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Keep firing, Assholes!
February 13, 2010 2:12 PM   Subscribe

This is hi-speed video of a mosquito getting killed by a laser.
posted by Jon_Evil (112 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was a lot cooler than the Atari version.
posted by Graygorey at 2:18 PM on February 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Strongly worded letter by PETA to pop up any minute now...
posted by zardoz at 2:19 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hopefully someone will redub with the appropriate techno soundtrack.
posted by hermitosis at 2:21 PM on February 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can someone describe the ecological impact of just frying all these motherfuckers?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:21 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't kill the blood-sucking kittens!
posted by rtha at 2:24 PM on February 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I hate mosquitoes with a passion, but there still seems to be something wrong (ok, unethical) about just burning off their wings and leaving them to writhe and die on the ground.
posted by Flashman at 2:26 PM on February 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


You're right. There must be some way to torture them further. Fucking bastard mosquitoes are worse than geese.
posted by stavrogin at 2:28 PM on February 13, 2010 [43 favorites]


i'm a jainist, so i'm not getting a kick out of this.
posted by billybobtoo at 2:29 PM on February 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


there still seems to be something wrong (ok, unethical) about just burning off their wings
My guess from the video is that the entire mosquito is cooked from the inside - you can see the puffs of steam where the exoskeleton is breached - and dies instantaneously.
posted by brokkr at 2:32 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna chime in with the 'lets add some waterboarding and maybe the cruciatus curse' crowd. I have been tortured enough my mosquitoes in my life to crave a little payback!
posted by supermedusa at 2:32 PM on February 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know if there's video or a picture or whatever of the device that fires the laser? I want one.
posted by pompomtom at 2:32 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can someone describe the ecological impact of just frying all these motherfuckers?

Locally and seasonally, I would expect a significant impact on air quality and particulates, increased amount of solid waste, an increase in both noise and light pollution in the late evening hours, and increased water consumption.

I would also expect humanity to quickly reach Peak Charcoal, Peak Beer, and Peak Drunk People in My Freshly Installed Pool.
posted by Benjy at 2:35 PM on February 13, 2010 [44 favorites]


Do you think that the eponysterical tag is needed on this post?
posted by NoMich at 2:35 PM on February 13, 2010


Can someone describe the ecological impact of just frying all these motherfuckers?

They're not talking about frying all the mosquitoes. The project is more along the lines of, "Mosquito nets tamp down the disease figures, but nets have issues -- they wear out, they get stolen, they get re-purposed as fishing nets, etc, etc. If we can plant a few of these around a village, we can create a relatively-mosquito-free bubble around the village at night and approach the effectiveness of using nets without a lot of the hassle that comes with the nets."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:39 PM on February 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


i'm a jainist, so i'm not getting a kick out of this.

I getting enough of a kick out of it for both of us.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:41 PM on February 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


They're not talking about frying all the mosquitoes.

The question I'm asking is "And what can I do to change that?"
posted by Benjy at 2:42 PM on February 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


Can someone describe the ecological impact of just frying all these motherfuckers?

Sorry bats, nothing personal. In fact you were pretty cool. But we had to do it man, we just had to.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:45 PM on February 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Put me firmly in the 'more mosquito death' camp. Lots more. I'd be very happy if we could completely exterminate the little bastards. I'd dance on their tiny corpses.
posted by Malor at 2:48 PM on February 13, 2010


The question I'm asking is "And what can I do to change that?"

Change the political structures in these Third World countries to bring about economic conditions such that large scale public works projects can be undertaken.

aka "drain the fucking swamps."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:51 PM on February 13, 2010


Hahaha hilarious, awesome, high-five, way to go, yay-rah, seriously folks? Are you kidding me? Really? Well laugh it up now, chumps, because when the upright bears get ahold of these things it's not going to be pretty and you'll all be like "hey wait a minute this wasn't how it was supposed to be" and meanwhile the bears won't care, they'll just be pew pew pew give me your picnic baskets.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:52 PM on February 13, 2010 [23 favorites]



Sorry bats, nothing personal. In fact you were pretty cool. But we had to do it man, we just had to.


