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Marine Corps Testing Maser for Anti-Personnel Use

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the my-eyes!--the-goggles,-they-do-nothing! dept.

Technology 315

Former1626er writes: "The Marine Corps is testing out phasers or what the military industrial complex calls "non-lethal direct energy weapon." Here's the UPI story, and if you have a subscription to the Marine Corps Times you can read the original story - "The People Zapper" - there. In brief: the Marines are deploying a microwave laser for anti-personnel usage, with the idea basically being: burn people so they run away. So, how many of you have read the sci-fi novella "Press Enter"?

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Talking about Star Trek (2)

Tyndareos (206375) | more than 13 years ago | (#391458)

I guess this isn't exactly going to rate very high, wit just the single remark that this reminds me of Star Trek. Oh, what the [...]

but the question is... (3)

syrinx (106469) | more than 13 years ago | (#391459)

does it have settings ranging from "stun" to "fry to a delicate brown"?

Press Enter by John Varley (2)

pjellis (312404) | more than 13 years ago | (#391460)

Originally appearing in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine (10+ years ago).

Offtopic, but you asked.

"Press Enter" (2)

Apotsy (84148) | more than 13 years ago | (#391461)

For those who have not read it, "Press Enter" is a short story by John Varley about a government/military computer that becomes sentient. It kills any civilians who find out about it by hypnotizing them with flashing patterns on their computer monitors and convincing them to kill themselves in nasty ways. One poor woman ends up cooking her brains in a microwave.

Ouch! (2)

mholve (1101) | more than 13 years ago | (#391462)

"The Defense Department spent nearly $40 million over 10 years to develop the technology, said the Marine Corps Times report."

$4M a year for a heat gun? Damn. I think the tear gas and rubber bullets would've sufficed.

Fried Rice (1)

dedair (238106) | more than 13 years ago | (#391463)

I will assume that this weapon will be able to fry more than people. You may be able to use it for making toast really fast among other things. I think that there may be many more uses by lazy people than for the military.

What about your eyes? (1)

helleman (62840) | more than 13 years ago | (#391464)

Wouldn't this cause more permanent damage to more delicate external organs like your eyes?

As an alternative, you could use this as mass birth control too... (heat up those testies!)


Just another weapon (1)

OverCode@work (196386) | more than 13 years ago | (#391465)

There's been a bit of fuss about this type of weapon as inhumane, but I'm not sure it's any more or less brutal than, say, a machine gun, a bayonette, or a grenade. In any case I doubt these will replace guns any time soon.


In the future.. (1)

PHr0D (212586) | more than 13 years ago | (#391466)

.. We'll have old men sitting on porches drinking out of mason jars, while they clean their 'masers'..

This will of course lead to all sorts of 'maser' safety issues. (make *SURE* the saftey it on).

"we're not sure if it was the maser or the moonshine, but he hasn't moved for 5 hours.."



Clubber Lang (219001) | more than 13 years ago | (#391467)

"In brief: the Marines are deploying a microwave laser for anti-personnel usage"

now, it's either a MASER or a LASER. the M in maser stands for microwave, the L in laser stands for light.

I know it sounds picky, but microwaves really aren't the same wavelength as light. Just as a side note: the MASER was developed first (1963 I think), with the LASER coming a couple years after.

Re:Just another weapon (1)

OverCode@work (196386) | more than 13 years ago | (#391468)

Ack, I should have read the article more closely. It's not the type of weapon I was thinking of.


It's a good thing... (2)

smcn (87571) | more than 13 years ago | (#391469)

"The device reportedly causes no permanent damage to [...] electronic devices such as pacemakers."
I guess that's one less thing to worry about when they raid secret enemy bases disguised as elderly homes...


Re:Ouch! (2)

SanLouBlues (245548) | more than 13 years ago | (#391470)

This is the same technology used in the anti-missile system the Israelis deployed on their border. It has many uses

Re:but the question is...212degrees F (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#391471)

Anybody remember the old Mars Attacks Card "The Heat Ray"? Like they're not going to have an option to pump it up from "Ouch" to "Bubble bubble boil and trouble".

Why? (3)

Hellburner (127182) | more than 13 years ago | (#391472)

As both a former Marine infantrymen---well, Always A Marine, but you know what I mean---and a current raving liberal /. nerd I am curious about the utility of this weapon. And this whole line of "non-lethal" research.
Lethal weaponry is meant to effect immediate change through violent force. Political will to its ultimate ---and hopefully least used --- expression.

"Non-lethal" weaponry is about the maintenance of the status quo. "Preservation of order". "Humanitarian missions". "Curbing civil disorder".

Curious. Fascinating, Captain. Fascinating. Just a paranoid thought to chew on. And a statement of how military objectives and missions have changed.
For now, quelling "civil disorder" is outside the U.S. Of course, with the most militaristic police forces in the West it doesn't take a genius...

Burns (3)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 13 years ago | (#391473)

Burning people with lasers, to get them to run away, assumes (with the already underlying assumption that burning people is called for) there won't be abuse. I.e. go for the eyes or other sensitive parts. To borrow an oft used quote, it may not kill, but you'd be surprised what you can live through.

Too rare are the sci-fi books which contend with actual injury and suffering inflicted by heat or light based weapons.


I want it! (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#391474)

Integrate it with a car and ditch the noisy alarm. False positives won't wake the neighborhood, and real positives would be more entertaining! (And I bet a crook's howls would end sooner than one of those Whoop!Whoop!Whoop!Ennnnnh!Ennnnnh! alarm cycles!)

Imagine the fun if you had one of these babies mounted by the front door for when the jeezoids come a-knocking!

