Free-electron Laser.

Thanks Brent for directing me towards this article. Now, I’ve blogged about the US Navy’s Mach 8 railgun and that is inked to in this article. That would be this weapon:

 DAHLGREN, Virginia — There wasn’t much left of the 23-pound bullet, just a scalded piece of squat metal. That’s what happens when an enormous electromagnetic gun sends its ammo rocketing 5,500 feet in a single second.

The gun that fired the bullet is the Navy’s experimental railgun. The gun has no moving parts or propellants — just a king-sized burst of energy that sends a projectile flying. And today its parents at the Office of Naval Research sent 33 megajoules through it, setting a new world record and making it the most powerful railgun ever developed.

I’ve also blogged before about this free-electron laser, but there’s much more about it in this article. What I didn’t realize is that it can operate at multiple wavelengths (the white lasers in Line War anyone?).

And I also didn’t realize this, which almost reads like fantasy:

Currently, the free-electron laser project produces the most-powerful beam in the world, able to cut through 20 feet of steel per second. If it gets up to its ultimate goal, of generating a megawatt’s worth of laser power, it’ll be able to burn through 2,000 feet of steel per second. Just add electrons.

You have to wonder if, maybe in ten or so years time, naval power will rise to displace air power until such a time as such power and accuracy becomes  lighter. Beyond that there is only one suitable rational response to this. Fucking hell!

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