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US Congress Funds Laser Weapons

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the vaporize-ware dept.

The Military 423

An anonymous reader writes "The Washington Post reports that the US Congress is funding laser weapons for use in the near future. Low-power lasers called 'dazzlers' are already being used in Iraq to temporarily reduce a person's vision. High-power laser weapons would allow precision attacks that minimize civilian casualties. From the Post: 'The science board said tactical laser systems could be developed for broader use because they "enable precision ground attack to minimize collateral damage in urban conflicts." The report suggested, for example, that "future gunships could provide extended precision lethality and sensing." The board also proposed using lasers to protect against rockets, artillery, mortars and unmanned airborne vehicles by blasting them out of the sky. Last month, the Army awarded Boeing $36 million to continue development of a high-energy laser mounted on a truck that could hit overhead targets. But deployment is not expected until 2016, even if all goes well.'"

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423 comments

Cue Shark Jokes in 3 2 1 (4, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106513)

All shark jokes go here!

Re:Cue Shark Jokes in 3 2 1 (2, Insightful)

Xeth (614132) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106605)

That joke's really... jumped the shark?

Re:Cue Shark Jokes in 3 2 1 (1, Offtopic)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106749)

Yea I would agree. When a joke become expected per article. It isn't funny anymore.

Re:Cue Shark Jokes in 3 2 1 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25107131)

Thankfully, that hasn't happened to good spelling and grammar.

Re:Cue Shark Jokes in 3 2 1 (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25107337)

Ai no. Ai wush evri wun culd spel lyke mi!

Re:Cue Shark Jokes in 3 2 1 (0, Redundant)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107293)

That joke's really... jumped the shark?

Well, I for one welcome our new laser donning selachimorphic overlords!

Re:Cue Shark Jokes in 3 2 1 (-1)

martinw89 (1229324) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106675)

Queue not cue.

Re:Cue Shark Jokes in 3 2 1 (4, Informative)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106739)

Cue

2. anything that excites to action; stimulus.

8. to insert, or direct to come in, in a specific place in a musical or dramatic performance (usually fol. by in or into): to cue in a lighting effect.

Gotta love Grammar nazis though. Though "Queue" also works.

Re:Cue Shark Jokes in 3 2 1 (3, Informative)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106745)

A cue is a signal to begin. A queue is a line or order.

Re:Cue Shark Jokes in 3 2 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25106897)

QQ more, nub

Re:Cue Shark Jokes in 3 2 1 (2, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106917)

A queue is a line

Well, given the sheer number of slashdot nerds eagerly awaiting any opportunity to post a meme ...

Re:Cue Shark Jokes in 3 2 1 (3, Funny)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106999)

Queue not cue.

Q, not queue. Although not known primarily for his sense of humor, who would be better qualified to mount a friggin laser on a shark and joke about it afterward than Q?

Re:Cue Shark Jokes in 3 2 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25107321)

All shark jokes go here!

Er, "Insightful"?? No offense, but how exactly did this give meaning or benefit beyond humorous?

And this post isn't insightful either, it's meant to be funny dammit, now laugh!

Re:Cue Shark Jokes in 3 2 1 (3, Funny)

Darkfire79 (1094983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107507)

[Scene: A New York apartment. Someone knocks on the door.] Woman: [not opening the door] Yes? Voice: (mumbling) Mrs. Arlsburgerhhh? Woman: What? Voice: (mumbling) Mrs. Johannesburrrr? Woman: Who is it? Voice: [pause] Flowers. Woman: Flowers for whom? Voice: [long pause] Plumber, ma'am. Woman: I don't need a plumber. You're that clever shark, aren't you? Voice: [pause] Candygram. Woman: Candygram, my foot. You get out of here before I call the police. You're the shark, and you know it. Voice: Wait. I-I'm only a dolphin, ma'am. Woman: A dolphin? Well...okay. [opens door] [Huge latex and foam-rubber shark head lunges through open door, chomps down on woman's head, and drags her out of the apartment, all while the Jaws attack music is playing.]

