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The Military Science

Indian Military Hopes to Weaponize the Searing "Ghost Pepper" 267

Posted by timothy
from the there's-pepper-spray-and-pepper-spray dept.
coondoggie writes "The military in India is looking to weaponize the world's hottest chili, the bhut jolokia or 'ghost pepper,' according to a number of news outlets. The Bhut Jolokia chili pepper from Assam, India is no ordinary pepper. In tests first conducted by the New Mexico State University in 2008 and subsequently confirmed by Guinness World records and others, the Bhut Jolokia reached over one million Scoville heat units, while the next hottest, the Red Savina Habenero, clocks in at a mere 577,000. Scoville units are a universally accepted measure of chili hotness."
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Indian Military Hopes to Weaponize the Searing "Ghost Pepper"

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  • by logicassasin (318009) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:01PM (#31601742)

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kO7MlHgJLA

    Hopefully that's the right link.

    There's a burger in TX that uses this pepper called the Four Horsemen Burger. As of the taping of this episode of Man Vs Food, only three people had managed to finish one in 25 minutes, with an additional 5 minutes of waiting without liquids. The host of the show became number 4, though it looked like he wasn't going to get past even the first bite.

    Isn't that illegal (internationally) if a weapon causes this much pain and suffering?

  • Funny videos (Score:4, Informative)

    by TopSpin (753) * on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:04PM (#31601794) Journal

    Eating raw Jolokia is a source of some mildly entertaining videos. [youtube.com]

  • Re:Tastes great (Score:3, Informative)

    by DarkKnightRadick (268025) <the_spoon.geo@yahoo.com> on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:08PM (#31601844) Homepage Journal

    That might work for preventing the spread, but the way that capsascin(sp) works is by activating all the receptors on the nerve. That's where the "heat" comes from, sensory overload.

  • Re:Tastes great (Score:2, Informative)

    by The Dancing Panda (1321121) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:08PM (#31601860)
    If it gets up to a million scoville units, It's much hotter than most pepper spray. Pepper Spray is around 100,000. Mace is around 300,000.
  • by Cocoronixx (551128) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:11PM (#31601892) Homepage

    Considering that Pepper spray is considered a chemical weapon and is banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention (which India signed & ratified). I'd assume that this would fall under the same ban.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepper_spray [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_Weapons_Convention [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Tastes great (Score:3, Informative)

    by Raul654 (453029) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:12PM (#31601924) Homepage

    Back when I was working in New Mexico, there was a fair in Taos. One of the guys there was selling Dave's hot sauces, including their new ghost pepper variety. I bought the "temporary insanity" (57,000 scoville units according to this [gourmetmikes.com]), and it's too hot for me except small doses. About a year later, the bottle is still mostly full.

    My roommate, who has a much higher threshold for spicy food than anyone I've ever met, brought the newly unveiled ghost pepper brand (2.5 million scoville units, according to the bottle, if memory serves).

    The dealer gave us a taste of it (a tiny drop on the tip of a toothpick) and my god did it burn.

    The guy who sold it to us told us a few interesting things about it: (1) It instantly blisters skin on contact (2) it's very expensive to buy over the internet because it has to be shipped as a hazardous materiel. (3) Not only is it good for eating, but it works great as a caustic agent for degreasing driveways, engines, etc.

    In short - ghost peppers are not something you play around with.

  • by Thyamine (531612) <thyamine@oFREEBSDfdragons.com minus bsd> on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:12PM (#31601926) Homepage Journal
    Actually, the Scoville scale measures the actual amount of capsaicin in a pepper. The test that Scoville himself invented was subjective. But because of the work he did on it, they named the quantitative units after him.
  • by dclozier (1002772) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:16PM (#31601970)
    So it should be safe to use on your food. http://www.madeinnewmexico.com/647293003150.html [madeinnewmexico.com]

    I can't wait to taste this in a batch of chili.
  • Re:Tastes great (Score:3, Informative)

    by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:32PM (#31602232) Journal
    Sort of a slightly sweet/smoky mix, not really bitter at all. Very mild sourness, then spice. Aftertaste lasts for a while.
  • Re:OK ... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Terminal Saint (668751) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:33PM (#31602242)
    The problem with Scoville units(and the reason they're NOT a universally accepted measure of chili hotness) is that it's a subjective measure. It's based on taste testing. American Spice Trade Association pungency units are a better measure, as they're determined using high performance liquid chromatography.
  • Re:Tastes great (Score:5, Informative)

    by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:39PM (#31602336) Journal
    It's not actually caustic. Capsicum just lowers your threshold of heat, so the nerves feel like they are in a hot area. Thus, it "burns" you. Blistering is a reaction to this. If you can use it as a caustic agent it probably has a lot of vinegar added.
  • by Rene S. Hollan (1943) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:49PM (#31602458)

    Modern expressions of pungency in terms of Scoville units set pure capsaicin at either 15,000,000 or 16,000,000, and use HPLC to establish concentration of same (and related compounds). A Scoville rating is then set based on the concentration(s) measured.

