Science, Science and Society, Technology

Dr Evil's fondest wish may yet come true

Sharks with frikkin’ laser beams on their foreheads have, until now, seemed a remote possibility*.

But in a stunning development, scientists have engineered living cells which are able to _emit laser beams_.

Take a moment.  Sit back.  Allow your mind to explode a little.

In essence, living cells have been engineered to produce Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) - a jellyfish protein which fluoresces -and, when bathed in weak blue light and helped along with mirrors, emit an intense, focused beam of green laser light.

Possible applications include medical diagnostics and imaging of cells, as well as possible therapeutic uses, although those are likely further off…

The BBC has a more in depth article here, as does the New York Times and, heh, PC magazine :)

Mad props to @SetHop for pointing this out…


* As has the possibility of having laser-beam eyes, a la Cyclops **

** Please note: I am being tongue in cheek

  • aimee whitcroft

    If anyone is interested in the development of laser-bearing sharks (or people), please contact me at benevolentworldruler (at)

  • Seth Wagoner

    Hah! Somehow not surprised to see PC magazine has by far the best article of the three ;-) Now, as they point out, they’ve so far only managed a laser somewhat smaller than a human hair, probably so pissweak it wouldn’t require a Class 1 cert to sell on Trademe, but well, lets remember the Apollo Rockets had less computing power than my wristwatch, apply Moore’s law, accelerating returns in nanotech and biophysics, plus the brainpower of a million nerds who’ve watched Austin Powers, some of whom have access to biotech labs…I’d say we’ve got less than a decade before we have to start worrying about these things in our shipping lanes ;-)

  • Seth Wagoner

    Or me, at evilgeniusesinternational (at) if you’re looking for some bizdev assistance with that global shipping extortion / cyber-shark-pirate start-up you’ve just started brainstorming. Pretty sure I know where to look for some VC…

  • aimee whitcroft

    Yes, I’m interested more in a leadership-level role. My maniacal laughing skills are superb. And I have documentation assuring people I would be a nice world leader (seriously, I do). Seth - perhaps a collaboration?

  • Seth Wagoner

    Most excellent. We’ve always got room for people like you in our organization. We actually rather appreciate the “benevolent” in your email address now we know it’s a suitably Orwellian kind of “benevolence” ;-)

  • aimee whitcroft
  • Grant Jacobs

    Lets see, we already have glowing pet fish. The fish tank may yet become an ugly scene…

    Ya get ya frikken scaly bod outa my feed. Pzzzzip.

  • alison

    Follows link…..
    …. oh, OK, good testimonials, I can see that you will definitely be a most benevolent overlord (should that be overmistress???).

    /replaces hat so zombies don’t get the rest of der braiiinnnzzzzz.

  • Seth Wagoner

    Oh my. You *do* come highly recommended. We are well familiar with Dr Maccio’s work and his fine team at Fake Science Laboratories. Perhaps as your assistant director for Appeasment he could be set to some useful exploratory tasks in this nacent joint venture of ours?

  • Ross

    You mean Shiva might be…….reincarnated……ahem….

  • Seth Wagoner

    I think the first proof of concept my investors would like to see would involve scaling up the existing experiment. If we can get to say, 5 watts in vitro, they might begin to see the possibilities. Even cybersharks that merely act as rangefinders for shipboard artillery systems should be sufficient as a minimum viable product. The more significant challenge is probably the control mechanism. I am thinking a modified cybug - - architecture would probably give us shorter time-to-market than waiting for neurophotonic mind-control APIs ( ).

  • gasstationwithoutpumps

    The cells did not lase, they simply contained the dye. External pumping and mirrors were needed. This article was a pure puff piece, typical of Nature journals, who go for flash before substance frequently.

  • Seth Wagoner

    They also *produced* the dye, which is a bit more interesting than just acting as a vessel. However, it’s obvious there’s some way to go before Dr Evil’s great vision is finally implemented. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s decades away, maybe centuries. You’d have to be completely mad to start thinking about how to engineer Cyclopean sharks before we get the initial patents filed at this very early stage.

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