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Army document describes technology that can transmit a voice into someone’s head

Published: September 19, 2013
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A declassified Army document titled “Bioeffects of Selected Nonlethal Weapons” describes a series of technologies that the military has developed, including one with the ability to transfer radio-frequency (RF) energy into a human target.  The energy is perceived by the brain as sounds inside the target’s head as the microwaves are absorbed by the target’s body.  This technology has already been proven capable of carrying modulated frequencies that sound like recognizable speech to the recipient.  If fully developed, such a technology could be a powerful tool — for good, by silently transmit messages to hostages surrounded by captors — or for evil, by driving an unwitting man insane with voices in his head.  Has the U.S. government ever used it?

The document was declassified in 2006 after a FOIA request.  According to the Army document:

Application of the microwave hearing technology could facilitate a private message transmission. It may be useful to provide a disruptive condition to a person not aware of the technology. Not only might it be disruptive to the sense of hearing, it could be psychologically devastating if one suddenly heard “voices within one’s head”. [p.8]

The microwave auditory effect, as it is called, was first noticed by persons working in the vicinity of radar transponders during World War II, in which the subjects reported “hearing” buzzing, ticking, hissing and knocking sounds in their heads, which were not really there.  American researcher Allan Frey first published findings of the effect in 1961, documenting the ability to “hear” RF pulses 100 meters from the transmitter.

1n 1973, American Psychologist, Dr. Don Justesen found in a study that two subjects were able to readily hear and identify single-syllable words, such as counting from one to ten.  As Dr. Justesen described, “The sounds heard were not unlike those emitted by persons with an artificial voice box (Electrolarynx).”   The Army document, written in 1998, acknowledges the technology’s ability to successfully transmit voice annunciations [p.7].  We are unaware of the further advancements in the technology that may have occurred over the past 15 years.

The transmissions can feasibly be delivered at distances of hundreds of meters [p.8], according to the document, but would be more practically be delivered at short ranges.  The RF waves can pass through walls, buildings, or anything that is non-conductive (similar to radio signals). The Army specified a way to counteract the transmission of that the microwave auditory messages: by wearing a metal shield.

“Since the technology utilizes radiofrequency energy, it can be defeated by the use of shielding provided by conductive barriers like metal or a metal screen. [p.6]

The “psychologically devastating” effects of hearing unexplainable clicking sounds or voices your head could conceivably influence a man into taking some action, or perhaps cause him to snap and fall into the realm of insanity.

As I have shown, this is not new technology.  In fact, this may be the original reason that people started advocating for wearing tinfoil hats (in jest).  But is has the decades-old technology been developed beyond what we’ve been told from 40 years ago?   Has the U.S. government found a use for this technology via its DARPA program?

While we mull the idea of shielding ourselves from Stephen Hawking’s voice piercing our skulls, let’s take a look at a recent reference to this technology in the news.

Rewind to August.

A man in Rhode Island reported being the victim of microwave auditory technology.

This man was so distressed from the sounds that he filed a harassment report with the police, saying “that three people were sending vibrations through the ceiling to keep him from sleeping.”  As NBC News reported:

Police in Newport, R.I., said that Alexis called them to a Marriott hotel there on the morning of Aug. 7 and reported that he was being followed and was worried that the people were going to hurt him.  Alexis told police that the three talked to him through the walls, floor or ceiling at three hotels — two commercial hotels in Rhode Island and one on a naval base there. He told them that they used a microwave machine to send vibrations and keep him awake.

What an odd thing to allege.  The man had Department of Defense clearance, and did contract work at the Washington Naval Yard.  He told police that he “had never felt anything like this” and feared for his safety.

Aaron Alexis' Aug. 7 police report. (Source: Newport Police Department)

Aaron Alexis’ Aug. 7 police report. (Source: Newport Police Department)

The man was Aaron Alexis, who went on a killing rampage weeks after his report to the police about microwave auditory messages.

In the wake of his destruction, investigators found 2 inscriptions in the wooden stock of his shotgun.   One was “(Better Off This Way)” and the other was “(My ELF)”.  The meaning of these cryptic messages remains unclear, but some have speculated that one may have been related his documented claims of being harassed by radio-frequency manipulation.

As the Los Angeles Times wrote:

The second one, (My ELF), may have been a reference to “extremely low frequency,” and could refer to his belief that someone was penetrating his brain with microwave messages, which he had described to police in Newport, R.I., six weeks ago. 

It is certainly possible, if not likely, that Aaron Alexis was simply a run-of-the-mill violent schizophrenic that preyed on a bunch of disarmed people in a gun free zone.   But the government’s expenditure of billions of dollars on secret weapons research is at least enough reason to pause to ask whether Alexis’ claims of secret manipulation were possible.  It would appear that “possible” is a fair statement to make.

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