• Water securityHolocaust survivors give historic $400 million gift to Ben-Gurion University

    A couple who survived the Holocaust and made a fortune investing with Warren Buffett left a $400 million bequest to Ben-Gurion University (BGU). The bequest, much of which is earmarked to fund water-related research, is expected to double the size of BGU’s current endowment. The university’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research focuses on sustainability of water resources, desalination techniques, and improving water quality.

  • Extreme weatherWe need better information to understand extreme weather

    Scientists need more credible and relevant information to help communities become more resilient to extreme weather events such as floods. Researchers need improved techniques to be able to understand why the climate is changing, and the part humans play in this process, experts say.

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  • Food securityCrop breeding is not keeping pace with climate change

    Crop yields will fall within the next decade due to climate change unless immediate action is taken to speed up the introduction of new and improved varieties, experts have warned. The researchers focused on maize in Africa but the underlying processes affect crops across the tropics.

  • Killer robotsLosing control: The dangers of killer robots

    By Bonnie Docherty

    New technology could lead humans to relinquish control over decisions to use lethal force. As artificial intelligence advances, the possibility that machines could independently select and fire on targets is fast approaching. Fully autonomous weapons, also known as “killer robots,” are quickly moving from the realm of science fiction toward reality. While the process of creating international law is notoriously slow, countries can move quickly to address the threats of fully autonomous weapons. They should seize the opportunity presented by the Convention on Conventional Weapons review conference, to be held this December, because the alternative is unacceptable: Allowing technology to outpace diplomacy would produce dire and unparalleled humanitarian consequences.

  • Coastal resilienceThe contribution of human dynamics to coastal communities’ resilience

    The National Academies of Sciences has established a $10 million grants program to fund projects that enhance the science and practice of coastal community resilience in the Gulf of Mexico region. Rather than focus on infrastructure needs or the built environment, as many existing resilience-focused programs do, the new grants program will support the study of the human dynamics that influence a community’s ability to respond to adverse events.

  • Heat waveWestern U.S. braces for “dangerous and deadly” 120 degrees heatwave

    Forecasters have warned that temperatures in the western United States are set to reach 120 degrees in a “rare, dangerous, and deadly” heatwave. The forecasts have worried officials, who are bracing for devastating wildfires and power cuts which will knock out air-conditioning systems, leading to heat-related fatalities. The area which will be subjected to the heat wave stretches from Oklahoma to California. It is home to sixty-six million people, one-fifth of the U.S. population.

  • Emerging threatsYear-long heat streak results in new global heat records

    Fresh out of the oven that was a warm start to the year, global temperatures are on a roll: For the 13th consecutive month, the globe was record warm in May — the longest such stretch in 137 years of record-keeping. The more than yearlong heat streak also resulted in other new global heat records.

  • CybersecurityNation’s elite cybersecurity talent participate in U.S. Cyber Challenge program

    A week from today, Illinois’ top cybersecurity talent will descend upon Moraine Valley Community College outside of Chicago to participate in the annual U.S. Cyber Challenge (USCC) Cyber Camp. During the week-long camp, individuals will participate in a variety of classes that cover such subjects as packet crafting and pen testing, and compete in a virtual Capture the Flag competition to demonstrate their cybersecurity abilities in a free-form environment in hopes of winning one of the limited (ISC)2 scholarship vouchers.

  • EnergyIn Sweden, replacing nuclear power with wind power does not make sense

    The Swedish power supply is largely free of carbon emissions. Indeed, it is mainly based on a combination of hydroelectric and nuclear power combined with power exchange with neighboring Scandinavian countries. A new study, investigating the possibility of replacing nuclear power with wind power, which is by nature intermittent, concludes that a backup system, based on fossil fuel, namely gas, would be required in combination with wind power. In such a scenario, the CO2 emissions would double.

  • Emerging threatsFuture summers could regularly be hotter than the hottest summers on record

    In fifty years, summers across most of the globe could regularly be hotter than any summer experienced so far by people alive today, according to a new study. If climate change continues on its current trajectory, the probability that any summer between 2061 and 2080 will be warmer than the hottest on record is 80 percent across the world’s land areas, excluding Antarctica, which was not studied. If greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, however, that probability drops to 41 percent, according to the study.

  • RoboticsHazardous-devices teams compete at the Robot Rodeo, 14-17 June

    Hazardous-devices teams from around the Southwest will wrangle their bomb-squad robots at the tenth annual Robot Rodeo beginning Tuesday, 14 June, at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “The Robot Rodeo gives bomb-squad teams the opportunity to practice and hone their skills in a lively but low-risk setting,” said a member of the Laboratory’s hazardous-devices team.

  • InnovationDHS awards $3 million in Small Business Innovation Research awards

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) last week announced a total of $3.1 million in competitive research awards for twenty-nine small businesses located across twelve states and Washington, D.C. Each business was awarded approximately $100,000 in preliminary funding through DHS S&T’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Thirty-one contracts were awarded in ten topic areas.

  • ForensicsDHS announces $40 million funding opportunity for new Criminal Investigations Center of Excellence

    DHS S&T earlier this week announced a $40 million funding opportunity for an institution to lead a new DHS Center of Excellence (COE) for Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis. This new COE will conduct end user-focused research to enhance investigation strategies of transnational criminal organizations’ (TCO) activities and other homeland security-related crimes.

  • Security studiesU.S., Saudi universities to promote security studies

    The University of New Haven will collaborate in the development of a new 4-year baccalaureate degree program in security studies, to be delivered at King Fahd Security College (KFSC) in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Experts from UNH’s Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences will advise their counterparts at KFSC on the creation and accreditation in Saudi Arabia of a baccalaureate degree in security studies with three specialization tracks: criminal justice, homeland security, and intelligence studies.

  • Rare earth elementsNew alloy to boost rare-earth elements production

    Rare earths are a group of elements critical to electronics, alternative energy, and other modern technologies. Modern windmills and hybrid autos, for example, rely on strong permanent magnets made with the rare earth elements neodymium and dysprosium. Yet there is no production occurring in North America at this time. Researchers have developed aluminum alloys that are both easier to work with and more heat tolerant than existing products. The alloys — which contain cerium — have the potential to jump-start the U.S. production of rare earth elements.