ADE651: wtf?

November 14th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, utter nonsense | 102 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, Saturday 14 November 2009, The Guardian

It’s always interesting when people take pseudoscience out of its natural habitat – Islington – and off into a place where the stakes are quite high. Like the polio vaccine scare in Nigeria. Or Aids denialism in South Africa. Or detecting bombs in Iraq, where the New York Times and magician James Randi have uncovered a nonsense of truly epic proportions.

A British company called ATSC are selling a device which can detect guns, ammunition, bombs, drugs, contraband ivory, and truffles. The bomb detection equipment that you see in airports weighs several tons, and can only operate over tiny distances. The ADE 651 uses “electrostatic magnetic ion attraction” and can detect these things from a kilometre away, through walls, under the ground, underwater, or even from an aeroplane 5km overhead.

ATSC’s device is pocket sized and portable. You simply take a piece of plastic-coated cardboard for your chosen target, which has been through “the proprietary process of electro-static matching of the ionic charge and structure of the substance”, pop it into a holder connected to a wand, and start detecting. There are no batteries and no power source: you hold the device to “charge” it with the energy of your body, becoming perfectly relaxed, with a steady pulse and blood pressure. Then you walk with the wand at right angles to your body. If there is a bomb on your left, the wand will drift to the left, and point at it. Like a dowsing rod.

Similar devices have been tested repeatedly and shown to perform no better than chance. No police force or security service anywhere in the developed world uses them. But in 2008, the Iraqi government’s Ministry of the Interior bought 800 of these devices – the ADE 651 – for $32m. That’s $40,000 each, rather brilliantly, and they’ve ordered a further shipment at $53m. These devices are being used at hundreds of checkpoints in Iraq, to look for bombs.

Dale Murray, head of the National Explosive Engineering Sciences Security Center at Sandia Labs, which does testing for the Department of Defense, has tested various similar devices, and they perform at the level of chance. On Tuesday, two people working for The New York Times went through 9 Iraqi police checkpoints which were using the device, and none found the rifles and ammunition they were carrying (with licenses).

Major General Jehad al-Jabiri is head of the Ministry of the Interior’s General Directorate for Combating Explosives. “I don’t care about Sandia or the Department of Justice or any of them,” he says. “Whether it’s magic or scientific, what I care about is it detects bombs.”

How would you know? There are no independent tests of the ADE651 that I could find. The simplest explanation is that nobody could really be bothered. Magician James Randi can. He has carried a cheque for $1m in his jacket pocket for many years, in an admirably expensive act of passive aggression, and he will give this cheque to anyone who can provide proof of supernatural phenomena. Last year he invited the manufacturers of the ADE 651 to come forward, and see if their device works better than chance. They have not.

I guess if you’ve trousered $85m, you don’t care about The Amazing Randi and his puny cheque. We all have our excuses. General Jabiri, meanwhile, challenged an NYT reporter to test the ADE 651, placing a grenade and a machine pistol in plain view in his office. Every time a policeman used it, the wand pointed at the explosives. Every time the reporter used the device, it failed to detect anything. “You need more training,” said the general.

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102 Responses

  1. molyneux1000 said,

    November 17, 2009 at 12:09 am

    The manufactures website notes that “It is extremely easy to aperate”. Aperate? Must be a woo word. That or bad English.

  2. Musher said,

    November 17, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Aperate? Isn’t that Harry Potter’s magical version of teleporting? I guess it cuts down on delivery costs.

  3. montyford said,

    November 17, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    I have a company that has made a device. It detects bullshit.

  4. jeffpickthall said,

    November 18, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Their website declares the gizmo can recognise:

    “Black Powder, Used Weapons, Fireworks, all types of Ammunition, Ammonium Nitrate (ANFO-ANNIE), Chinese Czech and Russian Semtex, Plastic (C4, C1, …), Dynamite, RDX, TNT, Nitroglycerine, Tetryl, Grenades, Mines, Amphetamine, Cocaine, Crack, Heroine, Marijuana, Cannabis, Morphine, Ivory, Human research, Bank notes, …”

    Human Research? WTF – it can detect abstract concepts?

  5. paladin said,

    November 18, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    What is this? Weapon detection from the world of Harry Potter? “wand turns and points”? whithout batteries at that!

  6. MrNick said,

    November 18, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    You couldn’t make this stuff up.

