Microwave auditory effect

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The microwave auditory effect, also known as the microwave hearing effect or the Frey effect, consists of the human perception of audible clicks, buzzing, hissing or knocking induced by pulsed or modulated radio frequencies. The perceived sounds are generated directly inside the human head without the need of any receiving electronic device. The effect was first reported by persons working in the vicinity of radar transponders during World War II. In 1961, the American neuroscientist Allan H. Frey studied this phenomenon and was the first to publish information on the nature of the microwave auditory effect.[1][2] The cause is thought to be thermoelastic expansion of portions of the auditory apparatus,[3] although competing theories explain the results of holographic interferometry tests differently.[4]

Research in the U.S.

Allan H. Frey was the first American to publish on the microwave auditory effect (MAE). Frey's "Human auditory system response to modulated electromagnetic energy" appeared in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 1961.[1] In his experiments, the subjects were discovered to be able to hear appropriately pulsed microwave radiation, from a distance of a few inches to hundreds of feet from the transmitter. In Frey's tests, a repetition rate of 50 Hz was used, with pulse width between 10–70 microseconds. The perceived loudness was found to be linked to the peak power density, instead of average power density. At 1.245 GHz, the peak power density for perception was below 80 mW/cm2. According to Frey, the induced sounds were described as "a buzz, clicking, hiss, or knocking, depending on several transmitter parameters, i.e., pulse width and pulse-repetition rate". By changing transmitter parameters, Frey was able to induce the "perception of severe buffeting of the head, without such apparent vestibular symptoms as dizziness or nausea". Other transmitter parameters induced a pins and needles sensation. Frey experimented with nerve-deaf subjects, and speculated that the human detecting mechanism was in the cochlea, but at the time of the experiment the results were inconclusive due to factors such as tinnitus.[1][5]

Auditory sensations of clicking or buzzing have been reported by some workers at modern-day microwave transmitting sites that emit pulsed microwave radiation. Auditory responses to transmitted frequencies from approximately 200 MHz to at least 3 GHz have been reported. The cause is thought to be thermoelastic expansion of portions of auditory apparatus, and the generally accepted mechanism is rapid (but minuscule, in the range of 10−5 °C) heating of brain by each pulse, and the resulting pressure wave traveling through the skull to the cochlea.[5]

In 1975, an article by neuropsychologist Don Justesen discussing radiation effects on human perception referred to an experiment by Joseph C. Sharp and Mark Grove at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research during which Sharp and Grove reportedly were able to recognize nine out of ten words transmitted by "voice modulated microwaves". Although it's been reported that "power levels required for transmitting sound... [would cause] brain damage due to... thermal effects"[6] the pops associated with the microwave audio effect are not sustained over time, and the effect is due to brief, sudden, increases in temperature.[7] So while threshold levels of for the microwave audio effect of 267mW/cm² for 1.3GHz and 5000mW/cm² 2.9GHz, respectively, were reported by Frey in 1961, for the peak amplitude (providing the pops) and would only give an average (sustained) power density of only 0.4mW/cm² and 2mW/cm² respectively[7] similar to current cellphones. However, it's been argued that despite waves the microwave auditory effect only constituting a rapid 10−6 °C rise in temperature, for threshold peaks on each pulse, that, at the least, a strong peak of around 1400 kW/cm² (1.4 billion mW/cm²) would certainly be harmful due to the resulting pressure wave.[8]

Electronic warfare

In 2003–04, WaveBand Corp. had a contract from the U.S. Navy for the design of an MAE system they called MEDUSA (Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio) that was intended to temporarily incapacitate personnel through remote application.[9] Reportedly, Sierra Nevada Corp. took over the contract from WaveBand.[10] Experts, such as Kenneth Foster, a University of Pennsylvania bioengineering professor who published research on the microwave auditory effect in 1974, have discounted the effectiveness of the proposed device. Foster said that because of human biophysics, the device "would kill you well before you were bothered by the noise". According to former professor at the University of Washington Bill Guy, "There's a misunderstanding by the public and even some scientists about this auditory effect," and "there couldn't possibly be a hazard from the sound, because the heat would get you first".[11]

Microwave effects have been proposed as the cause of otherwise unexplained illnesses of U.S. diplomats in Cuba and China occurring since 2017 and 2018.[12][13][14] However, this explanation has been debated. Bioengineer Kenneth R. Foster noted of the health effects observed in the diplomats, "it's crazy, but it's sure as heck not microwaves."[15] As of October 2021, a microwave cause remains one of the major hypotheses.[16][17]

