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Power Space Hardware

Power Beaming For UAVs and Space Elevators 137

An anonymous reader writes "The idea of power beaming — using lasers or microwaves to transmit usable energy over great distances — has been around for decades. But recent advances in cheaper, more energy-efficient diode lasers have made power beaming commercially viable. LaserMotive, based in Kent, WA, is best known for winning the Level 1 prize of the NASA Power Beaming Challenge at the Space Elevator Games last November. In a new interview with Xconomy, LaserMotive co-founder Tom Nugent, who previously worked on the 'photonic fence' mosquito-zapping project at Intellectual Ventures, talks about gearing up for Level 2 of the NASA competition, slated for later this year. What's more, LaserMotive is trying to build a real business around beaming power to unmanned aerial vehicles, remote sensors and military bases, and other locations where it's impractical to run a wire, change batteries, or truck in fuel. The ultimate goal is to beam large amounts of solar power to Earth."
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Power Beaming For UAVs and Space Elevators

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  • Sounds cool (Score:3, Informative)

    by socceroos ( 1374367 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @11:37PM (#31841672)
    I'm surprised that with all the recent news of NASA being marginalized that they can still have competitions like this? Or have I just got the wrong impression of the state of NASA's future?
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

      all the recent news of NASA being marginalized

      You should look at where you're getting your news from.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Laser Dan ( 707106 )

      I'm surprised that with all the recent news of NASA being marginalized that they can still have competitions like this? Or have I just got the wrong impression of the state of NASA's future?

      The prizes are tiny compared to NASAs budget, and save them a lot of time and resources.

      They get multiple groups working on something and only have to pay the prize to the best, so I'd say it's pretty efficient for them. Not so much for the teams that don't win though.

      • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

        It's productive for all the teams though.. having a clear focus, competition and a cash prize to win does a lot to drive productivity.

        • ok go out finance a team in a NASA prise for a few 100k, fail to win then lets see you tell us it's productive.
          • by norpy ( 1277318 )
            assuming you aren't already an R&D firm that wants to collect patentable inventions....
            • 1. whats the t&c's on these competitions? you might find anything you invent for the comp isn't your property

              2. merely patenting something doesn't make you money

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

                whats the t&c's on these competitions? you might find anything you invent for the comp isn't your property

                You may be completely ignorant of the Centennial Challenges program too..

                Having actually spoken with competitors I can tell you that they all say they're glad they entered the competition even when they don't win.

                • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

                  by timmarhy ( 659436 )
                  i don't really give a fuck what warm and fuzzy feeling the nerds on the ground had about it. my point is it's probably not great for 9 out of 10 teams that enter it financially.

                  more power to NASA if they can find suckers to do their work for peanuts though...

                  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

                    I hate to tell you this, but it's usually not financially great for the person who wins either. The prize hardly ever covers the development costs. From a purely "let's start a team to win the prize" standpoint its a really dumb idea. Now, if you have a clue, you'll be wondering why *anyone* enters the competition. For the answer to that question, read the article... the activity that the prize is an incentive for is commercially interesting. Without the prize, people would still be interested in it bu

                    • Re:Sounds cool (Score:5, Interesting)

                      by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @04:40AM (#31842808)

                      http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/428439main_Space_technology.pdf [nasa.gov]

                      "The return on investment with prizes is exceptionally high as NASA expends no funds unless the
                      accomplishment is demonstrated."

                      Am I the only one thinking that perhaps they should structure more government contracts like this?
                      With a focus on "expends no funds unless the accomplishment is demonstrated".

                      Which I would have thought should be a requirement for all government contracts but sadly is not.

                      It increases the risk to the companies involved but that just means you need to make the winnings pot a decent size.

                      Stop fucking around with these tiny little prizes of 1 or 2 million dollars and offer pots that would make a venture capitalist salivate( like 500 million dollars for the bellow)

                      "put at least one human being on the moon and bring him back to earth safely and collect *list of samples* and place *list of scientific equipment* on the lunar surface"

                      For comparison:
                      the space shuttle: 115 missions (as of 6 August 2006) - total cost $150 billion

                      at the moment prize pots seem to always be trivial quantities of money compared to the rest of the budget.

                    • by Skater ( 41976 )
                      Clearly, you haven't tried getting $500 million from Congress for something.
                    • The contractor needs your money to complete the project. But I agree that a substantial component of the monetary award for completing a project should be based on the project's successful completion. Ask us Californians how we like still paying for a failed computing systems upgrade at the DMV sometime. Especially since it's been many years since, now.

