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Full-Body Airport Scanners Downsizing For Doctors/Dentists

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the all-the-better-to-see-your-cavities-with dept.

Medicine 221

An anonymous reader writes "Cheap handheld terahertz scanners that do the same thing as those big bulky full-body scanners at the airport could be in your doctor's and dentist's office soon. The Semiconductor Research Corp. has successfully sponsored chip maker Texas Instruments in making cheap CMOS chips that do the same thing as those refrigerator sized full-body scanners at the airport. The resulting handheld versions can be tuned to look inside your teeth in the dentist chair and under you skin at the doctor's office. The best part is that terahertz rays are completely safe, unlike the X-rays used today by dentists and doctors which can cause cancer. Count me in!"

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2 million years of evolution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523455)

It's what made it perfectly fine to blast radiation, at any frequency, into our bodies.

Re:2 million years of evolution (5, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523533)

Yeah we need far more testing on radiation. Especially in the 400nm to 700nm range.

Sure they say its perfectly safe but how long have we been exposing ourselves to it? More data is required!

Re:2 million years of evolution (5, Funny)

cruff (171569) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523553)

You are probably familiar with the usual laser safety warning:
Do not look into the laser with your remaining eye.
Obviously light in that wavelength range is problematic.

Re:2 million years of evolution (5, Funny)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523597)

We need to petition to get these wavelengths banned. These crazy scientists with their fancy lasers that use these dangerous frequencies must be stopped!

Re:2 million years of evolution (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40524153)

No to mention, the fact that going to the dentist is already bad enough without having to go through a pat down and strip search.. Keep TSA out of my mouth!!!

Re:2 million years of evolution (5, Funny)

serbanp (139486) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523649)

This is slashdot, after all. Most youngsters are already avoiding this harmful radiation by hiding in their mother's basement...

I can't honestly decide which is funnier. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40524661)

Especially in the 400nm to 700nm range.

I can't honestly decide which is funnier.

Your joke, or the fact that it whoosh'd past all the slashdot moderators as they eagerly dolled out +1 insightfuls.

Re:2 million years of evolution (5, Funny)

Frisno (2675715) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524769)

The dentist will allow you to opt out, in favour for a traditional cavity search.

Famous last words (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524733)

It's completely safe!

"completely safe" (4, Insightful)

Hanzie (16075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523457)

I'll wait to believe terahertz radiation is "completely safe" for a little while, yet.

Re:"completely safe" (4, Insightful)

Isaac-1 (233099) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523503)

Safe means we don't know what bad thing it does yet.

Re:"completely safe" (5, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523559)

With the sort of logic that is popular these days we would have rejected fire as unsafe (radiation from a fire is higher frequency than this THz - i.e. very far infrared) and still be eating our food raw in unheated caves.

There is no such thing as "completely safe". The idea is preposterous. It is even more preposterous that we can prove something to be completely safe. Every heartbeat or breath you take is at great risk.

It's all about rational risk assessment and testing. Given the fundamentals here there is no reason to be concerned about the safety of terahertz radiation. It is certainly far safer than the alternatives which have large known risks.

Re:"completely safe" (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523651)

The problem isn't that it involves risk, it is that things that are "completely safe" eventually get abused to the point that they are no longer safe. X-Rays can cause cancer, but we know that x-rays cause cancer and therefore doctors/dentists are more reluctant to use them. Back when X-rays were considered 100% safe, we used them to see how well shoes fit! And other novelties.

Is terahertz radiation safer than x-rays? Quite possibly. If we use terahertz radiation to excess will it be safer than x-rays? Quite possibly not.

Re:"completely safe" (5, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523709)

There was never a time when X-Rays were considered completely safe. Roentgen and Thompson both issued warnings regarding overexposure. Within a year of their discovery reports of injuries started appearing.

http://goatrevolution.com/blog2/2006/11/10/radiation-part-cinque-further-uses-and-discoveries-of-x-ray-radiation/ [goatrevolution.com]

Re:"completely safe" (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524221)

Dude, don't scan my junk!

