Science Fiction or Fact: Will Space Battles Be Fought with Laser Weapons?
Adam Hadhazy, Life's Little Mysteries Contributor
Date: 20 March 2012 Time: 02:52 PM ET
"Fire phasers!" The starship Enterprise lets loose.
CREDIT: Paramount Television/Norway Corporation/Roddenberry.com
What would science fiction be without laser beams? From handheld ray guns to spaceship-mounted turbolasers, the futuristic weapon of choice definitely involves bright, colorful blasts of energy.
In the early 21st century, projectiles still remain the standard means of inflicting damage from a distance. Yet continued research into "directed-energy" weapons by the United States military, among others, could someday bring lasers to a battlefield near you.
Lasers are already used in guidance, targeting and communication applications, but significant technological obstacles stand in front of turning them into weapons by themselves. For certain niche scenarios, lasers might prove themselves ideal. It seems unlikely, however, that they will ever outright replace missiles and bullets, as they do in so much sci-fi warfare.
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