X-rays are incredibly versatile; their uses are endless and technological advances regarding X-rays have significantly improved the fields of labor, medicine, hobbies, cosmetics, defense, transportation, and more. X-ray technology has opened many doors and had many a positive effect, but there’s a darker side to the world of X-rays as well … it can be used for evil just as effectively as we have used it for good. Dangerous X-ray weapons designed solely in the sake of destruction have been honed for the past thirty years, and the new discoveries are only getting more powerful. Shooting missiles out of the sky, searing away the vision of foes, and incinerating people and lands are only the first evil inventions in a long line, and more are created as we continue to perform research and testing on an incredibly useful science of which so little is still known.
Besides using X-ray tech as wartime weapons, even practical uses for the things can go awry and seriously damage those who happen to be closest. Industrial laser-based machines used to produce household products, fixtures, and other materials can turn on their masters in a horrific and rebelling robot-esque manner. Even the most commonly used X-ray, utilized in the medical field to diagnose health issues, can have a negative impact is used improperly or simply too frequently. Here are five dangerous advances in X-ray tech.
1. Star Wars
A mega-magnified X-Ray laser can be a powerful and dangerous thing. The first research and discoveries surrounding the use of X-ray lasers in nuclear weapons took place in the early 1980s, during President Reagan’s regime. Reagan introduced SDI, or the Strategic Defense Initiative, which was responsible for the production of guided antimissiles missiles as well as new advances X-ray laser technology. Finding that an amplified X-ray laser had much more energy (and impact) than gas-amplified beams, it became the focus of the SDI program and was dangerous in a few ways: if harnessed correctly, the X-ray laser could destroy vehicles and burn people to a crisp. It could also be used for certain types of high-tech detection, which would put a damper on any enemy army’s employment of decoys or other sneaky plans. The X-ray laser was initially somewhat planned for use in space, but this never happened as advances were not advanced enough and placing the laser-laden nuclear weapons in space would violate the United States’ Outer Space Treaty.
2. Defensive X-Ray Lasers
The military uses X-ray lasers for more than offensive weaponry; X-ray lasers are also used as a certain type of shield to defend against enemies. Infrared countermeasure systems are employed against heat seeking missiles, confusing the explosives and throwing them off track. Other types of lasers track down and destroy enemy missiles mid-flight. In development now is the Mobile Tactical High-Energy Laser (MTHEL) system which utilizes radar to locate and destroy cruise missiles and artillery projectiles.
3. X-Ray Lasers + Your Eyes = Pain
The military uses X-ray lasers as a non-lethal weapon as well. Have you ever looked directly into the high-intensity beam of a laser pointer? It hurts and impairs vision; if stared into too long, the laser can even inflict permanent damage to the person’s vision. The Air Force took this trick, sometimes used to annoy schoolmates in the classroom, and found a way that it can save lives and aircrafts alike. Shining a harmless but dizzying and bright laser into an opponent’s vision can prevent attacks and disorient an enemy long enough to make an escape or strike first. The Rules of War prohibit the use of lasers to permanently blind enemies, but nations such as China have worked on the development of blinding X-ray laser weapons. However, none have made it past the testing stage — so far.
4. Cutting Metal and Other Materials
X-ray Laser cutting is used in many factories and other industrial settings, and can cut virtually any material. Many laser cutting machines feature a computer into which a design or pattern can be programmed in. The computer takes that image and carves it into a material, such as metal at a steel-working yard. It’s somewhat reminiscent of old superhero cartoons — the villain catches the protagonist and straps him down beneath a machine whose deadly laser slowly creeps toward him, teasing him with the prosper of a cruel and painful death. Laser cutters are just as dangerous as the ones drawn in these stories, and one man even died while operating one. Granted, he had been ignoring safety procedures and, for some reason, was standing in the area where deadly lasers and heavy metal machinery are buzzing around. Since the laser melts, burns, or vaporizes the targeted material, one can only hope it was a quick death — and wonder what it feels like to be vaporized.
5. Medical Issues
Besides the abandoned-yet-exciting Star Wars X-ray laser research operations and the menacing prospect of searing, blinding, vaporizing X-ray weapons, X-rays can also pose a more boring danger. Firstly, X-rays are not a great procedure to repeatedly undergo since they use small amounts of radiation to obtain their images. Despite the radiation applied to the subject during an X-ray, the health threats they pose (genetic damage, cancer) are not very significant at all — unless the individual has certain medical conditions which heighten the damage. Especially vulnerable are a women’s uterus and ability to bear healthy children; pregnant women are told that a total of 9 x-rays can be taken without harming the fetus, but most responsible women choose not to have any X-rays during pregnancy if they can manage to avoid it. People with a high rate of cancer running in their families, or individuals with degenerative organ diseases may not be able to undergo X-rays because of the increased health risks. Typically, lead vests and shields are used to cover a person’s body, leaving only the limb or section in question to be X-rayed and to avoid unnecessary exposure.
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