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Cell Phones As a Dirty Bomb Detection Network

timothy posted about a year ago | from the solidarity-brother dept.

Cellphones 103

First time accepted submitter iinventstuff writes "The Idaho National Laboratory has built a dirty bomb detection network out of cell phones. Camera phones operate by detecting photons and storing them as a picture. The INL discovered that high energy photons from radiological sources distort the image in ways detectable through image processing. KSL TV reports that the INL's mobile app detects radiation sources and then reports positive 'hits' to a central server. Terrorists deploying a dirty bomb will inevitably pass by people carrying cell phones. By crowdsourcing cell phones, the INL has created a potentially very large, inexpensive, and randomly mobile radiation detection grid."

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to safe guard national security (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43758355)

now with improved citizen tracking

Re:to safe guard national security (2)

jrincayc (22260) | about a year ago | (#43758397)

TFA (KSL's) does say: "there are no plans to distribute the app to the general public."

Re:to safe guard national security (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43758797)

... yet

Re:to safe guard national security (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#43760317)

yes. the plan is to require all camera's to take and upload a picture every minute to a NSA server, which will do the processing.

None of this "opt-in" bullshit.

Re:to safe guard national security (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43763465)

yes. the plan is to require all camera's to take and upload a picture every minute to a NSA server, which will do the processing.

None of this "opt-in" bullshit.

A multi-megabyte photo being uploaded every minute would have no noticeable impact on individual phones or collectively on the mobile networks.

Re:to safe guard national security (1)

integrationbyparts (2928865) | about a year ago | (#43782729)

GammaPix [gammapix.com] does all the image processing on the user's own phone. (We don't want the privacy issues or the bandwidth cost!)

Re:to put a bug up your ass (1)

sanman2 (928866) | about a year ago | (#43758449)

If it had been for helping the IRS to gather auditing info, then you'd be hollering on why it wasn't released earlier

Re:to safe guard national security (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43759405)

Fuck off

Re:to safe guard national security (1)

mug funky (910186) | about a year ago | (#43760601)

told you the NSA was watching everything. no piddling slashdot comment is hidden from their omnipresent gaze.

Get'em guys! (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43758357)

"Yep, that guy! Over there! Jump him, he's a terrorist!"

"Who me? I just got my thyroid irradiated, give me a break."

Talk about adding insult to injury.

Re:Get'em guys! (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#43758683)

IIRC, after 911, buses carrying seniors to see Broadway plays where pulled over after cross a bridge to get into Manhattan. Officially, the policy never said why, but it was implied that radiation used in medical procedures were to blame. So, I don’t think a single person would kick out enough radiation, but a whole group could.

Re: Get'em guys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43759229)

there are multiple articles about people setting off radiation detectors after nuclear imaging. the most recent was in chicago after a man had a cardiac catheterization and set off a detector in the subway.

Re:Get'em guys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43760171)

So, I donâ(TM)t think a single person would kick out enough radiation, but a whole group could.

No, just one will set it off. The amount of radiation you get from nuclear medicine can be much larger than anything else you'll ever encounter in your life. 10-20mSv for CT scan. For radiation treatment for cancer, you can get exposure of 20Sv to vital organs next to irradiated area, yet, the vital organs are just fine. Yes, 20 sieverts!!

Anyway, this entire shit about "dirty bombs" is beyond scaremongering. When someone is talking about it, they are just trying to get more money. "Dirty bombs" are by far the most ineffective at whatever they are suppose to do. Then again, maybe their real purposes is to sell fear and gain contracts.

Re:Get'em guys! (1)

mug funky (910186) | about a year ago | (#43760607)

never seen one, except maybe that nuclear boy scout's tinfoil-and-smoke-detector reactor would qualify.

Re:Get'em guys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43765225)

IIRC, after 911, buses carrying seniors to see Broadway plays where pulled over after cross a bridge to get into Manhattan. Officially, the policy never said why, but it was implied that radiation used in medical procedures were to blame. So, I don’t think a single person would kick out enough radiation, but a whole group could.

