Sci-Tech

  • Self-healing concrete developed

    University of Rhode Island researchers develop a new type of self-healing concrete that promises to be commercially viable and have added environmental benefits; a microencapsulated sodium-silicate healing agent is embedded directly into a concrete matrix; when tiny stress cracks begin to form in the concrete, the capsules rupture and release the healing agent into the adjacent areas

  • Italian-Russian reactor could be the first to achieve self-sustaining fusion

    As the interest in alternatives to fossil fuels grows, so does the interest in nuclear fusion; a Russian-Italian project will build a self-sustaining fusion reactor based on a design by an MIT scientist; the design employs a doughnut-shaped device which uses powerful magnetic fields to produce fusion by squeezing superheated plasma of hydrogen isotopes

  • Winners announced in Colorado Homeland Defense Alliance's innovation competition

    The winners of the Colorado Homeland Defense Alliance’s 4th Annual National Security Innovation Competition (NSIC) are the University of Ottawa, University of Connecticut, and University of Colorado; top prize goes to U Ottawa for blast mitigation materials

  • Efficacy of TSA's behavioral threat detection program questioned

    Between 2004 and 2008, more than two billion passengers boarded planes at the 161 U.S. airports in which TSA has deployed Behavioral Detection Officers (BDOs) under the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program; the BDOs identified 152,000 passengers for secondary screening, which led to 1,083 arrests; none of those arrested, however, were terrorists or individuals who intended to attack the aviation system; GAO reports that since 2003, there were 16 instances in which airport screeners permitted people to get on planes who later were linked to terror plots

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  • Pentagon directs basic research funds to applied projects, says report

    The U.S. Department of Defense has a $13.5 billion science and technology budget; about $1.9 billion — 15 percent of the total — is set aside for basic research; new study found that many of the projects funded under the basic research budget did not meet the definition of basic research used by the Pentagon

  • World's largest airship inflated Wednesday for the first time

    The world’s largest airship — 235 feet long and 65 feet in diameter — was inflated on Wednesday for the first time; the test took place inside the Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery, Alabama which, the proprietors state, can hold as many as 1,500 cattle (“with milking parlor”); the airship features many innovations, including propelling ducted fans which are mounted along the centerline of the hull rather than beneath it, so that the nose does not lift when more power is applied

  • Katrina, Rita cleaned up polluted, lead-laden New Orleans soil

    It appears that hurricanes Katrina and Rita, with all the devastation they have caused, made one beneficial contribution to the future of New Orleans: decades of Louisiana-type corruption and collusion between the oil industry and the state government have caused the city’s soil to be heavily polluted, laden with lead, arsenic, and other poisonous substances; the sediments washed into the city by the hurricanes have blanketed the polluted soil, resulting in a dramatic drop in the presence of lead and arsenic in the city’s soil — and in the blood stream of children in the city

  • Deep-water oil spills do most of the damage deep down

    Oil spills like the one in the Gulf do most of their damage in the deep; the oil visible on the surface accounts for only 2 percent of the oil spilling into the Gulf; most of the oil remains submerged in the form of droplets that only slowly make their way to the surface

  • Fears grow that Gulf oil could strike Florida

    Worries grow over the ecological and economic impact of the huge oil spill, with the most recent fears focused on its possible spread into a “loop current” that could carry the pollution to the Florida Keys and nearby tourist beaches; the U.S. government has already extended fishing closure to nearly 20 percent of the Gulf because of the contamination of harvested seafood

  • DARPA looking for automated insider threat spotter

    The U.S. National Counterintelligence Strategy asserts that “Trusted insiders — are targeting the US information infrastructure for exploitation, disruption, and potential destruction”; DARPA, the Pentagon research arm, is soliciting idea for technology which will automatically spot — and eliminate — insider threat to U.S. information infrastructure

  • The day of transportable, refrigerator-size nuclear reactor nears

    The need for more energy and the growing interest in energy not based on fossil material have led to a revival of interest in nuclear power; there is a competition afoot among several companies for designing and building — and receiving a operation license for — a refrigerator-size nuclear reactor; the $50 million, 25-megawatt unit is transportable by truck, and would put electricity into 20,000 homes

  • BP's emergency "plan" for the Gulf discusses impact on "seals, sea otters and walruses"

    BP’s 582-page emergency-response never anticipated an oil spill as large as the one now gushing on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico; a closer reading shows the document was not much than a boilerplate, cut-and-paste job used by BP from region to region; in a section titled “Sensitive Biological & Human-Use Resources,” the emergency plan lists “seals, sea otters and walruses” as animals that could be impacted by a Gulf of Mexico spill — even though no such animals live in the Gulf; the plan was approved in July by the federal Minerals Management Service (MMS), a toothless agency accused by lawmakers of being in the pocket of the oil industry

  • Today's IT security professionals are expected to offer more than a school certificate

    Demand for IT security specialists in both the private sector and government grows steadily; IT security is the No. 1 growth industry in the government and government contractor sectors; employers, however, no longer see IT security certification as a sufficient qualification, and are looking for a broader set of skills

  • BP oil leak "much bigger" than official estimates'

    BP first asserted that the amount of oil its well releases into the Gulf is about 1,000 barrels daily; following the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s (NOAA) initial estimates, that figure has been increased to 5,000 barrels; ocean scientists and engineers now say that amount of oil released daily is more likely to be between five times and 14 times that — about 25,000 to 80,000 barrels a day

  • Scientists discover huge oil plumes deep in Gulf of Mexico; worry for marine life

    The news from the Gulf get worse: Scientists discover giant plumes of oil in the deep water of the Gulf of Mexico; one of the plumes was ten miles long, three miles wide, and 300 feet thick; the plumes are depleting the oxygen in the Gulf, prompting fears that the process could eventually kill much of the sea life near the plumes