The United States Navy tested out a new toy last week. Using a 15-kilowatt beam shot from a raygun mounted on a warship off the coast of California, officers set a boat on fire. While a 15-kilowatt laser is relatively weak, the team behind the U.S. Office of Naval Research's Maritime Laser Demonstrator program (MLD) said that a chain of units could be linked up to build a 100-kilowatt beam.

"These high-energy rayguns could be used 'at lightspeed precision' to instantaneously wipe out an opposing ship's engines (theoretically leading to fewer human casualties), or even zap incoming missiles out of the sky," according to Techland's Chris Gayomali.