A few years ago I had a bone scan using technetium 99 as the marker. I was 10 mrem on contact after injection. That was with a COTS geiger detector we used at work. We played hide and seek over lunch and they could find me from 20 meters away. I took 2 days to return to normal. So I imagine DHS has detectors sensitive enough for one person being treated with radio-pharmaceuticals to trigger an alert.

Re: Get'em guys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43765841)

Not true, I was questioned 2 weeks after a cardiac stress test in the Dallas airport

Re:Get'em guys! (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43759081)

Thank goodness that only exists in jokes... or does it?

8 Arrested For Smuggling Radioactive Substances [orlandosentinel.com]
Report Reveals Rampant Smuggling of Radioactive Materials [go.com]

Re:Get'em guys! (1)

mug funky (910186) | about a year ago | (#43760615)

would my 1970s vintage 50mm prime lens count as smuggling radioactive material? i've taken it overseas, and there's a wee bit of thorium in the glass.

A Slashdot user predicted this way ahead of time (5, Interesting)

jrincayc (22260) | about a year ago | (#43758377)

Back in January 2008, slashdot user mike449 mentioned using the camera to do this: http://mobile.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=429956&cid=22180470 [slashdot.org]

Re:A Slashdot user predicted this way ahead of tim (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43758491)

Back in January 2008, slashdot user mike449 mentioned using the camera to do this: http://mobile.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=429956&cid=22180470 [slashdot.org]

He should have patented the idea.

Re:A Slashdot user predicted this way ahead of tim (3, Informative)

jrincayc (22260) | about a year ago | (#43758583)

Too late: http://gammapix.com/corporate/about [gammapix.com] "The patent-protected GammaPix (TM) technology (U.S. Patent Nos. 7,391,028 and 7,737,410 plus foreign filings) has been under development since 2002 with over $2.5 million in government support." http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=7391028 [uspto.gov] and patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=7737410 were from applications filed on Feb. 28, 2005.

Re:A Slashdot user predicted this way ahead of tim (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43759003)

Probably couldn't afford the lawyers. Or they don't believe in patents.

Re:A Slashdot user predicted this way ahead of tim (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43758563)

Good work! Now slashdot is as helpful to society then reddit or 4chan.

Re:A Slashdot user predicted this way ahead of tim (1)

conspirator23 (207097) | about a year ago | (#43758573)

Does mike449 work for the Idaho National Laboratory?

Re:A Slashdot user predicted this way ahead of tim (1)

jrincayc (22260) | about a year ago | (#43758617)

I don't think so, he says he currently lives in Phoenix: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3017561&cid=40835691 [slashdot.org]

Re:A Slashdot user predicted this way ahead of tim (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43758637)

He could still work there, but just phoens it in.

Re:A Slashdot user predicted this way ahead of tim (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43759251)

As someone who designs camera phones, we're well aware of this phenomenon but we're not going to spend precious power telling the user there might be a radiological source nearby. Chances are it'll be a hospital.

Re:A Slashdot user predicted this way ahead of tim (1)

iinventstuff (1888700) | about a year ago | (#43759253)

The INL project started in ~2005, but it was only recently announced.

And hit on cardiac stress patients (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43758405)

The person next to you on the bus could be highly radioactive for a day.
It will trigger detectors. Also not great if you're pregnant, but the NRC says OK.

Re:And hit on cardiac stress patients (1)

zlives (2009072) | about a year ago | (#43758811)

Re:And hit on cardiac stress patients (1)

Cwix (1671282) | about a year ago | (#43758861)

OMG that picture I took is blurry, that guy must be a terrorist!!!

and..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43758409)

.....and created an excuse for the government to permanently monitor people's cellphones in the name of the "war of terrorism".

In other words... (1)

spagthorpe (111133) | about a year ago | (#43758431)

..a highly ingenious way to warn us about something that has close to a zero chance of happening. I guess it's like the rest of Homeland Security's efforts, just without the ingenious part.

Re:In other words... (2)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year ago | (#43758681)

..a highly ingenious way to warn us about something that has close to a zero chance of happening. I guess it's like the rest of Homeland Security's efforts, just without the ingenious part.

