• Energy securityOnshore wind power as affordable now as any other source; cost of solar to halve by 2020

    The cost of generating power from onshore wind has fallen by around a quarter since 2010, with solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity costs falling by 73 percent in that time, according to new cost analysis from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The report also highlights that solar PV costs are expected to halve by 2020. The best onshore wind and solar PV projects could be delivering electricity for an equivalent of 3 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), or less within the next two years.

  • The Russia connectionHow to respond to Russia's attacks on democracy

    By David Salvo and Stephanie De Leon

    Much of the public discourse concerning Russian interference has highlighted Russia’s use of disinformation to meddle in the U.S. elections, but the Kremlin’s activities extend beyond just interfering in elections. These activities encompass a comprehensive, asymmetric toolkit that exacerbates existing social divisions in Western societies, aiming to undermine democratic governments and institutions. Moscow, as a declining power, has opted for low-cost methods such as information warfare, hacking, political support for extremist groups, economic coercion, and illicit finance in an effort to undermine its perceived enemies in the West and create the perception that democracy is an inherently corrupt system.

  • style=”display:inline-block;width:468px;height:60px”
    data-ad-client=”ca-pub-9143520698308305”
    data-ad-slot=”4086223553”>

    view counter
  • Cyber securityIntel AMT security issue: Attackers may bypass login credentials in corporate laptops

    Helsinki, Finland-based F-Secure reported a security issue affecting most corporate laptops that allows an attacker with physical access to backdoor a device in less than thirty seconds. The issue allows the attacker to bypass the need to enter credentials, including BIOS and Bitlocker passwords and TPM pins, and to gain remote access for later exploitation. It exists within Intel’s Active Management Technology (AMT) and potentially affects millions of laptops globally.

  • Transportation securityAI used to limit collision-prone roadways

    Could a traffic agency identify a potentially dangerous road intersection without first witnessing a collision? Researchers are attempting to answer that question as they near completion on a two-year proof-of-concept study to develop an image-based system for monitoring and assessing the safety of intersections.

  • BiosafetyExperts criticize lack of flu pandemic readiness, commitment

    Armed with 1940s-vintage flu vaccine technology and supported by only anemic funding for developing truly revolutionary vaccines, the world is woefully unprepared for the next influenza pandemic, and the Trump administration is ignoring the problem, two experts wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece. “There is no apparent effort to make [next-generation flu] vaccines a priority in the current administration. Its national security strategy published last month cites Ebola and SARS as potential bioterrorism and pandemic threats, yet makes no mention of the risk of pandemic influenza nor any aspect of critical vaccine research and development,” the two experts write.

  • Travel banTrump’s “Muslim ban” produced rare shift in public opinion: Study

    President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13769 on 27 January 2017, effectively barring individuals from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the United States for ninety days. Within a day of his decree, thousands of protesters flooded airports around the country in opposition to what was quickly deemed a “Muslim ban,” and by 6 March, the order had been formally revoked. Researchers say that the profound response to the ban represents “one instance in which the priming of American identity shifted citizens’ opinions toward more inclusive, rather than restrictive, immigration-related policy stances.” Overall, the findings suggest that American identity can be “primed” to produce shifts in public opinion. It also demonstrates that public opinion may be more malleable than previously thought.

  • BiosafetyBan on deadly pathogen research lifts, but controversy remains

    “Those who support such research think that it is necessary to develop strategies to fight rapidly evolving pathogens that pose a threat to public health, such as the flu virus, the viruses causing Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), or Ebola,” says Marc Lipsitch of Harvard Chan School. “But others, like myself, worry that human error could lead to the accidental release of a virus that has been enhanced in the lab so that it is more deadly or more contagious than it already is. There have already been accidents involving pathogens. For example, in 2014, dozens of workers at a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab were accidentally exposed to anthrax that was improperly handled. Another accident like that—if it involved a virus that was both newly created and highly contagious—has the potential to jeopardize millions of people.”

  • EncryptionDeveloping a secure, un-hackable net for quantum devices

    To date, communicating via quantum networks has only been possible between two devices of known provenance that have been built securely. With the EU and the United Kingdom committing €1 billion and £270 million, respectively, into funding quantum technology research, a race is on to develop the first truly secure, large-scale network between cities that works for any quantum device.

