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Cell Phone Radiation Detectors Proposed to Protect Against Nukes 238

Posted by Soulskill
from the distributed-homeland-security dept.
crosshatch brings us news out of Purdue University, where researchers are developing a radiation detection system that would rely on sensors within cell phones to locate and track potentially hazardous material. From the Purdue news service: "Such a system could blanket the nation with millions of cell phones equipped with radiation sensors able to detect even light residues of radioactive material. Because cell phones already contain global positioning locators, the network of phones would serve as a tracking system, said physics professor Ephraim Fischbach. 'The sensors don't really perform the detection task individually,' Fischbach said. 'The collective action of the sensors, combined with the software analysis, detects the source. Say a car is transporting radioactive material for a bomb, and that car is driving down Meridian Street in Indianapolis or Fifth Avenue in New York. As the car passes people, their cell phones individually would send signals to a command center, allowing authorities to track the source.'"
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Cell Phone Radiation Detectors Proposed to Protect Against Nukes

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 25, 2008 @06:14AM (#22179420)
    The collective action of the sensors, combined with the software analysis, detects the source. Say someone mumbles the word "nuclear", while walking down Meridian Street in Indianapolis or Fifth Avenue in New York. As the individual passes people, their cell phones individually would send signals to a command center, allowing authorities to track the source.
  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) on Friday January 25, 2008 @06:17AM (#22179428) Journal
    The things giving us cancer will detect things that will give us cancer? All right, I'll take twenty!
    • by spineboy (22918) on Friday January 25, 2008 @06:53AM (#22179596) Journal
      Often it is treated with radioactive seeds implanted into the prostate. A substantial number of men receive this treatment (implantation of tiny seed sized radioactive bits into the prostate that kills the cancer), which will raise the specificity of said detectors to near useless. I guess we'll see a lot of "nukes" on their way to the early bird special diners, and 4 pm movies.

      Some young women are treated with Iodine 125 to treat overactive thyroids. "Ok now the bomb is headed to The Gap, no - now it's going to Forever 21."
      • by aproposofwhat (1019098) on Friday January 25, 2008 @07:21AM (#22179734)
        Just train the software to ignore signals that regularly enter the restroom, then!

        Regular comfort breaks are a feature of both prostrate cancer and the lack of a Y chromosone, so these signals should be fairly easy to classify and filter :P

      • by RDW (41497) on Friday January 25, 2008 @07:27AM (#22179760)
        This kind of thing is already happening with existing anti-terrorist radiation detectors, e.g.:

        http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/03/nuclear_terrori.html [schneier.com]

        http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20041221/ai_n14588366 [findarticles.com]

        http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn3150 [newscientist.com]

        • by ckedge (192996)
          No problem! Give these people a cellphone and use it's signal to eliminate the false positives from nearby cellphones.

          Of course then the Terrorist's first job will be to kidnap a couple of these people so they can take them along with the "shipment".
      • by arivanov (12034)
        No need for that.

        It will be triggered by most smoke detectors out there. Depending on the type or the model they contain either Polonium or Thorium.
        • I was under the impression most smoke detectors contained Americium, actually. All three are alpha emitters, though, so all three should work fairly well. Polonium, however, can be rather toxic.
      • by thermopile (571680) on Friday January 25, 2008 @07:37AM (#22179816) Homepage
        Radionuclides give off unique spectral signatures. I-131 looks different from Tc-99m (another common medical isotope) which looks different from cobalt-60 (an industrial isotope) which looks different from uranium. I imagine they're using small wafers of cadmium-zinc-telluride (CZT), which has the ability to do this spectral segregation, but TFA didn't say. Does anyone know?

        Having it determine what isotope it's looking at would drastically reduce the number of false hits you might get. It probably WOULDN'T alarm on that truck of bananas ... or that medical patient you're standing next to who's lit up like a light bulb full of iodine. CZT has a pretty poor collection efficiency -- it's very small and it certainly doesn't stop every piece of radiation you throw at it -- but it looks like they're trying sheer numbers (millions of cell phones) to overcome that.