Not to mention, a highly ingenious way to keep the hype of the 'danger' of dirty bombs fresh in our minds. THANK YOU, DHS. It's been proven a few times that dirty bombs are no real threat since they're just radioactive-packed conventional explosives, but the media kept hyping them as the 'Next And Future Most Dangerous Evil Terrorrorrorrorrorrist Weapon of Mass Destruction', even though the cleanup of the aftermath of a 'dirty bomb' has been mathematically proven to be trivial compared to cleaning up after a nuke.

Guess that's why the media gets such big bucks. They hype dirty bombs some more and citizens will demand this happen to 'save us all'.

The cleanup has effectively already been done once (3, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#43759351)

When a Kosmos satellite with some plutonium aboard smeared itself over a few hundred miles of Canada the cleanup operation went more smoothly than anyone ever expected. It turns out that detection from the air works well, even with 1970s technology.

Re:The cleanup has effectively already been done o (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43763261)

IIRC they only found a small fraction of the material. And it wasn't just "some plutonium" like one of NASA's RTGs, it was a full fission reactor core. There are several more of them still up in orbit... for now.

Re:In other words... (1)

Goaway (82658) | about a year ago | (#43764251)

It's been proven a few times that dirty bombs are no real threat since they're just radioactive-packed conventional explosives

Why are you stating the definition of a dirty bomb as the proof that it is not a threat?

Re:In other words... (1)

fufufang (2603203) | about a year ago | (#43758777)

..a highly ingenious way to warn us about something that has close to a zero chance of happening. I guess it's like the rest of Homeland Security's efforts, just without the ingenious part.

Well, nerve agent was used in Tokyo by terrorists 18 years ago.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarin_gas_attack_on_the_Tokyo_subway [wikipedia.org]

I wonder how likely the terrorists can get hold of radioactive material. This kind of thing is so unlikely, They might as well blow the money on destroying asteroids, at least that will help space science.

Re:In other words... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43758989)

It's relatively easy to get a small amount of highly radioactive material, say Cobalt-60, used in medical isotope generation. A little goes a long way if you're just trying to upset people by making a Geiger counter go nuts. Break into some decommissioned Russian hospital, some third world facility with poor security or steal it in NYC. A couple of sticks of dynamite, a timer and panic time.*

* For instructional and entertainment use only. Not to be taken as an endorsement or plan.

Re:In other words... (1)

fufufang (2603203) | about a year ago | (#43759485)

Break into some decommissioned Russian hospital, some third world facility with poor security or steal it in NYC. A couple of sticks of dynamite, a timer and panic time.*

Oh wow, you have just reminded me of this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goi%C3%A2nia_accident [wikipedia.org]

People have already done this kind of thing accidentally...

Didn't the do this... (1)

router (28432) | about a year ago | (#43758443)

in a movie, like Superman III?

andy

Re:Didn't the do this... (3, Interesting)

rriegs (1540879) | about a year ago | (#43758635)

No, no, it was a different DC hero, and much more recent. And the technology in question was sonar---"like a submarine!"---but then that doesn't matter much. Of course its use was justified, just once, by the general terrorization of the people of Gotham, and I'm sure everyone involved would take comfort by the fact that a benevolent yet private entity could effortlessly hack into all of their cell phones at the same time. For the greater good.

Then again, perhaps all those people voluntarily installed the "Help Batman by spying on yourself" app.

Maybe some real-world applications instead of FUD? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43758447)

If you're going to crowdsource this, I think you'd find a more-receptive initial population by rolling it out in areas where mapping radiation is likely to have actual practical uses, rather than trumpeting the effectively-zero risk of terrorism.

Say, the neighborhoods of Chernobyl, areas of Kazakhstan or Siberia around former Soviet nuclear sites, or... Fukushima?

Accurately mapping radioactivity is applicable to real life now, no need to resort to FUD about theoretical dirty bombs.

Re:Maybe some real-world applications instead of F (1)

jrincayc (22260) | about a year ago | (#43759965)

The fine article does mention Fukushima.

There's an app for that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43758485)

Isn't this going to be the next Instagram filter? Give your photos that post apocalypse grainy look?

Which assumes... (1)

sillivalley (411349) | about a year ago | (#43758507)

That the data from all those cameras, location+image, is constantly being streamed to a secure government facility where the data will only be used for good, right?

