Of mice and menaces 1

The job satisfaction of  TSA (Transport Security Administration) assaulters and voyeurs employed at airports to feel up their victims and ogle naked bodies may be spoilt soon. They may be replaced by mice.

Here’s a report on new technology for the detection of drugs and explosives:

Israeli startup Bioexplorers has developed a new and unique way to sniff out terrorists – literally. After years of research, company CEO Eran Lumbroso [says that] Bioexplorers has hit upon a foolproof, non-invasive and easy method to detect contraband in purses, luggage and even cargo – using mice.

It’s no joke. “Mice have an excellent sense of smell, and they’re relatively easy to train. And they’re easier to use for odor detection than other animals traditionally used for their olfactory capabilities.” …

Here’s how it works: A person passes through a passageway in which a Bioexplorers system is installed. A fan passes air into a sensor receptor, and delivers it into a chamber with several mice. The mice, having gone through intensive behavioral training, sniff the air. If the odor is one associated with items the mice have been trained to recognize, like drugs or bombs, they move into another chamber – setting off an alarm. Security officers can then move in and stop the appropriate suspect. …

“The entire procedure is far less invasive or intimidating than the alternatives, like using dogs or X-ray machines,” says Lumbroso. “There’s no radiation, and no concern about being seen naked,” he adds.

The system is appropriate for use in any setting – airports, government buildings, shopping malls. In fact, the company has conducted several tests at sites in Israel to ensure that the sensors work in real situations, including at Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Mall. More than 1,000 people passed through a Bioexplorers sensor – some having been given “suspicious” objects and substances to hold – and the mice made the right call every time, says Lumbroso.

The mice won’t touch you. You won’t even see them.

The rodents employed on this security detail are specially raised lab mice, “which are very clean, and there is no chance that they will transfer diseases to humans, since there is no contact between the mice and the people passing through the sensor,” says Lumbroso. …

They enjoy exemplary work conditions.

The mice are treated well; they “work” for four hours, and then rest for eight, to ensure they don’t experience sensory overload.

Each mouse’s “career” can be expected to last for about two years, and each sensor installation is staffed by four to eight mice. In order to prevent “false positives,” more than one mouse has to respond to the odor and move into the second chamber. …

Their future is bright – to hospitals and beyond.

“We are also looking at developing systems for medical use, in which the mice can detect growths or other problems by smell, without the need for invasive procedures,” Lumbroso says. …

The invention is selling. The mice will go abroad to many countries as mercenaries in the “war on terror”:

“Chances are good that in another year or so, you’ll be passing through a Biosensor system when you travel somewhere.”

  • Andrew M

    Bravo, Israel, for being the one nation on this planet destined to give humans secular salvation. It is amazing what you put up with: you give massively beneficial gifts like these mice to the world, and in return you receive scorn and venom because you are, after all, “da Joooz”. If that’s so, then I’ll be a proud Jew too.

    Drugs, drugs, drugs… where should I start? Jillian, you know my position on this subject very well, but I owe the rest of TAC my stance as well: I advocate legalizing all drugs. Any lesser position makes infants out of rational adults who can easily look up why it might not be such a good idea to snort cocaine or inject themselves with heroin, but also discover that marijuana and psychoactive mushrooms are quite a benign pleasure in the right setting. These mice are far more useful to sniff out rogue bombs, since the deaths those devices cause are actually needless.