Look Out, Lasers: Here Comes The New and Improved Maser

Microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation – “maser” technology – has been redesigned for practical use, with revolutionary implications for a variety of detection devices.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn


What’s the Latest Development?

Sixty years after the first one was built, and long after being “outshone” by the laser, scientists in the UK have come up with a practical version of the maser. Just like its vastly more ubiquitous cousin, the “aser” portion of “maser” stands for Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. However, the maser does with microwaves what the laser does with visible light. Masers actually predate lasers, but they were relegated to obscurity due to challenges associated with magnetic fields and temperature. The “new maser,” as described in a report in Nature magazine, eliminates these impediments via the use of a crystalline material.

What’s the Big Idea?

Masers’ key potential lies in their ability to “carry out the amplification process in a particularly clean way, without adding much noise.” Unlike visible light, microwaves are able to pass through materials such as clouds and skin, which means that, in terms of sensitivity, maser-enabled systems could outperform their laser-based counterparts. For example, in their current form, masers are used to detect tiny signals coming from faraway space probes. However, with the revamped version, it may be possible to create a radio telescope so sensitive that it could “detect some extraterrestrial intelligence that hasn't been detected."

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Think you’re bad at math? You may suffer from ‘math trauma’

Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.

Image credit: Getty Images
Mind & Brain

I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

How KGB founder Iron Felix justified terror and mass executions

The legacy of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who led Soviet secret police in the "Red Terror," still confounds Russia.

Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Felix Dzerzhinsky led the Cheka, Soviet Union's first secret police.
  • The Cheka was infamous for executing thousands during the Red Terror of 1918.
  • The Cheka later became the KGB, the spy organization where Russia's President Putin served for years.
Keep reading Show less