Breakthrough No. 5,860,783

So from San Francisco’s we get this:

“New high-tech radiation detector tested” (By Amy Hollyfield)

“Nov. 14, 2007 (KGO) – The governments’s Sandia Lab in Livermore is testing a high-tech radiation detector. Security officials say it will help them spot smuggled radio active material before terrorists can even deliver it to U.S. soil — if it works as advertised.

“The federal government said that with the technology it has at its ports right now they are actually very limited in their ability to detect nuclear materials. That’s why they’re very excited about this breakthrough technology happening right now at the Sandia National Lab …”

“The government funded the research …” This is absolutely remarkable. It’s a mere six years and two months after hijackers allegedly slammed airliners into the World Trade Center, and the government is excited about “breakthrough technology happening right now … if it works as advertised”.

Well, we hope it works. Us taxpayers, by the way, funded the research … not “the government”. Let’s be clear about that. And we’re funding whatever activities are going on in those other 33,889 security firms that have been set up in the last six years or so. Let’s be clear about that, too.

Nick Mascarenhas, the creator of Sandia’s radiation detector, and Linda Groves, a Sandia Labs engineer, were interviewed by Ms. Hollyfield. The federal government’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office asked the Sandia lab to test the system on a fully loaded ship, she was told, and it worked like a charm on a vessel sent to Hawaii and back twice.

“Usually when a container is in transit it travels for quite a bit of time – for many days,” said Mascarenhas. “So you have a lot of time that is normally wasted, as opposed to at the port where there is a lot of containers waiting to go through the scan point – it’s really a choke point. In this case we can use that wasted time for something productive.”

“People would feel safer if I knew that I had a suspect ship coming in and I could get Coast Guard crews and check it out further away than say the Port of Oakland,” Ms. Groves added.

“The obvious hurdles are still out there such as the half million dollar price tag on each camera. But the federal government is watching this carefully and calls it a step in the right direction.”

[“A step in the right direction”? The concept is primitive at best. Check out our Vol. II, Art. 19 commentary, “The Magic Bullet”. Our patented shipboard system described toward the end of that article (U.S. Patent Number 5,860, 783) is designed to scan every container while the container ship is underway, not just a container or two on a “suspect ship … if it works as advertised”.]