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!

Program To Detect Smuggled Nuclear Bombs Stalls

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 3 years ago | from the i-see-a-business-opportunity-here dept.

Security 224

Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that a program to detect plutonium or uranium in shipping containers has stalled because the United States has run out of helium 3, a crucial raw material needed to build the 1,300 to 1,400 machines to be deployed in ports around the world to thwart terrorists who might try to deliver a nuclear bomb to a big city by stashing it in one of the millions of containers that enter the United States every year. Helium 3 is an unusual form of the element that is formed when tritium, an ingredient of hydrogen bombs, decays — but the government mostly stopped making tritium in 1989 after accumulating a substantial stockpile of Helium 3 as a byproduct of maintaining nuclear weapons. 'I have not heard any explanation of why this was not entirely foreseeable,' says Representative Brad Miller, chairman of a House subcommittee that is investigating the problem. Helium 3 is not hazardous or even chemically reactive, and it is not the only material that can be used for neutron detection. The Homeland Security Department has older equipment that can look for radioactivity, but it does not differentiate well between bomb fuel and innocuous materials that naturally emit radiation like cat litter, ceramic tiles and bananas — and sounds false alarms more often. In a letter to President Obama, Miller called the shortage 'a national crisis' and said the price had jumped to $2,000 a liter from $100 in the last few years. With continuing concern that Al Qaida or other terrorists will try to smuggle a nuclear weapon into the United States, Congress has mandated that, by 2012, all containers bound for the US be inspected overseas."

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

There's plenty on the moon! (4, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 3 years ago | (#30207834)

The moon is covered in helium 3. There, we have to have a manned lunar colony in order to be safe from terrorists!

Re:There's plenty on the moon! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30207938)

Bunch of fucking niggers destroying society with their ebonics and their immensely disproportionate drain on social services. It's not just ebonics and English. Native Spanish speakers report that niggers in their countries can't correctly speak Spanish either. Of course the youth think that's the coolest god damned thing since sliced bread because the media loves to shovel it deep and they take on the mockery of English, and with it, the thug culture and its fucked up value system. All in the name of being cool. Since when did "stupid and self destructive" become cool, anyway?

If my great-granddaddy knew things would turn out this way, he'd have picked his own cotton.

Re:There's plenty on the moon! (2, Funny)

Snarkalicious (1589343) | more than 3 years ago | (#30207966)

Mom?

Re:There's plenty on the moon! (-1, Flamebait)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208116)

Since when did "stupid and self destructive" become cool, anyway?

The election of George W. Bush, followed by Rush "Hillbilly Heroin" Limbaugh being known as serious spokesperson for the Republicans. We as a country know we're fucked when half of our population would, with straight faces, vote for Sarah "The Moose-knuckle MILF" Palin in 2012.

Golly-gee gosh don'tcha know Americans are fucking morons. I pledge allegiance to the United States of Scandinavia.

Re:There's plenty on the moon! (2, Funny)

yurtinus (1590157) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208202)

I need a correlation between "moose knuckle" and "camel toe"

Do you think you could deliver that in car-analogy form?

Re:There's plenty on the moon! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30208222)

We actually had a majority of Norwegians voting for a right-side coalition, but the left-siders won because of mandate weightings.

Re:There's plenty on the moon! (0, Flamebait)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208420)

That's why you guys need to act quickly and outlaw Islam before it gets out of hand.

Sure, you'll have an initial clusterfuck of riots and deportation, but there is only one thing that Islamic savages understand -- the fist. The Knights Templar^W^W American military will gladly help you with that.

Once the Islamic question is dealt with, you won't have to worry about bombings and 9/11-type stuff (that is, there'll be no excuse for corrupt goverment operatives to fly planes into your own buildings). There will be mass-denouncements of Islam as millions of women throw off their chains and veils and run free throughout the streets in orgies of elation and self-expression. The female-male ratio will become 30:1 as the men will refuse to renounce Islam and will be subsequently deported.

The macho Muslim men won't like that, of course, but they can go back to Algeria and Pakistan and be pissed off over there. It's not like those regions will ever become civilized. America grabbed two big bags of shit with Afghanistan and Iraq and now America is trying to neatly dispose of the bags of shit while staining itself with shit in the process.

Re:There's plenty on the moon! (-1, Offtopic)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208774)

I, with a straight face, will put on the public record that I think Palin would have made a better president than Obama.

