Bill Gates Spends $1 Million On Laser Defence System – To Repel Mosquitoes

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The laser system projects a ‘wall’ of light around a sleeping family – mosquitoes won’t cross the barrier, although the scientists are unsure exactly why

Bill Gates spends $1m on laser defence system – to repel mosquitoes (Daily Mail, Nov. 4,  2011):

  • System projects ‘cone’ of light mosquitoes won’t enter
  • Gates Foundation investing $1m to help malaria battle
  • Scientists unsure why ‘laser wall’ works: ‘They are probably scared,’ says professor

Most of us rely on gauze netting or repellent sprays.

But a professor from Columbia has developed possibly the ultimate mosquito deterrent – a laser defence system.

Bill Gates – whose Foundation is battling the spread of malaria – is so convinced by the idea that he’s investing $1 million in it.

Columbia University Associate Professor Szabolcs Márka is developing a ‘laser wall’ that repels any mosquito nearby.

The system can project a ‘cone’ of light that could surround and shield an entire family as they slept – more effectively than any previous system.

Several years ago he had the idea that light could deter and repel mosquitoes by confusing their sensory systems.

Mr Márka, together with his wife ZsuZsa and colleague Imre Bartos created a laser barrier, or light wall, which mosquitoes won’t cross.

Mr Márka said of the project: ‘We stumbled on this.’

‘They do walk or fly into it. Then they turn back. They don’t want to cross it.’The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is dedicated to eradicating malaria, and initially gave Márka £100,000 in 2008, followed by the recent $1m grant.

This makes his project just one of five follow-up grants awarded in the Foundation’s Grand Challenges program.

Márka’s method is proving cost-effective, as a large array could protect a large area.

However he’s not sure why the light wall works: ‘The mosquitoes are probably scared,’ he said.

According to the Gates Foundation, nearly one million people die of malaria every year, with 90% being in Africa, and 85% children under five.

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