Tuesday, February 14, 2006

If It Can Give Us the Sensation of Being Tongued by Scarlett Johansen, We're For It 

Courtesy of our indefatigable colleagues at Cursor: We have written extensively in the past about the "Active Denial System," a short-range weapon that instantaneously heats the water in your epidermis to intolerably painful temperatures. We wish we could report that the ADS was the nastiest bauble on the Pentagon's wishlist, but alas, we cannot:
Other weapons can affect the nervous system directly. The Pulsed Energy Projectile fires a short intense pulse of laser energy. This vaporizes the outer layer of the target, creating a rapidly-expanding expanding ball of plasma. At different power levels, those expanding plasmas could deliver a harmless warning, stun the target, or disable them - all with pinpoint laser precision from a mile away.

Early reports on the effects of
PEPs mentioned temporary paralysis, then thought to be related to ultrasonic shockwaves. It later became apparent that the electromagnetic pulse caused by the expanding plasma was triggering nerve cells.

Details of this emerged in a
heavily-censored document released to Ed Hammond of the Sunshine Project under the Freedom if Information Act. Called “Sensory consequence of electromagnetic pulsed emitted by laser induced plasmas,” it described research on activating the nerve cells responsible for sensing unpleasant stimuli: heat, damage, pressure, cold. By selectively stimulating a particular nociceptor, a finely tuned PEP might sensations of say, being burned, frozen or dipped in acid -- all without doing the slightest actual harm.

The skin is the easiest target for such stimulation. But, in principle, any sensory nerves could be triggered. The Controlled Effects document suggests “it may be possible to create synthetic images…to confuse an individual' s visual sense or, in a similar manner, confuse his senses of sound, taste, touch, or smell.”
We think this project may be farther along than DefenseTech.org is willing to admit. After all, 39% of the American people already believe that the President's shit smells like Aramis pour hommes.

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