Recently, the US military has publicised another Direct Energy Weapon, or Laser Weapon as it is most commonly referred to. This is because the weapon works in the same way as a laser does, but with a lot more kick.
These weapons all stem from the early Microwave weapons which have been around for quite some time. These work by blasting high-frequency radio (or RF) waves into the target, making the surface of the target heat up so significantly that the target’s surface (or skin) would heat up considerably. These RF waves heat up the target by vibrating the particles inside the surface of the target, and then basic physics will tell you that the more particles vibrate, the hotter they get (generally speaking anyway).
Where do you think your microwave came from? It is this Non-lethal weapon (pictured below, click for more details) but on a much smaller scale.
What is a Laser?
So, with laser technology, this combines these RF waves (but of a lot higher frequency), focused light and electromagnetic radiation (EMR- which is, in very simple terms, what Light is.) to essentially ‘focus intense light’ into a single point.
Did you know that LASER is an acronym? It stands for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”
Queue a picture of Maverick donning Aviators and a high tech laser beam:
Wow. So now it’s a weapon, right?
Simple answer, yes and it always has been, especially in the minds of anyone who likes Science-Fiction. However, what you may be unaware of is that lasers are used as weapons even today.
Ever heard of a laser guided missile? That’s a weaponised laser beam, just the actual beam doesn’t do any damage in this scenario: it’s the huge explosion from the missile that follows the beam of light. Now, the beam of light is what does the damage- and not the bomb.
US warships have this technology already. Check out the video below to see it in action: