79 votes
Accepted

Justifying the use of directed energy weapons

Laser beams have straight trajectories in anything other than totally unreasonable gravitational fields (where you won't be using bullets, that for sure). This makes them very easy to aim. Lasers ...
Starfish Prime's user avatar
71 votes

Why Laser "Guns"?

User Expectation and Skeumorphic Design The floppy disk 💾 is used (less so than five years ago, but used) as a save icon, even though outside of old industrial machines and nuclear missile silos, no ...
Daniel B's user avatar
  • 19.2k
58 votes
Accepted

Why wouldn't a space fleet use their lasers for a precision strike?

The lasers aren't designed to be used against targets in an atmosphere If the wavelength happens to be one that Titan's nitrogen atmosphere isn't very transparent to, your lasers are going to lose ...
sideromancer's user avatar
  • 1,019
51 votes

Can a laser in outer space really appear as visible "bullets"?

A laser beam is made by a bunch of photons travelling with the same phase and direction. Thus, the only way to see it (when you are not the target) is that the beam is scattered along its path. In ...
L.Dutch's user avatar
  • 287k
51 votes

Why Laser "Guns"?

It's an interesting question because our current laser guns look more like giant flat panels that fire invisible beams of heat at airplanes and torpedoes. But those are aimed by computers. People ...
Trevor's user avatar
  • 6,474
49 votes

Why might plasma weapons have different colors, even when made by the same manufacturer?

For when your "laser" weapon doesn't actually shoot lasers: In many cases, such as in Star Wars, what people refer to as laser weapons don't actually shoot lasers. In Star Wars, the weapons actually ...
Rob Watts's user avatar
  • 19.9k
46 votes
Accepted

Why might a Death Star laser be red?

To make a statement. There is no real requirement for a laser to be red - in fact it is likely 'invisible' unless it shines through a gas or other medium that scatters the light. So perhaps the ...
flox's user avatar
  • 21.8k
37 votes

Is a world laser possible?

Taking the assumption that it is possible, what effect do you think it would have? Planets aren't like buildings, they're not held together by structural integrity that could be damaged. They're held ...
Separatrix's user avatar
  • 118k
36 votes
Accepted

Can lenses defend against lasers in space combat?

I used to work with high-power pulsed lasers. There is a limit to how much power you can stick through a lens. Beyond a certain power density, the refractive index depends on the power, and a flat ...
Richard Kirk's user avatar
  • 8,618
33 votes

How to explain why the humans in my setting limit laser weapons to large anti-tank armaments instead of miniaturizing them

Technological Limitations: Though theoretically creating one of these big guns is possible there are various technical challenges that block the way, one of the main problems is Energy, These lasers ...
V.Aggarwal's user avatar
  • 4,521
32 votes
Accepted

Can a laser in outer space really appear as visible "bullets"?

In Star Wars, they shoot plasma made of energized gas (Tibanna). Plasma travels significantly slower than the speed of light, so the human eye can perceive it as a 'bullet' kind of thing. Making a ...
Jeutnarg's user avatar
  • 3,673
32 votes
Accepted

How to protect your ship against TW-range lasers?

By not being there By far the best way to protect yourself from any direct line of sight firing weapon is to not be in line of sight. Options range from being behind a planet, asteroid or other large ...
Separatrix's user avatar
  • 118k
32 votes

Is a world laser possible?

It cannot work: a laser work at cutting through matter by turning the superficial layer it hits into vapor that goes away. While that's a no brainer on a flat surface, as soon as you start digging ...
L.Dutch's user avatar
  • 287k
28 votes

How to explain why the humans in my setting limit laser weapons to large anti-tank armaments instead of miniaturizing them

The Law of Non-Linearity. Suppose a soldier can carry a 20kg laser cannon that can explode an enemy tank. Since we have the technology for laser rifles, we can produce a smaller 2kg weapon with (all ...
Daron's user avatar
  • 66.2k
26 votes

Why might a Death Star laser be red?

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick. The basic concept behind the Death Star is the same as was behind WWII super-battleships such as the KGS Bismarck; it's a big ship that can blast any other big ship ...
In Hoc Signo's user avatar
  • 10.5k
26 votes

Excuse for plasma, projectile, laser, and particle-beam weaponry to coexist?