Re:Cue Shark Jokes in 3 2 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25107547)

Dateline 9/23/2008

The NYSE gained 2% today on the strength of shark futures...

Cartoon battlefield (5, Funny)

Recovering Hater (833107) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106547)

Come on, you know the battlefields of the future are going to look like a 1980's G.I. Joe cartoon. Hilarious. Wait... Not really hilarious...

Re:Cartoon battlefield (4, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106699)

No, the battles of the future will be fought in space, or possibly at the top of very tall mountains, by robots.

Re:Cartoon battlefield (3, Funny)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107179)

No, the battles of the future will be fought in space, or possibly at the top of very tall mountains, by robots.

Our duty is clear....to build and maintian those robots.

Re:Cartoon battlefield (2, Insightful)

Attackman (95672) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106817)

Shouldn't this be from the "pew-pew-pew" department?

Screw your "vaporize-ware" gag. I'll take cheap meme humor any day of the week!

Re:Cartoon battlefield (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106845)

I never quite figured out why it is so hard to hit people with lasers or phasers on Sci-Fi. oops you missed your first shot You can quite easily see the beam. while the beam is still going just adjust aim a bit and there you got him. Heck if I was behind a rock I could just kinda shoot left and right at kneecap range and whip out an army.

Re:Cartoon battlefield (4, Insightful)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107269)

I'd like anyone with a minimum of imagination to think about the kind of wounds these weapons will cause. Seems horific to me. It always strikes me how these weapons are promoted to "eliminate targets", and while one might think about destroying infrastructure, they are actually talking about killing.

But hey, I guess more weapons is just what the world needs.

(sorry for the sarcasm).

Re:Cartoon battlefield (3, Funny)

halivar (535827) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106887)

If both sides of every conflict missed every single target like on the TV show, I would, indeed, find it hilarious.

Re:Cartoon battlefield (2, Funny)

FishAdmin (1288708) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106903)

Come on, you know the battlefields of the future are going to look like a 1980's G.I. Joe cartoon. Hilarious. Wait... Not really hilarious...

The important thing is that now we know...and knowing is half the battle!

Re:Cartoon battlefield (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25107379)

The important thing is that now we know...and knowing is half the battle!

The show never answered one thing... what the heck is the other half?

Re:Cartoon battlefield (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106957)

Come on, you know the battlefields of the future are going to look like a 1980's G.I. Joe cartoon. Hilarious. Wait... Not really hilarious...

Please RTFA, I quote (emphasis mine):

The science board said tactical laser systems could be developed for broader use because they "enable precision ground attack to minimize collateral damage in urban conflicts." The report suggested, for example, that "future gunships could provide extended precision lethality and sensing."

I don't know what GI Joe cartoons you watched as a kid, but precision was never part of any battle I saw.

What I'm more interested in, of course, is this little tidbit:

Low-power lasers known as "dazzlers [wikipedia.org] " are being used in Iraq, mounted on M-4 rifles, "to warn or temporarily incapacitate individuals," according to the Defense Science Board's report.

This is perhaps the biggest development in modern warfare I've ever read about. I just hope they didn't deploy the Disco version, though the techno/trance version is almost as bad.

Once they start to mass market them (1)

Van Cutter Romney (973766) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106645)

You'll get idiots like these [defensetech.org] running around with laser weapons.

Berserk Home Militia Idiots (2, Funny)

DrYak (748999) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107111)

You'll get idiots like these [defensetech.org] running around with laser weapons.

And what about this kind of idiots [nickscipio.com] ? Do you really want them [nickscipio.com] to be able to buy lasers over the counter ?!?

Gun crazy private militia has always frightened me. As if these idiots didn't have a big enough aresenal you want to add lasers to their tool belt ?

Treasury's Bailout Package (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25106705)

Please read Congress's misguided bailout package. It will reward failed wall street companies instead of letting them crater, instead of injecting money into solvent banks.

This is important to your financial future:
http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2008/09/20/treasurys-financial-bailout-proposal-to-congress/ [wsj.com]

Re:Treasury's Bailout Package (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25107019)

Though I did mod you offtopic, thank you for the link. I've been looking for that text all morning.

