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The Military Technology

Sound Generator Lethal From 10 Meters 314

penguinrecorder writes "The Thunder Generator uses a mixture of liquefied petroleum, cooking gas, and air to create explosions, which in turn generate shock waves capable of stunning people from 30 to 100 meters away. At that range, the weapon is relatively harmless, making people run in panic when they feel the sonic blast hitting their bodies. However, at less than ten meters, the Thunder Generator is capable of causing permanent damage or killing people."
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Sound Generator Lethal From 10 Meters

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  • by TerranFury ( 726743 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @09:59AM (#30831172)
    Just firing a handgun without hearing protection is enough to rip out the hair cells in your ears (which don't grow back) and cause permanent hearing loss. I'm pretty sure that if this thing is capable of "stunning" people it's doing lasting damage to your auditory system. That damage may be small, but it remains that the ringing you hear in your ears afterward is still a set of frequencies you'll never hear again.
    • by RemoWilliams84 ( 1348761 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:02AM (#30831220)

      Which is why these things would be perfect for a rock concert. Set a few throughout the crowd and time them to the bass drum. Hardcore!

    • by j00r0m4nc3r ( 959816 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:08AM (#30831272)
      I don't see the big news here. At close range it's easy to kill. Even something like a $5 potato cannon can kill people at close range. Being in close proximity to exploding things has never really been good for your health..
      • by Ephemeriis ( 315124 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:20AM (#30831412)

        I don't see the big news here. At close range it's easy to kill. Even something like a $5 potato cannon can kill people at close range. Being in close proximity to exploding things has never really been good for your health..

        I dunno... 10 meters isn't really what I would personally call "close range." That's 30ish feet... Roughly the height of a three-story building. That's a good amount of distance between you and the target.

        And I wonder what the area of affect is like... Is this a single-target thing, or a crowd-dispersal thing? Because if it's designed for crowd control, I'm imagining it's got a pretty big area of effect... And you can fit an awful lot of people in a 30' cone... All of which would be permanently injured or killed.

        If you look at the article...

        According to company data, the system generates 60 to 100 bursts per minute, each traveling at about 2,000 meters per second and lasting up to 300 milliseconds.

        One standard 12-kilogram LPG gas canister (retail cost: about $25) can produce up to 5,000 shock bursts.

        "That's more than enough for hours of continuous operation,"

        Imagine the potential for misuse.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Five dollars? At close range, I could kill somebody for free!
      • by WED Fan ( 911325 ) <akahige@trash m a i l . net> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:36AM (#30831640) Homepage Journal

        Even something like a $5 potato cannon can kill people at close range.

        Dude, don't start it up. Those folks in Idaho are a thin skinned bunch.

        The Idaho Potatoe Council, through their spokesman, Spuddy Buddy, want to reiterate that, "Potatoes don't kill people, people kill people."

        "The potatoe is a non-lethal vegetable. In fact, there is only one tuber that is considered a weapon, but it is grown only in the upper most reaches of the Andeas on the boarders of Chile and Peru," Buddy went on to say.

        Did you know millions of potatoes have been shipped around the world as humanitarian relief. Not a single one has been used in military agression. There has only been one instance of a potato being used to kill. That was the aforementioned Peruvian Murder Spud (rough translation) that the CIA used in an assasination attempt on the husband of Evita Peron.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by operagost ( 62405 )


          Dan Quayle, is that you?

        • by Reziac ( 43301 ) * on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:31PM (#30835254) Homepage Journal

          Potatoes are a gateway to violence. Millions of children are taught to drive pointy objects into Mr.Potatohead. Then they grow up to be punks and drive nails into each other's scalps.

          Clearly potatoes are a menace to society, and should be banned.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          the aforementioned Peruvian Murder Spud (rough translation) that the CIA used in an assasination attempt on the husband of Evita Peron.

          No, you've gotten it all wrong. There's no such thing as the Peruvian Murder Spud. The CIA used the Argentinian

          Murder Spud on Juan Peron. He was an Argentinian, after all.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by WED Fan ( 911325 )
            The CIA was trying to make it look like Chileans were trying to make it look like Peruvians.
      • Comment removed (Score:4, Insightful)

        by account_deleted ( 4530225 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:50AM (#30831824)
        Comment removed based on user account deletion
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Firethorn ( 177587 )

          I don't really have problems with them using it when they would have used 'other' less lethal weapons anyways, such as tear gas and water hoses.

          This probably won't replace shotgun bean bags or tasers, they're individual weapons while this is a mass weapon.

          The problem comes from proper usage - potentially violent crowds are often led by 'professional' exciters, and they'd be smart enough to know that if you can get people within that 10 meter unsafe zone the operators are a lot less likely to set it off, and

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by JWSmythe ( 446288 )

        In other news, a concussion can be dangerous.

