No excuse for no goggles!

I just received my September issue of Laser Focus World, and again I am surprised that you publish photographs of researchers operating lasers without any eye protection. The photo on p. 99 shows a person operating a femtosecond Ti:Al2O3 system wearing only eyeglasses. And the CLEO issue (May 1997) was the worst example, showing a Stanford researcher (on the cover) not wearing any safety glasses, with his face at beam level while a laser, capable of producing nonlinear optical effects (the subj

No excuse for no goggles!

I just received my September issue of Laser Focus World, and again I am surprised that you publish photographs of researchers operating lasers without any eye protection. The photo on p. 99 shows a person operating a femtosecond Ti:Al2O3 system wearing only eyeglasses. And the CLEO issue (May 1997) was the worst example, showing a Stanford researcher (on the cover) not wearing any safety glasses, with his face at beam level while a laser, capable of producing nonlinear optical effects (the subject of the article) shines brightly.

I personally know several people who have suffered permanent eye damage in the laser lab, and I suspect that nearly everyone in the field can say the same thing. It seems irresponsible of you to be showing such careless operation of high-powered lasers in your magazine.

All that said, I enjoy Laser Focus World very much.

Steve Kane

Optics for Research

Caldwell, NJ 07006

Yes, switch off NIF

I applaud you for the Sept. 1997 editorial (p. 188; see also p. 83 of this issue). At a time when legitimate R&D funding is continuing to be ever more difficult to obtain, the NIF steps u¥to the few-billion-dollar level using the same old Cold War arguments regarding nuclear weapons. As one who has seen the developments since the beginning of the laser fusion program, I am amazed at how the national lab politics seems to continue to benefit from this legacy.

In fact, the most egregious part of the selling of NIF is not that it won`t work (i.gif., get to ignition), but that laser fusion has always been and continues to be sold on the basis of its being a necessity for the weapons design program. Yet, if you talk to weapons designers they will tell you that nothing from laser fusion experiments has ever been important to their technology--the bombs work!

At most, the Nova results and the expected NIF results will only be small corrections to already very-well-documented and tested design codes. Furthermore, it is a very big stretch to believe any of the experiments on the NIF will have any effect upon understanding the aging of our existing nuclear weapons. Therefore, the program could only be construed to be one of advanced weapons concepts development, which would be in violation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

All of this would be rather unimportant were it not for the scale of money for the NIF. NIF will take money not only from other more-deserving physics R&D programs but indirectly, because of budget constraints, from all other branches of science.

Frederick J. Mayer, President

Mayer Applied Research Inc.

Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Even faster turnaround

The follow-u¥report on Laser 97 in Munich, Germany (Laser Focus World, Aug. 1997, p. 28) contains misleading information about fast-turnaround capability in optics manufacturing. At the conference, Spindler and Hoyer announced its new manufacturing capability to provide custom lenses in 10 days, which is beneficial to research and product-development projects and commendable in the optics market where it typically takes several weeks to receive product for an order of custom lenses. However, the claim that this is the fastest delivery capability for custom lenses in the industry is not true. Optimax Systems has been providing one-week delivery of custom lenses since 1994.

Optimax manufactures only to customer-supplied specifications. Every project is treated as proprietary and confidential. With regard to quick delivery of prototype optics, Optimax is the fastest manufacturer in the industry.

Richard Plympton, Vice President

Optimax Systems

Ontario, NY 14519-0611

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