How did you spend February? Chomping on chocolate? Guzzling booze? Shoveling snow? Well, the United States Navy was playing with their latest toy, an electromagnetic railgun.
Long a staple of science fiction, a railgun uses magnets to accelerate its projectile down the barrel of the weapon as opposed to conventional weapons which use combustion (explosions!) to get the bullet moving. This latest prototype comes to America’s armed forces courtesy of BAE Systems, a British defense contractor.
You may have noticed the fire shooting out of the barrel. This is caused by a combination of about a million amps of energy (!), the hypersonic speed of the round, and the aluminum in the bullet reacting with the atmosphere. The odd, hardly aerodynamic shape of the round used is to limit the range of the projectile during testing.