• Radiation preparednessBetter decisions during a radiological emergency

    Whether a catastrophe is natural or man-made, emergency managers need to respond quickly with the optimal solution. Making decisions on the fly can be difficult, which is why significant planning must go into a disaster response strategy. Many conversations need to happen, and they need to cover a range of possible scenarios. The Radiation Decontamination tool Rad Decon was developed to facilitate those very discussions during a radiological emergency.

  • DetectionNew nerve gas detector made of a smartphone and Lego bricks

    Researchers have designed a way to sense dangerous chemicals using, in part, a simple rig consisting of a smartphone and a box made from Lego bricks, which could help first responders and scientists in the field identify deadly and difficult-to-detect nerve agents such as VX and sarin.

  • Nuclear detectionScavenger hunt for simulated nuclear materials

    Competing in a fictitious high-stakes scenario, a group of scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) bested two dozen other teams in a months-long, data-driven scavenger hunt for simulated radioactive materials in a virtual urban environment. The competition platform was also built and managed by Lab researchers.

  • InfrastructureSmarter, safer bridges with Sandia sensors

    In 2016, more than 54,000 bridges in the U.S. were classified as “structurally deficient” by the Federal Highway Administration’s National Bridge Inventory. This means about 9 percent of U.S. bridges need regular monitoring. Researchers outfitted a U.S. bridge with a network of eight real-time sensors able to alert maintenance engineers when they detect a crack or when a crack reaches a length that requires repair.

  • Nuclear wasteNuclear waste: The cost to Americans is in the billions

    Since the Manhattan Project officially began in 1942, the United States has faced ever-increasing stores of nuclear waste. Stanford’s Rodney Ewing says that the U.S. failure to implement a permanent solution for nuclear waste storage and disposal is costing Americans billions of dollars a year.

  • Radiation diagnostic testPreparing for quick radiation diagnostic test in case of a nuclear disaster

    Researchers are attempting to create a better diagnostic test for radiation exposure that potentially could save thousands of lives. A new study compiled a list of genes reported to be affected by external ionizing radiation (IR), and assessed their performance as possible biomarkers that could be used to calculate the amount of radiation absorbed by the human body.

  • Passenger screeningWinners announced in $1.5 million Passenger Screening Algorithm Challenge

    DHS S&T and TSA the other day announced the eight winners of the Passenger Screening Algorithm Challenge. The prize competition solicited new automated detection algorithms from individuals and entities that can improve the speed and accuracy of detecting small threat objects and other prohibited items during the airport passenger screening process.

  • The Russia connectionBritish defense chief says Russian “attack” led to woman's death

    The residue of the poisonous chemical Novichock, which Russian intelligence agents used in early March in Salisbury, U.K., in an assassination attempt of a former Russian spy and his daughter, poisoned two residents from neighboring Amesbury, killing one of them. “The simple reality is that Russia has committed an attack on British soil which has seen the death of a British citizen,” Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said.

  • The Russia connectionBritish defense chief says Russian “attack” led to woman's death

    The residue of the poisonous chemical Novichock, which Russian intelligence agents used in early March in Salisbury, U.K., in an assassination attempt of a former Russian spy and his daughter, poisoned two residents of the town, killing one of them. “The simple reality is that Russia has committed an attack on British soil which has seen the death of a British citizen,” Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said.

  • Chemical weaponsNovichok: the deadly story behind the nerve agent

    By Alastair Hay

    Earlier this week, in the town of Salisbury, England, two people were poisoned accidentally by traces of the nerve agent Novichok, which Russian intelligence operatives used on 4 March 2018 in an attempt to assassinate former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, along with his daughter Yulia. Alastair Hay’s article was written on 20 March 2018. Why do these lethal chemical agents exist at all?

  • Chemical weaponsOmitted details from UN report implicate Syria, Iran in use of chemical weapons

    Details implicating Syria and Iran for a series of chemical weapons attacks in January and February were removed from a UN report that had been released last week. A UN commission investigating war crimes during the seven-year-old Syrian civil war uncovered evidence of six chemical weapons attacks perpetrated by the Assad regime between January and 7 April this year.

  • ExplosivesReplacing TNT with less toxic explosive

    Scientists have developed a novel “melt-cast” explosive material that could be a suitable replacement for Trinitrotoluene, more commonly known as TNT. TNT was first prepared in 1863 by German chemist Julius Wilbrand but its full potential as an explosive wasn’t discovered until 1891. TNT has been in use as a munitions explosive since 1902.

  • Nuclear detectionEnhanced detection of nuclear events thanks to deep learning

    A deep neural network running on an ordinary desktop computer is interpreting highly technical data related to national security as well as — and sometimes better than — today’s best automated methods or even human experts.

  • DronesDrones could be used to detect dangerous “butterfly” landmines

    It is estimated that there are at least 100 million military munitions and explosives of concern devices in the world, of various size, shape and composition. Millions of these are surface plastic landmines with low-pressure triggers, such as the mass-produced Soviet PFM-1 “butterfly” landmine. Drones could be used to detect dangerous “butterfly” landmines in remote regions of post-conflict countries.

  • Nuclear weapons detectionDetecting the threat of nuclear weapons

    By Meg Murphy

    Will the recent U.S. withdrawal from a 2015 accord that put restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program make it easier for Iran to pursue the bomb in secret? Not likely, according to Scott Kemp, an associate professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT. “The most powerful insights into Iran’s nuclear program come from traditional intelligence, not from inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency,” says Kemp. But covert nuclear-weapon programs, whether in Iran, North Korea, or elsewhere in the world, are a major unsolved problem, according to Kemp.