Superfast laser pulses could pave way for beam weapons

Short bursts turn columns of air into energy conduits

By Andrew Grant, 17:02 PM March 4, 2014

Laser pulses lasting tiny fractions of a second have created superhighways in the air that are potentially capable of transporting megawatts of laser power. The advance should help scientists detect pollution in the atmosphere. It could also enable more exotic applications such as redirecting lightning and building practical laser weapons.

Lost in the hype surrounding President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative and other laser-based weapon systems was the fact that it’s difficult to delive...

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