And Now For Something Completely Different

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Mice May Screen You at Airports

If going through airport security has become a nightmare for you, what with avoiding those naked body scans and the alternative supposedly non-intrusive pat-downs, there’s news on the horizon. In the near future, instead of being subjected to the bare palm of a TSA agent or the radiation-rich beam of the scanner, you may be searched by mice.

That’s right: an Israeli company has developed a bomb-detecting machine literally run by mice. The machine looks like any ordinary airport scanner, but inside it has three big cartridges containing eight mice each. As people pause in a security screening area, air gets blown over them and into the cartridges where the mice reside. Mice, apparently, have a very keen olfactory sense that serves as a major part of their defense mechanisms. When they smell something “scary,” they run away. And so, the Israeli scientists trained mice to be afraid of smells typical of eight bomb components. If the people in the scanner reek of any of these substances, the mice flee to a side compartment where an alarm goes off. It takes several mice to trigger the alarm — one alone won’t do it — providing a good control over false positives.

“It’s as if they’re smelling a cat and escaping,” says company co-founder Eran Lumbroso. “We detect the escape.”

This is from Dr. Mark Hyman’s Daily Health Tips newsletter.

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  1. Actually, I’m still trying to decide if this is a serious proposal or a spoof. It seems to contain many possibilities for failure …

    The writer goes on later to jubilate that the mice would remove the need for scanning and groping, which of course have been the main obstacles.

    Talk about missing the point.

  2. That’s a good idea. Imagine what Eran Lumbroso’s company could have developed if they weren’t wasting their time building props for the security theater.


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