Geology & Geophysics GeoFIZZ

When Your Weird Science Gets Stopped at Airport Security

“Gamma ray spectrometer,” “rock hammer,” and “putty knife” are not phrases that airport security likes to hear.


We all know airport security is a pain—you’ve got to take off your shoes, empty your pockets, and, if you’re a scientist, try to explain to the scary-looking security officer that the bag of suspicious white powder in your carry-on is, in fact, powdered limestone, not an illegal substance.

Scientists taking home rock samples or field gadgets have it tougher at the airport these days. Here are 14 examples of scientists getting stopped at airport security because of a strange science-related item in their luggage.

1. Because She’s Holding a Thermal Detonator Reactor!


2. Gneiss Chert


3. Seriously, Officer, It’s Oregano


4. What’s in the Bag?


5. But at Least You Packed Your Own Bag, Right?


6. Yeah, Yeah, Science Equipment. But What’s with the Yam?


7. Ten Every Day? This Deserves More Explanation…


8. What, Don’t You Mail Rocks?


9. Is There a Geologist in the House?


10. It’s Not What You Think, I Swear


11. To Paraphrase Monty Python, Every Rock Is Sacred


12. When I Said, “See for Yourself,” I Didn’t Mean Actual C4


13. Oh, Sure, It’s Powdered “Limestone” from Afghanistan


14. That’s Not a Knife…

—JoAnna Wendel (@JoAnnaScience), Staff Writer

Citation: Wendel, J. (2018), When your weird science gets stopped at airport security, Eos, 99, Published on 01 February 2018.
Text © 2018. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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