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Is a gun that fires air projectiles (literally) possible?

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I just finished reading a really good book called 'Beneath the Dark Ice' by Greig Beck, which incidentally I highly recommend, as it's amazing. At any rate, one idea that was in the book that I found quite interesting was a type of advanced military rifle that literally fires super-compressed 'balls' of air that have the same effect as bullets within 200 feet of the shooter. I'm not talking about air-filled pellets, or air-propelled projectiles, I'm talking about a gun that literally fires compressed balls made of nothing but air that can kill in the same way a bullet kills.

 

Now, there's no doubt in my mind that even if such a weapon is theoretically possible it would be ridiculously impractical, unless perhaps it was used in a vacuum. But is such a weapon possible in any stretch of the imagination? If I'm not mistaken, if you compress air enough it will effectively become solid, but...?

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"Our nonlinear lens permits a qualitatively new way of generating high-energy acoustic pulses, which may improve imaging capabilities through increased accuracy and signalto-noise ratios and may lead to more effective nonintrusive scalpels, for example, for cancer treatment.

 

 

Spadonia, Alessandro, and Chiara Daraio. "Generation and control of sound bullets with a nonlinear acoustic lens." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107(16) (2010): 7230–7234. Pub Med Central. Web.

 

 

 

No . . . .

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Why not? Wouldn't it in essence be like firing pellet-sized pieces of dry ice at extremely high velocity?

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I can't find anything about a sonic bullet that meets your description, only the one found in the article cited. If it is the same sonic bullet it does not do what you are suggesting. The closest thing to lethal in the acoustic weapon line seems to be the sonic boom cannon and even that is questionable.

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I'm not talking about a sonic weapon. I'm talking about a THEORETICAL, even stretching the term theoretical to breaking point, weapon that is capable of firing a cohesive projectile or 'beam' of compressed air that is capable of going cleanly through a person as if it were a bullet. I'm not talking about some kind of focused shockwave.

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A sonic bullet would constitute a sonic weapon, I was simply contrasting and pointing out that nothing exists in any of the lines of sonic weapons that can be considered lethal--or effective lethal. The sonic bullet as it sits the lab 'present tense' is not a functional weapon and in fact is being developed for medical purposes. Maybe one day it may possibly be an effective weapon but it will still not form a near solid as you have described. The math, modeling and characteristics of current sonic bullets are well defined in the journal article that I have cited for you. I had actually thought sonic weapons were already realized so I was surprised when I found that this wasn't exactly the case. What I offer to you instead is sonic laser pistols . . . .. the sonic wave causes cavitation in fluid that emits a photon and so on . . . . I try what can I say! ¯\(°_0)/¯

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I'm not sure what this means but I used to kill palmetto bugs with a BB gun with no BB's you'd have have to be quite close, two or three inches but the air blast would tear the bugs apart.

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I'm not talking about a sonic weapon. I'm talking about a THEORETICAL, even stretching the term theoretical to breaking point, weapon that is capable of firing a cohesive projectile or 'beam' of compressed air that is capable of going cleanly through a person as if it were a bullet. I'm not talking about some kind of focused shockwave.

 

Sure. Go look for a leak on a dry steam system. It'll cut you to pieces.

 

But range on something like that is going to be measured in inches.

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I think we're discussing two things:

1. Can you fire air at a target? (That's air in the gaseous state).

2. Can you make solid air, and shoot it?

 

Air (gaseous)

Yes, you can. But not very fast.

(I'm sorry that it's probably a lot weaker than you hoped for).

 

Any other batch of air would dissipate too quickly. The ring structure makes it a little stable for medium to long distances. But if I just blow air at someone else, they probably don't even feel it at more than 3 meters. And of course, blowing more air will increase that distance... so if you could somehow push hurricane amounts of wind out of a pipe, then we're gonna be in business... So, in a theoretical case, you can blow an entire hurricane out of a pipe, and cause some damage. Please note that this is "Theoretical", with a capital T. Not practical.

 

Obviously, you can also aim soundwaves in a certain direction.

And the shockwave of an explosion is also nothing but air... but I don't think we're considering that. But soundwaves and showwaves are waves. The air itself doesn't move very much, but a compression wave moves through the air.

 

Solid pellets of air

Maybe, just maybe - if we're talking 'theoretical'.

Practically, I do not think it can be done. I'll explain why, by looking at nitrogen (which is the main component of air - I just happen to find data for nitrogen, not air):

 

Nitrogen will turn to a solid, when for example:

- It is -210°C, at atmospheric pressure

- It is about -80°C, at about 1000 atmospheres pressure

 

To get it to become a solid at room temperature, you would need such a high pressure, that it is even difficult to make it a solid - let alone shoot that solid through a barrel at a target a few meters away... And if it would exit the barrel, it would suddenly be in atmospheric pressure, and simply evaporate. That's not possible, both theoretically and practically.

 

Theoretical option

So you MUST cool your air to make it a solid in a practical way. However, these things start to melt at -210°C... That's like putting an ice cube in a fire. It's not gonna last very long... but maybe you can come up with some theoretical story how you can have (1) very big bullets, which logically evaporate slower, and (2) have some perfect cooling system in a gun to keep stuff at -210°C, (3) you can also fire your bullets so that they do not desintegrate in the explosion in the barrel.

 

The mythbusters actually tried to fire ice bullets (google for it, it's not hard to find). They failed. And ice bullets will be a lot easier than solid air.

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First thing that popped into my head reading the topic title was a Nazi experimental weapon that I really can't seem to find a whole lot of information on.

 

I came accross this thread: http://www.zoklet.net/bbs/showthread.php?t=42899 which seems to have a fair amount of information on the "Vortex Cannon" but it really isn't that close to what you describe, due likley to the huge impracticality of such a device.

 

I would imagine there are other industrial contraptions employed in a variety of uses that could cause you a lot of damage but none designed for the specific use of shooting people.

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