Whether from children laughing, birds singing, or enjoying your favorite tunes, the world is full of lovely sounds. However, sound can also be unpleasant, loud, and bothersome. While prolonged exposure to loud sounds can be damaging to your ears, some people use sound as a weapon to hurt others.
Hearing loss reported by U.S. diplomats
At least 24 U.S. diplomats working at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba allege that warfare involving sonic sound was used to harm them, just to give one recent example of how others can utilize sound as a weapon. Reported were mysterious illnesses with symptoms including nausea, blood disorders, hearing loss, and headaches.
These acoustic attacks were carried out, allegedly, using sonic devices, such as ultrasound (above audible range) and infra-sound (below audible levels). These devices were supposedly directed at the diplomats’ houses, as thought by many people. Other theories include viral infections, electromagnetic pulses, and weaponized chemicals. But, then, the illnesses could have been simply caused, unintentionally, by having close proximity to wind farms in Cuba. Despite these allegations, an unknown cause of hearing loss definitely occurred.
Increasing the volume
In trying to detain Panamanian Dictator Manuel Noriega in 1989 for major drug crimes, the U.S. Army tried sound weaponry. Noriega was holed up at the Vatican Embassy in Panama City when the U.S. Army utilized a method of psychological warfare to force him out and surrender. Blasted was music, such as “Panama” by Van Halen, “Run Like Hell” by Pink Floyd, “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath, and “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi. Although the attempt was halted at the request of the ambassador serving as an intermediary, Noriega did surrender. It is uncertain, however, how much blasting extremely loud music, continuously, affected Noriega’s decision to surrender.
Using sonic crowd control
Police sometimes use sonic weapons to break up groups of protesters. Another example of a sonic device is the LRAD sound cannon. It’s a long-range acoustic device, and it was used at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh in 2009, in Missouri in 2014, and North Dakota in 2016. By causing headaches, this non-lethal device breaks up crowds and drives people away. But a controversial side effect is that it can cause hearing loss in people closest to the device.
Dispersing pesky youth
Loitering teenagers can be a problem. Customers are often deterred by them, so a method of dispelling them from a storefront is by using The Mosquito. It’s a high-pitched device that projects sound audible only to young people under the age of 20. However, youngsters and babies, who can’t obviously leave voluntarily, can unintentionally be affected, as well. Teens will no longer loiter, but the potential ramifications of hearing loss to innocent children makes the use of the sound cannon controversial.
Using sonic weaponry may or may not be the best idea. Not much is understood concerning the long-term impact on individuals not targeted. While the effectiveness of the use of a sonic weapon during the Noriega incident is somewhat questionable, the power of sound is a fact. The only problem remaining is the serious damage and hearing loss that can happen with sound technology. The ethical debate of using powerful sound tactics is ongoing. If you suspect you have a hearing loss, please contact your hearing instrument specialist at Pure Sound Hearing Aids.