Looks like it’s time to break out the popcorn and malted milk balls. 1950s science fiction is coming to life. Real-life ray guns. Today, on Engineering Works!
Ray guns were staples of science fiction long before Captain Kirk’s phaser or Han Solo’s laser pistol. The first ray gun appeared in H.G. Wells’ War of The Worlds in 1898, and they’ve been with us ever since. Even pioneering physicist and engineer Nikola Tesla tried to develop a directed energy weapon, big words for a ray gun. But it didn’t work.
Now fiction is turning into fact. The Army has been field-testing a real-life ray gun. This one is kind of clunky compared to Captain Kirk’s phaser, but it – is – real. Prototypes were deployed in Afghanistan but never used in combat. The ray gun, known officially as an “active denial system” uses a beam of electromagnetic energy to make people it hits so uncomfortable that they run away. But it’s designed to be non-lethal it won’t kill you.
The active denial system’s energy beam is sort of like the energy that heats your lunch in a microwave. But a microwave can really hurt you. This one won’t, because the beam has a frequency much different from a microwave. It’s so slow that it can only penetrate your skin about 1/64 of an inch. Enough to hurt but not to do damage.
It’s time to get out of here before somebody turns a beam on us. See you next time.
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Start the discussion: Some ideas sound pretty silly until you look into them a bit. This is one of them. A weapon that keeps people away without hurting them. Neat, if it works.