DARPA turns Arthur C. Clarke's Stiletto into MAHEM

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Donald Melanson
April 24, 2008 1:12 PM
DARPA turns Arthur C. Clarke's Stiletto into MAHEM
Arthur C. Clarke's ideas have had a tendency of becoming a reality in the past, and it looks like that's now happening yet again, in this case with a little help from the folks at DARPA. As New Scientist reports, the prolific agency is currently working on a new weapon system that bears a striking resembles to the Stiletto weapon in Clarke's 1955 novel Earthlight. That science fiction version was described as "a solid bar of light" that can pierce a spacecraft "as an entomologist pierces a butterfly with a pin." Or, more specifically, "a jet of molten metal, hurled through space at several hundred kilometers per second by the most powerful electro-magnets ever built." DARPA's MAHEM weapon (or Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition), on the other hand, is described by New Scientist as using magnetic fields to "propel either a narrow jet of molten metal or a chunk of molten metal that morphs into an aerodynamic slug during flight." There is a slight difference, however, in that MAHEM's electromagnetic field will be generated by an explosion, and not a giant electro-magnet. It's also not clear if MAHEM will be used to defend a fortress on the moon, although that's not exactly as far fetched as it once seemed either.
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