        My question is, what does this do to battery life? It takes energy to power up the CZT crystal, and all the necessary electronics (multichannel analyzer, preamplifier, HV supply, etc.). That's a cost most consumers aren't willing to put up with.

        • by RDW (41497) on Friday January 25, 2008 @07:49AM (#22179856)
          'Having it determine what isotope it's looking at would drastically reduce the number of false hits you might get.'

          On the other hand, if anyone tries to make a 'dirty bomb' they'll probably use common medical or industrial isotopes. And a dirty bomb attack is much more likely than a terrorist nuclear weapon.
          • by dasunt (249686)

            Well, as long as nobody invents radioactivity shielding, we'll be safe. Oh wait...

            If I was a terrorist, I'd consider shipping it to a major port via private boat or cargo container. Plenty of room for shielding.

            Oh well.

            At least the politicians are wasting our tax dollars^W^W^W^Wdoing something to protect us, so we should be happy, right?

        • My question is, what does this do to battery life? It takes energy to power up the CZT crystal, and all the necessary electronics (multichannel analyzer, preamplifier, HV supply, etc.). That's a cost most consumers aren't willing to put up with.

          My question is how they will get this in the phone...

        • Well a smoke detector can run off a 9v battery for well over a year.
          The detector part cant use too much.

          Slight decrease in life by the transmitting part. Probably insignificant.
      • by mi (197448)

        Some young women are treated with Iodine 125 to treat overactive thyroids. "Ok now the bomb is headed to The Gap, no - now it's going to Forever 21."

        The point of such systems, AFAIK, is not to detect "the source", it is to detect unusual patterns. A single radioactive seed will not register as anything more than a spec, but a consistent set of reports from the same location will raise attention.

      • So when I am talking on my phone (in speaker mode) and preparing my old Coleman lantern for the fishing or hunting trip I guess I'll be flagged as a terrorist because mantles (the glowy tea-bag thingies)are soaked in a radioactive salt. Then they will notice that I spend a week away from civilization, possibly where cell phones don't work much less having electricity. I'm not going to like being arrested by big brother every time I go on vacation.

        On the hunting trip they will find I have several firearms
      • "(implantation of tiny seed sized radioactive bits into the prostate that kills the cancer)"

        Note to self: Invest in rubber glove industry.
      • by peipas (809350)
        This will become doubly troubling once the rectum becomes a carrier for nuclear weapons. Of course, those downwind have certainly sworn this already happens regularly.
  • by Nemilar (173603)
    Is the government going to subsidize the placement of these things in cellphones? It's the tragedy of the commons, that no one is going to want to pay for a more expensive cell phone because it will detect radiation, if it's in everyone's phone. And if the government pays for it, that means it's paid for by taxes. So one way or another, we're going to be paying for this...
    • by newend (796893) on Friday January 25, 2008 @07:28AM (#22179766)
      Sorry, but I'd be more concerned about the cost and battery drainage. The odds of being killed by a terrorist is infinitely smaller than car accidents or treatable diseases. I'd much rather see the government try to fix one of those problems rather than detecting nuclear material with cell phones.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kcelery (410487)
      If the terrorists planned to strike, they would first hire a plane and spray radioactive iodide over a city. Next hour, 1/2 million people panic wave across the city because their mobile alarm sound like hell. One week later, the terrorists then drive their truck of shit to the city center.
    • no one is going to want to pay for a more expensive cell phone because it will detect radiation

      Just market it as a tricorder, and every rabid Star Trek fan will buy one.
  • Great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Loconut1389 (455297) on Friday January 25, 2008 @06:20AM (#22179444)
    There -are- other, legal, sources of radiation, especially in the scientific community. This is a horrible idea that passes the costs on to the end user for no benefit and oodles of false positives. What could go wrong?
    • There -are- other, legal, sources of radiation, especially in the scientific community. This is a horrible idea that passes the costs on to the end user for no benefit and oodles of false positives. What could go wrong?

