12 July 2005

Arm the phaser Scotty!

This is NOT a bluff. According to AP, the U.S. military has explored a new kind of firepower that is instantaneous, precise and virtually inexhaustible: beams of electromagnetic energy. "Directed-energy" pulses can be throttled up or down depending on the situation, much like the phasers on "Star Trek" could be set to kill or merely stun.

Such weapons are now nearing fruition. But logistical issues have delayed their battlefield debut. The hallmark of all directed-energy weapons is that the target -— whether a human or a mechanical object -— has no chance to avoid the shot because it moves at the speed of light. At some frequencies, it can penetrate walls.

Since the ammunition is merely light or radio waves, directed-energy weapons are limited only by the supply of electricity. And they don't involve chemicals or projectiles that can be inaccurate, accidentally cause injury or violate international treaties.

Military officials also say more needs to be done to assure the international community that directed-energy weapons set to stun rather than kill will not harm noncombatants.

So Scotty, arm the phaser to stun mode! When are we gonna have a photon torpedo?

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