GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

Laser battles in space.

POSTED BY: HJERMSTED
UPDATED: Monday, March 22, 2004 11:20
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Friday, March 19, 2004 7:18 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Quote:

Originally posted by GunRunner:
Quote:

Originally posted by BluebloodUK:
A submarine is only as good as the quietness of it's reactor.



Easily rectified, Collins or Amur Diesel-Electric submarines anyone?

Anyways new sub launched SAMs will become a serous threat to Helos and ASW aircraft (the real threats to subs) in the 21st century.

The Firefly CCG Web Site:
http://mywebpage.netscape.com/Bllm119/firefly_ccg_web_site.htm





I don't think that lasers or railguns will be effective against subs. How did they get involved in this debate again?


--Anthony

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Friday, March 19, 2004 7:18 AM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by GunRunner:

LOS can be avoided by using a aircraft with a mirror to direct the laser over the horizon. Kind of like a targeting helo/UAV off a modern ship.



As soon as the aircraft is in the target vessels LOS it would likely get shot down since it would be using Lasers too and as everyone says you can't dodge them

Quote:

Originally posted by BlueBloodUK:

Wait.. are you saying that a light laser cruiser would be nailed by a light mass-driver cruiser? Are are you bringing armour into the equation now? Which applies to either system ad infinitum. Arms Race, anyone?



If I knew I had the ability to hit the other side if I stayed out of LOS but they didn't I'd stay out of line-of-sight

Quote:

Originally posted by BlueBloodUK:
These days, you can't shell Destroyers or Frigates. Their Over-The-Horizon Radar systems are too efficient, their turning circle/acceleration too good. Which is why we use guided-missiles.



You've got to take into account velocity. The Mass-Driver round is going many times the speed of any conventional projectile so manoevering wouldn't help. You haven't moved far enough before it hits you

It's going a lot faster than a missile too and isn't likely to be stopped by CIWS unlike an Exocet or equivalent

Quote:

Originally posted by BlueBloodUK:
However, in space, these disadvantages are removed from the outset. Lasers have clear line of sight. At the speed of light. Mass-Drivers hang around in the MACH-speed range. And once fired, they are incapable of in-flight path alterations (unless they become guided missiles, invalidating the mass-driver concept there and then).



The maximum velocity of a rail-gun is only determined by the amount of current you put into it. You could get a round going a good percentage of light-speed if you put enough current in

Also in the vacuum of space a railgun has infinite range whereas a Laser doesn't. They grow less focused over distance

You're also assuming the other side knows the railgun slug is actually coming...



...................................
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With cries of “Death or Glory” comes the mighty Twenty-First

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Friday, March 19, 2004 7:41 AM

SCIFIDO


Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
Quote:

Well SciFido, Antigravity does exist within the universe of the show, and ships can change direction quite suddenly without squashing passengers. They can also accelerate quite suddenly without squashing passengers.

But railguns don't get their power from a mystery universe filled with unicorns and pink bunny rabbits. They get their power from the same place a laser would.

--Anthony




Oh, Now I get it, the realities of the show. So why all of the submarine, detroyer, and stuff we have today talk.

And, in your no pink bunny rabit universe, lasers take an enourmous amount of energy, remember the 'low battery' warning on the bulky laser pistol from HoG?

Accelerating a low mass slug requires much less output. And, everything in FF has been missiles and bullets, a different discussion altogether.

Of course, maybe in the reality of Firefly, Joss just thought lasers and blasters were done to death elsewhere.

SO, back to first question is this a real discussion or a pseudo-technobabble one?

Back to you...

Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

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Friday, March 19, 2004 7:48 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Quote:

The maximum velocity of a rail-gun is only determined by the amount of current you put into it. You could get a round going a good percentage of light-speed if you put enough current in


It seems to me that a LASER with that much juice put into it would be even more effective. Once again, instantaneous impact and complete undetectability prior to impact.

[quote[Also in the vacuum of space a railgun has infinite range whereas a Laser doesn't. They grow less focused over distance.


A railgun may have infinite range in theory, but there is something called 'effective range.' Effective range is controlled by things like accuracy. At extreme range, a railgun would be no more effective against a moving target than a laser would be. The target would literally have several seconds or (if you want to shoot from REALLY far away) possibly minutes to move before the slug would strike them.


Quote:

You're also assuming the other side knows the railgun slug is actually coming...


Let's say they DON'T know anyone is attacking them. A laser is still the stealthier weapon. It is also the more likely to strike a target before they change course. For whatever reason.

Scenario: Attacking vessel assaults target at a range of 30,000 kilometers.

Firing Solution A: Attacking vessel fires a railgun slug at Mach 10. Slug travels at 12,255 kilometers per hour. Impact occurs in 2.44 hours.

