Column Date 2011-01-28


Attention, would-be-terrorists: Homeland Security is about to make your lives tougher.


In a breakthrough (of sorts), the Department of Homeland Security announced that they’ve started to develop plants and flowers that detect explosives.


That’s right – plants and flowers.


According to a recent news release, their scientists have redesigned plants to change color when they detect minute amounts of TNT in the air.


They call it an “early warning detection system.” When the plants sense tiny amounts of bomb material, their chlorophyll (the stuff that makes their leaves green) drains off, and the leaves turn white.


This is wonderful news, indeed.

Just think of how our cold, marble and steel airports will be transformed. Imagine corridors and jetways lined with plants and flowers that not only look beautiful but also catch terrorists!


There is, however, one small detail they haven’t worked out -- it takes several hours for the plant to react and turn white. Which means you might have to arrive at the airport 5-6 hours ahead of your flight.


They also haven’t decided what to do about passengers with severe allergies, who might find flower-filled airports absolutely unbearable. But it’s a small price to pay for security.


On thing more: I‘m sure the possibility of embarrassment will be another big deterrent.


Imagine that, after training for months, your terrorist mission is foiled by a potted geranium.




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(c) 2011 Peter Tannen