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Articles / Astronomy

We've seen this in video games before, but now it's a reality. The US Army has held a demonstration for a weapon that uses an ultra precise laser to aim and fire one of Mother Nature's most powerful weapons - lightning bolts. This technology is know as LIPC - Laser Induced Plasma Channel.

It works through a series of rather basic principles of physics. The ultra short duration laser creates an electromagnetic field around itself which is powerful that it strips electrons from the air molecules around it. This makes the air conduct electricity really well, so the laser essentially acts as a conductor that sends electricity in the right direction. Since this only works on things that conduct electricity, collateral damage can be minimized.

The Army has show that sending an a huge electric current through the air is possible, but it's not yet very practical compared to conventional ammunition - it's a lot more expensive to mass produce and needs a strong portable power source. Once the technology is further developed, however, it could be very useful - the reduced collateral damage is always a plus and a reusable power source should save some tax dollars on ammunition in the long run. Using electricity to subdue the target could make this a great non-lethal option somewhere down the road.

By Denis Ivanov

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