Re:"completely safe" (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40524275)

Edison seemed to think it was perfectly safe and into the '50s stores were using the fluoroscope to make sure that shoes were properly fitting.

You can always find somebody that thinks something is dangerous from the start, the questions really are whether they are credible and how seriously they're being taken.

Re:"completely safe" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523765)

No doctor or dentist I've ever been to was ever 'reluctant' to call for an x-ray. As long as you're insured, it's free money for them to call for an x-ray, whether you need it or not. Last time I went in for neck pain, the doctor actually told me that whatever was causing my pain would most likely only show up on an MRI (as it was most likely due to tissue, not bone, issues), but he wanted to take an x-ray "just to see", and that he'd call for an MRI only if I still had pain a week or two later.

As long as every doctor/dentist has an x-ray machine in-house that they can charge your insurance company for, whether it's really needed or not, they'll use it. If we can replace x-ray with some other most likely less-harmful tech, I'm in.

Re:"completely safe" (4, Insightful)

Phroggy (441) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524059)

When the dentist takes x-rays, they first cover me with a lead blanket from neck to knee and then they leave the room while the pictures are being taken. That's because we know that x-rays are dangerous, and we understand how they're dangerous and what steps should be taken to minimize the risk while still taking advantage of the technology.

If it's "perfectly safe", no such precautions will be taken. Decades from now, we'll know whether they should have been.

Re:"completely safe" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40524653)

And "Decades from now" you'll probably have cancer in your feet.

Re:"completely safe" (5, Informative)

Warma (1220342) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524753)

You are not taking into account, that doctors are wary of using MRI devices for scheduling and expense reasons. An X-ray image from a leased dental device is almost free (less than a hundred euros for private institutions here) and takes mere minutes, while an MRI scan costs thousands of euros and may take hours.

Also, since MRI is more useful in a wider variety of situations, someone else probably needs it more or needs it sooner - you might end up having a huge waiting time to get yourself scanned. It is prudent to take the x-ray, because if the doctor can see the ailment there, the MRI scan may not be needed at all. He will also send you out, because if the pain disappears in a couple of weeks, the MRI won't be necessary. Money, time, work, and possibly lives, might be spared.

If you are worried about the risks of a single x-ray, I assure you that they are beyond neglible - especially if you compare that risk with the possible wasted utility of an MRI device.

Re:"completely safe" (5, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523935)

FWIW, the available research [europa.eu] is pretty clear [arxiv.org] that terahertz radiation poses little or no threat to the body under biological conditions. There's lingering concern that it may have a small ability to affect lipid bilayer permeability (which could imbalance how cells pass messages, receive nutrients, and eliminate waste), but over all, a THz exposure is a lot like being bombarded with visible or infrared light: it will warm you up if left on for too long, but it's not really dangerous on its own. The radiation is too high-frequency to excite any of the electrons orbiting the atoms in the human body (which is how UV causes damage), and much, much too low-energy to knock an electron onto a different atom (which is how X-rays and gamma radiation cause damage.) Any effects it does have must be extremely subtle—and the body is very good at handling subtle problems, since we replace almost every cell every ten years on average.

Re:"completely safe" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40524479)

...and the body is very good at handling subtle problems, since we replace almost every cell every ten years on average.

If time it takes to replace a given cell is greater than the time it takes for a cell to become cancerous and virulent, then you got cancer.

Waving away long term health conditions with a form of "the body will just fix itself" is bad science.

Mostly Harmless (3, Insightful)

xQx (5744) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523695)

I agree, but we shouldn't use the name "completely safe" until it's tested and proven to be safe.

Why don't we just all agree to call all these technologies "Mostly Harmless" until proven otherwise.

Then there will be no confusion.

And if there is confusion, the idiots who are confused need to learn to read, then read a good book. A good book written by Douglas Adams. Then they will understand. They will understand in exactly the same way that bricks don't.

