Some science behind the scenes

Sonic weapons

Sonic weapons (USW)  are weapons that use sound to injure, incapacitate, or kill an opponent. They can be both infrasound based and ultrasound based.  Those based on ultrasound kill a person like a microwave might by resonating the water in their cells until it boils.  Infrasound weapons principally affect the brain and resonate the organs in the brain disrupting the entire biological system. 

The U.S. DOD has actually demonstrated phased arrays of infrasonic emitters. The weapon consists of a device that generates sound at about 7 Hz. I will provide more details of the lethal frequencies in a moment.  The output from the device is routed (by pipes) to an array of open emitters. At this frequency, armor and concrete walls and other common building materials allow sound waves to pass through, providing little defense.

They are as effective, if not more effective than ordinary weapons, as infrasound is capable of carrying great distances, as such its potential for mass murder is enormous.  Some of these weapons have been described as sonic bullets, sonic grenades, sonic mines, or sonic cannons. Some make a focused beam of sound  - these are generally based on ultrasound; some make an area field of sound – these are generally based on infrasound. The military and research groups have, when questioned, said that these  real sonic and ultrasonic weapons are "non-lethal", which is a bit like saying a machine gun is non-lethal – it is until you fire it.

Infrasound does not lose its intensity when travelling very long distances across the ground. It remains at the same intensity as when released from source. Also, because of the ground clinging effect, infrasonic sources cannot be located without special appliances. This makes these sorts of weapons true “weapons of mass destruction”, totally indiscriminate in action.  If used in war, the battle would be over before anyone knew it had begun. How would one know of an infrasonic attack? How could one protect oneself against it?  Whole swathes of the population of many countries could be destroyed in a terrible slow and agonising way.

As we saw in the introduction, infrasound works by resonating organs and generally speaking the organs it resonates are those in the brain.  As the size of a person’s organs can vary from one person to another, the effects may differ from one person to another, a child or adolescent for example may experience different effects from an adult, and a young adult may have different experiences to an older adult.  The exposure provided by infrasound weapons would be classified as high intensity, and as we saw in the introductory section, high intensity stimulation is dangerous.  Even relatively short term resonance can cause permanent brain damage…

“Noise-induced neurologic disturbances in humans exposed to continuous low frequency tones for durations longer than 15 minutes has involved ..the development of immediate and long term problems affecting brain tissue. The symptoms resembled those of individuals who had suffered minor head injuries. One theory for a causal mechanism is that the prolonged sound exposure resulted in enough mechanical strain to brain tissue to induce an encephalopathy”.

From Issue 5 Evil Winter 2001/02 - The Acoustics of War - Daria Vaisman [Daria Vaisman is research editor at the New York Press]

By the early 1990s, the United States was reassessing its self-image. The major conflicts of the last century—the two World Wars and Vietnam—had, for the most part, already been consigned to history (for a younger generation, they were only more media kitsch). But a protracted Cold War had kept the United States in a defensive posture for decades; now that the USSR had dissolved, the US no longer worried about the threat of a nucle­ar attack. The military wanted weapons that reflected the US’s new international role. What to do? In 1991, the Pentagon issued a directive to test an emerging class of arms: Called "non-lethals," these weapons were meant to disable their targets "in such a way that death or severe permanent disability was unlikely." ….. By 1996, the US had invested nearly $37 million in research for non-lethal weapons.

