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The Almighty Buck United States Technology

Do Your $20 Bills Explode In the Microwave? 1165

msaulters writes "After repeatedly setting off RFID scanners in a truck stop, the author discovered the culprit was a wad of $20's in his back pocket. In a paranoid attempt to keep the government from tracking him, he attempted to fry the embedded chips in his microwave, with interesting results." Alex Jones has interesting theories about a number of things, but evidently a lot of readers were interested in this one.
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Do Your $20 Bills Explode In the Microwave?

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  • 'Quotes' (Score:5, Funny)

    by zedmelon ( 583487 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:14AM (#8437703) Homepage Journal
    The part of the 'article' that should probably be 'most' ignored is Denise's 'compulsory' use of 'punctuation.'

    And GEEZ. I remember being 12 and having a twenty burn a hole in my pocket, but...

    *smacks forehead* Sorry.

    • by H4x0r Jim Duggan ( 757476 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:21AM (#8437776) Homepage Journal
      hey, I just put some eggs in the microwave and they exploded - damn chickens have started putting RFID tags in their eggs already!
      • by whereiswaldo ( 459052 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:34AM (#8437891) Journal
        Ha! You should see what happened when I put my /tinfoil hat/ in the microwave!
      • by eggsome ( 660932 ) <eggsome&rocketmail,com> on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @03:42AM (#8438263)
        I acctually did this once, I thought it would be cool to work out the exact amount of time it would take to blow up and then do it for a couple of seconds less every time.
        Super convienient hard boiled eggs!
        Unfortunatly on my first attempt I discovered what a mess it made and abandoned the project... (who whoulda thunk it!?)
        It was acctually on the last second of the pre-set time I had given it which made it quite dis-hartening to hear a -BANG- and then immediately a BEEEEP of the microwave having finished.

      • by glk572 ( 599902 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @04:23AM (#8438410) Homepage Journal
        the issue that this guy has run into has to do with metalic particals suspended in the ink. the particals are used to give the bills a magnetic signature. to my knowledge this is used in many bills around the world. This has nothing to do with rfid, or the goverment tracking you, this isin't even a valid arguement if it were, the bill has a serial number that can be read by machine.

        The store tracking sensors that this guy is talking about aren't even rfid, and only have a fleeting resemblence, all they can tell is the presence of a tag moving through them. The system is called electonic artical survalance and most are made by sensormatic [] to my knowledge the only thing that these machines keep track of is the number of times they're triggerd daily.

        the only way to get the effect that this guy got would be to do just what he did, microwave a big tightley packed stack of brand new bills. once they're not stuck together they won't burn nearley as well, as for the exploading thing, they look more like they caught on fire from getting too hot, not like they blew up.

        I'm not terrorably concerned with the goverment tracking the movement of money, they do allready. The real concern that we need to have with rfid is that we can be essentially fingerprinted based on the unique blend of objects that we carry around with us every day.

        anyone correcting my spelling should find something better to do.
        • by JeremyALogan ( 622913 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @05:27AM (#8438631) Homepage
          well... my first clue that they had no idea what they were talking about was when I looked at the picture. The article clearly said that it was over $1000 in cash. There's only $600 in the pic. It also said that it was burned uniformly... it clearly isn't.

          in response to the tracking of money... people even do it voluntarily... Where's George []

          this isn't interesting, insightful, or anything else... I just wanted to point it out

    • Re:'Quotes' (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @03:29AM (#8438208)
      Just a quick run-down on Alex Jones and his site.

      This guy is viewed as a Class-A crackpot in Austin, Texas. He has a cable access show twice a week in which he rants about conspiracy theories of all kinds of varieties. He has run numerous shows on how the government literally has black helicopters following him around South Austin. He was predicting armageddon when the Y2K bug was supposed to hit. He fully espouses the notion that Bush not only had previous-knowledge of 9/11 but planned it. He did a special [] where he claims that all presidents past and present meet at Bohemiam Grove, worship an owl god, and sacrifice children. He also believes the United Nations is preparing to occupy the United States any day now (according to him it has been for at least the last ten years). A quick look at his shop [] will give you a pretty good indication of his beliefs.

