5 Advanced Weapons Clearly Invented by a 6-Year-Old
Like many people, I was once a small human child. As is customary on my pla- uh, where I come from (carry on like you didn't just read that, earthling, and we might both yet survive), I've done a stint in the army. It has always amused me how much the two have in common. Almost all aspects of military life are just advanced versions of the whole "little boys playing in a tree house" phase: They're both characterized by an extreme fondness for toys, getting utterly creeped out by the prettier sex, and spending an increasing amount of time playing video games.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the field of weapon design. When you venture beyond the obvious things that go bang and boom, you'll find an array of non-lethal weapons that appear to draw their inspiration directly from the mind of a child, to the point where you start to suspect that the Pentagon's entire research budget is spent on a massive pile of kindergarten doodles.
A logical (I'm using the word pretty loosely here) extension of a school kid's natural instinct to rub gum on other kids' hair, sticky foam is an absurdly cartoonish crowd control weapon that has been on and off the military table for almost two decades, presumably because even the Pentagon -- an institution that has no problem greenlighting flying murder robots -- can't fully get over the absurdity of the stuff. But they want to. Oh, how they want to. And can you blame them, considering that the newest generation of sticky foam looks like this?
Presented with the opportunity to shoot their enemies with sticky Lovecraft turds, 9 out of 10 generals
instantly knock themselves out with their own battle boner.
Juggling Jesus on a unicycle, look at that thing! It's what happened to your He-Man figures if you left them unattended in the same room with your little brother and his Play-Doh. ("They were attacked by Poop-man!") It looks like something straight out of a comic book, because that's precisely what it is: A sticky foam-like substance was first seen on the pages of legendary British comic 2000 A.D., where none other than Judge Dredd used "riot foam" to ensnare rowdy citizens. When you look for non-violent means of crowd control, the question you need to ask is always: "What would the nearest fictional ultra-militant law enforcement officer do?"
Of course, the main problem with the original sticky foam was not its comic book roots -- it was flat-out useless. People could move their legs faster than they could be sprayed with the stuff, so the only way the foam had any stopping power was if a sufficient glob managed to glue a person's thighs together. (Yes, this presumably meant they had to deliberately aim for the dick.) Combined with the obvious concerns re: extended immobility and risk of suffocation, this has been enough to keep sticky foam off the backs of whoever happens to annoy the military this week.
Still, don't think for a second that they've completely abandoned the sticky stuff. If anything, they're thinking bigger. The current plan is to use a slightly upgraded version of the foam for stopping vehicles, and also there's this fucking thing:
According to some critics, the Navy's Jell-O budget is somewhat overblown.
That, friends, is the Slimeball, an inspired weapon proposition that is known for combining a number of existing technologies to create a new, ultra-efficient one, and also for being called the goddamn Slimeball. A brainchild of Lieutenant Commander Daniel Whitehurst of the U.S. Air Force's Air Command and Staff College, the Slimeball takes elements of sticky foam and other technologies (including baby diapers and shaving cream, because why not?) and abuses them to create a mass of viscous gel that is capable of fucking up a boat something awful. The weapon is specifically meant as a non-lethal means of dealing with Somali pirates and other modern maritime annoyances, but come on -- the second we manage to build a goddamn Slimeball cannon is the second everything is officially a video game. Frankly, I'm disappointed if they don't build that thing and make Whitehurst fight Mega Man with it.
Mobility Denial System
The joy of sliding is an often underrated one for adults, but for kids of a certain age, that shit is the equivalent of crack cocaine. Show them a freshly waxed floor or a patch of ice, and they're happy for hours or until they puke, whichever comes first.
Then they grow up and start to weaponize that shit.
Anti-traction gel ranks on the same sliding "fuck you, physics" scale of absurdity as sticky foam. It's also a testament to how easily the military mindset poops its pants when faced with something that doesn't easily lend itself to strictly male terminology: Despite the word "slippery" being both the most accurate description and the only function of the product, it carries the decidedly macho-official moniker of Mobility Denial System.
Mobility Denial System -- which I'm kind of tempted to call Slippy Lube from now on because nooooo, that's a hanky-panky reference, watch out for cooties -- is essentially a non-hazardous gel that makes whatever it's sprayed on temporarily as slippery as ice. Its effects last for six to 12 hours, and it sticks to pretty much any surface from grass to asphalt to walls to the soles of your shoes.
Any contact with Mobility Denial System gel will spread it about, meaning that if you somehow manage to drive through a patch of MDS, it'll de-friction your tires as well. The gel can be applied from a large car-mounted cannon or a Ghostbusters-style backpack system, thus giving you multiple choices for shooting your goo at every possible surface. Um. Come to think of it, if there were actual kids behind this one, at least some of them were probably fairly close to hitting puberty.
I don't know what the score is with kids today, but back when I was a boy, flashlights were among the everyday objects most likely to find themselves adapted to children's games. Not only are they handy for sneaking out at night, but they make awesome make-believe laser weapons and/or lightsabers.
Here's the thing about awesome childhood memories like that: Some people grow up and start turning them into reality. Yes, I'm saying someone actually weaponized a fucking flashlight, and no, this sadly doesn't mean that someone duct taped an ax to one. Meet the LED Incapacitator:
You just know that at least one person has been hospitalized for mistaking it for a tiny tanning bed for your dick.
