U.S scientists have unveiled details of a project that aims to develop Star Trek-style ray guns that could keep "security adversaries" out of DoE nuclear sites, the vnu.com web-site in the Netherlands reported this week.
The DoE's Office of Security and Safety Performance Assurance together with the Department of Defense, is "exploring the potential" of directed-energy weapons based on millimeter-wave rays, vnu.com said.
The report comes amid increasing fears that the 103 civilian nuclear power stations in the United States and the Department of Energy's other nuclear facilities are insufficiently guarded.
A recent in-depth investigation by Time magazine found that there are only 8,000 full-time guards employed to cover all the nuclear power plants in America, giving an average of only 80 per power plant, of whom not more than 60 and probably even less would be on duty on any given shift.
The magazine also reported that the guard towers around the plants are called "iron coffins" by the guards who man them and that they could not repel even a .50-caliber rifle bullet.
The appeal of the weapon is that it would permit security guards in nuclear power stations and other facilities to fire more freely against assailants who had penetrated into the plant without having to worry that stray bullets would smash crucial pieces of machinery.
Terrorists who had penetrated into such installations would not be worried about inflicting such damage and would therefore have the potential advantage in any shoot-out.
The proposed new weapons being developed have been designated Active Denial Technology (ADT). And they are an emerging class of non-lethal weaponry using 95GHz millimeter-wave directed energy, vnu.com said.
According to the DoE, the technology is capable of rapidly heating human skin to a pain level that has been demonstrated as "very effective at repelling people" without apparently burning the skin or causing other secondary effects.
ADT emits a 95GHz non-ionizing electromagnetic beam of energy that penetrates approximately 1/64 of an inch into human skin tissue, where nerve receptors are concentrated.
Within seconds, the beam will heat the exposed skin tissue to a level where intolerable pain is experienced and natural defense mechanisms take over. This intense heating sensation stops only if the individual moves out of the beam's path or the beam is turned of, vnu.com said.
The sensation caused by the system has been described by test subjects as feeling like touching a hot frying pan or the intense radiant heat from a fire. Burn injury is prevented by limiting the beam's intensity and duration, the web-site said.
Friday, 15 July 2005
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