Lasers have become a really prevalent part of society. People use lasers every single day inside of their technology without really thinking about it.
There are also handy devices such as laser pointers or laser distance measuring devices that are used by professionals.
Whether you’re using a laser pointer for a presentation or if you’re using a highly precise laser to perform some type of surgery, it becomes easy to see just how important they have become to society.
Even so, when many people think about laser they think about futuristic weaponry and science-fiction stories.
Some of the most beloved sci-fi stories make use of complicated forms of laser weaponry that humanity simply doesn’t have access to today.
The advances in laser technology have brought humans closer to the technology seen in some early sci-fi shows but there are still significant differences.
One of the most popular sci-fi shows of all time, Star Trek, makes use of weapons known as phasers.
What are phasers, though? When you compare a phaser to a laser, what winds up being the main difference?
Today you can take a look at the “phaser vs. laser” debate to learn everything that you need to know.
This will give you the proper knowledge of what a phaser is in the Star Trek universe and you’ll be able to move forward without confusion.
Table of Contents
Are There Real Phasers?
One thing that some people ask is whether or not there are real phasers. The answer is a bit complicated.
There is a device known as a phaser that people make use of in modern times but it isn’t what you would think of as a laser. This is a device that alters sound signals by phasing it.
This means that a phaser in the real world is simply a device that is used for changing sound signals and it doesn’t have anything to do with weaponry.
Phasers are used for guitars in order to make certain sound effects. Some people have also popularly used phasers with electronic pianos.
It probably doesn’t have anything to do with what you were thinking but those are the real-life phasers.
Sci-Fi Phaser vs. Laser
In the show Star Trek, phasers are known as a more advanced form of a laser.
In this fictional universe, humanity used laser weapons up until the development of phaser technology.
This phaser technology is used on the show as a type of particle weapon that fires radiation particles. This is a particle that is artificially generated and is capable of completely disintegrating its target.
Lasers are different because they are simply highly concentrated forms of light. These wouldn’t be capable of disintegration in the same fashion as the phasers mentioned above.
Basically, lasers work similarly to how they would in the real world but with some distortions due to the nature of sci-fi. Of course, as of now, lasers are real and phasers are simply fictional.
How Does A Phaser Work in Star Trek?
The phaser’s powerful and deadly lasers have become a big hit for Star Trek fans.
It’s no wonder then a lot of them ask, “how exactly does it work?”
Sure, the phasers aren’t real. But that doesn’t mean there’s no explanation of its workings.
In fact, in later series, it explains that the weapon releases subatomic particles called “rapid nadion.” Nadions are unique, artificially-generated particles that could free atomic nuclei.
(If you paid attention in your science class, you know that the atomic nucleus holds 99.9% of an atom’s mass.)
So once the phaser’s laser hits and frees the atomic nuclei, it’ll disrupt the whole atom. In turn, the matter of the disrupted atoms will vanish, whether it’s a person or huge boulders.
Phasers are awesome as it combines both science and imagination.
How Powerful Is a Star Trek Phaser?
It doesn’t take a Star Trek fanatic to know that phasers are powerful…
I mean, not only does it vaporize matter, but it’s also used as an explosive.
We know how much damage one TNT explosion can cause.
Now, the phaser is said to be equal to 0.717 tons of TNT. That can melt around 2.5 tons of steel in a second.
With this example, you get an idea of just how powerful phasers are.
However, as the Star Trek series progressed and more weapons were introduced, the phasers became less and less powerful.
Are Star Trek Phasers Possible?
Probably one of the biggest questions about phasers is if it’s possible to make a real one.
Advanced technology has certainly helped create a more powerful laser. So why not an actual phaser?
Well, there are 2 reasons why not.
The first is that there’s no such thing as nadion – the KEY feature to the phaser.
And even if someone is able to make these particles, it won’t be as powerful.
Just think, you need a destructive power of 130,000 atomic bombs to vaporize a 200lb object. Imagine how powerful and destructive the nadion particles have to be.
Also, a weapon that can interchange between vaporizing and exploding, as well as killing and stunning, seems too far-fetched.
Of course, we’re not ruling anything out. We never know what futuristic technology will give us.
That being said, there are lasers today that are powerful enough to burn big objects. It can’t, however, vaporize matter.
Check out this video of the world’s most powerful laser ever invented:
Now that you have taken a deeper look at the differences between phasers and lasers, you should be able to understand why they aren’t the same thing.
It’s important to note that phasers, as they appear in sci-fi, aren’t real.
Whether or not humanity will develop something similar in the future remains to be seen.
Sometimes reality does catch up to the technology showcased in sci-fi shows or movies so it’s certainly exciting to think about what the future holds.
As for lasers, they will continue to become more important as time marches on.
Lasers are used for very practical things in modern times and will continue to be implemented in various forms of technology. The uses of laser technology are vast and things continue to improve each year.
It’s plausible that lasers could be used more commonly in weaponry in the future as the military has done significant research on lasers.