Last March, Evan Booth presented a blockbuster talk at Kuala Lumpur's Hack the Box conference, explaining how to improvise lethal weapons from items in airport gift shops and duty-free stores. He's kept up the work since then on a website called Terminal Cornucopia, and he's presented 10 of his scariest weapons for a Wired story. And though the functional, breech-loading shotgun made from Red Bull cans, Axe body spray, and batteries (above) is impressive, it's only for beginners. There's also fragmentary grenades made from coffee tumblers, and a dart gun that uses braided condoms for its elastic.
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On the heels of the horrible suspected chemical weapons attack
in Syria in which more than 1,300 people were killed, National Geographic created a timeline about the history of chemical and biological weapons, dating back to AD 256 in, coincidentally, Syria:
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Etsy seller kilroysattic makes a $60 Aliens/Xenomorph themed ring that transforms into a set of brass knuckles. Leaving aside the macho silliness of brass knuckles, it's a pretty fantastic piece, and a very clever mechanism for effecting the transformation. And the Xenomorph itself is a beautiful piece of van-art chic. If that's not your taste, check out his pirate ship/kraken ring
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Earlier this year, I posted video of Hollywood's master blacksmith Tony Swatton forging Jaime Lannister's sword for "Games of Thrones." Above, he replicates Wolverine's claws. No, they are not retractable. But they are clearly sharp as hell.
These know-your-chemical-weapon posters were produced by the Medical Training Replacement Center at Camp Barkeley near Abilene, Texas as training materials for soldiers being sent to fight in WWII. They're a weird mix of cheerfulness and atrocity:
Four WWII Posters That Taught Soldiers to Identify Chemical Weapons by Smell
Of the four chemicals mentioned here—phosgene, lewisite, mustard gas, and chlorpicrin—three were used in World War I. (Lewisite was produced beginning in 1918, but the war ended before it could be used.) Phosgene, which irritates the lungs and mucus membranes and causes a person to choke to death, caused the largest number of deaths among people killed by chemical weapons in the First World War. (Elsewhere on Slate: A firsthand account of what it felt like to be hit by mustard gas.)
The smells that these posters warn soldiers-in-training to be wary of are the everyday scents of home: flypaper, musty hay, green corn, geraniums, garlic. The choice of analogies seems particularly appropriate for soldiers raised on farms—a population that would become increasingly small in every war to follow.
(Images: National Museum of Health and Medicine)
In case you were wondering. (Also: tasers play merry hell with digital video cameras, it seems)
The power of suggestion, your own expectations, and even your emotions can cause your body to move without you actively telling it to. This weird phenomenon is called the ideomotor effect
. It's what makes ouija boards work and it's the mechanism behind $60,000 bomb-detecting devices that an American company was recently caught selling to the Iraqi government
. Needless to say, the devices did not actually detect bombs. — Maggie
Daniel sez, "Ugo Serrano is the greatest living armorer, really. A man who camps at the Pennsic war in a 15th Century Italian villa (hat he built/designed that also flat-packs for storage and transportation). The props he makes for the movie/television industry are a who's who of geekdom from Firefly to Riddick to the Haunted Mansion through Zorro. A man whose art helped begin the entire steampunk movement, yet he's almost unknown outside of the SCA, where his themed parties are as legendary as his tent. If you catch him at the right time, he'll give you a pilgrimage badge that he cast in pewter by hand, just for taking the tour.
Update: In the comments, Chris Gilman sez, "I would like to correct the above artical. Ugo is a talented guy and love him dearly, but I built and own the Italian house and if you catch me at the right time, I will give you a pilgrimage badge, made by Robert MacPherson, who in my opinion is the greatest living armourer."
Erin Lee Carr
produced this VICE Motherboard documentary on Cody R Wilson
of Defense Distributed
(DD), who "figured out how to print a semi-automatic rifle from the comfort of his own home" and is now spreading the gospel of "wiki weapons." Yes, they even have a manifesto
Wilson, who recently pitched his ideas at SXSW, is sharing the HOWTO online and encouraging others to join him.
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Baker was a 23-kiloton nuclear weapon that was detonated underwater at Bikini Atoll in 1946. The goal was to see what would happen to Navy boats if they were in the region where a nuclear bomb went off. The boats you see in this photo were unmanned, but there were sailors relatively close by, taking these shots. There's evidence that they weren't properly protected against fallout, and later used contaminated water to drink and bathe in. (Also, as a fictional side effect, Bikini Atoll nuclear tests like Baker might have been responsible for the creation of Spongebob Squarepants.)
My Modern Met has compiled several photographs and video that give you an up-close, mind-boggling view of the explosion — including the massive column of water that shot into the mushroom cloud and the 2-mile-high tidal wave that followed.
The Atlantic has a fascinating photo gallery about the DIY Weapons of the Syrian Rebels. Homebrew explosives are the norm, as are catapults (Reuters photo above) and tele-operated machine guns controlled with scavenged video game controllers.
Master blacksmith Tony Swatton of Sword & Stone is Hollywood's favorite weapons maker. Here he is forging Jaime Lannister's sword for "Games of Thrones."
David Kravets: "A petition demanding the President Barack Obama administration build a Death Star like the one in Star Wars reached 25,000-plus signatures Thursday, a threshold requiring the government to respond whether it will build the fictional weapon
capable of annihilating planets with its super laser." [Wired] — Rob
Defense Distributed, a group that is developing free designs for weapons made on 3D printers, tested out a firearm that has a plastic lower receiver made on a 3D printer. It successfully fired six rounds before splitting.
HaveBlue claimed in July to have fired his printed gun hundreds of times, which doesn't seem impossible given the quality of the printing. The part printed by the group is called the lower receiver, which is where a round is received from the magazine. Pictures show it to be very well made, and it appears to fit exactly to the other parts in the gun kit they used.
But the pressure of the recoil appears to have been too much for the "buffer ring," which separates the stock from the upper receiver. After firing just six shots, the gun split in two. It's a serious setback, especially considering they were firing a lower-caliber cartridge than the gun would normally shoot.
3D printed gun fires 6 shots - then falls apart (Thanks, Lew!)
Previously: Defense Distributed
A number of journalists I know believe the Obama administration is the most secretive administration yet.
When I read news like this, I am inclined to believe them: the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is going after our pals at Danger Room, over a 5-year-old leak about a weapon that was never built.
"Federal agents are also chasing a leaker who gave Danger Room a document asking for a futuristic laser weapon that could set insurgents’ clothes on fire from nine miles away."