Maximum pain is aim of new US weapon
Summary of the New Scientist article
By David Hambling
March 2, 2005
Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition.
The US military is funding development of a weapon that delivers a bout of excruciating pain from up to 2 kilometres away for use against rioters. Pain researchers are furious that work aimed at controlling pain has been used to develop a weapon. The technology could be used for torture.
Andrew Rice, a consultant in pain medicine at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, UK is deeply concerned. He doesn't believe that it can be justified as a restraining measure, and knows that the long-term physical and psychological effects are unknown.
The Sunshine Project, an organisation based in Texas and Hamburg, Germany, exposes biological weapons research. The Sunshine Project obtained papers using the US's Freedom of Information Act.
PEPs (Pulsed Energy Projectiles) produced "pain and temporary paralysis" in tests on animals to work out how to generate a pulse which triggers pain neurons without damaging tissue in a contract, which was heavily censored before release, asked researchers to cause the maximum pain possible before causing injury or death using cells grown in a lab.
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 painful experience."