We get excited about lasers here at CrunchGear, mainly because they’re lasers. Lasers are something we’ve wanted since our childhoods, when we watched Star Wars and thought “Man! I’m so glad they don’t have guns in the
future distant past, or this movie would have been boring!” Yes, these brightly-colored rays captured our hearts, even if our brains kind of knew that things didn’t really work like that.
Fast forward 30 years or so, and here we are, watching a video of the Navy setting a boat on fire with a real-life laser. Shouldn’t we be jumping for joy? Well, it’s not that simple.
The War Nerd points out some very good reasons we should be laughing at this demonstration of laser-based weapons, which is in actuality just melting some plastic over the period of a minute or more. If that was our normal weapon, and then someone said “hey, watch this” and fired an artillery shell or guided rocket at that thing, we’d freak out about how amazing these futuristic weapons are that destroy the whole boat in a second!
It’s true, lasers are pretty weak, which is why the draw is not what they are, but what they could be. The fantasy of a laser is a different thing from the reality of a laser, and what we’re celebrating (in our undeniable geekdom) is that we are, however imperfectly, attempting to make that fantasy a reality — it’s the closest thing we can get to the childish joy of playing pretend.
That said, there is a budget for these oversized laser pointers that could be paying for food and housing. That’s a whole can of worms I don’t want to open here, but it is worth pointing out that pie in the sky shouldn’t cost billions of dollars in real money.
For my dollar? Give me that railgun.