                    • by Thud457 ( 234763 )
                      fine, we'll try it your way...

                      Here's a 150 contracts to put a shuttle-load's worth of personnel and cargo into low Earth orbit and return them safely to Earth. $500K a pop, payable upon successful completion.

                      crickets chirping...
                    • by khallow ( 566160 )
                      Prizes don't work without the money.
                    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

                      Pah. The way the entrepreneurial mind works: Oh I wish I could do something with rockets but it's all so hard and I don't know if I can make a go of it. Hey, is that John Carmack the guy who wrote Doom flying rockets to win a million dollar prize? Wow, I can do better than him, I've actually got an aerospace degree! Quits job, starts company.

                      Prizes serve the same purpose as early customers: they take startups out of stealth mode and announce their business plan to the world. Other entrepreneurs see th

                    • Jerry Pournelle's been beating that drum for years.

          • by rts008 ( 812749 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @04:30AM (#31842774) Journal

            If everyone had your attitude, we would still be living in caves in Africa.

            Don't push the boundaries, and stay in your mom's basement for all I care.
            But your display of your lack of adventure/exploration/curiosity paints you into a corner from my view.

            *hyperbole warning*
            Real men with balls are explorers, always pushing the boundaries.
            Real men have the balls to attempt and fail, learning something, and trying again.
            Real men don't give up until they see their vision through, or die.
            *end hyperbole*

            Humans are renowned for their curiosity, and the mental capacity to satisfy that inherit curiosity.

            Therefore, by my straw-man reasoning, I have deduced that you are subhuman. ;-)

            Your type contribute nothing to our world. You're just leeches; a detriment to our society/species/world.

            Win or lose, you should applaud their effort[or turn in your geek/nerd card and STFU]. We all benefit, directly, or indirectly.

            There is a reason Star Trek had such an affect on society/industry/science.

            "To boldly go where no man has gone before.."

            That appealed directly to our species sense of adventure/curiosity.


            • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

              by Anonymous Coward

              *hyperbole warning*
              Real men with balls are explorers, always pushing the boundaries.
              Real men have the balls to attempt and fail, learning something, and trying again.
              Real men don't give up until they see their vision through, or die.
              *end hyperbole*

              I'll add a few more:
              Real men leave the toilet seat up after use.
              Real men never preheat the oven when cooking an instant pizza.
              Real men like to hang their clothes on the hooks on the floor.

              YES! I'm your MOM!
              Now clean your room before you go off exploring or you will be grounded!

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by stand ( 126023 )

              There is a reason Star Trek had such an affect on society/industry/science. "To boldly go where no man has gone before.." That appealed directly to our species sense of adventure/curiosity.

              Plus, Kirk always got the hot chicks.

            • You could have saved yourself all that work, and just pointed to “crab mentality [wikipedia.org]”. ^^

              One thing you missed, is where GP’s position comes from: Efficiency. Simple as that. Is it worth it?
              (See, you always get further, when you really understand what you oppose, instead of being ignorant. Also being nice trumps being arrogant. [Where I seem to fail too. ;])

              I think what is the deciding factor here, is if your initial experiences with risking something were good or bad. Initial, because later s

          • You may be the dumbest person alive, you do realize that those companies that fail to win simply treat the prize like a bonus, and that the R&D and networking is the real payoff. Good companies with semi intelligent people running them can assess the tech risk of an endeavor and will choose to go forward based on that not some small change prize. A team of 10-15 people would easily eat up 0.5M on a project of that magnitude, it's foolish to think that the prize is the end goal, mostly it is an opportu
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tangentc ( 1637287 )

      I don't think they're really being that marginalized. The Constellation program (which I assuming is the source of most of the marginalization talk) wasn't making effective use of money and wasn't delivering much. But with no plans to replace it (at least that I've heard of) manned space travel definitely seems to be being put on the back burner.

      Beyond that though, holding competitions like this is a great use of their budget. The rewards they give are relatively small compared to what it would take to deve

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm more surprised as to why this anonymous reader is advertising LaserMotive so much. It starts out talking about the competition and so-on, but in the end it ends up focusing exclusively on LaserMotive.

      Unless, of course, LaserMotive is going to bring out a new product and they're trying to get some astroturfing in so in the future we'll be all "Oh hey, that's that innovative new company with the power and the beaming and the nasa winnings and so forth."

      Or maybe I'm just a cynical bastard. Oh well!

