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158 comments

DL-44 Mauser? (3, Insightful)

meburke (736645) | more than 2 years ago | (#36156858)

I think the Han solo weapon looks more like a mauser than a Luger.

Re:DL-44 Mauser? (4, Informative)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36156908)

Yep, it's based on the Mauser C-96. http://world.guns.ru/handguns/hg/de/mauser-c-96-e.html [world.guns.ru]

Re:DL-44 Mauser? (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157098)

Yup, C96 broomhandle

And of course the stargate guns are based on the FN P-90 (full auto) or PS-90 (semi only).

Re:DL-44 Mauser? (2)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157148)

So are many of the guns in Doctor Who. The ones used in The Impossible Planet/Satan Pit are barebones P90s, the ones in The Doctor's Daughter have a small flamethrower-like attachment to generate muzzle flash.
Why is the P90 so popular with sci-fi writers?

Re:DL-44 Mauser? (2)

Kielistic (1273232) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157236)

I believe I may have seen once in a special feature on a Stargate DVD that they are convenient in how they fire. The casings fall straight down as opposed to off to the side. If they go to the side the other actors can be hit with them and I guess that just doesn't look as good.

Re:DL-44 Mauser? (1)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157650)

I believe I may have seen once in a special feature on a Stargate DVD that they are convenient in how they fire. The casings fall straight down as opposed to off to the side. If they go to the side the other actors can be hit with them and I guess that just doesn't look as good.

That was pretty much it. Without the shell casings flying at their faces, they could stand the actors closer to one another, which is helpful for framing shots for television.

Its all about the horizontal magazines ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157446)

Why is the P90 so popular with sci-fi writers?

Recognizably different + highly plausible.

It is different from designs people are familiar with yet it represents a highly plausible next generation design. For example a horizontal magazine in-line with the sights allows a user to easily see how many rounds are available. A horizontal magazine also allows the user to get closer to the ground. A vertical magazine sticking out the bottom unnecessarily raises the weapon and the users head, making the head a better target for an opponent. This limits the capacity of vertical magazines, so a horizontal may more easily offer greater capacity.

Re:DL-44 Mauser? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157474)

Why is the P90 so popular with sci-fi writers?

Because, it's popular among military and police institutions. If you're gonna pick a small, close-quarters weapon with selectable firing rate ... go with what the real guys are using.

Before the P-90, you saw an awful lot of Heckler & Koch models like the MP5 -- because, they already look bad-ass and don't need to be tarted up.

It's hard to "invent" a fictional design better than what you know the tactical guys are using -- and if you have video of how they carry it, you have something to show your actors. I think it may be as simple as "go with something used by the kind of people you're trying to look like".

If it looks like what the pros are using, it's likely one more step towards suspension of disbelief. Well, that and your props guys can probably bang out a model in a few hours based on pictures from the internet. It's not exactly hard to get photos of a P90.

A P90 is a weapon that you can pretty much look at, and understand that it's intended for close quarter combat, and not fancy long-distance competition shooting. It's a very business-like beast.

Re:DL-44 Mauser? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158040)

A P90 is a weapon that you can pretty much look at, and understand that it's intended for close quarter combat, and not fancy long-distance competition shooting. It's a very business-like beast.

Except it is a bullpulp design, incorporating a 10.4" long barrel, much longer than most comparable submachineguns. That gives it significantly higher muzzle velocity and range than most traditional submachineguns.

Re:DL-44 Mauser? (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157740)

Must be the new shows - all the Dr Who I watched (first thru 5th doctor) all the military units were on loan from the Brits so they all toted the FN-FAL/L1A1

Re:DL-44 Mauser? (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157234)

And to top it all off, the blaster rifle carried by Chewbacca on the Death Star is essentially an MG-42 and the stormtrooper blasters were modified Sterling submachine guns http://world.guns.ru/smg/brit/sterling-l2-l34-e.html [world.guns.ru] , completely down to the folding stock. The Rebel rifles from Episode 4 look to be based off STG-44s. And the rebel blaster pistols look similar to the Nambu type 14 or the Roth 1907.

Re:DL-44 Mauser? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36157472)

Let's not forget the H&K VP70s carried by the Colonial Marines in Aliens. The props, I've heard, were semi only VP70Zs rather than the select-fire VP70Ms.

