Published in Radio Science Bulletin, No. 362 (September 2017) and available online through IEEE Xplore

By James C. Lin, Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois at Chicago


The Mystery of “Sonic Health Attacks” on Havana-Based Diplomats

For the past few weeks, media outlets have been reporting on the US State Department’s disclosure that Havana- based US diplomats were experiencing health issues [1-5]. Their residences were described to have been targeted with bursts of sound waves. Diplomatic staff and family members have repeatedly reported hearing loud buzzing or scraping sounds. Symptoms included severe hearing loss, headaches, ringing in the ears, nausea, and problems with balance or vertigo, which are suggestive of a connection to the inner-ear apparatus within the human head. While suspicious of a Cuban governmental role in directing the “attack,” US officials have yet to pin down the source, nor have they found any weapon that potential culprits might have used.

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Experts consulted by media outlets and the US government appear to have been baffled by it. The Cuban government has denied any involvement. US State Department officials have speculated that the diplomats may have been attacked with an advanced sonic weapon operating outside the range of human auditory response…SNIP

Wait a minute. There actually may be a scientific explanation. It is plausible that the loud buzzing, burst of sound, or acoustic pressure waves may have been covertly delivered using high-power microwave radiation, instead of blasting the subjects with conventional sonic sources…SNIP

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