Re:Treasury's Bailout Package (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25107323)

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Let's give the Treasury Sec. (who used to work for Goldman Sachs) the ability to give $700 billion to his criminal friends without any oversight, ever. Great idea.

compact=gitmo (3, Funny)

b96miata (620163) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106725)

Great, now mirrors will be renamed to "Improvised Reflective Devices"

Re:compact=gitmo (2, Interesting)

halivar (535827) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106781)

Do mirrors work against high-energy lasers? Say, the kind powerful enough to fry a person?

Re:compact=gitmo (2, Informative)

bughunter (10093) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107067)

Only if very nearly perfectly reflective at the laser wavelength, and then only if kept perfectly clean.

Something like this would be far more difficult for a low-tech insurgent to deploy than, say, a PIC [yahoo.com] , a cellphone, some vectorboard, a length of det cord, and a hunk of C4.

Re:compact=gitmo (5, Interesting)

Nyrath the nearly wi (517243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107075)

No, mirrors will not work. The weapon will use internally a wide beam that is just barely under the intensity level that will damage the weapon's internal mirrors. At the barrel, the focusing mirror will focus the wide beam down to a searing pin-point on the hapless target. The focused beam will be more than intense enough to defeat any mirror the target might be wearing. I have some notes here: http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3l.html#laserpistol [projectrho.com]

Re:compact=gitmo (1)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107339)

How fried? Do you mean disable (i.e. temporary blindness), cripple (permanent blindness), burn (seared flesh), or maim (severed limbs or death?) An ordinary mirror will work fine for the lower power attacks (as would a sheet of cardboard!) If you have a mirror made from the right kind of material (such as copper) it'll deflect any of these. But the kind powerful enough to take out a satellite, missile, or weapons platform? I have heard that no ordinary mirror would withstand them, but that copper sheeting could still protect the target.

The more important question is: are you going to be hiding behind a mirror when the weapon strikes? My understanding is the big laser weapons are pulse weapons, meaning all their energy is delivered virtually instantly. It's not like you can watch a laser beam come zapping in and then duck just before it hits you. That only works for Captain Kirk.

Chris Night to the rescue? (3, Funny)

shawb (16347) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106737)

It's going to take a Real Genius to get this right. I do hope they make sure their optics are clean.

Battlefield Use (3, Insightful)

s31523 (926314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106747)

Laser use remains controversial because a protocol of the Geneva Conventions bans their use in combat when they are designed to cause permanent blindness.

Conventional weapons (bombs, mines, bullets, missiles, etc.) can cause death, permanent paralysis, limb loss, and even blindness. What is the difference, really?
Also, what does it mean when fighting a group that does not abide by the Geneva Convention?

Re:Battlefield Use (3, Interesting)

krystar (608153) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107071)

Actually the Geneva Convention has nothing about weapon types. Geneva Convention covers the treatment of POW's and civilians. It's the Hague Convention of 1907 that covered weapon types.

It's not legal to shoot a human target with a 50 caliber sniper rifle. However, it is legal to shoot the helmet he's wearing.

Re:Battlefield Use (1)

Sasayaki (1096761) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107343)

Also, what does it mean when fighting a group that does not abide by the Geneva Convention?

I don't know. I don't know what it's like to fight the United States military.

P.S. the Hague convention governs the use of weaponry. The Geneva convention covers the treatment of PoW's.

Re:Battlefield Use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25107373)

Also, what does it mean when fighting a group that does not abide by the Geneva Convention?

Scary: I can't tell which side you're talking about.

Laser weapons ? (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107521)

Conventional weapons (bombs, mines, bullets, missiles, etc.) can cause death, permanent paralysis, limb loss, and even blindness.

Don't you think that have enough tools to maim our next of kin ?

