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posted by mrpg on Wednesday March 07, @05:40AM   Printer-friendly
from the I-hear-you dept.

"A team of computer scientists from the University of Michigan may have solved the mystery behind strange sounds heard by American diplomats in Havana, who later suffered a variety of medical disorders.

Professor Kevin Fu and members of the Security and Privacy Research Group at the University of Michigan say they have an explanation for what could have happened in Havana: two sources of ultrasound — such as listening devices — placed too close together could generate interference and provoke the intense sounds described by the victims."

Original URL:
Computer scientists may have solved the mystery behind the ‘sonic attacks’ in Cuba

This is an update of previous stories here:
US Embassy Employees in Cuba Possibly Subjected to 'Acoustic Attack'
U.S. State Department Pulls Employees From Cuba, Issues Travel Warning Due to "Sonic Attacks"
A ‘Sonic Attack’ on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It


Original Submission

Related Stories

US Embassy Employees in Cuba Possibly Subjected to 'Acoustic Attack' 12 comments

The US believes several State Department employees at the US embassy in Havana were subjected to an "acoustic attack" using sonic devices that left at least two with such serious health problems they needed to be brought back to the US for treatment, several senior State Department officials told CNN. One official said the employees could have suffered permanent hearing loss as a result.

The employees affected were not at the same place at the same time, but suffered a variety of physical symptoms since late 2016 which resembled concussions.

Conspiracy theory fodder, or actually possible?

alt links:
https://archive.fo/yZB5q
https://web.archive.org/web/20170809231552/http://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/09/politics/us-cuba-acoustic-attack-embassy/index.html


Original Submission

U.S. State Department Pulls Employees From Cuba, Issues Travel Warning Due to "Sonic Attacks" 15 comments

State Department orders nonessential diplomats and families out of Cuba following mysterious attacks

The US State Department is pulling out all families of employees and nonessential personnel from Cuba, after a string of mysterious attacks against US diplomats.

Several US officials tell CNN that 21 US diplomats and family members became ill after apparent sonic attacks. The American embassy will continue to operate with a 60% reduction in staff. The officials said the US will stop issuing visas in Cuba effective immediately because of the staff reductions and the decision is not described as a retaliatory measure. Officials say there will still be consular officials in the embassy available to assist US citizens in Cuba.

The State Department is also issuing a travel warning, urging Americans not to travel to Cuba because they could also be at risk as some of the attacks against diplomats have taken place at hotels where Americans stay, a senior State Department official told reporters Friday.

Also at the Miami Herald, BBC, and NYT:

Some of those attacked have suffered significant injuries, with symptoms including hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, balance and visual problems, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping. But despite an intensive investigation by the F.B.I., the cause and perpetrators of the attacks remain a mystery, with some experts speculating that some kind of sonic weapon or faulty surveillance device may have been at fault.

Related: US Embassy Employees in Cuba Possibly Subjected to 'Acoustic Attack'


Original Submission

A ‘Sonic Attack’ on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It 41 comments

The State Department has not provided further details about the medical condition of the affected staffers. But government officials have suggested anonymously that the diplomats may have been assaulted with some sort of sonic weapon.

Experts in acoustics, however, say that's a theory more appropriate to a James Bond movie.

Sound can cause discomfort and even serious harm, and researchers have explored the idea of sonic weaponry for years. But scientists doubt a hidden ultrasound weapon can explain what happened in Cuba.

"I'd say it's fairly implausible," said Jürgen Altmann, a physicist at the Technische Universität Dortmund in Germany and an expert on acoustics.

Once again, the New York Times gets it wrong. James Bond is not the movie genre they're looking for.

mrpg also brings us this less-critical AP report, What Americans Heard in Cuba Attacks: The Sound.


Original Submission

Sonic Attack? U.S. Issues Health Alert After Employee Experiences Brain Trauma in Guangzhou, China 27 comments

A U.S. government health alert has sparked comparisons to symptoms experienced by State Department employees in Cuba:

US officials have issued a health alert after a US government employee stationed in southern China reported "abnormal sensations of sound and pressure" that indicated a mild brain injury.

The official, assigned to the city of Guangzhou, reported a range of physical symptoms from late 2017 through to April 2018, and was sent back to the United States for assessment, the State Department said. The US Embassy in Beijing learned on May 18 that the clinical findings of the evaluation matched that of a "mild traumatic brain injury," an embassy spokeswoman told CNN.

The alert will raise comparisons with a series of unexplained incidents in Cuba that led to the withdrawal of most US personnel from the embassy in Havana. The cause of those incidents, reported in late 2016 and early 2017, still remains a mystery.

[...] The State Department said in its Wednesday statement that anyone who experienced "unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena" while in China should move away from the source of the noise.

Also at BBC, CNBC, South China Morning Post, and MarketWatch.

Related: US Embassy Employees in Cuba Possibly Subjected to 'Acoustic Attack'
U.S. State Department Pulls Employees From Cuba, Issues Travel Warning Due to "Sonic Attacks"
A 'Sonic Attack' on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It
Cuban Embassy Victims Experiencing Neurological Symptoms
Computer Scientists May Have Solved the Mystery Behind the 'Sonic Attacks' in Cuban Embassy


Original Submission

Politics: Two US Diplomats Evacuated From China Amid 'Sonic Attack' Concerns 32 comments

Two American diplomats stationed in China were reportedly evacuated from the region after being sickened by a mysterious ailment linked to odd sounds.

