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Stalked by Satellite

An alarming rise in GPS-enabled harassment

4 min read

When Albert Belle was arrested in February for stalking his former girlfriend, it wasn’t the ­technology he used that got him into the papers—it was his fame as a retired major league baseball player [see photo, " "]. But if convicted, the five-time All-Star outfielder will enter a growing rogues’ gallery of those who have used Global Positioning System (GPS) devices to track and torment former loved ones.

According to the Scottsdale, Ariz., police report on Belle, in late January an object fell off the Mercedes-Benz sedan of his ex-girlfriend after she hit a bump. When she stopped to see what it was, she found a small black box with two magnets attached and a phonelike device inside. She told police that Belle had frequently shown up at unusual times and in odd places, and she believed he was following her. After she recorded phone conversations in which Belle seemed to be threatening her, he was arrested and indicted on a felony charge of stalking using a GPS device.

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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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