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JDX
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Re: Mobile phone.. heating food.. you've not really thought that through, have you?

Put your balls in a microwave for 'only' 26 seconds then and let us know how you get on.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mobile phone.. heating food.. you've not really thought that through, have you?

I would really, really like to see it start up the cooling fans, table rotation motor, magnetron, display panel if it has one and then go "peep peep peep" after 20 seconds. I'm not convinced!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mobile phone.. heating food.. you've not really thought that through, have you?

Is suitable battery maybe something like you would use to start a big car diesel motor with, like a Benz V8-Diesel, maybe 90+ AH ? You might actually be able to use it to power a sandwich grill instead? ;)

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Boffin

Re: Mobile phone.. heating food.. you've not really thought that through, have you?

Interesting aside - about a year ago there was some talk of using lasers in the place of spark plugs. I bet some guy just thought.. why the fuck not? Benefit? Well.. it's LASERS, is that good enough? Although for everyone getting all excited I may be wrong but wouldn't a maser technically be lower energy? Like how red lasers are lower energy than green which are lower than blue? Also isn't a CO2 laser is technically a MASER in the traditional sense as it's in the microwave range? So wouldn't like.. nasers or pasers be better?

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Screw peaceful applications like communications! I want my death ray!

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Joke

Re: want my death ray!

Get yourself over to Brotron Labs

youtube.com/watch?v=6hGgMPxlmJc

brotron.com/X/gallery_EDR.html

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Joke

@tkioz

After a heated argument with my gf (figuring anyone could do this) I'm just left a little antagonized. I knew it couldn't be this easy, so now I want one too.

Not having the intention to hurt said gf I'm now looking for volunteers. You sound eager enough ;-)

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Screw peaceful applications like communications! I want my death ray!

Then you will want a free electron maser, rather than a solid-state maser. Those are already in production for industrial applications with power levels up to about 2 MW.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @tkioz

Hey, we'll spank her, no worries. Only if it's strictly necessary, though.

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WTF?

Applications?

There's a lot of jokes about death rays and the like but seriously, what are the applications for masers?

More accurate rangefinders? Optical scanners? Higher resolution spectographs?

The key to significantly more information-dense radio signals?

Or is it weapons after all? Something 747-sized to shoot down missiles? F-15-sized to shoot down directly incoming small missiles (think AMRAAM-type) and the (many) aircraft that launched them at ranges of up to 50 kilometres? Tank-sized to shoot down incoming aircraft/missiles/artillery shells? Infantry-weapon-sized to shoot, with great lethality, from ranges of 10 metres to 1 kilometre?

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Re: Applications?

For weapons use, I think that microwaves have a problem with beam spreading over quite short distances due to the relatively large wavelength.

Someone who knows about this will probably pass further comment soon.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Applications?

"Someone who knows about this will probably pass further comment soon."

Ahem. Harumph.

No comment.

I'm wondering what the useful applications might be. This device is pumped with a laser as opposed to incoming microwave energy. That's not going to allow it to replace the ones that NASA use in communications. And we're already quite good at generating microwave power using magnetrons, travelling wave tubes and solid state devices. I suppose that there is a potential use in radar systems - perhaps you can generate very short pulses at high power which would give you good resolution. But we've been achieving that in other ways for decades already, so even that seems to be not very likely to get the population excited.

p.s I salute you if you got the joke, and I apologise deeply in advance

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Re: Applications?

you sir made me laugh!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Applications?

well I've used and held a maser that was built in Chelmpsford. I think it was x-band so fairly compact (around 6 kilos). It was the front end for a type xxx radar system. This new much more sensitive solid state maser jobbie will prob be able to be engineered into a 50 gramme system; it's job will be to give coherent receive sensitivity far below the rf noise level. That can give rise to many things - spread spectrum covert internet/darknet (where the RF noise is high i.e thermal limited terrestrial applications) - it could well give space looking antennae (where the external RF noise level is mostly big-bang echo) a mega increase in sensitivity - i.e less satellite TX power needed, or Satellite reception easier to achieve in cars or on mobile handsets.

This solid-state maser isn't (yet) a weapon, it's more of a boost in the receiving chain rather than transmitting, and it could scale well up to and beyond terahertz thus opening up those bands for useful fun?

(Oh and as for the weapons "I think that microwaves have a problem with beam spreading over quite short distances due to the relatively large wavelength" the spreading is mostly solved by highlighting the target/path with freakingly powerful ultraviolet laser - the high power radiofrequencies then channel at much less than free-space-path-loss. Get used to it, directed energy is available, update your infrastructure accordingly!)

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Re: Applications?

Maybe a portable EMP device to fry electronics selectively..

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Re: Applications?

A new generation of microwave ovens. 0 to Tasty in 0.01 seconds.

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Re: Applications?

Being electro-magnetic radiation, the inverse square law is probably more relevant than beam spread issues.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Applications?

>Maybe a portable EMP device to fry electronics selectively..

At last! My long-awaited yoof doof-doof-car-hifi killer! No more having to listen to whichever drivel if the current dance music craze blased out at 200 watts RMS from the passing chavmobiles.

And as a bonus, it may well make the shazzas and kevins sterile. Or at least, give rise to amusing mutations(*) in their gene pool..

(*) More so than usual. It's a pretty shallow pool usually..

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Re: Applications?

The principle application is the use of hydrogen masers as master oscillators for atomic clocks.

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