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Aerosol Spray to Identify Bombing Suspects

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the spray-the-terror-away dept.

Science 191

RedHanded writes "Forensic chemists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed a color-changing spray that can identify people suspected of making or planting bombs. The chemical turns from yellow to bright red when it comes into contact with urea nitrate, an explosive residue that may be left behind on the hands of someone who has handled an improvised device."

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Basic hygiene (5, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675203)

How many false alarms are they going to get after people don't wash their hands after visiting the bathroom?

Maybe that is what they are looking for - poor hygiene = terrorist?

Perhaps this chemical is the same one which makes the purple cloud of shame in the swimming pool (I know its a legend but still..)

Re:Basic hygiene (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675231)

From the article:

Spraying this substance in the air will show the farts of anyone in the room as a blue haze.

Ha ! Finally some way to track down the lactose intolerant!

Re:Basic hygiene (4, Funny)

fbjon (692006) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675749)

I was thinking more like: yellow is neutral, red is enemy. So, air-burst a big bomb with this, take satellite pics, and you have an instant minimap!

Pull my fingers (0)

infonography (566403) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675835)

Well, it all started when I was just 13 years of age. One day, while walking with some friends, I accidentally cut the cheese. Well, in my adolescent awkwardness, I blamed it on an old gypsy woman who happened to be passing by. BIG MISTAKE! The gypsy woman placed a curse upon my head. Because I smelled it, she decreed I would forevermore BE HE WHO DEALT IT!

The Spleen

Re:Basic hygiene (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675251)

They go to the bathroom and end up with explosive residue on their hands?

Wow, I sure wouldn't want to be in the other stall when they're going. That gives new meaning to the words explosive diarrhea.

Re:Basic hygiene (5, Interesting)

battery111 (620778) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676233)

Well, not exactly. I don't know enough about how the chemical works (it will likely be found to cause cancer in the state of california at a later date), but part of manufacturing urea nitrate is indeed to distill ones urine. My guess is that it would have to be at a relatively high concentration in order to react, but that may not be the case, which would cause a large number of false positives. Another thing to keep in mind is that urea nitrate is only one of a large number of homemade explosives, and not really the most common, so while it is a promising advance, it really is not the be all end all of bombmaker detection. One also has to raise questions about its effects on personal privacy, but likely in the areas this is going to be employed, it may be a secondary consideration.

Re:Basic hygiene (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675307)

whatever you say, fuckhead. it's slick how you mock people who are working on making things better for others. fucking jerkoff.
 
how about you do something productive instead of running your hole like a 14 year old?

Re:Basic hygiene (0, Offtopic)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675963)

Maybe he really is 14 years old... ;-)

Re:Basic hygiene (5, Interesting)

Upaut (670171) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675413)

Only if this person with bad hygiene sweats nitric acid...

I'm more worried about, well, me... I use urea nitrate in my tropical orchid mix...

Re:Basic hygiene (1)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675663)

I use urea nitrate in my tropical orchid mix...

Sure, sure, whatever you say.

Just don't be offended if I don't shake your hand buddy.

Re:Basic hygiene (1)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675693)

Sweats Nitric Acid you say...

*Goes to put on more Anti-Sweat Deodorant before heading off to the Airport*

Re:Basic hygiene (0)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676139)

I use urea nitrate in my tropical orchid mix...
Arrrrggh! Just piss off, matey!

Re:Basic hygiene (2, Interesting)

Neanderthal Ninny (1153369) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675707)

How many people in their lifetime ever actually handle urea nitrate anyways? In my previous career I used to handle explosives and most explosives your don't want to handle with your bare hands since most of them are a health hazard also, not to mention the blasting power. The nitrates in the most explosives are basal dilators so you turn bright red because all of the blood vessels in your body are opening up. You may identify people that handle explosives this way but alcohol does the same thing so don't count on it.

Re:Basic hygiene (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675777)

I think you mean "vasodilators".

Re:Basic hygiene (1)

BugAttack (624234) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675885)

well if it shows up red, and they search you and you have no bomb, then what's the problem? in the US, we search people all the time randomly at airports, or sometimes on the streets for just looking like a suspect in question.

