The Modern World's Strangest Weapons – From Pain Rays To Tractor Beams

Plenty of these are still in development, and several are utterly bonkers. rogistock/Shutterstock

The saga of the Cuban sonic weapon attacks continues. As of mid-October, the American President has accused the nearby nation’s intelligence agency of masterminding the audio assaults on its diplomats, several of which have been left with hearing problems, debilitating nausea, and, in some cases, permanent brain damage.

Much of the mystery has focused on what possible device could cause such a weapon. At present, it’s unclear what types of sound waves were used in the attacks. This means that the symptoms could have been caused by an infrasound device, a microwave source, or a focused beam of audible sound that’s previously been used on rioting crowds.

In any case, this got us thinking. These Cuba-based incidences involve weapons technology that has either been trialled or has been used in the past – so what other strange types of deterrents exist today? Here’s a collection of some of the oddest.

1 – Pain Ray

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the US military has invented a heat ray that is designed to blast high-frequency waves at crowds of people and cook them a little bit. Officially named the Active Denial System, it’s come to be known as the “Pain Ray” by those it has been tested on.

When fired at an individual, the atoms at the surface of their skin begin to vibrate rapidly, as if they’re in a microwave. There’s no noise or flash of light; instead, they just begin to sizzle, and it’s enough to force people to run a mile.

It’s not technically a microwave gun. Instead, electromagnetic radiation is passed through a magnetic field, whereupon it generates heat in the epidermis of a person. Unlike microwaves, it cannot pass through the skin and damage your internal organs. That’s why, despite their best efforts, the Armed Forces has failed to cook a turkey with it.

One problem, though: It takes about 16 hours to become operational, which means that it can’t be deployed in a hurry.

2 – The Impulse Swimmer Gun

This is somewhat like an aquatic version of the device suspected of being used in the Cuban attacks. Currently under development in the US, it is said to use “pulsed sound waves” to induce auditory impairment and extreme nausea in scuba divers and submarine crews.

It’s not clear what kind of technology this weapon would use, but it's likely infrasound or something far more high frequency, yet again.

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