Posts Tagged Terrorism

Protect Yourself Against Nuclear Weapons

Posted by on Friday, 16 March, 2012



If you get a big dose of radiation (like some of the workers at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant) you’re hosed, aren’t you?

Not necessarily.

Here’s the thing. Radioactivity’s scary. If the blast don’t get you, the “vapours” will.

It’s invisible, insidious, and inevitable.

Until now, if you got overexposed to radiation, all anyone could do was to toss you in the shower, give you a pill (which didn’t do much good) and keep you comfortable while your hair fell out.



If  “the bomb” blows you up, no pill is going to put you back together again. But Rebecca Abergel (Berkeley Lab’s Glenn T. Seaborg Center) is doing great work on a decontamination pill. It’ll flush the actinides (the “nasty stuff”)  out into your urine before much damage is done.

Maybe bombs ARE being made under the mountains of your least favorite countries. But you can rest easy now with an antidote by your bedside.

Science. An answer for everything, eh? Snide comments aside, this is a terrific project with the potential to save lives; it deserves a ScienceAintSoBadRating = 10 .

Thank you for the good work, Gleen T. Seaborg Center and Dr. Abergel.

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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.


Posted by on Monday, 29 November, 2010



Be good if there was a green box with a red light and a buzzer. Bomb goes by? The buzzer buzzes, the red light blinks.

Like that.

Wouldn’t that be nice? It would change so many things and, maybe, tilt the advantage in the terrorism struggle back to the guys who call themselves the good guys.

Or is that the other guys?

Whatever! You know what I mean, right?

An Israeli team’s announcing an electronic explosives detector. Works for all SORTS of explosives. TNT, too. It’s very portable, very fast,  and can identify explosives that’re some distance away – a nice feature if you don’t wanna keep hiring new people to replace the ones that got exploded.  The lead researcher, Dr. Fernando Patolsky (Tel Aviv university), says there’s a need for this.

Well.. yuh!

Yer gonna find lots of troops in Afghanistan who think so. When you never know WHAT’S gonna blow, you get a little jumpy. This sounds like just the kind of device that could make a real difference . The nano sensor based device is the instrumentation equivalent of human/animal smell. I’ve called  this kind of thing an artificial nose, in the past,  because it “sniffs” the air that contains the molecules of the thing you’re looking for. No nostrils. No bump on the bridge. Probably no embarrassing hairs but nose-like in what it does.

Patolsky says it’s better at picking out explosives than dogs. That makes my eyes water. I happen to know how good dogs are at this particular job so that’s REALLY impressive!

You gotta think there’ll be interest from Homeland Security and the Military.


Photo credits Mark Watson (kalimistuk)’ photostream

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Bin Laden. Let’s Google Him

Posted by on Saturday, 12 December, 2009
The Ever Elusive Osama

The Ever Elusive Osama

GoogleStuff: Anti-terrorism For Dummies.

MISTER ScienceAintSoBad was watching the President of the United States announce his new Afghanistan policy – the one where he decided not to lose right away.

And I thought to myself, “Why not help? Those young cadets are going to fight the Taliban and what am I doing about the situation? Writing about Physics and Phrenology?

So I decide to undertake my own search for Osama Bin Laden, using the resources that are available to me as a man or woman (OK if I say just man here?) of technology and I naturally turn to Google maps.

Although it’s still early in the 21st century, Google has already revised every conceivable part of the life experience from how we comb our hair (Google Part) to how we practice looking impressive in the mirror (Google HamItUp) so it is only natural that I turn to Google for help in finding the arch demon of all time.

I notice immediately that if you go to Google maps and type in “Pakistan” you get a picture of something brown.

View Larger Map

Is this his infamous place of refuge?

Then I think, “Why don’t I…It couldn’t be THAT easy!”

I type in “Bin Laden”.

At the top of the search it says “Osama Bin Laden, Possible sightings”.

Oh my!

I look but I can’t make him out at all so maybe he’s moved. But it is definitely a powerful feeling to be looking down on the dusty mountains and rocky deserts of the most mysterious place in the world.

I’m not counting the space under our deck where that rabbit lives.

I zoom in as close as the map allows and start sliding around. (The military’s probably got much better resolution , but it spends more.)

I can’t find “Street Views”. No tricycles with cameras driving around this popular tourist area?

I do see quite a few “walled compounds”. Easy to make them out. But I would be lying if I said this is an easy job.

Do you think, maybe, the pros already thought to look carefully over every square inch of this ground and with better and more up-to-date photos?

That’s the kind of negative thinking that keeps you from winning the lottery. This is the People’s Tool. Go get ’em!

I will do this again. I hope you will too.

I’m not gonna find him, of course. But it’s awfully good practice just in case I get drafted. And if YOU find him, I hope you’ll mention which blog put you up to it.