The Sierra Nevada Corporation claimed this week that it is ready to begin production on the MEDUSA, a damned scary ray gun that uses the "microwave audio effect" to implant sounds and perhaps even specific messages inside people's heads. Short for Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio, MEDUSA creates the audio effect with short microwave pulses. The pulses create a shockwave inside the skull that's detected by the ears, and basically makes you think you're going balls-to-the-wall batshit insane. The MEDUSA can also "produce recognizable sounds" and is aimed primarily at military uses, but New Scientist revealed there are other uses in the works, too.
And if you're thinking ear plugs are this thing's Kryptonite, think again. Lee Sadovnik of Sierra Nevada Corp. said normal audio safety limits are off the table since the sound bypasses the eardrums and emanates from within the skull. "The repel effect is a combination of loudness and the irritation factor," he said. "You can't block it out."
Wet blanket James Lin of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Illinois in Chicago wants more testing done, however, because of the perceived health ramifications of such a device. Lin said lower, whisper-level intensities work fine, but the higher incapacitating levels expected by the military could fry more than a few brains out on the battlefield. "I would worry about what other health effects it is having," Lin said. "You might see neural damage."
And those "other uses" hinted at above? Try subliminal advertising; or suggestive subconscious comments that you don't really "hear" but can influence decision-making anyway. Or, alternatively, the beam can be ramped up to 11 and just kill you outright. WIN!
Fun Gizmodo Fact: The MEDUSA is useless against a raging pack of schizophrenics. [New Scientist via Danger Room]