Re:Basic hygiene (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676161)

lol I guess those "wash your hands before returning to work" signs will have to go up in terrorist places of employment all over the place now! Anyway I had to comment cuz going with what you said, maybe I'm mistaken but that chemical rings a bell as something you can sweat if you eat certain things. It's been a while since chemistry class but it still sounds familiar. Plus then there's like firework manufacturers and who knows what else that deal with that on a daily basis

Re:Basic hygiene (2, Interesting)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676305)

More importantly, are there going to be people who walk around in airports spraying random people?
This is why I stay away from certain areas of the mall.

And more importantly, what will happen when someone yells "Security! This man is assaulting people with aerosol spray!" and the airport undergoes lockdown?

Or more feasibly, what happens when the terrorists use the aerosol as an opportunity to walk around the airport spraying people's hands, infecting them with SARS or some other horrifying disease?

Seriously, these people need to find an alternative way of doing this. it opens up too many scary options for abuse.

Re:Basic hygiene (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676503)

Just spray surfaces all over the place with some.
Sheesh the morons.

Re:Basic hygiene (3, Informative)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676767)

Well, according this earlier abstract [astm.org] by the same group (the paper from two years ago where they originally propose the dye- the paper linked to the article is really just about using X-ray crystallography to study the structure of the dye/urea nitrate complex):

Urea itself, which is the starting material for urea nitrate, does not react with p-DMAC under the same conditions. Other potential sources of false positive response e.g., common fertilizers, medications containing the urea moiety and various amines, do not produce the red pigment with p-DMAC. Exhibits collected from 10 terrorist cases have been tested with p-DMAC. The results were in full agreement with those obtained by instrumental techniques including GC/MS, XRD and IR.

From what I know of the chemistry of aldehydes (there's a great icebreaker at parties...), this dye should react with any primary or secondary amine- like regular old urea, ammonia, amino acids, etc. What this group claims, however, is that there is a particular color change reaction for this dye which occurs for urea nitrate which does not occur for other amines.

I think what the article's confusing picture of the dye and urea nitrate interacting is suggesting is that the hydrogen bonds between the nitrate and urea moieties remain intact even after the urea has bonded to the dye, so the nitrate moiety affects the dye complex and the color it appears. I'd still be concerned about false positives, personally, particularly from different amine salts. The color produced might be uniquely identifiable to a spectrophotometer, but for a visual test I'd be worried about anything that turns "reddish" enough to produce a false positive.

bomb makers or... (4, Insightful)

Jherico (39763) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675221)

Bomb makers or maybe farmers who handle fertilizer? I don't envy being a false positive in Iraq.

Re:bomb makers or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675595)

Hey what about that last guy?

what about em?

He had a detonator in his hand!

well yea, but they were clean...

Re:bomb makers or... (1)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675617)

The chemical turns from yellow to bright red when it comes into contact with urea nitrate

Yet another excellent reason to wash your hands when you go to the toilet...

...actually, let me clarify that. A good reason to wash your hands after you go to the toilet.

Washing them when you go is disgusting.

Re:bomb makers or... (4, Funny)

Osty (16825) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676445)

Washing them when you go is disgusting.

No it's not. It's multi-tasking!

Re:bomb makers or... (1)

Jherico (39763) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676829)

Right.... cause you can ONLY use urea nitrate for bomb making. Its not as if the Oklahoma City bombing was perpetrated using ordinary commercial fertilizer.

Re:bomb makers or... (2, Informative)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675729)

I believe said farmer would have to urinate on their hands after handling fertilizer, not wash, and actually probably need to vigorously rub their hands together until they were hot to generate a positive on this test.

great (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675235)

zillion dollar spray defeated by less than a cent disposable rubber gloves.

It's a good thing... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675237)

It's a good thing that terrorists never wash their hands.

Re:It's a good thing... (1)

torkus (1133985) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675767)

two words too many

First silly string, now spray paint? (3, Funny)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675247)

I recall that troops in Iraq had already started using silly string to detect IED's. Now we're going to spray paint people to try to find who made the bombs? I'm waiting to see what 7-11 product shows up on the battlefeild next...

Re:First silly string, now spray paint? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675365)

I recall that troops in Iraq had already started using silly string to detect IED's.

How does that work?