Firing Solution B: Attacking vessel fires a laser at c. Laser travels at 299,896.943 kilometers per second. Impact occurs in .1 seconds.

2.44 hours is a LONG time to move out of the way. .1 seconds isn't.

--Anthony








"Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who didn't."

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."

-Benjamin Franklin



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Friday, March 19, 2004 8:04 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Quote:

Originally posted by SciFido:
Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
Quote:

Well SciFido, Antigravity does exist within the universe of the show, and ships can change direction quite suddenly without squashing passengers. They can also accelerate quite suddenly without squashing passengers.

But railguns don't get their power from a mystery universe filled with unicorns and pink bunny rabbits. They get their power from the same place a laser would.

--Anthony




Oh, Now I get it, the realities of the show. So why all of the submarine, detroyer, and stuff we have today talk.




Quite right SciFido, the discussion should be confined to the realities of the show.

Quote:


And, in your no pink bunny rabit universe, lasers take an enourmous amount of energy, remember the 'low battery' warning on the bulky laser pistol from HoG?



Actually, I was quite impressed that a laser power source capable of cooking a building's wall was able to be stored inside a pistol.

Quote:


Accelerating a low mass slug requires much less output. And, everything in FF has been missiles and bullets, a different discussion altogether.



Accerating a tiny bullet to the speed of sound requires a little gunpowder. Accelerating a cannon shell to a speed ten times the speed of sound would likely require as much energy as a comperable laser system. Unless you're suggesting a conventional cannon in space? That would likely be as useful at close range as a railgun would be.

Quote:


Of course, maybe in the reality of Firefly, Joss just thought lasers and blasters were done to death elsewhere.



I agree, he probably did think that. Kudos to him for trying something different. I even think that slugthrowers are more efficient as far as man-portable weaponry is concerned.

Quote:


SO, back to first question is this a real discussion or a pseudo-technobabble one?



Actually, this isn't a question so much as a discussion about a statement:

Quote:

Laser battles in space indeed look cool, but they're kinda silly if you think about it.


I thought about it. Laser battles in space make a lot of sense to me. Much more so than slugthrower battles in space.

Quote:


Back to you...



And to you. Do you object to the discussion itself, or merely to the conclusions I'm reaching?

--Anthony







"Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who didn't."

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."

-Benjamin Franklin



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Friday, March 19, 2004 8:24 AM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
It seems to me that a LASER with that much juice put into it would be even more effective. Once again, instantaneous impact and complete undetectability prior to impact.



But less instantly devastating and far more easy to deflect (or rather reflect)

One good railgun strike out of the blue (or rather the black) and it's bye-bye target

Mass-Drivers are a more efficient way of transmitting energy in a big lump to the target and when you come right down to it weapons fire is just the process of moving energy from one place to another

Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
Let's say they DON'T know anyone is attacking them. A laser is still the stealthier weapon. It is also the more likely to strike a target before they change course. For whatever reason.



But its not stealthy because you know who fired it and where they are. If you fire a railgun you can be somewhere else when it arrives even if it's only a short distance away

The same principle is used in artillery. Shoot and Scoot before the counter-battery fire arrives





...................................
Hurrah, hurrah, when things are at their worst
With cries of “Death or Glory” comes the mighty Twenty-First

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Friday, March 19, 2004 8:41 AM

SHINY


Quote:

Originally posted by SciFido:
For reality, the slug thrower would seem to work exceptionally well. You can't change the trejectory of a high mass object like a ship without squashing its passengers under a high-gee load.



But the gravity/anti-gravity generators presumably can compensate somehow, as evidenced by the crew not ending up as messy red splotches after the 'Crazy Ivan'

RIVER
Purple elephants are flying.
MAL
Good. Thanks for the update.

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Friday, March 19, 2004 9:20 AM

GEEZER

Keep the Shiny side up


Sort of off to one side, but this just reminded me of various episodes of Star Trek where baddies with some sort of personal shield proof against phasers would transport onto the ship and everyone would fight them with swords, clubs, batlefs(?) etc. Always wondered why somebody didn't run over to the replicator had have it whip up a Remington 1100 and some 00 buckshot rounds. If a club could hurt someone, 1.5 oz of fast lead should too.

"Keep the Shiny side up"

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Friday, March 19, 2004 9:28 AM

HANOVERFIST


I remember reading an article about anti-missle laser systems back in the late 80's or early 90'a. The point of the article was to discuss the unbelievable lethality of a high power laser. A very powerful laser does not burn or cut through the target. It is not like holding a really hot torch up to something until it melts. It is more like hitting a target with an incredibly powerful projectile made of light.

Many people are under the impression that if the target is mirrored or if the target is spinning that the laser will not be able to burn or cut through. A spinning target is protected from a terawatt laser blast about as much as a spinning ballerina is protected from a point blank shotgun blast. The sheer impact of the photons in a large enough laser blast are enough to blow the ever lovin' crap out of just about anything.

