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All objects with a temperature above absolute zero (0 K, -273.15 oC) emit energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation. A blackbody is a theoretical or model body which absorbs all radiation falling on it, reflecting or transmitting none. The blackbody radiation curves have quite a complex shape (described by Planck’s Law).
The spectral profile (or curve) at a specific temperature corresponds to a specific peak wavelength, and vice versa. As the temperature of the blackbody increases, the peak wavelength decreases (Wien’s Law). The intensity (or flux) at all wavelengths increases as the temperature of the blackbody increases. The total energy being radiated (the area under the curve) increases rapidly as the temperature increases (Stefan–Boltzmann Law).
Although the intensity may be very low at very short or long wavelengths, at any temperature above absolute zero energy is theoretically emitted at all wavelengths (the blackbody radiation curves never reach zero).
In astronomy, stars are often modelled as blackbodies, although it is not always a good approximation. In 1965, the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) was discovered by Penzias and Wilson, who later won the Nobel Prize for their work. IntroductionScience fictional "ray guns" that shoot futuristic beams of energy instead of boring mundane bullets have been popular since about 1898 when H. Phaser Rifle, Star Trek (1966).The key to making a laser do bullet levels of damage is pulsing the laser. Luke CampbellYes, and this is a problem if you want to push the penetration much above the 30cm I specified.
Luke CampbellNo, you still need to get down to a millimeter or so to flash-boil water in a layer ~one optical depth in thickness.
BattleLaser, artwork by Luke Campbell{amount of damage caused by battle laser shot: 10 kJ per shot, made up of 50 pulses of 200 J each, spaced 10 microsecond apart} I use my damage calculator here which lays out all of my physical assumptions and approximations, but which I think captures the basic physical processes of crater gouging.
Luke Campbell(Luke Campbell: 10 kJ per shot, made up of 50 pulses of 200 J each, spaced 10 microsecond apart)Why that level of overkill? Two reasons, all relating to the fact that the hole is half as wide.First, very large aspect ratio holes may be problematic to drill, based on issues of the ejecta interacting with the beam and the hole. Ray BeamsRay beams are lasers that emit needle-thin beams that produce a white-hot plasma along their path and easily burn deep holes into their targets. Laptop after battery fire.The crummy efficiency of lasers make it clear that the laser's battery will be carrying plenty of juice. Routledge's LawAny interesting battery material for a laser gun would be more usefully deployed as an explosive warhead.
James BorhamEither way, the energy will have to be stored in and dumped from a capacitor or (if the switching problem is solved) inductor to meet the peak power requirement. Anthony Jackson(ed note: Noted science fiction author Charles Stross has this deliciously biting analysis of a ridiculous proposed laser weapon called the Stavatti TIS-1 Gasdynamic Laser Infantry Rifle)The laser itself looks pretty reasonable, in an if-we're-talking-about-laser-weapons way ("laser" and "weapon" belonging in the same sentence in the same way as "automobile" and "rubber-band powered"), but the power supply is what makes this one special. Deflagrating gun, Barbarella by Jean-Claude Forest (1964).Before laser bullets are developed, you might find laser pistols with separate power sources.
The temperature of a star can be deduced from the wavelength of the peak of its radiation curve. Schilling's analysisI'll assume a 50-year time frame with no particular haste in developing directed-energy small arms and no fundamental breakthroughs. This is what distinguishes Luke Campbell's "blasters" from other kinds of lasers.Consider a laser beam striking an evil Asteroid Pirate.
SchillingKeep in mind that in tissue, the cavity blasted out will collapse back on itself in a few milliseconds (and probably re-expand and collapse again in pulse-like oscillations for a few cycles). If your pulses come fast enough to gouge out a meter-deep path before the surrounding tissue recoils back into the cavity and blocks the beam, they come too fast for the per-shot debris to clear the beam.In soft materials, vapor expansion will carve out a hole much larger than the original one millimeter - I got four centimeters maximum hole diameter for soft body tissue, so the effect should be at least equal to a modern high-velocity pistol bullet, and perhaps comparable to a small centerfire rifle.
SchillingIf you are already talking about the laser excavating cavities several centimeters in diameter, sub-millimeter spot sizes do not seem necessary, you just need a moderate fraction of the cavity's maximum size.
Once you do that, the steam will expand and spread the damage around, but if you don't hit the threshold for turning water into steam all you do is warm up the target.And the mirror needs to adjust for target range - adaptive optics (flexible mirror with microactuators)coupled to a laser range finder seems to be the way to go here - you've already got the pulsed laser part of the rangefinder. You should get the same penetration out of 100 pulses of 25J each, spaced 5 microseconds apart.