More seriously, pouring money into weapon-grade Lasers :

1. Brings even more deadly toys on the market which could subsequently be abused. Currently there are no easily transported high power lasers, because most civilian use for which they are developed (see Tera-/Peta-watt Lasers) are perfectly happy with fixed solutions. There are no such thing as a laser-weapon of death. But once the technology is developed that's yet another weapon that all "wannabe an ermeging military powers" country will try to copycat. As if current scares about WMD being developed by this or that member of some "Axis of evil", you want an additional toy which has a good range, precise aiming and almost point'n'click style of control ?

2. Diverts that much money from civilian use where high-power lasers are needed and is that much money that laser-based plasma fusion will miss. Next time someone bitches that "Fusion power is perpetually 10 year away from now", remember that instead of developing lasers for that kind of application, money has steered research in the fields of lasers toward building DeathStar lookalikes.

Also, what does it mean when fighting a group that does not abide by the Geneva Convention?

Once you, too, stop to follow the Geneva Convention, what still distinguish you morally and ethically from the "evil scum" you're fighting with ?
Weren't you supposed to be the "good guys", who liberate oppressed people from some evil tyrant ? I've what you're doing is exactly the same as the tyrant you try to remove, what are you bringing new to the situation ?
"But they started doing it first" is such a kindergarten-level of excuse.

Military Industrial Complex (5, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106771)

Last month, the Army awarded Boeing $36 million to continue development of a high-energy laser

$36 million, eh? Not much when you say it quick. I suppose it's a drop in the ocean of US defence spending.

Other countries manage to generate growth without being such warmongers. What is it with the US and this obsession with devising new and more efficient ways to wage war? Dwight Eisenhower's warning [google.com] seems to have been more prophetic than many would have realised. This war machine has every congressman in its pocket, it's sucking the taxpayer dry, and it's out of control.

Re:Military Industrial Complex (-1, Troll)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106867)

What is it with the US and this obsession with devising new and more efficient ways to wage war?

My theory is this: If you are a lying, cheating dick and make everybody hate you, you need big guns to stay alive. That's what the US have been doing for the last couple of decades.

They lie, they cheat, they deceive and they stick their noses in other peoples business while their own country runs wild and goes down the pooper.

I don't know if they'll ever fix this but the military is probably not the reason if it happens eventually.

Mod me flamebait if you like but it's the truth and you know it.

Re:Military Industrial Complex (-1, Troll)

Chupathingy (1367637) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106885)

What is it with the US and this obsession with devising new and more efficient ways to wage war?

Two words and a letter... George W. Bush

Re:Military Industrial Complex (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25106991)

When the Russians go rolling across Europe again as the resources of the planet become scarce, remember you said that. You will be praying for the U.S. and all of its "wasteful" high-tech weaponry to come on over (again) and save you. Maybe next time we should stay home and let you all eat each other.

the other countries (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107037)

generating growth without spending on defense exist in peace due to the efforts of the us military. a world without us military spending would be a world of russian imperialism and utter havoc in the middle east, and those "peaceful" countries would radically ramp up their own defense spending, or cease to exist, or become war zones

the usa is the de facto peacekeeper in the world today, for better or worse. some day, it won't be, nothing is forever, and that world will not be a more peaceful one, but a more warlike one, until it transitions to a new peacekeeper

some people don't understand this, and its due to a common misperception: peace is not a state of absence of war potential. peace is a state of balance in war potentials between two or more sides. the world exists in this constant tension, always has, and always will. you would understand this ugly but undeniable truth if you truly understood essential human nature

peace is nothing more than a state of balance between two deadly potentials. remove one of those balances, and in the transition to a new state of balance, much bloodletting occurs. that's all peace is. a balance between war potentials. it is absolutely impossible in this world for peace to exist without any armed forces. such a world would be full of more bloodshed, random warlord. a world of two massive armies with loaded guns pointed at each other is meanwhile perfectly peaceful. i didn't say this is a good thing, i just recognize an unfortunate ugly truth when i see one

but there ar epletny out there, raised in a coccoon of relative peace ot the rest of human history and other parts of this world, who are blind to this reality. they live in a hermietically sealed bubble, and they begin to develop attitudes about peace and war which frankly, is absurd

if you don't agree with this assessment, or don't understand it, you don't really understand the nature of the human beings living around you, and you aren't in very good touch with your own human nature

a lot of people don't understand exactly what creates peace in this world. real peace is a balance between two deadly potentials, not the absense of any deadly potential

understand that about the nature of peace, or live in denial

Re:the other countries (4, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107317)

a world without us military spending would be a world of russian imperialism and utter havoc in the middle east

"Would be?" What's with the conditional tense?

peace is a state of balance in war potentials between two or more sides.