      Keep this in mind when judging the validity of this article
    • Re:'Quotes' (Score:5, Funny)

      by Chester K ( 145560 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @03:31AM (#8438217) Homepage
      I remember being 12 and having a twenty burn a hole in my pocket, but...

      In Capitalist America, YOU burn a hole in money!
  • by NotAnotherReboot ( 262125 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:17AM (#8437725)
    I always knew Andrew Jackson was giving me the evil eye.
  • Idiot. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Daleks ( 226923 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:17AM (#8437729)
    This person isn't very smart. Why didn't he try it on one $20 bill to start with rather than all of them?
  • I'm skeptical. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) * on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:17AM (#8437731) Homepage Journal
    First off, having worked at a Kmart for several years, I have a pretty good idea how the antitheft systems currently in place in most stores and libraries work, and they don't yet use RFID tags; they use some sort of magnetized strip that is then demagnetized by a magnetic pulse or a powerful magnet at the counter (thus the warning not to set credit cards on or near the demagnetizers, lest they be demagnetized too). In fact, RFID tags as the retailers are thinking of using them are partially intended to replace such a system (and partially to replace bar code scanners). Given that RFID tags are barely even starting to be used by distributors, you're not going to convince me that a truck stop of all places is at the head of the technology curve using this expensive equipment that almost no manufacturers even support anyway. Thus, even if an RFID tag was embedded in the money, that shouldn't set off a magnetic antitheft system at all, because the system is looking for something entirely different altogether.

    Second, these magnetic antitheft systems are capable of being set off by odd things, such as items of personal electronics or odd bits of metal. (Heck, I even remember seeing one recent news story about a kid who sets off those scanners just by walking through them without anything in his pockets at all, just because his body happens to generate the precise frequency of electromagnetic energy they're keyed to.)

    Third, RFID tag or not, those new bills do happen to have a strip of metal foil running through them, right at about the point of Jefferson's left make counterfeiting harder, you see. And when you subject metallic material to microwave energy, it heats up quickly...that's just basic physics.

    So I'm willing to believe that the bills set off ordinary electromagnetic anti-theft detectors just by reflecting the microwaves in some funky way. (Or heck, maybe they even are magnetized in a way that anti-theft detectors can pick up...or at least can become so magnetized, since I doubt that they're all that way...if everybody shopping with new twenties was setting off anti-theft systems, we'd be hearing about that on the news, and the anti-theft system manufacturers would be making hasty adjustments or going out of business.) I'm even willing to believe that those foil strips will cause the money to scorch in the microwave. But it's one heck of a leap to conclude that this is because of Evil RFID Tags That The Nasty Gum'mint Is Sneaking Into Our Money.
    • Re:I'm skeptical. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:28AM (#8437836) Homepage
      those new bills do happen to have a strip of metal foil running through them, right at about the point of Jefferson's left eye

      Jackson. Jefferson is on the two dollar bill.

    • Re:I'm skeptical. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) * on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:28AM (#8437837) Homepage Journal
      A couple more quick points I just thought of:

      1) Even if the money was designed to set off anti-theft systems (which would be dumb, for the reason I parenthetically enumerated above) it could only deliver one bit of data: on or off, yes or no, it was or was not tagged with a theft prevention device.

      2) Even being able to track money at all is not new. [] Why d'ya think mobsters need to launder it?
    • Re:I'm skeptical. (Score:5, Informative)

      by wronskyMan ( 676763 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:30AM (#8437855)
      just because his body happens to generate the precise frequency of electromagnetic energy they're keyed to.
      Actually, the tags work passively (not requiring onboard battery) because inductors and capacitors can be printed on foil/similar materials, so a LC (or RLC) circuit can be designed to resonate at whatever frequency the antitheft system uses. When this resonant circuit passes between the detection gates (a receiver and transmitter), it resonates, causing a change in the received signal intensity at the gate (the circuit is now picking up energy originally flowing to the transmitter). Small electronics could set it off if some random connected inductor and capacitor on the circuit board form a resonant circuit - clothes or someones body could conceivably do this as well. The magnetic pulse in the store either permanently breaks the circuit (used in stores, etc) or bends a foil-type contact open (used in libraries so they can bend the contact shut again to activate the tag when the book is returned).
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:32AM (#8437872)
      First off, having worked at a Kmart for several years, I have a pretty good idea how the antitheft systems currently in place in most stores and libraries work, and they don't yet use RFID tags;

