Angels Don't Play this HAARP

By Derek Paul | 1996-09-01 12:00:00

In a useful and important book, Manning and Begich have attacked many problems and told many stories. Best of all they have told how they and a gallant lot of nongovernment people in Alaska have fought battles to expose the HAARP project, which is the latest modernization of the Pentagon's electromagnetic warfare preparations, under test in the Alaskans' own backyard.

HAARP has been a mysterious project, whose true nature has been hidden, they say, by lies and disinformation. It has posed as university ionospheric research, which it only partly is, so as to conceal its military character. The great service that Manning and Begich have done is to uncover just enough technical and organizational information to leave no doubt about the centrality of HAARP to the Pentagon's aims of perfecting electromagnetic warfare.

HAARP stands for High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program. It follows upon a long line of ionospheric research, some of it military, in which bursts of radiofrequency radiation have been beamed up into the ionosphere in order to study the effects so produced. Installations that send high intensity electromagnetic waves into the ionosphere have been called ionospheric heaters. Some have been in Greenland, the Pacific, Japan, Norway, and Russia.

What is new about HAARP and should give grounds for concern is the much greater power level contemplated and the hugely greater power flux aimed at in the projected transmission. Scientists often study a system by perturbing it, observing the processes that take place during the recovery to the original state of the system. HAARP, however, promises to perturb the system so drastically that it may never recover to its original state, even assuming that it is stable enough that it returns to its former state under less drastic bombardment. Furthermore, the very scientists planning the research do not know what the results may be. If Manning and Begich are to be believed, the nuclear explosions carried out by the Soviet Union and the United States outside the Earth's atmosphere, prior to the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty forbidding such detonations, did in fact damage the ionosphere in the long term. For example, there is now radioactivity in outer space that wasn't there prior to the nuclear explosions, so that in this one sense at least, the ionosphere certainly isn't the same as it was. HAARP threatens to blast the ionosphere again, but in a new way.

Some Of The Science Of HAARP

Because of shortcomings of Angels Don't Play This HAARP (henceforth Angels) it is necessary to expound some of the science necessary to begin to understand the HAARP project, and this is done in the Appendix.

Capabilities Of Haarp

Another major fault of Angels, also technical in nature, is that it is not self-contained with regard to HAARP's capabilities. Various patents are listed which are stated to be at the core of the HAARP project, because of acquisition by companies involved in HAARP, and Angels gives qualitative descriptions of what they contain. Many scientific opinions on these patents and their importance were sought by the authors and are given together with opinions on what the HAARP scientists will do with all these techniques. However, the conclusion about what the military is likely to achieve is speculative, and readers are left to go to the original references or patents, or to extract what she/he can from the Internet on HAARP. The most important omission of all was the contents of the document PL/GP Technical Memorandum No. 195, which fell into Manning's hands and which contains essential information the reader cannot look up, since it is unavailable to the public. The essence of this memorandum should have been reproduced verbatim.

The scientific omissions were serious for this reviewer, who could not afford the many days of work that a full investigation would have entailed. Nowhere are these omissions more evident than in the discussion of a patent by Bernard J. Eastlund entitled "Method for Producing a Shell of Relativistic Particles at an Altitude above the Earth's surface." A description of how this is done, essential for this book, is omitted. The power level is described by the authors as "extremely high," an expression which gives no useful information to the scientific reader. The reader is thus left unconvinced even though it is likely this patent has scientific validity, with possible application to Star Wars.

Seven capabilities of HAARP are listed on pp. 146-7, viz:

Some of the above capabilities require transmitters other than the HAARP transmitter. HAARP would set up a fully (or almost fully) ionized layer. The other transmitter(s) might be located far from HAARP and would beam their fury or messages at the ionized layer. The electromagnetic pulse could be a reflection from the ionosphere emanating from a quite distant high-powered pulsed radar transmitter, or from several such transmitters.

