back to article Laser beam sky mirage cannon can spy on enemies and generate Star Trek-style shields

British defence contractor BAE Systems says it has developed a laser-powered "mirage on demand" which can be used to bend the very fabric of the skies to military commanders' whims. The Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens, developed at BAE's Warton factory in Lancashire, works by "changing the Earth's atmosphere into lens-like …

Trollface

You only need a temperature difference of 0.4 to 0.5 degrees C to create a heat haze effect just above a road surface and whilst its commonly seen during summers, you can see it when the road surface is just above freezing as it requires a lot of solar energy to create that wibbly wobbly effect.

It will be interesting to see how BAE compensate for that wibbly wobbly mirage, are they giving pilots 15 pints of wife beater to compensate for this effect?

The HAARP antennas also heat up the atmosphere, but these heat the atmosphere 200km+ which have the effect of expanding the atmosphere into the path of satellites which can then make them fall to earth. Radio telescopes can pick up the electron density change as explain around the 50min mark in this program. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01d99vb

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Paris Hilton

The HAARP antennas also heat up the atmosphere, but these heat the atmosphere 200km+ which have the effect of expanding the atmosphere into the path of satellites which can then make them fall to earth.

How many nuclear power stations of radio energy are we talking about?

Also, that BAETECH, i'm pretty sure I saw it in "U.F.O." (the one with the secret lair under the movie studio)

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Seagull x-ray?

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> "How many nuclear power stations of radio energy are we talking about?"

Right? The antennas would be slagged long before the atmosphere was raised more than a few inches.

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Sounds like bollocks to me

If they really thought they had something that could be made and would be useful they wouldn't be telling anyone about it would they? They would STFU until they had something to sell for loads of money then brag about it and let their competitors start catching up.

Guess they are just looking for the idiot MOD to give them loads of taxpayers' money to piss away.

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Unhappy

"Guess they are just looking for the idiot MOD to give them loads of taxpayers' money to piss away."

Not necessarily.

They be just as happy to take the money from the DoD instead.

As any good defense con-tractor would.

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WTF?

Re: Sounds like bollocks to me

There is certainly an IP issue. Now that they have publicly announced this, at most any IP protection they have will expire before they have a working demo, given the lead time complex military programs usually take.

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Re: Sounds like bollocks to me

Could be. Or perhaps they/re hoping the Hairy Ivans[tm] will pour billions of roubles into a fruitless attempt to develop the technology.

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Childcatcher

Re: Sounds like bollocks to me

If they really thought they had something that could be made and would be useful they wouldn't be telling anyone about it would they?

It is typical that companies, including those with a primarily military customer base, publicize upcoming tech in this fashion. They may show demos on YouTube or put out press reports, but it is plain and simple advertising to potential customers and investors. If these things are defense tech of some sort, they go dark when the developing company either cans the project or starts field tests.

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Re: Sounds like bollocks to me

Sounds all well and good but they're going to need big wires to prevent a mirage around the power leads.

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Re: Sounds like bollocks to me

"any IP protection they have will expire.."

By making the idea public they could prevent competitors from patenting the basic system. Still lot's of room for patents in the details. Assuming this is even practical it will likely be a long road to development.

The old US telcos used to publish lots of great technology research because as state sanctioned monopolies they were not allowed to enforce patent rights. So they published everything they could so others could not patent them.

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Pretty straight forward

Energy absorption required per cubic meter of air. Absorption co-efficient; Single point source inefficiencies in heating the 'fat' and 'thin' parts of the lens. Perhaps you could use the heat generation from the overworked multiple CPU's and IR lasers with some form of instantaneous heat transmission. Then there would be the small problem of H2O absorption and re-radiation. And the small technical problem of the Zeppelin carrying the nuclear reactor, and/or the very small problem of a fixed wing aircraft having a minor issue with retaining state as it's energy source was diverted (perhaps a 10^5 tonne aircraft in a rapidly decreasing altitude scenario could fuel this for a few seconds); and BTW how would you know where to look for the threats if you hadn't already used this?

Apart from that seems quite sensible to me.

BTW, has anyone in BAE studied the views of Charlie Stross - if we could only get the Cthulu stuff working it might be cheaper.

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Re: Pretty straight forward

"has anyone in BAE studied the views of Charlie Stross- if we could only get the Cthulu stuff working it might be cheaper."