Re:First silly string, now spray paint? (2, Informative)

bishop32x (691667) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675449)

the silly string hangs of the trip wires, allowing them to bee seen easily without putting nough pressure on the wire to cause it to go off.

Re:First silly string, now spray paint? (5, Informative)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675477)

I believe it is used to detect tripwires. Silly string sprayed ahead of you will drape over tripwires without being heavy enough to trip them. makes sense to me anyway.

Re:First silly string, now spray paint? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676473)

Correct. Extra point for you, I see.

And I likely deserve to be docked for calling the new one "spray paint", as there is no paint involved. It is an aerosol spray, however.

Only the best in high-tech gadgetry and weaponry for our boys overseas, I guess...

Re:First silly string, now spray paint? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675479)

They spray it and where the string doesn't fall completely to the ground, they assume it is a trip wire.

It is most useful when rushing a stronghold then it is with the conventional IED buried in the street and set off by a remote somewhere.

Re:First silly string, now spray paint? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675735)

WTF? How the hell does silly string detect IUDs?
.... oh... IEDs. Sorry, please continue...

Alternative use: Detecting IEDs themselves. (4, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675747)

I recall that troops in Iraq had already started using silly string to detect IED's.

I wonder if a light spray of this stuff would make a hidden IED stand out as a bright red spot?

And perhaps with red trails marking how it arrived and where the people who delivered it went when they left?

Talk about residue... (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675253)

I guess that means everyone boarding a plane will have yellow hands. I suspect they'll use up the plane's water reservoir trying to wash the crap off, too.

Re:Talk about residue... (1)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676345)

I'd hope no one thinks about massively aerosolizing this stuff (like spraying it throughout an airport to find terror suspects). From this Material Safety Data Sheet [sciencelab.com] for para-dimethylaminocinnamaldehyde, the dye in question: Potential Acute Health Effects: Hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant), of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation. That's why what's suggested in the article is to sample a suspect through swabbing, then testing the swab- not spraying directly on people.

In addition, as both an amine and an aldehyde, I'm willing to bet this stuff has a very strong odor.

Congratulation! (5, Insightful)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675257)

Terrorists will now use gloves to make bombs. Innocent people will be falsely identified as being a terrorist.

Mission accomplished!

Re:Congratulation! (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675531)

It will be on their shirts, or clothing from attempting to conceal it. Gloves won't hide the stuff either. If anything it would hid the person manufacturing it but then again a shower would do as much as gloves do.

As for false positives, it isn't likely to be a problem. The stuff shows who the likely people are not who the person is. If you have a legitimate reason for the chemicals on you, you get to go. If you don't, then they look to see why you have it.

It sounds like your pissed because they have found a way to track the people down after the fact and in some cases before the fact. Is that a bad thing for your or something? Would you prefer to just let them blow up innocent civilians unchallenged? Cause that's what happens, they kill more innocent civilians then military personnel.

Re:Congratulation! (2, Insightful)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675657)

You don't think it will be used on American civilians sooner or later? Kicking doors in and oppressive military tactics have come back to roost, look at abusive SWAT and cops... tazer usage is going out of hand, being used in the western work to nail kids (when I was a kid we used to get our ears boxed, not blasted with a tazer, and it worked better).

If you're an American, and you hang out at the range, and the local scumbags decide to make that illegal, suddenly, having gone plinking or hunting is a crime... and suddenly, practicing your own rights for your own pleasure, without harming a single other man or woman, can get you shot or raided by the local jack booted thugs, all because some spray sells you out.

I can guarantee they won't catch a single damn terrorist. Terrorists aren't the targets. They spent too much money training the real ones to kill them now.

Re:Congratulation! (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675977)

Don't you think you are blowing things out of portion?

Swat doesn't get called unless there is a barricade, ongoing threat of life or hostage situation. Cities don't have swat teams on standby to assist at traffic stops. They have cops on patrol that come off patrol when the swat team is called. Sometimes they go back and get their gear and sometimes their gear is loaded on a truck waiting for them on the scene. Swat forces havn't been abused in over 50 years so what makes you all the suddent think they will now.

And as for the tasering of kids, These are stupid untrained cops and yes, they need to be dealt with, but they aren't a big problem. You can name 3 or 4 instances out of how many police forces and university forces in the last 3 years where this shit has happened. It isn't a major problem, it isn't like all the cops all around the country are doing it. There are more unjustified police shootings then taserings going on in a year. What makes you think it is a big problem now?