 The 1907 Hague Convention clearly prohibits the use of "arms, projectiles, or materials calculated to cause unnecessary suffering.".  But it presented an interesting question: Was it possible to project sound at a precise decibel level that caused pain without permanent damage? Furthermore, there was anecdotal evidence suggesting that at the right frequency, infrasound would "liquefy [people's] bowels and reduce them to quivering diarrheic masses."
……………By 1999, Human Rights Watch issued a memorandum suggesting that a new protocol dealing with acoustic weapons be added to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

……….Of the acoustic prototypes that actually exist, several have actually proved viable. In his 1981 book Riot Control, Colonel Rex Applegate showcased a blueprint for a curdler (which he aptly nicknames "the people repeller"), which looks like a British police club and emits a shrieking, pulsating sound equal to 120 decibels at 30 feet. [Of the other actual devices] the Compression Air Device [CAD] generates energy at a specific low frequency from a combustion engine at its base, and directs the sound out of a long tube. The Ring Vortex Cannon, which ….is the most viable of the acoustic weapons, is actually an acoustic and kinetic cannon that sends out an infrasound donut-shaped shock wave combined with a toxic chemical spray. The vortex ring travels at hundreds of miles per hour, and hits its target with the force of a rubber blanket.­

………. Non-lethal technology can turn "worse-than-lethal," in the words of Harvey Sapolsky, head of Security Studies at MIT and one the first people to look at non-lethals in the US. When I spoke to Sapolsky over the phone, he told me stories he heard of Israelis stripping rubber off bullets and Americans using lasers to illuminate Somali targets in order to shoot them.

 For Sapolsky, using acoustics raises the issue of intervention in the first place. "You should be asking whether the situation is worth doing at all. My idea? You're going to think I'm crazy. Leave them presents, for example: On the border of North and South Korea, leave all sorts of stuff from shopping malls, stuff they've never seen before. Wrap it up really well so it takes a long time to unwrap. Slow them down—that's the logic behind landmines."

Coates, J. (1972) Non-Lethal Police Weapons. Technology Review, June, pp. 49-56.

Weapons research, conducted on very slim budgets, has largely taken the form of
speculative endeavors by commercial organization[s] serving an uncertain market.
As a result, new materials are frequently introduced on a shockingly slim basis of
evidence as to their effectiveness, reliability or safety.


In 1957, Dr. Vladimir Gavreau was involved in the development of remote controlled automatons and robotic devices. To this end he had assembled a group of scientists, including Marcel Miane, Henri Saul, and Raymond Comdat.  Together they successfully developed a great variety of ro­botic devices for industrial and military purposes. In the course of develop­ing mobile robots for use in battlefields and industrial fields, Dr. Gavreau and his staff made a strange observation, which, not only interrupted their work, but in the end became their major research theme.  An electric fan in the building was capable of producing infrasound, which had some disturbing effects on them, including nausea and fear……

The sonic weapon of Vladimir Gavreau - Gerry Vassilatos

Dr. Gavreau and his research team now carefully investigated the effects of their "infrasonic organ" at various intensity levels and pitch. Changing the spring tension on shock mounts, which held the fan motor, it was possible to change the pitch. Various infrasonic resonances were established throughout the large research building. Shutting the windows blocked most of the symptoms. When the window was again opened, however weak as the source was made, the team felt the nauseating effects once again. In the business of mili­tary research, Dr. Gavreau believed he had discovered a new and previously "unknown weapon" in these infrasounds. Aware of the natural explosives by which infrasonics are generated, Dr. Gavreau began to speculate on the ap­plication of infrasonics as a defense initiative.

The haphazard explosive ef­fects of natural infrasound in thunderclaps were quite effective in demon­strating what an artificial "thunder-maker" could do. But, how could a thun­derclap be artificially generated in a compact system? These thoughts stimu­lated theoretical discussions on the possibility of producing coherent infrasound: an infrasonic "laser".

The first devices Dr. Gavreau implemented were designed to imitate the "accident" which first made his research group aware of infrasonics. They designed real organ pipes of exceedingly great width and length. The first of these was six feet in diameter and seventy-five feet long. These designs were tested outdoors, securely propped against protective sound-absorbent walls. The investigators stood at a great distance. Two forms of these infrasonic organ pipes were built. The first utilized a drive piston, which pulsed the pipe output. The second utilized compressed air in a more conventional manner.