I do not know what the state of the art is in the Firefly universe. Maybe there was some catastrophe that led to the abandonment of Earth and the subsequent loss of much technology in the 'backwaters.'

Perhaps the planets visited by the crew of Serenity are on the outer reaches of the diaspora that has spread mankind out into the stars. And just like many places in the world today, technology is not evenly distributed. The state of the art in the United States is not the same as the state of the art in a tribe in the middle of the Brazilian rainforest.

What I do know is that just like most of us do not carry a howitzer in our cars on the way to work neither does the crew of Serenity pack huge anti-ship weapons on their little cargo ship. Kind of raises the attention of the Alliance cops the same way a howitzer on your car would probably upset your local sheriff.

Okay, to bring this back to the discussion at hand, I believe a mix of weapons would be desirable, but energy weapons would have to be the weapon system of choice. In space the distance to engage a target with a kenitic weapon would be so short that you would have to literally get right on someone's back in order to hit them. Energy weapons do not have that deficit. You can fire from a greater disctance with greater precision and after a protracted firefight you don't leave your current orbit littered with debris that will endager everyone in the area (can you say friendly fire?).

Well that is my way too long-winded $.02

Hanover Fist

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Friday, March 19, 2004 9:57 AM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by HanoverFist:
I remember reading an article about anti-missle laser systems back in the late 80's or early 90'a. The point of the article was to discuss the unbelievable lethality of a high power laser. A very powerful laser does not burn or cut through the target. It is not like holding a really hot torch up to something until it melts. It is more like hitting a target with an incredibly powerful projectile made of light



It does burn through it just burns through so damn fast against unarmoured targets like missile boost stages it appears like a projectile hit (but it isn't)

During the work on SDI it really was shown that rapidly spinning an incoming warhead AND making it highly reflective meant you needed a Laser that was many times more powerful than it would need to be otherwise (I watched a documentary on the subject which showed some of the Laser Test-Firings which were often rigged to make Lasers look more effective than they were. In a couple of occasions a small explosive charge was planted on the missile "target" so it came apart spectacularly for the guest politicians and military)

If lasers were in common use you could use armour backed up by head-superconductors and heat-sinks to drastically increase the time taken to burn through a ships hull. You just need enough time to start spinning the ship and/or shoot back

Quote:

Originally posted by HanoverFist:
Okay, to bring this back to the discussion at hand, I believe a mix of weapons would be desirable, but energy weapons would have to be the weapon system of choice. In space the distance to engage a target with a kenitic weapon would be so short that you would have to literally get right on someone's back in order to hit them. Energy weapons do not have that deficit. You can fire from a greater disctance with greater precision and after a protracted firefight you don't leave your current orbit littered with debris that will endager everyone in the area (can you say friendly fire?).



Kinetic Energy weapons have an infinite range. The problem is the target moving whilst the round is in flight. That's why you would try for an ambush at Long Range. Use Lasers at medium range and go back to Kinetic Energy weapons at point-blank

It terms of damage a Kinetic Energy hit is far more devastating

Think of it this way. You have a 1 Gigawatt Power-Plant. You can use this to fire a beam but you would need to keep it on target for ten minutes to project the same energy to the target that you would if you charged capacitors for ten minutes to fire a single Railgun Round to a really high velocity

The Railgun round will likely disable the target with one hit whereas the Laser takes time to do the job (during which it fires back)


...................................
Hurrah, hurrah, when things are at their worst
With cries of “Death or Glory” comes the mighty Twenty-First

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Friday, March 19, 2004 10:49 AM

HANOVERFIST


I have to admit that Kinetic Energy weapons have a lot of appeal from the 'let's knock the crap out of something' perspective, but I have my doubts about how well they could be implemented in an actual firefight. No projectile in space is going to travel in a straight line. I find it hard to believe that a battle would take place in interstellar space. So most likely any fight is going to take place in a planetary system where you have very complicated orbital mechanics to worry about.

You also have the travel time of a projectile to worry about. Just like in combat now, whoever strikes first, hardest, and most accurately will usually win. (Especially considering the harshness of a space combat environment.) The effective range of an well collimated energy weapon would be far longer than an equivalent KE weapon.

I just do not believe that these two problems could be overcome from a practical standpoint.

Let me just clarify one thing. I am talking about 'dumb' projectiles, not some sort of torpedo or guided missle. I just think that given the distances you are going to have to cross in space combat, I do not think simple projectiles will get the job done.

