March 03, 2004

Why skepticism is good

Posted by shonk at 01:52 AM in Uncategorized Current Events | TrackBack

Getting linked at a furious pace around the blogosphere (getting Slashdotted helps) is an article at Alex Jones’ site claiming that the new twenty has an RFID tag in it. At first glance, the article was alarming to me, but my skepticism quickly overtook my alarm. The EU is planning to put RFIDs in the Euro, but, even though they’ve tried to keep it relatively quiet, it’s gotten a fair amount of publicity. So it seems unlikely that the US Treasury Dept. could slip this one by. Also, it’s a little suspicious that these people microwaved $1000 worth of twenties right off the bat, instead of nuking just one to see what would happen first.

Far be it from me, though, to dismiss an easily testable contention without trying it myself. I’ve got a couple of new twenties in my wallet, so I pulled them out and had a look. Nothing visible embedded under Jackson’s right eye in either one. Now, RFIDs can be small, but even the smallest are at least as big as a grain of sand, which should be visible when the bill is held up to the light. I did an extensive inspection of the new twenty when it first came out, and didn’t see anything that could have been construed as an RFID then, either. Still, there’s no reason not to try microwaving, even though I already had one major mishap in the kitchen today. So I microwaved both twenties on high for a minute, which is more than enough time to fry the electronics in an RFID. The result: nothing.

Now, I’m not claiming that these people’s twenties didn’t catch on fire, but it seems to me, based on all of the above, that there are no RFIDs in the new twenty. More likely is that a piece of metal got adhered to one of them and caught fire in the microwave; since the twenties were stacked, this would cause all of the twenties to be burned in approximately the same place.

In other words, while it’s not a bad idea to get concerned about RFIDs, I’m pretty sure they’re not in the new twenty.

For more on RFIDs in general, check out the CASPIAN RFID FAQ (enough caps for you?)


I remember Deutchmark bills had a little Braille-esque pattern of dots and lines on them. If new currency comes out with these or similar, look for RFIDs in there.

Posted by: John Lopez at March 3, 2004 04:04 AM

"Now, Iím not claiming that these peopleís twenties didnít catch on fire, but it seems to me, based on all of the above, that there are RFIDs in the new twenty."

I think you must have meant to write "... there are not RFIDs in the new twenty."

Posted by: Virginia at March 3, 2004 09:34 AM

Right you are. That'll teach me not to re-read what I write before posting.

Posted by: shonk at March 3, 2004 10:14 AM