After more than two decades of research, the United States is on the verge of deploying a new generation of weapons that discharge light-wave energy
Dramatic book title notwithstanding, there is no e-bomb. The military is testing, however, a series of directed energy weapons ranging from lasers to microwaves. Beason, a physicist and the associate director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, offers a spirited defense of these new weapons and their likely impact on the battlefield. He traces their development over the past three decades and notes that they are now on the threshold of deployment. Despite his enthusiasm for technological solutions to military threats-"The size of the army matters," he writes, "but technology wins wars"-Beason concedes that lasers and microwaves are not without their critics, including leading scientists and military officers. Nevertheless, he believes that doubts can be dispelled by addressing people's natural fear of new technology. Beason argues that directed energy applications are already commonplace-LASIK surgery, DVD players, etc.-and explains the science in terms that ordinary people can grasp, despite the occasional references to Fresnel equations. He also gives the reader a peek at some of the directed energy weapons that the military is currently testing, including Active Denial, a nonlethal, low-power microwave weapon that can be mounted on a Humvee. Despite Beason's cheerleading style, this is a solid introduction to directed energy weapons. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.