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United States Sci-Fi

Future Weapons of War in the Works 983

An anonymous reader writes "Who needs explosive missiles when you can just launch a 3 foot long chunk of metal at near Mach 7 speeds and get the same result? Popular Science looks at weapons the military is developing for future wars including electromagnetic railguns, space darts, superfast torpedos, laser cannons, and a gun that fires a million rounds per minute."
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Future Weapons of War in the Works

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:35AM (#9149047)
    Military technology is striving to be one big Quake clone I mean, we already have aimbots, now there are thing you know the US Army will be wallhacking.
  • US Army (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bcmm ( 768152 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:39AM (#9149061)
    So there will be new, more powerful, more accurate weapons. Now we just need a way to stop humans aiming the accurate weapons at the wrong things...
    • Re:US Army (Score:5, Funny)

      by nacturation ( 646836 ) <> on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:42AM (#9149077) Journal
      Microsoft's Digital Rifle Management?
    • Re:US Army (Score:5, Insightful)

      by next1 ( 742094 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:49AM (#9149109) Journal
      as we have seen in iraq, we also need a way to stop them aiming the accurate weapons at the *right* things.

      the restaurant attack on saddam for example? too bad about anyone else in the restaurant, or the near vicinity.
      • Re:US Army (Score:5, Insightful)

        by delong ( 125205 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @07:43AM (#9149538)
        the restaurant attack on saddam for example? too bad about anyone else in the restaurant, or the near vicinity

        Because of course Saddam was just hanging out and mingling with the little people, and the restaurant wasn't cleared and secured by his security detail first.
        • Re:US Army (Score:5, Informative)

          by next1 ( 742094 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @08:11AM (#9149714) Journal
          Iraqi rescue workers using a bulldozer to search the rubble said that three bodies had been recovered -- those of a small boy, a young woman and an elderly man -- and that the death toll could be as high as 14. The woman's head had been severed from her torso.

          ( _strike.htm [] )

          Rescuers said up to 14 people may have been killed in the blast, which reduced four houses to dust and blew out windows and doors of houses as far as 300 m away. The remains of a small boy, a young woman and an elderly man were pulled from the rubble.

          (,4 395,182123,00.html [] )
          • Re:US Army (Score:4, Insightful)

            by b-baggins ( 610215 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @10:25AM (#9151068) Journal
            War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling, which thinks that nothing is worth war, is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertion of better men than himself.

            - John Stuart Mill
            • Re:US Army (Score:5, Insightful)

              by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @10:59AM (#9151481)
              There are two extremes. One extreme says no war is worth it. Jesus takes this extreme and John Stuart Mills rails against this in your quote.

              Another extreme to reach for war as your first and primary tool when you want to control the natural resources of another country. George Bush takes this extreme.

              So in a nutshell.

              Jesus on one extreme, George Bush on the other.

              Most people are in the middle.
              • Re:US Army (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Rostin ( 691447 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:20AM (#9151720)
                Jesus takes this extreme

                Jesus takes the extreme of telling individuals not to retaliate when insulted. He says nothing about war. In his encounters with professional soldiers, he doesn't make their job an issue. He quotes the Old Testament and speaks highly of the scriptures (verses the traditions cobbled on by the Pharisees) in which a not inconsiderable amount of war and killing is mandated by Yahweh.

                It's possible to interpret the sayings of Jesus recorded as the Sermon on the Mount as a promotion of absolute pacifism, but this view doesn't really stand up very well under scrutiny and is probably too simplistic.

                Ghandi would probably make a much better example of this "extreme."
                • Re:US Army (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by dfenstrate ( 202098 ) * <> on Friday May 14, 2004 @03:23PM (#9155306)
                  Ghandi would probably make a much better example of this "extreme."

                  Actually, I'm gonna have to give ghandi an N/A for this affair. What Ghandi realized, and pretty much every modern pacifist who invokes his name doesn't, is that pacifism only works against a moral enemy.

                  To quote, for example: "Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look
                  upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest."
                  Yeah, Ghandi said that, indicating he believed violence was of us at times.

