Reverse Engineering the Cuban Sonic Weapon
Interesting analysis and speculation.
Interesting analysis and speculation.
This is pure speculation.
First, combining two ultrasonic signals in a non-linear medium can produce an audible sound, that’s nothing new. But there is zero evidence from the recording that the sound was indeed produced that way.
Second, all it takes to produce the periodic variation in the spectrum is to add a delayed version of the same sound. At the frequencies of the signal shown, even a reflection on a small object (like a coffee cup) would be enough.
i have not read it till the end but i noticed that they used the smartphone microphone for the recording, and its microphone is a “toy” microphone quite far from a decent one.
Piper • March 22, 2018 11:55 AM
First time I heard about this thing, my immediate thought was “mass psychogenic illness”. Textbook case. Until there’s a smoking gun, I’m still going with that.
Hmm • March 22, 2018 12:08 PM
I’m with Fa, this isn’t analysis but pure speculation with a “experiment” that doesn’t really prove much beyond standing waves in a medium. They tacitly admit that they’d need to have the diplomats heads more or less right up between two very, very loud emitters – and nothing of the sort was found in weeks and months of tearing up rooms. Not one jammer was mentioned, no secondary sources identified. If a plug-in ultrasonic pest repelling device or similar were even at all possible of being the culprit, there’s no way this would take months and result in the revocation of diplomats from the country. Cuba would just hold one or two up for the world and say “see? it wasn’t us, like we said.”
Not to mention the levels required to actually cause the damage haven’t been demonstrated in their experiments here. A “shrieking” light bulb or rick astley being covertly relayed a couple feet through air is one thing – a few DOZEN shaken brains that are massively debilitated noticeably a year later… that’s something else. And ALL DIPLOMATIC STAFF. No housekeepers, no investigators, no police, nobody else witnessed this at all even when they went looking for it.
A piece of “rolo candy” emitting ultrasound is going to be discovered. They’d need at least 2 powerful devices to even make this hypothesis viable – 2 PER ATTACK. And they’d need to be within a few feet of the diplomat – and only the diplomat mind you – to even begin to resonate enough to annoy them, lest of all be turned up to a level where they could shake a brain into concussing. The whole “accident” scenario is simply ridiculous.
If it were a simple explanation like cointerfering devices it simply doesn’t stand up to basic scrutiny that weeks and months of searching wouldn’t turn up a single one, the phenomena would not be observable in repetition or after the fact, and that ONLY DIPLOMATIC STAFF would have these problems or observe these things, even in different buildings, and that these things would suddenly stop when investigators came around the next day.
Hmm • March 22, 2018 12:10 PM
“First time I heard about this thing, my immediate thought was “mass psychogenic illness”. Textbook case. Until there’s a smoking gun, I’m still going with that.”
They ruled that out by doing involuntary brain response tests. It’s scientifically proven they have massive brain damage and aren’t imagining it, because they can’t even fake the involuntary responses if they tried – and there are dozens of them.
“Textbook case” – open your textbook and read from it, try that first next time.
Slugtech • March 22, 2018 12:50 PM
I read EFF’s opinion – the CLOUD Act is bad.
Then I read Microsoft’s opinion – the CLOUD Act is good (because it includes strong measures that prevent a gov’t from forcing companies to install backdoors in their products)
Now my head hurts and I hear strange ringing in my ears.
Gerard van Vooren • March 22, 2018 12:52 PM
“Suggested culprits included toxins, viruses, and a sonic weapon, but to date, no cause has been confirmed.”
what about a sudden cause of hysteria? Because of a bad news day or something like that? It’s just a guess, and guess what, these guys are doing exactly the same. With the exception of that they use expensive hardware.
neill • March 22, 2018 12:58 PM
sad the IEEE now publishes ‘speculative’ articles … IMHO was a serious organization in the past
hard to believe though that they think high freq sound would travel this far, the building is standing alone … or the source is already inside?
if anything i would check into the 30+ flagpoles closeby, if those create an antenna effect with standing (and directed?) waves into that building.
neill • March 22, 2018 1:02 PM
since when is a smartphone considered an analytic tool?
if this was some rohde&schwarz equipment i’d trust it more.
Hmm • March 22, 2018 1:11 PM
“what about a sudden cause of hysteria?”
It’s been ruled out by involuntry brain response tests, as I mentioned above.
There’s no disputing these people were damaged and aren’t imagining it.
People trying to downplay that without reading aren’t helping themselves.
It’s physiological damage to the “white matter” of the brain, the “wiring” between gray matter.
“But acoustic waves have never been shown to alter the brain’s white matter tracts, said Elisa Konofagou, a biomedical engineering professor at Columbia University who is not involved in the government’s investigation.
“I would be very surprised,” Konofagou said, adding that ultrasound in the brain is used frequently in modern medicine. “We never see white matter tract problems.”
Looking into this weeks ago I read that the EM SAR specific absorption is different between grey and white matter in the brain. Ultrasound can’t readily target white matter vs gray matter inside the skull. EM as used in medical imaging can/does because of the SAR. To try to tune ultrasound to do that would be a very localized tuning – inside the skull. Doing that through a wall or window is not reasonably possible. With EM it’s just a well-known and documented phenom.
Reading between the lines, auditory effects can be created by a directed energy weapon.
They can also target people in specific locations through walls without leaving traces.
Ultrasound can’t readily do that and certainly not without a localized emitter. 0 found.
I think they know what they’re looking for by now and it’s not ultrasound.
Gerard van Vooren • March 22, 2018 1:53 PM
Please refer to me when you are referring to me. But how hard is it to get the joke?
Hmm • March 22, 2018 1:59 PM
Jokes are funny. That’s how people can tell them from nonsense, usually.
echo • March 22, 2018 3:09 PM
This was nothing new as everyone says but I found this ok. Like the non-specialist coverage which unearthed issues with the claims against AMD people took interest and are exploring the subject which I believe is worthwhile.
Like a lot of things it’s easy to forget we all began somewhere and mindshare is mindshare so potentially reaching new audiences too. People originating from other industries can reinvent the wheel and sometimes go on to develop NIH silo mentalities but I don’t perceieve any sign this is happening.
I really hate to speculate about the causes of this incident. Was it an accident or a deliberately malicious event? I have no idea and the neurological analysis is a bafflement too. One guess, and this is only completely wild speculation, is could this have been an experiement designed to cause reduction of brain function or misjudgement resulting in a degrading or failure of intelligience analysis? Given Cuba is a fairly small and self-contained place I’m guessing any intelligence would be fairly routine so any deviation of outcome would stand out? Is this even theoretically possible or pure science fiction?
Scientismist • March 22, 2018 3:23 PM
“what about a sudden cause of hysteria?
It’s been ruled out by involuntry brain response tests, as I mentioned above.”
No it hasn’t, at least not according to the documents cited.
“US officials would not say whether the changes were found in all 24 patients.”
“Since the embassy workers started falling ill last year, the state department has adopted a new protocol for workers before they go to Cuba that includes blood work and other “baseline” tests. If they later show symptoms, doctors can retest and compare.”
So reading between the lines the brain tests show abnormalities in some but not all of the so-called victims. The USA doesn’t know however, what is cause and what is coincidence. They can’t rule out the possibility that the subset of patients had these abnormalities before they went to Cuba. So they established a protocol to find out.
