A human X-ray machine which produces 'naked' images of passengers was introduced at an airport today, enabling staff to instantly spot any hidden weapons or explosives. The full body scanner, being trialled at Manchester Airport, will also show up any breast enlargements, false limbs, piercings, and a clear outline of passengers' private parts. However fears have been raised that the Rapiscan Secure , which resembles a large filing cabinet, may not be safe for women in the early stages of pregnancy or children. Other travellers might not want to be scanned because of the graphic nature of the images, bosses admit. A member of staff from Manchester Airport tests the scanner, which highlights two potential points of threat around the neck and in the right-hand trouser pocket , but also clearly shows off the subject's physique. Passengers can refuse to undergo the virtual strip search at Terminal 2, opting for the traditional 'pat down' search instead. However airport chiefs say the black and white image will only be seen by a single officer in a remote location before it is deleted. The machine works by beaming electromagnetic waves on to passengers while they stand in a booth, creating a virtual three-dimensional 'naked' image from the reflected energy and sending it to a computer monitor where it can be viewed by security staff. Scans taken clearly show the naked outline of the passengers' bodies, which some passengers may find intrusive. The X-Rays penetrate one-tenth of an inch into the body, enough to detect any devices or drugs hidden just under the skin.
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University of California professor says Obama administration claim that scanners are safe is based on "many misconceptions. A University of California at San Francisco professor of biochemistry told CNET today that the Obama administration's claim that full-body scanners pose no health risks to air travelers is in "error. The administration's defense of the controversial machines, which use X-rays to perform what critics have dubbed naked strip searches , has "many misconceptions, and we will write a careful answer pointing out their errors," said John Sedat , a UCSF professor of biochemistry and biophysics and member of the National Academy of Sciences. Earlier this week, the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy posted a statement saying the X-ray scans are safe because "the issue had been studied extensively for many years" by federal agencies. Their letter to Holdren said "it appears that real independent safety data do not exist. There is good reason to believe that these scanners will increase the risk of cancer to children and other vulnerable populations. Air travelers over 65 years old are especially susceptible to the "mutagenic effects of the X-rays," they say, as are HIV and cancer patients, children and adolescents, pregnant women, and men because the X-rays can penetrate skin and put the testicles "at risk for sperm mutagenesis". Eyes could also be at risk because X-rays can penetrate the cornea. For its part, the administration rejects any health concerns. A letter last month from the FDA and the Transportation Security Administration responding to the UCSF researchers' concerns says "the potential health risks from a full-body screening with a general-use x-ray security system are miniscule.
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But critics charge the system is an invasion of privacy. If full backscatter images were used, screeners would see every detail of each individual scanned. The downside is that by removing some of the potentially salacious detail, the developers may have diminished the device's effectiveness in detecting threats, according to Steinhardt. Or you can have the illusion of security which will not detect the contraband. The machine, however, has passed all tests set for it thus far, Reiss says.
Visits to the doctors are one of the most un-fun weekend activities one can think of. Being poked, prodded, and studied by a complete stranger in a scary white coat is pretty unpleasant. Additionally, X-rays have migrated from the hospital to the airport, and due to security measures, you may be subject to appear naked albeit faceless for the viewing pleasure of airport personnel. Body scans have become a wildly popular way for the highly qualified apathetics at the airport to study your X-rayed figure and determine whether or not you pose a terrorist threat. So has the doctor and his nurses!