                  He used pacifism against the British because they were morally restrained, and wouldn't violently put down a non-violent protest. The one British General who did was relieved of command on rather short order.

                  You never hear of any Ghandi or MLK types from Iran, former Iraq, Syria, as they where all captured and murdered as soon as they opened their mouths, because their brutal regimes had no qualms about killing anyone given the slightest reason.
              • Re:US Army (Score:4, Funny)

                by dfenstrate ( 202098 ) * <> on Friday May 14, 2004 @02:09PM (#9154204)
                "... he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." Jesus,

                Luke 22: 36
            • Re:US Army (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Nodatadj ( 28279 )
              I'm not "anti-war" because I think it will make me safer, I'm anti-war because I think it will make the people in the area safer.
            • Re:US Army (Score:5, Insightful)

              by swingkid ( 3585 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:19AM (#9151710)
              There's a large difference between protesting a war unilaterally begun under obviously false pretenses, and not being willing to fight for anything at all.
              And while we're quoting:
              "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"
              - Samuel Johnson
            • Re:US Army (Score:3, Insightful)

              by demachina ( 71715 )
              If you want to see the context of this often used, and used out of context quote, its from "The Contest in America":


              It is a justification of the North's position in the civil war, speaks out against slavery and assaults England for backing the South in the war.

              For some odd reason you see this quote all over and its usually misquoted by people seeking to justify war. In particular they leave out this antiwar part:

              "When a people are used as mere human instrume
    • Re:US Army (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hittite Creosote ( 535397 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @06:37AM (#9149314)
      Now we just need a way to stop humans aiming the accurate weapons at the wrong things...

      Such as not shooting your allies [], for example.

      From the article in today's BBC News:
      The US military at first insisted that there was a fault with the RAF Tornado's 'friend-foe' recognition system but later admitted they were having problems with the Patriot missile system's software.

      • Re:US Army (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tealover ( 187148 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @07:14AM (#9149435)
        Friendly fire always happens in every war. Regardless of what you think from playing SOCOM, war is chaotic and mistakes do happen.

        • Re:US Army (Score:3, Insightful)

          by basingwerk ( 521105 )
          Can you be sure that this is not due to substandard training? In Britain, people are tired of hearing this excuse when the US blast British tanks and planes instead of the enemy.
          • Re:US Army (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tha_mink ( 518151 )
            In Britain, people are tired of hearing this excuse when the US blast British tanks and planes instead of the enemy.

            What excuse are they not tired of when they have their ownfriendly fire [] incedents?
    • by Moderation abuser ( 184013 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @06:41AM (#9149329)
      And airforce.

      Did you know that before the war in Iraq "ended", the US armed forces killed more of their allies than the enemy did?

      • by lobsterGun ( 415085 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @08:15AM (#9149746)
        This isn't a new problem.

        After the D-Day invasion of Normandy (in WW2) the bulk of the German Army was nearly encircled, but was allowed to escape beacuse the Allies did not want to risk the friendly fire casualties that would have resulted from completeing the encirclement.

        • by phayes ( 202222 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @08:40AM (#9149913) Homepage
          Lobster, I'm of the same opinion concerning Friendly Fire that you are, but:
          - The great majority of the German army was never in France. Only 1/3 of the Wermacht was on the western front which includes all forces in southern France & Italy as well as the forces in Normandy.
          - While Friendly Fire was feared & factored into plans, both Monty & Patton tried hard to close the Falaise pocket. The historians I've read attribute the failure to trap the German forces to german proficiency (being the first users of blitzkrieg they knew what getting encircled entailed) & allied exhaustion (breaking out was a Major effort. Sealing off the forces was beyond them).
  • by Phidoux ( 705500 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:39AM (#9149062) Homepage
    ... if the time and money spent of developing new weapons could be spent on education rather. But then again, a better educated future generation would probably be able to think up even more devastating weapons.
    • by 10Ghz ( 453478 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:43AM (#9149082)
      Educated masses are alot harder to control than uneducated masses are. If your audience is just a bunch of morons you can just say "we must kill these people because they are jealous of us and they hate freedom!"
      • by Phidoux ( 705500 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:58AM (#9149147) Homepage
        I live in South Africa where, not to many years ago, sentiments such as yours were considered to be official government policy. Thus I'm pretty sure that investing money in education, rather that in weapons technology, is a much better investment.
      • by ratamacue ( 593855 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @08:14AM (#9149736)
        Actually, I have seen otherwise intelligent people readily adopt that stance (that terrorists hate the US because of our freedom, or wealth, or religious beliefs, or basically any non-aggressive act they can drum up). When offered the possibility that terrorists hate the US because the US government regularly kills innocent civilians in the wake of its never-ending war campaigns, these same people launch into a verbal assult and full-out denial of any logic which tries to "reason with the terrorists". (As if admitting that the US government is wrong would somehow give justification for the terrorists' dispicable attacks on innocent people.)

