Great thread! I've always loved the TWOK phaser effects for all the reasons already stated. I had no idea Peter Kuran did those too! I worked with Peter in 2009 for a brief period and we talked a lot about Star Wars and he'd mentioned his idea/work on creating the colored lighting effects on the models when they fired off shots to make it more real. Wish I'd known about this earlier.
I've interviewed him once or twice and he seems pretty cool. Based on some stuff in CINEFANTASTIQUE, I think the ILMers were a little irked he struck off on his own and made a success without having to relocate up north like they did.
I remember that he said he used to carry a couple of cells in his wallet that were animation effects from SW, and when he finally remembered about them and took them out, they were just GONE, disintegrated over time.