Can the Microwave Auditory Effect Be “Weaponized”?

OPINION article

Front. Public Health, 23 December 2021 |

AUTHOR=Foster Kenneth R., Garrett David C., Ziskin Marvin C.

TITLE=Can the Microwave Auditory Effect Be “Weaponized”?

JOURNAL=Frontiers in Public Health








Brief but intense pulses of radiofrequency (RF) energy can elicit auditory sensations when absorbed in the head of an individual, an effect known as the microwave auditory or “Frey effect” after the first investigator to examine the phenomenon (1). The effect is known to arise from thermoacoustically (TA)-induced acoustic waves in the head (2).

Lin has proposed that the Frey effect may be linked to unexplained health problems reported by U.S. officers in Cuba and elsewhere, the so-called Havana syndrome (3). The failure to detect microwave exposure to the affected individuals lends no support to this hypothesis, and we do not speculate about the cause of the symptoms. The question remains: whether the auditory effect can be “weaponized,” i.e., used to harass or harm an individual. For reasons of effect size and practicality this appears unlikely, but the lack of publicly available information about existing high power RF technology and uncertainties about thresholds for adverse effects does not allow full resolution of the matter.

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