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Jun 23, 2019

This Homemade Rail Gun Shoots ‘Ionized Plasma’ Bullets

Posted by in category: energy

Of all the crazy garage-built weapons I’ve ever come across, this one from YouTuber/tinkerer Alex Smyth is definitely one of the craziest. Aside from the fact that it looks like a prop that was stolen from the set of District 9, Smyth’s “phased plasma” gun doesn’t just fire normal projectiles. It’s actually designed to fire rounds filled with ionized plasma, which in turn should, at least in theory, explode on impact.

If you’re unfamiliar, a railgun is a type of weapon that uses electricity instead of gunpowder to fire a projectile. Leveraging a phenomenon called the Lorentz Force, rail guns work by delivering a high power electric pulse to a pair of conductive rails, which in turn generates a magnetic field and rapidly accelerates the bullet situated between them.

Smyth’s gun is a bit different, though. Rather than using straight rails, his build features a pair of rails that are twisted to form a double helix. According to Smyth, this gives the projectile some spin and extra stability, just like the rifling on a firearm barrel would provide for a normal bullet. The only difference is that, in lieu of a regular metal projectile, Smyth’s gun is designed to fire glass vacuum tubes filled with neon gas. In theory, the electromagnetic fields created by the rails will ionize the gas to create plasma, which will be released when the glass projectile breaks.

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