The Sun Gun

In the early 1940’s a Nazi weapons concept was exposed by Life’s Magazine. It was titled the “German Space Mirror” and was intended to destroy cities around the world by burning them and its people to death. According to Ryan Grenoble from The Huffington Post, “it consisted of a reflective, slightly concave disk approximately one mile in diameter, the sun gun would focus solar rays onto enemy cities — and burn them.”

Austro-Hungarian-born German physicist and engineer is credited with coming up with the concept of having mirrors in space in 1923, but for different reasons. Grenoble continues, “Oberth originally intended the space mirror for peaceful purposes such as illuminating ports and thawing frozen rivers, but the concept may have taken on its “Death Star” undertones with the rise of Nazism in the 1930s.” Sunlight is useful for growing crops, for power and generally regarded as handy to have about. David Szondy from states, “Oberth advocated constructing a giant concave mirror with a diameter of 100 kilometres (62 miles) in orbit at a distance of 400 to 700 miles.” Solar generators would be used to power rockets that would tilt the mirror in different directions and it would be controlled by a manned space station close by. It was an ambitious project to think of the in late 1920’s when there weren’t any space crafts, and when one plane had just touched 35,000 feet setting a new record for maximum height of an aircraft.

The Nazi’s however, had a different plan. They had planned to make a smaller concave mirror that would beam light to a fixed point; but the light being so powerful would destroy anything that it comes in contact with. Grenoble states, “The Nazi’s plan was to have a small crew possibly living inside the mirror, where they would breathe air produced by thousands of pumpkin plants, and “wear shoes soled with magnets” to combat the lack of gravity. A helmet would be mandatory — “to protect against forgetful crashes into the ceiling.”

In present times scientists have gone back to Oberth’s concept but this time, having the mirror act as a diffuser, putting less light on Earth. They wish to combat global warming in parts of the world through this method. Currently, researchers at the University of Victoria, Canada, are testing the sun shield theory by using computer simulations of the project and Dr. Roger Angel from the University of Arizona explains, “at the moment the sums involved sound huge but in the greater scheme of things it’s a price worth paying. Over 50 years the mirrors will become damaged and therefore fresh lenses will need to be fired into space to ensure the shield is constant.” Scientists are trying to bring down the costs of the mirror and lenses so the project can be more feasible. Angel concludes, “what you are talking about is a project which will stop global warming for centuries to come.”