      That's the good part -- how often are you going to need to detect nuclear weapons in your life? BUT, having a phone with a variety of sensors that can scan for stuff I'm interested in? That's way more like it. Done right, with the right competition behind it, this could be the first step t

    • oodles of false positives

      Right, because the Men In Black are going to roll blindly on any signal they get, without bothering to look it up on google maps first to see if it's a hospital radiology lab or a suspected terrorist safe house that the FBI's been watching for the past three months.
  • Bad Idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ignis Flatus (689403) on Friday January 25, 2008 @06:22AM (#22179452)
    this would only set a precedent for even more intrusive sensing. like say chemical sensors. then we might as well jump the gun and add firearm shot detectors. maybe the shot detection could even be integrated into the existing mic to save money. but we promise not to listen to anything more interesting than loud bangs. yeah, this is a great idea, for me to poop on.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by El Yanqui (1111145)
      You weren't paying attention. Many cities have already placed a network of microphones that can detect gunfire. Through triangulation police are able to determine where the shots came from.

      Here's one link of many you can find through Google. http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2004/11/65802 [wired.com]
    • Re:Bad Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by robably (1044462) on Friday January 25, 2008 @07:13AM (#22179704) Journal
      First they came for the nukes, and I did not speak out, because I did not have nukes...
      • by zappepcs (820751)
        Exactly right...

        We need to push back on every intrusion, no matter how small, into our daily lives by government. If they want to test the effectiveness of such programs, I'm all for the legislators that vote it in to be the test bed. Let all senators and congressmen and their staff be the test bed, oh, and the whitehouse staff also. When these people are being tracked by commercial entities and the results displayed for all to see, then maybe we'll see the real reasons for it in the first place.

        Yes, I just
  • by pla (258480) on Friday January 25, 2008 @06:22AM (#22179456) Journal
    The sensors don't really perform the detection task individually

    Riiiiiiight - So how long until we hear about a wave of people erroneously "rendered" for "interrogation" in a "friendly", human-rights-respecting country like Jordan, because their own cell phones turned them in following medical tests involving the use of radioisotopes?

    Hey congress, grow a pair. We the People do not want this bullshit. Bush won't sign a budget that includes criteria for troop withdrawal - Fine, cut off funding for the war. Bush won't sign a FISA extension that doesn't include immunity for the telecomms - Fine, don't extend the damned thing! Stop with the security theater, please - The actors suck and the popcorn went stale four years ago.
    • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Friday January 25, 2008 @06:31AM (#22179492) Journal
      How long before it detects "hazardous materials" such as drugs ?
    • I think one of the most amazing things about Slashdot is how people can always find a way to somehow start ranting about Bush and Iraq, no matter what the subject is.
      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by pla (258480)
        I think one of the most amazing things about Slashdot is how people can always find a way to somehow start ranting about Bush and Iraq, no matter what the subject is.

        Follow the money. DHS research funds come from the executive budget, which means...

        Anyone?

        Right! Bush.

        We can blame Bush for so much because he oversees so much. The War on Drugs? Bush -> FDA -> DEA -> multi-year sentences for simple posession. Air travel dying due to the nuissance factor? Bush -> DHS -> TSA -> g
      • Bush doesn't live in Andromeda galaxy. He not a figurehead either, and his decisions affect every man on Earth. people like you hide their head in the sand and mutter mindlessly about how Bush is incapable of affecting them in any way possible.
        This cellphone spying program is the direct result of fear-mongering brought by the same Administration which hunts for weapons of Mass Destruction everywhere.
  • Impractical? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by deepthoughtlife (1226760) <deepthoughtlife@hotmail.com> on Friday January 25, 2008 @06:23AM (#22179458)
    This would be an additional cost of exactly how much? They don't say. Whatever the cost may happen to be, it is surely nonzero. This feature is unlikely to be favored by the market, so the companies making the phones won't want to include it. It might even necessitate reduced functionality. Therefore, this would require a government mandate. What penalty would there be for failure to comply? How intrusive would they have to be to make sure this came to pass? How much would this cost our government? Us? How would all these things affect the market?

