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A Northrop Grumman engineer tinkers with the deadly 105.5 kw solid-state laser. Northrop Grumman recently announced it had created the world's first 100+ kw solid state laser, raising hopes of laser warfare.  (Source: Northrop Grumman)

The 105.5 kw laser reaches its peak power in 0.6 seconds. It consists of eight lasers chained together to form a super laser. All of these components are contained in Northrop's laser weapon system demonstrator, seen here.  (Source: Northrop Grumman)
Northrop Grumman passes an important milestone, as laser weapons near deployment

Science fiction fans and generals alike have long fantasized about what it'd be like to have a laser weapon at their command.  Now at last such dreams are nearing reality.  After years of steady milestone progress, military contractor Northrop Grumman has reached a significant mark -- the first 100 kW steady-state laser

The laser is part of the Joint High-Powered Solid State Laser Phase 3 Program, which combines 8 lasers in chain fashion to create a "superlaser" of sorts.  Each laser can deliver up to 15.3 kW individually and is about the size of a large briefcase.  Together they form a unit about the size of a couple garbage dumpsters stacked together, which can deliver a peak beam of 105.5 kW.  The device has operated continuously for 5 minutes, a major landmark in integrity.

The beam quality is an impressive 3.0 or better, and full power is reached in 0.6 seconds.

At 100 kW, the laser is capable of delivering a military-ready deadly beam.  The unit could see deployment aboard next-generation battleships and cruisers or aboard large aircraft.  States a company release, "In fact, many militarily useful effects can be achieved by laser weapons of 25 kW or 50 kW, provided this energy is transmitted with good beam quality, as our system does."

However, the relatively large weight and high power requirements remain obstacles to deploying the lethal laser.

Northrop Grumman is not satisfied with the significant breakthrough.  They want to continue to shrink the device so that one day it might be portable on the battlefield.  Dan Wildt, vice president of Northrop's directed energy systems program, adds, "It is still a little heavy and a little big."

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RE: Price?
By Steve1981 on 3/24/2009 9:10:21 PM , Rating: 1
No, I absolutely do not think that anything about healthcare is free...Just like we don't privatize defense (which costs taxpayers about 1/3 as much by the way) healthcare is too big and too important to have a little oversight as it does.

I said free market, not free. Again, what makes you think that there is "little oversight" involved with our health care system? Our medical industry is quite heavily regulated. Pretending it is some failure in capitalism which necessitates we move to a socialized medical system is specious at best.

That cost is already assumed by everybody else with a stake in the healthcare industry.

And ultimately the only way to reduce the costs is to improve efficiency, ration care, or tell doctors what they're allowed to charge. Option 1 doesn't hurt. Options 2 and 3 certainly will in the long term. As far as socialized medicine being more efficient than free market: I have yet to see an example of a free market medical system to make a comparison to. However, given that free-market competition naturally improves efficiency and socialism historically is inefficient at everything it does, I'm not inclined to jump on the socialized medicine boat just yet.

The rebellious numbers that show the US behind other nations are things like average life expectancy and infant mortality. Look it up-we're not the leaders in health care, but we do spend twice as much (sorry for error above) of our American GDP on it:

At its best, the American health care system is the best in the world. It absolutely is a leader in treatments and technology.

However, we don't get the best bang for the buck, nor do we have life expectancies to show off our accomplishments. There are a few reasons for this though.

1. Americans simply lead relatively unhealthy lifestyles. We eat crap food with no redeeming qualities, get no exercise, and then wonder why our health care costs are so high and why we die so young.

2. Americans expect Grade A treatment, regardless of the cost, regardless of their ability to pay said cost, and regardless of what other significantly less expensive but marginally less effective options might exist.

It doesn't take socialized medicine to fix these problems. It takes government not meddling in the first place. It means not trying to force charity or dictate terms to our health care practitioners. It means getting people to understand the actual costs of medicine.

Those premises however do not verify that the current method of funding health care in the US is any good.

Who said our current system was great shakes? I didn't.

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