Variant defensive technologies, which are effective against some weapons but not others. For instance, magnetic screens can deflect big plasma blasts but a laser will slip right through. ...
Cadence's user avatar
  • 38.2k
25 votes

Would a laser resistant (heavily heat resistant?) armour for space ships have unfortunate consequences and would it still have to deal with heat?

Frame Challenge: Lasers are a no-go because laserboats are flying radiators Just bring in proper heat management to your universe, and earn the realism points that even The Expanse didn't. Modern ...
Cheetah's user avatar
  • 1,018
24 votes
Accepted

Would laser weapons have significant recoil?

No, while there would be recoil, it's not enough to be perceptible. For example, according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_pressure#Solar_radiation_pressure, the radiation pressure of the ...
GrumpyYoungMan's user avatar
24 votes

Excuse for plasma, projectile, laser, and particle-beam weaponry to coexist?

Toys for rich people "What the hell was that, recruit? I don't care what they told you in training! You do not shoot opponents with downed shields! And if your shield goes down, you better ...
lupe's user avatar
  • 5,437
22 votes

Deflecting lasers/plasma bolts/blaster bolts with lightsabers

Allow me to challenge the premises: The shots that the Jedi deflect are not lasers. From the Wookiepedia:: A blaster, also called a gun, was any type of ranged weapon that fired bolts of intense ...
The Square-Cube Law's user avatar
22 votes

Dramatic orbital spotlight feasibility and price

Satellites? Blimps? The Six Million Dollar Man? Drag yourself into the millennium! You want a drone! Your drone can hover silently above you. It can track your movements via invisible lasers. ...
Willk's user avatar
  • 305k
22 votes

Why wouldn't a space fleet use their lasers for a precision strike?

Wild Weasels Lasers can only move in a straight line. That means any automated defenses of the enemy will immediately know exactly where to find your ships. As a matter of training, your forces may ...
Andrew Brēza's user avatar
21 votes

Why might plasma weapons have different colors, even when made by the same manufacturer?

Different safety requirements Your Terrans, of course, have the most stringent safety requirements in the galaxy. They buy above the board, legally, and check all the boxes necessary before anyone ...
Dubukay's user avatar
  • 12.2k
21 votes

How to protect your ship against TW-range lasers?

mirror sounds like a Stupid Idea Why? You have an incoming energy flow due to the lasers being fired, then your only options are: Absorb it: this what would normally happen, turning your ships into ...
L.Dutch's user avatar
  • 287k
21 votes

Why wouldn't a space fleet use their lasers for a precision strike?

The thick atmosphere provides both concealment and cover The report "Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Gun-Launched Guided Projectile: Background and Issues for Congress" by the Congressional ...
Andrey Tyukin's user avatar
20 votes

Why might plasma weapons have different colors, even when made by the same manufacturer?

Let's talk Physics! Ok, what is Plasma? Plasma is a very specific state of matter, that is also known as the fourth state of matter. under normal conditions it doesn't exist, and on earth usually is ...
Trish's user avatar
  • 16.7k
19 votes

Why Laser "Guns"?

Take a look at the wikipedia article on lasers. A laser consists of a gain medium, a mechanism to energize it, and something to provide optical feedback.[8] The gain medium is a material with ...
Acccumulation's user avatar
19 votes

How to explain why the humans in my setting limit laser weapons to large anti-tank armaments instead of miniaturizing them

The M96 is already miniaturised Firing lasers is easy. Firing powerful lasers is difficult. To get a laser usable on the battlefield you need a lot of energy and (miniature) technology. The smaller ...
Trioxidane's user avatar
  • 36.5k
17 votes

Would a laser resistant (heavily heat resistant?) armour for space ships have unfortunate consequences and would it still have to deal with heat?

This blog post from ToughSF is a great read on defending spacecraft from laser warfare, with a specific focus on mirror armor, which I will be mostly basing my answer on. In short, there's no perfect ...
BMF's user avatar
  • 6,778
16 votes

How to protect your ship against TW-range lasers?

According to Atomic Rockets, just keep your distance: http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/spacegunconvent.php Lasers need a focal point, and when speaking of space distances lasers have ...
Demigan's user avatar
  • 45.4k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible