Handheld Version Of Military "Pain Ray" Being Developed

Currently, the technology known as "Active Denial" only operates from a large truck, but a report indicates that Raytheon is developing a version that police officers can use to disperse crowds.

Handheld Version Of Military "Pain Ray" Being Developed

What's the Latest Development?

According to a recent article in New Scientist, defense contractor Raytheon is working on developing a portable, reduced-range version of the crowd-dispersal military technology known as Active Denial. In its current form, it works by directing high-frequency microwaves at a crowd from a distant truck, causing the targets to experience a sensation of intense heat that prompts them to withdraw. In thousands of tests, only eight people have been burned seriously enough to require attention.

What's the Big Idea?

The beauty (some would say) of this non-lethal technology is that it works very well in triggering people's own reflexes to force them to disperse. Also, there's no warning whatsoever before it goes off, and in most cases no injuries are incurred. Its invisibility has prompted concerns from several quarters. A proposed trial of the portable "pain ray" at a California prison was canceled when fears arose about its possible use as a torture device. Currently, the National Institute of Justice is reviewing whether the Raytheon version will ever make it into civilian law enforcement.

justasc / Shutterstock.com

Read it at Smithsonian Magazine

3,000-pound Triceratops skull unearthed in South Dakota

"You dream about these kinds of moments when you're a kid," said lead paleontologist David Schmidt.

Excavation of a triceratops skull in South Dakota.

Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College
Surprising Science
  • The triceratops skull was first discovered in 2019, but was excavated over the summer of 2020.
  • It was discovered in the South Dakota Badlands, an area where the Triceratops roamed some 66 million years ago.
  • Studying dinosaurs helps scientists better understand the evolution of all life on Earth.
Keep reading Show less

An Olympics without fanfare: What would the ancient Greeks think of the empty stadiums?

In ancient Greece, the Olympics were never solely about the athletes themselves.

Photo by Despina Galani on Unsplash

Because of a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases, the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2021 Olympics will unfold in a stadium absent the eyes, ears and voices of a once-anticipated 68,000 ticket holders from around the world.

Keep reading Show less

Bad at math? Blame your neurotransmitters

A new brain imaging study explored how different levels of the brain's excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters are linked to math abilities.

Signal burst illustration

Mind & Brain
  • Glutamate and GABA are neurotransmitters that help regulate brain activity.
  • Scientists have long known that both are important to learning and neuroplasticity, but their relationship to acquiring complex cognitive skills like math has remained unclear.
  • The new study shows that having certain levels of these neurotransmitters predict math performance, but that these levels switch with age.
Keep reading Show less