God, the possibilities are endless!

Re:"Press Enter" (3)

seanmeister (156224) | more than 13 years ago | (#391475)

Never read "Press Enter", but one of Varley's novels from the Gaean trilogy ( Demon [] , IIRC) made mention of something called a "sunburn gun" that was used to disperse an unruly crowd that was fighting over passage to Gaea. This new weapon sounds like the very thing Varley envisioned!

BTW, if you haven't read the Gaean trilogy (Titan, Wizard, and Demon), check them out - great stuff!

Away team, Set phasers on 'Pain'... (4)

Bonker (243350) | more than 13 years ago | (#391476)

I have mixed feelings on this, since this technology eventually *will* be used on humans, and on Americans who choose to riot or protest.

Don't beleive me? Ask survivors of the Kent State Massacre exactly what the U.S. military will do and to whom.

One one hand, it's great that this technology has 'proven' (I'd really like to see those classified studies) not to be lethal. Like pepper-spray, however, there is serious application for misuse, torture and serious human-rights abuse. It's one thing to use an energy beam to make a dangerous crowd uncomfortble enough to disperse, it's quite another to 'teach them a lesson' by repeated application as police all around the country are known to do with pepper spray, batons, and/or their firearms.

Who's definition of 'dangerous' do we use, and who watches the watchers?

interesting... (1)

crow_face! (318843) | more than 13 years ago | (#391477)

is this the weapon that makes the marines fun?


I can see it now (3)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 13 years ago | (#391478)

"You see Congressman, the reason the Marines need this weapon is that it is effective and non-lethal. Let me demonstrate on your aide here.

Aide explodes violently.

"Hmmm, needs tweaking."


Better Teach Them To Aim (1)

LostScorp88 (249884) | more than 13 years ago | (#391479)

I certainly hope the military plans to teach these guys how to aim. The guys on Star Trek miss ALL THE TIME and always get shot. The ever-expendable security staff on all four shows have a terrible time working those weapons, even the big-ass rifles. I hope we have better luck!


CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 13 years ago | (#391480)

What would that make a taser by definition, then?


Dual-use technology... (1)

RareHeintz (244414) | more than 13 years ago | (#391481)

Any unit carrying these also has a handy way to heat up MRE's in the field.

- B


Muerte23 (178626) | more than 13 years ago | (#391482)

did you just say that "microwaves are not the same wavelength as light"?????

what do you think microwaves are made of?

what you meant to say was that "microwaves are not the same wavelength as VISIBLE light." microwaves have the advantage of being able to penetrate flesh about 1-2cm to heat more thoroughly, where a LASER would just char skin (or explode skin at high enough power).


So what? (1)

jugglingfencer (179133) | more than 13 years ago | (#391483)

Don't get me wrong, I love that the military finally did something right (and VERY cost-effectively too... $40M over 3 years? Is that a typo?) in developing non-lethal weapons.

Among some questions... How big is this thing? The article implies that it could be mounted on a tank or aircraft. Could it be adapted to hand-held size? If there's a tank or aircraft for "crowd control", isn't it a little late to think about the non-lethalness of the weapons used? And would it be able to target individuals, or would it just burn en masse, the entire crowd?

Is overexposure a potential problem? The article says "130 degrees F in 2 seconds, but what happens in the first second? The third? I have a mental picture of a Marine saying, "Stay right there so I can non-lethally deter you from... STOP THAT!!" followed by a similar picture of a hideously burned face because he left the weapon on "crispy pork rinds".

Kudos to the Marines for developing this technology, but until it gets faster than 2 seconds, I somehow can't see it being very effective.

Some issues (2)

Zipper123 (319235) | more than 13 years ago | (#391484)

Ok, so this device is supposed to work at over 2,000 feet?

How is this supposed to hit a single target accurately at 2,000 feet? I see no mentioning of any real precision. Is this designed just to spray everyone in a group with pain at long range? In that case, I can see human rights people protesting over this device if it indiscriminantly hits groups.

Also, how would a aircraft system work? To maintain an accurate bead on a target from 2000 feet away from a helicopter that is constantly in motion seems to me impossible. Even at closer ranges, it seems to me to be a difficult task to keep this fired at the proper target.

Whether He be the Son Of God, I know not, but this I know: whereas I was blind, now I see.

Re:Ouch! (2)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 13 years ago | (#391485)

Hmm lets do the math.
10 scientist making $100G a year
10 security guards making 50G a year
lab space and equipment a year
2 mice bent on world domination
= 4M
(or is it more like 1 screwdriver 2Million)

Oh - boy... This is going to be an odd century (2)

chancycat (104884) | more than 13 years ago | (#391486)

I love this quote:

"It provides decision makers with options. You can guarantee that the Marines were excruciatingly detailed in building in technological limiters to keep the system from having a lethal effect,"

How many times in recent history have we seen a "limiter" been removed and yielded a more powerful/devistation device.

I'm betting that underground instructions for making your own with two savlaged microwaves and $1000 in other parts will soon swoop down on the net and we'll have some really strange reports of unruly parties with load music being broken up by neighbors driving by and kapping the pad.

Or "Mob's new torture device of choice found to be low-cost version of new military 'non-lethal technology"

It's going to get icky.

Re:Burns (2)

Syberghost (10557) | more than 13 years ago | (#391487)

Being burned with a maser probably beats the hell out of being burned with napalm, even if you are blinded.

We're talking about a military application here, not a police application, so there really isn't a question of "abuse" since the alternative is probably blowing people up with artillery fire or shooting them.


