• CybersecurityBolstering cybersecurity in harsh environments

    According to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the financial loss from cybercrime in the U.S. was over $1.3 billion in 2016. As this number is only expected to rise in the upcoming years, the military, businesses and individuals are seeking new ways to guard their information. Physical unclonable function (PUF) devices hold promise.

  • Cybersecurity“Hacking for Defense” class an example of Stanford’s relationship with the U.S. military

    Alongside all the tech companies and consulting firms present at career fairs, Stanford students looking for employment are likely to encounter another major industry when talking to recruiters: the defense sector. Although anti-war activism in the Vietnam era severed many of the university’s ties with the U.S. military, the relationship between the two has seen a revival over the years, and national security and defense institutions are more visible on campus now than they were just a decade ago. A relatively new class, MS&E 297, adds yet another wrinkle to that ongoing narrative – and one that not everyone is happy about.

  • DisastersClimate change made Hurricane Harvey's rainfall three times more likely

    Climate change did not cause Hurricane Harvey, but two independent studies have concluded that global warming dramatically increased the probability of a storm of its magnitude occurring ahead of its appearance, and intensified the severity of its impact when it arrived.

  • RadicalizationEffective counter-messaging strategies to check terrorist recruitment

    The Department of Defense has awarded four social science professors $794,000 to research the effects of extremist propaganda on different personality types, as well as the effects of different counter-messaging strategies. The research will answer basic questions about the effects of exposure to online extremist messages and counter-messages, such as: What kind of messaging is most effective? What are the short- and medium-term results of exposure to extremist messages and counter-messages? What personality characteristics in viewers make them more or less receptive to different kinds of messages?

  • CybersecuritySimple tool tells whether websites suffered a data breach

    Computer scientists have built and successfully tested a tool designed to detect when websites are hacked by monitoring the activity of email accounts associated with them. The researchers were surprised to find that almost 1 percent of the websites they tested had suffered a data breach during their 18-month study period, regardless of how big the companies’ reach and audience are. “No one is above this—companies or nation states— it’s going to happen; it’s just a question of when,” said the senior researcher.

  • Food safetyBioelectronic “nose” detects food spoilage by sensing the smell of death

    Strong odors are an indicator that food has gone bad, but there could soon be a new way to sniff foul smells earlier on. Researchers have developed a bioelectronic “nose” that can specifically detect a key decay compound at low levels, enabling people to potentially take action before the stink spreads. It can detect rotting food, as well as be used to help find victims of natural disasters or crimes.

  • Climate threatsPresenting facts as “consensus” bridges political divide over climate change

    New evidence shows that “social fact” highlighting expert consensus shifts perceptions across the U.S. political spectrum – particularly among highly educated conservatives. Facts that encourage agreement are a promising way of cutting through today’s “post-truth” bluster, say psychologists. The researchers found that by presenting a fact in the form of a consensus — “97 percent of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused global warming is happening” – climate change skeptics shift their perceptions significantly towards the scientific “norm.”

  • Gas masksBetter gas mask filters

    In research that could lead to better gas mask filters, scientists have been putting the X-ray spotlight on composite materials in respirators used by the military, police, and first responders, and the results have been encouraging. What they are learning not only provides reassuring news about the effectiveness of current filters in protecting people from lethal compounds such as VX and sarin, but they also provide fundamental information that could lead to more advanced gas masks as well as protective gear for civilian applications.

  • Climate threatsExplaining differences in climate change views among college graduates

    The average American college student has just a 17 percent chance of learning about climate change before graduation through required core courses. The finding may help explain why having a bachelor’s degree doesn’t always lead to increased acceptance of human-caused global warming, according to new research.

  • Search & rescueIsraeli walk-and-fly Rooster robot aids disaster relief

    By Brian Blum

    RoboTiCan’s Rooster robot can help reach injured victims of natural disasters where it is not safe to send a human rescue worker. Rooster got its name from the fowl’s preference for walking but being able to fly when necessary, Ofir Bustan, RoboTiCan’s COO, said. “Most of the time it walks, but when it runs into an obstacle, it can hover and fly.” That makes Rooster different from most other search-and-rescue robots, which can either walk or fly but not both – meaning they can get stuck or are too high above the ground to search effectively for survivors.

  • Climate threatsMore-severe climate model predictions likely the most accurate

    The climate models that project greater amounts of warming this century are the ones that best align with observations of the current climate, according to a new paper. The findings suggest that the models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, on average, may be underestimating future warming.

  • Identity authenticationSoftware verifies someone’s identity by their DNA in minutes

    In the science-fiction movie “Gattaca,” visitors only clear security if a blood test and readout of their genetic profile matches the sample on file. Now, cheap DNA sequencers and custom software could make real-time DNA-authentication a reality. Researchers have developed a method to quickly and accurately identify people and cell lines from their DNA. The technology could have multiple applications, from identifying victims in a mass disaster to analyzing crime scenes.

  • DronesMimicking peregrine falcon attack strategies could help down rogue drones

    Researchers have discovered that peregrine falcons steer their attacks using the same control strategies as guided missiles. The findings, which overturn previous assumptions that peregrines’ aerial hunting follows simple geometric rules, could be applied to the design of small, visually guided drones that can take down other ‘rogue’ drones in settings such as airports or prisons.

  • Synthetic biologyThe Gene Drive Files: Who is in charge of bioengineering research?

    Synthetic biology, also called “gene drives” or “bioengineering” – a field that uses technologies to modify or create organisms or biological components – can be used to benefit mankind, but may also be used by terrorists and nation-states to develop design pathogens which could be unleased to kill tens of millions of people. Critics of gene drives are alarmed by the fact that the U.S. military has been the main funder of synthetic biology research in the United States. Given the possible security vulnerabilities related to gene drives developments, a new report by the National Academies of Sciences proposes a framework to identify and prioritize potential areas of concern associated with the field. “While biotechnology is being pursued primarily for beneficial and legitimate purposes, there are potential uses that are detrimental to humans, other species, and ecosystems,” says one of the report’s authors. A nonprofit monitoring synthetic biology research releases new documents ahead of a key UN scientific conference on bioengineering.

  • Alarm systemsSmart alarm system detects attempted break-ins

    There is a large selection of glass break detectors on the market. Although these detectors reliably trigger an alarm when window panes break, they do not register all other ways in which burglars can interfere with a pane. To counter this, Fraunhofer researchers have created a new type of alarm system that recognizes any attempt to manipulate the window. It registers temperature changes in real time as well as vibrations caused by external interference with the glass, leaving burglars with no chance.