Conspiracy theories

Numerous individuals suffering from auditory hallucinations, delusional disorders,[18] or other mental illnesses have claimed that government agents use forms of mind control technologies based on microwave signals to transmit sounds and thoughts into their heads as a form of electronic harassment, referring to the alleged technology as "voice to skull" or "V2K".[19]

There are extensive online support networks and numerous websites[18] maintained by people fearing mind control. California psychiatrist Alan Drucker has identified evidence of delusional disorders on many of these websites and other psychologists are divided over whether such sites reinforce mental troubles, or act as a form of group social support.[20][21]

Psychologists have identified many examples of people reporting 'mind control experiences' (MCEs) on self-published web pages that are "highly likely to be influenced by delusional beliefs". Common themes include "Bad Guys" using "psychotronics" and "microwaves", frequent mention of the CIA's MKULTRA project, and frequent citing of Frey's 1962 paper entitled "Human auditory system response to modulated electromagnetic energy".[22][23]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Allan H. Frey (1962). "Human auditory system response to modulated electromagnetic energy". Journal of Applied Physiology. 17 (4): 689–692. doi:10.1152/jappl.1962.17.4.689. PMID 13895081. S2CID 12359057. Archived from the original on March 28, 2020. Retrieved November 23, 2019.
  2. ^ "Allan Frey: A Pioneer of Radiation Research". Slow Digital. December 7, 2017. Archived from the original on November 22, 2019. Retrieved November 23, 2019.
  3. ^ Wagner, Gregory R.; Rest, Kathleen M. (2005). Levy, Barry S. (ed.). Preventing Occupational Disease and Injury. American Public Health Association. ISBN 978-0-87553-043-7.
  4. ^ Holographic Assessment of Microwave Hearing, Science 05 Sep 1980: Vol. 209, Issue 4461, pp. 1144-1145
  5. ^ a b Ronald Kitchen (2001). RF and Microwave Radiation Safety Handbook. Newnes. ISBN 978-0-7506-4355-9.
  6. ^ Armin Krishnan (4 October 2016). Military Neuroscience and the Coming Age of Neurowarfare. Taylor & Francis. pp. 125–. ISBN 978-1-317-09607-8.
  7. ^ a b Elder, JA; Chou, CK (2003). "Auditory response to pulsed radiofrequency energy". Bioelectromagnetics. 24 (S6): S162–S173. doi:10.1002/bem.10163. PMID 14628312.
  8. ^ Lin, James, C. (2022). "Response to the Letter by Foster, Chou, and Croft [Speaker's Corner]". IEEE Microwave Magazine. 23 (4): 95. doi:10.1109/MMM.2022.3147174. Retrieved 21 February 2023.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ "Navy search database – summary report: Remote Personnel Incapacitation System". SBIR/STTR Search Database (Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer). U.S. Navy. Archived from the original on 14 February 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  10. ^ Hambling, David (3 July 2008). "Microwave ray gun controls crowds with noise". New Scientist. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  11. ^ Heger, Monica. "Why Microwave Auditory Effect Crowd-Control Gun Won't Work - Experts say you'd fry before you heard anything". IEEE Spectrum, July 208. IEEE. Archived from the original on 13 February 2018. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  12. ^ Broad, William (September 1, 2018). "Microwave Weapons Are Prime Suspect in Ills of U.S. Embassy Workers". New York Times. Retrieved 2018-09-01.
  13. ^ Katie Bo Williams & Jeremy Herb, US investigating possible mysterious directed energy attack near White House Archived April 29, 2021, at the Wayback Machine, CNN (April 29, 2021).
  14. ^ Consensus Study Report: An Assessment of Illness in U.S. Government Employees and Their Families at Overseas Embassies Archived December 9, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, Standing Committee to Advise the Department of State on Unexplained Health Effects on U.S. Government Employees and Their Families at Overseas Embassies, of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2020).
  15. ^ Kaplan, Sarah; Achenbach, Joel (September 6, 2018). "Scientists and doctors zap theory that microwave weapon injured Cuba diplomats". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  16. ^ "Havana Syndrome: Over 200 Cases Documented Yet Cause Remains A Mystery : Consider This from NPR". NPR.org. Retrieved 2021-11-05.
  17. ^ "Microwave weapons that could cause Havana Syndrome exist, experts say". the Guardian. 2021-06-02. Retrieved 2021-11-05.
  18. ^ a b Monroe, Angela (13 November 2012), Electronic Harassment: Voices in My Mind, archived from the original on 2015-08-29, retrieved 2016-03-10
  19. ^ Weinberger, Sharon (January 14, 2007). "Mind Games". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  20. ^ Monroe, Angela (13 November 2012), Electronic Harassment: Voices in My Mind, KMIR News, archived from the original on 2015-08-29, retrieved 2016-03-10
  21. ^ Kershaw, Sarah (November 12, 2008). "Sharing Their Demons on the Web". New York Times.
  22. ^ Bell, Vaughan; Maiden, Carla; Muñoz-Solomando, Antonio; Reddy, Venu (2006). "'Mind control' experiences on the internet: implications for the psychiatric diagnosis of delusions". Psychopathology. 39 (2). Psychopathology, 39(2), 87-91: 87–91. CiteSeerX doi:10.1159/000090598. PMID 16391510. S2CID 6362668.
  23. ^ Frey, Allan H. (July 1962). "Human auditory system response to modulated electromagnetic energy". Journal of Applied Physiology. 17 (4): 689–692. doi:10.1152/jappl.1962.17.4.689. PMID 13895081. S2CID 12359057.