        Group think []. That's what we're dealing with here (on both sides, the gung-ho warmongers AND the terrorists). It's simply easier for people to conform to the group, than it is to deny the group and think for themselves. If pushed, some of these people will actually claim that it is just and moral to MURDER an innocent human being if it supposedly saves another. This is the power of group think.

        • by swillden ( 191260 ) * <> on Friday May 14, 2004 @09:55AM (#9150708) Homepage Journal

          Actually, I have seen otherwise intelligent people readily adopt that stance (that terrorists hate the US because of our freedom, or wealth, or religious beliefs, or basically any non-aggressive act they can drum up).

          Well, there actually is a component of religion in the mix. Islamic leaders are very concerned about the corrupting influence that our immoral society is having on their own people. Our sort of cultural imperialism is arguably *more* threatening to them than a few bombs, if you keep in mind that to them (as well as to many serious adherents of other faiths, like Christianity), death is not nearly as bad as damnation.

          As a Christian, I look around our society and have to sympathize with them on that point, at least in part. Particularly when I consider that their view of our society is primarily the one portrayed by Hollywood.

          And 9/11, of course, was not at all about innocent civilian deaths, it was mostly about trying to get the infidels out of the Holy Land (Saudi Arabia). Bin Laden's major beef is the fact that the Saudi Royal family invited drinking, porn-viewing US soldiers and their flesh-revealing women into Mohammed's sacred land.

          In fact, very little of the Middle-Eastern terrorism has been in response to American attacks on innocent civilians. The hatred is largely created by cultural imperialism, support of Israel and various apparently anti-Arab actions taken by the US government over the last 30 years in the process of fighting the cold war and suppressing Iran and Iraq.

          Of course, the civilian casualties of these actions just serve to reinforce the perception that America hates Arabs. That plus the religion-based fears plus the political disagreements leads to all of the Great Satan rhetoric and the moral "justification" of terror attacks.

          Be careful not to fall into your own groupthink and excessive simplification. The causes of the situation are many, varied and complex, and there is plenty of irrationality, self-serving and blind disregard for human life on both sides of the question.

          Overall, I think we need to be more sensitive to the Arab world, and less heavy-handed in our approach to international relations around the globe, but I think that there's ultimately nothing we could do that would erase the fear and hatred. Middle-eastern societies are in the grip of their own great internal turmoil, as they attempt to decide whether they're going to be Islamic or secular, whether they're going to join the rest of the world in the materialism we call progress or whether they're going to stay "pure". America is the ideal symbol for one side of this conflict, and much of the hatred directed our way arises from that struggle, over which we have no direct control.

          Over time, the Middle East will eventually join the rest of the world, become secularized, progressive, open and democratic. Why is this inevitable? Because that's what the vast majority of people individually want. In the case of devout and semi-devout Muslims, they also want to honor their religion and obey their religious leaders -- who do not want secularization and progress, and see that openness and democracy lead to empowerment of the common man who will act against his own best interest (in their view). But, over time, the desire for individual freedom and economic progress will push these societies away from religious control.

          Just don't expect the change to be painless, or to stay within the Islamic nations' own borders.

