U.S. Army 'Death Ray' on Wheels
Laser weapons are a step closer to deployment on Earth's battlefields as a U.S. defence company gears up to test a new land-based device.
Boeing has announced that it has successfully mounted a 10kw solid-state laser on an eight-wheeled, 500-horsepower truck that could be used alongside conventional Army forces.
The High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) is now ready for field testing and over the next year will have a chance to show off its ability to acquire, track and destroy targets.
Not quite handheld yet... The truck-mounted laser weapons system that Boeing and the Pentagon hopes will prove the efficacy of the technology on the battlefield
The U.S. military has long hoped to develop a land-based, laser weapon that could be used to shoot down enemy missiles at the speed of light, but progress on the project has been slow.
It is hoped that the new weapon can be used to defend ground forces against rockets, artillery shells, missiles and unmanned drones by destroying threats with a beam of super-powered light energy.
U.S. and allied troops currently have limited options to defend against rockets, artillery or mortars. The short-range projectiles are airborne for only seconds, providing little time to take cover. And using heavy gunfire might inadvertently hit friendly forces in the process.
But HEL MD’s laser beam, moving at the speed of light - approximately 186,000 miles per second - will hit targets with unprecedented precision and swiftness.
Mike Rinn, vice president of Boeing Directed Energy Systems and director of the programme, said: 'The Boeing HEL MD program is applying the best of solid-state laser technology to ensure the Army has speed-of-light capability to defend against rockets, artillery, mortars, and unmanned aerial threats - both today and into the future.
'High power testing represents a critical step forward for this innovative directed energy system.'
The latest field tests as part of Boeing's contract with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defence Command. Blaine Beardsley, HEL MD program manager for Boeing, said:
'Phase II will allow us to build on the great work we have accomplished over the past several years with SMDC.
'Our team is eager to demonstrate that this revolutionary system is capable of saving lives and ready for the battlefield.'
The Pentagon has long been keen to develop laser weapons, and not just because of their ubiquity in science fiction.
Proponents of laser guns claim they are capable of incredible speed and precision coupled with relatively low cost and a seemingly near-infinite supply of 'ammo' constrained only by the availability of electricity.
However, developing weapons to the stage where they are ready for battlefield use has so far proved a challenge as researchers battle with problems like cooling, efficiency and miniaturisation.
In recent years other defence contractors including Raytheon and Northrop Grumman have demonstrated ship-mounted lasers capable of shooting down aircraft and disabling small boats.
The U.S. military has been experimenting with laser weapons since the Seventies but it is only in the past few years that a high-energy laser has properly functioned as a weapon.
Early systems used large, chemical-based lasers which tended to produce dangerous waste gases. More recently, scientists have developed solid state lasers that combine large numbers of compact beam generators, similar to LEDs.
The 10kw capacity of Boeing's latest effort is fairly modest compared with the power levels the Pentagon hopes to eventually achieve. The threshold for weapons-grade lasers is generally considered to be 100kw. Boeing said their system could 'subsequently' incorporate a more powerful laser. - DailyMail
Defense acquisitions: DOD efforts to develop laser weapons for theater defense: report to congressional Requesters
2012 US Army Weapon System Handbook (B&W)
Imaginary Weapons: A Journey Through the Pentagon's Scientific Underworld
Man dies after live roach-eating contest
The winner of a roach-eating contest in South Florida died shortly after downing dozens of the live bugs as well as worms, authorities said Monday.
About 30 contestants ate the insects during Friday night's contest at Ben Siegel Reptile Store in Deerfield Beach about 40 miles north of Miami. The grand prize was a python.
Edward Archbold, 32, of West Palm Beach became ill shortly after the contest ended and collapsed in front of the store, according to a Broward Sheriff's Office statement released Monday. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Authorities were waiting for results of an autopsy to determine a cause of death.
The medical examiner's office said Tuesday it has sent samples of Archbold's remains for testing, but results are not expected for another week or two.
"Unless the roaches were contaminated with some bacteria or other pathogens, I don't think that cockroaches would be unsafe to eat," said Michael Adams, professor of entomology at the University of California at Riverside, who added that he has never heard of someone dying after consuming roaches. "Some people do have allergies to roaches," he said, "but there are no toxins in roaches or related insects."
None of the other contestants became ill, the sheriff's office said.
There was no updated phone number listed for Archbold in West Palm Beach.
"We feel terribly awful," said store owner Ben Siegel, who added that Archbold did not appear to be sick before the contest. "He looked like he just wanted to show off and was very nice," Siegel said, adding that Archbold was "the life of the party."
Siegel said Archbold was selling the exotic prize to a friend who took him to the contest.
The grand prize has been put aside in Archbold's name and will be given to his estate, Siegel told the AP.
A statement from Siegel's attorney said all the participants signed waivers "accepting responsibility for their participation in this unique and unorthodox contest."
The bugs consumed were from an inventory of insects "that are safely and domestically raised in a controlled environment as food for reptiles." - Chron
'UFOs Over Pennsylvania' Interview with Author John Ventre
Click for video - 'UFOs Over Pennsylvania' Interview with Author John Ventre
John Ventre is the Pennsylvania state director for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON). He is also a sci-fi author and has just finished his first non-fiction book on UFO cases in the state of Pennsylvania. 'UFOs Over Pennsylvania' can be purchased at www.johnventre.com or for Kindle / eBook - UFOs over Pennsylvania
Other Titles by John Ventre:
12/21/2012: A Prophecy
The Day After 2012
Mystery Boom Rattles NJ Community
Police in Manchester Township, NJ are investigating a mysterious boom that shook block after block in the Ocean County community Thursday night. Residents say it felt and sounded like an explosion.
“It was so loud that my windows were rattling" said Jayne Yereance. "I really thought the house next door blew up. That’s how bad it was.”
Residents say there have been similar incidents since the summer. Police are trying to determine if they're connected, but investigators don't yet know where the sounds are coming from or who is responsible.
There's been no damage and no one's been hurt, but many people are on edge.
"I really wish they would knock it off so we can stop jumping out of our skin” Marissa Bartles said.
The Lakehurst military base is nearby, but authorities don't think that's the source of the booms. Military officials tell NBC10 there were no explosions on the base Thursday night. - NBCPhiladelphia
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