Microwave ray gun controls crowds with noise

  • 17:06 03 July 2008
  • NewScientist.com news service
  • David Hambling
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A US company claims it is ready to build a microwave ray gun able to beam sounds directly into people's heads.

The device – dubbed MEDUSA (Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio) – exploits the microwave audio effect, in which short microwave pulses rapidly heat tissue, causing a shockwave inside the skull that can be detected by the ears. A series of pulses can be transmitted to produce recognisable sounds.

The device is aimed for military or crowd-control applications, but may have other uses.

Lev Sadovnik of the Sierra Nevada Corporation in the US is working on the system, having started work on a US navy research contract. The navy's report states that the effect was shown to be effective.

Scarecrow beam?

MEDUSA involves a microwave auditory effect "loud" enough to cause discomfort or even incapacitation. Sadovnik says that normal audio safety limits do not apply since the sound does not enter through the eardrums.

"The repel effect is a combination of loudness and the irritation factor," he says. "You can’t block it out."

Sadovnik says the device will work thanks to a new reconfigurable antenna developed by colleague Vladimir Manasson. It steers the beam electronically, making it possible to flip from a broad to a narrow beam, or aim at multiple targets simultaneously.

Sadovnik says the technology could have non-military applications. Birds seem to be highly sensitive to microwave audio, he says, so it might be used to scare away unwanted flocks.

Sadovnik has also experimented with transmitting microwave audio to people with outer ear problems that impair their normal hearing.

Brain damage risk

James Lin of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Illinois in Chicago says that MEDUSA is feasible in principle.

He has carried out his own work on the technique, and was even approached by the music industry about using microwave audio to enhance sound systems, he told New Scientist.

"But is it going to be possible at the power levels necessary?" he asks. Previous microwave audio tests involved very "quiet" sounds that were hard to hear, a high-power system would mean much more powerful – and potentially hazardous – shockwaves.

"I would worry about what other health effects it is having," says Lin. "You might see neural damage."

Sierra Nevada says that a demonstration version could be built in a year, with a transportable system following within 18 months. They are currently seeking funding for the work from the US Department of Defence.

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There are 118 comments on 10 pages
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Brain Ray

By Blane Bellerud

Thu Jul 03 17:24:54 BST 2008

I wonder if its time to break out the aluminum foil hats

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Brain Ray

By Sparks&#45;a&#45;flyin

Thu Jul 03 19:36:28 BST 2008

Do that and let's see what cooks!! Do you know anything about microwaves? Put tin foil in the microwave and watch what happens.

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Brain Ray

By N. Roberts

Fri Jul 04 13:01:11 BST 2008

Sparks a flyin' is right, put a tin foil hat on while a beam of microwave radiation is being directed at you and you could end up with third degree burns, electrocution injuries and permanent scars.

P.s. Do not try this, especially with scrunched up tin foil (scrunched up tin foil in a microwave oven makes quite a light show).

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Brain Ray

By X

Mon Jul 07 12:02:50 BST 2008

It's a different frequency of microwave to a microwave oven, it wouldn't do that.

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Brain Ray

By Sidd

Thu Jul 10 17:42:27 BST 2008

Yea but its not the same kind of microwave frequency's. Some are really bad and cause cancer and others are constantly around us. Sound waves (including microwaves) occur naturally. It just depends on how people manipulate them

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Brain Ray

By Toloane

Tue Jul 15 18:33:17 BST 2008

Wrap food in tin foil and put it in a microwave oven and it won't cook. The power levels necesary to burn tin foil would also cause skin burns/blistering, and visible signs of damage is the last thing the gov. Wants.

Tin foil will do the trick, people. Layer it sufficiently.

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By Anon

Thu Jul 03 17:31:39 BST 2008

To be tested on the unfortunate souls illegally incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay no doubt.

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Lovely

By Peace Please

Thu Jul 03 19:41:44 BST 2008

Anon-e-mouse,

Could you watch these guys and make sure they don't attack or hurt anyone again? I know your love and peace methods would be the one thing that could keep them from rejoining their Al-Quaida brethren and attacking (yet again) innocent people. And I know that you will (most likely) say that there are no innocent people in the US or the western world but let's not get into that debate as yet. As far as those others who were captured fighting with the Taliban they are prisoners of war and have no country to send them back to that will ensure they are pacified (although you may be able to so we will send them to you to house and feed).

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Lovely

By Team America

Thu Jul 03 20:09:54 BST 2008

There are no prisoners of war at Guantanamo, only 'illegal combatants'. As such, they have no protection under the Geneva Convention, and no access to legal representation.

