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The Cheese Slicing Laser 337

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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  • Smut and Eggs (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @11:55AM (#7962927)
    the ultimate gift for those high-tech wine and cheese connoisseurs

    This is from Wisconsin... Madison at that. No connoisseurs of anything within 100 miles of that city. Except for maybe pr0n. There's a restaurant there nicknamed "Smut and Eggs" that features a nice hearty breakfast, and big screen porn.
  • Re:Cold Laser (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:07PM (#7963053)
    If you're getting bits of cork in your wine then the bottle was not stored properly. The cork should be pliable enough that it does not shatter when the corkscrew is inserted.

    Also, don't put the screw all the way through the cork.

    A bottle of wine should be stored on its side in a dark, cool space. As a rule white wines should be drunk within two years of their date, roses a tad longer and reds, depending on what type of red, for several years if not decades.

  • ho hum... (Score:2, Informative)

    by hyperstation ( 185147 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:07PM (#7963054)
    "At 266 nm it gives a very good clean cut, although going deeper than 10 mm is difficult."

    make it slice chunks from a 20 lb wheel of baby swiss, and i'll be happy. 10mm thick cheese is not that impressive.
  • Re:Safety? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:10PM (#7963087)
    probably, but you already run a higher risk of cancer from all the contaminants/pesticides/herbicides/veterinarian drugs/etc passing through the cow and ending up in milk and concentrated in the cheese...

    so I wouldn`t worry about cheese laser cutting ccarcinogenic by-products.
  • by and by ( 598383 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:12PM (#7963110)
    You should keep in mind that even a visible laser is invisible unless a) you're looking right at it, or b) it's scattered off of something. I don't think that making it visible would really help much in terms of safety, although it would make it easier to aim.
  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:16PM (#7963153)
    Please read the article. They are cutting patterns in a slice of cheese, not cutting slices of cheese. The cheese sags and they have been unable to make deep cuts. The slices they were cutting into patterns were only 2.5mm thick. This does not cut a slab from off the old block.
    With the right software, a nice 3d surface engraving would look outstanding.

  • by Eivind ( 15695 ) <> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:22PM (#7963229) Homepage
    Hate to burst your bubble, but if you'd bothered reading the article (I know -- this is /.) you'd have discovered that the laser is only usable for cutting shapes out of slices of soft cheese. They're using slices 2.5 mm thich, and say that going deeper than 10mm would be "difficult".

    The rate is pathethic at that -- they cut with a speed of up to 10mm/second in soft cheese up to 10mm thick. A lethargic mouse with a knife would do better.

  • by hankwang ( 413283 ) * on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:23PM (#7963236) Homepage
    Using a non-visible laser can generate much more accidents

    I've done experiments with 266 nm laser beams. Ultraviolet light makes nearly every organic molecule fluoresce. It is usually quite easy to see the spot where the laser beam (even if it is just a few milliwatts) hits a surface.

  • by Morgaine ( 4316 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:32PM (#7963332)
    By breaking molecular bonds in the cheese, wouldn't that alter the chemistry of the cheese where it had been cut? Could this inadvertently produce carcinogenic compounds (like when you burn meat)?

    It sounds like it might, although the article didn't really give enough information to tell. In a nutshell, when you cleave cheese apart with a mechanical cheese cutter like a knife or a wire, the only thing you "break apart" (using the term loosely) is Van der Waals forces, and those do not hold the atomic components within molecules together (as covalent or ionic bonds do) so the action does not generally result in chemical change. Long-chain polymers will get broken too, but they typically have the same chemistry whatever their molecular length.

    If the laser is truly breaking the bonds of non-polymeric organic molecules then this doesn't sound too healthy chemically, but that is not the only way that a laser might cut without burning. It is possible to imagine rapid vaporization of water or of other volatiles in the material causing sudden expansion which would cleave sections apart through vapor pressure, in a manner very similar to mechanical cutting, and hence safely.

    We'll have to wait for further information on what is really going on before we know whether there are any concerns about chemical side effects.
  • by jim3e8 ( 458859 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:45PM (#7963505) Homepage
    The ABC News article makes it sound like the laser was used to cut a block of cheese up into thin slices. This is not the case, according to the article. In reality, they've successfully cut patterns in a thin slice of cheese (making a dinosaur, letters and numbers--kids like that stuff), without using a stainless steel die cutter. In fact, the laser can't really cut deeper than 1 cm, less than 1/2 inch. So, slicing up a big block of cheese with a giant laser beam in an industrial setting, let alone in your kitchen, will have to wait.
  • Re:Smut and Eggs (Score:3, Informative)

    by EvilFrog ( 559066 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:51PM (#7963583)
    While "Smut and Eggs" is indeed a real place, it is in fact just a minor curiosity.

