Sci Fi or Sci Fake: A Post about a Chinese Force Field

January 10, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Imagine a force field which can deflect a drone or other object. Commercial applications could range from a passenger vehicles to directing flows of material in a manufacturing process. Is a force field a confection of science fiction writers or a technical avenue nearing market entry?


A Tai Chi master uses his powers to take down a drone. Thanks, MSFT Copilot Bing thing. Good enough.

Chinese Scientists Create Plasma Shield to Guard Drones, Missiles from Attack” presents information which may be a combination of “We’re innovating and you are not” and “science fiction.” The write up reports:

The team led by Chen Zongsheng, an associate researcher at the State Key Laboratory of Pulsed Power Laser Technology at the National University of Defence Technology, said their “low-temperature plasma shield” could protect sensitive circuits from electromagnetic weapon bombardments with up to 170kW at a distance of only 3 metres (9.8 feet). Laboratory tests have shown the feasibility of this unusual technology. “We’re in the process of developing miniaturized devices to bring this technology to life,” Chen and his collaborators wrote in a peer-reviewed paper published in the Journal of National University of Defence Technology last month.

But the write up makes clear that other countries like the US are working to make force fields more effective. China has a colorful way to explain their innovation; to wit:

The plasma-based energy shield is a radical new approach reminiscent of tai chi principles – rather than directly countering destructive electromagnetic assaults it endeavors to convert the attacker’s energy into a defensive force.

Tai chi, as I understand the discipline is a combination of mental discipline and specific movements to develop mental peace, promote physical well being, and control internal force for a range of purposes.

How does the method function. The article explains:

… When attacking electromagnetic waves come into contact with these charged particles, the particles can immediately absorb the energy of the electromagnetic waves and then jump into a very active state. If the enemy continues to attack or even increases the power at this time, the plasma will suddenly increase its density in space, reflecting most of the incidental energy like a mirror, while the waves that enter the plasma are also overwhelmed by avalanche-like charged particles.

One question: Are technologists mining motion pictures, television shows, and science fiction for ideas?

Beam me up, Scotty.

Stephen E Arnold, January 10, 2024


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