Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Are Liquid Explosives on a Plane Feasible?

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the shaken-not-stirred dept.

875

permaculture writes "The Register describes the difficulty of mixing up a batch of liquid explosives on a plane. Further, it opines that such a plot might work in a Hollywood film, but not in the real world. Liquid explosives were used for the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, according to the official account — or not, as now seems more likely." This story selected and edited by LinuxWorld editor for the day Saied Pinto.

cancel ×

875 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Just let CmdrTaco on (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15929427)

his shit is explosive

Explosives? dunno.... (5, Funny)

zipthink (943185) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929435)

but what about SNAKES on a plane, ever thought of that?

Re:Explosives? dunno.... (5, Funny)

hamfactorial (857057) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929444)

It may be feasible.... is snake venom explosive when combined with paranoia and sensationalism? Brilliant!

Re:Explosives? dunno.... (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929452)

> but what about SNAKES on a plane, ever thought of that?

No, you want that other movie. We're talkin' about muthafuckin' liquids [craphound.com] on a muthafuckin' plane, and there ain't a got-damn thing you can do about it!

Re:Explosives? dunno.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15929621)

What if you fill the snakes with liquid? Double wammy!

Re:Explosives? dunno.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15929462)

I can't believe it took that long for someone to post that.

The UK Terror plot: what's really going on? (5, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929560)

The UK Terror plot: what's really going on?
http://www.craigmurray.co.uk/archives/2006/08/the_ uk_terror_p.html [craigmurray.co.uk]

I have been reading very carefully through all the Sunday newspapers to try and analyse the truth from all the scores of pages claiming to detail the so-called bomb plot. Unlike the great herd of so-called security experts doing the media analysis, I have the advantage of having had the very highest security clearances myself, having done a huge amount of professional intelligence analysis, and having been inside the spin machine.

So this, I believe, is the true story.

None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not even have passports, which given the efficiency of the UK Passport Agency would mean they couldn't be a plane bomber for quite some time.

In the absence of bombs and airline tickets, and in many cases passports, it could be pretty difficult to convince a jury beyond reasonable doubt that individuals intended to go through with suicide bombings, whatever rash stuff they may have bragged in internet chat rooms.

What is more, many of those arrested had been under surveillance for over a year - like thousands of other British Muslims. And not just Muslims. Like me. Nothing from that surveillance had indicated the need for early arrests.

Then an interrogation in Pakistan revealed the details of this amazing plot to blow up multiple planes - which, rather extraordinarily, had not turned up in a year of surveillance. Of course, the interrogators of the Pakistani dictator have their ways of making people sing like canaries. As I witnessed in Uzbekistan, you can get the most extraordinary information this way. Trouble is it always tends to give the interrogators all they might want, and more, in a desperate effort to stop or avert torture. What it doesn't give is the truth.

The gentleman being "interrogated" had fled the UK after being wanted for questioning over the murder of his uncle some years ago. That might be felt to cast some doubt on his reliability. It might also be felt that factors other than political ones might be at play within these relationships. Much is also being made of large transfers of money outside the formal economy. Not in fact too unusual in the British Muslim community, but if this activity is criminal, there are many possibilities that have nothing to do with terrorism.

We then have the extraordinary question of Bush and Blair discussing the possible arrests over the weekend. Why? I think the answer to that is plain. Both in desperate domestic political trouble, they longed for "Another 9/11". The intelligence from Pakistan, however dodgy, gave them a new 9/11 they could sell to the media. The media has bought, wholesale, all the rubbish they have been shovelled.

We then have the appalling political propaganda of John Reid, Home Secretary, making a speech warning us all of the dreadful evil threatening us and complaining that "Some people don't get" the need to abandon all our traditional liberties. He then went on, according to his own propaganda machine, to stay up all night and minutely direct the arrests. There could be no clearer evidence that our Police are now just a political tool. Like all the best nasty regimes, the knock on the door came in the middle of the night, at 2.30am. Those arrested included a mother with a six week old baby.

For those who don't know, it is worth introducing Reid. A hardened Stalinist with a long term reputation for personal violence, at Stirling Univeristy he was the Communist Party's "Enforcer", (in days when the Communist Party ran Stirling University Students' Union, which it should not be forgotten was a business with a very substantial cash turnover). Reid was sent to beat up those who deviated from the Party line.

We will now never know if any of those arrested would have gone on to make a bomb or buy a plane ticket. Most of them do not fit the "Loner" profile you would expect - a tiny percentage of suicide bombers have happy marriages and young children. As they were all under surveillance, and certainly would have been on airport watch lists, there could have been little danger in letting them proceed closer to maturity - that is certainly what we would have done with the IRA.

