Technology Trivia Quiz

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10. The science of detection

In 1996, a device called the Quadro QRS 250G Tracker was brought to market by a South Carolina company. The Tracker’s remarkable ability to detect substances such as drugs and gunpowder, even at considerable distances, made it instantly popular with customers such as law enforcement agencies and schools. However, the Quadro Tracker is no longer on the market, because it…

A) Emitted too much radiation for safe use
B) Had no active components and did not work at all
C) Made occasional errors that led to costly lawsuits
D) Was a direct copy of a device patented by a French school-teacher

Your answer — A) Emitted too much radiation for safe use — was incorrect.

The Quadro Tracker consisted of a small plastic box to which was attached a loosely-anchored telescoping antenna. The operator inserted a small “signature card” tuned to a specific substance of interest before using the device. Investigators who examined the device found that the Tracker had no internal parts of any kind, and that the so-called signature cards consisted of a small square of paper sealed in plastic. Within a year of its introduction, the Tracker was removed from the market by U.S. federal authorities. Nevertheless, many of the units are apparently still in use, even in law enforcement settings.

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