Re:Mostly Harmless (3, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523833)

Because even that is a distortion. We should call such technologies "new" and anybody who calls them "safe" should be required to either produce evidence that says it is so or a bond that will be paid to whoever eventually suffers harm due to them.

Re:"completely safe" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523757)

Until we realize that terahertz rays are a signal to summon destructive fifth dimensional beings from a nether boson vortex, it will be "completely safe".

Re:"completely safe" (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523811)

Look, you want to cook your cojones with terahertz scanners, go right ahead. But don't try to persuade me that it's "completely safe" or even safer than competing technologies like MRI and ultrasound without a large body of evidence.

Re:"completely safe" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40524055)

The 'alternatives', in the case of the TSA, should be regular old fashioned magnetometers. Period. No false choices between this and x-rays, when the rational, most effective, and of course cheaper alternative is to use neither.

No reason to be concerned? (1)

tlambert (566799) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524761)

Given the fundamentals here there is no reason to be concerned about the safety of terahertz radiation. It is certainly far safer than the alternatives which have large known risks.

Unless you have an insulin pump.

http://www.inquisitr.com/233195/tsa-breaks-teens-insulin-pump-during-forced-full-body-scanner-examination/ [inquisitr.com]

Then it's pretty damn dangerous, particularly if it happens to be on when the scanner kills the control circuitry for the pump.

Re:"completely safe" (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523805)

This could not get upmodded enough if we stood atop buildings with megaphones screaming it.

Re:"completely safe" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523509)

Completely. Safe.

Just like DDT.

Re:"completely safe" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523601)

At least DDT is safer than malaria.

Re:"completely safe" (2)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523731)

DDT is pretty safe if you aren't a bird.

Re:"completely safe" (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523835)

DDT is pretty safe if you aren't a bird.

It's safe sex for birds of prey.

Re:"completely safe" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523551)

I'm with you on that.

However, there is evidence that a certain amount of radiation is actually needed to stay healthy, which is really the main defense behind a lot of the radiation you see with your doctor/dentist and probably even with these things to some degree.

Re:"completely safe" (5, Funny)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523625)

It's pretty safe and has been tested over a very long time period. They've even given certain THz frequencies their own names.
440THz is sometimes called "red"
560THz is sometimes called "green"
640THz is sometimes called "blue"

Re:"completely safe" (2)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523745)

I was with you up to green, but blue is a menace! It's a blue menace!

Re:Communist (3, Funny)

anon208 (2410460) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523847)

I was with you up to green, but red is a menace! It's a RED menace.

Re:"completely safe" (5, Funny)

Nkwe (604125) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523963)

It's pretty safe and has been tested over a very long time period. They've even given certain THz frequencies their own names.
440THz is sometimes called "red"
560THz is sometimes called "green"
640THz is sometimes called "blue"

And they stopped there because 640 THz should be enough for everybody.

Re:"completely safe" (1)

Svartormr (692822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524565)

I was with you up to red, but before you get to green there's 540THz, sometimes called "yellow", but yellow is a threat! It's a YELLOW peril!

Re:"completely safe" (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523753)

It means don't eliminate my chance to make a buttload of money until you have proof that I'm killing people. After all money is more important than any other consideration.

Re:"completely safe" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523863)

Yes! They said that X-Rays and radiation were safe also. In the early years of the 1900's they sold radium elixirs that were supposed to be good for you. Up to the 1950's they had X-Ray machines that were used to check the fit of your (and your children's) shoes. They only banned X-Ray machines from shoe stores when many shoe salesmen came down with radiation related health problems. Do we really know that terahertz radiation is "completely safe"? Not at the moment. The manufacturer of these devices is probably promoting them as "completely safe". That is not unbiased research into those claims. We need more data and also from an unbiased source and also more time into the long term effects.

