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Glitch
01-14-2000, 08:18 AM
We all know about the Star Trek phaser right? Supposedly it works by firing a phased energy beam at the target which causes molecular cohesion to break down. The target literally falls apart at a molecular level.

A few friends and I were discussing possible futuristic weapons and how they might possibly really work. Somebody said that a phaser could function by means of a high energy proton stream. The proton stream would disrupt the nucleus of target atoms knocking protons and neutrons free. The resultant "mess" would snowball causing lots of molecules to break apart eventually disrupting the entire target which would essentially turn into a molecular soup.

So, any validity to this? If so what kind of power would the proton stream need to have?

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"Glitch ... Window, large icons." - Bob the Guardian

Icerigger
01-14-2000, 09:26 AM
What you are describing is called a particle beam weapon. The problem with these types of weapons lasers, masers and particle beams are the tremendous power requirements they have. Such weapons just are not practical. When you are dealing with energy weapons or any electromagnetic wave the inverse square law states the energy required to double the effective range needs four times the power output. Say a laser could deliver 1000 watts at 100Km to have the same power at 200Km your would need 4000 watts 300Km 9000 watts 400Km 16000 watts and so on. This is one of the problems with the so called "starwars" SDI schemes a ground based laser may be rated for 1 billion watts but when the beam travels great distances its energy is so dissipated it's just not effective to "blast" anything. Projectile weapons like bullets and explosive shells are much more efficient and will always give more bang for the buck.

pluto
01-14-2000, 09:40 AM
One reason for using laser light in beam weapons is that it doesn't disperse like ordinary light does. But the problem is that the phase coherence is easily disrupted. (Maybe that's why Romulans use disrupters!) Once that coherence is destroyed your weapon is no more useful than shining a flashlight.



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"To do her justice, I can't see that she could have found anything nastier to say if she'd thought it out with both hands for a fortnight."
Dorothy L. Sayers
Busman's Honeymoon

bda
01-14-2000, 10:13 AM
a radio wave carries an audible signal, can a light wave(laser) carry something? . . radio frequency generators can create a lot a heat . . can that heat be focused . . and carried by a light wave(laser)?
isnt microwave a radio frequency?

Glitch
01-14-2000, 10:31 AM
I appreciate the replies so far; however, they unfortunately seem tangental. I recognize that the amount of power if tremendous, my question is:

Would a high energy proton stream:

a) cause a target to lose molecular cohesion like a phaser?
b) Or would it punch a hole through the target?

If a) is true, how powerful would the proton stream have to be to seriously disrupt the nucleus of an atom such that the person would, in essense, self-destruct?

This is not meant to be a serious discussion on the feasability of such weapons (I would put such a discussion under Great Debates) but rather a fun conversation on whether such a weapon obeys the laws of physics.

Again, I appreciate the replies and I recognize that they were provided in the spirit of providing an answer, but not the answer I am looking for. :)

Glitch
01-14-2000, 10:39 AM
a radio wave carries an audible signal,

A radio wave doesn't carry an audible signal, it carries an interpretable signal, which with the right hardware can be translated into sound waves.

can a light wave(laser) carry something?

Yes, a light wave can be interpretable. How you translate it is entirely dependent on the hardware and software you use. Lasers are used in communications all the time.

. . radio frequency generators can create a lot a heat . . can that heat be focused . . and carried by a light wave(laser)?

Yes and no, infrared radiation (which is the means that heat is transmitted by the sun for example) is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum just like light. They are in distinct parts of the spectrum and so since visible light is not infrared radiation and vice versa. It is possible to have an infrared laser. A laser is simply an y electromagnetic radiation made to be coherent (in phase with itself).

Of course, when a laser strikes an objects it excites the particles, etc of the objects which causes heat to be generated which is how a laser burns through an object. So in a sense a laser carries heat.

isnt microwave a radio frequency?

No, microwave radiation is another part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Radio waves are a distinct part of it as well.

Boris B
01-14-2000, 02:49 PM
Just a small nitpick with Glitch:No, microwave radiation is another part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Radio waves are a distinct part of it as well.
I think microwaves are commonly considered part of the group of radio frequencies. After all, they are only "micro" compared to standard radio frequencies; they are quite large compared to the rest of the spectrum. And microwave-frequency radars are still called RaDaRs rather than MiDaRs, after all....

Glitch
01-14-2000, 02:52 PM
http://observe.ivv.nasa.gov/nasa/education/reference/emspec/emspectrum.html

has microwaves listed as being seperate from radio waves, as does my Physics book from university.

torq
01-14-2000, 03:14 PM
If you look at the definitions on that site instead of just the picture, you'll see that

"Radio waves have wavelengths that range from less than a centimeter to tens or even hundreds of meters"

"Microwave wavelengths range from approximately one millimeter to thirty centimenters"

In other words, at least the 1-30 cm part and arguably the entire microwave range could be considered "radio."

