What would be the effect of a laser blast on a human target?

Let’s suppose that you have a high-power laser rifle, I have no idea what a proper power level would be, but strong enough to instantly go clear through you. What would the wound be like? Would it be a clean and cauterized hole having vaporized the flesh, something like a lightsaber? Or would it be much more violent?
All of that energy absorbed by the tissue doesn’t just disappear, so I wonder if you would explode in a shower of meaty chunks from the force of the expanding steam of the wound.

In all seriousness, it depends on the type of laser and the power level. To my knowledge, we have not yet developed (let alone miniaturized) lasers that would be powerful enough to vaporize a hole through a human. We could, at this point, certainly cause massive burns and combustion of tissue, but I don’t know how much farther than leaving a good sized crater in the chest we could go right now.

I’m pretty sure it would not be a clean blast-through hole.
Real laser spots do not have clear boundaries. Rather, it has trailing “edges”. Even the “cleanest” (Gaussian) spot have long “tails”, and high-power laser tend to be even less clean (numerically measured as a high M[sup]2[/sup]), with many modes resulting in multiple lobes.
So, even if the central part of the beam would have sufficiently high power to vaporize the flash, those tails would do the whole range from mild discomfort, through severe burns, and right up to setting your flash on fire.

And that’s even disregarding the dissipation of the accumulated energy you mentioned.

First and foremost, barring advanced eye protection, everybody in the near vicinity has a good chance to wind up blind from rogue reflections. Second, it’s all about the power, beam width and duration of the pulse. If we’re talking picosecond pulse then the beam powerful enough to punch a hole right through a human is probably going to get you to undergo some fusion :slight_smile: If we’re talking a one second pulse then the power requirements go down considerably and the damage might actually be greater by the time the laser cuts through to the other side.
Strangely enough we sort of have an answer to your question if you replace “laser gun” with “proton canon”.

From the wiki article;

Charming, always nice to have someone to die on hand. Reminds me of the Russian biological weapons researcher who accidentally injected himself with a horrific disease and opted to let the illness run its course instead of committing suicide so he could make notes :dubious:

I’ve seen film of a surgical laser cutting through meat (not living flesh) – it opens a gap and chars the edges, rather cleanly and neatly, but it didn’t rapidly drill a nice round hole directly through the thing. This was quite a while back. It was probably a carbon dioxide laser, and significantly lower in output than what can be fielded these days.
As stated above, it depends on wavelength and power. Argon Fluoride excimer lasers can remove pieces of tissue as neatly as a cookie cutter -0-- it’s highly absorbed by the tissue and vaporized. If you want to cut a hole in someone, use a big wonking ArF laser. As you move to longer wavelengths the holes get wider and more ragged as a lot of the energy goes into heat, and thermal deterioration starts to replace such pinpoint ansorption.
Human beings, being “wet” targets, require quite a bit of energy to vaporize. Water can absorb a lot of energy in the process of heating up and changing state. Lasers are inherently inefficient – those old CO[sub]2[/sub] lasers had efficiencies of on;ly a couple percent between what went in at the wall plug and what came out the front, so weapon laseers have usually required really big power supplies, and “hand phasers” and ray guns capable of doing real damage remain a pipe dream. Easier, quicker, and more reliable to run up behind a guy and bash him over the head with it.

Still par for the course. We use some 4 kW lasers for certain applications, and the cooling system for the flash lamps is large enough for air conditioning two of my houses!

I know. Diode Laser pumping can improve the efficiency, but it’s still low. The best overall efficiency I’ve encountered was 80% light-to-light conversion in some color center lasers. But that’s not wall plug efficiency. I honestly don’t know what the best wallplug to photon conversion efficiency out there in the real world is right now, but it’s got to be damned low.

Something in the 40 watt range ought to be sufficent.

IIRC, Terminator Arnold was requesting a Plasma Rifle, not a laser. But a 40 Watt laser beam certainly wouldn’t be pleasant.

Ahhhh, they’re 1970’s-style “seizure rays”.

I should start a new thread on what the effect of a cyclotron burst would be on a human target, and how small the smallest cyclotron that could kill a person would be and the range at which it would happen----oops, hijack completed.

Hey, just what you see, pal.

What, no mention in the Wikipedia article about how Dr. Bugorski dresses up in a spandex bodysuit and a cape and fights crime under the name Comrade Proton?

If someone else would just buy a 1920’s style death ray, you can close early too.

Got a cite for this incident? Sounds like interesting reading. Thanks!

This got me thinking in an X-Files mode. :smiley:

A cite from this webpage relates the tale. I may have misremembered as it seems that they held out hope for curing him, the documentary made it seem like he refused to give up and die peacefully.

I’ve actually been the recipient of a laser blast.

Well, I’ve had a Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. The old style, in which a laser burns away the uvula and surrounding tissue. It was done with local anesthetic with me fully conscious. Indeed, helping. I had to hold the suction device that tried to gather up the thick clouds of black smoke that resulted. (I didn’t do it to the satisfaction of the surgeon either, who kept yelling at me. You try it some time and see how much better you do. :dubious: )

Burning human flesh smells exactly like barbecue.

“Do you expect me to talk, Goldfinger?”

“No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.”

Cue laser heading for the Bond wang.

Slight hijack: is this the typical surgery to cure sleep apnea? I have been meaning to research the surgery … wasn’t sure how it was typically done.

No anesthesia + burning flesh = pain, correct? How was it possible with you fully conscious?