ZF-1 (1)

QuantumPion (805098) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158882)

It's light. Handle's adjustable for easy carrying, good for righties and lefties. Breaks down into four parts, undetectable by x-ray, ideal for quick, discreet interventions. A word on firepower. Titanium recharger, three thousand round clip with bursts of three to three hundred, and with the Replay button - another Zorg invention - it's even easier.

BSG chose bullets over lasers (4, Informative)

rishistar (662278) | more than 2 years ago | (#36156884)

Can't find the original article but I recall reading the BSG creators did feasibility studies on bullets or rayguns for the series and came up with laser powered handguns just not being as effective as bullets.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (4, Funny)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 2 years ago | (#36156918)

How would one conduct such feasibility studies? I'm guessing it starts with stocking up on cheetos and jolt, calling a pizza joint, making sure Wikipedia isn't down...

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36157128)

Basic physics, some hand waving, and thinking about energy transfer efficiency.

At the end of the day you don't need to be able to build a laser gun to determine if it's going to be that great, you can just make some assumptions, put them into equations, and out comes an answer.

I don't think most people realize how efficient guns really are at screwing stuff up.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157290)

Energy transfer efficiency?

I'm not interested in transferring energy with a laser. I'm interested in slicing an arm off.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157730)

I'm not interested in transferring energy with a laser. I'm interested in slicing an arm off.

Which is done by a transfer of energy, whether you do it with a laser or with a knife.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158084)

Bullets transfer energy in a very turbulent manner.

Lasers do it in a very precise manner.

The same energy from a laser and a bullet will do very different things. A bullet will hit the surface and by the time the energy has reached the part that you want divided in two the effect is much lower. The energy has spread througout the tissue and dissipated, causing pointless bruising in most of it. Many bullets don't reach the other side or break bone along the way. A laser will complete the job by focussing on a very narrow piece of the target, and will go through every time, if properly pulsed. Much less energy from a laser will do things a bullet could never do.

(Assume 9-mm bullet with a typical powder load, ~500 J energy. Say it stops within 100 ms. That's 5000 W. What do you think a 5-kW pulsed laser can do in that same 100 ms? I say there's at least one arm heading for the floor.)

To a bullet flesh and bone make an impervious material. To a laser at the right frequency flesh is butter.

Of course, a laser can be foiled by, well, foil, so there's still value in bullets.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158430)

That kinda depends how long that pulse of your 5 kW pulsed laser is, I'd wager. That and it's dead time.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158566)

500 J from a laser with picosecond pulses is a lot of juice. It's like turning that umbering, tumbling, energy-dispersing clod of bullet into a thin, light, fast-moving knife. Ooh! like the sword in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, if it was 40 meters long and all the mass was in a few inches of blade at the far end.

Arms, all over the place.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36157976)

You're probably right. I really don't understand how they did that study, I mean really, one hundred years or so ago flight was a lunatic's dream, later atomic bombs and nuclear powerplants became a reality, and not so long ago, pocket supercomputers affordable by anyone. You can't know how the future will look like ten years from now, let alone hundreds. Pass the cheetos please ...

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36158648)

The nice thing about a laser is it's a constant beam. One quick sweep across your field of view and you've just cut everybody and everything in half. They are also silent and invisible.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#36156982)

I really liked Mass Effect's approach of basically what amounts to grains of sand as bullets moving at near light speed.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157094)

I doubt those would get much past the end of the barrel, though. Wind resistance is worse than v^2 at those speeds...

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

durnurd (967847) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157280)

My physics (and Mass Effect) is a bit rusty, but I had assumed that the element zero in the weapon causes the "grain of sand" to have an increased mass, thus an increased momentum (p=mv) , thus making it harder to affect by wind and more damaging than it might otherwise be (at the normal mass of a grain of sand).

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36157282)

Tell that to people that play airsoft, do sandblasting or get hit by sand at the beach. I also think you don't have a good concept of how fast 80% c really is. Somehow I also doubt they would be using carbon or silicon. Iron or other heavier elements would tear apart a tank at those velocities.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157414)

Rather than wind resistance, friction heat would probably eat those up. With unpleasant effects for the shooter. Nice little plasma cloud in the barrel already...

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157190)

Hey, I just used a Mass Effect reference (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p77XnhzJz7g) in another discussion, although that pertained to why you need to aim properly at those energies.
Maybe not grains of sand, but a 20kg steel slug sure packs a punch. I also used the idea in my thesis as an orbital bombardment system: 20 tons of iron dropped from 20,350 km, impacting with 1/500 the energy of a tactical nuke. Sure, a lot less, but clean and a darn sight cheaper in the long run to maintain then a nuke...

