Gatling laser cannon of sci-fi lore now a reality (kind of)

gatling laser
The laser device lit up but stationary.

Many fans of sci-fi books, movies and video games have encountered the concept of a "Gatling laser gun" or something like it, with rotating barrels and exotic projectiles. Now a laser-loving gadgeteer has made a real-life one — though its destructive capabilities are limited to balloons for now.

Patrick Priebe, who runs and goes by the name AnselmoFanZero on YouTube, showed off his creation in a video uploaded earlier this week. Six "Arctic" blue lasers from Wicked Lasers and an extra green one for aiming are mounted on a futuristic-looking case.

When turned on, it creates six extremely bright blue beams that are rotated rapidly by an internal mechanism. It's all very cool-looking, but it doesn't make the lasers more powerful, and it's not really a Gatling gun, either.

The original Gatling gun, invented just before the Civil War, was one of the first guns that could fire rapidly: its six barrels were rotated by a hand crank and each fired when they reached the top position. A new cartridge was then automatically loaded, and the barrel could cool while it rotated around. So the rotation actually served a purpose, and the principle remains in modern rotary guns like the Vulcan cannon.

In the case of this laser gun, the rotation is strictly ornamental. After all, these lasers do their damage by remaining on a single point and heating it up with an intense stream of photons. So when you rotate the beams, you're actually decreasing its effectiveness.

Stationary, the beams make short work of a wall of balloons, so Priebe is clearly playing with a lot of power here. But it seems like it will still be some time before the dreams of sci-fi geeks come true.

via Gizmag

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is