After several years of further development and miniaturization, it looks like the Air Force is about to deploy the pain beam to Iraq as a crowd-control device. It remains controversial, because the implications of its strategic use are still unknown, and some think the long-term residual effects on victims have yet to be fully assessed. I can tell you from experience, though, that apart from my newfound ability to heat up cups of tea simply by staring intensely at them for 15 seconds, I've suffered no ill effects. [Side note: In the Wired article below, the writer's being a bit dramatic. The truth is, you don't actually feel like you've been dipped in molten lava, and you don't almost faint from shock and pain. Your body acts faster than you can think, so you don't stick around long enough to get even close to fainting. Deployed versions would have built-in cutoffs to prevent the beam from lingering long enough on an individual to have such effects.] Also, watch for our February feature on nonlethal weapons being adopted by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.