US Gov't Tests New Pain Weapon on Animals
[email protected] University of
Central Florida in Orlando's contact info...
University of Central Florida
4000 Central Florida Blvd.
Orlando, Florida 32816
Campus Information: (407) 823-2000
Directions Hotline: (407) 882-0909
I think we should all call the University and let
them know how we feel about this experiment....remeber to use a calling
card (a generic one) and call from a payphone. If you live in the
Orlando area why not get a regular protest going...Maximum pain is aim
of new US weapon
The US military is funding development of a weapon
that delivers a bout of excruciating pain from up to 2 kilometres away.
Intended for use against rioters, it is meant to leave victims unharmed.
But pain researchers are furious that work aimed at controlling pain has
been used to develop a weapon. And they fear that the technology will be
used for torture.
"I am deeply concerned about the ethical aspects of
this research," says Andrew Rice, a consultant in pain medicine at
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, UK. "Even if the use of
temporary severe pain can be justified as a restraining measure, which I
do not believe it can, the long-term physical and psychological effects
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 research. The papers were
released under the US's Freedom of Information Act.
One document, a research contract between the
Office of Naval Research and the University of Florida in Gainsville,
US, is entitled "Sensory consequences of electromagnetic pulses emitted
by laser induced plasmas".
It concerns so-called Pulsed Energy Projectiles (PEPs),
which fire a laser pulse that generates a burst of expanding plasma when
it hits something solid, like a person (New Scientist print edition, 12
October 2002). The weapon, destined for use in 2007, could literally
knock rioters off their feet.
According to a 2003 review of non-lethal weapons by
the US Naval Studies Board, which advises the navy and marine corps,
PEPs produced "pain and temporary paralysis" in tests on animals. This
appears to be the result of an electromagnetic pulse produced by the
expanding plasma which triggers impulses in nerve cells.
The new study, which runs until July and will be
carried out with researchers at the University of Central Florida in
Orlando, aims to optimise this effect. The idea is
to work out how to generate a pulse which triggers pain neurons without
The contract, heavily censored before release, asks
researchers to look for "optimal pulse parameters to evoke peak
nociceptor activation" - in other words, cause the maximum pain
possible. Studies on cells grown in the lab will identify how much pain
can be inflicted on someone before causing injury or death.
New Scientist contacted two researchers working on
the project. Martin Richardson, a laser expert at the University of
Central Florida, US, refused to comment. Brian Cooper, an expert in
dental pain at the University of Florida, distanced himself from the
work, saying "I don't have anything interesting to convey. I was just
providing some background for the group." His name appears on a public
list of the university's research projects next to the $500,000-plus
John Wood of University College London, UK, an
expert in how the brain perceives pain, says the researchers involved in
the project should face censure. "It could be used for torture," he
says, "the [researchers] must be aware of this."
Amanda Williams, a clinical psychologist at
University College London, fears that victims risk long-term harm.
"Persistent pain can result from a range of supposedly non-destructive
stimuli which nevertheless change the functioning of the nervous
system," she says. She is concerned that studies of cultured cells will
fall short of demonstrating a safe level for a plasma burst. "They
cannot tell us about the pain and psychological consequences of such a