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157592)

Maybe not grains of sand, but a 20kg steel slug sure packs a punch. I also used the idea in my thesis as an orbital bombardment system:

Ummmm ... where does one write a thesis on orbital bombardment and in what discipline of study?

Besides, I should think getting your 20 tons of iron into orbit and aiming it so it lands where you intended. Hell ... I should think a rail gun would be more feasible than getting multiple 'rounds' of 20 tons of iron up into space. :-P

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (4, Interesting)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157822)

Not exactly in orbital bombardment, the full title was "Mining the Moon? - Dilemmas of Space Law". One of the topics explored was the use of space for warfare, and inside this, I showed that even the Shuttle can (could, by now...) carry a requisite satellite into orbit: it has a lifting capacity of 22 tons of cargo, a 20 ton projectile (ten meters long, half a meter radius cone) is well inside this limit, even if I'm generous with the support structure.
Ideally, the satellite needs no maneuvering, nor targeting, the only thing it needs to do is house the round, then drop it when ground control tells it to. It may include a large capacitor bank and a railgun assembly to give it more punch (since it fires only once anyway, rail erosion can be ignored), and maybe some additional processing power to select targets for itself, and maybe maneuvering capacity to change orbits. The strike is the ultimate tactical weapon: fully anonymous (the course cannot be traced back to a launch point, unlike a ballistic missile), devastating, undetectable and indefatigable (the launch generates no observable signature and the round descends too fast to even come up on radar before it's too late to do anything about it. Not quite relativistic, but taking into account today's reaction times for weapons, it's like "By the time you see it coming, it's already too late".), and ultimately targetable (with the proper inclination, it will eventually fly over all points of the planet. At this point, it's just choosing the time of release to hit any nation you want).

It can also be aimed precisely, though I only did rough mock-ups in Satellite ToolKit, but those indicated that the descent path is roughly like the cot(x) function, and the ground path is predictable at any latitude, so it can theoretically be aimed with pinpoint precision, discounting signal lag.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (2)

QuantumPion (805098) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158752)

Ideally, the satellite needs no maneuvering, nor targeting, the only thing it needs to do is house the round, then drop it when ground control tells it to.

Someone needs a lesson in Newtonian physics. Being in orbit is not like Wylie E. Coyote where you can just magically stop where you are and fall straight down. You have to precisely slow down using rockets, just enough so that your orbit shifts you into the atmosphere so that the drag can decelerate you down the rest of the way right where you want to end up.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158948)

Except if you give it's velocity a downward component in addition to its tangential component (let's call that one lateral). In that case, it goes straight into the atmosphere at which point the lateral component is dissipated or brought under control via friction/steering. Like I said at the end, I did some rough simulations in STK (before the trial expired), and found it feasible...

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157956)

Ah, "Rods from God"; concept's been around for decades. If I had to take a stab at it, I'd guess Aerospace Engineering or Physics student might write it up as a thesis. 20 tons is for the strategic option; you get something close to a nuclear explosion from it. You wouldn't need or want many of 'em. By way of comparison, the Hubble weighs over 10 tons. You could 20 kg ones to kill tanks fairly effectively.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158498)

Can't be arsed to do the math right now, but 20 kg for a tank killer seems like pretty much overkill at first glance. Kinda depends how much mass you ablate on the way down, of course. 20 kg arriving at the tank - just from intuition, I guess that vaporizing the tank and a good part of its surroundings would indeed count as "fairly effective". Feel free to correct me if you got the correct numbers, just doing seat of the pants estimates here.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36159210)

Let me type up the maths for a 20t mass, I've got my notes right here:
v = sqrt(2 x 20,350,000m x 9.81m/s^2) = ~1.998x10^4m/s (assuming no drag and no pre-acceleration, just a simple drop)
E = (20,000kg x (1.998x10^4m/s)^2)/2 = ~3.993x10^12J = ~953.4t TNT equivalent.
20kg would get you about a ton of TNT equivalent. "Fairly Effective" indeed...