In all of this, the one thing of which I am certain is that the timing is deeply political. This is more propaganda than plot. Of the over one thousand British Muslims arrested under anti-terrorist legislation, only twelve per cent are ever charged with anything. That is simply harrassment of Muslims on an appalling scale. Of those charged, 80% are acquitted. Most of the very few - just over two per cent of arrests - who are convicted, are not convicted of anything to do terrorism, but of some minor offence the Police happened upon while trawling through the wreck of the lives they had shattered.

Be sceptical. Be very, very sceptical.

Re:The UK Terror plot: what's really going on? (2, Insightful)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929662)

All I have to say is... you hit the nail on the head. The Govt sold it, the media bought it and are now feeding it to us through a rectal tube.
There are so many obvious miss-truths and missleading statements in the media, it makes me sick.
Good article. You should be writing for the Times.

Re:The UK Terror plot: what's really going on? (0, Offtopic)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929705)

Craig Murray that is. Not you, you just cut and paste for mod points

Re:The UK Terror plot: what's really going on? (4, Insightful)

eipgam (945201) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929754)

Given a couple of people (one a young boy escaped from a care home) have managed to board planes at major UK airports, without boarding passes or passports, in the last couple of days I'd say passport possession has nothing to do with one's ability to blow up a plane.

That said, I agree with a lot of the rest of your post. Particularly the comments about John Reid's speech.

Re:Explosives? dunno.... (0)

eclectro (227083) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929752)

but what about SNAKES on a plane, ever thought of that?

Maybe that's why they won't allow rubber snakes on airplanes anymore.

Re:Explosives? dunno.... (0)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929792)

but what about SNAKES on a plane, ever thought of that?

Or even Exploding Snakes on a Plane!!!

Hello Amtrack?

Liquid Explosion (5, Funny)

draggy (30660) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929439)

Borat is able to do liquid explosions

Re:Liquid Explosion (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15929682)

Sexy time explosion!

Re:Liquid Explosion (4, Funny)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929715)

Can I make a dirt in here?

What they should do (0, Troll)

also-rr (980579) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929448)

Is built the entire plane out of sodium. That way crashing it into the sea (or flying it through a rain cloud) would achieve the desired effect without all of the expense and inconvenience of organised terrorism.

Flight 505 to MacGyver City... (2, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929459)

Nitro Glycerine is a liquid.

Re:Flight 505 to MacGyver City... (1)

DelawareBoy (757170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929491)

It's also a medication. Has anyone ever determined how easy it is to concentrate Nitroglycerine from a medical prescription into something that can bring down a plane?

Re:Flight 505 to MacGyver City... (5, Funny)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929528)

It's also a medication. Has anyone ever determined how easy it is to concentrate Nitroglycerine from a medical prescription into something that can bring down a plane?
MacGuyver did that once. To break out of a European medical center (asylum perhaps?) he ground up nitro tablets, mixed them with something, and blew a hole in a cement wall. Then again, this is Macguyver we're talking here so I'm sure the writers could have had him create an explosion out of contact-lense solution if they wanted.

Re:Flight 505 to MacGyver City... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15929600)

I believe he could have used a stick of gum, a tampon, and chocolate bar.

Re:Flight 505 to MacGyver City... (1)

rainer_d (115765) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929796)

> so I'm sure the writers could have had him create an explosion out of contact-lense solution if they wanted.

Contact-lense solution is of course also no longer allowed on a plane.
Somebody has been watching MacGyver too much, methinks.

Re:Flight 505 to MacGyver City... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15929492)

so? go ahead and carry some through an airport. you won't get past the potholes in the highway on the way there in the taxi

Re:Flight 505 to MacGyver City... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929540)

so? go ahead and carry some through an airport. you won't get past the potholes in the highway on the way there in the taxi

The problem with that attitude is it immediately dismisses the fact these people are suicide bombers. With enough practice they could probably get away with a small bottle of it rolled up in a towel. It doesn't take a very large blast to open the fuselage of a pressurised jet.

Re:Flight 505 to MacGyver City... (2, Funny)

daranz (914716) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929627)

No, it doesn't. In fact you just need to pull the lever and push the door open.

Re:Flight 505 to MacGyver City... (1)

eln (21727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929771)

Yah, go ahead and try that while a plane is in flight some time. Good luck.

Re:Flight 505 to MacGyver City... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15929636)

... these people are suicide bombers. With enough practice...

And just how would a person go about getting practice carrying Evian bottles full of nitroglycerine?

One step, two step... boom!

Okay, next please.

One step...

Re:Flight 505 to MacGyver City... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929723)

And just how would a person go about getting practice carrying Evian bottles full of nitroglycerine?

