“Mommy… that policeman opened Elmo and took his heart out… now he won’t talk to me anymore”

Now this is tops — the TSA, up to their normal befuddled way of going about “protecting our security” has gone and confiscated a battery pack for (get this) possibly appearing as if it were a bomb to fellow passengers.

That’s right, the TSA knew it wasn’t a bomb. But given the fact that perhaps that one-in-a-million passengers might look over at the battery’s owner (while witnessing him powering his DVD player with it) and suspect he’s ready to hijack the plane with some heavy-duty AA power, something just had to be done.

“We must treat every suspicious item the same and utilize the tools we have available to make a final determination,” said Federal Security Director David Wynn. “Procedures are in place for a reason and this is a clear indication our workforce is doing a great job.”

As it turned out, the passenger was an engineer and said he built the battery pack to power his DVD player for the long flight to Hawaii. After being told that the batteries could be seen by other passengers as a threat, he surrendered them to Supervisory TSO Raiford Patterson and was allowed to board the flight.

But it begs the question, “Do we know what real bombs look like?”

Absolutely we do. We’ve all seen them in movies: the LED display, connected via red, blue or yellow wires to some kind of trigger, which then is all housed in a box containing some C4. And they always have some kind of corresponding lights that trigger when the device is about to explode, and when it’s idle…

Something like this:

Wait, that’s the geeky Danger Bomb Clock — a replacement for that boring Timex that for some reason only shows the time and beeps when it’s time to rise and shine.

And if discerning a bomb from a battery from an alarm clock is already a feat, toss the following chart into the mix.

As of January of 2008, the various TYPES of batteries have been classified into Forbidden and Permitted categories. You’ll have to be a chemical engineer to know the difference, but here’s the breakdown:

Battery Chart TSA

Happy Travels!

[Via Schneier] [Via InformationWeek]

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