Damn it media sources would you let me have one hobby without surrounding it with a bunch of fear mongering and demands that the hobby be tightly controlled and regulated (or banned)? Over the last several months I have become interested in lasers going os far as to design one that I plan on building later this month (from components, not from scratch). Recently Wicked Lasers released a 1W green laser (that doesn’t actually run at 1W from the reviews I’ve read) and it seems the media is already on the war path trying to demonstrate how dangerous these lasers are.
Apparently this 1W green laser is going to blind every astronaut and destroy every satellite. You know what other source of light exists that is actually far brighter than any laser? The damned sun! If satellites and astronauts aren’t being blinded by that giant fucking fusion reactor our humble little planet hurtles itself around once a year this little 1W laser isn’t going to do any damage to them either. A laser having to punch through an atmosphere isn’t going to be even remotely dangerous compared to the light given off by the sun traveling through vacuum.
The truth of the matter is that lasers of any notable power are much like firearms, dangerous if used improperly but a lot of fun and perfectly safe when used properly. Laser, like firearms, have safety rules that must be abided by and safety equipment that must be worn if you want everybody to remain safe.
Ultimately that means those wanting to partake in such hobbies must learn the rules involved. This is true with any hobby involving potentially dangerous equipment (firearms, lasers, wood working, racing, chemistry, horseback riding, etc.). Instead of expressing this fact the media decides that they must strike fear into the hearts of viewers, readers, and listeners by making shit up. This type of media fear mongering is what killed hobby chemistry sets, which used to be pretty awesome and included many chemicals that did potentially dangerous things (and thus were more fun for children wanting to learn chemistry). Similar fear mongering is what lead to innumerable laws being placed against firearms and ever continuing restrictions against shooting ranges (remember the lead from bullets will kill all the wildlife if we don’t shut those horrible ranges down).
Instead of drumming up unnecessary fear would you media outlets instead do something productive? For instance you could write a story warning about the dangers of a specific hobby and explain safety precautions that should be taken by participants. What am I thinking? Logic and help from the media? Next I’ll be asking for unicorns that fart rainbows and sunshine.