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Weapon in Sound

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  • December 2011
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Weapons in Sound

The goal for this topic paper is to explore the current and future products of acoustic or “Sonic” weaponry, whether it be an offensive, defensive, lethal or non-lethal application and how that applies to the nature and physics of sound. While there are few actual sonic weapons being utilized, and few cases of reported use, there is a lot of research and very plausible theories. I will use real world examples and current trends to lay a foundation for speculation and the future of sound in weapons.

Before going into sonic weaponry and its purpose or applications, a brief look at sound and how it functions should be reviewed to give you a better understanding of how the weaponry produces effects.

Have you ever heard the age old question, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around, does it make a sound?” This question is slightly out-dated, because we now know that sound is naught but a human perception. “sound” is the phenomenon we can scientifically explain as our ears transducing one form of energy to another. The energy we are transducing mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies. These frequencies are based on the rate of cycles, faster creating higher frequencies, slower creating lower etc. This is measured in Hertz (Hz) the human ear can transduce from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz or 20 kHz. Basically sound is waves of pressure or “vibrations” through the mediums around us.

With this knowledge, we can take a look at naturally occurring weapons found in nature. The best case of this I found comes from a large family of caridean snapping shrimp, known as Apheidae, or more commonly known as the Pistol Shrimp. Only about 1-2 inches in length, It is distinctive for its remarkably disproportionate large claw, larger than half the shrimp's body. The claw can be on either arm of the body, and unlike most shrimp claws does not have pincers at the end. Rather, it...

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