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Syrian Rebels Use An App To Aim Their Homemade Mortars

Reports from Syria's confused battlefront have brought a rather startling image to light: An iPad being used in unexpected ways.

Syrian Rebels Use An App To Aim Their Homemade Mortars

Syria's ongoing civil conflict is simply a nightmare, killing many and displacing thousands upon thousands of people. We don't get to hear many details about exactly what's going on, but occasionally some powerful images reach the news, such as this one from Reuters:

It shows dusty Syrian rebel fighters setting up a weapon—a mortar—from their position. To properly aim what's said to be the homemade barrel of the mortar so that the rounds fall where they're intended, the rebels need to calculate the angle of the barrel precisely. For this basic task, the fighters seem to be using an app on an iPad—likely an inclinometer—that lets them find the angle from vertical more precisely than a manual or even optical tool.

Is the iPad a weapon? No, though it can be used for uncivil reasons. But this surprising and tragic photo—remember, the round being fired from that barrel will likely kill or maim several people—does remind us of one thing: Necessity really is the mother of invention.

[Image via Flickr user: The U.S. Army]