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David Pulver
Author and game designer
Author and game designer


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A quick calculation also shows that surrounding the body with a jacket holding one inch of water would weigh over 105 pounds. I don't think that's going to be serious threat to lasers.

One distinction of significance is between pulsed and beam lasers. Current laser designs generally fire continuous beams, resulting in melting effects and requiring lasers be held on target. This is nice if the target is a missile or vehicle that is a big target moving in a predictable fashion but less useful if it's a person who flinches away after he starts to burn. As a result, unless you have Mr. Bond strapped to your table, you may need to dump a LOT of energy into the target to get a fast kill, maybe more like 100 kilowatts or so. At the moment that limits you to truck-sized weapons.

A possible future technology, however, is rapid pulsed lasers, where you cycle the pulse rapidly to "drill" through the target (lots of energy, short period). This should theoretically improve hard-target penetration and soft target damage (water in flesh expands explosively as it is heated to steam), but the ability to reliably created rapid pulsed lasers of this sort outside the laboratory is currently not there. But it might be in the future.

For other posters: "Plasma ejectors" don't work as weapons in the real world; although they are effective as welders or drills at close range, they don't stay focused and air gets in the way; a sufficiently powerful weapon to do damage would just blow up the firer as the plasma beam interacts with air and explodes. (They have some limited utility in space.). You may note the total lack of anyone seriously researching plasma weapons for use within earth's atmosphere (outside of UFO crank stories and the like).
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