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Cut the Shrap

BOEING PATENTS FORCEFIELD TECHNOLOGY

DAMLA CEHRELI STAFF WRITER

An uncharted part of an unknown town moves by the window. Your squadron has no protection from lurking dangers save a humvee. A bag lies in front of the vehicle; civilians observe from all sides. A phone is pulled out and the number is dialed. A shout. A blast hits the car. Another. The humvee rocks once, and is still. The humvee is un- scathed and everyone is unharmed.

Boeing’s newly patented force field technology attempts to make this scenario a reality. While many associate Boeing with commercial flights, the company is no stranger to military technology. It produces helicopters and bombers, including the famous B-52 bomber plane used by the US Air Force since the 1950s.

Finding ways to limit the impact of explosions is of paramount importance to the armed forces. Military vehicles are built to be durable and soldiers wear bodyar-mor to protect themselves from shrapnel. However, this type of protection only works to stop some of the issues of an explosion. Fragments of metal from the bomb and debris will be stopped, but the shock wave moving through the air could still kill or seriously injure a person.

Invisible energy shields are a popular technology in science fiction stories, so many have attempted to make them a reality. In 2013, researchers in New York discovered that very porous coats of nickel or copper could bounce the blast back to its source. However, this technology can only reduce a shock wave by 30%. Boe- ing’s new method focuses on lessening the effects of shock waves on humans without using a permanent physical shield.According to the patent, Boeing suggests a few ways to heat the air that would minimize damage from a shock wave. A sensor would detect the nearby explosion and heat the air using a laser or an electrical arc. The air would be turned into plasma and dissipate the shock wave before it reached any human bodies. This system would most likely be mounted on the side of trucks or other military vehicles to protect the people inside.

According to the patent, Boeing suggests a few ways to heat the air that would minimize damage from a shock wave. A sensor would detect the nearby explosion and heat the air using a laser or an electrical arc. The air would be turned into plasma and dissipate the shock wave before it reached any human bodies. This system would most likely be mounted on the side of trucks or other military vehicles to protect the people inside.

Of course, this is just a patent, so we only know that Boe- ing is interested in the concept. Also, it might be wrong to call this a force field in the traditional sense, since it definitely wouldn’t stop shrapnel or projectiles. Looking to the future, such technology could be utilized in a more permanent style with the field staying activated constantly. This brings to mind space travel and all manner of advanced technology that sci-fi authors could only dream of a few years ago.

Although this is nowhere near use by the public, it could make a big difference in the world of military technology and general scientific advancement. Just think of the Internet; originally invented for military use, it now defines our lives.

 

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