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The Military Science

Microwave Pain Ray Keeps Frost From Killing Crops 278

An anonymous reader writes "Philip K. Dick's novella Project Plowshare was set in a world where deadly new weapons are 'plowshared' into consumer products. A few years after that book was set, defense giant Raytheon is spinning its raygun-like Active Denial System from a weapon into an agricultural tool to prevent frost from damaging citrus and grape crops."
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Microwave Pain Ray Keeps Frost From Killing Crops

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  • In Soviet Russia... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hymer ( 856453 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:33AM (#32707932)
    ...and most of the former Eastern Europe, they used old T-34 (with turret removed) as tractors in the 1950'ties and 1960'ties.

    No, not the usual "In Soviet Russia..."
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:40AM (#32707950)

    The boundary of effect on the pain ray is pretty distinct. There was an episode of Futureweapons a while back where the host and some colonel were standing a few feet apart from each other; one was affected by the pain ray while the other wasn't.

    So, you could aim the edge of the beam parallel to the ground to avoid any undesired effects to the soil (if there even are any - I'm guessing that the beam doesn't penetrate very far at all).

    As for other wildlife, I would assume that birds and such would learn to avoid the area the same way people would.

  • by SmarterThanMe ( 1679358 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:43AM (#32707960)

    I don't think greed is an actual issue. I would imagine that there are two distinct major camps of people that work for Raytheon and similar companies. People that feel that they are doing the right work, and people who just don't think about it at all.

    Some people who work for these companies (a friend of mine included) genuinely feel that they are doing the right work. They've come to the ethical conclusion that Raytheon and similar companies are doing work that makes them and other people safer. Think 2nd Amendment types who scream about the need to have a personal arsenal of weapons with which to "defend" themselves. Not that I agree with these people, but it's a legitimate perspective.

    Then there are people who just don't think. I would say that this is the minority of the people who work in the more intellectual ends of the military industry. You have to remember that half of people are below average, and it doesn't relate just to academic (or cognitive) intelligence. Socioaffective (or emotional and interpersonal) intelligence is also an important mental factor. These people view their work in the same way that all of the rest of us view our work, just something to do between 9am and 5pm every weekday.

    Of course, there's variations on the theme, but I'd say that in the end 90% of people in the military industry can be categorised one way or the other.

  • Ice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by symes ( 835608 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @06:30AM (#32708062) Journal
    I might be wrong here - but doesn't the fact that microwaves pass through ice crystals more easily than squishyt fleshy stuff mean they'll cook the oranges and leave them with a light dusting of frost?
  • by TouchAndGo ( 1799300 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @07:34AM (#32708174)
    Oddly enough I seem to remember a sonic based weapon along these same lines designed for exactly that intent. [] Obviously not as fun as microwaving some peg legs, but still cool
  • by FuckingNickName ( 1362625 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @08:16AM (#32708260) Journal

    It's not causing me sleepless nights that I have decided to work at Raytheon (or similar) because I don't work at Raytheon (or similar).

    You and a few ACs have come out with the "it's fun and I just don't care if a bunch of strangers are horribly oppressed and/or killed" answer and it's the most credible so far. But I'd appreciate an attempt to explain what's brought you to thinking like this. You weren't just born with that attitude. It developed somehow. Can you ask yourself how it developed? I am interested.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 27, 2010 @08:47AM (#32708378)
    I've actually given this a lot of thought, and had a girlfriend who didn't like it about me, but I'll try to explain.

    I'm not an uncaring person, I care a great deal about friends and family and would do almost anything for them; I'm even kind to strangers I encounter. But when I read about people getting killed on the news I don't feel anything.

    There is a lot of suffering in the world. War causes a lot of suffering, but so does famine, diseases, natural disasters and other things. To me it seems disingenuous to care (or pretend to care) about the some people dying and not others.

    Consider this example: I read a story about the horrors of the Iraq war and decide not to take a job at a weapons manufacturer, and feel good about my self. Later I read about how thousands of Chinese workers are killed each year due to lax safety standards in that country; I vow to stop buying all Chinese made goods and feel good about myself. I read another story about how I can save a child from dying of Aids, malaria or malnutrition for just pennies per day; to me this means that every penny I spend on myself and not these causes means a child has died so that I could buy what it was I bought, in order to feel good about myself I have live in near poverty, and give all my excess income to charity.

    This is the thought process that lead me my current way of thinking; if you take this stuff seriously you're just going to feel guilty all the time because there's always something more you could be doing, or something more you could not be doing, so I just stopped caring.

    I realize that life isn't just black and white, and a lot of people would say "you do what you can, but draw a line somewhere", but I wouldn't know where to draw that line, so I just chose to not care about anyone that isn't directly in my life.
  • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @09:06AM (#32708460) Journal

    Funny perhaps, but there is a degree of logic in this. A non lethal way to move them away from the ship, then you put cheap, fake towers on the ships that don't have the $$$ for the whole system. This makes it a version of Russian Roulette for the pirates. This would seem a humane way to reduce pirate problems off Somalia.

    Then again, I'm not totally against just shooting them via snipers, but this would be less expensive and likely more effective if all you have to do is throw a switch. Assuming you can aim it around the ship without affecting the people ON the ship.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 27, 2010 @09:15AM (#32708494)

    On my own behalf, please do.

  • Project Plowshare (Score:3, Interesting)

    by handy_vandal ( 606174 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @09:28AM (#32708534) Homepage Journal

    1. I've read The Zap Gun (Dick's novel-length version of Project Plowshare [] ). The "plowsharing" metaphor is heavily ironic: "plowshared" consumer goods are useless, or purposeless, or trivial, or outright annoying -- e.g. there's a talking ashtray named "Ol' Orville", if memory serves.

    2. "Operation Plowshare [], better known as Project Plowshare, not to be confused with the anti-nuclear Plowshares Movement, was the overall United States term for the development of techniques to use nuclear explosives for peaceful construction purposes."

  • Re:Popcorn (Score:2, Interesting)

    by The Mysterious Dr. X ( 1502541 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @12:36PM (#32709428)
    I know you were probably just going for the joke, but corn can grow on slopes if they're not too steep. Contour farming would be highly recommended, as well as strip cropping to keep the soil from eroding. Corn isn't the best at making dirt stay put.

Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have only recaptured 116 of them?