Re:but the question is... (2)

CrackElf (318113) | more than 13 years ago | (#391488)

and some models come with such popular settings as:

'incinerate new kids CD'


Non-lethal Marines? (1)

yagi1 (310823) | more than 13 years ago | (#391489)

What does a Marine need with a non-lethal weapon? Marines are the fast reaction force that goes in to places like Bosnia or Kuwait, kills people and blows shit up. War, in other words. They are not POLICE, they are SOLDIERS.

Plus, what use is a maser going to be to a guy in the field? Either it is mounted on a vehicle instead of a machine gun (rendering the vehicle hopelessly vulnerable), or some poor grunt has to hump the friggin huge battery on his back.

Control of mobs in a war is simple: Gas them, then shoot the ones at the front until the ones at the back run away. War is ugly. Get over it.

Re:Set Your Phasers to "Defrost" (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 13 years ago | (#391490)


There is an old story of a security gaurd at a telecom company who used to warm up on cold winter nights by standing in front of the microwave transmitters.

The story goes, he was found dead one night over the holidays. Evidently the power output was bumped up during that time period and he cooked.


Re:Why? (5)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 13 years ago | (#391491)

I would figure that they would use these for visualy non-agressive crowd control.

For example, there are a bunch of angry rebels outside of a embassy.

Use bullets. Take the first few down in a loud manner and others will be alerted or retalitate.

Use MASER. Use in a widefield and you can irritate the rebels into running away. They would do anything just to stop the burining. Since its in a widefield you can get them all at once. Keep it on and you have a field of protection.

Less than Lethal? (2)

DzugZug (52149) | more than 13 years ago | (#391492)

they've want something more lethal than those and less lethal than an M16

Time I checked "lethal" means it kills people. How can something be more lethal than something that doesn't kill people and yet less lethal than something that does? Does it only kill some people? Can it be used indescriminantly because it usualy doesn't kill people?

The problem with non-lethal weapons is that when the State has the ability to exert its will on its people -- without the consequences of lethal force -- it is more likely to do so.

Re:Oh - boy... This is going to be an odd century (2)

Syberghost (10557) | more than 13 years ago | (#391493)

I'm betting that underground instructions for making your own with two savlaged microwaves and $1000 in other parts will soon swoop down on the net and we'll have some really strange reports of unruly parties with load music being broken up by neighbors driving by and kapping the pad.

This and the other nasty civilian scenarios you mentioned are all already possible.

The laser genie was let out of the bottle in 1963. It's certainly been too late to put him back in since then, and probably since the invention of the neon light.


This will protect your head, at least.. (2)

Blind RMS Groupie (218389) | more than 13 years ago | (#391494)

Finally, a use for the Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie! [] And with some minor adaptation it could be used for the rest of your body as well.


Much, much better than pepper spray or batons (1)

daveym (258550) | more than 13 years ago | (#391495)

I agree, this technology will soon be used to disperse crowds in the U.S. However, what is good, not bad, about this is that presumably this microwave would be used instead of tear gas, pepper spray, or beating as a method of attacking protesters.

All of those technologies CAN KILL you, and immobilize you for quite some time. This, it seems, just hurts, nothing more.

On the other hand, if I were a rioter and I knew that this weapon was being used on me, it would make me _more angry_ and _more likely_ to attack the cops. After all, it can't hurt you.

So, like everything in life, it has its pros and cons.

too easy to over-use? (1)

yali (209015) | more than 13 years ago | (#391496)

I find that I have mixed feelings about weapons like this. On the one hand, it's probably better than killing people or permanently maiming them. On the other hand, though, it's pretty easy to imaging people using that fact to justify over-using such a device -- witness some of the controversies over the police practice of swabbing pepper spray [] in the eyes of nonviolent protesters. The line between appropriate use of nonlethal weapons and torture can get pretty thin.

This is hideous (1)

Montressor (34631) | more than 13 years ago | (#391497)

This is the worst thing I have seen for a very long time. Burn them so they run away? What the fuck? Shooting them in the head is more humane.
When you are subjected to microwave radiation, you can get internal burns. That means that you can be slightly burned on the outside, but your internal organs can be damaged. Burnt tissue begins to decay. Internal decay is bad.
This is possibly worse than biological warfare. It leads to many of the same problems as radiation burn.
What are they thinking?
The only good use for this is for a guerilla force trying to defend a narrow passage or tunnel.

Re:Away team, Set phasers on 'Pain'... (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#391498)

Wonder how many will reply to your post with "wtf was The Kent State Massacre?" Including some from that school, no doubt.

Fry? Sure. Stun? No way. (1)

bziman (223162) | more than 13 years ago | (#391499)

These weapons aren't like Star Trek, folks. I'm sure they can be tuned up to punch holes in whatever armour people happen to develop. But heat based energy weapons aren't ever going to simply knock people out -- it uses heat not concussion (although I've heard that the one of the missle defense projects used a concussion laser... but that required a HUGE capacitance and wouldn't be practical for small arms).

It will be interesting to see how long it takes before energy weapons like this replace standard projectile weapons -- at high energies, they can cause as much damage without as much mess and zero tracability (no ballisitics). Could be good for assasins.

Another interesting point here is for the development of energy shields -- people will need to where kevlar (or the next material of the week) plus some sort of field generator that can disrupt incoming energy beams.

Last interesting thing is whether at higher energies they can increase the effective target area from a narrow killer beam to a wide, shotgun-ish field that can repel crowds.

Just flexing the brain,

Re:Oh - boy... This is going to be an odd century (2)

double_h (21284) | more than 13 years ago | (#391500)

Or "Mob's new torture device of choice found to be low-cost version of new military 'non-lethal technology"

Yikes, it's the Tucker Cell-Phone!