          Finally, it's also important to realize that everything I've said here is a sweeping generalization. The Arab nations are not a unified whole. Iraq is already very secularized (was prior to Saddam, and during Saddam's reign, although he used religion), Iran is very Islamist, Saudi Arabia is Islamist, but still trying to be progressive, Egypt is a melting pot with lots of factions and counter-factions, and a government that is secular. I don't know enough about Syria and Jordan to comment, but I'm sure they have their own, unique situations.

          Really, it's much more complex than just "they want to kill us because we keep killing them".

          • ALMOST correct:

            Iran is very Islamist

            This isn't exactly true. There is a rather large part of the Iranian population that is not only quite secular, but VERY "western" in ideaology and culture. There has been a increasingly vocal insurgency in Iran that is promoting western ideals of democracy and secular government.

            To label Iran as "Islamist" is only true of the government, but a gross injustice to it's actual people.
  • Popular science? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:39AM (#9149064)
    Isn't there something in the FAQ about not running any stories from Popular Science? I seem to remember that Popular Science has now become just a military porn rag. They shifted from 50% flying-cars-real-soon-now/50% super-weapons to about 90% super-weapons/10% whatever. I refuse to click on the link.

    Mobile porn []

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Killjoy_NL ( 719667 ) <slashdot@remco.palli . n l> on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:42AM (#9149074)
    I can understand the need for a good military, but to spend this much money for it.

    Personally I think it would be better spent if invested in medical research and to better the relationships with other countries (admit it, a whole big part of the world isn't a big fan of the US, putting it mildly).

    Not trying to flamebait people :(
  • by PsiPsiStar ( 95676 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:43AM (#9149080)
    We're developing space based weapons. But watch out. Bin Ladin is developing Ewoks.
  • by mkavanagh2 ( 776662 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:44AM (#9149083)
    "...and what are you researching now, Professor Dexter?"
    "Space bats."
    "Space bats?"
    "You bet your ass."
  • by Motor ( 104119 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:44AM (#9149086)

    I remember during Gulf War II, the British were dropping bomb-shaped concrete blocks attached to the fanastic guidance systems they have now. No explosives needed... just plonk it down on a tank from 20000 feet and it does the job with much less collateral damage.

    Brilliant idea []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:47AM (#9149097)
    Look at tank ammunition:

    Discarding sabot - essentially a metal dart. This kills tanks using kinetic energy to punch a hole through armour. Makes a little hole and a lotta mess inside. This is the tank version of kinetic-only ammo, so scaling this up to use in a missile isn't a particularly new idea - the Durandural anti runway missile has a hardened nose cone and is rocket-accelerated under the concrete before it explodes.

    HESH - high explosive, squash head - hits the outside of the tank and explodes against it. This shakes scabs of metal away from the inside that fly around the cabin, killing the crew. This doesn't need to penetrate to destroy the ability of the tank to fight.

    HEAT - high explosive, anti-tank - this is the warhead attached to stuff like the RPG7. Nasty design - the shaped charge fires a jet of energy/molten metal through the skin of a tank, causing lots of damage inside to vehicle and crew. Even the relatively small warhead on a RPG7 can penetrate around a foot of steel.

    Now, the point for the last 2 shell types existing is that sometimes, kinetic energy isn't enough. Other ways to get better results are to make the shells heavier - using depleted uranium for example. While what I'm talking about here is tank warfare, the same will apply to bombs and bunker munitions - different tools for different tasks.

    • by WegianWarrior ( 649800 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @06:34AM (#9149302) Journal

      ...or shaped charges [] as they are often know:
      Back when the shaped charge was first developed as a usable weapon against tanks, it was seen as a way to defeat the newer, more heavily armoured tanks that had started appearing. Up to that point, a anti-tank gun had relied on the penetrating power of a solid shot - often with a tungsten core.
      After a little while people realised that since a HEAT warhead [] did not rely on kinetic energy to punch a hole thru armour, lighter, manportable anti tank weapons could be designed and built - including the US bazooka [], the british PIAT [] and the german Panzerfaust [] (the worlds first disposable anti tank weapon). Shells fireing HEAT warheads was also fired from guns of virtually any caliber during and shortly after WWII.
      Relatively soon however, it was found that composite armour [] and, to a lesser extent, spaced armour was efficient in protecting against both HEAT and HESH shells, signaling a return to the solid penetrators - now fired by guns that could achive much higher muzzles velocities than the pre WWII designs. For manportable weapons however, it was difficult to increase the velocity of the weapon without making it larger, heavier and thus more difficult to transport and operate. Therefore the wast majoity of the manportable anti tank weapons, including the M72, the RPG-7, the TOW missile and many, many more, still uses HEAT warheads - and is likely to do so for the forseeable future. The deliverysystems for the warheads are simply not capable of delivering enought energy to make a kinetic penetrator a viable option.

