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Security Science

Journalist Test Drives The Pain Ray Gun 818

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the set-phasers-to-ooooooooowwwwwwwwwwww dept.
Fantastic Lad writes to tell us that journalist Michael Hanlon recently got the opportunity to experience the Army's new not-so-secret weapon, dubbed "Silent Guardian". The Silent Guardian is essentially (even though the creators prefer you not refer to it as such) a ray gun, emitting a focused beam of radiation similar to your microwave tuned to a specific frequency to stimulate human nerve endings. "It can throw a wave of agony nearly half a mile. Because the beam penetrates skin only to a depth of 1/64th of an inch, it cannot, says Raytheon, cause visible, permanent injury. But anyone in the beam's path will feel, over their entire body, the agonizing sensation I've just felt on my fingertip. The prospect doesn't bear thinking about. "
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Journalist Test Drives The Pain Ray Gun

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  • Blimey! (Score:5, Funny)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:43PM (#20673247) Homepage Journal

    "It can throw a wave of agony nearly half a mile. Because the beam penetrates skin only to a depth of 1/64th of an inch, it cannot, says Raytheon, cause visible, permanent injury. But anyone in the beam's path will feel, over their entire body, the agonizing sensation I've just felt on my fingertip. The prospect doesn't bear thinking about. "

    Arr! This be a popular thing to consider against terrorists, insurgents and other bilge, but what of when a swab asks Sen. Kerry one too many questions?

    In fact, it is easy to see the raygun being used not as an alternative to lethal force (when I can see that it is quite justified), but as an extra weapon in the battle against dissent. Because it is, in essence, a simple machine, it is easy to see similar devices being pressed into service in places with extremely dubious reputations.

    "Blow me down, Senator, but why did ye let the scallywag take Ohio uncontested?"
    "Belay the questioning, ye poxy bilge-bellied picaroon!"

    *FFFNNZZZZZOOWWNT*
    "Yaaaarrr!"

    Sounds funny, do ye think? But by Davy Jone's locker, it doesn't bode us at all well when bloomin' cops be using it on the populace for crowd control or to force lubbers to obey their commands.

    "Arr, get out of the vehicle and make way for boardin', swabbie!"
    "Aye, but what of me constitutional rights against unreasonable looting and pillaging?"

    *FFFNNZZZZZOOWWNT*
    "Yaaaarrr!"

    Aye a sobering thought. And will yer video camera help ye then? And what of the other wrong people layin' their mitts on this terrible new technology by way of the interweb -- ye don't like how a match is going? Give the swab in goal an itch he'd claw out with his own hook for just a second for the ball to pass into the net. Aye. People already are misusing lasers, what of these? No visible injury, sounds perfect for torture.

    What next, use this on pirates? Well I'll be scuppered!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by couchslug (175151)
      "Because it is, in essence, a simple machine, it is easy to see similar devices being pressed into service in places with extremely dubious reputations."

      The ones that already use Kalashnikovs for crowd control? I'll take the ray over stopping a round, thx.
      • Re:Blimey! (Score:5, Funny)

        by ackthpt (218170) * on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:03PM (#20673575) Homepage Journal

        The ones that already use Kalashnikovs for crowd control? I'll take the ray over stopping a round, thx.

        Aye, but do ye think they'd have less reservations usin' one o' these devices knowin' they would leave no visible wounds? Aye see these bein' used often and with far more room for abuse.

        • Ye, stepped out of line! *fnzownt*
        • Ye don't have correct change! *fnzownt*
        • Avast, I don't be likin' the look of ye! *fnzownt*
        • Yer late for work! *fnzownt*
        • Me supper's cold! *fnzownt*
        • Ahoy, that be a dupe article! *fnzownt*
      • by Elemenope (905108) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:08PM (#20673635)

        You are missing the point. For such regimes, this device would not be so attractive for crowd control as it would be for torture. Let's see...cheap and easy to reproduce, causes agony, doesn't leave marks. Perfect for extracting confessions and discrediting dissidents!

        Come to think of it, considering how trigger-happy some cops around here seem to be with tasers, I'd hate to see what they would do with a device like this if they ever got someone they didn't like (accused rapist, molester, cop killer, smart-mouthed teenager) in the lock-up.

        • by Cassius Corodes (1084513) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @07:24PM (#20674601)
          Not to mention that they could use it in protests and leave no evidence for those pesky excessive use of force accusations. As an additional point tasers are not used instead of guns, rather they are used instead of physically restraining people - which leads to more casualties than there would have been otherwise. Non lethal weapons such as these cause more harm to society then they prevent.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by budgenator (254554)
            yeah I'll just drive up in my stealth-mode Hummer, fire up the 45KW Deisel Generator and point the emmiter for the 95GHz milimeter wave transmitter that's the size of a plasma TV and hose down the crowd with pain rays and leave without anybody noticing! OOPs well we didn't mean to hit that TV crew filming the protest at least we got'em in time for the 10 o'clock news; bet that'll make this the lead story.
            • by tftp (111690) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:44PM (#20675945) Homepage
              yeah I'll just drive up in my stealth-mode Hummer, fire up the 45KW Deisel Generator and point the emmiter for the 95GHz milimeter wave transmitter that's the size of a plasma TV and hose down the crowd with pain rays and leave without anybody noticing!