And people are concerned about Google Glass?

Yes, it's an interesting idea, but it has some problems!

But the carriers would probably love it, as someone would have to pay for all the bandwidth used -- certainly not gonna be a freebie on the carrier -- an opportunity for a government mandated fee, perhaps?

Idea -- check sources (e.g. 137Cs) are pretty cheap. Attach them to the outsides of public transit, pigeons, anything that moves around. The more the merrier.

Re:Which assumes... (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43758571)

Idea -- check sources (e.g. 137Cs) are pretty cheap. Attach them to the outsides of public transit, pigeons, anything that moves around. The more the merrier.

There aren't particularly restrictions on who can purchase them, but the companies that make radioactive sealed sources do keep records (and are often wary about shipping to addresses outside a university or research corporation). If you order a couple dozen 137Cs sources strong enough to show up on cellphones a meter or two away, and then they suddenly start appearing on buses around town --- I hope you wanted to see beautiful Guantanamo Bay, because you're likely to end up in a big mess of trouble fast.

Re:Which assumes... (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43758707)

because terrorists care about prison and the paperwork trail found after they do their evil deeds?

just like the Boston bombers cared if they were on security cams?

nope, nope and nope.

Re:Which assumes... (2)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43758791)

I was assuming the parent poster wasn't so much a terrorist as a mischievous prankster --- if your level of evil mastermind planning is to tag mostly harmless minor radioactive sources around the city (causing distress and embarrassment to the officials running the phone tracking scheme, but not exactly the mass terror of an actual bomb), then you might well be deterred by jail time. An actual terrorist unafraid of getting caught would just head to the target, phones be damned, and set off a bomb before phone data analysts had time to recognize and neutralize the threat. Fortunately, actual terrorists are *extremely rare,* and not worth the massive efforts/resources expended to prevent hypothetical movie-plot threats.

Just add a little imagination: (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#43759275)

"I was assuming the parent poster wasn't so much a terrorist as a mischievous prankster"

How do you tell the difference? A dirty bomb is mostly a weapon of mass distraction. The response is likely what shuts down an important area, rather than the actual danger.

Doing it with a sizable number of relatively harmless sources spread out over a block or two will keep them guessing what the danger and scope is for a bit, even if each one isn't particularly dangerous. It doesn't have the extended clean up phase, but they still have to evacuate, check people as they exit, and then determine what the devil is going on. It also gets a lot of attention.

The individuals who placed them can just claim it was a prank that got out of hand. You'll probably still get jailed, but it'd be hard to justify a life term for it.

At the same time, AQAP, for example issues a claim of responsibility. No one is really sure what the straight of it is. More confusion, disruption and doubt.

Maybe they can still link those who placed the sources to a higher level group, but it's still a lot easier to recruit pranksters than hard core murderers.

You can also use several of this sort of incident to get people to stop reacting to it (alert fatigue), and then release something that initially looks similar to the detectors but is really much more dangerous.

Re:Just add a little imagination: (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43759393)

How do you tell the difference?

From observational evidence that *actual* terrorists groups don't seem to be into intentional "false alarm" style attacks (regardless of how "attractively effective" these would appear to be). Our own law enforcement agencies and fearful public create some of these, but there has yet to be evidence of, e.g., Al Qaeda affiliated groups leaving boxes of alarm clocks in airport terminals. Why wouldn't terrorists do this? For one thing, they're *extremely rare* (at least in this country). This leads to the second consideration: the few that are here tend to want to do something big and flashy (actually damaging), which entails *not getting caught* pulling stupid harmless stunts beforehand.

At the same time, AQAP, for example issues a claim of responsibility.

We had an (unfortunate) test case for this recently, with the Boston bombings: no one was stepping up to claim responsibility. This indicates that AQAP, for example, isn't in the business of opportunistically issuing false claims for threats they didn't cause.

it's still a lot easier to recruit pranksters than hard core murderers.

Where is there any evidence for "pranksters" being recruited? There have been more hard-core murderers than "recruited" pranksters. Pranksters work on their own, for their own agenda --- trying to recruit one would probably end up with you being on the wrong end of a prank with "FBI bust" as the punchline.

