Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ben Bova: Book looks at weapons of the future

By BEN BOVA, Special to the Daily News
October 16, 2005

pictureThe biggest change in warfare since the invention of gunpowder is taking shape today.

Directed energy weapons such as lasers, microwave and particle beams are coming out of the laboratory and testing grounds; soon they will be used on the battlefield. The "ray guns" of old comic strips such as "Buck Rogers" are becoming reality.

They will change the face of battle. For the most part, directed energy weapons are defensive in nature. They are weapons of pinpoint destruction, capable of shooting down aircraft and missiles, but rather useless if you want to blow up a building or a city.

In a military/political environment where we want to defeat enemies who are shooting at us without causing "collateral damage" to nearby civilians, beam weapons might become of prime importance.

A new book tells the story: "The E-Bomb," by Doug Beason (Da Capo Press, 320 pages, $26).

Dr. Beason is an acquaintance of mine; he is an associate director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and previously served on the White House staff for the president's science adviser in both the Bush and Clinton administrations.

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