      First time working at Kmart has qualified anyone for anything....
    • Re:I'm skeptical. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ffattizzi ( 516177 ) <ffattizzi AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:34AM (#8437896)
      I used to set off these anti theft systems in some stores, but not every store. Couldn't figure out what was going on. Finally at one store, an employee told me it was my wallet. I had bought a new wallet about 9 months before, but never thought it was the cause because I left the store I bought it at without setting off the alarm. He deactivated my wallet and I've never had this happen again.

      My guess is this guy had the same problem, but because of a bit of paranoia, he blamed his cash. Microwave money long enough and I bet it starts to burn near the center. And if you have a stack of them, I bet you might get a little explosion like they wrote about.

      I think he needs to loosen his tin foil hat, it's starting to cut off circulation.
      • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @04:47AM (#8438484) Homepage Journal
        I used to work at CompUSA (four years ago). We found a roll of those square antitheft stickers commonly found in DVDs and Microsoft software boxes. We then set about 100 of them, sticky side up throughout the store. Asshole (as we call him, the guy who checks your reciept as you walk out the door) couldn't figure out what the hell was going on when 95% of the customers (shoes, unknowingly) would set off the beeper on their way out. Best day of work ev-ar. To be 16 again...
    • by serutan ( 259622 ) <(moc.nozakeeg) (ta) (guodpoons)> on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @03:19AM (#8438158) Homepage
      ... a kid who sets off those scanners ... because his body happens to generate the precise frequency of electromagnetic energy they're keyed to.

      Like hell. That's a stolen kid! Put his parents under arrest!
  • No. They don't. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Verteiron ( 224042 ) * on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:18AM (#8437732) Homepage
    From the article:
    So we chose to 'microwave' our cash, over $1000 in twenties in a stack, not spread out on a carasoul.

    Now, looking at the second picture, and knowing a bit about how microwaves heat stuff... looks to me like the approximate center of the stack charred up nicely in the microwave. Notice the bills near the top and bottom of the stack are nearly untouched. The reason the center of the bills charred in the same place in all the bill is because it was the center of the stack.

    I sincerely hope this article is intended as a joke, or at the very least "we did something really dumb and we're going to at least make it funny" situation.

    And for the record, I just zapped a $20 bill for 20 seconds and it's barely even warm, on Jackson's right eye or anywhere else.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:18AM (#8437736)
    I'm broke. I just burned up $1K in the microwave, now please COME SLASHDOT MY SERVER AND MAKE MY HOST COMPANY CHARGE ME EXTRA FOR THE MONTH. ;)

    Boy, when it rains, it pours.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:19AM (#8437743)
    $20 bills burn in a microwave.
    Ergo, $20 bills have embedded RFID tracking chips.

    More likely, the metallic anti-counterfeting strips just formed a dipole resonant near the frequency used by the truck stop's anti-theft tag scanners.

    Move along, nothing to see here, just some idiot with more money than brains.
  • One Liner (Score:5, Funny)

    by Entropy248 ( 588290 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:19AM (#8437747) Journal
    The Department of Homeland Security would like to remind you that you love Big Brother.
  • by Drakonite ( 523948 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:19AM (#8437758) Homepage
    So THIS is why conspiracy theorists never seem to have money.
  • Mirror... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Megaslow ( 694447 ) * on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:21AM (#8437768) Homepage
    ...AKA karma whoring for fun and profit

    Mirror w/ pictures []

    According to NetCraft [], Alex Jones' site is hosted at I wonder if the sum total of the ruined money is $700? I guess it would save a lot of time to just burn the money rather than give it to SCO, yet you would still have the same end result: out $700, and nothing much to show for it.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:22AM (#8437779)
    Nothing like a Slashdot post to jump to a conclusion.

