Paralysis Ray Uses Photocontrolled Molecular Switch

A paralysis ray has been created by Canadian researchers Neil Branda and his colleagues. It requires that the test animal be thoroughly dosed with a "Photocontrolled Molecular Switch" - effectively, a poison that is just waiting to be activated.

Having stuffed their victims with this terrifying compound, the boffins then "irradiated" them with a particular wavelength of ultraviolet rays. This tripped the UV-sensitive "switch" compound, causing instant flaccidity and empurplement.

Branda and his pals then tried out the reversibility part of the kit, zapping the creatures with a different ray intended to turn off the switch and return to them control of their own bodies.

This didn't work nearly as well. "Many [of the test subjects] lived through the paralyze-unparalyze cycle", report the boffins.

However it's important to note that so far the technology is verified to work only on pinhead-sized nematode worms...

You may be stunned to learn that science fiction writers have been writing about paralysis rays for quite a while. In his 1938 story Satellite Five, Arthur K. Barnes wrote about paralysis rays (this is also a very early use of the phrase):

"I have invented a weapon, Miss Carlyle, that will render the monster on Satellite Five helpless!" he proclaimed dramatically. "A paralysis ray!" Gerry was dubious. She had seen abortive attempts at paralysis rays before.

"What's it's principle?" she asked.

"The transmission of a nerve impulse along the nerve fiber is provided by local electrical currents within the fiber itself... Passage over the junction point between cells is effected by a chemical transmitter, acetylcholine...

"This, in effect," went on Professor Lunde in lecture style, "produces a neutron stream... And the penetrating neutron blast destroys the acetylcholine by adding to its atomic structure, thus making it so extremely unstable that it breaks itself up at once."

Heinlein fans may recall his paralysis bombs and let's not forget the para-beam from the works of E.C. Tubb.

You could also go the other way on this story, and look at the material that is first injected and then activated, which may remind you of the residual poison developed by Piter de Vries in Frank Herbert's Dune.

You might also be interested in this Paralysis Beam From Peak Beam Systems .

Via The Register; thanks to Winchell Chung for suggesting this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/19/2009)

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