With the pulse parameters I used, I'm looking at a 25:1 aspect ratio - which is probably doable although the hole will likely have constricted significantly near the end. With a pulse, so long as the light is delivered into a smaller spot than the crater which is excavated, the crater will explode to full effect. For the parameters I assumed for these devices, a single shot is about 5 kJ in 0.5 milliseconds, or 10 MW of power time averaged over the pulse. If you are holding a fully-charged laser pistol, and some lucky enemy sniper manages to score a direct hit on the pistol's battery, it is going to be just too bad if the resulting explosion vaporizes you and all your friends within a large radius.Assuming a worst case of 5 kilojoules per shot and a rechargeable magazine containing 50 shots, the magazine is packing 250 kilojoules. Electrochemical double-layer capacitors ought to do the job if nothing else is available.(Ed. In search of the ultimate in infantry-portable enemy-slaying goodness, Stavatti have one-upped all previous attempts by proposing to use a radioisotope generator containing 750 grams of Polonium-210.
In the role playing game Traveller, laser carbines are powered by a large battery worn in a back pack.
Buck Rogers has disguised himself as a Martian Tigerman and has infiltrated the Martian invasion force. Well's introduced the "heat ray" in his novel The War of the Worlds (though Zeus had been zapping people who ticked him off for thousands of years). I think the cylindrical emitter can move back and forth on the track in order to focus the beam.First a safety note. McCoy uses a phaser to turn rocks into impromptu campfires.A heat ray is a lasers that shines a beam of near constant power on its target for a prolonged period of time (from a few hundredths of a second or more).
As in the movie, this is a broomhandle Mauser with a flash suppressor and an azimuth finding scope.
The beam strikes human flesh, turning the water of a thin layer of skin into plasma (ionized gas, not blood transfusion supplies). Brittle materials are likely to shatter within a similar radius, tough stuff like steel will show little effect beyond the original hole.And no, mirrors will not work as armor.
The diameter of the temporary cavity will be about 10 cm, but since muscle is highly elastic this will probably cause only bruising beyond the 2.2 cm permanent hole. You'll just have a hole that's half as wide, and you've just dramatically cut the energy requirements. At half the width, the aspect ratio will be more like 50:1, which is pretty extreme and may be unachievable. If the pulses are blasting out a void, however, the energy deposited on the sides of the hole may not be sufficiently intense to deform the material. Since higher energy pulses explode to give bigger craters, higher energy beams will have longer range for the same primary aperture.So take the battle laser, with a 6 cm aperture and 200 J pulses (fired in bursts of 50 pulses spaced a few microseconds apart). At the lens it is spread out over a 6 cm diameter spot (since the lens is 6 cm in diameter). These are frequencies shorter than 200 nanometers: extreme-ultraviolet, x-rays, or gamma-rays. In other words, it wouldn't take much to make a charged battery into a home-made bomb (which might come in handy if one suddenly needed a bomb.).
Burning a liquid propellant in a pulsed MHD generator or flux compression generator can be done now, and there are thermal primary (i.e. Note: using a capacitor will make the laser operate in a similar manner to a camera strobe.


This would, of course, provide the necessary 100 kilowatts to power the man-portable death ray. They were popular in Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, the Lensman series, and Tom Corbett Space Cadet. Pretty much zero science fiction stories, movies, or TV shows mention that laser sidearms have the ability to permanently blind anybody closer to the weapon than the horizon. Extremely efficient, if you can actually get them to work together.Diode-pumped YAG lasersLots of microlasers on a chip, each working alone. It uses non-vacuum frequencies, wavelengths longer than 200 nanometers (visible light and infrared).Engineering-wise it is much easier to make a heat ray than a blaster. The best finish you can reasonably expect to keep on an exterior surface, will still absorb 10-20% of the incident energy, which will be enough to burn through the outer layer on the first pulse. Also, if the hole is constricted, each subsequent pulse will produce a smaller bang, which will gouge out a smaller crater, which will in turn reduce the penetration from this optimistic assessment.
Of course, the hypersonic jet of ejecta may be able to strip material from the sides of the hole.