However, I feel a person selected randomly off the street would more likely than not made a better president than Obama.

Re:There's plenty on the moon! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30208182)

Aside from the racism your post is pretty much dead on. Ghetto rats, of all races, wonder why they can't get a good job when they can hardly speak the language let alone actually write in it. But these are the same people that shape the nation since politicians only seem to care what goes on in major population hubs. These are also the same people who think that everyone else owes them a life of luxury because they can't be bothered to step up to the challenges of life but they sure can shit out kids like there is no tomorrow.

Is there plenty in Russia? (-1, Troll)

reporter (666905) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208228)

We should ask the obvious question, "Does Russia have enough helium-3 to sell to us?"

The Kremlin created a large arsenal of nuclear weapons and, even this year, mentioned that Russian scientists have perfected a new type of nuclear warhead.

As for why Washington was not prepared for this shortage of helium-3, we need not look further than the shooting at Fort Hood. A large number of government officials were aware that Major Nidal Malik Hasan had likely converted to radical Islam. He was monitored by the FBI, and his colleagues at the university had observed that he often turned class presentations into a tirade against the West.

Yet, no one questioned his allegiance to the United States of America. No one petitioned a military judge to order his arrest.

We Americans failed due to our stupidity, our laziness, and our misguided allegiance to political correctness. We saw all the symptoms of a problem and did nothing until a 100-percent preventable tragedy occurred.

The same will be true of smuggling a nuclear bomb into the USA. We knew, long ago, that we would deplete our reserves of helium-3, but we did nothing to remedy the problem. We will continue to do nothing until a horrible tragedy occurs. (Buddha, help us!)

Barack Hussein Obama, as leader of the United States, personally rejects the idea that a radical Muslim will detonate a thermonuclear warhead in America. He believes that radical Muslims are the victims of Western oppression, so he does not see the need to enhance protection (of our cities) against radical Islam. That he holds such a view is evidenced by the fact that he attended an anti-Western church promoting exactly such a view.

Wafa Sultan, a former Muslim who eyewitnessed the brutality radical Muslims, has repeatedly warned, "[...] because of its multicultural relativism, the Western establishment is still reluctant to openly challenge the dangerous Islamic political ideology." She, not Obama, wholeheartedly embraces Western culture and believes that the West is the victim of Islamic brutality. Read the full text [ruthfullyyours.com] of her speech in Denmark.

Re:Is there plenty in Russia? (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208320)

No one petitioned a military judge to order his arrest.

It's illegal to speak out against things?

Re:Is there plenty in Russia? (2, Interesting)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208558)

Apparently it is, if you're in the military and the "things" you are speaking out against are the United States and/or its armed forces. Uniform Code of Military Justice, article 134: "GENERAL ARTICLE: Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special , or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_article_(military_law) [wikipedia.org]

Admittedly that's the final "catch all" article intended to close the loopholes above. Still, by the letter of the law...

Re:Is there plenty in Russia? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209010)

shh don't spoil his ignorace by letting him whine. we don't want people to believe they actually have freedom afterall.

Re:Is there plenty in Russia? (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208428)

mod parent up, i burned my points and my karma for the day!

Re:Is there plenty in Russia? (1)

jfb2252 (1172123) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208456)

RTFA. It states that He-3 is being supplied comercially by the US and Russia. Total available ~20,000 liters/year. With DHS, annual requirement is 65,000 liters/year. I've seen another article, which I didn't bother to search for, which suggested the Russian's had cut back on selling the stuff until the price went up still more.

Re:There's plenty on the moon!Christmas gifts (-1, Troll)

coolforsale122 (1684852) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209072)

http://www.coolforsale.com/ [coolforsale.com] Dear ladies and gentlemen Hello, In order to meet Christmas, Site launched Christmas spree, welcome new and old customers come to participate in the there are unexpected surprises, look forward to your arrival. Only this site have this treatmentOur goal is "Best quality, Best reputation , Best services". Your satisfaction is our main pursue. You can find the best products from us, meeting your different needs. Ladies and Gentlemen weicome to my coolforsale.com.Here,there are the most fashion products . Pass by but don't miss it.Select your favorite clothing! Welcome to come next time ! Thank you! http://www.coolforsale.com/productlist.asp?id=s76 [coolforsale.com] (Tracksuit w) ugg boot,POLO hoody,Jacket, Air jordan(1-24)shoes $33 Nike shox(R4,NZ,OZ,TL1,TL2,TL3) $35 Handbags(Coach lv fendi d&g) $35 Tshirts (Polo ,ed hardy,lacoste) $16 free shipping Thanks!!! Advance wish you a merry Christmas.

