In World War II, mighty bombers came equipped with gun barrels, manned by gunners at the ready to protect the plane from attacking fighters. The B-52 Stratofortress even came with a tail gun for self defense and last used it in combat over Vietnam in 1972. The change in fighter weapons from guns to missiles made tail guns obsolete, but now Lockheed and DARPA are bringing them back. As freakin’ lasers.
Designed to destroy enemy ships up to 300 KM off the coast, the Russian defence system is pretty formidable. But what makes the launch particularly impressive is how the missile launches vertically, then fires secondary rockets to flip it horizontal before streaking over the horizon.
The first post in our "Remembering The Great War" series comes from the September 1914 issue of Popular Science, which is the first time the magazine discusses the war in Europe. In a series of essays, scientists probed various aspects of war, and came down strongly in favor of peace. “Everywhere the energies of men are diverted from scientific and social progress to destruction,” we wrote. Essay topics included the futility of war as a means of creating peace (by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie), the (im)morality of war (by philosopher William James), and even speculations that sending a nation's fittest men to be slain in war could lead to the degeneration of society. The latter essay was authored by the noted ichthyologist, eugenicist, and peace activist David Starr Jordan, who wrote,
When Iraq’s American-equipped army fled their posts in Mosul last June, they left that American equipment in the hands Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the attacking violent insurgent group. Since then, the U.S. Air Force destroyed some of the captured vehicles. Jonathan Zittrain, director of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, wonders if there’s a better way to stop stolen equipment from working. He proposes “kill switches,” like those found in iPhones, as a means for keeping American arms, given to allies, from working in the hands of enemies.
In 1935, Popular Science announced the age of the tank with these words: “Fast, powerful land battleships may speed up the net war by preventing trench stalemates, or even make war an impossibility.” While the second half of that prediction failed to materialize, 75 years ago this week, the first part became crushingly real as a German offensive, spearheaded by 2,000 tanks, entered Poland. Warsaw would surrender just 27 days later. Here’s how Popular Science covered the development of the tank in the years between its debut in World War I to its horrific triumph in the second World War.
The submarine of the future may come to America in a super fast bubble, traveling under water. Researchers at China's Harbin Institute of Technology developed a new concept for submarine “supercavitation,” where an underwater vessel creates a pocket of air around itself. Inside this bubble, the submarine can travel much faster without friction of water creating drag and slowing it down. Theoretically, a supercavitated vessel using rocket engines could travel inside that air pocket at almost the speed of sound.