    So, knowing the reference standard, the measurements are actually quite objective.

    Nobody, as far as I know, uses taste testers anymore.

  • Re:Tastes great (Score:4, Informative)

    by phoenixwade (997892) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:51PM (#31602514)

    (1) It instantly blisters skin on contact
    (3) Not only is it good for eating...

    I'm having a hard time reconciling the first clause of fact #3 with fact #1.

    That's because "Fact" 1 isn't.
    I've been handling all sorts of hot peppers for many years, and the particularly hot ones are very capable of producing a burning sensation on the skin just like in your mouth. And Rubbing your eyes inadvertently will ruin your evening, there is no doubt. But blistering? I sup[pose it could happen if you had an allergic reaction, but that's not even remotely going to be a common thing.

    It's been my experience that dealers and vendors are really in to hyping the dangers of the sauces that are typically named "Loco", Death" and "Devil" based scary named variations.. And well they should, it's really good for business, and selling product is what they do.

  • Re:Tastes great (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @04:04PM (#31602696) Homepage

    The guy who sold it to us told us a few interesting things about it: (1) It instantly blisters skin on contact (2) it's very expensive to buy over the internet because it has to be shipped as a hazardous materiel. (3) Not only is it good for eating, but it works great as a caustic agent for degreasing driveways, engines, etc.

    the guy who sold it was ragingly full of shit.

    I have let it sit on my skin for 20 minutes to prove it's a fake claim... Won $100.00 in the office after that and eating a taco with it on it. (they dont understand that sour cream really kills it's burn)

    It's not acid, it dont burn the skin and is worthless for degreasing driveways.

  • by holmstar (1388267) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @04:33PM (#31603142)
    Mustard gas only smells like mustard. It's actually a sulfur compound.
  • Re:Is this needed? (Score:3, Informative)

    by mister_playboy (1474163) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @05:04PM (#31603630)

    (which I had to sign a waiver to purchase)

    That's just for marketing purposes, not to satisfy any legal requirement.

  • by bmk67 (971394) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @05:14PM (#31603764)

    If used in war, it is actually a war crime, since it's a chemical weapon banned under the chemical weapon convention.

    Is it? I'm reading the Chemical Weapons Convention right now, and I don't see any capsaicin-based compounds listed in Schedule I, II, or III.

    There are Chemical Weapons, and then there are chemicals used as weapons, and these two things are not synonymous with each other.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @06:07PM (#31604510)

    My slightly more informed guess is perhaps because RTX isn't found in peppers.

    Just a wild guess though, but I would assume that since there is no RTX in peppers it would prevent them from measuring RTX in peppers.

    RTX comes from a leafy Moroccan plant similar to poison-ivy. Capsaicin is the primary TRPV1 antagonist found in peppers (the others found in peppers are nowhere near as potent or plentiful), thus capsaicin is the chemical to measure. Can't use it as a measure if it isn't there. Duh.

  • Re:Pepper Spray (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @06:11PM (#31604578)

    They should be using Resiniferatoxin, it's significantly more potent than capsaicin. Of course, that isn't found in peppers...

    The only down-side I see is it actually doesn't cause any physical damage except to pain receptors. so anybody who has been hit with RTX poison gas recovers and comes back the next day feeling absolutely no pain. If you use it on someone, you'd better kill them or you've just created a super soldier!

  • by reverseengineer (580922) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @07:26PM (#31605328)
    A few things are going on chemically with hot peppers. Capsaicin is an alkaloid, which is just a term for a nitrogen-containing naturally produced base (caffeine would be another example; something like sodium hydroxide would be a non-alkaloid base). Capsaicin is not a particularly strong base, and is not very water soluble, behaving more like a wax. This is why pure water is not regarded as particularly effective in relieving the pain sensation produced by capsaicin. Peppers as a whole are generally very mildly acidic, with notable quanitities of weak acids like ascorbic acid (vitamin C). However, they are generally not acidic enough to resist spoilage, so preserved forms of chiles usually involve vinegar, which might be the acidity you taste in a hot sauce or canned chile.
  • Re:Tastes great (Score:4, Informative)

    by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @01:26AM (#31607436) Journal
    That's contrary to what I know: Capsaicin binds to the TRPV1 [wikipedia.org] receptor, which has a primary function of activating due to heat (>43C according to Wikipedia). The same receptor is present on some (but not all) pain nerves. The "second pepper isn't as hot" desensitization effect is due not to damage but to depletion of calcium used to transmit the signals from the affected nerves. You haven't killed anything off, just used up the fuel they use to signal the brain.
    It's also not a permanent pain reliever, it is temporary. It can last longer than other methods though. AFAICT it can last for a few weeks [usatoday.com].

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