Fun Fact Friday: Boeing Patents Force Field

150324111430-uspto-exlarge-169Did you know that Boeing was recently granted a patent for an invention very similar to the force field technology best known from science fiction franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek? It’s true!

The description on the patent, which was originally filed in 2012, describes it as the following:

“A method and system for attenuating a shockwave propagating through a first medium by heating a selected region of the first fluid medium rapidly to create a second, transient medium that intercepts the shockwave and attenuates its energy density before it reaches a protected asset. The second medium may attenuate the shockwave by one or more of reflection, refraction, dispersion, absorption and momentum transfer. The method and system may include a sensor for detecting a shockwave-producing event, determining a direction and distance of the shockwave relative to a defended target and calculating a firing plan, and an arc generator for creating the second medium. The arc generator may create the second medium by creating an electric arc that travels along an electrically conductive path utilizing at least one of high intensity laser pulses, pellets forming a conductive ion trail, sacrificial conductors, projectiles trailing electrical wires, and magnetic induction.”

Essentially, upon detecting a nearby explosion, it would create a field of ionized air (or in more Star Trek-familiar parlance, a “plasma field”) between a vehicle and a nearby explosion. This plasma field would protect the vehicle from the resulting shockwave of the explosion.

Isn’t it amazing how science fiction continues to inspire scientists to turn the impossible into a reality?

If you want to learn more about the patent, you can see it here.

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