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Author Topic: Will ray guns ever replace projectile weapons?  (Read 9867 times)

Offline Eric A. Taylor

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Will ray guns ever replace projectile weapons?
« on: 09/12/2010 12:04:33 »
In the video game Halo and it's spin the bad guy aliens (Covenant) use plasma weapons that shoot balls of superheated plasma to damage targets. Despite the game taking place in the mid 26th Century the humans still use projectile weapons very much like the guns used today that fire bullets propelled by burning some kind of gun powder.

I've thought of this before. The point of any weapon is to transfer enough energy to a target to cause damage. Guns are very good at this. Modern battle rifles fire bullets at speeds greater than 1000 feet per minute (about 1500 miles per hour or 2500 KPH) A single soldier can carry hundreds of rounds. There is an amazing amount of energy in a tiny packet. Any kind of ray gun would need to top this extremely high bar to compete with bullet firing guns. Which leads me to think that the use of bullets in 2552 is not unrealistic.

Could technology ever develop an energy storage device as powerful, safe, and small as smokeless gun powder?

I've seen lasers tested for combat but the lasers are so big they need to be mounted on the largest cargo planes available. This makes them useless in all but a very few applications.


 

Offline RD

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Will ray guns ever replace projectile weapons?
« Reply #1 on: 09/12/2010 13:16:46 »
Using laser weapons to blind is against the Geneva convention ...
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protocol_on_Blinding_Laser_Weapons

[doesn't say anything about killing with one though]

some practical problems ...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Directed-energy_weapon#Problems_and_considerations
« Last Edit: 09/12/2010 13:20:03 by RD »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Will ray guns ever replace projectile weapons?
« Reply #2 on: 09/12/2010 20:04:46 »
I think it will be a long while before people stop hitting eachother with rocks.
High tech isn't needed to kill someone.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Will ray guns ever replace projectile weapons?
« Reply #3 on: 10/12/2010 00:59:00 »
If we could only find a way as a society to save lives rather than destroy lives...  the world would be a much nicer place.

Thanks for the Wikipedia Link.  Lots of "food for thought" including the disruption caused by things like air and clouds.

Miniaturization would be difficult due to power consumption needs, and possibly requirements of a dynamic focal point.  You would also have to have extremely fast cutting.  A small pin-sized hole may not be lethal.  If one felt a burn before lethal damage occurred, the withdraw reflex may be quick enough to save a person (or allow them to fire back).  The Kinetic Energy from a gunshot may also have its advantages of disrupting a person's aim.

A bullet that fragments on impact can also do massive destruction. 

There might be advantages of large land/sea based lasers weapons.  But, I'm guessing fairly narrow applications, again because of the need to dynamically focus, cutting speed, & etc.

Space?
Do we want to weaponize space?
Certainly advantages of less momentum effect, and high speeds over long distances. 
Could one build a space based solar powered anti-satellite laser system?  DO WE WANT TO DO IT?
Lack of kinetic energy transfer might limit the ability of using lasers to prevent an asteroid collision.
 

Offline Eric A. Taylor

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Will ray guns ever replace projectile weapons?
« Reply #4 on: 10/12/2010 07:54:23 »
If we could only find a way as a society to save lives rather than destroy lives...  the world would be a much nicer place.

Thanks for the Wikipedia Link.  Lots of "food for thought" including the disruption caused by things like air and clouds.

Miniaturization would be difficult due to power consumption needs, and possibly requirements of a dynamic focal point.  You would also have to have extremely fast cutting.  A small pin-sized hole may not be lethal.  If one felt a burn before lethal damage occurred, the withdraw reflex may be quick enough to save a person (or allow them to fire back).  The Kinetic Energy from a gunshot may also have its advantages of disrupting a person's aim.

A bullet that fragments on impact can also do massive destruction. 

There might be advantages of large land/sea based lasers weapons.  But, I'm guessing fairly narrow applications, again because of the need to dynamically focus, cutting speed, & etc.

Space?
Do we want to weaponize space?
Certainly advantages of less momentum effect, and high speeds over long distances. 
Could one build a space based solar powered anti-satellite laser system?  DO WE WANT TO DO IT?
Lack of kinetic energy transfer might limit the ability of using lasers to prevent an asteroid collision.

Again that pesky Geneva Convention is stepping in. Fragmenting bullets are not allowed. However the bullet from an M-16 or other similar type weapons does a tremendous amount of damage. The bullet fired by the AK-47 and it's spin offs is designed to tumble inside the body.

I heard a story of a VC killed in Vietnam by an M-16. The bullet passed through the man's buttocks. He died from the shock damage to his heart and lungs.

Also the range of long range sniper rifles is amazing. The current record is is 2707 yards (2475m) by Corporal of Horse (a rank in the British Calvary equal to Sargent in US Army if you're wondering) Craig Harrison. Normal, unaided human eyesight has no hope of seeing that far. CoH Harrison would have been invisible to the target even if he'd been wearing a bright orange road worker's coat!

