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DIY Laser Pistol Shoot 1MW Blasts

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the i'll-order-a-dozen dept.

Hardware Hacking 284

An anonymous reader writes "It doesn't get cooler than this — a German hacker put together a 1MW laser pistol capable of shooting straight through a razor blade with a single pulse. Quoting: 'Fitted with a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser, it fires off a 1 MW blast of infrared light once the capacitors have fully charged. The duration of the laser pulse is somewhere near 100ns, so he was unable to catch it on camera, but its effects are easily visible in whatever medium he has fired upon.'" Update: 03/17 18:22 GMT by T : Too bad; turns out it's "only" 1KW, rather than 1MW. I still want one.

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284 comments

Sweet (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442872)

Sweet. How long does it take to charge? IMMA FIRING MY LAZORS PEW PEW PEW

Re:Sweet (5, Funny)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443032)

now the bigger question...

Did he add a sound modulator that makes the PEW sound every time he squeezes the trigger?

Re:Sweet (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443270)

Did he add a sound modulator that makes the PEW sound every time he squeezes the trigger?

He likely didn't need to ... I suspect the squeals of glee followed by maniacal laughter suffice for the time being.

Nice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442878)

This guy builds what the Arctic Spyder tried to be.

Wrong power (4, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442880)

1kW, not 1MW.

Re:Wrong power (0)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442998)

The article says 1 MW. Where did you come up with the 1 kW number?

Re:Wrong power (2)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443026)

The correction is in the comments, the original website states 1kW.

Also, common sense might help... 1MW wouldn't should through just the razor...

Re:Wrong power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443076)

The correction is in the comments, the original website states 1kW.

Also, common sense might help... 1MW wouldn't should through just the razor...

Common sense... that's in short supply around here.

Also, should --> shoot.

Re:Wrong power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443172)

The total energy output is more important, and it depends on both power and duration.

If the laser is 1kW, then 1'000[W] * 0.0001[s] == 0.1[J]; not exactly a staggering value.
If the laser was 1MW, then it'd be 1'000'000[W] * 0.0001[s] == 100[J], a respectable value :D

Re:Wrong power (2, Informative)

PIBM (588930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443224)

Google is your friend:
100ns * 1MW

(100 nanosecondes) * 1 mégawatt = 0,1 joules

So, 1kW is barely 0.0001 joules..

Re:Wrong power (2)

Zcar (756484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443464)

And, to be in the same neighborhood as a conventional pistol (at least in terms of energy delivered) with a 100 ns pulse you'd need around a 40-50 TW laser.

Take 9mm Parabellum. 115 grains at about 1100 ft/s is around 420 J. Delivering that over 100 ns gives about 42 TW so this "pistol" is out by 10 orders of magnitude.

Re:Wrong power (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443530)

And, to be in the same neighborhood as a conventional pistol (at least in terms of energy delivered) with a 100 ns pulse you'd need around a 40-50 TW laser.

Take 9mm Parabellum. 115 grains at about 1100 ft/s is around 420 J. Delivering that over 100 ns gives about 42 TW so this "pistol" is out by 10 orders of magnitude.

That corresponds pretty well with making hair-thin holes through a razor-blade. I can believe 1MW

Re:Wrong power (0)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443246)

The correction is in the comments, the original website states 1kW.

Also, common sense might help... 1MW wouldn't should through just the razor...

I'm not sure what you're trying to say, but a MW (mega watt) is 1000 kW. I assume you meant mW (milliwatt).

Re:Wrong power (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443372)

I think the point was that 1kW just about goes through the razor, 1MW goes through the razor and puts a decent dent in the wall behind.

Re:Wrong power (5, Funny)

Leekle2ManE (1673760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443540)

What he's saying is that at 1MW, it wouldn't shoot through just a razor, but probably through the wood behind the razor. And the bricks behind the wood. And the cinderblock wall behind the bricks. And the lead statue across the quad and the sign over the diner across the campus. Where he would stop for a burger.

