collections: bass in battle - infrasound and sonic weapons
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There have been many spurious claims of success in the endeavour to create weapons - lethal and non-lethal - which exploit the physiological effects of infrasound bass on the human body: notably at the so-called "arsequake" frequencies between 7Hz and 17Hz. The author William Burroughs, for instance, describes experiments with such devices in his book The Job; and various military powers have attempted to develop effective weapons of this kind:
|One such attempt was made by the German armed forces in 1940. Their researchers took copies of some popular music recordings - by ukelele player and actor George Formby - and superimposed on Formby's music a massive infrasound tone. The plan was to induce widespread Unterpäntzgeschittsen in the population of mainland Britain, crushing morale and creating chaos in the island's thinly-stretched health and transport infrastructure.
The Museum owns one of these recordings; by artificially speeding the recording up to many times its intended speed, the infrasound's pitch can be raised until it enters the audible frequency range.
Listen to an extract at the original pitch (infrasound inaudible but may cause you to void your intestines into your clothing)
Thankfully, the plan failed: at that time, no domestic entertainment equipment available in the UK was capable of reproducing infrasound frequencies. The only people who suffered any ill effects as a result of the project were the researchers themselves.
Listen to an extract speeded up to render infrasound audible to the naked ear (infrasound becomes audible after 13s)