That many of those being found willing to do this, including those who partook in the Sept. 11 attacks, are middle-class and educated (Mohammed Atta was studying engineering) should tell you something. These aren't just a bunch of gullible yokels brainwashed into dying for the vision of some mullah.

Re:Flight 505 to MacGyver City... (5, Interesting)

Khyber (864651) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929515)

Except Nitro Glycerine would most likely detonate the second you had any turbulence, or even upon takeoff, given how unstable it is. Now if you wanted to make a bomb out of liquids - why not just bring a bottle of water and a piece of rubidium or cesium? Remember what happens when alkali metals hit water? BOOM! Two grams of cesium and a quart of water is enough to make an explosion roughly equivalent to about three or so hand grenades going off. Water and rubidium can blow apart a bathtub. Cesium is far, far more reactive.

Re:Flight 505 to MacGyver City... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929581)

Remember what happens when alkali metals hit water?

Heck, a chunk of sodium in a small balloon inside a plastic bottle of 10M HCl

Re:Flight 505 to MacGyver City... (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929742)

the classic one is sodium and carbon tetrachloride. Also, although rubidium has higher electronegativity it is at a molar disadvantage. Best to use lithium.

Re:Flight 505 to MacGyver City... (4, Informative)

deanpole (185240) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929778)

You mean as Brainiac shows in this video [google.com] .

Yes. (-1, Offtopic)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929461)

That was an easy one. Next.

Re:Yes. (1)

TheBogie (941620) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929483)

Does the pope wear a funny hat?

False Flag. (-1, Troll)

crhylove (205956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929490)

Anyone who has researched any of the evidence of either 9/11 or 7/7 knows that both were perpetrated not by terrorists but by governments seeking approval for their bloody oil wars.

There was thermate in both of the twin towers. Muslims had nothing to do with any of it. Furthermore, 10 of the alleged 16 hijackers are still alive in Saudi Arabia.

One perpetrator of 7/7 was apprehended, and face down on a subway platform was shot in the back of the head five times in front of a whole crowd of witnesses.

Terrorists aren't the problem. The erosion of the constitution by an unelected fascist regime is the problem.

Do even five seconds of research into the science behind either plot. Chemicals, math, physics, logic, reality, and common sense do not lie. Governments on the other hand are well known for it.

rhY

Re:False Flag. (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929537)

I'm having a hard time figuring out if you believe what you wrote or if this is satire.

Re:False Flag. (1)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929594)

I'm having a hard time figuring out if you believe what you wrote or if this is satire.

And I'm having an even harder time figuring out why someone modded it "informative".

Re:False Flag. (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929551)

Pssh.

Everyone knows Hitler's brain, controlling the UFOs from inside the Hollow Earth, perpetrated 9/11, possibly with help from the Mole Men.

Re:False Flag. (1)

riversky (732353) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929552)

I don't know if I agree but you make the point for low taxes and very little government involvement in any part of our lives. For example government controlled health care means government controlled experimentation on sick people. etc.. etc...

Re:False Flag. (4, Funny)

bunions (970377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929633)

Libertarians appear out of fucking nowhere; roll for save vs. simple solutions to complex problems.

Re:False Flag. (4, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929684)

Libertarians are like mind flayers. Fail your saving throw and lose several points of intelligence.

False Post (1, Insightful)

toupsie (88295) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929556)

Read [amazon.com] the book on nutcase theories regarding 9/11. No matter how many times you watch Loose Change, it doesn't make it factual. Even Oliver Stone couldn't make a conspiracy theory movie out of 9/11. Yes Virginia, terrorism is real. There are Islamic Fascists in the world that want you dead, no you cannot appease them and George Bush did not create them.

Re:False Flag. (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929595)

Then my Israeli friend who specifically avoids buses and discos must have nothing to worry about because terrorism obviously doesn't exist.

Re:False Flag. (1)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929739)

So your Israeli friend lives in constant fear? Of what, dying beacuse of a bombing? What are the statistics for being killed in a bombing? And what are the statistics for driving a car? Also, is he still alive? Perspective people. Get some.

Mod -1, Nutjob. (1)

mad.frog (525085) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929613)

Really, what more can I say?

Re:False Flag. (1)

photozz (168291) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929655)

It's hard to understand you when you mumble like that.

This line of reasoning sounds familiar to.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15929720)

"OK. Here's what we got... the RAND Corporation in conjunction with the Saucer People, under the supervision of the Reverse Vampires, are forcing our parents to go to bed early, in a fiendish plot to eliminate the meal of dinner! We're through the Looking Glass here, people."

Re:False Flag. (1)

skink1100 (259238) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929726)

Wow. Either I'm missing the joke here, or someone forgot to take their medication this morning. Start with the Red Pill.

