It may be a while before we’re saying “Beam me up!” to a real-life transporter controller but, according to a pioneering laser scientist, we could be setting our phasers to stun much sooner…
Dr Rob Afzal, Star Trek fan and fellow of technology company Lockheed Martin, is working on a laser-based defence system which is already capable of blasting a warhead clean out of the sky.
True, the energy needed for the device currently requires a generator that has to be driven around on a small flatbed truck – but before Dr Afzal came along, it was the size of a house, so things are rapidly moving in the right direction.
“How could we actually make a phaser?” ask Dr Afzal, in a short film from the Smithsonian Institute. “When I look at a device like this, the first thing I think about is the energy, the power that’s required to get the phaser effect.
“The next breakthrough would come from being able to store enough energy in a device like this so that you could project that beam and get your effect.”
And Dr Afzal seems confident that his work is heading towards that possibility.
“Of course it’s very difficult to predict the future,” he says, “but I would never bet against science…”