2 milliwatts! (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523873)

The chip that the original article mentions has a PLL and an integrated transmitting antenna and produces 2 mW. That IS safe, but not useful for doctor's office scanners. To be useful for scanners, they're going to have to amp it up by at least 20 dB (probably a lot more) and irradiate the part of you they want to examine. And they'll have to add an array of terahertz receivers tuned to the emitter's frequency if they want to do imaging, and the waveform captured by all those receivers is going to have to be downconverted and processed by a computer comparably powerful to the ones they use for ultrasound. And it will have similar resolution to ultrasound, but will be differently reflected within the body because it's an electromagnetic wave not an acoustic one. And it will dissipate rapidly as it passes through the body because its skin depth is going to be about the thickness of your skin. So they'll have to blast the living hell out of you if they want to look at your spleen or inside your head and you'll be wishing they used something that didn't burn your skin quite so much.

Cheap and available ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523463)

I want something like this for home use.

Re:Cheap and available ? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524607)

I want something like this for home use.

Cheap, effective, safe : Pick two.

Abolish the TSA (5, Insightful)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523475)

Scanners belong in doctors' offices, not airports.

Re:Abolish the TSA (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523733)

Scanners belong in doctors' offices, not airports.

This will surely help OB-GYNs to practice their love with women all across this country

Re:Abolish the TSA (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523755)

Throw that on a poster and it'll be almost as worthless as those other platitudes: "Don't work harder, work smarter!"

Scanner for doctor? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523477)

Couldn't the doctor just ask you to remove your clothes?

X-rays (2)

SwampChicken (1383905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523481)

Didn't these used to say that X-rays were safe? Anyway, in IMHO the best option is to not to scan at all. Just let everyone board the plane and be on their way -or- we'll start scanning people boarding buses next.

Re:X-rays (2)

YukariHirai (2674609) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523635)

Just let everyone board the plane and be on their way -or- we'll start scanning people boarding buses next.

Yeah, the former option is never going to happen. No authorities ever give up powers like that without a very good fight, and usually expand them bit by bit.

Re:X-rays (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523645)

Didn't these used to say that X-rays were safe?

...X-rays, lead, asbestos, tobacco, mercury. If you go back far enough the list contains everything we know today to be unsafe. ...but I'm sure we know everything by now.

Re:X-rays (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523787)

We've known that lead is poisonous for about 2,000 years.

Re:X-rays (4, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523975)

Most of those things only cause cancer in California.

Re:X-rays (1)

fido_dogstoyevsky (905893) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523895)

Didn't these used to say that X-rays were safe? Anyway, in IMHO the best option is to not to scan at all. Just let everyone board the plane and be on their way -or- we'll start scanning people boarding buses next.

...with one of these "Cheap handheld terahertz scanners that do the same thing as those big bulky full-body scanners at the airport" [slashdot.org] thingies here.

hell yeah! (5, Funny)

sribe (304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523501)

If I were a dentist, I'd certainly want to know if you're packing heat before I start subjecting you to excruciating pain ;-)

Re:hell yeah! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523517)

If your dentist is subjecting you to excruciating pain, I suggest you find a different dentist. Most dental procedures are completely pain-free these days. Some have residual soreness once the shot wears off; that's what they make Vicoden for.

Re:hell yeah, dentists! (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523763)

If your dentist is subjecting you to excruciating pain, I suggest you find a different dentist. Most dental procedures are completely pain-free these days.

There is this dentist who uses a manual drill while inhaling nitrous oxide himself and laughing uncontrollably.
-But then again, there is also this nice portrayal of a dentist in the Marathon Man

Re:hell yeah, dentists! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40524279)

Dude, that's fucked up!

Re:hell yeah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40524375)

Some people may refuse those drugs for any number of reasons and so they have to endure the pain.

Completely Safe... (5, Insightful)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523515)

As certified by the $10/hr TSA agent with barely a high school education.

Re:Completely Safe... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523605)

As certified by the people who know the difference between ionizing radiation and radio waves, more like.

The only danger you face going through the terahertz scanner at the airport is the potential incompetence and arrogance of the officer of the law who is empowered to interpret the results.

