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The Loudest Thing You’ll Read All Day: Railgun Breaks Speed Record

Seriously, just sit back and bask in the huge, loud, awesome that is this sentence: “A gun the size of a bus has set a new world record, and fired its payload so fast it broke the speed of sound seven times over.”

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Basically, while everyone was choking down eggnog at a holiday party this past Friday, the Office of Naval Research in Dahlgen, Virginia was playing around with a really gigantic railgun. MSNBC claims the shot was heard “around the world” and that it has the power of a truck barreling down the road at 100 mph.

Since my sci-fi knowledge is limited to the level of “passing,” I can’t make any obscure Neal Stephenson references for you, but instead just continue to kvell over the hugeness of this gun. According to the Office of Naval Research, 33 megajoules of energy (sounds shiny!) were sent through the gun, which is intended for use on Navy ships and could reach a target from 110 miles away. (My question: Is there insane kickback?) The supergun runs on an electromagnetic current and has no moving parts. By 2025, they hope to kick it up to 64 megajoules, which would send a bullet 200 miles in six minutes. So … lock up your children and grandchildren.

Here is a demonstration of a smaller model by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger:

(via New Scientist)

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