              As a reference, your 45 kW is just about 64 HP, and any contractor's white van is large enough to house all the equipment, and the engine is powerful enough to feed the generator until the gas tank runs dry. But if you consider that the police can use far larger trucks (with water cannons etc.) the whole question of technical constraints is moot.

              In terms of precision, 100 GHz is high, which means that a small antenna can have the main beam not wider than a couple of degrees. You don't even need that high a precision. If you don't want to zap TV people ... don't aim at them. Besides, your goal (as a police zapper) is not to annoy people but to control people - those are two different goals. So you zap some people but not the other, and they run where you want them to be. You don't want to do the Blackwater incident in Times Square, people should always have an escape route. If they don't have any escape they are highly likely to attack you, close and personal; then you only need to kill them all, in self-defense, regardless of how many thousands of them there are.

      • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:24PM (#20673797) Journal
        You know, the funny thing is, even the most hardened dictatorships only used "kalashnikovs for crowd control" when things really got out of hand. I know of at least one Eastern European revolution where the oppressive communist government first tried to hose them with water and whatnot, and we're talking revolt against the government there.

        Compare it to the neverending stream of Taser stories from the USA. People got tasered occasionally as torture (people which had _already_ been restrained) or because a cop got a chip on his shoulder, for reasons as ridiculous as:

        - asking too many questions at a political rally (see the recent story)

        - being at a library without their library card (guy got tasered _repeatedly_ after he had already accepted to leave)

        - diabetic guy in a medical emergency calls 911 for an ambulance, cops show up first and taser him in his bed (apparently one guy sick enough to be stuck in bed was considered dangerous enough to the cops to warrant use of the taser)

        Etc, etc, etc.

        Dearie, get this: even China, and even the fucking NKVD under Stalin, wouldn't have used a gun in _those_ situation. Yes, China did shoot some of the people demonstrating in Tiananmen square against the government, but not even in their darkest hour would they consider shooting a sick guy for calling an ambulance.

        Effectively the idea that a taser is "non-lethal" has lowered the bar to ludicriously low extremes. It's not replacing the use of guns, as if you were to do something that warrants shooting at you, they'll _still_ shoot at you. (E.g., if you pulled a gun at a cop, I do believe they won't draw the tasers.) It just created a whole new possibility to inflict pain (again, sometimes repeatedly) on someone for minor misdemeanors or just for disliking him or just for fun. It's not replacing guns, it's _in_ _addition_ to guns, for stuff where you previously wouldn't even _think_ of drawing a gun.

        Sadder still: for stuff where even China or the USSR wouldn't have even dreamed of using a gun on someone.

        So the question isn't whether you'd rather get the ray or a round. For any stuff that would previously warrant getting a round, you'll still get a round. Only now you'll get the ray for everything else. Whop-de-do, big improvement there.
        • The Sad Truth (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @04:40AM (#20678375)
          You are quite correct. As you say, the Taser has been found to be "seldom lethal"... often called "less lethal" weaponry. Those who call it "non-lethal" are either lying or uninformed. For example, just recently there was a casualty in my own city. (Yes, in the U.S.)

          Because of its status as "less lethal", the Taser is supposed to be used by law enforcement as "an alternative to lethal force". In other words, as a way of stopping a person when the only other alternative is to shoot them with a gun. And it performs that function quite well. The Taser very seldom (but occasionally) results in permanent damage or death.

          PROBLEM #1 is exactly that perception of non-lethality. To some, non-lethal or "less lethal" means safe or even sane. However, I would be willing to bet a large amount that if you compared the number of people in history who have been beaten with nightsticks, to the number of people who have been Tasered, you would find a higher lethality rate for the Taser. I am only guessing, but nobody so far has really done such a study, so the question is open. And as I mentioned, one died just recently in my own town. I do not think anyone in this town has ever died from beatings by nightsticks... and believe me, there have been some over the last couple of hundred years.

          PROBLEM #2 is the conception that "no permanent harm" means "no harm". Bullshit. People hit with a Taser fall down hard, in unnatural positions, and hurt themselves. It is also excruciatingly painful. I believe most people who have been Tasered would rather have been hit with a nightstick, even though the latter would hurt for a much longer time.

          Years ago, a popular interrogation (or control) device was a length of rubber hose, because it could be extremely painful but leave few marks and do "no permanent harm". Sound familiar? Strangely, the rubber hose is internationally vilified as a "torture device" while the Taser is not. Somebody please explain this to me!

          PROBLEM #3 Police forces tend to attract the kind of people who like to bully and control other people. You could argue with me all you want about that but history supports that statement beyond dispute. I am not saying that all cops are bad, but a disproportionate percentage of them are, and always have been. Plain, simple truth. I wish it were otherwise.

