Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Blue Crab Nanosensor to Fight Terrorism 106

Roland Piquepaille writes "A substance found in crab shells called chitosan has very useful properties. For example, it has been used in bandages to stop bleeding. But now, researchers at the University of Maryland have used the chitosan from blue crabs living in Chesapeake Bay as a component of a nanoscale sensor system which could save many lives in the future. These blue crab nanosensors will be used to improve security in airports, hospitals and other public locations by detecting tiny amounts of explosives or chemicals in air and water. Read on for additional references and pictures of these blue crab nanosensors."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Blue Crab Nanosensor to Fight Terrorism

Comments Filter:
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @01:28AM (#15815176) Homepage Journal
    Oh, good, we've got nanosensors. Now we can stop overreacting maniacally to attacks, the wildfire of uncontrolled fear that destroys our freedom more than any bomb ever could. I can't wait to see our leaders appear on TV to tell us we can calm down.
    • Don't worry, the chesapeake has been fished so dry theyre unlikely to find enough of any indigenous species to meaningful quantities out of this crab..
      • Mod this guy up. This was my first impression on reading the post (IHNRTFA). Unless there's been some recent resurgence in the bay depending on crabs from the Chesepeake for any kind of solution is not really sustainable.

        On the other hand, maybe this is the only way to get the government interested in saving the Chesepeake Bay ecosystem. :-)
        • "Unless there's been some recent resurgence in the bay depending on crabs from the Chesepeake for any kind of solution is not really sustainable."

          Don't worry...we've got TONS of blue crabs down here around the Gulf in Louisiana!!

          See? Good reason to help us get our coast back into shape which were sacrificed in large part to the immense oil and gas pipelines cut from the gulf into our marshlands to shore.

          We not only help the country out with aobut 1/3 of its fuel...but, also, our crabs can help fi

    • by kfg ( 145172 ) * on Monday July 31, 2006 @01:51AM (#15815223)
      Hey, those nano bombs can sting!

      What do you bet the end result of this is going to be nothing more than a shitload of innocent people getting put on "The List" because of false positives?

      There's such a thing as over measurement.

    • "I can't wait to see our leaders appear on TV to tell us we can calm down."

      Um, yeah, well.. anyway... I'm all for better bomb-detecting sensors.
      • I think the issue here is that we're dumping our money into researching a threat that's simply placed into the mind of the public. Frankly, I'd rather see my money going somewhere useful, be it stem cell research or better schooling.
        • Cars kill more people than bombs do but a sensor to detect bombs is a good thing but speed cameras are evil. Guess which potentially saves more lives? And hey yeah they do both make life more difficult for innocent people but a quit-stuffing-your-face-with-shit sensor is going to save the most lives every year so where's the research for that?
          • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:28AM (#15815456)
            "Cars kill more people than bombs do but a sensor to detect bombs is a good thing but speed cameras are evil. Guess which potentially saves more lives?"

            Ever wonder why they call it terrorism instead of mass-murder? 9-11 did a lot more damage than car crashes. The gubment's handling of terrorism is questionable, but the prioritization of it over car crashes is not nearly as black and white. Anti-terrorism (The intent, I mean, not 'The War Against Terror'...) is about more than just the saving of lives. Think about what the first week after 9-11 was like, then think about the year that followed. The fear, paranoia, and hardships that followed were incalcuable. There's a reason it's not swept under the rug until car crashes are dealt with. Think about it.
            • IBM Onboard (Score:1, Funny)

              by gilberry ( 973422 )
              With IBM on board, using their tastiest, fastest computer for crimefighting, we can't lose. These IBM researchers amaze me. First they crafted the chart conquering pop music supercomputer Deep Blue Something. Now, the top 40 reduced to jetsam in their wake, they have set their sights on terrorism. You know, we can talk about how there's no pure research anymore, but IBM is as freewheeling and boundless as ever.
            • And whose fault was the paranoia?