    • by FleaPlus ( 6935 )

      I'm surprised that with all the recent news of NASA being marginalized that they can still have competitions like this? Or have I just got the wrong impression of the state of NASA's future?

      As QuantumG said, you should probably read better news sources. ;) NASA's budget is actually being increased under the FY2011 budget, which you can read here:

      http://www.nasa.gov/news/budget/index.html [nasa.gov]

      Although all of NASA is getting an overall boost, the Centennial Challenges prize competitions like the ones in the summary are getting a particularly large boost. I believe they only got $4 million in FY09 and $0 in FY10 (yay for Ares cost overruns eating everything else in the budget), but from FY2011-FY2015

  • Trying to build a monopoly! They want to have a stranglehold on the... oh. Tom. Damn.
  • by slimjim8094 ( 941042 ) <slashdot3@@@justconnected...net> on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @11:51PM (#31841738)

    Simple enough - just have a satellite convert it into powerful microwaves which you then beam down to reflector dishes. It works great! But you have to be careful, as occasionally the satellite gets out of whack and cooks large portions of your town.

    That, or Godzilla. Unless you've turned disasters off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Or pop lots of popcorn.

    • It was called "oops" in the original...

      I mean really, what could go wrong when sending massive amounts of energy through the air?

      • by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @03:36AM (#31842596)

        >I mean really, what could go wrong when sending massive amounts of energy through the air?

        Well looking at an existing experiment doing just that... a random planet can have multiple elements starting to behave in highly abherent ways, self-replicate, become self-aware and call itself "life" ? You do realize that, that is exactly what the sun does every single day right ?

        • Yeah well, except that our plan is to put a giant lens (or lens-equivalent photoelectric system) between us and the sun, and fry us like ants, when we miss the tiny tiny dish.

          It all comes down to the amount of energy. Just like it’s the amount of something that makes it toxic. You can die from drinking simple (bottled/tap) water, if you drink enough of it.

          • And you can die from too much exposure to the sun right now. It causes melanoma's, too little, and you die from a vitamin-D deficiency.

            I'm quite sure we can't build any technology that could actually beam more known harmful radioactive energy at us than the sun already does, what the technology does propose to do is to send it to a targeted location even when that location is currently pointed away from the sun (e.g. nighttime). It's not the amount it increases, but the availability. Trust me, no reasonable

    • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @12:24AM (#31841890) Homepage

      When I read the article, I mused that the damage done by a mere misfired power beam might be nothing compared to the damage that the space elevator the beam powers might do if it falls. One of the most interesting scenes for me in Kim Stanley Robinson's novel Red Mars [amazon.com] was the vision of the descent of a Mars space elevator after it is severed from the asteroid it is tethered to: a white hot ribbon of carbon lacerating the entire circumference of the planet, even wrapping around twice for added damage if it is long enough.

      It's a bit sobering to think that even if mankind solved the plague of nuclear weapons, there's new ways to rain down mass destruction from orbit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sexybomber ( 740588 )
        If an Earth orbit elevator cable were to get cut, I think most of the ribbon would burn up completely as it fell, no? Especially on the second pass, it would be falling through the full thickness of the atmosphere. It might rain soot along the entire equator for a while, maybe the occasional chunk or two, but probably nothing more serious than that. In the thinner Martian atmosphere, though... less air resistance, longer cable... yeah, that'll fuck with ya. I remember that scene too. Great book.
        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by ubergeek09 ( 1412177 )
          Most of the elevator would actually stay in orbit and only a small portion of it would actually fall down to earth. Maybe none of it because the part that won't remain in orbit may actually be strong enough to hold itself up under compression.
          • by Rakishi ( 759894 )

            A space elevator is not a building. Current designs would be a ribbon 10cm wide and thinner than a piece of paper.

            In how it works it'd be more like a rope hanging down from space essentially tied down at a geosynchronous orbit (by another large mass/force beyond geosynchronous orbit). You cut it near that point and the whole thing must fall down like any other untied rope. There is no section that can stand up under compression because it'd be pointless to do that.

            If you cut it low down than the only sectio

      • IANAS, but the idea of a space elevator is that not only will the "cable" be held up by the centrifugal force of spinning around the earth, but Space elevators do not exist because we haven't discovered/invented a material which can withstand the tremendous force of spinning in a circle. If a space elevator were to fail, I think the worst scenario would be the elevator goes drifting out into space.

