Science fiction uses scientific language as a form of artistic expression. With that in mind, today’s post is part of a series here on Planet Pailly called Sciency Words. Every Friday, I’ll bring you a new and interesting scientific word to help us all expand our scientific vocabularies together. Today’s word is:
Compulsator: (noun) a device used to collect energy from a low-powered source then release it as a high-powered pulse. The term is short for compensated pulsed alternator.
Think of it like a savings account at a bank. If you deposit a small amount of money each day, at some future point in time you’ll be able to withdraw a large sum of cash for a major purchase. In a similar way, by accumulating small amounts of energy in a compulsator, you’ll be able to generate a huge burst of power later on when you need it.
The most common use for compulsators is in a weapon called a rail gun. The compulsators store energy as inertia in a spinning rotor then release it all at once to fire a projectile. At the moment, rail guns are still experimental, but they—and the compulsators that make them work—will probably be common terms for soldiers fighting in futuristic, Sci-Fi wars.
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Did you already know this word? If so, please share another sciency word in the comments below. That way, we can all keep expanding our sciency vocabularies together!
P.S.: I decided to focus on the term compulsator rather than rail gun today because a) I think the word compulsator is less well known and b) in the future, I suspect engineers will integrate the compulsator into other new weapon technologies besides the rail gun.
P.P.S.: At the moment, I have yet to find an example of a compulsator being used for a peaceful purpose. If anyone knows of one, please share it in the comments below.