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Ray Guns Get Real

Cheap rockets fired by insurgents are taking a deadly toll in the Middle East. Can a new generation of solid-state lasers blow them out of the sky?

14 min read
opening illustration of rockets
Illustration: Dan Page

Rockets, mortars, and other forms of artillery have a long and grim history on the battlefield. In a conventional war, an army being bombarded by these from afar can respond by firing back at the attacker’s battery. But you can’t turn the massive firepower of modern armies onto insurgents hiding among civilian populations without courting disaster. Instead of striking the enemy, who run to other hiding spots after firing their weapons, such retaliation would mostly hit civilians.

What the U.S. military dearly wants is a weapon that can defend against such attacks more selectively, shooting down explosive-laden projectiles in the air before they reach their targets. The armament should be easy to field and should strike at the speed of light, but it should not send streams of bullets screaming toward the horizon. In short, the military wants a laser weapon that’s small and rugged but powerful enough to ignite explosive payloads on incoming projectiles while they’re still a safe distance away.

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Paying Tribute to Computer Science Pioneer Frederick Brooks, Jr.

He helped develop the IBM System/360 and its operating system

3 min read
portrait of an elderly man in a a red tie and blazer with a bookcase in the background
University of North Carolina

Frederick P. Brooks Jr., a prolific computer scientist and longtime professor of computer science, died on 17 November at the age of 91.

While working as a project manager at IBM in the 1960s, the IEEE Life Fellow led the development of the System/360 computer family. It was the first vertically compatible family of mainframe computers. Brooks also developed IBM’s OS/360, the world’s largest software project at the time. He is credited with coining the term computer architecture, which is used to describe how hardware and software are organized to make up a computer system and the operations which guide its function. He wrote The Mythical Man-Month, a book of essays published in 1975 that detailed lessons he learned from challenges he faced while developing the OS/360.

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How to Stake Electronic Components Using Adhesives

Staking provides extra mechanical support for various electronic parts

2 min read
Adhesive staking of DIP component on a circuit board using Master Bond EP17HTDA-1.

The main use for adhesive staking is to provide extra mechanical support for electronic components and other parts that may be damaged due to vibration, shock, or handling.

Master Bond

This is a sponsored article brought to you by Master Bond.

Sensitive electronic components and other parts that may be damaged due to vibration, shock, or handling can often benefit from adhesive staking. Staking provides additional mechanical reinforcement to these delicate pieces.

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