It is thus a gross and flagrant misrepresentation to say that hysteria or any other cause has been “ruled out”. They don’t know what caused it and sonic attacks is as good as any other hypothesis at this point in time.
Clive Robinson • March 22, 2018 3:34 PM
First of cross modulation is not exactly an unknown problem, nor for that matter making highly directional beams with way way less directional radiators (look up how the German bombing beams worked ProfR.V.Jones detailrd it in his 1973 book “Most Secret War”).
The thing to remember is concussion that effects the human brain is generally a very low frequency effect not up in the KHz band. Also it requires a considerable amount of energy in impulse form.
Thus I’m doubtfull that what was recorded on the mobile phone was the direct output of a sonic weapon. Further their discription suggests that there was atleast a third frequency involved to make the chirping effect (the output of a “two tone test” is a third tone, not one that is envelope modulated).
Back in the 1960’s and later in the 1980’s there was research carried out in the UK into crowd control beam weapons. The problem in the 60’s were inefficient radiators, this improved considerably in the 80’s and there were viable weapons developed. One using lower ultrasound frequencies generated an intermodulation product in human skin designed to specifically mimic the waveforms and frequencies the human nervous system was most sensitive to. During tests they produced unconciousness and even death in human analogue (porcine) test subjects at over 500M (~2000ft). They found that they could also pick out just one test subject of several closely associating. But the human body does respond to some higher frequencies just on the edge of the low frequency hearing range upto a couple of hundred Hertz. We know this from various “industrial diseases” such as “Miners White Finger”.
There is a more modern version of such anti-personnel sound devices the “Mosquito” being one that actually uses frequences that only teenagers and younger can hear. Another is the so called “cone of secrecy” where audio messages can be selectively delivered to individuals in a gathering. Then of course there are the sound weapons you will now find mounted on ships that have to sail in waters such as around Somalia where piracy has become common practice again.
Whilst such devices have been built and tested and actively deployed their ultrasound brethren hardly made it out of the experimental labs.
As others have noted above and where this subject has come up before, there are distinct problems with all but the lowest of ultrasound frequencies in that they do not propagate very well in air especially when variable humidity and air pressure are involved.
As I’ve noted on this blog before all propergating mediums tend to have charecteristics that are frequency dependent. Thus they will be effectively transmissive / reflective / absorbing at various points in the spectra. This applies to all forms of energy that can be radiated or conducted.
What has happened since the begining of this century is the improvments in semiconductor devices and similar in the top end of the microwave / bottom end of the Infrared EM spectrum. As some will be aware these are not realy “natural frequencies” thus we realy don’t know much about the effects they have on the human body in part or whole (other than simple heating models).
What we do know is that non reactive components absorbe energy and via various processes convert it to the ultimate form of polution which is “heat”. We also know that dielectric heating can cause problems (eggs in microwaves). Where some organics are transmissive whilst other are absorbers at the same frequency thus “Cooking from the inside out” is possible.
Then there are the issues of resonance. As Tesler discovered in the first part of the last century, tuned devices when arranged correctly can masively multiply the voltage, which in turn very much raises the heatibg effect (W=V^2/R).
But other effects can happen, a short pulse of energy can be integrated by both a tuned circuit and an absorber. Thus a train of such pulses will in effect be demodulated and cause localised non EM effects such as sound waves and high energy physical movment as well as heating
If there has been any research into the characteristics of the human skull and white/grey matter of the brain over and above the heating effects of EM radiation I’m not actually aware of it.
That said there has been widspread reports of various illnesses and coresponding diseases due to high levels of near and low freaquency RF microwave frequencies. Especially in children and adults having higher than average cancers appraring around transmitter masts etc. Whilst objective science appears a bit thin on the ground, you have to remember that it would not be ethical to experiment on humans.
Which does not rule out the possibility that some people have been extreamly unethical but in secret (The Russian’s and their CWC avoiding nerve agent development being a prime example in the news currently).
Thus there may well be radient weapons that do rather more than localised skin heating for crowd control purposes… As has been observed from time to time “Time will tell”.
D-503 • March 22, 2018 3:34 PM
I’ve taken a personal interest in this story, because I’ve been to the same locations (Capri Hotel, US Embassy, José Martí Airport) in the same timeframe.
It’s remarkable how devices that stick out like a sore thumb when pointed out, are invisible otherwise: I remember that display panel well, at the airport, but I never noticed that huge ultrasonic device next to it. In the blogpost that the article links to, it was a kid who pointed out the device.
When I was a kid, the 15,734 Hz scan frequency of TV sets was very loud to me – I could hear it from the opposite side of the house. My parents didn’t hear it at all. I doubt I could hear it now.
Hmm • March 22, 2018 3:36 PM
“No it hasn’t, at least not according to the documents cited.”
Google it. Citation exists.
If you don’t even bother to look you will not find.
Hmm • March 22, 2018 3:40 PM
FROM PREVIOUS GUARDIAN LINK :
“Medical testing has revealed the embassy workers developed changes to the white matter tracts that let different parts of the brain communicate, several US officials said, describing a growing consensus held by university and government physicians researching the attacks. White matter acts like information highways between brain cells.”
Sorry, unless you want to prove you can damage white matter with “hysteria” in 2 dozen+ people?
You’re not refuting anything without something in your hand to point to, “scientism” guy.
-All of three seconds on google to find.
According to the study, published in the medical journal JAMA, 21 workers sought medical attention beginning in late 2016 after suspected exposure to “auditory and sensory phenomena in their homes or hotel rooms.”
“If you took any one of these patients and put them into a brain injury clinic, and you didn’t know their background, you would think that they had a traumatic brain injury from being in a car accident or a blast in the military,” Dr. Randel Swanson, one of the paper’s authors and a specialist in brain injury rehabilitation at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a separate report published with the study. “It’s like a concussion without a concussion.”
Hmm • March 22, 2018 3:48 PM
2-3 minutes of googling :
They at least go into specific scenarios a bit, whatever you think of snopes.
Dr. Charles Rosenfarb from the State Department’s medical unit has said that while what caused the symptoms may be a mystery, medical tests suggest this is “not an episode of mass hysteria.”
He said there are “exact findings” on medical tests that couldn’t be easily faked, with 16 of 80 embassy workers and spouses tested between February and April of 2017 showing symptoms and “medically verifiable clinical findings” consistent with mild traumatic brain injury.
“At this time we are unable to state whether or not the injuries may result in adverse long-term consequences to the individuals’ future health or functional abilities,” Rosenfarb said.
(Yes, it’s settled, they have brain damage and that’s not a hysteria situation.)
*(READING sources before you actually pretend to rebut them is required, scientism guy)
D-503 • March 22, 2018 4:33 PM
Apparently you didn’t even bother to read the abstract of the JAMA article, which states that they looked for, and could not find, physical evidence of brain damage.
The paragraph you cite from the Guardian is so vague that it can be read in very different ways. Probably because the anonymous US officials the article cited were short on specifics or lacked first-hand knowledge. I’ve interpreted it both ways, which is to say I’m none the wiser.
As for all caps, if they were good enough for the ancient Romans, they’re good enough for us. But be warned: some readers might be tempted to interpret all caps as saying “I don’t have any evidence, so I’ll just shout instead.” 🙂
Hmm • March 22, 2018 4:37 PM
“Question Are there neurological manifestations associated with reports of audible and sensory phenomena among US government personnel in Havana, Cuba?
