9 New Security Measures For Flights and How They Will Affect You

A lot has happened in the last few days to change the way that we all will be travelling in the future. There will be new security measures for flights based on these recent incidents.

Firstly, I am sure you all have heard or read about the 23-year old Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly attempted to blow up a plane he was on as it neared Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Christmas Day. He had a peroxide-based bomb attached to his body, and when he detonated it, the bomb, thank God, sparked a fire instead of an explosion.

The Nigerian man had told fellow passengers that he felt sick, and pulled a blanket up around his body and neck, and proceeded to ignite the bomb that was stored in his underwear. Pops were heard and smoke was seen. Quick action by the flight crew and passengers subdued Abdulmutallab. All ended up safe at the end of this flight with the exception of Abdulmutallab, who is reported to have suffered third-degree burns.

Then, two days later a man from Florida, 67-year old Thomas Ouellette, reportedly brought a pyrotechnic device onto his flight that landed in NYC’s LaGuardia Airport last Sunday night.

The question is: How will these new security measures for flights affect the rest of us when we travel?

According to a report on CNN today, U.S. Travel and Security Authorities, international airlines and airports, and aviation organizations have all moved quickly to implement a range of new security measures for flights that will impact travellers’ normal routines.

At present, only flights to the U.S. are affected. Passengers can expect to see extra security “at international airports such as increased gate screening including pat-downs and bag searches. During flight, passengers will be asked to follow flight crew instructions, such as stowing personal items, turning off electronic equipment and remaining seated during certain portions of the flight”, stated The Transportation Security Administration.

New security measures for flights include the following for the last hour of flight over U.S. Territory:

  • Passengers will not be allowed to leave their seats for the bathroom
  • No access to luggage, especially in the overhead area
  • Not able to keep blankets or pillows on your lap
  • Bans on using laptops and MP3 players
  • Restriction for the use of cabin phones

Additional New security measures for flights include the following:

  • Arrive at the airport at least three hours before your flight
  • Be prepared for longer wait times to clear security
  • Be prepared for pat-downs from security and individual airline security personnel
  • Be prepared for additional inspection of carry-on baggage and personal items before boarding your flight

The Detroit incident has shown a hole in airport security measures. Could the next step possibly be a ban on all hand luggage, including handbags and purses?

As of today this is what some airlines are telling their passengers about the new security measures for flights:

British Airways is advising all passengers travelling to the States to minimize hand luggage to only one piece. Holiday presents that are wrapped will be opened and inspected.

Cathay Pacific is advising their passengers to expect pat-downs from security and inspection of carry-on baggage and personal items before boarding the plane. Also, the use of cabin phones will be restricted at all times during the flight.

American Airlines advises all passengers to arrive at the airport at least three hours before the flight to allow for added security checks.

Our take on the new security measures for flights? We would rather be safe than sorry…..if it takes extra time to be cleared through Security – so what? If it turns out that you have an extra hour to wait for your flight, get something to eat (it might be better than the food on the plane anyway), make those last good-bye phone calls, start reading your book, take time to talk to your travel partner, go to the bathroom an extra time for good measure.

To sum it up: Arrive early, have your paperwork including passport ready, a tight grip on your patience, be cooperative…..and remember, smile, smile, smile.

Time Travel – A Possibility or Just the Stuff of Science Fiction?

It’s been written about in hundreds of books, the subject of fantasy for everyone at one time or another, and the government has actually devoted research at one time or another on the subject. If you do a search on the Internet for time travel you will find millions of entries on it, and hundreds of websites fully devoted to talking about it. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could travel back in time? You could correct mistakes you’ve made in your life, study any period of time that interests you, not to mention build a financial empire on your foreknowledge of events. Beginning with H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, the concept of time travel has been one of the main staples of science fiction. Some of my favorite reads are David Gerrold’s The Man Who Folded Himself and The Light of Other Days by Stephen Baxter and Arthur C. Clarke.

So is it really possible to travel in time?

First of all we are all already time travelers in the sense that time moves forward, and at the same apparent rate of speed, for all of us. There seem to be no obstacles in physics to accelerating the forward momentum of time in one way or another. Cryogenics is a concept much written about as one method of “forward” time travel; lowering the body temperature to a little above absolute zero to nearly stop the metabolism as a way to sleep away millennia. The practical hurdles to this put any possibility of this far into the future. Although simpler organisms have been successfully frozen and returned, the human body is too complex to yet survive the process because of water crystallization and other factors. Another method of accelerating time is time differentials due to the relativistic effects of high velocity.

