It was recently revealed that the scientist who shut down a large number of terminals at Miami international Airport has had a prior history of problems with airport security and law enforcement. He was arrested in 2003 for shipping vials containing bubonic plague without the required safety precautions, was convicted, and lost his job. The details surrounding the current event involving him at Miami international Airport are unknown, however he may have brought a suspicious cylinder type package to the airport which then triggered a massive police response. Other researchers are taking note and perhaps reconsidering bringing biological materials and equipment on board airplanes.
Listed below are 10 things that scientists shouldn’t bring on airplanes.
1. Ebola. This dangerous virus, which can cause bleeding and death in a large percentage of people exposed to it probably shouldn’t be brought on board an airplane as the exposure of a large number of people within a confined space would be a disaster. So to be safe, leave your Ebola at home.
2. Nuclear material, in general, is considered a major “no-no” in terms of bringing this stuff on board an airplane. While most airport security personnel don’t test for nuclear materials, it is likely that in the future advanced nuclear radiation detection machines will be added to most major airports’ security gates.
3. Mutant lab animals. A scientist working at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda Maryland brought a suitcase full of mutant flies as big as grapefruits on board a flight to Los Angeles. The flight the flies escaped and pandemonium ensued. Don’t make the mistake that the scientist did, leave your mutant lab animals at home.
4. Portable laser beams. Aviation officials have for years asked that scientists leave their portable laser beams at home, or in the lab, as a malfunctioning device could in theory, cut a plane in half in midair.
5. Gas masks and other respiratory protective equipment. Many scientists and public health officials, who know about the dangerous health effects of recycled air on airplanes, bring their own protective equipment including gas mass, and wear them on the flight. However, airline officials have noted that this has upset other passengers who are often uncertain as to why the do not have a gas mask and what necessitates a gas mask on their flight. If you didn’t bring enough gas masks for everybody else, then please leave it at home
6. Tanks of compressed carbon dioxide and liquid nitrogen. Though the risk of accidental puncture an explosion is supposedly low, many passengers have been concerned about scientists who often store these weighty tanks of compressed gas in the overhead compartment. Aviation experts say that should one of these tanks rupture it would be like firing a “missile” inside of the airplane.
7. Petri dishes. Many scientists transport petri dishes, which are mostly unused, via airplane when traveling to major scientific conferences. However, officials have noted that they are unable to tell whether the petri dishes are harmless, or if they might be growing samples of the bubonic plague.
8. Test tubes containing everything from paper clips to mold samples have been found by passengers sitting in airplane seats that were once occupied by scientists. Airline security experts recommend that scientists use their test tubes for official purposes only.
9. Flasks containing alcoholic beverages. Many flight attendants have complained that scientists smuggle alcoholic beverages on board flights by storing them inside of flasks and labeling them “yeast culture.” Now airline officials have made it public policy that such practices will no longer be tolerated.
10. Portable fog machines, used by scientists for a variety of experiments involving depth perception under high fog conditions, have on occasion started producing fog when they shift in flight. Many scientists may not realize that billows of fog often resemble smoke and could cause panic at 30,000 feet. Please, leave your portable fog machines at home.
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