• STEM educationMiddle school engineers show their skills in electric car competition

    Chicago-area middle school students showcased their engineering talents of at the annual Electric Car Competition this spring. The quest: construct a fully functioning model electric car that could travel a 20-meter track while carrying a two-pound load. The task challenged students to apply the same science and engineering principles used by professional engineers every day.

  • Emerging threatsClimate change likely to increase risk of costly storms in U.K.

    The impact of climate change on the United Kingdom is likely to mean a higher number of more expensive wind storms, the insurance industry warned. New analysis done for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) shows temperature increases of just a small number of degrees are likely to lead to insurance losses for high winds which could be 11 percent, 23 percent, or even 25 percent higher nationwide.

  • Radiation detectionMobile phones can reveal exposure to radiation

    In accidents or terror attacks which are suspected to involve radioactive substances, it can be difficult to determine whether people nearby have been exposed to radiation. But by analyzing mobile phones and other objects which come in close contact with the body, it is possible to retrieve important information on radiation exposure.

  • CybersecurityEducating, strengthening the cybersecurity workforce

    As Americans become more dependent on modern technology, the demand to protect the nation’s digital infrastructure will continue to grow. CSU, designated as Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance by the NSA and DHS, says that in an effort to produce career-ready cybersecurity professionals and to combat cybercrime nationwide, the California State University is creating educational opportunities for students and faculty members.

  • CybersecurityDHS S&T’s Transition to Practice program unveils 2017 cohort

    Eight new cybersecurity technologies developed by researchers at federally funded laboratories and academic research centers are ready for the commercial market. DHS S&T’s Transition to Practice (TTP) program will showcase its 2017 cohort 16 May in Washington. D.C.

  • Energy securityRight research, development investments “good bets” for both climate and economies

    Investing in new ways of utility-scale electricity storage and capturing carbon to store underground should be a priority for governments aiming to meet the greenhouse gas and “green energy” targets set out in the Paris Agreement despite shrinking research and development budgets, experts suggest. Researchers analyzed a range of studies and expert reports on public energy R&D investments to uncover common threads and trends — pulling together the current state of knowledge on cost-effective investments across a range of energy technologies.

  • CollapseTipping points: When natural or social systems reach a point of no return

    A tipping point is a critical threshold at which a dynamical system undergoes an irreversible transformation, typically owing to a small change in inputs or parameters. This concept is very broad and can refer to the extinction of an animal or a plant species, the depletion of a water source, or the financial collapse of an institution, among many other natural and social phenomena. Researchers provide a better understanding of the characteristics of this point of no return and what happens to a system after its occurrence.

  • Energy securityHelping power utilities and others better plan for the future

    If you’re an electric utility planning a new power plant by a river, it would be nice to know what that river will look like twenty years down the road. Will it be so high that it might flood the new facility? Will the water be so low that it can’t be used to cool the plant? Generally, such projections have been based on records of past precipitation, temperature, flooding and other historical data. But in an era when temperature and precipitation are changing rapidly, historical patterns won’t do you much good. A new initiative by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory combines climate data and analysis with infrastructure planning and decision support, promises real help.

  • Food securityAgTech innovator raises $7.5 million to help develop precision agriculture

    Today, the Ag industry loses more than $300 billion each year due to crop diseases and pests. Pests and diseases can destroy crops and devastate farmers’ agricultural yield, but chemical overuse comes with its own set of challenges, including pesticide-resistant disease strains. Meanwhile, rising temperatures and increasing levels of carbon dioxide create more challenges for farmers as crop pests and disease thrive in hot, CO2-rich environments. Taranis, a precision agriculture intelligence platform, announced it has closed a $7.5 million Series A round of financing. Taranis says it aims to lead the digital farming revolution by giving farmers around the globe the ability to predict and prevent detrimental threats to their crops—and bottom line.

  • TornadoesDangerous mix: Climate change, tornadoes, and mobile homes

    Tornadoes and mobile homes do not mix to begin with, but throw in the volatility of climate change and the potential for massive property damage and deaths is even higher in coming decades. The number of mobile homes in the United States has risen dramatically in the past 60 years, to about 9 million currently. Meanwhile, the United States is the most tornado-prone country in the world, with an average of 1,200 twisters per year.

  • Emerging threatsTrade-offs between short- and long-term policies dealing with greenhouse gases

    Scientists and policymakers use measurements like global warming potential to compare how varying greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, contribute to climate change. Yet, despite its widespread use, global warming potential fails to provide an accurate look at how greenhouse gases affect the environment in the short and long-term, according to researchers. The researchers argue that because global warming potential calculates the warming effects of greenhouse gases over 100 years, they discount the effects of any greenhouse gas that disappears from the atmosphere after a decade or two. This masks the trade-offs between short- and long-term policies at the heart of today’s political and ethical debates.

  • InfrastructureWater-repelling, long-lasting concrete could make potholes disappear

    Water is concrete’s ultimate enemy. Although concrete withstands constant beatings from cars and trucks, water can break it down, pooling on its surface and infiltrating the tiniest cracks. Add freezing and thawing cycles, and it is no wonder roads need frequent repairs. To keep Mother Nature out, researchers have created a water-repelling concrete. The concrete is not only water-repellent – it isdesigned to have a service life of up to 120 years.

  • FloodsNatural flood-prevention measures valuable, but not “a silver bullet”

    Natural measures to manage flooding from rivers can play a valuable role in flood prevention, but a lack of monitoring means their true potential remains unclear, researchers say. Such measures, including river restoration and tree planting, aim to restore processes that have been affected by human activities such as farming, land management and house-building.

  • Coastal vulnerabilityLouisiana’s westernmost, low-lying regions on track to drown under sea level rise

    Without major efforts to rebuild Louisiana’s wetlands, which serve as bulwarks against waves and rising seas, the state’s coast has little chance of withstanding the accelerating rate of sea level rise, a new study concludes. Wetlands can provide crucial protection from rising seas, especially in Louisiana’s low-lying westernmost areas, but the habitats have faced years of decline, mostly from coastal erosion. The erosion results in part from levees that have been built along the Mississippi River. The levees block mud deposits that flow to and underlie much of the Louisiana coast. The land, cut off from new building material, begins to sink.

  • Critical minerals World’s mineral resource will not be exhausted any time soon

    Recent articles have declared that deposits of mineral raw materials (copper, zinc, etc.) will be exhausted within a few decades. An international team, including the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, has shown that this is incorrect and that the resources of most mineral commodities are sufficient to meet the growing demand from industrialization and future demographic changes. Future shortages will arise not from physical exhaustion of different metals, but from causes related to industrial exploitation, the economy, and environmental or societal pressures on the use of mineral resources.