          PROBLEM #4 is actually just the consequences of 1, 2, and 3: Police forces (at least in the U.S.) have started using Tasers in ways that are completely inappropriate: to avoid physical confrontation at all; as an alternative to nightsticks (rather than as an alternative to guns, as it should be); and even just as a convenience, such as to avoid having to tell someone something one more time. I have seen video clips of police Tasering people for such things as talking back, not moving fast enough for the officer's taste, and other such "criminal" acts. That very recent video of the student getting Tasered at the Kerry speech is a classic case. The student might have been a mouthy ass, but he did not deserve the treatment he received.

          People need to get together and demand that their state or city restrict the use of Tasers (again) to "an alternative to deadly force". Otherwise, their use will escalate and the public will surely regret it.
          • Even Sadder (Score:5, Informative)

            by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @04:55AM (#20678431)
            I was not going to mention the circumstances behind the recent death by Taser in my city, but actually I think it is worth mentioning.

            A man (who was not under suspicion for a crime at the time) was beaten and eventually Tasered while he was having an epileptic seizure, because he was "not responding" to police orders. Of course he was not responding... he was twitching face down on the lawn in a seizure! Any idiot should have been able to see that something was amiss. Witnesses stated that the police were wantonly brutal and that he had never provoked anyone... he was simply not responding.

            The man happened to be at a house (he did not live there) when the police went to arrest the resident on drug charges. He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. There were no charges against him. An acquaintance of mine knew him. She said he was one of the nicest people she ever knew. Wouldn't hurt a fly.
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:44PM (#20673251) Homepage Journal
    John Titor [wikipedia.org] predicted that the reason for the development of such weapons was for use against the general population of the United States.
    • by elwinc (663074) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:00PM (#20673537)
      Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say that the sole reason for development was as stated above. The US used teargas in Viet Nam, and non-lethal weapons such as rubber bullets were used by the British in Northern Ireland, and I think by the Israelis against Palestinians. But there may be a problem with this sort of weapon. According to http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2003/4/3/214326.shtml [newsmax.com] The US was unable to use teargas due to a chemical weapons treaty. It wouldn't surprise me if some treaty some where disallowed this thing on the battlefield, but not at home...
  • Chilling... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guido del Confuso (80037) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:44PM (#20673253)
    In a world where the Taser is no longer considered a self defense weapon, but rather an enforcement/compliance tool, I am frightened to think what will happen when this technology makes its way out of the military sector. Every tough guy cop with a chip on his shoulder will have the power to cause limitless pain, and could justify it by saying "it causes no injury, and it prevents potential harm to innocents".

    There is something wrong when the general population begins to fear the police, and I think that is starting to happen in the United States.
    • Re:Chilling... (Score:4, Informative)

      by tgatliff (311583) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:53PM (#20673425)
      To me, the scary part is not when the general population is scared of police, but rather when they become disinterested in their government. This is exactly what the current policy makers want... Keep you loaded up in debt and working to pay those bills, and unintereested in what they are doing... Did you notice the 11% approval rating in congress?
      • Re:Chilling... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PCM2 (4486) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:07PM (#20673619) Homepage

        Did you notice the 11% approval rating in congress?

        Errr. . .doesn't such a low approval rating demonstrate not that people are disinterested in government, but rather that they are very interested and yet powerless to do anything about a government gone awry?

        • Approval of Congress (Score:5, Informative)

          by Elemenope (905108) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:20PM (#20673749)

          Nah, it's the one-two combo. Some care but are powerless, whereas the others don't care--ironically making those that do care powerless!

          More seriously, it's very easy for a person to off-handedly say to a pollster that they don't approve of Congress; it's quite another for that person to know what Congress is doing in the first place. That disapproval is more probably an expression of general malaise, distrust, or cynicism towards the government in general than it is any sort of appraisal of Congress as an acting body. I'd say of those polled (if past stats hold up) barely a third of respondents even know who their reps in Congress are, probably barely a half could name any rep. Most Americans would be hard pressed to name one piece of legislation passed in the last session, and even fewer to correlate that piece of legislation with its supporters and detractors correctly. Those that care are outnumbered by those that don't, and in that circumstance it is awfully difficult to take statistics that purport to show a true measure of the American people's approval or disapproval of Congress with any more than a grain of salt.

