Don’t Look Now

“This year’s summer shows find London’s galleries steeped in paranoia, madness and the macabre.

Hallucinations, disorientation, dizziness and anxiety, feelings of vertigo: on a trip to Florence in 1817 the writer Stendhal suffered what later became known as Stendhal’s syndrome, a kind of overwhelming panic in the face of too much great art. Whether it was the masterpieces of the Uffizi that triggered it, or lack of sleep, the rigours of 19th-century travel, too many grappas or some instability that lurked within the author, we shall never know. Perhaps Stendhal didn’t know either…” (Guardian.UK)

Riot control ray gun worries scientists

Star Wars-style riot control ray gun due to be deployed in Iraq next year. “The Active Denial System weapon, classified as ‘less lethal’ by the Pentagon, fires a 95GHz microwave beam at rioters to cause heating and intolerable pain in less than five seconds.

The discomfort is designed to prompt people caught in the microwave beam to move away from it, thereby allowing riot-control personnel to break up and manage a crowd.

But New Scientist magazine reported Wednesday that during tests carried out at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, participants playing the part of rioters were told to remove glasses and contact lenses to protect their eyes. In another test they were also told to remove metal objects such as coins from their clothing to prevent local hot spots from developing on their skin.

‘What happens if someone in a crowd is unable for whatever reason to move away from the beam?’ asked Neil Davison, coordinator of the nonlethal weapons research project at Britain’s Bradford University. ‘How do you ensure that the dose doesn’t cross the threshold for permanent damage? Does the weapon cut out to prevent overexposure?’

The magazine said a vehicle-mounted version of the weapon named Sheriff was scheduled for service in Iraq in 2006 and that U.S. Marines and police were both working on portable versions.” (c/net thanks to walker)