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Future Shock

Weapons that can incapacitate crowds of people by sweeping a lightning-like beam of electricity across them are being readied for sale to military and police forces in the United States and Europe. At present, commercial stun guns target one person at a time, and work only at close quarters. The new breed of non-lethal weapons can be used on many people at once and operate over far greater distances.

Engineers working for the U.S. Department of Defense's research division, DARPA, and defense companies in Europe have been working out how to create an electrically conductive path between a gun and a target without using wires. A weapon under development creates a conducting channel by using a small explosive charge to squirt a stream of tiny conductive fibres through the air at the victim. Meanwhile, Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems (XADS) is going to market another type of wireless weapon. Instead of using fibres, the $9,000 Close Quarters Shock Rifle projects an ionised gas, or plasma, toward the target, producing a conducting channel. You can actually see a picture of this weapon if you are interested.

New Scientist June 16, 2004

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