Dowsing for Bombs

Not sure how I missed this back in January…

The director of a British company that supplies bomb detectors to Iraq has been arrested on fraud charges, and the export of the devices has been banned…

The ADE 651 is a hand-held wand with no batteries or internal electronic components, ostensibly powered by the static electricity of the user, who needs to walk in place to charge it. The only moving part is what looks like a radio antenna on a swivel, which swings to point toward the presence of weapons or explosives.

The Times of London quoted Mr. McCormick in November as saying that the device’s technology was similar to that of dowsing or divining rods used to find water. “We have been dealing with doubters for 10 years,” he said. “One of the problems we have is that the machine does look primitive. We are working on a new model that has flashing lights.”

Shortly after the arrest on Friday, the BBC reported that it had arranged a lab test of the device and found that its bomb-detection component was an electronic merchandise tag of the sort used to prevent shoplifting.

ATSC’s brochures claim the ADE 651 can detect minute traces of explosives, drugs or even human remains at distances of up to 6 miles by air, or three-fifths of a mile by land.

The Iraqi government paid this guy $85 million dollars for 800 sticks that have failed to prevent thousands of people from getting blown up.