  • Here's an idea... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PsiPsiStar ( 95676 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:49AM (#9149112)
    How about timers in land mines so that they blow up/self destruct after two or three years. That way, we don't leave land mines all over the place like we did in Cambodia, with people still dying from them, god knows how long after the conflict. Does anyone know if the US does anything like this? It doesn't sound that hard, and would do a lot of good. (Have them blow up at 3 in the morning, so noone is nearby).

    • Re:Here's an idea... (Score:4, Informative)

      by orzetto ( 545509 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @06:26AM (#9149268)

      AFAIK the US are not really interested in more "humanitarian" behaviour of landmines. The Ottawa convention [] has not been signed by a few "rogue states", including the US, Russia, China, India, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan. If you don't like that company, write to your representative.

      Landmines are not really meant to kill soldiers after all, they know what they look like and where they might be - they are often even designed not to kill, but to mutilate. A dead is buried, a mutilated child will be a burden for society for all his life. Fill a country with landmines, as both Soviets and US-backed Mujaheeddins did in Afghanistan, and you have cursed the country for generations.

      Self-destructing mines are not going to be accepted - these days the Geneva convention is used to wipe Rumsfeld's arse, and frankly a proposal for a more expensive and on-purpose less effective weapon is not going to get through.

      I'm told that mine production is not even that lucrative business. They have children mutilated with landmines that look purposefully like toys, only to make a few pennies more. Some motherfuckers.

      Speaking of Cambodia, these people [] know something.

    • by eclectro ( 227083 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @07:27AM (#9149487)
      How about timers in land mines so that they blow up/self destruct after two or three year.......Does anyone know if the US does anything like this?

      Sadly, even if the US did create a landmine that would turn inert over time, there are a number of other nations in the military sales business that would not bother to do so.

      Certainly cost is a factor. Why buy a mine that goes dead after a period of time when you can buy two mines that don't for the same money?

      The idea of self destructing landmines is completely counterintuitive not only to the nature of war, but to the purpose of land mines as well.

      Landmines today are engineered to not kill a soldier (I do not know about US made landmines or if this is regulated by treaty as hollow point bullets are), but rather to cause horrific harm to him. In fact, there is one landmine that when it is triggered it launches itself in the air about waist high and then explodes.

      This deeply injures a soldier in a sensitive area. The purpose of doing this is to not only take him out of action, but to tie up resources to take care of him. But most importantly, it demoralizes those around him and those that come in contact with him. If it kills the soldier, the landmine is considered a "failure".

      Which brings up a larger issue of "war". There are no rules in war, period. War is the distillation of evil from the human spirit, with the purpose to cause (usually hurtful) harm to another human being. It might be a "just war" with a purpose (stop Hitler), or it might be "just a war" with the sole purpose of killing (Rwanda).

      Either case, the enterprise of evil is present.

      Which is why you find toys that are actually explosives so that kids will find them.

      In this context, will a new type of landmine be invented that turns inert?

      Yes, it will. But they will be so few in number compared to other countries that don't care, who will produce countless millions that don't turn inert. So, it could be argued that any such effort is doomed to be meaningless.

      As an aside, I don't excuse what is happening in Iraq with the prisoners of war. But people forget a couple of things. First, it is a war . By definition this kind of thing is going to happen. People would like to think that American soldiers are above this behavior. But the fact is many of those prisoners have American blood on their hands, and many families here in the US will not see their loved ones again because of it.

      So, from my perspective, I can see where if you had a buddy killed by a rebel and you manage to catch him, you might want to exact a bit of vigilante justice to show your displeasure.

      In fact, when Americans captured such prisoners at the turn of the last century in wars, they were routinely lined up against a wall somewhere and shot. Another thought was never given to it.

      I don't fault the Bush administration for going to war with Iraq. I fault the Bush administration trying to fight a "polite" war, to in some way rid the Iraqi people of the evil of Saddam and bring democracy to the Arab world. As some have said, you can win the war, but not necessarily win the piece.

      The purpose of war is to inflict pain on, conquer, or kill your enemy. So, the goal of this war, "to help" the Iraqi people, is incongruous with the definition of war itself. Hence, this incongruity has produced instances of abuse in the Iraqi prisoner of war population. It was not the first, nor will it be the last time it happens. I dare say even by other American soldiers at some future date.

      I am not saying that it should be accepted or excused. What I am saying is that war is an evil enterprise, no matter how smart your bombs are, or if the landmines are self destructing. And when people are fighting a war, I think it would be safe to assume that whether a landmine will turn inert at some future date or not is the very last thing on their mind. They just want it to explode when somebody steps on it.
  • Space darts (Score:4, Funny)

    by BabyDave ( 575083 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:50AM (#9149113)

    ... space darts, ...

    Research is now beginning into surface-to-air Tiddlywinks, and atomic Shove Ha'penny.

    In other news, British scientists have abandoned their work on railguns after they found that the projectiles continually arrived an hour late. This was blamed on the "wrong sort of magnetism".

  • by Spoing ( 152917 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:54AM (#9149136) Homepage
    ...neither popular (now) nor science (was it ever?).

    It's tech, not science, and vapor tech at that.

  • Terrorism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:55AM (#9149139)

    Don't we have enough bombs already?

    The biggest threat to the USA in the future is terrorism. Terrorism is defeated with bombs, although the chimps currently in the White House seem to think it is.

    Terrorism is just a symptom of a disease - hatred within society. For every terrorist, there will be a hundred people in the same society that feel very strongly about the same issues, but not enough to become a terrorist. That is, until you drop a bomb on their children. To defeat terrorism in the long term, you've got to tackle the strong feelings within the society that produced it.

    When Tony Blair first started office, he realised this was the way to solve the Northern Ireland problem, and did some very intelligent things (along with his counterparts in the Republic of Ireland) to tackle the social problems that were the root cause of terrorism in N.Ireland. Why on earth he is now supporting Bush's neanderthal approach to Al-Quaida I will never understand.

    • Two Points (Score:5, Insightful)

      by N8F8 ( 4562 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @07:21AM (#9149461)
      1) As long as terrorism is seen as being effective, it will be used. Terrorism breeds fear: fear makes change.

      2) The current mess was allowed to fester for well over a decade before proactive action was taken. An entire generation was brainwashed to hate America as the enemy. Until they are old enough to recognize the truth and have the societal roots to care about living more than dying, the murder will continue. Population demographics in Africa and southwest Asia aren't on our side.
  • I see that lots of you are tearing down on the development of weapons in the context of terrorism and such. But lots of these technologies are being applied to law enforcement as well. Smart rounds being the best example. Some of these new ammunitions are based on 'smart-metal' designs that can penetrate metal or body armor, but stop and fragment when it hits tissue. Sounds bad, but would have been a great solution to the armored bank robbers in LA several years ago. Those cops did nothing but blanket a neighborhood with random shots because they were useless against soft body armor. So look at the positives of the whole argument.
  • by phoxix ( 161744 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @06:19AM (#9149236)
    Deal with the ones we currently have ...

    We all know Russia has plenty of weapons that are unaccounted for, (or some that have bad care taking/accounting). So instead of funding all this new bullshit, and this useless war on Iraq, how about we keep funding for arms control like Nunn-Lugar [] or Start III [] ?

