Safety Discussion; It’s NOT “just  a flashlight” anymore!

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zespectre
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Safety Discussion; It’s NOT “just  a flashlight” anymore!

In the past, failures of “flashlight etiquette” (eg, shining a light into the eyes of another person) were annoying and sometimes pretty uncomfortable but in general couldn’t be considered particularly hazardous.  Similarly failures in maintenance and/or handling might have created an awful mess as alkaline batteries leaked or even popped and might have even created a small fire hazard; but were not generally thought of as much of an overall danger.  As we moved into common off-the-shelf multi-cell CR123 based lights it started to become more apparent that some serious consideration needed to be given to the risks of carrying batteries that were more energy dense and ran at higher voltages.

 

Now we are seeing more COTS (common-off-the-shelf) lights that are capable of 3,000+ Lumens some of which put all of that light into a very intense focus and are powered by individual cells or sets of batteries that pack in energy capacities of 3,000mAh, 9,000mAh, or more and I am thinking that maybe we need to revive conversations about safety where these “illumination tools” are concerned.

 

It’s NOT “just a flashlight” anymore

 

There are a lot of lights out there now that, in my opinion, go well beyond “flashlight” and into the same category as power-tools.  While the risks and hazards are not quite the same as operating a lawn mower or a chainsaw but a number of the current crop of super- lights do have the potential for serious and permanent direct injury to self or others due to retinal/sight damage [EDIT:  this is not a valid concern at this time], burns, and explosive injury from catastrophic failure.  Studies done on a –single- 18650 cell show just how much energy is stored there, now multiply that by 3 or 4, packed in an aluminum canister, and you have a potential pipe bomb of impressive proportions, or at least something you REALLY wouldn’t want to be holding if it let loose.

 

Measuring Energy Release of Lithium-ion Battery Failure Using a Bomb Calorimeter (PDF)

https://www.fire.tc.faa.gov/pdf/TC-15-40.pdf

 

Now I’m not advocating that people should have to wear safety goggles, gloves or other such nonsense but I genuinely believe that we have reached the point where it is irresponsible to hand a super-light to a kid or uninformed adult without some kind of basic safety lecture.

 

Some examples of what is bouncing around my head with regards to a safety reference;

 

  • Why shining a light into eyes is actually hazardous (it can actually do permanent retinal damage)
  • Why it is important to remove and examine the batteries if you drop the light (especially w/ 18650 cells) and what to look for.
  • Why good quality cells are important (don’t make your light a hand grenade)
  • Lights can get hot enough to burn and/or cause fires
  • What to do with a “runaway” light
  • How you can be signaling for help to some one a long way away and not even realize you are doing it
  • Caution regarding boats on the water, aircraft, motor vehicles, and cyclists.

 

I look forward to your thoughts and input!

Tonights forecast, 100% chance of dark.

Edited by: zespectre on 03/06/2018 - 15:55
danallen
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What is worst real case of batteries causing a fire or explosion that you know of?

I googled “runaway” light can drew a blank. What is a runaway light?

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In my experience anyone who is prepared to spend more than 2 dollars on a flashlight must be regarded as a flashlight enthousiast and usually knows a bit more about it. People who really just don’t care do not buy flashlights that costs more than 2 dollar, and find people who do a bit weird, so I do not see much danger ahead yet

link to djozz tests 

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eas
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I think this is a good idea. Some people expect other people to exhibit “common sense,” about such things, without ever acknowledging that it isn’t actually “common,” much less trying to help make it more so.

The hard part probably will always be getting people to engage enough to actually learn something, but having something for them to engage with is a pre-requisite, and they are more likely to engage with something if it is easy to find and easy to read.

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Other than short arc lamps, there is no flashlight that can cause permanent eye damage.
There is this thing called NOHD (google it) for lasers, and the beam density and intensity of a flashlight cannot reach those levels yet.

Unless you force your eyes open or use a magnifying glass to focus the light into your eye, the human blink reaction is fast enough to prevent any damage.
Of course just as with anything there will be dumb people who do those things, but that’s called natural selection.

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You are right zespectre, they can be extremely dangerous. Our flashlights do not have a failsafe, and they have already become powerful enough to deserve one due to the amount of energy they store in cells. Because regardless of who is to blame, when a lithium based cell wrapped in a metal sheet explodes, it is always very dangerous.

I saw what an ordinary, common 9v battery does to human hands when it explodes. The poor guy lost some fingers and both hands were full of shards, splinters, chips and other fragments from the cell, leaving him with a lasting disability. Fortunately he can use both hands now, but they are not what they used to be.

