The Pentagon is funding development of a Pulsed Energy Projectile (PEP), a laser that generates a burst of expanding plasma when it hits something solid, like a human being, inducing excruciating pain from up to a mile away. The program came to light thanks to a Freedom of Information Act inquiry by the Sunshine Project. The Pentagon is calling it a "non-lethal" weapon for use again rioters. But pain researchers are furious that work aimed at controlling pain has been used to develop a weapon.
"I am deeply concerned about the ethical aspects of this research," says Andrew Rice, a pain consultant at London’s Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. "Even if the use of temporary severe pain can be justified as a restraining measure, which I do not believe it can, the long-term physical and psychological effects are unknown."
(New Scientist, March 2)