From Fri Mar 4 07:00:07 2005
Date: Thu, 3 Mar 2005 13:01:47 -0600 (CST)
Subject: [NYTr] The Pain Weapon Can Drop Protestors from 2 km
Article: 206077
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;

Ray gun can drop rioters from 2km

By James Reynolds, The Scotsman, 2 March 2005

A RAY gun which can deliver a bout of excruciating pain to rioters from a distance of more than two kilometres is being developed by weapons experts in the United States.

Although the gun is meant to leave the victims unharmed, the development has aroused fury among pain researchers, who claim their work to limit and control pain has been hijacked to create a weapon.

They say the new technology, which is intended to replace the existing last line of defence against rioters, for example water cannons and tear gas, could be used for torture.

A report in the New Scientist magazine reveals that the research came to light in documents unearthed by the Sunshine Project, an organisation based in Texas and in Hamburg, Germany, that exposes biological weapons developments and advances. The papers were released under US freedom of information legislation.

One of the documents, a research contract between the Office of Naval Research and the University of Florida in Gainsville, examines the effects of what are termed Pulsed Energy Projectiles (PEPs), which fire a laser pulse that generates a burst of expanding plasma when it comes into contact with something solid, such as a human body.

Although it is not expected to be ready until 2007, the weapon could be used to knock rioters clean off their feet.

A review of non-lethal weapons in 2003 by the US naval studies board, which advises its domestic military forces, declared that PEPs produced “pain and temporary paralysis” in tests on animals. It is believed that the effect results from an electromagnetic pulse produced by the expanding plasma that triggers impulses in the nerve cells.

The study aims to concentrate this trigger effect in human nerve cells, and asks those working on the research to look for “optimal pulse parameters to evoke peak nociceptor activation”. Roughly translated, this means maximising the amount of pain caused by the pulse. Experiments will seek to identify how much pain can be inflicted before the subject is injured or killed.

Dr John Wood, of University College London, is an expert in how the human brain perceives pain and believes that the researchers should be condemned by the international scientific community.

He said: “It could be used for torture. The researchers must be aware of this.”