The Sounds of Silence
Scientists have come up with device for silencing speech, but the hand-held "Speechjammer" has people talking up a storm. The scientists--from Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology--said in a new paper that the experimental device is designed to help curb "inappropriate speech in public places." But one can easily imagine how the gun-like gizmo might be used as a "weapon" against loud-mouthed protestors and others who voice unpopular opinions. ... The computer-controlled device features a microphone and a loudspeaker that plays back a speaker's voice 0.2 second later. The fraction-of-a-second delay in playback--a phenomenon scientists call delayed auditory feedback--confuses the speaker and makes it hard to continue speaking.