          More evidence--in case you needed it--even when Congress' approval rating drops into the doldrums, as it has on several occasions, re-election rates for seated members rarely drops below 90%.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by the phantom (107624)
        May I point out that the 11% approval rating for "congress" is, perhaps, taken a bit out of context? If you ask, instead, what the constituents of a particular representative or senator think of that person, things tend to be much more positive. For instance, Harry Reid, my own senator, generally has an approval rating between 40% and 50% in the state of Nevada (i.e., the state that he represents). So, in most people's eyes, the problem is not their own representation, but the representation of other peo
    • Re:Chilling... (Score:5, Informative)

      by promotheus (1002873) <gphilen@gLAPLACEmail.com minus math_god> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:55PM (#20673447)
      This reminds me of the neuronic whip in Issac Asmov's foundation series, the pain it produces could kill a person, it had 10 settings 10 being the highest and 1 the lowest. He also used it in many of his other works. The idea is the same, but the implementation is a bit simpler, Who said Sci-Fi never becomes reality? Whoever they are, they lied.
    • Re:Chilling... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ScentCone (795499) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:05PM (#20673597)
      the general population begins to fear the police, and I think that is starting to happen in the United States

      Why? An officer that's shown to abuse people can't keep his job unless an elected official/body allows him/her to. There isn't a law enforcement officer of any type, working at any level in the US that doesn't answer to elected civilians. So, what you're 'afraid' of isn't police with riot control weapons that no longer risk putting out an eye with a rubber bullet, or burning/choking someone with tear gas cannisters - what you're afraid of is your inability to be persuasive enough to get elected a person that, at the muncipal, county, and state level, will prohibit abusive behavior by officers (and support consequences for it).

      Why are you more afraid of a fleeting, non-damaging nerve stimulation than you are choking gas, or bruising clubs and water cannons, or agitated K-9 units? You shouldn't be - those are all simply tools. This isn't about the tool, it's about the policies and rules of engagement. And those are dictated by people you do, or don't vote for. Police have always been ABLE to use painful tactics as needed, but those methods generally caused damage.

      I don't know anyone in my neighborhood that's more afraid of police than they used to be. There are only people that are frustrated that there aren't enough police to keep gangs like MS-13 from being as scary as THEY are. If you're concerned about the ability of law enforcement officers to judge when and how to use force, then campaign for the higher taxes needed to pay the much higher salaries needed to attract and retain the physically fit, dedicated, experienced, philosopher kings you think would be better in that career.
      • Re:Chilling... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bughunter (10093) <bughunter@ear[ ]ink.net ['thl' in gap]> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:29PM (#20673881) Journal

        Why? An officer that's shown to abuse people can't keep his job unless an elected official/body allows him/her to. There isn't a law enforcement officer of any type, working at any level in the US that doesn't answer to elected civilians.

        Your argument would be persuasive except for one detail that you overlook.

        For all practical purposes, elected officials aren't elected by the general poplace anymore. Sure, we get to vote for candidate A or B, but A and B are both pre-selected by corporate contributions and the entrenched power elite, who are the real interests represented by the elected officials.

        Thus, the general populace are not represented by the officials any longer, especially at the Federal level. Compounding that, the differences between our interests and those of the corporate/elite are becoming greater in both degree and kind.

        It's not a universal truism, but it is a valid concern these days, at a time when we are much closer to a society where the average citizen fears the police than we ever have been the past. Your argument ignores - implicitly rejects - that concern, in the face of increasingly frequent evidence to the contrary.

        • Corporatism (Score:5, Informative)

          by lennier (44736) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:52PM (#20675997) Homepage
          in the sense that Mussolini used it, does not mean what you think it means. The word "corporation" did not mean "commercial enterprise" to him as it does to 21st century Americans, it was used in the much older sense to mean "body or grouping of interests".

          See the Wiki [wikipedia.org]

          Mussolini's "corporatism" meant a sort of negotiating council comprising representatives of government, organised labour and industrial capital, which is a fascist/Third Way kind of idea for overcoming the at that time hugely destabilising tension between capital and labour (verging on literal civil war). On the face of it, not actually that bad, except that in practice it was unelected and unresponsive to democracy, the governmental elements tended to end up calling all the shots, and labour particularly suffered. And mixed with the ultranationalist and militarist elements of the weird soup that was Fascism in reality as opposed to in its initial conception, it turned out to be really really bad. But it's arguable that the bad parts of Fascism didn't all derive from that initial idea.

          I'm as aware as the next person that commercial corporations are antidemocratic in internal structure, but the scary thing is that many people arguing loudest that "corporatism is fascism" tend to be unaware that the kind of political system they *would* prefer in its place is closer to the initial forms of actual historical Fascism.

      • Re:Chilling... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by crabpeople (720852) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:45PM (#20674137) Journal

        "An officer that's shown to abuse people can't keep his job unless an elected official/body allows him/her to"
        Really? The internal afairs department of most police agencies is made up of elected officials from outside the law enforcement community? That must be why all police abuse is severly punished and not just swept under the rug having docked the officers 2 weeks pay [canada.com]. In fact, if you look at the wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] it states that only "several" police agencies adopted these sorts of civilian panels. To me this indicates that they are the exception, not the rule.

        Tasers had a similar justification for their implementation and yet we see them misused on a daily basis.
        Why do you love the police state so god damned much?

        "Why are you more afraid of a fleeting, non-damaging nerve stimulation than you are choking gas, or bruising clubs and water cannons, or agitated K-9 units?"
        Quite simply because i can stand more than a second of those kinds of punishment? The guy in the article said even hardened military men could only last a few seconds. That, and technology like say, a wet cotton shirt, or a two by 4 can combat those sorts of attacks.

