This airplane will self destruct in…

The purported recent plot to explode a number of airplanes traveling from the UK to the US using liquids mixed in-flight to created improvised explosive devices reminded me of an article I had read some time ago about a much simpler option. As far as I know the method described in this article has never been used in a terrorist attack but the possibility exists and would be difficult to detect. This just goes to show that the current ban on liquids (and in some areas electronics) in carry-on luggage is simply an exercize in futility and making people feel better. Futhermore, it would be foolhardy to spend untold millions (billions?) upgrading airport security with detectors for liquid explosives. When will people learn that anything less than chaining naked passengers who have had full body cavity searches to their seats and flying luggage on a seperate cargo plane will do much to stop terrorists. Yet we continue with the farce of security as our rights and privladges are stripped away by a bloodthirsty federal government led by the so-called “states’ rights” supporters of the Republican Party. But I digress, this story is really about the science of destroying an aircraft in mid-flight with only a single easy to obtain and hide substance.

Unless you are a representative of a national meteorological bureau licensed to carry a barometer (and odds are you’re not), bringing mercury onboard an airplane is strictly forbidden. Why? If it got loose, it could rust the plane to pieces before it had a chance to land. You see, airplanes are made of aluminum, and aluminum is highly unstable.

The entire story can be read at the Popular Science website. The general gist of the article is that airplanes, held together by aluminum parts, are vulnerable to complete disintigration by a chain chemical reaction started by a small amount of mercury. It would be simple to hide such a small amount of mercury or mercury paste in any number of products carried on to an aircraft. Just another example of how simple everyday products could be used in an act of terror and the impossibility of protecting people from such an attack.

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