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Artículo sobre armas no letales (Harper's Magazine - inglés)

When killing just won't do

From "Nonlethal Weapons: Terms and References," a report published by the United States Air Force Institute for National Security Studies. According to the report's introduction, many of the weapons are still in the proposal stage.


Acoustic Bullets: High-power, very low-frequency waves emitted from one- to two-meter antenna dishes. Results in blunt-object trauma. Effects range from discomfort to death.

Curdler Unit: A device that is plugged into a sound system to produce a shrill, shrieking, blatting noise. It is used to irritate and disperse rioters and has a decibel range just below that of the danger level to the human ear. It is used in night operations to produce a "voodoo" effect and breaks up chanting, singing, and clapping.

Infrasound: Very low-frequency sound that can travel long distances and easily penetrate most buildings and vehicles. Long-wavelength sound creates biophysical effects: nausea, loss of bowels, disorientation, vomiting, internal-organ damage, or death may occur. By 1972 an infrasound generator had been built in France. When activated it made the people in range sick for hours.

Squawk Box: Crowd-dispersal weapon field-tested by the British Army in Ireland in 1973. This directional device emits two ultrasonic frequencies that when mixed in the human ear become intolerable. It produces giddiness, nausea, or fainting. The beam is so small that it can be directed at specific individuals in a riot situation.

Acoustic & optical

Photic Driver: A crowd-control device that uses ultrasound and flashing infrared lights to penetrate closed human eyelids. Potential for epileptic fits because of the stroboscopic flashing effect.

Psycho-Correction: A technology invented by a Russian scientist that involves influencing subjects visually or aurally with imbedded subliminal messages.


Coating, Slick: Teflon-type lubricants that create a slippery surface. In the 1960s the term "Instant Banana Peel" was coined to describe the capability provided by Riotril. When applied to a hard surface and wetted down, this dry, relatively inexpensive white powder becomes ice slick. It becomes virtually impossible for an individual to move or stand up on a hard surface so treated.

Foam, Sticky: A name given to a polymer-based superadhesive agent. The technology first began appearing in commercial applications such as "superglue" and quick-setting foam insulation. It is extremely persistent and is virtually impossible to remove without a liquid solvent that has a pleasant citrus odor. Sticky foam came to public attention on February 28, 1995, when U.S. Marines used it in Mogadishu, Somalia, to prevent armed intruders from impeding efforts to extricate U.N. forces from that country.


Smoke, Colored: Colored-smoke concentrations produce greater initial psychological and panic effect than white smoke. Caucasians are said to have a greater repugnance to brilliant green smoke, whereas Negroids and Latins are declared to be most adversely affected by brilliant red. Rioters confronted with a strong concentration of colored smoke feel, instinctively, that they are being marked, or stained, and therefore lose anonymity.


Invisible: One concept envisions a fluorescent powder sprayed into crowds from a pressurized container. Particles adhere to clothing and are visible only under ultraviolet light. Another concept envisions sponge grenades impregnated with infrared dye so that rioters can be later identified.

Riot-control agent

Tear Gas, Invisible: Invisible tear gas cannot be seen by rioters once it emerges from a grenade or mechanical dispenser, and therefore has a greater psychological panic-producing effect than tear smoke.


Police Jacket: Police jacket that jolts anyone who touches it.


Biodegrading Microbes: Microbes that turn storage tanks full of aviation fuel into useless jelly. Such microbes may produce acids or enzymes that can be tailored to degrade almost anything, even concrete and metal, so their potential use as nonlethal weapons could be extensive.

Genetic Alteration: The act of changing genetic code to create a desired less-than-lethal but long-term disablement effect, perhaps for generations, thereby creating a societal burden.

Neuro-Implant: Computer implants into the brain that allow for behavioral modification and control. Current research is experimental in nature and focuses on lab animals such as mice.

Project Agile: Series of military-science studies in Asia conducted in May 1966 for the Advanced Research Projects Agency. One such study centered on developing "stink" bombs that were race specific.

Pheromones: The chemical substances released by animals to influence physiology or behavior of other members of the same species. One use of pheromones, at the most elemental level, could be to mark target individuals and then release bees to attack them.


Prophet: The projection of the image of an ancient god over an enemy capital whose public communications have been seized and used against it in a massive psychological operation.

Soldier Forces: The projection of soldier images that make an opponent think more allied forces exist than actually do, make an opponent believe that allied forces are located in a region where none actually exist, and/or provide false targets for his weapons to fire upon.

Death: Hologram used to scare a target individual to death. Example: a drug lord with a weak heart sees the ghost of his dead rival appearing at his bedside and dies of fright.



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