S

Re:False Flag. (1)

Steve B (42864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929784)

Wow. Either I'm missing the joke here, or someone forgot to take their medication this morning. Start with the Red Pill.


I think somebody took the Purple Pill, and sees the real world and his personal Matrix all intertwined together.

Re:False Flag. (3, Funny)

Steve B (42864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929740)

Where's the "-1 Crackpot" moderation option?

Several Informative Pertinent Videos. (1, Interesting)

crhylove (205956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929785)

It's an unpleasant topic, and you may not WANT to believe it, but that doesn't alter the facts surrounding the issue.

And there are several straw men already leaned up against my initial post:

Yes terrorism is real an Israel, where they have been oppressing muslims for decades. How does that change the facts surrounding both 9/11 AND 7/7?

Adding your personal opinion (especially your uninformed personal opinion) based on the validity of my mental processes (Hitler's brain, etc.) is ludicrous. Please refute the facts surrounding the topic and stop trolling.

Here are links to several videos that you can view online, and better inform yourself:

http://www.myspace.com/wtc_7 [myspace.com]

http://radio.indymedia.org/uploads/american-schola rs-symposium-cspan-web.wmv [indymedia.org]

http://americanscholarssymposium.org/ [americansc...posium.org]

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-594659397 3848835726&q=9%2F11 [google.com]

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8797525979 024486145&q=9%2F11 [google.com]

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=9640346520 02408586&q=9%2F11 [google.com]

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6545313046 180631815&q=9%2F11 [google.com]

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3249714675 910247150&q=9%2F11 [google.com]

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6952102263 921897950&q=9%2F11 [google.com]

At least attempt to inform yourselves before you jump into a discussion and throw your political/personal views all over the place with no basis in reality.

It may be difficult but... (1)

mcphail (859743) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929503)

...the breaking news on the BBC website suggests that someone was about to do that very thing: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/5261456. stm [bbc.co.uk] . It may be another false alarm. Time will tell.

Terrorist true mission? (5, Insightful)

noretsa (995866) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929504)

Does anyone else think that these terrorists' true purpose is not to kill the passengers on a few planes but to inconvenience travellers for years to come? Blowing up a plane is a one-time deal but scaring people into not taking drinks onto planes, making people take off their shoes before boarding, checking their ipods in with their luggage, these annoyances are going to be with us for decades to come! Why terrorize when irritating is so much easier?

Re:Terrorist true mission? (3, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929563)

Blowing up a plane is a one-time deal but scaring people. . .

. . .is why, I believe, they call it "terrorism."

KFG

Re:Terrorist true mission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15929638)

Why is parent modded Funny?

Re:Terrorist true mission? (2, Interesting)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929686)

Bingo! And someone please mod parent up.

If the terrorists can subject us to huge inconveniences and economic damage to pay for all of this added security, then they've 'already won'. Not being a Chicken Little or conspiracy theorist, I'm still puzzled as to why it is that the U.S. and U.K. governments so consistently play right into the hands of the terrorists. I mean, we've (allegedly) captured the ones responsible for the plot and (allegedly) know what they were doing and planning. Why, then if this is so do we still have to take all of these precautions? We are nations of over-reactionaries and I see most of these actions as closing the barn door long after all the livestock has escaped.

Now gimme back my gel sole shoe inserts you insensitive clods!

Re:Terrorist true mission? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15929731)

How much money and time is wasted every year on tamper proof product packaging because one nut job laced up some Extra STrength Tylono?

Re:Terrorist true mission? (1)

TCQuad (537187) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929779)

Does anyone else think that these terrorists' true purpose is not to kill the passengers on a few planes but to inconvenience travellers for years to come?

Next up: exploding pants.

W. Virginia Incident (1, Interesting)

duplicate-nickname (87112) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929508)

From the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5261456.stm [bbc.co.uk]


US airport in 'liquid bomb' alert

A West Virginia airport has been evacuated after a suspect bottle of liquid was discovered in a passenger's carry-on luggage, officials say.
The bottle was subjected to a swab test and a sniffer dog examination and both tested positive for explosives.

A security guard first spotted the bottle in the bag, Tri-State Airport authority chief Jim Booton said.

Officials say the woman is of Pakistani origin and was travelling on a one-way ticket to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Chris Yates from Jane's Aviation told the BBC that both tests were extremely sensitive.

The likelihood that a container that had not come into contact with explosives would come up positive on both tests was extremely low, he said.

The incident comes a week after UK intelligence officers say they foiled a plot to blow up planes using liquid explosives.

It has been done! (4, Interesting)

lunartik (94926) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929510)

Christ, this has . [wikipedia.org]

Re:It has been done! (2, Informative)

lunartik (94926) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929530)

Haha, should have previewed.