(Do a web search on 'tucker telephone' if you don't get the reference).

Not in the military... (1)

Blinkity (180848) | more than 13 years ago | (#391501)

It seems odd that those running the army would think of something like this. Sure, it could have some potential use in day to day life, (scary as that may be) but in a war it would seem a bit useless. The point of any war is to force something out of someone, be it property, goods, or a concept ie. the crusades. We do that by giving our rivals no choice. "If we kill all of you, it will be worse than giving us what we want." Either that, or we do kill all of them, and we take what we want. Either way, a war usually involves eliminating the enemy forces. Not stunning them. Many light conspiracy theorists believe war is important even for population control on our end, (shouldn't there be more remote control tanks and planes by now?). I just wonder what was going through these scientist's heads when they thought it would be productive to simply wound the enemy.


when I was in the marines... (5)

banky (9941) | more than 13 years ago | (#391502)

we were taught one thing: kill. I fondly remember one moment that, to me, crystallized the entire process of indoctrination.

It was a class on basic security procedures. It was boot camp. They were explaining the official policy on shooting to kill: how you were supposed to shoot to wound in this circumstance and that circumstance. There was a pause, and the Drill Instructor teaching the class, uttered in his gruff voice: "When aiming to wound, the head is an exceptional target".

No one nodded (we're recruits, we got in enough trouble as it was), but the meaning was clear: this isn't summer camp. Military law and procedures are often written by joint committees of military and civilian "officials", but the facts of life were clear: kill you target or risk your life and the lives of your fellow Marines. Making someone "run away" is hard if they're on psychotropics, or they're fanatics pledged to kill you. You don't fuck around. The guy on the Zodiac may have a pistol, or may have a briefcase nuke. You drop him, end of story.

I will, of course, be considered a fanatical jarhead - that's what happens when Marines express views.

Heck with this... (1)

Rocky (56404) | more than 13 years ago | (#391503)

So where's the damn lightning gun?
Or the BFG?

This weapon is probably more for domestic uses (2)

kahuna720 (56586) | more than 13 years ago | (#391504)

Recently there have been lots of "anti-terrorist" domestic military exercises [] taking place in major US cities, as well as the escalating usage of military weapons/personnel [] against protest efforts by peaceful American citizens during events such as the WTO conference [] recently in Seattle, constituting possible violations against the Posse Comitatus Act [] of 1878.

The increasing use of military force right here in America lends weight to the idea that "non-lethal weaponry" is being deployed more as a domestic deterrent rather than as true war weaponry for use against other countries. Obviously they don't want to kill American citizens if they don't have to, but a zap from something like this would, apparently, be acceptable to the People In Charge...


Energy requirements... ? (1)

wdavies (163941) | more than 13 years ago | (#391505)

Hmm, is this a point weapon or an area weapon ? It talks about a range out to 750 metres. I havent done the math, but what with that nasty inverse square rule, I wonder how many civilians they can stun before they drain the grid (hmm, maybe not so effective here in California :) )


Re:Why? (1)

Hellburner (127182) | more than 13 years ago | (#391506)

You've actually described a mission utility that had not occured to me. And its a valid one. Driving a rampant crowd off is more sensible than machine gunning a half dozen and then getting your embassy torched. Or doing nothing and still getting the embassy torched.

My point was far more eloquently expressed by another poster: Once a government acquires a non-lethal means of actively interfering in the rights of citizens to assemble for the redress of grievances---the government WILL do so. And with greater frequency.

I guess they ran out of Napalm... (1)

southpolesammy (150094) | more than 13 years ago | (#391507)

Here's a frightening thought. Ever see what happens to metal when it's put in the microwave? What if you're carrying your keys in your pocket and you get zapped by this thing?

It's all fun until somebody combusts... (1)

Gelfin (313809) | more than 13 years ago | (#391508)

There you are, a marine, with a thin wooden sawhorse barricade standing between you and an unruly mob threatening to riot.

Completely unfazed, you unshoulder your brand new non-lethal microwave gun and level it at the first guy who tries to cross the line.

Pulling the trigger doesn't give you the same feedback as a rifle. It's somewhat anticlimactic. The gun emits a low hum and the battery pack becomes slightly warm to the touch.

Suddenly you are surprised with a loud crack. Your first thought is that someone has fired a conventional handgun, but you quickly connect the sound with the bright blue bolt that has appeared between your gun and the target. You smell the smoke of an electrical fire before the gun suddenly goes dead. For his part, the target has burst into flames and is thrashing about on the ground.

After the flames have been extinguished, medics quickly rush to the aid of the unfortunate wouldbe rioter. As one of them checks the man's vital signs, another reaches into the inside pocket of what remains of his jacket. His hand comes out clutching a barely recognizeable lump. "Dammit, not again," he says. Curious, you ask what he found. The medic holds up the lump for your examination. "Strawberry Pop-Tarts. Still in the foil wrapper."

Re:Some issues (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 13 years ago | (#391509)

Sure. A wide-spread effect could be rather useful, and sometimes appropriate -- say, when an angry mob tries to storm an embassy, or so forth; in that case, everybody in the area is hostile *but* it'd still be overkill to, oh, break out the 40mm frags.

Likewise, if a wave of *possibly hostile* civvies is coming towards your position, in a battlezone where it's not unusual for "refugees" to actually be enemy infiltrators, this might be a "nicer" way of keeping 'em back.