Maybe I need to get a pet bat.
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:53 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can they make one for bike thieves?
posted by popechunk at 2:53 PM on February 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Oh, the video is by Intellectual Ventures who are pretty much the first place I expect a Lex Luthor-type supervillain to emerge from. Here is a fantastic Malcolm Gladwell article on the group.
“I put in a minimum bid of twenty-nine hundred dollars,” he said. There was much murmuring and nodding around the room. Myhrvold’s friends, like Myhrvold, seemed to be of the opinion that there is no downside to having a CAT scanner, especially if you can get it for twenty-nine hundred dollars.
Don't say I didn't warn you, people.
posted by griphus at 2:57 PM on February 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


Sorry bats, nothing personal. In fact you were pretty cool. But we had to do it man, we just had to.

Reportedly, one bat can eat up to 600 mosquitoes per hour, upwards of 3000 mosquitoes in a single night.
posted by at the crossroads at 3:05 PM on February 13, 2010


So basically this is mosquito snuff porn for entomologist laser aficionados.

Please, won't someone think of the mosquitoes!
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:05 PM on February 13, 2010


So when will Bug Zapper 2.0 be available for use in malaria-plagued countries?
posted by zarq at 3:06 PM on February 13, 2010


Fucking bastard mosquitoes are worse than geese.
posted by stavrogin


You're gonna need a bigger laser for sky carp.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 3:07 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reportedly, one bat can eat up to 600 mosquitoes per hour, upwards of 3000 mosquitoes in a single night.

A laser equipped bat could probably triple that kill rate.
posted by found missing at 3:08 PM on February 13, 2010 [42 favorites]


Reportedly, one bat can eat up to 600 mosquitoes per hour, upwards of 3000 mosquitoes in a single night.

Wait, maybe we can mount these things on bats. OH YEAH MOSQUITOS IT IS FUCKING ON!!!
posted by nathancaswell at 3:09 PM on February 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


i'm a jainist, so i'm not getting a kick out of this.

Just wait until the malaria and encephalitis kick in.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:09 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mosquitos are a supersticious and cowardly lot... I shall get... A BAT!
posted by Artw at 3:10 PM on February 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have bats with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:12 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can someone describe the ecological impact of just frying all these motherfuckers?

If they did manage to eliminate all the mosquitoes from a given ecosystem, it would have a seriously negative impact. Mosquitoes and their larva have an important place in the food chain for bats, spiders, fish and birds. They're also pollinators to some extent.

There's probably something positive that could be said about their role as disease vectors, too....
posted by zarq at 3:12 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


What about if we put lasers on bats?
posted by found missing at 3:13 PM on February 13, 2010


There's probably something positive that could be said about their role as disease vectors, too....

They're good for grant funding. j/k, sorta
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:15 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd dance on their tiny corpses.

And would sound something like: crunch crunch crunch crunch crunchity crunchity crunch
posted by Splunge at 3:17 PM on February 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Where are my freakin bats with freakin lasers on their heads??
posted by water bear at 3:21 PM on February 13, 2010


As someone who has had malaria, let me just say that this video was immensely fucking satisfying to watch. Repeatedly.

imma go watch it again.
posted by elizardbits at 3:28 PM on February 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Can someone describe the ecological impact of just frying all these motherfuckers?

You couldn't make much of a dent in the overall mosquito population with lasers even if you spent the US defense budget on trying. Fire away and make your living space a bit more tolerable. What would be worrisome is if larvae stopped hatching. Then small fish would go hungry, but it would probably speak to some other terrible thing altering freshwater bodies anyway.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:31 PM on February 13, 2010


Huh. It actually is a real mosquito getting zapped with a laser, and not this.
posted by smcameron at 3:32 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not that I give a damn about killing mosquitoes, it's just that the idea of watching something die as a form of entertainment makes my skin crawl.
posted by aquafortis at 3:35 PM on February 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Previously.
posted by Tube at 3:38 PM on February 13, 2010


I also hate mosquitoes with a burning (OK, itchy) passion but am still disturbed and saddened to watch this one get bullseyed like a womp rat. Of course, I also feel bad for this lamp.
posted by kitarra at 3:39 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do NOT put the lasers on the bats.

Seriously.

Take one laser-equipped bat. The bat's job: find the mosquito. The laser's job: fry it. The bat detects a mosquito, fixes it with echolocation. The laser she go BOOF!, and what do we have?

No mosquito. One hungry, hungry bat. Flying through the scent of freshly cooked mosquito.

This bat will not be a happy bat.

After a while, when the red mist has risen -- or whatever the equivalent is for animals that rely primarily on audio. The Fog of Enya, say -- the bats will figure out what's going on. They will identify the source of their torture, and turn on it.

They will turn on us.

Mosquitos are bad, but ask yourself: could you really defend yourself against a laser-equipped homicidal flock of bats, with a rolled-up newspaper?
posted by Devonian at 3:40 PM on February 13, 2010 [31 favorites]


it's just that the idea of watching something die as a form of entertainment makes my skin crawl.

Well, mosquitoes make my skin red and bumpy so there's that. They have so little in the way of sentience that there's practically zero resonance with them as a fellow living being for almost anyone who isn't a Jain or something. Kill them, kill them, encourage new and hypoallergenic ways to kill them, and celebrate ingenuity! This is coming from someone who otherwise catches bugs and puts them outside unharmed, roaches included.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:43 PM on February 13, 2010


Devonian, is this a trick question... Like how many 5 year olds can I take in a cage match?

I'm sad that there wasn't accompanying audio track for the OP's video. The second mosquito dying to the sound of a downed Fokker Biplane would have been fantastic.
posted by Severian at 3:44 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Devonian: "Mosquitos are bad, but ask yourself: could you really defend yourself against a laser-equipped homicidal flock of bats, with a rolled-up newspaper?"

You're suggesting we have a broom gap, then?
posted by boo_radley at 3:52 PM on February 13, 2010


Don't bats have other insects to eat?
posted by delmoi at 3:52 PM on February 13, 2010


when the upright bears get ahold of these things it's not going to be pretty

It's wintertime, they're probably too busy playing hockey so no worries.
posted by cashman at 3:54 PM on February 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don't bats have other insects to eat?

They do eat other night-flying insects. But killing off one of their major sources of food could still be a recipe for disaster, if the other insect populations aren't robust enough to be a food supply.
posted by zarq at 4:00 PM on February 13, 2010


But bats might like the taste of deep-fried skeeter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:02 PM on February 13, 2010


Bats are nocturnal. Mosquitoes swarm at dusk. There's like two minutes of overlap there.

Solution: An alarm clock in every cave and belfry.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:03 PM on February 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's a trap!!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:03 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can someone describe the ecological impact of just frying all these motherfuckers?

Hard to say, though I'd bet there would probably be a great disturbance in the ecosystem, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.
posted by the other side at 4:15 PM on February 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


Mosquitos are bad, but ask yourself: could you really defend yourself against a laser-equipped homicidal flock of bats, with a rolled-up newspaper?

That's where the jet-pack cats come in.
posted by panboi at 4:16 PM on February 13, 2010 [19 favorites]


Solution: An alarm clock in every cave and belfry.

There's a little more than two minutes of overlap. Bats also swarm.

Bats are amazing. Legends say that bat guano was so important to the Inca civilization in South America that the penalty for harming bats was death. They're the only mammals who can actually fly. Besides eating shitloads of mosquitoes, they do other useful things like pollinate trees and produce the world's most nitrogen-enriched organic fertilizer. If bat boxes were more common and more readily available, --- oh! if only.

Actually, it was my deep rooted hatred of those fucking vampire mosquitoes that spawned my bat fascination.
posted by at the crossroads at 4:19 PM on February 13, 2010


Sys Rq, some mosquitoes are diurnal. Some are nocturnal. Some prefer dusk or dawn. Depends on the species.
posted by zarq at 4:22 PM on February 13, 2010


Sys Rq, some mosquitoes are diurnal. Some are nocturnal. Some prefer dusk or dawn. Depends on the species.