LINK [wikipedia.org]

The "Mark II" "microbombs" had Casio digital watches as the timers, stabilizers that looked like cotton wool balls, and an undetectable nitroglycerin as the explosive. Other ingredients included glycerin, nitrate, sulfuric acid, and minute concentrations of nitrobenzene, silver azide (silver trinitride), and liquid acetone. Two 9-volt batteries in each bomb were used as a power source. The batteries would be connected to light bulb filaments that would detonate the bomb. Murad and Yousef wired an SCR as the switch to trigger the filaments to detonate the bomb. There was an external socket hidden when the wires were pushed under the watch base as the bomber would wear it. The alteration was so small that the watch could still be worn in a normal manner. [1] [5] [7]
Yousef got batteries past airport security during his December 11 test bombing of Philippine Airlines Flight 434 by hiding them in hollowed-out heels of his shoes. Yousef smuggled the nitroglycerin on board by putting it inside a contact lens solution bottle.
The density of the explosive cocktail would be about 1.3.

Re:It has been done! (3, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929616)

That reinforces my main take on this: the creator of the article has this silly preconceived notion that "murderous" implies "stupid".

First, you've got to get adequately concentrated hydrogen peroxide. This is hard to come by, so a large quantity of the three per cent solution sold in pharmacies might have to be concentrated by boiling off the water. Only this is risky, and can lead to mission failure by means of burning down your makeshift lab before a single infidel has been harmed.

Nope. You can distill H2O2, but not through boiling; boiling breaks it down faster than it will concentrate it. You can do it through creating a partial vaccuum and using lower temperatures.

Besides, it's not like concentrated H2O2 is hard to come by.

Certainly, if we can imagine a group of jihadists smuggling the necessary chemicals and equipment on board, and cooking up TATP in the lavatory, then we've passed from the realm of action blockbusters to that of situation comedy.

And I've seen the mythbusters make a lethal paper crossbow out of newspaper and a lunch tray, as well as eat through an inch thick steel bar with a DC transformer and salsa. Sure, they took their time, but once you've done it once, how hard is it to recreate? You'd be surprised what desperate people who have time to practice beforehand can accomplish. Just because they're "murderous" doesn't mean that they're stupid or uncreative.

Liquid? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929520)

I don't think the article is talking about liquid explosives. Liquid explosives are apparantly usable in liquid form.

Toxic gas would be more efficient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15929521)

Liquid explosives don't seem feasible for just the reasons outlined in the Register article. OTOH, combining liquids that release some very toxic gases like chlorine would be easier to deploy. It might not kill everyone aboard the plane, but the terror factor would still be as high.

That's Slashdot ... (-1, Redundant)

HHaygood (40026) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929526)

... trailing Fark [fark.com] by six hours for the past five years!

No need for an explosion (5, Informative)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929535)

Here is [howstuffworks.com] another source on the issue.


I was shocked to hear the media talking about the possibility of bring nitroglycerin onto an airplane. The entire reason that dynamite was invented is because the liquid is horribly volitile. Some people have speculated that the terrorists were not attempting a large scale explosion as CNN and Fox News would have you believe. Instead they were waiting until the plane was in the middle of the Atlantic and starting a fairly large fire. There are many substances that can create a dangerous fire on an airplane in the middle of the ocean at 30,000 feet. There is no need for a Holywood style explosion at all. I am being intentionally vague in this post, but three men with drink containers full of certain substances starting three fires at three different parts of the plane would be extremely difficult to control, especially considering the lack of fire surpression systems in the passenger cabin. I am not a firefighter (rookie EMT and will be training to be a rescuer) but I cannot imagine trying to put out three fires with the 1-2 fire extingueshers available.


The first World Trade Center bombing and OK City show that everyday chamicals can be combined with horrific results. In those situations, however, there were truckloads of the two ingredients. I agree in part with TFA that it would be hard to perform an explosion the size of Pan-Am 103's with liquids, but that is not necesary.

Re:No need for an explosion (1)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929701)

It turns out that the FAA only requires 2 extinguishers per aircraft [ihs.com] . The original spec required Halon extinguishers, but that substance has since been banned [wikipedia.org] . After thinking about this I am even more glad that the terrorists were captured.


I use the following example because it would never work as a terrorist plot but it illustrates my point. Compare the effectiveness of this video of two absolute idiots [gizmodo.com] to the following proceedure from TFA:

TATP is relatively easy to detonate. But you must make enough of it to crash the plane, and you must make it with care to assure potency. One needs quality stuff to commit "mass murder on an unimaginable scale," as Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson put it. While it's true that a slapdash concoction will explode, it's unlikely to do more than blow out a few windows. At best, an infidel or two might be killed by the blast, and one or two others by flying debris as the cabin suddenly depressurizes, but that's about all you're likely to manage under the most favorable conditions possible.

