• The American West running low on water

    The American West has a drinking problem; on farms and in cities, people who live in that region are guzzling water at an alarming rate; scientists say that to live sustainably, they should use no more than 40 percent of the water from the Colorado River Basin; currently, however, they use 76 percent, nearly double the sustainable benchmark

  • Little of Earth’s water is usable in everyday life

    Very little of Earth’s water is usable in everyday life; about 96 percent of water on Earth is saline; of the total freshwater, over 68 percent is locked up in ice and glaciers; another 30 percent of freshwater is in the ground; rivers are the source of most of the fresh surface water people use, but they only constitute about 300 mi3 (1,250 km3), about 1/10,000th of one percent of total water

  • Panetta: Environment is becoming a national security concern

    Climate and environmental change are emerging as national security threats that weigh heavily in the Pentagon’s new strategy; the secretary also said he has great concern about energy-related threats to homeland security that are not driven by climate change

  • Flying robots equipped with 3D gear: better surveillance on the cheap

    Whether deployed to create virtual maps of difficult-to-access areas, monitor construction sites, measure contamination at nuclear power plants, assess conditions in a disaster-ravaged area, or identify rowdy soccer hooligans, mini UAVs could be used in a wide range of applications, obviating the need for expensive aerial photography or satellite imaging

  • Using nanomaterials to build safer, longer-lasting roadways

    Asphalt is now made from petroleum, so it is very expensive; researchers tested two types of nanoclays, adding 2-4 percent by weight to asphalt; this is a smidgeon — less than half of a percent of the total weight of the asphalt pavement itself, but it made a big difference, and could make for safer, longer-lasting roadways

  • Novel radiation detection technology to thwart nuclear terrorism

    Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) are developing ways to enhance the radiation-detection devices used at ports, border crossings, airports, and elsewhere; the aim is to create technologies that will increase the effectiveness and reliability of detectors in the field, while also reducing cost

  • New DNA-based chemical sensor acts as an all-electronic nose

    Chemical sensors are very good at detecting a single substance or a class of chemicals, even at highly rarified concentrations; biological noses, however, are vastly more versatile and capable of discriminating subtle cues that would confound their engineered counterparts; even highly trained noses, however, do leave a certain ambiguity when relaying a signal

  • Counterterrorism expert: democracy in Central Asia lost in translation

    Democracy in post-Soviet Central Asia states failed not only because of the region’s Soviet legacy and hardships of transition, but also due to a lack of cultural competence among international, U.S., and EU agencies promoting democracy

  • Bomb-sniffing dogs used in Everglades python invasion

    Burmese pythons have invaded the Florida Everglades, adapting well to the Everglades environment; they have also been wreaking havoc with the delicate ecosystem of the area; now, there is a new weapon in the fight against the Burmese python: dogs, trained to sniff out explosives, are being re-trained to locate the Burmese python

  • Smart gas sensors offer better chemical detection

    Smart chemical sensors can detect chemical weapon vapors or indicators of disease better than the current generation of detectors; they also consume less power, crucial for stretching battery life on the battlefield, down a mineshaft, or in isolated clinics

  • Humble bacteria help create self-healing concrete

    Scientists use a ground-borne bacteria — bacilli megaterium — to create calcite, a crystalline form of natural calcium carbonate; this can then be used to block the concrete’s pores, keeping out water and other damaging substances to prolong the life of the concrete

  • Android app for radioactivity detection

    Just-release Android app uses software and the smartphone’s camera to measure radioactivity levels, allowing users to find out whether their environments are safe; the software is the civilian version of technology developed under contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense and with DHS

  • Rapid test strips detect swimming water contamination

    Water-testing technology has never been fast enough to keep up with changing conditions, nor accessible enough to check all waters; researchers have developed a rapid testing method using a simple paper strip that can detect E. coli in water within minutes; the new tool can close the gap between outbreak and detection, improving public safety

  • Oklahoma University gets DHS research grant

    The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC)  was awarded a $490,000 grant from DHS for a 2-year study of how law enforcement officers utilize awareness of their surroundings to collect and then analyze intelligence related to potential terrorist threats

  • Australians told sweeping economic, societal changes needed to cope with severe weather

    The Australian government’s Productivity Commission has just released its much-anticipated report, titled Barriers to Effective Climate Change Adaptation; the report calls for sweeping changes across the Australian economy, including ditching property taxes which discourage people from moving out of areas prone to extreme weather events