Monday, January 29, 2007

The Slippery Slopes of Chaos

The BBC reports that the US military is soliciting scientists to help develop a new weapon for the “War on Terror” – fake ice.

[Image: Photos: AFP/Denis Sinyakov, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Handou.]

According to the article, the “plastic-like substance” would be used “to force slip-ups from enemies.” Perhaps it’s just the wording, but that sounds like the most absurd thing ever. Not even slip-ups in the figurative sense. We are talking about making the enemy slip up, as in fall cartoon-like flat on their face. Like Al Qaeda would just fall flat on their ass. Of course, DARPA is behind the “polymer ice” that would be designed for hot and arid environments like Iraq and Afghanistan. You can read the full report here.

“Darpa believes a polymer-based compound could replicate the properties of black ice - a thin, translucent slippery coating, typically found on roads in winter - to reduce traction.”

The idea is to landscape “unprecedented situational control” – to “degrade the ability of our adversaries to shoot and chase us.”
So, we are going to turn Baghdad into a city-sized roller rink? Turn Iraqi deserts overnight into synthetic glaciers? Ancient geographies glazed over by Spraylat sheets of artificial black ice?
DARPA’s announcement also indicates a “spray-on reversal agent” that could be treated to boots and tires to prevent friendly forces from sliding around.
But I can see it now: urban battlefields that once raged with machine gun fire will be turned into familial insurgent skate parks, marines will spend more time playing ghetto hockey than training Iraqi forces, and smugglers will quickly figure new inventive ways of scooting their goods from point A to point B much more quickly and now with even lesser chance of detection. Terrorist luges will become the new car bombs; most of Baghdad will become lacquered in this kind of anti-terrorist formaldehyde; and citizens will find it enormously frustrating just to commute to and from work; meanwhile, scores of refugees will be shuffled away to a range of peripheral oblivions that await them.
Iraq will, in short, slip even further down the slippery slopes of perpetual chaos.


Blogger Phila said...

The folks at DARPA desperately need a remedial course of Roadrunner cartoons...

12:59 PM  
Blogger Bryan Finoki said...

word. Or, Marvel comics.
Iceman to the rescue!

1:49 PM  

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