Mar 24, 2015 07:45 PM EDT
Boeing has been granted a new patent that sounds more like something from Star Wars or Star Trek than it does real life. The new patent granted to the aircraft, defense and security company called the "Method and system for shockwave attenuation via elecromagnetic arc, uses energy to deflect damage much like the glowing shields you see in the movies.
As it is described, the system is not designed to deflect impacts from shells or shrapnel, but rather it is designed to protect vehicles and buildings from the effects of shockwaves from a nearby impact.
This new system consists of a sensor capable of detecting a shockwave generating explosion and an arc generator that receives a signal from the sensor to ionize a small area, generating a plasma field between the explosion and the target using electricity, microwaves and even lasers.
This small plasma field would differ in both density and temperature compared to the surrounding area. This would provide a buffer between the target and the explosion that would hinder the shockwaves from reaching and damaging the target.
"Such embodiments as described above may reduce the energy density of the shockwave by creating a second medium in the path of the advancing shockwave that reflects, refracts, absorbs and deflects at least a portion of the shockwave," the patent reads.
Because this system heats and ionizes the air, it is not suitable for enveloping a building or vehicle and being held in place for any substantial length of time, but it still has the potential to greatly strengthen the defenses of anything using it with its ability to activate and deactivate automatically.
Shield systems like you see in Star Trek and Star Wars are technically feasible. Last year, physics students determined that an electromagnetic field could be used to hold a plasma shield in place. However, this type of shield would also deflect light as well, leaving anyone inside unable to see what is around them.
There is little doubt that the future is here as we continue to hear more and more new systems being designed that took their inspiration from science fiction. While these shield systems still have a long way to go before being a viable form of defense, companies are beginning to take more and more steps into a galaxy far, far away and continue to push the envelope to take humans where no one has gone before.
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