Just because they attend MIT doesn't mean they are smart

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  • #1
Moonbear
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Talk about a stupid stunt!

BOSTON (Reuters) - A 19-year-old U.S. college student was arrested on Friday after she walked into Boston's Logan International Airport wearing what authorities initially thought was an explosive device, police said.
http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN2135396020070921
 

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  • #3
mgb_phys
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"Authorities said she would be charged with possession of a hoax device"
What's the definition of a hoax device? Logically it's anything that is not a bomb - so you can be arrested either for possesing a bomb or a NOT bomb!

Presumably it's a hoax device if the TSA muppets don't know what it is - that includes most of the contents of my lab.
 
  • #4
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The Boston Globe is a bit more thorough than Reuters:

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/city_region/breaking_news/2007/09/mit_student_arr.html?p1=MEWell_Pos3 [Broken]
 
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  • #5
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website above said:
Alejandro R. Jahad, director of the University of Toronto's Program in E-Health Innovation, who has worked closely with Dr. Mann, said that scientists now had an opportunity to see what happens when a cyborg is unplugged. ''I find this a very fascinating case,'' he said.
Lucky him.

It's a tough call on the MIT student. Her behavior would be quite innocent anywhere on the planet except in an airport. Your best bet nowadays is to do like the terrorists and try not to stand out. I admit that's not easy, but I don't think she gave it her best effort.
 
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  • #6
Evo
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It's hard to judge from the article what the student's intentions were....

Maybe she could get a summer research job with this guy:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940CE0D71239F937A25750C0A9649C8B63
From the story
But for him, the experience raises the question of how a traveler will fare once wearable computing devices are such fixtures on the body that a person will not be able to part with them.
I personally hope that a time never comes where we have become so dependent on gadgets that we can't function with out them.
 
  • #7
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Ahaahahha she's so dumb its funny.

Her name is 'star simpson' it sounds like a porno name.
 
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  • #8
Astronuc
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From the story I personally hope that a time never comes where we have become so dependent on gadgets that we can't function with out them.
I know quite a few people who have PDA's. So far I am not inclined to get one.

A cell phone is sufficient, and most of the time it is off, especially when traveling.

The young lady displayed an appalling lack of judgement. I can't see a visit to the airport had anything to do with career day. She should have left that stuff at home.
 
  • #9
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I am personally not surprised that something like this happened. MIT has a huge suicide rate.
 
  • #10
Mk
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I am personally not surprised that something like this happened. MIT has a huge suicide rate.
Er! Reference!?
 
  • #11
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Great title for a thread, sad story.

Her picture?
http://www.media.mit.edu/physics/pedagogy/fab/machine/users/ [Broken]
http://www.media.mit.edu/physics/pedagogy/fab/machine/users/faces/stars.jpg [Broken]
 
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  • #12
Moonbear
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The young lady displayed an appalling lack of judgement.
Yep, that's why I said it was stupid. Whether it was truly a "stunt" or simply lack of judgement in what she chose to wear to the airport, it takes someone especially oblivious to the world around them to not realize having a circuit board and playdoh attached to your clothing (I don't recall if that was in the article I linked, but it was in other versions...some versions of the story conflicted a bit on the details of the device) will raise negative attention at an airport. The people working security don't have the time or education to sit there and figure out if it's a working circuit or explosive when they see something like that.
 
  • #13
Astronuc
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I just wish the authoritarian types would lighten up with regard to deadly force. I'm sure the comment was made to dissuade others from pulling similar stunts, but I also sure that there are those folks with guns who will over-react rather than observe and respond appropriately.
 
  • #14
Integral
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The trouble I have with this incident is that she had LEFT the airport. She was not attempting to board a plane or even enter the gate ways. Had she been attempting to board a plane the security thugs may have had an excuse for their actions.. But OUTSIDE the airport, for someone that was LEAVING. :confused:

I have know many geeks who thought it was cool to use such things as jewelry, not sure what big deal is.

Just one more bit of evidence that anyone that wishes to be a policeman or security type should be immediately disqualified.
 
  • #15
Mk
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Great title for a thread, sad story.

Her picture?
http://www.media.mit.edu/physics/pedagogy/fab/machine/users/ [Broken]
http://www.media.mit.edu/physics/pedagogy/fab/machine/users/faces/stars.jpg [Broken]
Oh c'mon, she's too hot to be a terrorist.
 
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  • #16
berkeman
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This last Monday, I was part of a city-wide Emergency Operation Center (EOC) activation in my city for a big drill. I was part of the communications section (under Operations), helping run the HAM radio communication gear. The drill was a simulated response to a terrorist incident where an industrial complex in our city was bombed, causing a fire and bad hazmat incident.

It was a very good drill, but there was a bit of a startling moment near the beginning of the drill. My HAM assistant and I each had a spare handheld radio antenna carrier tube in our CERT/HAM backpacks, which were against the wall behind our HAM station. The carriers are home-made out of grey plastic tubing, with screw-on caps on the ends. The tubes are about 15" (38cm) long.

