what your laser pointer says about you

March 10, 2011 at 4:50 pm | | conferences, hardware, nerd, science community

Red: You either don’t really care if anyone can see what you’re pointing at or you’re cheap and you use the free pointer you got from a vendor at the expo. Of course, you could be one of those considerate folks who buy very bright red pointers, because you stubbornly like what red looks like even though human eyes are not sensitive to 633 nm. That’s fine.

Green: You want your audience to see what you’re pointing at. Unless you bought a 5+ mW laser (either because you’re showing off or because you didn’t realize how sensitive the human eye is to 532 and bought the brightest laser you could find). In that case, you’re blinding your audience. If you’re going to get a 5 mW laser, get it in red. That’s classy and visible!

Blue: You’re a bad-ass. You don’t care that blue lasers are more expensive and slightly harder to see, you want the audience to know that you’re a real laser jock. (Or maybe you’re worried about leaking 1064 nm from green laser pointers.)

Purple: You’re so bad-ass you’re crazy. You don’t care that the human eye can hardly detect and can’t focus on 405 nm. You want to show that you support Blu-ray.

Yellow: You think blue lasers are soooooo 2009.

Invisible: You have a UV or IR laser pointer? Maybe a tripled or undoubled Nd:YAG? You’re nuts.

Maser pointer: I want one.


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  1. I have never seen a yellow laser pointer. Fancy!

    The green ones always kind of bug me though. Even the not that bright ones always seem too bright to me. I prefer a relatively bright red one. Just sayin’.

    Comment by mary — March 10, 2011 #

  2. yeah, bright red pointers are nice indeed.

    Comment by sam — March 10, 2011 #

  3. When possible, I still prefer the classic bamboo-stick pointer.

    Comment by reportergene — March 11, 2011 #

  4. For teaching, I use a retractable metal one – what does that say about me?

    Comment by MRW — March 11, 2011 #

  5. Cats seems to chase red just as well as the others. Yeah, you can get one at your local 99Cents Only store. Cheap but effective.

    And isn’t the red one the better one to be shining in people’s (and cats’) eyes? Safety first! …sort of.

    Comment by jordan — March 14, 2011 #

  6. red is only better than green because green laser might leak high-power invisible light, which could do damage. but generally, red is no more safe than other visible colors of the same power. as long as their output is <5mW and visible, i think they’re safe (because you blink faster than it takes to cause any damage).

    Comment by sam — March 14, 2011 #

  7. i’ve seen a yellow laser. very cool.

    Comment by rob — March 15, 2011 #

  8. What about black laser

    Comment by Mark - Dont - Like - You — March 19, 2011 #

  9. 1.5Watt 445nm blue pointer…. Excessive? NO! FUN!

    Comment by DVAnt — May 8, 2011 #

  10. […] 405 nm laser from Amazon. No this pointer isn’t for presentations, for reasons I have already stated. This pointer is for […]

    Pingback by Everyday Scientist » 405 nm laser fun — May 26, 2011 #

  11. You have a collection of all of the above except for Yellow – you’re not freaking rich.

    Comment by ref — May 27, 2011 #

  12. Forgot to mention, even better with the one with the rotatable crystal mounted on the top. : )

    Comment by ref — May 27, 2011 #

  13. So if my favorite is a 1050nm puled 5W setup, am I nuts? Or just making sure I’ll have the needed power….:-)

    Comment by Austin — September 13, 2011 #

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