High Tech On The High Frontier

Scientists explore killer lasers and particle-beam weapons

Imagine a nuclear-tipped missile rising from a silo deep inside the Soviet Union, fixed on a target in the U.S. Almost immediately its fiery exhaust plumes trip warning sensors in satellites orbiting overhead. One of those satellites sends a powerful beam of light, or perhaps even a cascade of subatomic particles, bursting down from the heavens like a Jovian lightning bolt. The beam homes in on the ascending missile and fastens onto its nose cone. Burning through, the beam turns the electronic guidance system into silicon mush,...

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