This is a true story. Amidst widespread accounts of Mossad-controlled spy vultures, weaponized sharks and jellyfish, Palestinian media have accused Israel of loosing genetically engineered rodents against Jerusalem's Arab population.
According to Palestinian daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, "efforts to counter this infestation have failed, especially since cats run away from [the] rats because of their size and ferocity... All of the conventional efforts to kill them have not succeeded, because they seem to be immune to poison and they breed in the sewers."
Authorities in Jerusalem dismissed the reports as libelous at best, adding that, in fact, Israeli efforts involving rodents are exponentially more sophisticated.
Herzeliya-based startup BioExplorers now offers mice that may be better than dogs or machines at detecting explosives and other contraband. According to BioExplorers's Web site, its brand of mouse combines "the hyper-sensitive olfactory capability of rodents with the care-free reliability of a hi-tech machine system."
Created by Special Forces veterans and biology-based threat detection experts, the company takes the genetic picks of each litter and optimizes them in a ten-day program, resulting in tiny, trained explosives and narcotics detectors with greater reliability than mechanical sensors.
While canines may still best rodents one-on-one, "multiple sensors"--i.e., a team of mice--can yield superior overall results in one-tenth the time, at far lower cost, according to BioExplorers. And mice can be deployed in situations impractical for dogs, like crowded mass transportation systems or sports arenas.
BioExplorers representatives take great pains to combat the so-called Eek A Mouse! Factor stemming from public concern that rodents are disease vectors. According to the company, stringent hygiene commences from the birth of its mice, in a clean laboratory, followed by routine veterinary supervision. Also the detection work itself requires no physical contact between sensors and subjects. Moreover, teams of four to eight mice do their jobs unseen, from within specialized containment devices (see video below). A report of their olfactory analysis is generated electronically using a proprietary algorithmic-based system.
As related on the Israeli news site Arutz Sheva, the mice were put to the test during a December 2009 controlled experiment in which explosive charges were planted on twenty-two people scattered throughout a Tel Aviv mall. According to BioExplorers, the mice went 22 for 22.
Soon, at the sight of a mouse, people may say, "Eek, I'm near an explosive!"
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