Skip to comments.The Science of Rail Guns
Posted on 03/20/2012 9:44:57 PM PDT by U-238
Ubiquitous in science fiction, rail guns are a hot area of military research in real life too. But will we ever really get to use them the way people in science fiction do? And could rail guns be used for a non-violent reason inexpensively launching payload into space?
Halo Reach ends with your Spartan taking up a mounted rail gun to destroy an incoming Covenant ship. Rail guns are the basis for a funny aside in Mass Effect 2. They're used in Babylon 5 and Stargate Atlantis and The Last Starfighter. And they're a devastating hand-held weapon in the Metal Gear Solid and Quake series. Now, let's discover the real science behind rail guns. Ejecting pieces of metal at phenomenal velocities The initial theory leading to modern rail guns owes itself to Louis Octave Fauchon-Villeplee, an early 20th Century French scientist who was awarded the patent, Electric Apparatus for Propelling Projectiles. The patent proposed passing current through two strips of aluminum, with an induced force pushing a metal block forward.
Modern rail guns typically make use of two metal rails, a movable armature, and a power supply. Current passes from a positive conducting rail, over the armature, and to a negative conducting rail, creating a magnetic field in the process that sends a projectile resting on or within the armature forward. Laboratory conditions produced velocities of up to 9 kilometers per second using small mass projectiles; nearing the velocity needed for an object on the surface of the planet to escape the gravitational pull of Earth.
(Excerpt) Read more at io9.com ...
The mounting of siege ordnance on railcars dates back to the U.S. Civil War, [War for Northern Dominance] at least: