How to get to America

31 12 2009

Of course you have all heard about the Nigerian student to whom the American government gave a visa despite his family having alerted officials about his strange behaviour and who tried to mix an explosive aboard a plane from Amsterdam to America.

Instead of wondering about the apparent laxity of the American’s screening, full attention is now aimed to Schiphol Airport security. Maybe because they want to divert attention from the American failure to spot this man even though his own family send out warning signals???
The result is that flights to America are now subject to more stringent security measures. Although I find the current measures farcical, for instance the confiscation of a nail-clipper while once in the airplane the grannies are allowed to keep on knitting? Now I cannot really imagine a scenario where you can successfully kill somebody with a nail-clipper, but I can imagine about 10 where you can kill people with only one knitting needle.
No, my problem is that the Schiphol security have used this incident to finally bring out their super technological body scan machines and force them on the passengers.

Until now it was considered a breach of our privacy and bodily integrity to force people to undergo the scan, but now they have been given a good reason to scare people again they took advantage and now all passengers flying from Schiphol to America will be forced to allow themselves be scanned starting end of January.

The millimeter wave scan uses terahertz radiation to see through your clothes and identify foreign substances. The way terahertz waves are absorbed and emitted can also be used to determine the chemical composition of a material. It cannot see through flesh, and the waves don’t travel far inside the body.

Due to the terahertz photons not being energetic enough to break chemical bonds or ionise atoms or molecules, the chief reasons why higher energy photons such as x-rays and UV rays are so bad for us, the health risks are easily dismissed.
But these waves do infiltrate your body, and there maybe other mechanisms at work here. I do not believe that you can mess with our body in any way without changing, and usually damaging something.

The evidence that terahertz radiation damages biological systems is mixed. “Some studies reported significant genetic damage while others, although similar, showed none,” say Boian Alexandrov at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and a few buddies. Alexandrov and co have created a model to investigate how THz fields interact with double-stranded DNA and what they’ve found is remarkable. They say that although the forces generated are tiny, resonant effects allow THz waves to unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication. That’s a jaw dropping conclusion.

And it also explains why the evidence has been so hard to garner. Ordinary resonant effects are not powerful enough to do this kind of damage but nonlinear resonances can. These nonlinear instabilities are much less likely to form which explains why the character of THz genotoxic effects are probabilistic rather than deterministic, say the team.

I find this greatly disturbing. Of course, terahertz waves are a natural part of environment, just like visible and infrared light. But these new generation of cameras do not only record terahertz waves but also bombard us with them. And if our exposure is set to increase, the question that urgently needs answering is what level of terahertz exposure is safe.

Besides the invasion of my privacy and bodily integrity, which I by no means  want to surrender to a lazy cost-aware security system, I find it a flippant disregard of the health and safety of the passengers to bombard them on a regular basis with terahertz waves without their knowledge and consent. Believe me I have looked into this and there was only one person on several Dutch forums who wondered about the terahertz waves’ health implications instead of privacy matters. Apparently awareness of the possible implications of the use of terahertz waves on our health is virtually non-existent. Of course none of the information sites about the”body-scan-machines” even mentions terahertz waves.

It may be a very long time before I can travel to America again and be with the Q…
For the afore-mentioned reasons I do categorically refuse to be scanned by terahertz waves.

And the Nigerian who tried to blow up the plane was not stopped by the American government, who gave him a valid visa, he was not stopped by Schiphol security, he was stopped by a courageous Dutchman, Jeroen Schuringa, who jumped the man, brought him down, and doused the fire.

Maybe instead of subjecting us to more humiliation, invasion of our privacy, and exposure to terahertz waves, they could prepare the passengers with some martial arts lessons while we wait for boarding. A well-trained and prepared to attack, group of passengers seems to me of far more value than all the dodgy invasive and possibly dangerous technology they are so enamoured with now.

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13 responses

31 12 2009
Personal Failure

The best suggestion I’ve heard so far is that upon boarding the plane, you will switch underwear with a randomly selected fellow passenger. If you find explosives in your new underwear, report it to the flight attendents.

31 12 2009
Aafke

Brilliant!!!!

31 12 2009
sabiwabi

If I had to go through one of those, I’d rather swim!

31 12 2009
Aafke

Another brilliant alternative! I’ll start practising next week!!!

31 12 2009
susanne430

I guess the Q will have to visit you from now on!

Loved the first comment about switching underwear. Ha, ha! Well, not really, but the thought is amusing…and a bit gross.

*ahem*

Yay for brave Dutch men who will take down terrorists! The CIA stinks! After reading “Shadow Warriors” I have little use for them.

31 12 2009
radha

Guess if a whole bunch of passengers refuse to travel via schipol ,ergo northwest ( klm) which hubs there, then the airlines will pressure them to go back to normal intrusive checks 🙂 money speaks everywhere.

31 12 2009
Haleem

I am torn. While I understand the need for privacy and healthy security checks (rays invading your body cannot be healthy) I also don’t want to be blown up by a mad man.

I guess this is something we will have to live with for now. *sigh*

31 12 2009
radha

why oh why did this lunatic have to try and blow up detroit before i leave on my long trip to india …
(i can’t understnad why detroit ? — its self destructing by itself without any help)

31 12 2009
Achelois

That nail-clipper Vs knitting needles was hilarious!

Happy New Year, dear friend to you and Q!

31 12 2009
Aafke

Thank you! The Q says thanks too, but he is not at all happy with me for not liking the body-scan.
the nail clipper thing is true though, sevral people have been telling me they have seen women knitting on board. I am collecting witnesses.

1 01 2010
Abu Sinan

This is just going to be done in Holland. Skip on over to Berlin and fly here, no worries!

17 01 2010
Rosie

Jasper Schuringa, not jeroen.

As for the rest of your article: Couldn’t agree more!

17 01 2010
Karybdis

As a Canadian with a dutch girlfriend, I can assure you we’re now worried about both privacy and health concerns as well when travelling too. For the moment, I suggest just travelling to Brussels airport (just as far as Amsterdam for us) where they have a bulletproof enclosed plexiglass gate surrounded by guards for those wishing to go to America (instead of the bodyscan). The ones for the US back to Europe are optional, and you can opt for an invasive patdown instead (joy).

In the long term, I’m very scared of what happens to security when the terrorists realize these dont see through skin and insert the explosives into a body cavity (becoming TerREARists)

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