Less-lethal weapons

My hope for the future, as far as military technology goes, is that as our science gets better, our weapons will become ever more efficient -- and less lethal. After all, if you could easily disable and subdue an enemy without killing him, wouldn't you? It's war without the nightmarish moral quandaries.

At least, that's the theory -- although in practice, it hasn't always worked out that way. (There were more than a few times in Vietnam where American soldiers used tear gas to flush VietCong from tunnels, only to mow them down; the fear is that the result would be similar with weapons like aerosolized Valium [nixed by the Pentagon for moral reasons, if you can believe it] or any of the weapons described below.) I guess it's just like Spiderman says: with really cool weapons comes great responsibility.

The gay bomb
The winner of this year's Ig Nobel prize for ridiculous scientific achievement went to the Wright Laboratory of Ohio, which developed the idea of an aphrodisiac bomb which would inspire "completely distasteful but non-lethal" homosexual behavior, distracting enemy troops with one another. Brilliant, yes, but sadly lacking in specifics -- would the effects be immediate? How quickly would they wear off, if ever? Would it turn already-homosexual troops straight? So many questions, so few answers. (That's the problem with hypothetical weapons.)

The Silent Guardian
nieuw_wapen_144244d.jpgDeveloped by the Raytheon Corporation, this "gun" fires off high-intensity beams of radiation for up to 500 meters, and anyone in its path will be overwhelmed by a nasty burning sensation. It's kind of like a big microwave oven with the door taken off -- except the wavelength of its beam is much shorter, so instead of cooking you all the way through, its heat only penetrates your flesh for about a tenth of a centimeter, which Raytheon says isn't enough to hurt you permanently, just make you scream a lot. Critics point out that the beam is only non-lethal when used correctly -- but if left on for just ten seconds, it can reach temperatures of up to 80 degrees Celsius; more than enough to give its target second- or third-degree burns, which can be life-threatening.

Long-Range Acoustic Device
200px-Soundweapon1.jpgSonic weapons are just coming into vogue, and are pretty nonlethal, but not always. Take, for instance, the anti-frogman bursts of sonar that can be emitted by some military ships; it's so powerful that it can kill the frogmen in question rather than just repel them, as well as ruining the collective day of local aquatic life. (A series of high-profile blue whale beachings in Southern California recently have people wondering if they're not being confused by Navy sonar weapon tests.) The LRAD in question, however, is used for land-based crowd control. It emits a sound 50 times louder than the human ear's pain threshold, which can permanently damage hearing. So far, the device has seen action in Iraq, during protests at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York, and on a cruise ship to repel Somali pirate attacks. Then, of course, there's the hypothetical-but-hilarious brown note weapon.

Quick True/False: World Capitals
Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
10 Pats Born on St. Patrick's Day
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Need some St. Patrick's Day conversation fodder that doesn't involve leprechauns or four-leaf clovers? Ask your friends to name a "Pat" born on St. Patrick's Day. If they can't, they owe you a drink—then you can wow them with this list of 10.


Princess Patricia was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, who gave up all of her royal titles when she married a commoner. She was born at Buckingham Palace on March 17, 1886.


The Dallas star was born on March 17, 1949. And here's a totally random fact about Duffy: His nephew is Barry Zito, former MLB pitcher for the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants.


Pattie Boyd
Larry Ellis, Express/Getty Images

Pattie Boyd is well-known to lovers of classic rock: She has been married three times, including once to George Harrison and once to Eric Clapton, who both wrote a couple of the most romantic songs in rock history in her honor (including The Beatles's "Something" and Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight"). Boyd was a model when she met Harrison on the set of A Hard Day's Night in 1964; the pair were married two years later. They divorced in 1977 and she married Clapton, Harrison's close friend, in 1979. She also had an affair with Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones toward the end of her marriage to The Quiet Beatle.


Belfast-born Pat Rice is a former footballer and coach who spent the bulk of his career with Arsenal F.C. (that's "football club," a.k.a. soccer to us Americans). He joined the Gunners in 1964 as a mere apprentice, turning pro a couple of years later. He became captain in 1977 and left the club for a few years in the early 1980s to go to Watford, but returned after he retired from playing in 1984. In 2012, after nearly 30 years with the organization, he announced his retirement.


Patty Maloney is an actress with dwarfism who stands just three feet, 11 inches tall. She has appeared in many movies and T.V. shows over the years, including operating the Crypt Keeper puppet in Tales from the Crypt. She also played Chewbacca's son Lumpy in The Star Wars Holiday Special.


Michael C. Hall and Mathew St. Patrick in 'Six Feet Under'

Ok, so Mathew St. Patrick is the stage name of the actor, but he was born Patrick Matthews in Philadelphia on March 17, 1968. You probably know him best as David's boyfriend Keith on Six Feet Under.


He may not be a household name, but the recording artists Patrick Adams writes for and helps produce certainly are. Adams has been involved in the careers of Salt-N-Pepa, Sister Sledge, Gladys Knight, Rick James, and Coolio, among others.


It's possible you look at Patrick McDonnell's work every day, depending on which comics your newspaper carries. McDonnell draws a strip called Mutts featuring a dog and a cat named Earl and Mooch, respectively. Charles Schulz called it one of the best comic strips of all time.


 Singer/Guitarist Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins performs onstage during Live Earth New York at Giants Stadium on July 7, 2007 in East Rutherford, New Jersey
Evan Agostini, Getty Images

Yes, you know him better as just plain old Billy Corgan: he's the face of the Smashing Pumpkins, engages in public feuds with Courtney Love, and maybe once dated Jessica Simpson. He made his debut on March 17, 1967.


Patricia Ford is a retired model probably best known for her Playboy photoshoots in the 1990s.


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