RE: TERRORISM: Seriousness and potential strategies

From: Miriam English (
Date: Sun Sep 16 2001 - 11:25:51 MDT

At 04:21 PM 16/09/2001, Barbara Lamar wrote:

> Miriam English wrote:
> >
> > If the flying devices were as small as seagulls or hawks and were able to
> > land and take off again (this is actually easier on mountainsides than on
> > flat ground) then they would be able to look across at people from
> > neighboring hillsides and see their faces.
>If they were able to land it would change everything, especially if they
>could somehow be disguised to blend in with the landscape. They wouldn't
>necessarily have to take off again. How small could you get a video camera,

CMOS cameras are tiny and use almost no power at all. The real trick would
be the optics. You would have to use extreme telephoto and have a wide
angle capability too. Telephoto to see the people from across a valley;
wide angle for navigation. They are so cheap to make and so light, it would
probably be worth having 2 of them.

>power source

Possibly solar recharging of lightweight lithium polymer batteries, which
are being developed right now... I think a company called NRGCELLS in

>and transmitter that could communicate either with a
>high-flying aircraft, balloon, or a satellite?

You could send in short bursts, with the info compressed beforehand to
reduce the amount of time & power needed for the transmission. High
frequency transmission could be focussed upward for 2 reasons: that gets
most of the energy to where you want it instead of spraying it all around
wastefully, and it makes it much less likely to be intercepted.

I am not sure what is the best receiver. Satellites are already up there
but they are a looooong way up. Most satellites may move too fast to be
useful for focussed transmissions (though a short, sharp burst may still
get around that). Geostationary satellites have an advantage there, though
at that distance from the equator the devices would mostly be useful on
southern slopes. A balloon is a sitting duck unless it has no radar
signature and is small enough to be invisible from the ground. It could
also use nonreflecting clear plastic for the gas bag (think household
"invisible" sticky tape). But if there is a wind then it just blows away. I
don't know enough about high-flying aircraft.

>I understand that the climate is arid to semi-arid which means lots of

Lack of moisture in the air means very high frequency (microwave?)
transmissions work well.

>I wonder how small you
>could get a rechargeable battery and solar panel?

I have a pocket calculator which I bought more than a decade ago (and I
still use) which uses a solar panel of 4 cells, each 1 cm square. At that
size, 1x4cm, it would fit on the back of a good sized locust. Batteries? I
have hearing aids which use very small batteries. Granted they are not
rechargeable, but the battery in my PalmVx is, and that computer is a low
power marvel, running easily for weeks between rechargings, depending on
how heavily I use it.

>If you could make the
>things as small as, say, large pebbles, and if you could figure out some way
>to get them safely down--maybe they could be designed to glide--you could
>distribute the things in likely areas. Maybe use the planes to find areas in
>which to drop the pebble-gliders.

That is certainly smaller than I was thinking, but it would make them less
obtrusive. I am not sure how far research into such tiny robots is going.
The larger seagull sized ones are quite feasible with today's technology.


         - Miriam

Q. What is the similarity between an elephant and a grape?
A. They are both purple... except for the elephant.
Virtual Reality Association

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