Light amplification by simulated emission of radiation

My classroom this semester isn't as well-equipped as the UNC room in which I taught Bioarch and Human Osteo - it had a dozen human skeletons, hominid casts, overhead projector, and computer hookup. Over the years, I got more used to using a laser pointer on both slides and the articulated skeleton on the stand, so I found myself pointing with shadows the past week at Cortland. Today on the way to school, I stopped at everyone's favorite corporate giant, Wal-Mart, to pick up a cheap laser pointer. I wandered around the office supply area and into the electronic equipment section and found an employee...

Me: Excuse me, where might I find a laser pointer?
Employee: Oh, I'm sorry, we don't sell those.
Me: Really?
Employee: Yeah. There was incident a while back. Some kid pointed a laser at an airplane. We haven't sold laser pointers since then.
Me: What? Really? Uhm, where can I get one, then?
Employee: Try Radio Shack, next door.

I remember the incident back in the early 90s, I guess, where some kid got in serious trouble for trying to shine a laser into the cockpit of a helicopter or small plane. But I didn't know that this is still an issue. The US DoT had a press conference in 2005 noting the rise in these incidents, and this kind of thing still makes news stories today. What the fuck? I can't buy a laser pointer because a few hundred morons point them into the sky? Anyway, I got a lovely squarish one at Radio Shack that helped immensely in class today to point out the differences between freshly dead bone and bones from long-dead people.


Anonymous said…
Petsmart has them in the cat toy section.

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