              Look, I travelled every day to go to class on one of the lines where a train blew up in Madrid, only fortunately in the afternoon instead of the morning. I had a friend personally present there, and a classmate of mine died there.

              But you know what I did next day? I went to class just like everybody else. I certainly wasn't demanding useless measures to be taken to protect me against something against which no protection is possible, and neither was most of the country.

              As a m
            • There were no bombs involved in 9-11. This device would not have prevented those attacks.

            • There's a reason it's not swept under the rug until car crashes are dealt with. Think about it.

              Because it serves a much greater political purpose for the people in power than car crashes ever could?
          • Speed cameras have not been proven to reduce speed and prevent crashes (except perhaps initially in the short term), they just make money for the local government... a cash cow. Having real police or traffic enforcement out there to enforce the speed limit does. Also, in every place I have lived (four provinces in Canada and three states in the U.S.A., you didn't loose points on your license for photo radar tickets (since they can't prove you were driving your car), only for tickets issued when an enforc

    • by QuantumFTL ( 197300 ) * on Monday July 31, 2006 @02:08AM (#15815262)
      While I do agree that we, as a nation, have overreacted quite a bit to terrorist actions, that doesn't mean we shouldn't work on security precautions. Prevention and mitigation are two of our strongest weapons that can help people avoid the need to worry.

      On the other hand, I'm not all that convinced that these new security measures are really doing that much to make things like air travel safer. I know someone who accidentally took firecrackers in his pocket on an flight across the US once (after 9/11). The security people x-rayed and felt through all of his on-person possessions, but so much junk had accumulated in his pockets that they did not notice the presence of explosives.
    • Please step out of line, citizen. Our nanosensors have detected carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen on you. These are components of known explosives. We'll have to put you on the no-fly list, although without telling you. Please step over to the officer putting on the rubber gloves...

      Only the guilty have anything to fear, this is for your own good. What? Yes, that is a 55-gallon barrel of anal grease. If you're a patriotic American, you should have no complaint. Besides, you should overcome your petty s

  • And forbidden by some muslim scholars

    • I had a Christian friend tell me that they are forbidden in Christianity because they are bottom dwellers. I imagine that would be something in the Old Testament, so maybe they are forbidden in Judaism as well.
      • I had a Christian friend tell me that they are forbidden in Christianity because they are bottom dwellers.

        Crabs and other shellfish, as well as fish without scales, are not kosher as defined in Leviticus, which is a book in the Old Testament and thus the Bible. Christians generally don't follow the rules of Leviticus, but Jews do to varying degrees.
  • No Pinch (Score:5, Funny)

    by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @01:36AM (#15815192) Homepage
    Speaking of Crabs, I'm reminded of this video [].
  • but... (Score:3, Funny)

    by howhardcanitbetocrea ( 671190 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @01:41AM (#15815203)
    they wouldn't be allowed in airports with those sharp claws would they?
    • As a reader wrote to Reader's Digest once:

      At the airport, I saw a guardsman reporting for duty. I was glad to see he had to go through the same procedures we do: He had to place all metal items in the X-Ray, remove his boots and step through. They even confiscated the pocket knife he was carrying... Then, on the secure side of the scanners, they handed him back his assault rifle.
  • by ShadowSonic ( 910417 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @01:54AM (#15815230)
    ...until the terrorists learn to attack their weak points for MASSIVE DAMAGE.
  • No Entry! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Firearms, explosives, flammable liquids, radioactive materials, poisons, knives, and persons allergic to shellfish not allowed beyond this point.
  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @02:00AM (#15815244)

    These blue crab nanosensors will be used to improve security in airports, hospitals and other public locations by detecting tiny amounts of explosives or chemicals in air and water.

    Because after all, we've had such a huge problem with explosives and "chemicals" in airports, hospitals, and "other public locations"...