And you guys wonder why science (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15929561)

is considered so low in the US...

Liquid Explosives wouldn't bring down a plane! It's all a false flag to perpetuate the megacorps control over the world!

+1 Flaimbait (0, Troll)

Inda (580031) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929565)

edited and posted by saied

Oh c'mon, was that really called for?

People like you are part of the problem. I hope you enjoyed your 10 second giggle.

Um... reality has intervened (2, Informative)

MoxFulder (159829) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929575)

Theory be damned, it seems like *terrorists* certainly think liquid explosives are feasible. A woman was apparently just caught at Tri-State Airport with explosives in her water bottle:

http://www.wsaz.com/breakingnews/3590966.html [wsaz.com]

Re:Um... reality has intervened MOD UP (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929685)

Interesting.. looks like this is very breaking

Returns Link [reuters.com]

mod parent up

Re:Um... reality has intervened MOD UP (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929761)

Were they really explosives? You can set off all the bomb alarms by having nitrates on your shoes just by walking through a chicken house or stepping on fertilizer.

I told you, but you did not listen (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929585)

Yea. i told you before about this, when the recent british 'terror thwart' story was posted in slasdot. i told you that it smelled fishy. i told you it was government's job. you told i was being conspirative. you modded my post down. now everyday someone coming out and expressing disbelief about the 'terror thwart'. each day smell is worse. see ? what now huh ?

huh ? ha ? see ? seeeeeee ?

*czzzrt czzt*

It is flawed (1)

Beached (52204) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929596)

The author makes the assumption that the terrorists need to use the explosive to blow up the plane or they where trying to. Why not just produce poison gasses or if an explosion is the desired result blow up the door to the cockpit and take the plane down. There are many more easily achieved results that would cause terror to the crew and passengers.

Casting doubt on the method of attack (0, Flamebait)

amightywind (691887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929602)

The Register describes the difficulty of mixing up a batch of liquid explosives on a plane.

By all means lets cast doubt on the method of attack. They couldn't pull it off. The authorities are overstating the threat... Maybe that way the terrorists will do less time in prison.

Another chemist's view (4, Informative)

quitcherbitchen (587409) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929604)

Bruce Schneier linked to another post [schneier.com] which had an interesting take by a chemist in a graduate program. He describes details of the chemicals involved and what it would take to detonate them effectively onboard a plane.

The summary: improvised explosives involve pretty nasty stuff that you'd be hard pressed to mix in an airplane lavatory without killing yourself in the process.

Re:Another chemist's view (2, Interesting)

GMontag (42283) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929744)

On the History Channel (or similar) I saw a show about sabotage during WWI. A German agent in the USA was building and supplying liquid incendiary devices to Irish dock workers who would, in turn, leave the devices in the holds of ships sending supplies to England.

The devices were made of metal tubes, connected with a threaded coupler and a piece of brass separating the tubes. Acid in one tube would eat through the brass and combine with the other liquid and burst into flames, catching the compartment on fire and forcing the Captain to flood the compartment and cause the ship to sink. The thickness of the brass determined the delay and made sure that the evidence was deep below the sea.

The method was finally discovered when one of the devices failed and was discovered when the ship ported.

Now, instead of using the delay technique, or using a shorter delay and other container materials besides lead pipe, I believe two people with bottles of the same liquids could manage to mix them together and set a fire great enough to take down an airplane.

Re:Another chemist's view (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15929798)

Why would they worry about killing themselves in the process? They are supposed to be suicide bombers aren't they?

Re:Another chemist's view (1)

TCQuad (537187) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929804)

improvised explosives involve pretty nasty stuff that you'd be hard pressed to mix in an airplane lavatory without killing yourself in the process

You say that as if they're aren't already trying to kill themselves.

In a word? No. (5, Insightful)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929607)

Firstly, the 7/7 bombs were reported to be TATP. This compound is made with acetone, hydrogen peroxide and drain cleaner. The ingredients are liquid, yes, but the end product is a powder. Creating TATP requires access to a cooler or ice water bath, it is not something you can whip up in a bathroom.

The hysteria this has caused is mind boggling. There are an infinite number of ways terrorists could attack random innocent civilians. It is not, repeat not, possible to protect everyone from everything. Banning iPods and water bottles is not making anyone safer. It is an attempt to appear that something is "being done". It's a pacifier for the masses.

Re:In a word? No. (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929795)

A terrorist could stick an ampule of plastic explosives up their ass. How would they find that?

Has no one else read Jules Verne? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15929618)

guncotton can be made by combining nitric and sulfuric acid with cotton.

Just like those terrorists, it's not very stable.

