New Contact Lenses Could Let You Shoot Lasers From Your Eyes

iStock
iStock

If you ever wished you had Superman’s ability to shoot lasers out of your eyeballs, you can thank science for helping to make your dream more of a reality. Researchers at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland have developed an ultra-thin membrane that can be attached to contact lenses, allowing lasers to be emitted, Newsweek reports. Their findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

The membrane is made from an organic semiconducting polymer, and the lasers it emits are being billed as the world’s smallest and lightest. It was tested on a cow's eye, but researchers say they expect it to be safe for human use.

"In ancient Greece, Plato believed that visual perception is mediated by 'eye beams'—beams actively sent out by the eyes to probe the environment," Malte Gather, one of three researchers who conducted the study, said in a statement. "Plato's emission theory has of course long been refuted, but superheroes with lasers in their eyes live on in popular culture and comic books. Our work represents a new milestone in laser development."

When the membrane is illuminated by another laser, it’s able to produce a unique "digital barcode." Fighting off villains is probably not the most practical application of an ocular laser, but it could be used as a "flexible and wearable security tag," according to researchers. This could prove useful to the fields of biophotonics and photomedicine, and could even be used to detect explosives. Researchers discovered that the material could be attached to paper money in order to authenticate the bills and prevent counterfeiting. It was also successfully tested on fingernails, meaning that it could be used in biometric fingerprint scans.

Meanwhile, some companies are continuing to work on the development of "smart" contact lenses. New York-based company RaayonNova is developing lenses that would include special features to help the visually impaired, like the ability to magnify signs or issue a warning when they're in danger. Samsung and Google are also reportedly among the big companies racing to develop this technology, and startup Magic Leap is working on lenses that blend digital displays with your normal vision—"like dreaming with your eyes open," the firm’s director tells Herald Scotland.

[h/t Newsweek]

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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100 Fascinating Facts About Earth

The best Spaceball.
The best Spaceball.
NASA

Did you know that there’s a place in the South Pacific Ocean called Point Nemo that’s farther from land than any other point on Earth? So far, in fact, that the closest humans are usually astronauts aboard the International Space Station. (And by the way: The map you’re about to look for Point Nemo on might not be entirely accurate; a certain amount of distortion occurs when trying to depict a 3D planet on a 2D surface.)

In this all-new episode of The List Show, Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy is journeying to the center of the Earth, and visiting its oceans, its atmosphere, and even space, in search of 100 facts about our endlessly fascinating planet.

The subjects that fall under the umbrella of “facts about Earth” are nearly as expansive as Earth itself. Geology, biology, astronomy, and cartography, are all fair game—and those are just a few of the many -ologies, -onomies, and -ographies you’ll learn about below. 

Press play to find out more Earth-shattering facts, and subscribe to the Mental Floss YouTube channel for more fact-filled videos here.