A DIY laser bazooka is the most terrifyingly awesome thing you’ll see today

Do the words “popular YouTube personality is in possession of a laser bazooka” make you feel more or less confident about the wellbeing of life on Earth?

Whatever your reaction, welcome to the world of 23-year-old Drake Anthony — a.k.a. Styropyro — a self-proclaimed laser enthusiast from Goodfield, IL. Anthony’s latest creation? A terrifying 200W laser cannon: 400 times more powerful than the most dangerous laboratory lasers.

“My interest in lasers started when I was in seventh grade science class,” Anthony tells Digital Trends. “We were learning about how lasers worked, and I went straight home and ordered myself a laser-pointer over the internet. Within a few days of it arriving, I’d torn it open with the intention of making it stronger. From then on I just wanted bigger and better lasers to play with.”

The laser bazooka certainly fits that criteria. The laser part comes from blue laser diodes taken from broken DLP projectors, which Anthony bought on eBay. The focusing of the beam is achieved using an optical component named a “knife-edger” that combines separate lasers into a single destructive beam. The bazooka’s casing, meanwhile, is constructed out of scrap metal. “I didn’t have any kind of a blueprint,” Anthony says. “I was just cutting it down and hacking it together to see what happened. The version I ended up going with actually had a less focused beam than my favorite design — but I just couldn’t get the optics to work.” The last component of the bazooka is its power supply, which comes from a stack of lithium polymer batteries, since the impressive creation requires industrial quantities of power to run.

“I get a lot of good comments from people who love this kind of thing, but also some negative ones from people who think I’m crazy and that I’m going to blow myself up,” Anthony continues. “What they don’t realize is that I’ve been doing this for a long time.”

He’s quick to point out that he’s no renegade, however. Having completed a degree at Southern Illinois University, majoring in chemistry and math, Anthony is now about to start a PhD in (what else?) optics. He’s also spent two years working in a research lab, working on ways to enhance MRI techniques using giant magnets and lasers.

One thing that’s for certain, he says, is that this is a path he’s sticking with for good. “It’s definitely a life commitment, that’s for sure.”

Emerging Tech

‘Rogue medicine in a bathtub’: 4 experts on the vice and virtue of pharma hacking

A biohacker, pharmahacker, and two bioethicists walk into a bar. We ordered them a metaphorical round and had a chat about the risks and rewards of DIY medicine — from unsanctioned gene therapy to medication made on the kitchen counter.
Features

The numbers don’t lie: Facebook is faltering. So what will eventually replace it?

Facebook is faltering, and the data prove it. User growth is slowing, employee outlooks are dipping, and young people are looking elsewhere. But for Facebook to fail, an alternative must arise. Who will it be?
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in August 2018, from ‘Blue Valentine’ to ‘Jurassic Park’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Mobile

Bigger isn’t always better: 5 of the smallest smartphones worth buying

Phones are getting larger and larger, but what options exist for the small-of-hand, or people who just want a phone they can use one-handed? In a world of phablets, some of the smallest smartphones can still pack a punch.
Emerging Tech

By studying patient data, A.I. can limit toxicity in cancer treatment

In a bid to improve quality of life for cancer patients, a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have turned to machine learning to help avoid toxicity from cancer medications.
Emerging Tech

Replaced by robots: 10 jobs that could be hit hard by the A.I. revolution

According to one study, 47 percent of current jobs in the United States could be automated within the next two decades. Here are 10 examples of the kind of employment that refers to.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robo sidekicks, AC for your bed, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe sets out to try and ‘touch’ the sun

A NASA probe launched on a journey to take measurement of the atmosphere of the Sun, hopefully uncovering crucial details about the origins of the solar winds generated there.
Emerging Tech

The Perseid meteor shower peaks this weekend! Here’s how to watch

Thanks to a new moon, 2018's Perseid Meteor Shower will be much easier to view, with even the dimmest meteors observable by the naked eye. Here's how to see the show this weekend, and where the views will be the best.
Emerging Tech

Don’t get burned! How to back crowdfunding projects the smart way

In the world of crowdfunding, there’s no such thing as a sure thing. There's a million reasons why a project might fail. But with this handy guide, you'll be able to spot the signs of a sketchy project and decrease your chances of getting…
Emerging Tech

Stanford A.I. can realistically score computer animations just by watching them

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a computer system that’s able to synthesize realistic sounds for 3D animation, based entirely on its knowledge about the physical world.
Emerging Tech

No keyboard? No problem. Masterkey will project you a virtual one to type on

Miss having a physical keyboard when you're out and about? Wish you could have a mobile display bigger than your smartphone can offer? Masterkey 4.0 is a wireless projector that promises to help.
Cars

You don’t need to go autonomous to make trucking safer

Long haul truckers are very good at their jobs, but they face long hours and unpredictable conditions. Autonomous tech may be coming, but here’s how lidar technology companies are working to enhance trucking safety today.
Emerging Tech

Be a master of your own ever-changing ‘galaxy’ with this kinetic wall art

Art Machine is a stunning work of kinetic art that looks like a continuously swirling galaxy or turbulent weather formation viewed through a ship's porthole. Check it out in all its glory.