The traveling world is abuzz: A new machine, developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, could finally, mercifully put an end to the 3-1-1 rule that limits carry-on liquids to 3.4-ounce containers. The device can differentiate between all sorts of liquids—it can tell the difference between red and white wine, for example—and would identify liquids that contain explosive materials.
According to msnbc, “The device, about the size of a small refrigerator, uses magnetic resonance to read the liquids’ molecular makeup, even when the substances are in metal containers. Within 15 seconds, a light on top of the simple-looking metal box flashes red or green, depending on whether there’s danger.” The machine was tested at Albuquerque’s international airport on Wednesday.
The government has spent $14 million on the project so far.
But before you get too excited, know that there’s no plans to deploy these in the immediate future. The device still needs more testing, and researchers want a smaller final product that would fit better alongside current screening machinery. Consider, also, that it will take quite some time to manufacture enough machines for all the country’s airports, and it will be years before travelers can bring full-size bottles of shampoo on the plane.
Readers, do you think we’ll ever see the end of the 3-1-1 rule, or does it seem like there’s no end in sight?