Hmm. I am extremely skeptical about the success of this project. From WSJ:
A quarter-century ago, American rocket scientists proposed the “Star Wars” defense system to knock Soviet missiles from the skies with laser beams. Some of the same scientists are now aiming their lasers at another airborne threat: the mosquito.
In a lab in this Seattle suburb, researchers in long white coats recently stood watching a small glass box of bugs. Every few seconds, a contraption 100 feet away shot a beam that hit the buzzing mosquitoes, one by one, with a spot of red light.
The insects survived this particular test, which used a non-lethal laser. But if these researchers have their way, the Cold War missile-defense strategy will be reborn as a WMD: Weapon of Mosquito Destruction…….
“We like to think back then we made some contribution to the ending of the Cold War” with the Star Wars program, Dr. Kare says. “Now we’re just trying to make a dent in a war that’s actually gone on a lot longer and claimed a lot more lives.”
The scientists envision their technology might one day be used to draw a laser barrier around a house or village that could kill or blind the bugs. Or, laser-equipped drone aircraft could track bugs by radar, sweeping the sky with death-dealing photons.
This story has been picked up and run all over. The scientists named in it do seem to be legit, and Intellectual Ventures, LLC is a real company. But…
This really seems problematic. Especially since all that was shown was a video of a mosquito bursting into flame. Was it real? Who knows.
None of the scientists named in this story seem to be entomologists, although it does say “Dr. Wood, Dr. Kare and another Star Wars scientist teamed with an entomologist with a Ph.D in mosquito behavior and other experts.” Anyone know who that ento is?
The scientists interviewed say they plan to put lasers in villages in Africa to protect them from malarial mosquitoes. (Presumably they will also invent a sustainable power supply to run it.) Some stories also mention hand-held personal versions. The current (non-killing) version in the demo requires a desktop computer to run it.
Would this be completely freakin’ awesome if it’s real?
Good luck to them, and I hope it works.
However, I think this will be about as successful as the first Star Wars system. And I think the primary purchase of this news story is to drum up capital for Intellectual Ventures.