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Detect It Yourself

All this "dirty bomb" talk got you worried? Black Cat Systems is selling radiation detectors that turn PCs and Macintoshes into low-cost Geiger counters.

The devices collect data and send it to the computers, where software creates charts of radiation levels. Black Cat says users can inspect home radon levels, check for radioactivity in food and building materials, and even monitor those neighborhood nuclear-power plants. Chris Smolinski, who developed the products, says traffic to the company's Web site has risen in the past week with warnings that terrorists might use dirty bombs to spread radiation.

Says Smolinski, "People are getting a little nervous."

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