The main resonant frequency of these pipes occurred in the "range of death", found to lie between three and seven cycles per second. These sounds could not be humanly heard, a distinct advantage for a defense system. The effects were felt however. The symptoms come on rapidly and unexpectedly, though the pipes were operating for a few seconds. Their pressure waves impacted against the entire body in a terrible and inescapable grip. The grip was a pressure which came in on one from all sides simultaneously, an enve­lope of death.

Next came the pain, dull infrasonic pressure against the eyes and ears. Then came a frightening manifestation on the material supports of the device itself. With sustained operation of the pipe, a sudden rumble rocked the area, nearly destroying the test building. Every pillar and joint of the massive struc­ture bolted and moved. One of the technicians managed to ignore the pain enough to shut down the power supply.

These experiments with infrasonics were as dangerous as those early investigations of nuclear energy. Dr. Gavreau and his associates were dangerously ill for nearly a day after these preliminary tests. These maladies were sustained for hours after the device was turned off. Infrasonic assaults on the body are the more lethal because they come with dreadful silence. The eye­sight of Dr. Gavreau and his fellow workers were affected for days. More dangerously were their internal organs affected: the heart, lungs, stomach, intestinal cavity were filled with continual painful spasms for an equal time period.

Musculature convulses, torques, and tears were the symptoms of infra­sonic exposure. All the resonant body cavities absorbed the self-destructive acoustic energy, and would have been torn apart had the power not been extinguished at that precise moment. The effectiveness of infrasound as a defense weapon of frightening power having been demonstrated "to satisfaction", more questions were asked. After this dreadful accident, approaching the equipment once again was almost a fearful exercise. How powerful could the output of an infrasonic device be raised before even the operating engi­neers were affected?

With greatest caution and respect for the power with which they worked, Dr. Gavreau began recalculating all of his design parameters. He had grossly misjudged the power released by the pipes. He had, in fact, greatly lowered those calculated outputs for diagnostic purposes. Never had he imagined that these figures were actually far too great in the world of infrasound!

Empirical data being the only way to determine how infrasonic energy correlated with both biological and material effect, the tests were again attempted with a miniature power supply. First, the dimensions of these devices had to be greatly reduced. Their extreme length was objectionable. In order to provide absolutely safe control of the deadly blasts, several emergency cutoff switches were provided. These responded to the radiated infrasonic pressure wave. The intensity could be absolutely limited by use of automated barometric switches.

In an attempt to achieve more compact and controllable infrasound generators, Dr. Gavreau designed and tested special horns and "whistles" of vari­ous volumes. These were each remarkably simple flat circular resonant cavi­ties, having a side output duct. They were simply the large analogues of fog­horns and police whistles. These flat forms were volumetrically reduced in successive design stages because it was found that their output was far too great. The infrasonic foghorns could produce a frightening two kilowatts of infrasonic energy, at a pitch of one hundred fifty cycles per second.

The flat "police whistles" were more easily designed to required specifications. Their overall characteristics were quite simple to determine, a math­ematical formula being devised for the purpose.

The whistle's resonant pitch was found by dividing its diameter into a numerical constant of 51. Increas­ing the depth of the whistle effectively increased its amplitude. A whistle 1.3 meters in diameter produced an infrasonic pitch of 37 cycles per second. This form violently shook the walls of the entire laboratory complex, though its intensity was less than 2 watts infrasonic power.


In general high intensity infrasound of the magnitude used in weaponry kills or injures, by resonating vital organs so much that it destroys them – shakes them to destruction. 

Not at all spiritual of course!……………..

As high intensity infrasonic pitches decrease, the deadly symptoms increase. Altered cardiac rhythms, with pulse rates rising to 40 percent of their rest values, are the precursors to other pre-lethal states.

Mild nausea, giddiness, skin flushing, and body tingling occur at 100 cycles per second. Vertigo, anxiety, extreme fatigue, throat pressure, and respiratory dysfunction follow.

