Weird Tech: Microwave beam nukes stolen cars

High-speed car chases could soon become the stuff of science fiction

Car thieves beware. A new prototype is being trialled which uses "the same microwave radiation that reheats pizza" to zap the electrical systems in cars, causing them to stop dead in their tracks. That's according to the Discovery channel website, which reports that a burst lasting just 50 nanoseconds is enough to completely incapacitate a vehicle.

Sadly the device won't be available for public use. It's far more likely to be unleashed by police to halt dangerous car chases, or by the military as a non-lethal way of disabling vehicles that get too close for comfort. The radiation is above common radio frequencies, so it's not harmful to humans.

How not to remove ants from a PC

Christmas came early for Weird Tech this week - high five to the data recovery team at Kroll Incfor their list of data disaster horror stories for 2007. From failing parachutes to washing machines, here's a sample of our favourite ones:

Top of the list: the ant invasion. Upon discovering that ants had taken up residence in his external hard drive, a photographer in Thailand unscrewed the side of his computer and sprayed the interior with insect repellent.

On the plus side, the ants didn't make it. But nor did the drive.

And fed up with the incessant squeaking of his hard drive, a British scientist drilled a hole through the casing and poured oil into the machine. Needless to say, the squeaking stopped - and so did the hard drive.

Apparently the company saw more damaged portable devices this year than ever before - check out the full list in all its glory here.

News in brief

Microsoft was forced to shut down its Santa Claus Messenger bot after the automated version of the Big SC was discovered to be talking dirty to children. In response to repeated invitations to eat pizza, reports say Santa responded with, "You want me to eat what?!? It's fun to talk about oral sex, but I want to chat about something else".

Meanwhile, a test by the Singapore air force involving a red plume of smoke backfired when a strong gust of wind blew a cloud of dye away from the base, polluting nearby farms and causing the destruction of 200 tonnes of vegetables.

And introducing the '1066-and-all-that-nav'. The RoadTour Heritage in-car software helpfully notifies drivers when they're passing historical sites in Britain and offers a running commentary on them.

And finally...

Talking about satnav - a tiny village in South West England asked a GPS data provider to remove it from the map. Since the advent of GPS, the village of Barrow Gurney has seen the volume of dangerous truck traffic rocket. (Want to know where it is?)

Despite having roads that are too narrow even for pavements, 15,000 vehicles now pass through every day according to estimates. "We've said 'just take us off the map,' actually," Geoff Coombs, chairman of the parish council in Barrow Gurney, told The New York Times. Well said that man.

Julia Sagar
Content director, special projects

Julia specialises in ecommerce at Future. For the last four years, she’s split her time between leading TechRadar’s crack team of deal editors - covering all the biggest sales of the year including Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime Day - and helping the audiences of Future’s consumer tech and lifestyle brands (TechRadar, Tom's Guide, T3, Marie Claire, Woman & Home and more) find the best products and services for their needs and budget.

A former editor of global design website Creative Bloq, she has over 15 years’ experience in online and print journalism, and was part of the team that launched TechRadar way back in the day. When she isn't reviewing mattresses (she’s tested more than she cares to remember), or sharing tips on how to save money in the latest sales, she can usually be found writing about anything from green energy to graphic design.