You'll probably still get jailed, but it'd be hard to justify a life term for it.

"Hard to justify" hasn't seemed to have stopped the government from carrying out plenty of atrocities against US citizens and foreign nationals so long as the word "terrorist" is involved.

Re: Just add a little imagination: (1)

Redmancometh (2676319) | about a year ago | (#43761105)

Terrorists don't use false alarm attacks to cause more dmg later? Research the IRA sometime...they would set one bomb off, wait until people took shelter, and blow the shelter up. They aren't the only ones....there is more than just domestic terrorism in history.

Re: Just add a little imagination: (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43762289)

Well, if you'd research the IRA some yourself, you'd see that they belong in a rather different category for analysis than typical terrorist threats within the US (the context of this discussion). Specifically, the IRA was operating very close to "home base," with a rather large sympathetic (or at least not wildly apathetic) portion of the population --- greatly altering the balance in how hard it is to recruit. One might expect IRA-like tactics to show up where the terrorist organization is operating as a large grassroots guerrilla resistance network --- and indeed, in countries "closer to home" for Al Qaeda, you do see different tactics where recruits are plentiful and can "vanish into the woodwork" of society.

Re: Just add a little imagination: (1)

Redmancometh (2676319) | about a year ago | (#43763821)

A) Call it what you want specifically targetting innocents is terrorism. What exactly excludes them from the general framework of "terrorist"? If the terrorist organization attacking is an international organization (read point B) why would the context simply be domestic terrorists? Also I don't think there IS a such thing as "typical" when you're talking about terrorist threats. Brown guy with black beard is statistically atypical.

They've all used entirely different tactics from each other. Timothy Mcveigh used an ANFO bomb, the boston bombers used an improvised pressure cooker "explosive," al-queda used planes. How about malware: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/04/put-nsa-in-char/ [wired.com]

How about the beltway sniping incident? One would create a distraction, so the other could get a better shot. Not with bombs, but still the same principle. How about the daschal anthrax incident, or the molotov cocktails in 2000 at NYC?

The point is there IS NOT a "typical" terrorist. If they think of an idea, they think it will cause damage, and can execute it...they will. You can't simply "eliminate" a "smoke alarm bell" style attack because it would be atypical.

B) The terrorists you speak of attacking us domestically...do you know where the bulk of their victims are located? In their own countries.
C) Do you think that a sympathetic base doesn't exist for these terrorists as well? There are radical (also non-radical) muslims in all countries of the world. There are radicals in other aspects as well. Pro-life terrorists, environmental liberation groups, black power groups, anarchists, and people with agenda we wouldn't even imagine or think of. Maybe radical right-wing anti-obama rednecks? I'm somewhat conservative, but I can't think of the left-wing equivelant. The environmentalism terrorists I suppose.

That's not even touching on good ol' fashion crazy.

Re:Which assumes... (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43759125)

because terrorists care about prison and the paperwork trail found after they do their evil deeds?

From what I hear they don't care to be at Guantanamo.

Re:Which assumes... (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43759015)

Hmm, and exactly what crime would you be committing? Littering? Vandalism? Public nuisance?

We (hopefully) still live in a nation where the authorities are still (sort of) bound by the rule of law. Certainly the legal tools are all in place for them to "disappear" anyone they want to, but it seems like thus far they are hesitant to actually exercise those powers without pretty solid reason, or at least they do a good job of making sure nobody hears about the abuses, which with today's social media would be an impressive feat.

Re:Which assumes... (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43759151)

Hmm, and exactly what crime would you be committing?

I have full confidence in our legal system's ability to manufacture a really scary sounding terrorism-related set of charges requiring harsh punishment. Sufficient legal memos will be generated to make whatever actions are taken fully retroactively legal. We're past the bad old Bush days of carrying out illegal imprisonment, torture, and executions on any flimsy pretenses of terrorism --- thanks to the tireless work of the Justice Department, we can now carry out fully legal imprisonment, torture, and executions on any flimsy pretenses of terrorism.

lead lining (2)

0111 1110 (518466) | about a year ago | (#43758565)

So if this were both widely deployed and effective it would just force these hypothetical dirty bomb enthusiasts to line the bomb container with lead. Lead which would become toxic shrapnel on detonation. The potential for many false positives has already been mentioned, but this system could be easily defeated by a thin lead lining. Lead lining has the further benefit of shielding a non-suicidal bomber from his own radiation.

