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What would a camera see passing through an airport X-Ray machine? (Video)

Posted August 13, 2017

One part of travelling by plane is always very annoying and sometimes quite stressful – security check. Of course you are not doing anything wrong and of course they are here to ensure security of your flight. But it is a hassle to take off your belt, shoes, find electronics, liquids and send everything through an X-Ray machine. But you can make it more interesting – have you ever wondered, what would a camera see travelling through an airport X-Ray machine?

Airport X-Ray machines see through everything in complete darkness, but would happen to a camera if we left it on? Image credit: AMISOM Public Information via Wikimedia

You can’t look inside that machine and you basically have no time for that anyway. However, you know how X-Ray works – it shines mild radiation onto a certain object and senses areas that did not pass these rays as easily. Nowadays security can see everything that’s in your luggage in great detail. In fact, even plastic items show up on their screen, so it is almost like security officers are looking into your bag. But, on the other hand, X-Ray machine is completely dark on the inside. So what would camera see?

Cameras are different than human eyes. We can say that human travelling through an airport X-Ray machine would not see a thing, although he would get unhealthy doses of radiation, but more about that later. Meanwhile a camera has a sensor, which does react to strong radiation. In some cases it is actually pretty useful, because you can use your camera as an emergency radiation-detector. For example, if you want to see how dangerous your collection of radioactive materials is. If you don’t have such valuable collection, you can see one of a popular YouTube creator Cody don Reeder. He did use a camera phone to see the radiation sparks coming from uranium ore.

You can barely see the sparks in Cody’s video, but it is a totally different story when we’re talking about W-Ray machine. You would see much more sparks, as it is producing some heavy radiation to penetrate your luggage. In fact, it would be quite damaging for a human being to experience that amount of radiation. Take a look at what camera sees going through an airport X-Ray machine.

You can see many little sparks as camera sensor is bombarded by radiation spikes. In fact, you may wonder, how this is not dangerous for people who are walking so close to this machine. But in reality airport X-Ray machines are very well isolated – standing as close as 5 cm distance basically gives you no radiation at all. Even close to open ends is no big deal, because the actual process starts deep into the scanner. You can see that sparks don’t start until a certain point in the video.

So that is what a camera would see passing through the airport X-Ray machine. Not much, really. But at least we know you can actually see radiation in a video done by a simple cheap action camera.

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