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Laser weaonry may not be that far away from tomorrow's battlefields.  (Source: Wired, Danger Room)
The U.S. will possibly field man-sized portable laser weapons in coming years

One of the cornerstones of science fiction films and books is the laser rifle. The U.S. has spent millions of dollars trying to field laser weapons to do all sorts of tasks and, according to some analysts, we are getting close to fielding man portable laser weapons.

Time Magazine tells the story about developments in laser weaponry, circa 1972. Many of us are familiar with the laser weapons that are being designed to stop ballistic missiles before the warhead can separate from the missile body. These tend to be very large lasers that are mounted on trucks or inside specially outfitted aircraft.

One type of laser weapon that has yet to materialize is the man-sized portable laser. The lasers were described as being able to burn a quarter-inch hole in an enemy solider from as far away as five miles.  And, unlike Star Wars, real world lasers leave no visible trail.

The weapon would be a snipers dream since the laser beam would travel at the speed of light; once the target was in the sights, a hit was ensured. Another benefit of portable laser weapons is the fact that a laser beam follows a flat trajectory rather than a curving arc like a projectile. Gravity has practically no effect on a laser beam, so lining up a shot at extreme distances is much easier to do with a laser rifle than with a projectile weapon.

These laser weapons have yet to materialize and with the drawbacks of chemical laser technology, namely the storage of corrosive chemicals and harmful fumes resulting from the laser operation, who knows when or if man portable laser weapons will be perfected.

Chemical lasers get energy from a rapid chemical reaction and obtain continuous wave with power at the megawatt level. Common types of chemical lasers used in drilling and military applications include chemical oxygen iodine laser, all gas-phase iodine laser, and deuterium fluoride laser.  Almost all laser-based weapons to date have been chemical based.

Yet there are still some laser weapon technologies that could bring the long dreamed of laser gun to fruition. Solid-state lasers, the oldest and most mature types of lasers, are one of the more viable options since they don’t require corrosive chemicals to produce the laser beam. The solid-state laser simply requires a supply of electricity to produce a beam, and only needs enough power for a single pulse rather than a continuous beam.

Current solid-state lasers are used for everything from tattoo removal to optical refrigeration. However, unlike gas and chemical lasers, solid-state lasers cannot achieve megawatt capabilities without vast amounts of electricity -- not practical for mobile forces.  Yet kilowatt lasers may be enough for soldiers on the ground. 

From Boeing's $7 million High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator, to Northrop Grumman's $57 million Joint High Power Solid State Laser, 100kW portable solid-state lasers can now fit the size of a truck.

According to Wired we cold see solid-state pulse lasers fielded by U.S. soldiers in as little as two years. Of course, according to the Time's 1972 article on laser technology, man-sized portable laser weapons would have been viable for a decade now.



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RE: Secret Service
By Misty Dingos on 8/28/2007 8:40:11 AM , Rating: -1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_radia...

Uh no you are wrong. Electromagnetic radiation is not made up of photons. Not to be mean or cruel but good god where did you go to school?

A laser is going to be very difficult to stop with any electromagnetic screen or force field. A good example of this is the fusion reactor experiments in Japan. They have some great photographs of the fusion reaction despite the intense electromagnetic fields used to contain it.

http://www-jt60.naka.jaea.go.jp/

While there are theoretical models for a plasma force field or screen and these may offer some protection from a lasers energy. The only way to protect someone from a laser pulse directed at them is to ensure that they could never be seen directly. The pulse of energy from a laser rifle would travel at the speed of light. Any system for the protection of a person or object would then in theory have to react faster than the speed of light to offer said protection. Not that this isn't now theoretically possible with the advent of research that is being done in Germany.

http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=8487

How you would tie all the technology together to produce an intermittent plasma screen that could react, from detection to interception, faster than the speed of light is the proverbial tough row to hoe.


RE: Secret Service
By masher2 (blog) on 8/28/2007 9:29:35 AM , Rating: 3
> "Uh no you are wrong. Electromagnetic radiation is not made up of photons. Not to be mean or cruel but good god where did you go to school?"

Apparently he went to one where wave-particle duality was properly explained. EM radiation is composed of photons, which even your own link explains further in.


