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Science

The Cheese Slicing Laser 337

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the sign-me-up dept.
purduephotog writes "Xiaochun Li of The University of Wisconsin-Madison has come up with the ultimate gift for those high-tech wine and cheese connoisseurs: A cheese slicing laser. More detailed information is available at Optics.Org."
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The Cheese Slicing Laser

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  • Gold-fingahhhh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThePretender (180143) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @11:02AM (#7963000) Homepage
    Now I want one! All I can think of is reenacting the scene from Goldfinger where they attempt to kill Bond with the laser that would slice him up the middle starting with his naughty bits. The plan is foiled (of course) but you get the idea!
  • fast food industry (Score:3, Insightful)

    by perly-king-69 (580000) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @11:04AM (#7963015)
    "One motivation is the ability to cut cheese into fancy shapes that appeal to kids, such as a dinosaur or letters. The fast food industry is very interested in that idea."

    Nice. And people wonder why US obesity rates are so high?

  • by greenhide (597777) <jordanslashdot@P ... .com minus punct> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @11:11AM (#7963093)
    I'm up to here with articles on Slashdot that oversell an item.

    Saying that it makes a great gift made it sound like something already in production, or at least imminently so.

    If it can't yet slice through a block of cheese, then it's hardly a cheese slicer, is it?

    Granted, I suppose there's something to be said for having slices of cheese cut into neat shapes. Oh, wait, my bad. There really isn't. As far as I'm concerned, shaped cheese is just one luxury that kids today will have to do without. When I was young, I got a normal square piece of cheese put in my sandwich, and that was if I was lucky!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @11:11AM (#7963101)

    I think the wires don't have to worry about losing their jobs for a while.

    According to the article, they've focused (no pun intended) on 2.5 mm thick slices. To go up to a few inches would be a much different task. It requires a much longer focal length, if it is possible indeed.

    I would suspect in this scenario that water-jet cutting would be the better solution. It can cut inches of steel, so I doubt even the most aged of cheddars would pose a problem ;-)

  • Why only cheese? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by addie (470476) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @11:11AM (#7963103)
    I'm no laser expert, but by the description in the article, it sounds like this kind of technology could be applied to all sorts of food. If it isn't actually burning a slice, but rather "blasting" the molecules apart, couldn't it be used for meat, bread, whatever else has similar issues with bacteria?

    Seems to me the higher energy costs in these factories would be offest by the gain in work hours that would have before been used for cleaning, disinfecting, sharpening, replacing etc of the blades.
  • by sfprairie (626602) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @11:14AM (#7963138)
    A laser cutter is good for food processing in general. No blade to clean, no blade for bacteria to cling to. I can see uses in other food processing besides cheese. Anything that can cut with out the possibility of contaminating anything else, cheese or otherwise, is a good thing.
  • by hugzz (712021) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @11:17AM (#7963165)
    I'm glad to see that research funds are being used to develop a frickin' CHEESE SLICING LASER. What a great way to apply technology!

    From memory, the purpose of technology is to make things easier for us. This technology will help the cheese/dairy industries and lead to some nice economic stimulation. Although a cheese laser may sound kind of stupid, it's a perfectly legitimate techology.

  • by the_mad_poster (640772) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @11:29AM (#7963305) Homepage Journal

    Nitrogen, probably.

  • by the_mad_poster (640772) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @11:35AM (#7963366) Homepage Journal

    You're obviously not accustomed to the arbitrary, uninformed outrage expressed by the typical U.S. muttonhead... er... citizen.

    We've got people screaming bloody murder about "frankenfood" who learned everything they know about genetics from "The Hulk" and "Spiderman". They SHOULD be screaming for studies, they ARE screaming for a ban.

    I'd be surprised if someone DOESN'T try to outlaw this or classify it as a military weapon or something similarly idiotic. "Somebody think of the children!" they'll scream as kids keep shining laser pointers in each others' eyes as a "joke".

  • Re:Bets (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jerf (17166) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @11:35AM (#7963380) Journal
    The first consumer laser..

    Two things:

    First, why not open up one of your CD-ROM, DVD, Gamecube, other optical drive and see what's in there? Or look at the many laser pointers and derivative products on the market? Way too late for "first consumer laser".

    Second, who said this is consumer? Only the Slashdot summary, as far as I can tell. It sounded to me like pure industry use only, because it's slow, so slow it's not even useful to the industry in the present form. So it's not even a "consumer laser".

    Well, at least you got "laser" right... ;-)
  • Or maybe... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cryptochrome (303529) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @11:53AM (#7963599) Journal
    Your pneumatic cylinders and steel wire (or in this Wisconsin guy's case a die to stamp out the cheese shapes) would be about one zillion times cheaper in terms of capital outlay, operating expenses, and maintenance.

    If I'm not mistaken, these are the same sort of lasers used in tatoo removal and/or laser eye surgery. Both procedures are crazy expensive, and a large part of that cost seems to be due to the laser.

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