By Ann Fenech, on 13 June 2010

Dr Z It’s 50 years since the lasers were discovered…and 46 years since Goldfinger threatened Bond with one. In that time lasers have come a long way, from being ” a solution looking for a problem” to the solution for a lot of problems.

Kate Lancaster (who was also at ‘The school for gifted children‘ event yesterday) was first up. She spoke to us about Chirped pulse amplification, Q-switching, mode locking, and a lot of other such things. But what’s more important is that her pet project is trying to make miniature stars, and that Vulcan, where she works, has an open-door policy! Organise a trip…anyone?

Next up was David Payne. He now works with high-powered fibre lasers – these are better than the fiddly ones Kate Lancaster works with he opined. He also spoke about WMD. No…not Weapons of Mass Destruction (though those too)…but Weapons of Mosquito Destruction. Don’t believe it? Check this out!

Then we got Stephen Bown, from UCL’s National Medical Laser Centre. Unlike the others, he’s a simple guy. He just wants “lasers in just the right place at just the right intensity”. High power? Not for him! For him, lasers are “A gentle way to get rid of nasty bits of tissue…without upsetting all the nice bits”.

But most importantly…X factor? Lasers have definitely got it!