The two Americans evacuated worked at the American Consulate in the southern city of Guangzhou, the New York Times reported Wednesday, adding that their colleagues and relatives are also being tested by a State Department medical team.

American officials have been worried for months that American diplomats and their families in Cuba -- and now China -- have been subjected to a "sonic attack," leading to symptoms similar to those "following concussion or minor traumatic brain injury," the State Department said in a statement Tuesday.

The new cases broaden a medical mystery that began affecting American diplomats and their families in Cuba in 2016. Since then, 24 Americans stationed in Havana have experienced dizziness, headaches, fatigue, hearing loss and cognitive issues, the State Department said.

[...] The nature of the injury, and whether a common cause exists, hasn't been established yet, the department said.

Previously: Sonic Attack? U.S. Issues Health Alert After Employee Experiences Brain Trauma in Guangzhou, China

Related: US Embassy Employees in Cuba Possibly Subjected to 'Acoustic Attack'
U.S. State Department Pulls Employees From Cuba, Issues Travel Warning Due to "Sonic Attacks"
A 'Sonic Attack' on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It
Cuban Embassy Victims Experiencing Neurological Symptoms
Computer Scientists May Have Solved the Mystery Behind the 'Sonic Attacks' in Cuban Embassy


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday March 07, @06:16AM (1 child)

    by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday March 07, @06:16AM (#648899) Journal
    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday March 07, @08:38AM

      by c0lo (156) on Wednesday March 07, @08:38AM (#648927)

      The warning is warranted.

  • (Score: 1) by tftp on Wednesday March 07, @06:24AM (5 children)

    by tftp (806) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 07, @06:24AM (#648900) Homepage
    First, why the listening devices suddenly stopped listening and started outperforming the best tweeters on the market. Second, what kind if portable thermonuclear battery powers their continuous exercises? Third, quo bono? Fourth, as these devices must be still in the walls of the Embassy, why don't the scientists just go there and find them? (Ultrasound couldn't be beamed from afar, as we read in the previous installment.)
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Arik on Wednesday March 07, @06:27AM (3 children)

      by Arik (4543) on Wednesday March 07, @06:27AM (#648901)
      Well, only the US State Department has access to go tear up the walls of the embassy looking for these things. Which presumably they have done, on many occasions.

      But if this hypothesis is correct, that's what they should do, tear it apart inch by inch if they have to in order to find these things, do a post-mortem, and potentially revise our understanding of physics.
      --
      "If Evolution Is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Evolve."
      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday March 07, @06:43AM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 07, @06:43AM (#648902) Journal

        Hire some apprentice interior decorator with a stud / metal / wire detector from the home Depot and find them for 8.75 per hour.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 1) by tftp on Wednesday March 07, @06:44AM (1 child)

        by tftp (806) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 07, @06:44AM (#648904) Homepage
        I doubt that only plumbers and electricians employed by the State Department are allowed to work on the building. But whoever they are, please, please go there with all their microphones and solve the mystery. IMO, the sounds are just wind whistling in the cracks or on external adornments (they have a huge sign outside.) I hear such a whistle every day in my car, as there is a small hole in the plastic frame of the right mirror :-) The embassy is also extended toward the sea, allowing wind from any direction. This theory explains the local nature of generated sounds, their power, and their intermittent nature.
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Arik on Wednesday March 07, @07:07AM

          by Arik (4543) on Wednesday March 07, @07:07AM (#648912)
          After reading TFA I found that they're proposing the listening devices are not at the embassy, but at a motel and some residences. Precisely because they do, in fact, have very tight security at the embassy. Outside plumbers etc. may well enter the building at times, but they are not left unsupervised, and there are large ares where they would not be allowed under any circumstances. I have no doubt that if necessary the embassy will indeed fly in a plumber with a security clearance, although it's generally possible to avoid the need with a little planning.
          --
          "If Evolution Is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Evolve."
    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday March 07, @07:58AM

      by c0lo (156) on Wednesday March 07, @07:58AM (#648920)

      why don't the scientists just go there and find them?

      Say... what now?
      Read once again TFT(itle) and tell me when was the last time you saw a computer scientist touching the hardware.
      Listen, isn't it enough their genius found the explanation without visiting the site and with little knowledge of physics and human physiology? You really want them to get (oh, the horror) their hands dirty?

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by anubi on Wednesday March 07, @06:49AM

    by anubi (2828) on Wednesday March 07, @06:49AM (#648907)

    Likely its ultrasonic presence detectors. I am quite sensitive to these... Nausea results.

    I know of several others who react to them the same way. Kinda a sharp pain that you can't say where it is. Its somewhere in my head.

    There was one department store where I went to university I avoided for that reason. They would not turn the emitter off during the day. Then I discovered many female students had similar reactions. But not so much among the males.

    --
    "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, @07:06AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, @07:06AM (#648911)

    Nobody ever ran one regularly in the embassy?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, @10:00PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, @10:00PM (#649193)

    Maybe there are too many countries snooping on us such that their devices interfered with each other.

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