Note that another name for frequencies shorter than 10 nanometers is "nuclear radiation."Blasters and heat-rays use non-vacuum frequencies, such as visible light or infrared. At his specified power density of 2.5 kilojoules per cubic centimeter, this would imply a magazine volume of 100 cm3. Gene Roddenberry's original conception of the Star Trek phasers had a separate waist belt containing several power units. As their popularity wained they were given a new lease on life when Bell Labs invented the laser in the 1960's, and again later with the phasers of Star Trek and the blasters of Star Wars. If the beam is in the frequencies that can penetrate the cornea of the eye, and the beam reflects off a door nob or other mirrored surface, anybody whose eyes get flashed by the beam is going to need a seeing-eye dog. They won't produce a good beam that way, but if you tune them to the right absorption band and direct them all into a YAG crystal, you can get the latter to lase quite efficiently.Pulsed linear induction acceleratorsFairly conventional technology for producing high-energy, high-current electron beams with external magnetic fields.
Mostly into a jet aimed right back at the laser beam.The jet of plasma partially shields the Asteroid Pirate from the rest of the laser beam. And the rough and now hot interior will be even less reflective.I also mentioned earlier that lasers would likely have to have pulse energy and frequency tuned to the specific material being targeted. In the limit of lots of small pulses, this should give a penetration that depends on the logarithm of the number of pulses, which quickly reaches a point of diminishing return.Second, your range for maximum effect is cut in half, since you need to focus the pulses to within half the width to efficiently blast out the crater. I find that the vapor pressure is 242 kPa — a bit less than two and a half atmospheres. Unfortunately, both of these involve high operating temperatures and expendable power sources.Advanced bipolar designs of conventional secondary batteries might be up to the task, and have the advantage of being fully rechargeable.
Schilling's assumed energy density.As for nonrechargable batteries, check out the various molten salt batteries. In William Tedford's Silent Galaxy AKA Battlefields of Silence, the hand laser's battery pack is strapped around the wrist.There was an amusing scene in a remarkably bad '50s movie called Teenagers from Outer Space. In Norman Spinrad's Agents of Chaos, laser pistols were a ruby rod with a magazine full of "electro-crystals". However they started going out of style in the mid 1980's, probably due to the testosterone-dripping slugthrower pulse rifles in the movie Aliens.Various real-world militaries are trying to develop actual combat lasers, under the term Directed Energy Weapn (DEW).
There are more hideous details here."Laser" is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.
This one will need to be pushed right up to the theoretical limits to work on a handgun scale, and it will need an unconventional electron source such as a pseudospark discharge.Wake field acceleratorsClever way of producing high-energy electron beams using the internal electric fields of forced plasma waves. It might be possible to do this automatically, based on crude spectoanalysis of the material vaporized in each pulse, but if not expect penetration to be roughly halved if a laser weapon is fired at a target it has not been optimized for. On granite, the hole is essentially the same except that shattering and fracturing is limited to 1.5 cm diameter.
Against diamondoid armor, the 200 J pulses require a 0.26 cm spot size for maximum effect and a 1 micron wavelength, 6 cm aperture laser will be able to be effective out to about 120 meters with a perfect Gaussian beam. For small numbers of pulses we should, of course, be in a linear regime.Looking at pictures of various aspect ratio laser drilled holes, the opening to the hole looks to have about the same radius regardless of aspect ratio, which is about the same as the width of the beam.
This is much less than the structural strength of any reasonable lens material, so the evaporating dust fleck will not blast a hole in the lens (material strength of strong refractory materials are measured in tens of GPa or more — hundreds of thousands or millions of atmospheres).
Vacuum frequencies are the opposite: they have to burn through atmosphere, but they sail through plasma with nary a problem. So if you were to ditch the Dr Strangelove power supply the gadget could plausibly be mounted on a HMMV or Land Rover.
Pulling the trigger caused the next crystal in the magazine to release its charge, that is, it was sort of a super-capacitor. A laser beam can cut through steel while a flashlight cannot due to the fact that laser light is coherent.
As soon as the beam hits the target, the target emits a plume of plasma that jets right into the beam path. Target-shooting lasers won't be optimized for flesh, and certainly not for ceramic armor, so there may be legal implications here. If the craters are only half as wide, you would need to be twice as close.Although now that I think about it, all my previous figures on the beam power were from the figures on power consumption, not beam power.
As the aspect ratio of the hole increases, the hole constricts with depth, eventually becoming significantly narrower than the beam.I am not sure if the same mechanisms that operate in close focus laser drilling necessarily take place in holes drilled as part of an attack by a laser weapon. As the materials get less strong, the crater gets bigger and the range of the laser gets longer — about 470 meters in concrete, or about 940 meters for meat. Which means vacuum frequencies do not need to resort to the blaster trick of pulsing the beam. You might consider a rechargeable battery pack as an option, with half the capacity of the non-rechargeables.
