Creating instant urban legend (or exposing a previously unpublished implementation of RFID), some people microwaved their new 20 dollar bills after triggering an unspecified "RFID theft alarm" when carrying them through. The result was that they all burned in the same spot; presumably from heat induced by subjecting a metallic component to microwaves (anyone who has put a lightbulb, a piece of tinfoil or similar in a microwave will know that this causes violent "lightning" bursts).
The net is buzzing with theories; conspiracy (is the Government using RFID to track all the dollar bills?), scientific and otherwise.
I somehow doubt that these are RFID tags, but it's long been common to have metallic strips to combat counterfeiting, so it could be a metallic detail on the banknotes that get heated up by the microwaves.
A contributor to the slashdot website writes:
those new bills do happen to have a strip of metal foil running through them, right at about the point of Jefferson's left eye...to make counterfeiting harder, you see. And when you subject metallic material to microwave energy, it heats up quickly...that's just basic physics.The stupidevilbastard blog adds:
a machine-readable feature has been incorporated for the blind. It will facilitate development of convenient scanning devices that could identify the denomination of the note. (source: Bureau of Engraving and Printing)More related links:
Anders Jacobsen |