I admit it was not a lithium cell, but they can explode as well. And the consequences are the same from a lithium or nickel-cadmium or alkaline or nickel-metalhydride or any other cell. They all can blow up.

Honestly speaking, in that particular case it was entirely his own fault, because he was charging a non-rechargeable 9v cell while holding it… Stupid beyond measure… I don’t have words for that… But we all do stupid stuff from time to time and call it “hobby” or “modding” or “direct drive” or “testing” etc.

I do not want to say they should be banned, but these things should be approached with respect and common sense, nothing more. And not everyone is mature or reasonable enough to use them.

zespectre
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danallen wrote:
What is worst real case of batteries causing a fire or explosion that you know of? I googled “runaway” light can drew a blank. What is a runaway light?

What I meant was a flashlight with runaway batteries (thermal runaway)

The worst incidents I know of are….

1) Heard about a guy who had a light in his mouth and it popped. Wasn’t too severe, but since it was in his mouth he got some nice burns.

2) Cell(s) exploded in a police cruiser (see link)

3) I personally had an Inova T4 battery pop. Fortunately it just blew out the switch and the lens and filled the interior with gunk.

And of course I’ve seen more runaway battery packs from RC vehicles and airplanes than I can count but that is mostly due to sheer stupidity and carelessness.

Tonights forecast, 100% chance of dark.

zespectre
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Enderman wrote:
Other than short arc lamps, there is no flashlight that can cause permanent eye damage.
There is this thing called NOHD (google it) for lasers, and the beam density and intensity of a flashlight cannot reach those levels yet.

Unless you force your eyes open or use a magnifying glass to focus the light into your eye, the human blink reaction is fast enough to prevent any damage.
Of course just as with anything there will be dumb people who do those things, but that’s called natural selection.

You caused me to do a bit more research (see link) so I will have to retract the physical eye damage notion, at least for now.

But other damage and risk due to temporary blinding is probably still an issue for consideration so I added notes about accidentally signaling for help, and blinding vehicle operators.

Tonights forecast, 100% chance of dark.

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Name-brand 18650 cells are actually pretty safe, even when abused. If you look at the torture-testing that Samsung does with their cells, they have to pass things like baking them in an oven, permanently short-circuiting them, etc. To pass, they can’t explode or catch fire. Venting is allowed, which does have its problems, but it’s not a big safety concern like fire or explosions.

The problem is when you use crappy cells that aren’t designed safely. Also, there’s always a small chance a name-brand cell has a manufacturing flaw.

The risk of using 18650 lights isn’t zero, and it’s certainly higher than something like Eneloops. But, I think the safety issues are often over-stated.

The general public uses billions of lithium-ion devices all the time, and there are maybe a handful of injuries from them every year.

The biggest risk is during charging. Just make sure not to charge a lithium-ion cell when you’re not home to keep an eye on it.

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Shorts can be quite dangerous. For example faulty reverse polarity protection that protects the driver but causes a short-circuit. Or a P60 modules with both inner and outer springs is put incorrectly and both springs touch, causing a hard short

zespectre
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Okay but I’m not just talking about failures here. I’m talking about how people use and handle the lights too.
We had several “false alarms” in 2017 in Shenandoah national park where people all the way down in the valley called park rangers because they thought someone was signaling for help up in the mountains.
The waterfront police in DC have been trying to figure out how to deal with folks “spotlighting” boats on the Potomac river in the evenings creating navigation hazards.
Stuff like that

Hand an “unenlightened” a super-light with no hints and it’s amazing the trouble they can cause with “just a flashlight” LOL.

Tonights forecast, 100% chance of dark.

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Lithium batteries are a fire risk. Avoiding the risk is not exactly foolproof. I would not want to have one of those explosions like happened in the police car happen in my car, especially if was driving at the time. The thing I worry about the most is having one bad cell in a group of four that gets into a reverse polarity. I am not sure what happens, but I heard it is bad and the problem can happen from mixing up batteries or having bad connections between batteries and the light. I don’t know if a pipe bomb is a realistic result but if it happened in the light I am sitting on or is sitting in my leg in my pocket, it could get get a little ouchy. It also is true that for every real incident involving a lithium ion battery gone wrong, there are 50 articles and videos of experiments to start fires with these things, which unintentionally show that that these things are difficult to make a fire with. The video I just watched for example started a fire by putting 220 volts onto a lithium ion battery. Ok, note to self, do not plug lithium battery into outlet for the kitchen oven or the dryer. And then for each of those contrived demonstrations, there are 700 articles and forum posts warning us like our whiney grandmothers to be careful and making it seem like these things are filled with nitroglycerin, ready to explode at the slightest shock, instead of lithium ion juice.

