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Any current work on plasma railguns?

  1. Mar 3, 2015 #1
    I think that this goes in this category...

    Do you know if anyone is doing current work on plasma railguns? The most recent stuff that I've seen about it is still some years old.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 3, 2015 #2
    Never heard of "plasma railguns". I just heard of the railguns that accelerate metal projectiles to such speeds that they melt during flight.
  4. Mar 3, 2015 #3
    Yeah, it uses a plasma armature instead of a solid one. From what I understand, it helps reduce wear on the rails since you don't have a solid sliding along another solid at insane speeds and producing a lot of frictional heating.
  5. Mar 4, 2015 #4


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    Wasn't this part of the "Star Wars" program in the mid 80s? It does sound familiar
    I suspect that the reason you never hear about is that even if you get it to work it would be impractical since a plasma would not work in air. I guess the idea in the "Star Wars" program was to use it for space based weapons (to e.g. shoot down ICBMs) but even then you would have lots of problems with the plasma dispersing.
    Also, I don't know what kind of plasma you would need to actually damage anything, "normal" plasma is used for quite gentle cleaning; presumably you would need something with a much higher density to actually damage a target.
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