The bats work in shifts!
posted by orme at 4:24 PM on February 13, 2010


Do bats serve as an effective mosquito control?
Recently the public has shown increased interest in the value of insectivorous species of bats in controlling mosquitoes. Although untested lately, this is not a new idea. During the 1920's several bat towers were constructed near San Antonio, Texas, in order to help control malarial mosquitoes. Mosquito populations were not affected and the project was discontinued. Bats in temperate areas of the world are almost exclusively insectivorous. Food items identified in their diet are primarily beetles, wasps, and moths. Mosquitoes have comprised less than 1% of gut contents of wild caught bats in all studies to date. Bats tend to be opportunistic feeders. They do not appear to specialize on particular types of insects, but will feed on whatever food source presents itself. Large, concentrated populations of mosquitoes could provide adequate nutrition in the absence of alternative food. However, a moth provides much more nutritional value per capture than a mosquito. M.D. Tuttle, a world authority on bats, is often quoted for his anecdotal report that bats effectively controlled mosquito populations at a popular resort in New York State. While there is no doubt that bats have probably played a visible, if not prominent, role in reducing the mosquito problems in many areas, the natural abatement of mosquito populations is an extremely complex process to study, comprising poorly known ecological relationships. Tuttle attempts to underscore the bats role by citing an experiment in which bats released into a laboratory room filled with mosquitoes caught up to 10 mosquitoes per minute. He extrapolated this value to 600 mosquitoes per hour. Thus, a colony of 500 bats could consume over a quarter of a million mosquitoes per hour. Impressive numbers indeed, but singularly unrealistic when based upon a study where bats were confined in a room with mosquitoes as their only food source. There is no question that bats eat mosquitoes, but to utilize them as the sole measure of control would be folly indeed, particularly considering the capacity of both mosquitoes and bats to transmit diseases.

posted by zarq at 4:26 PM on February 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


Actually, they should come up with some sort of mosquito laser hypnosis beam in order to make them target those assholes selling all the fake malaria medicine.
posted by orme at 4:27 PM on February 13, 2010


Someone please mount this on a shark and target jellyfish. Thanks!
posted by joecacti at 4:39 PM on February 13, 2010


wow, zarq, the American Mosquito Control Association link is very interesting news to me.
But I can't hardly blame Merlin D. Tuttle for his approach to bat conservation.
posted by at the crossroads at 4:48 PM on February 13, 2010


Carry on, mosquito lasers.

(Sorry for the derail. Bat Advocacy FPP coming up next.)
posted by at the crossroads at 5:00 PM on February 13, 2010


I say we send Batfink after them.
posted by bwg at 5:04 PM on February 13, 2010


My guess from the video is that the entire mosquito is cooked from the inside - you can see the puffs of steam where the exoskeleton is breached - and dies instantaneously.

Are you kidding? That was the soul escaping the exoskeleton. I'm just surprised it didn't look more like this.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:13 PM on February 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


needs moar explosion
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:38 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is way more impressive than lasering an ICBM out of the air. And way more useful, IMO.

I need to remember to build some bat houses this spring. Which, I suppose, is right now, seeing as spring is a month or more early. 10°C today! (50°F for those in Liberia, Myanmar, and the USA.) In Canada! In February! Batshitinsane weather, I tell you.

Anyhoo, fuck mosquitoes. With pin-point precision lasers, preferably.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:52 PM on February 13, 2010


Besides eating shitloads of mosquitoes, they do other useful things like pollinate trees and produce the world's most nitrogen-enriched organic fertilizer.

Damn! I wonder if I could train them to shit exclusively in the garden.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:53 PM on February 13, 2010


What a second guys, something isn't right about this...I mean...all you'd need is a big spinning mirror....and you could vaporize an insect target from space..
posted by samsara at 5:58 PM on February 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


Also, the system uses a non-destructive laser to measure the rhythm of the wing beats, determining if it is a male or female mosquito, and only shoots down the females, who are the ones that suck your blood.

So, no, it doesn't kill them all, just the ladies.
posted by Freen at 6:07 PM on February 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I may not be a genius like Nathan Myhrvold, but I know enough to say this is the dumbest fucking idea I've ever heard of.
posted by digsrus at 6:14 PM on February 13, 2010


Wonder how long it would take the mosquitos to evolve a different flapping-rhythm.
posted by floam at 6:16 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I may not be a genius like Nathan Myhrvold, but I know enough to say this is the dumbest fucking idea I've ever heard of.

How's that? It appears to work.
posted by floam at 6:17 PM on February 13, 2010


I may not be a genius like Nathan Myhrvold, but I know enough to say this is the dumbest fucking idea I've ever heard of.

Uh, do you have an explanation, or are we supposed to bask in your not-a-genious genious?
posted by delmoi at 6:28 PM on February 13, 2010


They do eat other night-flying insects. But killing off one of their major sources of food could still be a recipe for disaster, if the other insect populations aren't robust enough to be a food supply.

