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    • CommentTimeJan 28th 2008
    we now have even more advanced technology with which to bomb others back to the stoneage

    Rail Gun

    I know it's destructive and wasteful but dammit the science is neat
  1.  (690.2)
    I can't believe precious money is being wasted on that shit.

    Money being spent on more and better weapons. Guaranteed to piss me off.
  2.  (690.3)
    With the electrical help of my dad, I built an magnetic coil gun for my highschool science fair. To hear that the military might actually use magnetics over chemical propellants warms my heart.
  3.  (690.4)
    With the electrical help of my dad, I built an magnetic coil gun for my highschool science fair. To hear that the military might actually use magnetics over chemical propellants warms my heart.

    Well, there is that. It still pisses me off, though.
  4.  (690.5)
    I am so caught here.

    The proper adult me, with solid ethical and political interests and motivations, agrees with Andre this is money spent where it should not have been. The educated knows tools inspire use and greater distance between you and your enemies weapons makes the enemy look that much easier to kill without danger. And such thoughts lead to deep and dark water.

    The 14 year old who read allot of Cyberpunk fiction says "oh fucking cool...rail guns!" Drop a rock on em! So I am off to stab myself in the head again.
  5.  (690.6)
    I am right behind you with my own icepick, JTraub. The little SF geek needs a lobotomy so that the political wonk does not have a brain haemorrage. . . .
    • CommentAuthorPablo
    • CommentTimeJan 28th 2008 edited
    the system will fire rounds at up to Mach 8, drawing on tremendous amounts of electricity to generate the current for each test shot.

  6.  (690.8)
    I'm thinking this system of death-dealing is almost up there with Nuclear weapons. Using such a weapon might very well just be a deterrent to those who would make war. What if the US Navy pointed the rail gun at someplace like Burma or other war-torn area and tell them to cut it out? Would they comply, or would they need to fire a shot to show them what'll happen? This seems like it can become a very deep pond, very fast.

    Now, hurtling past this ethical dilemma everyone's rolling around on, what's say we consider the amount of power it'll take just to fire a shot. This fellow says "an effective military rail gun would need a huge vessel to carry the capacitor bank and a nuclear power station to make a rail gun practical." So, currently the technology behind a functioning rail gun is just silly. However, I'm sure with time and advancements the gun will become less bulky and cumbersome.
  7.  (690.9)
    So, currently the technology behind a functioning rail gun is just silly. However, I'm sure with time and advancements the gun will become less bulky and cumbersome.

    And more money going down the drain so the US Navy can build their toy and show the rest of the world the USA has a dick even bigger than previously imagined and you best do as you're told.
  8.  (690.10)
    What's stopping them? Is there a group who will protest the construction and/or furthering of this technology? Or will America just sit back, watch whatever horrible thing shows up next on their tube and just accept whatever happens next?

    I mean not to say that there isn't anything you can do, but there must be a way to show or demonstrate one's hatred towards this type of thinking/building/engineering.

    Side note: I've been reading Freeman Dyson's "Disturbing the Universe" and have had the idea of a world political system running through my head. (That term, "world political system" might not be right.) Maybe that's a possible answer?
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJan 28th 2008
    Look at it this way:a lot of military research pending ends up having civilian applications.

    I can see rail gun technology being used in spacecraft launch applications or in building better mining or cutting equipment.
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeJan 28th 2008
    While I am inclined to agree with you, Kosmo, there are other technologies I'd rather find application in the civilian market. Like fuel cells.

    This all leads me to wonder HOW they actually managed to approve funding for this thing. Besides playing the "it's cool, and we have it first" card.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJan 28th 2008
    Actually, the answer ironically lies with fuel cells and the like.

    The US navy is currently grappling with more and more power demand on board ship for electronics and the like. They also have huge logistics problesm with all the different types of fuel and ammo they need to carry.

    So they like railguns not just because they can theoretically outperform ordinary guns but because they use smaller, lighter simpler ammo and electricity in place of propellants.

    The next generation of surface ships will probably have either fuel cells or diesel-electric hybrids together with electrical propulsion systems.

    Oh and the army is real keen on hybrids and fuel cell vehicles because they reduce the amount of fuel they need to carry which let's them carry more ammo and weapons.

    Honestly, I don't like the amount of money spent (and misspent) on the military anymore than you do but I'm trying to see the silver lining here. World WAr II probably accelerated the development of antibiotics by a decade or more. Military aircraft research made jetliners possible.
    • CommentAuthorCaBil
    • CommentTimeJan 29th 2008
    One of the Future Cruiser concepts floating around consists of a rail gun equipped tri-hull, with missile cells in the sponsons and a rear drone deck. To fire the gun, they basically disengage the props and for a couple seconds dump the entire output of the engines into the gun. Estimated range @50 miles. It's an attempt to create a littorial combat ship, basically a ship that can do force projection close to shore. Aircraft carriers currently do that job, but they are often too big, too expensive and require a hell of a long supply train (along with 10-20 other ships) to do so.
    • CommentTimeJan 29th 2008 edited
    War might just be the easy and less rational way to advance development. I find it hard to believe that the determination behind technological advancement is mostly thanks to mankind's endless bloodthirst. As previously mentioned by others, that money could have been spent on more constructive projects, but I'm being redundant.

    You wussies, to hell with guns. Do the WWIII with sticks and rocks, old school style!
  9.  (690.16)
    I agree with KOSMOPOLIT, what limited space travel we have achieved as a species has come about by a lot of the technologies developed in the military sector. Sure, I would like to see us make technological leaps forward with positive, non-harmful intentions, but as history shows us, the human race rarely makes those types of leaps without a "killing" reason. But then again I am a pessimist.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeJan 29th 2008
    Are you guys all missing the bit that explained that this Railgun is actually a bit shit and won't work properly yet?
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJan 29th 2008
    Oddcult, yes but in trying to make it work the Navy will likely pour money into stuff like more powerful magnets - which will have all sorts of nonmilitary applications.
    • CommentAuthorpi8you
    • CommentTimeJan 29th 2008
    @Ghostboy - You've got it all wrong, WWIV's sticks and rocks after WWIII blasts us all back to the stone age.

    To (half-seriously) abstract the whole thing a bit more...
    1) Someone comes up with Cool Sci-Fi Thing, we say "Oooh, shiny"
    2) Military spends a fortune making it real, we say "Military Evil, boo, hiss"
    3) Products/byproducts of the research make their way into consumer's hands, we say "Ooo, shiny" again

    I just want my own Metal Gear, dammit.
    • CommentTimeJan 29th 2008
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    If it was not for military driven advancements we would probably still be in the stone age. Almost every major tech breakthrough came about with motivation and funding from the we need better and more efficient ways to kill people group. WW2 was the biggest advancement in human history. Warplanes started with 600HP and at the end of the war their were jet fighters.
    The Manhattan project , metallurgy even the space race was a military conflict.

    War is really what makes us human.

    Fortunately all that investment pays dividends in advancing peaceful tech. Like using body armour materials to make better prosthetics.

    Pretty much anything that is developed for peaceful purposes there is a guy figuring out how to kill people with it.

    I always thought a land mine that had a life span where it would quit working after a set period of time would be better than the ones that killed for decades after the war was over.