Self-regenerating body parts. Intelligent "virtual soldiers." Mind-controlled weapons. Brain "wipes" to purge traumatic memories. "Quantum ghost imaging."
The U.S. Army's working on all of these concepts, according to a report on Military.com, a private military-oriented Web site.
"Making science fiction into reality" is the goal, says Dr. John Parmentola, the Army's director for research and laboratory management.
"You can imagine people who have horrifying memories, it would be great if we could eliminate them so this way they're not plagued by these memories uncontrollably," he says, explaining research into cleaning soldiers' minds of recollections that cause post-traumatic stress disorder.
Salamanders have long been known to grow back fingers and even limbs, and the Army's trying to figure out how.
"We're beginning to understand how this occurs and if we can, it holds the hope of, being able to regrow limbs on people," says Parmentola.
As for "quantum ghost imaging," it involves the strange but well-documented phenomenon of "twinned" particles that communicate instantaneously -- if something happens to one, the other reacts accordingly, no matter how far away.
"It's like having a tracing tool ... that goes over the image and that's connected to another one on a piece of paper that exactly imitates what it is that you are tracing with the other pen," says Parmentola.
In this way, soldiers, tanks and other military assets could be projected on a battlefield to intimidate the enemy, even though the real objects are far away.
Neural implants fine-tuned to individual soldiers' brain waves could allow G.I.s to operate equipment with only their thoughts.
"So if you think of a thought 'turn on,' it will automatically turn on a computer or that device," says Parmentola.
Last but not least, the Army's trying to create "virtual soldiers" who look, act and sound like the real thing, independently.
"I actually interact with virtual humans in terms of asking them questions and they're responding," Parmentola told Military.com.
The best place to test these virtual soldiers? Online role-playing games such as "World of Warcraft," of course.
"We want to use the massively multi-player online game as an experimental laboratory to see if they're good enough to convince humans that they're actually human," Parmentola explained.