The ELF communication with submerged submarines implies the ability to produce fields in the ELF frequency band, radiofrequency waves being strongly absorbed by the sea, and thus useless for underwater communication. There isn't enough information in Angels to deduce exactly how the ELF communication will work, so one again must speculate on just how this is done. It would be wrong to talk of ELF waves, because the wavelengths are on a scale larger than the ionospheric height itself. This reviewer surmises that the effect is one of inducing ELF fields in the now-conducting ionosphere from the ground, with sufficient effect that it can be picked up under water. It could then be picked up anywhere, over the wide area covered, and therefore could as easily be picked up by the submarines of one nation as of another. One would only need to know the frequency, or how to search for it . On the surface the ELF waves would be still easier to pick up. Militarily, the ionized layer would be as useful to one military power as another, possibly a rival naval power.

The over-the-horizon radar system will simply reflect the radar waves from the conducting layer prepared by the HAARP transmitter. It isn't clear that this will work at short wavelengths.

The concept of wiping out communications while preserving the communications of the operator presupposes that the operator really is in control and that somebody else hasn't wiped out his communications first. Clearly, though, this is one of the aggressive uses of HAARP envisaged by the Pentagon.

The tomography can be done from satellites. It is unclear what the advantages of ionospheric reflection would be, except that much higher power fluxes might be used. The precise spatial definition of the reflecting surface could be important but Angels doesn't touch on this. The reflecting properties are still to be determined. The same applies to the geographical probing.

No details are given on what precisely the technique of detecting incoming planes and cruise missiles at low level would be, except that it is clear that a reflected radar beam is essentially a top-down detector, so that no incoming aircraft would be out of sight. The reflecting properties of the highly ionized layer at short wavelengths are likely to be crucial.

Implications For World Security And Arms Control

The strongest objections likely to be raised against HAARP are:

The thing about HAARP is that you can't test it at full scale without trying it out on people. The same could be said for ultra-high power radiofrequency waves reflecting from the highly ionized layer. The astonishing feature of the ELF applications is that they would affect the populations of the senders as much, if not more than the population of an enemy. ELF would appear to be even less discriminating than nuclear explosions. Even for general use in population control this would be the case, implying a need to have a well shielded elite prepared in advance for the attack!

Angels continues in two important Chapters, 23 and 24, to follow the implications of the ability to zap anybody at will with electromagnetic ELF fields or with radiofrequency radiation. The concept of population control through non-lethal electromagnetic warfare is nicely introduced in Chapter 24.

The last four chapters deal with such questions as what was wrong with HAARP's environmental impact statement, the ethics of controlling populations through electromagnetic fields, the end of freedom, the need for new thinking, and the insanity of it all.

Next Steps

A first step in Canada must be to draw HAARP and all its associated programs to the attention of the NonProliferation, Arms Control and Disarmament Division of our Department of Foreign Affairs. They already have heard of it, but they don't know anything about it and this is hardly surprising considering the dearth of clear scientific information about the military applications. Legal opinions are needed on the implications of HAARP as a violator of international agreements, as mentioned in this article, but also probably others. In addition, HAARP should be drawn to the attention of the United Nations' Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

But first we need a thorough scientific study of HAARP that would assess technically what is a real danger and what is not going to be of any political significance. Since the HAARP antenna is dangerous per se, it is unlikely that opposition to HAARP will disappear. In fact, the dangers of the high-power transmissions themselves should be the first point of challenge.


Even though Angels is not well organized, contains too many repetitions, and is in need of scientific editing, copy editing, and proofreading (and, oh dear, somebody forgot to look at the Van Dykes), there is much to commend it and to persuade more scientific people to follow up with new studies. The authors wasted a great deal of time and effort writing about Tesla and the Tesla Society, none of which matters much, except that Tesla was cited in one or two of the patents, and the Tesla Society was evidently what got Manning started on her investigation in the first place.

At the Third U.N. Special Session on Disarmament, Science for Peace presented a brief proposing that all research involving high-power devices be open, that is, declassified. The idea, which has not been adopted internationally, is still valid. HAARP seems to be in an intermediate category of officially open but in fact secret. Perhaps it is time for Science for Peace's proposal to be revived, and maybe we should give Manning and Begich the credit for the first step in its revival.