As far as I know, the eight British citizens who were illegally held for two years at Guantanamo and have since been released have yet to 'attack or hurt anyone again.'

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Lovely

By Jon Lotz

Fri Jul 04 08:50:18 BST 2008

The rest of the world disagrees with you and it seems even your own Supreme Court disagrees.

If my leaders disregarded the rulings of the highest courts of my land I'd be a bit concerned about what respect they might have for my rights as a mere citizen.

If your leaders were morally happy with what they are doing then they would not fear being accountable to the world courts wrt war crimes yet they refuse to sign the dotted line.

The free America of your forefathers is gone, they would not recognise the spirit of your constitution as the same one they drafted and would baulk at a lot of your new laws.

Under your new laws the very people who started your American revolution would probably be silently and illegally snatched, stuck in an unknown cell somewhere , 'waterboarded', tried by a military tribunal and then hanged. You guys would still be a British colony.

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Lovely

By Mistermister

Thu Jul 03 20:15:34 BST 2008

Roflmao!

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Lovely

By North Woods

Thu Jul 03 23:33:20 BST 2008

You are aware that many of the detainees at Gitmo were not "captured fighting" but, sold into custody by Afghan warlords and had no intentions of violence against the US... Until now.

And, if you're so damn afraid someone is trying to hurt you, why aren't you bitching about NORAD's response on 9/11/01? Ask yourself who had access to military studies done in the '70s that determined the only way to evade NORAD was to flood the skies with drills. Is it the same person who order multiple drills on 9/11/01? Why don't you invest some of your energies into seeing to it they don't attack or hurt anyone anymore?

And as has already been pointed out, this isn't a war. There was no declaration of war, just legal window dressing on an oil grab.... Seriously, that's why KBR and co. Can't be tried for war profiteering, because its not a war.

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Lovely

By Yeah Right

Fri Jul 04 06:58:39 BST 2008

What a “convenient� piece of rambling. I guess the 2,974 deaths from 911 by al-Qaeda who attacked more prominent and more widespread sites than the Japanese did against the US in WWII had anything to do with it? Oh, or did the US save the Pacific region in WWII for oil? So when the world goes solar one day, and the US has to discipline naughty terrorist groups and their supporting governments (if you would call the Taliban a government) around the world, what will you say to that? The US is doing it to grab their sunshine? ...

5 more replies »

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Lovely

By Dannyg

Thu Jul 17 23:38:58 BST 2008

Peace Please,

If you are an American like myself then please do your duty as a citizen to be better informed. Fox News is not a source for information, though for some reason many find it entertaining.

Most of the "enemy combatants" we've whisked off to Guantanamo and the other "black box" prisons we're operating have no solid evidence that they are actually terrorists or enemy combatants. That's why the Bush Crime Syndicate doesn't want them to have any access to lawyers or fair trials.

Did you know that the same holes that the Republicans tore in our Constitution now allow them to decide that you are an "enemy combatant" without any evidence? Then they can legally come to your house in the middle of the night and torture you for 100 years if they want to? And you'll never even get a trial, nor do they have to tell anyone where you dissapeared to.

But don't worry about it... I'm sure that it could never happen here. I'm sure that the Cambodians, Italians, Germans, Chileans, etc are just inferior to us Americans. They didn't think it could happen there either but we're somehow smarter and better than they are. Riiiiight.

First they came for the "Terrorists", then they came for the "Dissenters", then they came for YOU.

Wake up dammit!

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Lovely

By Jon Lotz

Fri Jul 04 08:24:14 BST 2008

If it passess the tests in Guantanamo it will then be used against the US citizens who mass outside the White House to protest the emasculation of their Constitution.

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Lovely

By Firstwave

Sat Jul 05 03:34:16 BST 2008

This is true-but really they already do as they wish.

Example -look up and view the chem-trails.We have

a hell of a big problem and it will only become worst

as time is showing .Hell they gassed to death baby's

and kids at a church in Waco Texas.In a whole it's

totally out of control of we the people.

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Lovely

By David

Tue Jul 08 21:13:17 BST 2008

No, more likely to control groups engaging in their first amendment right to peaceably assemble (protest).

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Weapon Of Mass Oppression

By Tr

Thu Jul 03 17:51:41 BST 2008

"MEDUSA involves a microwave auditory effect "loud" enough to cause discomfort or even incapacitation." -- in other words, a method of torture that can be applied to hundreds of people at a time.

