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How to BuildRailguns and Coilguns for Superweapons and Space Launchers
By Carolyn Meinel

In this Guide you will learn:

  • How electromagnetic guns work
  • Early flubbed efforts to build superweapons out of them
  • Why super high velocity guns are superweapons
  • Why super high velocity guns might make space launch cheap and easy
  • Why big and dangerous electromagnetic guns are hard to build
  • Why electromagnetic guns need electromagnets
  • That darned Periodic Table of the Elements (honest -- this is important)
  • The trouble with superconductors
  • The pulsed power problem
  • Nutty Ideas project
  • Star Wars!
  • The Rocket Empire Strikes Back
  • Space elevators
  • What's going on today
  • How to get a career with railguns and coilguns

    If, like most hackers, you play online games such as World of Warcraft, you know about railguns. Too bad those are just game thingies. If you are an honest to gosh, real hacker, you may also have looked up railguns on the Internet, found instructions, built one – and your results were disappointing. Those guns only move things slowly, if at all. You could get more firepower with a pea shooter. which I used to make with a soda straw and any little round thing such as dried peas that make a slide fit to the straw. Insert pea just inside one end of the straw, place that end in your mouth, aim and blow. (Watch out for other people's eyes, these peas can do damage!)

    If you want to learn how to build a railgun that is actually good for launching things into outer space or destroying armored vehicles, that is way harder than those toys you can build from Internet instructions. If you aren't afraid of hard work and are willing to join a team that has the reseources needed to build these superguns, keep on reading and you'll learn how you can do this.

    I’ve been a Science and Engineering Technical Advisor on railguns and another kind of electromagnetic gun, the coilgun, for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. I’ve coauthored two refereed technical papers on these guns for the IEEE Transactions on Magnetics: "Electromagnetic Earth-to-Space Launch," in the January 1989 issue, pages 9-16; and “Electromagnetic launch: Highway to the stars,” in the March 88 issue (pages 703-710). A recent issue of the IEEE Spectrum has an article I wrote about electromagnetic guns. So I kid you not, this Guide is going to give you the straight story, and maybe, if you dare, help you launch yourself on a career designing and building these fascinating guns.
    This Guide also tells you about the many inventors who thought they could build high power, high velocity electromagnetic guns – and why so many of them failed. Don’t worry, I promise that by the time you are done with this Guide, you’ll know how to avoid their mistakes, how to keep from being fooled by “hackers” who claim to have built dangerous electromagnetic guns, and how to become a genius at building them yourself. Again, I’m warning you, it isn’t easy. But you can do it if you are willing to really, seriously work at it.

    That’s right. It won't be easy. Unlike most of my Guides, this one doesn’t offer simple shortcuts. Building a superweapon or a space launcher is hard to do. For that, most of us are grateful, because the bad guys could do unfortunate things with them.

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           © 2013 Carolyn Meinel