Another problem for large fixed weapons like the lasers mentioned is that the air forces have a name for them: Targets
 

Offline CliffordK

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Will ray guns ever replace projectile weapons?
« Reply #5 on: 11/12/2010 09:40:08 »
Perhaps science fiction is meeting reality faster than we realize.

http://www.darkgovernment.com/news/police-seek-portable-pain-weapon/


The hand-held beam weapons all appear to be non-lethal, and more designed to disorient and cause pain.  And, the "blinding" thing seems to come up.

There are apparently tests for vehicle mounted weapons that are designed as destructive weapons.
http://spbcar.ru/news/en/article/19673/


http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/01/12/army-building-ultra-high-power-laser-guns/


Test situations and field deployment may be different though.

Interesting notes about the Hague Convention which prohibits flattening (hollow point) bullets for military use.  However, they apparently are widely used for civilian use (police), as well as by hunters.  But, apparently weapons designers have designed the tumbling bullets to cause greater damage without the same expansion effect.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollow-point_bullet#Legality
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminal_ballistics#Controlled_penetration

I just have to roll my eyes at the idea that the "expanding" and fragmenting bullets are considered too lethal for military purposes, but just fine to fire at civilians.  And, the attempts to create other maximally disruptive bullets to circumvent these treaties.   

Also note, the St. Petersburg Declaration of 1868 only applies to wars between signatories. 

« Last Edit: 11/12/2010 09:42:25 by CliffordK »
 

Offline Eric A. Taylor

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Will ray guns ever replace projectile weapons?
« Reply #6 on: 12/12/2010 18:14:39 »
Perhaps science fiction is meeting reality faster than we realize.

http://www.darkgovernment.com/news/police-seek-portable-pain-weapon/


The hand-held beam weapons all appear to be non-lethal, and more designed to disorient and cause pain.  And, the "blinding" thing seems to come up.

There are apparently tests for vehicle mounted weapons that are designed as destructive weapons.
http://spbcar.ru/news/en/article/19673/


http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/01/12/army-building-ultra-high-power-laser-guns/


Test situations and field deployment may be different though.

Interesting notes about the Hague Convention which prohibits flattening (hollow point) bullets for military use.  However, they apparently are widely used for civilian use (police), as well as by hunters.  But, apparently weapons designers have designed the tumbling bullets to cause greater damage without the same expansion effect.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollow-point_bullet#Legality
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminal_ballistics#Controlled_penetration

I just have to roll my eyes at the idea that the "expanding" and fragmenting bullets are considered too lethal for military purposes, but just fine to fire at civilians.  And, the attempts to create other maximally disruptive bullets to circumvent these treaties.   

Also note, the St. Petersburg Declaration of 1868 only applies to wars between signatories. 



So you have a weapon that is so large and heavy it needs to be mounted on a large truck. You can deliver the same amount of power to the target with a much smaller projectile weapon.

One problem for lasers is smoke fog or haze. These absorb much of the lasers energy. Some of the largest movable guns around were mounted on the Iowa Class Battleships of WWII. These guys could hurl a 2500 pound projectile over 25 miles. That's over the horizon!!! No laser could do that.

Lasers may be a lot more practical is space. While no one has ever had a battle in space it's not as strait forward as Star Trek or Star Wars depicted. First, fighting while in orbit around a planet or star would be really tricky. Orbital mechanics are counter intuitive. If you want to speed up (to catch up to another space craft) you need to do a burn in the opposite direction of travle. In other words you need to slow down to go faster. By "slowing down" you drop into a lower, faster orbit. By speeding up you climb to a higher slower orbit. However if you drop your orbit too much it will come in contact with the planets atmosphere which is bad, but it's worse if the body you orbit has no atmosphere. In this case your orbit can intersect the surface of the body which is really bad.

Were aerial dog fights, between aircraft, are usually over in seconds (the longest dog fight in history lasted 10 minutes) a space battle would take hours, perhaps days for the two battling spacecraft to get close together. In open space two battling spacecraft may be thousands of miles apart. An unguided shell would be child's play to dodge. A laser would travle at the speed of light, so the first indication you'll get that you are being shot at would be the holes appearing in your space ship.

If the battle is between humans and hostile alien you would not have holes. You'd have large sections of your ship sliced away.
 

Offline Geezer

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Will ray guns ever replace projectile weapons?
« Reply #7 on: 13/12/2010 03:04:24 »
"Will ray guns ever replace projectile weapons?"

I don't know about that, but I've heard that infrasound guns can induce projectile vomiting.
 

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Will ray guns ever replace projectile weapons?
« Reply #7 on: 13/12/2010 03:04:24 »

 

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