Yes, I know I promised it weeks ago, but what can I say? Life has been busy. This new page provides the (almost) final revisions to the system I created for rating (possibly) stupid weapons, known officially as the Stupid Weapons Index (and hereafter referred to by its acronym SWI).
At long last, there’s finally a way, albeit imperfect, to go through those crazy, goofy Rube Goldberg-esque ideas to see if something has a prayer of a chance at working. For example, several astute readers have e-mailed me about this New Scientist article, which describes an ”enormous ring of superconducting magnets similar to a particle accelerator could fling satellites into space…” Folks, I just don’t know, but the fact that it’s in New Scientist (home to articles on many a stupid weapon idea) is already a good indicator that it may earn more than its fair share of points. We’ll see.
What really prompted me to finish the SWI, however, was recent news about one of my favorite subjects, Metal Storm, the Australian company that produces a million-rounds-a-minute weapon. If you remember, number 10 on the SWI was for if the inventor/company claimed that a foreign country was trying to buy the weapon and/or technology. Sure enough, as Defense Tech points out, the inventor of Metal Storm, Mike O’Dwyer, now claims that China wanted him and his family to move to China.
I’m actually inclined to believe that Metal Storm in fact might have niche applications that could prove a harbinger of long-term changes in weapons. Note the word “long-term” in that previous sentence. Unfortunately, what pushes Metal Storm deep, deep, deep into the realm of (possibly) stupid weapons ratings is the company’s often amusing forays into PR, such as this red scare tactic.
I don’t know what to say about this claim of Chinese interest in Metal Storm, other than it conveniently boosted the company’s stock price, which has been in the doldrums lately. Even the local Australian papers have grown cynical of the company.
So, did the Chinese government really scheme to import the brains behind Metal Storm? Well, like the old saying goes: There’s one born every minute, so who’s to say that a few of them aren’t born in China?
Of course, maybe what China was really after was the inventor’s other nifty invention — self-ventilating shoes.
P.S. And for those of you with an eye to history, this is the time that I will remind people that Metal Storm is not by any means the first publicly traded company based on the premise of a super-fast gun that would revolutionize warfare. There was also John Puckle, whose Puckle Machine Company is now one of the most famous examples of 18th century ”bubble companies.” It never produced great wealth for its shareholders, or weapons that revolutionized warfare, but it did leave us with this lovely little poem:
A rare invention to destroy the crowd
Of fools at home, instead of fools abroad.
Fear not, my friends, this terrible machine,
They’re only wounded who have shares therein.