The US Navy has been working on a Superlaser, or rather it gave Boeing a 26 million dollar task order to build a prototype. The designs are finished and a prototype is set to be delivered in 2012. However to make a laser into a weapon that will do more than boil an egg, it needs to output at least 100 KW of power. Until now just 14 KW was delivered. On 19 January however the Office of Naval Research reported that a breakthrough had been achieved which put the project nine months ahead of schedule. The ultimate goal, a Megawatt class Free Electron Laser (FEL) has come a big step closer. In the not too distant future the US Navy will have a weapon that can be deployed as an instant - well, speed of light - defence against missiles and aircraft. Not only that, the laser can become a multipurpose device as it can also be used as a guidance system, a tracking system and a sensor.
As we are moving into the second decade of the 21st century, Star Wars is becoming more and more real. The next thing to develop is a space going aircraft carrier and we're there. And as boys always feel the need to pee further than the other boy, it is only a matter of time before someone constructs a spheroid weapon-system that can destroy an entire planet. George Lucas is a visionary. Or rather he is a good judge of human nature. I can't help feeling it is a sad reflection on the human race that instead of us developing into morally superior beings we are just continuing our advancement in developing a better club with which we can bash each other's head in more efficiently. Be that as it may and be that - in my view - a sad inevitability, the science behind the development of a superlaser is quite stunning and the amounts of controlled energy that are manipulated will no doubt bring advancements in more peaceful applications.