The dollar is tanking!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30207836)

hyperinflation ensues

Fear it not! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30207838)

Foreseeable doesn't mean foreseen (4, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 3 years ago | (#30207912)

Sure, this was foreseeable. But at the time nobody needed large quantities of this sort of radiation-detection gear, and nobody foresaw circumstances where we'd suddenly develop a huge demand for it. So when production was stopped, nobody saw the consequences as being any major problem.

Re:Foreseeable doesn't mean foreseen (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#30207964)

Is that because they hadn't seen The Sum of all fears yet?

Re:Foreseeable doesn't mean foreseen (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208134)

Miller is saying there is no reason we shouldn't have been able foresee running out before attempting to build so many radiation detectors.

Re:Foreseeable doesn't mean foreseen (4, Informative)

thermopile (571680) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208210)

There are other neutron detection technologies out there. Commercial nuclear power reactors have used other technologies for years. [gepower.com]

Boron-10 lined proportional counters, fission chambers, boron trifluoride, lithium doped glass ... there are lots of other options out there. None of them may have quite the same sensitivity, but you can just pack more sensors in to overcome sensitivity.

To make a slashdot analogy, it's kind of like if all Debian developers caught swine flu and perished. Not a big deal, just move over to Ubuntu or Fedora.

Re:Foreseeable doesn't mean foreseen (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208262)

if all Debian developers caught swine flu and perished. Not a big deal, just move over to Ubuntu

Ummm...

Re:Foreseeable doesn't mean foreseen (4, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208408)

If Debian just went poof, Ubuntu would still exist; it's just that the development cycle would likely take a serious hit. Either that or they'd pull a Linux Mint and completely rewrite everything to be based off of Fedora or something. Anyway to get this back on topic... The real problem with the Helium-3 shortage is Tritium which decays into Helium-3 over time. The government didn't anticipate needing truckloads of Helium-3 to detect nukes entering the country so not enough Tritium was stockpiled specifically to make Helium-3. We get most of the Helium-3 from our Hydrogen bomb stockpile which uses the Deuterium + Tritium fusion reaction. Since we didn't need much Helium-3 or Tritium, we didn't put the Li-6 + n => T + He4 reaction to good use but we can now. We also as the GP noted, have the option of using alternative detectors although their effectiveness may not be as high as Helium-3 based detectors. So in other words, it's an annoyance but not really the doom and gloom that the summary suggests.

Re:Foreseeable doesn't mean foreseen (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209228)

Wow, didn't even read the summary:

The Homeland Security Department has older equipment that can look for radioactivity, but it does not differentiate well between bomb fuel and innocuous materials that naturally emit radiation like cat litter, ceramic tiles and bananas — and sounds false alarms more often.

Other types of detectors work in nuclear power plants because nobody is trying to ship a boatload of coffee beans through the middle of a power plant.

This could slow down other work (1)

NixieBunny (859050) | more than 3 years ago | (#30207952)

Helium 3 is also used in cryogenic coolers that reach temperatures below 0.4K. These are used for cooling radiotelescope bolometers and other exotic scientific instruments. I remember pricing it a few years ago for a bolometer we had that lost its He3, and being astounded at the price. Sounds like it was a bargain back then.

...like lung imaging. (4, Informative)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208122)

Run 3He through a polarizer and feed it to someone in an MR scanner, and it lights up the airspace inside the lungs like a Christmas tree. Makes it dead easy to see ventilation defects (emphysema, etc.) and functional issues that are very difficult to spot with any other imaging technique. But Homeland Security Theater has jacked the price so high that even by medical-procedure standards it's prohibitively expensive.

We've spent lots of hours designing and building a reclamation system so that we can collect the stuff, one MOUSE lungful at a time, and pump it into cylinders which we'll ship back to the supplier for purification. Yes, the amount a MOUSE breathes in a study is expensive enough to justify reclamation.

We're also working on xenon imaging, which does some things almost as well as 3He, and some things better. It's still hideously expensive, but at least you can get it from the atmosphere, instead of painstakingly milking it from aging thermonukes.

Re:...like lung imaging. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208270)

Rather than putting the 3He in the mouse, put the mouse in the 3He.