    Clearly, there's something funny going on with the microwaved bills... but stores don't have RFID scanners at the exits yet. They have an acousto-magnetic [] sensor that gets deactivated by a pad at the cash register so that paying customers aren't supposed to set them off. Big difference here is that the tags in a store system don't yet emit an identifying signal... they all emit the same reply. The store doesn't know what a shoplifter did to trip the alarm, just that they did trip it. There's not quite proof that each bill is emitting its serial number yet.

    Also, having microwaved everything in a stack makes things a bit unclear. Did every eye burn on its own, or did just one or two bills in the middle of the stack catch flame which in turn burned all of the bills above and below in varying degrees. Notice that the top and bottom bills were unharmed. Could one bill alone be microwaved safely?

    And, BTW, if you so much as put slightly crumpled tin foil in your microwave, you get a similar effect. Could there just be a small metal content in the bill designed so that somebody who has $1000 worth of $20 bills (rather than simply 10 $100's) in their wallet is sure to set off an airport security alarm until they show their wallet to make sure they get an extra security questions?

    It's interesting, but I think more research needs to be done. Microwave carefully, people.
  • No money lost (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:25AM (#8437805)

    They may have exploded, but they're still valid currency. The treasury has an entire department which is solely for processing damaged money. I remember seeing an interview with one of the inspectors. I believe the essential part of it was that you had to have more than the majority of the bill material in OK condition to prove that you didn't just cut it up and try to claim all the pieces.

    Since the bills are intact all the way around and it looks like in many cases the serials are OK, I'd say he's OK, and can get them exchanged for non-exploded ones. Of course, he better not go saying he microwaved them, as destruction of currency is a federal crime(the penny-mangling machines are 'licensed' to do it, to nip one question in the bud...)

    What is interesting is that they burned so readily- US currency is supposed to be decently non-flammable(it's one of thousands of tests done on the paper and ink- that's why your bills make it through the laundry OK, for example). It's probably the toughest paper in the world, able to survive virtually anything. Except microwaving, apparently :-)

    • by C10H14N2 ( 640033 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @03:01AM (#8438051)
      Note the use of the words FRAUDULENTLY and REISSUED, that is to say, the treasury will not be able to replace the bill. Slightly fscking up the currency is not likely to be sufficient to land you in federal-pound-me-in-the-ass prison unless by some monumental feat of idiocy you were trying to mutilate a $20 into something passing as a $100 as when people try to turn $20 into $60 by cutting off the corners and taping them to $1s. THAT is the kind of "mutilation" the law speaks of. Flattening a penny is not illegal. Melting it into something resembling a quarter, on the other hand, is quite definitely illegal.

      US Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter 17

      Section 331
      Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States, or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in actual use or circulation as money within the United States; or

      Whoever fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or brings into the United States, any such coin, knowing the same to be altered, defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled, or lightened -

      Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both

      Section 333

      Whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

  • two words (Score:5, Informative)

    by swschrad ( 312009 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:25AM (#8437811) Homepage Journal
    metallic ink. same thing will happen if you microwave checks, I expect, around the numbers, which are printed in magnetic MIRC ink.
  • by sailracer6 ( 262434 ) * on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:26AM (#8437823) Journal
    Get yourself some thermal fax paper and put it in the microwave for a few seconds. The parts hit most strongly will turn brown. I am fairly certain the same thing is happening here, although one shoud just try it with a $20-bill shaped piece of paper to be sure. Microwaves are far from uniform in their energy output -- that's why the carousel has become so ubiquitous.

    Now, you should go look at Alex Jones' apparent infiltration of Bohemian Grove [], an annual meeting of powerful people -- now that's intriguing.

  • Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phroggy ( 441 ) * <.moc.yggorhp. .ta. .3todhsals.> on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:27AM (#8437829) Homepage
    What we resent is the fact that the government or a corporation can track our 'cash'. Credit purchases and check purchases have been tracked for years, but cash was not traceble until now...