Re:Completely Safe... (-1, Troll)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523661)

So you wouldn't mind if I say, popped you into an industrial sized microwave and powered it up? Or would you like to reevaluate your position?

Re:Completely Safe... (3, Insightful)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523769)

Come on. You can do that with anything.

Drinking tap water is safe. So you wouldn't mind if I submerged you in a tub of it for an hour?
Playing tennis is safe. So you wouldn't mind if I made you play in a hurricane?
Reading slashdot is safe. So you wouldn't mind if I made you sit there reading it for a week while force feeding you cheetos?

Re:Completely Safe... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524165)

Reading slashdot is safe. So you wouldn't mind if I made you sit there reading it for a week while force feeding you cheetos?

Go on....

Re:Completely Safe... (3, Informative)

Svartormr (692822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524583)

Reading slashdot is safe. So you wouldn't mind if I made you sit there reading it for a week while force feeding you cheetos?

For many readers, this is their normal state of existence. >:)

Re:Completely Safe... (3, Interesting)

CelticWhisper (601755) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523819)

Major correction: TSA screeners, despite having fake tin badges and cop-a-like uniforms, are NOT law-enforcement officers and have absolutely zero authority to do anything other than say "Sorry, you can't enter the airport terminal today, try again tomorrow." That's it. They cannot make arrests, they cannot detain you, they are forbidden from carrying firearms on the job and some have actually been arrested themselves for using their TSA uniforms and toy badges to impersonate real law officers.

I don't fault you for thinking they're LEOs - they've gone to great lengths to dupe people into believing that (reference the STRIP Act that would undo this) and are meeting with a disturbing level of success - but I do try to counter these misconceptions when I see them.

Re:Completely Safe... (3)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524719)

True, but only technically. There are always real cops around TSA agents. All the TSA agent has to do is point at you (well, with some reason of course), and the cops would arrest you. Assaulting a TSA agent would not be considered assaulting a police office, and similar charges dont apply when dealing with TSA. Everything else though, is the same.

Re:Completely Safe... (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523657)

Do you really think that the TSA wage-slaves are designing multi-million dollar scanners in between confiscating toothpaste and groping tourists? You do know that they have actual scientists and engineers and doctors inventing this stuff... right? I'll trust their judgement over that of a random poster in an internet forum.

Well if THz radation worries you (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523885)

Are you worried by 100 THz radiation? Because that is commonly called "light". The visible spectrum is from about 400-790 THz.

Radiation is only ionizing, and thus cancer causing, when it is high frequency. X-rays (already in use in medicine if you didn't notice) are much higher frequency, they are past visible light, past UV.

X-rays were safe too. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523523)

I"m old enough to remember when X Rays were completely safe. They were installing them in shoe stores to check to see if your feet fit right in the shoes.

Bah! I preffer the good old days! (4, Funny)

hedgemage (934558) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523531)

I don't want these fancy new scanners in my dentist's office! What's wrong with having the hygenist run me through the metal detector prior to performing an enhanced patdown?

Re:Bah! I preffer the good old days! (3, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523547)

Guess it depends on how cute your hygienist is.

I'm looking forward to when... (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523569)

the scanner is combined with Google Glass and dirty old (and young) men everywhere will rejoice!

DNA resonance (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523577)

THz radiation may cause DNA resonance:

http://science.slashdot.org/story/09/10/30/1216230/how-terahertz-waves-tear-apart-dna

Re:DNA resonance (4, Informative)

serent (911376) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524093)

In 2011, a further study was done that indicated that under normal circumstances, this theoretical danger shouldn't be an issue, but recommended rigorous experimentation to confirm this:

Modelling DNA Response to THz Radiation
http://arxiv.org/abs/1012.4153 [arxiv.org]

The long and short of it is, it's probably ok but if we're going to start putting them in cell phones, further studying should be done.

THz waves safe? At first, hope...then they studied (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523587)

Not safe...
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2010PhLA..374.1214A

Now, google it...find out for yourself.