Re:...like lung imaging. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30208892)

I guess it would be difficult to move mice without leakages, and a mouse fur can probably trap at least three mice breaths of gas...

Re:...like lung imaging. (2, Interesting)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209098)

Alas, when you mix 3He with oxygen, it starts depolarizing, fast. We've got to mix it on the fly, right before it goes into the mouse. It's tricky, but we've gotten the hang of it. (Royal "we" here; I'm just a data plumber.)

Re:...like lung imaging. (1)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208504)

We've spent lots of hours designing and building a reclamation system so that we can collect the stuff, one MOUSE lungful at a time

How many Olympic-sized swimming pool is that?

Moderators don't know El Reg units... (1)

IvyKing (732111) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208712)

Since we're talking about mouse lungfuls, either a Bulgarian airbag or Bulgarian funbag would give an answer with fewer leading zeroes.

Re:...like lung imaging. (3, Funny)

yurtinus (1590157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208648)

Alright, well you clearly sound like you know what you're talking about on this subject, so perhaps you could answer a few questions that are likely weighing heavily on many of our minds:

1 - If I were to suck on a baloon filled with 3He, what would be the resulting effect on the frequency response of my vocal chords?
2 - Same question as above, but replace "I" and "my" with "Mickey Mouse"
3 - If I were to breathe reclaimed Mickey Mouse 3He, would I gain supernatural powers and large ears?
4 - Have all those years on the steamboat given Mickey Mouse emphysema and does he have long to live?


Inquiring minds must know!

Re:...like lung imaging. (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209042)

Helium 3 is chemically indistinguishable from helium. For nearly any example you can think of, the answer is going to be "same as helium". (except for nuclear properties)

Re:...like lung imaging. (2, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209100)

Helium 3 is chemically indistinguishable from helium.

However, the effect on the vocal cords is not chemical, it is physical. Because He is less dense than air, the vocal cords can vibrate faster in it than in air.

Since He3 is less dense than He4, the effect will be slightly increased.

Re:...like lung imaging. (5, Informative)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209136)

If I were to suck on a baloon filled with 3He, what would be the resulting effect on the frequency response of my vocal chords?

Since it's about 25% less dense, it would make your voice go even higher than regular 4He. Especially if, right after you inhaled, we told you how much that lungful cost. (About $7k.)

That's another way xenon is superior. It makes your voice go low, not high, as it's much denser than air -- and it gets you stoned, too.

0.4 Kevins (5, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208250)

How do you get 0.4 Kevins? Is this some sort of midget? It's dangerously close to 0 Kevins.

My home town nearly went to zero Kevins back in 1978.

It was a particularly cold winter, and we were already down to 3 Kevins (due to their low popularity at the time).

Kevin Thomas had flown out to be with his son's family for a wedding and got stuck in Boston for a whole week due to the weather. 2 Kevins left.

Kevin Lemmer was rushed to the hospital during my shift. I still remember the call from the EMTs as the ambulance was rushing toward us. "It's Lemmer. He's in bad shape. Drove right into the fucking ditch." We called the time of death at 6:15 PM.

At 6:16, all eyes turned to room 2217. Kevin Spencer was 82 and on his death bed with leukemia. His family being Catholic, he had already been given his last rights. If he couldn't hold out until Kevin Thomas returned, we would be at zero Kevins. Sure, we had 4 perfectly healthy Calvins, but they're just not the same.

It was 7:15 when Carla Brooks and her husband James burst through the main entrance. "She's not due for 2 weeks!", James exclaimed. As the staff bustled around getting the Brookses settled, they exchanged darting glances with each other. This was their first child, and they wanted to keep the baby's sex a secret. Of course, in a small town, secrets don't get kept. Nearly all of the hospital staff new that the child about to rip open Mrs. Brooks was indeed a boy.

The delivery was routine, and Kevin Brooks was born healthy, if a tad underweight, at 10:52 PM. Kevin Spencer was pronounced dead at 10:54.

It was, as they say, a close one. Kevin Thomas arrived two days later, the weather having finally cleared up. To this day, we still rib him about it.

Cedar Falls is currently at 5 Kevins.

Re:0.4 Kevins (-1, Troll)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208342)

An example of what is wrong with America.

People find it amusing to be ignorant and stupid.

Re:0.4 Kevins (3, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208702)

I am sorry, but other than the midget crack in the first line, that was amusing and quite harmless.