        They are gonna come for you gun one day scenty, and at that time they will bombard your household with devices such as these. Can your 9mm slugs make it a mile and a half? Can you get to your gun and lay down the precise aim needed before you fall to the ground screaming in pain? The worst part is that you are gonna be on your own on that day, because everyone else will have already been rounded up.

      • Re:Chilling... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hamburger lady (218108) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:57PM (#20674293)
        Why? An officer that's shown to abuse people can't keep his job unless an elected official/body allows him/her to. There isn't a law enforcement officer of any type, working at any level in the US that doesn't answer to elected civilians.

        and there isn't an elected civilain in the US that wants to look 'soft on crime' by firing a cop based solely on the word of someone without a mark on them.
    • Re:Chilling... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:33PM (#20673943)

      Every tough guy cop with a chip on his shoulder will have the power to cause limitless pain, and could justify it by saying "it causes no injury, and it prevents potential harm to innocents".


      Its an invisible beam and it leaves no evidence. No one ever has to justify using it, because they can instead just deny using it any time that the use is controversial.
      • Re:Chilling... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by kripkenstein (913150) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @03:06AM (#20677991) Homepage

        Its an invisible beam and it leaves no evidence. No one ever has to justify using it, because they can instead just deny using it any time that the use is controversial.
        This weapon is a terrible, terrible idea. But actually I seriously doubt that it leaves no evidence. Sure, it may not leave any at the proximal nerves (which it stimulates to cause pain), but the fact is, it causes immense pain to the subject, which implies extreme stimulation of certain areas of their brain. This may be detectable later on, perhaps by fMRI or other brain scans, or perhaps behaviorally - I presume that such intense pain will cause hypersensitivity at the location where it was applied (or hyposensitivity, actually - hard to tell).

        In addition, they have not tested it on volunteers for long periods (and, by the description, 'long periods' may well be as short as 30 seconds!) - simply because who would volunteer for it? Even hardened marines apparently flee within seconds. We have no idea what will happen to people that suffer this ray for more than a fleeting instant - for all we know it might lead to an epileptic seizure or brain damage. It might also cause local damage to the nerves - overstimulation of nerves can lead to their death; this is called excitotoxicity [wikipedia.org].

        Sadly, I am sure that the developers of this weapon have barbarically tested it on animals for 'long periods'. This is still not enough to convince me that it does not permanent damage; human brains are not identical to animal ones. In addition there is a tremendous psychological element to torture - the belief that the pain will continue; this is less of an issue for some animals.

        Sorry for the long rant, but this weapon is a horrible idea. It is like the nuclear bomb of supposedly nonlethal weapons - too powerful for anyone to have. It should be outlawed by international convention IMHO. Let's develop nonlethal methods that incapacitate, etc., not that can be used to bring torture to new levels.
    • Re:Chilling... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by no_pets (881013) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:34PM (#20673957)
      You make very valid points. Perhaps this would be used the other way as well. Since it causes no permanent damage why not make these "weapons" more obtainable than than handguns? What a great way for true, patriotic citizens to stop excessive force when they see it? Of course they could be charged with obstruction but a quick zap from multiple directions all at once, for a short period of time would be hard to address.
    • by Distortions (321282) <distortions@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:37PM (#20674013) Homepage
      THERE, ARE, FOUR, LIGHTS!
    • Re:Chilling... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lena_10326 (1100441) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:46PM (#20674151) Homepage

      There is something wrong when the general population begins to fear the police, and I think that is starting to happen in the United States.
      You mean white/heterosexual people are starting feel fear? Welcome to the club. Minorities have known this for years.

      What always ticks me off is police always associate nervousness or evasiveness with guilt. After hundreds of publicized police beatings and shootings, they don't realize people are nervous because of police reputation, not because they're guilty of something.

      I avoid the police whenever I can. I don't trust them and I don't like them. They would paint me a criminal for that, but I consider it self preservation. There are many like me who are targeted by police for harassment and abuse.

    • It's gonna be coming in handy...
    • by catchblue22 (1004569) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @07:27PM (#20674651) Homepage

      This weapon is designed to work not against invading armies, but against angry citizens. Through most of recent history, governments have been wary of angering their own populations for fear of triggering citizen revolutions. A government cannot effectively use lethal weapons on its own population in any widespread way, because those citizens make the state function. Thus, there are some things that governments simply will not do, because of the risk of a popular uprising.

      With weapons like this pain gun, the balance of power is tipped sharply in favor of governments. Governments will be able to use weapons like this against their own people, without creating rebel martyrs. The immediate effects of this gun on an individual are horrible, but temporary. No disfiguring injuries to point to as proof of the government's inhumanity. Just a fleeting moment of pain, that will continue to exist only in a person's memory. These pain guns are a far more effective tool of subjugation than machine guns.

  • by rucs_hack (784150) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:45PM (#20673273)
    I mean, even if you could get it mounted on a frikkin shark, they wouldn't survive long enough out of water for it to be used for crowd control.

