According to this LiveScience article, the US Navy now has a working prototype magnetic rail gun, and they plan to have a full capability model being equipped on ships by 2018. The railgun concept is very familiar to we sci fi fans from many stories – most recently Battelstar Galactica. And apparently it kicks as much butt in reality as in the stories we love. The finished product should be able to hit a target 230 miles away, versus 23 miles for the current big guns. It will hit said target with a whopping mach 5 impact. And it will do it all with no explosives, making the ship as a whole a safer place to be.
Now where’s my replicator?