    I'd just like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that there have always been serial numbers printed on bills, for the purpose of tracking them. An RFID tag would make it easier to do so electronically, but being able to uniquely identify a particular bill is nothing new - in fact, see Where's George? []

    Having said that, the possibility that someone could scan the contents of my wallet while my wallet is in my pocket is rather disturbing for a number of reasons. If I were carrying $1,000 in twenties, I wouldn't want to advertise that fact to those around me.
  • groan... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SmokeSerpent ( 106200 ) <> on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:29AM (#8437841) Homepage
    1. Maybe it was the wallet which had a hidden rfid, not the money. This possibility was not even broached.
    2. Aside from any exploding rfid tags, and aside from the fact that the money was microwaved in a stack, all twentys would likely burn in the same pattern when microwaved simply due to their identical ink distribution.
    3. Is this the Art Bell show now? Can we expect an interview with Hoagland tomorrow?
  • by ChiaKemp ( 713567 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:30AM (#8437858)
    Forget the tinfoil hats, now I need a new wallet.
  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:34AM (#8437888) Homepage Journal
    That little strip inside of the bills appears to be aluminized mylar. We all know what happens when you put aluminum foil into a microwave oven.

    I made that mistake once, about 20 years ago. My mother gave me a Wendy's Kid's Meal, I didn't eat it right away. Later, I wanted to warm it up so I put into the microwave. I didn't open the box, and I forgot that they wrapped the burgers in a foil type wrapper. It was like fireworks. Bright flashed of blue-white light were coming out of the Kid's Meal box.

    I nearly soiled myself out of fear. In those days they led you to believe that if you put metal in a microwave it would be like the Ghostbusters crossing the streams of their proton packs.

  • One morning, several years ago, I woke up with a stiff neck. It occurred to me that putting something warm on it would help. I lived in a dorm room, and had little around, other than a small microwave. So I grabbed a dry towel and put it in. Now, we all know that microwaves heat up the water in a substance. And the towel was dry. So I figured 30 seconds would just about do it. When I opened the microwave 30 seconds later, I was stabbed in the eye by a cloud of black smoke. Immediately threw the towel, with hole burned through it, into the sink.

    Moral of the story: don't put a wad of cash into the microwave.

    • You fool!! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Senjutsu ( 614542 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @03:19AM (#8438156)
      Clearly the government secretly placed an RFID tag in your paper towel sheets in order to track your every spill!!! Placing the towel in the microwave obviously caused the tag to explode, and from now on you should wrap all of you paper towels in tinfoil to prevent the government from spying on you!!!
  • by kamapuaa ( 555446 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:37AM (#8437910) Homepage
    I hate to question the facts based on the source, but this is like linking to an Omni article about the discovery of alien civilizations on Mars - it's such an unrelible source, that it's not really worth paying attention to their outlandish claims.

    Looking around the website, one can find this choice quote by Alex Jones:

    AJ: And that also happened- where you aware the New York Times and Chicago Tribune reported this in '93, the FBI cooked the bomb and trained the driver[s] and had an Egyptian security agent doing it for them, had two retarded Muslims, literally retarded, drive the truck and park it, let the bombing go forward. At Oklahoma City, the same company that destroyed the remnants of the World Trade Center, blew up the remnants of Oklahoma City [and] had that buried under machine gun guard at a private landfill to this day. And they hauled the rubble away from the W T C to China! They wouldn't let you take photographs. Yes, exactly.

  • what?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ack154 ( 591432 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @02:40AM (#8437931)
    I think we're overlooking one very important question here...

    Why the hell was someone carrying around $1000, mostly in 20s, in their wallet?

    Maybe I'm the only one that doesn't get that part...
  • bullshit. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pair-a-noyd ( 594371 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @03:16AM (#8438128)
    Microwave radiation won't affect RFID. They are too small. Try nuking some ants and see what happens.

    Secondly, who is STUPID enough to ruin that much money?

    Third, I suspect this is FAKE and if so, someone may be guilty of counterfiting. If they printed up fake bills to make this fake "news" report, the Treasury folks may be interested.

    And lastely, Alex Jones is a FLAKE that is in serious need of MEDS..

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @03:17AM (#8438146) Homepage
    US currency doesn't have RFID tags yet, but it looks like the Hitachi Mu-Chip [] RFID tag may be going into the Japanese 10,000 yen note soon. This device runs at 2.45GHz, and is 0.4mm square. Early versions required an external antenna (which could be a line of conductive ink), but the newest version [] supposedly has an onboard antenna and is suitable for embedding in currency.