If you're an American, and you hang out at the range, and the local scumbags decide to make that illegal, suddenly, having gone plinking or hunting is a crime... and suddenly, practicing your own rights for your own pleasure, without harming a single other man or woman, can get you shot or raided by the local jack booted thugs, all because some spray sells you out.
Listen to what you are saying. If you do something and they make it illegal, and then commit that illegal act, suddenly you can get hassled by the cops. So what, your doing something illegal. Now there are ways to contest unjust laws and unconstitutional laws. If you think the answer is to just violate the law instead of taking care of it properly, then you deserve what you get.

I don't see this coming around as something like you describe either. Lie detector tests have been around for a while, you don't see people getting pulled over randomly to see if they broke a law and then attempt to pull which law out of them. You have DNA that can link people to a crime, I don't see people being DNA samples manditorily in case you ever commit a crime. In fact, there are a lot of things that could be used in much the same manor as you describe now that isn't being used in that way. So tell me, what makes you think this is any different?

I can guarantee they won't catch a single damn terrorist. Terrorists aren't the targets. They spent too much money training the real ones to kill them now.
Ok, Now I understand the problem. Well, wake up alice, this isn't wonderland. You live in the real world. And if what you just said is even remotely true, do you understand the amount of people that would have to be lieing to you in order to keep it secrete enough to be effective? I mean you would have to have everyone in the program keeping it a secrete, anyone in the government or military who comes across them keeping it a secrete, what would happen if just one of them told? The jig would be up. So maybe they kill them so they cannot tell, where are all the missing bodies? Why are the soldiers killing them right now and dieing from it too.

You need to wake up and just take a small breath of common sense. It is practically impossible for your lala land to exist.

Re:Congratulation! (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676095)

Swat doesn't get called unless there is a barricade, ongoing threat of life or hostage situation

Wouldn't it be great if that were true?

Trouble is, police departments in many cities are now using militarized squads for serving routine misdemeanor warrants. [phoenixnewtimes.com]

This violates the sprit of the posse comitatus act, and probably the letter of the law as well.

-jcr

Re:Congratulation! (1)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676259)

A doctor in upstate New York (who happened to have a carry permit) was issued a "warrant" by the locals, which was served by SWAT... one of the SWAT boys was a bit trigger happy (he was cleared of course) and mistook the doctor reaching into his coat to get his ID with him reaching for his weapon... (which he wasn't even carrying at the time). Shot him dead. The warrant in question?? A warrant in DEBT... no reason for SWAT... whatsoever.

A bouncer at a club in Virginia Beach (I was going to college nearby so I heard about it the day after) was murdered by cops for refusing to surrender his weapon. He had NO reason to surrender his weapon as he was not the one guilty, or the one the cops were there to arrest.

Many other such situations occur that I would be bored reading to you as you will find an equal number of your own reasons to keep buying and drinking the collective Kool Aid.

Also, recall that there is a CONSTITUTION that has this second ammendment, which, by both the writings of those that lobbied for it, and the standing doctrines of the time, can be interpreted as only NOONE will be debarred the USE or possession of arms.

This basically says that these people would be committing high treason against the highest law of this land the moment such a gun prohibition law passes.

As a "citizen" are you ready to do YOUR duty if such a law is passed in your neck of the woods? I doubt it, hence your ignorant comment.

Ok, Now I understand the problem. Well, wake up alice, this isn't wonderland. You live in the real world. And if what you just said is even remotely true, do you understand the amount of people that would have to be lieing to you in order to keep it secrete enough to be effective? I mean you would have to have everyone in the program keeping it a secrete, anyone in the government or military who comes across them keeping it a secrete, what would happen if just one of them told? The jig would be up. So maybe they kill them so they cannot tell, where are all the missing bodies? Why are the soldiers killing them right now and dieing from it too.

Actually it is. The difference is simple. Only person that needs to be in the know in any organization is someone who can direct the flow of information and another scant few to direct the flow of evidence (as in "disappear"). Regular Joes simply feed off the need for power, cash, comfort, safety. You really must have seen too much of the way tyranny perpetuates, if you are still willing to believe that jack booted thugs and their ilk only existed in soviet nations and in nazi germany. Those were trial runs. This here is the real deal. Better equipped, with more experience and "data" as Marxist Hacker would say.

