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Old 07-12-2012, 08:54 AM   #1
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New Laser Scanner Tech

Ahh, Homeland Security...

http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/...lecular-level/

I can agree with the purpose of detecting dangers at an airport... but *you know* that this will end up coming to use in many questionable situations throughout the US.

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Old 07-12-2012, 10:48 AM   #2
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Here's another article.
http://phys.org/news/2012-07-homelan...ctrometer.html

The comments are so limp-brained I believe they are DHS astroturfing.
Not one time has the gov not misused some new thing like this. No exceptions.
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Old 07-12-2012, 06:54 PM   #3
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If they have managed to get a single optical port portable CARS system operating I'll be impressed. Most spectroscopy systems require powerful lasers to generate enough signal to be analyzable and that still requires high end optics on the collection end. Those high end optics, really the entire system, is generally mounted on a very strong and stable laser table, and even then you can disrupt the data by merely placing a notebook on the table. Maybe these guys are lightyears ahead of everyone.

Also, to detect a wide variety of molecules, and everything from combustion products/reactants to epinephrine is quite a variety, I would expect them to need to be able to adjust the laser's wavelength for each different constituent, which is possible, but makes fast and reliable readings that much more difficult. And while the small solid angle needed to capture coherent CARS single does cut down on background interference, there can be a lot of stuff going on in the air between the device and subject (and I do mean subject) in a busy, public place like an airport terminal. Just from walking into the terminal most people will be doused with combustion products from the cars and shuttle buses dropping people off.

Not that any of this matters since it is a fancy box with lots of science behind it, more than officials and judges will be able, willing, and eager to challenge, so it will therefore go unchallenged. The magic, infallible box says you are a threat, and therefore you are.

This is going to be very easy to abuse. What I expect is that the blueshirts at the airport will point this at the security line, wave it around and press some buttons until it goes "beep", and then start pulling people aside. The fact that it is a machine and that the blueshirts are too dumb to have a clue how it works will allow them to claim the sweeps are subsequent followup searches are unbiased. Better yet, wave the wand at a group, wait for the beep, then pull the whole group aside since they weren't able to pinpoint the source of the beep. The perfect excuse to search large groups of people and pass it off as needed and fair.

Everyone is a criminal in the land of the free.
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Old 07-12-2012, 10:15 PM   #4
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This one is in the terahertz band, which is a nice place to look at molecular vibrations and rotation resonances. It could actually be as good as they claim.

And yes, we've lost the 4th amendment pretty much totally in the last few years.
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Old 07-13-2012, 04:19 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
This one is in the terahertz band, which is a nice place to look at molecular vibrations and rotation resonances.
can you expand on this DCF ?
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Old 07-13-2012, 04:25 AM   #6
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[sarcasm on]
In the spirit of American entrepreneurship & process optimization, and in the light of the recent executive orders giving us the legal base for it - could we possibly improve on that device (given it is laser-equipped) - so it would automatically and efficiently zap those fuckers, who came up on the screen as "threats"?
[sarcasm off]
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:46 AM   #7
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Various molecules have what amounts to mechanical resonances as the atoms in them have mass, and the bonds between them act as springs. In other words, the atoms in a molecule can vibrate around the whole thing's center of mass if "pinged" by some energy at the appropriate frequency. For this picture, the old ball and stick model is relevant. These frequencies tend to be lower than those of visible light (in general), and most (but not all) covalent bonds tend to have a preferred "angle" that things come to rest at, which is what defines the shape of a molecule. The qualification above allows for things like "folding" in proteins etc.

A complex molecule can have several different resonant frequencies, depending on which bonds are being bent during the vibration, how strong they are, and how much mass is hanging off either end of a bond. It's a bunch of spring-mass harmonic "tuned circuits" floating in space.

Terahertz frequencies are above most radio waves, yet below most infrared. Radio waves, IR, visible, UV, X-rays - all are photons, here given in ascending order of how much energy is in each. Frequency is a measure of energy per photon, though there are other ways to specify that, for example, you can use energy (usually in electron volts) instead.

