Lilian Min
September 04, 2016 12:14 pm
Desilu Productions/Paramount Television

One of the most iconic sci-fi weapons to come out of the past 50 years is the Star Trek phaser. A cross between a hot glue gun and a laser pointer in real life, they’re the kind of far-out tech that you can imagine being made in a few decades, and well, that’s exactly what’s happened: Dr. Rob Afzal at defense company Lockheed Martin has developed a targeted laser that can even take down rockets, moving us one step closer to a phaser-filled future.

Dr. Afzal, who is indeed a Trekkie, demonstrated his tech for Smithsonian.com. His particular innovation was to increase the power of the lasers so that instead of having to use a house- or plane-sized generator to produce a beam that can do anything, one can use one that’s equipped to the back of a truck — still unwieldy, but much, much smaller than what was thought to be needed before.

The coolest/scariest? thing about these lasers is their accuracy; lasers need to concentrate their energy in one place for the beam to do any damage, and well, anything that can take down a moving rocket is worth paying attention to. Watch Dr. Afzal walk through his tech and what else needs to be done below:

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