Throughout this tutorial, we have stressed the many dangers of powerful lasers, and how to avoid them. Not all laser dangers, however, are physical. There can be social and psychological ones, even with lasers of minimal power. In his book, “Observations,” Tom Martin points out that “A laser pointer is one of the greatest things for entertaining dogs, cats, and little children - and one of the worst for entertaining women." Single, male, laser users should carefully heed this warning and never take any kind of laser on a date, or to a party, without first making certain that any females of interest are of high intelligence and gifted with a great sense of humor.
A fellow named Stan, still single because of excessive laser use, relates some of the joys and dangers of laser ownership. He tells of one interesting event which occurred at a large party, with perhaps 150 people present. At this party, everyone was an adult except for a little fellow of perhaps five years of age. Stan happened to notice how, as the little fellow was milling around the room, no one was paying any attention to him. He seemed so frustrated and so bored. Stan, unable to watch such pain, decided that it was his moral duty to entertain the child and bring a measure of joy to it‘s heart. Knowing how much children enjoy laser pointers, Stan pulled out his 650 nm, 4 mW laser pointer and aimed the beam at a point near the little fellow’s feet. Immediately the child was delivered from his prison of frustration and boredom and transported to a magical world with strange red dots bouncing about. Stan would quickly move the red dot back and forth across the room, and the child would joyously chase it. After a while of doing this, Stan decided to see what would happen if the dot was placed on the leg of one of the many adults standing nearby. Stan spied a fellow named Bill, who was talking with a beautiful lady. He guided the laser beam across the floor and up Bill’s shin, where he stopped the dot a few inches below the knee. The little fellow, seeing the stationary dot, runs over and kicks the fire out of Bill’s shin. Bill, not being an ignorant fellow, quickly ascertains the source of his pain and its distant cause. Leaving his lady friend, Bill walks swiftly towards Stan, grabs him by the neck, and proceeds to choke him. Stan somehow survived! Bill, who owned no laser, was later married.
Stan tells of another, more embarrassing, use of a laser pointer. He was at a small party at a friend’s home, when a lady came in carrying her tiny, adorable daughter, who had just turned three years old. The little child was wearing her birthday hat and party dress and was, as in the previous story, the only child in the room. Initially the adults showed her much attention, but as the evening wore on they began communicating mainly with one another, leaving the child to fend for herself. Stan’s heart became heavy as he sensed the growing loneliness in the child’s eyes, so to save her from this pain he pulled out his trusty laser and projected a luminescent red dot on the floor in front of her. Immediately the child’s face was filled with joy and she began to follow the dot, often crawling across the floor attempting to smack it with her little hands. This went on for some time until Stan determined that it would be good to guide the child back to her mother’s loving arms. Mom happened to be sitting on the opposite side of the room, facing Stan. She was single, and a beautiful woman of perhaps thirty years of age, and it being summer was wearing a pair of pretty shorts. Stan carefully guided the beam across the room, always taking great care not to allow it near the face of the child or any one else. He guided the beam up to Mom’s right knee and then turned the laser off. The child, seeing the dot go up Mom’s leg, followed it and stood up, holding onto her mother’s leg while looking to see where the red dot went. Not being able to find it, she then stuck her hand up Mom’s shorts and began feeling for it. Mom, not being at all amused, gave Stan a most hateful look as she pulled the child’s arm from between her legs. Whether because of this embarrassing incident or some other factor - we shall never know - Stan and this woman never wound up together.
Once upon a time, Stan had a date with a lovely co-ed named Vicky. She was tall and very beautiful, and was one of the top scholars at her university. One evening they went to dinner at a fine restaurant, which had numerous balconies overlooking the main dining area. While waiting for their food to arrive, Stan entertained his lovely friend by placing a finger over the barrel of his laser pointer and making his fingertip glow red, reminiscent of an earthly ET. He also would stick the laser into a nostril and make his nose blink a rosy red, like some gaudy plastic Santa Claus. As he looked over the balcony he noticed a lady on the floor below, eating her dinner at one end of a long bar. Above the bar, mounted on a brick wall to the lady’s left, was a large, shiny brass plaque. Seeing a wondrous opportunity for fun, Stan fired the laser at the plaque, thus reflecting the beam onto the lady’s food. This highly confounded the woman, and she began looking in every direction - except up - in an attempt to determine the source of the red dot. Stan and his lovely friend could hardly contain their laughter. Stan’s date motioned for the laser. She had noticed that directly below her, also sitting at the bar was a gentleman drinking a large mug of beer. Each time this fellow started to take a drink, she would fired the laser downward, directly into his mug. Just as was the case with the lady at the end of the bar, he looked all directions except up.
After finishing this little experiment in psychology, Stan and his friend had to muster all the self-restraint they had to keep from rolling on the floor with laughter. Although little was learned from this humorous experiment, Stan mused that perhaps the fellow at the bar would henceforth be cured of the evils of drink. Stan sometimes ponders, with regret, why he didn’t try harder to marry this beautiful, intelligent, laser-loving co-ed. During those regretful moments he remembers the words of an old pop song: “good things come to him who waits, but not to him who waits too long.”
On another occasion, Stan and his friend Sam were exploring a small cave in the eastern United States. It was a tourist cave, of the kind where anyone could go without a guide. A
British gentleman and his wife, who were visiting scenic attractions in the area, came wandering into the cave and stopped a few meters inside the entrance. For whatever reason - he doesn’t remember why - Stan pulled out his laser pointer and placed a red dot on the ceiling, near where the British gentleman was standing. This gentleman was apparently from the upper class. He was wearing a fine suit and carrying the classic, black British umbrella. Upon seeing the red dot moving across the cave ceiling, he immediately began smiting it with the business end of his umbrella. This went on for quite some time as Stan would turn the beam off and on and move it to different places. As he was wandering around striking the cave ceiling, the British gentleman was describing to his wife the nature of these unusual, glowing bugs that inhabited Kentucky caves. Because of their experience, this couple left the cave with a whole new perspective on the beauty and variety of life on Earth. Stan and his friend felt privileged to have been part of this enlightenment.
Please note: The fun uses of laser pointers, as described in this chapter, were somewhat acceptable at the time because the lasers were quite low in power and were used by highly intelligent people in a very careful and responsible manner. Do not ever use a powerful Warn Laser module for such “fun.” To do so would be dangerous, illegal, and incredibly stupid!
Warning: Powerful lasers must always be used and stored in the same manner as firearms. They must never be allowed into the hands of children or irresponsible or inebriated adults. When using any laser, always treat the people around you in the same way you would like to be treated.
Much of the information in this tutorial was adapted, with permission, from the prepublication version of “PRACTICAL USES FOR POCKET LASERS - A Science Teacher’s Handbook,” copyright 2007. Public or commercial distribution of this material is prohibited without permission.