    Except of course the film “The Men Who Stare at Goats”.

    I would quite admire their balls for such an outrageous scam if it wasn’t costing lives.

    It seems to be a “big lie” ( and I wonder how they got some kind of credibility to get going?


  7. prescott said,

    November 18, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    It is good that the technology is advanced, and can detect it, as bombs, .drugs, weapons, and that thus the security in the world will be better, hopefully this is having all countries, especially the underdeveloped because where there are all sorts of things come.

  8. Veronica said,

    November 18, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    As regards Tony Blair and WMD. It wasn’t dowsing. It was the Voice of God that told him to follow George Bush all the way to disaster. After all, they prayed together, and God doesn’t play tricks on his people.

    Although, it might have been God’s way of showing how he felt about the comment “we don’t do God” though…

  9. bodenca said,

    November 18, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Woohhh! This is N-squared times worse than dowsing.
    N-times for potential consequencies – facilitating multiple deaths, injury and destruction. An appropriate reaction to dowsing is a smile. To this it is outright rage.
    N-times again for total lack of substance. This has not a hint of an explanation. At least with dowsing there is plenty of physics to be considered as possibly providing explanation.

  10. quasilobachevski said,

    November 18, 2009 at 5:42 pm


    At least with dowsing there is plenty of physics to be considered as possibly providing explanation.

    Really? Care to give an example?

  11. Jbags said,

    November 19, 2009 at 4:01 am


    you know, lots of physics. Tachyon beams, dilithium crystals… or maybe its just more of that electrostatic magnetic ion attraction.

    In the words of Chris Morris in the Brass Eye special ‘Paedogeddon’:

    “There’s no scientific proof of this, but it is Science Fact”

  12. billyo said,

    November 19, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Bit off topic I know – but thought you’d like to see this about how footballers are getting cured by some quack in Belgrade.

    For those who don’t want to read the nonsense I’ll summise; Quack rubs essance of Horse placenta into footballers in exchange for vast quantities of cash.

    My favourite part is the scientifically accurate, but totally out of context second last paragraph, which is the pseudo-science explaination of their placebo of choice;

    “Fresh placenta is rich in stem cells, which can divide and develop into different types of tissue, like nerve, muscle and bone.”

    So there you have it.

  13. Robert Carnegie said,

    November 19, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    At a guess, the magic detector stick is meant to discover “human remains” in your pockets, car, or suitcases, not “human research”. At a further guess, a spelling check is responsible for the surprising entry. How it distinguishes human remains, I suppose, from living human beings, I don’t know. It’s hokey-wokey though, isn’t it?

  14. bodenca said,

    November 19, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    OK. Dowsing, for water in particular.
    The electrical flux across the surface of the earth is approximately 1 picoAmp per square metre. While it is the atmosphere that gives by far the greatest resistance to this flux, the greater variability of electrical conductance is subsurface. In particular, specific conductivity of earth materials can increase up to 20 times with – guess what – water content. Where such variations occur close to the earth’s surface, they cause spatial perturbations of the electrical potential field.
    The electrical potential gradient above surface is roughly 100volts/metre, sufficient that even small fractional perturbations of it are significant.
    The earth also has a magnetic field. If I move an electrical conductor, such as a sappy birch rod, through this field, a potential difference is induced between the two ends. With the electrical potential field, this gives torque on the rod. If I traverse an area of perturbed electrical field, there may be abrupt changes in magnitude of this torque.
    If you’re still with me, you will realise that this won’t work near the equator. (Think about it!)
    I haven’t given any consideration to magnitudes, to signal to noise ratio or to how small an abrupt change in torque can be felt as “twisting in your hands”.
    However, the above is surely “physics to be considered”.

    OK. Now for confession. I mentioned dowsing as deliberate provocation. I wanted to make an important point. Scepticism needs to be nuanced. It’s not so long ago that I would have been sceptical about superconductors, semiconductors, or generating electrical power with a load of metal rods. Now we live by them. As for curing disease by injecting extract of green cheese mould – well! We need to keep the door ajar for such things more than for sensing bombs with plastic coated cardboard.

  15. quasilobachevski said,

    November 19, 2009 at 7:39 pm


    I couldn’t agree more that “Scepticism needs to be nuanced”. (AIDS denialists, for instance, seem to do a nice job of hiding behind a front of “healthy” scepticism.)

