Tag Archives: engineering

How to turn duty free into a bomb making experience

duty free

A friend of mine, who used to do a lot of travelling with his work, was often left wondering about the security checks in airports.

‘It’s weird,’ he’d ponder.

‘You go through the check point, where they tell you that you’re not allowed to have more than 100 ml of fluids that has to be sealed in tiny bags, through a screening process where you’re not allowed to carry a pair of nail scissors, or a shaving kit. The next thing you know, you’re walking straight into a duty free shopping area where you can buy high percentage alcohol, a shirt and a lighter…I mean, there’s gotta be a pretty easy way of combining those items into some sort of DIY Molotov cocktail, right?’

It seems he’s far from the only one who’s ever wondered about this sort of thing.

Take Evan Booth, for example. Actually, take Evan Booth as the example.

He’s a Digital Media specialist and programmer, who spends some of his spare time on picking locks, or giving talks on several subjects, including:

Airport Security
Creativity
Creative Problem-solving
Resourcefulness
Ninjas

In early 2013, he started a research project with this simple question: ‘Can common items sold in airports after the security screening be used to build lethal weapons?’

As it turns out, the answer is ‘yes’. The slightly longer answer is: ‘sure, in loads of different ways!’ – somewhat sadly, none of them seem to involve ninjas. They are, however, still very interesting.

Take the slow burning Blunderbuss(ness) Class gun, for example:

Or how making caffeine kick ass, literally, with the FRAGGuccino Mark II grenade:

Mr. Booth has constructed a series of similarly nasty weapons based on either his own or other people’s design ideas. They can be found at the website Terminal Cornucopia.

You might be asking yourself: ‘is this a good idea?’ ‘I mean, what if the wrong people get a hold of these instructions?’

Not to scare you, but what makes you think that the ‘wrong’ people (we’re probably talking about terrorists of various sorts) needed a site like Terminal Cornucopia to come up with these ideas? As it turns out, many key terrorist leaders have degrees in Engineering.

In his own words, Mr. Booth’s defence is that:

“All of these findings have been reported to the Department of Homeland Security (TSA) to help them better detect these types of threats. Furthermore, the next time you fly, you’ll be flying as a more informed consumer (and taxpayer, possibly) — one who is more equipped to demand better, more appropriate airport security.”

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Hyundai’s engineers build wobbly flying car – plus driveable pokemon

Each year at the Hyundai Idea Festival, the South Korean company challenges its engineers to come up with new and interesting ways for people to get from a to b.

The concept is ‘unique concepts for single-person future mobility’ so the sky’s the limit.

This year one group of engineers took this literally by presenting a one-person flying car. Being a prototype, the vehicle seemed to wobble as much as actually fly.

Closer to ground, but at the same time much farther afield, another group of engineers presented something that can…well, it can really best be described as what would happen if you crossed the Pokemon Pickachu with a bee and a Segway.

Don’t believe me? Well take a look here:

Poor button placement sends drones crashing to the ground – could have been worse

In a recent article about the dangers of poor design of drone plane interfaces, published by Ars Technica, Sean Gallagher highlights how poor button placement has, at times, lead to unmanned aircraft plummeting out of the skies.

Gallagher cites one example from 2006 where a drone operator mean to deploy the aircraft’s landing gear, but instead accidentally pushed the button that switched off the drone’s engines. Result: a rather more vertical landing than hoped for and a completely wrecked $1,5 million drone.

Makes you wonder where on the interface they’ve put the buttons for launching weapons….