What Would Happen If We All Aimed A Laser Pointer At The Moon? Science Has Answers

What Would Happen If We All Aimed A Laser Pointer At The Moon? Science Has Answers

Take a second and picture everyone on the planet with a laser pointer. Everyone then takes their laser pointer and aims it at the moon. Granted, this is a crazy “What if?” scenario, but aren’t you curious what would happen? Surprisingly, science has some answers.

Possible Problems In Worldwide Laser Pointer Pointing At The Moon

The first thing that you probably thought of is that not everyone sees the moon at the same time. How will people on the other side of the planet point their lasers at the moon when they are being blinded by the sun at the moment?

The second thing that needs to be considered is whether we are going to shine the lasers at a full moon or a crescent moon.

The third thing that could be a problem is aim. Everyone being able to hit the moon at the same time would be tremendously difficult. Let’s make sure we get our eye exams first.


The fourth thing is how much power do we require for the experiment? I’m not sure what the standard laser pointer wattage is.

How The Experiment Of Pointing Lasers At The Moon Works

This is how we would address the above concerns for this experiment:

75% of the population on Earth is between 0 degrees E and 120 degrees E. Knowing this information, we should try to set up this bizarre experiment for when the moon is over the Arabian Sea.

If we choose to do this on the new moon (instead of a full moon) we will be able to see the results better. The new moon has pros and cons. On the positive side, we will be able to see better because part of the moon will be dark. The con is that it’s a smaller target. If some of us didn’t get our eye exams we might have trouble aiming our lasers.


We are going to go with the quarter moon. This allows us to compare the light effect on the dark side and the light side. We always try to get more bang for our buck in the science world.

The typical laser pointer is about 5 milliwatts. That doesn’t mean a lot to me, but experts say that it is a tight enough beam to hit the moon. They also say that it would spread out over a large area of the surface once it got to the moon. The atmosphere could also absorb and distort the light a tiny bit, but the consensus is that it would reach there.

For this this experiment to work , everyone would take aim at the moon and press the button at half an hour after midnight.

The Strange And Curious Results

Disappointment. There is no real change in the appearance on the surface of the moon. This makes a little bit of sense because you will notice that the sunlight bathes the moon in a large amount of light. In fact, it gives much more light to the moon than the laser pointers and this is why there is no noticeable change.


We Need More Power

If the experiment was repeated with more power (1 watt instead of 5 milliwatts), the disappointing results would be relatively the same. This time; however, the laser would be a green color instead. Another thing to note is that the higher watt laser is seriously dangerous and could cause blindness or skin burns. These lasers would still be too weak to see any difference from Earth. Additionally, if you were on the moon and looking at all the laser pointers, you would see less light than we see when we look at the moon.

If we used a searchlight (like on coast guard helicopters) to all point at the moon, we are making some progress. Unfortunately, it would still be really hard to see.

If we used IMAX projectors (30,000 watts), we would still barely make any visible progress.

It is only if we all got the most powerful spotlight on Earth (like the one on top of the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas) and added a lens array to help it focus on the moon that is would finally be visible. Way to go everyone!


Lastly, if we used The Department of Defense megawatt lasers we would manage to match the brightness of sunlight!

If that isn’t enough weirdness for the day go and download this What If? ebook, which covers many other fantastic hypothetical questions. The interesting book also has graphics to illustrate the differences in watts.

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Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]


Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.


In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]



Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.


Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.


In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.


With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via


[1] US National Library of Medicine: Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain
[2] Daily Mail: Nursing a broken heart? How taking a paracetamol could dull the pain of rejection
[3] Mother For Life: Oxytocin’s Role
[4] Psychology Today: Facebook and Your Brain
[5] Alex Korb: The Upward Spiral

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