RE: Secret Service
By Hawkido on 8/29/2007 2:50:42 PM , Rating: 2
Masher2, Your a good person to ask this as your accuracy is in the high 80's (%).

My understanding of the Wave-Particle Duality of light seems to demonstrate that while light acts both as a wave and as a particle it can also act independantly as only a wave or only a particle as well. As such, can you interrupt light using a property of only one (wave or particle) and therefore absorb or dissipate the entire laser (in this case). I know wave cancelation works on sound, and I have heard theories that it will also work on light, but it should be easy to demonstrate. Now, either I need to read a more-up-to-date book or they haven't secessfully completed this. Does this mean it isn't possible to defeat light by only opposing one of it's dual properties? Never mind you would need to modulate your wave to the plar opposite frequency of the incomming laser, and be of sufficient energy that by the time it reachs the target, it has lost the potent edge from the beam.

The point about EM field as a defense should work (disregarding power-source needed) as a great deal of the Sun's energy is deflected by the Earth's EM field. However, as strong as the Earth's EM field is, a great deal of light energy still gets through, and it takes miles of our EM barrier to deflect the Sun's energy (which would be on the same level as the energy needed per CM^2 to be an effective weapon). I think the intense EM field needed to defeat a portable Weapon class laser, would be far more harmful to the person it was trying to protect than the laser threatening them.


RE: Secret Service
By peldor on 8/28/2007 9:32:41 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Uh no you are wrong. Electromagnetic radiation is not made up of photons. Not to be mean or cruel but good god where did you go to school?

If you could make an irony gun, you'd be lethal at a good 5 miles.

As you favor the wikipedia (and didn't even read the page you linked), try this page. You'll only have to read the first couple of sentences.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photon


RE: Secret Service
By webdawg77 on 8/28/2007 10:03:54 AM , Rating: 2
Mississippi State University

B.S. Computer Engineering
Math Minor

M.B.A (for kicks)


RE: Secret Service
By webdawg77 on 8/28/2007 10:12:22 AM , Rating: 2
Oh yeah, and the MBA was to see girls too! Most engineering classes were quite void of females. At least, they were 10 years ago.


RE: Secret Service
By masher2 (blog) on 8/28/2007 10:19:55 AM , Rating: 2
If you think engineering is bad, try graduate-level physics courses :p


RE: Secret Service
By shamgar03 on 8/28/2007 11:09:06 AM , Rating: 2
pft for computer engineers physics is where you go to meet girls.


RE: Secret Service
By glennpratt on 8/28/2007 1:42:22 PM , Rating: 2
So true.


RE: Secret Service
By aetherzero on 8/28/2007 10:37:59 AM , Rating: 2
Trust me... they still are :(


RE: Secret Service
By buckao on 8/28/2007 12:17:56 PM , Rating: 2
There's a few of them now, but...well...you can imagine what they look like...


RE: Secret Service
By Martimus on 8/29/2007 4:46:37 PM , Rating: 2
That is like what we used to say about Michigan Tech: "Where the men are men, and so are the women."


RE: Secret Service
By borismkv on 8/28/2007 1:35:22 PM , Rating: 2
This is one of the reasons I decided to drop IT classes and major in English...sadly, though there were many many girls in my classes, they were the silent bookworms that never talk. Shoulda tried nursing or...heaven forbid...Interior design (the desire to retain some masculinity prevented me from going that far).


RE: Secret Service
By shamgar03 on 8/28/2007 11:14:45 AM , Rating: 2
Ahh the classic debate, is light a particle or a wave? Both. Photons moving in a wave. Clearly your not familiar with your electromagnetic spectrum: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/images/content...

You will note, on the spectrum there is a section labeled "visible" aka "light". However you are right about one thing, light doesn't have a charge, so I don't know how this would be affected by various fields. Perhaps polarized garb?


RE: Secret Service
By rsmech on 8/28/2007 2:13:05 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
The only way


Wrong, just wear an aluminum foil suit to go with the aluminum foil hat to reflect the laser.


RE: Secret Service
By fuzzlefizz on 8/28/2007 4:40:40 PM , Rating: 1
how about a body armor made of completely of mirrors? doesn't that allow for some protection against lasers? We always bend laser light with mirrors and lenses in optics class.


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