That was all you had to say. The two dozen repetitions of 'you don't understand human nature' were a bit superfluous.

Europe was once a patchwork of opposing 'war potentials' as you describe them. There was a network of alliances pointing guns at each other in the belief that it would lead to peace. In reality all it took was a single assassination to trigger off the first world war. Modern Europe is a network of treaties and agreements where governments work together for mutual benefit. Result? It would now be impossible for the likes of Germany to go to war with France or any EU member to go to war with another.

There is an alternative to violence or the threat of violence in international relations. The American attitude of 'a gun in everyone's pocket keeps everyone safer' is one that doesn't work at home, and in world affairs it's a very high stakes game to be playing in the interests of proving that your ideology is correct.

Yeah, but look at all the cool stuff.. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107053)

You got fighter aircraft that can cruise at Mach 2 and still are stealthy, a new kind of submarine, a new kind of aircraft carrier, rail gun battleships are suddenly on the table and lasers blasting all over the place. If the USA can recover from some of its fiscal problems and keep up the pace of military research, it should be well in charge of its destiny for the next 50-100 years.

Re:Military Industrial Complex (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107079)

Other countries manage to generate growth without being such warmongers. What is it with the US and this obsession with devising new and more efficient ways to wage war?

"Other countries"? Like who? The U.K.? The U.K. is the second-highest spender in terms of cash on defense in the entire world, second only to the United States [www.mod.uk] . According the UK's Ministry of Defence, the FY 2008-09 budget for defense is £33.6 billion.

Re:Military Industrial Complex (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107133)

No, not the UK. I'm aware that the British government isn't averse to a bit of warmongering either.

Re:Military Industrial Complex (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25107089)

Compared to the nearly $1 trillion (with a T) bailout, $36M is truly a drop in the bucket. In fact, one might even conclude that the current US offensive is being waged with economic instruments.

Actually, we spend a lot less than in Ike's day (4, Informative)

unassimilatible (225662) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107157)

For off, calling the USA "warmongers" should be modded flamebait.

And your history and math are wrong. Ike warned of the military industrial complex, not on the use of the military, which he obviously supported, you know, having led the largest invasion in world history. But anti-military types just love to misquote Ike.

The US spends *much less* of its GDP than it did in Ike's time, much less.

The left should be pleased that defense spending as a percentage of the federal budget has steadily declined during the past decades. In the early 1960s the Department of Defense constituted 45 percent of federal spending, whereas this year it will constitute an estimated 17 percent, according to the Office of Management and Budget. Source [csmonitor.com]

As the article points out, the real scandal is the ever-increasing entitlement pending that is going to bankrupt America.

Re:Military Industrial Complex (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25107195)

What is it with the US and this obsession with devising new and more efficient ways to wage war?

Someone will build the weapons. If you're lucky enough to be first to invent it, you get to sell to everyone else.

As for efficiency, would you prefer we go back to carpet bombing?

Re:Military Industrial Complex (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25107261)

Why? Becuase we've been subsidizing their defense by, basically, providing it for them. Oh, snap.

Re:Military Industrial Complex (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25107303)

Well, since the US is broke, they can only afford to duct-tape a bunch of laser pointers from eBay together. Overhead paper airplanes watch out!

Re:Military Industrial Complex (1)

IanHurst (979275) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107307)

"What is it with the US and this obsession with devising new and more efficient ways to wage war?"

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it's because the USA is a very war-like nation. And if you don't mind, I'm going to use this opportunity to preempt some responses by saying, hey guys? We've pretty much always been this way.

