For those who don’t know, Boeing doesn’t just make planes. It’s also a major provider of defence, space and security in the United States and one of its latest patents which has just made its way public employs sci-fi style force fields similar to the ones from Star Trek.
Force fields and ‘shields’ have been popularized in science fantasy for generations in TV and films such as Star Trek through to Star Wars, Independence Day and more recently in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and have been interpreted in various forms. With Boeing’s patent for a ‘method and system for shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic arc’ submitted on March 17th 2015 the stuff of fantasy is a step closer to becoming reality and someday soon we may finally get to see what it really looks like to deflect an impact using energy.
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What Boeing proposes in its patent request is as follows:
“A shockwave attenuation system, comprising: a sensor for generating a detection signal based on at least one of detecting an explosion capable of producing a shockwave traveling through a first fluid medium to a protected region, and estimating a location and time of the explosion, and detecting an explosive device and estimating a location and time of an explosion from the explosive device that is capable of producing the shockwave traveling through the first fluid medium; and an arc generator in communication with the sensor for receiving the detection signal therefrom, and in response thereto heat a selected region of the first fluid medium rapidly to create a second, transient medium, different from the first medium, interposed between the shockwave and the protected region such that the shockwave contacts the second, transient medium and is attenuated in energy density before it reaches a protected asset in the protected region.”
And if you skipped past the wordy bit what it means is that if a detonation goes off nearby, its shockwave is predicted by a sensor before it impacts and a plasma burst (like a bubble) is produced to counter it, lessening the damage to its target (be it a vehicle or building). The atmosphere conditions in the area in front of the target would be altered by heat and energy to reflect and refract the shockwave away.USPTO patent website and it seems very good for explosive attacks but not against smaller and more direct projectiles, so don’t expect bullets to drop out of the air like in The Matrix. However if sci-fi keeps invading our reality stopping time might just be next on the agenda.
Beam us out, Mister Scott..
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