    Thanks for that nice account – I’m very glad I asked!

  16. bodenca said,

    November 19, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    There’s also the danger, particularly with medicine I guess, that if we dismiss some “alternative” long shot, and it turns out to work, the claim will go up “alternatives work just as well as science” implying “in general”. Unfair, I know, but better that we distinguished between “long-shot unlikely” and “complete rubbish” in the first place; pre-emptive damage limitation, rather than shoot science in the foot that way.

  17. quasilobachevski said,

    November 19, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    I keep wheeling this quotation out, but it’s just so damn apt I’ll do it again.

    To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection. – Henry Poincare

  18. jesroddy said,

    November 20, 2009 at 12:11 am

    I note that the ade651 site says the device can detect (among others) “…Tetryl, Ivory, Human research, Bank notes, ..”

    Human Research?? Presumably none was detected on its own site!

  19. Jbags said,

    November 20, 2009 at 1:39 am

    Ok, classic pseudoscience mumbo-jibbles. There is no evidence that dowsing works and it *has* been tested. My particular favourite study can be found here

    (a similar experiment was broadcast on British TV a few years back, but I can’t remember as part of what programme)

    and if a single trial isn’t enough for you, try:

    R. A. Foulkes (1971) “Dowsing experiments,” Nature, 229, pp.163-168); M. Martin (1983-1984). “A new controlled dowsing experiment.” Skeptical Inquirer. 8(2), 138-140; J. Randi(1979). “A controlled test of dowsing abilities.” Skeptical Inquirer. 4(1). 16-20; and D. Smith (1982). “Two tests of divining in Australia.” Skeptical Inquirer. 4(4). 34-37.

    None found dowsing as any better than chance. Regardless of the mechanism, if it works, it should be evidenced.

    I agree its always good to question our assumptions (which is why I assume most of these studies were carried out), but how much evidence is enough to start spending time on more worthwhile areas of science? As an intelligent person, I’m sure you have a significant contribution to make, my advice would be not to waste your time with dowsing.

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  21. bodenca said,

    November 21, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    #69. Oh dear! Oh dear!
    Jbags. J’accuse.
    You wrongfully suggest that I have wasted time on dowsing. Really? I had hardly given it a moment’s thought until I picked it up on this site a couple of days ago. I threw together a prima facie plausible hypothesis to help make a more general point here. I told you, I haven’t even bothered to do an order of magnitude estimation. I have a life.
    You dismiss my ideas wrongfully. To recap, we have a hypothesis dependent on atmospheric electrical flux and potential field being varied by high subsurface conductance with electrical connectivity to depth. Condider the first couple of tests to which you referred me. (I have not spent time on the rest.)
    1. They test for pure-liquid-phase water, which if of low ionic solute concentration (We are not told.) has lower conductivity than a porous solid with plenty of mineral-water interfaces (Double layer theory, blah, blah …).
    2. This is suspended, or laid on soil which may be dry (We are not told.) and fail to give electrical connectivity to depth.
    3. These are separated by insulating plastic pipe.
    4. In some cases, the experiment was inside a tent (with metal poles? We are not told.) which could electrically shield the whole set-up at constant earth potential.
    It is no loss to the stature of the great Randi and others that their experiments did not happen to test for a hypothesis I hadn’t put forward.
    Again, it is not the particulars that matter. I illustrate a general point. You dismiss a hypothesis on the basis of experiments that did not test it. You aggrevate that wrong by throwing inapplicable references. You bandy derogatory comments about “classic pseudoscience mumbo-jibbles”. That is Bad Science. This here site deserves better.

  22. Arten said,

    November 22, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    What does Randi who earns his living by tricking and deceiving people, have to do with Science.
    He is merely employed to be a gatekeeper he will rubbish any claims regarding phenomena not explained by the consensus model of Science.
    Being a rational Deiest people need to think a little more regarding Chalmers and the Hard problem of Consciousness.
    You cannot get inside the mind of another person and their experience is unique to them. The senses themselves are unreliable so we cannot rely on them either.
    To paraphrase Einstein, everything begins and ends in experience. If I have a God experience it does not mean it did not happen and God’s existence does not depend on fallible human proofs no matter how much Atheist insist on them.

  23. Jbags said,

    November 23, 2009 at 1:49 am

    I won’t get bogged down by #72 although the temptation is strong.

