What Was That? (3)

If you have been following along, we have been sharing some x-ray images that help us explore the challenges of the many security scanners who work to preserve our safe environment.  Did you guess correctly on the first three items (posted 20120417)?  Well the second three items (posted 20120503) are a capacitor from a microwave oven, a bathroom scale and a module from a Ricoh printer.  If you got all six please run to the front of the Auditorium.  If you didn’t get them all right or you didn’t completely identify all the objects in a total of 30 seconds you really should put in some extra study time.  Remember a security screener need only be wrong once to really mess things up.

Let’s recap.  Here is what a small suitcase looks like when viewed at the airport.  I’m guessing that is a blister pack of antacids and a bottle of aspirin.  What do you think?

X-ray Of Case

A “emerging” concern is implanted explosive devices – a new kind of IED.  This will be very interesting as it is relatively easy to fabricate explosive compounds with densities near that of body parts and when encapsulated in the body our sniffers are not much help.  And if we consider only breast implants the potential amount of explosive is very significant.  My bet is on an external detonation system – the details are left to the reader.  Is it real or is it semtex?

X-ray Implants

Finally, I know the guys at the Secret Service are sad now that they’ve had their wings clipped (and maybe other body parts) so here is a little eye candy.

x-ray oinup



What was that? (2)

Did you identify the items shown in the X-ray images posted 120417?  The first was an HP hand calculator which was rather obvious.  Remember the challenge is to – quickly – determine that this is indeed an HP calculator and only an HP calculator.

The second image shared in that post is that of a musical greeting card.  Pretty easy.  But is this item with batteries, a switch, some kind of controller module and wire going to a round, amorphous “thing” just a musical card?  The third image is that of a compact fluourescent light bulb.  How do we know those tubes are actually filled with light producing gas?

Bottom line: it takes a little bit of examination to see enough to identify what an object likely is but it is a real challenge to ensure that there are no nefarious modifications.

Let’s try three addition images.  I’ll post their identities sometime next week.

Well? — remember we need to make our determination in about 5 seconds.

This is a common item that all of us would recognize on sight but it may not be quite as easy to identify when you can see through it.

If you identify this last image you are an instant expert.

What was that?

We’ve all heard the moaning and groaning as we queue up for the security checks at the airport.  “Those guys” scanning our carry on items and poking around in our junk.  Just how hard can it be?  Maybe we should take a look at the world through an X-ray scanners eyes.

I’ll help with this first image.  It’s an electronic, hand-held calculator.  Pretty cool, huh?  Now, is there anything in this calculator that shouldn’t be?  Oh, and we must finish checking this bag in 5 seconds.

Hand Held Calculator X-Ray

Can you guess what this second image is?  We’ll add 5 seconds although we’ve already used more than the time alloted for the image above.

Musical Card X-Ray

How about guessing this third one?  Do you want another 5 seconds?


These are actually some of the easy images – piece of cake type stuff – imaged on a clean surface with no obscurants (junk) around them.  We’ll share more in another post and share the answers to the last two images.  But first we want to get our thinking right.  The important question is not “what was that?” it is “what is that?” – finding it early enough to react appropriately – every time.

So, what is that?