You didn't miss too awful much; mostly stuff that's totally elementary to everyone here. Also, some mis-information as well, such as having a segment on THEL - Tactical High Energy Laser, which is chemical laser project that was cancelled in its current form years ago. I guess no one told the folks who put this episode together! They had old footage of it shooting down a rocket (which if you look up "THEL" on youtube you should easily be able to find plenty of footage of those tests).
Also, they had the Airborne Laser - the ABL, just a brief mention of that. Also the NIF at LLNL - currently the world's most powerful laser, when it is brought online in 2010. There's posts about that in the "lasers and science" section here. One guy demonstrated a 10W greenie - but it wasn't too dramatic as all he did was briefly stick a piece of paper in the beam - almost no fire and only some smoke! As we all know, you can do far more than burn paper with 10 watts! That was pretty pedestrian...
They had some other stuff, like microwave weapons and electrical discharge non-lethal weapons for stopping vehicles and such. There were some more melodramatic mis-information "facts" and a few interesting tid-bits. If you missed it I'm sure it will be on again sometime soon. That's one good thing about History, Discovery, AP, etc - they always re-run stuff quite often.
However, at least I'd give them credit for doing a show that spotlights lasers, despite the fact that there were some omissions and it was dumbed down a bit for non-laser people. After all, the laser has to be the most under-rated invention ever, you have shows about the invention and development of every other major modern day device, but precious little about lasers. Heck, there was even a whole show on the invention of flashlights on the History channel a couple years back (I didn't watch it but saw it listed in the guide) - why not a whole show on lasers!?!?
Yeah, I would have liked to see the 10W green do more burning. The other disappointment with the green was that the beam looked about like what a 100mw looks like. I enjoyed the show, but that's because I'm biased.
That was a good show. I watched all of it and it just goes to show if a person can come up with an idea after a matter of time "science fiction" becomes reality! Another good show I watched was sort of similar and was called "star wars tech" on the History channel and the conclusion of that show clearly stated that "right now" we can do 90% of all that you watch in the Star Wars movies! DREAM ON!
On the show they mentioned that lasers travel at a speed of MACH 300,000---no wonder I cant blink in time to save my good eye =======LOL===<(*v')> also = the Livermoore laser coming on line in 2010 is 192 lasers 'similar to the ones you have in your home dvd player' look for a good deal on empty sleds soon.--hakzaw
The modern marvels episode on weird weapons had some serious high-power laser burning footage; I have that one saved on a VHS tape. That one comes on ever so often; or you might also be able to find clips of that episode online if you look around. Most of the good stuff is right in the beginning.
But yeah, that 10 watt greenie didn't appear to be that powerful, I would have guessed between 2 and 5 watts maybe. Imagine if they had had some fog in the room!
I almost forgot about the guy with the diode laser bar (I think it was the same guy who was demonstrating the greenie) - for people who know nothing about lasers this is misleading. He correctly mentioned that you can get 1KW diode lasers in a small size like that, yet he didn't mention that you also have to have water cooling and a power supply (and a power source for the power supply). This was about the possibility of having hand-held laser weapons like those in Star Wars and Star Trek. Another thing...not to mention the horrible divergence of IR diodes + the fact that they are pretty poor at burning flesh (compared to other wavelengths) if you were thinking of an anti-personnel weapon. Oh well, they'd need way more than an hour to explain that sort of thing to laser noobs.