Now let me muddy the waters a bit...What about a guided missle that contained an h-bomb pumped laser? (ala Niven and Pournelle in Footfall) You have a large torpedo that contains a laser and a small hydrogen bomb as the power source. The torpedo gets within close range and then the bomb explodes supplying the laser with power which then punches a nice hole in the offending ship. In Footfall the lasers were X-ray lasers and I thought it was kind of funny/disturbing how the stupid aliens were becoming sick and dying and at first they weren't sure why.

What do you think?

Hanover Fist


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Friday, March 19, 2004 10:59 AM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by HanoverFist:
I have to admit that Kinetic Energy weapons have a lot of appeal from the 'let's knock the crap out of something' perspective, but I have my doubts about how well they could be implemented in an actual firefight. No projectile in space is going to travel in a straight line. I find it hard to believe that a battle would take place in interstellar space. So most likely any fight is going to take place in a planetary system where you have very complicated orbital mechanics to worry about.



Orbital mechanics isn't hugely tricky in itself the maths is actually quite easy assuming that computer technology in the Firefly Verse isn't actually much worse than ours

I read once that one of the Voyager probes ended up within 10 metres of where it was aimed when it reached Jupiter. And that was using 1970's calculations!

Quote:

Originally posted by HanoverFist:
You also have the travel time of a projectile to worry about. Just like in combat now, whoever strikes first, hardest, and most accurately will usually win. (Especially considering the harshness of a space combat environment.) The effective range of an well collimated energy weapon would be far longer than an equivalent KE weapon.



Like I said you would want to get in a sneak attack with a Kinetic Energy weapon. If it was stealthed it would be very hard to detect until it arrived as it is completely inert in itself

Quote:

Originally posted by HanoverFist:
Now let me muddy the waters a bit...What about a guided missle that contained an h-bomb pumped laser? (ala Niven and Pournelle in Footfall) You have a large torpedo that contains a laser and a small hydrogen bomb as the power source



That was an idea mooted by Edward Teller (who invented the Hydrogen Bomb by the way). They never could get it to work but if you could develop a crystal lattice to absorb and funnel a nuclear blast into a coherent blast of X-Rays it would be one heck of a directed energy weapon


...................................
Hurrah, hurrah, when things are at their worst
With cries of “Death or Glory” comes the mighty Twenty-First

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Friday, March 19, 2004 11:06 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Quote:

Kinetic Energy weapons have an infinite range. The problem is the target moving whilst the round is in flight. That's why you would try for an ambush at Long Range. Use Lasers at medium range and go back to Kinetic Energy weapons at point-blank


I agree that a railgun would be good for a long range shot against a stationary object, or one whose flight path is absolutely certain over a course of minutes or hours. So, it's good for attacking a space station.

I also feel that a railgun would be good for point-blank shots against moving targets that do not exceed the speed of the railgun munition. (Targets in the process of accelerating beyond railgun munition speed could not be hit.)

Quote:

It terms of damage a Kinetic Energy hit is far more devastating


I do not agree.

Quote:

Think of it this way. You have a 1 Gigawatt Power-Plant. You can use this to fire a beam but you would need to keep it on target for ten minutes to project the same energy to the target that you would if you charged capacitors for ten minutes to fire a single Railgun Round to a really high velocity

The Railgun round will likely disable the target with one hit whereas the Laser takes time to do the job (during which it fires back)



I think this argument is fallacious. You are proposing that storing energy and transferring it to an object, and then using that object to transmit the energy to a target is more 'devastating' than storing energy and transmitting it directly to a target.

Surely it has occurred to you that if a Gigawatt power plant can charge capacitors for ten minutes to launch an impressive railgun slug, it can also charge capacitors for ten minutes to deliver a Petawatt+ range laser pulse? A laser pulse of such power so as to not require lengthy burn times? A laser pulse capable of explosively vaporizing matter on contact?

There may be applications for railguns in space. I simply do not think that the railgun is THE weapon of choice for Space Combat, and it is certainly not inherently superior to a laser or other directed energy weapon.

--Anthony




"Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who didn't."

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."

-Benjamin Franklin

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Friday, March 19, 2004 11:22 AM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:

Surely it has occurred to you that if a Gigawatt power plant can charge capacitors for ten minutes to launch an impressive railgun slug, it can also charge capacitors for ten minutes to deliver a Petawatt+ range laser pulse? A laser pulse of such power so as to not require lengthy burn times? A laser pulse capable of explosively vaporizing matter on contact?



Of course you could use your capacitors to do this but then you are looking at a much larger Laser Weapon to fire it which would have to be able to withstand actually firing the pulse without disintegrating itself

I'll think you'll find from an engineering standpoint it is easier to pump additional wattage into a mass-driver than a Laser Emitter you just up the field strength within the Driver

Also I am not sure how waste heat might effect a seriously powerful Laser. Heat is a bitch to get rid of when you have no atmosphere to conduct it away and you have to rely on radiation(The only Laser I ever got to play with used to get hot with continual use but I can't say I'm an expert on the things)


...................................
Hurrah, hurrah, when things are at their worst
With cries of “Death or Glory” comes the mighty Twenty-First

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Friday, March 19, 2004 11:29 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


The same issues of heat, stress, cooling, and size apply to a railgun that would apply to a laser. I'm not sure how the railgun is superior in this aspect.

