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Hi! When looking at how the "death star" works (from the Star Wars movies) it becomes clear that shooting multiple lasers together at one point to create one beam of energy would be impossible without some sort of lens. (If you take a look at how the "superlaser" works on the death star, the beams of light would not create one beam, instead they would intersect and continue going off on their own path without any change in direction.) Some sort of lens would be needed to direct the multiple lasers into one beam, what kind of lens would do that? Would a double-concave lens placed at where the lasers intersect direct the multiple lasers in a way as to form a single beam? Thank you for your help!
Question Date: 2010-04-19
Answer 1:

Heh heh heh, the wonders of special effects!

Of course, you wouldn't be able to see a laser beam in space, either (lasers are only visible when there is dust or fog or something in the way to scatter the beam off of, just as you can't "see" rays of sunlight without such helpers either).

Making a beam similar to what the Death Star uses in Star Wars with a laser is impossible. However, if the beam were composed of charged particles instead (i.e. a plasma beam), then you could potentially shape it with magnetic fields. Plasma would also be incandescent, so you COULD see it in space, unlike a laser (although it still would make no sound)!

That said, the ability to focus even ONE beam of plasma - let alone several - poses such immense engineering challenges that nobody currently has any real idea how to make a weapon out of it. That's not to say that it isn't possible, however, just far enough beyond our current level of technology that Clarke's Third Law applies ("any technology sufficiently advanced will be indistinguishable from magic").



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