    Now to the important part. Would it really work? If it did, how easy would it be to hack the system? Mandated communication equals easy virus spread? How many false alarms? Would it promote overconfidence and lax insecurity?

    Is this a good idea? I'm not sure. If it prevented a nuclear explosion in a major city that would obviously be a great thing, but what if it made us fail to do so? What if it takes funds that could have been used for more effective measures, and wastes it? There are too many questions about this.

    So, is it impractical?
  • This could also be useful for identifying misplaced radioactive sources. I don't know if such incidents are common nowadays, but I recall reading about incidents in which a source gets misplaced/stolen and unfortunate innocent people are exposed to unhealthy doses because of it. I wonder how well such a system could cope with false positives from natural sources, the dentist's X-ray in the office next to yours, etc.
  • Wikinuke? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bazman (4849) on Friday January 25, 2008 @06:26AM (#22179476) Journal
    It's basically a Wiki nuke detector (but without human intervention). Can you trust the data? No. Could terrorists get 100 cell phones and fake a nuke being transported? Yes. Could they then generate enough fake data so that the gubmint ignores the real nuke heading towards the White House? Yes. (Have TPTB not seen 'How To Steal A Million' - or like me were they too busy gawping at Audrey Hepburn?)

    If the detectors are that cheap and small that they can squeeze them into cellphones, just stick them into street lights and then (assuming the terrorists dont have access to cranes and ladders) you have a bit more trust in your data.

    Sensor networks are a great idea for some things, but maybe not this one...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spectrokid (660550)

      If the detectors are that cheap and small that they can squeeze them into cellphones, just stick them into street lights and then (assuming the terrorists dont have access to cranes and ladders) you have a bit more trust in your data.
      You are overlooking a small detail here: If you put it in streetlights, it is no longer the consumer who is paying for your scheme...
    • I'm torn on this issue.

      On one hand, the network itself is a great idea. On the other, what central place would it report to? The Wiki concept is great precisely because the momentum of masses of people prevents (or is supposed to prevent) abuse.

      But if this involves making cell-phones connect directly to Homeland Security... no thank you.
    • I haven't been that alarmed by previous happenings in the US, I was very concerned and alarmed but not terribly so.

      With this, I think this is a veiled excuse to start spying on everyone. Heck, there is a natural background radiation. I can see them setting the sensitivity high enough to signal the DHS every time there's so much as a single tick on the "geiger counter". That's a perfect nationwide tracking system.
    • by kabocox (199019)
      If the detectors are that cheap and small that they can squeeze them into cellphones, just stick them into street lights and then (assuming the terrorists dont have access to cranes and ladders) you have a bit more trust in your data.

      Sensor networks are a great idea for some things, but maybe not this one...


      I had my sci-fi wierd tech thought for the moment. You combine a GPS + Cellphone + large media storage device + small scale tricorder + camera + a central government database to dump the results. Wait. I
    • by Vellmont (569020)

      It's basically a Wiki nuke detector

      Not really. It's not supposed to detect nuclear weapons, it's supposed to detect someone spreading around nuclear material.

      Could terrorists get 100 cell phones and fake a nuke being transported? Yes.

      Hard to say. In a real system you'd get a hell of a lot of "no signal" responses from actual detectors, to the 100 "saw a signal" responses. You'd think this would certainly create a stir, and prompt further action.. But I'd hope nothing more than sending out some guys with
  • When I was in high school (in the Netherlands, mind you) in physics class our lab has a small glass container with a little rod of uranium (or plutonium or something else radioactive). It must have been small and relatively riskless, but still radioactive.
    Very handy to show the classic experiments, such as showing a condensation-trail, or letting a geiger counter go wild.

    Nowadays, highschool classes are filled with mobile phones, probably more phones than persons. It'd be interresting to see something like
    • by Gyga (873992)
      My school didn't have any of that (my teacher had to go behind the administration's back to get thermite and sodium.) But when I did a report on Hans Geiger I borrwed a geiger counter from my dad's work, a fieastaware plate (broken in half), and a radium painted clock (glow in the dark). You should of seen the face of the person I asked to hold them during my presentation when I said they are radioactive.