For instance, a railgun designed to operate at 1 GW would have to be redesigned to operate at 1 TW. It would need heavier gage wire and bigger transformers and better magnets, improved cooling, etc. The same applies to a laser. A laser designed to do more would of course necessitate re-engineering.

So I'm still not understanding the point of the argument in that respect.

--Anthony

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Friday, March 19, 2004 11:36 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Incidentally, according to my research

http://www.ee.ust.hk/~eekwok/publications/2001/AP_2001_73_45.pdf.

A 25 Watt, dual pulse industrial laser arrangement can cut through a 1/8 inch thickness of stainless steel in 36 milliseconds.

I have no data on what a kilowatt, megawatt, or terawatt range laser might be capable of, but the short answer suggests itself: A lot.

--Anthony

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Friday, March 19, 2004 11:54 AM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
The same issues of heat, stress, cooling, and size apply to a railgun that would apply to a laser. I'm not sure how the railgun is superior in this aspect.

For instance, a railgun designed to operate at 1 GW would have to be redesigned to operate at 1 TW. It would need heavier gage wire and bigger transformers and better magnets, improved cooling, etc. The same applies to a laser. A laser designed to do more would of course necessitate re-engineering.

So I'm still not understanding the point of the argument in that respect.



Mass-Drivers do not I believe get hot when in use like Lasers do. Which is where I was coming from it terms of scaling up

They do produce waste heat (everything does it's basic thermondynamics) but they do not get as hot as a Laser of equivalent wattage would and would therefore not require as much cooling gear

I would have thought that a very powerful Laser would be in danger of destroying itself because its own waste heat would be bad news for whatever it was made from surely?


...................................
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With cries of “Death or Glory” comes the mighty Twenty-First

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Friday, March 19, 2004 12:01 PM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Lasers use electromagnets, capacitors, transformers, and all the assorted other components that a massdriver might use.

I don't know that a laser creates more waste heat than a railgun of equivelant capability. Do you have data on this? I don't. I wouldn't even know where to go to find it. Railgun technology seems a bit more secret than laser technology.

This is probably because lasers have so many commercial uses, whereas railguns are more specifically military.

--Anthony


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Friday, March 19, 2004 12:01 PM

LTNOWIS


This is a really good discussion, good points all around. As usual, I enter it late. Personally, I think that a mix of weapons seems fun, but I'm not sure if it would work out if one weapon was a lot better. If a medieval person predicted that we'd be using a mix of arrows and bullets today, they'd be wrong.

In Firefly, however, we don't see any space combat except for the alliance cruiser destroying the derelict, most likely with their short-range boarding-type weapons, and Jayne shooting with Vera. So we really don't know what their main space weapons are.

One important thing you're missing is that none of the lasers in sci-fi are really lasers, as someone pointed out earlier. A real laser you can't see, because:
a) It's going the speed of light.
b) Being made of light, it can't reflect light.

You can only see it dust, fog, etc., and it's only a line, not a beam that moves forewards.

Yet in every sci-fi, including Firefly, you can clearly see the beams. My explanation is that when we invent a "plasma-based beam weapon" or whatever, people will call them laser beams because they've seen all the sci-fi shows, and the companies marketing them will want people to have an instant mental image of their weapon and what it does.

The bottom line to all this rambling is that in most sci-fi reality, laser weapons are really just generic energy beams, explainable only by meaningless technobabble.

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Friday, March 19, 2004 12:17 PM

KUGELBLITZ


Getting rid of heat is big. Even a broad low power laser is going to cause a ship far far away to get hot. It doesn't have to be lethal, just bale to create a mission kill, if the crew is in trouble you win either way.

This discussion is overlooking some things.

Firstly, there is some kind of gravity tech being used. I think we can assume that the unit is not larger than a Firefly class ship. That right there is a terrific weapon- a directed gravity beam that creates a steep gravity gradient could wreak havoc on a ship, or cause projectiles or lasers to warp in space and become deflected. The tech is there, we just haven't seen the weapon version of it yet.

The whole electronic aspect of commo, nav and other things is seen at the level of an old, clunky ship. The state of the art must be terrific, so Alliance crusiers may very well be able to disappear if they need to, by going stealthy and deploying decoys or some such stuff.

