• University lab tech's suicide by cyanide prompts safety fears

    A Northeastern University lab technician stole cyanide from the lab, which she then used to kill herself; suicide raises public safety fears over easy access to deadly chemicals; one terrorism expert, though, says that many incidents of dangerous chemicals stolen from college labs are used by the thief against themselves and not others; “It’s the jilted lover, the disgruntled employee, it’s the suicide not the suicide attack”

  • Revolutionary horizontal space launch nears

    Scientists examine a proposal that calls for a wedge-shaped aircraft with scramjets to be launched horizontally on an electrified track or gas-powered sled; the aircraft would fly up to Mach 10, using the scramjets and wings to lift it to the upper reaches of the atmosphere where a small payload canister or capsule similar to a rocket’s second stage would fire off the back of the aircraft and into orbit; the aircraft would come back and land on a runway by the launch site

  • In era of tighter budget, simulation-based training becomes popular

    Training is invaluable, but first responder and emergency management agencies around the country are finding their budgets tighter than ever, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to conduct large-scale training exercises; the solution: simulation-based training

  • TSA: international trainees to be vetted only once annually

    TSA says it will require foreign pilots to submit to a vetting process only once annually, regardless of the number of training events or variety of training organizations used; the change should reduce the bureaucratic burden on the pilots, training outfits, and the TSA itself

  • U.K. funds £12 million project for quick detection of farm-based disease

    A new device will be able to detect a variety of different infections, making it useful for outbreaks of human diseases, as well as animal ones; by providing a fast verdict on whether an area such as a farm is subject to an outbreak and needs to be quarantined, it could help stop the spread of the disease

  • Sandia Labs developed an IED-disabling water-blade device

    A device developed by Sandia National Laboratories researchers that shoots a blade of water capable of penetrating steel is headed to U.S. troops in Afghanistan to help them disable deadly IEDs; the portable clear plastic device is filled with water and an explosive material is placed in it that, when detonated, creates a shock wave that travels through the water and accelerates it inward into a concave opening; when the water collides, it produces a thin blade

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  • New helmets to make soldiers more alert, reduce stress, pain

    New helmet to enhance U.S. soldiers’ cognitive abilities, improving long-term alertness, and reducing stress, anxiety, and pain; DARPA-funded research looking to equip helmets with noninvasive technology for “transcranial pulsed ultrasound,” which can remotely stimulate brain circuits

  • Northeastern to build homeland security research center

    A $12 million gift from an alum will allow Northeastern University to build a homeland security research facility on its Burlington campus; the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security will be designed to Department of Defense specifications so Northeastern can gain clearances to conduct secure research on areas pertaining to national security, including cryptography, data security, information assurance, explosives detection, and energy harvesting

  • Koran burnings -- by Jones or others -- raise fears of dire consequences

    Intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world fear that Koran burnings in America — by fringe preacher Terry Jones or by other copycats that are sure to follow — will have negative consequences, complicating the uneasy relationship between the United States — and the West — and large swaths of the Muslim world. Even more difficult; the predicted popular backlash in the “Muslim Street” against what many Muslims perceive as an insult to their holy book, may be exploited as a recruiting tool, by the cynical leaders of Islamic terror groups.

  • Book burning in history: a tool of tyrants

    Book burning has a long history; if pastor Terry Jones went ahead with his Koran burning spectacle, he would be joining a long, if not exactly illustrious list of people and regimes who took to book burning to advance their religious and political ends; these ends never included achieving more tolerance, openness, respect, harmony, or freedom; books were typically burned in order to impose harsh and oppressive political regimes or religious dogmas

  • Fake chips from China threaten U.S. military systems

    To withstand the rigors of battle, the Defense Department requires the chips it uses to have special features, such as the ability to operate at below freezing temperatures in high-flying planes; because it pays extra for such chips, experts say, the Defense Department has become a prime target for counterfeiters, most of them Chinese companies; from November 2007 through May 2010, U.S. Customs officials said they seized 5.6 million bogus chips — yet many more are finding their way into the United States and even the military

  • The U.S. military prepares for the coming conflicts triggered by climate change

    The popular debate surrounding “global warming” is rife with emotion and has paralyzed U.S. policymakers; military planners, however, remain divorced from the emotional content of the topic, looking at possible future scenarios and conducting planning to address the associated challenges and threats arising from sharp changes in climate

  • New cement absorbs CO2

    Concrete — the essential material used by the world’s $3.8 trillion construction industry — accounts for 5 percent of the world’s man-made carbon dioxide emissions; each ton of cement emits about 800 kg (1,763 lb.) of CO2 during manufacture — and every year, some 3 billion tons of cement turn into nearly 30 billion tons of concrete, a British start-up has devised a new cement — based on magnesium silicates rather than limestone — that absorbs and stores CO2 when it is produced

  • Russia revives cold war-era raygun air fleet

    Pravda reports that the Russian military has revived a cold war-era project: mounting lasers on large transport planes; the Obama administration, after concluding that airborne lasers would not be effective as a boost-phase defense against ballistic missiles, has downgraded the program; it appears that Russia, too, does not intend for the airborne lasers to be used as ballistic missile defense, but rather use them to blind satellites or spy planes

  • Is the U.S. military interested in a Kiwi Jetpack?

    Kiwi company claims the U.S. military is interested in its Jetpack (not really a jetpack, but personal ducted-fan aircraft too heavy to be lifted by its user); the company made the headlines in the spring by saying it was about the sell the first commercial jetpack for $75,000 a piece; the price has since gone up a bit, to $140,00 a unit, but the company says that 1,600 people have “expressed interest” in buying the Jetpack