ATMs Learn Self-Defense From Acid-Spraying Bug
Beetle's spray system offers model for cash machines
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted May 10, 2014 7:54 AM CDT
ATMs could learn a thing or two about self-defense from beetles.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

(Newser) – The ATM is getting a lesson in self-defense—from a bug. Researchers in Switzerland were inspired by the bombardier beetle, which shoots out a gas that can burn skin, the Atlantic reports. The beetle's mechanism works by mixing two chemicals normally kept separate in its abdomen. When under attack, the beetle combines the hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone to spray its attack gas. The researchers copied this system by putting hydrogen peroxide and manganese dioxide side-by-side, separated by only a lacquer. Break that lacquer, and you get the reaction.

ATM makers could employ the principle in their machines by rigging them to ooze foam if someone begins tampering, say the researchers. Instead of burning acid, the ATMs could cover bills with dye and DNA, making the cash hard to use and easy to track. "Thieves may be able to run," notes Gizmodo, but "it's getting much harder for them to hide." In fact, the mechanism "could be used anywhere you find things that shouldn't be touched," a researcher tells ETH Zurich—whether to fight vandalism or keep animals off crops. (Click to read about another odd method of self-defense in the animal kingdom.)

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Showing 3 of 6 comments
Ezekiel 25:17
May 10, 2014 9:13 PM CDT
I was visiting a local tribal casino when I noticed a strange thing happening. This group of 3 people were playing a machine very closely. I could see what they were doing and it was very suspicious. I decided not to notify casino security because they have a thousand eyes in the sky for that purpose. What they were doing is feeding a slot machine with $100 bills that were hit with a dye pack. Some were completely indigo in color from the dye. What made me even more suspicious was sometimes the machine ate the bill they just fed it. Now, honestly, if a machine eats a $100 bill, you are going to make some noise with the slot people, right. Ok, so they were playing the machine down to about $95 and cashing out with the ticket. I noticed they collected a hand full of tickets then they would go to a redemption machine and launder their money back out.
GreekChorus
May 10, 2014 1:48 PM CDT
Interesting idea, but there would be a concern with the defense mechanism firing accidentally ( e.g. , someone tries to tamper but takes the system to the edge and the next person using the machine triggers it).
finkster
May 10, 2014 11:18 AM CDT
"could be used anywhere you find things that shouldn't be touched," Aaaaahhhh.....my eyes!....I can't see!.....what have you done to me?! I told you not to touch my breasts....that's just my bra's self-defense mechanism.