  • 1/64th inch of skin (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jason1729 (561790) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:45PM (#20673275)
    So, exactly how hard is to to wear some clothing over your whole body that will block this non-penetrating radiation?
    • by Flipao (903929) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:55PM (#20673453)
      My tinfoil armor will reflect those microwaves back to the cast... er, I mean shooter... Arrr!
    • Relatively hard (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DrYak (748999) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:57PM (#20673485) Homepage

      So, exactly how hard is to to wear some clothing over your whole body that will block this non-penetrating radiation?


      Corrupt lobby to pass law declaring it illegal to wear metallic micro-wave reflecting clothes in :
      ...3 ...2 ...1 ...

      Common, they already made it illegal to wear a gaz-mask during manifestations in some countries. What do you expect ?
      {Insert your favorite "if-you-have-nothing-to-hide-you-have-no-reason-to-wear-one" excuse hehe}
    • Pleasure Ray? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by planckscale (579258)
      Ok so if they can develop a "Pain Ray", does this mean they can also develop a "Pleasure Ray"? Which would be more effective, a ray that hurts like hell and causes a bunch of people to be even more pissed off, or a ray that makes people tingle and tickle and become aroused so that they just want to err, hang out. Can I be a test subject?

  • by illegibledotorg (1123239) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:45PM (#20673279)
    Detailed specs from Raytheon's patent filing show that the gun essentially plays Britney Spears' new single at an extremely high volume in a concentrated "cone of pain."

    ...oh the pain.

  • Fact follows fiction (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kalpol (714519) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:45PM (#20673281) Homepage
    Didn't Frank Herbert describe something just like this in Dune? Pain through nerve induction?
  • by Futurepower(R) (558542) <MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:45PM (#20673283) Homepage
    Any amount for violence, little for making relationships.

    The least sophisticated way of relating to other people is through violence.
  • by aj50 (789101) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:47PM (#20673327)
    Excuse me while I don my tin foil full body suit
  • The taser problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chairboy (88841) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:47PM (#20673329) Homepage
    I wonder if this will be the next iteration of the Taser problem, specifically, the fact that it leaves no marks and is designed not to permanently injure ends up lowering the threshold for using it.

    With a gun, a trained operator understands that the person he's shooting at will probably die, so everything better be absolutely correct before employing it or he's going to jail.

    With a Tazer, the trained operator will use it more casually than a gun because the price of being wrong is so much lower.

    With the pain ray, it's even lower. Our current legal environment suggests that this will end up being used to break up unpopular demonstrations or groupings even more casually than tear gas, specifically because the physical evidence and chance of permanent injury is so much lower.

    What effect will this have on the democratic process? Used in conjunction with modern artifacts like "designated free speech zones", this could be crippling. There's no way to prevent an advance, our duty as citizens is to be aware of the dangers and be ready to speak out against them if they transpire.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GregPK (991973)
      So what happens when we the populace start casually shooting the same thing back at them. Or, even worse, at each other. Could you imagine a group of teenagers roaming around town with one of these? Or sitting on a roof with a scope? Don't expect this tech in the hands of police anytime soon.(God I hope not) Because if it gets there it'll be on the street in a matter of days/weeks after that. No one will be safe. It doesn't sound like good crowd control management because its effective at up 1/2 a m
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I guarantee you that permanent harm will be caused. The large-scale stimulation of those nerves hasn't been tested much, and having to bear pain like that will leave deep psychological scars that won't easily go away. It's possible that torture victims will be easily found just be showing them pictures of black boxes and watching their heart start to race. The use of this weapon in the US will be banned when it goes to the supreme court and "cruel and unusual punishment" will be shown to exactly describe th
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Col Bat Guano (633857)
      A big problem will be that the operator of such a device could be anywhere. A tazer has limited range, and you can see who's using it.

      A police "sniper" operating this from a rooftop would be hard to hold accountable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)
      I wonder if this will be the next iteration of the Taser problem, specifically, the fact that it leaves no marks and is designed not to permanently injure ends up lowering the threshold for using it.

      I would like to see a show of proof that the threshold for the use of force has been lowered.

      The Geek has no long-term memory - no sense of history - but the institutional memory of your local police force is likely to go back a century or more.

      A good place to begin, if you want to gain some perspective, are

  • by brain1 (699194) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:49PM (#20673369)
    We all know that heat coagulates protein. Just boil an egg. 1/64" of an inch of intense heating is enough to cook your cornea. Instant cataract. Out of all this "testing" with screaming "volunteers" I haven't really seen any conclusive evidence come forth that this wont do eye injury to a person. And we all know how "non-letal" (read "less than lethal") weapons get overused.

    -dh
    • by thisissilly (676875) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:00PM (#20673523)
      Or the long term health effects. It may cause pain now, but increase your chance for cancer, much like sunburn.
    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:08PM (#20673633)
      The thing is, this wave in tuned to a frequency targeting nerve endings - so it might well not be nearly powerful enough to boil anything, much less your eye.

