I saw this on the news this morning: Ray Gun Makes Targets Feel as if They are On Fire.
I’d seen this before a month or so back in WIRED. And read some of the commentary.
You can get the technical skinny and read about some other bright ideas for “less than lethal” weapons here. (Including weapons that create bad odors, and chemical weapons that get the enemy to stand at attention, as it were.)
Basically its a microwave gun that causes a feeling of extreme heat and burning without actually giving the target a permanent tan. It makes you want to run away as fast as you can. There has been some debate about the use of this new heat ray gun. Pro: This laser beam will give military personnel (all branches are interested in it, apparently) the ability to secure a specific area without casualties. The crowd control advantages are readily apparent, especially in an urban area where it can become difficult to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants. This civilian thinks that this can only be a good thing. Con: If the situation is that bad, it might be safer for our troops to be able to protect themselves with lethal force. Also, the critics point out that something that can cause intense pain, but leave no actual scarring or permanent damage will be ideal for torture. I can’t really argue with that, but it seems that the tactical advantages of applying it in urban warfare outweigh the danger that the weapon will be misused.
Plus, it’s a LASER BEAM! How cool is it to say that you got to zap somebody in the face with a laser? Until the proposed Kabar light saber comes out its the most awesomely sci-fi thing our troops will ever get to have.