Son of Nit Picker (1)

dr_strangelove (16081) | more than 13 years ago | (#391510)

"...a microwave laser..."

is a contradiction. LASER is an acronym for "Light Amplification through Stimulated Emission of Radiation".

Just call it a MASER...

when I was in the army... (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#391511)

We were taught basically the same thing.

Re:Burns (2)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 13 years ago | (#391512)

I have to say that in a sense I agree. Its better to be murned with a maser, and possibly blinded, than to be set on fire and charrded by napalm.

Then again, I think its a bad thing to have such "non-lethal" weapons too. It cheapens the percieved danger of sending around military forces.

"Oh well see they just use these masers, noone dies, no serious injury". OK fine, but give it a few years, and that will make it much easier to justify the use of force in some peoples minds.

Sending of troops somewhere to do violent things SHOULD be violent, it SHOULD be dangerous. We should never do anything that will trick people into taking the issue of using military force lightly.

Its not a light issue. The use of military force, in any form, should ALWAYS be the absolute last resort.

I fear that technology like this will cheapen it in some peoples minds, and make the use of military force "easier".


Re:Away team, Set phasers on 'Pain'... (1)

nlaporte (116203) | more than 13 years ago | (#391513)

- MBA's: Can't live with 'em. Can't legally torture them to death.

I just thought that it was kind of ironic for you to be talkig about police brutality (you do actually use the word torture) and then you have something like this in your .sig. Just a bit strange...

Anyone catch this? (1)

mckwant (65143) | more than 13 years ago | (#391514)

From the article:

"The article quoted an official saying that human subjects had been exposed to the beams more than 6,000 times under laboratory conditions. Furthermore, military researchers had completed a study, which has not been released, on the long-term health effects of exposure."

Select quip from the following:

a) Makes the Kool-Aid test seem positively benign.
b) "You know, it didn't REALLY bug me until #3,500 or so."
c) "Hey, this wasn't in the recruitment commercials!"

Ohh, subjects. Sorry.

Re:Some issues (1)

Happy Monkey (183927) | more than 13 years ago | (#391515)

I'm guessing it would be a lock that a laser sight could be added.

Re:Burns (4)

seanmeister (156224) | more than 13 years ago | (#391516)

From the article:

"Clearly we've seen military combat weaponry migrate to the civil sector. Just walk past any Swat Team and you see what is basically an army unit"

Remember that the next time you're an innocent bystander at a future semi-annual Seattle riot.


I can see it now. (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 13 years ago | (#391517)

Seattle Police Chief to aide "Fuck pepper spray and batons, we gotta get ourselves some of these mother fuckers!" Aide. "hehhehe, lets saw open microwave ovens and use the uranium diode to actually brun those damn liberal weenies" Actually, the thing doesn't burn, just makes pain receptors feel that way. RTFS! Though demonstrating in the future will be very different than in the past. I have no doubt that this will be used against american demonstrators. Incidentally, if you saw off the "non element" part of a microwave, you got yourself a fairly nice, kinda portable (if you're 6"6) energy weapon good for up to about 20 yards. Hook it up to a car and use an inverter for greater portability. Enjoy

I have a shotgun, a shovel and 30 acres behind the barn.

Aluminum Foil Hats (1)

Acy James Stapp (1005) | more than 13 years ago | (#391518)

Guess there's a use now for aluminum foil hats. How long after this comes into effect until someone starts making clothes with sewn-in wire mesh?

Nonlethals force continuum (5)

ciurana (2603) | more than 13 years ago | (#391519)

I was involved with the people who first put forth the concept of nonlethals. I worked with them between 1993 and 1998. I think that this is a good development overall because it helps to enforce what Janet Morris (nonlethal doctrine proposer) and Marine Sgt. Robert Walsh [ret.] described as the force continuum.

The force continuum is the application of different techniques to deterr an attacker or to stop a mob. At the lowest end you have visual and auditory cues, such as "no trespassing". At the high end you have to face lethal force, such as an M-16 or a rocket launcher. Nonlethal doctrine establishes this force continuum so that you have a greater number of options to apply between those two extremes. The idea is that in a confrontation, you will first warn. If that fails, use a deterrent. If that fails, use a stronger deterrent, and so on.

The V-MADS system talked about in the article is one more option for deterring an attacker, and it should not be taken in its own context. Nonlethal weapons and doctrine were created in response to geopolitical changes that metamorphosed the US armed forces from a military to a global quasi-police force. Political, diplomatic, legal and humanitarian pressures make it undesirable or impractical to blast an enemy to the Stone Age or to indiscriminately attack (and kill) a horde armed with sticks, stones, and Molotovs because our forces have better lethal alternatives. The force continuum gives you a wide range of options between diplomacy and military obliteration.

For more information on nonlethals, including a whole section on gadgets (R&D and production) available as of 1997, check out The Nonlethal Weapons Catalog [] . For gadgets only, check out The Gentle Soldier's Shopping Cart [] .



Re:Not in the military... (3)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 13 years ago | (#391520)

Actually, in a mass battle, wounding is more effective than killing. Besides the moral effects, kill an enemy, you've taken out an enemy. Wound one, you've taken him out, plus two people to carry him, plus medics to treat him, plus logistics to support him, etc etc.

I have a place to test it... (1)

B14ckH013Sur4 (234255) | more than 13 years ago | (#391521)

I'm not sure why I'm writing about this here...
There is a heroine complex (I'm not kidding, it's like New Jack City) in Chicago at 1510, 1520, and 1433 14th Place (Ashland and Roosevelt). My XGF just disappeared (again) and I'm sure is pan-handling and living there (again).
Please test this weapon there! Fry the place and watch the junkies come out screaming.
I'm going down there tommorrow daytime to try to find Mia, who coincidentally is the XGF who's MIA, and convince her to go home, wish me luck! The cops don't want to help (they know it's there... I drove by on a recon last night and there were three cop cars and a van circling the place, but they seemed more interested in getting my plates because I approacher the place that in shutting it down!)
Wish me luck, if this is my last post to /. it's because someone down there put a bullet in me...

Re:Fry? Sure. Stun? No way. (1)

CrackElf (318113) | more than 13 years ago | (#391522)

what kind of energy consumption does it have?
they mentioned mounting it on vehicles ...

also: did the military test it on soldiers?

Repel crowds ? in order to penatrate to the
second row, wouldnt it have to penetrate the
ppl in front(and thereby thier organs? and
what about soft membranes like eyballs ...
did you ever see indiana jones and the lost
arc? I do not want the gov to have things
that can melt my eyeballs. I like my eyeballs.

This is not a weapon for war.
They do not have enough range. They are
designed for use them against a civilian


Re:but the question is... (1)

RapterOfParadox (317576) | more than 13 years ago | (#391523)

Geesh, I want one of those things. It would take the work out of making dinner.. Lets See, I'll just put this on well-done and -ZaP- there we go. Hey everyone, dinner's ready!

I'm worried for the paranoid... (1)

Gruneun (261463) | more than 13 years ago | (#391524)

All these people that wrap themselves in aluminum foil to counter the secret government mind rays are going to be turned into baked potatoes.


Clubber Lang (219001) | more than 13 years ago | (#391525)

what you meant to say was that "microwaves are not the same wavelength as VISIBLE light"

yup, my mistake. since I was harping on a technicality myself, I probably should have been more careful... oh well, I deserved to get called on it :o)

Re:Away team, Set phasers on 'Pain'... (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 13 years ago | (#391526)

And do you prove one was used?

With guns, you have bullet casings, the bulletts themselves, even if they miss! When they hit you have entry and exit wounds etc.

With a maser? Maybe a mild burn?

Of course, a higher powered version could certainly kill. The difference between "hurt" and "cook" is really only a matter of power.

I wonder what the effective range is? A maser sniper riffle would be silent, could do damage or kill quickly, and hard to detect if your not looking for it.

What about the possibility of increased cancer risk? has that been studied?

Theres alot of abuse potential in something like this. No marks, no physical evidence, just pain, and on short order.


Re:when I was in the marines... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#391527)

the facts of life were clear: kill your target
Making someone "run away" is hard if they're fanatics pledged to kill you

And you don't see the irony here?

No problem... (1)

seanmeister (156224) | more than 13 years ago | (#391528)

... by the time this weapon makes into the hands of the police, you'll be able to counter it with your Robocop SPF 2000 sunblock!

Re:Not in the military... (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 13 years ago | (#391529)

Actually, depending on the penetration power, might it not be worthwhile in a war?

Sweep, say, heavy brush or jungle (be it natural or urban). If the weapon itself is quiet (why shouldn't it be?), then it'll be hard to find the sweeper; and you can flush 'em out without immediately killing them (Flushing out via frags, flash-bangs and M60 fire in a built-up, urban area with civillians and accepting lots of non-enemy casualties isn't going to win supporters in Congress. It's also more likely to endanger sweepers by revealing their location, and can't be done from as far away.). But that's only if it can penetrate, say, brush or walls.

forget forensics (2)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 13 years ago | (#391530)

I like this idea for several reasons.

First, there's no exit wound or blood splatter, so it would make a highly effective sniping device. I've read that the location of the sniper can be pinpointed by measuring how the blood sprayd and the angle of the entry/exit. With this thing, they just fall to the ground with no messy cleanup.

Second, i suspect people will immediately set about reverse-engineering this thing and figuring out how to tweak the frequency so that it DOES go deeper than skin.

Thirdly, so much for bullet-proof vests. You'd need to wear a full-on bodysuit because the damage would occur in a rather larger radius 0(think umbra/penumbra field of effect), rather than the precision shot of a .357 hi caliber.

Combine these and you don't have to be a marksmen to cook someone's brain from half a mile away, even if they are wearing bulletproof gear.

Given the fact that our military contractors love to sell weapons of mass destruction to non-US countries, we should be seeing these on the streets in the near future (assuming they are adopted).


Re:Ouch! (2)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 13 years ago | (#391531)

Really. I can take the door off my microwave oven for a mere $0.00. :)

- - - - -

Re:Set Your Phasers to "Defrost" (2)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 13 years ago | (#391532)

You ever watch birds fall off of microwave towers?

More than this goody being developed (1)

praedor (218403) | more than 13 years ago | (#391533)

There are many other non-lethal weapons under development than just this. There is ultrasonic weapons in testing that can incapacitate individuals with nausea and/or pain/cramping. There is a REAL stun gun that was actually posted on slashdot about a year ago in which an ultraviolet laser is combined with high electric charge to produce a phaser in the mold of star trek - the ultraviolet laser is used to ionize a column of air to your target nearly simultaneous with a burst of electricity ala a taser. The ionized air column acts as a direct path to your target for your electric shock. The weapon can be dialed to whatever strength you want...mild stun to (potentially) lethal jolt. And it can shoot around corners (via mirrors)! Beautiful! Use that instead of a pussy paintball gun. YOu KNOW when you get hit.

Re:Not in the military... (1)

Naught_Me (221202) | more than 13 years ago | (#391534)

That works good in theory, but its hard to get him wounded enough to not be able to move, or fight back. The human body can withstand quite a beating, and sometimes even being shot doesnt kill you. The idea in any battle is to kill as many as possible, so that they can never fight back. Its good to tie up rescources, but its safer just to kill them all.

