When you hear the words "plasma gun," you're probably thinking of those blue lasers from the "G.I. Joe" cartoons. Pretty soon, our military could have them, but they don't work like you think they do. Plasma weapons are actually the next step in non-lethal weaponry.
The Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program, a division of the U.S. Department of Defense, has been testing a new technology called the Laser-Induced Plasma Effect, or LIPE. It's intended to confuse or startle targets by surrounding them with an immense amount of noise.
The LIPE operates by firing lasers in very short bursts, creating a blue plasma ball, while other lasers aimed at the target turn the ball into a ear-bursting noisemaker.
LIPE technology is still in the testing phase; currently lab tests have not been able to successfully deploy the non-lethal weapon at 100 meters. The Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program is investing $3 million to continue developing the plasma gun.
The current goal for the LIPE plasma weapon program is to produce 130 decibels of noise at a distance of 100 meters. Testing by the U.S. military is planned for sometime in the next few months, with a full evaluation in May 2016.