The world’s spookiest weapons

As purveyors of a fine hacks, we often get pitched on what are generally considered very bad ideas. Luckily, most of these ideas die on the drawing board due to a lack of time and energy or maybe having a shred of moral accountability. There’s nothing that government funding can’t fix though. Popular Science has put together a gallery of The World’s Spookiest Weapons. It’s a who’s who of real and speculative engineering that could lead to our eventual destruction. Opening with the atomic bomb, it moves quickly into more bizarre territory, everything from heat rays, to rail guns, to gassing people with elephant tranquilizers. Our personal favorite is The Rods from God. Imagine getting smote by a precisely targeted metal power pole dropped from space that has accelerated to 36,000 feet per second thanks solely to gravity. What a wondrous world we live in.

[via Acidus]


  1. wisefire says:


  2. Johnny B. Goode says:

    Interesting article, although I think it’s highly speculative and written with a flare for the dramatic. All in all there wasn’t anything I haven’t already heard of.

  3. pmac says:

    Got a build log or instuctable for any of these?

  4. Mark says:

    The “Rods from God” was a project called Project Thor.
    It’s detailed quite thoroughly in an essay published in the first “There Will Be War” anthology, Jerry Pournelle, ed, published in the 80’s.

  5. LoopyMind says:

    IMHO stuff like mustard gas, zyklon B, Sarin and the likes of such are far more spooky than metal crap falling from the sky…

  6. BenH(Not that one) says:

    Agreed. With a Kinetic Kill Device it’s over before you know what hit you. Chem/bio weapons… shudder … too much suffering.

  7. Meto says:

    I remember reading about most of these 15 years ago in a second hand bookstore!

  8. Orv says:

    Re 2: Stuff in Popular Mechanics and other magazines of its ilk is always speculative and dramatic. It’s the genre. Check out the Modern Mechanix blog some time if you want to see what those magazines were predicting decades ago:

  9. tanvach says:

    Of course, due to conservation of energy, you need at least the same amount of energy to put these guys in orbit. So if you can launch these things, might as well use the energy directly as bombs. Or not. Bombs are bad.

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