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Full-Body Airport Scanners Downsizing For Doctors/Dentists 221

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the all-the-better-to-see-your-cavities-with dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Cheap handheld terahertz scanners that do the same thing as those big bulky full-body scanners at the airport could be in your doctor's and dentist's office soon. The Semiconductor Research Corp. has successfully sponsored chip maker Texas Instruments in making cheap CMOS chips that do the same thing as those refrigerator sized full-body scanners at the airport. The resulting handheld versions can be tuned to look inside your teeth in the dentist chair and under you skin at the doctor's office. The best part is that terahertz rays are completely safe, unlike the X-rays used today by dentists and doctors which can cause cancer. Count me in!"
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Full-Body Airport Scanners Downsizing For Doctors/Dentists

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  • DNA resonance (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 02, 2012 @09:41PM (#40523577)

    THz radiation may cause DNA resonance:

    http://science.slashdot.org/story/09/10/30/1216230/how-terahertz-waves-tear-apart-dna

  • Re:"completely safe" (Score:5, Informative)

    by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:10PM (#40523935) Homepage Journal
    FWIW, the available research [europa.eu] is pretty clear [arxiv.org] that terahertz radiation poses little or no threat to the body under biological conditions. There's lingering concern that it may have a small ability to affect lipid bilayer permeability (which could imbalance how cells pass messages, receive nutrients, and eliminate waste), but over all, a THz exposure is a lot like being bombarded with visible or infrared light: it will warm you up if left on for too long, but it's not really dangerous on its own. The radiation is too high-frequency to excite any of the electrons orbiting the atoms in the human body (which is how UV causes damage), and much, much too low-energy to knock an electron onto a different atom (which is how X-rays and gamma radiation cause damage.) Any effects it does have must be extremely subtle—and the body is very good at handling subtle problems, since we replace almost every cell every ten years on average.
  • Re:DNA resonance (Score:4, Informative)

    by serent (911376) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:40PM (#40524093)
    In 2011, a further study was done that indicated that under normal circumstances, this theoretical danger shouldn't be an issue, but recommended rigorous experimentation to confirm this:

    Modelling DNA Response to THz Radiation
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1012.4153 [arxiv.org]

    The long and short of it is, it's probably ok but if we're going to start putting them in cell phones, further studying should be done.
  • Re:"completely safe" (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @12:14AM (#40524275)

    Edison seemed to think it was perfectly safe and into the '50s stores were using the fluoroscope to make sure that shoes were properly fitting.

    You can always find somebody that thinks something is dangerous from the start, the questions really are whether they are credible and how seriously they're being taken.

  • by Svartormr (692822) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @01:30AM (#40524583)

    Reading slashdot is safe. So you wouldn't mind if I made you sit there reading it for a week while force feeding you cheetos?

    For many readers, this is their normal state of existence. >:)

  • Re:"completely safe" (Score:5, Informative)

    by Warma (1220342) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @02:26AM (#40524753)

    You are not taking into account, that doctors are wary of using MRI devices for scheduling and expense reasons. An X-ray image from a leased dental device is almost free (less than a hundred euros for private institutions here) and takes mere minutes, while an MRI scan costs thousands of euros and may take hours.

    Also, since MRI is more useful in a wider variety of situations, someone else probably needs it more or needs it sooner - you might end up having a huge waiting time to get yourself scanned. It is prudent to take the x-ray, because if the doctor can see the ailment there, the MRI scan may not be needed at all. He will also send you out, because if the pain disappears in a couple of weeks, the MRI won't be necessary. Money, time, work, and possibly lives, might be spared.

    If you are worried about the risks of a single x-ray, I assure you that they are beyond neglible - especially if you compare that risk with the possible wasted utility of an MRI device.

  • Re:Incorrect (Score:4, Informative)

    by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @03:29AM (#40524989) Homepage Journal
    Crap; sorry. You got me. I would've caught that if I'd read it more carefully. You deserve some mod points for that.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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