Question Hello: I saw a TED talk describing a successful prototype of a anti-mosquito laser system built with off the shelf parts,costing only a few thousand dollars: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/news/animals-news/anti-mosquito-laser- . While later reading an article about locust swarms destroying a crop in Madagascar,it occurred to me a laser system might be built to deal with these swarming insects.I envision a powerful ground based laser sweeping back and forth,decimating the swarm.Would this be feasible? Thanks!
Answer This is less feasible, but this company has already done the appropriate research to accomplish it. All they would have to do is to tune the system parameters to locust wingbeats. It would be far more difficult to do this in any safe way, however, due to the massive numbers of the swarming locusts. Highly impractical as a method of dealing with locusts, for certain. For individual mosquito insects, I can see it, but there's no way to target locusts fast enough and in the numbers you're talking about without far more expensive equipment and FAR more collateral damage. You'd be better off with a focused sonic pulse weapon that disrupted their wingbeats, perhaps channeled through a beam of ultrasound (simple enough to make) or some other scheme.
I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.
I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.
Education/Credentials Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.