Havana syndrome

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dyqik
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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by dyqik » Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:53 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:45 pm
If we ignore the acute phase, the chronic symptoms could indeed have come from other conditions or from environmental factors, and the apparent 'cluster' could be something like Texas sharpshooter or the finding-things-once-you-start-looking-for-them fallacy. There aren't many environmental health or epidemiological experts on the committee - though I'm not sure how much they could do. We (the committee included) have no idea how many other people were in the same environment as the patients, nor what that environment was, so we don't know if the symptoms affected 100% or 1% of those exposed.
That's a pretty massive failing for an investigation into what's asserted to be something that is specific to an environment and certain population.

The last part is what makes me highly dubious about these reports.

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:54 pm

dyqik wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:45 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:19 pm

In terms of detectability, would the DOS (or whoever) be expected to have some kind of record of RF interference they could go back and check after people start reporting symptoms? Or would it rely on people at the same time - perhaps the patients themselves - also noticing stuff?
I'd expect them to at least do EM sweeps occasionally, looking for bugs etc.. That would miss intermittent attacks, but generally, I'd expect them to have to be looking for it.

I could put together detection equipment for the kind of pulsed RF thing I think they're talking about for a few thousand dollars, using mostly parts bought on eBay, so it's a fairly high risk proposition to try and do this kind of thing secretly.
I'm slightly confused by this. An RF weapon was supposed to be impossible, but they're also supposed to have been checking for it frequently enough to pick up intermittent attacks? (The 'acute phase' symptoms would have to arise from something intermittent and directed)

Or do you mean that they'd be checking for other forms of RF 'attacks' - e.g. if they were keeping an eye out for people trying to hack their wifi they'd also by necessity pick up the kind of device postulated here?

As bizarre as the whole thing sounds, I'm not sure I've seen a convincing technical explanation of why a novel kind of directed, intermittent, pulsed RF weapon couldn't have been used for a short period of time, which is what's being claimed here. That doesn't mean to say it's the most likely explanation, but I think I'm not quite grasping why so many people are convinced it's impossible.
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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:55 pm

dyqik wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:53 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:45 pm
If we ignore the acute phase, the chronic symptoms could indeed have come from other conditions or from environmental factors, and the apparent 'cluster' could be something like Texas sharpshooter or the finding-things-once-you-start-looking-for-them fallacy. There aren't many environmental health or epidemiological experts on the committee - though I'm not sure how much they could do. We (the committee included) have no idea how many other people were in the same environment as the patients, nor what that environment was, so we don't know if the symptoms affected 100% or 1% of those exposed.
That's a pretty massive failing for an investigation into what's asserted to be something that is specific to an environment and certain population.

The last part is what makes me highly dubious about these reports.
Yes, I agree. It seems to me that the people 'designing' the report (either commissioning it, or senior authors, or whatever - not sure of the process) started from the position that the personnel were attacked and are trying to work out by what. The question of if they were attacked doesn't get thoroughly addressed.
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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:58 pm

dyqik wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:50 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:45 pm
As far as I'm aware, a sudden, intense mechanical/chirping noise coming through the window isn't likely to have anything to do chronic environmental stressors.
Here, that's usually crickets or cicadas. They're loud buggers when they want to be... ;)

In Hawaii, it'd be Puerto Rican coqui frogs.
Thing is, I'd assume that out of the dozens of people stationed in Havana who reported symptoms, most of them would have heard cicadas and crickets before. It's not like they were all affected on their first night in a new place.
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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:59 pm

I think the pesticide exposure hypothesis warrants further investigation.

Do we know who the DOS hired to spray the mosquitoes around their properties? If it was the boss's nephew or a friend of Trump or something then we've probably got our answer.
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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by dyqik » Mon Dec 07, 2020 1:10 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:54 pm
dyqik wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:45 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:19 pm

In terms of detectability, would the DOS (or whoever) be expected to have some kind of record of RF interference they could go back and check after people start reporting symptoms? Or would it rely on people at the same time - perhaps the patients themselves - also noticing stuff?
I'd expect them to at least do EM sweeps occasionally, looking for bugs etc.. That would miss intermittent attacks, but generally, I'd expect them to have to be looking for it.

