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I'm talking about this:

enter image description here

Basically, it's another trope from the futuristic tech index, plasma rifles are often designed as having tuning fork like barrels, but I also want to add an extra layer to the plasma weapons.

Modus Operandi

Plasma rifles in my world work by utilizing nanotechnology, and highly advanced data processing units.

Before the plasma is being shot at something, the weapon creates multiple thin, light layers of a reflective material, forming a dielectric mirror for the spheromak plasma, so the heat will not escape by either collision or thermal radiation.

After that, the plasma is created and accelerated down the barrel, the dielectric mirror wraps around it, and it exits the weapon, ready to melt the face off from the heretics.

What could be a justification for the design choices of a weapon that operates in this way?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Aify, L.Dutch, Hohmannfan, Mormacil, James K Apr 8 '17 at 22:29

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ The premise that most plasma launchers/rifles have a tuning fork based design is incorrect. I could name dozens of examples where this is not the case. Specifically looking at First Person Shooter lore, most plasma rifles are more akin to "launchers" rather than tuning forks. Please note: Asking for "Science-Based" answers when talking about "Standard Issue Direct Energy Weapons" seems contradictory. You're asking for science backed explanations behind largely hand-wavium technology. Please edit accordingly. $\endgroup$ – bhilgert Apr 7 '17 at 21:57
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    $\begingroup$ Are you familiar with Sanderson's First Law of Magic? "An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic." It also is very applicable to technology, and plays a huge part in answering questions like this one. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Apr 7 '17 at 21:58
  • $\begingroup$ @bhilgert I don't really see, what's the handwavium here, electrolasers, free electron lasers and self-contained toroid plasma launchers exist. With a semi-handwavium energy source and nice little details, I will might be able, to convince people that this work is the next Mass Effect. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Apr 8 '17 at 6:52
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The easiest way to justify a gun being shaped like a tuning fork is probably to make it a railgun. See here:

enter image description here (source)

Electricity flows down one rail, through the projectile, and back up the other rail. The electric current flowing through the rails creates a magnetic field, and when the current flowing through the projectile interacts with that magnetic field, the Lorentz force kicks in, pushing the projectile down the length of the rails.

Now, plasma is also a decent conductor of electricity, so if the projectile was not a metal slug but rather a blob of plasma, then it too would be accelerated down the rails. You could even create a plasma blob on demand by loading a thin sheet of metal foil between the rails, which would be instantly vaporized when the capacitors powering this thing start to discharge.

As for whether such an accelerated blob of plasma would actually be able to penetrate the atmosphere very far, much less knock out a human, I have absolutely no idea.

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  • $\begingroup$ Don't worry, Cave took care of the practicality. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles May 22 '17 at 19:11

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