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20151121
As Parisian police moved in to apprehend people suspected of launching last week's terror attacks, a woman detonated a suicide-bomb vest. The recent appearance of such weapons in Western cities has alarmed many in law enforcement. One positive outcome of the military's extensive experience with such devices is a new system that can help guards detect a bomb vest from up to 100 meters away, according to Defense News.

The new experimental set of sensors is dubbed the Standoff Suicide Bomber Detection System, or SSBDS, Developed by the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency, or JIDA, it's already seen action; in 2012, the Defense Department took an early version to Afghanistan, the report says.

The SSBDS is not a single magic lens, but an ensemble of sensors that measure radiation at the midwave and longwave infrared as well as the terahertz wavelengths. There's also a visible-light camera. Terahertz radiation may sound like something to avoid — but because it uses low energy and isn't ionizing, it's less dangerous to human tissue than are x-rays. It's been used as part of security applications since 2004.

On Tuesday, JIDA officials demonstrated the system to reporters at Virginia's Fort Belvoir. When directed at a person, the SSBDS offers three views: a grainy black and white, which is the infrared; a bright orange glow, which is the terahertz; and a regular picture from the camera.

The presence of a suicide belt won't set off alarms but a trained — or simply attentive — eye can use the multiple sensors to see dark shapes or spots — areas of negative space that indicate an abnormality, which should prompt a closer investigation. In essence, you're looking not for explosives but for holes in the picture where there should be solid white or orange.

"It's a perfect system for dual use with Department of Homeland Security. Just think of Paris," one JIDA scientist said....................

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