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DARPA Working On Arthur C. Clarke Weapon Idea

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the good-times-with-molten-metal dept.

Sci-Fi 453

holy_calamity writes "DARPA is working on a weapon which is similar to one first described by Arthur C. Clarke in his 1955 novel Earthlight — firing jets of molten metal using strong electromagnetic fields. The Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition (MAHEM) will function on a smaller scale than Clarke's fictional blaster. DARPA's write-up says it could be 'packaged into a missile, projectile or other platform and delivered close to target for final engagement and kill.' Clarke is also widely credited with suggesting geostationary communications satellites — what other ideas of his will come to pass?"

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what other ideas of his will come to pass? (5, Funny)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174116)

I for one welcome Arthur C. Clarke's Overlords (Childhoods' End)

Re:what other ideas of his will come to pass? (1)

sgbett (739519) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174174)

sharks and laserbeams.... no wait

Re:what other ideas of his will come to pass? (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174260)

Based on this very appropros commentary from Arthur C. Clarke himself:

If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run - and often in the short one - the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative.


I'd have to say probably all of them. Even the far-fetched ones like the telekinesis you allude to.

Re:what other ideas of his will come to pass? (5, Funny)

rthille (8526) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174608)

Then where the hell is my flying car, and why do 80% of my countrymen still believe in bronze-age myths?

Re:what other ideas of his will come to pass? (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174642)

Then where the hell is my flying car, and why do 80% of my countrymen still believe in bronze-age myths?


Would you people give it up on the flying car already? People have invented flying cars. Flying cars aren't the problem. The problem is that people are too stupid to navigate in 3D space, especially when you consider how "well" they seem to be coping with 2D space.

Re:what other ideas of his will come to pass? (4, Insightful)

powerlord (28156) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174734)

I think its more a problem that people en-masse are too stupid to navigate flying cars.

If there are only a few of them, no problem (although the cost will be higher without that economy of scale), but once you get enough people using them, you need "roads" and people can't be counted on to learn enough to fly cars, or maintain them (if you have to pull over in a car, fine, if you have to pull over in a flying car, look out below?)

Without an "easy" control (semi-automated control/ATC?) and maintenance (outsourced rental?) system flying cars probably are not going to appear any time soon.

Automated memes (-1, Offtopic)

Bovius (1243040) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174328)

Maybe this is an idea for the in-progress tagging system: Every time a Slashdot article comes up discussing anything resembling a weapon or serious technological advancement, we could have a comment automatically posted that scrapes keywords from the article's summary and says "Let me be the first to welcome our [keywords here] overlords." Here's some recent examples!

* Let me be the first to welcome our molten metal jet wielding overlords.
* Let me be the first to welcome our parallel internet grid overlords.
* Let me be the first to welcome our Triple-Core Phenom X3 overlords.
* Let me be the first to welcome our national security letter slinging overlords.

Ouch.

Re:Automated memes (1, Flamebait)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174392)

Let me be the first to welcome our overlord joke repeating overlords.

Re:Automated memes (5, Funny)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174580)

Let me be the first to welcome our molten metal jet wielding overlords.

Better you than me, mate!

Re:Automated memes (5, Insightful)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174732)

This seems to work on the SAME exact principle as the Depleted Uranium Penetrator. Regular missile with a core of DU, when it strikes, the regular projectile cannot penetrate, but the friction that is created as the DU core moves forward through weapon metal as well as armor metal, heats it up to the point where it doesn't just punch through armor, but ignites and melts its way through. Generally it is presumed that the poor bastards inside the tank or armored emplacement are usually quite unhappy with the results (for about half a second it takes for them to be converted into meat and blood vapors.)

Therefore, it seems DARPA in usual fashion is looking at the best way to help keep raising the national debt level. If anything, the military industrial complex has been the bankers best friend, it has managed to keep spending at insane levels, without really producing any new ways of killing people... not even those who are defenseless and easy to kill in the many innovative ways militaries and governments have devised for the last few centuries.

