DARPA wand fights fire with physics

A research team at Harvard demonstrates how to rub out flames with an electrode wand. The novel fire suppression method is part of a DARPA project.

DARPA flame demonstration
Behold, the power of physics! DARPA

DARPA's list of projects reads like a sci-fi writer's dream. The federal agency has studied flying cars , starships , and cyborg insects . Now you can add a magic wand flame suppressant to the agenda.

A Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency research team at Harvard University created a handheld electrode that puts out fire with no water, chemicals, or smothering.

Details are sketchy as to how exactly the Harvard wand, whose technology may eventually find its way into fire suppression systems for military ships and vehicles, works. We do know, however, that the Instant Fire Suppression program is looking at the feasibility of using electromagnetic fields, ion injection, and acoustics to put out flames. As DARPA so poetically explains, flames are just "cold plasmas comprising mobile electrons and slower positive ions."

There's something very Harry Potter-ish about the flame suppression wand. I almost expected to hear a scientist muttering, "Aguamenti!" during the demonstration video, below.

(Via Popular Science)

About the author

Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET's Crave blog. When not wallowing in weird gadgets and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.

 

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