Findings In this case series of 21 individuals exposed to directional audible and sensory phenomena, a constellation of acute and persistent signs and symptoms were identified, in the absence of an associated history of blunt head trauma. Following exposure, patients experienced cognitive, vestibular, and oculomotor dysfunction, along with auditory symptoms, sleep abnormalities, and headache.
Meaning The unique circumstances of these patients and the consistency of the clinical manifestations raised concern for a novel mechanism of a possible acquired brain injury from a directional exposure of undetermined etiology.”
Right in the abstract right on the linked-to page.
They found evidence of brain damage, not the physical trauma that is associated with it typically.
You can’t just walk around things by cherry-picking from somewhere else in the document, Trump lawyer.
Clive Robinson • March 22, 2018 5:03 PM
@ D-503, Hmm,
JAMA article, which states that they looked for, and could not find, physical evidence of brain damage.
The problem with that as the NFL know is that such things show up at autopsy.
Have a look at the effects of repeated low level head trauma and the resulting chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE),
Whilst I am not saying those showing unusual symptoms have CTE, CTE does demonstrate that there are currently tramatic brain injuries that do not show up with current diagnostic instrumentation. Thus either view point could be valid currently.
Howrver as they are showing symptoms not to disimilar to those given for CTE…
Hmm • March 22, 2018 5:11 PM
He’s at-a-glance misunderstanding the null hypothesis test for a history of concussions.
They didn’t find the physical damage associated with CTE/concussions in the scans until they refined their method and noticed damage to the white matter, I’m summarizing.
So the usual scar tissue didn’t exist, the symptoms did, and damage to the white matter did.
So they conclude : it’s a new type of attack they hadn’t seen on a scan before.
Mr. 503 would do well to read more slowly, let his brain catch up to what it says.
I’m not taking crazy pills when people argue without reading, that’s on them.
Hmm • March 22, 2018 5:13 PM
Correction : new type of DAMAGE they hadn’t seen on a scan before.
IE, an unknown attack, not concussion history explainable.
Hmm • March 22, 2018 5:15 PM
Also.. they can’t do autopsies. Nobody died. Scans only.
Sancho_P • March 22, 2018 5:18 PM
@Hmm, re “That’s how people can tell them from nonsense, usually.”
Some can, other’s can’t, unfortunately 😉
Third party pseudo-scientific papers often are (a) funny (guess).
Hmm • March 22, 2018 5:20 PM
“Whilst I am not saying those showing unusual symptoms have CTE, CTE does demonstrate that there are currently tramatic brain injuries that do not show up with current diagnostic instrumentation. ”
Clive I think you misspoke.
They CAN see CTE on those scans, it’s very evident in the case of footballers.
“Photos of a normal brain (top) compared with the brain of Greg Ploetz (bottom), who played defensive tackle for the Texas Longhorns and who suffered from severe”
Sancho_P • March 22, 2018 5:28 PM
But I also have a strange experience to share, not deemed as a joke:
One of the cats around here (the oldest one, focussed on me) loves to sit in the window (outside, single glas) of my lab. Preferable in the afternoon shade, but then for hours.
Very seldom I have to use an old Alienware notebook with a Win$ OS, usually locked up in a cabinet.
Whenever I switch it’s (brick-like) power supply on (by a central switch, the brick is mounted under the desk, below that window) it only takes minutes for the cat to leave. OK, not always, but nearly.
Sure, that brick emits (also) ultrasonic sound, but I doubt it’s caused by sound, as the cat is always with me, also in the workshop, when welding / grinding or whatever crazy noise.
Sad the cat can’t tell it’s motivation.
Bauke Jan Douma • March 22, 2018 5:40 PM
It’s a pity that somehow the quotes around Sonic Weapon got lost.
D-503 • March 22, 2018 6:12 PM
Thanks for the link. I saw an excellent documentary on CTE in football players recently. Apparently much more common than the professional sports bodies are willing to admit. It’s sad that it took autopsies to bring this issue to the forefront. (Sorry I don’t have a link handy right now).
More generally, there usually has to be a massive amount of brain damage for it to show up in a brain scan. And conversely, if something does show up on a scan, quite often it’s hard to conclusively tie it to a cause, and sometimes, even symptoms. In the case of the diplomats, there wasn’t anything significant in the brain scans, so all we have to go on are the symptoms.
@Hmm re: Greg Ploetz
I think there are a lot of professional athletes in impact sports who show symptoms long before their brain scans are abnormal.
@Hmm (previous comments)
@Scientismist’s reading comprehension isn’t in doubt here. He or she just took the articles at face value, and failed to read into them more than was actually stated. And implicitly, he or she asked for more evidence (apparently a capital crime in some parts).
I’ll read the body of the paper to see whether it says they found anything in the brain imaging. I don’t know whether you’re aware of this or not, but usually if a conclusion is excluded from an abstract, it’s because either the authors or the reviewers don’t think it’s a significant finding. I don’t have access to the full article at home because it’s paywalled, but I’ll read it later. We’re quibbling over trivia anyway, which is a waste of everyone’s time.
And what’s with the accusation of cherry-picking, and all the insults? Why does everything have to be shoehorned into a partisan political narrative? I hate that.
Hmm • March 22, 2018 6:18 PM
“there wasn’t anything significant in the brain scans, so all we have to go on are the symptoms.”
They found damage to the white matter, after the initial scan showed nothing they refined their method, it’s all right there if you actually read this time before you try to paraphrase.
D-503 • March 22, 2018 6:27 PM
My gut feeling is that the “mass hysteria” hypothesis is incorrect, but for the pure entertainment value I should point out that the experts disagree with me on that:
Mark Hallett, head of the human motor control section of the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and president of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology:
“From an objective point of view it’s more like mass hysteria than anything else… Psychosomatic disease is a disease like anything else. It shouldn’t be stigmatised. It’s important to point out that symptoms like this are not voluntary. They are not a sign of weakness in an individual’s personality… These people are all clustered together in a somewhat anxious environment and that is exactly the situation that precipitates something like this. Anxiety may be one of the critical factors.”
More, from the Guardian article:
Jon Stone, a University of Edinburgh neurologist and the co-editor of a book on functional neurologic disorders, said that such disorders were very common, and the second commonest reason to see a neurologist.
“There is a misconception that only people who are weak-willed, people who are neurotic, get these symptoms. It isn’t true,” Stone said. “We are talking about genuine symptoms that people have of dizziness, of headaches, of hearing problems, which they are not faking.”
Hmm • March 22, 2018 6:42 PM
“We’re quibbling over trivia anyway, which is a waste of everyone’s time.”
Agreed – time that could be spent reading the text or finding new ones.
I suggested google was a starting point but search terms are relevant I suppose :
“Cuba + brain + white + matter” -Gets you right to the point, depending on favorite source.
They found things that cannot be explained by history of concussion – which none reported – or ultrasound.
They’re still looking at virii/agents. They’re still open to other unreported possibilities.
Until people speculate… reasonably intelligently… there is nothing reported on this topic specific to point to, but I’m not completely alone in thinking what I do for the reasons that I do.
Hmm • March 22, 2018 6:45 PM
Your article is from Oct 2017. That was true at the time, there were doubts initially.