I mean hell, the missile, bullet, DU Penetrator, APFSDF rounds, all of it, its still the same principle of a hurled projectile, spear, sling stone or arrow. New methods of slinging shit, but still the same old idea. Pretty sad if you think of it. They keep reinventing the wheel, but the wars aren't even fought for land or gold anymore, they're fought so the idiot masses can feel good about themselves. That, there is the worst part of it, as far as I am concerned. Its one thing to fight evil bastards who want to take what is yours, whether it be, life liberty or property, but most of the wars today are fought merely to keep the cattle spending their hard earned income without asking questions. What is not as much sad as it is remarkable is the bovine imbecility present in the vast masses of humanity. THAT amazes me.

The Mark V Computer (5, Funny)

TimHunter (174406) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174144)

I understand that the monks are up to about 8 and 1/2 billion. http://lucis.net/stuff/clarke/9billion_clarke.html/ [lucis.net]

Re:The Mark V Computer (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174212)

Slight correction to posted URL, dropped trailing slash.

Link is here [lucis.net] .

Posted as AC to prevent karma whoring. :-P

Hmmm (1)

Uncle Focker (1277658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174148)

Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition (MAHEM)
They should have thrown in a Y so the system could have been called MAYHEM.

Re:Hmmm (3, Insightful)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174164)

Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition (MAHEM)
They should have thrown in a Y so the system could have been called MAYHEM.
But by spelling it correctly they would have a harder time getting a trademark.

Re:Hmmm (3, Insightful)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174308)

But if this is done with taxpayers' money, won't the copyright/trademark belong to the taxpayers (i.e. public domain in US of A)?

Re:Hmmm (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174494)

Good idea. I just opened "The United States Patent Office" [theunitedstatespatentoffice.com]. I expect to be rich soon.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174592)

I expect they would probably let an independent contractor do the actual development of the weapon and thus all the consequent research and patents would belong to that contractor.

Fight Club Reference? (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174538)

The first rule of Project MAHEM is you don't talk about Project MAHEM!

Re:Hmmm (1)

robertjw (728654) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174602)

Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition (MAHEM)
They should have thrown in a Y so the system could have been called MAYHEM.
Yes, but they couldn't have told the press about it. We all know what the first rule of Project Mayhem is...

And This Concludes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174154)

And this concludes another lesson in "Why the hell didn't I file for patents on all my Sci-fi novels in the 60s?"

Tomorrow we'll be looking at Stanislaw Lem and Isaac Asimov, their recent deaths mean litigation free use of their ideas!

Re:And This Concludes (4, Informative)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174222)

And this concludes another lesson in "Why the hell didn't I file for patents on all my Sci-fi novels in the 60s?"
Because they would have expired in the 80s, long before they would become viable for implementation. Patents only last 20 years. [wikipedia.org]

Bring the marshmallows (1)

evil_aar0n (1001515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174166)

Being scorched by molten metal at high velocity is not how I'd want to go.

I wonder if this would be ruled inhumane. As if it's any worse than a nuke, just on a smaller scale.

Re:Bring the marshmallows (5, Insightful)

Tanman (90298) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174232)

You seem to be under the impression that they are referring to molten as in faucet hot metal.

My guess is that if you were hit by this stuff, you'd be dead almost before the nerves could send the signal to your brain telling you, "hey bub, I think you're about to die, so here's some pain for the road."

Re:Bring the marshmallows (4, Informative)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174342)

Being scorched by molten metal at high velocity is not how I'd want to go. I wonder if this would be ruled inhumane. As if it's any worse than a nuke, just on a smaller scale.

Have flamethrowers and napalm been ruled inhumane?

In any case, molten high velocity metal is already widely in use in anti-armor weapons. In the case of spalling, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spall [wikipedia.org] , the molten metal is from your own vehicle not the weapon.

