Punching God in the face with a laser beam

I recently suffered through the illness known in the media as the Swine Flu. No biggie. Even as I read loving text messages from my friends that commonly stated “Stay the fuck away from my family,” I knew that I would not, nay, could not die from such a mundane disease. My death will be dealt by a death ray (or any other high powered projectile device that manipulates particles or extreme heat into a weaponized state).

Death Rays are an old notion, so old that people have been fearing mass destruction via particle beam before even the Depression. As I mentioned in a previous installment of this column, Nikola Tesla had plans to use his Wardenclyffe Tower to usher in the Teleforce, a charged particle beam projector that would be mounted on a 100-foot tower with unlimited power collected from the atmosphere. But the idea of a functional death ray precedes Telsa’s Teleforce by a good decade or more.

During 1924, a British man by the name of Harry Grindell-Matthews trail-blazed hype for the pre-Internet age by telling a lot of people he had a death ray without actually making one. Intent on selling the idea to Air Ministry, he described a laser cannon that, with enough power, could bring down mighty WWI aeroplanes and battle ships from a distance of four miles. A tall order, I guess, considering the time period, whereas your modern day death ray simply must have the ability to shoot from space.
The first fully functional and nonfictional death ray was made by the American Dr. Antonio Longoria, who was able to kill small creatures with it. Longoria then destroyed it, citing something about the good of humanity, right before ripping out all of his hair. Later in 1958, the US Advanced Research Projects Agency started work on particle beam weaponry, preceding the first scientific demonstration of lasers by two years. Again, the plan was scrapped and death rays lived on as part of a science fiction dream.

Newer areas of interest for the death ray can be found in the recent developments in geothermal energy. The concept is really the same, only done in a much more terrifying manner. Jared Potter, along with a small team of people who I assume know what they are doing, created a pair of "flame jet drills" that operate at heats that reach over 3900 degrees. The purpose of the drills is the most sinister feature. They are being designed to drill into the Earth's crust without actually touching the rock. Geothermal shafts could be dug anywhere, just like tapping a well – one that will lead to the depths of Hell's mighty furnace, but can also tap a specific energy niche. So that's nice, I guess.

Still, despite the benefits of this sinister science, I suspect that one day I’ll be on the streets, caught in some crossfire as I run with thousands from an aerial Laser Cannon attack. Or I’ll be reduced to ash after being the soul witness to the birth of some scientist’s new Flame Drill. What I do know, if my recurring nightmares have told me anything, is that I will die from being shot by something large, energy based and preferably inspired by a comic from the 70’s. I find death rays to be a much more practical fear, partly due to the fact that we are at least 10 years from being strangled to death by our very own android clones.

Sam MacDonald is a former Cap Student who believes "flame drill" would suffice as a decent replacement to "fire crotch."

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