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As the world celebrates the 60th anniversary of the laser, Photonics Media takes a look back at how the technology has been displayed in popular culture over the last 60 years. Some might be surprised that the first reference to a direct-energy weapon came much earlier, in 1897.
H.G. Wells wrote of the Martians in his novel The War of the Worlds:
“In some way they are able to generate an intense heat in a chamber of practically absolute non-conductivity. This intense heat they project in a parallel beam against any object they choose, by means of a polished parabolic mirror of unknown composition, much as the parabolic mirror of a lighthouse projects a beam of light … it is certain that a beam of heat is the essence of…