Re:Bring the marshmallows (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174740)

There are no international treaties outlawing flamethrowers, however, the US Military gave them up voluntarily in 1978, at least partially for public image reasons.

Re:Bring the marshmallows (1)

andareil (869542) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174394)

Currently we have much more deadly weapons being used against people(cluster bombs, chemical weapons, depleted uranium etc)I wonder when they will be declared inhumane. This is something which is being developed as an armour piercing anti-tank weapon and the projectile path can be controlled much more precisely using magnetic forces unlike an explosive weapon.

Re:Bring the marshmallows (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174398)

A tired but true argument: Doesn't that go for most weapons? I'd think basically any incendiary weapon would make for an agonizing death.

Besides, this particular device sounds much more along the lines of shaped-charge munitions which have been used for a long time; it just throws some electromagnetics into the mix.

Re:Bring the marshmallows (1)

Rand Race (110288) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174446)

HEAT [wikipedia.org] rounds have worked this way since before WWII, they just use a shaped charge to create the jet rather than magnetism.

So, basically, it would be no worse than being hit with a bazooka. That is to say, it would suck.

"My man Tasty was shot with a BAZOOKA! Look at him! He used to be six foot four before he got capped!!!"

Re:Bring the marshmallows (1)

goodben (822118) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174490)

This seems to be very similar to an explosively formed penetrator (EFP) or a shaped charge, only using a magnetic field instead of a conventional explosive. These are used in most anti-armor (tank) weapons. See here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explosively_formed_penetrator [wikipedia.org]
EFPs are not actually molten though, the explosive charge just hammers it so much that the metal becomes ductile. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the case here.

Re:Bring the marshmallows (5, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174834)

Explosively Formed Penetrators are different from regular High Explosive Anti Tank rounds, which do form a molten jet. In the EFP, the charge is in the shape of a shallow dish, and it forms the lining into a solid penetrator. It works at a much greater standoff distance than a regular HEAT, and is not as much subject to disruption by reactive armor. It is not as good at penetrating the armor of a main battle tank, but is quite good at destroying vehicles and emplacements with lighter armor.

In a conventional HEAT, the charge is in the form of a narrow cone, and the liner is projected as a narrow jet of molten metal. It must explode at the correct standoff distance and the correct angle to be effective, but when it works it works quite well against even heavily armored vehicles.

Re:Bring the marshmallows (1)

PolarBearFire (1176791) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174500)

Molten metal as a weapon is not new, in fact most modern anti-tank weapons have this except using explosives. Only the electromagnetic part of this is new. Being scorched with metal would probably kill you faster than a bullet.

Re:Bring the marshmallows (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174502)

There's nothing humane about war. Anyway, this weapon is for penetrating tanks (and probably bunkers). When it works, the bodies inside would be devastated instantly. There would be no suffering, just death.

Re:Bring the marshmallows (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174508)

It's an anti tank weapon and it's just an evolution of current HEAT rounds. It was not Clarke's idea; his conception merely scaled it up quite a bit.

Re:Bring the marshmallows (2, Informative)

Zeek40 (1017978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174552)

We've been using molten metal as a weapon since World War II. The most prevalant example is probably the shaped charge rocked fired by RPG-7's.

Re:Bring the marshmallows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174632)

Other than using electromagnetism to throw the metal jet, this isn't really much different from explosively formed penetrator devices currently in use, as well as the High Explosive Anti-Tank rounds mentioned in the article. In an EFP, shaped charges superheat and compress a metal disc into a molten jet capable of piercing armor, and doing awful things to anyone it touches. Given the simplicity and effectiveness of the design, it has become very popular in IEDs in Iraq. As horrible as this type of weapon can be, compare the depleted uranium kinetic energy penetrators fired from the main battle tanks of many nations' armies: if the dart punches through the armor, the cabin of the target vehicle becomes an inferno of burning uranium.

