'Star Wars' Scientists Take Aim at Mosquitoes

Anti-malaria Weapons of Mosquito Destruction can zap bugs 100ft away with lasers
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2009 4:06 AM CDT
New anti-malaria projects are finding novel ways to combat mosquitoes, including lasers, poisoned blood, and weapons that disrupt the senses mosquitoes use to find their human prey.   (AP Photo/USDA)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Rocket scientists who worked on ways to beat Soviet missiles a generation ago are now using their lasers to zap mosquitoes, the Wall Street Journal reports. Researchers looking for ways to combat malaria have rejigged "Star Wars" technology to create a contraption that can pick off individual mosquitoes from 100 feet away. They believe the technology could someday protect entire villages.

Malaria kills a million people a year, but efforts to eradicate it were lagging until researchers recently got a fresh injection of cash from big donors like Bill Gates. Now the scientists who tried to help end the Cold War are “just trying to make a dent in a war that's actually gone on a lot longer and claimed a lot more lives,” says one astrophysicist.