Feeds

Pentagon: Electromagnetic pulse bombs from 2012

Elusive, movie style tech-Yeti finally spotted

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

And of course it's taken as a given that the US black-projects empire has a stash of fearful e-bombs and missiles. These rumours came to a head during the run-up to the Iraq invasion of 2003. Even the mainstream news services got in on the act, leading normally respectable news outfits to indulge in out-and-out tinfoil hat hysteria.

Guardian scribe and English Lit prof John Sutherland, drawing on the extensive weapons-tech expertise he had developed during many years as, erm, a literary reviewer and authority on Victorian fiction, handled the HPM story particularly entertainingly.

Samurai knights, one is told, were permitted to try the cutting edge of their sword on the neck of any luckless (and soon headless) passing peasant... The battlefield will be the testing ground for the US samurai. No more rhesus monkeys or pigs but real, live Iraqis...

The newer, smarter weapon to be battlefield-tested in Gulf War Two will be that fantasy of every sci-fi writer, a death-ray. The HPM (high-power microwave) bomb... 100 lightning bolts, focused into a single pulse of radiation ... The bomb is... ready to lock and load... it can penetrate underground... cunning radiation will eel its way through ventilation shafts... you can't hide.

Sutherland gave short shrift to the notion of HPM being basically non-lethal to humans.

Those who have been exposed to HPM report that its effect is agonising. The radiation penetrates below the skin, boiling nerve cells. It can blind. It induces uncontrollable panic... Will Iraqi civilians serve as guinea pigs? No one knows what the long-term effect of microwave exposure is... Peasant, bare your neck!

Lawks. Those sinister American military people, with their flimsy lies about attacking enemy electronics rather than people. The Reg coverage was a bit more sceptical, noting that Faraday cages aren't hard to construct.

Meanwhile, inspired no doubt by Dr Kopp, various people in the US were running around tearing their hair at the notion of devastating al Qaeda pulse strikes that would knock America back to the stone age, or at least the 19th century.

In the end, the expected American e-bomb barrage in Iraq didn't happen, though a lot of Iraqis did get killed and wounded by boring old regular bombs. Prof Sutherland's "death ray" did eventually turn up, sort of, in the form of the rather non-deadly crowd-griddling microwave gun.

The Active Denial System has not yet been to Iraq, despite requests from commanders there who think it might allow them to shoot or bomb fewer people. This is partly because its cooling system isn't capable of dealing with Iraqi temperatures, but the thing's negative image is no doubt something of a factor.

Judging by reports this week, it might also be that the microwave gun just doesn't work very well, especially in the rain. (Angry Iraqi mobs may wish to douse their clothing and/or lay in a stock of water balloons. The tinfoil favoured by other opponents of the US military-industrial complex might also be quite effective.)

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.