Sure, projectile profile means this is going to go deep rather than wide, and the transit time is on the order of tens of minutes, but even so, it's not so much a tank-buster but a bunker-buster.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36159224)

The title was "Dilemmas of Space Law", I'm an international relations student. :)
And yes, Rods from God is mentioned explicitly as the title of this chapter "Rods from God and Crowbars - Striking from Orbit" (translated from Hungarian). The name I gave to this particular system was Crowbar, admittedly based on the webcomic UserFriendly, since that's where I saw it called such, and took a liking to the name. In the thesis, I explain the name as an analogue for the method: "[...]on a smaller scale, it's the equivalent of dropping a crowbar on the target's head from a tall tower."

War college (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158058)

Ummmm ... where does one write a thesis on orbital bombardment and in what discipline of study?

Perhaps at a war college, its the place one visits on the way to becoming a general or admiral. Something like:
"Throughout its history, the college has held fast to the belief, first articulated by its founding president, Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce, that ,"The War College is a place of original research on all questions relating to war and to statesmanship connected with war, or the prevention of war.""
http://www.usnwc.edu/About.aspx [usnwc.edu]

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36158680)

Ummmm ... where does one write a thesis on orbital bombardment and in what discipline of study?

What do you think graduate students have to write about at the Engineering Villians Institute of London (EVIL) in order to get their PhD?

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36157690)

Are you Jerry Pournelle?

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

Jonner (189691) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157966)

The basic idea of mass effect fields, as well as how they're used in weapons, is interesting. However, ME2's "heat clips," which supposedly cool the weapon by being discarded are nonsensical. If overheating is truly to problem to solve, you could just wait, but the heat clips are actually just a stand-in for universal ammunition.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158200)

It was the dumbest system ever. I hated it, and hope it gets returned or at least improved in ME3. I basically saw it as a way to prevent me from being the sniper I was in ME1. With only 10 or so shots available on the sniper rifle, I inevitably had to run out of my cover with a practically useless pistol to find more ammo. The timed cooldown of the weapons in the original game made more sense with the physics and made for much more strategic battles as accuracy wasn't as important as your position. I also missed the varied upgrades you could do to weapons in ME1, though I do agree it was probably overly complicated, but I liked it as I could tailor my weapons based on each mission.

Also, I liked shooting randomly in ME1 to fill the long walks on alien worlds... No more in ME2, I had to conserve every shot.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

Jonner (189691) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158236)

It was the dumbest system ever. I hated it, and hope it gets returned or at least improved in ME3. I basically saw it as a way to prevent me from being the sniper I was in ME1. With only 10 or so shots available on the sniper rifle, I inevitably had to run out of my cover with a practically useless pistol to find more ammo. The timed cooldown of the weapons in the original game made more sense with the physics and made for much more strategic battles as accuracy wasn't as important as your position. I also missed the varied upgrades you could do to weapons in ME1, though I do agree it was probably overly complicated, but I liked it as I could tailor my weapons based on each mission.

Also, I liked shooting randomly in ME1 to fill the long walks on alien worlds... No more in ME2, I had to conserve every shot.

Yeah, I'd much prefer to snipe everything. I've only played ME2, but now I'll have to get ME1.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

Labcoat Samurai (1517479) | more than 2 years ago | (#36159156)

It was the dumbest system ever.

I feel like it improves the pacing of combat. Spending half your time hiding and waiting for weapons to cooldown is kind of boring. On the other hand, it makes no sense in universe for guns to work this way. I'd like to see a compromise with thermal clips *and* weapon cooldowns. So essentially, you'll get so many free thermal refreshes in a mission (and maybe thermal clips themselves are rarer). That would encourage you to use them strategically.... but otherwise, your weapons will cool down on their own in time.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 2 years ago | (#36159192)

Of course the real kicker was that the universal ammo clips weren't universal. You could fire 200 SMG shots and 10 sniper shots but not 400 SMG shots or 20 sniper shots. Clips were universal until you picked them up, at which point they magically became weapon-specific. It was really a crossbreeed between nonsensical form a tactical point of view (ME2's weapons were greatly inferior to ME1's due to the ammo limitation) and nonsensical from a plausibility point of view (why do the clips suddenly become weapon-specific when picked up?).

I found that unlimited ammunition mods made ME2 much more enjoyable. Of course it still lacked a lot of what made ME1 fun but at least the horrible gunplay got better. There are some games that make ammunition scarcity work but those are usually survival horror games - and Mass Effect is very definitely not one of those.

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

Teknikal69 (1769274) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158928)

I can't remember what novel it was exactly but I've definitely read a sci-fi book series where they actually accelerate a ship up close to light speed and then release grains of sand towards a planet and each single grain gave a nuke type effect when hitting.

