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MadConflux
2006-Feb-28, 12:03 PM
I'm just wondering, since laser has been around for eons (:dance: ), is there such a thing as a hand-held "blaster" today?

I would think so, but wouldn't it make conventional firearms redundant? In which case, why are there still wars?

Swift
2006-Feb-28, 02:37 PM
I'm just wondering, since laser has been around for eons (:dance: ), is there such a thing as a hand-held "blaster" today?

I would think so, but wouldn't it make conventional firearms redundant? In which case, why are there still wars?
I'll answer the last - there have several weapons that have been developed (dynamite, nuclear weapons) that have been so powerful that they were supposed to make wars unthinkable. It has not happened yet and I don't suspect it will.

Saluki
2006-Feb-28, 02:57 PM
I agree with Swift's sentiments completely. At one time, the Pope denounced the crossbow as being too horrible a weapon for warfare.

As to the OP, the short answer (as the question is phrased) is no. There are no extant beam weapons (short of possible super-secret defense agency research, which would be pure speculation for us) that can be easily held/moved by a human, that kill humans as quickly and reliably as standard projectile weapons.

That said, there have been plenty of research into it, and there have been real beam weapons developed. They are simply too big, too unreliable, or not accurate enough at desired range to serve as a weapon. Probably the first real-world implementation of beam weapons for defense will be fixed, ground-based installations intended for defense against missiles and aircraft.

Edit: Here is a recent popular press piece on the topic.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10805240/?GT1=7538

They talk about space and air-based systems. I think those kind of systems are a little farther off than the article implies.

Metricyard
2006-Feb-28, 03:20 PM
Even if we did have hand-held lasers, conventional firearms would still exist. Even the lowly knife is still standard armaments in most armed forces of the world.

And to paraphrase the gun owners creed, weapons don't start wars, people do.
The object doen't matter, the use of it does. If you look around your room, I bet you could find 5 things within reach of you that could be used as a weapon.

Launch window
2006-Feb-28, 03:29 PM
laser rifles and other scifi type weaponry are in development
http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php?t=20295&page=2


but that doesn't mean military forces won't continue using their old traditional shields, knives, battons....

Swift
2006-Feb-28, 05:47 PM
Just my take on the weapons: I suspect a big limitation of such beam weapons, particularly on hand-held units, is not the beam creation/delivery, but the power supply. Lasers are pretty high powered units, if you want anything beyond a laser pointer, and small, light weight power supplies (batteries) just don't have enough power.

Fr. Wayne
2006-Feb-28, 10:54 PM
Using lasers to target and direct conventional weapons was amply documented in Desert Storm. Lasers and even sonic weapons, worthy of Flash Gordon, are very much top secret.

Sock puppet
2006-Feb-28, 11:15 PM
Swift is correct. Todays technology does not extend to lasers powerful enough to cause injury or death rapidly while still being portable enough for humans to carry them. Sure, you can mount them on tanks, but if you're doing that, a machine-gun will do the trick much better.(and cheaper) Even if you had an adequate Portable Power Supply (minimum several kW), overheating is going to be a major issue.

Jorge
2006-Mar-01, 12:46 AM
Seems like the usually story...

Power > technolgy > energry

If we find an infinit portbale source of energy (unlicky) we'd sitting pretty comfy ay.

Tog
2006-Mar-01, 10:11 AM
I'm just wondering, since laser has been around for eons (:dance: ), is there such a thing as a hand-held "blaster" today?

I would think so, but wouldn't it make conventional firearms redundant? In which case, why are there still wars?

As the others have said, there is nothing like the Star Wars Blasters or Phasers from Trek, even on a large scale

Magnetic guns (railguns (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railgun)) have been around since the 40's, but need far too much power to be practical on anything other than a large land vehicle. Ships may be able to make use of them eventially. These use a series of magnets to accelerate a projectile to incredible speeds. They travel so fast, that the damage done os from the impact alone. Imagine a solid steel milk jug hitting something at 10 times the speed of sound.

Infrasound (http://www.kopete.org/Ultrasonic-weapon.html) does exist in some form. I recall seeing ads for systems that could be mounted in the grill of a police car for crowd control. I sort of got to experience this for my self one day. In a music store, I hit a low note on a keyboard that was turned up to full volume. Since it was sitting on the amp, it was really loud. I can't confirm it was the cause, but about 5 minutes later I got very nauseous and contimued to feel that was for several hours.

As for their existence being an end to war... Let;s look at the kingdome of Togland. We have unlimited natural resources (except for polyester bushes), and the weapons about like those on Star Trek. War could happen because:

1. Leisure suits catch on and we need to takemover the countries with the polyester bushes. (They have what we want)

2. The countries around us fear us to the point that they demand we share our tech with them or they will attack. (Fear)

3. One country on our border is a druidic based land and feels that our technology is an affront to the natural order of the universe. (Ideology difference)

4. Something else.

The creation of a new, more efficient weapon may make other weapons in it's class, obsolete (not many army's using flintlocks anymore); but other classes of weapons will still be equally valid. Look at a common knife. Sure the range is poor, but you never need to reload. A portable death ray may replace firearms, but there will still be knives, sticks, bricks on chains and unarmed combat.

Blob
2006-Mar-01, 12:55 PM
Hum,
no modern day urban terrorist is without a handy HERF (high energy radio frequency in the 20-30 GHz range) gun.
They are simple to construct and can knock out computer/electronic based targets for infrastructure destruction with ease and from a distance.

It is rumoured that such devices can be even be used as anti-aircraft weapons.

A good reference on this is Col. Eileen Walling's "High Power Microwaves: Strategic and Operational Imperatives for Warfare (http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/cst/csat11.pdf)" (PDF). She lists four distinctive characteristics of a microwave weapon:

* They don't rely on knowledge of the system.
* They leave persistent and lasting effects on the system through destruction of circuits and components.
* They can impact systems even when they are turned off.
* To counter the weapon the entire system must be hardened.

Source (http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2004/05/journal_homemad.html)

Swift
2006-Mar-01, 02:39 PM
Seems like the usually story...

Power > technolgy > energry

If we find an infinit portbale source of energy (unlicky) we'd sitting pretty comfy ay.
I don't need infinite. I would be very happy with 1 kW in something the size of a book. But I'm just the "idea guy" - you folks go invent it. :p

Jorge
2006-Mar-01, 10:28 PM
I don't need infinite. I would be very happy with 1 kW in something the size of a book. But I'm just the "idea guy" - you folks go invent it. :p

Or something with simular energy output of a star but smaller... e.g. marble size :think:

Kelfazin
2006-Mar-03, 06:44 PM
<snip>
They talk about space and air-based systems. I think those kind of systems are a little farther off than the article implies.

The air system may not be as far off as you think. Back in 96 when I was working in the Military Modifications center at Boeing Wichita, they were gearing up to build the Airborne Laser. It made its maiden flight (http://www.edwards.af.mil/archive/2002/2002-archive-abl_first_flight.html) in 02 and has been under flight testing and modification at Edwards AF base. (http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/abl/news/2004/010004_together.html)

Most recently, in Dec, 05, the ABL completed its laser ground testing, (http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2005/q4/051212b_nr.html) proving the laser is capable of destroying many different classes of ballistic missles. It is now gearing up for full systems integration testing.

Huevos Grandes
2006-Mar-03, 06:54 PM
Just my take on the weapons: I suspect a big limitation of such beam weapons, particularly on hand-held units, is not the beam creation/delivery, but the power supply. Lasers are pretty high powered units, if you want anything beyond a laser pointer, and small, light weight power supplies (batteries) just don't have enough power.

+1. The newest "green" laser pointers (do a Google search) can just about melt plastic after several seconds at close range. The "laser scalpel" is a concept for a medical cutting tool that has received a lot of fanfare in recent years, but will probably represent the pinnacle for hand-held lasers for a long time: it's also extremely short range, and requires large-amounts of power (110/200v)

I'll stick with handguns and rubberband-thumbtack devices for the present time...;)

Swift
2006-Mar-03, 07:51 PM
The "laser scalpel" is a concept for a medical cutting tool that has received a lot of fanfare in recent years, but will probably represent the pinnacle for hand-held lasers for a long time: it's also extremely short range, and requires large-amounts of power (110/200v)

But if you look at the units (this page for example (http://www.linline.com/new/eng/prod1.html)) they are far from manpack sized units and even at this size you need a powercord. I don't think Hans Solo would sneak one of these under the table.