      That said I was thinking that anything that sent this much pain coursing through you might well lead to more harmful effects than a tazer. That much pain would have to be quite a shock to your body which would probably trigger a lot of reactions as a result.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Loss of bowel control, crying, vomiting, cardiac arrest, seizures... the list goes on and on. Had to support another Kendall.
    • by woolio (927141) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:35PM (#20675889) Journal
      1/64" of an inch of intense heating is enough to cook your cornea

      True.. But if this is radio/microwave based the cornea is probably NOT going to absorb much....

      I would expect much of the waves would directly heat the retina of the eye (if aimed toward it).

      Which would seem to cause one of two possibilities:
      1) Your retina gets cooked, you go permanently blind instantly (upon a direct pulse to the eye).

      2) I'm guessing the retina has no pain receptors.... Overstimuling the retina might cause (painless) damage and probably very strange visual sensations. This can't be good....

      Losing a few nerves on arm/leg skin is one thing... Eye/brain damage is a bit different and probably difficult to prove. (No, your eyesight was never as good as you claim (20/20), we the raygun didn't damage it).

      I've only had 3-4 physicals, and I've never seen an optomitrist (bad spelling, eye doctor). Since my eyesight was better than the minimum for 20/20 it would be difficult for me to pr ove any degradation. Plus I don't have the health records anymore or know who the doctors were (its been a while). I suspect many people are like me in this regard.

      And what about people who have metal implants as a result of surgery? (e.g. from broken bone, etc)...

      If they really want to convince us that this thing is safe, they should do the following:
      1) Sedate the CEO and CFO of Raytheon, and possibly pain-blocking drugs.
      2) Fire the full-size raygun at them for 5 minutes continously.
      3) See what happens to them over the next few years/months.

  • by teslatug (543527) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:50PM (#20673383)
    The operator was heard saying: "What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity, so be honest. How do you feel?"
  • Prototype, my ass. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:50PM (#20673385)
    > I tested a table-top demonstration model, but here's how it works in the field.

    No, the table-top demonstration model is the one that's intended for use in the field. For values of "field" ranging towards "dark basements in former Soviet bloc countries, to whom we've paid good money for plausible deniability".

    Unless the "production" model is composed of an array of those table-top demonstration models (and to give Raytheon the benefit of the doubt, it might be), there are very few military applications to even try to scale the device down to "trade-show booth" form factor.

    Either way, I'm glad I'm long Raytheon. From WW2-era radar stations, to the microwave oven, to new and emerging markets including crowd control and individual torture, manipulation of RF energy has been a consistent profit generator.

  • My congrats (Score:5, Funny)

    by evilviper (135110) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:51PM (#20673397) Journal
    I would like to take a moment to applaud this new direction the US Army has taken as of late. Nothing restores my faith in American more quickly than a standing policy of systematically punishing every journalist within reach, with any and all exotic weaponry available.
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:52PM (#20673409) Homepage
    This is (apparently) electromagnetic radiation and presumably has the properties of other forms of ER. How difficult would it be to:
    • Build a faraday cage ? A tin foil hat would seem to be exactly the sort of thing - if worn all over
    • Reflected with a suitable mirror
    • Focussed and so raised in intensity - perhaps the most worrying
  • Naivete? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by greg_barton (5551) * <greg_barton AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:58PM (#20673497) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps the most alarming prospect is that such machines would make efficient torture instruments.

    They are quick, clean, cheap, easy to use and, most importantly, leave no marks. What would happen if they fell into the hands of unscrupulous nations where torture is not unknown?

    It seems to me that they were created in one.
  • by jamieswith (682838) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:59PM (#20673517)
    it says "it cannot, says Raytheon, cause visible, permanent injury."

    That seems an awfully calculated thing to say... so that means they have found it to cause INVISIBLE permanent injury then?
  • Crowd Control (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:11PM (#20673667) Homepage Journal
    The problem with these things is they start out as a "less lethal" way of dealing with things... They'll say this is better than bombing the area or whatever... but then, they start to use them for other purposes. Like the taser - it was supposed to be used instead of a gun when cops felt threatened - thereby saving lives. Instead it's being used in circumstances when a gun would NEVER be used - like to shut up a mouthy unarmed student in a library.

    Same with this... they'll say its a less lethal way of incapacitating enemy troops, or maybe quelling a riot. But eventually since its "safe," they'll start using it on peaceful protests that got out of the "free speech zone" and dangerously close to coming within cable news camera range.

    • Previously with crowd control you had to be there, looking at the crowd if not interacting with it. If a few grandmas were in the crowd- by choice or by accident- you knew it. If the "bad" crowd walked by families with small children having a picnic in the park, you'd know that you're about to tear-gas or water-cannon mothers with babies.

      At a half mile away, police in Brooklyn (on one side of the East River) could do crowd control for the edge of Manhattan. One guy on the top of the Empire State Building co
  • by SamP2 (1097897) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:12PM (#20673673)
    And jokes aside, the risks are higher than just getting hurt a little.