        Ya, it's not news. It sounds like a potato cannon without the potato, firing at 100 pulses per minute. Pretty interesting that they're getting that kind of rate, but still, obviously dangerous.

        There's a reason a concussion grenade works, and it's not always shrapnel. I'm guessing the 10m deadly zone is directly downrange of the cannon, not beside or behind it. It's still a contained explosion, so all the force goes

      • The problem is that it's being pushed as "non-lethal", yet it clearly can be lethal. Like tasers. Around 350 people have died in the US in the last 10 years from supposedly non-lethal tasers.

        The other issue is that if it's not lethal and causes no permanent damage, it's a new tool for torture. Again, like tasers.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by BranMan ( 29917 )
          I think that the idea here is for this to act as a barrier - an invisible fence if you will. As long as you start it up with no one near it, people will not want to GET near it. The nearer they get, the more it affects them.

          Seems like it would be workable. Plus, I bet there is a way to ramp up the effects over, say a minute? That would help to clear everyone out from the destructive zone before it hits full power.

          All in all, could be quite effective - though not subtle.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Article doesn't give too many details, but if it's a vortex cannon it could be capable stunning people without causing hearing loss. The question is whether you get stunned by a wall of air or very loud sound. I don't trust reporters to be able to distinguish the two.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Majik Sheff ( 930627 )

        wall of air = pressure wave
        sound = pressure wave
        wall of air = sound

        Please explain to this simpleton where I'm misinformed?

        • by GiveBenADollar ( 1722738 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:48AM (#30831792)
          You have to see it to understand it. [] Vortex cannons send out a spiraling ring of air. They can hit people and things with some serious force, but it's not due to sound.
        • by Moryath ( 553296 )

          Nope. Wall of Air = Card [].

        • "Please explain to this simpleton where I'm misinformed?

          No need to call yourself a simpleton, you simply forget about oscillation and velocity.
      • According to TFA:

        "Anyone within 30 to 50 meters from the cannon will feel like he's standing in front of a firing squad," he said. "He'll feel and hear the blast, but he won't be hurled to the ground. He'll be able to run away unharmed and that's the point of this application."

        It seems this will not have much physical force, but will indeed have potential for causing hearing loss.

    • I grew up hunting and fishing. I had to pass what was then the bronze, silver and gold small calibre standards. A 20 gauge over and under and a colt 45 remain my favourite weapons although I no longer own guns or hunt. I'm unaware of any permanent damage to hearing caused by handguns, unless you're specifically speaking to indoor ranges. My hearing tests out excellent and I'd hate to see the carnage and spent rounds my years of hunting and target shooting would amount to.
      • You got lucky, somehow. Nearly everyone who does a significant amount of shooting without hearing protection ends up with permanent hearing damage. You can probably get away with firing a lot of .22 shells through a rifle without too much concern, but shorten the barrel or increase the powder charge, or both, and if you don't wear some protection you will probably be sorry. Well, not YOU, I guess, but the rest of us.
        • A .22 derringer will leave most people's ears ringing. So with a short enough barrel it doesn't even take much powder.

        • Thanks, did not know that, although I'd like to know if damage is more likely from a a weapon fired from someone standing next to you, like when two or more people are walking a field bird hunting. I always found the report of a weapon fired by someone nearby was more forceful than from a weapon I fired. My dad once got hold of a 10 gauge goose gun and we took it out for an afternoon, that was an impressive, if niche, weapon. Unfortunately he wouldn't let me fire it because he was afraid the recoil would do
  • When 11 just isn't loud enough...

    Finally, Disaster Area can live up to their reputation!


    • I don't think you understand. If this is a 12, Disaster Area is somewhere hovering around a 400 or so.

      • by MRe_nl ( 306212 )

        Large hot pipe organ at Robodock, hard to see but pump up the volume.
        The machine in the article sounds a lot like one we built there, only our "cannons" where controlled through Cubase/Fruityloops-style music software. And pointed straight up to minimize lethality, allthough glass still shattered at 50 meters/150 feet. []

        • Cool, I've been a fan of LHPO for years. I used to crew for hot-air balloons so just the thought of MIDI-controlled propane torches is awesome.

          You need to do a gig at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Seriously.

          • by MRe_nl ( 306212 )

            I think i can design, produce and operate shows that will leave most people slack-jawed
            (think Fusion/Robodock/Burningman/Glastonbury if that means anything to you). But i'm in Holland, and it takes a lot of time, people or money, pick two ; ). In fact, pick three.

