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Weaponized Lasers

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by MachIVshooter, Nov 17, 2012.

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  1. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Current hand held lasers are still toys.

    How hard will it be? It isn't a question of just scaling up. We literally lack the technologies in 3 critical areas to take the next step to a handheld laser weapon. We do not currently have the technology that would allow the power density in a portable source, the heat sink capability to keep from destroying the laser itself or the current carrying means to dump the power to a laser if we had the power supply or the heat sinking I (or an unknown lasing material that doesn't need the heat sink). The analogy of increasing drive capacity doesn't work in this case because we're not refining technologies to get better performance, we have to refine one and create 2 new technologies that don't exist.

    I spent years at Oak Ridge National Labs and I've spent decades working with/around DoE and DoD and wishful thinking won't do a thing to overcome the current roadblocks to a immediately lethal hand held laser.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012
  2. Onward Allusion

    Onward Allusion Member

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    Ok - fair enough. I'll touch base with you in 5 years. Putting a note in my Google Calendar... :)
     
  3. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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    An instantly disabling (via blinding) laser OTOH would be pretty easy if you ignore UN treaties.
     
  4. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    IF we broaden the discussion from just replacing small arms for lethality to just stopping an attack we get closer to what currently exists.

    The problem is you have to hit that small moving target, the head (I'll not just restrict it to hitting the eyes) with a beam bright and broad enough to make actually being effective as a defensive tool possible. That can be done and could result in several minutes of temporary blindness. They'd be easily countered with laser safety glasses, not that your typical goblin will be carrying those around outside of Toon Town.
     
  5. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

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    If you totally utilize even one atom, instead of just changing its form, infinite energy will be yielded.. I think. lolz
    A quantum advance will come in time.
     
  6. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    I don't think I'd call something as potentially damaging as these class IV lasers "toys", and neither do the manufacturers and distributors of said devices. If it can ignite flammables or cut through hard plastic CD cases in a second or two, it's not something you want to entertain your cat or dog with.

    I didn't start this thread believing that Star Wars or Terminator style pulse laser cannons are just over the horizon. But this kind of technology does develop at an exponential rate, so it's not really a stretch to believe that firearms may be supplemented or even supplanted by directed energy weapons within some of our lifetimes. I'll be 31 in January, and judging by the changes in my lifetime so far, I can scarcely imagine what technologies will exist by the time I'm 60 or 70. When I was born in 1982, home computers required 5-1/4" floppy disks to run any primitive program on their pitiful read-only hard drives and display them on crappy green or gray/blue screens. Today, my smart phone is far more powerful than the PC I used in high school.
     
  7. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    Asking for a laser that cuts someone in half is asking too much.

    It's the same principle that was used to select a new battle rifle caliber in the late '50s - how much does it take to get the other soldier to stop fighting? .30 cal wasn't necessary - it caused the user some grief shooting it and reduced their effectiveness.

    The .223 did a better job, and casualty rates went up with more effective aimed fire. Add in having a lot more ammo to fire, too.

    Same with the offensive laser - you don't need to cut them in half. Just blind them. The eyes are very much a target. If they can't see, they are useless on the battlefield. What is on the market right now will do that.

    One small retina damaging laser with a programmed pattern displayer can effectively control a significant radius from the emitter. It would be akin to laying down an minefield. Step into the bath zone and go blind.

    There's already laws against displaying the small stuff against airline pilots, and reports of injuries. Things aren't getting better, and the potential of a serious incident already exists with the technology on hand.

    If we're casually entertaining the concept on the internet, I feel horribly assured an actual device exists. It wouldn't take much to proof as a concept, a pen of pigs would do at various ranges and conditions. You haul the survivors off to the processing plant, no evidence.

    By the way, it was said that dust, fog, and smoke might stop one. Well, if a direct fire weapons operator can't see his target, he is effectively stopped, too. There are other weapons used at that point. No army leaves themselves dependent on just one.
     