    This chip doesn't have collision avoidance, though. So a stack of bills wouldn't be individually readable.

    So the technology isn't quite here yet to do it right, but it's getting close. Currently, you can get collision avoidance or tiny size, but not both. Good collision avoidance combined with fast data transfers is hard, and it's wanted by retailers, who want to be able to read out each box in a carton individually. That could be thousands of items. That's do-able, but not with the low-cost tags yet. Retailers want to get tag costs down to around $0.02. Realistically, today RFID tags cost upwards of $0.25.

    True public key challenge/response hasn't made it into the smallest tags, either. Challenge/response is available in keyring size and in credit card size, and is used for access control applications. But the low end tags can't do that yet.

    Two more years, and this will really be happening. But not yet.

  • by GoRK ( 10018 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @03:45AM (#8438279) Homepage Journal
    US paper currency is printed with an intaglio process whereby the (slightly conductive) ink is rolled onto plates and then the paper is pressed into the plates (rather than the plates being pressed into the paper on most presses.) IE the RECESSED parts of the plates hold the ink, not the bits that stick up.

    The effective result of using this printing method can be felt on the bill. On a new bill the ink will be coarse and raised off of the paper. The lines will be very crisp and solid. There will be no 'breaks' even microscopic in the ink.

    Since it's slightly conductive (it has some metals in it and whatnot) and the lines (and crosshatching etc) are pretty well continuous it's going to be an excellent absorber of microwave energy. Without anything else in the microwave to absorb the energy better than the money, it's likely the ink near the portrait is going to get really hot really fast. This is pretty much what I'd expect from microwaving money.

    All that being said, the RFID equipment or the security equipment that this money was falsely triggering must be some of the cheapest crap on the market!
  • by Anonymous Squonk ( 128339 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @03:47AM (#8438284) Journal
    I never carry anything but quarters. This was a bit troubling when I paid the deposit on my house, but it's a small price to pay for keeping the prying eyes of The Man out of my financial transactions.
  • by Captain_Chaos ( 103843 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @03:47AM (#8438285)

    From the article:

    We could have left it at that, but we have also paid attention to the European Union and the 'rfid' tracking devices placed in their money,...

    Maybe in X-files country, but here in real life, euros do not have 'rfid tracking devices'. What they do have is a metal strip which makes it more difficult to counterfeit.

    Of course I fully expect now to be told that my government only wants me to think that that's just a metal strip... :-)

  • by stephentyrone ( 664894 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @03:48AM (#8438288)
    microwaves don't cook evenly. they're *waves*. they resonate and form standing waves in the chamber of the oven. just like sound. jackson's eye happened to be at a peak of one of these standing waves. since the bills were in a stack, the peak was in the same spot on all the bills.

    put any old piece of paper (or more fun, a plate of marshmallows) into a microwave that doesn't have a working turntable. you'll get a pattern of burn marks. you can even measure the distance between them to calculate the wavelength of the microwaves if you want to. basic physics.

    this isn't even a *good* conspiracy theory.
  • RSA RFID Blocker Tag (Score:5, Informative)

    by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @04:02AM (#8438332) Journal
    One of the interesting things at this year's RSA trade show was an RFID Blocker Tag [] that RSA Labs designed. It was recently discussed on Slashdot []. You can read the above paper, but the summary is that it impersonates all 2**64 possible serial numbers, confusing the readers. (It basically answers "yes" when asked if the next bit is a 0 or if it's a 1. Mu!) So carry one in your wallet, and stick one in your luggage as well.

    The paper describes fancier options, such as only impersonating numbers in some given range so that it only blocks reading some kinds of items, like the serial numbers on 100 Euro banknotes.

