Rapiscan Backscatter Scanners – Reflection and Absorption.
Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.
~Herman Göring at the Nuremberg trials
It is time to dispel one or two myths about the scanners and delve deeper into the health debate. Let’s look seriously at how these machines really work.
Meet John Wild. This British man was visiting a security trade fair in London in 2006 when he was invited by the Rapiscan sales team to be scanned. John managed to persuade them to print off and give him a copy of his scan. It is a hugely significant image in that it is the only Advanced Imaging Technology image publicly available that has not been ceded by the manufacturers in its public relations exercises. It is also the only full-body scanned image that has not passed through a ‘gaussian blur’ filter in Photoshop and been cooled by a calming soft blue tint. Moreover, it is the only image from a Rapiscan Secure 1000 security scanner that does not include guns or other weapons. On a level of public perception, this last point is essential. Firstly, in 2009, more than 2.5 billion people flew on commercial flights around the world and only one boarded a flight with a weapon – and a dud at that. Secondly, it is not the job of the scanners to detect metallic objects, such as guns or knives. The metal detector arches do that job before an airline passenger is goaded into a full-body scanner. The job of the scanners is to detect “non-metallic weapons”, such as those used by Richard Reid in 2001 or Abdulmutallab in 2009. Whether or not the scanners are capable of doing that is something we will return to later on. However, there do not exist ANY images of full-body scanned people carrying the popular explosives TATP and PETN, precisely the substances they are supposed to be looking for.
This is NOT a photograph.
The old adage is that “a picture tells a thousand stories”, and it was never truer for this image. But let’s just look at a few of those stories:
It is essential to understand that the image we can see of John is NOT a black and white photograph, even if it appears similar to one. In fact, it has very little to do with conventional photography as we know it. A traditional black and white photo is made from the reaction of reflected light radiation on photographic film. The more light that is reflected off a surface, the whiter the area on the photograph, while less reflected light gives a darker tone. The overall result is a patchwork of light and dark areas depending on how much light radiation was reflected off the subjects in the image. These differences in lightwave radiation exposure are what define the image of a photograph. BUT, the above is not a photograph. So In the absence of natural light below the subject’s clothing, what produces the light and dark tones that make up the representation of the naked body in a full-body scanner?
The Backscatter Method.
Rapiscan’s backscatter machine bombards its subject with ionising radio waves from head to toe. The idea is that the photons from this radiation are given sufficient energy to penetrate the clothing of the subject, but not the whole body. Once the photons, which progressively lose penetrative power, encounter something dense enough and their penetrative energy has diminished enough, these photons then bounce off the subject and scatter in all directions. A small percentage bounce back to the reader inside the machine.
The readings are then calculated and electronically rendered so as to produce an image like the one above. The Rapiscan software renders the image in such a way that it appears similar to a black and white photograph, and therefore easy to recognise, read and process.
A myth has been floating around ever since these machines were introduced onto the market that says backscatter radiation does not penetrate skin. This is pure propaganda on behalf of the industry and establishment. As you will see, the penetrative power of this radiation is far greater than ever previously thought.
So to make the image easier to understand, I am going to undo one aspect of the Rapiscan image rendering and invert the picture of John.
There are two concepts to consider. The first is reflection. We know that the radiation is powerful enough to penetrate clothing, but unlike gamma radiation not enough to pass through the entire body. I think it is safe to assume that it cannot pass through metal or similarly solid material and would simply reflect back off giving the most pronounced reading. In the case of the buttons on John’s trousers and the loose change in his pocket, we can see that they are now represented in white (or black before inversion). Apart from the bright background, the next brightest white features are John’s bones.
Clearly visible and recognisable we can see the tibia (shins), all the bones of the feet, the patella (knees), suggestions of the pelvic girdle (hips), sternum, clavicle and ribs. Thus we have instantly dispelled the myth of non-penetration of the backscatter radiation.
It is clear why we can see the bones we see and not others. All the above mentioned bones are close to thinner areas of skin. None are hidden behind large muscles or typical accumulations of fat.