It doesn't seem to add up, though (5, Informative)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443254)

1MW for 100ns = 0.1J, roughly equivalent to dropping 100g a distance of 10cm. 1kW for 100ns = 0.1mJ, equivalent to dropping a 1 gramme mass approx. 1mm. I believe the latter could pop a balloon, but it doesn't seem enough to punch through a razor blade. My memory may be faulty, but I seem to recall it takes of the order of magnitude of 10^10 W/sq cm to do that. Focussing the beam to 10^-7 sq. cm would be quite an achievement.

Perhaps either the original estimate is correct or the pulse duration is much longer, of the order of 100 microseconds.

Re:Wrong power (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443286)

yeah, I read 1MW and I immediately thought a breakthrough had been discovered. But kn, 1kW. which I have built as well. Not nearly as nice looking as the one in the article,.

Re:Wrong power (2)

delt0r (999393) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443324)

1MW for 100ns is just 0.1J. A teaspoon of gasoline has more than 100kJ of energy. I don't expect a laser pulse that feeble to do much no matter how you slice it. Note that at my old work we had a 1TW laser. Pulse power wasn't much higher than this one. Its not clear to me that this would do anything more than mark a razor blade.

Re:Wrong power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443516)

Did you go read the original website? It in fact says 1MW. The correction in the comments is wrong.

Re:Wrong power (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443122)

Do you honestly believe that a handheld laser is shooting 1,000 kW? For reference, a hair drier or microwave is about 1kW. Now picture a thousand^Wbeowulf cluster of those.

Re:Wrong power (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443308)

Do you honestly believe that a handheld laser is shooting 1,000 kW?

1E6 watts times 1E-7 second is 100 mJ. A tenth of a watt-second is not exactly Hiroshima.

Re:Wrong power (1)

grub (11606) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443472)


A tenth of a watt-second is not exactly Hiroshima.

It is if you're in a colony of bacteria living quietly on a certain razor blade.

Re:Wrong power (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443552)

A tenth of a watt-second is not exactly Hiroshima. It is if you're in a colony of bacteria living quietly on a certain razor blade.

Somewhere a giant alien is holding a hand held laser near our galaxy saying "its only 100 mega kawabs, but it should punch a hole through this disk...."

Re:Wrong power (1)

delt0r (999393) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443358)

Don't forget the pulse is just 100ns. So at 1MW that is only 0.1J of energy. These types of lasers typically pulse no more than 1000 times a second and often only about 10 pps. This gives a average power rating of just 1-100W.

Re:Wrong power (1)

slim (1652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443432)

If it fires 1,000 kW in a millisecond blast, once a second, then it would have equivalent power to your 1kW hair drier.

In fact this one fires 100 ns blasts -- that's 100 billionths of a second.

Re:Wrong power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443474)

To be classed as a 1kw system, it'd have to emit 1KW of light energy in a pulse that lasted either second, or it'd have to emit 1MW of light for 100 nano seconds. As you've stated, this is simply not possible with the size of the capacitors that he is obviously using.

Re:Wrong power (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443290)

Besides a general sense of the state of the art? The "article" is a blog post that links to another blog post and YouTube. The owner of the YouTube video says:

Lets say 10kW to 100kW....noone cares btw ;-)

I could make it 1MW.

So it sounds like I'm off by either 10 or 100 times, depending on whether the builder even knows!

Anyway, it's not terribly high-energy. He's putting out 0.1J maybe over 200ns?

Still very, very cool - I just wish the normal human urge to exaggerate wasn't being expressed.

Wrong unit (5, Informative)

slim (1652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443192)

It's not all that interesting what the power is, without knowing how long it's applied for. TFA says 100ns.

1kW * 100ns = 0.0001 joules
1MW * 100ns = 0.1 joules

Neither of which is very much energy. Next question: how small an area is that energy applied to? Pretty damned small, I'm assuming, if it's going to punch a hole in a razor blade with that little energy.

Re:Wrong power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443418)

The video made by the creator states "1MW". We're talking peak power here, it's a plausible number.

Warning: do not fire laser pistol with remaining hand!

Re:Wrong power (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443442)

He punched a hole in metal. That's badass enough in my book.

Re:Wrong power (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443646)

It is very cool - and that's why I'm not sure where the need to exaggerate is. The impressive part is the time he spent on the case. Many geeks have built equivalent lasers.

infrared? bogus. (2)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442882)

How will I know how close the stormtrooper is to hitting me?

