• New reference material to help monitor oceans’ radioactive contamination

    NIST is making available a new reference material which will help laboratories accurately measure radioactive contamination in seawater. The new reference material, a mixture of freeze-dried, powdered shellfish, provides a benchmark for scientists analyzing the local ocean environment’s level of contamination — for example, after an accident such as the 2011 nuclear plant disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

  • New 3-D camera technology to uncover hidden landmines

    It is estimated there are 110 million landmines buried across the world, with the potential to kill and maim innocent men, women, and children for decades to come. Yet landmine detection techniques have barely changed since the Second World War. The UN estimates that, using current technology, it would take more than 1,100 years to clear the estimated 110 million landmines situated in seventy countries. Researchers are exploring new landmine detection technologies.

  • New guidance on estimating area affected by a chlorine release issued

    Arlington, Virginia-based Chlorine Institute (CI) has issued a new version of Pamphlet 74 - Guidance On Estimating the Area Affected By A Chlorine Release. The new version, Edition 6, dated June 2015, reflects CI’s collaboration with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Chemical Security Analysis Center and incorporates information obtained from the DHS “Jack Rabbit I” chlorine release field tests.  

  • NNSA repatriates radiological material from Mexico

    Several U.S. government agencies and the United Mexican States have successfully completed the repatriation of three irradiators containing U.S.-origin radioactive sources from Mexico. For thirty years, these irradiators played an important role in the eradication of a devastating livestock parasite, the screwworm. The three irradiators contain more than 50,000 curies of cesium-137, a high-activity radioisotope that could be used in radiological dispersal devices (RDD).

  • The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action “kicks the can down the road”: How to prepare for the day when the can finally lands

    The Institute for Science and International Security has published a series of briefs analyzing different aspects of the agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program. One brief deals with what the United States and the other world powers need to do now to prepare for what may happen in Iran in ten to fifteen years when many of the limits the agreement imposes on Iran’s nuclear activities will expire. The agreement does not prohibit Iran from building a large uranium enrichment capability and even a reprocessing, or a plutonium separation, capability. The agreement essentially delays the day when Iran reestablishes a nuclear weapons capability and possibly builds nuclear weapons, that is, the agreement essentially “kicks the can down the road.” Prudent planning requires careful efforts now to prepare for the day when the can lands.

  • Inspection regime in Iran informed by lessons from Iraq experience

    Many critics of the agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program are especially concerned with the inspection regime negotiated in Geneva. The initial goal of the world powers was, in President Barack Obama’s words, an “Anywhere, anytime” inspections, but the deal finally reached saw the two sides agree to inspection procedures which fall short of that goal.

  • view counter
  • More evidence emerges of ISIS’s use of chemical weapons

    A joint investigation by two independent organizations has found that ISIS has begun to use weapons filled with chemicals against Kurdish forces and civilians in both Iraq and Syria. ISIS is notorious for its skill in creating and adapting weapons and experts are concerned with the group’s access to chemical agents and its experiments with and the use of these agents as weapons.

  • SRI International working to develop screening device for radiation exposure

    radiation that may lead to severe health consequences post-exposure. To rapidly triage large numbers of people to determine who needs immediate treatment, a new, simple screening test is needed. Currently, if a person has absorbed a significant dose of ionizing radiation, there is nothing that can be done beyond waiting to see what symptoms develop, which roughly correlate with exposure level. SRI International has been awarded a $12.2 million contract to continue development of a diagnostic test for absorbed doses of radiation following a radiological incident.

  • Is your fear of radiation irrational?

    Radioactivity stirs primal fears in many people, but that an undue sense of its risks can cause real harm. Invisible threats are always the most unnerving, and radiation is not something you can see. Nor can you control it. The traditional secrecy of the biggest commercial user of radiation, the nuclear power industry, hasn’t helped. A justified fear of high and uncontrolled levels of radiation has thus undermined our willingness to see that the risks it poses at low levels are either acceptable or manageable.

  • Detecting illegal, designer drugs from a single fingerprint

    An innovative technology can detect the presence of a range of illegal and designer drugs from a single fingerprint, which could be a valuable new tool in bringing drug dealers and other criminals to justice. The technology, known as Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization Mass Spectrometry Imaging (MALDI-MSI), can detect the presence of cocaine, THC (the chemical present in marijuana), heroin, amphetamine and other designer drugs from a fingerprint.

  • The science behind the deal

    The main U.S. objective of the deal with Iran is to decrease the riskiness of Iran’s civilian nuclear program to a point which (1) future nuclear weapon production would be unlikely, and (2) if Iran does cheat, it would be detected with reasonable certainty. Have the objectives been achieved in the deal signed 14 July? It is important to keep in mind that it is not reasonable for opponents of the deal to demand 100 percent certainty in verifying the agreement and it is also not necessary. A cost-benefit analysis is always done to determine what is feasible. Often this is not understood, and unreasonable demands may be placed on the verification regime.

  • Sensors can help railways detect, cope with electromagnetic attacks

    Eleven years ago the Madrid train bombings proved how much European railway security still needed to be improved. Now that rail equipment — like in most other industries — is increasingly standardized and connected, however, another, more insidious type of offensive has become likely: electromagnetic (EM) attacks. An EU-funded project has developed detection technologies that can help the sector face this new threat. Virginie Deniau, coordinator of the SECRET project, discusses the devices developed by her team to identify electromagnetic (EM) attacks as they occur so that operators can switch to a safe railway mode.

  • Assad is still using chemical weapons. What will it take to stop him?

    While the Syrian conflict has been perpetually overshadowed in the headlines by recent events such as the possibility of a Grexit and the Chinese stock market crash, two recent developments regarding Syria’s use of chemical weapons have nearly managed to refocus international attention on Syria. First, on June 17th the House Committee on Foreign Affairs convened a hearing on the Assad regime’s use of chlorine barrel bombs. Second, U.S. intelligence agencies publicly reported this week that they expect another attack by the regime using chemical weapons beyond chlorine bombs. In particular, the Syrian government is suspected of maintaining stocks of sarin and VX gas.

  • Using microwave technology to detect concealed weapons

    A team of researchers in Canada and the Ukraine funded by NATO which will be exploring ways to equip soldiers and law enforcement with gear that could detect concealed threats, such as guns and explosive devices, used by terrorists and security threats. The three-year project, which launched 1 July, will study how microwave radar signals sent from either rigged vests or tripods could detect trouble as far as fifteen meters away and send early warning signals of pending danger. These devices could be used anywhere from borders to airports to crowded public events to bars and hotels.

  • Terahertz sensor detects hidden objects faster

    A new type of sensor, which is much faster than competing technologies used to detect and identify hidden objects. Called “Q-Eye,” the invention senses radiation across the spectrum between microwaves and infra-red, known as the Terahertz (THz) region of the spectrum — a goal that has challenged scientists for over thirty years. It works by detecting the rise in temperature produced when electromagnetic radiation emitted by an object is absorbed by the Q-Eye sensor, even down to the level of very small packets of quantum energy (a single photon).