Cuba mystery: U.S. doctors find brain abnormalities in victims
Growing skepticism that some kind of sonic weapon was involved
By Josh Lederman, The Associated Press Posted: Dec 06, 2017
Hmm • March 22, 2018 6:46 PM
Crazy pills, anyone? Or am I alone in reading?
Hmm • March 22, 2018 6:55 PM
Of particular interest to federal officials is the former Soviet technique of using radio waves, like microwaves, to target U.S. signals collection in Moscow. In the 1970s, amid escalating spy tensions between the United States and Russia, the Soviets targeted the U.S. embassy in Moscow with radio microwaves in an effort to disrupt U.S. radio surveillance of Russian interests in post Cold-War Moscow, according to multiple Cold War-era recountings. The incident, known as the “Moscow Signal,” was never formally solved — after the U.S. embassy installed screens in its compound, the issue went away.
The use of energy waves or sound as weapons can be a particularly nasty form of covert attack. Not always audible to the human ear, the mysterious devices have surfaced in rumors periodically in Cold War spy history. Answers have remained as ambiguous. As far back as the 1970s Moscow Signal incident, medical professionals suspected the use of such mysterious weapons could lead to brain damage, blood disorders and hearing impairments in exposed personnel — symptoms nearly identical to what targeted U.S. officials are experiencing now.
But anyway yeah sure, accidental exposure to anti-rodent ultrasound seems plausible enough.
When do we eat?
worried bystander • March 22, 2018 7:20 PM
Every other comment is by someone who isn’t @hmm. Poor @hmm can’t get a word in edgewise!
Thomas J Kenney • March 22, 2018 7:53 PM
Correction : new type of DAMAGE they hadn’t seen on a scan before.
IE, an unknown attack, not concussion history explainable.
So…a new type of injury that may or may not have been caused by an attack. Still no closer to proof of an actual attack, even though you keep trying to steer us there.
worried namestander • March 22, 2018 8:09 PM
So true! It’s almost as if he had nothing to say at all.
Hmm • March 22, 2018 8:21 PM
“Still no closer to proof of an actual attack, even though you keep trying to steer us there.”
Should I not want to steer you towards PROOF though? I’m not even claiming to have it, but abstractly?
I’m just claiming to steer people towards reading before they argue.
Hmm • March 22, 2018 8:29 PM
“a new type of injury that may or may not have been caused by an attack.”
It may be that a thousand butterflies…
Who can disprove all possibilities?
Butterflies might really, really hate US diplomatic staff.
I have no answers.
Hmm • March 22, 2018 8:33 PM
If you see a similar plausible context of butterflies, I’m happy to entertain myself with it.
justinacolmena • March 22, 2018 10:40 PM
The State Department has said that since sanctions were imposed on Russia after it annexed Ukraine two years ago, there has been a “significant increase” in Russian harassment of diplomats from the United States and other Western countries. They say it has happened in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia.
That, I gather, has been a huge, underreported, underacknowledged, continual, unrelenting problem without let-up since the days of the Cold War. Some of those diplomats are sick or they feel distracted, or confused, or just plain worn out from the continual covert enemy harassment, drugging, ransacking of their home or residence, tampering with computers or cars, or whatever it may be, and yet any complaint or notice on the part of American diplomats that something is amiss is seen as a sign of weakness not only by the Russians, but by the American authorities as well, in a bizarre culture of brutally enforced suffering in silence.
Frances • March 22, 2018 10:56 PM
Remember that this happened to Canadian diplomats too. Is there a known connection between the two groups that would explain it in both? And if there were any malevolence involved, why target the Canadians who have been friendly with Cuba for decades?
Hmm • March 23, 2018 12:21 AM
Yes, 2 Canadians. Canada is seen as a surrogate of the US diplomatically in may respects.
Certainly diplomatically so when it comes to adversaries of NATO
Hmm • March 23, 2018 12:23 AM
Nobody said spycraft was easy, did they. Or empire.
I don’t defend either side, I see both sides of the issue in many respects.
Gunter Königsmann • March 23, 2018 12:50 AM
One of my friends had a low, loud humming in most of the rooms of his house, too. And there, too, it was only to be heared in parts of the rooms while in others it drove you mad. Turned out that it was a resonance effect with the pump of the heating. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standing_wave
D-503 • March 23, 2018 12:54 AM
If I run with what @junstinacolmena and @hmm are hinting, the common thread is that Canada has been relatively hostile to Russia in recent years.
But I’m not sure Russia could get away with ultrasonic pranks in Havana. Havana is like Washington in that both cities weirdly lack much of a visible security presence – a deliberately misleading illusion. Best not to spook the tourists, you know. But both have sophisticated, massive covert surveillance to protect government offices and other important sites. And Cuba and Russia stopped being allies in 1992. Nor are they currently enemies.
Cuba’s ecomony today, every level of society, depends on money from US and Canadian tourists. If Russia were to play with weapons on Cuban soil, the Cuban government would view that as an act of war.
 Two reasons: One, the Ukrainian lobby, which has clout in Canada. Two, as a small, weak economy that does 90% of its trade with the US with its ten times bigger economy, Canada needs to go to great lengths to please the “hawks” among US politicians.
John Dowd • March 23, 2018 1:48 AM
“But I’m not sure Russia could get away with ultrasonic pranks in Havana.”
Well that settles it.
Gerard van Vooren • March 23, 2018 2:37 AM
@ Bouke Jan,
Volledig mee eens.
Here is another interesting idea. what about that there still could be any nukes left from the missile crisis? That could really hurt these poor bastards. Or maybe a flu that has being caught by flying over Gitmo. They still visit Gitmo, do they?
Hmm • March 23, 2018 3:09 AM
“They still visit Gitmo, do they?”
I admit, I have not visited. (yet) And I hope not to.
Winter • March 23, 2018 4:18 AM
“First, combining two ultrasonic signals in a non-linear medium can produce an audible sound, that’s nothing new.”
Two ultrasonic sounds that are slightly off in frequency can generate a very low frequency, infrasound, in a nonlinear medium. And many mediums are nonlinear to ultrasound.
Many nefarious effects have been attributed to infrasounds. I doubt most of them. However, it is known that vibrations (that is what infrasound is) can be a problem as they do have effects. These effects are mostly disturbed sleep and they are tiring in themselves (think of long travels by car or plane). There is a special dB measure for vibrations/infrasounds, dBC.
The problem with using ultrasound is that it does not carry far. It bounces of almost anything with mass.
Clive Robinson • March 23, 2018 6:12 AM
That, I gather, has been a huge, underreported, underacknowledged, continual, unrelenting problem without let-up since the days of the Cold War.
Not just in Russia, but well over fourty other nations, most of whom also appear on GCHQ’s “5h1t list” for APT and similar activities (apparently the way off of the GCHQ 5h1t list is to join the “eyes-club” this happened with India but they still managed to blot their copy book as one of the ASIA-EYES).
Even the UK domestic LE and IC entities “pick” on foreign diplomats for various reasons. In a number of cases it’s training of “new bods” in LE/IC and there is a degree of ammusment about it on both sides. But in some it realy is for “protection” reasons, the problem is defining what “protection” means. It includes UK National Security, UK Citizens and the Diplomatic staff and their families.
After all if nation A decides to take a poke at Nation B, what better place to do it than on the soil of Nation C… There is a reason Kipling popularized the expression the “Great Game” in his book Kim (well worth the read),
As others have observed over the years in the “stans” throat slitting is still the way matters are often settled. It does not matter which “Great Power” trys to take them as vassal nations, the result is fairly predictable the “hill tribes” make life untenable for invaders. To put it another way, it would not be easy to oppress people with little or nothing to loose materially and much to gain status wise by slitting a throat or ten…
Diplomatically few regard the “greater Russias” as civilized or have done for atleast two centuries regardless of who is –supposadly– running things.
 By “civilized” they refere rather more to their vizable deportmant not their behind the scenes actions. After all by far the majority of nations occasionaly use the ultimate form of diplomacy at the point of an assassins chosen tool of the trade. Few in the G20 however make as much noise about it as the US and Russia.
Clive Robinson • March 23, 2018 6:29 AM
I admit, I have not visited. (yet) And I hope not to.
What… you don’t like orange as a fashion colour, or is it the rooms with the far to open views or strange dinning practices?.. 😉
More seriously though Gitmo for a whole heap of reasons is an eye sore on the face of the world and should be got rid of once and for all. It damages the credibility of not just the US but most of the rest of the West. Worse it acts as a “Recruiter’s Flag” for those without moral compass. Which gives rise to all sorts of questions about who gains by Gitmos continued existence.
D-503 • March 23, 2018 8:51 AM
The fun thing about this mystery is that all of the proposed explanations are improbable, so much so that no one can say “well that settles it” without sarcasm (apologies to @John Dowd if that comment wasn’t sarcastic).
Some of the theories are more plausible than others, but there are none that stand out as being the most likely explanation.
Denton Scratch • March 23, 2018 8:52 AM
Hippies knew all about sonic warfare, back in the early ’70s:
“Do not waste time blocking your ears
Do not waste time seeking a soundproof shelter
Try to get as far away from the sonic source as possible, but do not panic…”
(Hawkwind used to play quite loud)
Jon • March 23, 2018 10:44 AM
Unfortunately, this is all highly reminiscent of ‘Yellow Rain’.
Hmm • March 23, 2018 11:02 AM
“but there are none that stand out as being the most likely explanation.”
Said the guy who didn’t even read in the first place..
mark • March 23, 2018 11:25 AM
Y’know, I was thinking about this on the way home yesterday… and based on skimming the article, I started wondering if it actually was intended as a weapon… or if it was intended as a high-tech, hard-to-detect spying system that had unintended side effects.
hmm • March 23, 2018 11:31 AM
Causing massive brain damage (not to mention the way they went about it, turning it on for a few minutes at a time while people slept) is not a “covert” feature.
It’s ridiculous. Ultrasound emitters don’t do that. A purpose-built device did this.
albert • March 23, 2018 12:59 PM
“When all is said and done, more is said than done.”
And so it is with this subject.
It’s trivial to modulate microwave(MW) carriers in any way you like. For a little history, commenters should read “The Zapping of America”, by Paul Brodeur. In it you can read real research about the non-heating effects of MW on human subjects, as well as animal tests. These effects are on going with regard to cell towers and mobile phones, and even wifi.
I’m not willing to seriously consider ultrasound as the culprit.
But, just because we rule out it out, doesn’t mean it can’t have effects similar to those described by the doctors. I would like to see laboratory test results, but such tests (on humans) are unlikely to exist.
Assuming that the whole incident was an attack, and if, as some here assert, no ultrasound devices have been found, then I propose MW carriers, suitably modulated. They are ideal for this, because they can be directed, have good penetration, and can ‘carry’ the modulation into the body.
Some assumptions have a higher probability than others
Unlike most other subjects, researchers don’t seem to try to blame Russia for this, which is refreshing.
Most folks consider ALL CAPS to be yelling. How this got started, I don’t know, but seems stupid to an OT like me. In my day, we used all caps to denote emphasis. What can you do on a typewriter:)
Now, I compose in Courier, and use ‘-‘ for -emphasis-. I’d prefer Italics, but..
It’s 2018, and I’m still obliged to -manually- enter HTML.
I mentioned the ‘flag farm’ in my last comment on the Cuba Sound incident. I figured someone might think about -microwaves-.
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echo • March 23, 2018 1:45 PM
Thanks for the political and social background comment on Cuba and more brutal regions. By chance I was reading up on General Tito yesterday which adds a little more to the Cold War legacy map.
The way the UK establishment treats its own citizens can be worrying as the Grenfell disaster and DWP sanctions against disabled people demonstrate. The UK is under investigation by the UN and EU for this kind of activity and this kind of treatment has been cited in at least one high profile terrorist case as a reason for radicalisation.
D-503 • March 23, 2018 2:11 PM
For anyone interested in the topic of evidence, here’s everything the March 20 JAMA article says about physical evidence:
MRI neuroimaging was obtained in all 21 patients. Most patients had conventional imaging findings, which were within normal limits, at most showing a few small nonspecific T2-bright foci in the white matter (n =9, 43%). There were 3 patients with multiple T2-bright white matter foci, which were more than expected for age, 2 mild in degree, and 1 with moderate changes. The pattern of conventional imaging findings in these cases was nonspecific with regard to the exposure/insult experienced, and the findings could perhaps be attributed to other preexisting disease processes or risk factors.
That’s all that’s known so far, as of a few days ago. Regarding the symptoms, the JAMA editorial that accompanies the article praises the article for reporting a potential new disease, but cautions against overinterpretation, given the limitations often inherent in case studies. Specifically, the tiny sample size, the fact that all the symptoms are commonplace in the general population, the lack of a control group, the liklihood that subjects communicated with each other before evaluation, and the subjective nature of many of the symptoms.
The editorial blasts the research article for equating mass hysteria with malingering:
it should be emphasized that in psychogenic (functional) illness (rather than malingering), individuals are not consciously motivated by primary and secondary gain.
The editorial concludes,
it is of paramount importance that documentation of signs, symptoms, and other clinical data remains as objective as possible.
@Hmm: I’ve often read your comments with interest, and you often make a positive contribution to the discussion. Keep on doing so! Please, stay constructive. Don’t feel singled out: I, too, have been guilty of rhetorical flourishes from time to time and sometimes linking to articles I haven’t read myself. But… I hope that if I ever start carpet-bombing comments sections with insults, someone will call me out on it.
Hmm • March 23, 2018 2:26 PM
Yeah I really “carpet bombed with insults” lol.
The abstract speaks for itself, despite bad paraphrasing by people who don’t read it.
Clive Robinson • March 23, 2018 2:29 PM
It’s trivial to modulate microwave(MW) carriers in any way you like.
Yes I’m aware of that having used X-Band signals modulated with modulated HF-VHF signals to get through the ventilation slots in equipment. Where the microwaves then find diode junctions etc and get envelope demodulated to the HF-VHF signal. Which in turn gets picked up by internal wiring that resonates at that frequency. Which in turn having it’s own semiconductor junctions demodulates that envelope to get the baseband signal that then supplies “fault injection” signals into the inputs of digital IC’s etc.
However using a 40-60watt output TWT and 10dBD horn to get just a 100mV of injection signal back in the 80’s did feel like over kill.
As for effects on humans EM microwaves have, it’s always been a bit iffy. It’s been assumed for some time that their major effect is dielectric heating of -OH bonds and it’s difficult to get even quite low frequency envelope detection in human flesh that way. Empirical evidence from engineers working on radar systems that have been accidently illuminated suggests that PRFs in the 5Hz to 10KHz range are not distinguishable… For various reasons it’s not an experiment I would like to carry out on living creatures, even humans that had offended society etc as is reputed to happen in some nations.
Though “spy transmitter stories” from the US in WWII etc of people picking the transmissions up on their fillings are as far as I’m aware not verifiable in experimental set ups. I can see how the effect of two disimilar metals such as a filling and cooking foil / chocolate wrapping casusing a form of Electrolytic or liquid barretter detector might produce nerve stimulation by the current produced.
The electrolytic detector is in effect a battery that as a side effect also forms a diode. It is made from what is a high impedence rechargeable battery of two disimilar metals in an acidic solution. When current flows in one direction tiny virtually invisible bubbles of gas form on one of the metals making it go high impeadence, when the current flows in the opposit direction the gas goes back into solution and the impedence drops. Thus a crude form of rectification occures. Such a diode was used for the reception of AM signals well over a century ago.
Hmm • March 23, 2018 2:33 PM
“the fact that all the symptoms are commonplace in the general population,”
In a word, bullshit.
justinacolmena • March 23, 2018 3:02 PM
Nobody said spycraft was easy, did they. Or empire.
I don’t defend either side, I see both sides of the issue in many respects.
Or else new neighbors move in. They play loud music late at night, they have wild parties, and people are dealing drugs in your apartment building. Things like that, each of which, on its own, might have a plausible explanation, or even a plausible means of redress or dispute resolution. But too many supposedly unrelated annoyances and too much carefully arranged bullshit to deal with all of it effectively, short of waging all-out war.
echo • March 23, 2018 5:02 PM
Oh, so true. Been there.
JG4 • March 23, 2018 5:43 PM
Mostly want to rehash my previous comments. The power levels from room occupancy detectors, motion detectors, etc. likely are too low to cause brain damage and/or side-channel leakage (inbound), unless there is some high Q resonance in the room, building or skull. High Q is unlikely given the damping parameters for air, water and tissues, but not impossible. Even with mixing, such sources are unlikely to reach amplitudes associated with pain, tissue damage or side-channel leakage. I previously interpreted the visual effects as side-channel leakage, not unlike the flashing lights caused by hardwood shampoo. The two most obvious ways to produce damage and side-channel leakage are with moderate power ultrasound or microwaves. I had missed the utility of ultrasound as a tool for clandestine pickup of audio. The utility of microwaves for clandestine pickup of audio is well known here.
D-503 • March 23, 2018 8:54 PM
Yellow rain, or yellow press?
The story seems to have started when Obama was still in office, near the end of his final term, and making small gestures to normalise relations with Cuba.
One thing that disappointed me when reading the JAMA editorial and research paper is how the evidence that anything happened at all is a lot flimsier than I expected based on the news reports. I was hoping for something more solid. As the editorial underlines, it’s all still very speculative. Especially with news stories about security, hype sells. And hype about minor threats can distract people from much bigger security threats.
 Small planet alert: it turns out I know the guy who demonstrated to the world that yellow rain was/is real. Interesting character. Anyway, the culprits are able to fly amazing distances – a couple hundred kim, I heard – to precisely hit their targets. And they’re loaded with so much toxin than just one of them can kill a man with their hypodermic injector. An early example of -drone- warfare? Sorry, I can’t resist a bad pun.
Hmm • March 23, 2018 9:35 PM
What is “flimsy” is your attempts to pretend nothing happened and it’s “hysteria” and media invention.
The evidence is solid. It’s in fact incontrovertible that they were damaged.
Recalling diplomatic staff is a huge move. It’s not done on a whim or a hunch.
Your entire premise is just FUD.
Hmm • March 23, 2018 9:38 PM
Either way, the rest of the world will treat this as a real event and probable attack.
You don’t have to. You can live in a bubble and blame the media for reporting it.
That’s your right and I don’t contest it. Enjoy.
The world goes on.
D-503 • March 24, 2018 1:09 AM
JAMA != FUD
a 2016 impact factor of 44.405, ranking it 3rd out of 154 journals in the category “Medicine, General & Internal”
“My filter bubble is better than yours” 😉 Sing to the tune of Kelis’ Milkshake.
For a medical story, there’s no better source than the medical journal reporting on it, even though all sources are fallible. Humans are only human. All the better reason to listen to a range of opinions.
I’d be the last person to attack the press – there are a lot of amazingly talented and hardworking journalists out there – we need more journalism, not less. But the press faces the same commercial pressures as anyone else, resulting in too much sensationalism on many topics. It’s been a hard time for the press lately.
As for withdrawal of diplomatic staff, my own biased speculation is that it was likely a prudent precaution to avoid further injury to staff, though it isn’t hard to think of possible contributing factors to the decision (Is Florida no longer considered a swing state? Has a J Bolton – R Castro bromance blossomed while I was asleep?)
 In a game of Telephone, the message is usually less garbled the closer you are to the original source. Not completely true (in science, you need to read the review articles as well as the primary research articles, to get perspective and a range of opinion), but true often enough.
Doug • March 24, 2018 1:36 AM
The only theory which successfully explains everything about the Cuban attacks, is that microwaves were involved.
The victims heard sounds, which is consistent with the poorly understood “microwave auditory effect” whereby something occurs inside the brain to cause perception of a sound.
Several of the victims were diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury.
Microwave exposure can cause TBI somehow, without heating.
The beam, of whatever it was, was highly directional and/or localized. Microwaves are easily focused at considerable distance.
Someone was able to record it. Although at face value this suggests accoustics, it’s also entirely possible that modulated microwaves got detected by the electronics and recorded that way. A recording made an audio recording device does not contradict the microwave theory. For example if you have an electric guitar, you have to keep your cell phone away from your pickups, because the RF when it’s active will get right into your audio.
Hmm • March 24, 2018 2:17 AM
Bless your heart. You’re free to believe what you want, but you’re not paraphrasing well.
It takes a pretty tortured reading to even remotely insinuate that I had said JAMA = FUD.
You seem to need to take some liberties to sow your doubts that an attack took place in Cuba.
Thankfully no one needs to convince you.
I came to a similar conclusion when I learned about the white matter SAR-specific damage.
If you search youtube you can find people turning ordinary microwaves into EM guns.
Kids doing it. It’s not difficult, just dangerous as all hell with the transformer.
You can imagine the resources of a nation state to make something powerful, covert.
Maybe something more exotic than microwaves, but not so different.
Clive Robinson • March 24, 2018 4:16 AM
If you search youtube you can find people turning ordinary microwaves into EM guns.
The “accepted term of art” is ‘HERF Weapons’ where HERF stands for High Energy Radio Frequency. Almost all of which for portability reasons are in the microwave or above bands.
Kids doing it. It’s not difficult, just dangerous as all hell with the transformer.
Err the transformer is probably only of danger to the kids and within their arms length. The microwave emmissions “in the bore sight” of the antenna attached to the magnetron is dangerous to who so ever they chose to point it at and at way more than arms length.
To think sideways about it, how long does it take to cook a pound of sausages from fridge cold to over cooked? Well around 60-120 seconds for most fully working microwave ovens to go from 3-4C to 105-120C, or over 100C temorature rise.
