A demonstration of a full-body scanner on German television last week revealed that the device, which uses infrared technology, was able to detect little more than a cellphone, a knife, and the girth of the man walking through it.

The problem? He was also packing a bomb.

“Admittedly, he only faced the scanner from the front and not from the side,” wrote computer security pro Bruce Schneier. “But he also didn’t hide anything in a body cavity other than his mouth — I didn’t think about that one — he didn’t use low density or thinly sliced PETN, and he didn’t hide anything in his carry-on luggage. Full-body scanners: they’re not just a dumb idea, they don’t actually work.”

  1. Angel H. Wong says:

    “He who protects everything protects nothing.”

    Sun Tzu.

  2. deowll says:

    The side scans would have picked up some more items. The guy admits that the item in the mouth would have been undetected but an item in the mouth must be small if you expect to talk and a fast look would find anything larger than gum stuck to the roof of the mouth. A few people can learn to swallow egg sized objects and burp them back up. The item in the sock seems to have been missed but was very low on mass.

    There are some ultra potent nerve gases that terrorist could use but I suspect that if they try and mess with that stuff using improvised equipment more of them will die than anyone else and it most likely won’t make it to an airport.

    I have wondered about nitroglycerin in a breast implant. Women wearing implants go through the scanners every day and you can’t easily check the contents though there are ways.

  3. Skeptic says:

    What they need is more inspection stations…
    1. full body scanner
    2. high pressure bidet (through clothing)
    3. syrup of ipecac

  4. Mr. Fusion says:

    This wouldn’t find many items but it will make the Dick Cheney crowd feel safer.

  5. sargasso says:

    Wear a dark suit, be polite and calm, look bored.

  6. Skeptic says:

    Re:#4, Mr. Fusion, given the absurdity of humanity, there’s no shortage of ‘material’. 🙂

  7. Jess Hurchist says:

    Could be worse

  8. Jess Hurchist says:

    On second thoughts I prefer this article

  9. Serious says:

    Let us just declare airports forced nudist colonies.. makes it a lot easier.

  10. ray says:

    The only reason why scanners don’t work is because we have idiots developing the darn thing.

  11. Reader1 says:

    These things just don’t work ,you guys heard of Iraq bomb detectors , that turned out to be useless

    here is the link for that article apparently the head of the company is arrest for fraud.

    Head of bomb detector company arrested in fraud investigation (BBC reported on this too) : http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/head-of-bomb-detector-company-arrested-in-fraud-investigation-1876388.html

  12. FRAGaLOT says:

    It didn’t work because they aren’t at an airport. Yeah that’s really reassuring.

  13. Angel H. Wong says:

    This also reminds me of the $16,000,000 apache helicopters in Afganistan and Iraq. Claimed to be so advanced, so well designed that it only took to burn some tires to blind their sensors and a grenade on a stick to knock them down.

  14. clancys_daddy says:

    Not that I am in favor of full body scans. I don’t think the infrared is the version they are looking at, I believe it actually back scatter x-ray. Which if the media videos are to be believed, provide a much clearer picture of items on the body.

  15. AdmFubar says:

    does this body scan make me look fat???

  16. Animby says:

    #15 Admiral – No, no, not at all. Relax…

  17. Simon Zerafa says:


    Infra-red scanners are useless; they should be using millimetre wave radar to pick up objects below clothing but outside of the body.

    Used with chemical sniffers this should pick up what got though on this “test”.



  18. skeptic says:

    This video proves nothing other than only millimeter wave technology is useful in this context – the resolution and technology on the scanner they were using here was pathetic. And I’m actually -against- full body scanners, for many other reasons.

  19. Grace Augustine says:

    The lesson is, try not to sit near the really fat German, and if a terrorist decides your airplane is the one he wants to blow up, you’re fokt.

  20. Lone Wolf says:

    That is funny!
    But you don’t need this video to know it doesn’t work. It is known that they do not work.


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