Re:Bring the marshmallows (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174640)

I still think Napalm (or Mark 77 Firebombs if you want to avoid the Geneva Convention); rules the day when it comes to inhuman active weapons (as opposed to anti personnel mines that are inhuman passive weapons). Of course, just because something is inhuman doesn't mean it isn't effective. If it works and they have it, you can be certain that the Army will use it; inhuman or not. Besides it isn't like the population shows any real interest in debating the use of inhuman weapons.

What's the definition of a 'humane' weapon? (3, Interesting)

acheron12 (1268924) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174666)

One that murders efficiently and painlessly?

Who is Arthur C. Clarke? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174172)

I've heard his name, but don't know much about it. Unfortunately, I am one of those handicapped people who can not search Google or lookup on Wikipedia answers to my own questions. So if anyone would kindly please post a short biography or even a link, I would most grateful.

Re:Who is Arthur C. Clarke? (2, Funny)

Uncle Focker (1277658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174192)

He's most famous for his work with Stanley Kubrick on 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Re:Who is Arthur C. Clarke? (0, Offtopic)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174716)

I unofficially mod this Funny.

Yes, even at the expense of getting hit with an "Off Topic" tag or multiple Idiot Sticks.

Thank you.

Re:Who is Arthur C. Clarke? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174248)

I've heard his name, but don't know much about it. Unfortunately, I am one of those handicapped people who can not search Google or lookup on Wikipedia answers to my own questions. So if anyone would kindly please post a short biography or even a link, I would most grateful.
Here [wikipedia.org] 's a good explanation of who he is to many of us.

Childhood's End's Telekinesis (3, Funny)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174180)

One of these days, a guy will be looking at the TV remote on the coffee table and try to pull it to him with his mind... AND IT WILL WORK!

Re:Childhood's End's Telekinesis (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174284)

And one day when the Sun starts to die, we will collapse Jupiter into a star and set up a new Earth on Europa....

Just saying.

Re:Childhood's End's Telekinesis (5, Funny)

xj (958167) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174396)

What is the need for a remote if you can use telekinesis? Does superman fly southwest?

Re:Childhood's End's Telekinesis (5, Funny)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174480)

Yea like I am going to make the effort to think all the way across the room when I could just think at the remote next to me.

Re:Childhood's End's Telekinesis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174674)

and then the remote flies into his skull, instantly ending human telekinesis. The end of the chapter is written...

Center of Telekinetic Force? (1)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174722)

This raises an interesting physics question (thus, not offtopic, per se)

Where does the telekinetic force vector emanate from? I would presume that an attraction on an object would act on its center of mass, but where is the center of attraction? Is it center of mass? A spot in the brain? Or some specific antenna of psychic energy. If that's the case, the remote wouldn't hit him in the 'head', per se.

Jets of molten metal method around since WW2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174188)

They didn't use electromagnetic fields, but good old explosives.

You could even say Clark got his ideas from existing munitions.

Not saying anything bad about Clark, but the write-up is a stretch.

Re:Jets of molten metal method around since WW2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174418)

They didn't use electromagnetic fields, but good old explosives.
My thoughts exactly ... how is this "improvement" over classical cumulative charge [wikipedia.org] justified at all? Perhaps even greater speeds of the molten metal jet could be attained. But what kind of target requires that? Generally, we can trade mass for (square root of) velocity in kinetic energy formula, but this whole accelerator "thingy" is probably very heavy to begin with and it requires a power source as well, which probably won't be as much packed with energy as an explosive charge is.

Magneto Hydrodynamic... (5, Funny)

ahoehn (301327) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174200)

The Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition (MAHEM) will function on a smaller scale than Clarke's fictional blaster.
Best. Acronym. Ever.

Re:Magneto Hydrodynamic... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174422)

You could even say that use of a MAHEM will cause a lot of significant activity.

Re:Magneto Hydrodynamic... (1)

xRizen (319121) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174520)

I wonder if the project to make it is called Project MAHEM.