An even better article (5, Informative)

jgs (245596) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929622)

Perry Metzger wrote an excellent post [interesting-people.org] to the interesting-people mailing list last Friday. He goes into more detail than the Register article does, offers first-hand information, and packs in more irony and sarcasm besides.

Okay... (2, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929623)

They talk about how far-fetched and difficult it might be to pull off.

But couldn't we have made all these drawn out "first they'd have to learn how to fly commercial jetliners, not necessarily knowing which types they'd eventually board, then they'd have to successfully get to the cockpit without being incapacitated, and THEN they'd have to make the pilots think they were hijacking the plane, then kill them, and if all that weren't enough, then they'd have to actually divert the planes successfully to their targets as inexperienced pilots, AND hit them once there"-type things about 9/11, too?

Who would have believed that before it happened? Who wouldn't have said that someone had been "watching a few too many Hollywood movies"?

These were determined people who had been planning for months, if not years (depending on which reports and which of the people you're talking about). Only one person really had to succeed. And even if the actual loss of life on one plane would be negligible, the economic and other impacts would again be immeasurable - that's the point, theirs and ours.

Um yeah, considering it already has been done?!?! (2, Informative)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929632)

What a bunch of idiots, it has already been done on a plane, years ago.

It isnt a new concept, its an old plan...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oplan_Bojinka [wikipedia.org]

To Quote the article on wikipedia:

The "Mark II" "microbombs" had Casio digital watches as the timers, stabilizers that looked like cotton wool balls, and an undetectable nitroglycerin as the explosive. Other ingredients included glycerin, nitrate, sulfuric acid, and minute concentrations of nitrobenzene, silver azide (silver trinitride), and liquid acetone. Two 9-volt batteries in each bomb were used as a power source. The batteries would be connected to light bulb filaments that would detonate the bomb. Murad and Yousef wired an SCR as the switch to trigger the filaments to detonate the bomb. There was an external socket hidden when the wires were pushed under the watch base as the bomber would wear it. The alteration was so small that the watch could still be worn in a normal manner. [1] [5] [7]

Yousef got batteries past airport security during his December 11 test bombing of Philippine Airlines Flight 434 by hiding them in hollowed-out heels of his shoes. Yousef smuggled the nitroglycerin on board by putting it inside a contact lens solution bottle.

The density of the explosive cocktail would be about 1.3.

Doesn't really matter (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15929649)

Does it matter if the plot would have worked? This plot is actually much more effective as a failure; everyone assumes it would have worked, and British people can never again bring liquids! on a plane. Probably about as much terror gets inspired by having Blair and the White House give serious and hystrionic speeches about what these plane bombers could have done if allowed to go forward as if the plane bombers had actually gone forward, and making the lives of anyone who flies on an airplane just that bit much more miserable in the years to come under newer and stringent regulations is something that lasts whether you "succeeded" or not.

Bottle tests positive for liquid explosives (1)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929653)

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,209042,00.html [foxnews.com]

West Virginia Airport Terminal Evacuated After Water Bottle Tests Positive for Explosives
Thursday, August 17, 2006

PHOTOS VIDEO PHOTO ESSAYS

Click image to enlarge
Photo Essays:

London Police Disrupt Terrorist Plot
STORIES

London-to-D.C. Flight Diverted to Boston After Passenger Disturbance

Sen. Schumer: UK Terror Plot Shows Weaknesses in U.S. Security

Attorney General Gonzales Praises International Effort to Disrupt UK Terror Plot

Jetliner Terror Suspects to Stay in Jail in London

TSA Says Shoe X-Rays at Airports Can Detect Explosives, Despite Security Report

DHS Lowers Terror Alert Level From Red to Orange for Inbound Flights From UK to U.S.
CEREDO, West Virginia -- A West Virginia airport terminal was evacuated Thursday after a female passenger's water bottle twice tested positive for explosives, a Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman said.

"The bomb squad is on site and the woman is being interviewed by the FBI," Amy von Walter said.

Security checkpoint screeners got a positive test on a machine that uses swabs to find traces of explosives, von Walter said. A bomb-sniffing dog also reacted to the water bottle.

A screener noticed the bottle in a woman's carryon bag as she prepared to board a flight to Charlotte, N.C., said Tri-State Airport authority President Jim Booton.

Commercial airline service was temporarily suspended, and about 100 passengers and airport employees were ordered to leave the terminal, Booton said.

At least one flight was diverted to Charleston's Yeager Airport, about 60 miles away.

Note: I live in the Tri-State area, this is right now local news, hasn't broken national yet.

Re:Bottle tests positive for liquid explosives (1)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929777)

So what was in the bottle, do they say? If it was a bottle of "liquid explosives" why didn't she detonate it as soon as they started questioning her? An explosion in a crowded security screening line would have some terrorist appeal would it not?

