Editor's Note: On April 23, the American Physical Society released the findings of a special study group on the science and technology of directed energy weapons such as those proposed in the Strategic Defense Initiative. The 424-page report concludes that the technology for these weapon systems would have to improve by factors of 100 to 1 million or more before they would perform acceptably. The following excerpts are taken from the executive summary and first chapter of the report.

The American Physical Society (APS) convened this Study Group to evaluate the status of the science and technology of directed energy weapons (DEW). The evaluation focuses on a variety of lasers and energetic particle beam technologies for their potential applications to the defense against a ballistic missile attack....

The APS charged the Study Group to pro duce an unclassified report, which would provide the membership of the Society, other scientists...

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