# Gauss

Discussion in 'Physics & Math' started by Gifted, Jun 6, 2003.

1. ### GiftedWorld WandererRegistered Senior Member

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Guass

Several sci-fi universes describe rail gun-like weapons as "Gauss" rifle/gun/cannon/whatever. Who exactly was Gauss and what did he do to have his name used in this manner?

3. ### yayacatfightRegistered Senior Member

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gauss

\Gauss\ (gous), n. [So named after Karl F. Gauss, a German mathematician.] (Elec.) The C.G.S. unit of density of magnetic field, equal to a field of one line of force per square centimeter, being thus adopted as an international unit at Paris in 1900; sometimes used as a unit of intensity of magnetic field. It was previously suggested as a unit of magnetomotive force.

maybe they are referring to some kind of magnetic guns?

5. ### GiftedWorld WandererRegistered Senior Member

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That's what a rail gun is, isn't it?

7. ### yayacatfightRegistered Senior Member

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no idea, i have never heard of a rail gun.

8. ### XaositecteRegistered Member

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A railgun is something like a Particle Accelerator in hand-held form, using magnetic fields to accelerate tiny bits of matter to near the speed of light, at which point they'll punch through pretty much anything..

FromFermi's Particle Accelerator Lab

"All particle accelerators start from the principle that electrically charged objects exert a force on each other--opposite charges attract; like charges repel. If there are no other forces keeping the objects in place, the electric force will accelerate them. With an accelerator, physicists apply an electric force again and again to continually accelerate particles such as electrons, positrons, protons or antiprotons. In a circular accelerator, like Fermilab's Tevatron, the particles repeatedly pass the same force-exerting equipment and soon reach speeds close to the speed of light. "

Yeah, I'm using a direct quote because I don't have enough of a backing in High-energy physics to explain it in my own words, but that, as I understand it, is the principle behind a Gauss weapon\Rail Gun as well.

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A Gauss rifle uses magnetism to accelerate rounds instead of expanding gases from an explosion. There is no stipulation for reaching "near light speed" -- that sounds like it came from the movie Eraser. The ammunition is not necessarily tiny, either. It has to be magnetic, something like steel spheres would be ideal.

I think I might have read something about real gauss rifles existing somewhere, but it's impossible to find any information on the web -- you try and use a search engine and you're swamped with pages by idiots about them being used in sci-fi role-playing games.

It's named after the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German mathematician Karl Gauss, likely for his work on magnetism -- developing the magnetometer and investigating the strength of magnetic forces.

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11. ### tempusmeRegistered Senior Member

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might be a little late, but if anyone took the AP Physics test this year, they had a free response question on rail guns... quite entertaining.