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The "halitosis bomb" and "gay bomb" are informal names for two theoretical non-lethal chemical weapons that a United States Air Force research laboratory speculated about producing; the theories involve discharging female sex pheromones over enemy forces in order to make them sexually attracted to each other.
In 1994 the Wright Laboratory in Ohio, a predecessor to today's United States Air Force Research Laboratory, produced a three-page proposal on a variety of possible nonlethal chemical weapons, which was later obtained by the Sunshine Project through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Some body spray advertisers claim that their products contain human sexual pheromones which act as an aphrodisiac. In the 1970s, "copulins" were patented as products which release human pheromones, based on research on rhesus monkeys. Subsequently, androstenone, axillary sweat, and "vomodors" have been claimed to act as human pheromones. Despite these claims, no pheromonal substance has ever been demonstrated to directly influence human behavior in a peer reviewed study.
Few well-controlled scientific studies have ever been published suggesting the possibility of pheromones in humans. Using a brain imaging technique, Swedish researchers have shown that when homosexual and heterosexual males are presented with two odors that may be involved in sexual arousal their brains tend to respond differently, and that the homosexual men tend to respond in the same way as heterosexual women, though it could not be determined whether this was cause or effect. The study was expanded to include homosexual women; the results were consistent with previous findings meaning that homosexual women were not as responsive to male identified odors, while their response to female cues was similar to that of heterosexual males. According to the researchers, this research suggests a possible role for human pheromones in the biological basis of sexual orientation. In 2008, it was found using functional magnetic resonance imaging that the right orbitofrontal cortex, right fusiform cortex, and right hypothalamus respond to airborne natural human sexual sweat.
In both of the documents, the possibility was canvassed that a strong aphrodisiac could be dropped on enemy troops, ideally one which would also cause "homosexual behavior". The documents described the aphrodisiac weapon as "distasteful but completely non-lethal".
Body odor remote-engineering, such as halitosis and hyperhidrosis, was another possibility discussed. Again, these effects would be produced by a non-lethal chemical weapon—possibly one that would affect the hormonal and digestive systems. It appears that a 'heavy sweating bomb', 'flatulence bomb' and 'halitosis bomb' were also considered by a committee at the time. The plan was to make an enemy so smelly they could be quite literally sniffed out of hiding by their opponents. It was also considered damaging to the enemy's morale.
Ig Nobel Prize awards
Wright Laboratory won the 2007 Ig Nobel Peace Prize for "instigating research & development on a chemical weapon—the so-called 'gay bomb'/'poof bomb'—that will make enemy soldiers become sexually irresistible to each other."
- Bremelanotide, the only known synthetic aphrodisiac
- Frey effect (science)
- 30 Rock, a sitcom which featured a working gay bomb in the episode "Cooter".
- Brickleberry, a sitcom whose sixth episode, "Gay Bomb", involves a gay bomb.
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- Jerome Bernard (16 June 2007). "Pentagon once mulled 'gay bomb' to promote love, not war". Daily Times. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
- Hambrick, Greg (12 June 2007). "Gay Bomb, For Real". Gay Charleston. Archived from the original on 16 June 2007. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
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- Wyatt, Tristram D. (2003). Pheromones and Animal Behaviour: Communication by Smell and Taste. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-48526-6. p. 298 Quoting Preti & Weski (1999) "No peer reviewed data supporting the presences of...human...pheromones that cause rapid behavioral changes, such as attraction and/or copulation have been documented."
- Hays, Warren S. T., Human pheromones: have they been demonstrated? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 2003, 54:89–97
- Bear, Mark F.; Barry W. Connors; Michael A. Paradiso (2006). Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 0-7817-6003-8. p. 264 ...there has not yet been any hard evidence for human pheromones that might [change] sexual attraction (for members of either sex) [naturally]
- Berglund H, Lindström P, Savic I (May 2006). "Brain response to putative pheromones in lesbian women". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 103 (21): 8269–74. doi:10.1073/pnas.0600331103. PMC 1570103. PMID 16705035.
- Wade, N. "Gay Men are found to have Different Scent of Attraction." NY Times, 9 May 2005
- Zhou, Wen; Denise Chen (20 March 2008). "Encoding human sexual chemosensory cues in the orbitofrontal and fusiform cortices". J Neurosci 25 (53): 14416–21. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3148-08.2008. PMC 2667117. PMID 19118174.
- "Winners of the Ig Nobel Prize". Improbable Research. 2007. Retrieved 18 October 2007.
- "Harassing, Annoying, and 'Bad Guy' Identifying Chemicals" (PDF). Sunshine Project. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 May 2006. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
- Smith, Michael (15 January 2005). "Pentagon planned love bomb". The Daily Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 30 April 2008.
- "US military pondered love not war". news.bbc.co.uk (BBC News). 15 January 2005. Retrieved 16 June 2007.
- Bransten, Jeremy (30 January 2007). "U.S.: Pentagon Unveils The Next Generation Of Nonlethal Weapons". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 16 June 2007.
- Bernard, Jerome (16 June 2007). "Pentagon once mulled 'gay bomb' to promote love not war". Daily Times. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
- "Ig Nobel awards celebrate the sillier side of science". CNN. 5 October 2007. Archived from the original on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2007.