How to build an alien death ray

Another teaser from a work-in-progress novel, demonstrating that it's hard to write hard science fiction. This bit might have flaws, as I've never actually built a laser. Comments from those who have are solicited.

Chapter 167

Titan Pass, Nevada

Lasers are uncomplicated devices, but as one scales them up, they can be challenging to build. Small gas and ruby lasers are easy to make; but if one desires a large-scale diamond laser, he’d better have on hand an assortment of supplies and tooling.

Borosilicate glass pipe, taken off the bill-of-materials of a coal dust combustion reactor (for a never-to-be-assembled abrasives processing line), makes a fine armature for a lasing rod.

Insert the pipe into the chuck of a CNC lathe/vertical milling machine, trickle in refined diamond grit, pulse into a liquid state with an Anye-tech fuser mounted to a servo-driven tool arm, manipulating crystal lattice structure with components made for a quantum assembler (which you will also never finish).

Dope the mix with semiconductor manufacturing chemicals, forming internal optical circuits. Measure with a full-spectrum LED shop light and high-resolution imager (a phone camera).

Mirror coat the borosilicate pipe. Apply a suspension containing light emitting precipitate (Anye-tech homebrew chemistry) to plastic-backed graphene mesh (Japan), and wrap that around your pipe. Tap the graphene mesh for power. Finish the assembly with parasitic cooling tape (from your nanoscale fabricator) and Plasti Dip automotive wheel paint (RockAuto).

Walla! You now have in your possession a thirty-seven-centimeter-long laser core which, when powered, is capable of instantly destroying meter-thick concrete. It’s also past midnight, you’re dead tired, and you haven’t built a flying platform yet.


Note – Featured image by Tom Edwards, a UK cover artist.

The Huntsman

With 14 guitars and 6 amps competing for space in the man-cave, my appetite for gear should have been satiated by now; but then, at a church rummage sale, I stumbled across a Galaxy Audio Hotspot PA III for $10, and what am I supposed to do – leave it there?

Yes, it works. In fact, it fills a needed category, that of a guitar amp I can leave at the winter house without worrying about whether we’ll skip a year, and discover later the landlord got rid of it.

Same for this guy, a 400 watt Infinity subwoofer, also $10, that turned the yard-sale media system I set up at that same winter home into a real thumper.


Of course, it takes a willingness to waste one’s time navigating through a sea of baby clothes to discover such things, and, at my age, one needs to be cautious about accumulating objects, lest there be no room left to walk through the house. That said, finds like these evoke a primitive spirit, that of the hunter who just brought down a mastodon, and now the entire village will feast – or, in this case, dance to club music, until the neighbors call.

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