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Physics/Laser weapons

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Question
Hi! In video games ''Fallout 3'' and ''Fallout New Vegas'' laser weapons have enough power to turn a human completely into ash in one second? Can you estimate the joules needed to be capable of doing such a feat?

Answer
It sounds like a homework question, the way a professor or teacher would phrase it.  Good question, if not, but I don't do homework.  You can estimate it, though.  You need the estimated mass of a human, the fraction of energy absorbed, and the latent heat of vaporization (water is 2260 kJ/kg, which should be a little under...I'd call it 3MJ/kg).  Multiply.  The first two factors are up to you, you didn't tell me how big the human was or what frequency of light.  So guesstimate.  It's a lot of joules.

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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson

Expertise

I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.

Experience

I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Education/Credentials
Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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