Airport Security

The Transportation Security Administration is reminding airport travelers that it's fine to stuff carry-on bags with clothes and toiletries. Just don't pack any heat.

TSA announced that its officers seized 4,432 guns at checkpoints last year — the most in the agency's 18-year history. It also says that 87% of those guns (some 3,855) were loaded.

Duke researchers used used a commercially available instrument called the Polarstar Optima from BMG Labtech for vapor odor detection.
Courtesy of Hiro Matsunami

Researchers at Duke University have created a machine that can smell target odors, such as drugs or explosives.

Hiro Matsunami is a molecular genetics and microbiology professor at Duke. He conceded that the drug- or bomb-sniffing dogs are pretty good at their jobs, but there are downsides.

"Training dogs is pretty expensive and time consuming, and the dogs are not always motivated and available in many places," he said.

A plane lands at Piedmont Triad International Airport.
redlegs21 via Flickr, Creative Commons

Researchers at Duke University are developing radio wave scanners that could dramatically increase the speed at which travelers are checked at security points in airports.

The scanners, which researchers say could be tested in as soon as 12 months for airport use, were one of the developing technologies that scientists showed three North Carolina congressmen in a tour yesterday of laboratories at Duke’s Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering.