My attention was taken by this article on prototypes for stun guns that develop the taser principle by using ionised gas (sprayed or ionised by laser) instead of wires to transmit the electric charge. This would transform the humble taser from a one-shot weapon with a range of seven metres to something much more impressive and science fictiony. Police departments are interested in its potential for crowd control, and human rights organisations are worried about it for exactly the same reasons. Given that my first thought on reading the article was "I want one NOW!" I can understand their concern. I can picture myself with one of these things strapped to my belt* next to the handcuffs and other sexy dangly things. "Alright people, let's go home. Nothing to to see here ... except my Zapomatic Disruptor Beam - EAT HOT IONS, SLIMEBALLS!!!"
* Rather impractical at the moment, since the prototype of the laser version is the size of a suitcase, but the manufacturers assure us they will, like most things, get smaller. As my old English professor, Tom Shippey, pointed out, look at the size of the radios in the original Flash Gordon TV series.