Calling it a laser, well, that's just a method to produce photons that are all in phase (coherent), there are a lot of ways to get that - a simple RF transmitter produces all-in-phase waves as well - the distinction here is how they get produced, and there are lasers that can be made at almost any frequency. Laser stands for "light emission by stimulation of radiation", MASER is the same thing but for "M=Microwaves". These are done by getting a whole bunch of atoms in the lasing media "pumped up" into states above the ground level energy, which will then "fall back" to a lower state when another photon of that same energy difference goes by, and create another photon of identical characteristics. In the higher energy state, what's going on is that one or more electrons in the lasing media has somehow been pumped up to a higher orbit, and letting it fall back down to a lower state supplies the energy to create a photon -

For reference, visible light has an energy range of about 1.4-3 electron volts per photon, right in the range of various low energy chemical reactions/atom, which makes a sensor for it (your eyes) pretty easy to do in biological tools. Energies higher than that (UV and up) are called ionizing radiation because a photon can actually knock an electron off an atom or molecule - those we consider somewhat dangerous. Below that (eg cell phones, microwaves etc) we don't consider them harmful (except for the usual fringe tinfoil types), as they don't have enough energy to do that.

At any rate, if you make a pulse of terahertz energy that is broadband, and then listen to what comes back over time - you get a complex return signal that indicates the resonances of the stuff you hit with the pulse, one way of doing this. Another way would be to sweep the THz signal over a band and look for absorbtion resonances frequency by frequency - they're not saying which they are doing here.

The way these photons interact with matter is that matter has positive (nuclei) and negative (electrons) that aren't exactly co-located - molecules are somewhat "polarized", so a little packet of electromagnetic energy (a photon) can impart (move around) those charges in relation to one another, which results in mechanical motion.

Here's a table of the usual range we work with photons in, with frequencies, wavelengths and energies characteristic of the various "bands" we divide them into for easier reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Light_spectrum.svg

And here's the article (more than most want to know I suspect).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_radiation
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Old 07-13-2012, 03:16 PM   #8
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Thank you DCF, thats good enough for me.

Its a bit above my ability to comprehend in detail but i am interested in resonant frequencies -

We're playing with polished brass sheets in different water flows ( especially vortex flows ) and getting interesting colour effects that would seem to indicate the presence of substances that are resonating at, or harmonics of, the frequency of the colours .......

well we dont know but are having fun pondering it all and may have a way of analysing water for various contaminants .......
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Old 07-13-2012, 03:28 PM   #9
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I'd have to see pictures, but a very thin film of something with a different index of refraction on water will produce colors, and they are via a resonant effect.
A thin film of water or almost anything kind of clear over a reflector, same deal - or just a thin film of water (soap bubble). Since water has a different index than air, some reflection occurs for light entering or leaving the film.

The reflections create a resonant "box" that helps certain wavelengths and loses others.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fabry%E...interferometer

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Old 07-17-2012, 07:45 AM   #10
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Updated article:
http://thenewamerican.com/usnews/con...-50-yards-away

Product description by the company that designed it:
http://www.geniaphotonics.com/busine...-spectroscopy/

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Old 07-17-2012, 07:51 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
The comments are so limp-brained I believe they are DHS astroturfing.
You mean these comments?
Quote :
I like it. We already know we get scanned, and we have to stand through lines to be scanned. I got pulled aside recently because I forgot and brought two soda cans in my carry on. They weren't mean about it - I just took them out and put them in checked luggage. No big deal. I prefer it to being exploded.
Quote :
wouldnt it be great to be scanned as we walk in? perhaps while our bags are being checked? then we wouldnt have to wait on another line to get to the terminals. and we don't have to worry about being blown up? win/win IMO.
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Old 07-17-2012, 10:25 AM   #12
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Yep, those. Can't be real can it? Can people actually prefer total privacy invasion to "stop" a threat that has been proven to be more minor than slipping in the bathroom?
How can such people be able to operate a computer and post? Sigh.

In other "we no longer have a constitution" news:
http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/...minal-activity

The government has decided that while it is against the law for it to collect some things directly without probable cause, it's just fine to buy the info from credit agencies, google, facebook...sure, the first uses of such are always found to be in some sense "good" - probably the plan to start off with positive PR...
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Old 07-17-2012, 10:32 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by ADK View Post:
I can agree with the purpose of detecting dangers at an airport...
I can't. The airport is not a constitution-free zone. First, it's the airports, then it's the malls, schools and every street corner.


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Old 07-17-2012, 10:41 AM   #14
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It has been ruled that not only around 100 miles from our southern border, but airports and even internal highways are in fact, "constitution free zones".

In the south - don't carry cash. If you can't prove it's not drug money, they can just take it - no real recourse. Happens all the time. Computers confiscated at border crossings, and passwords demanded - jail time if you don't comply.

