Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Little Shop of Horrors: Get ready to puke
The police do not have enough weapons in their arsenal against the population, and besides, new toys are always welcome. Now the government is supporting work on the "LED Incapacitator" or "lightsaber." Fox News has called it the "puke saber" or the "barf-beamer."
Funded for development by a Homeland Security contract with Intelligent Optical Systems, this nifty little device currently looks like a flashlight and works by—
simultaneously overwhelming the subject both physiologically (temporarily blinding him) and psychophysically (disorienting him). A built-in rangefinder measures the distance to the nearest pair of eyeballs. Then, a “governor” sets the output and pulse train (a series of pulses and rests) to a level, frequency, and duration that are effective, but safe. The colors and pulses continuously change, leaving no time for the brain or eyes to adapt.
The first phase of development has demonstrated the "proof of concept"—i.e., that it works. Now it's on to the universities—
This fall, in Phase 2, researchers at Pennsylvania State University will test the LED Incapacitator on volunteers at the school’s Institute of Nonlethal Defense Technology. Intelligent Optical Systems will use the test results to evaluate design features and tweak the strobe’s pattern and colors. “There’s one wavelength that gets everybody,” says Lieberman. “Vlad calls it the evil color.” Further tests are scheduled for the fall, and production could begin by December.Phase 3 will attempt to make the instrument "short and svelte as a D-cell Maglite, designed to fit on a duty belt."
Scaling up for "mobs" is comparatively easy—
Output and size can easily be scaled up to fit the need; immobilizing a mob, for instance, might call for a wide-angle “bazooka” version.
This should complement the Air Force's microwave ray gun nicely.
And how about seizures?
The barf-beamer has been proven to nauseate. But from the weapon's description it seems to me highly likely that it will trigger seizures (known as the "photoconvulsive response") in a certain percentage of those who are vulnerable, children and teens included.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who recently suffered a seizure attributed to epilepsy, might make an excellent candidate for testing the safety of the device. Of course if Roberts is used and suffers no ill effects, we should avoid drawing any firm conclusions until the possibility that he suffers from simple demonic possession rather than from epilepsy can be ruled out.