• Kenya police: (fake) bomb detectors work, making Kenyans safer

    A British businessman was convicted of selling Iraq and Afghanistan fake bomb detectors – the two countries used millions of dollars in U.S. aid money to purchase the sham devices (the devices were, in fact, $20 golf ball finders which the businessman sold for $40,000 each). The police in Kenya purchased twenty-six of the sham detectors, but Nairobi police chief says the devices work, and that Kenya is safer for them.

  • U.K. businessman convicted of selling fake explosives detectors

    James McCormick, a British businessman, was convicted of having made millions in profits from selling fake bomb detectors to Iraq, Georgia, and several other countries. McCormick bought $20 golf ball finders in the United States, then sold the devices, which had no working electronics, for $40,000 each. The Iraqi government used more than $40 million in U.S. aid money to buy 6,000 of the devices, despite being warned by the U.S. military that the devices were a sham. The Iraqi military used the fake detectors at check-points, leading to scores of soldiers and civilians being killed by suicide trucks which went through the check points undetected. The police in Kenya says it will continue to use the devices.

  • New fertilizer can be used to grow food – but not build bombs

    Ammonium nitrate fertilizer is used in agriculture, but when mixed with a fuel such as diesel, it is highly explosive. It was used in about 65 percent of the 16,300 homemade IEDs in Afghanistan in 2012.About 1,900 troops were killed or wounded in IED attacks in 2012, 60 percent of American combat casualties. There have been more than 17,000 global IED incidents in 123 countries in the past two years. Timothy McVeigh used ammonium nitrate in Oklahoma City in 1995. Scientists have developed a fertilizer that helps plants grow but cannot detonate a bomb.

  • A more powerful terahertz imaging system developed

    Low-energy terahertz radiation could potentially enable doctors to see deep into tissues without the damaging effects of X-rays, or allow security guards to identify chemicals in a package without opening it. An electrical engineering research team has developed a laser-powered terahertz source and detector system which transmits with fifty times more power and receives with thirty times more sensitivity than existing technologies. This offers 1,500 times more powerful systems for imaging and sensing applications.

  • Lawmakers call on TSA to reverse knife rule

    Two leading lawmakers have called on TSA to reverse its ruling which would allow passengers to bring some types of knives with them on board. “The attacks on September 11, 2001, demonstrated that in the confined environment of an airplane, even a small blade in the hands of a terrorist can lead to disaster,” Rep. Ed Markey (S-Mass.) — who is running for the U.S. Senate seat recently vacated by John Kerry – wrote TSA director John Pistole.

  • June workshop on approaches to CBRNE incidents

    NIST-organized workshop will explore ways to improve an all-of-government approach that increases resilience to international chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive (CBRNE) incidents.

  • New explosives vapor detection technology

    Novel explosives detection method focuses on direct, real-time vapor detection rather than collection of explosives particles. It could change paradigm for explosives screening.

  • Increasing the sensitivity of airport security screening

    The latest episode in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions podcast series reports a simple way to improve the sensitivity of the test often used to detect traces of explosives on the hands, carry-ons, and other possessions of passengers at airport security screening stations.

  • Revealing full-body scanners to be removed from airports

    One of the more controversial post-9/11 security devices, the ubiquitous and uncomfortably intrusive full-body scanners, will be removed from service by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). On Friday, the agency announced it would begin to remove the scanners from U.S. airports this summer. The anatomically revealing backscatter scanners are being replaced by the ore discreet millimeter wave devices.

  • Portable X-ray source offers a mobile terrorism prevention tool

    The hand-held scanners, or tricorders, of the Star Trek movies and television series are one step closer to reality now that a engineers have invented a compact source of X-rays and other forms of radiation; the radiation source, which is the size of a stick of gum, could be used to create inexpensive and portable X-ray scanners for use by doctors, as well as to fight terrorism and smuggling and aid exploration on this planet and others

  • A dandelion-shaped device to help in demining operations

    Decades of war have left land mines buried all over the Afghan countryside; they continue to go off, killing and maiming hundreds of  innocent people every year; last year alone, more than 812 people were wounded or killed in Afghanistan because of mines left behind after the armies retreated; two Afghan inventors designed a dandelion-like device for demining operations


  • TSA hits new record in gun collection at airports in 2012

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) set a new record by confiscating 1,500 weapons in 2012, with 1,295 of the weapons being loaded; most of the confiscated weapons at airports are guns, but TSA has also caught passengers trying to board planes with grenades, stun guns, axes, and throwing stars; one passenger tried to board a plane carrying a bazooka, and another passenger was trying to bring a rocket launcher on board

  • Army engineers develop new roadway threat detection system

    Explosives along roadways remain an unrelenting hazard for deployed soldiers; U.S. Army engineers have developed a system for detecting possible threats by identifying potential threat locations on unimproved roads; the system can perform region of interest cueing of threats at greater standoff distances, which can be further interrogated by the radar as the vehicle gets closer to the threat

  • Terahertz waves for explosives detection

    The chips generate and radiate high-frequency electromagnetic waves, called terahertz (THz) waves, which fall into a largely untapped region of the electromagnetic spectrum — between microwaves and far-infrared radiation — and which can penetrate a host of materials without the ionizing damage of X-rays; when incorporated into handheld devices, the new microchips could enable a broad range of applications in fields ranging from homeland security to wireless communications to health care, and even touchless gaming

  • New sensor detects undetonated bombs on sea floor

    More than ten million acres of the world’s coastal waters are contaminated by undetonated explosives, according to the U.S. government; typically these small explosives rust and corrode at sea, making them even more dangerous; scientists have developed a sensor to detect undetonated explosives on the sea floor; the sensor is based on technology used to find mineral deposits underground