Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/17/darpa_t_ray_push/

DARPA working on T-ray spyeye spectacle tech

Offers Vatican Jesus conspiracy and nudity bonanza

By Lewis Page

Posted in Policy, 17th June 2008 11:42 GMT

Pentagon boffinry chiefs have sprung aboard the terahertz technology bandwagon which has been gathering speed in recent times.

Funding is now on offer for those who can have a credible stab at making the slippery T-ray easier to generate and detect, potentially unlocking a huge techno treasure vault stuffed with goodies such as unused wireless spectrum, long-hidden art masterpieces and improved airport security. However, like all good technology breakthroughs, T-rays also offer users the ability to look at pictures of naked people and read conspiracy theories.

The latest push for improved T-ray tech comes from DARPA, the poorly-integrated, troubling, erratically brilliant bulge-headed mutant child of the US military establishment. The war-profs have just chucked out a solicitation for ideas, downloadable here. According to DARPA:

The sub-millimeter wave frequency band between 0.3 to 3 Terahertz has historically been extremely difficult to access due to a lack of effective means to generate, detect, process, and radiate radio-frequency (RF) signals. The range of potential applications... is nonetheless extensive, including imaging, radar, spectroscopy, and communications.

The terahertz band lying between optics and present-day electronics is nowadays being accessed more and more, though at present this calls for expensive specialised kit. Art brains from the Louvre have lately used T-ray scanning to view murals hidden beneath plaster overlays. They believe that hundreds of long-lost art masterpieces, hidden beneath friezes or similar which are too valuable to be scraped off, might be so brought to light - including at least one mural by Leonardo da Vinci, which would presumably have at least some chance of revealing an ancient Vatican conspiracy to hush up some quality dirt on Jesus' girlfriend or similar. Alternatively you might suddenly find comparatively dull directions to the Holy Grail. Likewise, acres of high-class Renaissance-era pornorotica, with clothes later painted on in prudish censorship stylee, could now be exposed to the public through the magic of T-rays.

As if that wasn't enough in terms of Vatican Jesus coverup scandal and possible intellectually kosher cryptic grumble-snap benefits, there's yet more nudity on offer. Current T-ray and T-ray related airport security scanners, for instance, are strictly passive - viewing the millimetre or terahertz waves naturally emitted by the human body. Thus, their through-clothes perving capabilities are intrinsically limited - and in any case of little use recreationally, since large scanner machines are a bit conspicuous.

Those of us who remember the X-ray spectacle adverts in the back of old Superman comics have always fancied something a trifle more portable and unobtrusive - more on the lines of the slightly dodgy-looking blue tinted jobs employed by James Bond in the The World Is Not Enough, for instance. These, tastefully, made outer garments invisible but left frilly underthings fairly opaque - but one imagines there would be some kind of adjustable knob for full penetration. As it were.

DARPA's new, smaller active T-ray generators and receivers are plainly a step in the right direction.

There's also the prospect of a lot of new wireless bandwidth, too, though fairly short-range unless it could be used mainly in the upper atmosphere. ®