Make’s ‘Mosquito Blaster’ Article

If you still haven’t flipped through the latest issue of Make Magazine, well here it is. Not the whole thing, just 3ric Johanson’s critically (do I qualify as a critic?) acclaimed article on the Photonic Fence. Creating a machine that shoots mosquitoes out of the sky with lasers has been no small task. 3ric gives the low down on everything from the preliminary eye-rolling brainstorms, to the three challenges in mosquito assassination, as well as explanations of the hardware, software and methods he is currently using. Read the entire article below.

Make 23: Mosquito Blaster

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  1. Posted February 4, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    One of the developers of the mosquito zapper made a disquieting comment somewhere after concluding the presentation. Although it was established that the device could successfully discriminate between malaria carriers (females which suck blood) versus non-carriers (males which live on fruits), he commented that ALL of the mosquitoes might be zapped anyway, just because they are mosquitoes. This comment betrays an arrogance about the role of the human species in deciding on the continuance of other species. It is one thing to reduce a harmful population to a manageable number but another to eliminate a species completely. Even if it were possible it would have unexpected and negative consequences. Consider that the law of karma, which is echoed in Newton’s third law, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, would apply. The same attitude of indifference for diversity of life would backfire on the human species. For example, suppose that the Singularity predicted by Kurzweil does come about in a matter of decades, when control of human civilization will be taken over by machine intelligence. Will our future overlords have the same compassion for us as we did for other life? It might be well to cultivate attitudes of respect for life so that when our turn comes, we will not be zapped likewise.

    • J. Paul Daigle
      Posted June 2, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      It would be utterly impossible to eliminate mosquitoes with this sort of technology. It only works within a tiny range (50 to 100 feet), and inside defined areas (within the photonic fence). All the mosquitos outside those areas would be perfectly unharmed. This is much better than any sort of pesticide application.

    • Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      As well as the comment about it being virtually impossible to eliminate the species, here’s one example of (so far as I’ve found) a lot of undisputed findings that overall elimination of mosquitoes would have almost zero negative long term impact.

      The delicate balance of the world we live in isn’t as delicate as one might think. Nature’s pretty resilient.

      • Henry
        Posted July 15, 2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        In many palces, mosquitos (or specific species of mosquitos) were introduced by human activity. Mosquitos were introduced into Hawaii in the 1820s aboard ships, and by spreading a few diseases have significantly impacted native bird populations (not to mention become a severe nuisance). More recently, Asian tiger mosquitos were introduced to the U.S. from Asia in the 1980s. Exterminating a species is extreme, but undoing some of the unintentional propagation that we’ve already done seems reasonable.

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