Sci-Tech

  • New automated tool debugs nuclear weapon simulations

    The United States relies on nuclear weapons in its deterrence strategy; international conventions, however, prohibit the testing of nuclear weapons; U.S. leaders , military and civilians, must thus rely on simulations to have confidence in the operational reliability of these untested weapons; Purdue researchers offer a new methods to debug nuclear weapons simulations

  • Gulf oil spill prompts procedure reassessment in U.K.

    The United Kingdom has created a new body — the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG) — tasked with learning the lessons of the Gulf oil spill and applying them to the U.K. off-shore drilling sector

  • Oregon town plans first tsunami-resistant building on stilts

    Geological findings in recent years suggest there is a one-in-three chance that in the next half century a mega-earthquake will tear the seafloor apart off the Oregon Coast; huge waves would surge onto coastal communities in as little as fifteen minutes; an Oregon city plans tsunami-resistant buildings on stilts

  • Combining tiny cave camera, iris recognition technology for military, homeland security

    Researchers are developing new miniature camera technology for military and security uses so soldiers can track combatants in dark caves or urban alleys, and security officials can unobtrusively identify a subject from an iris scan

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  • Robots with human-like vision to perform dangerous missions

    Robots with human-like vision may be deployed to perform maintenance inside nuclear fusion reactors or carry out duties in other areas too dangerous for any person to operate in; a new laser sensor is being developed which will mimic this process by obtaining a coarse image of the scene, performing rapid image analysis to detect objects of interest and subsequently obtaining images with higher temporal and spatial resolution of the detected objects

  • Berkeley quake demonstration shows bridge safety ideas

    Researchers demonstrate new bridge design that can withstand powerful earthquakes; the design concept relies on building segmented bridges with seismic isolators between the segments; the design would be particularly useful for long stretches of elevated freeways and high-speed rail lines that often run on elevated tracks

  • Crack-proof concrete developed

    Researchers develop crack-proof concrete; the construction industry has spent decades looking for materials that would not crack when they are used to repair and reinforce older materials, because even hairline cracks can let in pollutants and start disintegrating the concrete; BASF engineers offer a solution

  • Worst-case scenario now appears likely

    The failure of the top kill technology on Friday to cap the gusher for more than a few hours led both BP and the administration to say that the wellhead will continue to release oil and gas into the Gulf until sometime in late August; this means a spill of between 30,000,000 and 40,000,000 gallons (Exxon Valdez released 10.8 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound); Now officials and scientists are worrying that the environmental disaster could be compounded by a natural one. the hurricane season starts today and runs through November, and forecasters expect one of the most turbulent seasons ever

  • BP changes tack on oil spill yet again

    After five different approaches to cap the gusher failed, BP will be trying a sixth method: lower a containment cap over the well to pipe the leaking oil to a drill ship on the surface; so far, approximately 30,000 claims have been submitted and more than 15,000 payments have already been made, totaling some $40 million. BP has received more than 110,000 calls to its help lines to date

  • Carbon Motors’ revolutionary E7 police car already has 14,000 reservations

    Carbon Motors offers law enforcement what it describes as the first purpose-built police interceptor; the company says that it already has 14,000 orders for the new cruiser — even though the price for the car has not yet been set; the company says that with the help of more than 3,500 U.S. law enforcement professionals from all fifty States representing the local, state, and federal levels, it wrote the groundbreaking specifications for such a vehicle

  • New surveillance software knows -- and comments on -- what a camera sees

    Software developed which offers a running commentary on CCTV’s images to ease video searching and analysis; the system might help address the fact that there are more and more surveillance cameras — on the streets and in military equipment, for instance — while the number of people working with them remains about the same

  • Big and small robots showcase their skills at NIST Alaskan events

    In the main microrobotics event — the two-millimeter dash — the microbot from Carnegie Mellon University broke the world record held by Switzerland’s ETH Zurich with an average time of 78 milliseconds; the achievement was, well, short-lived: Less than an hour later, the French team shattered the mark with an average time of 32 milliseconds

  • BP's top kill effort stops oil flow

    BP, using a top kill device, last night managed to stop the flow of gas and oil from the wellhead into the Gulf; commander of U.S. Coast Guard says the company managed to “stabilize the wellhead”

  • New educational page for scientific information on topics related to 2010 oil spill

    University of Miami launches educational Web page for scientific information on topics related to the 2010 Oil Spill; designed for use by teachers, students, and general audiences, the site focuses on the ocean environment

  • Faulty cement plug may have caused oil rig explosion

    As part of the oil drilling process, a cement plug is placed at the bottom of the well in order temporarily to shut it off prior to pumping the oil out; while the cement is drying, mud is loaded into the top of the well to prevent a gas surge; before removing the mud, pressure tests are carried out to ensure the plug is holding; James Dupree, a senior BP official, has claimed that the results of the tests on the Gulf of Mexico plug, carried out on 20 April, were inconclusive — yet the mud was removed