No one has withstood the pain it produces for more than three seconds. People who volunteered to stand in front of the directed energy beam say they felt as if they were on fire. When they stepped aside, the pain disappeared instantly.
When the beam hits an individual, it penetrates 1/64th of an inch beneath the skin and heats water molecules to 130 degrees in less than a second. "It tricks the pain sensors into thinking they're on fire."
Susan Levine, the Pentagon's project manager for the energy beam, said years of tests on humans and animals enabled researchers to establish a margin of safety. After several seconds, the device automatically shuts off to avoid burning its target, she said.
Karcher said the Active Denial System "is absolutely not designed or intended or built" to be a torture device. "To use this as any sort of torture device would be in direct violation of" the Pentagon's definition of nonlethal weapons, he said. "Nor, as professionals, would any of us sign up for it."
Invisible beam tops list of nonlethal weapons: