• Nuclear threatsNuclear Threats Are Increasing – Here’s How the U.S. Should Prepare for a Nuclear Event

    By Cham Dallas

    On the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some may like to think the threat from nuclear weapons has receded. But there are clear signs of a growing nuclear arms race and that the U.S. is not very well-prepared for nuclear and radiological events. Despite the gloomy prospects of health outcomes of any large-scale nuclear event common in the minds of many, there are a number of concrete steps the U.S. and other countries can take to prepare. It’s our obligation to respond.

  • Nuclear accidentsTracking the Neural Network's Nuclear Clues

    Following the 2011 earthquake in Japan, a tsunami disabled the power supply and cooling in three Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant reactors. The reactors’ cores largely melted in the first 72 hours. The disaster helped inspire PNNL computational scientists looking for clues of future nuclear reactor mishaps by tracking radioactive iodine following a nuclear plant reactor breach.

  • TerrorismProtection against Terrorist Attacks with Homemade Explosives

    Terrorist attacks often feature the use of homemade explosives. For the police and security forces to be able to take appropriate precautions and assess the damage after an attack, they need access to the right kind of tools. Researchers have now developed a sophisticated risk-analysis system to help prevent such attacks. At the same time, the software-based system assists with the forensic investigation of such incidents.

  • PreparednessPreparing for an Explosive Attack

    Explosives are a popular choice among terrorists for causing disruption, casualties and destruction. Although chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons may cause much more damage, explosives can still be the first choice because they are relatively easy to make, transport and use. DHS S&T says it wants to make sure that state and local leaders have choices, too, by arming them with technology to plan for worst-case scenarios and mitigate the fallout of terrorist attacks.

  • Seismic noiseSeismic Background Noise Drastically Reduced Due to COVID-19 Lockdown Measures

    Global COVID-19 “lockdown” measures - the quarantines, physical isolation, travel restrictions and widespread closures of services and industry that countries around the world have implemented in 2020 - resulted in a months-long reduction in global seismic noise by up to 50 percent, representing the longest and most prominent global seismic noise reduction in recorded history.

  • Nuclear wasteReducing Radioactive Waste in Dismantle Nuclear Facilities

    On Monday, France announced it was shutting down the country’s oldest nuclear reactor – and that additional twelve aging reactors will be dismantled by 2035. Scientists have designed a methodology for dismantling nuclear facilities while limiting the amount of toxic nuclear waste generated in the process.

  • DetectionUniversal Virus Detection Platform to Expedite Viral Diagnosis

    The prompt, precise, and massive detection of a virus is the key to combat infectious diseases such as Covid-19. A new viral diagnostic strategy using reactive polymer-grafted, double-stranded RNAs will serve as a pre-screening tester for a wide range of viruses with enhanced sensitivity. KAIST says that currently, the most widely using viral detection methodology is polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnosis, which amplifies and detects a piece of the viral genome. Prior knowledge of the relevant primer nucleic acids of the virus is quintessential for this test.  The detection platform developed by KAIST researchers identifies viral activities without amplifying specific nucleic acid targets.

  • PPESecond Skin Protects against Chem, Bio Agents

    Recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the use of chemical weapons in the Syria conflict have provided a stark reminder of the plethora of chemical and biological threats that soldiers, medical personnel and first responders face during routine and emergency operations. Researchers have developed a smart, breathable fabric designed to protect the wearer against biological and chemical warfare agents. Material of this type could be used in clinical and medical settings as well.

  • Nuclear powerAn Atomic Catch 22: Climate Change and the Decline of America's Nuclear Fleet

    By Eric Scheuch

    Nuclear energy in the United States has become deeply unprofitable in the last decade, driven by a combination of aging infrastructure and other electricity sources like renewables and natural gas simply becoming cheaper to build and operate. While some in the environmental community may cheer nuclear’s decline, others are concerned. Love it or hate it, nuclear plays a unique role in the American electric sector, one for which we currently have no market-ready replacement, and its decline will likely make other environmental issues, particularly climate change, harder to solve.

  • Nuclear detectionCatching Nuclear Smugglers: Fast Algorithm Enable Cost-Effective Detectors at Borders

    Nations need to protect their citizens from the threat of nuclear terrorism. Nuclear security deters and detects the smuggling of special nuclear materials—highly enriched uranium, weapons-grade plutonium or materials that produce a lot of radiation—across national borders. A new algorithm could enable faster, less expensive detection of weapons-grade nuclear materials at borders, quickly differentiating between benign and illicit radiation signatures in the same cargo.

  • Nuclear disastersConsequences Remain Decades After Chernobyl Disaster: UN

    The United Nations says persistent and serious long-term consequences remain more than thirty years after the explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. The world body is marking International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day on 26 April, the 34th anniversary of the accident that spread a radioactive cloud over large parts of Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia. The anniversary is being marked after fires recently burned in the 30-kilometer exclusion zone around the plant, raising concerns about the potential release of radioactive particles into the air.

  • DetectionSelf-Powered X-Ray Detector Improves Imaging for Medicine, Security, Research

    A new X-ray detector prototype is on the brink of revolutionizing medical imaging, with dramatic reduction in radiation exposure and the associated health risks, while also boosting resolution in security scanners and research applications. 2-D perovskite thin films boost sensitivity 100-fold compared to conventional detectors, require no outside power source, and enable low-dose dental and medical images.

  • Iran’s nukesIran’s Nuclear “Breakout” Time Reduced to 3-4 Months

    In May 2018, when President Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Iran “breakout” time was estimated to be 12-16 months. Breakout is defined as the time Iran would need to produce 25 kilograms of weapon-grade uranium (WGU), enough for a nuclear weapon. A new report says that Iran’s breakout time now is 3.1 to 4.6 months.

  • Nuclear safetyMaintaining Nuclear Safety and Security During the COVID-19 Crisis

    By William Tobey, Simon Saradzhyan, and Nickolas Roth

    Every major industry on earth is struggling to adapt in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes nuclear facilities and nuclear-powered vessels, which count among the critical infrastructure of dozens of nations now struggling with the pandemic, representing more than half the world’s population. Meanwhile, ISIS has already announced its intent to exploit the pandemic while a number of other violent extremist organizations are also taking pains to exploit the crisis. Without implementing extraordinary measures to maintain safety and security, nuclear installations risk compounding the crisis with a large-scale radiation release.

  • Nuclear detectionHow Lasers Can Help with Nuclear Nonproliferation Monitoring

    Scientists developed a new method showing that measuring the light produced in plasmas made from a laser can be used to understand uranium oxidation in nuclear fireballs. This capability gives never-before-seen insight into uranium gas-phase oxidation during nuclear explosions. These insights further progress toward a reliable, non-contact method for remote detection of uranium elements and isotopes, with implications for nonproliferation safeguards, explosion monitoring and treaty verification.