What if you could dial a phone, write an email, or check your voicemail just by thinking it? A new grant from the Army to further research synthetic telepathy intends to make all of the above do-able, plus provide an impermeable headspace for covert operations. How? By translating electrical brain activity via an electroencephalograph, or an EEG, into tangible action. The principle behind this tech is similar to the videogame headset you may have read about, as well as that voiceless phone-call experiment. "It will take a lot of research, and a lot of time," says Mike D'Zmura, the lead scientist on the project at University of California at Irvine, "but there are also a lot of commercial applications, not just military applications." Ah, but it's the latter that provides the most fascinating, if alarming, potential. Allow us to take a look back at a few previous pipedreams and developments spearheaded by the government in the field of, um, ESP science.
LSD The infamous Project MKULTRA, run by the CIA in the '50s and '60s, tapped into an array of drugs-heroin, weed, speed, shrooms-to illegally test its unwitting subjects. But it was the use of its most famous hallucinogen, LSD, that's most captured the public's mind. THE GAY BOMB According to the BBC, the Department of Defense had a brief flirtation with a six-year, $7.5 million project to craft aphrodisiacs that would embarrass enemy troops into submission. Although it sounds like some ignorant, paranoid, ridiculous McCarthy-era thinking, this was proposed circa 1994.
THE VOICE OF GOD The mythic sonic projector directly aims its sound at just one person, who can receive a secret message or just go bananas from hearing voices. And it's indeed becoming a reality, if that Paranormal State billboard stunt in Manhattan last year is any indication. HANDS-OFF HYPNOSIS The Army posted a "Voice-to-Skull" mockup on its site in May…then surreptitiously took it down. However, a sharp-shooting U.K. web page managed to capture the image, which appears to be plans for a "neuro-electromagnetic devise" that could, like the Voice of God, beam focused sounds through thin air to hypnotize its target. Curious. TELEPATHIC RAY GUN A report earlier this year revealed that the Army hoped (hopes?) to develop non-lethal weapons that discharge electromagnetic pulses that cause seizures as well as microwaves that transmit words into your ear and/or induce fevers.
Honorary, Tangential Mentions... RAY GUNS OF PAIN Taser, you got served. This device would shoot a non-lethal, invisible beam at an unsupecting victim, which is bound to fuck with the mind. But why take our word for it? Check the footage. SLEEP-NO-MORE DRUGS The use of non-addictive drugs like Modafinil/Provigil in undisclosed doses allows soldiers to supersize their ability to go without sleep for 40 hours at a time. LSD image courtesy of romanedirisinghe