Perhaps more worrying is not the whiter-looking bones revealed in the scan, but the other important bone covered by only a thin layer of skin – the cranium. In the image below the familiar outline of the skull is easily seen. The question now arises of why it is not as white as the other bones we can see. If white + black = grey, and white represents reflection, what does the black represent and what is happening to cause the thin bone of the cranium to appear grey and not bright white like the tibia?
We now understand the the more pronounced white areas of John’s scan represent dense and brittle areas such as thick bone that reflect a certain anount of radiation. Now we need to establish what provokes the other end of the scale – the black areas. For the most part, we can see that these are the opposite – soft and fleshy areas such as the belly, calves, shoulders, cheeks, buttocks, etc. So why does the scanner pick these up as being opposites to the tibia (shin bone). Well, in terms of radiation dosage, the opposite of the reflection seen in John’s white bones can only be absorption. This absorbing of energy is essential in the process. If all the energy were simply reflected away, the previous image of John would simply appear as a white silhouette.
All areas of John’s body are being penetrated by the radiation of the scanner, but only those with dense, brittle material directly below the skin (bones) are bouncing photons back towards the reader on the scanner with any efficiency. Those softer, fleshier areas, such as his belly, are doing the opposite of reflection and absorbing the radioactive energy inside and storing it as it is then too weak to continue its journey out the other side and exit its victim’s body. It stands to reason that if the backscatter waves have nothing significant to bounce off they will keep on penetrating until they have lost their penetrative power. Then, the energy just sits there – cooling … ionising.
This idea was better expressed by a group of 4 scientists working at the University of California earlier this year. In a letter of concern addressed to Obama’s science advisor the group urged the government to review and re-test the backscatter equipment. They had realised that a lot of the energy that was penetrating the skin did not have sufficient oomph to exit again and was therefore “depositing energy beneath the skin”. Their warnings have gone unheeded and the popularity of the Rapiscam monster continues to grow with airport security firms.
The question remains then of how much of a dose we are receiving from these machines. The University of California studies instantly dismiss the UK and US governments’ measurements in micro Sierverts as they do not take into account the type of radiation in question. In effect, what our governments have done is the equivalent of saying “Don’t worry. Our studies have shown that you are unlikely to drown in a foot deep of boiling water.” The parameteres of the study were entirely irrelevant.
Is there any point to the scanners?
So, we can see how the rays from the Rapiscan machine penetrate leather (no sign of John’s shoes) , tough muscles like the calves and fleshy areas such as the belly. The effect they have is of little or no reading on the scanner due to their absorbent nature. I am left asking myself just how efficient these scanners are at detecting liquid or powdered explosives, the job that originally justified their implementation. Rapiscan has never produced a single image (that was not obviously Photoshopped) that demonstrated to the public that these machines were fit their purpose. We have seen plenty of scan images that show how they can detect guns and knives, but not explosives. We already have much cheaper and safer metal detectors arches to detect such weapons.
How long is it going to be before we see mass cases of skin cancer? What about in children? And let’s not forget to keep an eye on those miscarriage figures. Since February this year Heathrow airport has Rapiscanned more than a quarter of a million people. If you times that by all of the airports in the world using this technology you can get an idea of the extent of the danger. No one can be certain. The only thing you can be sure of is that once our governments have admitted that cancer is on the increase, there will be lengthy arguments about who and what is to blame before scanner withdrawal is even considered. Recently, Dr David Brenner at Columbia University in New York claimed that the health risk was underestimated and that the actual dosage being received was some 20 times the official figures.
I’m going to up the ante a little: Considering what we have seen and understanding now that radiation absorption is essential to this kind of image creation, I’m going to add another zero to Dr Brenner’s estimation.
Refuse the scan.
Scrap the Scanners
Hate to tell you that I told you so, but after I wrote this, the inventor of the backscatter monster sent this letter to Obama’s Science Advisor. In it, he inadvertently confesses that penetration of radiation forms part of the imaging process… as we already suspected and in contra to what Rapiscan PR wold have us believe.
US Government official report claims that up to 100 people WILL die each year due to scanner use at US airports. Remember that is ‘DIE’, not suffer cancer, thyroid disfunction, etc. And, I am sure you will agree, being from the source of the problem, it is safe to assume that figure is rather conservative.