Re:Magneto Hydrodynamic... (2, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174646)

Magnet Yielding Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition would've been better :-)

Re:Magneto Hydrodynamic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174842)

I think Hydrodynamic Magnetic Explosive Munition is even better. It would give a new meaning to "having your cherry popped"...

Re:Magneto Hydrodynamic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174764)

I think anti-tank missiles already fire a jet of molten metal at their target.

Re:Magneto Hydrodynamic... (1)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174836)

I liked High Energy Laser Strategic Test Facility HELSTF pronounced (HellStaff) which was a real one.

Um... (3, Insightful)

kabocox (199019) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174208)

Isn't it DARPA's job to be working on every sci-fi weapon tech that might work?

Re:Um... (3, Insightful)

powerlord (28156) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174390)

... and those that might not ... as long as they can get funding. ;)

Re:Um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174840)

Hey... it worked for the Internet.

I'm a god dman walking Internet of mass destruction ever since someone sent ME an Internet.

Clarke is also widely credited with sucking dicks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174214)

I wonder what other faggotry of his slashdot will write about?

Shaped charge + magnets. woohoo? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174236)

A magnetically propelled version of the shaped charge [wikipedia.org] .

I don't understand how it would be useful as active armor - can they make them small and cheap enough to cover a warship?

Questionable.

Clarke died in March 2008 (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174240)

It is too bad that Clarke passed away a month ago. I'm sure he would have loved to see that the military was making a death ray based on his design. article here [cnn.com]

In other news... (1)

brunokummel (664267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174244)

The US NAVY has increased the funding on the Sharks with frikin' lasers attached to their heads project.

sci-fi comes from science (3, Interesting)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174264)

I'm not trying to take any credit from Clarke or anything, but many sci-fi writers who seem to "predict" what technology will come to pass are really just up on current blue-sky research. So it's not as if they came up with the idea, they often just found out about some cool research while it was in it's very early stages, decades before anything comes to fruition, and wrote about it.

Re:sci-fi comes from science (1)

hidden (135234) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174352)

I'll agree that you are correct in *some* cases...

But Earthlight was written in 1955. Now granted, I don't know when DARPA started this project, but...

traveller (1)

cats-paw (34890) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174268)

Getting closer to PGMP-11 ?

Re:traveller (1)

crawling_chaos (23007) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174372)

Well, except for the "Man Portable" part.

Rail Gun (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174282)

From what I have seen, a side effect of some electromagnetic railguns is that they melt the projectile upon firing.

At what point does electrically charged molten metal become plasma?

space elevator (4, Interesting)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174288)

what other ideas of his will come to pass?
The space elevator [wikipedia.org] , we hope. (Not that he was the first one to think of it, but he popularized the idea in his book "The Foundations of Paradise.")

a few more... (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174304)

Clarke is also widely credited with suggesting geostationary communications satellites â" what other ideas of his will come to pass?"

An Obelisk [boxeswithknobs.com] that sends out a brain splitting shriek on all radio frequencies?

Or, perhaps the the mind of HAL [sfgate.com] itself which is what DARPA wants to become by way of Skynet [cyberpunkreview.com] ?

Mebbe, mebbe not.

RS

What about the old fashined way (3, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174314)

Sounds sketchy to me. This is already how many types of armor penetrating munitions work. The jet of molten metal is created by a shaped charge. No need to carry around a few tons of foo-foo magnets, batteries, heaters, a vat of annoyingly hot molten metal and so on. While you are setting all that up I'll have blown off the target with a nice simple RPG and escaped.

Re:What about the old fashined way (1)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174400)

Yes but what if a chemical explosion was used to power the device? It would be the same as any gun, fairly inert and lightweight with the explosive charge being used to heat the metal and fire the projectile down range?

The same could be said for lasers, using conventional explosives to generate a lot of power in a very small time period and then project that power down range.

 

Re:What about the old fashined way (2, Informative)

bluemonq (812827) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174486)

...and while you're getting ready to fire the RPG, a sniper takes you out. That's not the point. There's no setup. The entire package is supposed to fit in a missile or the like. MAHEM is supposed to be - judging from the FA and press release - an upgraded version of your standard HEAT round. The listed benefits are better control over the jet; multiple, quasi-aimable jets; and more energy on target.

Re:What about the old fashined way (1)

Zeek40 (1017978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174512)

You beat me to it. Using molten metal as a weapon isn't really Clark's idea. The only thing that Clark added to the equation was using magnets to propel the molten metal. We've been using molten metal created by shaped charges as a penetrator in rockets and missiles since World War II. Replacing the slug with a warhead is the next logical step when you get a working railgun.

Re:What about the old fashined way (1)

goodben (822118) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174586)

Shaped charges don't propel molten metal. They work by using enough force to make the metal ductile. If they were really molten, they would splatter when they hit the tank. I wouldn't be surprized to find out that MAHEM was not acually using molten metal either.

Re:What about the old fashined way (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174582)

Did you read the second link?

"Current technology uses chemical explosive energy to form the jets and fragments. This is highly inefficient and requires precise machining of the metal liners from which the fragments and jets are formed. Generating multiple jets or fragments from a single explosive is difficult, and the timing of the multiple jets or fragments cannot be controlled. MAHEM offers the potential for higher efficiency, greater control, the ability to generate and accurately time multiple jets and fragments from a single charge..."

Re:What about the old fashined way (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174614)

Sounds like you are ignorant and cannot comprehend the article for lack of background.

Shaped charges consist of metal and an explosive. The explosive deforms the metal in such a way that it is a molten jet, and the liquid jet penetrates your target better than a solid would.

MAHEM, I'd imagine, uses an explosive to generate a large amount of electricity. This electricity is stored in an capacitor, and then released into what amounts to an on board rail gun.

While you lose energy converting from explosive to electricity, you gain in speed. Although an explosive is fast to you, a capacitor discharge can be an order of magnitude faster. This high speed discharge liquefies and propels the metal in more manageable and higher velocity ways.

Thus an improvement on existing shaped charge warheads.

Re:What about the old fashined way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174826)

Exactly. Shaped charges can heat the metal (usually copper) jet up to 30 000 K. A 3.5 kg, 135 mm calibre warhead with pentolite / hexolite shaped charge can break through 90 cm of steel armor or 200 cm concrete wall. I don't think any electromagnetic device of similar weight and size could deliver higher energy to the molten metal jet in near future.

how about the idea of civilization (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174332)

and the reign of common sense over mindless militarism and arms races that don't even effectively stop known enemies and only exist so tht congress people can bring home the fat contracts to their districts ?

congress and george bush are fucking retards (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174524)

gas is at 4.00 a gallon now, food prices are through the roof, and all they can think of is making MORE weapons, our so called 'leaders' need to be lined up for gunfire, hung from a tree, or decapitated for the treasons they have caused to our great country. I hate, despise, loathe them all.. may some foreign country drop a nuke directly on washington to save us from anymore damage; trust me, it is for the betterment of society.

signed,
pissed patriot

for a start (0, Redundant)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174358)

Clarke is also widely credited with suggesting geostationary communications satellites â" what other ideas of his will come to pass?
I don't know for sure, but maybe we'd better just keep away from Europa.

Waiting (1)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174364)

Sounds cool... but I'm still waiting for my water balloon railgun. It was supposed to come in last we

FOOSH!!

And if it be backfire, may him be cause (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174366)

the mayhem...

Why? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174448)

While this is cool, I really don't understand why DARPA is developing this. It doesn't seem to fill any current need. The enemies that we currently are facing or might reasonably expect to face are not using heavy armor. We, however, and our allies, are fielding lots of tanks and other armored units. So... DARPA is basically developing a weapon that would be most useful against the US, and not very useful for the US?

We've seen time and again weapons designed and built in the US being used against our forces. (Stinger missiles, anyone?) Does DARPA *really* need to be Al Qaida's R&D division?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174658)

We could use this waepon against the 1.2 billion chinese that are poised to invade Taiwan.

