Blowing Up a Bus

Americans' tax dollars at work

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is trying to develop forensic cameras with disaster-proof memory chips. So, how do you find out if the chips will, in fact, withstand bombing attacks or natural disasters like fires or floods? Put the camera in an old public transit bus and blow it to smithereens, of course!

Scientists from the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) placed sixteen baseball-sized video cameras inside a bus rigged with explosives. Then they sat in a concrete shelter, pushed a button and watched the bus blow. All to see if the memory chips would withstand a suicide bombing.

The DHS is looking to mount the cameras in places where regular surveillance systems would not be practical. According to the department, video footage would only be viewed after an incident occurred. And, to prevent a breach of privacy, the cameras would be tamper-proof. No one would be able to lift the video and post it on YouTube.

In the end, the experiment was partially successful. Fourteen out of the sixteen chips were recovered from the blast. What's next for the S&T scientists? Figuring out if the cameras actually captured any footage.