By Jeff Hecht
I first wrote approximately laser guns in 1976 in a piece of writing that used to be released within the October 1977 factor of Analog technology Fiction. the object was once truth, yet a technological know-how fiction journal appeared a suitable position for it then. Now that the President of the U.S. can discuss beam guns in lethal critical tones on nationwide tv, it kind of feels time for a extra severe glance. This publication is predicated on my research of knowledge i have accumulated in years of writing approximately laser know-how. i have not had a safety clearance, and although that limits the data i've been capable of receive, it signifies that i will be able to say issues that another way will be changed via [deleted]. i've been observing the sphere lengthy adequate to play "fill within the blanks" with censored executive records and to make average guesses of what a number of the [deleted]s initially stated. There aren't any uncomplicated solutions the following, simply complicated technical and protection concerns that deserve cautious learn and which are very important to the way forward for our state and the realm. The safeguard matters raised within the latter half the publication could appear extra speedy to the overall reader, yet they're unavoidably relating to the technological history laid in Chapters 4-9. through the ebook, i've got documented my resources 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
49-61; for an update to mid-1982, see "Laser Patent Litigation Reaches Crescendo," Lasers & Applications 1(2), 22-24 (October 1982). 15. T. H. Maiman, "Stimulated Emission in Ruby," Nature 187, 493 (1960); this remarkable 3OO-word description of a milestone in physics was rejected by the first journal to which it was submitted, Physical Review Letters, because the editors had decided there wasn't much significant going on in maser research. 16. Gordon Gould, private communication, during an interview I conducted for Omni (in preparation).
The amount of energy that can be extracted from a gas depends in a complex way on its pressure, volume, and temperature; but if a laser weapon must be small enough to be held in a hand, the critical thing is volume. Any sort of practical laser "gun" couldn't hold more than about one liter (close to one quart) of gas, and with present technology you probably couldn't come close to producing 1000 J/1. There's a further complication: the laser's inherent inefficiency. All the energy that goes to excite a laser does not end up in the beam, a problem discussed in more detail in Chapter 4.
New Scientist, January 5, 1978, p. 30. 46. 7. 47. Ibid. 48. "Brown comments on beam weapons," Aviation Week & Space Technology May 30, 1977, p. 12. 3 D Beam Weapon Mythology The long history of beam weapons in legend and fiction has helped create a kind of mythology, a large collection of widely held misconceptions about their power and potential uses. It isn't often that a new technology comes on the scene with a ready-made-but entirely fictional-history. Such a false background breeds misconceptions, which tend to take on a life of their own, especially in the more sensational segments of the general press.