Re:Why? (1)

genner (694963) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174866)

It's simple once we have this weapon out there it means we will need to replace our current tanks to defend against it. And when the new armour rolls out we'll need a new weapson that can get through the new armour. Repeat indefinately. Guess who profits from this....

It's not about defense (4, Insightful)

PingXao (153057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174466)

It's about the politicians and the media convincing the people that it's worth it every month to put $15 billion into their friends' pockets. They're retiring the stealth F117 Blackbird. How much did that thing cost? What was it ever used for? Bombing Panama and Iraq? Are you kidding me?

err.. not Blackbird (1)

PingXao (153057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174526)

That was a differnt story about the SR71. The F117 is the Nighthawk.

OT - It's way past time that /. have a way to edit posts.

Re:It's not about defense (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174772)

Since the end of World War 2, USA never used an weapon in defensive manner. Panama was mistake, as Vietnam was, because there was no oil. I'm not quite sure about Iraq.
This new weapon clearly has an offensive implication. It is an munition. It will be used against the armored targets. Maybe not in Iraq, but it might be used against some other ( oil rich ) country. I'm not saying that because I think that USA will attack some other country soon, but because the history teaches me that every 6-10 years USA has to have some weapon testing ( war ) in some part of the world.

Gamma ray bursts caused by industrial accidents (1)

RoverDaddy (869116) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174554)

... unless the LHC wipes us out first ;)

In the DARPA lab... (4, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174590)

First engineer: You've got your flamethrower in my railgun!
Second engineer: You've got your railgun in my flamethrower!
Both: Two great tastes that taste great together!

Gibraltar Bridge (1)

ishmalius (153450) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174594)

From Fountains of Paradise. It would be high enough in the center that people would feel like they are flying. As the story went, the bridge more than paid for itself from tourist fees alone, rather than needing tolls from commerce.

First Rule (2, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174618)

The First Rule of Project MAHEM is:  Do not talk about Project MAHEM!

Not really. (2, Informative)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174672)

For what it's worth, Clarke wasn't the first science fiction writer to briefly outline the idea of geostationary satellites - Herman Potonik did so, much earlier. The realized version was much different than his scheme of large manned outer-space outposts. Additionally, the creators of geostationary satellites did not reference Clarke's outline, nor were they even aware of it. Clarke was merely in a position to effectively self-promote his half-similar sci-fi concepts.

hopefully this one won't come to pass... (1)

avi33 (116048) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174692)

The one where Earth can no longer recycle its carbon dioxide into oxygen fast enough, and we all suffocate.

moron blowing up yOUR 'enemies'... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23174706)

whilst the corepirate nazi domestic terrorists continue to hold most of US hostage. it would be pathetically laughable if it weren't for the long term far reaching consequences of our apathy towards/acceptance of bs in place of reality. let yOUR conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071229/ap_on_sc/ye_climate_records;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080108/ts_alt_afp/ushealthfrancemortality;_ylt=A9G_RngbRIVHsYAAfCas0NUE
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece

Other ideas? (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174712)

I'm hoping that one day we'll put a black cuboid with sides in the ratio 1:4:9 on the Moon.

So what? That's what a shaped charge does. (1)

BForrester (946915) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174770)

Shaped charges have been using explosively formed jets for ages. Why remove ourselves from the simplicity the old way (and muck with electromagnets to do the same task)?

So I read TFA:

"MAHEM offers the potential for higher efficiency, greater control, the ability to generate and accurately time multiple jets and fragments from a single charge, and the potential for aimable, multiple warheads with a much higher EFJ velocity, hence increased lethality and kill precision, than conventional EFJ/SFP."

Quake's Railgun? (1)

TristanGrimaux (841255) | more than 6 years ago | (#23174812)

Isn't that the same weapon? I think ID3 should patent the BFG9000!
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