Re:infrared? bogus. (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442966)

It's a stormtrooper: you don't need to see the shots to know that the answer is "close enough to add drama; never close enough to kill an important character, despite these guys being the Empire's crack infantry forces..." In a universe ruled by narrative causality, ontology is an excellent substitute for empiricism...

Re:infrared? bogus. (2)

stacybro (757940) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443126)

What if I am just a clone? I guess the only thing worse would be a clone with a red uniform.

Re:infrared? bogus. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443366)

It was the Force. The universe wanted balance so it was protecting those that where trying to bring balance.
I expected better from someone on Slashdot.

Re:infrared? bogus. (1)

uradu (10768) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443556)

Wow, careful there, cowboy--them's some mighty big words and concepts you're wielding there! You do realize you're posting on Slashdot, right? Still, this reaffirms my belief that it's not all just Lemmings and brain stem functionality ruling /.

Re:infrared? bogus. (4, Funny)

stjobe (78285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443622)

Stormtroopers are excellent marksmen - what you see depicted in those Rebel propaganda videos is a tactic called "herding". Funnily enough the makers of the propaganda videos never show what happens after the stormtroopers have herded the scruffy nerf-herder rebels into their trap...

Re:infrared? bogus. (2)

sdh (129963) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443244)

Manufacturers will be forced to add an additional slow visible pulse and an audible pew sound. Just like they have to add some engine noise because the Prius is too quiet.

Talk about cool (1)

i ate my neighbour (1756816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442906)

The future is now!

Re:Talk about cool (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443090)

The future is now!

Then where's my flying car damn-it.

Re:Talk about cool (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443404)

30797 fatal crashes occurred in the United States in 2009. Do you really want to add the risk of falling out of the sky to that?

Re:Talk about cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443452)

It got shot down by a laser blast obviously.

Re:Talk about cool (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443566)

The future is now!

I mean the future is now, Now!

Missed it again, so it's now Now.

Damn it .. will you all stop moving Now, so I can know that the future is here.

Is it waterproof? (2)

h.ross.perot (1050420) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442920)

..SHARKS! with freeking laser beams....

Re:Is it waterproof? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443118)

It's only 1 kiloshark, not 1 megashark.

Still, it should give the giant octopus a nasty burn.

Finally (1)

vgbndkng (1806628) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442936)

Now the next time I'm in Mos Eisley I can take care of that Guido problem.

HAN PUNCHED FIRST! (1, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442952)

Now the next time I'm in Mos Eisley I can take care of that Guido problem.

I think Snookie would be more interested in a UV laser.

Re:HAN PUNCHED FIRST! (1)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443342)

It's actually spelled Snookiee. A lot of people make that error.

Re:HAN PUNCHED FIRST! (5, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443484)

It's actually spelled Snookiee. A lot of people make that error.

Not sure which is more sad ... the fact that you know that, or that you think we care. ;-)

Re:Finally (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442980)

It's Greedo no Guido - he's Rodian not Italian.

Re:Finally (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443222)

Greedo == Guido.

Mos Eisley == Jersey

Jabba The Hut == Snookie

For the most part they're all interchangeable. The only real differences are: Guido's orange, Greedo's green; Mos Eisley is hot and dry, Jersey is colder and wetter; Jabba has better taste in women and decor than Snookie.

Awesome! (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442944)

As all right thinking people do, I have to love dangerous toys. The build quality and aesthetics are pretty sweet as well.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case with exotic energy weapons, I just can't shake the nagging feeling that .22s or even compressed gas propelled sub-.22 rounds almost certainly pack more punch...

Re:Awesome! (2)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443166)

It might side-step local gun laws. Aren't lasers almost completely unregulated? If this was mass produced it could replace mace. I'd be a little concerned about blinding people. I'm not sure if IR blindness does anything to humans though.

Shame he didn't get a pork shank to show us the effect it would have on flesh.

Re:Awesome! (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443194)

Unfortunately, as is so often the case with exotic energy weapons, I just can't shake the nagging feeling that .22s or even compressed gas propelled sub-.22 rounds almost certainly pack more punch...

Yeah, but this was made by some guy in his basement or something. Fairly impressive, actually.

