The 21st century has been a real disappointment so far. Our robot servants top out at mediocre vaccums, self-driving cars are years away (and won’t be able to fly even when they do arrive), and we’re closer to inventing tricorders than phasers. A tricorder. Who wants a goddamn medical scanner when you could be blasting baddies with awesome handheld lasers?
It turns out that weaponized lasers, also known as Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs), aren’t all that different from the non-lethal variety you use to amuse your cat. Just like conventional models, a DEW produces a single synchronized wavelength of tightly focused, intense light that can travel exceptionally long distances. In fact, many lasers today—even cheap, handheld pointers—are still pretty dangerous in certain circumstances. Most notably, they can cause temporary to permanent blindness, though this usage is banned under the Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons. Yes, that’s a thing.