Sun gun

Sun gun

=Background=

In 1929 German physicist Hermann Oberth developed state of the art plans for a space station from which a 100-meter-wide concave mirror could be used to reflect sunlight onto a concentrated point on the earth. [1] This idea during the mid-20th century was plausible considering that the Nazis were able to develop technologically advanced weaponry such as a 32-inch railway gun (probably the biggest gun ever made) and the V-2 rocket which could be fired into the air from a submarine submerged 300 feet under water. [2]

Development

Later during World War II, a group of scientists at a research center in Hillersleben, Germany began to expand on Oberth’s idea of creating a superweapon that could utilize the sun’s energy. This so-called “sun gun” would be part of a space station 5,100 miles above Earth. “They calculated that the use of a huge reflector could produce enough heat, if focused on certain area, could make an ocean boil or burn up a city.” [1] “German physicists had already figured out the sun gun's necessary size (3½ sq. mi.) and composition (metallic sodium).” [1]

After being questioned by Allied officers, the Germans made it clear that the sun gun could be completed within 50 or 100 years. [1] Lieutenant Colonel Keck later stated, “We were impressed with their practical enginering minds, and their distaste for the fantastic.” [1] Being an engineer himself, he took the German’s claim seriously.

Notes

1. Time. "Sun Gun." 07/09/1945 .2. Bellows, Alan. "The Third Reich's Diabolical Orbiting Superweapon." Damn Interesting 02/09/2008. .


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