Military Games = UT. (1)

Calamere (318591) | more than 13 years ago | (#391535)

Sounds like the military is takeing Unreal Tournament to a new level. So where do I sign up again?

Re:Some issues (1)

chiefmojorising (114811) | more than 13 years ago | (#391536)

Probably NOT going to hit a single target. This was designed for military usage, after all, so an area effect would be more desirable. Human rights groups may protest it, but it's a damn sight more humane than a mortar round. Aircraft targetting shouldn't be much of an issue. If the TADS system in the Apache can keep a chaingun on target in-flight, this should be a piece of cake.

Re:So what? (2)

ScuzzMonkey (208981) | more than 13 years ago | (#391537)

My impression is that it's a wide beam--like meters wide, at range--so unless you can run out of the field of effect in less than two seconds, you're still gonna be feeling pretty toasty.

Re:Non-lethal Marines? (1)

Cymbaline (200653) | more than 13 years ago | (#391538)

"Marines are the fast reaction force that goes in to places like Bosnia or Kuwait, kills people and blows shit up."

That would be your run of the mill "dumb" Marines. The "smart" ones are in SOC (Special Operations Capable) units, used by the JTSF. At times, you can't FIND these guys, much less catch them blowing something up.

Same applies to the rest of SOF, SFG, etc.


Non-lethal weapons feared more than real ones? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#391539)

"One of the fears is that there will be a misapplication of this kind of technology, particularly in terms of civilian use," said Chris Hellman, a senior analyst for the Center for Defense Information, a Washington D.C.-based independent research group that monitors military planning and policy.

We already have fucking lethal weapons available at any sporting goods store, gun shop, or pawn shop! Why the *hell* does there seem to be more fear over non-lethal weapons? I just don't get it. If I can disable a thief in my home long enough to tie him up or for police to come get him or even just drive him off, is that not preferred to a kill?

Re:Away team, Set phasers on 'Pain'... (1)

Forrestina (120989) | more than 13 years ago | (#391540)

Who's definition of 'dangerous' do we use, and who watches the watchers?
i'd say the police are the dangerous ones. i've nearly been hit with a dumb fuck cop on a motercycle trying to hit people at a protest. this just isn't ok. and it will be used to hurt people who have done no wrong.


Re:Fried Rice (1)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 13 years ago | (#391541)

I could use this to melt a clean hole in the ice when I go ice fishing....

Maybe even warm up a cold cup of coffee.....

Re:Military Massacres (2)

mizhi (186984) | more than 13 years ago | (#391542)

Yes. It would be nice if you civilians and politicians decided to learn from history. Everytime there's a scuffle in the world and people call on the military to go exert their muscle it seems that the consequences are never thought through. Witness Somalia, Yugoslavia, Iraq, etc. Ofcourse, when people DO start dying, then the military gets slapped for being rough. Witness the case in Yugoslavia where 82nd Airborne soldiers were told not to act so soldierly after minorly roughing a person they were interrogating regarding KLA actions. I'm not going to say that the military should be allowed to commit war crimes; however, realize that the military should be the absolute last resort...and only when the consequences of people, possibly innocents, dying or getting hurt, are accepted. This weapon was developed in part because it was felt that tear-gas and rubber bullets were "too harsh"... I'm sorry, but I hope the American people wake the fuck up soon. The military is meant for waging war; not domestic disputes or minor scuffles. People die when the military is used. Perhaps video games do desensitize people to violence. It seems that Americans are all too willing to use the military for everything but then throw a fit when people actually start getting hurt.

Had to get that out.

Re:This is hideous (2)

Dman33 (110217) | more than 13 years ago | (#391543)

Read The Fucking Article

The wavelengths do not penetrate the skin thus internal organs are not harmed. Of course this does mean they couldn't just adjust the MASER to penetrate though...

Re:Oh - boy... This is going to be an odd century (1)

mikeee (137160) | more than 13 years ago | (#391544)

Actually, I saw plans for that on the net months ago... it involved old microwave ovens and aluminium gutterpipe; would have produced a focused microwave beam, not a true maser. Assuming the plans weren't just bogus...

Getting the range and power they're talking about, though, is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

Other problems? (1)

bagel2ooo (106312) | more than 13 years ago | (#391545)

I'd hate to consider what this would do if it hit a person's eye(s). I remember reading before about people getting hit by laser-like weapons and having serious and permenant eye problems ranging from intense headaches to blurred vision and worse. This sounds like a decent enough idea in theory but trying to control a micrometer sized beam from distances up to almost 2,300 feet away seems a bit like a problem.
| aim: | bagel is back |
| icq: | 158450 |

Dreamer (1)

Scratch-O-Matic (245992) | more than 13 years ago | (#391546)

The Marine Corps and other services are interested in non-lethal weapons as an alternative to lead bullets when dealing with civilians in the new brand of deployment to "humanitarian" and "civil unrest" type missions. These devices can best be thought of as potent riot weapons. They have no need (or money, for that matter) for weapons that cause people "to wake up with what looks like sunburns". I don't know what caused your mother's burns, but if you think they were "testing a weapon" on her, you are a dreamer and you have definitely seen too many movies. As for the "Gulf Was Syndrome" that they came down with: are we talking cramps, nausea, etc? MUST be the same thing!!

