The use of lasers in accompanying certain forms of entertainment has become popular. In some cases, complex laser light shows are used to create a visually stunning atmosphere. They usually are used to enhance musical numbers, whether they are concerts or some other form of entertainment. Lasers can be colored and focused to create shapes and designs against solid surfaces or against fog or smoke that may also be part of the show.


Lasers are simply focused rays of light. In 1730, lasers had not been invented, but light began to be used along with musical performances. This was in the form of a color organ that played colored light as various keys were pressed. Lasers were invented in the 1900s, and it wasn't until 1970 that they were used to replace traditional lights. They created a psychedelic environment, but controversy over health issues caused them to become highly regulated.


Laser light shows are mainly made up of low-powered laser beams that are run through a filter to give a desired color. The laser light is either fired from a single laser mounted on a stationary or swivel head, or it is dispersed from a single laser by way of multiple outlets. The latter allows multiple beams to move along the same path at the same time. Smoke or fog is also present in many laser shows because it enhances the brightness of the laser and allows it to move across the surface of the smoke as it would against a wall or a ceiling.


The machines that create the lasers in laser light shows consist of numerous mirrors, lasers using various elemental filters to create colors, and galvanometers. The galvanometer is responsible for holding a controlled electrical charge to power the lasers. The X-Y control voltages are controlled individually, which varies the power of the lasers. This feature allows technicians to create images with the lasers.


The lasers used in some laser light shows have the potential of causing audiences harm should they be used inappropriately. The main danger comes from stationary beams that are particularly high-powered. When these lasers remain fixed on an audience member, the heat coming from them can cause burns and heat damage. Also, if an audience member looked directly into a powerful stationary laser, his eyes could retain retinal damage. Lasers that are part of outdoor shows have the potential to blind aircraft that may fly over.


While laser light shows have the potential to be dangerous, they are heavily controlled by a number of organizations. Mostly, the regulation of laser light shows falls under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Certain state governments also require that laser light show technicians obtain a license before they can put on any shows. Outdoor laser shows are not only regulated by the FDA,but also by the Federal Aviation Administration, which checks for air traffic at the time of the show to protect pilots.