Remember those cardboard novelty X-Ray Glasses from childhood? Well, the technology has come a long way since then. The first image released from the
T-Ray camera, designed by the European Space Agency's StarTiger
team, shows an image of a human hand from behind a 1/2 inch pad of paper. The
camera works off of terahertz waves, and is able to see through clothing, smoke, walls, and other solid objects. The applications for obtaining images
from space, security checkpoints, and medical diagnostics are also being heavily considered.
The technique employs a little-studied but ubiquitous radiation. Detecting T-rays allows a camera to effectively see through smoke, walls and even
clothing or bandages.
Low frequency versions of terahertz waves are known as millimeter waves, and they behave much like radio waves. At higher frequencies, the terahertz
waves straddle the border between radio and optical emissions. The technology is sometimes referred to as quasi-optics.
Similar but less sensitive technology is already used to examine sea-surface temperatures from satellites. A future T-ray observatory might study the
tails of comets, experts say, and the frequency could also shed new light on the early universe and how the first galaxies formed.
Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
- Obviously the technology has many useful and benign applications with no side effects. Since the terahertz waves are
and not created
, the exposure to yet another form of radiation need not be worried about. The medical applications are very
exciting, as terahertz imaging can penetrate the uppermost layers of skin, detecting cancers and other ailments that would otherwise be obscured. The
ability to see a weapon through clothing makes security checkpoints much more secure. The applications for seeing through fog could dramatically save
lives in automobiles and low-flying aircraft. The military aspects certainly haven't been ignored. DARPA has pumped at least $18 million into the
project during the last 18 months.
- If you through that a lack of privacy was a concern before, this is about to make things a whole lot worse. Each article I found
carefully avoided mentioning any concerns about the fact that one can get a detailed image through one's clothes. Considering the speed of progress,
it is only a matter of time before your camera-phone will be able to shoot photos of naked people wherever you are. Shielding contraband will be near
impossible thanks to the very erratic signatures shielding throws off. This can be good or bad, depending on what constitutes the contraband (I'll
leave that one up to you).
- The idea of a world where nothing is hidden can be a frightening concept. Imagine a world where you, your spouse, or children can be
leered at, with nothing short of a thick solid object to provide modesty. Imagine a world where your neighbors, employers, or law enforcement can
simply look through your walls, floor, or ceiling, at what you are doing, without a warrant, without satellite, without anything more complicated than
a pair of T-Ray Sunglasses. Imagine how easy it would be for a burglar to see if anyone is home, for a would-be rapist or assassin to tell when one is
alone at home, which room they are in, and where all their phones and defenses are at that moment. Imagine life in such a way that the physical
properties of your entire existence are open to the public for easy viewing.
Now stop imagining, and start preparing, because that threshold just got crossed.
Related News Links:
Related AboveTopSecret.com Discussion Threads:
We have no privacy.. The government wont let us
[edit on 4/12/2005 by thelibra]