I noticed this a while back, some, but not all Missouri license plates have a, for lack of a better description, "DNA strand" embedded in them. So what's it for, and is it a problem if your plates don't have the strand?

I found the answer quite by accident. It turns out Missouri license plates are not the only ones that contain the DNA strand. A curious motorist in Massachusetts reached out to WGBH asking about what that "DNA strand" is embedded in the license plate.

It's a measure to prevent counterfeiting designed by 3M, the people behind Scotch Tape and Post-It Notes. Its official name is the "Ensure Virtual Security Thread" according to the WGBH article.

In the early 20th century, 3M invented something called Retroreflective sheeting. It's what makes road signs appear to light up when your headlights shine on them. It's also put on many license plates to increase their visibility. Also, for you Star Wars geeks, the effects team used the product to create the iconic lightsabers in the movie.

Anyway, a 3M spokesperson told WGBH that's one of the things police officers look for in a traffic stop. It's a security feature 3M embeds in the sheeting to curb counterfeiters. The double helix "DNA" shape was chosen because it's easy for authorities to see, but very hard for counterfeiters to duplicate.

Do all Missouri license plates have this? I don't think so. I didn't check with our Department of Motor Vehicles, but I have spent more time than I'd like looking at my co-workers' license plates in our parking lot. Many do, but some don't. So if you don't see it, I don't think it's a big problem, as long as your plates came from the state, or one of our license offices.

Or maybe I just wasn't looking in the right place. I did find something embedded in my plate that was difficult to see with the naked eye, that seems like a security feature, but it was almost more of a medallion shape, not a strand.

So if you've ever been curious about that "DNA strand" on your Missouri license plate, now you know. And if you never noticed it before, I bet the next time you go out to the car, you'll take a look.

Ghosts of the Once Great Lewis & Clark Tower

WARNING: Under no circumstances should you enter this property. By doing so you risk bodily harm and/or prosecution for trespassing on private property.

Built in 1963, opened in 1964, and a landmark by the late 1960s, The Louis & Clark Tower north of St. Louis was a destination for those looking for a swanky meal in the building's 10th-floor Top of the Tower Restaurant. Couples on date night could also check out a movie, or go bowling, in the attached retail section of the building. By the end, condominium values in the building had plummeted, much of the retail space was being used by social services, and some units in the building didn't have water. The elevators didn't work either. By 2014 authorities stepped in and condemned the building, forcing the few who still called the tower home out of the building.

In 2020 Tom V shot some video of the now abandoned building including the Top of the Tower Restaurant and some of the apartments. You can watch the video here.

Gallery Credit: Rob Creighton

The Sad History Of This Long Abandoned Suburban St. Louis Mall

WARNING: Under no circumstances should you enter this property. By doing so you risk bodily harm and/or prosecution for trespassing on private property.

Jamestown Mall in Suburban St. Louis opened in 1973. By the time 2003 hit it was 30 percent vacant. As time marched on the anchors all left, and the mall finally closed its doors on July 1, 2014. After a fire gutted part of the abandoned mall in April of 2023, it will finally be demolished. A study by St. Louis County suggests it be redeveloped as an Ag-Food technology campus.

Check out these photos from a YouTube video shot by KFJ Explorers. The video was posted in November of 2022.

Gallery Credit: Rob Creighton

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