Trace Amounts of Cocaine

So this is a funny story from today.


I had a wonderful opportunity to tour a couple of labs at NIST today.


One of them does work in contraband detection.


The scientist asks if anyone has any money in their wallet.


I pull out a dollar and hand it to him.


I ask him what happens if he finds any traces of bad stuff on the money from me.


He says, “A cage will fall from the ceiling” and I’ll be in big trouble.


Uh, we all laugh a little.


He unfolds the money and puts it into the machine that looks for the contraband.


Oh sh*t, it comes up in the “red”–positive for cocaine.


Someone else says jokingly, “A little leftover from the weekend?”


I joke back, “Na, It’s from this morning before work!”


Ha, ha, I think. 


It turns out the scientist explains that 90% of our currency actually tests positive for cocaine


I’m wondering whether this is a commentary on drug use and even the opioid epidemic in America.


The lab director explains a theory that the automated money counters spread traces of the drugs from bills and contaminates the other currency.


Aside from this little experiment today, I got to learn so much about creating standards for contraband detection systems and equipment and in another lab about magnetism. 


It is unbelievable how smart these scientists are–they are so unique and of the best in the world.


I am so happy to be able to learn from them even if it’s contraband on money. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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