Beam Me Up
The Chinese military has announced what could be a major breakthrough in energy weapon tech — if it holds up.
As the South China Morning Post reports, representatives from the country's National University of Defence Technology say they've developed a state-of-the-art cooling system that would allow high-energy lasers to remain powered up "infinitely" without getting too hot.
While laser technology has existed for decades, these high-energy beams generate so much excess heat that they often go haywire, hampering previous attempts at similar weapon systems around the world.
The new Chinese cooling system, according to the report, would use gas that blows through the weapon to remove excess heat and allow for weapons to shoot precise laser beams for an indefinite amount of time without losing power or getting distorted.
"High-quality beams can be produced not only in the first second, but also maintained indefinitely," the team wrote in a new paper on the purported cooling tech, published in the Chinese-language journal Acta Optica Sinica.
The United States has, as the SCMP notes, often dabbled in similar tech. But these projects have largely failed to become mainstream weapons because, as the report suggests, they simply weren't destructive enough.
In a tweet about the reports, former British military official Steve Weaver noted that if the news is true, it would put China ahead of the United States in more ways than one.
"If [Chinese scientists] have overcome the heating and distortion issues as claimed, in a (relatively) small enough unit for deployment," Weaver wrote, "this is a big breakthrough considering the US failures in this area."
Along with providing a supposedly cheaper alternative to old-school missile systems because it won't need traditional munitions, these cool lasers could also be used to shoot down satellites like those provided by Elon Musk's Starlink system, military scientists told the SCMP.
The claims should, of course, be taken with a grain of salt until we see the system in action — especially after the so-called room-temperature superconductor debacle.
Still, it's not outside the realm of possibility — because really, why not?
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