In perhaps the coolest "Star Trek"-inspired project since Google's purported "Majel" voice-assistant (whose "UI is definitely more powerful than Siri’s"), a guy in a garage has built a working "Star-Trek" phaser.
Other Trekker tinkerers have fused PlayStation 3 Blu-Ray drives with store-bought phaser models to create "Blu-Ray laser phasers" before, and Geek.com reports that a high-powered laser pointer might also do the trick.
This home-brewed "Star-Trek" phaser replica actually appears to pack a (tiny) punch. But, unless you happen to be an alien life form made of balloons, the phaser probably isn't lethal. Based on this demonstration, it probably isn't wise to aim it at someone's eye.
But before you get too worked up, it's worth pointing out that this isn't the first time that a balloon-popping phaser video has emerged on the Internet. A couple of videos posted to YouTube in January 2010 (below) appear to use the same model, boast the same payload, and point to an online tutorial for anyone who wants to build their own.
A couple of its selling points hinge on illusion. The Star-Trek phaser appears as a beam because of presence of smoke, fog or other particulate matter in the room, and the noise that it makes is part of the original toy.
Non-lethal directed energy weapons have been researched as a means of crowd dispersal.
WATCH: More Balloon-Popping Phaser Fun