The human body runs around 36C and the proteins it is made from and is very much dependent on depolarise at a little over 40C or ariund a 4C temperature rise. Which all things being equal only needs 1/25 of the energy of cooking the sausages…
If someone was to put the antenna close to your spine from behind for a few seconds it does not take much imagination to work out what will happen through ordinary clothing…
If you put your mind to it, you can disassemble a microwave oven and it’s PSU, likewise a power inverter such as a UPSU and put those, the battery and a horn antenna into a fairly rugged “Pelican” style brief case with a switch in the handle.
 Magnetron valve/tube is a thermionic emission device. The “heater” like an incandescent light bulb has a finite life and degrades as do other asspects of the device and power output dropps as the magnetron “goes soft”.
 With the addition of a frequency synthesizer and modulator I’ve done almost exactly this as part of a “Ham Radio” hobby transmitter for working experimental troposcatter and long path.
neill • March 24, 2018 10:26 AM
my comment picked up your mentioning the flagpoles, thank you. if those would be wired up individually you’d get a nice tuneable, directable array, that could emit EM waves at the building and cause all kinds of secondary oscillations within … that might cause said medical problems for some … IMHO more likely than ‘long range ultrasound’
RealFakeNews • March 24, 2018 12:05 PM
I’m wondering why some people are adamant it is some kind of “mass hysteria”.
@hmm: you’re not crazy. I heard they found white matter damage of unknown cause.
albert • March 24, 2018 12:19 PM
@Clive, @et al, @neill,
There are amateur radio folks building radar units using magnetrons scavenged from MW ovens. These units are too weak for use at long distances. Anyway, magnetrons are old school. Companies like Ampleon are making 250W power transistors that can operate at 2400-2500GHz. Small, lightweight, and -cheap- MW generators can now be commodity items. These will show up in MW ovens soon.
For anti-personnel use, you don’t need frequency stability or
accuracy; just power. You can bet that the MIL/IC* communities world wide have been researching this for a long time. This sort of research might take decades to reach the civilian research community. Some may be forever secret.
Look how long it took for science to learn the dangers of ionizing radiation, and even then, the forces of monetization still insist on dangerously high ‘acceptable’ levels. The situation is even worse with non-ionizing radiation, now that the GHz range is being exploited. In the RF world, forces of monetization are orders of magnitude larger.
We could live without nuclear power, but give up wifi and cell phones? LOL, OMG, WTF!
P.S. @neill, I tried to find pics of the bases, to see if any wiring was visible, but no joy. It would be trivial to wire them as we do streetlights, i.e., underground. You only need to do the row facing the building (‘target’). Have you considered the ‘chevron’ layout as a giant ‘lens’ to ‘focus’ one or more beams from far away? @Clive might have a comment on this.
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Hmm • March 24, 2018 1:03 PM
A truck/van-based platform could be ideal for a covert DEW attack. Power source, obscurity, mobility.
Some KKK idiots explored turning a medical x-ray emitter into a death ray to attack people.
They aren’t the only idiots toying with these ideas. Brave new world.
albert • March 24, 2018 5:19 PM
“…A truck/van-based platform could be ideal for a covert DEW attack. Power source, obscurity, mobility….” Very interesting…
X-rays! Silent -and- deadly. Scary stuff. Depending on dosage, it may not kill you for a long time, but could certainly put you in a world of hurt. And attribution might be difficult.
Are you familiar with the Therac-25 incidents? If not, I’ll find you a link…
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Hmm • March 24, 2018 5:37 PM
Oh god, I remember them now that you mentioned it.
“The feeling was described by patient Ray Cox as “an intense electric shock”, causing him to scream and run out of the treatment room. Several days later, radiation burns appeared, and the patients showed the symptoms of radiation poisoning; in three cases, the injured patients later died as a result of the overdose”
Scary indeed. Attribution would be ~impossible if you don’t catch them in the act.
You probably wouldn’t know until it’s too late, a few hours in bed getting blasted.
Then weeks of agony until you die. Almost no regular building mats would stop it.
Mini-WMD. I think we have reason to expect these tactics to be used.
Doug • March 25, 2018 12:05 AM
These are being called “attacks” by most people, including me just for reference to the events, however this term presupposes an intention to harm.
I think it’s more plausible that this was a “botched surveillance job.”
There’s an adage I try to live by, that goes, “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.”
Stupidity really can explain quite a lot. That and entropy, though I’m unsure these aren’t synonyms.
Clive Robinson • March 25, 2018 6:11 AM
I think it’s more plausible that this was a “botched surveillance job.”
The problem I have with that is “energy”.
There are three basic routes that the energy can reach the people who have suffered,
1, By Kinetic means.
2, By Conduction.
3, By Radiation.
As far as I’m aware there is no suggestion of kinetic means as this would leave fairly obvious marks on the individual as well as marks in the environment if originated from outside of a bounded space such as a room in a building.
Whilst conduction can not be ruled out it to appears to be unlikely for a number of reasons, the most obvious being people move around.
Which leaves us with radiant energy which can come in various types but all suffer from the inverse square or cube issues that spread the energy across a surface or volume that increases with distance.
Now we need to establish a base line at the individual who has been injured. That is the energy required to damage the white matter of the brain at the body.
Thus the “physically insult” medical models requires not just the impulse energy equivalent of a near “knock out blow”. It needs them to be applied with an equivalent rapid rise time as well as having these impulses applied repeatedly with time.
Likewise there are problems under the “thermal insult” models. Non ionising radiant energy used for it’s heating effects is generally assumed to work from the outside in. And the human body is quite capable of shifting heat around the body via the various circulatory systems. Thus damaging the white matter would require very significant amounts of energy over time. It would also leave fairly obvious marks on both the person and their surrounding environment, so far I’ve not seen anything reported into the public domain.
Which brings us to ionising radiant energy, even at quite low levels it would leave tell tail evidence behind in the environment. It would also not effect only the white matter in the brain it would cause other effects that could be seen in other tissues in the head.
Thus of the three medical models intense pulses of non ionising radiant energy appears most likely as it would not leave other tell tale marks in the body or environment when stopped.
If we rule this out then we are going to have to find other non standard biological models. Again due to the energy requirments they would have to be accumulative and activate parts of the body that would result in mainly in white matter damage.
There are such effects as cavitation that can do this but I don’t see anyone involved in the case talking avout them.
So we have a problem of no biological/medical model involving what is most likely some form of radiant energy that is nonionising.
Which is probably why the “mass hysteria” idea is thought more likely when there was no physical evidence presented…
However now there is some potential physical evidence we have to look for a physical biological/medical model to support it. What we are left with suggests considerable energy in pulses would have been involved.
The question then arises as to if the type of force and the energy required would have been used for surveillance?..
If we take one of the symptoms “hearing loss” we could look at likely contenders for this.
Essentially our ears are an auditary matching system to a very fine and fairly easily damaged membrane that moves in sympathy to changes in preasure. This movment is then mechanicaly amplified by three tiny bones which are also capable of being damaged. This movment is then applied to another membrane on an organ with multiple sensing capability. It then picks out very narrow ranges of frequency by having dofferent length resonating mechanisms connected to transducers that change the neuro electrical output depending on the level the resonators are stimulated to.
These resonators are in effect very short hairs and they do get both damaged and destroyed in busy office/street levels of noise. Interestingly the effects appear to be cumulative with time as most individuals loose their high frequency hearing with time.
The problem with saying it’s a sound source that has done the damage is you would normally expect the person to hear the tones as the resonators become stimulated to the point damage is likely.