This is visible daily, accountants and some CEO's work together to defraud countless investors in companies, and the masses working there never see it. Enron is a PRIME example.

Re:Congratulation! (1)

jojowombl (1159267) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676511)

just some case i heard of a while ago: PLUR Meets SWAT as Utah Cops Attack Electronic Dance Party some 900 party-goers attacked by 90 Utah law enforcement officers dressed in combat gear and carrying assault rifles

Re:Congratulation! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20676275)

Swat doesn't get called unless there is a barricade, ongoing threat of life or hostage situation.

[wince]

If only this was true [cato.org] .

Re:Congratulation! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20676307)

You can name 3 or 4 instances out of how many police forces and university forces in the last 3 years where this shit has happened.

"3 or 4" incidents where it made national news, mainly because people were there with cameras. Wouldn't you think the cops would be on their 'best behavior' with cameras around? Yet we still have several incidents. How many times does it happen when there are no cameras there??

Re:Congratulation! (1)

sholden (12227) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676477)

Swat doesn't get called unless there is a barricade, ongoing threat of life or hostage situation

Or they want to exercise a plain old search warrant.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/26/AR2006012602136.html [washingtonpost.com]

"""
But police officials acknowledged that the tactical team, using bulletproof vests, high-powered weapons and other police tools, serves nearly all of the warrants after an investigation has found probable cause to seize evidence
"""

Re:Congratulation! (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675981)

It will be on their shirts, or clothing from attempting to conceal it.

You don't think that a terrorist would be able to obtain a plastic bag to hold their bomb?

Re:Congratulation! (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676163)


As for false positives, it isn't likely to be a problem.

Without knowing the false positive rate, you can't say anything about if it's a problem or not. If the rate is even 1 in 10,000, this is going to be a useless test. Airports have 10s of thousands of people going through them each day. What are you going to do when you have multiple false positives every day?

Re:Congratulation! (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676507)

1 in 10,000 isn't that bad for a false positive rate. But the false positive isn't conclusive evidence to anything. It is just one more way or reason to look at someone. I would be more worried about what it missed and no one looked at because it didn't go off then I would about having someone delayed an extra 20 minutes for whatever reason.

You do realize that your 1 in 10,000 rate would only be one or two false positives a day in an airport that sees 10s f thousands of people. But I don't think this is the target audience for the stuff so it shouldn't matter. It is going to be when they suspect someone, they could spray him just before letting them go. If it is a match, well, you know what that means, if it doesn't turn red, then they aren't going to go any further.

The real application I think this might have, seeing how it works on guns being fired too, is that in a firefight situation where the suspects run into a building and ditch the guns to act like they don't know what it going on. In this case, a few squirts, and you have a number of people who would probably know more about it. Now, you see three people standing in the vicinity of a road side bomb that goes off when the first vehicle in your convoy goes by, You can pursue these people and squirt, squirt, you might find someone of interest.

I don't think anyone it thinking this is a cure all. It is just one more tool in the box for detecting wrong doers before or after the fact. It may be used to strengthen other evidence or to justify letting someone go. I don't doubt that it can be abused, but I doubt it would be wide spread in the abuse. Especially when people eventually go free and complain.

Re:Congratulation! (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676203)

"Terrorists will now use gloves to make bombs."

Yeah, in theory. Also, in theory, you can wear gloves to prevent your fingerprints from being left at the scene of a crime. Yet, in a lot of cases, they're found anyway.

Hopefully, it is not a (3, Funny)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675261)

piss-poor detector...

(captcha: enrage)

caught red-handed (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675267)

Does it work on people who handle cluster bombs [bbc.co.uk] ?

Just another excuse (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675321)

This is just another attempt by agents of the Surveillance Society to curtail our freedoms. In a free society, there is no need laws regulating the use of high explosives. High explosives are useful in a number of areas from farming to mining to home defense.

High explosives in and of themselves are harmless. What causes problems is when certain individuals get it into their heads to use these compounds to violate the rights of others. That is when law enforcement should step in, not before.

