"When you start working on terrorism, it's easy to be depressed by the scope of the problem," said John Whitley, a researcher at the New Mexico lab, which is run by defense giant Lockheed Martin Corp. for the U.S. Department of Energy.
"But when you look at fire, it gives you hope that the problem can be dealt with.The bottom line is, you live your life not being terrified of fire.That wasn't the case 200 years ago."Whitley is a member of Sandia's Advanced Concepts Group, an internal think tank trying to forge a long-term direction for the lab in making society safer through innovative thinking and cutting-edge technology.
The group engages in what its founder, Gerold Yonas
, calls "dotology" -- the science of connecting the dots to see linkages among various disciplines.It tries to imagine what international issues affect national security and what technological tools can be developed in response.
In a recent report on the parallels between controlling fire and terrorism, Yonas and Whitley
cite several lessons:
-- Solutions must comprehensively attack all segments of the problem.Prevention alone isn't enough.
"With fire, you had to deal with the infrastructure," Whitley
But as with fighting fire, preventing terrorism threats will take time and money, Whitley
"We spend around $100 billion a year on fire protection," he
said, "and it's not unheard of that we'll spend that much on terrorism activities."He
and Yonas also noted that fires strike far more often than terrorists do.