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"[Science fiction is] nightmares and visions, always outlined by the barely possible."
- Gregory Benford

Subphoton Search Ray  
  A special ray beam that penetrates into hidden bunkers; images are caught on special film cameras.  

In the story, the WWI scenario of endless opposed trenches is replayed with sci-fi weapons technologies. I'll bet the generals of each army would like to have been able to see what the enemy had in store.

A star shell rose silently into the night, burst soundlessly into a dazzling white illumination...

The pitiless M rays pierced Earth and steel and densest concrete as if they were so much transparent glass, illuminated every nook and cranny of the deepest hidden secrets, etched into shadowed outlines men and guns and bombproof shelters. Tiny cameras, raised swiftly aloft from the dark quiescence of the enemy lines, clicked panorama views on specially activated plates, lowered as swiftly and silently as they had reared into the blue-black sky.

For a full minute, the penetrating rays flooded the landscape; then, with a little puff, the star shell dissolved into the all-embracing night.

From The Shining One, by Nat Schachner.
Published by Astounding Science-Fiction in 1937
Additional resources -

Special ray beams that look inside closed rooms? More of that ridiculous, time-wasting science fiction? See LEXID Sees Through Walls To Next Apartment and LifeReader Senses The Enemy Through Wallsfor a good look at what is being done to reveal "private" spaces. They don't use "M rays," but they're still pretty cool.

Note the interesting analogy to X-ray photographic techniques; one part of the device shines penetrating rays, and the second part captures the resulting image on a photographic plate.

Schachner knew that for every science-fictional offensive technology, there is (or should be) an equal and opposite defensive technology; take a look at the vibration screen from the same story.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Shining One
  More Ideas and Technology by Nat Schachner
  Tech news articles related to The Shining One
  Tech news articles related to works by Nat Schachner

Subphoton Search Ray-related news articles:
  - See Through Walls With Wireless Networks
  - Cell Phones To See Through Walls
  - Range R Lets Police See Into Your House
  - RF-Capture Lets MIT Boffins See Through Walls

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