So if you’re reading this, you’re a sci-fi geek like myself, which means I can spare you the ‘ever since men could dream, they dreamed of better military technology’ crap. You know this, I know this, let’s move on.
I’ve compiled a list of weapons technologies at our disposal today (and by our I mean advanced governments like America and England, not places like Botswana and the Congo) that were once bird-brained ideas, ridiculed for their far-fetchedness.
From the very first scifi movie that featured an electric gun or phaser that could stun someone from across a room, the government wanted one for themselves. When they watched Star Trek and heard ‘Set your weapons to stun’ they almost had to change their pants. Well obviously a bit was changed between the conception and production processes. It started out with phasers and bolt guns, and it boiled down to what you see above. It may not look too fancy, but the Taser definitely fits the bill. Invented in 1974 by NASA researcher Jack Cover, it was named after Tom Swift, an idol of Jack’s. Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle, or Taser, shoots two nodes into a target at varying effective ranges, and sends an electrical charge through micro thin wires, and zaps the target. The only way this weapon could 100% fit the bill for the less than lethal phaser is if it lost the cabling.
As an added bonus, the hand-held zapper (used at close range) simulates the vulcan shoulder pinch.
Any scifi fan can tell you, rail guns and rail cannons are an integral part of space combat. Since gunpowder doesn’t work in space, and super huge lasers on a ship would run up the electric bill, the rail gun is the weapon of choice. Using a combination of high voltage electricity and magnets, the rail gun in question fires solid cylindrical projectiles up to two miles with the accuracy to hit a 3 meter target, with the devastation of a Tomahawk Missile. Yours truly went digging around the web and found a video of a test fire by the U.S. Navy that was cleared for public release. Much like most naval weapons, it will take several more years before they fine tune their design to outfit Naval ships, but if we ever fought giant robots, this is what it would look like.
Face it, even the name sonic weapon sounds cool. There have been too many movie to count that had aliens or tyrannical governments using some sort of device that could make everyone clutch at their ears and hit the ground. Thanks to science and creativity, we now have one. The LRAD, or Long Range Acoustic Device, is basically a dish that sends targeted, high pitched noise at an enemy to disorient and overpower them. Unlike the rail gun, however, this device is in mainstream use. Between warding off pirates, police crowd control, and fighting off Discovery Channel Hippies, it’s definitely a widely dispersed product. Unfortunately, the VP of business for LRAD corporation would not give me an estimate on one of their devices, but with enough cash, I’m sure you could mount one on your F250.
As I said with the rail gun, due to the vacuum of space, typical explosively fire rounds will be ineffective in a space battle. Now we don’t have hand held laser guns safe enough to equip people with yet, or to mount on vehicles, but what we DO have is Metal Storm. This weapon uses totally new technology to fire up to millions of round per minute. Yes, faster than any Bushmaster. The secret is stacked ammunition. Essentially the ammo comes in tubes you insert into the barrels and open, full of either bullets, machine grenade rounds, or any number of other fun toys stacked atop each other. Using electronic signals and magnetic force (sounding familiar?) it can fire millions of these buggers without a single grain of black powder, no brass casings hitting the ground, and no degradation of performance in a vacuum.
Full Body Scanners
So this particular entry may not be in the same category of weapon as the rest of the list, since it neither maims, kills, or wounds. It does, however, earn a spot on the list. As seen in Total Recall, they were envisioned by earlier scifi minds and science nerds as something that should be set in heavy congestion areas near mass transit locations: bus stations, trains stations, airports? Yeah, it was a bad segue and I refuse to apologize. The body scanners predicted in Total Recall (and many other movies, but that’s the best video I could find) are actually being used in airports. Though luckily for us, instead of seeing bare bones, we see the fleshy hotness that covers them. And, you know, bombs and stuff.
The hovercraft has yet to be made exactly like we once imagined it. It’s not the Jetson’s little hover bubble car, it’s not a hover board like in Back To The Future II. Instead, it’s a large amphibious assault vehicle used by the U.S. Navy, as well as several other governments. Though they don’t call it a hovercraft. They call it the LCAC, or Landing Craft Air Cushion. They are deployed form the Navy’s Well-Deck ships, and are capable of carrying several Stryker vehicles, HMMWVs, and even a few Bradley Fighting Vehicles. They have also been used in rescue operations as well as disaster relief, since they can operate in water as shallow as a puddle, as well as on beaches and flat land. Hopefully, within a few years, they’ll actually have flight capability. Or at least DARPA will finish it’s flying submarine…