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Experts can discuss postwar, security issues

September 2, 2003

1. Security starts with visual perception

2. Media need to reflect on war coverage

3. Purdue Technology could make airports safer


Security starts with visual perception

Security guards will do a double take when they learn they can't always believe their eyes, says a Purdue University psychology expert in neural networks.

Gregory Francis, a professor in the School of Liberal Arts, evaluates the after-effects of visual images.

"An airport security guard manning the X-ray machines looks at image after image of luggage," says Francis, an expert in visual perception and neural networks. "The guard could be misled by their visual perception because of the after-effect he or she sees after staring at the first image. After-effects from previously seen images can change the appearance of subsequently viewed images. Such after-effects could cause a guard to miss a suspicious bag."

Francis is researching the weaknesses in basic after-effects, such as horizontal and vertical lines.

CONTACT: Francis, (765) 494-6934,


Media need to reflect on war coverage

A Purdue communications expert says print journalists are doing a more credible and balanced job of presenting information to the Western world about events in Iraq.

"In general, the print media have done a more credible and balanced job than the broadcast media in their overall coverage prior, during and after the war on Iraq," says Yahya R. Kamalipour, professor and head of the Department of Communication and Creative Arts at Purdue's Calumet, Ind., campus. "The commercial broadcast media tend to be more sensational, shallow and less in-depth in their coverage of events than the print media."

Kamalipour also says all media need to continue to improve on how they react to natural or unnatural disasters.

"One of the lessons for all media professionals is that, even in difficult circumstances, their No. 1 responsibility is to inform their audiences in a fair, balanced, truthful and unbiased manner," Kamalipour says. "In other words, they need to react to any emergency or unexpected situation rationally rather than emotionally. For example, a major East Coast newspaper piece that ran Sept. 12, 2001, was titled 'Simply kill these bastards!' We need to see more rationale choices made by the press during times of crisis."

CONTACT: Kamalipour,, (219) 989-2880.


Purdue technology could make airports safer

Face recognition software being developed at Purdue could one day make it easier to spot known and suspected terrorists the moment they enter an airport.

Stephen J. Elliott, assistant professor of industrial technology in Purdue's School of Technology, is currently testing a face recognition system at the Purdue University Airport that uses biometrics – the measurement of the human body– for security screenings.

"As pilots step through a security checkpoint, a tiny camera transmits their images to a computer network. The system will measure facial features and compare them with records in a database," he says.

As computer technology improves, the cameras will be able to scan anyone entering airports, and these images will be able to be compared against thousands or millions of others in online databases, Elliott says. The technology could be used to make sure only certain people are allowed in high-security areas while scanning public areas for suspected or known terrorists.

"Besides airports, the biometrics program could be used at government buildings, large sporting events or other potential terrorist targets," Elliott says.

CONTACT: Elliott, (765) 496-2971,