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Could plasma one day be used for actual guns?

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In science fiction, we often see characters using lasers in place of bullets for their guns. However, even though "science fiction" generally shows us technology that doesn't exist yet, but may exist in the future, this is one type of technology that will always be in the realm of science fiction. Lasers do not have physical mass, so the closest they can come to doing any real damage in a military environment is either causing eye damage or skin burn... maybe even skin cancer. Even if you could get a laser up to such powerful levelst that it actually can blow something up, the mind-boggling amount of energy necessary would render it pointless; you could do the same damage with a millionth of the energy by just firing a physical projectile. Or a million times the damage with the same energy; either way, physical projectiles will always be preferred.

 

But what about plasma? We can create plasma here on earth; it's the source of light whenever flourescent light bulbs are turned on. But, can it damge things whenever it's outside a glass bulb? It would have to cause damage just as a matter of contact, kind of like fire does.

 

I could test this myself, but I don't want to risk becoming Two-Face by shattering one of my flourescent bulbs, just in the interest of the advancement of knowledge.

 

If this hypothesis is correct, however, we could potentially make a gun that feuls itself off solar energy, sucks up a ball of air, compresses it, turns it into plasma air, and fires that plasma ball at enemies. Because it would use solar energy and air, our descendants would never have to reload their weapons.

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And how would you contain the plasma while you were shooting if towards the enemy? IE, why wouldn't it just result in a ball o' fire around your muzzle? How would you "reach out" with it?

 

Also, what are the energy requirements to have a usable quantity of it? I mean, I can run my fingers through a candle flame without getting hurt. It's not enough to be merely hot, you have to have enough thermal mass to actually bring the temperature of your target up high enough to hurt it. That means high energy requirements. You want to make this solar powered?? So how big do you envision the solar panel being?

 

Oh, and yes, laser weapons exist.

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Laser is actually much more practical than you think

Edited by Tres Juicy

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I don't think it's feasable. Let's assume you can make a tighly bound plasma "bullet" and it leaves the barrel. Ok, now we have a giant wall of air constantly trying to pull it apart. How you keep it together instead of it flying apart and cooling down?

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Plasma weapons have been in use since the ancient Greeks (at least).

The mention of "gun" seems to imply directed plasma projectiles. Although, I guess a trebuchet with a flaming projectile counts.

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There were plenty of options

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_thermal_weapons

perhaps more interestingly the question in the OP "Could plasma one day be used for actual guns?" asks if the plasma could be used for guns, rather than for ammunition.

A gun made from plasma would be a challenge to hold and aim.

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Plasma is less efficient than lasers, because first you have to spend a lot of energy ionizing matter, then you have to project that matter in a straight line. My guess is that you could make plasma weapons out of today's technology but they would be very inefficient.

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They have a plasma laser at the moment , But it is quite a big thing. The actual laser can shoot through things no problem.
but in order to even get it to work it requires a massive amount of energy which small arms would not be able to produce.
But they are working on it believe it or not. I think it may be possible but laser guns as such, Not in our lifetime.

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The mention of "gun" seems to imply directed plasma projectiles. Although, I guess a trebuchet with a flaming projectile counts.

LOL ^ that counts

 

@OP

if you're asking about very hot balls of plasma being shot at people like the predator then...that technology is still yet to come.

 

First, you need to find a way to keep the plasma hot and at the same time hold it's form by means of magnetic confinement.

Second, these things require massive amounts of energy so you need to find a way to store the energy and at the same time make it compact.

Third, You need to have either a VERY Powerful and Advance Fusion chamber or a very small but powerful magnet inside the gun

 

so yeah they can be used as weapons

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You don't need a way to store the plasma, it can be created upon pulling the trigger, what you need is a way to instantly ionize a high volume of matter and shoot it in a straight line. You can heat up matter to millions of degrees but it usually takes a long time, or at least a non-instant amount of time for a macroscopic volume of matter, it usually uses powerful lasers, so why not just quit while you're ahead and use lasers themselves?

Edited by SamBridge

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You don't need a way to store the plasma, it can be created upon pulling the trigger, what you need is a way to instantly ionize a high volume of matter and shoot it in a straight line. You can heat up matter to millions of degrees but it usually takes a long time, or at least a non-instant amount of time for a macroscopic volume of matter, it usually uses powerful lasers, so why not just quit while you're ahead and use lasers themselves?

 

I know that you don't need to store plasma, what I was talking about is the energy needed to create plasma.

 

plus it's actually more awesome to create a self-ionizing (Future thingy...anything's possible) plasma ball that you can control via magnetism so you can actually use it in tight turns making it safer for the person shooting it on narrow/enclosed tight areas smile.png

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Just a quick point.

Since plasma is ionised it contains + charged and - charged ions.

If you use a magnetic or electrostatic field to accelerate these they will go in opposite directions.

 

I advise that you don't stand behind the plasma gun.

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These scientist are almost developing what you are talking about.

http://www.gizmag.com/gas-ring-blowing-vortex-gun/21711/

 

Ball lightning demonstrates that stable plasma balls are possible. But for most applications solid projectiles are probably more useful. While the near instant travel time of lasers are more suited to shooting down aircraft missiles and mortars.

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How do they actually do experiments on ball lightning to confirm results? It's one of the rarest things in nature.

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Here is a recent article on people who are researching self containing plasma's.

 

http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/1112824374/plasma-launched-into-open-air-for-energy-generation-041713/

 

But I don't think the writing in that article is very good. The headline says:"

New Plasma Device Considered The ‘Holy Grail’ Of Energy Generation And Storage

 

But the article itself does not say HOW the plasma device applies to those areas at all. IF there research has applications for fusion, I could see how that could be important for energy GENERATION even though the article does not mention fusion. But I cant how stable plasmas, have applications in energy STORAGE at all. Except that with good enough fusion power you might not need storage I suppose. The article should explain the headline, bad writer.

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