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In Laser Safety, Little Mistakes Can Have Big Consequences

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Eye injuries are an integral part of the history of lasers, but with a cultural change among experimentalists, that need not be the case.

Kenneth L. Barat, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

One cannot help but wonder why laser eye accidents have not diminished in frequency as laser technology has matured over the years. Why have these injuries not been eradicated, like smallpox? Surely we understand the biological and psychological causes by now, yet every year there are dozens of injuries. The answer, of course, is the simple carelessness that accompanies a familiarity with medium- and high-power lasers. This is particularly true in academic and high-tech research and development environments, where experiments are quickly assembled and where success depends more on...Read full article

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