It could very well be that long range stuff is impossible to do because of this. I would also point out that aircraft made battleships obsolete, not missiles. Therefore any sufficiently lethal weapon carried by a fighter obviates that type of ship in existence. So the Alliance cruisers are probably carriers.

"We are exporting democracy because we have all of this unused democracy lying around at home. Why not make some money doing it?"

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Friday, March 19, 2004 12:25 PM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
I don't know that a laser creates more waste heat than a railgun of equivelant capability. Do you have data on this? I don't. I wouldn't even know where to go to find it. Railgun technology seems a bit more secret than laser technology.



I recall reading that heat build-up is more of a problem for Lasers than mass-drivers but I cannot for the life of me remember where I got it from

It's been a long time since I studied Physics at College so I'll put my hands up and say no data available here I'm afraid

I do know people who work in military R&D but I bet they won't tell me if I ask (but I'll try) if I go missing it was very secret


...................................
Hurrah, hurrah, when things are at their worst
With cries of “Death or Glory” comes the mighty Twenty-First

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Friday, March 19, 2004 12:31 PM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by Kugelblitz:
That right there is a terrific weapon- a directed gravity beam that creates a steep gravity gradient could wreak havoc on a ship, or cause projectiles or lasers to warp in space and become deflected. The tech is there, we just haven't seen the weapon version of it yet.



Directed Gravity Beams. Now there's a high-tech weapon and no mistake. I've seen them called "Grasers" and "Gravy Guns" in different sci-fi

The only problem is that it would likely be easier to generate a Gravity Field than a coherent Gravity Beam. You could have the former a darn long time before mastering the latter I would think?


...................................
Hurrah, hurrah, when things are at their worst
With cries of “Death or Glory” comes the mighty Twenty-First

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Friday, March 19, 2004 1:46 PM

KUGELBLITZ


I would, postulating that the grav generator is not dependent on the main engine working (see OoG) then if it IS a machine then it can be amplified somehow. I also noted that the grav worked when the airlock closed up. Interesting. So there is some kind of coils or gizmo that does that, AND it doesn't worj through the hull. Yet the physics on the flight deck and living spaces are normal, usually. Some kind of local gradient there. Could that be pumped up really high before the grid burned out? Perhaps it would be spherical maybe?

Could be an expensive tech, but then again AIM-54 air to air missiles are expensive too-like 50 mil plus. The Alliance could afford it, or the Independents for that matter. So there could be a gravitic mine type object, or there could be planet based grasers too. They would just be rarely used. Those are shipkillers and probably either a whopping big weapon (e.g. on a cruiser) or some kind of big pulse warhead (a big missile). Not to be wasted on freighters.

All suppositional of course, but this doesn't leave the canon of defined tech for the show.

"We are exporting democracy because we have all of this unused democracy lying around at home. Why not make some money doing it?"

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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:05 PM

PEACE


As usual, I come late to good threads....

Reviewing most of the posts, there seems to be an assumption that lasers would be powerful weapons at extreme range. This seems to me to be a fallacious assumption. Lasers beams, no matter how powerful, are going to spread over distance. Over several light-seconds, we could be talking an area equal to one hemisphere of the Moon. Unless the FF universe has seen some major advances in the degree of coherence you can achieve with a beam of light, and major power increases, so that a laser beam retains sufficient power to do damage. More likely to my mind is the possibility that lasers would be short-range weapons, esp. useful in point defense.

Someone up-thread mentioned that Joss probably didn't use lasers in the show for ship weapons because they've been "done to death" in scifi. I agree, but even more than that, they're traditional-- movie and TV scifi latched on to them because they came the closest to the old Buck Roger's/Star Wars "blaster" or "energy beam", and could be easily rendered by pre-CGI special effects.

I agree that a gravitic weapon would be the most logical ship-killer in the FF 'verse; in the future as now, almost any technology can be weaponized and will be if it provides good kill-to-power expended ratios. A graser or a "gravitic imploder lance" (see Lois McMaster Bujolds "Miles" series) would be a fearsome weapon, ripping enemy ships (and personnel) apart in horrifying ways. Again, as noted, this would be a big-ticket item not to be wasted on small fry like Firefly.

And just because I'm a contrarian (but generally nice about it) I want to put in a friendly word for guided or smart missiles. Properly stealthed and fabricated to absorb or resist existing sensor technology, a smart missile could lie in wait for a target, or attack with a full range of its own drones, counter-measures and point-defenses. For a cruiser the size of those in FF, when you talk missile, you don't necessarily need to be thinking of something you can fit in a Volkswagen. Try school-bus sized or larger.

The real problem is that we saw too little of the FF 'verse to make really sound judgments on the tech and its capabilities. At least, so far.

Just my two cents....

Oh, bugger! Now I have to wait for someone to wake up!

