Next-gen lightning protection uses lasers to redirect lightning

If there’s one thing you should know about Engadget, it’s that we absolutely love lasers. And thanks to the University of Arizona and University of Central Florida, our favorite pulsating form of light might soon find a much less destructive purpose, than say on Navy ships, anti-missile airliners and X-Men goggles. Instead of using a lightning rod to transport the average bolt of lightning safely into the ground, researchers believe that by using specially designed laser beams, the path of Zeus’ thunderbolt can be redirected entirely.

The standard way of protecting buildings (and their occupants) from lightning is pretty simple: You stick a lightning rod on the roof, and then some kind of conducting channel that takes the huge discharge of electricity and dumps it into the ground. This is a tried and tested method that is used by most of the world’s tall buildings. In the case of something vital like lightning protection, I’m usually a firm believer in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” — but that was before I read about a new lightning protection system that uses lasers to redirect the lightning, so that it ignores the building entirely, instead taking a totally new route to ground or perhaps into a futuristic energy harvesting device.

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