08 May 2012
Sci/Health News: Scientist Attaches Laser to Shark
This is hands down one of the best video reports on Mr Bigglesworth so far...
BY GINA COOK, ANCHOR NATHAN BYRNE
Remember Dr. Evil from the “Austin Powers” movies — and how he wanted to attach “frickin’ lasers” to sharks’ heads?
A company called Wicked Lasers challenged “Shark Week” star and marine biologist Luke Tipple to carry out Dr. Evil’s wish — in real life.
So, he attached a 50-milliwatt laser to a lemon shark — named “Mr. Bigglesworth,” of course.
TIME notes Wicked Lasers chose Tipple because of his experience with sharks — but more importantly — his unique clamping device. Phys Org says Tipple wanted to use the stunt for scientific purposes.
“ … he was able to further test a clamping apparatus for use in acquiring data. He also sought to verify that sharks avoid laser energy of specific spectrums and wavelengths. He discovered that with the Wicked Lasers model, he found the opposite to be true.”
Both Tipple and Wicked Lasers say no sharks, or people, were harmed in the process. A writer for PC World says …
“Ok, so the clip is pretty animal-friendly, but wouldn't the laser beam harm other sea life (and people!) around the shark? The laser beam used is on the lowest power setting available, so nobody would be in any danger if they crossed the shark's path ... In other words, Dr. Evil's diabolical plans will have to wait for another day...”
But, some reports question the scientific value of the act — calling it a PR stunt. Wired spoke with a marine and atmospheric science professor who says …
“... if this is just to respond to a scene in the Austin Powers movie, I don’t see value. You’re just causing unnecessary stress on the animal. It's not respectful.”
Tipple, director of the Humane Society’s Shark-Free Marina Initiative had the same concerns before accepting Wicked Lasers’ offer. TIME explains.
“...at first he declined Wicked Lasers’ request. ‘Everything I’m involved with has to be ethical and justifiable,’ Tipple notes. But once he realized the project was meant in good fun and had scientific implications, too, he decided to round up the necessary manpower.”
Tipple says on his website — the experiment improved the media’s attitude toward sharks from dangerous — to cool.