  8. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    You don't need to block the view to wreck a laser's ability to do harm. Scattering and absorption have a big impact. Heck, the use of laser safety glasses will as well. IF you push power densities high enough you can push through the normal dispersive conditions that defensive hand held weapons would address.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2012
  9. heron

    heron Member

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    This makes me think that lasers will never be much use except in vacuum, as in space. A conventional projectile won't notice that it's flying through a fog bank, but the laser beam has to burn through the fog first before it can damage a target. Then, as the laser is burning its target, it's creating another cloud that it has to burn through in order to keep being effective.

    I might be wrong on this. Maybe some of you with experience on industrial laser-cutters can tell me: is a strong vacuum nozzle needed close to the beam's cutting focus?
     
  10. Andrew Wyatt

    Andrew Wyatt Member

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    Laser power is listed in watts, which is Joules/sec.

    the advanced tactical laser is a 100,000 Joules/sec weapon that weighs at its lightest, 5000KG.

    the M61A1 has a muzzle energy per round of 53,561J, and fires 100 rounds per second.
    it weighs 600 pounds.
     
  11. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I can visualize a single shot laser weapon.
    A bank of ultracapacitors that is entirely discharged upon closing the trigger switch.
    Just enough heat sink to keep the emitter from being cooked, it will have time to cool to operating temperature while you pull the extension cord to recharge the capacitors.

    Would you be better off with a slugthrower and a 30 round magazine?

    By the way, I believe blinding weapons are specifically banned by treaty.

    If you have a hot enough beam to vaporize a sizeable chunk of target, the steam explosion from living tissue ought to make a nasty wound.
     
  12. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    It also has an absolute maximum range of about 10 kilometers, depending on specific ammunition. I don't think I even need mention the difference in accuracy between a ballistic projectile and a beam of light.

    The application of weapon lasers is more about distance and precision, specifically a combination of the two. There have been successful tests bringing down UAVs with lasers both on land and water.

    If you can cut a hole in the missile's rocket motor and send it plunging into the ocean, there's far less risk of collateral damage (or even fallout) than trying to blow it out of the sky with a ballistic interceptor.
     
  13. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    You could create a device that would permanently blind everyone within 100 yards fairly easily.
    High powered device with a lens to cover wider area.
    You could setup a home defense system that used a beam which covered 7 feet at a time at the likely distance which would be more than the height of a man, and scanned side to side, permanently blinding everyone approaching your compound or safe room.
    Having the laser cover more area reduces power on what is covered, but you can certainly figure out just how much area you can cause a very powerful laser to cover before it drops below the instantly permanently blind anyone
    it sweeps over threshhold, and by starting with something really powerful be able to scan large areas at a time.

    A setup like those they use to create professional quality laser light shows could probably be used to permanently blind an entire battlefield if programmed right and connected to really powerful lasers.
    You could probably transport such a thing on the bottom of a chopper, fly over an area, and use a scan to permanently blind a huge area.
    Like everyone exposed in a town.
    The dictators of the future can blind entire towns, then send in their forces to mop up.


    A more single direction device could probably be made to blind pilots of aircraft. A human might not be able to point the device accurately at high speed aircraft, but a computer program controlling motors could certainly do it.
    Several million dollar aircraft are not so useful with blind pilots.


    I can certainly see laser weapons being used to permanently blind those in combat. All the techology is there to do it.
    The solution would require protective eyewear resistant to the spectrum of light the lasers operate in (which of course might change in an enemy's lasers), or always using something like head mounted cameras or night vision and not using the naked eye anymore.
    The military of the future might march in blinding everyone in the area for life, or even send drones in ahead to do it for them.



    Similarly those already present in a standard small beam pose a great risk.
    Those small handheld battery powered devices already in the thread like posted by MachIVshooter can blind someone so fast the eye is destroyed for life faster than thier blink response.
    (Which also poses huge risks to the user, a split second of the device reflecting off a water droplet, piece of glass, reflective metal, etc and you have damaged eyesight or spots in your vision for life. Even though you were careful to never point it at yourself, just a partial reflection can do it before you even realized it happened. They really are not smart toys to play with.)