      Hopefully if these things ever come about (unlikely) then their threshold would be set high enough th
  • So if normal phones are used for this, what's stopping terrorists from decoding the signal they send and putting timed devices in bins all the way down a street? Set them off, watch the response teams flock to that location, and then attack on the other side of the city.

    Isn't there a security law that states something along the lines of "always consider how a security measure can be abused"?

    • by Eudial (590661)
      Would probably not be hard to do, either. I mean, what would happen if you were to strap your cellphone to one of those old, slightly beta-radioactive smoke detectors? Furthermore, you could strap it to a semi trailer, and the department of paranoia over radioactive stuff on the loose would be led on a wild goose chase that would take them across the world.

      These sort of weaknesses needs to be worked out before this sort of stuff is deployed. Because, as of now, all it takes is one kid with a sense of humor.
      • by Barny (103770)
        Think outside the box :)

        Fake a few radiation sightings, gauge response times, then start staging them and set a few quasi-claymores timed to go off just as authorities would arrive.

        How much extra terror can you inflict on people, when the specialists, trained to deal with terror problems, start getting killed in grisly and interesting new ways? I am sure these guys, seemingly creative enough to be the first to use civilian passenger craft as guided missiles, will come up with something :) /insert comment ab
    • by mpe (36238)
      So if normal phones are used for this, what's stopping terrorists from decoding the signal they send and putting timed devices in bins all the way down a street? Set them off, watch the response teams flock to that location, and then attack on the other side of the city.

      Or attempt to kill the specialist response team which shows up.

      Isn't there a security law that states something along the lines of "always consider how a security measure can be abused"?

      There might well be for security professionals. T
  • For various tasks that groups of people may need to do. You could even donate time for different causes. Boinc mobile?
  • Because cell phones already contain global positioning locators

    I think they mean that some phones can find their position relative to a network they are connected to. I doubt the same devices can tell your location in the middle of the pacific.

  • I haven't read the article yet, because I'm going to try a test. Does the article say anything about false alarms? Because that's probably the most important thing we need to know about this scheme.

    Will it go off when one of those unmarked white trucks that's used for discreet transport of nuclear waste goes by? How about when the big research hospital gets a shipment of isotopes for cancer treatment? How about shipments of nuclear weapons by the military?

    It's quite possible that such a system might reveal
    • I take that back. The article does say that the system can be trained to ignore "hospitals" and "bananas." It doesn't, however, say how, or say that the researchers have actually done this, or what the error rate is.

      It doesn't, however, say how it can tell the difference between a terrorist's "suitcase nuclear weapon" and a legitimate nuclear weapon being shipped by the military.
  • by presarioD (771260) on Friday January 25, 2008 @06:48AM (#22179578)
    so my cellphone will have a direct line of contact with a... government agency that will... collect my information.. time of day... places I've been... all in the name of... *drums rolling, what could possibly go wrong, I've got nothing to hide*... seCuRitY...

    yes, you see this will happen ONLY if the radiation detector fires up an event, NEVER EVER before... the government agency in charge will make sure of that...

    what a jolly happy world we are living in, turn every single one of us into a government agent (stooge). Later on the grid will be expanded to keep track of criminals that might be passing us by (for example child molesters in case your morality standards haven't crumbled to the floor yet and are still putting up a fight, you surely wouldn't like little children getting hurt because of some ACLU ridiculous claims on privacy, would you?)... carry on citizens, carry on, nothing to see here...the future is going to be bright and spectacular...

  • Won't work (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nomen Publicus (1150725) on Friday January 25, 2008 @06:54AM (#22179606)
    As nuclear material arranged into any kind of bomb is amazingly rare outside the military, this scheme would fail because false positives will vastly out number actual bombs detected. Testing for very rare events is always problematic when the reaction to the event has to be immediate and probably very expensive.
  • They claim the detectors are very sensitive. Sensitive enough to go off, say, near a smoke alarm? You'd get millions of false positives.
  • Obvious excuse (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dotancohen (1015143) on Friday January 25, 2008 @07:03AM (#22179654) Homepage
    This is obviously an excuse to track people's movements, before the RDIF chips get planted in everyone's ass. The "counter-terrorism" bit is the same excuse they've always used.

