Jan 22, 2008

Cell phone sensors detect radiation to thwart nuclear terrorism

Posted by in categories: defense, existential risks, nuclear weapons is reporting that researchers at Purdue University are working to develop a system that would use a network of cell phones to track radiation in an effort to prevent terrorist attacks with dirty bombs or nuclear weapons. Tiny solid-state radiation sensors are already commercially available and the additional circuitry would not add significant bulk to portable electronic products.

The researchers tested the system and demonstrated that it is capable of detecting a weak radiation source 15 feet from the sensors. A fully developed system could cover a 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 large scale tracking system that would require no intervention from individual users.


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  1. Michael G.R. says:

    That’s simply brilliant! I just love the concept of a distributed “immune system” like that.

  2. I thought the same thing when I first read about it and wondered what other scenarios it would carry over to. Perhaps distributed cell phone sensors for biological agents, etc. If the cell phone companies can convince people of the need for people to “donate” their participation voluntarily into the network, it could be an effective counter measure against these threats.