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Join IEEE Spectrum for a Conversation on Clubhouse

This Thursday, 27 October, at 1p.m. ET, join Spectrum editors on social audio app Clubhouse for a discussion on what it took to create the October issue

1 min read
Clubhouse logo shows a yellow high-five hand and the word Clubhouse against a white background
Clubhouse

Please join us on Thursday 27 October at 1p.m. ET, as the IEEE Spectrum staff takes to the social media app Clubhouse to give readers a behind-the-scenes look at how we put together a monthly issue of Spectrum.

The team will discuss what it took to create the October issue and provide a brief preview of what's to come in November. There will even be an opportunity for you to ask your burning questions.

Get the Clubhouse app on your Android or iPhone device and search "ieee spectrum" or follow this link to join the event on Thursday!

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Economics Drives Ray-Gun Resurgence

Laser weapons, cheaper by the shot, should work well against drones and cruise missiles

4 min read
In an artist’s rendering, a truck is shown with five sets of wheels—two sets for the cab, the rest for the trailer—and a box on the top of the trailer, from which a red ray is projected on an angle, upward, ending in the silhouette of an airplane, which is being destroyed

Lockheed Martin's laser packs up to 300 kilowatts—enough to fry a drone or a plane.

Lockheed Martin

The technical challenge of missile defense has been compared with that of hitting a bullet with a bullet. Then there is the still tougher economic challenge of using an expensive interceptor to kill a cheaper target—like hitting a lead bullet with a golden one.

Maybe trouble and money could be saved by shooting down such targets with a laser. Once the system was designed, built, and paid for, the cost per shot would be low. Such considerations led planners at the Pentagon to seek a solution from Lockheed Martin, which has just delivered a 300-kilowatt laser to the U.S. Army. The new weapon combines the output of a large bundle of fiber lasers of varying frequencies to form a single beam of white light. This laser has been undergoing tests in the lab, and it should see its first field trials sometime in 2023. General Atomics, a military contractor in San Diego, is also developing a laser of this power for the Army based on what’s known as the distributed-gain design, which has a single aperture.

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