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Physics/Particle beam weapons


Greetings! I just heard that particle beam weapons are something almost physically impractical to build.

Basically I heard that a spaceship particle beam would disperse immediately after it leaves the barrel because of electrostatic blooming as the particles are the same charge. So what kind of ranges would one expect as a guestimate to get from a particle beam weapon?

And I also heard of neutralizing the beam by firing hydrogen atoms as projectiles but there are problems of hydrogen atoms heating up more in the acceleration process causing them to lose magnetic properties and also that since they are individual atoms, they tend to align in a way counter productive to the beam remaining tight after it leaves the barrel. So what kind of ranges would you guestimate that we'd get from a neutral particle beam?

You could always make a neutron beam out of a proton beam by spallation, or perhaps neutral pions.  Range depends on technology, and you're basically talking about putting a particle accelerator up in space, or opening a reactor port to basically blast out radiation.  Easier than aiming.  Anyhow, seriously, that's a question that can't easily be answered.  I could say "1000 km." After all, we've fired neutrino beams through the Earth from particle accelerators at targets that far away.  However, further engineering (such as in a society which could reasonably put a particle accelerator as a weapon on a space ship) could easily make that into the millions of kilometers.  Distances where it's difficult to aim at anything zigging and zagging because of the lag of light itself.


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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson


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.


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.

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

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