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COFFEE! LASER!!
March 26, 2007 4:33 PM   Subscribe

Coffee + laser = instant awesome!
posted by loquacious (59 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Damn good coffee. And HOT!
posted by ORthey at 4:36 PM on March 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh, man, I would not drink that coffee because, like, it would be all radioactive and shit. But then I might turn into a superhero so it wouldn't be so bad.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 4:40 PM on March 26, 2007


It's unfortunate they had to discontinue it after Stella had that little mishap in her flying car.
posted by dhartung at 4:40 PM on March 26, 2007


Damnit, no YouTube (or coffee right now) at work! Damn you and your tempter's ways, loquacious!
posted by lekvar at 4:41 PM on March 26, 2007


Guy + laser + great idea != video editing skills
posted by gurple at 4:41 PM on March 26, 2007


I love science.
posted by bru at 4:42 PM on March 26, 2007


Oh, man, I would not drink that coffee because, like, it would be all radioactive and shit.

Plus it's fucking instant. And dunking the teabag into the water after letting it cool a little is a sure way to make low quality tea.

Next up: Railgun muffins.
posted by Artw at 4:42 PM on March 26, 2007 [8 favorites]


Weaponized food has come a long way since the potato gun and the salad shooter.
posted by boo_radley at 4:54 PM on March 26, 2007 [9 favorites]


If, as the youtube commenter claims, that laser drains more power than a house could possibly use, then I wonder if the people who approve the budget for the laser lab would get mad about the coffee thing.
posted by damehex at 4:56 PM on March 26, 2007


That was cool, but WTF was up with cup numble three?
Did someone request burned foam?

I meant to say 'numble'
posted by squidfartz at 4:58 PM on March 26, 2007


Good to know our science research tax dollars are being well spent!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:59 PM on March 26, 2007


Perhaps polonium could be used to create a man-portable coffee heating device?
posted by Artw at 5:03 PM on March 26, 2007


Instant coffee tastes like crap. But then, so does all coffee.
posted by DU at 5:05 PM on March 26, 2007


The lack of video editing skills lends it credibility.
posted by cortex at 5:05 PM on March 26, 2007


"No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to dunk!"
posted by rob511 at 5:10 PM on March 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


damehex: the label on the side of the laser says 2.5kW, which is less than my (poorly-insulated) apartment uses. Multiplied by the 20 seconds it uses for each cup and my current power rate, and it comes out to about one-third of a penny per cup.

Even if the power use were what the YouTube comment says, (40.8kW) it would still only be a nickel per cup.
posted by reventlov at 5:18 PM on March 26, 2007


That was actually painfully boring. I guess you've really been ruined by the internet when you aren't impressed with laser coffee.
posted by puke & cry at 5:30 PM on March 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


Whipping up a patent for the first Ramen-laser as we speak.

Near-instant deliciousness.
posted by Ian.I.Am at 5:36 PM on March 26, 2007


Now if only my Tassimo would do that...
posted by matty at 5:39 PM on March 26, 2007


We seriously need to get one of these for work if we're going to compete with the native Rhode Islanders' absurd preference for Dunkin' Donuts.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:43 PM on March 26, 2007


Nothing can defeat our love of Dunkin' Donuts!

Well, no, laser coffee would probably win out. At least for me.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 5:49 PM on March 26, 2007


That's excellent infotainment ! What I learned today

1. people with lasers drink coffee and tea, like me !
2. you can use light to heat up stuff
3. it's like magic, I wonder how it works
4. my religion teacher never told me there are videos about this science stuff !
posted by elpapacito at 6:13 PM on March 26, 2007


And you guys thought the Star Wars Defense System was a waste of taxpayer dollars! We can warm up your cup-o-joe from twenty thousand miles away!

But then, so does all coffee.

DU have you noticed you have a very predictable habit of telling everybody what you DON'T like. It's not as interesting as you must think it is.

posted by tkchrist at 6:15 PM on March 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


boo_radley said Weaponized food.

Goddamn, now that is a lovely phrase. I want some weaponized food.
posted by Bovine Love at 6:32 PM on March 26, 2007


elpapacito writes "it's like magic, I wonder how it works"

This is a neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet laser. Nd:YAG to those in the know. It emits at 1064 nm, in the infrared. Photons at this wavelength apparently excite a vibrational mode in water, causing it to heat up; not unlike how a microwave works.

Much less powerful Nd:YAG lasers are used to handle cells because this particular wavelength causes a relatively small amount of heating and therefore little cell damage. I'm guessing that the heating therefore is a pretty inefficient process. This document says you can expect about 1.5 degC heating for each 100 mW of applied laser power. So you should easily be able to boil water with a 2.5 kW laser. That's a damn big laser.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:34 PM on March 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Weaponized food, isn't that why we're in Iraq?
posted by Eekacat at 6:43 PM on March 26, 2007


It emits at 1064 nm, in the infrared.

But mr_roboto, I saw a distinct blue glow from the coffee cups. That's not infrared, or anything close to it.

Explanation? A targeting beam of visible light, maybe?
posted by Slithy_Tove at 6:52 PM on March 26, 2007


Boiling hot black laser-heated instant coffee = I RULE THE WORLD AND I'M IN A BAD MOOD!!! ... sigh ... caffeine crash ...
posted by longsleeves at 6:54 PM on March 26, 2007


When I was a glassblower, we used to reheat our coffee by dunking molten glass in it. Pipin' hot!
posted by simonemarie at 6:57 PM on March 26, 2007


I've got a 3.2 kw YAG laser, but no Sanka... I guess I'll have to bust out the French press.

Also, LOL weaponized food.
posted by Mister_A at 6:58 PM on March 26, 2007


I was kind of hoping for a spherical hyperbaric chamber filled with two ounces of water, thick glass at one end and a portafilter at the other. Oh well.

They should have used cups that weren't white. That would have made it exciting.

> I saw a distinct blue glow from the coffee cups. That's not infrared, or anything close to it.

My guess: there was so much infrared light the camera's infrared filter wasn't enough to keep the CCD from oversaturating.
posted by ardgedee at 7:21 PM on March 26, 2007


I have had instant awesome, and that's not it.
posted by 1-2punch at 7:28 PM on March 26, 2007


Hey, serious geeks with too much time on your hands!

Instead of lasing a vile brew of soluble coffee concentrate, maybe come up with a way to improve temperature stability in an espresso machine. A programmable temperature curve during shot extraction would be an added bonus. And, hey, since you got so little else to do, a laser powered grinder would be neat, so long as it didn't heat the coffee while grinding.

Thanks. Next Tuesday would be great.
posted by deCadmus at 7:34 PM on March 26, 2007


Slithy-tove: the glow is from laser light being re-emitted at a visible wavelength and scattered by water vapour forming above the coffee cup!

I remember being in a lab where some japanese meteorologists were aligning/calibrating their Lidar by shooting pulses at this weird, waxy flammable paper down the hallway.
posted by growli at 7:37 PM on March 26, 2007


That was a bit.... sluggish. I expect ravening beams of death, but that wasn't even as fast as an industrial microwave on high.

no meta!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:07 PM on March 26, 2007


You know what would be great in one of those? Liquid nitrogen ice cream (with delightfully Web 1.0 graphics!)
posted by greatgefilte at 8:45 PM on March 26, 2007


Ian.I.Am: "Whipping up a patent for the first Ramen-laser as we speak."

Did anyone else see this and think to themselves, "raman laser? that's old news."? Damn, I've been doing science and engineering for too long.
posted by JMOZ at 10:19 PM on March 26, 2007


Steven Wright: "One day I put instant coffee in my microwave and almost went back in time."

I can't imagine what would have happened if he'd tried a laser.
posted by amyms at 10:38 PM on March 26, 2007


Partially filled cups w/instant coffee? Not serious geeks, IMO. I use a full mug, and 2 tsp of instant (hotel mornings).
posted by Goofyy at 11:22 PM on March 26, 2007


Slithy-tove: the glow is from laser light being re-emitted at a visible wavelength and scattered by water vapour forming above the coffee cup!

you can't have an atom absorb one infrared photon and then emit a visible photon. that violates conservation of energy (1064nm photons have about half the energy of green photons). you can get some atoms to absorb multiple photons, but i think the power here (kW) is way too low for that, and you can go the other direction (fluorescence).

some Nd:YAGs are used in frequency-doubled or -tripled mode for laser cutting/machining operations (which is what this setup looks like). you point the IR beam at a nonlinear crystal and you get light at half, third, fourth etc of the wavelength out. so we could be seeing a mixture of the second and third harmonics (green and blue, respectively, mixing to make a bluish green). its certainly not SHG in the water itself.

short of the light actually being blue itself, i think ardgedee's explanation of a saturated ccd sounds the most reasonable.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 12:49 AM on March 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bah. You should see how the guys at Fermilab do it.

Yup. X bosons, people. And that's just to roast the beans.

Myself, I'm not so keen on their brew. I prefer my coffee not to rip an extradimensional wormhole in my tongue. Also, it has an oily aftertaste.
posted by Ritchie at 2:32 AM on March 27, 2007


This laser is an IR laser. It would be invisible to the naked eye. You can put a frequency doubler in front of a 30mW Nd:YAG and get a lovely green laser. Doing so in front of a 2.5KW Nd:YAG would result in a very brief pulse of green laser, then a bunch of smoke.

We're seeing it on camera because the camera can pick up the IR quite nicely. I use my cell phone camera for one thing -- it spots active fiber ports and connections quite nicely. To my eyes, there's nothing there. To the CCD, there is a very bright blue glow.

They do put IR filters on digital cameras, but they're not very good ones, and they normally don't need to be. The visible light flux is normally very high, so you don't need to block much IR to make sure that visible light is the source of the image. All of this, however, posits no multi-kilowatt IR lasers.

Mistakes they made.

1) Instant coffee
2) You don't want to boil water for coffee. You want to heat it just below boiling.
3) Cheap tea bag. You do, however, want to boil water for tea. Just as the electric kettle took England by storm, I expect every well fitted house in the UK to soon have 2.5KW IR lasers for boiling water.
posted by eriko at 4:28 AM on March 27, 2007


The laser label shows 2 lasers, a YAG and a HeNe.
The first thing I saw was the 3mW HeNe label and thought there's no way you can boil water with that thing. Then I saw the YAG label.

