Sci-Tech

  • GAO: U.S. lacks cybersecurity R&D master plan, leadership, coordination

    GAO says United States does not have prioritized national cybersecurity research and development agenda; “Without a current national cybersecurity R&D agenda, the nation is at risk that agencies and private sector companies may focus on their individual priorities, which may not be the most important national research priorities,” auditors wrote

  • Detecting buried plastic pipes

    As the utility infrastructure ages, metal pipes, such as cast iron gas mains, are rapidly being replaced with plastic ones; buried plastic pipes are notoriously difficult to detect using current methods which are expensive, inefficient, and in many cases do not produce the quick and accurate results required; an Oxford University spin-out offers a solution

  • U.S., U.K. military leaders address climate change's role as a global threat multiplier

    Conflict brought on by droughts, famine, and unwelcome migration are as old as history itself. Yet, a growing number of military analysts think that climate change will exacerbate these problems worldwide and are encouraging countries to prepare to maintain order even as shrinking resources make their citizens more desperate; Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti: “We see climate change as a threat multiplier, as a catalyst for conflict”

  • Australia could face climate refugees

    Australia could face a wave of climate refugees from neighboring Pacific islands unless rich nations help poorer countries with climate change, scientists warned; the 900 climate scientists gathered at a the conference heard specialists say that Australia is already experiencing the effects of climate change and is likely to be one of the most severely affected among developed countries

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  • U.S. Navy blimp to help track oil flow in gulf

    A U.S. Navy blimp arrived in the Gulf of Mexico yesterday to help detect oil, direct skimmers, and search for threatened wildlife; the blimp can carry as many as ten crew members as it flies slowly over the region to track the direction of the oil flow and how it is washing ashore

  • New electronic fiber make smarter fabric a reality

    A soft, flexible fiber with a 1,000 times more capacitance than a co-axial cable could lead to smarter textiles; these smart fabrics could sense their environment, store, transmit, and process information — as well as harvest and store the energy necessary to do all this

  • New long-term threat from oil spill recognized: increasing ocean's arsenic levels

    Oil spills can increase levels of toxic arsenic in the ocean, creating an additional long-term threat to the marine ecosystem; sediments on the sea floor filter naturally occurring arsenic out of seawater, keeping the levels of arsenic low; oil spills clog up sediments on the ocean floor with oil, which prevents the sediments from bonding with arsenic and burying it safely underground with subsequent layers of sediment

  • Can microbes break down oil washed onto Gulf beaches?

    Nature provides its own methods for keeping sandy beaches clean: microbial communities which are native to the sands; researchers are studying whether native oil-eating bacteria that wash ashore with the crude are helping or hindering these native microbial communities

  • Defending U.S. civilian aircraft against shoulder-fired missile may cost $43 billion

    Equipping U.S. passenger aircraft with defenses against shoulder-fired missiles may cost $43.3 billion over twenty years, DHS says in an unpublished report; airlines say the expense exceeds the risk, and oppose installing the systems — or, if such installation is made mandatory, than the government should pay for it

  • Solar aircraft's first day-and-night flight postponed

    First day-and-night flight of a solar-powered aircraft has been postponed because of technical problems; the aircraft, which has a 63-meter wingspan and is as long as an airliner, is powered by 12,000 solar cells and uses lithium batteries to supply energy in the dark

  • Second pipe may have crippled BP well's defenses

    The discovery of a second drill pipe joins a list of clues that is helping scientists understand the complexities of the Deepwater Horizon accident, and learn lessons which will inform changes in how deep-water drilling is conducted; evidence emerges that BP cut safety corners because the drilling fell behind schedule; one expert says: the accident “absolutely was preventable—[the rig lacked] “a regulatory presence onboard that said, “I don’t care how late it is, you do it right or you go home.”

  • U.S. Naval Academy to launch cyber security center

    The building and labs would cost $100 million, with work beginning in 2014; a Baltimore lawmaker who also is chairman of a House subcommittee that deals with technical and tactical intelligence says: “The future of war fighting is cyber security… We [the United States] have been cyber-attacked on a regular basis; our future leaders need to understand cyber security”

  • New technology could lead to an earthquake prediction system

    A new airborne radar-based mapping technology allows scientists to see earthquake images on the ground for the first time; the airborne images show tiny or large motions that occurred beneath the surface of the earth, on the fault line, which can not be seen by flying over an area or walking on the surface

  • X Prize Foundation may offer $3 to $10 million award for Gulf Oil Spill solutions

    X Prize Foundation, known for offering prizes to innovative and future-oriented innovations, is considering offering a prize of between $3 and $10 million for a viable solution to stopping the oil spill in the Gulf; the foundation in the process of developing a multi-million dollar competition to help alleviate the effects of the oil spill in the Gulf; the X Prize Foundation is best known for what was originally called the Ansari X Prize — a $10 million competition open to anyone who could build a reusable, privately built craft capable of reaching outer space

  • DARPA looking for solar cells that can withstand the rigors of war

    DARPA is investing $3.8 million into the creation of high-powered, lightweight solar cells that can “stand up to battle conditions and environmental extremes”; thin-film, flexible solar cells are a major priority for the military, because they can be applied onto almost everything — from tents to uniforms — and would minimize the number of generators and portable battery packs needed by troops in battle