Dictators world-wide will be lining up to buy it.

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Weapon Of Mass Oppression

By Vendicar Decarian

Thu Jul 03 18:53:01 BST 2008

Finally a way to keep blacks and other minorities away from the polling booths.

4 more years... 4 more years... [edited by moderator]

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Weapon Of Mass Oppression

By Republican!!

Thu Jul 03 19:46:50 BST 2008

And you would like for my paycheck to continue supporting people who won't work for a living? I am not nor will I be KKK but am a Republican (proper spelling). I don't keep ANYONE from voting and have defended the Constitution that provides that and other rights. If you want to debate intelligently and coherently then please do so but as far as being a Bigot and a racist then please look into the mirror to locate one.

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Weapon Of Mass Oppression

By Veindicar Decarian

Thu Jul 03 23:38:37 BST 2008

"And you would like for my paycheck to continue supporting people who won't work for a living?"

It is your social and moral obligation.

But if you are truly upset about the size of your paycheck then you should really be displeased that your president has reduced it's value by almost 50% over the Last 7 years.

Go Bush

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Weapon Of Mass Oppression

By Barak

Fri Jul 04 01:04:38 BST 2008

Only a racist would take the phrase "blacks and other minorities" and assume it is a reference to "people who won't work for a living." Thanks, Republican!!, for substantiating Vendicar Decarian's claim.

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Weapon Of Mass Oppression

By Dannyg

Fri Jul 18 00:00:54 BST 2008

You know I'm in complete agreement that we shouldn't have to support people who don't pay into the system.

That's why I am certain that you'll agree that we should immediately institute a law that says that CEO's can only make an hourly wage that's based on a reasonable multiple of what their lowest paid employees make.

Further I'm certain that you'll agree that all of those poor minorities who are forced to work two jobs in order to feed, clothe, and house themselves (A Situation that The Worst President In History calls "uniquely American), should be making twice what an executive who works 40 hours a week makes? Right?

Your party keeps people from voting, and it keeps their votes from counting. Or did you forget about Delay's redistricting a few years back? Or how about the fact that lower population white areas have on average twice the number of voting machines than minority areas. I could go on if you like? I have plenty of AP articles if you need them?

Chances are you're middle class like me, but the difference is that you think you're going to somehow get rich someday so you can screw the poor middle class and impoverished people too. After all, you're better than they are right?

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Weapon Of Mass Oppression

By Dan

Thu Jul 03 20:12:24 BST 2008

All the assertions in the above post are completely imaginary. The KKK consisted only of Democrats who were unhappy that the Republicans won the American Civil War. Jim crow laws were passed only by Democratic politicians. President Bush is not running for another term. I think this forum may become the exclusive domain of lunatics unless posting is restricted to subscribers.

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Weapon Of Mass Oppression

By Dannyg

Fri Jul 18 00:08:09 BST 2008

You know what - some of what you say is right. There were many Southern Democrats who supported Jim Crow and other discriminatory laws. Also Abe Lincoln was a Republican.

And back in the day sody pop cost a nickel, and the Republican party used to stand for Fiscal Responsibility, strict constitutionalism, and small government. What's your point? Are any of those people still members of either party? I don't think so.

The Republican Party is now the standard bearer of hate towards homosexuals and muslims. In fact it's a core of the Neo-Con Republican platform.

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Weapon Of Mass Oppression

By Soylent

Thu Jul 03 19:12:44 BST 2008

If that's how you feel then perhaps you should avoid throwing stones at the police and setting peoples cars on fire.

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Weapon Of Mass Oppression

By Tr

Thu Jul 03 20:13:21 BST 2008

Oh, that's right - because the police/military would NEVER use fire hoses or police dogs on *peaceful* protesters, not anywhere in the world, so the use of a sonic-microwave weapon, which leaves no external injuries to be witnessed by the world's press, would be completely abhorrent to them. All they really want to do to those pesky pro-democracy protesters is give them a BIG cuddle and tell them how naughty they've been.

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Weapon Of Mass Oppression

By 1st Amendment

Thu Jul 03 23:39:41 BST 2008

The right to assemble and the right to petition for redress and the right to free speech apply to every square inch of this nation. The fact that this is not true in practice and that the fear of the exercise of these right inspires law enforcement to seek such weapons of mass torture means you live in a fascist state.

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Weapon Of Mass Oppression

By General Disarray

Sat Jul 05 15:40:37 BST 2008

Correct in the UK.

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