    #71 bodenca

    I apologise if you took my tone as combative or derogatory, I meant no offence. My point was I’ve seen enough pseudo-science smokescreens to spot one when I see one, and your prima facie hypothesis smells distinctly fishy.

    However, in the world of evidence based science “smells a bit fishy” does not constitute evidence or a rebuttal, I’ll be the first to admit. My point was, this is not an untested area, and never has dowsing been shown to be effective.

    I also accept that may be due to bad testing, I admit the testing method you chose to inspect is not ideal for your hypothesis, however if my skepticism about a technique utterly unsubstantiated by evidence is bad science, then I’m guilty as charged.

    But by all means test your hypothesis, or find someone else who has, show me a little evidence and I’ll happily reconsider my position.

    And perhaps my opener was a little more based on that “fishy smell” than proper consideration of the hypothesis and for that, again, you have my apology. I have nothing against you, and enjoy this blog and the comments, I hope we can both continue to do so, differences of opinion and all.

  24. bodenca said,

    November 23, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    #73. Thanks Jbags. And I mean that sincerely. Thank you very much.

    I came back at you because I really believe that waverers should be invited cordially to the cause of science. The opposite is achieved by combative comments and by self-congratulatory stuff that gets posted here. So, I played defensive waverer.

    My (interim) view of dowsing, if it’s of interest:
    1. The ADE651 has nothing to do with it. That’s entrepreneurs demonstrating free enterprise at its most spectacular.
    2. A quick google shows thousands of sites willing to sell you a crystal, a bit of wood, a shell, or ivory, or anything. Hang this from a thread of – well – anything that you know is good (or they sell) to make a pendulum. Use it to find earth energies, or absolutely anything else that you just know gives energies.
    The fact that, what the hell, it doesn’t really matter what you do, or what with, just confirms the obvious. This is New Age gobbledygook, plus a lot of hangers-on trying to cash in.
    3. The old water dowser is such a markedly different case. With honest intent, he/she is strictly keeping a centuries-old tradition that is still alive and well. It is very specific about target, tool and method. Intriguing!
    I am sceptical because its success is social more than technical. (1) Unless you are stupid enough to dig at the top of a steep ridge, or above a cliff, at least in Britain you will probably hit water. An eye on vegetation and landform helps aswell. (2) The dowser succeeds at a really useful social function. He stops dead all the village or family bickering about where somebody should and shouldn’t dig a well by a method that deprives them of a basis for reasonable challenge to his decision. (Well. It does around here.)

  25. Jbags said,

    November 24, 2009 at 1:41 am

    #74 Bodenca, thanks for coming back with a reply.

    I should explain I’m overly skeptical about this kind of stuff because my father is now living in Australia peddling this stuff for a living (phials of coloured water with supposedly meaningful but pointless slogans on them “Yellow Infinity” is a favourite of mine for sheer awfulness).

    I agree its also a prime example of a “brand” being hijacked by nutters. You have the “brand” of ‘Downsing’, it has connotations, almost everyone is aware of its existence, and the quacks tap into that by creating some nonsense and branding it ‘Dowsing’, essentially nicking the weight of that brand for whatever is lining their pockets this week.

    I find that fascinating because it shows forethought and intelligent thinking, and makes me wonder how many the people who were putting hard work into marketing snake oil could actually be doing something much more important. That said, it only takes one person to have a bright idea and a hundred others to copy it to make it the standard.

    The social implications of dowsing you mentioned in point 3 definitely gave me food for thought, I had not thought about it like that before. A little ‘Darwinism of ideas’, since successful or not in that case dowsing improves community function.

    But back to topic, these are all interesting social, economics and scientific digressions; the fact is the ADE651 is absolutely criminal, and downright embarassing. By all means test dowsing (I would like to see some genuine testing of your idea, I would be intrigued by the results), by keep it in the realm of journals and scientific interest, don’t put peoples lives on the line. The price tag as well, beggars belief. No shame.

  26. panshuiping said,

    November 27, 2009 at 7:41 am

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  27. salimfadhley said,

    November 30, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    I’ve been following this story for a while.

    Sure it’s pseudo-science but it’s not the kind like homoeopathy where the practitioner believes themselves to be doing good. This is blatent fraud. If I was a betting man I’d presume the deal works like this.

