Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How Can We Detect Terrorist Weapons Inside of Liquid Shipments?

An interesting point of contention came up recently at our think tank, we were trying to figure out how to detect explosive devices being carried or transported into our country which may be hidden inside organic material, or even liquids. The old way was to use a metal detector, or some type of x-ray device. The only problem with that is that some of these explosive materials could be made from liquids themselves, and with ceramic parts containing no metal. Worse, the ceramic parts could be in the shape of common objects which might easily be misidentified.

Okay so, you can see the challenge in trying to solve this problem can't you? It's true we could develop algorithms with artificial intelligence to better estimate what we were looking at via computer visualization systems. But, if the terrorists are trying to bring these weapons into the country realize that humans cannot detect them from a visual glimpse, then they also realize it will be very hard for us to develop any sort of technology to solve this problem. Let me give you a few scenarios, not to scare you, but to explain why this problem is so paramount, and why we must solve it;

1.) What if a US military ship takes on fuel at a foreign port?
2.) What if an IED finds its way into the cooling pipes of an older power plant?
3.) What if there is a device hidden in crude oil and it goes off at a port terminal?

If a liquid gel is in some sort of plastic container which might slowly degrade, that liquid gel might have reactive chemical interaction causing extreme heat, and the introduction of oxygen into the mix. Therefore, if such a liquid gel container wrapped in plastic ended up in an oil tanker full of crude oil, we might have a problem. Worse, we don't know when it might happen, it could happen in one of our ports, or close to the shoreline causing an economic and environmental nightmare.

Next, this is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, because it doesn't take much to get something started, and once it starts the fire and chaos could continue for hours on end. Sure, there are safety features in pipelines and oil tankers, and even at our refineries. Systems automatically shut down, go into safety mode, and fire suppression systems are automatically activated. But that's not the only damage possible.

And remember the terrorists aren't stupid people, if there is a way to cause a disruption, they will find it. Therefore we must outthink them, and find ways to detect their weapons in advance of the devastation they are planning against us. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

Lance Winslow has launched a new provocative series of eBooks on Future Military Technologies. Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank;

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