        Even if the cable were to fall to the earth, the reason re-entry creates so much friction is that spacecraft ar

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TheLink ( 130905 )
          > A space elevator would only have the angular velocity of the earth, so locally it would have no angular velocity.
          > Unless it was sent whipping around the earth by some external force, it would simply fall down.

          No it wouldn't just fall down.

          When a figure skater pulls his/her arms in, the figure skater spins faster. Why?

          Because everything wants to keep moving at the same speed, and the stuff further from the center is moving faster than the stuff nearer.

          So when the bits of the elevator are pulled in,
        • by Thud457 ( 234763 )
          totally OT, but weird, man:

          1970 - Caldwell, NJ - mystery thread hanging from the sky [weirdnj.com]

          follow-up [weirdnj.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Rakishi ( 759894 )

        Earth has an atmosphere much ticker than Mars. A space elevator falling would create a marvelous strip of fire across the sky but not much would be left of it to hit the ground.

        Also, a space elevator would probably have the density and thickness of cardboard. A lot stronger to tear apart mind you but the parts not high enough to burn up would not fall straight down like a rock. So they'd gently float down onto the uninhabited ocean that surrounds the space elevator. Same for any other pieces that survive re

        • Some of the crawlers attached to it might leave unpleasant carters but probably not much damage either.

          Like Jimmy Carter? He was much before my time, but I guess a lot of people found him unpleasant.

    • If you had two cables, insulated like spacey twinlead, then you could use dc to say vhf for power.

      If you had one insulated cable, then with two exponential feedhorns, you would have a "G-Line" that would get rf up the cable to the elevator.


      "Snotty beamed me twice last night." Spaceballs

    • I remember having this same problem in simcity 2000.
    • You just have to turn disasters off, problem solved.
  • that *might* be more practical ... the technology *could* be useful ... We *think* we can produce revenue while we get experience

    Perhaps "have made" and "commercially viable" don't mean what I think they do.

  • The ultimate goal is to beam large amounts of solar power to Earth

    Last I checked, within their life span solar cells on earth don't pay for themself, or barely pay for themself. Presumably the advantage to harnessing solar power in space is the increased intensity of light without the interference of the earth's atmosphere. But solar panels aside, building and launching satellites is expensive, and this laser transfer of energy has unavoidable energy losses. One has to wonder if this could work out to be economically viable without some other serious technological breakth

    • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @01:27AM (#31842124)
      It's not 1963 anymore.
      We've got these things called integrated circuits and microprocessors now that meant we're using high purity silicon in bulk and the price has fallen to the point that solar cells are in cheap novelty garden lights.
      I suggest "checking" again.
      I don't really understand where the "lifespan" thing comes from since there's still panels from the 1970s running. Please elaborate and tell me what modes of failure make you think they have a short lifespan?
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by Rogerborg ( 306625 )
        Energy costs, not dollar costs. You think photovoltaic pays for itself? Show me the energy costs, including extraction, installation, maintenance, oh, and keeping the people who do all those things alive so that they can keep doing them indefinitely.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Fex303 ( 557896 )

          Show me the energy costs, including extraction, installation, maintenance, oh, and keeping the people who do all those things alive so that they can keep doing them indefinitely.

          Because with a coal mine you've got none of those costs, right?

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            Be quiet and don't mention coal or you'll wake up the nuke trolls that answer every solar article with a comparison between nukes and coal :)
            • Well yeah nuclear fission is great. It is the only viable alternative to coal we have. Hydropower comes close but the amount of places you can build it is quite limited, mostly already exploited, and they use a lot of land area.

              As for crystalline solar photovoltaic cells you would be surprised. I know people like to say silicon wafers are made from sand, but the fact is it is not that simple... First you need to separate the silica in the sand (it's the glassy quartz like bits). This is probably near the

              • by dbIII ( 701233 )

                Then you need to melt the silica at 1650(±75) C and grow a crystal by putting a seed crystal in the melt. You pull the seed out and the crystal has formed around it.

                It's more like what you might have seen with a plastic model aeroplane kit with the bits between the parts. Crystallisation is actually initiated on something that solidifies into a rod leading into the main casting. It's done that way to ensure both that it's a single crystal and that the crystal is orientated in exactly the direction yo

              • by geekoid ( 135745 )

                You really need to look at waste and emissions as well.

                Sadly, everyone thinks Nuclear waste is like it's shown on the Simpsons. IN fact, most people don'y know how little waste there is.

                Industrial Solar Thermal allows for storage of Solar gathered energy through the night.

