The Pentagon has always craved a phaser. Now it's turning to microwaving as a potential means of singeing the enemy.
The Department of Defense's bland name for this electronic heat ray is the Vehicle-Mounted Active Denial (VMAD) system, a mouthful of jargon that yields few clues about the weapon's nature. Allegedly designed for an Orwellian task—"humanitarian missions"—the VMAD is a giant version of your microwave oven, without the safety box surrounding it. The generals want to move it around on a humvee.
Official propaganda on the device is that it makes one's skin only lightbulb hot, enough to force a person to run but not enough to cook him. Of course, there is no proof this can be achieved, because the results of tests on people are classified. It's safe, insist the inventors, the air force's Directed Energy Directorate in Albuquerque.