Photo: Luis E. Velazquez, Marine Corps Systems Command (U.S. Department of Defense)
In an age where military breakthroughs have given us killer drones and ultrasonic pain rays, the world probably doesn’t need another terrifying weapon plucked straight from a ’50s B-movie. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to mention this to the Pentagon. According to a Defense One article, top Army minds have unveiled a device that conspiracy nuts will have nightmares over: a laser that can make you hear voices.
Well, almost. Currently, the weapon can produce human-like sounds that don’t translate to anything understandable. But the project led by the U.S. Military’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program (JNLWP) is already on the verge of producing the kind of effects that’ll have you running for your tinfoil hat.
Creepy stuff. But how does it work? Apparently, it’s all down to the Laser-Induced Plasma Effect – a reaction that occurs when a laser is fired at air molecules. If the laser is fired for long enough (roughly 10-15 seconds), the targeted atoms will produce what’s known as plasma – essentially an electrified gas cloud. Fire electromagnetic pulses at this plasma and it can produce sound, causing the effect seen in the above video. This means that the device is really two lasers in one. The first creates the plasma and the second fires off the electromagnetic rays to give off the effect. Because let’s be honest: when it comes to the weapons of the future, is there any such thing as too many lasers?
The Pentagon plans to use the laser for multiple (and perhaps nefarious?) purposes. Preventing military checkpoint ambushes is one application. But crowd dispersal, creating confusion on the battlefield, or even just plain ol’ scaring people are also potential applications. What’s more, it’s designed to work at a range of 20 to 30 kilometers. Army commanders can happily point this thing at a security situation while they attend to more important operations. How convenient is that for our troops?
As for producing the actual ‘voices,’ JNLWP tech head David Law says that it’s only a matter of time. “We’re this close to getting it to speak to us,” he told Defense One. “I need three or four more kilohertz.”
We’re no scientists, but that doesn’t sound like much. So don’t lose hope yet. Those voices in your head might not be the work of aliens, but American military genius instead. Or maybe that’s what they want you to think?