Boeing is going to develop giant laser cannons for the US army, and mount them on similarly giant trucks. The idea is to shoot down incoming munitions before they can go bang. You debated the merits of shiny things (always a fun diversion) and how well the lasers might perform:
Are the Taliban going to be spending more of their free time polishing their ordnance with Brasso?
First fire something at the laser to make a nice big bang with some smoke then fire some disco balls at them.
Everyone is looking up at the first shell bursts basking in the glory of their laser defence and suddenly they are looking at a little more reflected glory than they real wanted, ouch.
If they can't develop spray reducing mudflaps and those barriers that stop card going under trucks, what chance do they stand of putting a frikin' lay-zer on the truck?
(I have driven in America on the motorway in the sh*tting down rain, I thought I was going to die every time I had to deal with a truck.)
An artillary defense laser has to put enough energy onto a metal round to heat it to destruction in a fraction of a second. Compared to that, your retina is less than nothing. Still the cool thing about a laser is that it delivers practically all its energy to a spot at the end of the beam. Scattered light probably won't be a worse problem than other things that go flash-boom on the battlefield (some of which are pretty severe problems).
On the other hand, a good solid reflection would put almost as much energy onto a secondary target as is on the mirror. Your defense here would be a numbers game. It's a big battlefield with only a few little eyeballs scattered about in it, so most of the time you won't be looking right at the thing.
I would kinda like to know if a shiny round would be immune. Imagine what a photogenic, futuristic battlefield it would be with chrome plated shells, colorful laser beams, and tough soldierly men (not women!) obsessively polishing their ammo. It'll be hard for Hollywood to top the special effects of the real thing. I predict a resurgence of kinghts-in-armor (in the UK) and cowboys-and-indians (in the USA) movies, with more manageable special effects.
A high-powered laser hitting an object does not cause it to burn or melt. (At least not with these kinds). The destruction of the object is caused by it absorbing far too much energy for it to dissipate. This is why it is possible to say, pop balloons or even light cigarettes with highend laser pointers. Polishing the thing won't help, because there's still too much energy being pumped into it.
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4.1.3_U1, your comment is now obsolete.
Links have been added. Apologies for the oversight.
Re. No Links
Maybe some whizzkid at El Reg can put the links in retroactively so that these comments become obsolete.