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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:34 PM

MORDRAIG


The weapon the Alliance cruiser used to destroy the transport in "Bushwhacked" to me looked like a plasma weapon. If you look it was 2 round green orbs that left a "smokey" green trail on the way to the ship and they had a definitive travel time meaning they would be effective against large slow or unmoving objects as opposed to small fighter craft. Once these orbs impacted with the transport, they reacted violently with the O2 in the ship causing the explosions and subsequent buckeling of the ships hull. A plasma weapon in ship based engagements makes sense to me since even if they missed the plasma would in a relativly short time frame, be exhausted.

The Alliance fighter in "The Message" used missles and EMP bombs as stated eariler in the thread. I believe this to be their only weapon system or perhaps they have lasers of sorts but we have not seen lasers used in any engagements outside of atmo.

In "Heart of Gold" the hand held laser was selectable between a short burst duration and a sustained beam type of fire. As to the visibility of laser fire we all know that the frequency necessary to cause any damage is out of our visible range.

My supposition on visibility of laser fire is that at the same time the weapon is fired, it "projects" a pulse or beam of visable light just prior to the release of the actual damage inducing beam. This would aid the operator of the weapon in sighting just as tracers do for machine gunners today. I realize the "visibility issue is still a problem to an extent depending on dust in the air etc. Perhaps its an issue of ionizing the air that causes the look.

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Saturday, March 20, 2004 9:21 AM

LTNOWIS


Quote:

Therefore any sufficiently lethal weapon carried by a fighter obviates that type of ship in existence. So the Alliance cruisers are probably carriers.


We only see one kind of Alliance capital ship, the city-like cruiser. We know they can launch gunships, from Serenity, and we know they have laser/plasma cannons, from Bushwhacked.

Quote:

I want to put in a friendly word for guided or smart missiles.

As I said before, the weapon of choice for destroying a derelict would be the cheapest possible. So guided missiles/torpedos could be in wide use, for all we know. I imagine that they would at least have some uses, like chasing down agile fighters.

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Saturday, March 20, 2004 8:55 PM

PYROPHORUS


I would assume that the best defence technology for any ship would be the artificial gravity they produce.

Firefly has artificial gravity so I'd have to assume its pretty common.

This artifical gravity could project outwards to varying degrees to deflect incoming objects and particles. It would work as an exellent deflector shield for basic space junk. Other larger objects would probably require more energy to deflect, but that would show the balance of power.

Of course we've never seen a space battle in the firefly 'verse, so we don't know.

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Saturday, March 20, 2004 9:59 PM

ROCKETJOCK


Quote:

Originally posted by Hotpoint:
Never understood why people would use Lasers in space anyway? If you've got the power use it to run a Railgun/Mass Driver.



Yeah, but railguns/mass drivers require you to throw away mass of some description, mass that it cost you reaction mass/fuel to loft into space in the first place. Not to mention adding random thrust to your vehicle whenever you fire (Newton's third, remember.)

Lasers have drawbacks, but at least you don't get recoil from a flashlight.

RocketJock

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Saturday, March 20, 2004 10:48 PM

PEACE


Quote:

Lasers have drawbacks, but at least you don't get recoil from a flashlight.

RocketJock



Actually, come to think of it, you would get recoil from a laser-- photon pressure is as real as any mechanical impulse. There have been proposals to use high powered lasers as propulsion devices (tech is a bit out of our reach at the moment, though). If a laser is ground based its not very noticeable-- the laser's pushing against the whole mass of the planet. In a microgravity environment, though, this might be a serious consideration. There's a math assignment for somebody-- figure out the light pressure/recoil exerted by a one-terawatt laser (my physics texts are buried in my attic, I think).

Oh, bugger! Now I have to wait for someone to wake up!

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Sunday, March 21, 2004 6:05 AM

ECMORGAN69


Quote:

Originally posted by Static:
In reference to the AI issue

THIS is why I have such a problem with the whole "Love-bot" thing in the 'leaked' audition list. . .

If there's sufficient technology in the FF universe to come up with "Love bots". . .then why the hell do they use SLAVES? And I mean on the ADVANCED worlds, like Persephone. . .not the rim worlds.

Think about it. We're at the year 2004, and we only JUST NOW have a gorram automated VACCUM cleaner. A robot capable of taking the place of a human lover. . .that's WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY beyond the 'tech standard' that Joss has already given us.

Laser weapons? We've seen ONE laser weapon in the show. . .it was bulky, awkward and the battery died after three or four good shots. I sit in the cutting edge of combat technology for hours every day and I can tell you. . .the more you over-think the plumbing, the easier it is to clog the drain. Nothing beats a good ol' slugthrower for doin' damage. More efficient, more effective.

==================================================
"Wash. . .we got some local color happening. A grand entrance would not go amiss."



So, what're you saying Static, no Love-Bots??