I could put together detection equipment for the kind of pulsed RF thing I think they're talking about for a few thousand dollars, using mostly parts bought on eBay, so it's a fairly high risk proposition to try and do this kind of thing secretly.
I'm slightly confused by this. An RF weapon was supposed to be impossible, but they're also supposed to have been checking for it frequently enough to pick up intermittent attacks? (The 'acute phase' symptoms would have to arise from something intermittent and directed)

Or do you mean that they'd be checking for other forms of RF 'attacks' - e.g. if they were keeping an eye out for people trying to hack their wifi they'd also by necessity pick up the kind of device postulated here?

As bizarre as the whole thing sounds, I'm not sure I've seen a convincing technical explanation of why a novel kind of directed, intermittent, pulsed RF weapon couldn't have been used for a short period of time, which is what's being claimed here. That doesn't mean to say it's the most likely explanation, but I think I'm not quite grasping why so many people are convinced it's impossible.
I'd expect the state department in a foreign, nominally hostile, country, to be carrying out fairly regular screenings for unexplained RF emissions.

The implausibility is based on simple physics - RF radiation strong enough to cause a physiological response is also strong enough to cause a host of easily detected physical effects. The human body is not a good radio receiver, so the power levels have to be pretty high.

Pulsed RF would have to be fairly short wavelength to be directed effectively from a distance by a secret transmitter. To be powerful enough to have any physiological effects, those wavelengths would also cause disruption to any computer type wireless communication systems operating.

Low frequency pulsed RF of sufficient power to cause physiological effects wouldn't necessarily interfere with wireless, but would be strong enough to directly drive speakers (even with subharmonics), light bulbs, interfere with radios, etc. The transmitter would either have to be very close, or very very large to target a specific building.

To cause a window frame to make a noise, the RF power levels would likely have to be high enough to cause incandescent light bulbs and florescent tubes to glow.

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by dyqik » Mon Dec 07, 2020 1:13 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:58 pm
dyqik wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:50 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:45 pm
As far as I'm aware, a sudden, intense mechanical/chirping noise coming through the window isn't likely to have anything to do chronic environmental stressors.
Here, that's usually crickets or cicadas. They're loud buggers when they want to be... ;)

In Hawaii, it'd be Puerto Rican coqui frogs.
Thing is, I'd assume that out of the dozens of people stationed in Havana who reported symptoms, most of them would have heard cicadas and crickets before. It's not like they were all affected on their first night in a new place.
Yes, obviously, I was being fairly facetious.

Although, speaking as an insomnia sufferer, being kept awake or waking up in the middle of the night changes your impression of noises, and you hear things that you don't hear in the evenings in a city due to other background noise.

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Dec 07, 2020 1:34 pm

dyqik wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 1:10 pm
I'd expect the state department in a foreign, nominally hostile, country, to be carrying out fairly regular screenings for unexplained RF emissions.

The implausibility is based on simple physics - RF radiation strong enough to cause a physiological response is also strong enough to cause a host of easily detected physical effects. The human body is not a good radio receiver, so the power levels have to be pretty high.

Pulsed RF would have to be fairly short wavelength to be directed effectively from a distance by a secret transmitter. To be powerful enough to have any physiological effects, those wavelengths would also cause disruption to any computer type wireless communication systems operating.

Low frequency pulsed RF of sufficient power to cause physiological effects wouldn't necessarily interfere with wireless, but would be strong enough to directly drive speakers (even with subharmonics), light bulbs, interfere with radios, etc. The transmitter would either have to be very close, or very very large to target a specific building.

To cause a window frame to make a noise, the RF power levels would likely have to be high enough to cause incandescent light bulbs and florescent tubes to glow.
Thanks.

The thing they were suggesting in the report, based on Soviet experiments, is that pulsed RF can cause effects at lower energy than continuous emissions would, by triggering particular secondary responses such as transduction. I also missed it before, but there is a report of a smartphone making a noise:
This is also consistent with potential smartphone microphone
excitation from RF energy that would lead to an external, audible clicking sound from the phone.
The ability for a pulsed RF source to create internal and external auditory stimuli simultaneously
agrees with published and personal reports. Importantly, the Frey effect may be induced without
causing identifiable structural injury to neural or labyrinthine tissues.
I think it's quite clear from that section that they're positing a phenomenon hitherto undocumented in the open literature, but they seem to be basing that suggestion on early experiments with low-energy weapons that wouldn't cause heating, and therefore presumably wouldnt cause lights to come on etc. either. But if it would have to be very big and/or very large that suggests it would be very difficult to get away with at an embassy!