I an sick of all this scaremongering in the MSM about "car bombs" and "homicide bombs", as if the miniscule threat of a terrorist attack compares in any way with the ongoing oppression of free individuals happening all around us. The Bush administration and their masters in the Israeli lobby have gone too far this time. I call upon all right-thinking Americans to paint their hands red in solidarity with all whose rights will be violated by this anti-high-explosives witchhunt.

Re:Just another excuse (1)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675571)

Go to the range and put a dozen rounds downrange through a semiauto... that'll put enough nitrogen compounds on your hands... I believe the compound they're talking about may well be the same version used in modern gunpowder, but I'll have to check on it later.

Re:Just another excuse (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675591)

XKCD Says: [xkcd.com]

Fun game: try to post a YouTube comment so stupid that people realize you must be joking. (Hint: this is impossible)
N.B. if parent was not intended to be funny I will kill myself.

Re:Just another excuse (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675759)

I've mentioned this on Slashdot before but I'll bring it up again since it seems germane. Back in the mid-fifties, my father, his three brothers and sister decided to head out West to look for the Lost Dutchman gold mine. There was one particular shaft which legend has it was near where the Dutchman was supposed to be. It was a long vertical drop of about fifty feet, and then a horizontal run of a couple of hundred. In any event, they decided to do some blasting (this was out in the middle of the desert somewhere, no danger of anyone but themselves getting hurt.) So on the way there, they stopped in at a local small town hardware store and picked up a case of dynamite. No forms, no paperwork, no red tape, no kowtowing to some bureaucrat somewhere. As the parent poster pointed out, there are many legitimate uses for explosives.

Well, they blasted away down there, cleared away some more rock ... alas, no gold mine. That's too bad, because if they had found it, I'd be posting this from my family yacht. Eventually they finished with their search and decided it was time to come home, but they realized they had quite a bit of dynamite left. What else to do but spend an afternoon blowing up boulders and making holes in the sand. All in good fun, actually. Hard to imagine that happening in the U.S. today: odds are I'd never have been born because my father would have died in prison, rather than at home like he wanted.

In any event, I'm just pointing out that nobody bothered to restrict the sale of high explosives (not that dynamite compares to modern stuff) until some fuckheads a decade or two later decided to blow up a few buildings to make a "statement" or some such.

Re:Just another excuse (1)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675897)

That's true. Same thing with hijacking planes, the question used to be "Where are we going to go instead?" before someone said that the answer was "Those buildings over there." Now, no one can do the hijacking thing around here any more.

Now that I think about it, I wonder if the very strong anti-gun agenda in the UK is a backlash from Guy Fawkes, or just the more recent American Revolution. If only there was a way for all our rights being taken away to create some sort of polarizing backlash in the same way...

Re:Just another excuse (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676349)

If only there was a way for all our rights being taken away to create some sort of polarizing backlash in the same way...

Careful there ... you came awfully close to using the "R" word.

What I was referring to was "incrementalism" ... the gradual increase in government power over time, using extreme incidents to rationalize same to the public.

Re:Just another excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675817)

I generally agree with your sentiment, but dude, "Home defense"???

I would love to learn a legitamate use for high explosives in home defense. You might convinve me of normal explosives, for those of you that feel the need for "blow-it-up-if-you-get-too-close" protection -- but high explosives?

Re:Just another excuse (1)

Catnapster (531547) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676063)

Well if you're going to blow your own house up, you might as well make sure you really teach it a lesson.

That is why... (4, Insightful)

j. andrew rogers (774820) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675329)

...smart terrorists only use peroxide-based explosives (like the London subway bombing et al), oxidized halide based explosives (e.g. chlorate), and various other dirt cheap and ubiquitous explosives. While many of the most famous explosive chemistries might be subject to nitrate tests, the range of explosive chemistries that have been used at various times is far more diverse than nitrates. First World War mortar explosives are as dangerous today as they were back then, even if some of them do not contain nitrates.

The fixation on the detection of nitrate and related chemistry is a bit of a blind spot in explosive detection technology.

Re:That is why... (1)

Tim99 (984437) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675523)

One of the reasons that the West has concentrated on nitrate and nitro compound explosives is that they are almost invariably used in military explosives. Most materiel that terrorists/freedom fighters used in the 1970s-1990s were military based. Much of it came from the old Soviet empire via areas like Libya.

