Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Less Sci-Fi Based Weapon of the Future

The last time I made a blog post I talked about how the laser should be the weapon of the future. It is not wasting a projectile or using dangerous chemicals (gunpoweder) to propell it, but is just energy. I still stand by what I said, however, it is not yet completely within our grasp to be able to not fire a projectile at the enemy. That is why I want to tweek what I said last week by adding that the laser is the weapon of the distant future. A weapon that I am seeing as being part of the near future is the Electromagnetic Railgun.
The railgun is futuristic because it does not use chemicals as its propellant, but instead uses electricity. The reason it is just futuristic enough to be in the near future (in my opinion) is that it still fires a projectile. According to Popular Science, the U.S Navy recently put a prototype of a 32 megajoule railgun through some tests and it completed the tests surprisingly well. The Navy's futuristic weapon is capable of firing a large metal projectile at speeds of 5,600 mph and someday its makers think that when attatched to battleships it will be able to fire the projectile 50 to 100 nautical miles. Where does this energy come from? Well its in the name, 32 MEGAJOULES IS A LOT OF ENERGY. To put it in perspective, 1 megajoule is equivalent to a 1,000 pound car thrust at 100 mph. Multiply that by 32 and you have got a stupid amount of energy!!!
One of the railguns being tested
How do these work? Two long, conductive rods are laid down parallel to eachother. An armature, or a solid piece of conductive metal bridges the gap between the two rods. A current is run through the positive rod and the current goes up the rod, across the armature, down the negative rod and back into the power source. A magnetic field forms around each rod, around the positive rod it spins counter clockwise and around the negative rod it spins clockwise. A projectile which is laid inbetween the two rods experiances a force called the Lorentz force which runs perpendicular to the magnetic field and in the direction of the armature.
http://static.ddmcdn.com/gif/railgun-7.gifThe railgun is powerful but it requires a lot of energy to shoot a projectile.

Above are two videos displaying the power of the prototype railgun. Clearly, this weapon has a lot of potential if it is firing chunks of metal that big, that fast, without dangerous chemicals. My question is will this weapon pass all of its tests and eventually be implemented on to the battleships and maybe even planes of the U.S Navy and Airforce? Or should the Defense branaches of the U.S Army stick with the dangerous chemically powered weapons that have brought our so far?

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Laser is the Weapon of the Future

If you ask me, I say that weapons these days are inefficient. If we are talking about missiles, each costs more than a mini-van and it only works one time. The problem I have with that is, the missile is weighing down the jets that carry it thousands of miles (sometimes) just to be fired once. Although missile technology has gotten far more deadly, they still won’t always hit their target and do their job.

Missiles are not the only inefficient killing device that our world has come to use. Guns, and more specifically bullets, are even more inefficient that missiles because one missile can kill many bad guys who are spread out over a larger area. A bullet is lucky to hit one man, and the further away from the target that the bullet is fired, the less chance it has to kill. A missile can be fired from a distance that is great enough to keep the person firing it safe, while effectively killing or injuring the enemy.

 I like the saying from the movie Iron Man which was something like, “I prefer the weapon that you only have to fire once.” However, even this saying I have a bit of an issue with because it isn’t clear who should be killed in that one firing. I would improve that saying by adding that you only have to fire it once to kill all the bad guys, or targets you want.

Cool clip from Iron Man^^

I want to focus more on guns and how I would improve them because my knowledge of missiles is less than my knowledge of guns. Guns have huge kickback, they jam easily, must be cleaned, they are only useful if being wielded by an accurate shooter, they can backfire, and they have a limited amount of ammunition. The limited ammunition is my biggest issue with weapons these days. If a soldier runs out of bullets he has lost his best chance at killing, and his best form of protection. So what could we do to make bullets obsolete, and make guns more deadly?

LASER GUNS! Why not go in the science fiction direction? Laser technology is already at a place where lasers can be fired from planes that have controlled amounts of power from lethal to nonlethal. Another advantage is that they can be precisely targeted, and since the lasers are beams of high energy light they travel at the speed of light. Lasers are also silent, unlike the way they are portrayed in movies. So, when fired they would not give away a soldiers position.


Here is an image of an airborne laser. This airborne laser is capable of locating in flight missiles and shooting high energy lasers at the missile which cause it to explode. I believe, that like all other technology it will get smaller and smaller until it is capable of being held by one man and fired to kill or stun or even injure another man.