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Stopping evildoers with X-ray vision: U.S. military unveils new device

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/23/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

MINI Z can see through boxes, bags and car seats

We may not be able to leap over skyscrapers with a single bound - but like Superman in the comics of yore, the U.S. military now has a gun capable of X-ray vision. Like Superman, the device - called the MINI Z, can look through boxes, bags - everything up to airplane wings, in order find explosives, contraband and narcotics.

At a recent technology show, representatives from American Science and Engineering ran the MINI Z, over an item and the image would show up on a Windows powered tablet PC. Organic compounds appeared bright white and distinct from the dark, inorganic material.

At a recent technology show, representatives from American Science and Engineering ran the MINI Z, over an item and the image would show up on a Windows powered tablet PC. Organic compounds appeared bright white and distinct from the dark, inorganic material.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
6/23/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: MINI Z, X-ray vision, military


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The MINI Z is the first device of its kind that a soldier or would-be superhero can hold in her hands. The size of a breadbox and works with the press of a button, the user actually detects the outline of organic material buried behind cloth, leather or even aluminum.

At a recent technology show, representatives from American Science and Engineering ran the MINI Z, over an item and the image would show up on a Windows powered tablet PC. Organic compounds appeared bright white and distinct from the dark, inorganic material.

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The company behind the MINI Z also makes the X-ray detectors on view at airports. Those scanners are on the downslide due to the embarrassing amount of detail they reveal about a person's body.

Both the MINI Z and airport scanners work on the same basis as regular X-rays. In the doctor's office, the technician shoots a high-powered beam of photons through your body. The photons pass through the soft tissue to a film, which is then developed to reveal fractures, car keys, staples or other abnormalities.

Backscatter X-rays are less powerful and don't actually penetrate deep into organic tissue. The MINI Z can shoot these rays continuously, as opposed to taking a single burst picture like a Polaroid camera.

"The ability to continually generate that X-ray beam is a big factor and a big change," Joe Reiss, vice president at AS&E, says.

One of the advantages of a handheld X-ray gun is that it allows for quick, multiple scans from different angles. During the MINI Z demonstration, a mound of paper took several swipes with scanner to become clear on the image.

It took AS&E and their suppliers seven years to reduce those form factors from truck-size, heat producing elements to something handheld.

"You have to be able to cool [the X-ray device]," says Reiss. "Our bigger systems have elaborate cooling mechanisms to do that but they're much higher power."

The MINI Z only uses about ten watts of power. The company's van-sized X-ray machine will use on the order of 3,000 watts but can see deeper at further distances. "The basic imaging concepts are the same," said Reiss. "The tradeoffs are different. How much power do you want? How big can it be? How much does it cost?"

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