I know, it's not popular to admit it in some quarters, but look, you don't start out in a hovel in New England and end up running half a continent without a lot of war. And smallpox. We're actually among the most war-like nations in the history of the world guys. The whole "we just want to be left alone" thing hasn't really ever been true.

Nothing new here... (5, Informative)

Koreantoast (527520) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106785)

This should hardly be a surprise to anyone; the United States government already has functioning platforms. Just this month, the Boeing Company test fired a fully working prototype of its Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL), a C-130 with a high-energy chemical laser on a rotating turret mounted on the belly of the plane. I don't know if it was a full powered shot, but the press releases indicate that it successfully hit a ground target. Then there's the larger Airborne Laser (ABL), an even bigger laser mounted on a 747 used to shoot down ballistic missiles.

Re:Nothing new here... (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107083)

Now correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn't a laser be much easier to target and wouldn't it hit much more often than conventional weapons where there is a noticeable lag between firing and the bullet/whatever hitting the target? I would imagine laser moves at the speed of light, so there would be virtually no lag at all. Also, how much energy would such a weapon require to punch through armor and the likes?

Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25106823)

"High-power laser weapons would allow precision attacks that minimize civilian casualties."

Heard that one before. Of course, it's always reassuring.

Umm, fund how? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25106833)

These are the same people that are bailing out the banks, AIG, etc..? Where exactly is all this money coming from?

Laser Shield? (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106843)

I wonder if you could make a missle defense system that basically is many wide lasers shooting in cross-hatch, dual-rows. Of course, the power needed for something like this would require a huge store of anti-matter and dilithium crystals...

thats just great (-1, Troll)

mr_musan (1075927) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106853)

the world economy is spiraling out of control and yet they still find some way to fund wars.

WHY !

Re:thats just great (1)

Xeth (614132) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106927)

If by "wars" you mean "engineers and high-technology manufacturing infrastructure".

Military R&D is sharply distinct from the actual act of deploying military assets and blowing things up.

(I'll admit, I'm hardly objective in this regard, but I believe I've chosen my path in life because it worked with my principles, not the other way around)

Misleading Summary, we ALREADY fund Lasers... (4, Informative)

Tmack (593755) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106857)

TFA even states congress is BOOSTING funding, and lists projects that have been in the works for YEARS. This [wired.com] project has been around for a few years, and had a "live" test a couple months ago. It listed several other projects that have been in active research and dev for years, and explicitly states funding for such projects got a boost (though some might get cut). US Congress funding lasers: not news, boost to that fundng: maybe news. At least it gives a peek at some of the laser projects in the works, though misses some by a mile.

Tm

Spartan lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25106879)

Hooray, now we all get to live out stupid Halo fantasies.

And since when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25106881)

civilian casualties are important for Americans?

Re:And since when... (1)

Xeth (614132) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106967)

Since Vietnam. The recent wars have been pretty clean of carpet bombings, chemical weapons attacks, and offensive nuclear detonations.

Re:And since when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25107273)

Take a look at WWII bombing vs modern bombing and tell me there isn't a difference.

StarWars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25106915)

This is probably in response to the Russian navy presence soon to be in the Caribbean. The White House probably thinks they can use the old (fictional) Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program to prevent any misses aimed at the white house from hitting.

In the same day... (1)

Bragador (1036480) | more than 5 years ago | (#25106941)

Japanese Begin Working On Space Elevator AND US Congress Funds Laser Weapons...

Well, there's an easy joke in there but I could also ask if it isn't time for the USA to think about their investments.

You could ask what's in it for me but then I would tell you that any country that gets too advanced militarily will tend to bully the rest of the world. On the other hand, being advanced in other fields will make the country financially superior through commerce.

Think about it.

Re:In the same day... (1)

Xeth (614132) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107047)

Indeed. The U.S. hasn't been pursuing space elevators at all [space.com]

Perhaps by "easy" you meant "facile".

Re:In the same day... (1)

Bragador (1036480) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107215)

Well, to be fair, I never said they never researched the subject. All I wanted to say is that most of the money tends to go for military research. Also, I know that no science is worthless.