    Sunny Dubey
  • Some thoughts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by carvalhao ( 774969 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @06:22AM (#9149252) Journal

    Although I am a pacifist, I do believe that currently it is still a necessity to develop weapon technology, for if the Americans and Europeans don't, some other country, perhaps with less respect for human life or International Law (although the USA haven't been that respectfull with the last one), will! So it's a martial arts kind of philosophy: get the knowledge in hope you'll never need to use it.

    What must be stressed, though, is that military supremacy should not be an excuse for poor or non-existing foreign policy. The best way to get and maintain peace is not through the use of weapons, as we've been repeatedly taught by History, but by respecting people, their culture and balancing economical divides. And this is true not only as far as international war is concerned but also in the little national wars that are waged in every country in the form of crime.

    As a final remark: didn't "Kursk", the Russian sub, sink due to a failed test of that same torpedo technology? And now they're selling it? Great move... develop a dangerous-to-use torpedo AND get the other guys to use it! :)

    • Re: Some thoughts (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Black Parrot ( 19622 )

      > What must be stressed, though, is that military supremacy should not be an excuse for poor or non-existing foreign policy.

      Unless of course you're deliberately trying to start WWIII.

  • by Quizo69 ( 659678 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @06:31AM (#9149289) Homepage
    I find it highly disturbing that the US recoils in revulsion at the brutal beheading of one of its own, but bats nary an eyelid when superweapons designed to kill MILLIONS are announced. Just because you can visit death on people from afar, doesn't mean you are somehow morally superior. That is already painfully evident in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    If we don't learn very quickly to put aside differences and work towards real peace, I fear we won't be celebrating the coming of the 22nd century, because we won't be around any more.
    • "One mans death is a tradgedy, a million deaths is a statistic"
    • No, but it shows the mindset of the so called "people" we are facing.

      If they din't want to be treated as animals, they might quit acting like them.
      • "No, but it shows the mindset of the so called "people" we are facing. If they din't want to be treated as animals, they might quit acting like them."

        And they could say the same of Americans. They aren't "so-called people", they ARE people. When Iraqis see a US sniper put a bullet through their relatives' heads, do you think they consider that sniper a hero? Or do you think they would call them the animals, callously butchering their loved ones like dogs?

        My point is this - always, ALWAYS beware of demonis
  • by pbhj ( 607776 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @06:39AM (#9149323) Homepage Journal
    When you shoot this gun (I did look at the article and there aren't any details except that it's electric) more than 15000 bullets a second are leaving the muzzle. If each bullet is 1cm in length that's at least 150m of bullet and assuming a recycle time equal to 10 times the length of the bullet [*] let's say 3000m. That's a firing velocity of Mach 9.

    Also, a one million strong line-up of 1cm bullets adds up to 10km of metal being fired each minute! Alternatively if each bullet is 1cm^3 of metal that's a m^3 of metal which is likely to weigh in excess of 7 metric tons (using Iron, 7380 kg/m^3 as a guidline).

    So each 60seconds we accelerate 7+ tons of bullet metal to Mach 9 ... using KE (kinetic energy) formula we give it 30 thousand-million Joules of energy @ 500 million Watts (about the output of 5 large electric plants). ... They're going to need big batteries!

    [*> that is the bullet has moved ten times it's length before the next bullet sets off]

    PS: I'm sure someone will find a mistake in these calculations and that someone else with more gun knowledge will correct some horrible assumption, but hey.
    • by carvalhao ( 774969 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @06:53AM (#9149367) Journal

      No to mention that, if Newton got his apples right, you'd have an incredible thrust is the oposite direction. Now, the A10, which boasts a considerable firing rate off it's cannon already slows down a bit when firing... I can envision some aircraft going backwards with this one! ;)

    • by ivrcti ( 535150 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @09:19AM (#9150272)
      First - essentially no reload time since all the bullets are stacked directly in the barrel before firing begins. Reducing your estimate by a factor of 10.

      Second - as others have pointed out the electrical charge merely ignites the propelant rather than providing the impetus. Reducing your estimate by another factor of 100.

      Third the weapon only fires for milliseconds when at full rate, reducing your estimate by another factor of 50.

