A detector is a machine that responds to particular substances in a consistent way. Everyone who flies on an airplane must pass through a metal detector, which beeps when it senses metal.

A "lie detector" works by measuring pulse and eye movements as a person responds to a series of questions. A radioactivity detector looks for high levels of radioactivity in nuclear power plants. Since the invention of detectors, the idea of more fantastical detectors has filled the human imagination. A love detector: why not?

Definitions of detector

n any device that receives a signal or stimulus (as heat or pressure or light or motion etc.) and responds to it in a distinctive manner

sensing element, sensor
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metal detector
detector that gives a signal when it detects the presence of metal; used to detect the presence of stray bits of metal in food products or to find buried metal
mine detector
detector consisting of an electromagnetic device; used to locate explosive mines
electric eye, magic eye, photocell, photoconductive cell, photoelectric cell
a transducer used to detect and measure light and other radiations
trace detector
a screening device for traces of explosives; used at airline terminals
selenium cell
a photoelectric cell that uses a strip of selenium
Type of:
an instrumentality invented for a particular purpose

n electronic equipment that detects the presence of radio signals or radioactivity

crystal detector
a detector consisting of a fine wire in contact with a galena crystal; acts as a rectifier
electronic scanner, scanner
a radio receiver that moves automatically across some selected range of frequencies looking for some signal or condition
Type of:
electronic equipment
equipment that involves the controlled conduction of electrons (especially in a gas or vacuum or semiconductor)

n rectifier that extracts modulation from a radio carrier wave

Type of:
electrical device that transforms alternating into direct current

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