The field of biometrics is a never-ending spectacle of palm readers, fingerprint and iris scanners, and now researchers at the University of Southampton may have discovered the next body part to be cataloged and tracked by power-mad governments: the ear. According to Professor Mark Nixon, the human ear is made up of "a whole load of structures" that can generate measurements that are unique to an individual. "With facial recognition," he says "the systems are often confused by crows feet and other signs of aging. Your ears, however, age very gracefully. They grow proportionally larger and your lobe gets a bit more elongated, but otherwise your ears are fully formed from birth." And unlike iris scanning, which is a cumbersome process, the ear scanning is relatively quick and painless. Unless, of course, you're dealing with long-haired hippie radicals. If they rise up again, no amount of ear scanning will keep us safe.