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Laser Strikes On Aircraft Becoming Epidemic 687

First time accepted submitter AlphaWolf_HK writes "Ars Technica has a story about a 52 year old man who was arrested and sentenced to three years in jail for shining a high powered green laser at a helicopter along with an interesting video showing how he was tracked down. The FBI says that laser strikes are becoming epidemic, saying that they expect to see reports of 3,700 of them this year."
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Laser Strikes On Aircraft Becoming Epidemic

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 06, 2012 @06:11PM (#41571895)

    Find a technical solution, not a legal "solution"

    There is not a legal solution that is going to work. People just don't get it. Throwing people in jail doesn't solve the problem. You can have a death penalty sentence and it won't make one bit of a difference. Putting people in jail is nothing more than revenge against someone who didn't understand what they were doing in the first place. If they actually understood it and realized the danger and the risk (legal) they wouldn't have done it.

    Find a technical solution to the problem. If you can't do that and this is that serious an issue clear the surrounding area of people. We built homes in some really stupid places. Lets get rid of them.

  • by ThatsMyNick ( 2004126 ) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @07:02PM (#41572381)

    Not all are green lasers. You only have to go wicked lasers to find lasers of all sorts of frequencies. One of your sibling posters suggested, combing these filters with legislation to only sell lasers at specific frequencies. That would eliminate most of these complains (unless the pesky chinese start selling these lasers directly from china, aliexpress anyone?). But I am not a fan govt interference and I would rather they spend time educating people/children and making the punishments well known, than legislating laser frequencies.
    And you are assuming, it is easy to build such filters. It is not that easily to build analog filters that block a very narrow range of frequencies. It would very very difficult to build and would still result in loss of light in other frequencies. If you are talking about blocking multiple frequencies, you might as well forget about this idea.

  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @07:05PM (#41572407)

    Actually, I thought of one. Get rid of the window. Replace it with an array of video cameras and a big viewing screen. Put different color filters on each of the cameras and have a computer system that will turn off one of the cameras if it gets excessive amounts of light.

    I didn't say it was an affordable solution.

  • by man_of_mr_e ( 217855 ) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @07:29PM (#41572631)

    How about a technology similar to transitions lenses where a powerful light will cause immediate tinting of the window around the beam (not the entire window, just the area where the beam is shining through). It may still cause a temporary problem, but it would prevent extended problems.

  • by Chirs ( 87576 ) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @07:43PM (#41572745)

    You can already get green-laser safety goggles for medial purposes which have a notch filter right around 532nm but a colour-balanced view outside that frequency. At [] they specifically mention using them for pilot protection.

    Seems to me the pilots could just wear these on takeoff/landing and they'd be fine.

  • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @07:46PM (#41572785)

    Reflective coating on the outside of an aircraft. Essentially this is the solution to directed energy weapons: durable mirrors.

    That's about a million times easier to say than do, and do well, of course but that's basically the only technical solution.

    When light hits a surface some combination of 3 things happens: Reflection, refraction, absorption. Refraction (where it goes through the material) isn't any good since that's the thing we're trying to avoid, and 'redirecting' light from the outside and inside just means you can't see anything looking out. So it's a matter of cranking up the other two. If you had a material that was optically dense in one direction but not another (that would absorb the energy, preferably without catching fire) that would be ideal, but off the top of my head, and admittedly, it's been a while since I was in an optics lab, I can't think of an easy way to accomplish that, or you reflect the energy away.

    Materials can have different optical properties at 90 degrees to each other - it looks one way front on and another side on, but that doesn't really help any if you want to see out. And there are are things like 'one way mirrors' but they rely on a difference in luminosity between the two sides, not, afaik, some particularly unidirectional property.

    The other option is enclose the cockpit and do everything with cameras.

    So ya, a technical solution is not all that feasible. The problem with the law 'making an example' of some people is just that: it's unfairly treating some people for 'public benefit'. It's like a 600 000 dollar fine for sharing a CD on a P2P network, or at least it might come across like that. Now if you can prove that an aircraft can suffer catastrophic failure due to a laser then you charge anyone doing it with attempted murder and see what happens from there, but I think the argument that it's an awareness problem first and foremost is probably true.

  • by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @08:13PM (#41573007) Journal

    I have a welding helmet with a LCD shutter [], as soon as the the photo-voltaic cell detects a bright light, the lcd goes black; cost less that $50.00 at Harbor Freight; lots of people like pilots spend more than that on sunglasses. Sure you couldn't go completely off the shelf with it, the helmet is about shade 3 even when off, which is pretty dark at night, and I'm not sure what would happen trying to look at an LCD display in a cockpit while wearing LCD's on your eyes, but it's very plausible.

  • by localman ( 111171 ) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @08:38PM (#41573167) Homepage

    Is this the next phase of the stupid laser-pointer-in-the-movie-theater gag that was "becoming epidemic" in the late 90's? Why do some people become idiots when they get a laser in their hands?

    I was always impressed how that died off without any serious crackdown. People just squawked about it until it was common social knowledge that nobody though you were cool and everyone thought you were a dick.

    Hopefully this dies off too.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @09:48PM (#41573647) Journal

    There's a big difference between being punished for your own crime, and being punished for someone else's crime, whether or not that someone else is a blood relative.

    By that standard, no one who commits a crime should ever be punished because it would also hurt the criminal's family.

    Sorry, but the collateral effect on the family is a way to encourage women not to marry and have children with douchebags.

  • Re:Sysiphus (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @10:18PM (#41573815) Homepage Journal

    It should at least be "becoming an epidemic", though as a noun it only refers to disease. Endemic is just wrong as it's the antonym to epidemic. Endemic would be more proper if people shined lasers at planes only in Detroit or something. Why can't they just use "widespread" or something like that?

    Well, if you want to go Full Orwell [] on this, get rid of latin altogether and speak plainly, why not say 'dangerously common'?

    (For those of you who have yet to read Orwell's Politics and the English Language, now's your chance. It can -it should- change the way you think and speak.)

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.