Re:lead lining (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about a year ago | (#43758649)

So if this were both widely deployed and effective it would just force these hypothetical dirty bomb enthusiasts to line the bomb container with lead. Lead which would become toxic shrapnel on detonation. The potential for many false positives has already been mentioned, but this system could be easily defeated by a thin lead lining. Lead lining has the further benefit of shielding a non-suicidal bomber from his own radiation.

That's easy, we just ban well shielded dirty bombs. *rimshot*

Re:lead lining (3, Informative)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43758689)

lead doe not magically stop 100% of gamma rays from a source.. Consider 1.1 MeV gamma rays from cobalt 60, a centimeter of lead will cut the amount of gamma rays only to half, still detectable.

Re:lead lining (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43759141)

Shielding makes the bomb bigger and heavier. Bigger and heavier bombs are harder to handle and hide. That makes them easier to detect.

Re:lead lining (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#43759333)

Lead which would become toxic shrapnel on detonation.

Ummm... somehow I feel the toxicity of lead are the least cause of worry in the case of a dirty bomb explosion...

Re:lead lining (1)

caluml (551744) | about a year ago | (#43763903)

"it would just force these hypothetical dirty bomb enthusiasts to line the bomb container with lead"

A friend of mine works for a company making detectors for ports.

I said to him "But terrorists will just ship them in in lead-lined boxes", and he told me that that would cause a measurable drop in the background radiation which would trigger suspicions.

Dirty bomb is a myth (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43758575)

I cannot believe in the year 2013 I am still seeing the myth of the "dirty bomb" being perpetuated. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2004/oct/15/broadcasting.bbc

Re:Dirty bomb is a myth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43758611)

I cannot believe in the year 2013 I am still seeing people citing The Grauniad.

Re:Dirty bomb is a myth (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about a year ago | (#43760005)

The Guardian is the only "serious" paper in which I've ever seen apostrophes used to form plurals.

In the editorials, no less.

Re:Dirty bomb is a myth (1)

mug funky (910186) | about a year ago | (#43760675)

their cryptic crossword is a bastard though.

The Next Law (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#43758733)

Will say that govenrment gets access to everyone's cell phones so they can "fight terror." It's for our own safety. We should all be thankful Uncle Sam is looking out for us.

*sigh

photons only eh (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43758755)

so beta, alpha and neutron emitters, is there an app for that?

Re:photons only eh (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43758883)

Indeed there is! From now on, all citizens will be required to wear extremely delicate balloons tied to their ears.

You insensitive clods! (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#43758761)

My phone doesn't have a camera!

And my camera doesn't have a phone.

Has Anyone Considered... (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about a year ago | (#43758831)

...That having all these distributed and location-tracked radiation detectors monitored by authorities (I have serious doubts about the government/DHS allowing anything like full and complete public access to the hit-location data) makes this effectively a very powerful tool for tracking individuals/objects/papers/etc of interest to the authorities by simply "tagging", in any number of ways and methods, whatever they want to track with a radioactive substance...liquid, powder, spray, dart, added to food/drink, etc etc.

No wrapping one's head in a damp towel. Better get your ass to Mars!

Strat

Re:Has Anyone Considered... (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43759839)

No wrapping one's head in a damp towel. Better get your ass to Mars!

Prostitutes with only three boobs?
Hey, man, I got five kids to feed!

This is NOT low-cost (1)

Tanman (90298) | about a year ago | (#43758857)

If they are talking about enough users having this running to be effective, then they are talking about a tremendous number of users basically setting their phones to drain their batteries out as-fast-as-possible. What are the electricity costs of such an endeavor? Significant, I'd wager.

And the number of false-positives that would be generated would be huge, I'd imagine.