  • EncryptionWhy do we need to know about prime numbers with millions of digits?

    By Ittay Weiss

    Prime numbers are more than just numbers that can only be divided by themselves and one. They are a mathematical mystery, the secrets of which mathematicians have been trying to uncover ever since Euclid proved that they have no end. An ongoing project – the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search – which aims to discover more and more primes of a particularly rare kind, has recently resulted in the discovery of the largest prime number known to date. Stretching to 23,249,425 digits, it is so large that it would easily fill 9,000 book pages. You may be wondering, if the number stretches to more than 23m digits, why we need to know about it? We need to know about the properties of different numbers so that we can not only keep developing the technology we rely on, but also keep it secure. But whether or not huge prime numbers, such as the 50th known Mersenne prime with its millions of digits, will ever be found useful is an irrelevant question. The merit of knowing these numbers lies in quenching the human race’s intellectual thirst that started with Euclid’s proof of the infinitude of primes and still goes on today.

  • Post-disaster reconstructionPost-disaster reconstruction divides society

    In 2004, a tsunami devastated much of the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh. An estimated 160,000 people were killed. In the years that followed, aid providers rebuilt homes on the same plots that had been completely destroyed by the tsunami, in order to avoid displacing the residents. In doing so, they were acting in accordance with a humanitarian principle that comes into play after natural disasters, namely to help survivors to return to their previous places of residence whenever possible. Yet in Banda Aceh, many tsunami survivors preferred to move inland instead, leading to a price premium for properties farther from the coast and socio-economic segregation. The unfortunate result is that lower-income residents are now disproportionately exposed to coastal hazards.

  • Water securityThe bonus effects of California's water saving

    Measures to cut water use by 25 percent across California were implemented in 2015, following a four-year drought in the state that caused the fallowing of 542,000 acres of land, total economic costs of $2.74 billion, and the loss of approximately 21,000 jobs. The UC Davis researchers found that, while the 25 percent target had not quite been reached over the one-year period — with 524,000 million gallons of water saved — the measures’ impact had positive knock-on effects for other environmental objectives, leading to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and electricity consumption in the state.

  • Rising seas2017 saw the highest ever sea level on the Dutch coast

    The average sea level measured on the Dutch coast was higher than ever before in 2017. The Dutch sea level, the averaged measurements from six tide stations, rose to 11 cm above Normal Amsterdam Water Level (NAP in Dutch). The last highest measurement was in 2007, when the average sea level was 9 cm above NAP. The fact that the sea level was higher last year does not mean that the sea level is now rising faster. At present, the sea level on the Dutch coast is rising by 20 cm every century.

  • The Russia watchRedefining cybersecurity; U.S. fails to confront Russia’s cyber assault; Russian behind “NotPetya” attack, and more

    · Cybersecurity: Time for a new definition

    · The Steele Dossier: Let transparency trump politics

    · Why the president’s FISA fix is bad news for privacy, good news for Russian agents

    · Congress tries to cool partisan fever on Russia

    · A checklist for protecting our elections from foreign meddling

    · Putin’s trolls are targeting Trump’s GOP critics—especially John McCain

    · Russian military was behind “NotPetya” cyberattack in Ukraine, CIA concludes

    · Countering the growing threat of Russian disinformation in Canada

    · U.S. fails to stand up for democracy in face of Russian online assault

    · The America Europe needs right now is missing

  • Our picksWhat the hell happened in Hawaii?; American leader for ISIS; unknown unknowns, and more

    · What the hell happened in Hawaii?

    · Want to strike North Korea? It’s not going to go the way you think.

    · Waiting for the bomb to drop

    · 5 ways nuclear Armageddon was almost unleashed

    · A new American leader rises in ISIS

    · Managing the risk of the ISIS’ diaspora in the Caribbean

    · The revolution of obfuscation for cybersecurity and threat intelligence

    · The state of Israel’s cybersecurity market

    · How dirt could save humanity from an infectious apocalypse

    · The real news we ignore at our peril

  • The Russia connectionRussian hackers who hacked DNC are now targeting U.S. Senate: Experts

    Russian hackers from the group known as “Fancy Bear” are targeting the U.S. Senate with a new espionage campaign, according to cybersecurity firm TrendMicro. Fancy Bear was one of the Russian government’s hacking groups employed by the Kremlin in 2016 to help Donald Trump win the presidency, and TrendMicro analysts say the group has spent the past few months laying the groundwork for an espionage campaign against the U.S. Senate. Analysts say that the group’s efforts to gather the emails of America’s political elite suggest that the Kremlin plans to continue to interfere in the American political process.

