Wednesday constituted the Greatest Lunch Break Ever because that was the day I got to leave my office to go shoot a pistol in the parking garage. Or, to be more specific, the Army allowed me to fire a pistol in the Police Firing Range underneath the parking garage. (I don’t want you thinking that I ate a turkey sandwich and then, to relieve stress, pulled out a revolver and blasted away soda cans perched on the hood of a BMW for an hour. Although if I’m ever contacted by a company that will let me do that sort of thing, I will immediately quit my job and go work for them.)
The Army Liaison’s office sponsored an Army Range Day, where some of us got to look at and try out some of the equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan, ask questions about them to officers who just returned, and then fire pistols.
Unfortunately my military acumen is somewhat stunted. We’ll call it a Nerd Blind Spot. There is a surprisingly large gulf between my college history major and my lifelong devotion to science fiction. I know a lot of stuff about castle fortifications and Napoleonic warfare, but then my understanding of tactics and equipment suddenly leaps forward to fighting androids and whether or not you can shoot photon torpedoes whilst cloaked. My acquaintance with twenty-first century warfare is fairly limited.
That means my ability to pitch insightful questions is somewhat limited, but I still learned a few things:
Camouflage is Not Pixilated Because of Inferior Material
Have you ever seen guys coming back from Iraq and wondered why the patterns on their jumpsuits look a little like they were designed by Atari? I know I have. Previously I assumed that, from a distance, the cubes and straight lines would turn blurry, so it was cheaper to make them that way and didn’t affect anything.
Such is not the case. Scientists have analyzed the way our eyeballs and brains are put together, and apparently these little blocky lines, from a slight distance, obscure the curves of the wearer. So that, much of the time, our boys in the field are rendered invisible by optical illusion. Neat!
Infrared Night-Vision Goggles Won’t Let You See People Naked
The coolest part of the exhibit was definitely the night vision goggles. They gave us three kinds; the standard green-lens monocular everyone gets, often attached to a rifle, a powerful heat-sensing monocular which rendered all infrared light in grayscale, and a combination piece which overlays a digital heat image on top of the normal lens. (The intended effect is that you are not distracted by all radiant heat, but have normal vision with bright orange blurs where exposed flesh is. It’s as if everything is normal, except that all of the people in the room have been coated in a luminescent highlighter.)
Of course I immediately turned around to check out the girls behind me, who I hoped would show up in lurid, naked detail. Sadly, this is not how thermal imaging works. (Or physics.) They just had bright pumpkin-colored faces and hands, and then weird expressions when I dropped the monocular.
Why we haven’t developed X-ray underwear technology (or “Nakedvision™”) yet is anyone’s guess. I have a whole list of things science should be working on right now, and goggles that can see through clothing is under “Hover Car” but above “Sassy Robot Butler.” I have not been to Iraq or Afghanistan, but I have to assume there’s not a lot of eye candy for our lads in the field. Nakedvision™ would boost morale, and also possibly alert people to anyone smuggling guns under their birkas.
I do know that if Nakedvision™ is based on infrared technology, it won’t be able to see through glass. Because infrared detection is essentially the ability to see heat, glass completely blocks it out. For instance, if I had night-vision goggles and you were lighting candles in your house, I would be unable to notice from outside, if only reliant on infrared. This also means that women could attempt to thwart Nakedvision™ by living in glass cubes.
Because hair absorbs heat, I did notice that you can see greater amounts of warmth on the back of guys’ heads, where a bald spot will eventually turn up. Can military infrared goggles eventually be used as sophisticated early warning baldness detectors?
We can only hope. I’m not showing any signs of balding now, but you can be sure if I ever do, I will immediately get married and then never be seen without a fedora hat again. I have a giant Cro-Magnon forehead, pale-on-blotchy skin tone, and frequently sport a beard. If my hairline ever began to recede I’d probably look like a squirrel birthing an ostrich egg.
I Should Be “Q” From James Bond
At one point during Range Day I fired a semi-automatic pistol, which noticeably agitated me. While guns certainly look neat, and are excellent for dispensing with bears and wolves and thing, I could see how under the right circumstances they could potentially harm people.
You might think I’m the sort of person who is loopy enough not to be trusted with a gun. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’m so hyper-aware that I’m holding death in one hand that I’m nervous and probably not of much use. If I got mugged in an alley, and happened to have a revolver, I would make sure there were not playgrounds in the vicinity before bothering to squeeze off a round.
That’s why I’ve come up with new, irritating, non-lethal weapons which we could employ here in America. Here are two so far:
The Heatonator is built like a classic Tommy Gun, but fires electro magnetic impulses which completely nullify any cell phones hit by the wave. Aim your Heatonator at someone’s iPhone, pull the trigger, and watch the induced panic attack as they become aware of their inability to tweet “Can’t wait for Friday!” or some other asinine observation to hundreds of strangers who don’t give a crap.
The Lock-Action Sterilizer 40zmg™
Have you ever known someone and thought, “The greatest contribution you could possibly make to mankind is not passing your faulty genes on to another generation”? I know I have.
That’s why the Sterilizer is such a brilliant weapon. Basically a combination X-ray/microwave spotlight, the weapon is capable of projecting a beam of concentrated, high-powered, quick-acting radiation for over three hundred feet. Simply line up your target’s gonads in the cross hairs, pull the trigger, and keep aiming for about three minutes on “medium.” That’ll dispatch with those pesky sperm!
Also available with Nakedvision™.
Andrew Heaton is a writer and standup comedian in New York City. If this post made you laugh or think, kindly "like" it on Facebook.