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.


(Earthlight cover)

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.

Via 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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )

Related News Stories - (" Weapon ")

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.

TIKAD Armed Drone Ready To Fight
'Each a television eye and a sonic stunner...' - Larry Niven, 1972.

LaWS Laser Can Take Out Rogue Drones
Looks like a weapon for the Runaway squad!

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Self-Healing Circuits From Carnegie Mellon
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that could seal the punctures...'

Swarm Of Mindless Robots Works Together
'Very tiny pseudo insects that... can unite to form a superordinate system.'

SpotMini Robot Dog, Autonomous And On Sale In 2019
Great, an autonomous slamhound. It is cute, though.

RoboFly Is Laser-Powered, Adorable
Don't swat this fly!

MSG Sphere Las Vegas, ala Star Wars
'The smoky globe, hung in the vault, was shot with colored light...'

Tetraplegics Dominate Avatar Races
Well, just speaking brain-to-computer...

MIT Ampli Blocks Build Biomedical Devices
Damn it Spock, I'm a doctor not an engineer!

UberAIR Asks For Skytaxi Landing Prototypes
You know you want to ride in one.

Boring Tunnel Almost Ready
Your underground future is calling!

Handheld Human Skin Printer
It outputs a thin wad of uniflesh.

Healthy Fast Food Courtesy Of Robot Chefs
'The electric cook was stirring empty nothing in a pan, with a zeal worthy a dozen eggs.'

Mass Production Of In Vitro Meat From One Sample
They're Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing

Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.

Retinal Prosthesis Uses Organic Printing Inks
We can rebuild you - well, your eyes, maybe.

Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?
Consumer DNA services are often inaccurate.

Squid-Like Robots Soon To Be 3D Printable
'It was a chemotactic artificial jellyfish designed to slither...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.