The Fire Chief was making his first pass through the EOC to see how things were running, and he stopped cold when he came by our station. He asked in a very stern voice whose backpacks those were, and he only relaxed when my assistant and I replied that they were ours. The Chief knows both of us very well, and trusts us. It turned out that the antenna carriers look just like pipe bombs (never occurred to me!), and that is something that Fire and Police train on a lot -- recognizing disguised bombs.

Oopsies. Sorry about that Chief! :blushing:
 
  • #17
Integral
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Oh c'mon, she's too hot to be a terrorist.
Yeah, some studge just wanted a chance to frisk her. :rofl:
 
  • #18
Moonbear
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The trouble I have with this incident is that she had LEFT the airport. She was not attempting to board a plane or even enter the gate ways.
So, you don't think a terrorist might set off a curbside bomb to take out a bunch of people entering or exiting the airport? Clearly airports have considered this, which is why they limit vehicles allowed to stand curbside, and any unattended luggage will be confiscated, etc. Really, how is security supposed to know the difference? What if she really was a terrorist and they didn't believe it was real, and it was their butt on the line for it blowing up? Yeah, it sucks that there are terrorists in the world that spoil the fun for everyone who wants to make a fashion statement of wearing a circuit board, but that's the real world we live in, and it was stupid of her to show up to an airport wearing anything that looks so obviously suspicious.

And, yes, there are the points made about it being a limitation to clothing with wearable circuitboard things, but I guess that's a bridge that will be crossed when such things are popular enough to make airport security adjust policy to accomodate...or maybe it'll be like the limitation on bringing liquids through security...just don't do it or you won't get through...check your circuit boards in your luggage, and for heaven's sake, don't attach them to blobs of playdoh.
 
  • #19
George Jones
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I just wish the authoritarian types would lighten up with regard to deadly force. I'm sure the comment was made to dissuade others from pulling similar stunts, but I also sure that there are those folks with guns who will over-react rather than observe and respond appropriately.
... and who will then lie about the person's actual behaviour. Just ask the family of Jean Charles de Menezes.
 
  • #20
russ_watters
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The trouble I have with this incident is that she had LEFT the airport. She was not attempting to board a plane or even enter the gate ways. Had she been attempting to board a plane the security thugs may have had an excuse for their actions.. But OUTSIDE the airport, for someone that was LEAVING. :confused:
Do you have a source that says she was leaving? The USA Today article does not imply that:
A Massachusetts Port Authority staffer manning an information booth in the terminal became suspicious when Simpson — wearing the device — approached to ask about an incoming flight, Pare said. Simpson then walked outside, and the staffer notified a nearby trooper.
There was an incident at LAX about a year ago where a deranged man pulled a gun at a ticket counter. These places are crowded and whether or not she was intending to board an airplane, they are a great place to set off a bomb.

IMO, everyone involved (that we know of) - except for her - acted appropriately here. That inlcudes:
Astronuc said:
I just wish the authoritarian types would lighten up with regard to deadly force. I'm sure the comment was made to dissuade others from pulling similar stunts, but I also sure that there are those folks with guns who will over-react rather than observe and respond appropriately.
No, I'm sure that comment was made because that's what the rules of engagement require. He was stating a fact.

That girl displayed a spectacular lack of judgement and faced with a person like that, it is impossible for the authorities who are trying to detain her to tell if she is crazy or just stupid. They must treat people like that in a worst-case way and be prepared to use deadly force if they resist. As dumb as this girl clearly is, I could see her getting disoriented by the situation and unintentionally resisting. She very easily could have been killed and the police would have been perfectly justified in killing her had she so much as touched the circuit board she was wearing.

[edit: I don't see the actual quote here anywhere. Here it is]
"She was immediately told to stop, to raise her hands and not to make any movement, so we could observe all her movements to see if she was trying to trip any type of device," Pare said. "Had she not followed the protocol, we might have used deadly force."
I don't know if you guys remember it, but there was an incident in the '80s where a cop shot a kid with a laser-tag rifle. It was night, the cop saw a gun and drew his and when he saw a flash, he fired. IIRC, he was not disciplined.
 
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  • #21
Integral
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Russ,
Perhaps you should read the article in the first post.
 
  • #22
russ_watters
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I did. All it says is she walked outside and was arrested there.
After speaking with a service agent, she walked out of the airport. Within two minutes Simpson was approached by police with sub-machine guns, police said.
It doesn't say she was leaving - in fact, it says she was hanging around. So what's your point? Don't hold back - If I'm missing something, tell me!
 
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  • #23
Integral
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Walking outside is not leaving?
What is your point?

She was not heading into the terminal, that IS the point.

But then, foolish me, I do not think deadly force should be used by security forces unless someone is actively shooting.
 
  • #24
DaveC426913
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"Authorities said she would be charged with possession of a hoax device"
What's the definition of a hoax device? Logically it's anything that is not a bomb - so you can be arrested either for possesing a bomb or a NOT bomb!
It's not about the device it's about the intent.
 
  • #25
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I read that she talked to a man at the counter. The man asked her whats on your shirt. She went silent and walked away.

Yes, deadly force if necessary. That is HIGHLY suspect. I think they had every right to shoot her dead if she reacted the wrong way.
 

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