The folks at Eindhoven University of Technology
(TU/e) have lovingly referred to their latest contribution to the world of science as the "poor man's X-FEL." An X-FEL, or X-ray Free-electron Laser, is like a super strong video microscope that converts electrons to X-rays to observe high-speed molecular movement. TU/e's super laser alternative depends solely on a very specific bunching of electrons to do the same thing, allowing for a much smaller (it fits on a tabletop), much cheaper setup. With an estimated cost of half a million euro, the laser is hardly cheap, but it's far more affordable than the competition: Stanford
's X-FEL runs hundreds of millions of dollars, and measures a whole kilometer. TU/e researchers admit that their laser can't do everything that an X-FEL can, but, hey, you get what you pay for. Up next for TU/e? In vitro
pork products. Yummy.