  • No RFID in Euros (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @04:43AM (#8438467)
    People seem to think there are RFID tags in Euro bills. Let me clearify that they are not there (yet). They try to add them by 2005, according to the eetimes [].
  • by luckyguesser ( 699385 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @04:56AM (#8438516)
    This article [] at CNN's website was the closest article to the topic introduced here that I could find on CNN, Google News, or Yahoo News. Given the popularity of the RFID issue in the United States technology realm, I would expect it to be in a larger news source such as these. I don't know much about this place, but I don't have any reason to believe it's highly professional. I get the impressino that it's somewhat of a conspiracy theory website.

    The most apparent points of conjecture about this story, in my mind, are:
    1. Why, if these tags are in $20's all across the nation, are not people setting off alarms for "no reason" all across the nation?
    2. It appears that other /.ers have tried the same microwave experiment, with no ill effect to their bills. Personally, I'm more inclined to believe my fellow /.ers than this story.

    Perhaps these bills were part of a scheme, or an elaborate set of counterfeits with a specific devious purpose in mind. Or perhaps they were never microwaved at all.
  • by PingXao ( 153057 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @05:00AM (#8438528)
    You know if I kept setting off a store alarm and I knew damn well I hadn't boosted anything I'd keep right on walking. "Would you step over here, sir?" would be met with a quick "Fuck you. Call the cops if you think I stole something. Who the hell do you think you are?

    Retail employees with hand-scanning wands. Give me a break. If there's a living, breathing witness that saw me steal something, that's one thing. But no machine is going to bear false witness against me. I would refuse to cooperate. A truckstop is not an airport where the guards are employees with authority and jurisdiction to prevent "dangerous" items on board aircraft. I refuse to recognize that they have any authority to search or probe my person.

    Those magnetic tag detectors you see in stores have only one valid purpose as far as I can see. To act as a deterrent and scare would-be thieves away. They convey no authority to perform a body scan.
  • Um... try it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gaccm ( 80209 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @05:00AM (#8438531)
    I was, to say the least, intrigued, by this story, so, I wanted to experiment. I grabbed a new $20 and stuck it in the microwave. I started with 1 second intervels and slowly increased and increased. And, in the end... nothing happened. I longest interval I tried was 4 seconds on high, but nothing happened in the end. The total amount of 'on' time for the microwave was about 30 seconds.

    I don't know if my bill was defective, or if I didn't put it in long enough, but I seriously doubt this story. The bill never even got toasty, and the right eye was just as warm as all the other parts of the bill. As other people have said, there are tiny amounts of metal in bills normally, so I find it very unlikely that there is any relatively large strip of metal in as well.
  • by RobiOne ( 226066 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @05:11AM (#8438575) Homepage Journal
    What happens when you stack a bunch of metal strips on top of each other with a fine gap in between? How about rolling them up? ... Congratulations, you just made a capacitor!

    Now place in a magnetic field to have it possibly resonate at the frequency that it resonates at.

    Or like others suggested, a leftover security strip in the wallet.

    People really should learn how to troubleshoot properly. Which reminds me of a story... in short, grad student doing research on fleas, trains his flea to jump when he yells out "Hop!". After much testing and mutilation, one by one, all of the legs get pulled off the flea. He yells out "Hop!", and nothing happens. Hence he begins to write his conclusion:

    "When all of the legs are pulled off the flea, the flea becomes deaf".
  • Security alarms.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BigZaphod ( 12942 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @05:26AM (#8438628) Homepage
    Well, this news may or may not be a hoax. However, I have personally had problems with a couple stores and their security devices crop up suddenly in the last few months. I tracked it as far as my wallet. Nothing had changed about my wallet's configuration. It had the same credit cards, id, etc. Suddenly I ran into a problem where I was setting off some security gates when going into or out of a couple of stores in the city where my girlfriend goes to school. So, after some trial and error, I eventually tracked it to my wallet (I tried going through each time I visited her and took one item at a time out of my pockets.. cell phone, loose change, gave her my car keys and had her walk in before me, etc. until eventually I got rid of the wallet and the problem went away--which presents a problem when you want to go to the store to buy something...).

    So anyway, there might be something to this although it could be related to the partially conductive ink on newer bills. I haven't bothered to track it any farther (as to specific money arrangements) as I've grown tired of the murderous looks I get from other customers as I walk through and the alarm sounds. (Oddly, the employees never seem to care...)

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!