            • by geekoid ( 135745 )

              Since Solar advocates always compare to coal, then it's only fair that other power generation system also compare to coal.

              And 4th Gen Nuclear would go a long way to solving are energy problems.

              As would Industrial Solar Thermal and roof top solar.

          • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

            by Rogerborg ( 306625 )
            Do you know what a rhetorical question is?

            We know - from our continuing existence - that coal provides more energy than it uses to obtain it. Does photovoltaic? I'm concerned that it doesn't, and the problem is that it'll take us another 30 years or so to find out that we've committed to a Sisyphian task.

        • Energy costs, not dollar costs

          The main dollar cost was melting the silicon and keeping it molten during purification. It turns out that it's vastly more efficient to do that in bulk, so you reduce both energy and dollar costs because they are very closely correlated.
          Nice to see all those extra little bits added on that don't get added on when other forms of energy are considered - keeping people alive on that list as well? Care to add in airfares for holidays, energy cost to fabricate the planes and to ma

          • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

            by Rogerborg ( 306625 )

            Keeping people alive is "irrelevant bullshit"? See, that response is exactly why I am concerned that photovoltaic is a cult rather than a solution.

            Curious that you think the "irrelevant bullshit" isn't a consideration for other forms of energy generation. Of course it is. Only a brainwashed retard would suggest otherwise. Our continued existence proves that fossil fuels provide more energy than they take to obtain, plus enough extra for super-"irrelevant bullshit", like the devices we use to have this

            • by dbIII ( 701233 )

              Keeping people alive is "irrelevant bullshit"

              Ah, the "for the children" distraction has surfaced despite being a million miles from the topic, and the personal insults (retard etc).
              Save that shit for the playground and act like the adult you are supposed to be.
              Since you've modelled it with ever expanding costs there are only two possible answers - the entire worlds economy or telling you to grow up and consider it seriously.

              • To be fair, you may just be very drunk, instead of so retarded that you are unable to understand that accusing someone of spewing "irrelevant bullshit" is the opening move in the "for the children" gambit.

                Speaking of which, you don't have the energy numbers, do you? It's OK, I'll wait while you try and find them, since they're the only thing that matter. Good luck with that.

                • The truly amusing thing is you are trolling somebody in the oil and coal exploration industry about solar energy. So much for being in the "cult" you rather strangely refer to above. I suggest acting like an adult instead of this silly little game where you set people up to fail with your pointless criteria that you know have not been measured.
                  Now if you were serious instead of playing a silly game of insulting strangers and making everyone think you are stupid you would have googled for something about e
    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

      Yes, serious technological breakthroughs are required for solar power sats to work. Increasing the efficiency of solar collectors, reducing their mass, and reducing launch costs are all required. But that's the normal case for anything space-based.

    • Last I checked, within their life span solar cells on earth don't pay for themself, or barely pay for themself.

      Solar panels could repay the cost of their production within 7 years in the 1970s. I'll provide a citation just as soon as you do (I can't find it right now. I thought I had it saved in my scrapbook, but maybe that was an old one.)

  • by FiloEleven ( 602040 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @12:46AM (#31841958)

    The ultimate goal is to beam large amounts of solar power to Earth

    Isn't that handled by...y'know...the sun?

    • Isn't that handled by...y'know...the sun?

      Yes. That goal was fulfilled a few billion years ago and isn't talked about anymore.

    • The ultimate goal is to beam large amounts of solar power to Earth

      Isn't that handled by...y'know...the sun?

      Well, yes. But the sun is kind of indiscriminate about it and seems to have this tendency to, you know, "spread the power".

      Building satellites that concentrate and beam the power will ensure that only the right people get lots of power and the rest of us are kept in the dark.

  • Put up a sat that allows a beam from earth, to the sat, and then back to earth. The reason is that the DOD will buy LOADS of this right now. In addition, disaster areas can make use of this. Since it is likely that a large receiver for the space based power is needed, then one approach is to place it on a plane (think AWAC), and then have multiple smaller beams from underneath. Obviously, something like that in a war zone will need to be WAY up there (60K feet), but a 20K feet over a disaster area would be
  • Just think what a hack it would be to log in and redirect those microwave beams from a few thousand square km of solar cells in space towards people you want cooked... Well Done!
  • Imagine that a space elevator is possible and constructed. With the proposed material you've then got a crawler climbing up one of the best conductors known. Why mess about with the extra mass required to receive radiation beamed from the ground in that situation at all?
    Even the huge potential difference as such a long conductor goes through different portions of the atmosphere is probably going to give you more power than you can get there unless you have an enormous and heavy parabolic dish.
  • Who cares about power beaming, I'm still tying to find a link on where to buy that great mosquito zapping thing..

