A New Laser Threat?

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Wicked Lasers claims its new hand-held laser has an 85-mile range, is 8,000 times brighter than the sun, and is the "world's brightest laser you can legally own." In other words, the device may be completely useless outside of a lab, but is apparently being marketed to the public. The cost of the new "S3 Krypton Series" laser is $1,000. According to one review, a previous model was "dangerous" and only useful for "irresponsible, reckless activities." That new one is 20 times brighter and in the words of the same reviewer, is "twenty times as awesome." The reviewer adds, "I'm terrified of it."

Early this year, the same company released a sub-$300 laser capable of near-instant close-range retinal damage. As for who the new laser appeals to, a review by Gizmodo.com, a website for technophiles, described the laser with these words: "You can't do anything with it" and "I can't help but love it." Users are cautioned not to look at the beam, not to look at the spot and not to look at light reflected from the beam. After an increase the number of pilots reporting incidents with lasers, the FAA in June announced new civil fines for laser misuse, topping out at $11,000.