Glitch
01-14-2000, 03:23 PM
Alright, alright, I give in (I'll go check my textbook to see specifically what it states) ... can we get back to my particle beam now? ;)

pluto
01-15-2000, 01:55 AM
In the spirit of your theoretical weapon I think the proton beam would be more likely to punch a hole than to vaporize something.

The whole idea behind a ray gun (or any weapon, for that matter) is to transfer energy to your target. Whether you transfer that energy as light waves, radio waves, protons, neutrons or lead atoms is only one part of the question. The other part is what does the energy do when it gets there, right?

The transferred energy (a proton beam or a bullet) immediately effects the spot it hits. What happens next is more dependent on the target than the weapon. If you were shooting at a rocket ship and you hit a vital structural element, the whole thing might collapse. (Hull integrity is down to 23%, Captain!) If you hit the powder magazine, or its futuristic equivalent, you might get an explosion, like in the movies.

The human body is, to a first approximation, a bag of water. If you hit it in one spot, it's not going to vaporize unless you send a huge amount of energy. Your weapon might send a shock wave through the body, which would cause a certain amount of "molecular disruption". Bullets do that sometimes; Cecil wrote about it. But it's not going to start some sort of nuclear chain reaction and cause the body to fall apart, atom by atom.

If you're really wanting the whole body disintegration effect you'd need to use a weapon that impacted the whole body at once. In that case you'd need some sort of penetrating radiation so the inside gets hit the same as the outside. Kind of like a super microwave oven.

So you've got some work to do before your phaser works like you want it to. You might bear in mind that the main reason they use phasers in Star Trek is for the cool visual effect and to avoid blood and gore. They also have that very useful "stun" setting.


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"To do her justice, I can't see that she could have found anything nastier to say if she'd thought it out with both hands for a fortnight."
Dorothy L. Sayers
Busman's Honeymoon

yamo
01-17-2000, 02:12 PM
Directed energy weapons are presently being tested on unsuspecting US citizens. Microwaves, sound waves, possibly others.

douglips
01-17-2000, 02:50 PM
yamo writes:Directed energy weapons are presently being tested on unsuspecting US citizens. Microwaves, sound waves, possibly others.
<form action="foo" method=get><select><option selected>Krispy Original<option>Contestant #3<option>Cheif Laffitup<option>Fantastic User<option>Martyr #7</select>, it's against board policy to post under multiple user names. Just a friendly reminder.

:)</form>

Ike Witt
01-17-2000, 02:55 PM
I don't know about directed energy weapons being tested on civilians, but I have heard that people were "melted" during the US invasion of Panama. Also, there is the SDI project known as "Brilliant Pebbles" that is a high energy or particle beam.

As far as breaking down the molecular cohesion of an object, high frequency sound waves do the trick, that is the concept behind the way that kidney stones are now 'removed'.

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See those stars over there? That is the Little Dipper. I'd show you the Big Dipper, but my zipper is stuck.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
01-17-2000, 03:07 PM
Here's a story of a "secret weapon" that I once heard, probably based on an older UL:

A "scientist" came up with a weapon that emitted strong low-frequence sound (10-20 Hz).

The weapon would be used for crowd control. If people start getting out of hand, they'd turn on the weapons.

10-20 Hz is supposedly a range which would cause the large intesting to start contracting.

So, all of a sudden, you have a crowd full of people that suddenly have to go to the bathroom real bad--and they forget about rioting or whatever.

pluto
01-17-2000, 03:53 PM
Originally posted by adam yax:
Also, there is the SDI project known as "Brilliant Pebbles" that is a high energy or particle beam.

Brilliant Pebbles is a kinetic energy, i.e. solid objects moving fast, weapon. It's an outgrowth of the "Smart Rocks" concept -- you throw rocks, but they're smart so they always hit the target. The name is as close to humor as military designers get -- they are smarter and smaller than smart rocks so they are brilliant pebbles.

(Other than unintentional humor, of course.)



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"To do her justice, I can't see that she could have found anything nastier to say if she'd thought it out with both hands for a fortnight."
Dorothy L. Sayers
Busman's Honeymoon

Sylence
01-17-2000, 04:22 PM
About your proton weapon, Glitch-- the nucleus of an atom is so incredibly small that only a tiny fraction of the protons in the beam would actually hit something, to begin with.

If you cranked up the juice to the point where protons were smashing enough atoms to cause the target to break apart, you would be using an incredible amount of energy. Too much to really be practical.


