Original article from Popular Mechanics Magazine – 10 Tech Terms to Know in 2014
Personal data auctions, 3D counterfeiting, and more hot items people will be talking about this year.
Though very similar to computed tomography (better known as CT scanning), muon tomography offers one key advantage: Instead of assembling images with radioactive X-rays, it uses particles created naturally in the upper atmosphere by the cosmic rays that constantly bombard Earth. These particles, known as muons, penetrate much more deeply than X-rays, which means they can pass through shielding materials like lead—and that makes them perfect for detecting nuclear material hidden in shipping containers. Virginia-based Decision Sciences, working with Los Alamos National Lab, has developed the Multi-Mode Passive Detection System, which can scan a 40-foot shipping container in 30 seconds, looking for the telltale ways in which muons are deflected by uranium and plutonium. And before year’s end, the company plans to introduce a software upgrade that will enable the device to detect conventional electronics and other contraband. It comes as no surprise that the departments of Defense and Homeland Security have already signed up to use the technology.