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"It wasn't until I was past forty that it bacame clear that I was going to be quote, successful, unquote."
- Isaac Asimov

Project X  
  A device that produces sound rays that are intolerable to living things.  

"Project X" Dr. Ferris was saying, "was devoted to some special research in the field of sound. The science of sound has astonishing aspects, which laymen would scarcely suspect..."

Some fifty feet away from the farmhouse, Dr. Stadler saw a structure, obviously new and of no possible purpose whatever: it looked like a few spans of steel trestle, rising into empty space, supporting nothing, leading nowhere...

"...And it was discovered" said Dr. Ferris, "that there are certain frequencies of sound vibration which no structure, organic or inorganic, can withstand..."

"...The sound ray is controlled by a panel inside the giant underground laboratory," said Dr. Ferris, pointing at the building on the knoll. "That panel is known to us affectionately as the 'Xylophone' - because one must be darn careful to strike the right keys, or, rather, to pull the right levers..."

"...The sound ray is invisible, inaudible and fully controllable in respect to target, direction and range. It's first public test, which you are about to witness, has been set to cover a small sector, a mere two miles, in perfect safety, with all space cleared for twenty miles beyond. The present generating equipment is capable of producing rays to cover - through the outlets which you may observe under the dome - the entire countryside within a radius of a hundred miles... This is only a modest beginning."

From Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.
Published by Random House in 1957
Additional resources -

Thanks to Moira for suggesting this item.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Atlas Shrugged
  More Ideas and Technology by Ayn Rand
  Tech news articles related to Atlas Shrugged
  Tech news articles related to works by Ayn Rand

Project X-related news articles:
  - Mosquito Device - Project X For Kids?

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