It's the kind of proposal that makes sci-fi dorks (including this one) quiver with anticipation: a 1999 design, found by DefenseReview, for a real-life laser rifle.So when I read about the far-out sounding "Gasdynamic Laser Weapon" on Slashdot, I fell for it.Without reading too carefully, I bought the gobbledygook about the Stavatti Corporation using streams of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and helium gases to help generate pulses of laser light. And I swallowed when I called the company, and was told the president was out of town, looking for government funding.But Defense Tech's readers are smarter than its editor, and they immediately called bullshit."Looks like an April Fool's gag," is how several readers described the rifle design."A very elaborate gag," added another. "Obviously written by an insider."A third noted newsgroup posts from 2002 calling Stavatti's designs for an "F-26" airplane into question.But the kicker came from Stavatti's own website:The company is the first in history to double as a drum maker and a defense contractor, you see.
Stavatti Percussion conducts the retail sale of percussion products Stavattis founder and current CEO, Christopher R. Beskar, plays the bagpipes. Early in his piping career, Mr. Beskar joined a bagpipe band. This band was in need of drummers to play the snare in accompaniment of the pipes. Mr. Beskar1s brother Shawn joined the band and became an accomplished pipe band snare drummer capable of Grade 2 competition while yet in High School. Later on, Shawn became CFO of Stavatti. While serving as CFO, Shawn began marketing Premier Pipe Band Products under a business entity designated DSDC.DSDC focused exclusively on the sale of high performance pipe band drums and accessory products. Reselling Snares, Bass and Tenor drums to pipe bands throughout the Midwest, in 1996 DSDC became a division of Stavatti Corporation known as Stavatti Percussion.Concentrating upon the value added resale of pipe band percussion products, Stavatti can address all your pipe band drumming needs!And Stavatti doesn't just design any weapons. "Stavatti builds space fighters," the company website says."We know what threats are out there. A 9mm just wont cut it when you are facing 30 ft tall insectoids, or the reptile alien overlords from Rigel."To battle these baddies, of course, you need a laser rifle.THERE'S MORE: Stavatti CEO Chris Baskar insists his company is legit. But he can't produce a single customer for his high-tech arms buisiness.In a phone interview from a Virgina hotel room, Baskar claims that he has "60 people in the company." But when pressed, he admits that all but three "are essentially assisting on a pro bono basis."He also says he sees nothing wrong with a company trying market laser rifles and drums at the same time. Yamaha, he notes, makes drums, pianos -- and motorocycles, too.What about the statements on his site about using his Stavatti guns to stop "alien overlords"?"It indicates a little bit of classified work," he replies. "Other than that, it's humor."