In the era of remote-controlled drones, invisible planes and microwave guns, no military innovation should come as a surprise. But among the array of new weapons none are more satisfying than a cannon that allows you to unleash bolts of lightning.
The Laser-Induced Plasma Channel (LIPC) cannon is currently being tested at Picatinny Arsenal, a key US Army research complex in New Jersey.
“We never got tired of the lightning bolts zapping our simulated targets,” says George Fischer, who heads the research team.
The charge is created by emitting a laser pulse that charges the air, and forms a hugely destructive bolt of lighting.
“If a laser puts out a pulse with modest energy, but the time is incredibly tiny, the power can be huge,” says Fischer. “During the duration of the laser pulse, it can be putting out more power than a large city needs, but the pulse only lasts for two-trillionths of a second.”