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What is directed energy and why do authors like to use it in their science fiction stories about good versus evil?

According to the Department of Defense, directed energy (DE) is “an umbrella term covering technologies that relate to the production of a beam of concentrated electromagnetic energy or atomic or subatomic particles.” The reason science fiction writers and movie producers are interested in directed energy weapons is the same reason our nation is interested.

Directed energy weapons offer speed-of-light delivery – 800 times faster than sound.

When Star Trek’s Captain Kirk pulled the trigger on his Phaser ray gun, the effect was instantaneous, as is our lab’s PHa SR laser gun.

This program is our Counter-Electronics HPM Advanced Missile Project or CHAMP for short.

(We love acronyms in the military.) The purpose of my talk is to help you know the difference between fact and fiction in today’s capabilities of directed energy technology.

Presenter's Essay What do James Bond, Star Trek, Star Wars, Matrix, and War of the Worlds have in common?

These modern science fiction stories all use directed energy weapons to defeat their enemies in order to save the world – or destroy it in the case of War of the Worlds.

As kids, we had loads of punch cards we played with (not that we knew what they were), could sort resistors (dad needed the help), and marveled at the 3D maze game that we could download from a cassette tape and play at home on dad’s Timex Sinclair computer.

This directorate is the Air Force’s center of expertise in technologies for high energy lasers, high power microwaves, high power millimeter waves, and advanced optics.



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