Monday, December 28, 2009

Air Travel the Day after the Detroit Terror Incident

In a classic case of 'closing the barn door after the horse has bolted', the day after the Christmas Day bombing attempt on flight NW253 we of flight DL9 bound for Atlanta were subjected to two hours of delay at Heathrow airport for extra frisking. Then, at Immigration at Atlanta, my fingerprint machine appeared not to work, leading to my being taken to another room and left forlornly for two further hours, thus putting paid to any futile, lingering hope of making the connection to Knoxville. are some, possibly relevant, facts...

.....anti-terrorist wars have already cost the US at least $800 bn and finally will have cost an estimated $2-3 trillion,
.....of the order of one hundredth of the above amounts (i.e., ~$10 bn) has so far been spent on improved airport security, and this not always wisely.
.....a "puffer machine" capable of detecting explosives such as that allowed on NW253, costs about $160K; sniffer dogs presumably less.

Maybe I'm wrong, but by my estimation, given the money already spent, which is still only of the order of 1% of the cost of the wars, enough puffer machines etc could have been installed, sniffer dogs bred and trained and friskers hired to effectively, easily, rapidly and quickly process all international flights into the US.

...and I wouldn't have missed my flight to Knoxville.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Off for 3 weeks in Europe

Including a trip to England and then to Germany for, among other things, my 50th birthday symposium. Thanks to Jiancong for the comforting opinion that 50 is the new 40. The photo illustrates why when driving to Germany from Britain it's best to do what I do and avoid navigating via France...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Our mercury research on the local TV... to Jim Matheny of WBIR Channel 10 for the interview.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Physics of Biomolecules

"The Physics of Biomolecules" UT Physics colloquium webcast, 30th November 2009. Relatively pedagogical at the beginning but then accelerated a bit too fast in order to reach the movie at the end.