Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 50 m Away

  1. Jul 12, 2012 #1
    I am seeking informed feedback regarding this article, which is being widely reported on by the media:

    http://gizmodo.com/5923980/the-secret-government-laser-that-instantly-knows-everything-about-you

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 12, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 12, 2012 #2

    Mech_Engineer

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 50 m Awa

    Honestly I find the article leans pretty far to the side of overreaction. All this really appears to be is a tunable picosecond laser (not really new AFAIK) which can emit in the terahertz wavelength (or perhaps excite in a different wavelength and receive terahertz?) for the purpose of ultra-sensitive Raman spectroscopy.

    What they don't tell you in the article is that while yes it's theoretically very sensitive, data analysis is going to be a big problem. Additionally, for a remote-sensing spectrometer such as they're proposing, you would need to be able to excite the target (more importantly the specific substance on the target) and receive a signal from it; in other words detecting something on the bottom of your shoe is out of the question. The only way they can detect "what you had for lunch" is if you have crumbs leftover from it on your clothes or face.

    Also for the purpose of target acquisition this device would have to be aimed- looking at a whole room of people means you get a signal from everyone and don't know who the positive hit is coming from.

    My overall reaction is meh, it's honestly about the same (or possibly less) in terms of invasiveness when compared to terahertz imaging, backscatter x-ray imaging, etc. In reality it's no worse than those "air puffer" devices I saw a few years ago that attempt to dislodge rogue particles from your clothes using compressed air puffs and suck them through a spectrometer. Calling it a "laser scanner technology" is pretty inaccurate in my opinion...
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2012
  4. Jul 12, 2012 #3

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 50 m Awa

    Cool technology, I like it. Kind of reminds me of a quantum cascade laser's ability to detect chemicals.
     
  5. Jul 12, 2012 #4

    Mech_Engineer

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 50 m Awa

    In fact now that I think about it they don't really say what wavelength range this laser operates in, but they don't really specifically say the laser emits or detects terahertz... they just say the laser works in a broad wavelenth band and then Gizmodo also shows an excerpt of a paragraph talking broadly about potential terahertz spectroscopy.

    One way or another, it isn't "Big Brother" come to get us.

    Edit: Here's a link about it's THz application: http://www.geniaphotonics.com/business-markets/defense-and-security/terahertz-spectroscopy/ [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  6. Jul 19, 2012 #5

    Chronos

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 50 m Awa

    This obviously falls right between hoof prints.
     
  7. Jul 22, 2012 #6
    Re: Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 50 m Awa

    I will simply choose the identity I want for the day and wear that tag.

    Embrace and exploit works far better than whining about oppression.
     
  8. Jul 23, 2012 #7

    Mech_Engineer

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 50 m Awa

    Define "works far better."
     
  9. Jul 24, 2012 #8
    Re: Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 50 m Awa

    Why they would want to know half the information they can obtain is beyond me.
     
  10. Jul 28, 2012 #9

    Chronos

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 50 m Awa

    It is inconceivable any such technology would not be highly classified if it worked as advertised.
     
  11. Jul 28, 2012 #10

    Averagesupernova

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 50 m Awa

    My dog could have told me all that stuff. Unfortunately we had to bury him on Wednesday. Yes, I am being serious, there is something missing in my life. And no, he wasn't 'highly classified' at all. Everyone who ever met him loved him.
    -
    But back on topic, dogs can tell alot about people and no one thinks about it but when some machine supposedly can everyone gets excited.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2012
  12. Jul 28, 2012 #11

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 50 m Awa

    I am so sad to hear that. :cry: R.I.P sweet dog.
     
  13. Jul 30, 2012 #12
    Re: Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 50 m Awa

    It means that I will be mastering the technology while you are trying to bait someone on a forum.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
  14. Jul 31, 2012 #13

    Mech_Engineer

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 50 m Awa

    So your feeling is that you'd rather be oppressed and find a way to circumvent or exploit the technology, rather than prevent its use in the first place?

    Your claim that "embrace and exploit works far better than whining about oppression" is hollow, and I was pointing it out by asking you to prove it's "better" on logical grounds. Your response was instead an ad-hominem attack on my motives, not exactly an effective resolution.
     
  15. Jul 31, 2012 #14
    Re: Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 50 m Awa

    You asked for a definition.

    There are many ways to fight oppression other than your views of what would be needed to fight said oppression.

    Somehow you have assigned me a view that I prefer oppression but you are wrong.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 50 m Away
Loading...