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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

Blue Ray of Death  
  A ray that reduces an organic being to ash instantly.  

The weapon itself is described as "a long metal tube" which is pointed at the victim.

"All was ready, yet before emerging onto the upper Eartth, they decided to have a sure, deadly weapon against the races of man, who might molest them in their work. So they developed a deadly ray, a ray that crumbles a human body into a puff of white powder instantly..."
Technovelgy from Across Space, by Edmond Hamilton.
Published by Weird Tales in 1926
Additional resources -

Here is a description of the ray in use:

...As a number of them [Martians] began to climb up the pillar, the blue ray of death flashed out from inside the box and cut a wide swath through their numbers, reducing those it touched to white powder in an instant!"

Fans of Star Trek TOS may recall the episode By Any Other Name; an alien ray reduced crew members to polyhedra of crumbling salts. The good news was that the person could be reconstituted - the bad news was once a block was crumbled, that person was gone.


(Star Trek crew reduced to crumbling blocks in By Any Other Name)

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Across Space
  More Ideas and Technology by Edmond Hamilton
  Tech news articles related to Across Space
  Tech news articles related to works by Edmond Hamilton

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