How terahertz laser scanners will spy on you in airportsSubmitted by PWA on Wed, 07/11/2012 - 10:21
It seems like every time I set foot in an airport, there is some new machine I need to stand in, walk through, or put my shoes on. The argument can be made that much of this is security theater — an effort to just make things look safe. However, if a new kind of laser-based molecular scanner lives up to its promise and finds its way into airports as planned, it could actually make a difference. Some are calling foul on the possible privacy concerns, but this technology is halfway to a Star Trek tricorder.
A company called Genia Photonics has developed a programmable picosecond laser that is capable of spotting trace amounts of a variety of substances. Genia claims that the system can detect explosives, chemical agents, and hazardous biological substances at up to 50 meters. This is why the US Department of Homeland Security is so keen on getting it into airports.
Much is being made about the “laser” aspect of this device, but if you’re picturing a coherent beam of light sweeping over you in the security line, think again. This device relies on classic spectroscopy; just a very advanced form of it. A spectrometer is simply a device that uses radiated energy to characterize a material. In the case of Genia’s scanner, it is using far-infrared radiation in the terahertz band.
THz radiation unzips the DNA molecule
In a breakthrough study conducted by Dr. Boian Alexandrov at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and a team of physicists, they discovered terrifying evidence that exposure to THz radiation builds cumulatively and affects human and animal tissue DNA. In essence, it tends to unzip the DNA molecule. [See: Inside TSA scanners: How terahertz waves tear apart human DNA
The Los Alamos scientists paper, DNA Breathing Dynamics in the Presence of a Terahertz Field reveals very disturbing—even shocking—evidence that THz radiation significantly damages the DNA of the people being directed through airport scanners and all TSA workers in close proximity to the machines.
Their synopsis: "We consider the influence of a terahertz field on the breathing dynamics of double-stranded DNA. We model the spontaneous formation of spatially localized openings of a damped and driven DNA chain, and find that linear instabilities lead to dynamic dimerization, while true local strand separations require a threshold amplitude mechanism. Based on our results we argue that a specific terahertz radiation exposure may significantly affect the natural dynamics of DNA, and thereby influence intricate molecular processes involved in gene expression and DNA replication."
What all that means is the resonant effects of the THz waves bombarding humans unzips the double-stranded DNA molecule. This ripping apart of the twisted chain of DNA creates bubbles between the genes that can interfere with the processes of life itself: normal DNA replication and critical gene expression.
Likely to cause cancer
David J. Brenner, a Columbia University doctor and expert on the effects of radiation stated that it's quite likely the TSA scanners will cause cancer in some individuals.
Brenner, whose Columbia's Center for Radiological Research work focuses on radiation's effects on biological processes, low exposure risk evaluation and radio-isotopic therapy, is concerened that people with compromised immune systems such as AIDS patients, those suffering from lupus or other immune-deficient ailments are especially at risk. Infants, children up to age 5 or 6, women who are pregnant or lactating, cancer patients and many more should steer far clear of the machines.
Those exposed to THz radiation—whether from security scanners or future cell phone technology—who are taking certain prescription medications or have significantly low levels of certain vitamins have increased risk of radiation induced carcinomas.
Repeated exposure to low level radiation scans can also lead to cataracts and bring on skin cancer—including deadly melanoma.