            I know just the people for a massive midi/torches show, they do basslines on huge freestanding torches ON the dancefloor with overhead flames and explosions, and mid and high on a small fireorgan. They did the dancefloor at Fusion a couple of year

      • by khallow ( 566160 )
        In my view, "Disaster Area" isn't a destination, but a development path. We should work our way up from riot control equipment to WMDs to planet killing gear. A high end concert might involve dropping large black holes into each other so that the galaxy can feel the beat via gravity waves powerful enough to rip stars apart. And since the galaxy is your stage, you'll sell a lot of tickets!
  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:03AM (#30831228) Homepage

    Sufficiently powerful shock waves can kill people!

    Coming up next we ask an expert - what exactly is an explosion again?

    Weather follows at 11.

    • by AP31R0N ( 723649 )

      It's news because /. will rail against this tech as being a tool of oppression that Bush will use on peaceful protesters.

  • by Cornwallis ( 1188489 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:06AM (#30831250)

    "Don't Boom Me Bro!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:06AM (#30831252)


  • Does this mean a real Sonic Screwdriver is not far behind?

  • Ah... I've been shoveling solid lumps of petroleum into my tank for years. Did I do an oopsie?
    • liquefied petroleum gas, not liquefied petroleum solid. It's not like LPG is uncommon.

      Of course leaving off the Gas part in the name is pretty uncommon.

    • by bcmm ( 768152 )
      Nedlohs has it right: Slashdot editors apparently haven't heard of Autogas [].

      All I can add is that LPG is not actually the same as the stuff called "petrol" in English and "gasoline" in American. It's a lighter fraction that would be gaseous at RTP but is kept as a liquid in a pressurised tank.
    • aka Propane []. You know, the stuff used for grilling food in on your back porch that comes in 25lb canisters.

      Well, canisters that are capable of holding 25lbs, but are not filled to capacity anymore. But that is another story.

  • Yet Another Oops (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:13AM (#30831320)
    Yet again, OP gets it a little bit wrong, but in this case you can't blame the poster because TFA states it wrong as well. LPG is short for for Liquified Petroleum Gas, and it IS "cooking gas", it isn't "mixed with" cooking gas. Jeez. LPG is usually propane or butane or a mixture of them.

    Having stated that, I will add my voice to what others have already posted: this device is a disaster waiting to happen. It has no place in "positive" enforcement scenarios. It might be useful as a self-defense weapon, but I question even that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by shadowrat ( 1069614 )
      i think it goes without saying that a weapon is designed to be a disaster, for somebody.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      We already have water cannon, if the object is crowd control/riot control/etc. Why do we need something with what strikes me as considerably more potential for damaging people, since they won't be able to SEE it and get the hell out of its path?

      Or maybe that IS the object.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ColdWetDog ( 752185 )
        Because water cannon need - wait for it - water. Not always in abundant supply at the volumes we're considering. According to TFA, you can do quite a bit of 'crowd control' with a small, portable tank of LP gas. A tactical improvement over what basically is a fire truck.
  • Fuel-air explosion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aceticon ( 140883 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:17AM (#30831374)

    So how exactly is it surprising that a fuel-air explosion will scare, hurt and even kill people depending on the distance?

  • Pacifist (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neoform ( 551705 ) <> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:19AM (#30831402) Homepage
    Maybe I'm being a bit too much of a pacifist here, but why are we constantly spending so much time developing newer ways to kill ourselves.. seems like we could better use those resources.
    • by AP31R0N ( 723649 )

      It's primary purpose is to end a threat without killing. Which, oddly enough, is the purpose of weapons for non-evil folk.

      Generally, even crooks don't want to kill people, they just want to deter you from interfering with their crime. Some bad guys revel in killing, but that's why we dedicate a segment of our society to dealing with them: police and military. It's unfortunate, but the bad guys don't give a shit about what is fair or the resources wasted on deterring, persuing, trying and imprisoning. Th

      • by cenc ( 1310167 )

        Stun guns don't kill people, people kill people.

        The outbreak of stun guns and pepper spray related crimes is skyrocketing around the World.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Duradin ( 1261418 )

      "Maybe I'm being a bit too much of a pacifist here, but why are we constantly spending so much time developing newer ways to kill ourselves.. seems like we could better use those resources."

      Because then the people who spent their resources on developing new ways to kill use those innovations on the people that didn't.

      Also, finding new ways or better ways to kill has been one of the great motivational forces for human innovation since the first caveman figured out a stone attached to a stick will hit harder

      • Re:Pacifist (Score:5, Interesting)

        by radtea ( 464814 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:00PM (#30834788)

        Because then the people who spent their resources on developing new ways to kill use those innovations on the people that didn't.


        Genocide is really rare. Invasion, colonization and assimilation is a lot more common.

        Killing people is almost entirely pointless. Threatening to kill people is what does the job, because people happen to be wired in ways that let them be controlled up to a point by such threats. When the threat level becomes too high they always fight back, of course, because they happen to be wired that way, too.