Re:THz waves safe? At first, hope...then they stud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40524209)

So, apparently, real science doesn't ring a bell...here on the nerd channel...

Mock-up (4, Funny)

Monkier (607445) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523599)

Here's a quick mock-up of how it will look: http://i.imgur.com/2aA3Z.jpg [imgur.com]

Is it safe? (4, Funny)

careysb (566113) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523641)

ZAPHOD: It’s a carbon copy of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal - or I’m a Vogon’s Grandmother! ARTHUR: The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal! Is it safe? [Sound of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal salivating] FORD: Oh Yes! It’s perfectly safe - it’s just us who are in trouble.

cheap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523671)

I'll believe it when I see it, which is probably not for a very long time. Ultrasounds are still tens of thousands of dollars, and they are mostly done on PC laptops these days. It may be cheap to make the chips, but there is no limit to the amount you can charge for the software,so it's unlikely to be seen in an office near you. Maybe in the hospitals, and large imaging centers though.

Re:cheap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40524349)

Well, it's not just the cost of the chip, it's the cost of certifying the device as well. Sort of like why the military ends up spending so much money on things which would normally be cheap.

Wait a sec... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523697)

Didn't the DHS make the manufacture of THz Imaging devices illegal (cause it's a security threat)

-73 KJ4IPS

Great, now do something about the rest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523703)

Great and all dentists can do that but Id rather they update dentistry to something beyond the savage poking, prodding, drilling, gum bleeding, ear splitting and pain inducing deplaqueing water jets and so on. Ill take a xray to the face if it means Im not forced to undergo torture Im paying for just to get my teeth cleaned.

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paramedics (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523729)

Imagine if EMTs could get a decent body scan before you've even arrived at the hospital. Doctors could receive a patient having already spent a few minutes going over the scans prior to their arrival.

Re:paramedics (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524667)

Yeah. They'd be all like "Yep! That's a table lamp all right! How did he get it in THERE?"

Better Late than Never (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523739)

I've been waiting a long time for the 'X-Ray' glasses in the back of Boy's Life to actually work. No matter how many pair I bought, or how hard I squinted, they never did the job.

Medical Utility? (3, Interesting)

izomiac (815208) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523853)

I'm a little curious about the medical uses for the technology. Terahertz EM radiation should have similar wavelengths to Ultrasound, which only penetrates a few inches and lacks resolution. It's very useful [medison.ru] , don't get me wrong, but no replacement for X-rays [nrmedical.net] , CT [blogspot.com] , or MRI [sciencephoto.com] (click for images of kidney stones using each modality). Plus, ultrasound is becoming even less reliable due to the obesity epidemic, as it can't penetrate a foot of fat very well. Per Wikipedia THz can penetrate low-water tissue several millimeters, which is similar to visible light seen by the unaided eye.

Dermatologists and Dentists may find it useful, but I'm having trouble seeing the application into other medical fields. (Someone can chime in if there's something, I haven't been keeping up on it.) IMHO, it's premature to consider installing these in the clinic. Before that happens there needs to be some unique and significant benefit, which outweighs the risks, and is cost effective. Until then, keep it in the research labs where portability and miniaturization is less of an issue. We don't need technology in the clinic for technology's sake, it just drives up costs and increases wait times.

Re:Medical Utility? (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523881)

Yeah, I'm missing something (or the articles are off base). Terahertz EM should have LESS penetration than ultrasound. Maybe looking at the surface of teeth would be useful, looking at everyone's subcutaneous fat, not so much.

Anyone of the Physics persuasion care to enlighten us (so to speak)?

TSA hailed as the new NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523855)

With such amazing spin-off technology being developed, the loss of American freedoms and $$$ is well worth it /sarcasm

just what i was thinking (1)

fishingmachine (1363025) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523875)

my doctors and dentists arent creepy enough as it is, i was just thinking how great it would be for them to have handheld scanners with the ability to see through clothing.

