There are some inventions that we take for granted, and yet they are the ones that provide us with a great deal of our daily necessities. Take electricity – when was the last time you actually thought about the process that brings it to your home or place of work? We never do, we simply expect it to be there, and largely it is.
Electricity is all around us, but there are some other very important 20th century inventions that are widely used, and that we don’t tend to think about. We’re here to talk about the laser – or more correctly the LASER as it is an acronym, but why do we think it’s so important?
What’s So Good About Laser?
Laser was first demonstrated in 1960, and once it became commercially viable, it rapidly found its way into many uses in households and in commerce and industry. What is it, and why is it so useful?
Laser stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. That’s a mouthful, so they shortened it to laser. Put simply, laser is a type of light. It is, however, not a natural one, and is very different to other forms of light. Without getting too complex, a laser device produces a beam of light in which – unusually – all the wavelengths of the different colours that make up white light are uniform, and close together.
What this means is that you get a very focused beam of light, one that does not spread but is directed onto a very small area. This means it can travel further than normal light, is more powerful, and has some surprisingly interesting uses.
What is Laser Used For?
Let’s start with a common household item: there is a laser in your CD and DVD player, which is used to convert the information on the disc into sound and vision. Lasers are also used widely in industry, and are part of the process of making the integrated circuits that you need for your home computer to perform.
This is done by using a laser marking machine which is a clever device that imprints an indelible mark on whatever material it is designed for. It can etch onto the material used to make circuit boards, for example, and there are many different types of marking machine for a variety of different industries.
As laser concentrates very powerful, bright light onto a vert small area, it can create enough energy to cut through even the strongest of materials. In many areas of industry, a laser cutting machine is used to get very precise results for the production of a massive variety of products, ensuring that quality control is far more precise than in the days before laser was available.
That’s just a few uses for lasers, and there are many more that we could tell you about. What you need to know is that lasers are far more important you might realise, and we should be thankful to those who invented them all those years ago.