According to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, as an object approaches the speed of light one of the effects is time dilation. As a relativistic object’s speed increases the passage of time slows for it in relation to a non-moving object. Take for example a spacecraft traveling at 10% of the speed of light, or 18,628 miles per second. If this imaginary spacecraft maintained this speed consistently for 24 hours (according to our clocks back home), then at the end of that 24 hours only about 23 hours, 53 minutes would have passed onboard the spacecraft. Much higher speeds to within a fraction of a percent of the speed of light have to be achieved to get a really noticeable effect. Take that same spacecraft and accelerate it to .999999 light speed (or to 186,281.81 miles every second) and something really bizarre happens, achieving something more like time travel. If you take that spacecraft out on a joyride at that speed for 24 hours of your traveler’s time and return home, you will find that almost two years have past on Earth.

In actuality, this has been observed in experiments done when atomic clocks were sent on jetliners to observe the effects of time dilation. The difference was observed as predicted, helping to support Einstein’s theories. Naturally the difference was small, measured in nanoseconds. Unfortunately for any aspiring time travelers, the kind of speeds needed for relativistic effects are still well outside our technology. The fastest spacecraft yet launched were the Helios spacecraft sent to study the sun in the 70s. They achieved speeds of about 158,000mph, or about 44 miles per second; this is about .02% light-speed, still not close to relativistic speeds.

And what about the possibility of travel back in time?

This makes great material for science fiction, but the data here doesn’t seem promising. Physicists have been able to envision certain circumstances under which time travel MAY be allowable under the laws of physics, but the energy levels and exotic matter requirements seem to be well beyond anything we are likely to achieve anytime soon. Some have suggested that wormholes may be bridges to other universes, distant parts of this universe, or other times. Wormholes remain a theoretical concept, neither proven nor dis-proven to exist. It seems that for all practical purposes the universe has (at least temporarily) denied us the opportunity to revisit our past directly. So let us turn to a discussion of what the possibilities would be if time travel did exist.

First of all we must look at the fact put forward by modern physics that space and time are related aspects of the topology of our universe. In other words, our universe consists of the three observable dimensions of space and one of time. Putting together a theory that explains the existence of our universe required combining time and space into one continuum. Assuming this to be true, it follows that there should be a parallel measurement in space equivalent to measurements in time. It may seem nonsensical to talk of measuring space in seconds or time in miles, but the two are tied together through the speed of light. Therefore it follows that to convert one second of time into distance, we simply look at how far light travels in one second. That would be approximately 186,282 miles or three quarters the distance to the moon. This means that traveling one second back in time would be equivalent to traveling nearly the distance to the moon. Then there is the fact that a change in temporal position would mean having to adjust for the motion of the earth, sun and galaxy as they rotate and revolve. A lot harder than it looked, huh? Ok, let’s pretend we overcome this obstacle and achieve real, meaningful time travel. Could you go back in time and kill your grandfather early in his life, assuring that you will never be born? Time travel is full of paradoxes such as this. For the most part this can be overcome by incorporating quantum mechanics into the concept of time travel, and branching realities.

Quantum mechanics is a field of theory which developed in the first quarter of the twentieth century through the work of Niels Bohr, Pauli, Planck, Heisenberg, and Schrodinger. It’s basic tenets are that at a fundamental level matter exists as a cloud of uncertainty and probability. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle states that one cannot measure both the position and momentum of an elementary particle because the act of observation changes the outcome. In this branch of physics cause and effect is said to break down and one can only state the probability of something being true. The most famous example of what quantum mechanics means in the real world was given as a thought experiment by Erwin Schrodinger and is known as Schrodinger’s Cat. Here it follows:

A cat is placed in a sealed box. Attached to the box is an apparatus containing a radioactive nucleus and a canister of poison gas. This apparatus is separated from the cat in such a way that the cat can in no way interfere with it. The experiment is set up so that there is exactly a 50% chance of the nucleus decaying in one hour. If the nucleus decays, it will emit a particle that triggers the apparatus, which opens the canister and kills the cat. If the nucleus does not decay, then the cat remains alive. According to quantum mechanics the unobserved nucleus is described as a superposition (meaning it exists partly as each simultaneously) of “decayed nucleus” and “undecayed nucleus”. However, when the box is opened the experimenter sees only a “decayed nucleus/dead cat” or an “undecayed nucleus/living cat”.