As for the space elevator, the small prizes given in the USA are nothing compared to what the japanese government is giving away for that field.

Re:In the same day... (1)

Xeth (614132) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107367)

How much are the Japanese actually putting into that endeavor? I mean, they've estimated the cost at a trillion yen, but I'm pretty sure they haven't actually budgeted that money out.

Also, I'd be careful in demarcating military research to strongly. As I said in another post, building these things would require a great deal of high-tech American manufacturing, which I can hardly view as a bad thing. And I'm sure someone will come up with something to do with cheap lasers (I hear there's some promising fusion research in that direction).

It's a bird ... it's a plane ... (2, Funny)

nqz (778393) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107043)

Whatever the hell it is, just blast it out of the frikkin sky!!!

Boeing Making Lasers? (1)

houbou (1097327) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107127)

I thought Boeing made planes.. shouldn't they concentrate on building stuff that stays UP in the air instead of shooting things down? :)

Seriously, let's face it, It's all good in theory, you know, being able to pinpoint your target, improve accuracy, scalable and controllable damage control, etc...

But hey, it's the future coming to us, let's face it, so much sci-fi, is becoming reality, it is scary what we can dream up only to make it happen uh?

What I'm surprised is that this information is available in the first place? shouldn't there be a hush on this? I mean, I would expect the US government to keep a lid on the topic, until, 1) it's done or 2) it has to be used.

Now, if they can make this puppy practical, say, mounting it in space and shooting at potentially dangerous asteroids and debris, right?

So whose pro-laser... (3, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107181)

The emergence of the laser is certainly going to make the long standing Democratic argument against missile defense suddenly seem pretty silly. Missile defense any more has gone from intercepting everything from ballistic missiles to shells in flight. Question to either candidate is, whose going to fund and field laser research at the current breakneck Bush pace? Will McCain have the patience for this technology or will he call it a taxpayer boondoggle and cut it? Will Obama remain starry eyed about diplomacy or will he retain a pragmatic strategic edge? Which candidate, too, will have the honesty to admit that the USA's own strategic nuclear delivery systems will need to be upgraded when its own defenses make it obsolete?

Where does all this money come from? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25107199)

Bailing out rich fat cats?

Wars?

Laser beams?

That's us.

Where's our jobs going? Overseas.

So, to make a living, we have to work for Government now - or Walmart.

So, in the meantime, weapons makers get richer, the Walton family gets richer, and I get poorer.

No, I'm not that talented or even close where someone is going to give me a million dollars to sing or tapdance or to design their computers (chips and all) - I'm just an average American.

What's someone like me to do? Just living is becoming too expensive. Die? It's a thought. But to be convicted of attempted suicide will destroy any job opportunities I have left.

It's great to slam stupid people - makes you feel more powerful and important - but those stupid people have to live too. And if we can't live - I'm not talking about Big screen tvs or anything - I'm talking about decent food, medical, clothing, dental, and some free time. Whatever. A gun is a whole months expenses and then some, but if I need to.....

Yours truly,

The stupid people who are struggling to make ends meet.

Again with the lasers (2, Insightful)

overtly_demure (1024363) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107213)

"enable precision ground attack to minimize collateral damage in urban conflicts."

The precision claim comes from the fact that lasers are coherent beams of light. We've all seen laser pointers. You point them at something, and they mark it with a very compact spot of light. That is where "precise" comes from. Therefore, the thinking goes, if you make a laser weapon, it too will be "precise," right? Yes and no. Yes, it will hit whatever you point it at, but it will do so with the precision of the pointing mechanism, not the laser. Put it on a helicopter, and the laser will weave around as much as the helicopter. Well, you say, put it on some kind of gyro-stabilized device. Fine, that does give you additional stability, until the chopper moves outside the range of the pointing device, as when the pilot detects an incoming RPG, or has to do an emergency maneuver for whatever reason. Again, the laser will rake an unintended target. My point? The "precision" argument is Pentagon bullshit. The object of the exercise is 1) for the Pentagon to retain its vast funding and influence, 2) for the defense industry to retain its vast funding and influence, and 3) for current politicians to retain their vast campaign funding, lobbying perks, and influence.

