As defense technology continues to advance, science fiction is becoming a reality. The latest unbelievable development comes from Boeing, with force fields that could be straight out of Star Wars. On March 17 they were granted a patent for a “Method and system for shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic arc,” which is designed to prevent explosive shockwaves from harming military vehicles. In the system, a plasma shield uses energy to deflect potential damage, like the glowing energy shields that protect troops in Star Wars and Star Trek.
First, sensors in a military vehicle will detect an explosion and determine its location based on the light that is generated by the blast. Then an anti-shock system is immediately deployed, with lasers sending out high intensity pulses in the explosion’s direction. The pulses ionize the air, creating a plasma field that differs in temperature, density, and composition from the surrounding environment. This causes some of the shock waves to be refracted, essentially creating a buffer that protects the vehicle from excessive damage due to the explosion. In the future, the same technique could also be applied to protect buildings.