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In Pictures: Science vs. fiction: 15 sci-fi techno...
The needlegun, sometimes called a flechette gun, pops up in a surprising number of science fictions books, from Asimov to Zelazny. What's surprising is that this particular sci-fi technology dates all the way back to the 14th century. Needleguns fire small darts or flechettes, rather than bullets, and some of the first portable handheld cannons used iron darts. Needleguns have a few advantages -- low recoil and high rate of fire -- but lack the ballistic power of traditional ammunition. Weapons company Sandia National Laboratories recently demoed a flechette gun with self-guiding darts and a range of two kilometers.
In Pictures: Science vs. fiction: 15 sci-fi technologies that are (almost) here