The U.S. military's laser-light show

by Paul Jay, CBCNews.ca

Two projects receiving funding in the United States are literally turning lasers and lights into weapons.

On Monday the Boeing Company announced it has been awarded a U.S. Army contract to begin developing the initial phase for "a truck-mounted laser weapon system that destroys rockets, artillery shells and mortar rounds."

The objective of the program, says Boeing, is "to demonstrate that a mobile, solid-state laser weapon system can effectively counter rocket, artillery and mortar projectiles."

Meanwhile, the Wired blog Threat Level reported Thursday that the Department of Homeland Security is funding the powerful LED flashlight that uses bursts of light "to temporarily blind, disorient and incapacitate people."

As Wired reports:

The LED Incapacitator uses a range-finder to measure the distance to a target's eyes and then unleashes continually changing, multi-color light pulses that both blind and disorient the person. Intelligent Optical Systems, a small company in Torrance, CA, is developing the weapon with money from Homeland Security's Science and Technology division, which thinks it's possible to have the weapon deployed to cops, National Guard troops and border agents by 2010.

It makes us wistful for the days when the only danger from exposure to a combination of lasers and lights was perhaps intoxication from, ahem, nearby fumes.