Here's a story that's getting a lot of play in certain quarters - and generating the requisite Star Wars headlines:
Boeing just patented a force field. Technically, the patent is for a “method and system for shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic arc,” but that’s just a long way of writing out something unbelievably futuristic: protective force fields . . . The device as patented only protects against the shockwave of an explosion, but most of the vehicles it’d be mounted on are already armored enough to protect people inside from the shrapnel that comes with a bomb blast.
The concept uses a sensor to detect an explosion in water or air--say, an IED on the side of the road--then estimates the time and location of the explosion. Next, the signal from the sensor triggers a laser (or a blast of electricity or microwave energy) that heats up a section of air or water, creating a plasma shield in between the explosion and the vehicle. The plasma's temperature and density help deflect and absorb the shockwaves from the explosion.
Force fields, lasers, rail guns . . . it gets harder and harder to make this stuff up.