Friday, November 6, 2009
There it was, on the front page of the New York Times; the Iraqi government has purchased
more than 1500 devices known as the ADE 651 to use at checkpoints. That stands for Advanced
Detection of Explosives. The 651 is the latest detection device marketed by ATSC (UK) Ltd. It
consists of a thin rod mounted on a swivel held by pistol grip, and is said to point to
explosives. That's all it is, there are no sensors. According to Rod Nordland who wrote
the article, a retired USAF officer said the device is nothing more than an explosives
divining rod,. The stupid Iraqis don't know this and paid $16,500-$60,000 each for them,
even though American officers told them the devices are worthless. Boy, are they dumb!
Wait, the NYT failed mention that the US Department of Defense was sold on these devices
back in the 90s Although it was classified, they tipped off their favorite novelist, Tom
Clancy, that the incredible device could detect people through thick walls by sensing their
heartbeats. It was the basis of "Rainbow Six," http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN98/wn092598.html .
It was a scam. Thousands of similar devices are still in use by local police around the
country to satisfy "probable cause" requirements for a property search. ATSC also sells a
narcotic detector, but it's exactly the same device with a different number.
Is there no memory? Where I grew up in Texas no one would think of digging a well until the local
dowser using a willow fork approved the spot. Since then, dowsing for water has been debunked over
and over, most thoroughly by James Randi. But dowsing is now used for everything. Last year, the
power company needed to find a buried power cable on our road. I watched the lineman reach under
the seat of his truck, pull out a stiff wire bent in the shape of a fork, and start dousing for
the cable. If it works for everything, there is no physical cause and it's not science.
The first time I heard that promise it was made by Joseph W. Newman on the CBS Evening News with
Dan Rather in 1987. A Mississippi backwoods-mechanic with a grade-school education, Newman took
a course in electricity. When he heard that doubling the number of turns in a coil would double
the magnetic field, he left to wind a mighty coil that would generate more energy than it took.
Newman never got to Lenz's law, and CBS did not bother to check with a scientist. About every
five years since, that machine is reinvented. You can now build your own "energy machine" with
a kit from Magnets4Energy, but it still won't work.
Some powerful members of the Senate propose language in the healthcare bill would prohibit
discrimination against "religious and spiritual health care." The unstated purpose is to cover
the cost of Christian Science prayer treatments in the healthcare bill. This shouldn't be a problem.
The church, says the treatments are effective; if so these people will not need real medical care.
If, on the other hand, prayer treatments are not effective, they are a subsidy to the Church of Christ,
Scientist and the program should be reimbursed by that amount.