They can have my "Firefly" DVDs when they pry them from my cold, dead fingers....

Oh yeah, you, FOX TV!!

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Sunday, March 21, 2004 7:31 AM

DATALESS


In "Out of Gas" we simply don't see the ship move because the camera is moving with the ship. We see nothing that tells us the ship is moving or not. The fact is the ship is moving to slow to see any stars moves and the only other thing to tells us if Serenity is moving is the other ship and it is matching the movement of the Serenity.

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Monday, March 22, 2004 3:00 AM

KUGELBLITZ


The ship destroyed in "Bushwacked" is seen getting hit by glowing green speres which leave some kind of gas behind. They appear to move slowly.

We could only be able to see the drive transients of whatever weapon that is. By which I mean that there could be a missile/pod in front of the green orb, which is not visible at the distance shown. It could be a very thin little sliver of black, or a little black sphere*. So the weapon could NOT be the green orb, or it could be that the orb WAS the weapon and we seeing at all armed up and ready to detonate. So the there could be a plasma field generator inside that orb, but I beg to differ.

(*The missiles used by the fighter were atmospheric missiles, they needed to be aerodynamic)

'Space' Missiles, by which I mean guided anti ship weapons, should probably be very stealthy and fairly smart. They should be able to lie in wait for a target, stealthed, with only passive sensors operating. They would then activate when their target was inside their range, based upon the velocity of that target (like would they be capable of altering their relative velocity to match that of tthe target enough for their payload to be effective). That implies that they would need to be smart to do this, and have fairly good sensors that could detect a target in time for them to intercept it.

Of course the faster a target is going the narrower their intercept window. This isn't SF level stuff though anti aircraft missile batteries do this now. Yet it could be that a sufficiently fast ship could be traveling too fast for a stealthy missile/mine to kill it, unless that ship had the extreme misfortuine to essentially run into the detonation radius of the missile/mine. Like a direct hit from a flak gun in WWII. Rare. Given the volume and distances in space, very, very rare.

Since the missile/mine may in fact be directed at a maneuvering target, BY a maneuvering target, or sewn near a likely avenue of approach, or deployed from a moving ship in the general direction of an area of space that should be denied to an enemy, they may be in several shapes or sizes to accommodate the mission parameters. They would probably be as spherical as possible, so that they could move in any direction without stressing any major components, and stow easier when they were, umm, stowed. Hmm, littlel cigar shapes stack the best in contained environments. They COULd be little cigar shpaes then, or maybe M&M shapes. Mmm, M&MS.

Or they could simply be multi mission munitions, all the same size and shape. The user would simply dial in the necessry mission profile (or the munition would) and let fly. A close in taget that is moving slowly could be a profile wherein the missile would move slowly also, ensuring maximal weapon effects.

Why slowly? Well, this is suppositional, but I think that such a weapon would eat itself as it moved. The net energy effects would depend upon how much energy was left in the weapon plus its velocity upon impact, in one type of scenario. So at short range, my missile would move slowly (non moving target and slow moving firing platform-the Alliance cruiser) still have lots of Balonium left in its engine core/tanks/ magnetic bottle, and then make a nice biiig energy transfer when it reached its lethal radius (the ship that was shot in Bushwacked)

The same weapon may have to expend energy to pursue a faster target but would or could have collateral effects related to its velocity -shrapnel if it is an area effect weapon or atraight up impact if it needs to be contact with something solid and THEN detonate whatever Balonium was left in its tanks.

So at extreme velocities, it would simply be a chunk of mass, with very little maneuvering ability since it expnded all of its Balonium getting there.

Considering the distances that engagements could occur in space (and they are orders of magnitude over what we see in any conflicts here on earth) there should be two arming modes-area effect and point impact. The deadliness of a given detonation would be related to how much energy+Balonium was left in the missile when it detonated. (For instance, some modern anti ship missiles have collateral effects associated with their propellants)

So slow and close would create the optimal yield as seen in the weapon used in "Bushwacked".

"We are exporting democracy because we have all of this unused democracy lying around at home. Why not make some money doing it?"

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Monday, March 22, 2004 11:04 AM

LTNOWIS


Nice ideas Kugelblitz. That's a possibility we never considered before. Though I can't see the use in having a big green trail on a missile, or a laser, for that matter. While it would help you target, you could just give all gunners, pilots and commanders a monoculer that would fill in the weapon trails along with tactical information, like Apache helicopter pilots use today. Though it certainly wouldn't look as cool, and this is a TV show.

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Monday, March 22, 2004 11:20 AM

KUGELBLITZ


Absolutely, launch transients are a big no no.

Yet they look reeeeally cool to the laymen.

"We are exporting democracy because we have all of this unused democracy lying around at home. Why not make some money doing it?"

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