Was something along the lines of the speed increasing the mass of the grains and giving them immense energy, I thought it was a pretty clever idea and would definitely be a killer weapon if it was ever possible. It's annoying me I can't remember the book

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

SeximusMaximus (1207526) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157074)

I could maybe believe cost effective for power/resource consumption - but it would be rather difficult to gage the effectiveness of something which does not exist yet

Re:BSG chose bullets over lasers (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158756)

Can't find the original article but I recall reading the BSG creators did feasibility studies on bullets or rayguns for the series and came up with laser powered handguns just not being as effective as bullets.

If by "effective" they mean for purposes of drama and entertainment, I can understand that. If, on the other hand, they mean "effective weapons" . . . this is Sci Fi -- it's as effective as you want it to be!

Seriously. What's a study like that look like? "Ok guys, what's better: a gun or some as yet un-invented personal weapon employing some known or unknown technology?"

Wrong genre, foolio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36156896)

Raygun may have been a softy for sci-fi, but he only did westerns.

Phasers (4, Interesting)

feidaykin (158035) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157072)

I love Star Trek, a lot. I'm sure I fit every possible stereotype of a Trek nerd, including ones that are contradictory. But there was one thing that always, always bugged me about Star Trek, even as a kid.

Phasers are essentially inferior to contemporary firearms. For starters, they are actually slower than bullets. You cannot dodge a bullet (in real life, anyway). But there are several examples of the Enterprise crew dodging phaser/disrupter blasts in TNG. Granted, it's possible to retcon this by saying it's some sort of charged plasma that doesn't travel at the speed of light blah blah. But my point is not that it doesn't travel at light speed (which is obvious) but that it's actually SLOWER than a bullet. Which raises the question, why on Earth (or in the Alpha Quadrant, for that matter) would they use essentially inferior technology? If our present day firearms are superior to phasers, why the switch? It defies all logic.

And don't even get me started on the horrible scene in Star Trek: First Contact where the Borg have adapted to Picard's phaser so he lures them into the holodeck and mows them down with a tommy gun. So, 1940s machine gun > 24th century phaser. And they don't keep a stash of machine guns in a weapon's locker? Hell, they can't even replicate a few dozen? Sigh.

Really, it's easier to suspend disbelief about Warp Drive even though that violates everything we know about relativity and modern physics than it is to accept the concept of the phaser replacing the superior firepower we already have in this century.

Anyway, angry Trek nerd rant mode off. Sorry about that.

Re:Phasers (3, Interesting)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157268)

IANASTN, but here's my angle: phasers are something that the Borg encountered often enough to warrant an adaptation, but slugthrowers are something so ancient the Borg don't even remember them, therefore saw no reason to ever adapt to it. If Picard was slower to pick them off, they might have, eventually.
Also, I recall that the phasers are not full-time weapons, but multipurpose tools that can cut, weld, heat, stun, kill, etc. Typical jack-of-all-trades, acceptable in all, great in none. Our guns, however, have one purpose: to kill. And being the single-minded things they are, they perform this task admirably.

Re:Phasers (1)

kehren77 (814078) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157448)

IANASTN, but here's my angle: phasers are something that the Borg encountered often enough to warrant an adaptation, but slugthrowers are something so ancient the Borg don't even remember them, therefore saw no reason to ever adapt to it. If Picard was slower to pick them off, they might have, eventually.
Also, I recall that the phasers are not full-time weapons, but multipurpose tools that can cut, weld, heat, stun, kill, etc. Typical jack-of-all-trades, acceptable in all, great in none. Our guns, however, have one purpose: to kill. And being the single-minded things they are, they perform this task admirably.

Two excellent points. I'd add that perhaps the Borg Shields aren't designed for slower, physical projectiles. Similar to how Goa'uld personal shields block bullets and energy weapons but not knives and arrows. Similarly the personal shields in Dune can block a blast or fast knife strike, but not a slower moving one.

I'd also add to your list of other phaser uses that the phaser has a stun setting. To my knowledge, guns do not.

Re:Phasers (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157538)

To be honest, guns DO have "stun settings", if they're loaded with stun rounds: beanbag, hard wax, rubber, and maybe some others. It's just that these leave a ruddy big bruise, while phasers just drop you like a sack.