Re:0.4 Kevins (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209172)

No, the problem with America is people whose arseholes are wound so tight they can't crack a smile.

Re:0.4 Kevins (5, Funny)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209164)

His family being Catholic, he had already been given his last rights.

"You have the right to die silently. Anything you say or do can and will be used against you on Judgement Day. You have the right to an attorney, although the judge is already omniscient so it's fairly pointless. If you cannot afford an attorney on Judgment Day don't worry, neither can anyone else. If you understand these rights as they have been read to you then say 'amen'."

Concern? Who's concerned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30207968)

"With continuing concern that Al Qaida or other terrorists will try to smuggle a nuclear weapon into the United States..." Who, exactly, has continuing concern about terrorist nuclear bombs smuggled through US ports?

Re:Concern? Who's concerned? (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208996)

Who, exactly, has continuing concern about terrorist nuclear bombs smuggled through US ports?

The people charged with protecting the US against terrorism? They are evidently a little more concerned about such things than you are.

make it so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30207972)

Having these detectors would be about 1000X more effective at protecting the USA from attack compared to the GWBush/NeoCon approach. Instead the idiots decided to waste $$$TRILLIONS in the Middle East searching for non-existant WMDs... hoping the current administration is better in the long term.

Wired covered this one in Aug 2000 (2, Informative)

Zondar (32904) | more than 3 years ago | (#30207974)

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.08/helium.html

Re:Wired covered this one in Aug 2000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30208084)

That article completely confuses helium and helium-3, though.

Re:Wired covered this one in Aug 2000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30208422)

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.08/helium.html

Don't worry it could be worse. Tomorrows top story is "First Atomic Bomb Test a Success!" Personally I can't wait for the coverage of the first man to walk on the Moon. The Wright Brothers story last week is still one of my favorites.

Glad we got that covered. (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#30207988)

Congress has mandated that, by 2012, all containers bound for the US be inspected overseas.

It's a good thing that it is impossible to place a container on a non-commercial vessel. It is also good that it is impossible to NOT ship a weapon in a large cargo container.

Re:Glad we got that covered. (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208022)

Will they inspect all trucks entering the US from Canada and Mexico?

Re:Glad we got that covered. (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208470)

They'll probably try to slip through some legislation under the guise of doing exactly that to stop the "terrorists" then it'll be used to harass anyone trying to cross the border for whatever reason they can think of at the moment.

Re:Glad we got that covered. (1)

Foobar_ (120869) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208928)

They already have bloody huge x-ray scanners installed at the border crossings for that. They can see people being smuggled inside steel containers or a truck's chassis.

Re:Glad we got that covered. (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208686)

This sounds like a huge fucking waste of time, and it won't be done seriously for more than the first 3 days or so. The amount of freight bound for the US has to be absolutely enormous.

Congressional mandate (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 3 years ago | (#30207998)

"Congress has mandated that, by 2012, all containers bound for the US be inspected overseas."

Eh, what'll it matter. It'll only be in effect for a few months.

Re:Congressional mandate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30208178)

You call twelve months plus twelve days of a year "just a few months"?

December 21st, 2012 (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208274)

You call twelve months plus twelve days of a year "just a few months"?

You call 11 months, 20 days, and a few hours "twelve months plus twelve days"?

Re:Congressional mandate (1)

Keith_Beef (166050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209160)

"Congress has mandated that, by 2012, all containers bound for the US be inspected overseas."

Eh, what'll it matter. It'll only be in effect for a few months.

Oh great...

I'm sure it's easier to bribe officials or otherwise get around the inspections in somewhere like Namibia, Pakistan or the Philipines, rather than at the US port.

K.

Ineffective waste of money (0)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208028)

This just means the terrorists will simply drive it over the border. It's not hard to smuggle stuff into the US without going through an inspection point. Just look how well 100% inspection is working for curbing the drug traffic. They hide it in coffee beans in shipping containers. Anyone reasonably crafty will just hid the radioactive materials in a lead lined container.

Re:Ineffective waste of money (2, Insightful)

fragMasterFlash (989911) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208166)

If cocaine emitted a detectable neutron signature the war on drugs would have been won years ago, IMHO.

Re:Ineffective waste of money (3, Informative)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208300)

Dogs are better at finding drugs than any scanner is at finding nuclear material.

Less expensive too.
Less training involved, too.
Less maintenance, too.
Cuter, too.

