• Technologies to remove CO2 from air and sequester it key to climate change mitigation

    To achieve goals for climate and economic growth, “negative emissions technologies” (NETs) that remove and sequester carbon dioxide from the air will need to play a significant role in mitigating climate change, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences.

  • Unhackable computer relying on firmware security rather than software patches

    By turning computer circuits into unsolvable puzzles, researchers aim to create an unhackable computer. The MORPHEUS project’s cybersecurity approach is dramatically different from today’s, which relies on software—specifically software patches to vulnerabilities that have already been identified. It’s been called the “patch and pray” model, and it’s not ideal. “Instead of relying on software Band-Aids to hardware-based security issues, we are aiming to remove those hardware vulnerabilities in ways that will disarm a large proportion of today’s software attacks,” says Linton Salmon, manager of DARPA’s System Security Integrated Through Hardware and Firmware program.

  • A dry future? New interactive map highlights water scarcity around the globe

    The average person in Europe uses 3,000−5,000 liters of water per day, of which the lion’s share is spent on food production. The world’s limited water resources are becoming an even more pressing issue as populations grow and climate change causes droughts in both south and north. Studies have already provided a number of ways to reduce our consumption of water, but this valuable information is often left unused.

  • Fleets of drones could aid searches for lost hikers

    Finding lost hikers in forests can be a difficult and lengthy process, as helicopters and drones can’t get a glimpse through the thick tree canopy. Recently, it’s been proposed that autonomous drones, which can bob and weave through trees, could aid these searches. But the GPS signals used to guide the aircraft can be unreliable or nonexistent in forest environments. New system allows drones to cooperatively explore terrain under thick forest canopies where GPS signals are unreliable.

  • New virtual tool gives responders, educators an “EDGE” on school safety

    First responders and educators now have a new, free tool at their disposal to help ensure the safety of our nation’s schools, as well as the students and faculty within them. Developed by DHS S&T and partners, the Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE), a virtual training platform, allows teachers, school staff, law enforcement officers, and others tasked with school security to create and practice response plans for a wide range of critical incidents.

  • Fracking-related water storage tied to earthquake risk

    In addition to producing oil and gas, the energy industry produces a lot of water, about 10 barrels of water per barrel of oil on average. New research has found that where the produced water is stored underground influences the risk of induced earthquakes.

  • $1 million award from DOJ to anti-terrorism education effort

    A team of UMass Lowell students, graduates and researchers working to stop young people from joining terrorist organizations has been awarded $1 million from the U.S. Department of Justice to support that goal. Operation 250 - named for the number of Americans believed to have left the U.S. to join the Islamic State group (ISIS) when the venture launched in 2016 - was created by UMass Lowell students to teach youths, parents and educators how to recognize and avoid falling prey to radicals’ recruitment methods.

  • Insects as potential weapons in biological warfare

    Owing to present-day armed conflicts, the general public is well aware of the terrifying effects of chemical weapons. Meanwhile, the effects of biological weapons have largely disappeared from public awareness. A project funded by a research agency of the U.S. Department of Defense is now giving rise to concerns about being possibly misused for the purpose of biological warfare.

  • World heritage sites under threat from climate change

    UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Mediterranean such as Venice, the Piazza del Duomo, Pisa, and the Medieval City of Rhodes are under threat of coastal erosion and flooding due to rising sea levels. The authors have identified areas with urgent need for adaptation planning and suggest the iconic nature of such sites can be used to promote awareness of the need to take action to mitigate climate change.

  • Unhackable communication: Single particles of light could bring the “quantum internet”

    Hacker attacks on everything from social media accounts to government files could be largely prevented by the advent of quantum communication, which would use particles of light called “photons” to secure information rather than a crackable code. The problem is that quantum communication is currently limited by how much information single photons can help send securely, called a “secret bit rate.” Researchers created a new technique that would increase the secret bit rate 100-fold, to over 35 million photons per second.

  • The problem with using ‘super recognizers’ to spot criminals in a crowd

    People often say that they never forget a face, but for some people, this claim might actually be true. So-called super recognizers are said to possess exceptional face recognition abilities, often remembering the faces of those they have only briefly encountered or haven’t seen for many years. Their unique skills have even caught the attention of policing and security organizations, who have begun using super recognizers to match photographs of suspects or missing persons to blurry CCTV footage. But recent research shows that the methods used to identify super recognizers are limited, and that the people recruited for this work might not always be as super as initially thought.

  • Climate change could cause global beer shortages

    Severe climate events could cause shortages in the global beer supply, according to new research. The study warns that increasingly widespread and severe drought and heat may cause substantial decreases in barley yields worldwide, affecting the supply used to make beer, and ultimately resulting in “dramatic” falls in beer consumption and rises in beer prices.

  • Geoengineering, other technologies won’t solve climate woes

    The countries of the world still need to cut their carbon dioxide emissions to reach the Paris Agreement’s climate targets. Relying on tree planting and alternative technological solutions such as geoengineering will not make enough of a difference.

  • Exposing security vulnerabilities in terahertz data links

    Scientists have assumed that future terahertz data links would have an inherent immunity to eavesdropping, but new research shows that’s not necessarily the case. The study shows that terahertz data links, which may play a role in ultra-high-speed wireless data networks of the future, aren’t as immune to eavesdropping as many researchers have assumed. The research shows that it is possible for a clever eavesdropper to intercept a signal from a terahertz transmitter without the intrusion being detected at the receiver.

  • Open-source hardware could defend against the next generation of hacking

    Imagine you had a secret document you had to store away from prying eyes. And you have a choice: You could buy a safe made by a company that kept the workings of its locks secret. Or you could buy a safe whose manufacturer openly published the designs, letting everyone – including thieves – see how they’re made. Which would you choose? It might seem unexpected, but as an engineering professor, I’d pick the second option.