Everyone knows how when there is a big enough vibration, say a 3.0 to 4.0 earthquake, it gets hard to stand. Well my question is, could it be possible to create a weapon that, when pointed at a target, will make the ground under the target vibrate to the point where it gets hard to stand, thus immobilizing any biological targets in the area. And no, it won't vibrate that fast, otherwise we'ed have a "Flash Gun." (The ground would vibrate so fast that the target would fall through the ground)

Some other questions:

If this is possible, how big would it be?

Could it be compacted, into say, a gauntlet?

Would it be possible to create a countermeasure for the gun or gauntlet?

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    Related: Sonic weapon. Making the ground shake requires a lot of energy... Making the air shake is quite a bit easier. – AlexP Dec 23 '16 at 22:30
  • paralyzing may not be the right word - it makes it seem as if you want a ray that both shakes the ground and blocks nerve signals. Unless that's what you intend, but otherwise "immobilizing" or "confusing" would be more apt. – Zxyrra Dec 23 '16 at 22:50
  • Maybe you should have a conversation with Tesla – Xandar The Zenon Dec 24 '16 at 3:14
  • When there was a road paving project in front of my parents house they blasted a ledge about 50 feet from the door. They removed a 18*10*30 foot area of ledge. They had a seismograph next to the foundation, which recorded a low 3 on the Richter scale. So that's a lot of blasting gear just to knock someone off their feet. A grenade would probably be much cheaper. – Josiah Dec 24 '16 at 3:29
  • You know we already have M84 stun grenade inspired by the Vulcan (vestibular) nerve pinch... – user6760 Dec 24 '16 at 9:38

Sounds interesting, lets take a shot.

Ok so the idea is to vibrate the ground underneath the target to the point where they are unable to stand properly.

Using your research it would require a 3 to 4 richter earthquake to cause this to be effective.

So, you need to create a localised earthquake of up to richter 4 in order to destabalize a person to the point where they cannot stand easily.

So far, I'd say potentially not possible, however ima go with it anyway, it sounds cool.

Initial thoughts: - Not going to be widely useable. If you were to use this in a populated place the area of effect would probably cause a lot of collateral damage, probably damaging property and possibly actually hurting people, which based on your question is not the intention. It would likely be limited to use in open unpopulated areas, meaning it is not widely deployable.

  • Not going to be easy. Maybe if you were to use ultrasound or possibly just a giant hammer hitting the ground, you could POSSIBLY make a richter 4 earthquake - don't quote me on that I haven't researched that part - so I'm thinking a large machine designed to hit the ground super hard and cause an earthquake around it (sketch included later).

  • Not going to be remote. I think if you were to use ultrasound, it may not be effective, and could run the risk of harming the people around it, as you would have to use frequencies low enough to affect the ground. Something like a large hammer would be more effective I think.

Here I'll include a sketch if I can: |Hammer img

Ok so terrible sketch included, this would be my idea.

My thought process is that this is parachuted in or something and dropped into a warzone. This would initially cause an impact, staggering nearby enemies, but the main purpose of this drop is to set the machine in place so it does not fall over etc. The hammer would then raise (or maybe it would be raised before drop) and would drop as hard as it can (maybe with weights attached etc) and create as heavy an impact as possible, I'm not sure what kind of impact you would need to make that kind of scale of impact, I'm better at ideas than actual straight up calculations but hey, I'm sure you could do it.

The impact would then cause a short but intense shockwave, easily staggering everyone nearby depending on scale of the hammer impact.

As for specifically your idea of a continuous earthquake, I don't think it would be possible.

Then for the miniaturising of this, again no idea, maybe a sort of gauntlet with rocket boosters, similar to the Gypsy Danger Pacific Rim rocket punch, but the impact would likely be far less in terms of magnitude, and the shock reverberating back at the user could cause serious damage to the user I'm not sure, I don't have the knowledge to give you an accurate prediction there.

Just as a pointer, yes there are no numbers in this, I apologise, I don't have the expertise to give you the accurate data, but this could be a good method, even if there are no numbers to back it up YET (may add more if I can).

It might be possible, in a way. Sonic weapons are real. But it won't work the way you envisioned.

Sure, you can make things shake. But well before the ground will start to shake, you will be directly shaking bones of your victim. No one will use more energy than actually needed, so they'll stop at that.

How big would these weapons be? Current ones are vehicle mounted and that's probably not going to change - you need size comparable with the wavelength you want to create, and infrasound wavelength is in the 10 meters order of magnitude. No feasible way around it, not as far as we know.

Please note that weapons that cause unneeded suffering may violate Geneva Conventions of 1977. Breaking someone's legs when you can just shot him with sleep drug probably would count as such. Using your weapon would make user a war criminal... or would require effective lift of torture ban. Either way, consequences would be serious.

  • Excuse me, but how many of the Geneva conventions has Geneva actually enforced? – Xandar The Zenon Dec 24 '16 at 3:15
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    Many of the Geneva Conventions are actually enforced, on a very regular basis, and a good deal more never need enforcing because of a general agreement to avoid activities that would place them in violation. They were the basis of convictions for lots of actions in Yugoslavia, for example. Lots of small countries get policed by them. Applying them against Guantanmo Bay or against Russian invasion of Ukraine is harder, but just because there are exceptions doesn't mean they aren't enforced at all. @XandarTheZenon – SRM Dec 24 '16 at 4:28
  • @SRM I'm just pointing out that the Geneva conventions have (I believe) never been enforced on a government in power, unless by a specific, stronger nation. So it's much less important that it is against the Geneva conventions than that apowerful nation would disapprove. – Xandar The Zenon Dec 24 '16 at 5:41
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    What is important is that it is against the Convention -- whether it is enforced or not. That's the point of the Convention. – SRM Dec 24 '16 at 6:27
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    @XandarTheZenon Geneva doesn't enforce the Geneva Conventions. Geneva was just where the meeting was held to decide on the rules. The United Nations enforces them. – Draco18s Dec 27 '17 at 19:34

This would be an exceedingly difficult weapon to build as it would have to be able to send a shockwave over a large area. If you were to build one following your sketch you would have to take into account the ground density. weather the surface it is placed could disperse the vibrations effectively and the sheer forced required to make the ground shake enough to measure moderately on the richter scale. A more mainstream way of creating a simulated earthquake would be to detonate a high powered explosive deep beneath the surface of the earth (Which would be hard enough on it's own).

However if you just wanted to create a weapon that could safely immobilize an enemy couldn't you just use a taser. But if you wanted to immobilize a large group of enemies all you need to do is create a sort of lightning rod with enough electricity going through to make it arc towards any nearby object. Although it couldn't be put into practical military use it would be an effective way of immobilization.

Or if you had enough power (Politically And Physically) you could create a forced earthquake by simply pushing tectonic plates towards each other. by using pistons and stuff. (It would be a really cool futuristic war weapon and really expensive)

You could also set off an explosive mid-air. Like when you watch fireworks you feel yourself/The ground shake. You could easily recreate that but on a much larger scale.

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