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"I realized there was a heavy-duty change coming in biology, and I could write a really compelling novel about catastrophic evolution, punctuated equilibrium."
- Greg Bear

Disintegrator Ray (Dis Ray)  
  A device that projects a beam reducing matter to nothingness.  

In about 2109, it seems the conflict was finally precipitated. The Mongolians, with overwhelming fleets of great airships, and a science that far outstripped that of crippled America, swept in over the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts, and down from Canada, annihilating American aircraft, armies and cities with their terrific disintegrator ray. These rays were projected from a machine not unlike a searchlight in appearance, the reflector of which, however, was not material substance, but a complicated balance of interacting electronic forces. This resulted in a terribly destructive beam. Under its influence, material substance melted into "nothingness"; i.e., into electronic vibrations. It destroyed all then known substances, from air to the most dense metals and stone.
From Armageddon: 2419 A.D., by Philip Frances Nowlan.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1928
Additional resources -

This passage illustrates their use and effect:

The raider neared with incredible speed. Its rays were both slanted astern at a sharp angle, so that it slid forward with tremendous momentum.

The ship was operating two disintegrator rays, though only in a casual, intermittent fashion. But whenever they flashed downward with blinding brilliancy, forest, rocks and ground melted instantaneously into nothing, where they played upon them.

When later I inspected the scars left by these rays I found them some five feet deep and thirty feet wide, the exposed surfaces being lava-like in texture, but of a pale, iridescent, greenish hue.

No systematic use of the rays was made by the ship, however, until it reached a point over the center of the valley—the center of the community's activities. There it came to a sudden stop by shooting its repellor beams sharply forward and easing them back gradually to the vertical, holding the ship floating and motionless. Then the work of destruction began systematically.

Back and forth traveled the destroying rays, ploughing parallel furrows from hillside to hillside.

Edmund Hamilton described something quite similar to this in his novel Crashing Suns, published the same year. See the entry for de-atomizing ray.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Armageddon: 2419 A.D.
  More Ideas and Technology by Philip Frances Nowlan
  Tech news articles related to Armageddon: 2419 A.D.
  Tech news articles related to works by Philip Frances Nowlan

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