Army Scientists Shoot Lightning With Lasers

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Army Scientists Shoot Lightning With Lasers

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Sadly, the device does not also shoot shurikens.

The cruel reality of military technology is that we may never have the type of energy weaponry we see in fiction - no Star Wars blasters, no Gundam beam rifles, and no Halo plasma rifles. Instead, energy weapons are more subtle or practical, like focusing heat to blind sensors or rupture armored plating. In less subtle or practical matters, however, US Army scientists have figured out how to fry targets with guided lightning.

Researchers at the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey have developed a method to control one of the most impressive of all meteorological phenomena: the thunderbolt. Lightning, as with all electrical charges, naturally travels from the clouds to the earth taking the path of least resistance. The trick, then, involves creating the least-resistant path possible - and that's done with lasers.

"If a laser puts out a pulse with modest energy, but the time is incredibly tiny, the power can be huge," said project lead George Fisher. The laser pulse in question comes from an optical amplifier with an output of 50 billion watts - enough to power a large city - but it only lasts for two trillionths of a second. The air surrounding the pulse acts "like a lens," keeping the pulse focused like a lightbulb filament.

The electromagnetic field of the super-intense pulse tears electrons from the air molecules, creating a channel of plasma along the laser's path that can be directed by aiming a mirror. That ionized air, then, becomes the path of least resistance for an electrical pulse - so if a high-voltage source is nearby, it will follow the channel exactly to its target. Zap.

While the ability to shoot lightning down a laser is just kind of awesome in itself, it could be used to destroy enemy armored vehicles or detonate stockpiles of unexploded ordnance, says Fisher. "We never got tired of the lightning bolts zapping our simulated [targets]."

There are still many, many issues to work out with the technology before this could ever potentially see use on the battlefield. The laser and voltage source must be synchronized, the device must withstand the wear and tear of operational military use, and you don't just get 50 billion watts of energy from a few AA batteries.

But it's still a contraption that shoots lightning at people.

Source & Image: Army.mil

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I would GLADLY join the army for the opportunity of using this weapon on an enemy while screaming "Don't underestimate the power of the FORCE."!

It's a gun that shoots lightning. How can the military NOT want this?

Dr. Grordbort finally created the Cow Mangler 5000, The Righteous Bison, The Manmelter, and the Pomson 6000 In Real Life. The testing in Mann Co. must have been so overwhelming that the US Contracted Dr. Grordbort to build them for the US government. It took him longer to do, but he finally achieved them.

That's it, I quit. We have officially entered the future and I know that things will only get more ridiculous from here. At least he admits he had fun zapping things with bloody lightning.

And so C&C:Red Alert comes one step closer to reality. Minus, you know, the whole Einstein travelling back in time and frying dear old Adolf with his magic science hands.

Soon we will stand invincible.

Now we just need air-to-space lightning cannons and we can build a space empire....

We need possible names for this new lighting based weapon. I propose either Raiden or Thor.

Fucking awesome.

That is all.

OT: Well damn, The future is just coming closer isn't it? Now where is my flying car!? HUH!? MR.SCIENTIST!

SkarKrow:
Now we just need air-to-space lightning cannons and we can build a space empire....

Only problem, however awesome it would be, is that electricity requires a substance to pass through and space is a vacuum. Not medium, no lightning. Still can use high-powered lasers to burn large ships up though.

Catcha: heartache

SkarKrow:
Now we just need air-to-space lightning cannons and we can build a space empire....

i am game, i even have an old SS uniform lying around here somewhere.

OT: i am sure i have wielded several guns that work like that in games, didn't one of the heavy weapons in me2 shoot lightning following a laser?

How is that news? That technology has existed for years...

So I woke up today and found out that someone out there is getting paid to develop a lightning gun...

Where did my life go so wrong?

Don't worry Marty, a bolt of lightnig isn't as difficult to get ahold of anymore! 8D

Piflik:
How is that news? That technology has existed for years...

Yeah, I saw this and thought 'This is news?' This stuff has been around for years, there is nothing new here.

But does it shoot Shurikens also...?

Strap that onto a UAV and then you've got, the Thunder Drone.

John Funk:
The cruel reality of military technology is that we may never have the type of energy weaponry we see in fiction

Hey! Hold up one minute there, we have Lasers, we have Railguns, we have Sonic Weapons, we've got microwave guns, we've got Ion Cannons (if "Explosively pumped flux compression generator" isn't something you'd expect to see in sci-fi, then you're not doing sci-fi right!) and by the admission of this very article, we now have Lightning Guns. By my count we're only missing Plasma guns and Particle Beams before we've got the full set!

(Why I am not surprised someone with a Lunar Corporation avatar is posting on this...)

