Sci-Tech

  • Cutting-edge laser technology for crime labs developed by FIU research team

    Determining the precise composition of a substance with LIBS can provide important evidence in legal proceedings. Trace elemental analysis for comparisons of glass, paint chips, soils, paper, ink on paper, and metal fragments has been shown to be highly effective; the instrumentation required for this kind of analysis in forensic comparisons, however, has been beyond the reach of many forensic laboratories; researchers at Florida International University offers a solution

  • Day of trained sniffing bees is here

    The bee’s discreet sense of smell, equivalent to a dog’s, is being exploited as a much cheaper way to detect various odors in the environment; a U.K. company is now training bees to sniff out explosives and land mines — but also to identify diseases and cancers in people and animals, detect rapidly spreading bacteria in food, and identify dry rot in buildings

  • New research points way to safer nuclear reactors

    Self-repairing materials within nuclear reactors may one day become a reality as a result of research by Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists; when designing nuclear reactors or the materials that go into them, one of the key challenges is finding materials that can withstand an outrageously extreme environment; researchers find that nanocrystalline materials may offer an answer

  • Day nears for restarting Japan's fast-breeder reactor - the world's only such reactor

    Monju, the world’s only fast-breeder reactor, achieved criticality in April 1994; in December 1995 a coolant loop leaked more than 700 kilograms of molten sodium, releasing toxic fumes and damaging the plant; plant managers tried to cover up the accident, but covertly recorded videos were leaked to the press; there followed fourteen years of repairs and redesigns of safety measures and attempts to rebuild public trust by Monju’s operator

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  • U.S. Navy interested in laser warfare

    A big attraction of the free-electron laser (FEL) is the ability to adjust its output wavelength to improve transmission through the thick, moist air at sea; other laser weapons emit at fixed wavelengths; also, the laser is electrically powered, so it can recharge quickly, potentially allowing for repeat bursts of fire

  • Aussie company creates the world's first electronic underpants

    More smart garments are coming to market; the latest addition: electronic underpants able to send text messages if the wearer became incontinent; this piece of clothing is aimed at the old and infirm, but clothes embedded with sensing and transmission devices will be of benefit to soldiers and first responders, measuring the wearer’s vital signs to alert medical teams in the event of injury

  • Synthesized polymer neutralizes both biological and chemical weapons

    Biological tissues to respond rapidly and appropriately to changing environments; this logic was applied by University of Pittsburgh researchers: they have synthesized a single, multifunctional polymer material that can decontaminate both biological and chemical toxins

  • Researchers say a global database is needed to identify victims of mass disasters

    Hundreds of thousands of people may die in natural disasters such as the Asian tsunami or the Haiti earthquake; many of the bodies of victims are never recovered because of collapsed buildings, mud slides, and more; but there are difficulties even with the recovered bodies: many of them cannot be identified and, often, entire families are killed, leaving no one behind to identify the remains; researchers say that forensic anthropology may be of help here

  • Premier IT technology show offers glimpse at intense rivalry among manufacturers of new gadgets

    Terrorists and criminals equip themselves with the latest technology, and law enforcement must keep pace; the Federal Office Systems Exposition, a major information technology event which opened on Tuesday and closes today, shows that the future is intense in the evolving cyberspace rivalry among manufacturers and battles against crime and terrorist threats; a balanced view offered by speakers on different panels suggested that for every device displayed to counter crime and defeat terrorism there would be risk of new products falling into the wrong hands and challenging the main concepts behind the invention

  • DARPA wants to use ISO containers for operational flexibility, self-building floating bases

    The likely tasks for navies today include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief or “maritime domain awareness and interdiction operations” — that is, detecting and stopping such activities as piracy and smuggling of weapons, drugs, sanctions-busting cargoes; traditional naval methods call for large numbers of scarce, expensive, specialized warships which may not always be much use for such missions; DARPA looks into using ISO containers and intermodal transport system to deliver flexible operational capability from unmodified commercial containerships

  • Korean scientists develop fast, accurate pathogen detection sensor

    On average 540 million people become sick with harmful bacteria every year with fifteen million losing their lives to infectious disease around the world; the key to fighting infectious disease is for doctors to determine quickly what kind of pathogen or infectious agents have entered the body and sidestepped the natural immune system

  • Top 10 crime-fighting technologies, II

    Today’s criminals avail themselves of the latest technological innovations in order to stay one step ahead of the law; fortunately, technological advances help law enforcement balance the criminals’ arsenals and keep societies safer than otherwise would be the case

  • Infrared Thermal Detection System is a fast, effective fever screening tool during pandemics

    In the age of globalization, infectious diseases can rapidly spread worldwide and infect many populations; a technology which would allow healthcare professionals quickly to screen large numbers of patients with speed and accuracy and implement relevant measures to prevent further disease transmission would be very helpful; University of Nebraska researchers offer such a technology

  • Top 10 crime-fighting technologies, I

    Today’s criminals avail themselves of the latest technological innovations in order to stay one step ahead of the law; fortunately, technological advances help law enforcement balance the criminals’ arsenals and keep societies safer than otherwise would be the case

  • Better explosives detection for soldiers, first responders in the field

    From a chemical viewpoint, developing a detector for nitroaromatic compounds such as TNT is difficult because such compounds have a low vapor pressure, meaning their concentration in air at room temperature is around six parts per billion; MIT researchers develop cantilever sensors which use functional coatings to transduce detection of chemicals into a signal; the coating, usually a polymer, swells up when it reacts with the target analyte and deflects the cantilever