    1. 1/64th of an inch seems sufficient to cause serious and possibly permanent eye damage. This is an area-wide weapon, it is not selective about its targets or which body part it is targeting.

    2. Exposure to extreme levels of pain (especially suddenly) can also lead to a seizure or heart attack. If the pain is extremely strong, it may incapacitate the target (ever hurt yourself so badly you can't do ANYTHING except perhaps scream?), meaning the people can't escape the target zone, exposing themselves to even more pain.

    3. If the authorities decide to use the weapon against a crowd, it is natural to presume some have a higher pain tolerance then others, and if the weapons is used until all or the majority of the crowd is quelled, the weaker-tolerance people will be exposed to unnecessary (and with potential serious consequences) levels and duration of pain.

    4. I'm not even going to the legal definitions of physical torture in and by itself...

    I'm not saying it shouldn't be used under any circumstances whatsoever, but it seems that it should be classified as deadly or almost deadly force ("deadly" in most jurisdictions includes "capable of producing grievous bodily harm).

    Even the story the other day about the use of a Taser (which is also an almost-deadly-force weapon, with documented fatalities) being used where the suspect posed absolutely no danger and could have been subdued without it). This device can lead to the same consequences of a Taser, but instead of being used on one person, it affects hundreds, with no way to observe the effects on each single person and adjust the device power accordingly.

    Are there cases where use of this device is legitimate? Maybe, for example if you are rushed by an angry mob and you legitimately feel your life to be in danger if you don't take immediate action. But given our record for indiscriminate and excessive use of next-to-lethal force (rubber bullets, Tasers, etc.) against peaceful demonstrations, non-violent action, cases where safer alternatives are available, and with "just for kicks" being a legitimate reason, I certainly wouldn't bet on this device to be safe in the hands of those who use it. This device is NOT a valid substitute for a water cannon or tear gas, and if in a given situation you are not justified to use live firearms, you also shouldn't be justified to use something like this.

    If (or, sadly speaking, when) it will be classified as a "safe, non-lethal" weapon (just as the Taser already has been) well, we will be one mile higher up Shit Creek.
  • Torture Applications (Score:5, Interesting)

    by E++99 (880734) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @07:18PM (#20674527) Homepage
    The article says:

    The agony the Raytheon gun inflicts is probably equal to anything in a torture chamber - these waves are tuned to a frequency exactly designed to stimulate the pain nerves.

    But this is not true. Torture relies just as much on fear of death or permanent injury as it does on pain. I do not believe a pain-only device would make an effective torture device. Read a book like Bravo-Two-Zero, for an idea of what the torture was like practiced by Iraqis against coalition POW's in the first Iraq war; and more importantly, what the men who are able to resist it are like. They said they tested it on "hardened marines," and they couldn't withstand it more than a couple seconds. I'd like to see how Delta or SAS guys would do against it.
  • by fontkick (788075) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @10:53PM (#20676515)
    I, for one, welcome our nerve-vibrating microwave Hummer-mounted overlords who won't cause permanent, visible injury as long as we aren't wearing glasses or contacts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @11:21PM (#20676689)
    My God. This is so bad at so many levels, but here's my contribution to the list.
    A tazer has to be held by the user in contact with the victim. The victim at least gets to see the person coming and witness them. This evil device leaves no evidence and can be operated at a great distance in full anonymity.

    1/ What about severe misue of the device for assassination, by any number of conscienceless vermin across society:
    1.1/ Target a plane's cockpit on takeoff. Dead. No evidence. Post mortem: Accident.
    1.2/ Target a mountain climber hiking (unroped) up a steep mountainside. Dead. No evidence. Post mortem: Accident.
    1.3/ Target a skydiver/BASE jumper after jumping and before opening their chute. Dead. No evidence. Post mortem: Accident.
    1.4/ Targetting the driver of Xxxx Xx's Mercedes as it travels into a French tunnel at high speed. Massive accident, perhaps death, certain personal trauma. No evidence. Post mortem: Accident.
    1.5/ Target Lewis Hamilton's Maclaren at the end of Spa's main straight, just before the braking zone. (precedent: Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Gunter Parche) Massive accident, perhaps death, certain loss of race points. No evidence. Post mortem: Accident.
    1.6/ Target that noisy motorcyclist who keeps riding up and down the road outside your retirement home. Massive accident, perhaps death, certain personal trauma. No evidence. Post mortem: Accident.

    No evidence. No sound. Sniper-like secrecy. Uncontrollable pain. Certain or highly probable death.

    2/ How can its premise of evidenceless be defeated? A vulnerable person may be unable to wear a full "tinfoil suit" (mountain climber), but perhaps they can carry a frequency recording device that can be manufactured and distrubuted cheaply that amounts to a piece of litmus-like paper that changes colour if subjected to this evil device's frequency at a threshold intensity, so that the person's body will at least carry a fragment of evidence that the magic frequeny was applied to the person, causing the pain (and death if so). Patentable? Hope not. I just put it into the public domain to try to block that usually bad outcome.

    ANonCow

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