• Law enforcementFBI wish list: An app that can recognize the meaning of your tattoos

    By Dave Maass

    We’ve long known that the FBI is heavily invested in developing face recognition technology as a key component in its criminal investigations. But new records, obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, show that’s not the only biometric marker the agency has its eyes on. The FBI’s wish list also includes image recognition technology and mobile devices to attempt to use tattoos to map out people’s relationships and identify their beliefs.

  • 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.

  • CybersecurityMicroprocessor designers realize security must be a primary concern

    By Mark Hempstead

    Fifty years after the founding of Intel, engineers have begun to second-guess many of the chip-making industry’s design techniques. Recently, security researchers have found that some innovations have let secrets flow freely out of computer hardware the same way software vulnerabilities have led to cyberattacks and data breaches. This realization has led to calls from microchip industry leaders, including icons John Hennessy and David Patterson, for a complete rethinking of computer architecture to put security first. Identifying and securing these newly identified hardware vulnerabilities and side-channels will be challenging, but the work is important – and a reminder that designers and architects must always think about other ways attackers might try to compromise computer systems.

  • 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.

  • Immigration & the economyAn immigrant workforce leads to innovation: Study

    New federal restrictions on the temporary H-1B visa, which allows high-skilled foreign workers to be employed by U.S. companies, have increased debate on the economic impacts of the program, but little is known about its effect on product innovation—until now. New research shows that hiring high-skilled workers from abroad may have a meaningful impact on the birth of new products and phasing out of older ones, with implications on both firm profits and consumer welfare.

  • Internet infrastructureBuried internet infrastructure at risk as sea levels rise

    Thousands of miles of buried fiber optic cable in densely populated coastal regions of the United States may soon be inundated by rising seas, according to a new study. The study, presented at a meeting of internet network researchers, portrays critical communications infrastructure that could be submerged by rising seas in as soon as fifteen years. “Most of the damage that’s going to be done in the next 100 years will be done sooner than later,” says Ban authority on the “physical internet.” “That surprised us. The expectation was that we’d have 50 years to plan for it. We don’t have 50 years.”

  • 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.

  • BioterrorismSoligenix receives European, Canadian patents for its ricin toxin vaccine (RiVax) formulation

    Soligenix, Inc., a late-stage biopharmaceutical company, announced that it has received notice of allowance for European and Canadian patent applications further extending protection around ThermoVax  including coverage of the company’s ricin toxin vaccine, RiVax. RiVax potentially would be added to the Strategic National Stockpile and dispensed in the event of a terrorist attack.

  • 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.

  • Climate threatsJune 2018 ranks third warmest on record for U.S.

    Hot temperatures continued to bake the United States last month, making it the third warmest June on record. We are halfway through 2018 and the United States has already experienced $6-billion-dollar weather disasters.

  • 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.

  • InnovationChina cracks Top 20 in Global Innovation Index

    China broke into the world’s Top 20 most-innovative economies as Switzerland retained its No. 1 spot in the Global Innovation Index (GII) ranking published annually by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Rounding out the GII 2018 Top 10, from highest ranking to lowest: the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Singapore, United States, Finland, Denmark, Germany, and Ireland.

  • SAFETY Act: 15 years onSAFETY Act at 15: 1,000 qualified antiterrorism technologies approved

    For fifteen years now, the S&T Office of SAFETY Act Implementation (OSAI,) under the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act, has been approving anti-terrorism technologies for liability protections. It has so far approved more than 1,000 Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technologies.

  • PrivacyYour smartphone may be spying on you

    Some popular apps on your phone may be secretly taking screenshots of your activity and sending them to third parties, according to a new study. The researchers said this is particularly disturbing because these screenshots—and videos of your activity on the screen—could include usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and other important personal information.

  • Hate groupsWhite supremacist propaganda on U.S. college campuses on the rise

    White supremacist groups continued to escalate their propaganda campaign targeting U.S. college campuses, with incidents increasing by 77 percent during the 2017-2018 academic year, according to new data released today by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). “The alt-right segment of the white supremacist movement remains a driving force behind this activity,” says the ADL’s Center on Extremism.