Thursday, 24 Apr, 2008 Technology
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New Powerful Weapon from Pentagon's DARPA Was Inspired by a Novel

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In his novel, entitled "Earthlight," the famous Arthur C. Clarke brought fame to a new type of weapon. Today this weapon is being developed by Pentagon's DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency). The weapon that will most probably turn the writer's dangerous ideas into reality is entitled Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition (MAHEM).

One of the key parts of the novel, written in 1955, focuses on the confrontation between a lunar fortress and 3 spacecrafts assaulting it. During the battle, the defending commander launches "The Stiletto," which is characterized as a solid bar of light that strikes through one of the spacecrafts just like "an entomologist pierces a butterfly with a pin."

In the novel, the Stiletto represents "a jet of molten metal, hurled through space at several hundred kilometers per second by the most powerful electro-magnets ever built."

The new weapon created by one of Pentagon's divisions applies the same principle as the weapon from the novel. By using magnetic fields the Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition will thrust either a narrow jet of molten metal or a large piece of molten metal that metamorphoses into an aerodynamic bullet during flight. However, different from the weapon characterized in the novel, the DARPA weapon will make them from a device that creates a powerful electromagnetic field using an explosion and not huge capacitors.

MAHEM prototype is similar to weapons that already use explosions to shoot out a jet of high-velocity molten metal on collision. Just like the High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) devices, the MAHEM is now foreseen as a tool brought by a missile, rather than a cannon. According to specialists from DARPA, the weapon could be enclosed into a missile or projectile and carried close to the target for collision and demolition.

The new weapon will be useful against tanks and other missiles. It is also likely to be applied against spaceships.

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