Well, obviously we can measure that. But it seems like there a lot of moths flying around at night.
posted by delmoi at 6:30 PM on February 13, 2010


When God asks the animals who'll stand up for man, there'll be only two. The dog, and the mosquito.

Neither tasty.
posted by Devonian at 6:30 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not necessary or even particularly desirable to eliminate all mosquitoes. Most mosquito species don't carry malaria, and many don't target humans. It would be impossible to eliminate mosquitoes using this sort of system ---the most you could do would be to push them away from areas covered by lasers, which due to rather obvious practical concerns would not be everywhere. Mosquitoes can and do feed on non-human animals, most of which are lag far behind us in laser technology, so a viable pool will remain no matter what. However, you may be able to provide a selective advantage to mosquitoes that usually don't feed on humans, or at least to mosquitoes that don't carry malaria. This is not as crazy as it sounds, since malaria is harmful to the mosquitoes too, so if a mosquito species can have a subpopulation introduced that is genetically immune to malaria, it could very well gradually take over.

Once you get past the disease-carrying, mosquitoes are merely annoying, not something to get really worked up over. That said, I literally feel itchy right now just from thinking about them.
posted by Humanzee at 6:36 PM on February 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


If the human race perishes because we equipped bats with lasers to wipe out mosquitoes, then i say BRING IT ON
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:51 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would be surepised if folks thinking 'eradicate all mosquitos' more than 'lets keep them away from outdoor bars!'
posted by sfts2 at 7:00 PM on February 13, 2010


It's not necessary or even particularly desirable to eliminate all mosquitoes.

That's why this system is tuned to sense the unique wing beat frequency of female Anopheles mosquitoes. It only kills the malaria-carrying species.
posted by jedicus at 7:04 PM on February 13, 2010


Can someone describe the ecological impact of just frying all these motherfuckers?

zarq already touched on this, but it would be a really bad thing for everything up the food chain from them, which is pretty much everything bigger than them, including us, out pets, and our food.

Because of the fact that they are typically full of blood, mosquitoes are basically high protein jet fuel for everything that feeds on them, and because of the way food chains work, that means that those little fuckers are actually pretty responsible for keeping whole ecosystems alive.

Cracked (of all places) actually had a pretty good write up on this a while back.
posted by quin at 7:06 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are bat boxes all through Portland (at least on the East Side) - they are wonderful animals, and really help to keep our (already fairly small) mosquito population in check.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 7:16 PM on February 13, 2010


I wonder what operating system the laser controller is running? And if they keep it patched.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:32 PM on February 13, 2010


Freen: "Also, the system uses a non-destructive laser to measure the rhythm of the wing beats, determining if it is a male or female mosquito, and only shoots down the females, who are the ones that suck your blood.

So, no, it doesn't kill them all, just the ladies.
"

What? If it really says this I'm calling bullshit. We have invented some pretty impressive things, but
a non-destructive laser to measure the rhythm of the wing beats, determining if it is a male or female mosquito is not one of them.
posted by Big_B at 7:52 PM on February 13, 2010


What? If it really says this I'm calling bullshit. We have invented some pretty impressive things, but a non-destructive laser to measure the rhythm of the wing beats, determining if it is a male or female mosquito is not one of them.

I don't know what to say except you're completely wrong. Such a thing most certainly has been invented, and it's actually a pretty old technology.

Automated identification of flying insects by analysis of wingbeat frequencies, Journal of Economic Entomology, 1986.

"A microcomputer-based instrument was designed to record and analyse flight movements of individual insects flying through a light beam. In an experiment with the culicids Aedes aegypti and A. triseriatus, the species and sex of individuals were identified correctly with an accuracy of 84% using wingbeat frequency measurements. This technology may be useful in automated monitoring of flying insects in the field."
posted by jedicus at 8:11 PM on February 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


What? If it really says this I'm calling bullshit. We have invented some pretty impressive things, but a non-destructive laser to measure the rhythm of the wing beats, determining if it is a male or female mosquito is not one of them.

Supposing the premise that male and female mosquitos and different species of mosquitos flap their wings at different frequencies, why don't you think a low-intensity laser couldn't measure it? All you need to do is blast the laser at the mosquito at some frequency, and then use a CCD to check that it's lighting it up at the same point in the flap-stroke thing each time, or measure the beat frequency, or whatever.
posted by floam at 8:41 PM on February 13, 2010


Growing up in Northern Canada, every kid at my school had the same answer for "What would your three wishes be?"

