But up close and focused, it sliced right thru raw chicken skin like a hot knife thru styrofoam (20 watts of CO2 laser energy focused will also cut and melt glass) - so it could certainly cause some injury if you were to accidentally get a part of your body caught in the beam.
One of the things I really would like to know, is exactly what kind of hardware, optics, wattage and wavelength is needed to be able to "slice and dice" raw chicken at a distance of about 20 meters.
I've seen video of someone using one of those surplus M1 tank ranging lasers to punch holes through razor blades at fair distances (very small holes and using 1/1000 of a second pulses), but punching holes through thin steel doesn't really tell me much about what it's effect would be on animal flesh.
Don't misunderstand me, I'm not planning on going postal or anything.
I just always wanted to build an auto-targeting anti rat, mouse and pigeon laser.
Yes, I remember that movie - it was on cable not long ago. I also remember laughing at the laser scene simply because if someone was to take a hit in the face with a laser beam powerful enough to burn and cut flesh, he or she would likely be blinded - possibly permanently. That guy would have trouble getting up that ladder not because he got burned but because he couldn't see....worse yet with the beam hitting metal and reflecting back.
Apparently they did use some real laser beams in the film - probably green HeNes I'm guessing - as in the opening credits it mentions "Korad Lasers" which was a laser manufacturer that went out of business in the 70's.
But to cut flesh at distance and do it more quickly than a "measly" 20 watts, you'd need more power than that. Surgical lasers range from 20 to 100W (for CO2, anyway), but the focus is at a close range and the target is of course not a moving one. 100W would do the job over a few dozen yards, but the optics would be the problem. You'd need a lens that could do the same sort of thing that adjustable focus lenses on red and violet diode laser builds do. It would be tough to find a ZnSe lens like that - probably would have to be custom made. Most have sort, fixed focal lengths of only a few inches, at least ones I've seen. You'd probably run into the same problem with a good quality Nd:YAG lens too.
But assuming you could solve the focusing problems, the laser should be able to cut and burn at distance just about as well as up close.