    The General has a budget to spend on anti-terrorist fortifications. He realises that if he spends this money on actual bomb-detection (e.g. dogs, training) he will not see a penny of this money back.

    Alternatively if he spends his money on a product he knows to be worthless but has a near zero cost of construction he can demand a huge kickback – possibly in excess of 80% of his costs.

    Meanwhile the guys who make bombs (Al-Queda in Iraq & pals) – remember that these guys know how to make bombs from household materials. Some of them may be fundamentalists but they are not stupid. They will have had volunteers smuggle small quantities of explosives past the ADE651 users and will know by now that they are utterly useless.

    Any time they see one of these gizmos in action they know which checkpoint to use – it’s an indicator of inept security.

  28. Henryk said,

    December 15, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Jbags said,

    November 20, 2009 at 1:39 am

    Ok, classic pseudoscience mumbo-jibbles. There is no evidence that dowsing works and it *has* been tested. My particular favourite study can be found here

    (a similar experiment was broadcast on British TV a few years back, but I can’t remember as part of what programme)

    and if a single trial isn’t enough for you, try: or

  29. jac said,

    December 19, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Good point about the kickbacks Salimfadhley, after all money is what its all about, no one can possibly believe these things work. Check out Loretta Napoleoni (there’s a video on the TED website)and the economics of unregulated credit and terrorism.

  30. Jeffreysnj said,

    January 22, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    Did anyone see Newsnight ? They had an “exclusive” on this!!
    Failing to mention Ben, The Guardian, The New York Times and James Randi. The reporter represented this as an original investigation! Whereas I am pleased that the issue got a wider airing, I still somehow dislike blatant plagiarism. This must mean that the Friday 30 min Newsnight must now be the tabloid version.

  31. CoralBloom said,

    January 23, 2010 at 2:47 am

    I saw it – was indeed pretty awful that credit wasn’t given.

    Why did it take Newsnight to report on this before anything was done?
    It is being reported on various online news sites that McCormick has been arrested tonight.

  32. idczvlw02 said,

    January 23, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Jeffreysnj – you’re right, they presented it as if it were an exclusive, brand-new discovery.

    At least the government has banned export to Iraq and Afghanistan. Better than nothing, but not as good as putting McCormick in jail where he belongs.

    Maybe he’ll get there now:

    Head of ATSC ‘bomb detector’ company arrested on suspicion of fraud

  33. idczvlw02 said,

    January 25, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Iraq Official Warned Against Anti – Bomb Device Buy

    Published: January 24, 2010
    Filed at 1:28 p.m. ET

    BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s interior ministry was told two years ago not to buy an explosives detector that Britain says does not work, and the purchase of the sensors was tainted by suspected fraud, a senior official said on Sunday.

  34. HenryS said,

    February 16, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    As seen on Newsnight just now…

  35. Jeffreysnj said,

    March 1, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Marvellous Obfuscation!

    The response to my complaint about Newsnight’s exclusive claim an lack of acknowledgement of published sources!

    Dear Mr Jeffreys

    Thank you for your recent e-mail. Please accept our apologies for the delay in replying. We know our correspondents appreciate a quick response and we are sorry you have had to wait on this occasion.

    We forwarded your complaint to ‘Newsnight’ Editors and Meirion Jones who explained in response that:

    “We first published our exclusive report at 14.00 on Friday January 22nd with an article by Meirion Jones and Caroline Hawley and a video clip of the Cambridge Computer Lab computer lab test.

    In that article we went out of our way to explain the history of this and that concerns had gone back to 1995 and indeed that James Randi had been the first to express them. Although such concerns had been raised for many years the Iraqi authorities were not acting on those concerns because they said there was no proof that the detectors did not work. What was exclusive was that we proved beyond doubt that the devices being used in Baghdad could not work which forced the British government to immediately bring in an export ban.