Then there's the Vipr program - stops and searches randomly by DHS anywhere in the country, but usually on major artery roads - and trains. Already happening.
http://www.tsa.gov/press/happenings/...ockisland.shtm

There is no need for paranoia. They ARE out to get you -

What can you expect from a government with an AG in criminal contempt of congress who still refuses to release documents about a program to GIVE guns to the Mexican cartels to deliberately create deaths, as a way to influence gun control sentiment? And of course, Holder is refusing to prosecute himself. They're not even trying anymore to hide how much contempt they hold the public in.

My suspicion is that part or perhaps most of that is due to creating a bureaucracy that has access to all the info on everyone - especially including the politicians, all of whom are dirty. This puts unelected tiny minds into vast power over everything - blackmail. Ever notice how the DHS budget is unlimited and never even argued about? How quickly any criticism is slammed down? It's the dog that didn't bark.
I'm not wearing tinfoil - and I predicted this outcome years ago. Pretty obvious if you know the bureaucratic mind - or the minds that inhabit the 3 letter agencies I used to work with.
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Old 07-18-2012, 04:48 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
My suspicion is that part or perhaps most of that is due to creating a bureaucracy that has access to all the info on everyone - especially including the politicians, all of whom are dirty. This puts unelected tiny minds into vast power over everything - blackmail
100% agree. Have seen that practiced on the other side of the Iron Curtain often enough, where the real masters were often the secret services, especially in the late, decomposition phase (Putin, anyone? Ex-KGB officer?).

Anybody have seen "Enemy of the State" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120660/ , and have not concluded that it is a quasi-documentary movie (if unintended)? Should be part of kids official curriculum, to teach them what it means in practice: "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power, corrupts absolutely". Great thriller, BTW, recommended, if you have one evening to spare

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Old 07-18-2012, 09:31 AM   #16
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Yes, I've seen Enemy of the State. We don't quite have all that level of cool tech - yet. But a lot of the thinking in it is quite similar to things I observed at "the agency" when I was there. It's a very scary movie.
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Old 07-18-2012, 01:34 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
Yes, I've seen Enemy of the State. We don't quite have all that level of cool tech - yet. But a lot of the thinking in it is quite similar to things I observed at "the agency" when I was there. It's a very scary movie.
Ummmmmm......DC, did you forget where I work? I would not go as far as to say "we're not there yet" my astute friend, because we are dangerously close. My workplace is a primary testing ground for a lot of theis technology, and there are constant contingents of folks coming in from Japan, France, MIT, Sandia NL, et. al.

I have personally seen a label on a pack of cigarettes that was legible via a camera on a LEO satelitte. It was pretty scary. The only unrealistic thing I saw in EOtheS, was the rapid movement of satellites, which take hours to reposition, and the sheer number of geostats they would have to have had to monitor these guys in real time. It's like tracking a near earth asteroid with strong binoculars as it passes; nearly impossible.......nearly.
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Old 07-18-2012, 01:43 PM   #18
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Some of the "bugs" they put on the guy aren't realistic re size vs range. Fundamental problem of energy supply there - if we had that there would be electric race cars that could do 500 miles at 200 mph.
The other flaw is that in nearly all cases, they just don't have their stuff together enough to focus that tightly on one guy - an organizational issue. They just don't have that many boots on the ground.
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Old 07-18-2012, 02:02 PM   #19
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Its one reason why i love my trees (-;

and try to appear as a harmless, slightly eccentric nobody, who takes almost nothing from the system and pays a reasonable amount into it .............

probably my biggest weakness is internet posting but even then i would probably not rate very high on the watchers systems and if they come after me, they wont find much.
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Old 07-19-2012, 04:15 AM   #20
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yeah, by calling EotS "quasi-documentary", I didn't meant the tech (having academic background & personal interest in digital image processing, it pains me every time I see "image enhancing" done in Hollywood spy movies - while I do appreciate a lot of cool things can be done that is kept away from public eye, but loads of these "enhancements" are simply idiotic - presume similar thing is with the hardware), but rather the organizational/conspiracy/influence plot of the movie. The thing that once some govt agency is bent on enforcing their agenda using all the dirty tricks they have at their disposal - they can do pretty much whatever they want to individuals, destroy their lives, psyche, careers, families. Neutralize them in so many destructive ways, instead of just killing.
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