Bomb Detector Smells like a Moth

By Nicholas Janitsary

For years, law enforcement agencies around the world have used dogs to sniff for explosives, but dogs are not the only animals now in use. In 2009, DARPA began experiments using bees to locate landmines, but now a new detection technology has been developed based on moths.

The silkmoth, or Bombyx mori, has antennae that are highly evolved to detect smells in very low concentrations. The new detector imitates the design of the moth’s antennae, and consists of a long spine covered with up to half a million microscopic nanotubes made from titanium dioxide. The system, developed by a team of researchers in Europe, has the potential to be 1,000 times more sensitive than current TNT detectors. The detector has successfully completed laboratory testing, but has not been tested yet in the field.

Nicholas Janitsary has a Ph.D. in Criminology and is the Managing Director of New Dimension Group.

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Nicholas Janitsary on Piracy in the Middle East

As much of the Middle East grows economically, the social and political upheavals on land threaten to limit the region’s productivity and progress. This is worsened by the increasing risk from pirates who target vessels throughout the Arabian Sea.

In 2009,for example, MSC and Fred Olsen Cruises rerouted their traditional course to avoid pirates, a change that now excludes ports in the United Arab Emirates and Oman and harms those tourist-based economies.

Commercial oil and gas shipments are also affected, as their vessels and their operators are known to be insured, fueling pirates’ demand for substantial ransom payments.

Private vessels and yachts are also increasingly targeted by pirates. The methods of hijacking and torture applied by the pirates does little to ease the minds of potential visitors to the region.

About the Author:
A sailing enthusiast, Nicholas Janitsary holds a PhD in Criminology and acts as managing director of New Dimension Group, a global security and defense consultancy. The firm provides insight on counterterrorism, security-threat assessment, crisis management, and intelligence gathering.