The paradox of this experiment is that the cat is said to be both dead and alive until someone opens the box. (*No cats or animals of any kind were harmed in the writing of this article). This paradox can be resolved if we say that instead of both being true in one reality, that reality actually branches into two. In one universe the cat is alive and in the parallel universe it is dead. In this way our universe is constantly splitting into alternate universes in which every possibility is encompassed. This also solves the paradoxes of time travel. When our time traveler returns and makes changes in the past he would be creating an alternate universe without destroying the other. In this way, as he or she continued to make changes, our time traveler would never be able to return to their original timeline, although he could create one similar to it with the right changes. All of the possibilities and repercussions of a scenario such as this are spectacularly presented in the science fiction novel The Man Who Folded Himself, by David Gerrold.

In summary, time travel is a highly entertaining concept for science fiction, and actually holds some plausibility in certain concepts of modern physics. But as a practical application, it is not likely to become a part of our lives anytime soon. Of course, not being a time traveler myself, I cannot speak with certainty.

Time will tell.

Travel Health: Useful medical information for good health before, during your trip and after

The diseases most commonly seen in travellers are diarrhoea, malaria (if you travel in a malaria-infested area),
accidents (when travelling by car or swimming), wound infections and sexually transmitted diseases.

— Diarrhoea is caused by contaminated food and drinking-water. You must therefore be careful if your are travelling in poor hygiene conditions.

— Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, so the first thing to do is to protect yourself against these mosquitoes.

— In order to prevent accidents during travelling, it is wise to apply the same precautions as those taken at home.

In addition, it is very important that all wounds should be thoroughly disinfected in order to avoid infection.

· TRAVELLER’S DIARRHOEA

Many intestinal infections are attributable to infections picked up by mouth or hands. With a little care most of
these illnesses can be prevented. Hepatitis A, typhoid fever, polio and cholera still occur in countries with poor
hygiene, but these diseases are easily prevented.

However, the chance is rather large that you will still contract a light and/or nondangerous form of traveller’s diarrhoea.
Traveller’s diarrhoea almost always spontaneously clears up after a few days, but can nevertheless be irritating.
And a risk to your overall and travel health.

In the first place measures must be taken against dehydration. Likewise, treatment of the symptoms must be considered
in order to reduce the number of bowel movements and relieve other symptoms such as fever, vomiting and stomach cramps.
Sometimes a more serious form of diarrhoea occurs, for which specific treatment with antibiotics is indicated or where
hospitalisation or fluid replacement appears unavoidable.

It takes only a few basic preventive measures to make your trip a success : Total prevention of traveller’s diarrhoea is
impossible and it is obvious that preventive measures can seldom be strictly followed at all times.
But following preventive measures do significantly reduce the risk of contracting serious diarrhoea:
In order to maintain good travel health wash your hands before eating and avoid (if possible) :

— raw vegetables and fruits that you have not peeled yourself

— uncooked or unpasteurized dairy products

— insufficiently cooked sea foods (+ Hepatitis A !) and meat

— “local meals” which do not smell fresh

— ice-cream bought from street merchants (industrial ice straight from the deep-freeze is probably safe).

Cooked meals should be served hot. The place where you eat is also important. A meal taken from a stall presents a
greater risk than a meal taken in a restaurant. Avoid restaurants where there are a lot of insects.
Avoid tap water and ice-cubes. Bottled water and soft drinks are safe. Watch out for bottle caps that have already been used.

It is very important to disinfect drinking-water on adventure trips. Total sterilisation of drinking water is impossible.
The following measures considerably reduce the contamination risk and safeguard your travel health:

— Boiling the water is very effective.

— A good alternative is chemical disinfection with chlorine drops (e.g. Hadex®, Drinkwell chloor®; available in sport shops
specialized in outdoor activities) or chlorine tablets (Certisil Combina®; chloramine tablets; available at the
pharmacy). Their effect can be improved by first filtering unclear water. Silver salts (Micropur®, Certisil Argento®) are
not very suitable to disinfect water, but they keep disinfected water germ-free for a long time.

For adventurous travellers conscious to travel health it is best to buy a portable water-filter. The use of antibiotics
in order to prevent diarrhoea before it occurs can be dangerous + Also the use of other preventive medications is not
recommended.

. How to treat diarrhoea?

It is extremely important to consume sufficient liquid and salt in order to prevent dehydration. You can do this by
taking salt solutions, but tea with lemon, broth, soft drinks and fruit juice, supplemented with salt crackers are tastier.
Commercial salt products are available on the market (ORS-solution).

