March 02, 2004
The burning 20 dollar bills

Creating instant urban legend (or exposing a previously unpublished implementation of RFID), some people microwaved their new 20 dollar bills after triggering an unspecified "RFID theft alarm" when carrying them through.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).

image from

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 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)
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why -- why -- just why would you do that?

Posted by: bill on October 26, 2004 08:19 PM

I believe these are all signs of the end-times of the bible and people should really think about how they are living their lives myself included. Jesus is coming soon and we have to get right with him. I believe we are living in the last generation that will not pass before seeing the sight of the lord because the signs are all there. Jesus spilled his blood on the cross for us and I will not take that for granted anymore after reading all these new postings it feels like I was given a second chance Thanks to you for your site and information about the money, human implant chips and all this new info that I have run accross Jesus Loves you God Bless you Thank You.

Posted by: Joe on December 2, 2004 05:41 AM

there ain't know way

Posted by: on January 7, 2006 06:17 PM
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TrackBack URL for this entry: Background research on the ''burning US 20 dollar bills'' story (March 3, 2004 12:02 PM)
"Someone was microwaving their US 20 dollar bills and claimed that ''RFID tags'' in the bills caught fire when doing so. Several websites have picked up the news and provided commentary - conspiratorial as well as sceptical. Here is a summary of explana..."

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