« Price gouging in space |
Blog Home Page
| Cheap shots from Meghan McCain »
February 10, 2010
Are airport full body scanners a danger?
Since the Christmas Day bombing attempt aboard a plane over Michigan, there has been discussion of using the "full-body" scanner. Such scanners were rushed into operation at London's Heathrow Airport February 1st.
There are now questions being raised about the safety and privacy of this new technology.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) "Technology Review" reports the technology can harm human DNA:
"The evidence that terahertz radiation damages biological systems is mixed. "Some studies reported significant genetic damage while others, although similar, showed none," say Boian Alexandrov at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and a few buddies. Now these guys think they know why.
Alexandrov and co have created a model to investigate how THz fields interact with double-stranded DNA and what they've found is remarkable. They say that although the forces generated are tiny, resonant effects allow THz waves to unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication. That's a jaw dropping conclusion.
This should set the cat among the pigeons. Of course, terahertz waves are a natural part of environment, just like visible and infrared light. But a new generation of cameras are set to appear that not only record terahertz waves but also bombard us with them. And if our exposure is set to increase, the question that urgently needs answering is what level of terahertz exposure is safe."
The airport scanning technology creates a "picture" of the passenger's body. Clothing is not really visible. Body parts, or any "additions" or augmentations to the body, such as an implanted plastic bag of explosives, are visible.
Despite assurances that all of the potentially embarrassing "naked" photos of passengers will be deleted immediately after the scan, there has been, in less than a week of operation, a security breach at London's airport.
India News Service reports that hunky "Bollywood" star Shah Rukh Khan discovered that female employees had made copies of his body scan as he passed through Heathrow Airport security last week.
"Khan said he did not know that the body-scans - installed in the wake of last year's abortive Christmas Day bombing of a transatlantic flight over Detroit - showed up every little detail of one's body.
'I was a little scared. Something happens [inside the scans], and I came out.
'Then I saw these girls - they had these printouts. I looked at them. I thought they were some forms you had to fill. I said 'give them to me' - and you could see everything inside. So I autographed them for them."
It is highly unlikely that most of the travelling public will share Khan's good humor or relish the publicity value in airport scan skin pics.
In the meantime, Israel's airport security system continues to be worthy of study.
New "shoe" scanners are now in use to speed security. See video HERE.
Passengers who pass through Israel's airport must answer a series of questions. The answers can take 30 seconds, or much longer, depending on the answers. The system is considered "behavior" rather than "ethnic" profiling.
Sky.com News reported earlier this month that U.K. officials are studying the Israeli approach. Why not the U.S.?
Jane Jamison is publisher of the conservative news/commentary blog, UNCOVERAGE.net