John Funk:
While the ability to shoot lightning down a laser is just kind of awesome in itself, it could be used to destroy enemy armored vehicles or detonate stockpiles of unexploded ordnance, says Fisher. "We never got tired of the lightning bolts zapping our simulated [targets]."

Im assuming while watching the tests of the lightning gun, this is what the researchers look like:

image

*Edit*

teebeeohh:
OT: i am sure i have wielded several guns that work like that in games, didn't one of the heavy weapons in me2 shoot lightning following a laser?

Thats the Arc Projector.

image

If that thing had better ammo comsumption, I wouldnt even need anything else...

...so I saw the headline and I pictured a crazed man in a labcoat shooting lasers at bolts of lightning.

teqrevisited:
And so C&C:Red Alert comes one step closer to reality. Minus, you know, the whole Einstein travelling back in time and frying dear old Adolf with his magic science hands.

Soon we will stand invincible.

Yes but the glorious Motherland no longer exists and the Allies have the tesla technology now.
So we fry Chinese tanks now.

Isn't it scary, in 50 years when this tech is put into a practical mobile form, somewhere one of them is gona be operated by some dumb yokel nitwit.

Am I the only one that got the impression from the title that instead of using lasers to aim lightning at targets, that the scientists managed to shoot DOWN lightning, with lasers.

Now... how to make it shoot shurikens...

Ok, we are 1 step closer to the Ion Cannon... Phase 2, put 20 or so of these in orbit...

We're Still waiting for Tiberium to show up though D:

YOU FOOLS YOU DARE TEMPT THE WRATH OF ZEUS!?!

WE ARE ALL DOOMED, DOOMED I SAY!

doggie015:
Now... how to make it shoot shurikens...

Then apply tits and light it on fire and Yahtzee will die of happiness.

Interesting, it's only 0.1 Joules of energy for a 50billion watts to be released in 2trillionths of a second. The laser itself won't even generate that much heat, or require that big of a power source. The hard part is just getting a capacitor to deliver that energy quickly enough.

Tiger Sora:

teqrevisited:
And so C&C:Red Alert comes one step closer to reality. Minus, you know, the whole Einstein travelling back in time and frying dear old Adolf with his magic science hands.

Soon we will stand invincible.

Yes but the glorious Motherland no longer exists and the Allies have the tesla technology now.
So we fry Chinese tanks now.

Isn't it scary, in 50 years when this tech is put into a practical mobile form, somewhere one of them is gona be operated by some dumb yokel nitwit.

Welcome to America where we'll give an 18 year old the ability to shoot lightening from a gun but alcohol is too dangerous.

I think the impact of this weapon comes from the morale damage it can inflict, I mean if your enemy has the power of Zeus that to me is plenty of incentive not to resist.

Sadly everybody already knows how to counter lightning. Its called a Faraday Cage, better known as... a car.

Evilsanta:

OT: Well damn, The future is just coming closer isn't it? Now where is my flying car!? HUH!? MR.SCIENTIST!

Are you kidding? People manage to crash cars often enough on just two dimensions. You don't honestly think they'd be crazy enough to let the average driver have a third dimension do you?

I'd rather not have a drunk driver plow through the roof of my second story bedroom than-you-very-much!

OT: Glad to see that they've finally found a practical application for lightning. With all the power that your average thunderbolt contains it was just screaming for us to find some way to harness it (I thought they would have found a power source with it first but oh well, guess no awesome renewable energy brought to us by Thor and Raiden)

It's certainly going to be fun seeing an AC-130 using a couple of these babies though. Nothing says "F**k you" quite like borrowing God's "smite" button for realsies.

So considering it's power usage and the no doubt fragile components that allow it to function I feel it is safe to assume that if it ever sees combat it is going to be a
....
Static emplacement.

Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!

Mr.Mattress:
Dr. Grordbort finally created the Cow Mangler 5000, The Righteous Bison, The Manmelter, and the Pomson 6000 In Real Life. The testing in Mann Co. must have been so overwhelming that the US Contracted Dr. Grordbort to build them for the US government. It took him longer to do, but he finally achieved them.

And the zap-o-matic.

Cpu46:
So considering it's power usage and the no doubt fragile components that allow it to function I feel it is safe to assume that if it ever sees combat it is going to be a
....
Static emplacement.

Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!

Except Japan is looking at Gundams, which would provide a very effective mobile platform, if they get it right.

that sounds pretty cool, though from the title i thought they were shooting laser beams a lightening bolts in the sky just for shits and giggles.

And this is why our Army is the greatest in the world. China has troops, Britain has the Navy, Japan has giant robots. But America has LIGHTNING GUNS.

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