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Biotech Security Science Technology

Fear Detector To Sniff Out Terrorists 342

Hugh Pickens writes "Evidence that the smell of fear is real was uncovered by US scientists last year who studied the underarm secretions of 20 terrified novice skydivers and found that people appear to respond unconsciously to the sweat smell of a frightened person. Now the Telegraph reports that researchers hope a 'fear detector' will make it possible to identify individuals at check points who are up to no good. 'The challenge lies in the characterization and identification of the specific chemical that gives away the signature of human fear, especially the fear in relation to criminal acts,' says Professor Tong Tun at City University London, who leads the team developing security sensor systems that can detect the human fear pheromone. The project will look at potential obstacles to the device, such as the effects of perfume and the variances in pheromone production and if the initial 18-month feasibility study is successful, the first detectors could be developed in the next two to three years. 'I do not see any particular reason why similar sensor techniques cannot be expanded to identify human smells by race, age or gender to build a profile of a criminal during or after an incident,' Tong added."
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Fear Detector To Sniff Out Terrorists

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  • Simple solution (Score:3, Informative)

    by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Friday November 06, 2009 @09:20AM (#30004840)
    take tranquilisers and eat plenty of garlic.

    You'll also get the whole set of seats to yourself.

  • by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Friday November 06, 2009 @10:12AM (#30005276)

    Y'know.... a man can change the scent/pheromones his body gives off as easily as taking a drug like cyproterone []. The effects are temporary, but taking it in doses of about 50mg/day for a week before flying will have a big enough impact on the way your body produces pheromones that most people won't be able to read you properly. Stop taking the drug, and your body resumes normal operation...

    Not suggesting, of course, that the terrorists would think to use a drug that, in people with a Y-chromosome, is usually used to treat transgenderism (and occasionally used to treat prostate cancer), but there are a very large number of drugs out there on the market, some available over the counter, that will affect your body's hormone balance, and will in turn affect the pheromones that your body produces. With so many ways to screw with the results available, I'd be very surprised if they could get such a system to work properly with an acceptable false positive/false negative rate....

  • by guru312 ( 200260 ) on Friday November 06, 2009 @01:52PM (#30007324)
    I've been a parachute instructor, jumpmaster and jump pilot since 1972. This issue is old news for us.

    I searched and found this link:;post=2005174;page=2;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;mh=25; [] which actually may not work for folks without an account on

    As so many posters have mentioned the false positives which will be created by such a nutty idea will be huge. A huge percentage of people are terrified of flying. Even I hate it...unless I'm flying the plane or wearing a parachute.

    One of the dumbest applications of physiological response knowledge I've ever read.

    Where is my parachute? I want off this the planet.

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein