Lockheed Martin recently demonstrated the destructive capabilities of its ADAM laser system by using it to target and destroy a total of eight missiles in midflight.
ADAM is a big, square boy, who fits neatly on a truck wagon, meaning you can take him for a spin around the countryside. And this is a very good thing, because ADAM is a bit short-sighted.
He’s basically a 10-kilowatt laser system that can target and disable a moving target up to two kilometres away. This might sound very well and dandy, like the US is close to creating a missile shield akin to the pipe dreams of former president Ronald Reagan, but personally I’m not convinced.
The system has shown that it can track and disarm one sort of missile, one at a time, and at an unknown cost. Then there’s the range. I you have a particularly gargantuan map of the US, you can try drawing a circle with a two kilometre radius on it. That should give you an idea of how many systems you’d need to make an ADAM missilie defence system able of pretecting the US.
On the other hand, lasers are cool. And can be developed to become even cooler. For now, here’s a video of a cool laser shooting down missiles in midflight. Just ’cause, alright?
The US Navy has succcesfully demonstrated the power of the latest addition to its arsenal – a laser cannon capable of downing flying drone plane and sinking speedboats.
The demonstration of the Navy’s Laser Weapons System (LaWS) showed that the weapon was capable of igniting a drone airplane in full flight.
The US Navy has announced that the first fully operational prototype of the LaWS system will be installed of a ship next year.
The choice of ship might raise a few chuckles on the other side of the pond, as the ship chosen to carry the weapon is the amphibious docking ship USS Ponce.
The current version of LaWS is to be used against small boats and drone planes, but the Navy is currently working on a larger, more powerful version of the weapon.
US Navy sources claims that LaWS is a very cheap weapon to operate, as the power consumed by a single blast of the infrared laser amounts to about $1.
The current prototype of LaWS costs about $32 million to build, but, although that might sound like a lot, it’s in fact a great double whammy victory for the US Navy in the always ongoing inter-departemental war between the branches of the US Armed Forces.
The US Air Force has been trying to develop a laser for their planes for years. The program is thought to have cost over $1 billion dollars by now, without having produced anything remotely close to the success of the LaWS.
In spite of the succesful tests, the US Navy admits that LaWS can struggle in poor weather conditions. And seeing as infrared rays can be reflected by various materials, including aluminium, then I guess it’s unclear if an enemy couldn’t just make their drones look like flying disco balls and thereby negate the efficiency of LaWS….
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is using lasers in a new way, turning them on people in the fight against drug addiction.
Not only are scientists at NIDA hoping to point the lasers at people who struggle with drug addiction – they’re actually planning to fire them straight into people’s’ brains.
So far the scientist have used the new laser technique on rats with good results.
In a classic example of ‘did they really do that???’ the experiment went like this:
Rats in a lab were supplied with cocaine if they pressed a lever. However, pressing the lever would also lead to an electrical shock. Some rats kept coming back for more cocaine, seemingly choosing to live with the pain from the electrical shocks.
Scientists noticed a distinct change in the cells in the prefrontal cortex area of the brain in these rats.
The addicted rats were then given light-sensitive proteins, which were placed (don’t ask how; seriously, don’t) in the prefrontal cortex. Shining a laser on the proteins would then activate them, and the result was that the addictive behaviour of the rats ceased.
A trillion looks like this: 1,000,000,000,000. Now scientists at the aptly named Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) have packed 500 of those into a series of laser shots.
A total of 192 laser beams delivered the staggering 500 trillion watts of peak power and 1.85 megajoules (MJ) of ultraviolet laser light to a target of just two millimeters in diameter.
No wonder they call it the Ignition Facility….