For NASA, asking boffins to develop one laser-based tractor beam must not be difficult enough, because they've thrown down $100,000 for three entirely different flavors of the technology, which apparently does in fact exist.
Researchers at Sandia National Labs have mixed four different diode lasers to produce a warm, bright white light that they say is just as good as incandescents and better than LEDs. Laser light bulbs, here we come!
To squeeze laser into things like airplanes, we're going to have to make the weapons much smaller and more efficient than the boat-sized platforms we've got right now. DARPA is hard at work on a system called Excalibur that's small enough and powerful enough to make an aircraft like this a reality.
Obviously, lasers are the future of every single technology ever, from computers to sea jellies. BMW is now attempting to put lasers into car headlights, creating what could be (but isn't yet) the world's first combination road lighting system and pedestrian deterrence weapon.
Here's the plan: pick a cloud. Shoot a laser at it. Make it rain. Sound crazy? Maybe, but a group of scientists have some concrete evidence that it could be possible. Good thing, too, as lasers are a lot more environmentally friendly than the other methods being tried.
What do you get when you combine two of the most deadly weapons out there? No, not a machete duct taped to a nuke. You get the Navy's new gatling gun/laser hybrid.
You gotta hand it to all those crazy Iron Man fans. It seems like not a week goes by without some crafty fanatic showing some Tony Stark love with a wicked DIY project. Patrick Priebe's hand-worn 1,000 milliwatt laser is no different.
Despite our sci-fi dreams, laser cannons are still too bulky and inefficient to every be used on the regular by the military. But we may be getting closer to that laser-filled future.
It's more or less impossible for us puny humans to duplicate the raw epic power of a lightning bolt. They can travel at 140,000 mph (or about Mach 184 if you're counting), heat the surrounding air to three times the temperature of the surface of the sun, and transmit enough energy to toast approximately 100,000 slices of bread. To study a lightning bolt, you first have to capture it, and it turns out that the best way to do that is to fire rockets at thunderstorms. Yeah, it's probably best not to try this at home.
Well, this sucks. Out of the $664.5 billion 2012 defense budget, the Senate Armed Services Committee couldn't find enough money (or reasons) to continue funding the Navy's Free Electron Laser or ship-mounted railgun. I guess the "free" part didn't fool them.