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Good Old American Know-How Lives!

08.25.2006 06:31 | DISPATCHES

Besides energy, no issue is as perplexing to Americans as security, especially of the fatherland, I mean homeland, variety. But there's finally been a breakthrough development. However embarrassing to the government and big business, it was incubated not within a major corporation that's a government contractor, but by volunteer researchers. To further rub it in, they used off-the-shelf materials and their finished product comes at a bargain basement price. founder Alex Zaitchik brought this article by Mark Rutherford, "DIY Nuke Detector Patrols SF Bay," to our attention:

"The Department of Homeland Security announced plans last month to bolster U.S. port defenses with radiation scanners. . . [costing] an estimated $1.15 billion." Meanwhile, "Here on the San Francisco Bay, a group of do-it-yourself volunteer researchers [claim] they are close to perfecting a portable device that could do much the same thing. . . for total out-of-pocket costs of about $12,000. . . .[It's] already built a boat-mounted scanner with off-the-shelf parts that might reliably spot radiation spikes in container ships at sea from a kilometer away."

While useful for detecting baby suitcase nukes, the scanner might not be much help with mama and papa bombs. Whatever organization that goes to the trouble of constructing a nuclear bomb, as Rutherford points out, won't stop before it encases the bomb in lead, which confines the radiation to the container. When it comes to stopping weapons that size, I'm afraid there's no substitute for hugging a mujahadeen.

But anyone nostalgic for the can-do spirit that built America, but which is sadly lacking in a time when corporatism stifles both ingenuity and entrepreneurship, should read this article and take heart.


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