MAHEM Metal Jets Like Clarke's Stiletto Beam
The MAHEM (Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition) program is a new DARPA project, but to science fiction fans, it is an old, familiar idea. Arthur C. Clarke described the idea in his 1955 novel Earthlight.
DARPA is initiating the MAHEM program to try to create compressed magnetic flux generator (CMFG)-driven magneto hydrodynamically formed metal jets and self-forging penetrators (SFP).
Self-forging penetrators, as they are currently used, result from a conventional chemical explosion directed against a specially-shaped metal liner. When the device is set off, the blast causes the metal liner to achieve a new shape, suitable for penetrating deep into even moderately armored vehicles, and driven forward at a high velocity. The technology dates back to WWII.
This kind of weapon can be highly effective (it is currently being used against troops in Iraq). The drawbacks of this kind of weapon are that they are one-time-use weapons, and cannot efficiently form multiple SFPs from a single charge.
If it is possible to use a powerful electromagnet to accelerate a molten jet of metal, it could overcome the drawbacks mentioned above, and even achieve higher velocities and better targeting. DARPA hopes that it could provide the following capabilities:
This could provide the warfighter with a means to address stressing missions such as: lightweight active self-protection for vehicles (potential defeat mechanism for a kinetic energy round), counter armor (passive, reactive, and active), mine countermeasures, and anti-ship cruise missile final layer of defense.
Science fiction readers have known about this idea for more than a half-century. In his excellent 1955 novel Earthlight, Arthur C. Clarke makes use of exactly this idea in a battle between a stationary facility on the Moon and several attacking space ships.
Wheeler saw it strike upward, a solid bar of light stabbing at the stars... He did not have time to reflect on the staggering violation of the laws of optics which this phenomenon implied, for he was staring at the ruined ship above his head. The beam had gone through Lethe as if she did not exist; the fortress had speared her as an entomologist pierces a butterfly with a pin.
(Read more about the stiletto beam)
The "beam" was a molten jet of metal hurled into space by enormous electromagnets.
MAgneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition (MAHEM); thanks to MrX_TLO and Winchell Chung for the tip on the story and references.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/23/2008)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )
Related News Stories -
ZKZM-500 LASER Assault Rifle
'The Iranian reached back into the locker and got a pair of laserifles.' - Poul Anderson, 1966.
Drone Assassin Fails To Kill Venezuelan President
'The spotter descends, and we think it searches the vicinity, looking for the victim's face...' - Daniel Suarez, 2012.
Musk's Boring Flamethrower
'Skeletons in tatters. Burned by a flesh gun'- Alfred Bester, 1974.
Poland Starts With 1000 Warmate 'Suicide Drones'
'Royal Security had told the pods to electrocute you or blast you into chum.' - Neal Stephenson, 1995.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Datagrid Model Generation Perfect For Eternal Cities Of Science Fiction
'... there was enough flexibility to allow for wide variation.
Kazahk Ironist Protester Arrested For Blank Sign Protest
'...a man carried a white rectangular sign, blank on both sides.'
Bitcoin Surges Again, To $7,000
'... electronic, private cash, unbacked by any government, untraceable, completely anonymous.'
China Develops Taste Testing Robots
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'
North Sea Stone Age Reconstruction And Philip K Dick
'Your Dip digs back into antiquity. Rome. Greece. Dust and old volumes.'
Tesla Robotaxis Will Automatically Recharge Themselves
'Then it appeared to make up its mind, and trundled over to a wall socket...'
New Lifelike Material Powered By Artificial Metabolism
'... The biological robots were not living creatures.'
Husqvarna Automower 435X AWD
'Gramp Stevens sat in a lawn chair, watching the mower at work...'
Elon Musk Foretells Tesla Sans Steering Wheel
'How about the steering wheel... I don't need one.'
Adversarial Patches Trick Computer Vision
'The surveillance cameras can all see it, but then they forget they’ve seen it.'
Amazon Warehouse Computer Can Fire People Now
'The system has already fired five people...'
BrainEx Restores Some Activity To Severed Pig Head
'... they placed the brain in a special solution, having all the properties of Nursing the brain cells.'
Yes, But Do Astrobees Have Lasers For Lightsaber Training?
'... Ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.'
'Young Razorbacks Before Their Katanas Grow In'
'Twin robotic arms with gleaming three-foot sword blades unfolded from the forward hydraulic assemblies...'
A New Way To Run Into Things
'He made an adjustment, pointed the tube at the wall beside Etzwane, and projected a cone of light.'
'Metallic Wood' Strong Like Titanium, Floats In Water
'A metal... light as cork and stronger than steel...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories