Cylon detector

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Gaius Baltar with innumerable trays of blood samples from various persons in the Fleet, all for testing via the Cylon detector (TRS: "Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down").

A Cylon detector is a scientific method of determining whether a subject is human or a humanoid Cylon.

Created by Dr. Gaius Baltar, the test is administered by subjecting a person's blood to plutonium embedded in a carbon nanotube matrix. A filter preferentially ionizes synthetic molecules, as Cylons are susceptible to certain kinds of radiation, such as that of the storm around Ragnar Anchorage. The plutonium was taken from one of Galactica's nuclear warheads, at the suggestion of Messenger Six (TRS: "Bastille Day"). The test results are simple: either "red" for Cylon, or "green" for human. As a test cycle runs approximately 11 hours, Baltar estimates it will take over 60 years (sans breaks for sleep, food, bathroom, etc.) to test the whole Fleet of 47,905 souls (TRS: "Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down").


Gaius Baltar has his first successful identification of Sharon "Boomer" Valerii as a Cylon using his Cylon detector (TRS: "Flesh and Bone").

Development work on the Cylon detector had previously been halted when Dr. Baltar was accused by Shelly Godfrey of being a traitor and temporarily thrown in the brig. Baltar's "innocence" was proven, however, by Lieutenant Felix Gaeta (TRS: "Six Degrees of Separation"), who had previously been ordered by Commander Adama to assist Baltar in the development of the device (TRS: "Water"). Although considered a military secret, the Cylon detector is nevertheless the subject of constant rumor and innuendo (TRS: "Act of Contrition").

Messenger Six is the one who initially suggests the construction of the Cylon detector by using the nuclear materials (TRS: "Bastille Day"). Baltar was put in charge of the project because of his known genius and his earlier detection of the fleet's first Cylon infiltrator, Aaron Doral, which was also greatly influenced by the image of Number Six (TRS: "Miniseries, Night 2"). Ironically, the Cylon detection method that Baltar claimed to have used on Doral was pure nonsensical technobabble, unlike his later device.


Gaius Baltar places Sharon "Boomer" Valerii's blood sample tray into the Cylon detector radiological device (TRS: "Flesh and Bone").

The functioning Cylon detector created by Baltar confirms that Sharon Valerii is indeed a Cylon, a fact that Baltar hides from Valerii, fearing what her Cylon persona would do were he to tell her (TRS: "Flesh and Bone"). After discovering that it would be easier for him to make all the results "green," Baltar alters the device to mimic this method of thinking (TRS: "Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down"). However, after Sharon Valerii shoots Commander Adama, everyone believes the Cylon detector to be a failure, thinking that it did not pick up her Cylon nature (TRS: "Resistance", "Resistance", "He That Believeth in Me").

Alternative Methods

Due to the abandonment of the detector, Dr. Sherman Cottle is limited to comparing the DNA of Daniel Novacek and Kara Thrace with their records to check that they are not Cylon duplicates, as such fakes would presumably have some genetic difference from the human originals. Tory Foster points out that this method is ineffective if the subject has always been a Cylon, as all twelve Cylon models are (TRS: "Hero", "He That Believeth in Me").

The Cylons themselves have accurate and reliable protocols for determining the difference between humans and Cylons. Their testing methods determine that the Thirteenth Tribe were Cylons (TRS: "Sometimes a Great Notion").


  • The effectiveness of Baltar's detector in detecting the Final Five is unknown, since the only member of the Five to be tested onscreen is Ellen Tigh, and Baltar said to Messenger Six that he would "never tell" when she asked what Ellen's true results were.
  • The Lymphocytic encephalitis virus is accidentally discovered as fatal to humanoid Cylon physiology but harmless to humans (TRS: "A Measure of Salvation"). While this revelation could be used as a future detector, there have been no indications of research in this direction.
  • It's never made clear just what Baltar used as his control sample (the sample which the blood taken from the citizens was tested against to prove whether an individual was a human) though the most likely answer is he used tissue from the Leoben Conoy Commander Adama encountered on Ragnar Anchorage, available to him in the morgue adjoining his lab.