The glory of white-out

“If you absolutely have to kill every last *#@! in the room …”

Few things inspire more passion in engineering than the age-old quest to kill lots and lots of people. Thus we arrive at the ghastly little bit of business that is DREAD, a gun invented by US firearms-industry veteran Charles St. George. The DREAD consists of a circular chamber that spins metal ball bearings to lightning speed, then releases them toward its target. As the New Scientist reports:

St. George says the projectiles travel at around 300 metres per second upon release from the weapon, about the same speed as a handgun round. He claims a fully developed DREAD gun would be quieter than a conventional gun, less prone to malfunction, and could contain more ammunition.

DREAD also releases its balls in extremely rapid succession, which allows it to unleash formidable firepower against a target. Promotional material for DREAD states: “Due to its extraordinary high rate of fire capability, it delivers its bullets 8.5 millimetres apart, thereby delivering more mass to the target than any other weapon.”

The bullets arrive only 8.5 millimeters apart?? Good god. Mind you, weapons experts disagree about how well this would work: One claimed it was “outlandish” and doomed to failure, while the editor of raved about the gun’s ability to achieve “total target saturation”. All more proof of that ancient dictum: Guns don’t kill people — blinding streams of pulverizing ball bearings kill people.

(Thanks to Boing Boing for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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