  • EncryptionQuantum speed limit may put brakes on quantum computers

    By Sebastian Deffner

    Over the past five decades, standard computer processors have gotten increasingly faster. In recent years, however, the limits to that technology have become clear: Chip components can only get so small, and be packed only so closely together, before they overlap or short-circuit. If companies are to continue building ever-faster computers, something will need to change. One key hope for the future of increasingly fast computing is my own field, quantum physics. Quantum computers are expected to be much faster than anything the information age has developed so far. But my recent research has revealed that quantum computers will have limits of their own – and has suggested ways to figure out what those limits are.

  • Explosion detectionBalloon-borne infrasound sensor array detects explosions

    Infrasound is sound of very low frequencies, below 20 hertz, which is lower than humans can hear. African elephants produce infrasound for long-distance communication at around 15 hertz. For comparison, a bumblebee’s buzz is typically 150 hertz and humans hear in the range of 20 to 20,000 hertz. Infrasound is important because it’s one of the verification technologies the U.S. and the international community use to monitor explosions, including those caused by nuclear tests. Traditionally, infrasound is detected by ground-based sensor arrays, which don’t cover the open ocean and can be muddled by other noises, such as the wind. Sandia Lab scientists is using sheets of plastic, packing tape, some string, a little charcoal dust, and a white shoebox-size box to build a solar-powered hot air balloon for detecting infrasound.

  • Drones & privacyDetect illicit drone video filming

    Researchers have demonstrated the first technique to detect a drone camera illicitly capturing video. Their study addresses increasing concerns about the proliferation of drone use for personal and business applications and how it is impinging on privacy and safety.

  • Emergency responseTracing how disaster impacts escalate to help improve emergency responses

    Naturally occurring extreme space weather events or man-made cyber security attacks affect critical infrastructure through shared points of vulnerability, causing disasters to cascade into scenarios that threaten life and the global economy. Mapping common pathways along which the effects of natural and man-made disasters travel allows more flexible and resilient responses in the future, according to UCL researchers.

  • FloodsRiver flood risks increase around the globe under future warming

    Rainfall changes caused by global warming will increase river flood risks across the globe. Already today, fluvial floods are among the most common and devastating natural disasters. Scientists have now calculated the required increase in flood protection until the 2040s worldwide, breaking it down to single regions and cities. They find that the need for adaptation is greatest in the United States, parts of India and Africa, Indonesia, and in Central Europe including Germany. Inaction would expose many millions of people to severe flooding.

  • Climate threatsClimate change changing Earth’s landscape

    Climate change will replace land use change as the major driver of changes in Earth’s biosphere in the twenty-first century if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t curbed, new research suggests. Historically, human land use change, like urban development and agricultural expansion, has been the primary cause of anthropogenic ecosystem change. But now, due to rising greenhouse gas levels, climate change has become a growing threat to ecosystems. The rapid pace of climate change is making it difficult for species to adapt to changes in temperature, water cycles, and other environmental conditions that affect life on Earth.

  • The Russia watchRussia hacking of U.S. nukes; are free and fair elections impossible?; clever cyber spies, and more

    · Trump official on Russian hacking: “A national security issue”

    · The other scary foreign hacking threat Trump is ignoring

    · Trump-Russia investigation far from over as Mueller adds veteran cyber prosecutor to his team

    · Russia has been meddling in foreign elections for decades. Has it made a difference?

    · Russian meddling: are free and fair elections impossible?

    · Republicans are AWOL on Russian election meddling

    · Russian cyber-spies are carrying out some pretty clever hacks these days

    · Kremlin’s new subs set sights on internet’s undersea backbone

    · Homeland Security speeds up election security aid to states

    · ‘42 states haven’t upgraded their election equipment in over a decade and Russia knows it’

    · I blew the whistle on Russian meddling. Now I’m running for Congress.

    · Steve Bannon lawyers up… as Russia investigators get ready to pounce

    · Rohrabacher challenger slams Russia ties in new ad