back to article REGARD our TINY but POWERFUL LASER, suitable for very SMALL sharks

Shrinking the scale of semiconductor materials to help build powerful quantum-computing systems has proved to be a real head-scratcher for scientists. However, boffins at Princeton University have come up with a device that they think could be a "major step forward" for the tech. The university's associate physics professor, …

  1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Lacking history

    "The rice grain-sized device, dubbed a "maser", is a minuscule microwave laser"

    Oh dear, this was written by someone without knowledge of physics history. Masers existed several years before lasers, and the latter were initially called "optical masers".

    1. Adam 1

      Re: Lacking history

      I just learnt something today from a cat on the internet.

    2. JCB


      As previous commenters have stated, a maser and a laser are different, although light and microwaves are just different forms of electromagnetic radiation, so both could be termed Electromagnetic Radiation Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Thus we can have a handy acronym covering both. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the eraser.

  2. CJ_in_AZ

    Some of us really old fogies remember that "LASER" (which is an acronym for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation") is actually derived from the term "MASER" ("Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation"). Problem was that they had trouble getting masers to work, but did get lasers to work, so young kids never heard of masers.

  3. William Donelson

    MASERs have been around for 50+ years, and BEFORE Lasers!

    A maser (/ˈmeɪzər/) is a device that produces coherent electromagnetic waves through amplification by stimulated emission. The word "maser" is derived from the acronym MASER: "microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation".

    So either these guys are ignorant, or I have misunderstood.

  4. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    Came to the comments to moan about 'Microwave laser'. Found all 3 previous commenters had beaten me to it.

    1. frank ly

      The first two were quantum entangled, as you can tell by the timing of their posts. The third one had fallen off the quantum dot stepping stone and needed time to get out of the stream of everyday analogies, which really drag you down.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Moaning Achieved by Stimulating Excitable Readers

  5. Keef

    I also wasn't happy about the 'microwave laser'.

    I'm also unhappy about this line:

    'the researchers explained that it uses about one-billionth the electric current needed to power a hair-dryer'.

    At least tell us which model of hair-dryer so I can look up the specs!

    Clever work, stupid communication.

    1. Adam 1

      Shirley they could have used more understandable units of measure. I mean we all know that hair driers need a lot of energy [citation needed] so saying that could mean anything.

      Why not just state the number in terms of how it compares to the power used by a London bus to drive one beard second.

      1. Crisp
  6. MatsSvensson


    Our new super-hairdrier "Terra-Quantum Plus MK IIV"!

    Dry your hair in no time,

    with the power of ONE BILLION microwave lasers!!!!

    Built-in tree-way POWER-switch included, at no additional cost to you!

  7. Phil Endecott

    Come on El Reg, your job is to turn dumbed-down press releases into something we boffins can understand. hair dryers? stepping stones?

  8. Visual Echo

    "The research could apparently aid the future development of light sources."

    Could I get one about 3000 lumens of 4000K colour with a standard Edison base?

    But the picture confused me, isn't that a flux capacitor? Where do all the cute little MASERs come flying out?

  9. Little Mouse

    The Meme is dead....

    At last - A laser-related article with not one mention of sharks in the comments!

    Oh. Crap.

    1. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

      Re: The Meme is dead....

      Stickleback with a frikin' laser on its head!

      1. Jan 0 Silver badge

        Re: The Meme is dead....

        Nah, now we can have Paramecia or Spirochaetes with with frickin' lasers!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Meme is dead....

      MAZER, not real laser. sharks with masers would just boil the water and waste said shark as every supervillain should know.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Meme is dead....

  10. raving angry loony

    First thing that came to mind...

    Phenomenal Cosmic Powers!

    Itty Bitty Living Space.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Possible LOHAN Teleportation application

    LOHAN could teleport to another planet. Just a few years from science fiction to science fact, just like the flying car!

  12. TitterYeNot


    It is like a line of people crossing a wide stream

    Gah!!! I though that one of the fundamental rules of quantum physics was "Don't cross the stream" - it causes total protonic reversal!

    That's what my good friend Dr. Venkman said. At least, I think that's what he said...

  13. Leeroy

    lasers schmasers

    I thought I was good with a soldering iron until I seen the pic!

  14. 2+2=5 Silver badge

    How to encourage girls to take up STEM subjects

    > the researchers explained that it uses about one-billionth the electric current needed to power a hair-dryer

    Icon says it all.

  15. poopypants

    Here you go...

    I hold before me a hair dryer rated at 2,200 Watts. One billionth of that is (I think) 2.2 microwatts.

    Or not. But at least I have given people the incentive to work it out, if only to prove me wrong.

    1. Eddy Ito

      Re: Here you go...

      current != power. The maser could use the same amount of power if the voltage is a billion times higher than said hair dryer. Likewise it could use more or much less than one billionth the power.

      In short it's about as useful as comparing the muzzle energy of a bullet to the thermal energy of a steaming hot mug of coffee. Sure, shooting a hot coffee might sound like fun, especially if filmed with one of those super high speed cameras, but it's one less bullet you'll have for the zombie invasion and you'll probably wish you had that coffee when it's your turn to keep watch.

  16. TarquinTheNutter

    "To get an idea of the scale of the teeny-tiny maser, the researchers explained that it uses about one-billionth the electric current needed to power a hair-dryer."

    So you mean it uses 1 nano-hairdryer of current. I trust you will be adding this to your standards converter page at

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