new weapon??

I am not sure exactly what it is called, but in a car, I think maybe celenoid, it is a small cylinder of metal with a short wire attached to it. As a kid my father showed me that if you charge the wire with the spark plug wire in a car, the celenoid, if that is what it is called, will hold the charge until you touch the metal in which the person will get a nasty shock… What if someone were to make a realy huge celenoid and attach it to a very tall metal pole where it is likely to get struck by lightening. Now you have a lightning bolt at your disposal, right? If using it as a weapon, I know that it would be impossible to really control where it goes, but step two involves having a converter to turn it into a laser beam. that would be very easy to aim/use. Do any of you think that this could conceivably work and is a lightning bolt strong enough to make a laser that would do anything serious?? Maybe the next army weapon of the future? Or am I full of shit?

Sounds like you’re thinking of a capacitor. A capacitor can indeed be charged by some source and then used to shock someone.

Could a capacitor be built that is able to store the electrical equivalent of a lightning bolt? I doubt it. A capacitor is simply a device in which two conductors are seperated by an insulator (called the dielectric). Now, think about lightning: It has enough voltage behind it to pass through some 12 km worth of insulation (air). You’d need one hell of a dielectric capable of such voltage standoff capabilities.

you are probably right or else some military scientist would have thought about it by now… I just thought maybe by a long shot it could work. thanks a bunch.

Some stats:

The power of a lightning strike is anywhere from 1 - 3 trillion watts.
Instantaneous current flow from 100,000 A - 200,000 A
Voltage in the several million…30 million - 100 million, or more.

(OT: Where did you get your name from?)

Buck is a nickname and i weigh 169 or a buck 69

Your idea sounds like the Tesla Coils in Command and Conquer (Tiberian Sun i think)

Au contraire: So maybe not quite as large as a lightning strike, But…

“Tobe” supplied some BIG capacitors, nearly the size of 55 gal oil drums, for the Atoms For Peace exhibit in 1958.
Los Alamos Laboratories had a device using about a dozen of them in parallel, discharging into a single turn copper coil. The discharge sounded like a LARGE cannon. This was to demonstrate one approach to achieving an earth based fusion reaction to produce power.
Contact with just one of the capacitors would have been lethal.

celenoid -> solenoid -> ignition coil = a great big inductor.
They used to make cattle prods out of these things. Electric fences and battery powered fluorescent lamps employed a circuit that put a square wave through coils to deliver high voltage power. Nowdays, stunguns use a high voltage capacitor to store their energy.

I may wanna :smack: myself for this. But since you’re new around here, before somebody mentions the phrase we’ve all been avoiding, check this thread for your own protection.

The following is a serious post.

The army has been researching lasers for various purposes. When I worked at a small company involved in medical sensors and associated software, I got a chance to read a DAARPA project catalogue. Some of the things they wanted developed were quite ordinary (a chemical process that would quickly clean the ceramic filters ships use to make sea water potable). Others were rather scifi (an exoskeleton for the legs, giving infantry more range. The description mentioned that previous attempt had failed due to a complex and unresponsive control system.). At least two mentioned lasers. One project was interested in groundbased lasers being used for communications with satelites. The tight focus of a laser would make it far more dificult to intercept than radio waves. The other laser project was looking for a smaller power source for lasers so that they could be mounted on aircraft. Apparently new fighter jets (I think they were referred to as Electronics Intensive Aircraft) had a power surplus. They wanted either a new type of laser or a new way to power an existing type so that it could be installed in EIA .

Re Converting Electricity Into A Laser Beam

This is not a problem. CD and DVD players do it all the time. These days, you can even find laser pointer keychains in dollar stores. But puting in more electricity won’t get you a more powerful beam. It will get you metallic smoke, popping and hissing, and a broken laser.

That link didn’t work for me. What phrase? :confused:

The ‘small cylinder of metal with a wire attached’ is called a condenser. It is essentially a specialized capacitor, used in (now obsolete) ignition circuits to prevent the points from arcing. Indeed, one can charge a condenser and get a nasty shock. Charging it from the spark plug wire is pretty extreme – your father sounds like a fun guy…

So far this doesn’t look like it’d be any where near as efficient a weapon as a small piece of lead travelling a few thousand feet per second. What’s the advantage?

A laser has “instant hit” and perfectly flat trajectory, on the other hand anything big enough to do a lot of material damage (we’re leaving out “blinding” lasers for now) requires a very large power source to drive it (all the plans I’ve seen involve mounting them in large vehicles like a 747 or a ship, or static installations in a building for point defense). The concept of a great big stun gun is interesting but if it’s less efficient and has lower range than a plain old firearm (much less a 155mm cannon or rocket launcher) who’s going to use it?

ha…very funny young man, now go to your room. :wink:

      • Ehhh, stunguns do not “store” a charge at all, for any significant length of time. The HowStuffWorks site is about 70% correct. Usually a stun-gun circuit is an oscillator circuit that runs into a transformer on the low-side coil, and the “output contacts” are connected to the transformer’s high-side. If a stun-gun had to “charge-up” a capacitor, then a stun-gun would not be able to be used instantly–and they are.
  • Camera flash circuits store a charge up in a capacitor; that is why they often take a few dozen seconds to “charge up” between discharges. Typical camera flashes run a xenon gas lamp at around 300 volts, how many amps it gets hit with I don’t know–but I do know (from experience) that getting shocked by a camera-flash circuit hurts a HELL of a lot more than any stun-gun I ever played with. The amp’s is the thing, super-high volts don’t mean squat…