Sunday, March 15, 2009


MosquitoAnyone who has been kept awake by that sound at night will appreciate this story in The Sunday Times.

AMERICAN scientists are making a ray gun to kill mosquitoes. Using technology developed under the Star Wars anti-missile programme, the zapper is being built in Seattle where astrophysicists have created a laser that locks onto airborne insects.

The laser – dubbed a weapon of mosquito destruction (WMD) – has been designed with the help of Lowell Wood, one of the astrophysicists who worked on the original Star Wars plan to shield America from nuclear attack.

The WMD laser works by detecting the audio frequency created by the beating of mosquito wings. A computer triggers the laser beam, the mosquito’s wings are burnt off and its smoking carcass falls to the ground. “

Sounds great, right? Especially the bit, “its smoking carcass falls to the ground.” The mere thought of being able to fry the little bastards brings a flutter of joy to the heart as mosquito season approaches.

But is this a realistic solution to a serious problem? Who will pay for these outrageously expensive (because you know they will be) high-tech fly swatters controlled by a computer probably running Microsoft Vista? (Bill Gates is backing the research.) How will they be powered in the villages of darkest Africa? Who will maintain them and keep the hackers at bay and avoiding the blue screen of death? What will happen to the birds and bats that depend on mosquitoes for their food if the populations are decimated or seriously reduced? What happens if the mosquito is sitting in the tip of your nose when the laser locks on?

There is no doubt malaria is a huge problem, especially since the banning of DDT, but there is a very good, low-tech solution out there that has far fewer unintended consequences – the mosquito bednet. For a mere $10 (3 latte’s) you can protect one or more children for up to 5 years. Check it out here, at

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