As soon as you bring them up to operating temperature (400 C or more), and as long as you keep them there, you have an incredibly high output battery. Taking this a step further, one can imagine a "laser revolver", with capacitors taking the place of bullets. This means all the photons in the beam are marching in lock-step with each other, instead of every-which-way like ordinary light. The beam wastes large amounts of energy burning through the plasma plume before it reaches the target to do further damage. Particle beams are less likely to suffer such inconveniences.Taking into account the inefficiency of the system, the input energy will likely be somewhere between two and five kilojoules per shot. Since I assumed by lasers were 50% efficient, all the previously stated beam powers are too large by a factor of 2 (and the details on the pulse trains which I retro-fitted to give the right beam power will be off as well).
For example, in laser machining the walls of the hole are often used as a waveguide to extend the depth of field of the laser beam.
Stronger materials need you to be closer — for sooper carbon nano stuff, you will want to be closer than about 140 meters.
This will burn unprotected diamond, so we will have to assume that the surface of the lens is not diamond.
The military has used them like this for a very long time, and most current research is focused on making them rechargeable. He attaches a cable from a nearby high-tension power line, and convinces the power plant to shove the generator output up to maximum! By analogy, a unit of army troops marching in step can inadvertently cause a bridge to collapse, while the same number of people using the bridge in a random fashion have no effect.For details about how lasers are generated, read the details in the link above.
So you could get fifty to a hundred shots from a pistol-sized non rechargeable energy source, or half that with a rechargeable battery. Ah well, I plead that I was distracted (I had just learned that I was going to be a daddy).


Zirconia has a melting point of 2986 K, so we can make a thin film covering out of that, with diamond underneath (diamond has excellent thermal conductivity and transparency). I can't find any hard numbers on them (apparently the energy density varies widely), but it's clear that they can have very high energy density.(Ed. Blasters use a clever technique to avoid this.This is bad since laser weapons already have a big problem trying to squeeze a worthwhile power source into something man-portable. The pulse is fast enough and the energy is concentrated enough so that it creates a little explosion. Automatic fire at anywhere up to 20 Hz (1200 rpm) shouldn't be a problem in the short term, though might cause cooling problems if you keep it up.You also need to focus the energy on the target, with a spot size of a millimeter or less. If loss due to multiple reflections down the waveguide is responsible for much of the constriction, then this will not be as much of an issue for laser weapons.For pulse lasers, as long as you can get most of the energy of the pulse into a given area of the target material, you will blast out a full sized crater. You cannot pump it with the same wavelength as the result beam, or the act of pumping the laser will simultaneously stimulate emission, and you'll never get anywhere.Also note that you can run the result beam through certain materials to do tricks like frequency doubling. The inefficient use of laser energy by heat rays means the power source has to be bigger or it has to contain less laser-time before it runs dry.
This blasts a crater in the asteroid pirate's flesh up to four centimeters in diameter, depth of 2 centimeters.Plasma and bits of flesh fly into the path of the beam but there is no beam there.
So suppose the crater is 1 cm across (and thus you have a maximum spot size of 1 cm in which to focus your beam for maximum effect), and also suppose your beam is focused to 1 mm. Drake said all he wanted to do was postulate some hand-waving way of putting plasma bolts into bullets so he could write about futuristic soldiers.Lasers, though they had air-defense applications, were not the infantryman's answer either. The explosion was done by a single pulse, but the next pulse won't arrive for another 5 microseconds.
A 5-centimeter mirror, about the largest you can really imagine on a pistol, gives an effective range of perhaps sixty meters, beyond which the weapon starts losing penetration quite rapidly.
You will continue to blast out full sized craters until ejecta deposition constricts some part of the hole to less than 1 mm.
In battle they can be used much like flame throwers, along with the drawback of making the user into the enemy's priority target.The illuminated surface of the target is heated up hot enough to cause softening, warping, blistering, cracking, charring, cooking, ignition, melting, or vaporization. Ordinary mirrors do not work (the UV burns holes in it), you have to use grazing incidence mirrors with special dielectric coating. There is a list of various real-world lasers and their lasing frequencies here.From a science fictional standpoint, Dr. The ray instantly scorches or ignites the surface but takes a bit of time to burn through to the inner layers. This comes nowhere near harming the lens, and blasts the water off the lens with a puff of steam. And even then you are lucky to get 70% reflection efficiency.Soft x-rays have all the above problems but worse. A machinegun with one cartridge is just as effective—once—as it is with a thousand-round belt, so the ammunition load can be tailored to circumstances.
