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Lynntech Non-Lethal Weapon - Jules Verne Right Again

Under the auspices of Homeland Security, Lynntech of College Station, Texas, is developing a non-lethal projectile that can be fired from a shotgun. Grenade launchers can also be used; they are already used by riot police to fire tear gas and baton rounds. On impact, the Lynntech device sticks to the target and delivers an 80,000-volt shock for 7 seconds, using a pulsed delivery similar to that used by Tasers. Further shocks can be triggered via remote control.

The Taser is a device that delivers an electrical shock through wires that are attached to a projectile. When the projectile strikes, it discharges. Obviously, the range of the Taser is limited to the length of the wires - about 20 feet.

In his 1875 science fiction classic 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Jules Verne writes about an undersea hunting expedition using a very unique form of bullet - a Leyden ball:

...the balls sent by this gun are not ordinary balls, but little cases of glass. These glass cases are covered with a case of steel, and weighted with a pellet of lead; they are real Leyden bottles, into which the electricity is forced to a very high tension. With the slightest shock they are discharged, and the animal, however strong it may be, falls dead.
(Read more about Verne's leyden ball)

In the novel, the Leyden ball is carried by a special rifle that uses air pressure to fire.

One of the Nautilus men gave me a simple gun, the butt end of which, made of steel, hollow in the centre, was rather large. It served as a reservoir for compressed air, which a valve, worked by a spring, allowed to escape into a metal tube. A box of projectiles in a groove in the thickness of the butt end contained about twenty of these electric balls, which, by means of a spring, were forced into the barrel of the gun. As soon as one shot was fired, another was ready.
(Read more about Verne's leyden ball)

Brian Hennings, system integration group leader at Lynntech, would not reveal how the projectile sticks to the person, although other weapons designed to adhere often use hooks or barbs. Hennings claims Lynntech has ensured that its round's kinetic energy is low enough to meet the safety requirement at close range. As the projectile does not rely on impact with the body to incapacitate the person, it does not need to be fired at very high velocity. The weapon's maximum range is measured in tens of meters, the company says.

See also information about two similar devices, the Piezer and the Inertial Capacitive Incapacitor, both under current development, as well as the reference article at New Scientist.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/18/2005)

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