    This is the relevant part of the article where we talk about the history:


    “Concern over the use of dowsing rods to detect bombs was first raised by American sceptic, James Randi. Mr Randi has confirmed to the BBC that he is still offering Mr McCormick $1m if he can prove that the ADE-651 works. In 1995, the Sandia national labs and the FBI raised the alarm over a dowsing rod device called the Quadro Tracker which they described as “a fraud” and the FBI warned: “All agencies should immediately cease using the device.
    “In 1999, the FBI put out another alert: “Warning. Do not use bogus explosives detection devices.” In 2002, a test by Sandia labs in the US found that a similar dowsing rod device, called the Mole detector, did not work and performed “no better than a random selection process”. They concluded that it did not work and that it looked “nearly identical” to the Quadro Tracker. Last month, a senior Iraqi officer involved in bomb-prevention defended the ADE-651. Major General Jehad al-Jabiri, who appeared at a press conference with Mr McCormick following the December explosions, said he did not “care about Sandia” and knew more about bombs than the Americans: “Whether it’s magic or scientific, what I care about is it detects bombs,” he said.”

    The history section in the film broadcast on Newsnight was more brief but again made the point that concerns had been repeatedly expressed since 1995, an excerpt from the programme below:


    “Since the mid-1990s, a succession of dowsing-type detectors — like the
    ADE-651 — have come onto the market. In 1995, the FBI tested a device called the Quadro Tracker. It warned: The Quadro Tracker is a fraud. All agencies should immediately cease using the device.” Another warning about “modern dowsers” followed in 1999. “WARNING: DO NOT BUY BOGUS EXPLOSIVES DETECTION EQUIPMENT”. In 2002, a test by Sandia national labs in the US found that a similar device, the Mole Detector, didn’t work and performed:
    “… no better than a random selection process.”

    I had been vaguely aware of bogus dowsing devices being sold as drug and bomb detectors over the years. I’ve interviewed James Randi in the past and I’ve produced pieces which investigate bogus claims. For instance my investigation of homeopathic cures for malaria has led to disciplinary hearings at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society for the pharmacists who prescribed them. However it was not until Rod Nordland’s piece in the New York Times on November 3rd 2009 that I realised that dowsing devices were being used on checkpoints as the primary protection against car bombs in Baghdad. Like most people I assumed that something would be quickly done – it was only after the December 8 carbombs that Caroline Hawley and myself realized that nothing had changed and that unless we could prove beyond doubt that the ADE651 and GT200 were incapable of detecting bombs they would continue being exported from Britain and used in Iraq.

    We tested the ‘programmed substance detection cards’ for the ADE651 and scientifically proved in a laboratory that the claims made for them could not be true and that it could not detect explosives or anything else. We obtained a GT200/Mole and opened it up showing that there were no working parts in it that could possibly detect anything.

    We then told the Government about our evidence and they rushed in a ban on exports to Iraq and Afghanistan because of the risk that the so-called bomb detectors posed to British and allied troops. And on Tuesday 16th Feb the Thai PM banned the purchase of any more GT200s following tests as a result of our report.”

    I hope this has gone some way toward addressing your concerns.
    Nevertheless, I fully appreciate that you feel strongly about this matter.
    Therefore I would like to assure you that we have registered your comments on our audience log. This is the internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily for all programme makers and commissioning executives within the BBC, and also their senior management. It ensures that your points, and all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC.

    Thanks again for taking the time to contact us with your views.


    Paul Hunter
    BBC Complaints

    —–Original Message—–

    {Complaint:} An “exclusive” report on the use of wand detection of explosives was labelled exclusive and completely failed to acknowledge the

    media reports on the same subject report in the Guardian on the 7th November which in itself was a report following revalations in the New York Times and James Randi !!

    Poor tabloid Journalism for such a serious subject.

  36. cristeadriana10 said,

    June 24, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    There is no final sentence pronounced against McCormick by a judge, so until that the man is under the presumption of innocence like any other citizen. From my point of view they have nothing, there is no incontestable proves against the man so all this is just a scam trying to denigrate the device.

  37. Ernst Filibert said,

    June 25, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    I think they don’t have proves against him and device so they try to put both in a bad position with mass media “help” which I don’t think is disinterested.

  38. Ernst Filibert said,

    July 5, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    The technologies used by ADE are Nuclear Quadrupole Resonance which has been used to detect landmines and explosives concealed in luggage all over the world with great success. NQR is a radiofrequency (RF) technique in which the observed frequencies depend on the interaction between the electric quadrupole moment of the nucleus and the electric field gradient generated at the nuclear site by external charges. All common high explosives contain 14 N, a quadrupolar nucleus generating three sets of resonance frequencies, providing an unequivocal method of detecting and identifying an explosive, as well as estimating its quantity and depth. Because of its high specificity there is little or no interference from other nitrogen-containing material that may be present – such as the mine casing or fertilizer in the soil.
    The device is working and McCormick is not guilty. If they could prove it is not working he was in jail by now.