        Gandhi's big trick was to realize that death threats are not generally credible, and react accordingly, which means not allowing your behaviour to be controlled by threats, and being willing to die rather than submit. There are specific circumstances where that won't work at all--such as the Jews in Nazi Germany--but in almost all cases peaceful, active resistance is far more effective.

        These weapons, as others here have pointed out, are aimed at Gandhi-style tactics: by having a non-lethal response to a peaceful, active resistance it tilts the tables back toward the oppressors, who are basically engaging in mass instantaneous public torture-at-a-distance via the use of these weapons.

        These weapons are designed to generate compliance with the alpha chimp's wishes by engaging people's pain response rather than their fear response. The latter can be fairly easily subverted, depending as it does on a vague cognitive connection between threat and outcome. The former is much tougher nut to crack, although it'll be interesting to see the first time the cops are on the receiving end of one of these weapons, which will no-doubt be reduced to hand-held form factors in the next couple of years.

  • Interesting (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:21AM (#30831434)
    I think my friend Hotblack Desiato [] could do with a few of these for his rock band.
  • Jon-Erik Hexum (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BenEnglishAtHome ( 449670 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:21AM (#30831438)

    Things harmless at range can kill at contact distance. [] That's why some blind people with licenses to carry concealed handguns use blanks.

  • IAF Sound Devices (Score:5, Informative)

    by smitty777 ( 1612557 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:22AM (#30831458) Journal

    This is not the only sound based non-lethal weapon used by the IAF. They also use a device called The Scream [], which emits a sound that causes disorientation and nausea. This one works at low, inaudible frequencies that vibrate the internal organs of the targets. There is also an high frequency version that is audible, that also produces a burning sensation on the skin (but does not produce any permanent damage).
    I think they were also toying with using these types of weapons against the pirates in Somalia.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pongo000 ( 97357 )
      This one works at low, inaudible frequencies that vibrate the internal organs of the targets.

      Interesting aside to PP: The movie Irreversible [] used low-frequency sounds in its soundtrack to induce nausea in the viewer.

  • LPG and cooking gas are both usually ways of saying propane/butane mix. Any ideas as to what they're trying to say here?
  • ..compared to my Darth Farts.
  • by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:26AM (#30831502)

    "Through sound and motion, you will be able to paralyze nerves, shatter bones, set fires, suffocate an enemy or burst his organs."

  • How fast? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zenopus ( 114516 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:27AM (#30831520)

    According to company data, the system generates 60 to 100 bursts per minute, each traveling at about 2,000 meters per second and lasting up to 300 milliseconds.

    It is pretty impressive they can make a burst of sound move at six times the speed of sound.

    • Thats what a shock wave is. It moves faster than the local speed of sound of the medium its moving into. Behind the shock wave, the hotter, higher pressure gases has a much higher local speed of sound and the flow is "subsonic".*

      * this is for all normal shocks, such as those from explosions. Oblique shock waves have different properties.
  • Turns out a single badass Deltal only known by his codename 'Dutch' (real name: Alan Schaeffer) killed a space alien in the jungle after a protracted stalking, and procured this weapon from the alien armor suit. The alien had managed to kill the rest of Dutch's team but somehow Dutch set off a low yield nuclear weapon and destroy the creature. This report was leaked by the tin foil underground movement, and is the real source of this new weapon.
  • by Zantac69 ( 1331461 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:41AM (#30831716) Journal
    American Idol (the 'real competition' portion - not the auditions that are sometimes hilarious), Eurovision Song Contest, and America/Britain's Got Talent. Within 10 meters, all of these can be lethal to people with IQs greater than 75. At distances greater than 10 meters, I am not sure of the lethality...but just hearing it causes me to double over with pain.
  • Kate Bush did it! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RevWaldo ( 1186281 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:47AM (#30831782)
    "Experiment IV" []

    Warning - pretentious as hell, even for Kate Bush fans. YMMV. Starring Hugh "the guy from House" Laurie and Dawn "magnificent bosom" French.
  • Sound Generator? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd.bandrowsky@gma i l .com> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:50AM (#30831822) Homepage Journal

    A bomb is a sound generator too, and maybe we should this thing for what it is, a bomb. It is very loud when it explodes, and is world renowned for its ability to stun people at safe distances and kill them at closer distances.

  • It's a Weirding Module []!! So do you have to chant "muuuuad-DIB!" to make it fire??
  • Different fuel, but basically the same idea as a carbide cannon which has been around for at least 100 years. In fact there was a patent from the early 1900's (US 874,952) on an improved gas gun.

    So, basically all that is new is the recharge time and the decibels.

  • That's right, publish that information on ./ maybe someone will become "creative" and use that information to new purposes.

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