Mind you, the US military has weaponised the Frey effect, though I'm not sure how big the device is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwave ... ic_warfare
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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by bolo » Mon Dec 07, 2020 3:20 pm

dyqik wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 1:10 pm
I'd expect the state department in a foreign, nominally hostile, country, to be carrying out fairly regular screenings for unexplained RF emissions.
I'd expect the results of any such screenings, and the procedures for doing them, to be classified. Which doesn't necessarily mean they wouldn't have been communicated to the people doing this study, but it does mean they wouldn't have been mentioned in the study's public report.

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by dyqik » Mon Dec 07, 2020 3:33 pm

bolo wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 3:20 pm
dyqik wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 1:10 pm
I'd expect the state department in a foreign, nominally hostile, country, to be carrying out fairly regular screenings for unexplained RF emissions.
I'd expect the results of any such screenings, and the procedures for doing them, to be classified. Which doesn't necessarily mean they wouldn't have been communicated to the people doing this study, but it does mean they wouldn't have been mentioned in the study's public report.
Yes.

But if there were such emissions, and the military had some knowledge of a physical effect from such things, you'd think they'd have a quiet word with the staff involved in some vague terms. Or at least ask them to come in for further study of the effects...

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by bolo » Mon Dec 07, 2020 3:47 pm

The spooky bits of the US government are not famous for being well joined up.

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by bolo » Fri Dec 11, 2020 3:42 pm

An article on high-power directed microwave weapons:

https://theconversation.com/scientists- ... ork-151730

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by Sciolus » Fri Dec 11, 2020 5:46 pm

Hypothesising that this is a deliberate attack, has anyone suggested a motive? I'm struggling to see one rather:

- Malicious attack: I'm not sure that giving migraines to foreign embassy staff is an obvious foreign policy objective.
- Weapons testing: Russia has plenty of disposable conscripts to experiment on in a more scientific manner without any pesky ethical hurdles, so why the US embassy?
- Weapons testing, real world scenario: A bit more plausible, but still not the most obvious experimental target.

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by dyqik » Fri Dec 11, 2020 7:32 pm

bolo wrote:
Fri Dec 11, 2020 3:42 pm
An article on high-power directed microwave weapons:

https://theconversation.com/scientists- ... ork-151730
High-powered microwave weapons are not involved here. Because it'd be really obvious if they were being used.

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by bmforre » Fri Mar 12, 2021 7:10 pm

Over the air charging: One innovation we won't be seeing soon.
... Some researchers in the field question whether people will ever see the remote charging vision come to fruition.

Companies wishing to deploy such over-the-air charging hubs face several challenges, the most prominent of which is physics. The further away from a direct power source, the lower the charging efficiency. So even if your phone does receive some power at a distance, it might not be a meaningful amount...
So those who for good commercial reasons want to send significant energy through the air find this difficult in practice because of physics.

Those who for political reasons want to sell a Havana / Moscow / China directed energy conspiracy are not constrained by that kind of textbook knowledge limitations.

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by bmforre » Fri May 14, 2021 5:20 am

Call by WaPo:
Mystery attacks on Americans must be solved

The Editorial board demands this. Diffraction limits can have no effect that would thwart blaming evil enemies.

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by basementer » Fri May 14, 2021 6:34 am

bmforre wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 5:20 am
Call by WaPo:
Mystery attacks on Americans must be solved

The Editorial board demands this. Diffraction limits can have no effect that would thwart blaming evil enemies.
Hunt for the Guilty. After the break join us for,
Punishment of the Innocent:
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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by Fishnut » Fri May 14, 2021 6:53 am

Science vs did a really good episode in the syndrome. They concluded it was highly unlikely there was any sort of attack. More likely that someone got sick, maybe with vertigo, misattributed the cause and then general paranoia led to mass hysteria. They played a recording of what was supposed to be the "microwave weapon" as recorded by one of the purported victims and even I could tell it was cicadas or crickets.
it's okay to say "I don't know"

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by Woodchopper » Wed Jun 02, 2021 2:19 pm

Microwave weapons that could cause Havana Syndrome exist, experts say

Portable microwave weapons capable of causing the mysterious spate of “Havana Syndrome” brain injuries in US diplomats and spies have been developed by several countries in recent years, according to leading American experts in the field.

A US company also made the prototype of such a weapon for the marine corps in 2004. The weapon, codenamed Medusa, was intended to be small enough to fit in a car, and cause a “temporarily incapacitating effect” but “with a low probability of fatality or permanent injury”.

There is no evidence that the research was taken beyond the prototype phase, and a report on that stage has been removed from a US navy website. Scientists with knowledge of the project said that ethical considerations preventing human experimentation contributed to the project being shelved – but they said such consideration had not hindered US adversaries, including Russia, and possibly China.

“The state of that science has for the most part been, if not abandoned, pretty much left fallow in the United States – but it has not been fallow elsewhere,” said James Giordano, professor of neurology and ethics at Georgetown University Medical Center.
https://www.theguardian.com/science/202 ... me-experts

More at the link, though the article is very short on specifics on what the technology actually does.

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by bmforre » Thu Jun 03, 2021 12:29 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Jun 02, 2021 2:19 pm
Microwave weapons that could cause Havana Syndrome exist, experts say
Experts like
...professor of neurology and ethics at Georgetown University Medical Center.
So what skills have a neurologist-ethicist in electromagnetics generation and propagation?
About as much as a speculating journalist??
More at the link, though the article is very short on specifics on what the technology actually does.
Giving specifics would open these claims to qualified criticism.
Can't have that.

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Jun 03, 2021 1:42 am

I wouldn't be that surprised if the technology exists. Things close to it existed decades ago, things very close to it exist now for sure, and it would be surprising if novichok was the only secret military technology Russia has developed.

The circumstances of using them on random diplomats in Cuba would be pretty weird, though.
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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by bmforre » Thu Jun 03, 2021 4:31 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Jun 03, 2021 1:42 am
I wouldn't be that surprised if the technology exists. Things close to it existed decades ago, things very close to it exist now for sure ...
Propagation free from diffraction limits? You can easily find serious publications on self-focussing beams but that requires nonlinear media and field strenghts high enough for such nonlinearities to play decisive roles. Just skip the preconditions and what you claim can be true. But you cannot skip the necessary conditions out in the free environment where this is supposed to work.

No way.

See f.ex. this recent question and answer on Physics Stack Exchange: https://physics.stackexchange.com/quest ... laser-beam

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by Woodchopper » Thu Jun 03, 2021 6:45 am

bmforre wrote:
Thu Jun 03, 2021 12:29 am
Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Jun 02, 2021 2:19 pm
Microwave weapons that could cause Havana Syndrome exist, experts say
Experts like
...professor of neurology and ethics at Georgetown University Medical Center.
So what skills have a neurologist-ethicist in electromagnetics generation and propagation?
About as much as a speculating journalist??
I had a look, he’s appears to be a professor of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology in the Department of Neurology. He also works on the ethics of Neurology, and seems to have published on biological weapons.
More at the link, though the article is very short on specifics on what the technology actually does.
Giving specifics would open these claims to qualified criticism.
Can't have that.
Yes, though as it’s a military programme there may be constraints on what people can say.

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by Martin Y » Thu Jun 03, 2021 9:39 am

I must say, my gut feeling still has this case firmly filed on the same shelf as flying saucers. Mentions of some interesting physics which might enable it or hints that the basic technology to do something a bit like it exist somewhere or that the Russians are working on their own version seem remarkably familiar. Although I have a slightly higher expectation in this instance of an eventual revelation that changes my view, that's "higher" than a very, very low thing.

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Re: Havana syndrome

Post by jimbob » Thu Jun 03, 2021 5:58 pm

Martin Y wrote:
Thu Jun 03, 2021 9:39 am
I must say, my gut feeling still has this case firmly filed on the same shelf as flying saucers. Mentions of some interesting physics which might enable it or hints that the basic technology to do something a bit like it exist somewhere or that the Russians are working on their own version seem remarkably familiar. Although I have a slightly higher expectation in this instance of an eventual revelation that changes my view, that's "higher" than a very, very low thing.
Likewise,

I guess diplomatic staff should only have heavily-vetted electronics, but issued phones or computers in their rooms (which are in their embassy and thus their national territory) would probably mess up any standing waves etc for focussed beams to work. To say nothing about how one would aim such devices at presumably someone's head.
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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