Gone are the days when only Optimus Prime had a laser gun to fight the evil Decepticons. Now Sandia National Labs in New Mexico has come somewhat close to producing the previously fictional technology. They announced on Feb. 1 that they had patented a laser guided bullet. Though this sounds like a fun concept and a leap forward in warfare science, it must be prevented from falling into the wrong hands as the consequences could be disastrous.
Laser guns have always fascinated me sci-fi movies like Star Trek and in games like laser tag. The concept used in Star Trek was that a light beam of high energy is directed toward the person to be annihilated. In laser tag, a beam of light simply strikes a specially designed jacket that senses it and reduces the player’s “health.” You can well imagine what happens when we combine both of these concepts. Obviously, you get a very lethal weapon, similar to the one Sandia Labs has patented for the Department of Defense.
We all know that guided missiles carrying various types of warheads have become standard common-use items for most military powers. But a laser guided bullet is a relatively new concept. Let me introduce you to this “Magic Bullet.”
Picture a four inch long bullet customized for .50-caliber military machine guns with a laser sensor on its frontal surface. The bullet hits exactly where the rifle’s emanating laser beam points to. This means it can hit a stationary target with 100 percent accuracy. As for moving targets, the gyroscopic sensors allow it to yaw and pitch 30 times a second. So no matter how the target moves, the bullet never misses — as long as the gunman has his laser beam pointed on the target.
Interestingly, these gyroscopic sensors are also the same ones that rotate your iPhone’s screen the moment you flip it.
Praising the new bullet, Jim Jones, a distinguished member of technical staff at Sandia Labs, told the Associated Press “.50-caliber bullets would work well with military machine guns so soldiers could hit their mark faster and with precision.”
With this advancement in technology, no doubt, the armed forces will seldom have the excuse that civilians killed in a war or counter terrorist operations were “collateral damage.” Well, that is certainly some good news.
The mainstream media, which has been howling about defense budget cuts, has not even bothered to cover this development. Even more perplexing are some media reports that indicate Sandia Labs plans to produce these bullets on a commercial scale for recreational shooters apart from the military and law enforcement. For now, the technology is restrained to snipers and machine guns, so the possibility of a rogue gunman carrying out carnage in a public place is microscopic. However, as the technology improves further and such bullets can be customized for already lethal handguns, it could wreak havoc — especially in places that are already haunted with a lot of crime.
Also, this technology would not be impossible to reverse engineer. It could prove to be a boon for extremist organizations if they get ahold of this bullet after it is simply fired at them. Hence, it is vitally important that these bullets should not be sold in the open market. Before the bullet’s commercial production commences, modifications must be made such that it annihilates itself on striking the target.
I sincerely hope that this bullet will be put to good use or else Sir Winston Churchill’s words, “Science burrows its insulted head in the filth of slaughterous inventions” could become prophetic.