As summer blockbuster season kicks into high gear, big-budget action movies like The Avengers, Battleship, and Prometheus remind us that there's one thing that unites Americans: Our shared fear of an alien attack. They also remind us that when the invading space fleet arrives, humanity is not going to surrender without a fight to our intergalactic invaders. Instead, we will band together to fight off their incredibly advanced weaponry with our ... well, with what, exactly? Are we really ready to battle our would-be alien overlords?
Luckily, the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA, as well as some of the world's largest weapons manufacturers, are dreaming up the weapons of the future today. With the help of everything from lasers on jets to hypersonic planes to invisibility cloaks, we just might be able to make the battle for Earth a fair fight. You may think we're joking, but why else would NASA be uploading The Avengers to the International Space Station if not as a training manual? Here's a look at some of the most space-worthy inventions being cooked up now.
The official title sounds rather subdued, but don't be fooled -- this is an awesome laser beam. Currently in development at DARPA, these advanced lasers are being pursued because of their ability to "harness the speed and power of light to counter multiple threats." Weapons-grade lasers are actually a reality now, but are too big to be of use in an actual fight. DARPA, however, hopes to unveil a 150-kilowatt weapon that's light enough to attach to a fighter jet. Those will come in handy when the first sally of flying saucers emerges from the mothership.