DIrty bombs not dangerous (2)

LanMan04 (790429) | about a year ago | (#43758929)

From everything I've read about dirty bombs, their radiological damage is negligible...it's all about creating panic.

Liquid aerosol is dangerous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43758985)

Dissolve the radioactive material in acid. That will make it water soluble, then spray it with compressed air, or spread the liquid droplets with a conventional explosive.

The idea that one cannot weaponize a dirty bomb comes from the difficulty of reducing a solid chunk of metal to fine dust.

Re:Liquid aerosol is dangerous. (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43759139)

Or just grind it into powder. Making a dirty bomb isn't exactly rocket science, but it's not exactly effective either. If you're dealing with a subcritical quantity of radioactive material you won't be able to contaminate a very large area to the point of being actively dangerous in the short term. Using the same explosive to disperse a chemicaly toxic or infectious payload would likely be far more effective.

Re:Liquid aerosol is dangerous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43759455)

If they detonated even a small dirty bomb in Manhattan do you think anyone would be willing to go within 10 blocks of the site? That in itself would bring an entire city to its knees.

Re:Liquid aerosol is dangerous. (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43759951)

Sure, but that's due to stupidity, not actual risk. You'd probably need a *very* dirty bomb for the fallout to be half as dangerous as all the toxic chemicals and heavy metals already saturating the area today. The whole cold-war dog and pony show completely warped the general publics perception of the actual risks of radioactivity. Most people would much rather have a coal plant in their back yard than a nuclear reactor as well, doesn't mean the coal plant isn't actually far more dangerous.

Of course I suppose if you're measuring effectiveness in terms of public reaction rather than actual damage, then sure, a dirty bomb might be the way to go. Heck, you could probably save yourself a lot of trouble by just throwing a few glow-in-the-dark watches into your bomb and "leaking" a nice scary video to the media. Or hey, how about a banana-bomb Lots of nice scary radioactive potassium in those...

Ethidium Bromide destroys your DNA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43760699)

It is readily available from chemical supply stores. It's used in biology experiments to make DNA fluorescent, but is very very dangerous because it cross-links your DNA. If you get any on your skin, you've got instant cancer.

Re:DIrty bombs not dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43760279)

Yes and no. In the context of acute (immediate) damage, you are correct; the levels of radioactivity are nowhere near what you'd get from even a small tactical nuke, since the dirty bomb is not achieving fission. If the bomb utilized, say, a cobalt isotope from an X-ray machine, then radiation levels are dangerous but can be neutralized fairly effectively, provided the radiation source is still intact. Here-in lies the major problem. The blast tends to break apart the radiation source and scatter it as so many particulates. Finding and neutralizing said particulates takes exhaustive searching, particularly in highly developed areas where man-made structures can play havoc with wind patterns. If this is not done properly (and even doing it properly is no garauntee of 100% clean-up) you have chronic radiation problems plaguing the area for years after-the-fact. This has the second-order effect of dropping economic levels in the area as well as a reluctance to the return to the area due to fears about radiation. The culmination of all of this is the panic you mentioned.

Re:DIrty bombs not dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43762143)

The real panic comes when everyone thinks it's necessary to participate in a crowdsourced dirty bomb detector grid. It's kind of like a crowdsourced Godzilla detector grid: it's got a sexy edge that works in movies, but it's silly in real life, because there aren't Godzillas lurking just over the continental shelf line off your nearest port city. Theoretically, it's possible, but it's not worth the effort of detection (or fearing). Even if there were such things as Godzillas, they'd be less statistically dangerous than lightning (have you ever seen a dirty bomb or a Godzilla? have you ever seen lightning?).

Re:DIrty bombs not dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43763507)

From everything I've read about dirty bombs, their radiological damage is negligible...it's all about creating panic.

It would be just like the Superfund fiascos. Anti-science liberal idiots will start panicking about how the environment has been polluted and demand costly cleanups involving hauling truckloads of dirt back and forth. We heard loons like Sen Boxer ranting on about this stuff after Fukushima, and they're the ones who also make it impossible to deal sanely with our nuclear waste.

