In our previous article we discussed the mechanism behind the operation of the taser. We reviewed the articles prior to this and it appears we skipped over the identification of the axon hillock as being radio sensitive. We have decided to correct that and publish the specific mode of operation.
Time for a crash course in radio engineering. Don't worry, this will be very basic and will focus on one of the simplest circuits that exists.
The Tank Circuit
In radio engineering a very simple circuit exists that receives radio waves of a particular frequency. It is called the LC circuit or tank circuit. It is basically a circuit that resonates when a particular frequency is absorbed. Similar in principle to a tuning fork, by changing the characteristics of this circuit we can change the frequency it resonates at. In older radios, when the tuning dial is turned we are modifying the characteristics of this circuit, which changes the frequency it resonates at, then we can amplify this energy and turn it into the radio station that you hear.
There are only two basic components in this circuit, the Inductor (defined as L) and a capacitor (defined as C). An Inductor is a simple coil of conductive wire. We will let this video explain what an Inductor is:
A capacitor stores energy by separating charges using a central non-conductive plate. This video will explain it better in a practical manner:
When we put these two items together in a circuit we get a form of oscillator. This video will explain what an oscillator is:
So, to sum up the Inductor transduces a radio wave into AC current through a collapsing magnetic field and the capacitor temporarily holds the charge. As the current alternates between positive and negative, the capacitor discharges into the inductor causing it to ring or resonate. This resonance is ringing with a particular frequency, thus the Inductor will better absorb radio waves of this particular frequency whilst rejecting others. Another term for this "filtering" of frequencies is a bandpass filter. That is it only allows a particular "band of frequencies" to pass through into the circuit.
Now that we understand the LC circuit, we can examine the Axon Hillock.
The Axon Hillock
The following video will provide a brief introduction to the structure of the Axon Hillock. This area has more voltage-gated channels than anywhere else in the cell body. This will be important in a moment. First watch the video:
If we examine this carefully, we can see that we have ions on either side of the membrane at the Axon Hillock. Ions are charged particles and here they are separated by a non-conductive medium, the membrane. In the videos above, we learned that this arrangement is a capacitor. So, here we have the first element of a potential oscillator.
The next element we are seeking is a biological analogue to the Inductor. This is not so obvious, but if we again look closely at the Axon Hillock, we can see that the voltage-gated ion channels control ion flow and it takes time for the ions to redistribute to either side. We begin to observe the basics of an Inductor. If we now go back to the structure of an Inductor, we notice that the electrons are being driven directly by a radio wave. This means that the charged particles around the Axon Hillock can also be driven by a radio wave.
If we run through that mechanism, it becomes obvious that this would lead to a type of oscillation while the ion channels are open. Rather than the Inductor and Capacitor being separate components, here they are combine into a single elegant structure. As the site in the cell with the largest concentration of ion channels, hence ions too, this area would be the most sensitive of all to energy provided by a radio wave.
Thus, we have discovered that the Axon Hillock is a tuned radio receiver. As each Axon Hillock is different, in each of the 100 billion neurons of different types in the human body, each would be tuned to a different radio frequency. A quick pulse on that frequency would be absorbed by a unique neuron.
The function of the Axon Hillock is to sum the inputs of the neuron, this "decides" what that neuron does. Or in more accurate terms, it selects what synapses to fire. Receiving radio energy alters what synapses fire by altering the "sum" at the Axon Hillock.
This is what a taser does. The 50Khz signal is captured by the Axon Hillock, which changes the "sum", sending chemicals to wrong places. This results in local depletions of particular chemicals, causing the body to seize.
We will leave this analysis at this point, but I will leave the reader with some homework.
Consider the effect of a radio signal that targeted the unique frequencies of millions of Axon Hillocks, in a coordinated fashion, driven by a computer program that could perform proper synaptic output selection.
What effect would this have on a human being?