    • Don't know about you, but here in israel we HAD had problems with explosives in public locations.
      We have security guards checking the bags of every person entering almost any store, restaurant or other public facility.
      If you could mount one of those sensors at the door of a bus, it would probably make a big difference.
      • Unfortunately, none of this while do much to help. If there are sensors in a building, and Joe Terrorist wants to bomb it. They either throw a bag full of bombs into a room, then set them off, or he will do it with a suicide run, which there isn't much you can do about that. If he walks into store.. the alarms will go off, and so will he. Or a car-bomb next to the building all-together. The point of terrorism is striking fear. If they strike in a market or in the middle of the street, that is all they need.
        • I don't think you quite understand how it works around here.
          You don't just walk into a store around here.
          There's a scurity guard between you and the door.
          If the suicide bomber trys to run in he's likely to be shot, or the guard might block him and risk death (which has happened).

          The most common scenario is of a suicide bomber entering a restaurant or getting on a bus and exploding, and i think in those cases this sensor could help, if only by making the security guard's check of people's bags more thorough.
    • Oh my god, there are chemicals all around me! The terrorists have won!
  • You know, I once used giant enemy crab nanosensors [] to attack its weak point for massive damage. True story.
  • "Could" (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ...which could save many lives in the future. These blue crab nanosensors will be used to improve security...

    Ah yes, "could" - what a wonderful word. It "could" be that bad people will be tortured for all eternity after they die. Or, it "could" be that good people will be tortured for all eternity after they die.

    "Could" is a word of so many possibilities. It is totaly unlike its lesser cousin, the word "will", - as in "Thousands of people will die of poverty in the next few hours". Yes, let's focus on what

  • I first read it as "Blue Crab Nonsense to Fight Terrorism"
  • diet supplement (Score:2, Informative)

    by Xtravar ( 725372 )
    Chitosan is also considered to be a miracle diet supplement which absorbs fat and suppresses hunger... ... take that with a grain of salt. []

    Someday, we'll have really fat terrorists because of this.
  • Funny Story (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aXis100 ( 690904 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @02:54AM (#15815380)
    No matter how good the sensor technology is, you still have humans driving the system.

    A funny example is an industrial town I fly to on a regular basis. Most of the people work in the mines, where explosives can be a common part of many poeples jobs. When explosives traces are regularly detected at the airport explosives scan, their first question is "Have you been on a mine site recently?" Obviously 99% of people say yes, and are let through without question.

    What is the point? We're running around banning knitting needles and letter openers and it makes no fucking difference.

    • by kfg ( 145172 ) *
      We're running around banning knitting needles . . .

      Sweaters can cause itch and afghans kill.

    • If you think the population of mine workers is large, I set off the alarm once after shooting off a bunch of fireworks on new year's eve. All I had to do was sign a paper. They inspected my bags more closely, and made me check the bag that set off the alarm even though I was going to carry it on.

      Does anyone know when the last time explosives were actually set off on a plane?

  • Somehow it seems every scientist doing research in the us has to find a use for his research in "fighting terrorism" when he wants to get money.
    Even the ones researching crabs and other small animals!

  • As a long-time Maryland resident, there's only one question I want answered: will the nanosensors work better with some Old Bay on them?
    • Maybe the question should be when will Homeland Security proclaim crabs essential for homeland defense thus becoming protected leading to higher prices or severe rationing of crabbing. Overreaching security procedures fine, but I'd be PISSED if they mess with my crabs.
  • Save us from what?? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lostngone ( 855272 )
    Will ths magic substance stop people from highjacking a phine with a box cutter and flying the plane into a building? I'm getting sick and tired of the these people telling us it will make us safer as they take more and more of our rights away. I know, if they lock all of us up in prison the Government can make sure we are safe 100% of the time.
  • Cool... (Score:2, Insightful)

    Many exhausts of explosive or dangerous chemicals can also be generated by normal activities of janitors, construction workers, farmers, or anyone smoking. I wish them good luck spending millions investigating all those false positives.
  • This company ( has been producing a similar product for a couple of years now. It's used by the German and Australian customs officials for the detection not only of explosives, but also drugs (oh well). The existing tech as used in US airports has a dismal detection rate and also throws out several false positives. If you're going to have a system, then you might at least have one that works.
  • Yep! Anyone who has ever had a pad of flash paper in their bag will get hauled out and strip searched.

    Been there. Had it happen to ME.

    After MacWorld a couple of years ago, in New York, the crack TSA troops manning the perimeter didn't understand the cards and nerf balls in my carry on were part of a MAGIC ACT and I wound up splattered up against a wall with a National Guardsman's M-16 shoved up my left nostril, with the Safety OFF!

    I am SO not looking forward to this!

    Lee Darrow, C.H.
    Magician and Hypn
    • There's already an easy hack against these crab nano-sensors. Seems they go into panic mode when they detect lemon-garlic butter. Shuts 'em down every time.
    • by ianscot ( 591483 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @09:54AM (#15816832)

      I used to take my dog -- a Newfoundland -- in to the airport to pick people up. The baggage claim at our local airport basically lets people get dogs off their leashes after a flight, and according to the local cops it was okay. Never had a cross word from anyone; I wasn't inflicting too many more allergens on anyone, I hoped, and mostly we got a lot of good socialization when she was a puppy. At least some people seemed to get a wake-up in the middle of their exhausting travel day.

      One day a TSA employee caught sight of us. A squad of four of them surrounded me, quietly preventing me from moving away as one lectured me on all the potential dreadful consequences should they decide to enforce their vaguely-defined regulations. I tried to ask after the specific laws or airport restrictions involved. There probably were some -- I'd always assumed the cops were just being smart about what to enforce and what not to -- but it was clear that the TSA guys were entirely motivated by that obnoxious self-righteousness I recognize from birding near power plants. You know, the one that comes with private security agencies taking themselves too seriously and not having clear "boundaries," so that they end up thinking their job is to harass people. Said people are to be presumed guilty, of course.

      End result was me feeling intimidated, which seemed to be the goal. Those guys were a hybrid between hallway monitors and the bullies from your middle school.

      Somehow the local cops had always managed to keep me in line, and to prevent potential terrorist attacks by Newfoundland drool and shedding, without any ill will. If one of them had brought this up with me I'd have taken it a lot differently...

  • have been seen biting humans in suspicious labs.
  • Of course it's been said before, but investing in all these whiz-bang anti-terrorism devices is missing the point. You can't fight a social phenomenon such as terrorism with technology. You have to address its root cause(s). Right now, the root cause of terrorism is overwhelmingly the massive injustices thrust upon the people of the Middle East in the name of grabbing their oil. It would be a lot cheaper for the US to forget this bullshit 'war on terrorism' and relocate all the Israelis to Washington. After
  • I need a macro sensor to find me women to keep me occupied late at night instead of reading slashdot
  • (possibly) reduce traveler crabbiness?
  • They can detect organic compounds? Then the major use of this technology will be to detect THC []. It'll be used in airports, then by cops in traffic stops, then in schools, then in your workplace.

    The only place you'll never, ever see it being used for that purpose is a government building housing elected members.

  • But can they detect the individual components of 2-component explosives? Like, say, Potassium Perchlorate carried by one passenger and Aluminum or Magnesium powder carried by another? When mixed together in the correct proportions (no, I'm not going to tell you what they are), they will produce a crude but quite deadly explosive. Problem is that there are a thousand reasons why a person might legitimately be carrying traces of these components. Suddenly, you're going to have miners, janitors, gardeners, che

  • detecting tiny amounts of explosives or chemicals in air and water.

    Oh no! Not chemicals! Protect the children!

    I'm just kind of reactionary when people talk about "chemicals" as if they were always a bad thing. I know in this case they're probably referring to particularly nasty chemicals like nerve gas etc. but it still bugs me. And, of course, I can't be bothered to rtfa.

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all different.