    As a casual observer you also cannot tell the difference between many of the lasers that can instantly permanently blind you, and less harmful laser pointers. So there really is a reason to consider anyone pointing a laser pointer a threat of serious bodily injury (which can warrant lethal force.) However that understanding has not yet caught up with society, and killing the kid with the laser pointer will probably put you in prison.
    They don't all cost much either, you can make one for a fraction of the price. For example a scrapped DVD burner drive can be used to create a laser powerful enough to burn through things, and can be made for like $20.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2012
  14. Sheepdog1968

    Sheepdog1968 Member

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    We will still have the same problem that we have today. Folks just aren't hitting their targets.
     
  15. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

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    They may eventually be useful weapons for certain applications. They will never be useful everyday carry weapons.

    The reason is that in order to safely use them, you and everyone else in the general area would need to be wearing special protective goggles. If there's enough power to actually kill or seriously injure someone, reflecting even a very small portion of that energy back at the user or at an innocent bystander could cause serious eye damage/blindness. If you miss and hit a piece of glass or something else reflective, the beam will split and/or reflect, and continue on with enough power to injure/kill or blind for very long distances.

    Try shining a laser pointer at glass and watch what happens. Try shining it at something reflective or in an area with lots of glass (windows, etc.) and try to guess ahead of time where all the split/reflected beams will end up.
     
  16. InkEd

    InkEd Member

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    Until we can Star Wars-style Light Sabers (or as any nerd will tell you more accurately Plasma Sabers), I will be sticking with my firearms. :neener:
     
  17. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    Maybe a hand held. Look at the clean cut on 1.5" thick steel by a laser below.

    http://www.industrial-lasers.com/articles/2004/08/cutting-thick-steel-plate.html


    That was 8 years ago. When I was a kid seat belts were not in every car and people would have said you were crazy if you told them cars would someday have bags of air that pop out to save your face while you crashed into stuff.
     
  18. Beaux Nehr

    Beaux Nehr Member

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    D-dimer formation on nucleotides.
     
  19. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    What JohnKsa said is entirely true.
    As I pointed out existing handheld lasers powered off a small battery source (even a couple AAAs can allow a sufficiently powerful laser to burn through things) can be powerful enough to permanently blind you for life faster than your natural blink response to even shut your eye.
    Yet what they would do to the skin instantly would not be a very deep burn.
    It would take even longer for them when dealing with clothing.

    The level of power required to actually burn through several inches of tissue as immediately as a bullet can reach vitals would be so high that far less than .01% of that energy even partially reflected off a surface would be blinding people for life at random for long distances. That means not even much of the beam needs to be reflected, just the most minute amount of that beam reflecting off water droplets, ice, snow, rain, metal surfaces, glass, and various other reflective things in society could instantly blind the user or other unintended targets.
    This makes laser weapons of the sci-fi projectile replacement variety unrealistic, and unlikely to ever be fielded by infantry or individuals even if the battery of the future can hold enough power to make fielding such lasers possible. Now it is possible such things could be used from vehicles observing through cameras, but they would pose the same risk of instantly blinding friendly forces for long distances. A battlefield where things are constantly firing beams that have minor reflections permanently blinding anything within line of sight would not be a place infantry would want to be.
    That would greatly limit where such things could be used.
    Of course such a thing might technically legalize blinding everyone nearby, by claiming it was being used for its destructive potential and not its blinding side effect. Kinda like they initially claimed white phosphorous was just being used to screen or illuminate in Fallujah since using it as a weapon in the middle of a civilian inhabited city violates international law.
    They will claim to have just been trying to burn the enemy with the laser, and blinding everyone for miles as it partially reflected off cars, buildings, and other surfaces, as a large number of smaller less powerful but still permanently blinding reflections... was just a side effect.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012
  20. lobo9er

    lobo9er Member

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    I have always heard and tend to believe that the most advanced of anything that is available to the public is 15 years behind actual technology that has been being used by Gov't. Not sure how that applies here but kinda related to the conversation.
     
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