hello. ive come to physics forum because when it comes to physics, ill admit im clueless. So im looking for some learned assistance. Im writing a book, its not about physics, but a portion of the book has to do with the viability of directed energy weapons i.e. lasers etc. Its a political book, not a physics book, so please answer in terms of someone who has an iq probably quite a bit lower than the average physics forum poster and knows little about actual physics. So here goes. Part of my book as i stated has to do with the viability of directed energy weapons. So my questions are as follows. The military has developed a 100kw directed energy weapon. You can go to youtube and see it. Im thinking bigger however and i am aware that there exists a 1.3 petawatt "laser" or whatever its called. So one of the premises of my book is developing a system to defeat the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), and doing so with directed energy defense. So my question to the physics forum experts is what exactly would happen if an ICBM would be hit by the beam from a 1.3 petawatt laser? From what ive read this beam splits atoms so as a physics moron if someone could please put in laymens terms exactly what would happen if said icbm came in contact with such a defense? Also what would be the detrimental factors? Are there any environmental hinderances? Are there any hindrances to the beam hitting the target? Is this possible in either theory or in reality? Are we talking vaporizing this target or are we talking this beam not getting to the target at all for some reason or when it gets there being completely ineffective? At what wattage would the target be vaporized if at all? Ive seen 40 watt lasers cut through steel. So If i was to target an icbm with 1 quadrillion watts even for a femtosecond, what exactly would be the resulting damage to said target? And what would be the time frame/ wattage in general i may need to destroy said target? I appreciate any help anyone on here could give me. thanks.