Easy Protection (2)

Somnus (46089) | more than 13 years ago | (#391548)

There are several easy ways to protect yourself:

  • Metal foil: And hope there isn't enough transmitted power to take the current in the foil to the resistive limit.
  • Fine metal mesh: Better than foil because it acts like a Faraday cage, but still has the same limitation.
  • Directional metal mesh The wires running one direction and those at 90 deg. to the first group are electrically insulated from each other. Then, you can hook up the two wire groups to resistors with safe heat dissipation.

For the technically sophisticated rioter ....

*** Proven iconoclast, aspiring epicurean ***

MASERsabers. (1)

derf77 (265283) | more than 13 years ago | (#391549)

I want a lightsaber!! Attach a slender carbon nanotube pole to a MASER emitter (with a one way mirror!), then put a metal reflector on the end.. The waves would bounce around inside until you slashed someone with it. Not quite an 'energy sword' but I think it comes close.

Re:Away team, Set phasers on 'Pain'... (1)

Xuther (223012) | more than 13 years ago | (#391550)

I recall one of the /. topics of herf guns, and I recall a link on one of them leading to plans for all sorts of toys.

One of the posts, mentioned how long script kiddies might last actually trying to build some of this stuff.

While it is fairly easy to build something similar to this using parts from a microwave (magnetron, as the microwave source) and a radar detector (waveguide, to redirect the energy in one direction and prevent you from cooking your hands while you hold it), all it takes is pointing the thing at a metal wall or plate and you'll flash fry yourself. Or if the waveguide is not aligned properly you can cook your hands or other body parts.

This is probably also why any metallic pan that goes into the microwave probably has a ceramic coating. Most other metal parts tend to cause violent reactions.

I can just see it now, riots where l337 5cr!pt k!dd!3s run around with metal shields and homebuilt phasers. I think I'd much rather stick with teargas which doesn't actually blind someone permanently in most cases.

Burns? Doesn't that qualify under cruel and unusual punishment? It's almost like taking a low power flamethrower to a croud.

And what happens when they accidentally hit a car with this? While it supposedly only gets up ti 130 degrees, once it hits the metal it'll get much hotter and possibly even ignite the fuel tank.

To negate this... (2)

Raetsel (34442) | more than 13 years ago | (#391551)

Wear faraday cage clothes. Make sure all the pieces are connected, and there's a good ground. Metal soles on your shoes, or perhaps just some good contacts. If the energy can't penetrate your clothes, it can't burn you.

This just might bring back chain mail. Just think -- all those SCA [] people have something. Perhaps we'll see more people making their own metal clothes?

Or, to save yourself the trouble... don't be a troublemaker. Consume. Obey. Conform.

Yeah, right.

Re:Away team, Set phasers on 'Pain'... (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 13 years ago | (#391552)

The issue that the first poster was talking about was the torture of humans. I fail to see the irony here.
Oh...... You mean you consider MBA's to be human?!? Oh I get it now. I don't agree with you but I can see how you might come to this point of view. Me I only have problems if they torture people. :)

Re:Much, much better than pepper spray or batons (1)

Bingo Foo (179380) | more than 13 years ago | (#391553)

On the other hand, if I were a rioter and I knew that this weapon was being used on me,

If I knew this weapon were being used on me, I'd wear chainmail. (Faraday cage)

Bingo Foo


Re:Away team, Set phasers on 'Pain'... (1)

HobNob (177770) | more than 13 years ago | (#391554)

The other benefit is a public relations one: No exciting, public-option-influencing TV shots of protesters being pepper sprayed, baton-charged or tear-gassed, just a silent, invisible-acting weapon that makes people ache (especially if they have fillings!) and run away.

As for a maser sniper-rifle, microwaves are inherently more difficult to focus than visible light, so maintaining a collimated beam will be hard. A back-of-envelope calculation estimates a ~1 m diameter beam at 50 m would be about all that would be possible.

-- Bob

Re:Not in the military... (1)

leperjuice (18261) | more than 13 years ago | (#391555)

IANAS (I Am Not A Soldier), but if I recall correctly, this is exactly the principle behind anti-personnel mines. Rather than detonate with enough force to kill, the mines will just take off a foot or leg (hence all the people in third-world countries missing their lower extremeties). Now, rather than there being a corpse (or gibs) left behind, you have a screaming soldier needing transport, a medic to take care him, etc. The overall loss is greater than just killing, and thus "less (damage) is more."

Strangely, though, I remember something comparing the M-16 vs. the AK-47 in Vietnam. The M-16 rounds would pass right through their targets, relying on "hydroshock" to cause the damage, whereas the AK-47 rounds were designed to just rip things up. All the wounding and resource draining that the M-16s did to the Vietnamese troops didn't turn the tide of the war (hint: the US lost), though, so the idea of controlled wounding isn't a guaranteed success.

Re:Military Games = UT. (1)

ellem (147712) | more than 13 years ago | (#391556)

oooh, you've got one scary point there.

The real question is... (4)

capt.Hij (318203) | more than 13 years ago | (#391557)

The Marines are really pushing this "non-lethal" weapons stuff hard. They have budgeted a severe amount of money for this kind of stuff. I've been to briefings that they sponsor, and they feel that this is the next big thing.

I am assuming that just like their foam gun and wheel shooting equipment that this thing will also come out looking bad. According to the article they are going to shoot this thing from up to 750 meters? From that distance the energy is going to be distributed over the entire body of the victim... err target. That means it will damage eye's, the skin around your ears, and if you are a card carrying member of the Y-chromosone club your going to get your testes roasted.

Think about that last one for a minute there, boys.

The more I listen to this stuff the more skeptical I become. This whole project seems more like an excuse to just dump money on a few companies and academics.

For more info check out this [] and this [] and maybe this [] .

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