During World War II, the United States military considered taking a more natural approach to its weaponry—by releasing odors resembling those produced by the human body. (Hey: all’s fair in love and war.)
German-occupied France was the intended test site for a stinky contraption which never bore its rotten fruit. Conceived by American scientists in 1945 and nicknamed the “Who? Me?” bomb, this unmade gadget now sounds like an April Fool’s novelty from Hell. Essentially, it was a small, handheld device that would have chipped away at Nazi morale by releasing an eye-watering stench modeled after human flatulence.
For better or worse, the idea didn’t get very far. According to documents that were declassified in 2005, researchers abandoned the idea because “people in many areas of the world do not find faecal odor offensive, since they smell it on a regular basis.”
Those reports also go into putrid detail about several other scent-related weapons that the U.S. defense department toyed with—and hopefully stood upwind from. Among them was the never-built “Halitosis Bomb” intended to discharge an odor reminiscent of “severe and lasting” dragon breath.
Another invention that never made it past the drawing board still managed to cause a major uproar. The unmistakable product of its “don’t ask, don’t tell” era, a so-called “Gay Bomb” concept was pitched in 1994 by the Air Force’s Wright Laboratory.
Not even the most creative conspiracy theorists alive could come up with something this absurd. And yet, telltale government papers obtained through the Freedom of Information Act in 2007 confirmed that Wright scientists actually asked the Pentagon for $7.5 million to help develop one.
An explosive laden with some unspecified “aphrodisiac,” the bomb would render male enemy soldiers “sexually irresistible” to each other, a tactic that was deemed “distasteful but completely non-lethal.” Ultimately, the Pentagon rejected this proposal, though the fact that it was ever conceived in the first place sparked justifiable outrage among LGBTQ taxpayers. “It’s just offensive that they think by turning people gay that the other military would be incapable of doing their job,” said Geoff Kors of Equality California.
The “Ig Nobel Prize” committee—a group that salutes weird and/or amusing contributions to science—also weighed in by awarding the Wright Lab’s efforts with their tongue-in-cheek 2007 “Peace Prize.” Curiously, no one affiliated with the armed forces agreed to accept this illustrious honor in person.