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Math is Hard: TSA Botched Radiation Levels on Body Scanners

airport body scanner
The TSA says it will be re-testing hundreds of airport body scanners after its last round of tests found radiation levels 10 times higher than expected -- a number the agency chalked up to a calculation error.

"We understand it as a calculation error," TSA spokesman Sarah Horowitz told Wired, before explaining how difficult it can be to remember to divide by the number of units tested. The TSA claims that the error came about when technicians -- who typically test the radiation output of a machine 10 times in a row -- forgot to divide the total output by 10.

The mistake does not exactly engender confidence in the TSA, or in the X-ray machines, whose effects many have argued were never sufficiently tested. Meanwhile, just this morning the agency said it will not be sending representatives to today's House Oversight Committee hearing on the scanners. Although the hearing is expected to cover both privacy and health issues, it seems unlikely the scanners are going anywhere soon. The best advice we've got in the meantime? Protect your junk.

Tags: airport, BodyScanners, MathIsHard, MillimeterWave, newsmain, privacy, science, top, transportation, transportation security administration, TransportationSecurityAdministration, travel, tsa