Latest in Science

Image credit:

Boeing's 'plasma shields' would block explosion shockwaves

59 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

"Captain, magnetic seals in the anti-matter chamber are decaying!" "Shields up!" Now that we have that out of our systems, let's start by saying that unlike a Star Trek-style deflector, Boeing's plasma "shield" could never block shells or bullets, let alone anti-matter explosions. But if its patent "for shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic arc" ever amounts to anything, it'd still be a technological tour de force. The idea is to harness electrical energy to stop or slow down the shockwaves created by explosions, which can do just as much damage as shrapnel.

Boeing's plan is to marry a rapid explosion sensor with an arc generator to protect targets like military vehicles, buildings or groups of troops or civilians. When an ordinance is set off, the device would fire "to create a second, transient medium that intercepts the shockwave and attenuates its energy density before it reaches a protected asset." In other words, the system would create a buffer zone with different temperature, air density and other characteristics that "reflects, refracts, absorbs and deflects at least a portion of the shockwave," according to Boeing's patent.

Of course, there are plenty of obstacles to overcome before such a device would be feasible. The system wouldn't be able to sustain a plasma shield for long due to the massive energy requirements, so it would have to be precisely timed to block any shockwaves. And though the idea is technically possible, according to researchers at University of Leicester, the energy from such a plasma burst would temporarily render the defenders helpless. Finally, as with any patent, until we hear more details from Boeing we'll believe it when we see it.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
59 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

The best mobile devices for students

The best mobile devices for students

View
‘Streets of Rage 4’ is shaping up to be a worthy sequel

‘Streets of Rage 4’ is shaping up to be a worthy sequel

View
'Beyond’ delivers the ‘No Man’s Sky’ experience I was waiting for

'Beyond’ delivers the ‘No Man’s Sky’ experience I was waiting for

View
iDevices' Alexa-powered smart light switch finally goes on sale

iDevices' Alexa-powered smart light switch finally goes on sale

View
Apple Music's latest playlist suggests new tracks every day

Apple Music's latest playlist suggests new tracks every day

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr