Science: Swoosh! It's a Railgun

Swoosh! It 's a Railgun

A new electromagnetic launcher for earth and space

Ever since the city fathers of Florence ordered up brass cannon and iron balls in 1326 to defend themselves against the city of Lucca, in the first recorded use of explosive-powered metal artillery, gunsmiths have been trying to perfect their weapons. Guns have improved over the centuries—in range, accuracy and deadliness—but their firepower has always depended on the rapid expansion of exploding gases down a tube, which pushes the bullet forward. The maximum speed such gases—and thus the gun's projectile too —can reach is severely constrained. None of the...

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