The Last Thing We Need.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40524013)

Is for our lusty dentists to be using these devices to look at our teeth naked!

Re:The Last Thing We Need.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40524239)

I just hope they delete the photos afterwards, the TSA sure doesn't.

with regulation, licensing and inspection (1)

gerardrj (207690) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524015)

However completely unlike the airport scanners these devices will need to clear FDA and FCC regulations and inspection/testing. The people who operate them will have to take classes and be certified and licensed to operate the device. The devices themselves will be licensed and inspected on a regular basis by the state boards of health.

None of this is seems true for the airport systems.

Re:with regulation, licensing and inspection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40524293)

In order to make an image some of the photons (or waves...) pass through an object (you) while some strike atomic nucleus and are absorbed or deflected, and some of the nuclei are broken apart. This is called ionizing radiation, because ions are formed. All ionizing radiation poses a risk, period. At low levels, the risk is mutagenic and carcinogenic via damage to DNA. At high levels the risks are burns or radiation sickness, which are pretty much irrelevant to uses in doctors offices. These new devices may put out lower amounts or different kMas (1000 volts times milli-amps per second) that may result in a lower risk of mutations and cancer compared to existing medical x-rays technology.

The current risks in doctor's offices from diagnostic x-rays (excluding the rare case requiring multiple repeat studies) can be thought of as clinical or epidemiological. Clinical is singular. The risk to a single patient patient from diagnostic x-rays in doctors offices is close enough to zero to consider it zero. However, if we give 10,000,000 people a standard lumbar series of 5 views, that will cause 1 to 25 cancers (in the 1980's, when my radiology operators license was last in effect. Newer non-film base technologies use maybe 25% of the radiation that is used in film x-ray, so the risk is lower). 10 million mammograms will cause so many cancers. All the hoopla of recommending when a woman should start getting mammograms, for example, was trying to determine when the test was finding more cancers than it was finding. Because the risks are so low, the numbers bounce up and down with each attempt to calculate them. But they are real.

Now, unless the laws of physics have changed, any, repeat, any x-ray exposure to humans will cause cancers and mutations. This includes this new technology. Depending on how and when it is applied, the benefits may outweigh risks. And, human nature being what it is, if thought to be so safe (reminds me of "too cheap to meter," I guess) that we can ignore safety issues, then people will us so much of it it will end up defeating any benefit.

A similar example: if you give police forces "non-lethal" weapons, like Tazers and bean bag guns, there is the risk that the weapons will be 'overused' because, in he eyes of some, "no death equals no harm," or "I can probably get away using this thing, but I certainly won't get away with shooting this punk." Less inherent risk in a technology does not equal more safety if it is thought of as a license to use it while ignoring the risk there is.

Re:with regulation, licensing and inspection (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524591)

I'm not saying it's safe, but it isn't X-ray and it isn't ionising radiation.
It's between microwave and infra red. [wikipedia.org]
If you go up in frequency from Thz, the first frequencies you encounter are infra red. Then visible light. After you go up from that you get UV. And if you go up in frequecy from that you get X rays.
THz scanners may pose a threat, but it's not ionising and thus it poses a different threat (if any)

Hand-held CT scanner (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524505)

The next step, once there's terahertz scanning capability in a hand-held device, is to add an accurate short-range location system to the device. Then it becomes possible to do most of the job of a CT scanner, building up a 3D image, with a hand-held device and a lot of compute power. This will be a big win for medicine.

It might be sufficient to put a 6-axis IMU chip in the device and use SLAM to correct for cumulative error. Then you could reference to the body being scanned, not the world coordinate system, and get clean scans even if the patient moves a little.

A useful marketing strategy would be to deploy this first for veterinarians. This avoids many of the regulatory issues.

Re:Hand-held CT scanner (3, Interesting)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 2 years ago | (#40524567)

Some industrial and mechanical applications might also be good early adopters. No "medical device" overhead to deal with, and a good-sized market.

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