The real way to preempt this stuff is to confront the liberal war on science and technology. They've been preventing us from safe and responsible use of nuclear power since the '60s, and it's been killing people because we've been using far more toxic coal power. And, of course, anti-science liberals are even against using natural gas, which is single-handedly (since we have barely any nuclear power) responsible for our dropping carbon emissions.

also known as (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#43759273)

Also known as a chemotherapy patient detector. I know if I was getting chemo, I wouldn't mind getting tackled by the police every other day because of the slight radioactivity.

Re:also known as (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43759715)

If you are getting irradiated in your chemotherapy sessions you should consider checking your name tag and/or surroundings.

Dirty bomb detector (2)

rossdee (243626) | about a year ago | (#43759317)

This will force Al-Qaeda to clean up their act.

Re:Dirty bomb detector (1)

Jaden42 (466735) | about a year ago | (#43760551)

Is that you, Mr. Takei?

Whoopty doo (1)

rikkards (98006) | about a year ago | (#43759459)

Didn't the Department of Energy do a study and found that if a dirty bomb went off, the worst of it would actually be the initial (conventional) explosion and ensuing panic? Essentially dirty bombs are equivalent to the boogy man

Lucius Fox will never allow it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43759673)

Didn't they cover this in the first Batman movie?

New York City. (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about a year ago | (#43759805)

I read that having a radition detector is illegal in New York City (like wearing body armor on school grounds...)

Does this make every camera phone in New York illegal?

Live in fear good citizen (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about a year ago | (#43759855)

There have been andriod apps in the market place for years converting your phones cmos camera into a real life working decently accurate geiger counter easily able to pick up background. If you go looking take care to avoid the joke apps.

While this is all really cool and interesting mcgivering of technology dirty bombs don't actually exist because they are pointless.

Re:Live in fear good citizen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43760135)

yeah? like, which ones?

Can't detect an A-bomb this way (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#43759891)

Plutonium and uranium are alpha emitters. Alphas won't get through a sheet of cardboard. A gamma ray detector won't pick up anything. This won't detect an atomic bomb.

This is only useful for detecting radioactive waste, miscellaneous medical and industrial radiation sources out of their casings, and X-ray machines.

Re:Can't detect an A-bomb this way (1)

jrincayc (22260) | about a year ago | (#43760151)

U-235 and Pu-239 emit gamma particles in addition to the alpha particles, see page 20 of the Los Alamos Radiation Monitoring Notebook: http://www.nrrpt.org/file/Los%20Alamos%20Radiation%20Monitoring%20Notebook%202011.pdf [nrrpt.org] or http://www.nndc.bnl.gov/chart/decaysearchdirect.jsp?nuc=239PU&unc=nds [bnl.gov] and http://www.nndc.bnl.gov/chart/decaysearchdirect.jsp?nuc=235U&unc=nds [bnl.gov] The gammas are lower energy, so they could be shielded easier than say, the gammas from Co-60, but a gamma detector would be able to detect sufficient quantities of U-235 and Pu-239.

Re:Can't detect an A-bomb this way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43760299)

odd to hear gammas referred to as particles, but your UID is five digits.

Re:Can't detect an A-bomb this way (1)

mug funky (910186) | about a year ago | (#43760687)

duality be damned!

Forget private cell phones, use public CCTV (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about a year ago | (#43761053)

While I'm all for doing my civic duty, I'm not sure people would be too happy about an app that, I'm guessing, would leave your camera on all the time, and phone home data using your bandwidth. (But would be fascinating to the the resulting croudsourced 'radiation map'...we'd probably find out a few things that govt and private institutions had forgotten about, or had hoped been forgotten.)

Anyway, my though was, would this work with the enormous number of suveillance cameras deployed by the authorities? 'Free' information with none of the power consumption and privacy concerns. Static network, of course, but they should be in the places that bombers would be targetting anyway, no?

great, (1)

unami (1042872) | about a year ago | (#43763571)

now we just need to wait for someone to finally build the world's first dirty bomb.

Battery Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43763737)

My cell phone's battery life is bad enough as it is. I don't need another background app sucking down juice and sending data over my pay per byte plan. Give me a tax credit or give me free a free wireless plan with a non-subsidized phone and we can talk.

Nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43768251)

I still have to say it... ... Batman did it first.

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