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Scientists are working on a reallife Star Trek phaser

first_imgEvery year Star Trek‘s futuristic sci-fi technology comes closer to just being “technology.” We live in a world where video chats, communicators, and real-time translators are normal, where androids are becoming more and more realistic and food replicators are almost here thanks to 3D printing. The next step? Phasers!Next month the Smithsonian Channel will air a two-hour Star Trek special to celebrate the show’s 50th Anniversary, which will take a look at some of the technologies the show predicted. In this just-released segment of Building Star Trek, future phaser use is predicated by laser scientist Rob Afzal of Lockheed Martin who, let’s be honest, has one of the coolest titles in the world. (“What do you do?” “I’m a LASER SCIENTIST.”)Now laser weapons are a thing right now, but they’re not exactly useful. To showcase the potential power of laser weapons, it’s demosntrated how they used a High Energy Laser (HEL) to detonate a rocket being launched from 1.5 kilometers away.It’s proven tech, but to produce the amount of energy required to shoot a HEL requires a staggeringly powerful generator. Before Rob started on the project the generators were the size of houses or planes, not exactly easily applicable in a battlefield scenario.“The next breakthrough would be from being able to store enough energy in a device like this [shows phaser] so that you can get your effect,” says Afzal.Now he’s developed a complete laser system that’s small enough to be deployed on the back of a flatbed truck. It’s still not exactly the most mobile thing ever, but they’re working every day to shrink it further and further. Ultimately, a pistol-sized HEL will be a game-changer that could change the face of warfare forever.Building Star Trek will air on the Smithsonian Channel on Sunday, September 4 at 8p.m. Set phasers… well, hopefully you’ll be able to set phasers soon.last_img read more