• Different technologies aim to replace dogs as explosives detectors

    Bomb-sniffing dogs are the best and most popular way for airport security quickly to detect anyone planning to bring explosives to an airport; scientists are trying to change that; Dr. Denis Spitzer and his colleagues, for example, are working on a sensor that will detect vapors of TNT and other explosives in very faint amounts; the device they are trying to create would replace dogs as the top bomb detecting method in the field

  • DARPA seeking tools for identifying hidden explosives at standoff

    The threat to U.S. soldiers from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is as varied as the makers of IEDs are resourceful in how they design and conceal the explosives; interdisciplinary teams needed to develop proof-of-concept demonstrations of technology for identifying presence of embedded explosives in opaque, high-water-content substances

  • Mice genetically modified to detect landmines

    In another advancement in explosives detection, scientists have genetically modified mice to enable them to sniff out landmines; the GM mouse, known as MouSensor, may one day become a significant tool to help deal with the dangerous legacies of past wars

  • CNN commentator complains of inappropriate TSA pat down

    A CNN commentator says she was molested by TSA agents when a routine security pat-down ended with federal agents repeatedly touching her private parts and refusing her a public screening

  • Boarding gate with built-in explosives detection speeds up airport security checks

    Japanese researchers have developed a boarding gate with built-in explosives detection equipment; the gate collects minute particles which have affixed themselves to IC cards or portable devices used as boarding passes, and can detect within one or two seconds the presence of explosive compounds using internalized equipment; the developers say the gate allows the inspection of 1,200 passengers per hour

  • Explosives dumped into Gulf of Mexico pose big problems

    Millions of pounds of unexploded bombs and other military ordnance that were dumped decades ago in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as off the coasts of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, could now pose serious threats to shipping lanes and the 4,000 oil and gas rigs in the Gulf, warns two oceanographers

  • Why common explosive sometimes fails

    The explosive PETN has been around for a century and is used by everyone from miners to the military, but it took new research by Sandia National Laboratories to begin to discover key mechanisms behind what causes it to fail at small scales

  • Radiation-enabled computer chips allow low-cost security imaging systems

    With homeland security on high alert, screening systems to search for concealed weapons are crucial pieces of equipment; these systems, however, are often prohibitively expensive, putting them out of reach for public spaces such as train and bus stations, stadiums, or malls, where they could be beneficial; until now

  • As shoe-scanning devices fail, passengers continue to remove their shoes

    In the last five years the U.S. government has tested several scanning devices for detecting explosives and other weapons concealed in the shoes of airline passengers; after spending millions of dollars on these devices, TSA has concluded that the detection systems are ineffective; the result: removing shoes at security check points is going to be a part of air travel for the foreseeable future

  • The costs, benefits, and efficiency of aviation security measures

    The threat of terrorist attack on American aviation has made the system the focus of intense security efforts, but it is difficult to determine if the benefits outweigh their cost; efficient security policy — a focus on getting the most security for the least cost — should be the priority in an era of fiscal austerity, says a new RAND report

  • New device dismantles pipe bombs safely, preserving forensic evidence

    Thousands of pipe bombs are made each year, and thousands of pipe bomb threats are called into local police and FBI authorities across the country; many are false alarms, but those that are not can be deadly; dismantling a pipe bomb is tricky and serious business, and missteps during the dismantling process can produce catastrophic results

  • Lifelike, cost-effective robotic hand disables IEDs

    Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a cost-effective robotic hand that can be used in disarming improvised explosive devices, or IEDs; the Sandia Hand addresses challenges which have prevented widespread adoption of other robotic hands, such as cost, durability, dexterity, and modularity

  • U.S. Army trains rats in explosives detection

    Landmines kill between 15,000 and 20,000 people a year, and continue to kill adults and children decades after a conflict ends; the U.S. Department of Defense currently relies on dogs as the animal of choice for explosives detection, but Pentagon researchers want to see whether rats can be trained to do the job; rats are smaller so they can search smaller spaces than a dog can, and are easier to transport

  • Advanced explosives detector sniffs out previously undetectable amounts of TNT

    TNT and other conventional explosives are the mainstays of terrorist bombs and the anti-personnel mines that kill or injure more than 15,000 people annually in war-torn countries; in large, open-air environments, such as airports, train stations, and minefields, concentrations of these explosives can be as small as a few parts of TNT per trillion parts of air, making it impossible for conventional bomb and mine detectors to detect the explosives and save lives

  • U.K. Ministry of Defense seeking IED sensors of the future

    The U.K. Ministry of Defense (MoD) scientists are soliciting ideas from U.K. industry and academia to showcase their innovative ideas for detecting improvised explosive devices (IEDs); in particular, MoD is looking for sensors that can detect concealed IEDs, either worn by a person or hidden in a vehicle, buried by or in the roadside or hidden in a wall, box, bag, or another container