  39. hellnombre said,

    July 5, 2010 at 3:50 pm


  40. zeno said,

    July 5, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Ernst Filibert

    Is there a website that automatically generates that gobbledegook nonsense or did you make it up yourself?

  41. the_real_dr_bob said,

    July 5, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    I don’t normally but Ernst, you know that anything containing nitrogen contains N-14, it’s 99.6% abundant in nature. So yes a quadrupole mass spectrometer, which is what you describe to begin with, could identify N-14 but I am unaware of any portable quadrupole mass spectrometers on the market as they are fairly delicate bits of kit.

  42. Sili said,

    July 5, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Nuclear quadropole moments are a real thing, but they’re not that readily accessible.

    Just think about what it takes to do dipole spectroscopy on the nucleus.

    If QMR was so easy it’d be all over the place. Chemists would love nothing more than probing to 12-C instead of the most rarer 13C.

    So the words are real – the use is still gobbledegook, though.

  43. Slov01 said,

    July 5, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    14N nucleus is indeed quadrupolar having a nuclear spin of 1 and there is likely to be more nitrogen in a bomb than say, a bottle of Evian. Using a f-off BIG expensive superconducting magnet, an NMR spectrum of a solid sample would probably be broad (ie containing a lot more than “three” frequencies) and sh*t after hours of data acquisition. Ernst: having read a book is no excuse for defending this magical dowsing which is beyond a joke.

    (Sorry the_real_dr_bob. NMR not really the same as the quadrupole detector on a mass spec.)

  44. drunkenoaf said,

    July 5, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    @the_real_dr_bob — also, getting the sample through the quardrupole mass spec would be fun. Would the explosive substance be introduced by electrospray ionization by the ADE651 device, or is it a plasma instrument? LC/GC?

  45. Ernst Filibert said,

    November 4, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Take a look at their site there is all explained

  46. techowiz said,

    December 16, 2010 at 4:47 pm


    So now I find you polluting this site with your nonsense. The ade website is full off unsupported statements by the man currently on bail for fraud regarding the ade. I notice you also failed to point out that you are from the Romanian company that sells this scam. Perhaps you can, at last, name the government agencies your website alleges tested the ade and stated it works? Or perhaps you can explain to everyone how the ade allegedly changed it’s working principle from EMA to NQR then back to EMA?
    Or perhaps you can point to 1 single scrap of evidence to support your claim the ade works as claimed?
    Wherever you go on the web I will counter your nonsense with the words you fear, EVIDENCE, TRUTH & FACTS.
    Bye Ernst

  47. bobcouttie said,

    January 1, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Sniffing around a bit I discovered that some of these devices are being marketed to the maritime industry and ports. They are probably very attractive to third world countries trying to achieve the 100 per cent scanning of all containers being imposed by the US.

    We’re now trying to determine the level of these devices in the maritime and offshore industry as well as sending alerts to bring attention to the hazard they present to seafarers, ships and cargo, and to port state control authorities.

    Bob Couttie
    Maritime Accident Casebook

  48. suzwriter said,

    January 27, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    This is being covered in tonight’s Newsnight – looks like you beat them to it, Ben!

  49. diohuni said,

    February 2, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Great to see the Newsnight investigation last week. Look slike we should now see some proper action after Techowiz and I started the campaign here in the UK 2.5 years ago following the Randi revelations.

    For those who haven’t seen it the link for Newsnight is now

    We reckon that proper action will now follow, particularly to identify who was responsible at MOD for supporting this rubbish.

    And by the way, to anyone who thinks that they have a deterrent effect, please say that to the realtives of people blown up after these stupid swivel dowsers fail to work!

    So, to Jim McCormick, ade 651, Gary Bolton, GT200 and David Vollmar Hedd1 (ex Sniffex Plus) as well as a number of other secondary players like the seriously dumb Wyatt at SDS geoup, looks like the end of the line. We promised you it would come to this. Shame you didn’t listen guys.

    Dubious Dick

  50. dorus said,

    February 17, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Belive or not they had a site dedicated to ADE 651!
    I have readed almost all their sciencific explination and understand nothing. Is there someoane who can explain what is that? Is this possible?