Even though the lights will not blind anyone, I guess, blasting the light into oncoming cars from the side of the road is a dangerous move. That explosion in the police car shows what can happen, albeit rare.

My first response to this thread was to want to accuse the thread starter of being an overweight soccer mom who was a victim of sexual assault when she was a child, projecting her irrational fear of everything fun into our innocent hobby. Upon further review, I think a continuing emphasis on safety is warranted. I don’t want to see us become pussified, but it is true these devices need to be respected to avoid losses no one would want especially if a tiny bit of prudence could have prevented it.

As long as we keep the prudence tiny, I am in favor of this discussion.

Good topic

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zespectre wrote:
…You caused me to do a bit more research (see link) so I will have to retract the physical eye damage notion, at least for now…

Perhaps this will change, for the worse, when small flashlights with laser-pumped-phosphor emitters become common.

http://www.ledsmagazine.com/articles/2017/01/sil-striking-point-improved...

Quote:
“…We at SoraaLaser have developed a white light module using a reflective approach in which the diode laser pumps a small phosphor chip, which emits up to 500 lm of white light from a 300-micrometer spot“…

…“As noted above, these laser-pumped phosphor light sources do not suffer from droop, so high conversion efficiencies at high optical pump power are achieved. Laser-based white light sources have very high luminance values (1000 cd/mm2) relative to LEDs, so hundreds of lumens can be emitted within a small beam angle (1–2°), allowing for a high degree of optical control using very small optical elements”…

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Relevant document from Cree:

Eye Safety With LED Components

http://www.cree.com/led-components/media/documents/XLamp_EyeSafety.pdf

found in the “Documentation” tab of their XP-L HI page:

http://www.cree.com/led-components/products/xlamp-leds-discrete/xlamp-xp...

I noticed this interesting sentence on page 3:

Quote:
Further, the risk classification of a standalone LED component has little or no bearing on the risk classification of the final luminaire.

In other words, once an LED is in a flashlight, all bets are off.

That XP-L HI might be in Risk Group 2 by itself – relying on the natural aversion response to prevent damage to the eye – but it could be substantially more dangerous when focused by external optical components.

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Please forgive me if I’ve missed it, but I haven’t seen any mention of children in this thread.

Children should never be allowed to use any light without proper supervision. It’s amazing how many otherwise-sensible adults will give a powerful light to a child without a second thought.

Children will stare into the beam, shine it in other people’s faces, light up moving vehicles, mess about with the batteries and generally do everything they shouldn’t.

In addition, a child’s eyes are more delicate than an adult’s, because the cornea and lens become less transmissive (especially of bluer wavelengths) as people get older, and it’s the blue wavelengths that do the most photochemical damage to photoreceptors.

Blue light damage is especially significant when it comes to long-term, cumulative exposure over a lifetime. You don’t have to focus enough energy on the retina to do thermal damage; you can do photochemical damage at much lower intensities, and that damage can be much more insidious.

Finally, there’s a tendency for children and even some adults to push through mild discomfort – overriding their aversion response – in order to keep staring into a light source that fascinates them in some way. You have only to look at all the people who end up being treated for eye injuries after staring at the Sun during a solar eclipse for proof of that.

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zespectre wrote:
You caused me to do a bit more research (see link) so I will have to retract the physical eye damage notion, at least for now.

But other damage and risk due to temporary blinding is probably still an issue for consideration so I added notes about accidentally signaling for help, and blinding vehicle operators.


That’s true, distractions to vehicles are very dangerous.
But it should be common sense that you don’t shine them at vehicles, just like you don’t throw nails on a road or throw rocks from a bridge.
zespectre
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Enderman wrote:
That’s true, distractions to vehicles are very dangerous. But it should be common sense that you don’t shine them at vehicles, just like you don’t throw nails on a road or throw rocks from a bridge.

There is that “common sense” thing again. To a lot of people it’s just “common sense” that the thing in your hand is “just a flashlight” and no big deal. I’ve had to educate an awful lot of people that 2000 lumens and up is more than “just a flashlight” and you have to have a bit of respect for the light and what it is capable of.

It’s not just blinding to that car passing by on the road, it can be blinding (at the right angle) to someone a couple hundred yards away or more because it has that much power. People simply do NOT understand that instinctively and as more and more powerful lights become common I think it is going to be a lot more important to educate people on light etiquette and actual safety.

A mis-aimed car headlight (at about 2500-3000 lumens) is a terrible thing from distances a half mile away. Imagine driving into someone’s 5000 lumen, turbo-head, throw monster even though they are a freaking half mile away and completely unaware that they are blinding you.

