Pittsburgh police on Thursday used an audio cannon manufactured by American Technology Corporation (ATCO), a San Diego-based company, to disperse protesters outside the G-20 Summit — the first time its LRAD series device has been used on civilians in the U.S.
“The police fired a sound cannon that emitted shrill beeps, causing demonstrators to cover their ears and back up,” The New York Times reported. For years, similar “non-lethal” products designed by ATC have been used at sea by cruise ships to ward off pirates.
“LRAD creates increased stand off and safety zones, supports resolution of uncertain situations, and potentially prevents the use of deadly force,” ATC spokesperson Robert Putnam told DailyFinance. “We believe this is highly preferable to the real instances that happen almost every day around the world where officials use guns and other lethal and non-lethal weapons to disperse protesters.”
Still, Putnam acknowledged the potential for physical harm. “If you stand right next to it for several minutes, you could have hearing damage,” he said. “But it’s your choice.” He added that heavy-duty ear-phones can render the weapon less effective.
Now that the law enforcement authorites have begun using the LRAD in U.S. cities, a whole new marketplace for the company may have opened up. Don’t be surprised to see a LRAD at an event with large crowds in your town sometime in the future.
Unlike some of my esteemed peers on Grinding, I am not a scientist. At best, I am a shy-entist, eager to learn and listen, but untrained and slightly scared of speaking with science-types lest I show my soft, pink humanities belly.
But I think I might have found an antidote for it in a random find: Cafe Scientifique
Cafe Scientifique is a place where, for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. Meetings have taken place in cafes, bars, restaurants and even theatres, but always outside a traditional academic context.
The first Cafes Scientifiques in the UK were held in Leeds in 1998. From there, cafes gradually spread across the country. Currently, some forty or so cafes meetregularly to hear scientists or writers on science talk about their work and discuss it with diverse audiences.
Cafe Scientifique is a forum for debating science issues, not a shop window for science. We are committed to promoting public engagement with science and to making science accountable.
I know for a fact there’s one near myself and m1k3y, so I might drag him along to see if we can scope out the action. There’s a handy map here if you want to find your own and debate the living shit out of people.
And here is an old Guardian article about the Dana Cafe in London, which gives a very media-sparkle version of what goes on in one of these cafes.