And, I gotta say, you're right ... for a DIY ray gun, the aesthetics of this are remarkably cool. And, really, what's to say someone with more resources won't scale this up to something with a bigger power supply? The laser howitzer or something. :-P

Practicality aside, I'd say this guy deserves mad props for doing even what he's done. That's not something you see every day.

Re:Awesome! and effective (2)

inject_hotmail.com (843637) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443284)

I would suggest that the same 'punch' as a .22cal kinetic weapon is not necessary. Kinetic weapons rely on the premise of uncontrolled damage for effectiveness (i.e. trauma = stopping 'power'). Energy weapons rely on a potentially different premise: tactical damage -- cleanly disablement of a target's vital system (i.e. disable the brain, heart, nervous system). You see the same effect from other energy weapons, such as a tazer. All it would take for this weapon to disable an enemy human, for example, would be to steam a whole through the chest into the lungs/heart, or through the skull into the brain. Tissue is pretty soft. I can't imagine it would take much more than this example to do it...and think of this: If some backyard engineer created this...what do you think the gargantuan budget of the U.S. military has created?

Kinetic weapons aren't dead, and won't be for quite a while. Energy weapons are in their infancy, and likely already have a niche. It just isn't advertised yet.

Re:Awesome! and effective (3, Interesting)

swb (14022) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443678)

Part of the reason stopping power is such a big deal is that it takes a lot of energy to punch through rib cages and skulls. Most people who die from handgun wounds do so from exsanguination, not disablement of vital organs, and most of these people are shot with cartridges an order of magnitude more powerful than .22 long rifle.

I suspect that any energy weapon that wants to match a handgun in terms of energy delivered in the same time domain will need to produce at least as much energy to do the damage necessary, or operate on principals similar to a Taser and act on the nervous system.

Miss with the LASER pistol? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442954)

The Fire Dept is gonna love that!

He even managed to make it look cool (2)

vawwyakr (1992390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442956)

I'd buy one....not sure what the hell I'd do with it but I'd buy it. Now if it was ACTUALLY a 1MW laser...I'd buy two.

Obi-Wan: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442964)

"That's just a clumsy and random weapon of a less civilized age..."

omg wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443034)

It shoots through a fucking balloon.

babys et al; we're declining offer of escape (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443040)

the offer is attractive. we'll stay here with you. we really have a choice. we choose you. we were made for this. please choose us/life. the alternatives...., none.

Thievery (4, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443044)

A couple months ago I came a across a "game" at the mall, and I immediately thought "A person with a portable high powered laser could steal every bit of stuff out of this". Anyway the game is similar to those claw games, where you move the claw with a joystick to pick up an item. This game differs in that expensive items like DSi, PSP, iPod, are dangling from strings. The player moves an arm with an (obviously inept) pair of scissors on it, which tries to cut through the string to drop the item. It must take many cuts to gradually cut through the string, because I could see where strings had been slightly damaged by the cutters, but still needed a lot more to cut all the way through.

Anyway, a person with one of these lasers could clean house. The case is clear glass all the way around, so I assume the laser would shine right through it.

Sweet - of course Youtube to the rescue:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxeAi0v2DrI [youtube.com]

Re:Thievery (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443156)

One of these [wickedlasers.com] should do the trick.

Re:Thievery (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443218)

Note: This laser is too powerful to be used as a gun sight. Never point it at another person, animal, or vehicle.

I think if someone's pointing a gun sight at you, you have worse problems than a kW laser beam.

Re:Thievery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443210)

A laser powerful enough to cut the strings would also melt the shit out of the "clear" glass.

SHIELDS !!! (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443060)

Now we got lasers, but where are the shields ?

Re:SHIELDS !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443168)

Pfft. As any member of the Landsraad knows, if a shield is hit by a laser, the effect is similar to an atomic detonation...

Re:SHIELDS !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443228)

Lasers hitting a shield will cause an explosion, didn't you read Dune?

Han shot first... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443066)

... that is all

Do not look at laser with remaining eye (4, Interesting)

Z8 (1602647) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443100)

This is cool and all, but I would be scared to go anywhere near that. That's way over class 3 on the laser safety scale [wikipedia.org] and minor reflections could do permanent damage to your eyes. I've played with ~0.5W lasers, and those are scary enough. Apparently this is 1kW! The class 3 limit for pulsed lasers in that frequency is 1/3000th as much apparently (30mW). Basic safety goggles only filter out so much light and you can still get blinded through them.

