How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 1106

How do the display lasers used in sporting events work? I think it has something to do with mirrors.
They do use mirrors. When you bounce a laser beam from a mirror, any small change in the mirror's orientation can cause a large change in the beam's final destination. Simple laser light shows bounce lasers from low-mass mirrors that are mounted on elastic membranes. As those membranes are driven into motion by sound waves, the mirrors tip and turn and the laser beams move around in beautiful patterns on a distant screen or wall. In laser light shows that produce specific shapes and images, the mirrors that steer the laser beams are driven by high-speed electromagnetic mechanisms that can change a mirror's angle dramatically in thousandths of a second. With several of this electromagnetically controlled mirrors working together and guided by a computer, the beam can be steered to draw complicated shapes on a screen or other surface.

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