There has been a reluctance to use colour-change reactions in the West for mass screenings as a number of the compounds that work best are suspected carcinogens.

Re:That is why... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675585)

I think they are focusing on IEDs and what they have to work with presently i Iraq and so on.

While I would agree that it would create a blind spot in the detection, we are having serious problems with a certain types of IEDs right now. Even if we are 10% closer to detecting and punishing those behind the stuff, that is 10% further then yesterday. And I think that is a good thing.

ever since oklahoma city anyway (1)

TheAxeMaster (762000) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675709)

Before that they just didn't think it was feasible to try to detect them chemically since they could be made from so many different things. When was the last time anyone heard about an ANFO bomb going off somewhere anyway?

Re:ever since oklahoma city anyway (3, Informative)

the Jim Bloke (1110963) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675935)

Quote "When was the last time anyone heard about an ANFO bomb going off somewhere anyway?" Depending on the minesite, from once a week to twice a day. Ammonium Nitrate(urea) and Fuel Oil explosives are the backbone of the industrial explosives. There are legitimate uses for explosives, and legitimate uses for ammonium nitrate. A chemical sensor that detects firearm propellants would be more useful for finding criminals - except we are talking about the USA and its miltiary adventures anyway. Just because I work around explosives, and have a beard, does not make me a bomb hurling radical.

Re:ever since oklahoma city anyway (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676081)

When was the last time anyone heard about an ANFO bomb going off somewhere anyway?

Uh, 1995 when the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City was destroyed by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols?

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

That depends. (1)

msimm (580077) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675961)

The fixation on the detection of nitrate and related chemistry is a bit of a blind spot in explosive detection technology.
On who you're trying to sell it to.

CSI (1)

thatnerdguy (551590) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675361)

Sounds like something Gil Grissom or Horatio Caine would use

More Griess Test Nonsense (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675467)

In the UK, the Birmingham Six [wikipedia.org] were falsely imprisoned for 16 years (one chap died in prison) largely because of the Griess test [wikipedia.org] . The trouble is, anything nitrated will give a positive. The playing cards the men had been using on the train when they were arrested were probably what set it off. Ping pong balls certainly would. Imagine Forrest Gump in the Twenty First Century, "And then I met the President again, then they tasered me, then I went to prison for life." The Griess test is now completely discredited. Its re-introduction would be on a par with admitting polygraphs, or examining chickens' giblets as evidence, whether it's packaged as an aerosol or anything else.

So uh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675473)

Is EXPLOSIVE JEW SPRAY a meme yet? ... ...

Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!
Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!
Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!
Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

I am against this... (5, Funny)

feepness (543479) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675485)

I think labeling people as terrorists because of their color is just wrong.

Re:I am against this... (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675803)

If it turned them blue, I'm sure some suffocating person out there would be offended.

Re:I am against this... (1)

antic (29198) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676783)

Kid busted spraying graffiti: "Sir, I was just helping in the hunt for terrorists!"

GSR? (1)

jo7hs2 (884069) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675487)

Is this going to be another GSR-like useless test? Because that's just what I wanted for Christmas.

Or fertilizer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675489)

... not forgetting playing cards and other chemically coated items.

There were Irish citizens in the UK sent to jail for life for false positives from tests like this after coercive interrogations extracted 'confessions' once the test showed their 'guilt'. One guy died in prison, his son was freed years later, another went insane.

Over-hyped chemical tests from academics are NOT a good thing for justice. It's a tool to be used with caution and a dose of helathy skepticism.

what about a neutraliser? (1)

fadilnet (1124231) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675539)

There are other ways to make bombs and cause havoc. But i'm interested in knowing if a neutraliser can be developed in a small lab (say some individuals get access to a high school lab).

I just hope that there won't be any misuse.

Why do I keep thinking of folks who benchmark anti-viruses, and later state in a report "X Antivirus detected Y virus, which was not a virus but a mere file....False Alarm"? Catch my drift here.