That blue color is a HeNe @ 640nM
I assume it's for aiming.
posted by MtDewd at 5:02 AM on March 27, 2007


That blue color is a HeNe @ 640nM

<pedant>633nm, rounded to the nearest nanometer</pedant&gt

Yes, it's for aiming, no, the blue isn't from the HeNe. 633nm is red-orange, not blue -- it is the classic "laser red" color that most people saw in school, since the standard "first lab laser" is a 1-3mW HeNe.

You can, with the right mirrors and position, get IR, yellow and even green (542nm), but the laser is vastly more efficent at 634nm, so it has become very rare for a HeNe to push out anything but 633nm -- there are better lasers at other frequencies.

HeNe still make great holography lasers -- the long coherence length is a real win, the visible beam helps with setup.
posted by eriko at 5:30 AM on March 27, 2007


Metafilter: posits no multi-kilowatt IR lasers.
posted by boo_radley at 6:58 AM on March 27, 2007


I had a friend who found 3 broken CO2 lasers in the trash at Bell Labs. He went to his physics professor traded them for 1 working laser of the same type, which he turned into a cigarette lighter on his coffee table.
posted by plinth at 7:01 AM on March 27, 2007


633nm is red-orange, not blue
Yup, confused again.
One of the laser printers I worked on was HeNe, another was argon. That blue light looked just like the argon beam.
posted by MtDewd at 7:17 AM on March 27, 2007


Little did we know that Lord Vader's incessant need for hot coffee precipitated the creation of the first Death Star.
posted by fijiwriter at 7:42 AM on March 27, 2007


My favorite comment within the YouTube thread?

"You know a lot about lasers- now please learn something about coffee. Instant coffee- for fuck's sake. Disgusting."

I'm sorry, but there is just nothing appealing about frying my imported Peet's beans with frickin' lasers.
posted by squasha at 8:22 AM on March 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


nerd fight!

You can put a frequency doubler in front of a 30mW Nd:YAG and get a lovely green laser. Doing so in front of a 2.5KW Nd:YAG would result in a very brief pulse of green laser, then a bunch of smoke.

it's not clear to me why you think this is so. the typical frequency doubling crystal used with Nd:YAG is potassium titanyl phosphate which is quite transparent down into the near UV, absorption loss is (as quoted) "less than 1% / cm". that's less than 25 watts. dmg threshold for KTP is (as quoted) 30 GW/cm2 so you'd really have to be trying hard to melt the crystal.

(and anyway, SHG becomes less efficient at very high power densities, so the beam would probably be focused onto whatever area optimized the yield.)

i agree though, it's probably just IR on the ccd.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 8:26 AM on March 27, 2007


I'm going to say it's just the IR saturation on the CCD as well, 'cause that's exactly what IR saturation on a CCD looks like - a nice purple-ish blue-green, depending on the CCD and filter, but you nerds totally dusted my limited knowledge of lasers and photonics many comments ago.

But, yes, HeNe lasers are generally 632.8-633 nanometers in wavelength, which is ruby-red/orange, depending on whom you ask. Visible solid state diode lasers generally range from 635-670 NM, 635 being the brightest and 670 approaching infrared, which is dimmer to the naked eye than a 635. (/ex laser show nerd)
posted by loquacious at 9:17 AM on March 27, 2007


The thing is, I've seen (with the naked eye) a YAG lidar beam glowing green while passing through ice crystals in the air.
posted by growli at 10:16 AM on March 27, 2007


It occurs to me that this particular lidar was being used to measure the absorption spectra of aerosols in the stratosphere by Raman scattering. So (speculating here) it's quite possible that the beam passing through ice crystals was indeed causing a green glow due to "anti-Stokes" re-emission of higher-energy photons -- contrary to the blanket ban by sergeant sandwich due to conservation of energy considerations. The water molecules actually impart some energy to the incident photon at the moment of scattering.
posted by growli at 10:31 AM on March 27, 2007


well.. yes, there's always exceptions to every blanket generalization (including this one)!
posted by sergeant sandwich at 10:55 AM on March 27, 2007


Raman scattering

As in noodles?
posted by Artw at 12:10 PM on March 27, 2007


As in noodles?

You can bet if they're doing coffee, they'll get around to Cup Noodles as well.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:38 PM on March 27, 2007


LASER MAKE INSTANT COFFEE!
posted by longsleeves at 7:37 PM on March 27, 2007


Partially filled cups w/instant coffee?

Maybe they'd done it before? I mean, the third cup boiled over, so full cups would probably be worse. (Although, if the laser's for Science(tm) then they should be able to set it for less time so that it doesn't actually boil. It didn't happen all that quickly.)

Still neat, though.
posted by Many bubbles at 11:54 PM on March 27, 2007


Gentlemen. Mr. Coffees on stun!
posted by mmrtnt at 1:00 PM on March 28, 2007


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