Kelfazin
2006-Mar-03, 08:24 PM
But if you look at the units (this page for example (http://www.linline.com/new/eng/prod1.html)) they are far from manpack sized units and even at this size you need a powercord. I don't think Hans Solo would sneak one of these under the table.

I dunno, the Apollo backpacks weighed about 115 kg, that website shows the unit weighs "only" 75kg. So theoretically you could strap one on.

Granted, going to war with that strapped on your back wouldn't be that great of an experience.

Unless it's a spacewar.....in freefall...yea...:lol:

Swift
2006-Mar-03, 08:31 PM
I dunno, the Apollo backpacks weighed about 115 kg, that website shows the unit weighs "only" 75kg. So theoretically you could strap one on.

Granted, going to war with that strapped on your back wouldn't be that great of an experience.

Unless it's a spacewar.....in freefall...yea...:lol:
You could. I think the 12 miles of extension cord would be a serious obstacle to advancing on a position though.

Huevos Grandes
2006-Mar-03, 08:40 PM
You could. I think the 12 miles of extension cord would be a serious obstacle to advancing on a position though.

I already mentioned the power considerations. It's impossibly impractical in backpack- even if it could muster the power for a sustained, thickbeam discharge, it would last seconds before being spent with today's batteries. In a mounted form, like with the 12-mile of cord, or on a car/truck/tank, it's STILL useless, because the current "cutting" beams have ranges in the millimeter-to-centimeter range, not the meter-to-kilometer range.

Kelfazin
2006-Mar-03, 08:48 PM
You could. I think the 12 miles of extension cord would be a serious obstacle to advancing on a position though.

That's why you install an RTG.


or 20

:p

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2006-Mar-04, 05:15 AM
That's why you install an RTG.


or 20

:p
I Think We're Likely to See it Mounted On Tanks First ...

As Soon as There's a Version of The Air Defense Laser, Small Enough to Operate Autonomously On The Ground ...

The Current Generation of Tanks, Will Be OBSOLETE!

:clap:

Kelfazin
2006-Mar-04, 05:34 PM
I think that even when we have effective and efficient beam weapons that we will still continue to use conventional explosives as well, even on our tanks. I could see using a beam weapon to take out another tank, but for anti-personnel purposes, explosives would still be more effective.

joema
2006-Mar-07, 11:59 PM
We shouldn't always think of batteries (and associated limitations) as laser power sources. High-powered military lasers close to deployment use chemically (not electrically) generated lasers.

E.g, the Boeing ABL is close to initial operational capability, maybe next year. It's a megawatt-class laser, but it generates it with expendable chemicals, not stored electrical energy. Picture of ABL in flight: http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/abl/

It's conceivable a backpack-style chemical laser could produce several tens of kilowatts. It wouldn't cut a tank in half, but it would quickly damage an unprotected person.

If ever deployed, such portable lasers would be specialty items -- like a flamethrower -- not replace conventional arms. Like a flamethrower, it's not necessary to replace conventional weapons to be tactically useful.

However there are many problems with portable chemical lasers. The chemical fuels are toxic, significant waste heat is produced, etc.

It seems true hand-held pistol-type laser weapons are a very long way off. If miniaturized energy sources capable of powering a meaningful beam are ever developed, they would revolutionize everything, not just lasers. You could power your car on a thimble-size power pack.

Swift
2006-Mar-08, 03:30 AM
As military, large scale units, chemical lasers are definitely a possibility. But when someone says "Ray Gun" I'm thinking hand-held Star Wars or Star Trek type devices. As you said, most of the chemical lasers I've heard about use something like fluorine gas - heck, forget the laser, just gas your enemies to death.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2006-Mar-08, 04:54 AM
As military, large scale units, chemical lasers are definitely a possibility. But when someone says "Ray Gun" I'm thinking hand-held Star Wars or Star Trek type devices. As you said, most of the chemical lasers I've heard about use something like fluorine gas - heck, forget the laser, just gas your enemies to death.
Eh ...

