A real-life Star Trek phaser might not be too far away…

A scientist and Trek fan has created a laser weapon capable of blowing a warhead out of the sky and is rapidly reducing its size - could a hand-held version be possible in the near future?

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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…

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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“Of course it’s very difficult to predict the future,” he says, “but I would never bet against science…”