Monday, May 22, 2006

Blazing instant ray of death from outer space

The AP reports that the US military has considered developing weapons to send "directed-energy" pulses, also known to sci-fi fans as "phasers" or "death-ray guns":
"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 -- even as soldiers in Iraq encounter tense urban situations in which the nonlethal capabilities of directed energy could be put to the test.


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.


"When you're dealing with people whose full intent is to die, you can't give people a choice of whether to comply," said George Gibbs, a systems engineer for the Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squad Program who oversees directed-energy projects. "What I'm looking for is a way to shoot everybody, and they're all OK."

I do appreciate the humane spin on this impending invention, but it does still hasten the day that anyone, anywhere, can put anyone else in their coordinates and kill them instantly at whim.