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This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Tweaked the Fallout 3 example; the Gauss rifle isn't an energy weapon. It fires a tiny slug at high velocity through electromagnetic coils.

I would like to strongly object to the idea that laser weapons would "just burn a hole through a target", because that makes it sound like it's not going to be lethal. Saying that they are "just stronger laser pointers" is sort of like saying an assault rifle is "just a stronger slingshot".

Consider that the process by which lasers "burn" through targets involves turning the surface into gas or plasma. The expansion of this gas will cause physical, mechanical damage to surrounding tissue, as bad or worse than a bullet wound will. The idea that lasers are self cauterizing is technically true for the tiny part of a person's body that it hits, but given that this is only a minor area compared to where the real damage will be done (again, mechanical not thermal effects), it's kind of misleading.

Lasers are positively devastating as weapons. Yes, current battery technology is not at the point where they are practical for man portable use, but they ARE at the point where it is practical for mobile platforms like the Boeing Airborne Tactical Laser (reportedly capable of punching holes through tanks at many kilometers away), and an Israeli anti-rocket platform mounted on a Merkava Chassis.

  • Wait, it was my understanding that pulsed lasers would cause considerable amount of damamge, but a standard continuous beam however, would be the "powerful laser pointer?" Even though the "burn a hole right through" part is probably inaccurate, wouldn't the steam and gas mess with the beam unless it was using the pulsed laser technique?

T Beholder: The same for repeated pulses. But if one maneuerable object shoots at another it's not like it going to pin the same point all the time, so this seems to be less of a problem. Anyway, (according to estimations in Weaponry in Space: The Dilemma of Security) the energy threat of target kill is roughly the same in both cases, even though damaging factors and possible countermeasures are different.

Zarpaulus: Which do you think is more likely to make holes in a ship's hull, a bullet or a lethal energy weapon, judging from the damage a laser pistol did in Heart of Gold I'd say the energy weapon.
Who suggested that the guns in Fire Fly may have been energy weapons because "the sound effects definitely suggest an energy weapon", I don't think he saw very much of the show.

Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better launched as Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better Discussion: From YKTTW

From YKTTW Working Title: Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better
Vampire Buddha: Removed a tonne of natter:

    Natter 

Joeyjojo: man I haven't seen this much technical natter since Old-School Dogfighting. i am going to give it a major trim in the next few days.
  • Evilest_Tim: Nope, beat you to it. Bwahahahaha.