Directed energy is the wave (and not just the microwave) of the future, the source of weapons that will prove to be revolutionary.
Imagine, writes Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher Beason, that an angry mob has surrounded the American embassy in New Delhi—for though our friends today, the Indians can turn on us at any minute—and that some of them are carrying weapons. Turn on a DEW, a directed energy weapon, and zap and poof, anyone with those weapons in hand will feel “intense, excruciating pain” as the metal is heated as if by some divine smelter. This exercise in “active denial,” Beason observes, is not mere science fiction; scientists are working on the necessary hardware every waking moment. Though the goodies will come too late to do the current generation of warriors in Afghanistan and Iraq any good, in the future antiballistic lasers will be deployed high above bad-guy nations such as Iran, poised to destroy terrorist bases and all the weapons of mass destruction they contain. Beason describes a number of ongoing research projects testing the efficacy (and even plausibility) of directed-energy applications. It’s not stimulating reading: “The Jefferson FEL uses cryogenics for superconducting magnets. . . . This technology is not as mature as the COIL laser . . . and other approaches have been proposed for building a weapons-class FEL, such as using an extremely high-gain amplifier instead of an oscillator.” Ah, yes, of course.
Beason attains a kind of high-geekish exaltation that will appeal to readers schooled in Tom Clancy.