    And who will pay for this equipment in the phone? Will the government subsidize the phones? Where will the sensors fit in ever-smaller cellphones?
  • This is terrible news for Radioactive Man, who can no longer keep his identity secret.
  • Let's make some fiestaware carrying cases just to mess with the man :)
  • False Positives (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davecl (233127) on Friday January 25, 2008 @08:04AM (#22179910)
    Fill the country with radiation detectors like this and you'll get so many false alarms that the system will become a joke. The man walking down the street who had radiotherapy yesterday, the woman who keeps her grandfather's WW2 glowing radium watch in her handbag, the building made from that particular granite that's rich in radioactives. And let's not forget all the smoke detectors that use radioisotopes, or all the hospitals and labs with sources.

    It's a radioactive world out there, and that is the only thing such a system would tell us.

    We'd also learn the usual responses of the security forces when they get something wrong is brutality, coverup and smearing.

    The answer to finding hypothetical terrorist nukes is proper human intelligence on the ground, not mass surveillance where false positives outnumber the real thing by orders of magnitude. That's just hiding the needle you're looking for in a much much bigger needle stack.
    • by bwalling (195998)

      the woman who keeps her grandfather's WW2 glowing radium watch in her handbag
      No need to worry about her - she died of cancer.
  • by Tribbin (565963)
    I better don't 'mystify' the observation-data by having this capability on my phone.

    I fart a lot.
  • Couple thoughts - firstly, I'm paranoid enough that my phone knows where I am, and now you're going to tell me that it's going to tell the government regularly AND THAT'S A KNOWN FEATURE?!?!

    However, more logically... the more specific to given isotopes you make the sensors, the more expensive they will become. And if the terrorist group knows that our defense network allows isotope x but not y, don't you think they might work with y - even if it isn't as potent or immediately possible?

    Think about this. Radioactivity exists around all of us. Tritum in watches, MRI machines (and for that matter healthcare in general), industrial sites, etc etc etc. Placarded vehicles that might be legally transporting something. You're going to tell me that there will be an effective system set up to take in the millions of false hits, screen them for the ones that might really be something, and then plot that against the map - nationwide in real time?

    Not every threat is nuclear, also. I'm personally more frightened of simple biological weapons - not the fancy "weaponized anthrax", but good ol smallpox and the easier ones to work with. Even a good outbreak of flu can kill thousands without trying very hard and swamp medical systems / healthcare resources, which will in turn kill more. Nuclear just creates a good snapshot for the media.
    • by Ihlosi (895663)
      MRI machines (and for that matter healthcare in general)



      While there are lots of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures that involve radioactivity of some sort, MRI is not one of them.

      • Taking you phone close a MRI machine will kill your electronic device anyway. Even if it was radioactive (due to elements in the cooling system), it will not be detected.
  • Lotsa problems:
    • There are three kinds of radiation, alpha, beta, and gamma.
    • Alpha and Beta don't penetrate most materials, so it's rather easy to stop these from leaking out of your "weapon", and (b) It's hard to make sturdy sensors. So count Alpha and Beta as non-starters.
    • Gammas penetrate rather deeply, BUT your basic refined Plutonium and Uranium, the necessary materials for a real bomb, don't emit Gammas.
    • That leaves our Gamma-sensitive cell phones only useful at sniffing out cosmic rays, terrorists c
  • What's next? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes&xmsnet,nl> on Friday January 25, 2008 @08:37AM (#22180070)
    Since this new hardware has no commercial value, there's no incentive in including it in new cellphones, so they'd have to become a legal requirement. Once this precedent has been set with radiation detectors, what's next? Chemical sensors to detect drug labs? GPS for even-more-automated speeding tickets? Continuous audio streaming from every cellphone microphone so the TLA agencies can run voice recognition and speech-to-text conversion, etc.?