Taking an anti-diarrhoea preparation (loperamide, e.g. Imodium®) can greatly reduce the number of bowel movements, with
a considerable reduction of the complaints as a result. Imodium® may only be used by adults and older children and only
for treating ordinary watery diarrhoea: 1 capsule after every loose movement up to a maximum of 4 per day.

Antibiotics are indicated :

1. If blood, mucus or pus are present in the stools.

2. If after 24 to 48 hours, there is no sign of improvement and the diarrhoea is accompanied by fever (above 38.5 C) or
severe abdominal cramps, or if there are more than six stools per 24 hours and especially when these also occur
at night.

3. Or if because of travel circumstances a quicker solution is absolutely desirable . Appropriate antibiotics are only
to be used on doctor’s prescription

· SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES

Casual sexual contacts tend to be higher while on holiday abroad. Sexually transmitted diseases, particularly AIDS, form
therefore an important risk for travellers.
Quite often unintentional and unsafe sexual contact takes place under alcohol influence.
Prevention while on holiday abroad is no different from the precautions you take at home. Adequate use of a condom,
preferably bought at home, is absolutely essential. Only a water-soluble lubricant should be used, but it only offers
a partial guarantee (e.g. KY gel).
Vaccination against hepatitis B is advised. Always consult your doctor if you think you are at risk, even when there are
no symptoms.

· MALARIA (swamp fever, malaria)

Malaria is an infectious disease caused by a parasite (called Plasmodium) transmitted by the bite of the Anopheles mosquito.
There are four different types of which Malaria falciparum is the most dangerous and the most widespread.
The incubation period – the time between an infecting bite and the appearance of the disease – varies from ten days to four
weeks (rarely several months).

The symptoms include attacks of fever, but can initially be quite similar to influenza.
If adequate treatment is not started in time, an attack may sometimes result in death within a few days.

. Where does malaria occur?

Malaria only occurs in those areas in which Anopheles mosquitoes are present : in the tropics and in a large number of
subtropical areas. From a height of 1.500 to 2.500 m onwards, depending on temperature and climate, Anopheles mosquitoes
are either rare or non-existent.

In most big cities there is little or no risk at all of infection, except in Africa where a real risk exists.

Risk also exists in the suburbs of the big cities in Asia (e.g. in India). In a number of areas the risk varies according
to the season.

. How can malaria be prevented?

It is very important for travel health to avoid mosquito bites : the Anopheles mosquito only bites between dusk and dawn,
is rather small and hardly makes any noise.

— In the evening wear light-coloured clothing which covers your arms and legs as much as possible. Apply repellent cream
with a DEET basis (20 to 50%, for children and pregnant women preferably 20 to 30%) to the uncovered parts of your body.
Repeat this every four to six hours (it will not protect you all night).
Non containing DEET repellents were less examined; Autan-Active and Mosegor are however excellent safe products.

— Sleep in rooms that leave no access to mosquitoes, (mosquito nets on the sills, electrically-warmed anti-mosquito plates,
air-conditioning) or sleep under a mosquito net impregnated with permethrine or deltamethrine hung over the bed with the
edges tucked under the mattress.

If these measures are carried out correctly, the risk of malaria will be reduced by 80 to 90% and travel health is maintained

. The intake of pills as prevention

There is no drug efficient enough to prevent malaria 100%, which means that quite often a combination of measures is
preferable. Also the drugs used have changed over the years.
Moreover, the advantages and disadvantages of drugs should be considered against the risk of malaria infection.
These risks are dependent on the visited country, and on the region, the season, the duration of your stay and the kind
of trip.

Some people might be troubled by the side effects while taking antimalarial drugs. These are usually mild and are not
always a reason to stop taking the pills. Sometimes it may be necessary to change to another type of medication due to
intestinal problems, allergic reactions or other intolerance symptoms.

Therefore it is the doctor who can best decide for each individual which drug to use. This explains why individuals from
the same group may end up taking different drugs.

Finally, as no drug is 100% effective in preventing malaria, it is important that if an attack of fever occurs in the
first three months after your return from the tropics, a malaria infection should be considered as a possibility despite
the correct use of the drug prescribed.

However, it is reassuring to know that malaria, provided it is recognised in time, is easy to treat without any danger of
recurrent attacks. The belief that “once malaria always malaria” is totally untrue.

You can find even more travel health tips in the next pages:

DISEASES FOR WHICH VACCINATIONS ARE AVAILABLE

MORE TRAVEL HEALTH TIPS

CAUTION: The information provided here should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or for the
treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for any and all medical conditions.
Call 911 for all medical emergencies.