    But your implication that Madison is lacking in culture is just dead wrong. This is the city that built a $67 million convention center [] that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. This is the city that is building a $100 million Arts District [].

    And considering Madison is approximately 100 miles to the outskirts of Chicago, your distance is either very precisely chosen, or very arbitrarily.
  • Re:Interesting Idea (Score:3, Informative)

    by dildatron ( 611498 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @01:28PM (#7963933)
    The Tec-9 is not a machine gun. It is a 9mm semi-automatic pistol. It is just like any other 9mm pistol except it is pretty bad in quality, is prone to jam, and is not very accurate. I know, I have one. It is made by Intratec. I also have an Intratec Cat-9.

    While it is possible to convert a Tec-9 to be fully automatic, it would need to be done by a skilled gunsmith to be anywhere near reliable. However, it would be a horrible choice, because the gun would overheat and jam a lot. There are much better guns to buy if you want to modify them to fully-automatic. The Tec-9 is basically an extremely cheap 9mm pistol that is unreliable and poorly made. But they do look cool.
  • Re:A Raclette Laser (Score:4, Informative)

    by throughthewire ( 675776 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @01:38PM (#7964012) Homepage
    Nitrogen is colorless, odorless, and not all that terribly reactive. The earth's atmosphere is ~78% nitrogen. Does it stink all the time where you are?

    More likely, the bad smell is a combination of burnt proteins (ever had a bug die on top of a torchiere-style lamp?) and sulphur compounds.

  • by Noren ( 605012 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @01:41PM (#7964036)
    Please read the article. They are currently using a relatively small, relatively low power laser in a lab, but they believe the process is capable of being scaled up. From the article:
    The key limitation of the technique seems to be its slow cutting speed, less than 1mm per second, which is restricted by the slow (20Hz) repetition rate of the laser. Li says that a UV laser with a higher repetition rate and output power could significantly increase the depth and speed of the cutting.
  • Re:Interesting Idea (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @01:48PM (#7964088)
    You can acquire a Tec-9 Semi-Automatic and a Machine Gun, can you? Well, I'm glad. Because you're the only person in the universe who can.

    You've got no clue, have you?

    First: Tec-9's are semi-only. Semi-Automatic means you have to pull the trigger each time you want a bullet to come out the front. With a machine gun, you hold the trigger down, and bullets come out indefinitely unless: a) you run out of ammo, or b) you melt the barrel, or otherwise cause a mechanical failure. It's a boolean thing. A gun cannot be semi-automatic and a machine gun at the same time. Is this logical to you?

    Perhaps you can rework the internals of a Tec-9 so it will fire full-auto... But I wouldn't know why anyone would want one anyway. They're pieces of shit. Last damn thing I'd take to a firefight. I'd rather have a slingshot. The old-school kind.

    Thirdly, the term "machine gun" applies to military guns that use rifle cartriges, and are heavy enough to maintain fire for extended periods. They're usually crew-served, and are semi-stationary.

    Light machineguns are portable, but still weigh a ton. Such as the M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon).

    Assault rifles CAN be automatic, but not necessairly (M16, M4, Kalashnikovs, for example) This is the common armanent for infantrymen.

    Submachine guns are highly portable, and are intended for close range combat, and are fully automatic, and usually use pistol cartriges. Thompsons, MP5, UMP, etc for example. SWAT police use these more than anyone.

    Machine pistols are fully automatic guns using pistol cartriges. This is what a Tec would be, if it were fully auto (which none that are for sale are). Other examples: Uzi, MP40 (which was usually seen with a buttstock, making it an auto-carbine). NOBODY uses these, except in movies. Not even the terrorists. These are intended as a defense weapon that can fit into a plane or tank easily.

    Full auto guns are quite difficult to come by in the US. To legally own one, you and the gun must be liscensed, and taxed. Most gang-bangers have never laid hands on a full auto. Guranteed.

    Know what you are talking about before you spout off your ignorant mouth.
  • Re:French Fries (Score:5, Informative)

    by RadioTV ( 173312 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:08PM (#7964277)
    First of all "Modern Marvels" is on History not on TLC. Second, I think that you need to watch that episode again. They use a laser to measure the fries, but they use high-speed knives to cut them.

    On the other hand the footage of a potato-and-water jet going in one side of cutting die and french fries coming out the other side is pretty cool.

Forty two.