-- Sylence

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I don't have an evil side. Just a really, really apathetic one.

Arjuna34
01-17-2000, 05:10 PM
Sylence is right - to get enough protons to hit noticeable percentage of target nuclei, you'd need a HUGE amount of energy (I'd guess many orders of magnitude more than a conventional handgun).

Another problem with these energy weapons is that it's not very efficient (in terms of size/weight) to store electrical energy. Batteries and capacitors have very bad energy densities when compared to gunpowder. I'll make you a phaser if you give me a light, handheld battery than will power it :).

What you really want is an antimatter weapon- then you get some impressive energy density gains. Just make a bullet with an antimatter core, protected by some sort of magnetic containment system, that disintegrates on impact. Preferably in 9mm :)

Arjuna34

funneefarmer
01-17-2000, 05:37 PM
Some more info on Brilliant Pebbles... http://www.periscopeone.com/demo/weapons/missrock/antiball/w0003565.html

JoeyBlades
01-17-2000, 06:09 PM
Not that I'm into this sort of thing, but... I rembered reading a book about the "Science of Star Trek" or was it one of the "Technical Manuals"??? (Nope, no references) Anyway, the claim was that Phasers fired a combination of phased energy and particle beam. The particles were called "nadions" or some such. No idea what a nadion is (I tried looking it up). Maybe nadions can cause a chain reaction, cellular disruption of some sort?

Hey, this stuff is way over my head... [wink]

funneefarmer
01-17-2000, 06:30 PM
Some more on phasers, gives some applications and links.
http://www.ceaaec.ca/~jtalbot/glossary/phaser.html

MrKnowItAll
01-17-2000, 10:40 PM
Well, I've just been paging through my copy of The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence M. Krauss. Funny thing, except for pointing out that phaser shots must travel at the speed of light (as opposed to what is demonstrated in "Blink of the Eye") and that they should not be visible along their path, there is very little talk about phasers. (Damn run-on sentences.)

I guess Mr. Krauss wore himself out covering transporters and faster-than-light travel.

neuro-trash grrrl
01-17-2000, 11:30 PM
I'm pretty sure they just made "nadions" up when they couldn't explain the effect in phenomena known to twentieth century science. Same for "tetryons". What I've always wondered is this: Point a phaser set to "dematerialize" at somebody and fire. Foof. They're gone. So are their clothes, and anything they were carrying. But the effect didn't spread to the ground they were standing on, the wall they were leaning against, etc. How to explain this? Shouldn't there be at least a bite taken out? Or perhaps, it only disintegrates the solid object it makes contact with. But then, how to explain the clothes?

Sigh. I guess I need to work on that "suspension of disbelief" thing, huh?

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An infinite number of rednecks in an infinite number of pickup trucks shooting an infinite number of shotguns at an infinite number of road signs will eventually produce all the world's great works of literature in Braille.

Ike Witt
01-18-2000, 12:56 AM
I have a new question...If Brilliant Pebbles is a kenetic energy weaponi.e. solid objects moving fast, weapon as Pluto said, how does that differ from a particle beam? Does particle in that sense mean particle as opposed to a wave? Of course I am refering to the dual wave/particle nature of things like photons. If you could ensure that something was a particle and not a wave, doesn't that mean that you can control quantum mechanics, which is currently impossible? What am I missing?

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See those stars over there? That is the Little Dipper. I'd show you the Big Dipper, but my zipper is stuck.

Arjuna34
01-18-2000, 01:38 AM
There's nothing quantum mechanical about the Brilliant Pebbles weapon- the pebbles aren't sub-atomic particles, but 45 kg satellites, 3 ft long. I don't think that qualifies as a "particle" for the purposes of a phasor.

Arjuna34

Brood McEto
01-18-2000, 02:00 AM
Mjollnir wrote:
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10-20 Hz is supposedly a range which would cause the large intesting to start contracting
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My brother is a professional stereo installer and Bass is his hobby. He's 'heard' (felt, really) 10-15hz and had no inclination to defecate. He says that everything moves really slow. He compares it to a freight train coming towards you. Our mother can never tell if it's the train coming or him. Yeah, he has a hell of a system, but anyways...
I can't say if prolonged exposure to 10-20hz can cause damage, but it doesn't cause the incredible urge to release the bowels. It does, however, make it hard to breathe. I can attest to this. Makes your head rattle.

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Brood McEto - Corellian

Brood McEto
01-18-2000, 02:13 AM
And another thing:
Since Star Trek and Star Wars are always compared to each other, what about the 'lasers' (or as my mother writes, lazers) in Star Wars? They aren't just beams of light, but have something else with them. I read it a few years ago, but forgot what it is. Anyone?

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Brood McEto - Corellian