Photo by Prateek Karandikar. GFDL and Creative Common (BY-SA) licenses.
Using already existing networks to create inexpensive and vast early-detection systems is simply brilliant.
Researchers at Purdue University are working with the state of Indiana to develop a system that would use a network of cell phones to detect and track radiation to help prevent terrorist attacks with radiological “dirty bombs” and nuclear weapons.
Such a system could blanket the nation with millions of cell phones equipped with radiation sensors able to detect even light residues of radioactive material. Because cell phones already contain global positioning locators, the network of phones would serve as a tracking system, said physics professor Ephraim Fischbach. […]
Tiny solid-state radiation sensors are commercially available. The detection system would require additional circuitry and would not add significant bulk to portable electronic products, Fischbach said. […]
“It’s impossible to completely shield a weapon’s radioactive material without making the device too heavy to transport,” Jenkins said.
Of course, participation would need to be voluntary for it to be ethical, but I’m sure that there would be more than enough volunteers to make it work.
Think of the possibilities of such a vast network of sensors: How about detecting certain chemicals? With the right technology, it could even detect biological and viral threats. I know they’re already working on sensors that can monitor air quality. What else can we think of?
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