THIS is a light saber?!?
December 4, 2000 9:08 AM   Subscribe

THIS is a light saber?!? "There really isn't anything out there, other than a baton and pepper spray, that can halt a dangerous suspect without doing him or anyone else harm," Herr said.

posted by rushmc (28 comments total)
Why call it a "lightsaber"? This looks to be " clumsy or random as a blaster". This is a blaster (or, better yet, a phaser) set to stun.
posted by harmful at 9:53 AM on December 4, 2000

so much for protesters. Couple of radio controlled tanks with those things mounted on top and you are done.
posted by th3ph17 at 10:05 AM on December 4, 2000

Yikes. Abuse maybe a possibilty, but when you consider how many "accidental" police shootings are arouind these days (just look the actor shot this past halloween), it may not be a bad idea to train cops to use these first instead of a service revolver.
posted by Hackworth at 10:25 AM on December 4, 2000

If it hasn't been tested on animals or humans, how do they know
a)that it will work
b)that it could "irritate" one's eyes?

posted by norm at 11:18 AM on December 4, 2000

"It's a lot better to be simply frozen in position than shot full of holes."

Does anyone actually believe that those will be the two options? Seems to me far more likely that this thing will be used to freeze you in position so you can be shot full of more accurate holes...

posted by Mars Saxman at 11:24 AM on December 4, 2000

"paralyz[ing] the skeletal muscles" seems
a) like an oxymoron
b) really dangerous
posted by grimmelm at 11:31 AM on December 4, 2000

Paralyzing the skeletal muscles is probably dangerous, yes. But probably slightly less-so than a bullet.

I realize that I'm probably in the minority here. But I actually have a bit of respect for police. I don't believe that the vast majority of them are looking to carve notches in their gun belts.

A police officer takes personal responsiblity for the safety of the commonwealth, at great risk to their lives and at great cost to their livelihood. They accept a job that I would not wish for, for a salary that I wouldn't accept. And as such, I owe them my respect.

Statements such as "Seems to me far more likely that this thing will be used to freeze you in position so you can be shot full of more accurate holes." while uproariously funny and clever, are simply not true.
posted by ratbastard at 12:02 PM on December 4, 2000

This story is a handwave; laser beams do not induce electrical current in organic objects.


posted by baylink at 12:21 PM on December 4, 2000

I heard a guy from the company that makes this on the Lionel show on Eyada this morning, and so far even a picture of the weapon isnt available to anyone not involved in law enforcement. He also said it wouldn't be sold to anyone not involved in law enforement. The whole thing sounded very fishy. Vaporwear fishy.

The scariest thing about it is that its range is 2 kilometers. At the risk of sounding like I'm in a bad sci fi channel movie...what if this thing fell into the wrong hands?
posted by Doug at 12:24 PM on December 4, 2000

Baylink--I don't think they're actually inducing current using the lasers. It sounds like they're photoionizing oxygen in the air along two parallel beam paths, then passing a current from the device along one beam path to the target then back along the other.

James--"skeletal muscle" meaning the normal kind of muscle that moves your skeleton around, as opposed to "smooth muscle," which is the kind that makes up your intestines and your diaphragm.
posted by shylock at 1:13 PM on December 4, 2000

Couldn't this principal be used to significantly reduce casualties in conventional warfare? Immobilizing the opposition, as opposed to vaporizing them? I realize that it's not a perfect concept, and the potential for abuse is certainly there, but it seems like a somewhat positive step.
posted by Optamystic at 1:26 PM on December 4, 2000

and heart?
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 1:28 PM on December 4, 2000

Well, you know what they say -- if you're going to shoot someone, shoot to kill. I don't think this will replace deadly force in nominal military or police use. It may provide more options in the event of things like WTO protests, though.
posted by dhartung at 1:30 PM on December 4, 2000

Cool, so if we could extend the range of this beam a few ten thousand times, we could just plant a bunch of geosynch satellites above all the "nations of concern" and just freeze the whole country every time they displease us. North Korea won't make human rights concessions? Sorry, Kim Jong Il, but we'll have to freeze your population for one hour. You have thirty minutes to notify them.
posted by daveadams at 1:47 PM on December 4, 2000

As shylock mentioned, it requires *air* to carry the current. Don't you worry 'bout dem freeze-ray satellites.

