The ADE 651 is a device with an impressive marketing angle. Over in Iraq, it’s being used to sniff out everything from bombs to guns to drugs and beyond, and detect them all from a distance of up to half a mile. It’s a handheld device, easy to carry, the Iraqi military swears by it…there’s just one problem.
It doesn’t actually work.
ATSC, the company that makes the ADE 651, claims that they work via “electrostatic magnetic ion attraction”, which if I remember my collegiate physics courses correctly means “a bunch of sciencey terms strung together almost at random”. Independent testing of many similar devices by the Department of Defense shows none of them work much better than pure chance. And here’s the part that’ll kill you–they sold the Iraqi military fifteen hundred of these things at prices ranging from $16,500 to $60,000 dollars EACH.
And there you go. The Iraqis bought at least $24 million worth of bomb detectors that don’t detect.