Weapons that kill by sound, ready for sale

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Weapons that kill by sound, ready for sale

The fact that "millions" are being ordered show this weapon is not just experimental, but here.


Norris and A.T.C. have been busy honing something called High Intensity Directed Acoustics (HIDA, in house jargon). It is directional sound -- an offshoot of HSS -- but one that never, ever transmits Handel or waterfall sounds.

In reality, HIDA is both warning and weapon. If used from a battleship, it can ward off stray crafts at 500 yards with a pinpointed verbal warning. Should the offending vessel continue to within 200 yards, the stern warnings are replaced by 120-decibel sounds that are as physically disabling as shrapnel. Certain noises, projected at the right pitch, can incapacitate even a stone-deaf terrorist; the bones in your head are brutalized by a tone's full effect whether you're clutching the sides of your skull in agony or not.

"Besides," Norris says, laughing darkly, "grabbing your ears is as good as a pair of handcuffs."

Nimbly holding a big black plate, Norris stands with me in an A.T.C. sound chamber. Since he's poised behind the weapon, he will hear no sound once it's powered up: not a peep. "HIDA can instantaneously cause loss of equilibrium, vomiting, migraines -- really, we can pretty much pick our ailment," he says brightly. "We've delivered a couple dozen units so far, but will have a lot more out by June. They're talking millions!"

(Last month, A.T.C. cut a five-year, multimillion-dollar licensing agreement with General Dynamics, one of the giants of the military- industrial complex.)

Norris prods his assistant to locate the baby noise on a laptop, then aims the device at me. At first, the noise is dreadful -- just primally wrong -- but not unbearable. I repeatedly tell Norris to crank it up (trying to approximate battle-strength volume, without the nausea), until the noise isn't so much a noise as an assault on my nervous system. I nearly fall down and, for some reason, my eyes hurt. When I bravely ask how high they'd turned the dial, Norris laughs uproariously. "That was nothing!" he bellows.

"That was about 1 percent of what an enemy would get. One percent!" Two hours later, I can still feel the ache in the back of my head.
By netchicken: posted on 7-2-2004

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