The Incapacitator is to normal flashlights what Batman is to the average dude: It functions in more or less the same way, only it can kick your ass from here to next Wednesday. The light it (the Incapacitator, not Batman) emits is extremely strong and can be unleashed in a variety of different colors and light pulse combinations. These are calibrated to mess with the subject's eyes and brain in a way that can induce various sensations that range from vertigo to vomit-inducing nausea, in a careful feat of engineering that draws inspiration from humanity's innate hatred of disco.
"Got your light show right here, Mr. Travolta."
The current status of the device is something of a mystery -- it definitely does work, but it has been in development hell for a few years now. The company in charge of the project has stated that the final version should be as portable as current professional flashlights, but if necessary can be upgraded to a "light bazooka" that can hold control over significant crowds. As supervillain-y as that may sound, I'm confident everything will go just fine. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with an eerily silent weaponized light project overseen by a scientist named Vlad who insists on calling one of the nastier wavelengths "the evil color"?
Messing around with pretend guns is a large part of childhood for most men, regardless of whether their weapon of choice is made of plastic or pixels. Paintball is a natural extension of this -- a chance to experience the joys of shooting each other without the whole dying part and (more importantly) without having to settle for laser tag.
Fucking laser tag.
Paintball is pretty popular these days, and variations of the theme are commonly used to train military and law enforcement personnel. With this in mind, it's no surprise that some enterprising souls have started straight up weaponizing paintball. One of the more popular entrepreneurs on the field is a company known as PepperBall, and the list of their projectiles reads like the contents of your average superhero's utility belt: There are solid glass-breaker balls, marker projectiles for suspect identification, water-filled pellets for when Sandman attacks, and, of course, capsaicin-filled pepper spray balls. These also come in a "Live X" variety that's 10 times stronger than usual, for those cherished occasions when you want to hate-fuck the entire world right in the eye socket. Although they're technically survivable, prison guards who have been on the receiving end of a strong pepper ball will tell you that getting hit by one is to your face what fire ants are to a picnic (that someone is having on your face).
At least they keep the pain festive by packing it in candy jars.
The U.S. Army also has a version of weaponized paintball guns, because of course it has. An actual toy company (the one behind Tickle Me Elmo, of all possible things) is developing the charmingly nicknamed "Big Hurt," a military-grade paintball rifle with adjustable muzzle velocity that enables the weapon to shoot a wide variety of projectiles at various speeds. There's also the FN303, a "super paintball gun" capable of shooting pepper spray and impact balls. FN303 is already out there and has seen plenty of action, but we're not going to delve into its specifics, because it has already proven to be unreliable as all hell in its job of not killing people, and nothing is more depressing than getting killed by a goddamn paintball.
Except getting killed in fucking laser tag.
Kids have their wedgies and adults have their Taser kickboxing, but at the end of the day, we all know that the most effective way to end a fight is smell. Children usually have to resort to a nice, wet fart as the ultimate argument ender, but if they had a liberal budget and a horde of loyal witches, Skunk is totally the weapon they'd create.
What, you thought these things were made in a lab?
Stink bombs as weapons are nothing new. Rotting corpses and poopy surprises have been employed by the more sadistic catapult users since time immemorial, and longtime readers might remember the Vortex Ring Gun, which basically works by farting at you really hard. However, according to the poor souls who have experienced it, no one has ever smelled anything as vile as Skunk. Its odor is described as a combination of rotting meat, raw sewage, and gym socks so unwashed that they stand by themselves, all amplified above and beyond their logical limits. The stench lingers on your skin for days, and I genuinely hope that wasn't your best shirt, because it's going to smell like the mother of all asses for up to five years.
And that's if you make a teeny tiny contact with the source of the smell. Chances are that you and Skunk are going to get slightly more intimate than that, because they're totally going to blast that shit at you with a fire hose.
Pictured: an actual skunk, desperately trying to mask your horrible stench with flowers.
A loving product of the Israeli military machine, Skunk is so vile that, even in its grand debut at a demonstration in 2008, the soldiers were instructed to use every other non-lethal means they had before stinking up the place. However, when Skunk is used, it's used with gusto. The substance is a completely organic yeast-based mixture that's actually safe for consumption if you're really thirsty or truly stupid. This is bad news, because the troops that are about to blast you have no poison element to be wary of. They're free to hose you down with the worst scent in existence until their hosin' hand gets tired, which is never.
Although the jury is still out on Skunk's legal and moral aspects (it's technically not a chemical weapon, but come on), the Israeli forces have high hopes of turning their invention into a bona fide international franchise, selling Skunk to other countries' various agencies to employ and enjoy. So, while it's probably not going to happen in the immediate future, there's a chance that someday you may unassumingly pop out for some Taco Bell, only to walk right into a thousand gallons of Skunk some short-sighted riot cop is accidentally blasting directly at your screaming face instead of whatever sports team's fans are rioting that week.
On a positive note, chances are it'll be a better taste experience than Taco Bell.
Pauli Poisuo is a Cracked columnist, a freelance editor, and almost certainly not an alien (although it would explain a lot of things, now that we think of it). Follow him on Twitter.
For objects of destruction that came from a child's mind, check out If 5-Year-Olds Were In Charge of Weapon Design.