The Future of Ray Guns


Is there anything that screams futuristic more than ray guns?  I mean, lets face it, the dream of having flying cars is dead.  But who needs new transportation technology when we have so much potential for new weapons, laying right at our finger tips?  Ray guns, laser guns, plasma rifles, these are the inevitable products of the future right?  Where bullets will be relegated to the dustbin of history, along with beards on presidents and the Virtual Boy.  I do have a dream, and its a dream where the chimes of casings falling to the ground will be as quaint as the gift shop of a Cracker Barrel.

Dad, what caliber lasers did they shoot deer with back in your day?

But ray guns are nothing more than silly dreams thought up by science fiction writers, right?  Well, actually, they may become a reality sooner than we think.  For instance, take a look at the Active Denial System, a device that uses technology similar to that in microwave ovens to disperse crowds.  It’s currently a non-lethal technology whose effects make the victims targets feel as though they are burning alive, by exciting the water molecules in the skin.  So far it has seen no use in combat, and less than .1% of those affected have seen actual blisters occur on the skin.  Of course, they use a very specific amount of energy with the ADS, and there is nothing to say they could not ramp up those GHz to a lethal level.  That would be the easy part.  The more difficult aspect, it would seem, would be reducing the weapon from a cartoonishly sized ACME product to something that could be used on an individual level, i.e. a ray gun.

Preliminary tests show it is very difficult to carry without the help of a Humvee.

Attempts to move past conventional bullet-based weapons isn’t anything new, and there are numerous conspiracies, some based upon sparse and controversial factual evidence, that support the idea that the Nazis toyed with ray gun technology towards the end of World War II.  This class of weapons, not all of which were energy weapons, were deemed the Wunderwaffe (wonder weapons).  The most outrageous example of which would be the German WWII Sonic Cannon, a type of Long Range Acoustic Device that had the effect of shaking apart the enemy from the inside, and claimed to be able to rupture vital internal organs within a set distance by focusing sound waves like a magnifying glass does to sunlight.  It was never effective, nor widely used, because any blasts (which, strangely, are quite common on the battlefield) disrupted the sound waves.

This was also the best defense to such a weapon

It’s believed that Nikola Tesla was possibly the first to attempt to develop an energy based weapon, and he outright claimed to have invented a death ray.  Robert Watson-Watt initially looked at developments in radio to develop a ray gun, but instead used his knowledge to develop something called radar.  Nowdays, DARPA has developed something called the PHaSR Rifle (Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response Rifle), which is non-lethal and used to blind and disorient enemies.  In an attempt to make it as cartoonishly awesome as possible, they designed it to look exactly like this:

Which, while cool to me, I still can’t help but think that without the ability to defend himself, a person armed with this gun is pretty similar to the guy tasked with playing the flute during old school battles.  It may have been fun as hell, but it still doesn’t mean you get to live.  Nevertheless, Directed-Energy Weapons seem to be getting tons of that substantial DARPA money, and I can’t help but believe that within a few decades we’ll see substantial use of ray guns and plasma rifles on the battlefield.  The benefits are obvious.  With projectiles that move at the speed of light, accuracy is greatly enhanced.  Because there is no combustion, recoil would be eliminated.  Without having to carry ammunition, soldiers won’t have to carry as much weight on the battlefield.  And last but certainly not least, the fact that shooting lasers in a war is awesome is something we, as a people, can all agree on.  And those that disagree will have to fight us with outdated bullets, bullets that I assume will only be used in the future to bead those massage chairs.  The major problems in developing these weapons seems to be the blooming effect, where as the energy travels across a distance, it begins to widen and dissipate, thus reducing its effectiveness to a short range.  These problems, of course, are not insurmountable, and it will be interesting to see if the military embraces such a revolutionary change such as the replacement of munitions as the technology becomes viable.

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3 Comments to “The Future of Ray Guns”

  1. Poor Flute guy. lol very cool stuff. Think of the savings on ammo.

    • Hell, think about the capabilities of snipers who’s shots go at the speed of light. There would be no sound, so they could remain concealed, and there would be no worries about having to lead targets or anything like that.

  2. This all sounds like George Jetson’s like stuff. I can’t wait until we can see the future on this.

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