Laser Pointer (noun) 1. A compact instrument consisting of a low-power, visible light laser, used for pointing out features on a projected visual display.

Batteries not included. Virtually every laser pointer on the market requires batteries. Don't leave home without fresh ones.

Stupid laser pointer tricks: What do you do with your pointer after the meeting? Frank DeFreitas sells a $30 kit for making holograms with your $7.99 pointer.

It's a felony to shine a laser pointer at an aircraft anywhere in the United States. And in California, it is a misdemeanor to aim one at anyone who feels that it puts them at risk. Some local governments require purchasers to be 18 years of age or older.

Know ye this:

Wavelength is measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter. The human eye is most sensitive to a wavelength of about 550 nm. The closer the wavelength of a laser pointer is to this value, the brighter it will appear. A 650 nm laser is most common. Stronger pointers rated at 635 nm are useful outdoors (unless the sun is shining brightly).

Power output is measured in mW (milliwatts). Most pointers today have a power output of <5 mW; beware lower output models.

Color their world. Everybody has a red laser pointer. Be the first on your stage with a green one. Green is more vibrant than red, and therefore more noticeable. But it's also more expensive. The entire green laser line can be seen in certain conditions, not just as a dot on the screen. Blue lasers are on the way, but they're not yet common or affordable.

The darker the room, the more brilliant the laser will appear.

Danger, Will Robinson! You can cause eye damage with a laser pointer. Here are some safety tips:

  • Never point a laser beam at anyone, and never look directly into the beam.

  • Never aim a laser pointer at reflective surfaces, such as mirrors or mirrored surfaces.

  • Choose a laser pointer that stays on only when you apply pressure with your fingers. That way you can't leave the beam on by accident.

Sources: The Photonics Directory,; OnPoint Lasers Inc.,; The Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch of Health Canada,

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