Largest physics meeting of the year, in Denver

om instrumentation that has long been a mainstay in astronomical observations. Unlike low energy x-ray scanners, which expose people to low doses of radiation, the system that Panu Helisto (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland) will describe detects the terahertz radiation that people and warm objects naturally emit all the time. The radiation is measured with an array of superconducting microbolometers, which are simply tiny niobium wires that heat up when they absorb energy coming from an object. Terahertz imaging provides higher resolution than infrared monitors and works at ranges of 10 to 30 meters. Because they detect temperature variations, they dont reveal anatomical details that show up on some other clothes-piercing scanners. The combination of passive imaging at long ranges while allowing a degree of personal privacy may make microbolometer-based detectors ideal security scanners for airports and other public spaces. (Y39.1)


Colorado has the world's largest deposits of shale oil, rivaling the oil reserves of the Middle East, but in past years extracting the resource has been too expensive to make it feasible. Rising oil costs may soon change that. In session A2, Douglas Schmitt (University of Alberta) will repor!t on new seismic imaging methods to track the flow of heavy oils, such as those in Colorado's shale and Canada's abundant oil sands, when they are extracted via the injection of solvents or steam into the ground. Accurate imaging of reservoirs will be vital if sand or shale oils are ever to become significant energy sources. Later in the same session, Timothy Collett (U.S. Geological Survey) will provide an assessment of the promise of another unconventional energy source - icy combinations of natural gas and water known as hydrates. The oceans contain enormous reserves of natural gas hydrates. Although estimates vary, even conservative guesses are an order of magnitude large r than the

Contact: James Riordon
American Physical Society

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