Warfare at the speed of light

The Oakland Tribune has a good article detailing work at Lawrence Livermore National Lab to create laser weapons that is bearing fruit.

The question, as with any new weapon, is whether a new weapon makes us safer or less secure.

As people ponder the efficiency and accuracy of laser weapons, possibly even those fired from space, I'm reminded of the movie, Real Genius, in which a group of students create a very powerful laser intended for use by a US Government agency as "the perfect peacetime weapon." The point is that the high-powered laser could vaporize a human target from space with pin-point accuracy.

If you read the article from the Oakland Tribune, you see many similar comments about accuracy. Now, the military folks are all talking about mounting these on battlefield weapons, like Hummers, tanks, ships, and aircraft. However, there is some discussion as well about the space-based potential.

Consider what happens if a terrorist gets his hands on one of these weapons, either through hacking control of a satellite or by stealing a vehicle or shoulder-mounted version. No individual would be safe when targeted, because all that is necessary is line of sight (and even that is only necessary on a low-power version that can't rip through steel or walls).

At least nuclear weapons are messy. This causes most people to shy away from using them in their own back yard at least. No such luck with lasers.