The war on drugs isn't meant to be "won", it is meant to be perpetually exacerbated to ensure the continued employment and empowerment of those waging it.

Re:Ineffective waste of money (1)

Leebert (1694) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209178)

They wouldn't want a reliable test for drugs, anyhow. Dogs are less reliable and more difficult to quantify.

Want to search a car? The dog "hit" on the car. Doesn't matter what the dog actually did, only matters what the K9 officer claims.

What, you're going to put the dog up on the witness stand?

The dog thing is yet another assault on the 4th amendment.

Re:Ineffective waste of money (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209190)

If cocaine emitted neutrons, we'd have other problems.

Re:Ineffective waste of money (4, Insightful)

Snarkalicious (1589343) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208214)

The purpose of the border check system was never to actually stop the flow of drugs, silly. It was to drive out as many small players as possible, and concentrate the market into a few well funded/armed cartels. In this way, bribes come in at the director/secretary/senatorial level in a quiet and efficiant manner. Skipping the middle man (i.e. the border guard/local sheriff) on the bribery chain keeps my smack nice n' cheap.

Re:Ineffective waste of money (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209032)

Except that lead containers show up just fine on other scanners they already use.

Hmmm... (1)

Last_Available_Usern (756093) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208066)

I typed two posts prior to this one, and backspaced over both of them. The first was the thought that the machines were already there and this publicity was a rouse to try to catch trafficers. Then I realized I was just feeding the conspiricy side of my brain. I then typed up a joke about how I wasn't going to fall for their ploy to seize my precious nuclear product. I then decided better of that given I didn't relish the thought of MiB showing up at my front door based on some lame FBI web crawler hit. So yea, here I am. How's it going guys?

Re:Hmmm... (2, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208406)

Goin' great Last Available Usern.
(Or should I say - "USAs all be an evil rat"?)

Your weapon... fun-sized... shipment of ura... American candy... will be arriving shortly.

nuclear reactors to the rescue (4, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208100)

I'm guessing there's also a shortage of Tritium which decays into Helium-3 with a half-life of 12 years. If you have enough Tritium around and wait long enough, you'll have fresh Helium-3. You can make more Tritium by exposing Lithium-6 to a high neutron flux like that found in nuclear reactors. The neutron splits the Li6 as LI6 + n => T + He4. Russia might have quite a bit of it laying around owing to the size of their nuclear arsenal that we could buy.

Re:nuclear reactors to the rescue (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208418)

I don't know what you're talking about but you mentioned Tritium and I just wanted to suggest getting in touch with Samantha Carter.

Re:nuclear reactors to the rescue (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208882)

Mckay had nearly driven her mad on the show as it was; could you imagine what would have happened if someone else as arrogant and annoying as myself were on the show as well? :)

Re:nuclear reactors to the rescue (1)

IvyKing (732111) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208760)

Another way to do this would be to use a D-D neutron source, in which you will get tritium from 6Li(n,alpha)T reaction, plus you will get get tritium and 3He from the D-D reactions.

Re:nuclear reactors to the rescue (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208850)

That's fine for small scale operations but what you're essentially suggesting isn't feasible on the larger scale that He-3 production will need to be. We've got enough reactors that we get 20% of our power from them and there's tons of neutrons being emitted with nothing better to do than make TRitium for us.

A problem for physics research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30208204)

Helium-3 is also used for detecting neutrons in Neutron scattering [wikipedia.org] experiments. Neutron scattering is used in lots of materials research, and for many purposes it's the only feasible technique. The strain on Helium-3 reserves is already felt when building new detectors or an old one needs the occasional refill.

Program To Detect Smuggled Nuclear Bombs Stalls (1)

thewils (463314) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208216)

I have programs that stall all the time. Just run it under a debugger and you'll see why almost immediately.

Umm, what? (5, Insightful)

syncrotic (828809) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208268)

There's seriously a program aimed at developing and deploying a fleet of nuclear bomb detectors at every port in the United States?

What kind of ridiculous bullshit is this? Did someone at the DHS watch a few episodes of 24 to come up with this? It's movie-plot anti-terrorism at its absolute worst: imaging ridiculously specific scenarios and spending enormous amounts of money to guard against them.

As if a terrorist organization resourceful enough to obtain a *nuclear fucking weapon* would somehow have difficulty bringing it into the country. This is a nation into which several metric tonnes of cocaine and thousands of illegal immigrants are successfully smuggled every year, and someone imagines that they'll be able to erect a perfect wall to keep a few kilograms of metal out of the country?