Re:Phasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36157484)

phasers are something that the Borg encountered often enough to warrant an adaptation, but slugthrowers are something so ancient the Borg don't even remember them, therefore saw no reason to ever adapt to it.

That explanation might hold up for another race, but there would be no reason why the Borg wouldn't remember something. They're networked cyborgs ferchrissake!

Re:Phasers (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157858)

By the time they were what they were, they evolved way past slugthrowers. After that, they didn't target races too primitive, so they never encountered them again, until the Day of the Holodeck.

Re:Phasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36158194)

How does one adapt to bullets? Poke yourself full of holes?

Re:Phasers (1)

durnurd (967847) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157332)

Well, there are things that make phasers superior, such as different settings (stun, kill, vaporize) much more ammo (not sure if you'd call it limitless, but I've never seen them need to recharge one), and presumably lighter and more compact than carrying guns with real bullets around. Although I tend to agree that speed is a major component of most weapons, and they've certainly done something wrong by making them so much slower.

Re:Phasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36157588)

much more ammo (not sure if you'd call it limitless, but I've never seen them need to recharge one)

Man, I really hate to admit that I know this, but here goes. There was an episode of the original Star Trek, I think it's the one where Kirk gets split into two parts (an evil part and a nice part). Because the transporter is "broken," they leave the away team down on a planet that gets really cold at night. Chekov is using a phaser to heat up rocks to keep them warm, and he says something about not being able to do it much longer before the battery dies.

Re:Phasers: How about longbows? (1)

BranMan (29917) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157334)

There is actually a historical analogy to this: the American Revolutionary War. The weapons at the time were cannon and musket. Muskets were iron, hard to make, heavy to carry, hard to operate, dangerous to the user (they could explode), had a horrific rate of fire, noisy, created a lot of smoke to obscure the battleplace, etc. Ben Franklin, I think it was, argued for the longbow as it could be manufactured anywhere, was light, safer to operate, had a massive rate of fire, was silent, and just as deadly as the musket - the ideal weapon for the Americans. He was shot down (NPI) - unless the Continental Army used 'modern' firearms, the US would never be considered an equal to England, France, etc.

I really was expecting them to use firearms, missiles, machine cannon, and nukes in Enterprise. I was sorely disappointed when they 'invented' phasers in the 2nd show.

Re:Phasers: How about longbows? (1)

sseaman (931799) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157504)

That's a good point.

I'll add that muskets were also very expensive, but that might not be a downside. Given many British soldiers didn't actually own their weapons, by training on guns they had to return and couldn't afford to buy for themselves they became incapable of rebellion. At the same time, training on longbows, which had been required previously of many men in England, was outlawed.

Presumably this is specifically what the Second Amendment is about--militiamen must be able to own their weapon, and militias are the more democratic form of army. Of course, the point became moot once Federal armies were drawn up and we routinely had soldiers practice with weapons they couldn't afford and, nowadays, can't legally own. What good do your tank, fighter jet, mortar, grenade skills do you when you're not in uniform? You'll never have access to those weapons to use against the government. Therefore, the government doesn't have to worry about you using those skills against it.

That might be the point of the phaser. In the "peaceful" world of Star Trek, phasers have replaced guns specifically because they're more technologically advanced, expensive, and less lethal.

Re:Phasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36157348)

Phasers work without gravity or atmosphere. They also don't punch holes in your ship when you just want to kill a person.

Re:Phasers (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157390)

Since when do you need gravity for projectile weapons to work? Atmosphere? Probably not, too, if your propellant is chosen well.

Re:Phasers (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157352)

Erm, but you can set a phaser to a wide dispersion and stun everyone on a city block. Or you can set it to vaporize your opponent with a single hit. And it's the size of a garage-door opener (I was going to say Pager, but we're far enough into the future that there are people who have no idea what that is reading these fori).

FTW.

Re:Phasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36157410)

The recent MythBusters episode on Hollywood sound effects had this important point: TV and films are about entertainment and drama, not scientific accuracy. It's the same reason why the heroes in Westerns and other genres were always able to dodge bullets (or blaster bolts in Star Wars), or save the day using their wounded arm or leg instead of going into shock like most humans would. It's why you see the bad guy go flying 20 feet when hit by a gunshot, why you see big plumes of flame and explosions when a car is struck by a bullet, and why Theoden was still able to talk to Eowyn with a 900-lb. horse crushing his body*.