Nah-ah-ah ...

That'd Be a WAR Crime!

:wall:

PhantomWolf
2006-Mar-09, 12:39 PM
But when someone says "Ray Gun" I'm thinking hand-held Star Wars or Star Trek type devices.

Well Star Wars guns aren't lasers, though often erroneously refered to a such. Blasters are projectile weapons which fire a bolt of 'coherrent plasma.'

SW weapons have two clips, a gas cartridge which contains a highly compressed high energy gas such as Tibana gas, and a power cell. When fired, a small amount of the gas is energized to form plasma which is then accerelated out the barrel of the weapon, passing through a number of devices to focus it and made the bolt coherrent so as to hold it together. The longer the barrel the more focusing and hence the longer the bolt will hold together, increasing the range of the weapon. If you watch the movies, you'll see the that bolt explodes when it hits something, which obviously a laser doesn't do. Not only that, the bolts obviously travel about the same speed as a bullet, way too slow to be a laser, and lose their efectiveness at distance. Without going into the way to actually produce and focus said coherrent plasma, it might actually be an alternative idea to a laser gun if such a way could indeed be developed.

Swift
2006-Mar-09, 02:52 PM
Thanks PhantomWolf, I had not known all that about SWs.
Actually, I would think such a hand-held plasma weapon would be a bigger challenge than a laser type weapon. We know how to build small, powerful lasers, we just don't have the power supplies (IMHO). The plasma weapon would have the same power supply problem, and then the issue of how to make coherrent plasma weapons.

publiusr
2006-Mar-09, 11:14 PM
We won't ever have a real phaser.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2006-Mar-09, 11:59 PM
We won't ever have a real phaser.
Ah ...

Why, Not ...

Pray, Tell?

:think:

PhantomWolf
2006-Mar-10, 02:55 AM
Actually, I would think such a hand-held plasma weapon would be a bigger challenge than a laser type weapon. We know how to build small, powerful lasers, we just don't have the power supplies (IMHO). The plasma weapon would have the same power supply problem, and then the issue of how to make coherrent plasma weapons.

In agreement, they'd be nice, but I don't see us whipping up one tomorrow, or in the next 50-100 years, if ever.

Jorge
2006-Mar-12, 12:16 AM
Actually, I would think such a hand-held plasma weapon would be a bigger challenge than a laser type weapon. We know how to build small, powerful lasers, we just don't have the power supplies (IMHO). The plasma weapon would have the same power supply problem, and then the issue of how to make coherrent plasma weapons.

In agreement, they'd be nice, but I don't see us whipping up one tomorrow, or in the next 50-100 years, if ever.


Aint that what bold lightning is thought to be? a ball of plasma?

(if that is the case, nature beat us again :p)

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2006-Mar-12, 02:29 AM
Aint that what bold lightning is thought to be? a ball of plasma?

(if that is the case, nature beat us again :p)
Wasn't The First Time ...

Certainly, WON'T Be The Last ...

See, This Why we Need to Study Ball Lightning, So, we Can Learn How to Emulate it!

Jorge
2006-Mar-12, 10:55 PM
lol there should a be a book called:
Nature: How it works... all secrets revield.

then I could understand why it is so smart and i could beat it at its game :p

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2006-Mar-12, 11:07 PM
lol there should a be a book called:
Nature: How it works... all secrets revield.

then I could understand why it is so smart and i could beat it at its game :p
Ah, But That's What Science Is for ...

Reading Nature's Play-Book ...

And, STEALING their Signs!

:think:

Jorge
2006-Mar-13, 09:57 PM
Ah, But That's What Science Is for ...

Reading Nature's Play-Book ...

And, STEALING their Signs!

:think:

Would still be neat to say
ha xxx you are wrong, it doesn't work this way... here is how it work!
and xxx going? wtf? i spend 6 years on this and you give me the correct awnser in 3 seconds :whistle: