Science fiction has a plethora of ideas about what happened in the past and what to expect from the future. Unfortunately, not all of those ideas are exactly plausible in reality. In Suspension of Disbelief, we’ll take a look at the best ideas from sci-fi movies, books, comics and videogames to see where (and if) they intersect with the real world.
Next to spaceships, the laser gun, ray gun, heat ray, blaster, phaser, or whatever else you may call it, is possibly the most ubiquitous device in all of science fiction. Nothing lets an audience know that a story takes place in a technologically advanced time better than the obsolescence of metal bullets. Even before lasers were ever actually invented, science-fiction authors had already dreamt up guns and weapons that could melt objects, burn holes through people, and disintegrate enemies.
Real-life laser guns are, naturally, a little more complex than that. Laser weapons fit into the more broad category of directed-energy weapons, which use any type of emitted energy to damage a target. Microwaves, lasers, particle beams, and sound would all fall under this category. Even with these varied options, most people tend to just be waiting for someone to invent something like the laser technology of Star Trek’s phasers or Star Wars’s blasters: a handheld device that emits a quick laser bolt that can take out most any obstacle or person in one hit.
Building a slick device that’s both small and powerful isn’t within the realm of our technology yet, but humanity has certainly taken steps to blow things up using concentrated energy. Click through the gallery to see seven real-life examples of laser guns.
Hailing from upstate New York, Cameron Wade is a freelance writer interested in movies, videogames, comic books and more. You can find his work at protogeektheblog.wordpress.com.