Of course, I'm not entirely clear on how you ionize air without very powerful lasers (that would no doubt do more than "irritate" ones eyes)... Someone care to fill me in?
posted by whatnotever at 2:23 PM on December 4, 2000

a word on Non-Lethal weapons technology....Mars makes an excellent point, non-lethal tech combined with lethal tech is usually the way things go....other famous non-lethal technologies include tear gas and barbed wire, which--combined with a machine gun--made WWI the grand adventure that it was.
posted by th3ph17 at 3:21 PM on December 4, 2000

Crazyunclejoe--Cardiac muscle is it's own thing, neither smooth nor striated. It takes a whopping big current to affect it. I guess this weapon is designed to deliver an electrical current strong enough to affect skeletal muscle without endangering the heart.

Whatnotever--Yeah, I was wondering about that myself. Oxygen is fairly easy to ionize with low-intensity uv light, but it seems like a laser that's powerful enough to ionize oxygen two kilometers away should be powerful enough to cause uv damage to skin at close range. The manufacturer's website claims that the laser is too weak to do any damage, though.
posted by shylock at 5:15 PM on December 4, 2000

Two kilometers range?!?! I don't think so. How do you sight the target? What's the power output of the device? This is almost as silly as the guy who claims he'll have a flying car next year. He's been working on it for about fifteen years now.
posted by Mr. skullhead at 5:54 PM on December 4, 2000

Couldn’t one wear some reflective material to bounce the “laser” harmelessly away?
posted by capt.crackpipe at 6:04 PM on December 4, 2000

As someone else pointed out, Shylock, yeah, they could be doing that, but it takum heap big current to photoionize air; those beams would blow a hole in a human, no?
posted by baylink at 6:13 PM on December 4, 2000

cc: If this thing works as claimed, reflecting the laser probably wouldn't do you any good; it's the ionized path from the gun to the target that matters, not any penetration of the target. Of course, it seems like some sort of metallic covering would give the electricity an easier path to travel than through human flesh.
posted by harmful at 7:51 PM on December 4, 2000

so let me get this straight. with one of these gizmo's i could like, turn a whole beachful of bikini babes into statues? wait till they hear about this on slashdot...
posted by quonsar at 8:04 PM on December 4, 2000

I agree with Doug. It's vaporware.
posted by lagado at 8:24 PM on December 4, 2000

Are you sure? There's a string of patents behind it. No, it isn't built yet, no, we don't know how well it will work under field conditinos, no, we don't know how expensive and thus cost-effective it will be. But it looks like the basic principles are there.
posted by dhartung at 9:42 PM on December 4, 2000

Oh Dan. Cardhouse says a patent was filed for the Pleasure Railroad. Apparently you can patent any machine, whether or not physics backs it up.

Harmful: Know any good ways of blocking ion paths? I’m not sure if my big red cape with the S on it will work.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 10:29 PM on December 4, 2000

c.c, I agree with harmful, I think even tin foil would be enough to stop it, since the current would much rather flow through metal than you... Of course, the tin foil might heat up some.

Heh, if you were really clever, you could set something up that would actually use or store the current they're trying to fry you with... Laptop running out of juice? Go join a riot for a while!
posted by whatnotever at 9:08 AM on December 5, 2000

Maybe the article misspoke and it's a two-meter range. That seems more likely, yet a little too small to be really useful...
posted by daveadams at 10:13 AM on December 5, 2000

I actually have a bit of respect for police. I don't believe that the vast majority of them are looking to carve notches in their gun belts.

I have no doubt that almost all police are, in fact, extremely unhappy about having to shoot anyone, ever. But that doesn't seem to matter - for one reason or another, innocent, unarmed people keep getting shot. Availability of nonlethal weapons doesn't seem to have done anything to stop that. This particular device, even if it can be made to work as advertised, will not do anything to stop that.

posted by Mars Saxman at 12:00 PM on December 5, 2000

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