Coughing, se­vere sternal pressure, choking, excessive salivation, extreme swallowing pains, inability to breathe, headache, and abdominal pain occur between 60 and 73 cycles per second. ‘Post exposure fatigue is marked. Certain subjects contin­ued to cough for half an hour, while many continued the skin-flush manifes­tation for up to four hours’.
Significant visual acuity decrements are noted when humans are exposed to infrasound between 43 and 73 cycles per second. Intelligibility scores for persons exposed, fall to a low of 77 percent their normal scores. ‘Spatial orientation becomes completely distorted. Muscular coordination and equilibrium falter considerably. Depressed manual dexterity and slurred speech have been noted before individuals blackout. Just before this point, a significant loss in intelligibility is noted’

Lethal infrasonic pitch lies in the 7-cycle range. Small amplitude increases affect human behaviour in this pitch range. “Intellectual activity is first inhibited, blocked, and then destroyed. As the amplitude is increased, several disconcerting responses had been noted. These responses begin as complete neurological interference. The action of the medulla is physiologically blocked, its autonomic functions cease”.

The sonic weapon of Vladimir Gavreau - Gerry Vassilatos

Infrasound produces varied physiological sensations which begin as vague “irritations”. At certain pitch, infrasound produces physical pressure. At specific low intensity, fear and disorientation. Nazi propaganda engineers methodically used infrasound to stir up the hostilities of crowds who were gathered to hear their madman. The results are historical nightmares.

At a very specific pitch, infrasound explodes matter. At others, infrasound incapacitates and kills. Organisms rupture in its blast. Sea creatures use this power to stun and kill prey………………..

Tesla used vibrating platforms as an aid to vitality. He delighted in "toning the body" with vibrational platforms of his own design. Mounted on heavy rubber pads, these platforms were vibrated by simple motorized "eccentric" wheels.
Their mild use, for a minute, could be pleasantly stimulating. The effects invigorating the whole body for hours thereafter. Excessive use would produce grave illness however, excessive aggravations of the heart being the most dangerous aspect of the stimulation. The entire body "rang" for hours with an elevated heart rate and greatly stimulated blood pressure. The effects could be deadly.

In one historic instance, Samuel Clemens, Tesla's close friend, refused to descend from the vibrating platform. Tesla was sorry he had allowed him to mount it. After repeated warnings, Tesla's concern was drowned out by both the vibrating machine and Clemens' jubilant exaltations and praises. Several more seconds and Clemens nearly soiled his white suit, the effects of infrasound being "duly recorded".

Tesla often went to great lengths in describing the effects of infrasound to newspaper reporters who, behind his back, scoffed at the notion that a "little sound" could effect such devastations. Yet, it was precisely with such a "little sound" that Tesla nearly brought down his laboratory on Houston Street. His compact infrasonic impulsers were terribly efficient. Tesla later designed and tested infrasonic impulse weapons capable of wrecking buildings and whole cities on command.

Further reading

Star Fire – Ingo Swann – this is, on a superficial level, promoted as a work of fiction and anyone looking on Amazon will see that the readers of the book tend to be sci-fi enthusiasts who rather condescendingly assume that Swann had lots of flights of fancy about infrasound weapons and ultrasound weapons, that tend to detract from the gripping story line.

But if you look at this website you will find an entry for Ingo Swann and you will discover that he is far more than some jargon-spouting geek or fantasy-oriented scribbler. He has a long and proven pedigree in both the field of investigating psychic phenomena and also of being investigated for such skills himself. He was capable of remote viewing and out of body travel and was involved in a number of the USA’s DoD’s projects on both.  Ingo Swann was hugely gifted as a spiritual traveller.

So you can read it at two levels, as a gripping, very good work of fiction about a hero called  Daniel Merryweather who has vastly enhanced skills as a psychic and who becomes aware of research programmes around the world which seek to harness infrasound, ultrasound and the powers of the mind as weapons. Or you can read it as an historical account of what Swann found and abhorred and hoped he could change by developing his skills – he wanted to be Daniel Merryweather.  I, for one, wished he could have achieved it.