Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"We'd have most of what we predicted of the conquest of space, if we hadn't ignored parasite control."
- Larry Niven

Laser Cannon  
  A laser source powerful enough to provide significant light pressure to a "light sail."  

The essential problem solved by laser cannon is the transmission of power over a very great distance. Since laser light is very focused, in theory the loss of power over a great distance from the source is reduced.

It would also make a formidable weapon.

They built my ship in two weeks flat. They started with a No. 2 General Products hull, just like the one around the Institute of Knowledge ship, and the lifesystem was practically a duplicate of the Laskins', but there the resemblance ended. There were no instruments to observe neutron stars. Instead, there was a fusion motor big enough for a Jinx warliner. In my ship, which I now called Skydiver, the drive would produce thirty gees at the safety limit. There was a laser cannon big enough to punch a hole through We Made It's moon. The puppeteer wanted me to feel safe, and now I did, for I could fight and I could run. Especially I could run.
From Neutron Star, by Larry Niven.
Published by Worls of If in 1966
Additional resources -

The term "laser cannon" was used earlier. In a 1962 book titled Report on Laser Design Study, we find "results of the design analysis indicate the feasibility of proceeding with the construction of a LASER cannon system at once."

Here's another quote from the Niven/Pournelle 1974 classic Mote in God's Eye:

"Captain, look," he said, and threw a plot of the local stellar region on the screen. "The intruder came from here. Whoever launched it fired a laser cannon, or a set of laser cannon - probably a whole mess of them on asteroids, with mirrors to focus them - for about forty-five years, so the intruder would have a beam to travel on. The beam and the intruder both came straight in from the Mote.

The basic idea for the laser cannon/light sail propulsion system belongs to Robert L. Forward, who published a short paper Ground-Based Lasers For Propulsion In Space in 1961. (Read a short autobiography of Robert Forward.) Dr. Forward gives a more detailed version of the idea in his 1985 novel Rocheworld; see the entry for Interstellar Laser Propulsion System.

Leik Myrabo of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has demonstrated that ground-based lasers can be used to shoot objects into the heavens. The small model craft succeeded in reaching over 100 feet, which compares well to the first test flight of a rocket design by Robert Goddard.

Myrabo's "lightcraft" design is a reflective funnel-shaped craft that channels heat from the laser, towards the center, causing it to literally explode the air underneath it, generating lift.

For more on early uses of solar sail, see the entry from Jack Vance's Sail 25, and starlight sail (light sail) from Cordwainer Smith's The Lady who Sailed The Soul.

The idea of using light pressure to move a spaceship was suggested by Jules Verne in his 1867 novel From the Earth to the Moon; see the entry for light pressure propulsion. The method was explicitly described by Edmond Hamilton in his 1929 short story The Comet Doom; see the entry for ship propelled by light pressure.

See also the launching laser from The Fourth Profession (1971) by Larry Niven.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 7 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Neutron Star
  More Ideas and Technology by Larry Niven
  Tech news articles related to Neutron Star
  Tech news articles related to works by Larry Niven

Laser Cannon-related news articles:
  - First Flight of a Laser Powered Airplane
  - HELLADS: Lightweight Laser Cannon
  - Laser-Powered Aircraft Model Tested
  - Laser Propulsion May Beam Spacecraft To Orbit
  - Laser-Powered Helicopter
  - Laser Lofts UAV for Two Day Flight
  - HEL MD Laser Weapons Will Sound Like Star Wars, Star Trek
  - Laser-Powered Spacecraft To Explore The Solar System
  - Breakthrough Starshot Sends Chip Craft To The Stars
  - Breakthrough Starshot Sprites Yearn For Alpha Centauri

Articles related to Space Tech
Starlink Satellites Leading Edge On-Orbit Debris Mitigation
Space Hero Inc. Offers Trip To ISS As Reality Show Prize
Bigrating Laser Beam-Riding Light Sail Is Self-Correcting
ISS Astronauts Test Estee Lauder 'Advanced Night Repair' Skin Serum

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

 

 

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

More News

Tesla Will Have Metal Gear Snake Autocoupler, Musk Confirms
'Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter.'

Starlink Satellites Leading Edge On-Orbit Debris Mitigation
Propulsion-assisted orbital decay, brought to you by SpaceX.

Healight Ultraviolet Endotracheal Device Has Covid-19 Treatment Potential
'He applied the tip of the instrument to the interior of the wound...'

Parents Use AI To See One Last Message From Their Deceased Son
'...what's to keep me from showing face, Man?'

Satoshi Tomizu Creates Pocket Universes And Worldcraft Bubbles In Glass
'The Worldcraft bubble glittered, catching the light...'

Space Hero Inc. Offers Trip To ISS As Reality Show Prize
'This is Elmer Schmitz, presenting to you the finalists in our Aviation Quiz Program...'

I Love Ceiling-Mounted Robots
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'

Armano Remote Control Excavator
'The bulldozer moved through the... mine... '

OK, NASA 3D Printer Of Food Not Yet Star Trek Food Synthesizer
Maybe not, but we're seeing definite progress.

Kelly Clarkson Show Like Black Mirror '15 Million Merits'
'These people are pieces of software called avatars.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.