As an engineer I know there are two ways that the resonators could be damaged without the person becoming consciously aware of tones. But you need to understand the reason why.
Part of the way the resonator nerve system works is an “integration” process. That is short term stimulation effects of the resonator getting hit by off frequency tones does not get through the integration process at any level the person is going to perceive as a tone, just low level “noise”. There are other mechanisms that are ambient noise level effected. Thus a person does not hear their bodies “internal sounds” like their heart beat unless in a very quiet environment.
You can design a system that uses very short pulses that change the time between the pulses such that no tone builds up in the human ear. Because of the relationship of pulses and rapidly rising edges you can have a continuous waveform but where the time between each change of state changes so no tone builds up in the human ear.
It just so happens that both of these at sufficient level sound like “White Noise” but are also used in various types of distance measuring systems such as Radar. You can look up more by searching for “JPL Ranging Codes” that are a form of Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) system based around multiple short “Gold Codes” which use what is in effect “Chinese Counting” to generate very long sequences where time differences are very easily correlated to quite high precision.
There is a small fly in the ointment though which brings us back to the energy level issue. DSSS style systems are used “to spread the energy of a bit or tone across multiple frequencies” in a process knowm as “Whitening”. Thus to do any damage the actual radiated level would have to be raised by the same level of spreading function. But as it’s “white noise” it could be raised slowly such that the person does not realy hear the change in background level.
Whilst such a system might account for hearing loss I can not see a simple explanation to show how a single source of a DSSS signal might cause white matter damage in the brain without the person being aware of it…
In theory multiple emitters could be used to get higher resolution (in a similar way to GPNS satellites). However such MIMO systems are “fairly new kids on the block” thus problems with them may not yet have been recognised. The only MIMO surveillance devices I’m aware of having been researched in the academic field are those “volumetric radar” systems using WiFi that can pick up peoples movments through solid walls. But in an Embassy you would expect screaning and SCIF cells etc. In theory such a system could be used to see peoples finger movments thus work out what they are typing at a keyboard thus get their password but whilst it might make a “Mission Impossible” movie plot technique…
Whilst it is in theory possible that a DSSS MIMO surveillance system might cause very high peak powers at single points in space. That might in turn cause cavitation effects you would probably be called “Cuckoo” if you seriously sugested it without some form of evidence and a biological/medical model to back it up.
So we are still looking for a “smoking gun”…
albert • March 25, 2018 2:10 PM
As I said, regardless of what we know about the Cuba Incident, there’s doesn’t seem to be any published research available* on the effects of sounds or sound-modulated microwaves on the brain. Don’t forget that diseases of the brain like Alzheimers can cause white matter damage, without any trauma. And victims wouldn’t know it, or remember it if they did. Again, you are talking about -physical- damage. Forget heating effects. These are not the only effects of MWs of the human body. They are the most convenient symptoms to use as strawman arguments for promoters of MW technology, and a convenient excuse for clandestine activities.
Interestingly, hearing loss, balance difficulties, and headaches were symptoms reported by the Cuban embassy staff. Two can be attributed to effects on the inner ear. I can’t provide details at this time.
It has been proven that certain frequencies (in the audio range, as it happens) can destroy certain bacteria in the body, and do so very selectively. Bacteria have ‘resonant’** frequencies that can kill them quickly, with only a few volts of square wave (switched DC) applied to the skin. Care must be taken to allow the waste products to be eliminated by the body, to avoid toxic side effects.
Software got me interested in the Therac-25 case. It was computer-controlled, and the bug responsible was a race condition. By eliminating position sensors, they saved a few bucks, but gave up knowing the -actual- position of the mechanical devices that determined one of the two operational modes. Early X-ray machines could cause discernible heating in the skin. I’ve had personal experience with this.
** ‘Resonant’ may not even apply. It’s a convenient metaphor. We don’t know for sure what the mechanism is.
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Tatütata • March 25, 2018 3:41 PM
This study is rather disappointing.
There is a rather large body of knowledge right there in the USA.
A company called “LRAD” manufactures and sells ultrasonic projectors to police forces, to inflict enough harm demonstrators for them to quit. It’s usually hard to get the PDs to cough up information on these, a bit like for Stingrays.
Their manufacturer have a largish patent portfolio, with 30 odd families mentioning “ultraso*” in their abstracts.
The cooperative patent classification system has a specific code for these weapons, F41H13/0081:
Means of attack or defence not otherwise provided for; Directed energy weapons, i.e. devices that direct a beam of high energy content toward a target for incapacitating or destroying the target; the high-energy beam being acoustic, e.g. sonic, infrasonic or ultrasonic
There are about 82 patent families classified under that code.
Finally, looking up “ultrasound crowd control” at DTIC (Defence Technical Information Center) yields an appreciable amount of sh*t on that subject. The third result is a 115 page long MSc thesis from 2013 reporting an experimental study on rats.
In view of the preceding, I will revise my opinion on that IEEE paper: it is worse than disappointing, it is downright miserable.
Doug • March 25, 2018 3:50 PM
@Clive: Inverse Square Law, certainly. But with directional and especially parabolic antennas, the coefficient of that square may be radically different from what you might assume, since the narrow space occupied by the radiated wave no longer matches the physical space.
There have been many proposals, including by NASA, to harvest solar energy by satellite and send the power back to earth in narrow beams.
D-503 • March 26, 2018 2:30 PM
Have there been any comments that are ‘adamant it is some kind of “mass hysteria”’?
What some leading neurologists are adamant about, in a top medical journal last week:
– that the medical findings are consistent with random coincidence, and
– if the syndrome is real, also consistent with a completely psychogenic cause.
– In the absence of additional evidence and objective analysis, it remains to be seen whether or not there’s a physical cause connected in any way with the individuals’ time in Cuba.
It’s always a disappointment when seemingly exotic phenomena turn out to have perfectly humdrum, everyday explanations. A previous commenter mentioned yellow rain, as an example.
@RealFakeNews: My apologies if Poe’s Law applies to your comment, or if I otherwise misunderstood. Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell whether someone’s pulling my leg online.
albert • March 26, 2018 5:12 PM
Well done on your research. Ultrasonic devices would have to be large and obvious to be able to cover a whole building with intense ultrasonic sound and get through walls and windows.
Microwaves are the way to go.
. .. . .. — ….
JG4 • March 28, 2018 1:06 PM
I can’t recall anyone suggesting in this entire discussion that the problem was caused by either 1) a malfunction of a US terrain denial or surveillance system, or 2) by a state-level actor hacking a US terrain denial or surveillance system. I’m disappointed that I didn’t think of the possibility. We need to be more conspiracy-minded.
US Congress passes FOSTA law attacking internet freedom WSWS
THE DARK WEB’S FAVORITE CURRENCY IS LESS UNTRACEABLE THAN IT SEEMS Wired
Koto Shakuhachi • March 28, 2018 2:13 PM
Regarding Hysteria.. Mass hysteria usually affects school age girls, but there are lots of examples involving adult men… the “P*nis Theft” panics in Nigeria and Singapore, or the Dancing Manias of the middle ages. A recent glaring example of mass hysteria being exploited by authorities occurred during the Afghan war, when schoolgirls in a one room school had fainting spells and other symptoms. US Propagandists made the ludicrous claim that the Taliban had snuck up and gassed them. I also have hearing loss, but have never been tempted to blame it on evildoers.
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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.
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