The U.S. Military Has X-Ray Guns Now, Which Is Basically A Superpower
The world just got a little bit scarier/cooler, depending on your perspective — the U.S. military now has X-ray guns that can peer through various covers to detect the items which lurk underneath. The device is called the MINI-Z, and it's a scanner capable of displaying organic matter it detects with illuminated, bright lines, against darker contrasting lines of inorganic matter. It's a big step forward in portability, and ease of use, all for a casual $50,000 price tag!
For military or law enforcement, the applications are pretty obvious. Detecting the smuggling of illegal drugs is well within the MINI-Z's powers, as pointed out by Defense One, and its manufacturer AS&E's (American Science and Engineering) website suggests a host of official applications, showing scenes of a soldier in the field relying on the device, as well as a patrolman scanning shipping containers at a harbor.
AS&E is no stranger to X-ray tech — they're also the folks behind those full-body scanners at the airport, and the technology works broadly along the same principles, using advanced "backscatter" technology which reduces the intensity of the beam, and the detrimental effects that can come with X-ray exposure.
The resulting image is relayed to a tablet device, which allows the user to quickly and easily make out whatever contents would have otherwise gone unseen. Just what we need — more surveillance.
On the other hand, while the burden of responsibility of having a portable X-ray gun might be higher than anybody's willing to grant without some level of restraint, even technology designed for explicit military purposes can evolve into exciting new inventions for the consumer class. Even the Internet, after all, was once merely the ARPANET, developed as a function of the U.S. Department of Defense.
Just weeks ago, a similar story struck our fancy — the U.S. is also well on its way to producing groups of deftly-climbing, Spider-Man-style soldiers, thanks to the incredibly awesome Z-Man gloves that they've developed.