What the authorities must understand right now -> this spray is NOT the ultimate bomb maker catcher! It's merely a tool to detect a chemical. Make use of the spray wisely

Kidney disease = Taser? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675547)

Urea nitrate is also secreted through the pores of people with kidney failure/kidney disease. I would hope that I don't see this spray in action on youtube.

bombs (1)

jesse285 (1145913) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675587)

Did some of you peoplesgo to school of causewhen you touch any thingsin this world it get on you.

Re:bombs (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675727)

Dear Slashdot Commenter,

Please form your comments in the form of sentences. This will serve to not confuse the hell out of the people who read your response.

Sincerely,
All the confused people who read your post

Re:bombs (1)

callinyouin (1138469) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676003)

Uh......Well, umm....What?

Finally! (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675637)

Something we could all use for the classic "Who farted in the elevator" investigation!

Re:Finally! (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675705)


"IT was ME!"

(liar liar)

Gloves! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675745)

It's a good thing those terrists don't know about gloves!

Praise Jeebus!

You Know You've Read Slashdot Too Long... (5, Funny)

Looshi (1038712) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675761)

...when your first thought is the effect on the rights of the bomb makers.

Re:You Know You've Read Slashdot Too Long... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20675833)

Someone mod this way the fuck up.

Re:You Know You've Read Slashdot Too Long... (4, Insightful)

SMS_Design (879582) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676481)

Sure, I'm concerned about the rights of bomb-makers. I, myself, made a few good ones when I was growing up out in the country. Mainly, though, I'm concerned about the rights of EVERY OTHER CITIZEN who will be needlessly harassed because of some bullshit test that will have 1000+ false positives for every actual bomb prevented.

marking spin (3, Insightful)

drDugan (219551) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675763)

someone got the marketing spin engine revving to 50K RPM today:

"that can identify people suspected of making or planting bombs."

Bullshit. Using the spray may detect a chemical, (not people) which then people may use to suspect one another.
Big difference.

huggies' bombs (1)

inexia (977449) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675769)

Every time you test for bombs Huggies kills a child.....please think about the children...... *ducks*

"Tubthumping" parody (1)

Vexler (127353) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675821)

Urea nitrate? And this article was from the "spray-the-terror-away" department?

Why, that should have been from the "pissing-the-night-away" department. Any Chumbawamba fan should have thought of it.

"I get blown up, I get up again,
And you're never gonna keep me down
I get blown up, I get up again,
And you're never gonna keep me down..."

I like their other test... (2, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675863)

The test for iron to tell if someone has handled a gun, or a grenade, or ... a wrench, or a wrought-iron railing, no?

I apologize, but I must... (1)

LurkingPenguin (762592) | more than 6 years ago | (#20675911)

Sounds like they'll be catching them red-handed.

The one day... (1)

dontspitconfetti (1153473) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676171)

The one day someone has bomb residue on their hands is the one day Benny, the security guard, accidentally grabs the aerosol can full of Pledge...

So useful... (1)

toppavak (943659) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676185)

since urea nitrate is one of how many hundreds of possible explosive materials?

If this becomes a paint... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20676621)

Be sure to watch out for red Ryder trucks near federal buildings.

Israelis could stop their war with Arabs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20676697)

Of course, Israelis could stop their war with Arabs. But maybe that would be too smart for the average person to grasp.

Bush's Plan: War all the time. Big profits for war and oil investors, and the taxpayer pays all the expenses.

Easier, 1 step method (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20676701)

Step 1) Wave a bar of soap at the suspect.

If the suspect stays still, they're not a bomber. If they jump back at the sight of the soap, it means they're a dirty a-rab with a stick of dynamite SHOVED UP HIS TURBAN USA FTW!!1!!!!FUCK YOOOO LIBBS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Test it in Israel first (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20676805)

Does it also detect residue from aerial bombs on the hands of Israeli terrorists^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hpilots?

How many of these substances are there? (1)

shbazjinkens (776313) | more than 6 years ago | (#20676809)

This guy [okstate.edu] showed us a clear liquid that turns bright blue when it reacts with peroxide based explosives about four years ago in my chem for Engineers class. If this stuff is so useful, I kind of wonder why THIS chemical hasn't come into popular use. It was also sprayable, non-toxic, etc etc. He was always bragging about meeting with generals and executives to discuss it.

Makes me wonder why they're bothering to develop more when they're not coming into widespread use.
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