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Notebook Computer was X-ray-ed.

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Raccoonnookkeep, Jul 11, 2006.

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  1. Raccoonnookkeep

    Raccoonnookkeep Thread Starter

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    Hi:
    A friend returning from a visit to Europe told me that his notebook computer was x-rayed by the friendly people at an airport. Now, the computer will not boot.

    Not having had any experience with such things, I am not sure what might have gone wrong as a result of the exposure. I know enough to speculate (and, my imagination is quite active), but don't know enough to do so with any confidence that I could construct a list of possible problems that one might expect in such a situation and list them in order of their likelihood.

    I don't have specifics, such as the model of the computer (that can be ascertained, if it becomes an important consideration). I am sure that the computer is not one of those "hardened" military computers that are supposed to survive being run over by a tank! The intensity of the radiation to which it was subjected is beyond my speculation - and, if it weren't, I still wouldn't have any way to relate that intensity to the potential for damage to the various parts.

    It is my hope that someone here might have enough of a technical hardware expertise to offer some meaningful insight on this topic.

    Thank you for taking the time to consider my query.
     
  2. gotrootdude

    gotrootdude

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    Does it show any lights at all? If plugged into a power adapter, does the charging light come on?

    The x-ray machine at the airport is generally not strong enough to damage a laptop. I suspect something wrong with the battery, or charger, or the plug on the back of the unit for the charger.
     
  3. qldit

    qldit

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    Good Afternoon Raccoonnookkeep, this is an interesting subject, in this day and age handbaggage and things virtually all need to be x-rayed before flight.

    As you are aware radiation of any type is detrimental to fine electronic devices.

    The manufacturers of these x-ray machines will tell you that you can x-ray photographic material and all kinds of things without problem, however it doesn't take a genius to realise that any radiation will have some affect of absorbtion on any material in it's path and in so doing impart energy within that substance.
    Lead of course has greater absorbtion.

    With fine latest technology extra small thin-film components, a further element of consideration does need to be applied. Especially in regard to thin film ESD type items like CMOS chips and fine flash memory devices.

    I do feel that this needs investigation by the device manufacturer and the X-ray system manufacturer, chances are there are no warnings in the manufacturers warranties.
    There could be a liability issue involved.
    Certainly needs clarification.

    If evidence is apparent, warnings need to be made.

    A general explanation will be initially given by the security company that the radiation level is so low that it is harmless to equipment but this is not correct.

    The fact that a traveller does need to have personal items X-rayed does make it that the traveller is responsible under their contract of carriage.

    I do feel that this particular machine therefore could need careful examination to see what exactly has happened to it, and this should be done by the manufacturer.

    These machines are incredibly vulnerable to dropping, shock, and other problems apart from radiation effects and any failure blame can easily be misinterpreted.
    Even cabin pressurisation cycles may have effect on some devices.

    Cheers, qldit.
     
  4. gotrootdude

    gotrootdude

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    Actually, it's not just the security companies saying it's harmless. It's the laptop companies as well.
     
  5. qldit

    qldit

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    That sounds a bit strange, I would be asking for that in writing from the laptop manufacturer for the specific model machine involved.
    A definite statement like that sounds odd!
    qldit.
     
  6. Raccoonnookkeep

    Raccoonnookkeep Thread Starter

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    Hello:

    Thanks for your reply (and thanks to qldit, as well). I have yet to see the computer. My friend lives about 30 miles away; I will be asking him to let me take a look as soon as we can arrange a meeting. Meanwhile, taking him at his word - there are no lights, blinking or otherwise and the computer is acting a little like a small boat anchor, right now.

    It is likely that the power supply is okay, since he had been using the computer prior to the return trip to do some work and he didn't mention having any problems using it before his return trip.

    You make a good point, however, there are other possibilities, such as a suddenly bad power supply. I plan to do some sleuth work when I can get my hands on the machine. My main purpose, here, is, as mentioned, to get a handle on what kinds of problems might have had impetus as a consequence of the x-ray exposure.

    Thanks, again. I shall be watching to see if anyone else has anything to contribute. And, I shall return and report whatever insight I might gain from my examination of the machine when I get it.
     
  7. qldit

    qldit

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    Good Morning All, Yes Raccoonnookkeep, where this becomes interesting is that the general understanding is that all these airport X-Ray machines are the same or similar specification.

    It is entirely possible that in view of the regulatory circumstances that some countries and odd airports may not exactly have standard modern airport equipment, it would therefore be pertinent to chase further information as to the actual history of how many times this machine had been X-Rayed and the devices actually used. (manufacturers etc.)

    At the end of the day even if you did determine that radiation was most likely involved in a failure it will be a futile exercise.
    Isn't modern progress amazing!

    Cheers, qldit.
     
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