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chrismb wrote:Isn't the problem with a charged particle weapon that once fired it'll loop around in the earth's mag field and you'll shoot yourself in the arse if you miss!?
Its not a particle beam, its a laser.
Wikipedia wrote:A free-electron laser, or FEL, is a laser that shares the same optical properties as conventional lasers such as emitting a beam consisting of coherent electromagnetic radiation which can reach high power, but which uses some very different operating principles to form the beam. Unlike gas, liquid, or solid-state lasers such as diode lasers, in which electrons are excited in bound atomic or molecular states, FELs use a relativistic electron beam as the lasing medium ...
happyjack27 wrote:A free electron-laser! sign me up for that! oh wait, you mean a laser that shoots free electrons. darn it.
That's what I said when I got the call for the contract. Actually a FEL uses a high energy beam of electrons to create a lught source. After passing through the wiggler to bounce the electrons the bean is brought around 180 degrees out of phase to recover the energy and dumped. The machine itself is the size of a fairly large building. Said building has to be heavily shielded because running a high energy beam is a radiation source much higher than any reactor.
kcdodd wrote:I thought a FEL was highly inefficient. Only used for generating stuff like x-ray laser beams etc that cannot be made through conventional lasing.
I suspect if you only use a single beam path a FEL is inefficient, though if it would be less efficient than other kind of lasers is problematical because laser in general are not known for efficiency. With energy recovery the laser turned out to be even more efficient than we expected. which was a very nice surprise.
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