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Harvard Scientists Discovered That Pork Skin Can Shoot Out Lasers

You don’t happen to be running a makeshift nip-and-tuck clinic or be an aspiring Bond villain to be pumped by this.
July 29, 2015, 10:30pm
Photo via Flickr user chotda

There are enough Anthony Bourdains and loud-mouthed pitmasters in this world for me to wholeheartedly believe that after the soon-to-come foodie uprising, sows will reign supreme. Rivers will run white with lardo, runways will sport porcine supermodels, and our cats will pee in boxes filled to the brim with chicharones.

And it certainly doesn't surprise me that the single greatest food source on earth—I'm talking about the pig—is capable of creating all-star, bad-ass laser beams.

No, I'm not talking about some sort of bootleg version of Laser Cats or a Michael Bay reboot of Babe: Pig in the City. Just this: Harvard has found out that if you treat pigskin properly, it can shoot out tiny laser beams. Even if you don't happen to be running a makeshift nip-and-tuck clinic or aren't an aspiring Bond villain, who the hell isn't wowed by that?

As it happens, the traditional substances used for creating laser beams—semiconductors and crystals—are not alone in being useful to doctors for this purpose. Living cells work too.

Scientists have known for a few years that living cells can be used in the laser-making process. The scientists trap the cells between mirrors, inject them with dye, and pulse them with light. Then the cells glow, emitting laser beams.

The journal Nature Photonics is now reporting that a Harvard Medical School team led by Professor Seok-Hyun Yun has been able to ditch the mirrors and simply use a tiny droplet of oil contained within the cells to focus the laser.

Photo by Matjaž Humar and Seok Hyun YunThe Boston Globe

But here's where the pork comes in. Previously, Yun et al. had been using cervical cancer cells as the base of their laser. But the researchers realized that oils and fat were key. So they sought the fattiest tissue they could find. Here's where the pigs stepped in. Oh traif, how beguiling you are.

"We went to the grocery store and bought pig meat," Yun told .

Apparently lasers made out of living cells are not as strong as the ones made from semiconductors, but Yun said they could serve as homing devices that search for disease. Don't ask us how, but the cells could send out a laser signal when they spot an intruder, like cancer.

"It's a beacon signal, to tell you where your targets are," Yun said.

This isn't just a win for grill enthusiasts looking for an all-in-one package to light their rigs or for the occasional enterprising evildoer on a budget. This is a win for humanity as a whole.

As for pigs—that remains to be seen.