Just as the "dazzler" weapons "temporarily reduce a person's vision," the more destructive weapons will produce much more powerful light scattering that will blind people even ata a distance and produce potentially significant collateral damage in the area of the target. The astute reader will note that damage outside of the point of light on the target due to reflection and other light scatter reduces much of the precision of the weapon. Again, it is Pentagon bullshit, not science or engineering.

Wake up, people. How long will we have to give away hundreds of billions of our hard-earned tax dollars to liars, cheaters, thieves, swindlers, murderers, and war criminals of every stripe?

A sick world (1, Insightful)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107267)

When we have people who are starving to death and cant afford a place to live anymore, losing their jobs, dont have healthcare, and so on, what does congress do? Throws more money on expensive weapons to kill people. Just what we need. Society always is shocked and dismayed when someone commits suicide, "oh, how could they do such a thing". But then implement policies which place people in such desperation that it seems to be the only way out, and cut back safety net programs which are the only thing that keeps some people lives, refusing to help those who are in need. There is always enough money to kill people, but never enough money to save them. We have a society that sees state sanctioned killing of people as totally acceptable but helping people and keeping people out of desperation that drives them to suicide is unacceptable. How dare we try to help people make sure they have enough to eat when we have trillion dollar corporate welfare and trillion dollar wars and giveaways to defence industry and tax breaks to the wealthy to pay for? When we have wealthy billionaires who cant be bothered with taxes, so they can afford their dozens of mansions, yacht and private islands to escape the havoc they have wreaked on society?

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on
military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching
spiritual death" --Martin Luther King

Re:A sick world (5, Insightful)

Xeth (614132) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107485)

You, my friend, are despairing at the human condition, not any particular incarnation of military spending. Wealth and power and lack of consequences have generally walked hand-in-hand for the entirety of human history. I would suggest that you focus your efforts into finding ways that we can, at the peak of our technological development, cheat the cycle of history and change what it means to be human. Because that is what it would take to resolve the problems you're talking about.

I just hope this gets surpassed (1)

DrBuzzo (913503) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107361)

Hopefully this will become obsolete by an even bigger laser and then I could buy it cheaply from a surplus dealer or auction.

I've been in very bad need of a giant freakin laser for a long time and the current ones on the market really do not cut it.

Yeah (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107457)

$11 Trillion in debt, but the spigots are open wide for more military funding.

Re:Yeah (1)

DustoneGT (969310) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107543)

How do you think Democrats get Republicans to agree to the massive domestic spending? (Hint: it's the same way the Republicans get the Democrats to agree to massive war spending...)

Laser defence system? (1)

Meehow (1360037) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107539)

This has Dr.Evil written all over it! I had heard that this has something to do with the "star wars" plan. An orbiting laser defense system. Now, seeing as these lasers can be used for more then just defense... for example China gets pissed and launches a nuke. Regardless of the destination the theory behind this laser system is to "stop" air based attacks. So by stopping a nuclear warhead from where it is being launched, destroying the surrounding area and then some, would it be considered an act of "defense"? The only thing using geosynchronized orbit should be communication based. Besides opening up the box to orbital defense mechanisms, and thus creating reason for another cold war, what is the true objective behind all this? I don't deny a possibility of this becoming a global control mechanism. At the same time, I can't stop how many things an orbiting death ray would solve in the right hands.

OLD Friggen news this is so 1980's! (2, Informative)

gabrieltss (64078) | more than 5 years ago | (#25107553)

This is old news not new. The military (Air Force) was testing pulse lasers back in the 1980's. They mounted them inside the back of a C-130 aircraft. They could only get about 5 - 6 shots before the battery packs would be drained. As soon as they had their first sucessful tests, suddenly the Air Force said they were shutting down their development because they said the pulse lasers tended to blind the enemy. Hmmm contradictory to this story on the vision thing.... But this is fact not fiction, they had these things in the 1980's.. This is first hand knowledge....

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