    Also, when will it become a crime not to have your Personal Surveillance Device with you?
    • Of course it would be use to detect speeders. You don't think they would only monitor us for really big crimes did you. Maybe they can add a breathalyzer to each phone as well.
  • by PinkyDead (862370) on Friday January 25, 2008 @09:00AM (#22180176) Journal
    What is the point in advertising this thing? It is completely useless once it becomes public knowledge.

    I'm sorry to engage in US bashing (as little offence as possible intended) but it seems that the plan is to impress the terrorists with all your amazing technology, so that they just give up.

    Effective combat against terrorism requires two things: (a) working to eliminate the root cause and (b) in the mean time having as much intelligence as possible to stop yourself getting blown up.

    You don't see the Israeli's advertising their latest and greatest.
    • by CXI (46706)
      What is the point in advertising this thing? It is completely useless once it becomes public knowledge.

      This is a University marketing department pushing the latest accomplishment of one of their faculty in order to flash it around in a bid for more money from similar programs. This isn't adopted technology, this isn't an official "government technology", it's not really even a practical technology. It's just a researcher/university that wanted their name in the paper and an accomplishment under their belt.
  • or should I say the scam-security industry that is feeding off the phony terrorism scare. 9/11 was the best thing that happened for them, they know that no politician will say no to "If we do this we can make the country safer".

    We are doing the terrorists' work for them, they just need to chuck an occasional stone at the security hornets nest and a whole new buzzing starts.

    This is complete over reaction - look at how much money is being spent; look at how many people have died. Pound for pound better to

  • Not even a terrorist, hell-bent on killing himself in a terrorist attack is likely to transport a large quantity of seriously dangerous, radioactive material unprotected in a car. It would be shielded, and the only radiation likely to any distance from the source would be gamma- and possibly neutron radiation - and even that is not difficult to shield. Neutrinos, of course, would pass through anything, but the detector required would consist mostly of a large quantity of very pure water. And nice as it is t
  • TFA doesn't mention it, but my guess is that the "feature" can use the CMOS sensor of the built-in camera. It is sensitive to gamma-radiation to some degree. Although this would require the camera to be always on and continuously taking pictures with the shutter closed (thus quickly draining the battery). Some new software to look for bright dots and analyze them is required as well.
  • "Because cell phones already contain global positioning locators"

    GPS works with satellites. My cell phone's pretty good, but it doesn't receive satellite signals.

    Cell phone triangulation has nothing to do with GPS; if they got this basic fact wrong, its no wonder the idea seems as interesting as shit on a stick for lunch.

    I've got a better idea - outfit cell phones with "bullshit lie detector" software, and every time a politician says something that's a lie, all the cellphones in the vicinity play BU

  • If you can do this with radiation, why not also include other types of detectors. What about cocaine detectors, linked to your neighborhood police department swat team, ready to swoosh in at the slightest hint of malfeasance? Or alcohol vapor detectors that pick up drunk people moving at 55mph? And keep the criminals from tampering with the phones by making it a crime too. Foolproof!

    It may sound crazy, but the cops would LOVE to have this type of technology available to them. And it will only take a co
  • The summary left out the best part. Sensors could detect high natural sources of radiation, such as bananas, so have to be adjusted to ignore them.
  • The hell with a camera in my cell phone, I'll take a rad detector. How cool is that?

    One question - will it stop my calls from being dropped? No? Maybe you guys should fix that FIRST!
  • Problem is, we're trying to make cell phones smaller and cheaper, not larger. Larding them up with unnecessary to the act of communicating features (you know this wouldn't be the only idea that just has to be included) is totally moving in the wrong direction. If this is a problem, just put fixed detectors out there.
  • There are amateurs who like to play with legal radioactive materials. How will the nuclear terrorism paranoia will affect them?

If a subordinate asks you a pertinent question, look at him as if he had lost his senses. When he looks down, paraphrase the question back at him.

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