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Wild, Mysterious Theory on Cuba Ills: Microwave Weapons

A theory about what happened to the US diplomats there emerges
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2018 12:40 PM CDT
In this Aug. 14, 2015, file photo, a US flag flies at the US embassy in Havana, Cuba.   (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan, File)

(Newser) – The doctors who examined 21 diplomats who reported being victims of mysterious attacks in Cuba have a theory on a possible cause, and it's a wild one: that microwave weapons were used against them. Dr. Douglas Smith, who is on that team of doctors, calls them the "main suspect," as the New York Times puts it. "Everybody was relatively skeptical at first, and everyone now agrees there's something there." The Times cites the "Frey effect," which was named for the scientist—Allan H. Frey—who decades ago found that microwaves can be read by the brain as sound. The paper interviewed Frey, who added his own theory: that Cubans who favor strong relations with Russia, not the US, may be behind the attacks.

Experts say microwaves could explain the sounds diplomats reported hearing (doctors noted some of the affected said that covering their ears didn't muffle the sound at all) as well as nausea, headaches, vertigo, and possibly even brain-tissue damage. The Times reports only intelligence agencies know which countries have microwave weapons, though "Russia, China, and many European states" are thought to have the knowledge needed to make them. As for what such a weapon would look like: essentially a satellite dish that could be small enough to be hand-held; larger ones could theoretically be housed in vans. One interesting related nugget: The wife of an embassy staffer said she heard the sounds and then saw a van speed away. (Read more Cuba stories.)

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