If we don’t start educating people now, the legal regulations will come, count on it.

Tonights forecast, 100% chance of dark.

Enderman
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zespectre wrote:

There is that “common sense” thing again. To a lot of people it’s just “common sense” that the thing in your hand is “just a flashlight” and no big deal. I’ve had to educate an awful lot of people that 2000 lumens and up is more than “just a flashlight” and you have to have a bit of respect for the light and what it is capable of.

It’s not just blinding to that car passing by on the road, it can be blinding (at the right angle) to someone a couple hundred yards away or more because it has that much power. People simply do NOT understand that instinctively and as more and more powerful lights become common I think it is going to be a lot more important to educate people on light etiquette and actual safety.

A mis-aimed car headlight (at about 2500-3000 lumens) is a terrible thing from distances a half mile away. Imagine driving into someone’s 5000 lumen, turbo-head, throw monster even though they are a freaking half mile away and completely unaware that they are blinding you.

If we don’t start educating people now, the legal regulations will come, count on it.


It’s still “just a flashlight” even though it may be powerful.
Just like a rock is still just a rock.
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Need to know what happens when a 18650 LiIon cell goes into thermal runaway & vents in side an aluminum flashlight during a controlled test? here you go.

The 18650 light:

The video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6acpwEqp5zg

also two 14500 lights after cell venting. ( this light below, the cell shot out through the front like a slug round. ( i have videos, but haven;t had time ti edit them to put them online yet, i will try to get them up soon.

This cheap tiny “3W police” AA light with a 14500 vented and blew out both ends. the cell disintegrated.

The heat was so intense in just a few seconds, it changed it from black to the brown anodizing color.

That Canadian flashlight guy & Lantern Guru -Den / DBSARlight

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danallen wrote:
My first response to this thread was to want to accuse the thread starter of being an overweight soccer mom who was a victim of sexual assault when she was a child, projecting her irrational fear of everything fun into our innocent hobby. Upon further review, I think a continuing emphasis on safety is warranted. I don’t want to see us become pussified, but it is true these devices need to be respected to avoid losses no one would want especially if a tiny bit of prudence could have prevented it.

Not to be Mr Glass Half-Empty, but there’s a general truism that goes into discussions/debates like these.

People are idiots.

Take some time, let it sink in, then reread it again.

You take a decent light, not even a GT or anything, and some idiot will take it out and start shining it at oncoming drivers right before a curve, to watch the now-blinded driver almost crash, maybe just to get some yuks, maybe to video it for yootoob, who knows. Or slam it into “SOS” mode and go shining it over the water, or from a hillside, etc.

Lasers and airplanes. Flashlights and cars. You know it’ll happen when some inbred moron thinks it’d be oh-so-funny to take his new shiny flashlight out for a test-drive and do something retarded like that.

And bigger-idiot politicians are nourished by such incidents. It gives them purpose in life, to find a new scourge and propose Legislation™ to “deal with the problem”. And B’harni (pbuh!) help the rest of us…

And the fawning “news” media will fall into line right quick, interviewing the widow of the guy who wrecked after being blinded by an assault-flashlight, showing tables lined with lights with “attack bezels” and “tactical” this and “tactical” that. No foybezels here, only medieval-looking pointy attack bezels!

But hey, we should all be for “reasonable” flashlight laws. Maybe waiting-periods for flashlights. Battery-tube limits of only 3500mAH maximum. Background checks to make sure no mental-defectives could get their hands on flashlights. Limits on maximum OTF lumens (after all, no one needs a flashlight with 4000+ child-killing lumens, right?). Flashlight registration and licenses. You name it.

You think I’m being facetious? Just wait ‘til some 85 goes and does something stoopit with a Q8 or GT or…

I’m cringing right now just thinking about it.

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What if you shine a light into a drivers eyes and they are blinded and crash lol.

On a serious note i think i wrote about this the other day. None flashlight enthusiast buying high power flashlight with out any protection features. Also using high drain cells with no knowledge. Very different outcomes if you put a battery in reverse in a brand name light vs a BLF A6. The E40R i just reviewed has reverse polarity protection while the later does not. Also a very different outcome if you short circuit a high drain cells vs a protected cell.

As the number of users increases we will see more incidents that is how it works.

My little bros mate vapes and he had VTC5 in the vape i checked the cells for him and they where already down to around 2.7v each. I think that 2.5v is cut of for the VTC5 and he was still using them. I did have a smoke before checking lol.

