LEVI McPHERSON, a graduate student of analytical chemistry at the University of North Central Florida, is approached by agents of the Homeland Security’s Counter-terrorism Unit. The agency is recruiting Lee to study and expose the loopholes of screening instruments in airports. Struggling financially, he accepted the offer, making him a paid, benevolent hacker of the nation’s gateway. Yet Levi is horrified when an Airbus from Los Angeles disintegrated in mid-air.

At 40, when everybody’s career trajectory is going up, Levi’s still a poor graduate student, struggling financially. His research projects however, are worth million dollars. Researching the highly classified and heavily guarded secrets of detecting traces of explosives, what Lee know was a goldmine. The agency's offer is his financial break . So Levi tackles the problem like a scientist, detailing the loopholes of the aviation security and turning what he knew into a big time money machine.

JIM and JONATHAN of the counter-terrorism unit, where nowhere to be found after Charlotte International Airport, a hub of Delta Airlines closed abruptly because of instrument malfunctions in their security lines. And in a post-Osama Bin Laden’s era, the biggest blow to the United Stated after the 9/11 disaster comes unexpectedly when a passenger plane blew up in the skies of Washington D.C., in the heart of the nation.

Levi knew it was only the start of more troubles, so he recruits his fellow graduate students to counter the future attacks. They have to think like criminals—and scientists too. With the help of FBI counter-terrorism experts, Homeland Security and Transportation Security Agency, the team races to close and plug the loopholes Lee identified.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Water contamination (but what's in your milk?)

(Thanks to Dr. Cooks of Purdue University)
CNN reported yesterday that water supplies of around 40 million Americans are contaminated by low levels of pharmaceutical drugs. When I was reading the news, I remembered my friend who vowed to drink only spring water (bottled Evian) and eat only organic food.

Because the high price of eating only organic food made me snob the idea of healthy living by drinking only spring water and organic food. But it dawned to me why my friend (who was a personal trainer) acted that way. My question is, what's the effect of these chemicals in our body in the long run? Will the data become clear only after I'm old and the damages are irreversible?

I can't afford the organic lifestyle, but I stopped eating burgers after watching "Fast Food Nation". I been trying to eat organic food such as carrots (taste sweet), squash and coffee:), but I'm not totally organic.

I'm an analytical chemist, and I saw data of milk contaminated with artificial growth hormones. Did the water contamination hoopla scared me? A bit, that's why I'm more vigilant on what food I put in my mouth. In addition, I wash my hands frequently after working with chemicals in my laboratory.

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