Backscatter X-ray scanners are being deployed at airports to help security personnel thwart terrorist attacks. How much do you know about the technology behind these sophisticated machines?
At around $150,000 per unit, these scanners are expensive enough that you may wonder if the government is scanning your wallet, hoping to squeeze out more tax dollars to buy more security devices.
Don't forget your Geiger counter! The scanners emit weak electromagnetic radiation that the government says is most assuredly, positively, probably safe.
If you're flying this much, maybe it would be more economical to sprout wings?
As planes ascend, passengers receive radiation exposure that's potentially hundreds of times higher than a scan.
You won't find it on the FM dial, but millimeter wave technology uses radio signals to create images similar to those from backscatter scanners.
With updated software, backscatter scanners display less risque images.
Photons are emitted at a low level that's presumed to be safe for human exposure.
Some researchers believe there's a remote chance that these scanners focus too much radiation on our sensitive skin.
Feeling frisky? Skip the scanner and ask security to pat you down instead. You may not enjoy the physical contact, but you'll avoid the scanner.
Terrorists are a devious bunch. One of the big benefits of backscatter scanners is their ability to pick up on objects that other scanners can't see.
Now you don't have to fly to get in your backscattering fun! The Feds can deploy mobile versions of these scanners and drive around, scanning the populace to their heart's content.
We're not talking about the kind of cavities your dentist treats. A truly dedicated terrorist could potentially hide weapons in body cavities to trick security.
The TSA spent millions to make sure the scanners show less detail. Some critics say the new software might make self-conscious travelers feel better at the expense of less effective security.
Hopefully, they won't show up on Facebook! The machines can be configured to save images to a hard drive, but the TSA says airport scanners are programmed to discard images immediately.
EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) filed the suit, alleging that the TSA was misleading the public about what happens to the pictures.
Want some Prozac and spinach with your X-rays? The same agency that monitors food and pharmaceutical safety also plays a role in determining radiation exposure levels.
Now's not the time for modesty. Remove your shoes, belt and all of your personal accessories. Otherwise, you may need to undergo a closer inspection.
Strike a pose, Madonna style. Or don't. Either way, you'll have to stand still while screeners analyze your image.
Nobody really knows for sure, as every human's DNA reacts a little differently to radiation exposure. Fortunately, the TSA says each machine has redundant mechanisms designed to prevent overexposure.
Although the backscatter beam is a relative weakling compared to regular X-rays, the scattering effect of the X-rays produces a clearer final image.