Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Radio-Active Currency

Cutting down on counterfeit.
  (+5, -12)(+5, -12)
(+5, -12)
  [vote for,

I don't know about you guys, but I've heard talk of changing all the currency, at least in the U.S., to coins. Instead of 1's, 5's, 20's, 50's, etc. in paper bills, they would be metal coins. The reasons behind this as far as I know are metal lasts longer than paper, is generally harder to steal because it weighs more, and cant be counterfeited as easily because it has certain engravings.

My idea is to manufacture these coins with a bit of radioactive substances, just enough to be noticed by a radio-active detector. At every store, the cash register would be equipped with one of these detectors, just as it would a credit card scanner, or paypal account thingy. When you buy your things with your coins, they would just pass them by the detector to make sure they're legit. This would make it very difficult for people to counterfeit money.

UPDATE: For those who would prefer not to contract cancer from their pennies, special lead lined wallets and purses could be manufactured.

theredbrigades, Nov 30 2008

Scan of article http://img.photobuc...dan/counterfeit.jpg
Electronic Design, 1995 October 2, page 8 - which is a reprint from Electronic Design, 1955 October 1955, page 14. [neelandan, Dec 04 2008]


       Bank tellers would *love* this idea!
wagster, Nov 30 2008

       So, which isotope did you have in mind?   

       The problem is one of statistics. You need to be able to detect the coin's radioactivity against natural background. Suppose you want to spend no more than half a second measuring the coin's activity. In that case, the coin has to emit enough radiation to give a statistically significant higher count than background.   

       I'm quite comfortable with radiation, but even I wouldn't really want much of this loose change in my jeans pocket.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 30 2008

       Criminals wouldn't be able to fake this too? please.
WcW, Nov 30 2008

       Hmmm, what if radioactivity determined value? Then using an isotope with a short half-life would mean use it or lose it.   

       That would be mayhem!
Amall, Dec 01 2008

       Luminous tritium microspheres. They're used in some applications to replace the old radium luminous paint. Half-life of 12-some odd years; you could determine the age of a coin or bill by its year-mark or serial number, then cross-check by the brightness of the marks (which decays along with the radiation). Then you could give those U.S. Presidents little beady red glowing eyes...
lurch, Dec 01 2008

       A plot idea along these lines but in reverse appears in William Gibson's latest novel, 'Spook Country', where some people fire small amounts of a radioactive substance into a shipping container filled with stolen money, so that the criminals would be unable to launder the money.
imaginality, Dec 01 2008

       And the mechansim of the half-life of the chosen isotope could automatically take into account inflation [+]
coprocephalous, Dec 01 2008

       Using a large quantity of a short-lived isotope could give a wholenew meaning to the term "hot money" .... [+]   

       This would be a good way to get rid of nuclear waste. Embed a tiny amount in each coin. That way, collecting a quantity that was actually dangerous would be extremely expensive ...
8th of 7, Dec 01 2008

       Circa 1971, the author Larry Niven published this as an idea under the title "Another modest proposal."   

       Benefits included a solution to the disposal of radioactive waste, the assurance of keeping money in circulation, making hoarding cash more difficult, making counterfeit money easier to detect, making beach combing for money easier, bringing back the ever popular lead codpiece, etc. etc.   

       Due to the fact that I've mentioned the Larry Niven piece before on the H.B, I suspect this idea has been done before, and probably recieved a M-F-D for something, thus paving the way for this idea.
ye_river_xiv, Dec 01 2008

       Maybe my children will have smaller ears if I carry my money in the front pockets.   

       el dueno
el dueno, Dec 02 2008

       Smaller, but more numerous.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 02 2008



       el custard gutso
Custardguts, Dec 03 2008

       I remember reading this same idea somewhere long ago. Printed in a magazine. <edit> scanned, photobucketed, and linked <link>.   

       el neelandano
neelandan, Dec 04 2008

       You forgot the   

       el Uno Bubbo
neelandan, Dec 04 2008

       Hey! be nice to El Dueno. He's certainly no more idiosyncratic than the vast majority of us.   

       -El Ye River Xivo
ye_river_xiv, Dec 05 2008

       Enter: The lead piggy bank.   

       El MikeDo
MikeD, Dec 06 2008

       Would you guys stop it already?   

       El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer
Spacecoyote, Dec 06 2008


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