By Jeff Hecht
I first wrote approximately laser guns in 1976 in an editorial that used to be released within the October 1977 factor of Analog technological know-how Fiction. the object used to be truth, yet a technological know-how fiction journal appeared a suitable position for it then. Now that the President of the U.S. can speak about beam guns in lethal critical tones on nationwide tv, it kind of feels time for a extra critical glance. This ebook is predicated on my research of data i have collected in years of writing approximately laser expertise. i have not had a safety clearance, and notwithstanding that limits the data i've been capable of receive, it implies that i will say issues that another way will be changed by means of [deleted]. i've been staring at the sector lengthy sufficient to play "fill within the blanks" with censored executive files and to make average guesses of what the various [deleted]s initially stated. There aren't any easy solutions right here, simply complicated technical and protection concerns that deserve cautious examine and which are vital to the way forward for our kingdom and the area. The security matters raised within the latter half the ebook could seem extra fast to the overall reader, yet they're necessarily regarding the technological historical past laid in Chapters 4-9. in the course of the publication, i've got documented my assets up to attainable, whereas respecting the confidentiality of knowledge given in private.
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Extra info for Beam Weapons: The Next Arms Race
In 1958 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency decided that the time was finally ripe and started a program code-named "Seesaw" at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. The goal was to use beams of electrons as a ground-based defense of strategic areas against ballistic missile attack. '>33 Large accelerators, in short, cost a lot of money, an unpleasant fact of life that has lately helped slow the progress of research in subatomic physics. What's worse, from the standpoint of the weapon system designer, is that it's very hard to make a bolt of electrons travel a predictable path through the atmosphere to hit a particular targetwitness, for example, lightning bolts.
45 Exactly what the Soviet Union is up to remains a mystery. The latest edition of the Pentagon's "fact sheet" on particle-beam research says: "The Soviet effort is judged to be larger than that of the United States (particularly in the area of accelerators for fusion applications), and to have been in progress longer. "46 Other observers inside and outside of the Pentagon are not so hesitant to make the connection. With considerable prodding from Congress, the Department of Defense finally began increasing its particle-beam effort.
Spending accelerated since then, and the total reached roughly $2 billion at the end of fiscal 1982. Even by Pentagon standards, that price tag is a hefty one for a research program. Military scientists have learned some important lessons over the years, not all of them encouraging. During the 1970s, they found big problems with the gasdynamic laser. It seems adequate for tests of laser effects, and in fact the Air Force uses a 400-kW gasdynamic laser in its Airborne Laser Laboratory. However, the beam does not travel well through air.
Beam Weapons: The Next Arms Race by Jeff Hecht