Why should I make a weapon, that operates with sound waves for use in normal, earthlike conditions? Before answering please consider the following:

  • It should be a ranged weapon.
  • I want to do damage with these, so no crowd control or scaring away pirates.
  • The targets are usually either organic, robotic or various obstacles.
  • The weapon should be handheld. If that's not possible, then it should be mounted on a vehicle.
  • I don't necessary want to annihilate the target completely.

What advantages could a sound gun have, when compared to conventional weapons?

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    $\begingroup$ Unless these robotic/organic obstacles can be deactivated by playing certain tune, sonic weapon is pretty much useless - it's very hard to control (i.e. not to kill yourself) and requires a lot of energy to be lethal. See ShoddyCast's video about Lucio (a character from Overwatch with sonic hand cannon) for more details. $\endgroup$ – Mr Scapegrace Mar 27 '17 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ @MrScapegrace Can I at least break a very sensitive of a computer with it? $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Mar 27 '17 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ At the power required to break a computer with sound you'd probably kill everything around it in a large radius as well. $\endgroup$ – Aify Mar 27 '17 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Aify I was talking about microchips and similar. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Mar 27 '17 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ The title makes me want to answer "To help defeat Dr. Robotnik." $\endgroup$ – The Nate Apr 1 '17 at 16:23

One advantage is that it would work well under water. Unlike ballistic, thermal and light based weapons something based on low frequency sound could have great under water range. For instance whale songs may be audible at distances of up to 10,000 miles. While these are certainly not harmful, it shows the ability of low frequency sound to travel well in liquid media. Something like this could (maybe?) be used against submarines or any sort of underwater pressurized vessel to create fluctuations in the internal pressure thus resulting in rupture.

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    $\begingroup$ We already have weapons that do that. They are called "depth charges". $\endgroup$ – TheBlackCat Mar 27 '17 at 16:32
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    $\begingroup$ Also torpedoes: they explode away from the ship (when properly timed) to drive the water back so the hull pulls out and then gets slammed back in. Either part of that can lead to catastrophic failure. $\endgroup$ – The Nate Apr 1 '17 at 16:30

I guess you know about the real-world sonic weapons that have been trialed. Most of these, like many light-based weapons, are used to temporarily disable without killing. They disorientate, or disable, the opposing force which then can be taken down non-lethally.

The most common form of actively used military sonic device is the flash-bang (or stun) grenade.

There are also audio frequencies which are used to resonate with physiology. An early example of this was to use a subsonic frequency which caused the sphincter muscle to relax, and as this led to everyone defecating, it was very effective at stopping large frontal attacks. The difficulty was that it wasn't very directional, so the force using it had to wear nappies and be prepared to defecate themselves. Not very popular, and so further research was halted.

So, if you could work on directional sonic devices, you could re-use this 'muscular resonant frequency' concept with great results!

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    $\begingroup$ Except I'm quite sure the so-called "brown note" doesn't exist. At least, no attempts to intentionally create it have succeeded. $\endgroup$ – thepizzaelemental Mar 27 '17 at 18:40
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    $\begingroup$ I thought the mythbusters busted the "Brown Note" $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Mar 27 '17 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ You do realize that they have busted things that verifiably exist, right? In one episode, they would have declared something busted except they already knew the event had happened. (I think that one was an airliner flipping a car. They showed news footage from an airport where it happened.) That said, their investigation into the brown note was pretty convincing. $\endgroup$ – The Nate Apr 1 '17 at 16:27

It's not really feasible.

If you are trying to use sound waves, the maximum volume you can attain is 194dB. The reason for that is physics. 194dB corresponds to a sound pressure level of roughly 1 atmosphere. This means that, on the negative side of the wave, the sound pressure just barely hits vacuum.

If you attempt to make any louder sound, you are forcing the air to operate in a non-elastic manner, so we can't talk about "sound waves" anymore. The wave equations assumed an elastic medium. Now what you are talking about is a sonic boom.

I've actually looked for how much damage can be done with a sonic boom, and it's not much. You can break windows, which are nice and rigid, but other than that, it's almost impossible to actually cause any real damage. You're certainly not going to hurt anything which is remotely armored.

Which puts lethal sonic weapons in a funny position. There is no way to kill with sound which is not made immediately better by using the same hardware to push a bullet downrange. Bullets are simply better at conveying momentum and energy.

Or alternatively, only use them on a planet consisting entirely of glass people and glass buildings.

  • $\begingroup$ So, the only way then is to fire explosions at my enemies, in that route? $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Mar 27 '17 at 18:42

To scale up a sound weapon to cause actual damage is impractical. The power requirements would be huge and you have to consider that sound is based on vibration in the medium. In most cases, this means moving air. That's very hard to do in sufficient volume to cause a lot of damage.

On the positive side, you could use it in some very subtle ways. In a recent episode of the Daily Tech News Show, they were talking about how certain sounds could remotely mess with accelerometers in cell phones. You could scale this up to perhaps mess with a robots ability to move.

You could use sound to cause pain in enemy soldiers by aiming very high pitch tones up around 13kHz. Slightly lower than the threshold of human hearing, but high pitched enough to be fairly directional.

Unfortunately, these would be a small part of your overall arsenal, a possibly worthwhile distraction at best.

  • $\begingroup$ So, I'd be able to temporary BEEP up the circuit of a robot, allowing my teammate to destroy it with ease? $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Mar 27 '17 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe. The story I heard about was more of a proof of concept deal. It showed that certain songs could cause the accelerometer inside a cell phone would be triggered by certain frequencies. It put me in mind of making a robot think it was off balance, like messing with a human's inner ear. In combat I'd take any advantage though $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Mar 27 '17 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ So, it's user would be like a techno bard (little to no attacks just buff and debuff)? $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Mar 27 '17 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ Pretty much. Once the bad guys figured out that you are using sound, you'd get thwarted by those dampening mats for car stereo places and ear plugs. then your bard is just a dude with a guitar. Maybe you could hook up a flamethrower and put him on top of a truck $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Mar 28 '17 at 13:27

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