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Frickin' LASER BEAM Shark Science

Frickin' LASER BEAM Shark Science

Clearly, Mr. Hill, you're in deep now. (grunting)(crinkling) As you can see, I've recently upgraded my lovelies, my sharks now have fricking laser beams attached to their heads. - You'll never get away with this, Man Bun! I'll make sure... Wait, what kind of lasers are you using for those sharks? Because, you know,depending on what you use it could make a big difference. - Well, I guess I didn't really think about that. I just thought that you would have some-- - Let's get technical. - Hey, no, I'm the one with the man bun here, I'm in charge, wait! (funky electronic music)(beeping) (grunting)(snapping) - Ever since a one Dr.Evil came up with the idea in the first "Austin Powers" film, sharks with fricking laser beams attached to their heads have become a classic super villain scheme. This is a ridiculous scheme, sure, but if we were super villains,which we're not, how would you go about making laser-sharks a reality?

What kind of beam would you use? What would the sharks actually do? What range would they have? Let's try our hands at some evil engineering. (evil laughter) Not shaving my head, though! First, what is a "laser? Most of the radiation that lights up your life looks like this, it's all over the place, amplitude, spacing,wavelengths are all jumbled up. But not imagine I put all this light through a small aperture in something like a wall. Then all the light will start coming through with a certain spacing. If we go one step further and we add a wavelength filter in front of this light, the light that comes out the other side will be of the same spacing and wavelength and amplitude, it will all look the same, and we call this coherent light.

Laser light is coherent, and it's why you can focus lasers down to such small points and why, instead of a jumble, you can produce single colors of groovy light. Baby. I guess? Laser light, like radiation in general, behaves differently depending on what medium it is moving through. For example, take your standard microwave oven. Inside of this science box, (beeps) microwaves are being shot into the air and into the food that you put into the microwave. But the water in that food more readily absorbs the microwaves than the air does, which ends up depositing energy into the food and heating it up more so than the air and this cooks your food. Similarly, laser light(electronic whirring) moves a lot differently(laser firing) through the air than it does through water and this will determine what kind of laser we actually want to put on frolicking laser-sharks' heads. (beeping) Oh, my pizza rolls are done! (sizzling)Ow, ow!

Gotta get it. Mm.(swallowing) We actually - oh, wow, that's good. We actually have a pretty good idea on how all electromagnetic radiation moves through water. Look at this graph here. Increasing y values means increasing absorption of radiation in water. Increasing x values mean longer wavelengths. As you can see, water absorbs and is really good at absorbing pretty much every form of radiation aside from visible light. And if you look even more closer, it absorbs bluish greenish light the least and more the reddish light the most. If you've ever wondered why our oceans are a faint blue, this is the reason. Water just so happens to less absorb and scatter blue light and absorb more reddish light. Of course, if this graph was shifted, if the universe was different, then our oceans could be yellow or even red. (splashing)He likes pizza rolls. But who doesn't? Because of what light travels best through water, we know have our first super villain suggestion.

The optimal colored laser to put on a shark is not the traditional red, but a blue-green laser in this range of wavelengths. But how good would this be as a weapon? One of the advantages of laser weapons generally and presumably laser-sharks specifically would be an ability to hit a target(laser firing) almost instantaneously from range, as lasers travel at light speed. However, molecularity speaking,water is a lot of stuff very close together, at least closer than the molecules in air are together, and so in water, laser shave a greater tendency to scatter and diverge to the point of harmlessness. Therefore, laser-sharks would have a serious range problem and I can prove that to you. So here I have a Science Tube filled with fresh water.

I also have a green and a red laser pointer. What we are going to do is check laser propagation of these wavelengths through our fresh water. Safety goggles on. (snaps) Here is the red laser pointer first. (intense electronic music) And now the green laser pointer. (intense electronic music) As you can see, both laser beams have very little trouble moving through this fresh water. You can hardly see the beams themselves at all. But if we're talking about laser-sharks, almost no sharks exist in fresh water. The vast majority of them live in the oceans and ocean water is very different in that it's very salty and there's a lot of stuff floating in it. You know, like fish poop. So let's try to replicate that. (snaps) For this exact volume of fresh water, I'm going to add an exact amount of sea salt to give this fresh water the same salinity as ocean water. (salt slides along paper) I'm also gonna add some pepper, salt and pepper, just as some random debris. (stirring) Okay, so now the red laser beam in the salty water. As you can see, it is a lot brighter as the beam is scattering and being attenuated much more so than in the fresh water.

And now for the green laser. Again, as you can see,you can see the beam a lot better as it's being scattered by the salt water and the random pepper debris that we put in there. But the point being that you can see the beam a lot more than you could before. In realistic conditions then, sharks with fricking laser beams attached to their heads are gonna have a serious range problem as salty water filled with random debris and sea life hamper weapon effectiveness. Safety glasses off.(screaming) Oh, stop, that was through the air, there was no-- But just how much of a problem would laser range in water be?  I'm on a watch list. A blue-green laser traveling through sea water will lose up to 50% of its power after traveling just 10 meters, or around 30 feet. This is a huge energy loss, especially considering that a laser fired through the air can travel basically unimpeded for kilometres.

So, even with extremely power full asters attached to them, our laser-sharks are probably going to be short range dangers, may be under 100 meters or so. (electronic whirring) So we have a blue-green,short range laser-shark. There's only one thing left to figure out. What we want the shark to actually do. (splashing) Of course, I know what a super villain wants to do with laser-sharks, they wanna "pew pew" stuff. But again, that's a problem underwater. Lasers damage stuff by depositing a lot of energy in a very small space,heating up those spaces to the point of destruction. But the same thing can happen to water that a laser is traveling through. So imagine a high-powered(laser firing) laser pulse creating a small, vaporized bubble of steam because there's so much energy there. This bubble of steam can then act to stop the propagation of other laser pulses through that same water. It's kind of like trying to shine a flashlight through a cloud.

This is called thermal bloom, and it's one of the big reasons why underwater laser weapons aren't really a thing. There are powerful laser cutters that do work underwater, of course, and if you attached one of these to a shark, it would make it deadlier, but again, like we said,these have very small ranges, and at that point, if you encountered a laser-shark, you're probably close enough to already be eaten by a laser-shark. My point being, all of this wouldn't be the "pew pew" that a super villain would expect. But don't worry, I have some other ideas. (splashing) The first alternative scheme is something we often forget lasers can easily do. The beam strength needed to blind someone is far less than the beam strength needed to put a laser weapon-like hole in them. So now, let's consider a laser-shark equipped with an evil eye targeting system. Then all it would take isa relatively low strength, short range, blue-green laser and that could (laser firing)blind targets before they were chomped by said shark and being blinded underwater sounds like sounds like an absolute nightmare. Here we go. And we already have technology that could do something like this, if we were being, ooh, evil. This is the Sting Ray Laser System.

What you're watching it do is use AI technology to identify parasites on the surface of farm-grown salmon. It then shoots a blue-green laser at those parasites to vaporize them, and it's doing so with high accuracy. Now, all we would have to do if we were being super villains which we're not is strap one of these to the back of a shark and re calibrate it so it's not identifying salmon parasites but human eyes and this technology already recognizes salmon eyes with 99% accuracy, so I guess that wouldn't be so hard. Hey, that's pretty good! Another laser-shark tactic might be even scarier: communication. Right now, militarizes around the world are experimenting with underwater communication using lasers. Blue-green laser pulses to send information between underwater objects like submarines. Now, this would take superciliousness technology and some super intelligent sharks, but just imagine for a second a shiver of sharks,(splashing) that's what they're called, using laser beams to communicate between each other and coordinate attacks on targets.

This is terrifying and the final scheme that I had to offer. Okay, Man Bun, get me outta here. (splashing) Get me, get me outta here! (whining)No! - Hmm, what a pity. Another adversary wasted. Well, I guess we did learn something though, today. Didn't you and I? If we were to use laser-sharks, we'd want to use a blue-green "laser" and train our sharks either to communicate or engage in short-range zapping. It's a more realistic death trap that doesn't even require a whole lot of lengthy explanation from me that gives the hero time to get away. Ha, all I would have to say is "Because science?

 For a laser weapon to even be effective, you would need something very high power, many, many watts so it could travel through the water effectively,actually do damage to targets if that's what you want it to do. It would be so high,perhaps, one million watts. No, but seriously. (bouncy electronic music) (writing)(papers shuffling) 


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