(Another reason why the tommy-gun scene is less than convincing at second glance is: surely the Borg have encountered projectile weapons in their conquest of the galaxy?) But to play devil's advocate, in the case of the phaser, Roddenberry wanted an interstellar navy that didn't shoot to kill unless it had no choice. An energy weapon that can be tuned from "stun" to "vaporize explosively" was just part of his vision.

On the one hand, learning that the folks behind the camera are tricking the audience at every turn can be a let-down. On the other, the sheer arsenal of tricks they do use is probably much more fascinating than the flashy stuff that movie heroes seem to do on a daily basis.

* I know, that scene is not strictly canon.

Re:Phasers (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157502)

Phasers are essentially inferior to contemporary firearms.

Depends on what you're trying to do with them.

Phasers could be "set" to stun or kill an opponent, something that normal firearms cannot do. Phasers also seemed to be able to shoot far more rounds than contemporary firearms. It was rare that you heard about a phaser being "drained" in a battle--I'm not that knowledgeable about TNG, but in "The Omega Glory," Captain Tracy claims to have killed "thousands" with only four phasers. Furthermore, phaser power-packs could be rigged to explode like a grenade. Phasers could also be used to drill holes, warm rocks, etc.

While arguably less effective than a Tommy Gun at killing, it was certainly a better all-around tool for explorers than a Tommy Gun.

So, 1940s machine gun > 24th century phaser.

Perhaps the Borg had never dealt with a Tommy Gun before. Remember that phasers were effective until the Borg managed to adjust their shielding. I'm sure that a Tommy Gun wouldn't work a second time, just like a phaser tended to be ineffective as the Borg learned to deal with it.

Re:Phasers (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157542)

Perhaps I missed the episode but I don't really recall people dodging phaser beams. People may have ducked for cover and moved out of the aim point prior to the phaser firing but once the beam was "in flight" there was no ducking, much as with a bullet. The key to ducking is the time lag between the decision that the weapon is on target and the trigger finger moving far enough to fire the weapon.

Re:Phasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36157724)

TNG generally had beam phasers. But DS9 and later tended to use blasters that shot slower balls of whatever.

I never understood why phasers didn't have auto-targetting. An automated turret, or even hand weapon would have been nearly impossible to avoid as long as the charge-up to shoot was reasonably small.

Can't even dodge a paintball ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157928)

TNG generally had beam phasers. But DS9 and later tended to use blasters that shot slower balls of whatever.

As someone who has watched many a slow paintball coming in and yet has been unable to dodge them, I'm still a little skeptical. Then again I am not starfleet material. :-)

Re:Phasers (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157862)

A. You CAN dodge a bullet at long enough ranges.
B. You can dodge light-speed fire in a universe where information can travel faster then light (subspace comms)
C. IM really confused as to what frame of reference you are using to determine that phaser fire is slower then a bullet.

Re:Phasers (1)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158184)

One advantage is that phasers carry a whole lot more shots than a pistol, and you don't have to stock ammunition, just maintain a recharge station. Another is that they have selectable power.

Now where is the masking tape? My glasses have broken again ... snort-heh-snort-heh.

Re:Phasers (1)

nevermore94 (789194) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158538)

IAASTN, many people have already addressed the multiusefulness of a phaser from stun to burn to vaporize, but I want to specifically address the Tommy Gun scene. First off, it made for good TV. But, technically, I think either the Borg's shields only blocked energy based attacks and not physical attacks such as from a bullet, or, my favorite theory, it wasn't a real Tommy Gun at all. They were on a HoloDeck with the "safety protocols disengaged". He was not holding an actual gun firing real bullets, he was holding a holographically generated gun firing holographic bullets given substance by the forcefield generators in the holodeck. Small high-power bullet-shaped force fields generated by a starship traveling at high velocity capable of punching through a Borg's little personal force field generator like a hot knife through butter.

Pacifism/Idealism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36158692)

The reason is pretty simple, actually: Gene Rodenberry wanted his pacifist explorers to carry less-lethal weapons. Hence the "phasers on stun" catch phrase. You can also see it in the prop design. Starfleet phaser props often looked like remote controls, electric shavers, or Dustbusters. Even the props that did have pistol butts moved the grip closer to the end of the barrel, making them more T-shaped, to distinguish them from actual guns.

When Gene was not involved, the phasers got a lot more actual-gun like.

