If you ever want to get revenge on someone and never be discovered, what is the best approach? You could put sugar in their petrol tank. You could send them a package of bees. You could sign them up for cat facts, the daily alert that will send anyone facts about cats. While all of these things are effective moves they are just not quite sneaky enough. What if, instead, you attacked someone with sound?
Throughout history, music has been used to bother people. Whether it is turning the music up louder in your room to annoy your mum or used in military advances to intimidate your opposition, it has always been a useful tactic. However, this isn’t what we mean.
Humans can hear any sound between 20Hz and 20,000 Hz. Any lower or higher and it doesn’t register. As you get older your hearing gets worse and that range gets shorter as well. Even though our ears can’t pick up the sound of these high and low frequencies it can still have an impact on our body. The sounds can cause small vibrations that can have an effect.
Above 20,000 Hz is called ultrasound. You will immediately recognize this term as it is what is used to examine babies during pregnancy. It is also used in dog whistles, in pest devices, and even in some public buildings to deter loitering of youths. Outside some libraries they play a high-frequency noise that only young people can hear, to drive them away from standing around too long. Can ultrasound be weaponized?
Evidence suggests that if ultrasound was placed very close to the skin it could cause it to heat up, so it has some potential but it appears very impractical. In fact, the US military previously investigated the possibility and found this very result. Because you would have to be so close to your enemy means the element of surprise would be gone. You would be better off sending the parcel of bees.
However, infrasound has real potential. Infrasound is anything under 20Hz and is what we hear (or don’t) when earthquakes and lightning strikes. Many animals like elephants, hippos giraffes, and alligators all use the sound to communicate. It can be manmade and has been shown to do strange things to people. It can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, annoyance, fatigue, and more. The reason this happens is that it is over a very long wave so it can penetrate the body. If finds its way to any liquids or gasses in your body and causes the tissues to shrink or expand, making you feel weird.
You may have already experienced this phenomenon to a small degree. Horror movies have been known to play these frequencies to disturb viewers. The ‘fear frequency’ of 17Hz can be found on Youtube for example.
Could it be used for worse? There have been stories of important political figures being severely disrupted with no explanation and they may have been targeted by infrasound. American politicians visited China and many of them fell ill with the same symptoms reported for infrasound with some reporting that they heard strange noises in their apartments. The same thing happened in Cuba in 2016 when a number of politicians reported strange sounds and illness.
It is possible that this infrasound has been weaponized and we don’t even know about it. If you ever have a career in politics we recommend going to bed with some way of blocking out sounds used to ensure your safety. On the other hand, if you have a friend or relative that you want to get some revenge on we highly recommend a little more research into infrasound.