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Enderman wrote:
But it should be common sense that you don’t shine them at vehicles, just like you don’t throw nails on a road or throw rocks from a bridge.

Alas, “common” sense ain’t all that common.

Some idiot “kids” were just sentenced a few weeks ago for killing a guy after throwing chunks of concrete off an overpass at moving cars.

Years before, a kid in a safety(!) seat was killed by some idiots who threw a bowling ball off an overpass.

Me, years ago, I saw a half-brick bounce off the road in front of me and bashed the crap outta my car. Dent in the hood as it scraped over it, one wiper arm went flying off completely, other one was bent in the middle, had 3 holes in my windscreen that I could fit my fingers through, before the brick finally bounced up and over the remainder of my car. Got sprayed with shards of glass, was bleeding from my arm (just splinters, thankfully, and only little dots of blood), and that was it. Railroad bridge over an expressway.

See my previous post.

People are idiots.

Never forget that.

If something’s stoopit, some idiot will go and do it. Count on it.

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zespectre wrote:
It’s not just blinding to that car passing by on the road, it can be blinding (at the right angle) to someone a couple hundred yards away or more because it has that much power. People simply do NOT understand that instinctively and as more and more powerful lights become common I think it is going to be a lot more important to educate people on light etiquette and actual safety.

A mis-aimed car headlight (at about 2500-3000 lumens) is a terrible thing from distances a half mile away. Imagine driving into someone’s 5000 lumen, turbo-head, throw monster even though they are a freaking half mile away and completely unaware that they are blinding you.

If we don’t start educating people now, the legal regulations will come, count on it.

Yep. Like I said…

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DBSAR wrote:
The heat was so intense in just a few seconds, it changed it from black to the brown anodizing color.

Damn, that’s actually quite nice! Evil

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Lightbringer wrote:

Alas, “common” sense ain’t all that common.

Some idiot “kids” were just sentenced a few weeks ago for killing a guy after throwing chunks of concrete off an overpass at moving cars.

Years before, a kid in a safety(!) seat was killed by some idiots who threw a bowling ball off an overpass.

Me, years ago, I saw a half-brick bounce off the road in front of me and bashed the crap outta my car. Dent in the hood as it scraped over it, one wiper arm went flying off completely, other one was bent in the middle, had 3 holes in my windscreen that I could fit my fingers through, before the brick finally bounced up and over the remainder of my car. Got sprayed with shards of glass, was bleeding from my arm (just splinters, thankfully, and only little dots of blood), and that was it. Railroad bridge over an expressway.

See my previous post.

People are idiots.

Never forget that.

If something’s stoopit, some idiot will go and do it. Count on it.


Excatly.
So what are you going to do?
Ban concrete and bricks so that nobody does that?
They will just find something else to throw and inconvenience everyone that uses concrete and bricks for their intended purpose.

You’re never going to solve people’s stupidity so the best that can be done is educate.

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Heck, nobody seems to care that the D4 is a potential pipe bomb if the battery is accidentally put in backwards..

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Enderman wrote:
So what are you going to do?

Ban concrete and bricks so that nobody does that?

They will just find something else to throw and inconvenience everyone that uses concrete and bricks for their intended purpose.

You’re never going to solve people’s stupidity so the best that can be done is educate.

People should have that tattooed on ‘em at birth.

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djozz wrote:
In my experience anyone who is prepared to spend more than 2 dollars on a flashlight must be regarded as a flashlight enthousiast and usually knows a bit more about it. People who really just don’t care do not buy flashlights that costs more than 2 dollar, and find people who do a bit weird, so I do not see much danger ahead yet

You’re very wrong. There are many non-enthusiasts buying Maglite, Petzl, Led Lenser and similar brands because they seek quality tools.
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Throw me in to darkness wrote:
Agro wrote:
You’re very wrong. There are many non-enthusiasts buying Maglite, Petzl, Led Lenser and similar brands because they seek quality tools.

Buying those brands definitely reeks of ‘non-enthusiast’ Big Smile .
Lumens aside, they generally all use proprietary battery packs or primary cells. I can’t see much potential danger with those brands.


Still, these can contain multiple 18650s and do over 1000 lumens.
djozz
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My labtop contains multiple 18650’s, it depends how they are employed if they are dangerous or not.

And 1000 lumens unless very well collimated at very short range by a good quality thrower flashlight, like a well-modded 300 kcd Brinyte B158 focused at 1 meter instead of infinity (how many of your neighbours have one of those?) will not make you go blind, we humans are designed to look into the sun inadvertently every now and then (up to 130 kcd!) without getting eye damage.

link to djozz tests 

“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”   (Gus Speth)

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