1) Zillionaire
2) That every mosquito in the world could be smushed into a giant ball soaked with kerosene, which we could personally ignite Olympic-torch style
3) See #2, replace "mosquito" with "blackfly"
posted by benzenedream at 9:03 PM on February 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Uh, do you have an explanation, or are we supposed to bask in your not-a-genious genious?


I admit it. I'm a dope. I was under the kooky impression that the idea behind the "Death Star" laser is that it could be used to control mosquito populations in developing countries.
posted by digsrus at 9:04 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Please do not misspell genius ever again.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:08 PM on February 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Please do not misspell genius gæniosse ever again.

FTFY
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 10:02 PM on February 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Lot of buzz on the street about this.
posted by pianomover at 10:06 PM on February 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not two hours before I saw this, I was proposing (to myself) a computer-guided laser to deal with the (introduced) rabbit population at UVic. But in that case, mortars would be infinitely more satisfying.
posted by klanawa at 10:21 PM on February 13, 2010


Anyone who feels sorry for the mosquitoes should try having dengue fever sometime. If you live in a temperate climate, I think it is harder to understand the public health impact of mosquitoes. Alternatives include spraying, which contributed to the loss of many native species of insect on the island where I'm living (including pretty ones like butterflies) or "draining the swamps" as mentioned upthread, which basically means destroying ecosystems that serve as nurseries for juvenile fish and crustaceans, and habitat for many waterfowl, as well as mitigating the effects of hurricanes. Lasers seem kind of crazy, but in terms of environmental impact, they might be a reasonable choice compared to some of the alternatives.
posted by snofoam at 5:41 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


In virginia we've been overrun with the invasive Tiger mosquito from Asia. These things hunt all day and breed in a thimble full of water. They are so endemic I can't use my yard for much of summer. I've long dreamt of building such a system and await the instructables diy version.
posted by humanfont at 7:05 AM on February 14, 2010


There was an episode of the New Twilight Zone (not Rod Serling's, the 80's redo) that started with a garage inventor building a "mouse missile." Yep, a cute little missile to take out the mice in your house. Of course I think it was meant as a joke...
posted by localroger at 7:09 AM on February 14, 2010


This invention is both amazing and delightful, right until the moment a mosquito flies in front of your eyes.
posted by mecran01 at 8:30 AM on February 14, 2010


Warn the neighbors before you fire it up, okay humanfront?
posted by notyou at 9:18 AM on February 14, 2010


What's the range on this setup? I'd imagine its very short (less than 1 m) as the mosquito will begin to diminish in size the further away it is from the vision rig.
posted by FusiveResonance at 10:23 AM on February 14, 2010


Every time I see this I cum in my pants, but I swear, the thought of a room full of geniuses coming up with a high tech bug zapper, sorta slays me....

What's next a set of self-cleaning self-replicating cognizant Gensu knives?
posted by Skygazer at 2:22 PM on February 14, 2010


This invention is both amazing and delightful, right until the moment a mosquito flies in front of your eyes.

From their website:

After running safety checks to ensure no unintended object is in view, the system activates a second, more powerful laser that zaps the mosquito, causing death either by damage to its DNA (an unconfirmed hypothesis) or by overheating. The energy levels and light frequencies used are not capable of damaging human tissue, but even so, we’ve built in safeguards that ensure that the system doesn’t fire when anything much larger than a mosquito is in the photonic fence.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:35 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is the sorta thing a roomful of overbright teenager boys would dream up, cept, for better or worse (or comedic goldmine and material for Pynchons next book), these guys can ACTUALLY MAKE IT HAPPEN.

Next up on the Intellectual Ventures Production schedule:

-Real GO BOTS!!

-Atomic powered spitball launchers

-A plan to turn Washington State into a real Dungeons and Dragons theme park..

-Cheerleader Robots

-"Who cut the cheese" - detectors. Identify offending person and eliminates odors. (Also points and laughs...)

-Super Jumbo jets modeled after various flying Dinosaurs.

-Dragon sex toys.

-Nano devices that look up girls skirts and can flying into their panties and can transmit detailed Cat scans of what they err..."find."

-Self loading and self cleaning Bong

-A really rad frisbee that can like fly around the world....