      Fourth - the million rate is developed by a weapon that has about 50 barrels, so the velocity of each bullet can drop accordingly, reducing your estimate by another factor of 50.

      Your last sentence was the most correct, it's the assumptions that invalidate our calculations at least by a factor of 2,500,000.

  • by ThinWhiteDuke ( 464916 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @07:04AM (#9149406)
    Just watch Iraq. The US have an overwhelming military advantage there. Nothing in the whole country can even dent an Abrams tank. The US soldiers have the best protection, the best fire power, the best communications, recon etc... Yet they are slowly losing control of the situation.

    Those futuristic weapons are designed to fight 20th century's wars, not today's or tomorrow's wars. What's the use of a gun that fires a million rounds per minute when you're trying to control a riot? How can space darts help you identify the terrorist hiding in the crowd?

    Overwhelming weapon superiority does not work in Iraq; I don't think further increasing this superiority will work better.
    • Actually, while we may have an overwhelming firepower advantage in Iraq, we hardly have overwhelming numbers.

      A general rule-of-thumb for occupations is 1 soldier per 40 inhabitants. Having less means you don't have enough troops to adequately control activities on the ground.

      We have something like 1 soldier for every 160 Iraqis there today.

      A Proven Formula for How Many Troops We Need []

      So it should be obvious why we're having these problems today.
    • Nothing in the whole country can even dent an Abrams tank.


      Obviously, you have never seen this little page... [] Just scroll down through pictures. Don't ever underestimate the power of single RPG round fired at close range.

      A lot of people seem to consider the British "Challenger" a much better tank than the Abrams, btw.
  • American Flag? (Score:3, Flamebait)

    by peterprior ( 319967 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @08:03AM (#9149651)
    I find it interesting that the slashdot story icon for this is a nice wavy American flag. Is making missiles and weapons what America is proud of ?
  • by dcsmith ( 137996 ) * on Friday May 14, 2004 @08:15AM (#9149752) Homepage
    From the PopSci article - In the case of the supercavitating torpedo described in this article, skeptics ask where the need is. "If we ever face a hostile navy again I'd like to take a look at it," says Thompson. "Obviously it's an improvement over what we have, but what's the enemy? It's not enough to have a weapon that can use new technology creatively. It needs to answer a valid military need or threat."

    He obviously doesn't read /. or he would know that that sneaky Swedish Navy [] is up to no good. We may need those torpedoes!!

  • Railgun please... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Genda ( 560240 ) <> on Friday May 14, 2004 @08:16AM (#9149756) Journal
    It was a while back, but last time I read about the railguns currently being experimented with, they were trying to raise the velocity from about 13 mile per second to a wee bit over 18 miles per second. The reason being that just over 18 miles per second, a ballistic object colliding with another object can initiate a fusion reaction (at least of limited proportions.) This would needless to say, neutralize any object the rail struck instantly, and with extreme prejudice.

  • by BCW2 ( 168187 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @09:32AM (#9150417) Journal
    I knew a guy that worked at White Sands in the early 90's. His project was the rail gun. One evening he brought a few thing by my work and showed me the possibilities. A 5mm plastic BB, not even hard plastic, and a 4inch square of 2 inch thick aluminum with a one inch dia. hole in it. The gun accelerated the BB to mach5 and it went throug the plate like a knife through butter. Very impressive technology.

    This kind of research goes on all the time, it does advance science. Wheather it ever gets used or not, who knows. Once the technology gets developed it can be adapted to other uses. Anyone think the space programs computer research was wasted? While your sitting in front of the result?
  • by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @10:26AM (#9151091) Journal
    The problem with the US military isn't a technical one, it is a cultural one. It seems strange to fret over our ability to crush weaker enemies when our military force has a budget that is greater than the other nation's entire GNP.

    The question isn't how force is used so much as why it is being used in the first place. We simply have our fingers in too many places around the world.
  • by npsimons ( 32752 ) on Friday May 14, 2004 @02:15PM (#9154314) Homepage Journal

    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired
    signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not
    fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not
    spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the
    genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way
    of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is
    humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
    -- Dwight David Eisenhower, April 16, 1953

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes