Throughout human history, a great deal of the technological progress that we have achieved as a species has been driven by warfare. From medicine to material science, nuclear physics to putting a man on the moon, military concerns and investment made vast leaps forwards in science possible.
Of course, with all this progress there have been more than a few dead ends. One of these is a rather unusual proposal that was suggested by a team of United States Air Force researchers.
The “Gay” bomb.
The proposal, which was requesting $7.5 million dollars for research, was to develop a scent or pheromone weapon that could be dropped or sprayed on enemy troop formations. Which would turn them homosexual.
This would mean that the enemy would literally “make love not war” with one another and was advocated as a humanitarian weapon.
I suspect I know what you are thinking.
If you are a student of military history, which is likely as you are watching this channel, you are considering how during the early Cold War, the 1950s and 60s, all sorts of bizarre ideas where not just considered for research but funded.
From experiments using LSD and other hallucinogenic compounds, to the alleged exploration of black magic as a weapon under Project MKOFTEN, pretty much nothing that might have a grain of usability was off the table as the United States and the Soviet Union grappled for dominance.
Problem is that the Gay Bomb proposal was made in 1994.
To be fair, when I say “proposal”, it was a three-page document that came to light from a Freedom of Information request. I am no expert on military development processes, but I think it is fair to say that three-pages constituents the paperwork equivalent of doodling, then sticking a dollar value at the end.
There were several other ideas mooted as alternatives, including the “halitosis bomb” and the “fart bomb”, designed to make the enemy easier to locate through smell by disrupting their biological functions.
No solid research seems to have been done on any of these ideas – as far as we know – though apparently they were proposed to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002 and led on to further ideas in the use of weaponized pheromones. One idea was to spray the enemy with bee or wasp chemicals that would stimulate an attack response from the insects – yes, Battle of Tanga vibes.
But again, no official research has been conducted, with the Air Force Research Labs stating that they get hundreds of proposals every year, of which only a fraction get any sort of further attention.
However, the Gay Bomb has received some recognition. In 2007 the concept won the Ig Nobel prize, which is awarded to “…honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.”
I suspect the Gay Bomb concept has certainly given us all something to think about.