What congressman's nephew is being paid to make these detectors?

Re:Umm, what? (5, Insightful)

horza (87255) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208540)

Indeed. It's not as though US law enforcement aren't being given insufficient tools for the job. Detention without charge, torture, no access to legal council for suspects, abductions of suspects from any country, mass surveillance without oversight, biometric controls at airports... Shouldn't the wholesale abandonment of liberty have bought you a bit of safety?

Phillip.

please please mod this noble sir up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30209038)

please please mod this noble sir up

Re:Umm, what? (2, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209274)

It could be far far worse. These things could deployed in enough numbers to satisfy DHS, only to have a bomb still go off in the future.

Two things will happen. The US will be locked up tighter than East Germany. Second, we will find ourselves in vigilant warfare conducted by our own citizens and ex-members of the armed forces. No nation on earth will stop the chaotic violence and bloodshed that will soon follow.

Re:Umm, what? (4, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208748)

Personal speedboat goes out a couple miles. Bomb is loaded onboard. Boat comes back in and is towed to the final destination hitched to an SUV. Just in case, also put a few kilos of cocaine onboard. That way if the police find it they'll take it to the impound yard in a populated area.

Re:Umm, what? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30208862)

god dammit, stop posting shit like this, terrorists read slashdot.

Re:Umm, what? (2, Interesting)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209024)

Or just ship it in a commercial container and detonate the thing in the port of Los Angeles, it's not like it's remote.

welcome to science in the US (2, Insightful)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208276)

It seems we know how to do just about anything these days, but lack the ability to actually get it done

from the i-see-a-business-opportunity-here dept. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30208278)

What a coincidence that the cousin of the DoHS's director owns a chemical manufacturing plant that can produce helium 3...

As he reads this, (1)

byrdfl3w (1193387) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208292)

Ken Welch [ken-welch.com] is dancing a jig in reverse.

Another Crisis? (2, Insightful)

Vengance Daemon (946173) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208306)

Is there anything going on in the U.S. today that is NOT a "national crisis"? We need a break.

Re:Another Crisis? (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209058)

That's a consequence of an increasingly powerful and omnipresent central government. It makes "raising alarms" the most efficient way to get funding; far more efficient than civilized discussion or hard work. (It is also known as "begging for a handout".) It's infected industry, science, and personal finance.

National Crisis: America Needs Break, Urgently (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209296)

WASHINGTON - Yet another national crisis shakes the American people as the White House announced that America is in dire need of a break from all those national crisises. "It's really getting to me," a visibly aggravated Barack Obama told the press, "first we have yet another terrorist warning, then we're out of nuclear weapons to build nuclear weapon detectors and just this morning I had three more peak oil predictions on my desk." Obama then curled up into a fetal position, rocking back and forth, mumbling to himself: "No more crisises, please, make it stop!"

"If we look at the numbers, it's really clear that we're currently at a record crisis high," told us crisis expert Albert E. Backenhauer in an interview. "We've got the onslaught of national crisises an economic depression brings with it in addition to the ongoing wars on drugs, terrorism and consumers. If this keeps up and, say, the Super Bowl gets canceled because of persisting bad weather, this country might go tits up." He then looked at our reporter like a cow looks at an oncoming train and added: "Oh shit, now they're recursive!" before proceeing to jump out of his window.

The internet has yet to take a stance on this delicate issue, although seasoned YouTube pundit dirtysanchezlol offered a silver lining of hope by reassuring us that "everythings normal youre still all gay fags".

another way to make tritium (2, Interesting)

jfb2252 (1172123) | more than 3 years ago | (#30208376)

International Committee on Future Accelerators Beam Dynamics section newsletter abstract under the URL.

While the emphasis in the six articles is on transmutation of nuclear waste and accelerator driven nuclear power plants, the same accelerators can generate neutrons to breed tritium from lithium. The fusion demonstration ITER will have blanket with lithium to demonstrate breeding since its fuel is a deuterium-tritium mixture.