Appendix: some of the science behind HAARP

The important scientific details of the HAARP project and of all its many possible applications have been obscured by the type of reporting HAARP has received, mainly by non-scientists, that repeatedly leaves out the crucial details which might unravel some of the mystery. This reviewer by no means claims that he has fully understood HAARP. Manning and Begich are clearly weak in basic physics, and consequently have unintentionally mixed science with pseudo-science, and non-science with science fiction in many places. As the book stands, a rather good grounding in electromagnetism and some knowledge of the Earth's atmosphere, the ionosphere, and of atomic physics are necessary to sort out fact from fiction where that can be done in their otherwise worthy text. Beyond that, there are probably areas we need to know about where the primary information is under wraps. This Appendix does not attempt explanations of the applications of HAARP for military purposes. Some of them, such as the possibility of deflecting the Earth's magnetic field and creating artificial auroras, are not even touched upon in this review. What this Appendix does is to explain how the heating of the ionosphere can be achieved by HAARP, as it turns out, non-resonantly. But we must begin with a short description of the ionosphere itself.

The Earth's atmosphere drops smoothly in density from its ground level value to a millionth of that value near the 100 km elevation, the height above which Earth satellites are only slightly retarded by air resistance. Thus there is little air, as we know it on the ground, above that height. Space is far from empty at 100 km; there are atoms and molecules, and there are ionized atoms and molecules, and free electrons. However, the particles are only 100 times farther apart from each other than at ground level, but they collide with each other very much less frequently, and also travel much further between collisions.1 This low atomic density continues to decrease as one proceeds further up into space, and the mean free paths of atoms and electrons between collisions continue to grow.

The ionosphere generally refers to that part of the upper atmosphere which contains a significant portion of its atomic or molecular composition in an ionized state. It extends from roughly 65 km up to a few hundred km, where it peters out and becomes almost empty space. In the uppermost ionospheric regions, the infrequency of ion-electron collisions will tend to hinder recombination that would remake neutral atoms or molecules. The engine which causes the ionization in the first place and keeps the ionosp ere ionized is the Sun, and the means is predominantly ultraviolet radiation. The ionosphere is thus more strongly ionized during the day than at night.

For each ionized atom or molecule there will generally be a free electron. The larger the fraction of atoms that are ionized, the more highly conducting the ionosphere will be electrically, and the better it will be able to reflect electromagnetic waves within certain ranges of wavelengths. A substantially or completely ionized gas is called a plasma, and the creation of a plasma is likely a primary objective of HAARP.

Charged particles in the ionosphere can absorb energy from electromagnetic waves, especially if the frequencies are chosen appropriately. One way of producing ionospheric heating, crucial to HAARP according to Manning and Begich, is by inducing cyclotron resonance in the ionosphere. A resonance is a condition of maximum response. Thus, if we bombard the upper atmosphere with electromagnetic waves, the resonant frequency or frequencies will be those at which it responds most to the stimulus received. Such resonances occur in the ionosphere at the frequencies at which ions or electrons orbit the magnetic field lines of the Earth. HAARP could work on the electron resonance, but it is impractical to produce directed or focused energy beams at the ion resonant frequencies, which are too low. A simple calculation shows that electrons orbit a magnetic field line somewhat below three MHz2 if the magnetic field strength is one Gauss (0.1 millitesla). The Earth's magnetic field at the magnetic North is about one Gauss at the Earth's surface, and reduces as the inverse cube of the distance from the Earth's centre as the elevation is increased. Frequencies slightly lower than three MHz are therefore what would be required for resonance in the ionosphere, allowing for the fact that the ionospheric heating may be carried out some distance from the magnetic North. Transmissions up to 10 MHz are what the new HAARP installation is designed to produce, which allow electron acceleration beyond the electron cyclotron resonance frequency.

According to recent Internet information, HAARP has 144 transmitters arranged over an area of 300 acres (120 hectares). If these are in a square array, the transmitters would be about 80 m apart. Twelve frequencies are available according to the Internet. One of these, 8.5 MHz, is approximately three times the electron resonant frequency. A square network of 12 x 12 transmitters, 80 m apart, operated at 8.5 MHz, when set to beam vertically, emits one narrow central beam vertically and eight principal side lobes within 30 degrees of the vertical (fig. 1), as well as many much weaker side lobes within 30 degrees.

