Heat kills bacillus anthracis spores. Boiling within IIRC 10 minutes, autoclaving within hours.
How does this contradict what I said about ironing not being sufficient? Boiling water is 100C, or 212F. An iron, momentarily contacting a piece of paper, on the other side of which is the bacterium might be lucky to be warmed to more than about 150F. Barring some radical changes in the laws of physics, I don't believe an iron has sufficient heating capability to protect you. Additionally, by compressing the package, you may be causing the bacteria to become airborne - forced out the sides, as has apparently happened to a postal worker recently. Ironing is a bad idea, period.
Microwave ovens induce extremely large electric currents into the aluminum foil of CDs, vaporizing the foil through ohmic heating.
Again, this does not contradict what I said about CDs - if there is sufficient energy to kill bacteria, there is going to be sufficient energy to destroy a CD! Not only that, but your solution of using gamma radiation to punch through metal is (by your own admission) flawed - because it'll damage the dye on the CDs.
Radiation != comparatively low-frequency radio waves that induce large electric currents.
Did I say it did?
Industrial irradiators consist of a heavily-shielded enclosure with a conveyor belt running throw it. Inside the enclosure are several rods/plates that have been electroplated with a gamma ray-emitting element (such as activated cobalt-60).
Safety considerations need to be taken into account here - such an enclosure does not prevent live animals, or people, from entering it. The principle cost is not in the equipment, it's in training personnel to use the equipment, and safety considerations. Plus, we have tens of thousands of post offices that process mail - all of them would need irradiation systems to effectively cover the United States, due to the way mail is routed. That's still a lot of money.
Lots of live materials are sent in the mails, from medical specimens to vegetable seeds. Killing them off would tend to be expensive and annoying.
Those are generally shipped via either courier service, or special delivery via normal channels. In all cases, by law, the package is required to have stated that it is biological, hazardous (if it is), and the contents. This is not a realistic risk. However, it does beg the question of how this could be workable in the private sector, considering there are a wide variety of methods of delivering packages - some of them would simply not be economical to have irradiation systems.
Transistors are likely to be turned on by intense ionizing radiation. If they are under power at the time, they will tend to go up in flames. (Think lithium ion battery packs! Fwoosh!)
It is illegal to ship a powered electronic device through the mail, per US DOT regulations. Batteries must be transported discharged, where possible. However, this doesn't mean people don't do it... but we don't have to worry about this on a large scale.
Killer problem: attackers could put radiation-triggered bombs in the mail, which would activate inside the irradiator. It wouldn't be a major environmental disaster, but it would be bad for the postal employees, would contaminate a lot of mail irretrievably, and would contaminate the plant. Bombs might take the form of corrosives that would cause the radioactive material to flake off or otherwise mobilize, and not simple high explosives, which could result in release of insidious radioactive dust.
Terrorists are unlikely to do this, especially considering the specialization required to accomplish such a feat, and the cost of aquiring such chemicals. It would be cheaper to have someone apply to work at the plant, and then place a bomb manually, or simply fly a plane into it. Your remaining concerns, however, I found to be good reasons to avoid deployment.
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]