References and further reading

  • R.C. Jones, S.S. Stevens, and M.H. Lurie. J. Acoustic. Soc. Am. 12: 281, 1940.
  • H. Burr and A. Mauro. Yale J Biol. and Med. 21:455, 1949.
  • H. von Gierke. Noise Control 2: 37, 1956.
  • J. Zwislocki. J. Noise Control 4: 42, 1958.
  • R. Morrow and J. Seipel. J. Wash. Acad. SCI. 50: 1, 1960.
  • A.H. Frey. Aero Space Med. 32: 1140, 1961.
  • P.C. Neider and W.D. Neff. Science 133: 1010,1961.
  • R. Niest, L. Pinneo, R. Baus, J. Fleming, and R. McAfee. Annual Report. USA Rome Air Development Command, TR-61-65, 1961.
  • A.H. Frey. "Human auditory system response to modulated electromagnetic energy." J Applied Physiol 17 (4): 689–92, 1962.
  • A.H. Frey. "Behavioral Biophysics", Psychol Bull 63(5): 322–37, 1965.
  • F.A. Giori and A.R. Winterberger. "Remote Physiological Monitoring Using a Microwave Interferometer", Biomed Sci Instr 3: 291–307, 1967.
  • A.H. Frey and R. Messenger. "Human Perception of Illumination with Pulsed Ultrahigh-Frequency Electromagnetic Energy", Science 181: 356–8, 1973.
  • R. Rodwell. "Army tests new riot weapon", New Scientist September 20, p. 684, 1973.
  • A.W. Guy, C.K. Chou, J.C. Lin, and D. Christensen. "Microwave induced acoustic effects in mammalian auditory systems and physical materials", Annals of New York Academy of Sciences, 247:194–218, 1975.
  • D.R. Justesen. "Microwaves and Behavior", Am Psychologist, 392 (Mar): 391–401, 1975.
  • S.M. Michaelson. "Sensation and Perception of Microwave Energy", In: S.M. Michaelson, M.W. Miller, R. Magin, and E.L. Carstensen (eds.), Fundamental and Applied Aspects of Nonionizing Radiation. Plenum Press, New York, pp. 213–24, 1975.
  • E.S. Eichert and A.H. Frey. "Human Auditory System Response to Lower Power Density Pulse Modulated Electromagnetic Energy: A Search for Mechanisms", J Microwave Power 11(2): 141, 1976.
  • W. Bise. "Low power radio-frequency and microwave effects on human electroencephalogram and behavior", Physiol Chem Phys 10(5): 387–98, 1978.
  • J.C. Lin. Microwave Auditory Effects and Applications, Thomas, Springfield Ill, p. 176, 1978.
  • P.L. Stocklin and B.F. Stocklin. "Possible Microwave Mechanisms of the Mammalian Nervous System", T-I-T J Life Sci 9: 29–51, 1979.
  • H. Frolich. "The Biological Effects of Microwaves and Related Questions", Adv Electronics Electron Physics 53: 85–152, 1980.
  • H. Lai. "Neurological Effects of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Radiation" In: J.C. Lin (ed.), Advances in Electromagnetic Fields in Living Systems vol 1, Plenum, NY & London, pp. 27–80, 1994.
  • R.C. Beason and P. Semm. "Responses of neurons to an amplitude modulated microwave stimulus", Neurosci Lett 333: 175–78, 2002.
  • J.A. Elder and C.K. Chou. "Auditory Responses to Pulsed Radiofrequency Energy", Bioelectromagnetics Suppl 8: S162–73, 2003.

External links