For as long as science fiction has existed, it has helped to keep our collective minds dreaming of the stars and for advanced technology. Some technology may still be out of reach, like flying cars, hoverboards or even faster-than-light travel, but sci-fi franchises like Star Trek have been fueling innovation for years now. Using powder-driven, bullet-based weapons doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the vacuum of space, so science fiction has enamored us all with the idea of the laser gun for decades.
Now that technology is getting even closer to fruition, although it’s not quite there yet. Scientists at Lockheed Martin have been working to build laser-powered defense systems for use on the battlefield and while they haven’t quite shrunk down the power source to a handheld phaser like in Star Trek just yet, they have taken what once was a power source the size of a 747 and gotten it down to a trailer hitched to the back of a truck.
While that might sound like an actual, hand-held phaser is quite a ways away, that is still a huge leap in technology in a period of just a few years, meaning that as technology continues to get better, power sources continue to shrink and lasers continue to get more powerful this technology will be within our grasp. Of course, we’ve yet to come anywhere near ships hurtling through space at warp speed, never mind warp 4 or higher, meaning that we’re still a ways off from the Vulcans making first contact with us.