What could possibly go wrong...

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Re: Pretty straight forward

How about just using a small lens shaped companion drone (flying saucer)? Or a punch of micro drones that work like a Fresnel lens?

Dips on the patent.

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I'm hearing a female computer voice...

NOD weapons system detected. Destroy the NOD weapon so GDF aircraft can destroy the base.

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Re: I'm hearing a female computer voice...

GDI not GDF. I must dust off that copy of C&C...

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New application of not-so-new effects.

Already been done. Boeing did it for the ABL to shoot past the horizon.

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All over the place

It's the Kerr effect. No, it's ionisation of the atmosphere. No, it's temporary heating of the atmosphere. Maybe it's all three at the same time so we can call it a Trinity Mirror because all new tech needs a cool name.

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Re: All over the place

Trinity Mirror

Even funnier if you are aware of the event on July 16, 1945

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Unhappy

The Kerr effect is a second order electroptical effect that refracts light

Second order because bending is proportional to the square of the electric field strength rather than the Pockels effect where bending is proportional to the electric field strength.

Ionization causes an electric field although mirages are produced by local atmospheric heating effects. At a high enough light intensity ionization becomes probable, hence the idea of a "laser lightning rod" to improve the chances of safe rocket launches when thunder clouds were nearby.

Didn't everyone know this?

Given I've never seen a laser lightning rod system ever fielded I've got serious doubts about something that does something this tricky (from, if you believe the video, a multi Mach aircraft while in flight).

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Boffin

Re: The Kerr effect is a second order electroptical effect that refracts light

More to the point, the Star Trek shield analogy is a bad analogy, as the Star Trek shields work in the vacuum of space. The Kerr Effect requires a medium (i.e. won't work in vacuum).

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Coat

Give it a rest you lot!

All this tekky stuff is doin' me head in.

Nurse...Nurse..my brain hurts.

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Flame

Re: Give it a rest you lot!

Don't worry, it'll never happen because "temporarily heating up a small region of the atmosphere," will have the more extreme zealots1 chanting "Global warming! Global warming! Global warming! "

[1] eg like the people who hear the word "radiation" and immediately panic despite it being electromagnetic, not ionising.

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Can't you...

change the refractive index of a gas by changing the density of it? And doesn't a sound wave actually cause compression and rarefaction of the gas it is travelling through? So, couldn't you create a lens defined by sound waves? Just a thought. I mean, a sonic lens sounds cool. It's about time we had one.

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Re: Can't you...

Might work, if you pulsed the light source in synchronisation with the compressions of the wave.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can't you...

"if you pulsed the light source in synchronisation with the compressions of the wave."

Not allowed. You'd get the Drug Squad coming in to close down an illegal rave.

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A bid for an anti-weapon?

Given the recent governments tender for a laser weapon, would this not only be the "ok, we can build you the laser weapon for £10squillion" but also "if we build you the laser you'll also need to buy this before we sell it to someone else and render your laser even more useless that it probably will be ..."

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And it's

FRIKKIN' LASERS

just remember that

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Re: And it's

Super

Heated

Atmospheric

Refraction

bulwarK

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Mushroom

Somewhere else there's another BAE video

In this one, the subtext reads 'In the future, an enemy could use lasers and the atmosphere to perform surveillance from beyond the range of your current defences...."

Ad infinitum

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Unhappy

Re: Somewhere else there's another BAE video

Actually that's also covered in this video where the ground based defense laser is stopped by the aircraft fired laser shield.

BAE like to keep get maximum benefit for their Marketing budget (which this is from).

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"Star Trek-style shields"

Do you mean "fake"? Created with matting? CGI-generated? Green-screened?

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Bah!

Question: Can this wond'rous device demonstrate this amazing power *now*, or will it require years upon years of exorbitant tax monies before it becomes more than just another miracle shoulder-surfing selfie drone of can't-be-done?

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Anonymous Coward

Alien Technology!

I'm not saying it's BAEshit but it's probably BAEshit.

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Meh

A proper BAE boffin explains it with a bit more science

here.

Note he's vague on what TRL level this is at, along with the power requirements.

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Someone, somewhere in the Pentagon is salivating and writing BAE an enormous cheque right now.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh Yeah? My pulser is bigger than your pulser ...

Send this article to Trump & Associates in Washtown. They can use it to hide their stupidity and screw-uppity.

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