Posts Tagged explosives


Posted by on Tuesday, 8 February, 2011



Terrorists run circles around supposedly advanced societies by being good at hiding explosives in fence posts, vehicles, trash cans, intense human beings.. almost anything. They (explosives) have even been stuck in wet cement during a construction project and set off after the building was complete.

Countries spend billions to protect themselves whereas terrorists work on the cheap. Probably you’ve heard about this. It’s called  asymmetric warfare. One side’s POWERFUL. The other side’s  cunning.

If we weren’t so easy to fool – if it were simple and safe to find these explosives instead of hard and dangerous –  at least one protracted war might come to an end,  we  could slide onto airplanes the way we used to in the old days (remember?),  and we could get back to our more comfortable role as a well meaning but bumbling democracy.

Well, last November, I wrote about a bomb sniffer that sounded pretty good. Now along comes one that’s  designed from the ground up as a remote detector. The head of the research team is Dr. Richard Myles of Princeton University (the work is published in the journal Science). Dr. Myles’ “Air Laser” uses a laser beam to probe the air near  a possible explosive  so that the user can stand a good safe distance away, aim the device at whatever made the hair on his.her neck stand up, and, voila!, let’s move on to the next bomb.

MISTER ScienceAintSoBad’s been hoping something like this would turn up. If it really works out (so far, it’s only been demonstrated for short distances – still an experimental device) warfare won’t be so asymmetric, explosives will be much tougher to hide, there will be far less injuries and deaths, bombers will get crap instead of praise, and so on.

These sound like good things.

If you happen to be on our side.

(I should mention that the invention’s uses extend beyond “mere” detection of explosives at a distance. Atmospheric chemistry, another important use, is cited in the article. )

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 10 . Terrific.


I’ve been a little slow to update the blog this time. I hope you understand. Six feet of snow in my state this year.




Photo Credit: My own.