In-universe, if you accept the idealistic pacifism of the Federation, you can see why they'd go out into the universe carrying nothing but glorified shock prods. Well, except for the Klingons and their disruptors...but at least the Klingons also carried knives.

Re:Phasers (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#36159102)

But bullets have been dodged in TV shows and movies, so clearly TV show land has different rules in the first place.

And why wouldn't a tommy gun kill a couple of Borg, if you kept trying they'd adapt and their shields would deflect them (or whatever). Normal phasers kill the first couple of Borgs just by changing the frequency...

Phasers have at least three benefits:

1. No need to carry ammunition.
2. No need to adjust your shooting for varying levels of gravity that someone exploring space and planets and what not would encounter. THough they do seem to be close quarter weapons rather than sniper rifles so that probably isn't such an issue.
3. Adjustable from tickle to stun to kill to disintegrate.

But yes, it's a TV show that is aiming for entertainment rather than realism and the phasers they present are rather silly.

Laser Guns fired like bullet guns. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157162)

The part of the movies and Star Trek I hated when you had the laser/phaser type of gun which fires a beam for a few seconds. Is that they actually miss, Because they stand there fire in one direction opps they missed and re-aim and fire again. As anyone who used a laser pointer knows If you miss you can correct rather quickly and there the bad guy is fried. Perhaps with some collateral damage, but not much more then a bunch of random laster holes in you hull.

Re:Laser Guns fired like bullet guns. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157380)

Phaser != Laser. Also != Light Saber. Also doesn't really fit into the "Pew! Pew! Pew!" class of weapons. Photon torpedoes, on the other hand, are the king of "Pew! Pew! Pew!"

Ronald Raygun? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36157170)

No comment...

The real deal - MTHEL (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157266)

The real deal: MTHEL [youtube.com], from Northrop Grumman.

That's 10 year old technology, and it's a chemical laser. Back then it took three semitrailers for all the support equipment. Since then, electrically-powered lasers are catching up. The Navy Laser Weapons System [youtube.com] is not as powerful, but it's a much smaller package, only needs electrical power. and can shoot down small UAVs.

Re:The real deal - MTHEL (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157418)

Navy Laser Weapons System is not as powerful, but it's a much smaller package, only needs electrical power. and can shoot down small UAVs.

And make popcorn?

Re:The real deal - MTHEL (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158082)

I suppose if you fired a canister of popcorn up, it could target and cook it to perfection by the time it came down.

Re:The real deal - MTHEL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36158540)

Only if you hire Kent to make the optics!

Pew? Pew? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157318)

I though that is how you celebrate the SciFi ray gun.... Run around with a sharpie in hand yelling PEW PEW PEW at your co-workers....

BTW: accounting department has NO sense of humor.... Throwing a dry erase board eraser into their office and yelling grenade was frowned upon... at least the Marketing department acted like it was real and looked like they panicked and ran from it. They are such good sports!

Re:Pew? Pew? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157406)

Watch out for Shipping & Receiving. They throw back shit like box-sealers, and those hurt.

First parsed as... (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157422)

Calibrating the Sci-fi Ray Gun

It's all about getting the collimation and stuff right, I guess.

Klono's Whiskers! (2)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157492)

No mention at all of Lensman, the root node of Space Opera, and the classic DeLameter? Or even the Stendish, a combined semiportable energy weapon/firearm? Pah!

Railguns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36157566)

I think railguns are cooler. Stopping 2 kg of tungsten hitting you with the speed of 3 km/s will take a lot more than deflecting some pansy heat wave.

Kill-o-Zap (2)

AftanGustur (7715) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157660)

The Kill-O-Zap gun is a long, silver mean-looking device, the designers of which decided to make it totally clear that it had a right end, and a wrong end, and if that meant sticking blacked and evil-looking devices and prongs all over the wrong end, so be it.

Oblig. (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 2 years ago | (#36157978)

Great article, but no mention of the greatest ray gun of all: the Illudium Pu-36 Explosive Space Modulator.

Missing from TA (1)

carpefishus (1515573) | more than 2 years ago | (#36158462)

Are the guns from Firefly (which are not ray guns but a real throwback to the 19th century in some cases) and the pulse weapons of Farscape.

Star Wars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36158938)

Wasn't the Star Wars missile defense system proposed by a president named Raygun?

don't forget Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36159116)

Nikola Tesla is said to have invented a ray gun type device. He even claimed that a test of it caused the Tunguska Event.

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