Stopping Car Bombs in Iraq

Believe it or not, my father is the leading medical researcher on intestinal gas (which has earned him the moniker the “King of Farts” — see here, and here). Two of his fart-sniffing employees recently earned the honor of “worst job in science” in Popular Science magazine for their efforts on his behalf.

Which I suppose makes him a rogue physician.

But, that is not the point of this post. Anyway, he has good ideas on lots of topics, not just gas. We got to talking about the current situation in Iraq and he made the point that we should have some technology for figuring out which cars are loaded with car bombs.

So let me throw some questions out to those who are knowledgeable in this area:

1) How much explosive is in these cars they are using to blow things up? Are these cars packed full of explosives? How much would the explosives weigh relative to the natural weight of the car? Would a car packed with explosives have a much higher density/weight per wheel than the typical vehicle?

2) Are there existing technologies for measuring the density of an object at a distance that could be used to remotely detect these vehicles?

3) Could we use sensors in the road to pick up indicators of vehicles with lots of weight per wheel?

4) Are there visual clues, like the weight of the explosives making the vehicles ride really low?

5) Any other great ideas for how to identify car bombs from a distance?

If the readers of this blog show half as much talent on this topic as they did on searching out the origin of the term “Chicago Black Sox,” we may save some lives in Iraq.


Heidi

Ich bin ein berliner.yummy.Just watched the tv interview and thought I would look up more information. I'll get back to this once I read the book. I just wanted to comment because I'm at least seeing information I find interesting, which is more than I can say for most topics I find in the social eye today.

Anonymous

This is an excellent point. Levitt isn't a freaky economist, he's just a good economist. If his work is not considered economics then why did he get the Clarke Medal? How about selling economics and saying "look how great economics can be", rather than saying "look how great something different from economics can be".

Anonymous

Comment on the discussion of the exorbitant prices of gas and insurance for rental cars. The WSJ article writer says: "the sophisticated consumers know to reject the supplemental insurance and return the car after gassing it up themselves, thereby taking advantage of the low rental rate and avoiding high markups"And, he goes on, the rental companies take advantage of stupid consumers who pay more. So smart people win.I say individual stupidity isn't the only reason or principal reason why people pay more. Many business travelers who will be reimbursed for travel expenses have no motive to save these costs.

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Heidi

Ich bin ein berliner.
yummy.
Just watched the tv interview and thought I would look up more information. I'll get back to this once I read the book. I just wanted to comment because I'm at least seeing information I find interesting, which is more than I can say for most topics I find in the social eye today.

Anonymous

This is an excellent point. Levitt isn't a freaky economist, he's just a good economist. If his work is not considered economics then why did he get the Clarke Medal? How about selling economics and saying "look how great economics can be", rather than saying "look how great something different from economics can be".

Anonymous

Comment on the discussion of the exorbitant prices of gas and insurance for rental cars.

The WSJ article writer says:

"the sophisticated consumers know to
reject the supplemental insurance
and return the car after gassing it
up themselves, thereby taking
advantage of the low rental rate and
avoiding high markups"

And, he goes on, the rental companies take advantage of stupid consumers who pay more. So smart people win.

I say individual stupidity isn't the only reason or principal reason why people pay more. Many business travelers who will be reimbursed for travel expenses have no motive to save these costs.