Archimedes Death Ray
Since its creation in 1958, DARPA’s mission has involved identifying valuable innovations for our military leaders, assessing underlying feasibilities, and fostering those with the most promise. One could say DARPA is the Cold War equivalent to the Manhattan Project.
DARPA's ATO is tasked with identifying, by late this year, which concepts to prototype for scale-up during 2008, and initial sea trials in 2009. An obvious reason new submarine construction has been minimized until 2012, is to avoid wasting dollars on yesterday's designs instead of tomorrow's. Very good thinking.
We have known that the Navy and DARPA want smaller, cheaper subs. Smaller means cheaper to operate (fewer submariners) , not just to build. The drivers for current Tango Bravo (Technology Barrier) breakthrough targets resulted from the Navy-DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) study completed in 2004. The study focused on key factors constraining hull size, mechanical and electrical systems involved in Virginia Class submarine design for an improved attack submarine with capabilities comparable to the Virginia boats at roughly half the vessel size and cost.
Using similar analytical methodology a year after the DARPA's study, MIT's class of 2009 confirmed a feasibility estimate responsive to whether or not a "burning glass" (depicted in fresco above), constructed under Archimedes's direction in 212 B.C. , set nearby enemy warships ablaze using solar energy. The event was recorded in ancient Greek and Roman annals from the siege of Syracuse. RESULT: ...our mathematical feasibility estimate was confirmed by the experiment and that the myth is at least possible.
Does anyone think nuclear powered submarines are not an ideal platform for offensive laser weapons? If such were ever deployed, would most of us even know about it? If you knew about it, could you or Joe Buff tell whomever? Submarines are always silent and strange. Yet, perhaps not as strange as the 2 millennia it has taken to confirm what Archimedes knew.