-Dream pills that make you dream about being BSG's Gaius Balter boffing No. 6/Caprica 6/Tricia Helfer*



*That's something I;m working on....it's more difficult than I thought it would be....
posted by Skygazer at 4:12 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I still don't really buy that zipping mosquitoes will really damage the food chain that much. Things like bats have lots of other insects to eat.

Just because one animal eats another animal doesn't mean it's the only one they eat.
posted by delmoi at 6:16 PM on February 14, 2010


There was one of these in the book "Sewer Gas and Electric", but it was designed to destroy human optics by spotting paired reflections.

I imagine this may be against the Geneva Convention, unlike ... nukes.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:27 PM on February 14, 2010


I still don't really buy that zipping mosquitoes will really damage the food chain that much. Things like bats have lots of other insects to eat.

Not to mention there are untold tons of kilograms of them on any given night. As I said before, you would need the DoD's budget and then some to even make a dent in the populations over developed areas. This kind of argument is probably a non-starter, and if mosquito populations suddenly fall it's probably due more worrisome things like air pollution or toxins dissolved in water. Zap them with impunity.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:43 PM on February 14, 2010


That, and the idea is that these devices would be deployed in hospitals, where one doesn't really want a bunch of malaria-carrying mosquitoes hanging about. It's not like they're thinking about hanging one of these off every tree in the jungle.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:27 PM on February 14, 2010


@Skygazer:
The automatic bong would in fact be the most bad-ass thing in the world. It should be capable of self loading, self brewing, and self cleaning. Whenever you sit in on that circle, expect Michael Phelps and Chuck Norris to be present due to the amount of awesome in the room.
posted by FusiveResonance at 10:32 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's where the jet-pack cats come in.

And when cats swooping down and clawing at your face (not to mention hairball bombs) becomes a problem?

Supersonic stealth hounds.
posted by Splunge at 4:01 AM on February 15, 2010


Yes. Kill them with lasers. Fuck mosquitoes.
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:53 AM on February 15, 2010


What if the mosquitos retaliate with their own lasers??

We could have a full blown insect vs. human race war on our hands.
posted by Skygazer at 10:53 AM on February 15, 2010


I tried to build a device like this once, using a 35-milliwatt green laser, a spinning mirror assembly, and a microcontroller. It proved to be rather more difficult than I expected; bugs are sturdy little creatures, and it took several seconds of exposure before my laser would disable a mosquito. I have found no information about the kind of laser Intellectual Ventures is using, but given that they are able to set mosquito wings on fire it is clearly much stronger than 35 milliwatts - from the color I guess that it is a standard Blu-ray diode, 405 nanometers, running at perhaps 150-200 milliwatts.

This is a very powerful laser and not at all safe for unshielded human eyes. For comparison the power limit for a normal laser pointer is 5 milliwatts. This is described as being the level where your blink/pain reflex is still fast enough to save your eyes from permanent damage; a 200 milliwatt blu-ray laser, aimed at your eye, will kill part of your retina before you ever notice the pain.

I gave up my project after discovering this. I don't think it would be particularly hard to build an effective laser bug zapper; what's hard is building a laser bug zapper that is smart enough to be safe for use around people. You simply cannot take the risk of firing at a bug when there might be a person behind the bug, or a reflective surface that might bounce the light toward the person. It might be possible to accomplish this with physical constraints - mounting the zapper on the roof and limiting the laser's range to the horizontal, perhaps - but your tracking has to be very, very good.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:16 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


So I'm seeing a future blissfully free of mosquitoes...

....and lots of people with canes.

Nice going Intellectual Ventures.

Any other brilliant ideas??
posted by Skygazer at 12:46 PM on February 15, 2010


I don't think it would be particularly hard to build an effective laser bug zapper; what's hard is building a laser bug zapper that is smart enough to be safe for use around people.

Hmm, you raise an interesting point. I wonder if they were able to develop sufficiently good tracking hardware, if they could use an array of lasers, like twenty 10mw, all tracking and firing at the insect at the same time. None of the individual beams would be necessarily harmful to a person, but taken in aggregate, enough to kill a bug.

I know that the laser array concept has had some success lately too (albeit in a shooting-at-a-fixed-target-not-one-trying-to-escape way)
posted by quin at 1:21 PM on February 15, 2010


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