They say that it won’t hurt, but it will be unbearable.
The U.S. military researchers unveiled its latest tool for crowd control this week, which one reporter likened to the weapons used by Martians in War of the Worlds. The new gadget—called the Active Denial System—fires an invisible electromagnetic beam from a concave mirror mounted on top of a military truck. To the target, it’s said to feel like a wave of heat strong enough to cause extreme discomfort. That will force people to instinctively clamber to escape the heat. It sort of sounds like a scalding shower.
“You’re not gonna see it, you’re not gonna hear it, you’re not gonna smell it: you’re gonna feel it,” said U.S. Marine Colonel Tracy Taffola, during a media demonstration. Taffola added that the heat ray has a range of 1,000 m, and is the “safest, non-lethal capability” developed by the military in 15 years. Out of tests on 11,000 subjects, researchers say only two people sustained injuries that needed medical attention, but they made full recoveries.
The ray is said to be safe because it has a frequency of 95 gigahertz, lower than that of a microwave and too low to pop a bag of popcorn. But concern remains over what would happen to people who are unable to flee from the blast of heat, like those who are wheelchair bound or injured in the midst of a rowdy crowd. And what about the possibility of people getting trampled amidst the chaotic scramble to escape the heat?