  • Excellent, this will be more fodder for the "electromagnetic harassment [youtube.com]" nutters!

  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @02:01AM (#31842252)

    "Tom Nugent...previously worked on the 'photonic fence' mosquito-zapping project at Intellectual Ventures..."

    I understand the photonic fence project hit a wall during tests held just North of Winnipeg. Three mosquitoes (described by locals as "undersized" and "early season weaklings") came out of the bush, trashed the equipment and kicked the living shit out of two researchers. A German Shepherd-Pit Bull cross brought in to keep bears out of the scientists' camp was dragged off by the insects and never seen again.

    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      My kingdom for a mod point!
    • that sounds right up their alley, complete with rubber mosquitoes.

      Top it off with about forty seven minutes of commercials per hour and...

      • No, seriously, that sounds like the mosquitos we get here in Winnipeg. It's why we'll never be invaded - no one in their right mind would want to live here. 8^).
    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @07:42AM (#31843464) Homepage Journal

      Was I the only one who read that as Ted Nugent?

      In any case, I worked in the mosquito control field for years, and his claims for the fence were not only bogus, they were *typically* bogus: " The system is 'so precise that it can specify the species, and even the gender, of the mosquito being targeted.'"

      Right. That's one of the standard claims of the mosquito control crackpot. People have been making this claim for decades, but there's only one known way to identify a mosquito species: you put the specimen under a microscope and have somebody trained in mosquito taxonomy study it. This is done *routinely* by mosquito control districts who set up trap networks to assess human exposure. A system that could identify mosquito species electronically in real time would be worth tens of millions of dollars per year in the US alone.

      If he could prove that one capability alone, I'd gladly mortgage my house for a stake in a business to produce *just the identification piece* -- much less the mosquito killing laser. But it's obviously the kind of claim a crackpot would make. I'm not saying that it is physically impossible to do what he claims, but it is so far beyond the capability of current technology that I'd have to conclude this guy is a crackpot.

  • The real problem is not beaming the power, but making sure nothing valuable gets in between sender and receiver. You wouldn't want an airliner to fly through the beam I expect.
    • by thijsh ( 910751 )
      or my balls...
    • If the powersat is in geosynchronous orbit (UNLIKELY!), then the problem simplifies to "make sure the airliner doesn't fly over a particular section of ground". We do this all the time. It is called "restricted airspace". There's a chunk over Camp David, there's a chunk over Groom Lake (Area 51).

      If the powersat is in low Earth orbit (far more likely), then the problem simplifies to "make sure the airliner doesn't fly through a moving region of airspace". We do this all the time, too. It is called "main

  • Late ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vikingpower ( 768921 )
    Although I have at least an idea of the engineering difficulties, I still wonder why this technology is not in a more advanced state, as power beaming has the potential to solve so many problems ?
  • Patent alert ! (Score:2, Informative)

    by vikingpower ( 768921 )
    Upon reading the write-up once more, suddenly all my warning LEDs turn red: "Intellectual Ventures" ?? That is a patent-monger! If there is any link between this project and Intellectual Ventures, it is doomed to stay in a box. Which would really, really be too bad.
    • > If there is any link between this project and Intellectual Ventures, it is
      > doomed to stay in a box.

      Because we all know that there is no money to be made from charging people for the right to practice an invention, don't we? Whereas if you keep it in a box, never practicing it and never allowing anyone else to practice it: well, it's obvious. The billions will just roll in. I wonder how it is that all the other inventors throughout history have never stumbled upon this business model?

  • Err, doesn't the sun already do that?

  • this centuries flying cars.

    • by Thud457 ( 234763 )
      no, no, no, no, NO!

      We will beam down solar power from the space elevator to power our flying cars! Come on, it's the 21st century fer chrissake!

      Actually, the reason the military / intelligence community is interested in using a small-scale version of this to power nano-drones to spy on Osama bin Laden.
  • The photonic fence was quite impressive. IF you had asked me if it was possible, I would have doubted it, but having seen some information about it, it is very impressive. If this guy is involved, it may have some reality. There are some people with the right combination of math, science, and intuition that bring forward amazing stuff. I am going to be paying attention to what this fellow does.

Trap full -- please empty.