It's all hype anyway (4, Insightful)

LS (57954) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929657)

There are so many problems with this. Why weren't liquids blocked before? I'm sure in the billions they spent investigating possible methods for bombing a plane that liquid explosives were considered. Authorities aren't gonna make people get on planes naked, so they have to let people take stuff on. They are only blocking liquids now because they have to show the public that they are doing something. There are still dozens of other ways to easily get dangerious stuff onto planes, but they don't block those now, do they? easy examples: Sharp pencils and pens, materials in laptops and other electronics that show up as normal shapes on the xray but could easily be reconfigured into weapons, etc.

In any event I just took a flight from China to Los Angeles and they claimed you couldn't bring liquids aboard, but no one was checking. It's all just noise to make people feel like they are being protected.

Re:It's all hype anyway (2, Funny)

tinkerton (199273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929770)

Authorities aren't gonna make people get on planes naked, so they have to let people take stuff on

Sure they are, and you're all gonna get an enema too.

Terrorism has an achilles heel.. (1)

DanQuixote (945427) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929691)


I hope some day the unwashed masses realize, terrorism only works if you let it!

Re:Terrorism has an achilles heel.. (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929736)

same deal with burglary or assault & battery.

Sure it's possible. (1)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929693)

Mixing the explosives on the plane might not be easy, but it's certainly possible, especially since one doesn't need much of an explosion to take down a transoceanic flight. Just enough to burst a few windows (13 atmos for most contemporary planes IIRC) is all that's needed - at that point the cabin depressurizes and the pilots either pass out or freeze up, the plane ends up in the ocean, and the chance of survivors from a plane landing in the ocean is somewhere around nonexistant.

Seems like another good reason to institute those heavy locking doors pilots were asking for after 9/11.

Show me the evidence! (1)

rainer_d (115765) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929716)

'nuff said.
Or are the findings "secret" and "not for public viewing"?
With all the media-buzz about these "bombings", I find it silly that people (and journalists first of all) fail to ask the single most important question:
"Where's the evidence?"
If one wants to believe the official press-communication, the "terrorists" were "very close" to actually boarding their planes and let the fireworks begin - yet not a single of those "liquid bombs" has been shown to the public.
Meanwhile, security-personel is making women drink baby-milk...
The article sums this all up very nicely. If you haven't read it, go and RTFA.

Dimethylmercury (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15929734)

Dimethylmercury

Dimethylmercury ((CH3)2Hg) is a flammable, colorless liquid, and one of the strongest known neurotoxins. It is described as having a slightly sweet smell, though inhaling enough fumes to notice this would involve significant exposure to the chemical. It is extremely dangerous, with absorption of doses as low as 0.1 mL being fatal. The high vapor pressure of the liquid means that any spillage will result in dangerous levels of exposure to the fumes for those nearby. Its molecule has a linear structure, with the mercury and carbon atoms in line. The CAS registry number is [593-74-8] [1].

Dimethylmercury crosses the blood-brain barrier easily, probably due to formation of a complex with cysteine. It is eliminated from the organism very slowly, therefore it has tendency to bioaccumulate. The symptoms of poisoning may appear when it is too late for effective treatment.

Dimethylmercury passes through latex, PVC, and neoprene rapidly (within seconds), and is absorbed through the skin. Therefore, most laboratory gloves do not provide adequate protection from it, and the only safe precaution is to handle dimethyl mercury while wearing highly resistant laminated gloves underneath long-cuffed neoprene or other heavy-duty gloves.

Enough liquids to take down a plane (1)

bcmbyte (996126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929741)

This reporter talks about the science of using liquids to blow up a plane and how much it would take. It only took a few box cutters and knives to take out several aircraft in late 2001. It's not about how much is required to blow up the plane, it's about how much is required to get control of the plane, and in that case a .5 ounce can of pepper spray could do the job.

I have a much better article here (1)

mclaincausey (777353) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929767)

This post [interesting-people.org] is very interesting, I found it on Bruce Schneier [schneier.com] 's blog.

Why so complicated. How about bleach + ammonia? (5, Insightful)

brobak (683932) | more than 8 years ago | (#15929786)

You know, I've read several articles now talking about the potential difficulties in mixing a binary explosive on a plane. And you know, I'll buy that. But, for my dollar, and ease of use, why not just carry on some bleach and ammonia? When mixed they do some pretty nasty stuff [bbc.co.uk] . And there's no concern about explosion beforehand, and no strange requirements for mixing them properly. Plus, once you mix them, you can't stop the reaction. The end result is the same. Everyone on the plane dies, and it falls out of the sky. That was the whole point, right?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>