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Lab Pushes for Sonic Blaster [Wired Blog]

By • Mar 11th, 2008 • Category: TEXTO


Literal: (from Wired Magazine Blog)

Lab Pushes for Sonic Blaster
By Sharon Weinberger
December 12, 2007

For all the talk of puke rays, sound weapons, blinding lasers, and pain beams, you’d think the military has an arsenal of nonlethal weapons at the ready. But they don’t, mostly because without human testing, many nonlethal effects are anecdotal (and thus possibly ineffective), or, potentially dangerous.

At least for sound weapons, that now may be changing. A military-funded lab is pushing to get approval to conduct human testing at 130Db to see if, in that range, sound could have a “deterrent effect” (beyond just being loud and annoying). As Nicholas C. Nicholas, the Chief Scientist at Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory, said today at a nonlethal weapons conference. “Behavior modification is next logical step [in testing],” he said.

You would think for all the talk of acoustic weapons, there’s tons of data. Not true, says Nicholas. There isn’t really any reliable data on the effects on human as you move up the decibel range. The big problem is safety standards. “Current standards are far too conservative,” argues Nicholas, whose lab works on a number of projects for the Pentagon’s Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate. OSHA standards, Nicholas says, are for occupational hazards that cover up to 30 years of exposure, and shouldn’t be used for testing weapons.

Acoustic weapons have been written about so much that some people are likely to dismiss this news. But what Nicholas is talking about is precedent setting, because for all the talk about fancy sound weapons, scientists still don’t know if you can you build a reliable nonlethal acoustic weapon. There’s flash bang grenades, but as Nicholas point out, those don’t really do more than momentarily stun people. The Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) is primarily used a hailing device, and despite its much ballyhooed use to ward off pirates, Nicholas says that doesn’t count as a weapon. Why not? The pirates still shot at the ship, Nicholas says, so it didn’t effectively deter them. The military, in other words, doesn’t yet have a sound weapon.

Acoustic weapons, like dazzling lasers, have the potential to do permanent damage. But Nicholas says that’s a fact of life, telling the audience: “Some injury has to be tolerated or you cannot develop nonlethal weapons.”

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