I would guess it's just a matter of time before whoever bought this accidentally hits something shiny and the "ricochet" blinds someone.

Re:Do not look at laser with remaining eye (1)

netsharc (195805) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443214)

Yeah, the German Police will probably get to him soon enough...

I wonder though, what effects would this gun have on human skin? He should try it on some leg of ham or equivalent...

Total energy (2)

MarchHare (82901) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443108)

One megawatt is one million joules per second. The pulse
lasts 100 nsec, or 0.1 millionth of a second. If you multiply
the two, you get the total amount of energy for the pulse... ... 0.1 joule.

That's about the same amount of energy as lifting a 100 g
chocolate bar 10 cm vertically in the air....

Re:Total energy (1)

MarchHare (82901) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443148)

Oh, and if the pulse is actually one kilowatt instead of one
megawatt... the energy falls to 0.0001 joule... really, none
of these amounts are enough to cause any visual damage
to a steel plate.

Re:Total energy (5, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443498)

That's about the same amount of energy as lifting a 100 g
chocolate bar 10 cm vertically in the air....

... focussed on a tiny point -- it doesn't say how tiny.

Imagine attaching a needle to that 100g chocolate bar, then dropping it point-first at your hand, from a 10cm height.

Don't worry. (1)

kjdames (588423) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443112)

If Star Wars taught us anything, the bad guys can't hit you with a laser.

Re:Don't worry. (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443676)

If Star Wars taught us anything, the bad guys can't hit you with a laser.

I think Westerns already demonstrated the inverse correlation between "bad guy" and "marksmanship".

Just noticed something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443114)

It's not the site being Slashdotted. It's one its ad servers that block the site from being displayed until the ad comes through. Fuckers...

Energy Comparison (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443236)

If the laser is 1 MW, as the site claims, and the pulse length is 100 ns, then the pulse energy is about 0.1 J. That's not actually very much, even in a nice focused package. If it's 1 kW, as other commenters claim, then it's 1/1000th that. For comparison, consider the energy in a typical .22 rifle shell [wikipedia.org]: 180-250 J, or about three orders of magnitude.

So while it'll definitely blind you with a shot to the eye, and would probably leave a nasty burn on your skin everywhere else, a blast from this laser pistol probably won't penetrate your body, and certainly won't kill you.

An interesting test, which I'm bummed that the builder didn't try, was to fire it at a hamburger, steak, or even a chicken bone. I don't think it would do much (see above), but it'd still be interesting to see what it does.

Re:Energy Comparison (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443362)

indeed *yawn*, homemade handheld xenon flash tube pulsed lasers with much more power output were made decades ago, and energy is only a meaningful metric for continuous beam lasers. An continuous beam argon laser of a few watts is something to point at a steak, but this toy wouldn't do much.

Re:Energy Comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443450)

Ah, I was wondering what the total energy of it was. Thank you for posting that.

Best Feature: (1)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443328)

They left it out of the article and video, but the greatest feature about this particular item is that each time you fire it, it makes one of four sound effects, until the fifth shot, when it cycles through all four in sequence. Sounds include "laser blast," "machine gun," "scanner ray," and "falling bomb." The inventor was quick to point out that his favorite is when it does all four. "I usually just shoot it in the air four times so that next time I pull the trigger, it'll play all the sounds."

Plasma Ball? (2)

ComputerGeek01 (1182793) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443398)

Did anyone else watch the video and think that the "Plasma Ball" was actually dust igniting and being pushed along the path of the laser? Or am I the only one annoyed by that part of the video?

creators; evacuations remain scheduled (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443426)

if one more of our recently minted, highly advanced nips gets damaged, you mutants best call up your 'god', because we're not yet of infinite patience with things of (this assault) on nature.

If Moore's Law Applies . . . (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443460)

. . . to cool laser guns' power (it probably doesn't but don't spoil the moment), then we can hope for a 1MW laser gun by 2030. Now, about the power supply . . .
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