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The military may be testing laser guns, but it's a little early to get one of your own — unless you build it yourself. That's what DIY laser enthusiast and Southern Illinois University student Drake Anthony has done, creating what he calls a "laser shotgun," which combines the fury of eight 5-watt lasers. And lest that wattage sound small, keep in mind that regular laser pointers have around 5 milliwatts of power behind them. That makes this thing about 8,000 times more powerful than the kind used for presentations.
Anthony directs the beam, cohered by a lens, on a number of inflammable objects: paper, wood, balloons and more. The objects fall, though not as spectacularly as one might expect from a laser this impressive-looking. The fact is lasers are just not as destructive as conventional weapons, despite having a scarier appearance.
The most powerful lasers being tested at present measure in the tens of kilowatts — so they are to this laser shotgun what it is to regular laser pointers. And they're still only applicable for taking down things like missiles and drones — not battleships or tanks. For now, anyway.