Now laser pulse #2 arrives, sailing through a void with no plasma or flesh bits, and arrives at full strength causing a second explosion at the bottom of the crater. Even an unarmored target can avoid damage by jumping out of the way when they feel the pain. For clean air, the 200J pulses are likely not a problem.)This is a very interesting observation. It looks like zirconia will need to be the lens coating material.Or rather than zirconia, cubic boron nitride could be used as a coating, since it is just about as hard as diamond, has extraordinary chemical stability, thermal conductivity, and thermal stability.
And now you have a pumping problem.You see, the laser generator has to be "pumped" with large amounts of the same frequency it will emit.
Hooking a laser on line with any less bulky energy source was of zero military effectiveness rather than lesser effectiveness.Science lent Death a hand in this impasse—as Science has always done, since the day the first wedge became the first knife. This constantly puts fresh armor or surface layers into the path of the heat ray, forcing it to start back at square one.Heat rays are very ineffiicent weapons, unless they have a wide spot size in order to hose wide areas as a futuristic flame-thrower. In other words, they use "vacuum frequencies", those frequencies shorter than 200 nanometers which are readily absorbed by Terra's atmosphere.
Schilling calculates you can bore a hole through soft body tissue about 30 centimeters deep before the tunnel collapses (taking about 0.005 seconds for all 1,000 pulses). As a side note, anything shorter than 10 nanometers is what scientists call "ionizing radiation" and everybody else calls "OMG We're All Freaking Gonna Die deadly nuclear radiation".Oddly enough, while vacuum frequencies are absorbed by Terra's atmosphere they are not effected by plasmas.
Second or third degree burns covering more than 15% of the body will likely result in death of not given medical attention, incapacitation will be rapid and shock will occure within minutes.
In the case of a laser weapon, that energy would be subdivided into ~1 joule pulses at ~5 microsecond intervals, to achieve penetration in the face of a laser's natural tendency to deposit energy at the target's surface. However free-electron lasers have abysmal maximum efficiencies, and are generally hundreds of meters long.Hard x-rays have wavelengths smaller than an atom, so mirrors will not work. Popular myth had attributed the deaths to normal volcanic phenomena, hot gases or ash like that which buried Pompeii; but even the most cursory examination of the evidence indicated that direct energy release had done the lethal damage.
This means that you do not have to pulse vacuum frequency lasers in order to have bullet levels of damage.Dr. The table above assumes medium skin color.Percentage of skin burnt can be estimated by the rule of nines.
That allows roughly 90% of the debris to clear the beam path, assuming a 1mm beam and instantaneous 1J pulses. The proposed solution is to use x-ray crystal diffraction to make a difractive resonant cavity.
Marie Weygand, heading a team under contract to Olin-Amerika, managed to duplicate the phenomenon.The key had come from spectroscopic examination of pre-1902 lavas from Pelee's crater.
Erik points out that the problem with a man-portable laser pistol would be the power source. 1 joule every 5 microseconds is optimal against soft tissue, other materials will want different pulse trains.I'm assuming a weapon designed to penetrate ~30cm in soft body tissue.
Note that hard x-rays are ionizing radiation, so you are now inside the realm of nuclear radiation lasers.Gamma-rays would make the most penetrating ray beams of all.
This gives about 15cm in bone or plastic, 5cm in brick or concrete, or 2.5cm in steel or most ceramics. Unfortunately there is no known way to focus gamma rays, which is a problem if you are trying to make a laser. Synthetics won't be very good at stopping energy weapons, even tough ones like kevlar, but you might be able to find a ceramic that could stop a laser beam with a centimeter's thickness or so.
Weygand's intuition than by the battery of scientific instrumentation her employers had rushed out at the first signs of success.
The only known way of making a gamma-ray laser is with an "Excalibur" style bomb-pumped laser. The principle ultimately discovered was of little utility as a general power source—but then, Olin-Amerika had not been looking for a way to heat homes.Weygand determined that metallic atoms of a fixed magnetic orientation could be converted directly into energy by the proper combination of heat, pressure, and intersecting magnetic fields.
Old lava locks its rich metallic burden in a pattern dictated by the magnetic ambiance at the time the flow cools. At Pelee in 1902, the heavy Gauss loads of the new eruption made a chance alignment with the restressed lava of the crater's rim.
It'll blast a hole in a man big enough to throw a dog through."Monroe-Alpha handed it back. Half the gunfighters running around loose chop into their target with the beam already hot.



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