red laser pointers

October 13, 2009 at 3:42 pm | | conferences, nerd, science community

Open letter to presenters at Optical Society of America Meeting:

You are presenting at an optics meeting. It is unacceptable to use a cheap keychain red laser pointer. As a member of OSA, with a tag on your shirt that reads “LaserFest,” red laser pointers are embarrassing. (I suppose very bright red laser pointers are OK.)

Green pointers are best. Human eyes are highly sensitive in the green. At 630 nm, eyes are not nearly as sensitive.

Given that you’re at a lasers/optics conference, it is even cool to use a blue pointer—even though it is inefficient—just to demonstrate that you’re a stud.



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  1. If they really want to be true to form, they’d use 1.3um.

    Comment by Kendall — October 13, 2009 #

  2. I’m still waiting for the pulsed laser pointers, preferably above 60Hz–below that would just be annoying.

    Comment by Adam — October 13, 2009 #

  3. i refer to my broken laser pointer as a “maser pointer.”

    Comment by sam — October 13, 2009 #

  4. I actually kind of hate the green laser pointers, except in really large halls. They tend to be so bright that they hurt my eyes, and then I can’t even look at the slides. Dim red keychain laser pointers are crappy though.

    Comment by mary — October 13, 2009 #

  5. sure, some green laser pointers are too bright. people shouldn’t buy 5 mW laser pointers for talks. still, it is LaserFest, so i can forgive them! i cannot forgive crappy red pointers that i can barely see.

    Comment by sam — October 14, 2009 #

  6. I’ve been using a roman candle recently. People like it.

    Comment by wm — October 14, 2009 #

  7. I pine for the day of the extendable metal pointer. Nothing gets your point across quite like smacking the projector screen with one.

    Comment by excimer — October 14, 2009 #

  8. yeah, that’s rad. i want to invent an extendable pointer with a LASER POINTER ON THE END. whoa.

    Comment by sam — October 14, 2009 #

  9. I own one! Well, almost. It’s a pen, with an extendable metal pointer on one end, and a laser pointer on the other.

    Comment by David E — October 16, 2009 #

  10. Sam, red is retro. It’s like the AMC Gremlin of laser pointers. So cool.

    Comment by jordan — October 21, 2009 #

  11. It would indeed to be interesting and useful to have two laser pointers pivoting about the middle and focusing on two different parts of the slide.

    Comment by Wavefunction — October 27, 2009 #

  12. i think there should be a red/green/blue laser combo that creates a coherent beam of white light. *that* would be neat.

    Comment by rob — November 4, 2009 #

  13. I believe that’s called a flashlight.

    Comment by asdf — September 16, 2010 #

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