Fig. 1. Polar diagram of HAARP side lobes at vertical transmission of 8.5 MHz waves. The angles in all directions from the origin are the deviations from the vertical. The many weaker side lobes and those at angles greater than 30 degrees are not shown, for clarity. As the transmitted frequency is lowered, the central lobe broadens, and the side lobes move outward to larger angles. At 3.75 MHz, the four strongest side lobes disappear and the central lobe broadens to more than two degrees.

The full width at half maximum intensity of the central lobe will not be more than 18.5 milliradians, just over one degree, if the focusing is adequate, which renders possible an estimate of the intensity of the central power flux of the HAARP beam at high altitudes. If the central lobe contains about 10 % of the total radiated beam power, then a power flux in excess of one W/sq. cm could be attained at an altitude of 300 km and given a total radiated power of 10 GW, the power output of 12 Darlington nuclear reactors, or over 10 million electric kettles. These estimates tally with information given in Angels.3

Angels contains no mention whatever of the atomic physics of ionization by electron impact, the processes by which HAARP can ionize the ionosphere. The essentials are roughly as follows. Ionization proceeds only above a threshold energy, below which the electron can only excite an atom or molecule, or simply scatter elastically from it. Above the threshold energy, the cross-section for ionization (the probability of an ionizing collision happening) rises rapidly, reaching a maximum in the general vicinity of 100 eV.4 The details are different for each atom of the periodic table, but the pattern is the same. Above the energy of the maximum, the cross section declines. Taking all factors into consideration, including the increase of electron speeds, the rate of ionization will tend to decline, or rise rather slowly for average energies above 100 eV. HAARP's one W/sq. cm power flux comes with an electric field in the electromagnetic wave of about 4,000 V/m, sufficient to raise electrons to the 100 eV level in about nine nanoseconds, less than a quarter of a cycle at 8.5 MHz. One can also show that the helical orbits of electrons around magnetic field lines change dramatically at high electric fields such as 4,000 V/m, so that the cyclotron resonance condition is broken and the heating occurs in a brute-force manner. [Note also, the resonant frequency is not 8.5 MHz]. The ionization will be rapid at altitudes around 90 km, where the mean free path of electrons between collisions is large enough to allow them to accelerate to the required energy but low enough that the collisions are frequent - these are the ideal conditions for rapid ionization. Too frequent collisions in the denser atmosphere prevent the required electron energies from being attained, while the low densities at much higher altitudes will involve longer irradiations, because of the less frequent collisions.

At an elevation of 300 km (mentioned in Angels), the area irradiated by HAARP's central lobe at 8.5 MHz and an elevation of 300 km will have a diameter of about 5.5 km. Since HAARP is designed to scan angles up to 30 degrees from the vertical, this means changing the direction of the beam 3,000 times to cover the whole area. However, if this is done in 10 microsecond steps it would only take three hundredths of a second at a duty cycle of 100 %. The words duty cycle do not, however appear in Angels, so that we are left guessing on this one. The duty cycle of a transmitter, such as HAARP, is the fraction of the time it is transmitting its power. Since the power is extremely high, equal to about 12 Darlington reactors, one tends to assume that the duty cycle will be low, say 0.1 %. Even at this duty cycle HAARP could scan its 30 degree cone in 30 seconds. It would then need a power station of several tens of megawatts to provide its power, because the conversion to transmitted energy cannot be perfectly efficient. All of the above information, except where indicated, is missing from Angels. The scientific possibilities of many of HAARP's applications have yet to be tested. Almost all projections of what can be done with the 10 GW beam are therefore somewhat speculative.

1 According to Alain Giraud and Michel Petit (Ionospheric Techniques and Phenomena, 1978), the atmospheric density is one millionth of its ground level value at an elevation of 96 km. At this gas density the mean free path for molecular collisions - the average distance travelled between collisions - is five cm. For electron-molecule collisions the mean free paths, highly energy-dependent will tend to be longer.
2 one MHz=one million cycles/second
3 The units of power flux are incorrectly given in Angels as W/cm3.
4 One eV (electron volt) is the energy an electron acquires in falling through a potential difference of one volt.

Derek Paul is a retired physics professor at the University of Toronto.

Peace Magazine Sep-Oct 1996

Peace Magazine Sep-Oct 1996, page 18. Some rights reserved.

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