It would be lovely for the US accelerator community if the US DHS forked over $1.5B for a system to breed tritium and, in its spare time, transmute long lived waste isotopes so used fuel rods would decay to radiation levels below that of natural uranium ore within one thousand instead of one hundred thousand years.

http://www-bd.fnal.gov/icfabd/Newsletter49.pdf [fnal.gov]

The theme is "Accelerator Driven Sub-Critical Assemblies (ADS) and its challenge to accelerators." This is a topic that could have a deep impact on the future of our society. As we all know, developing clean energy and protecting the environment are two top priorities in countries around the world. ADS is an accelerator-based technology that may provide a viable solution to these major problems. Jiuqing collected 6 excellent articles in the theme section. They give a comprehensive review of this important accelerator field, including valuable lessons learned from the past.

Re:another way to make tritium (2, Funny)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208742)

Another method would be to fund a few prototype generation IV power plants. A gas-cooled fast reactor should fit the bill nicely.

we don't need no steenkin' helium (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208454)

large mass of plastic and scintillating material is all that's needed, someone is just making excuses

CANDU reactors (4, Informative)

debrain (29228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208474)

A byproduct of CANDU [wikipedia.org] reactors is Helium-3.

I'm not the first to note this, evidently [yahoo.com] .

Re:CANDU reactors (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209158)

CANDU [wikipedia.org]

That's the right attitude! ;-)
You show those "can't do" guys how it's done!

It stalled because... (3, Funny)

travisco_nabisco (817002) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208604)

I probably stalled because it is near impossible to tell the difference between a smuggled nuclear bomb and a TSA approved nuclear bomb in check luggage.

Check the market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30208638)

I'm sure there's plenty on sale in Jita.

Use BF3 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30208662)

Just get the bloody shipping regs to recognize that a wee bit of BF3 in a radiation detector is not a major hazmat issue. BF3 tubes tended to be the norm for neutron detectors until a change in the HAZMAT regs a few years ago... The regs just need to be amended to include an excepted quantity rule for BF3 in a rad detector. Problem solved.

mod do38 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30208666)

large - kkep your incomLpatibilities

Hey Wicked Cool! (2, Interesting)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209064)

I just finished working on this project a year ago. I worked as a sub-contractor for Thermo-Fisher Scientific, one of the prime contractors, to DNDO, DHS, and CBP. It was an interesting project. My team was responsible for developing the command and control software for these systems. Had a lot of ups and downs. The technology works fairly well. We did A LOT of testing of the system in both laboratory and field conditions in order to validate the software. Got to travel to great and wonderous places like Nevada Test Site, Southampton, UK, and Antwerp, Belgium. Who'd a thought something like this would put a monkey in the works?

Funny anecdote: When we installed the system in Southampton, UK, the British and Eurpoean Union representatives were most interest in if it could detect "Cigarettes"? Man, they wanna make sure they collect that tax on your smokes!

Who Pays? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30209154)

The article mentions a cost per container of as much as $12.00. Who pays this cost? Is it the shippers? Will it lead to higher prices on imported goods. The program is bound to be in effect for a long time to come and these are important questions.

Say hello to expensive bananas (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209156)

I have nothing more to add.

Serious physics question (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209186)

Regarding nuclear fusion. It is often said that Hydrogen fusion will produce Helium 4 which will then emit a neutron to become Helium 3 - some argument about the Helium 4 having too much energy to remain that way. To digress a bit - this was used as evidence against cold fusion (the neutrons should have killed them). So I looked it up and Helium 4 is far more abundant than 3 both on earth and apparently on the moon. As you can see by the abundance of kids balloons, we are not out of Helium 4 which is in much wider use. So can someone explain to me where all the Helium 4 comes from that was supposed to emit neutrons and turn into Helium 3???

Thanks,

Congress blocks progress again. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209214)

'I have not heard any explanation of why this was not entirely foreseeable,' says Representative Brad Miller, chairman of a House subcommittee that is investigating the problem.
 
To some extent it wasn't foreseeable - this program is part of the fallout of 9/11. OTOH, we've had this program coming down the pike for years.
 
In reality, the DoE has been asking for funding to expand tritium production (for a wide variety of uses) since the mid 90's (correctly foreseeing that there would be a shortage of a material with a limited life span) and Congress has routinely refused the funding.

Why bring a Nuke into the Country? (3, Insightful)

deboli (199358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209264)

You don't need to land the bomb to cause lots of damage. Anyone resourceful enough to get hold of a nuclear bomb will probably know about the detection system and the best risk avoidance is to detonate it before unloading. You could detonate it below the waterline (in the ship) or above ground (hoisted off deck by the port crane) to be as destructive as possible. No detection possible unless you scan cargo 20km offshore.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?