Sling bullets, used by Roman soldiers in an attack on a fort in Scotland some 1800 years ago, appear designed to whistle in flight. A battery of them could be terrifying; or perhaps simply very loud and annoying.
These holes converted the bullets into a "terror weapon," said archaeologist John Reid of the Trimontium Trust, a Scottish historical society directing the first major archaeological investigation in 50 years of the Burnswark Hill site.
"You don't just have these silent but deadly bullets flying over; you've got a sound effect coming off them that would keep the defenders' heads down," Reid told Live Science. "Every army likes an edge over its opponents, so this was an ingenious edge on the permutation of sling bullets."
Archeology.co.uk conducted tests with replicas to see what it would have sounded like:
Two extraordinary facts concerning the small bullets with holes (now dubbed type IIIs) also emerged. First, they could be successfully slung in small groups of three or four to create a form of grapeshot. This had been independently confirmed by T Richardson in his work on Roman sling-bullets at the Royal Armouries. Even more intriguingly, the mysterious holes proved to confer an aerophonic quality: in flight, these lead shot whistled, or more accurately gave off a mechanical buzzing sound eerily reminiscent of an agitated wasp (click below to hear for yourself). Remarkable as it sounds, the simplest explanation for this design modification is that it represents an early form of psychological warfare. To put it another way, the Roman attackers valued the terror that hearing the incoming bullets would instil in the defenders.Read the rest
People in ancient Greece used snakes as projectile weapons during sea battles, explains Gianni Insacco, a zoologist/paleontologist at Italy's Insacco Museo Civico di Storia Naturale.
Insacco's research team just reported that one of the weaponized species, the Javelin Sand Boa that was likely introduced to Italy by the Greeks during wartime, has survived in Sicily after not having been spotted for nearly 100 years.
The fun-loving Chinese journalists in this segment manage to out-VICE VICE. 侣行 On the Road is billed as “a homemade outdoor reality show” featuring an "extreme couple" who love adventure. The pair and their team got some great footage of an open-air weapons market in Sadr City.
Spike's Tactical in Florida is selling a $1,400 assault rifle called the Crusader. It's inscribed with Psalm 144:1, which says, “Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” Read the rest
China, Russia, and the United Sates are developing new weapons to wage war in space. It starts by knocking out satellites using missiles, lasers, microwave interference, or spacecraft that "could simply approach a satellite and spray paint over its optics, or manually snap off its communications antennas, or destabilize its orbit," writes Lee Billings in Scientific American. Read the rest
TV ads for kids' toy weapons like this 1964 spot for “Johnny Seven OMA (One Man Army)” were so much more barbaric in the 1960s--but gun violence numbers in America were lower back then. Read the rest
This fellow made a 40W laser shotgun that is quite powerful and, yes, ridiculously dangerous. Read the rest
The all-caps and the exclamation points are mandatory. Read the rest
I'm at Penguicon -- a science fiction and free software convention in Michigan -- this weekend, and my top dealer's room find were the wooden armaments of Ancient Artillery. These handcrafted wood catapaults, crossbows, arbaleses and trebuchets use taut string and precision-shaped wood to fire mini-marshmallows and nerf darts all over the room. They're quite gorgeous, and work like a charm. Read the rest