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Thread: How Would Laser and Particle Cannons Look?

  1. #1 How Would Laser and Particle Cannons Look? 
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    Too often in science fiction we see laser beams being shot out of cannon like weapons.

    Really though, how would they look? I guess it depends on the type of laser. But from what I've been told, non-visible lasers give the most bang for your buck. I realize that no laser is visible except for when they hit the target, but there are also the non-visible kind from what I've been told (X-ray lasers).

    With visible lasers, I have read that the larger the initial aperture of the beams (the glass head that fires it), the more range you can get out of the beam before it diffracts.

    Alternately, if you wanted to fudge lasers you could get a giant mirror and make an epic death ray. Basically a huge magnifying glass that burns stuff via the sun, like humans do with ants.

    Of course that would be restricted to solar areas only.


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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lorbo View Post
    Too often in science fiction we see laser beams being shot out of cannon like weapons.
    Er yes. What's your point?

    I realize that no laser is visible except for when they hit the target
    What makes you think that?

    Alternately, if you wanted to fudge lasers you could get a giant mirror and make an epic death ray
    No you couldn't.
    The mirror would shatter unless you add a whole load of extras (such as cooling).

    Of course that would be restricted to solar areas only.
    If you're talking about focussing sunlight then it's not viable as a weapon - unless you have an unfeasibly large mirror/ magnifying glass.


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    Quote Originally Posted by lorbo View Post
    Too often in science fiction we see laser beams being shot out of cannon like weapons.

    Because there's a lot of really bad scifi.

    Really though, how would they look? I guess it depends on the type of laser. But from what I've been told, non-visible lasers give the most bang for your buck. I realize that no laser is visible except for when they hit the target, but there are also the non-visible kind from what I've been told (X-ray lasers).
    The type and appearance depends a lot on the medium and range required-- most visible lasers shooting through air scatter enough light to be at least partially visible--which of course also reduces it's strength with range. The same happens with IR lasers, we just don't have good vision with that frequency.


    Alternately, if you wanted to fudge lasers you could get a giant mirror and make an epic death ray. Basically a huge magnifying glass that burns stuff via the sun, like humans do with ants.

    Of course that would be restricted to solar areas only.
    Sunlight is not coherent--it wouldn't be a laser.
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  5. #4  
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    A laser has no need of a gun barrel, so most sci-fi depictions of laser weapons as gun shaped objects that just happen to shoot light beams is pretty wonky. Basically, a laser needs a lasing cavity, some mechanism for pumping light into it, fuel or electrical power for the light pumping mechanism, and a beam pointing device. What you would see at the business end is the pointing device, some sort of prism or mirror that can be pivoted to direct the output beam at the desired target.

    Here's a picture of the USAF airborne laser lab in action. Actually I am not sure the green beam depicted is actually real, it may have been photoshopped in, but the plane is definitely real:
    http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/R2eehBk_DNQ/hqdefault.jpg
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