Thursday, December 22, 2011

Riot Shield Sonic Attack

There's nothing like a global wave of  popular insurgency to prompt weapons manufacturers to think of new ways to hurt and kill people. Latest in the sonic warfare department is the riot shield wall of sound:

'Riot shields that project a wall of sound to disperse crowds will reduce violent clashes with police, according to a patent filed by defence firm Raytheon of Waltham, Massachusetts. The device looks similar to existing riot shields, but it incorporates an acoustic horn that generates a pressure pulse. Police in the US already use acoustic devices for crowd control purposes that emit a loud, unpleasant noise.

The new shield described by Raytheon produces a low-frequency sound which resonates with the respiratory tract, making it hard to breathe. According to the patent, the intensity could be increased from causing discomfort to the point where targets become "temporarily incapacitated". Acoustic devices haven't seen wide adoption because their range is limited to a few tens of metres. The patent gets around this by introducing a "cohort mode" in which many shields are wirelessly networked so their output covers a wide area, like Roman legionaries locking their shields together. One shield acts as a master which controls the others, so that the acoustic beams combine effectively'.

(New Scientist, 14 December 2011)

All sounds a bit like Michael Moorcock's Sonic Attack, recorded by  Hawkwind on the 1973 Space Ritual album:

'These are the first signs of Sonic Attack:
You will notice small objects, such as ornaments, oscillating.
You will notice a vibration in your diaphragm.
You will hear a distant hissing in your ears.
You will feel dizzy.
You will feel the need to vomit.
There will be bleeding from orifices.
There will be an ache in the pelvic region.
You may be subject to fits of hysterical shouting, or even laughter'.

See also: Kathy Acker - Empire of the Senseless; Sonic Cannon in Pittsburgh.

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