• New $100M Innovation Hub for a Secure Water Future

    The National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI), which is led by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), has been awarded a five-year, $100-million Energy-Water Desalination Hub by DOE (pending appropriations) to address water security issues in the United States.

  • What’s at Stake in Trump’s War on Huawei: Control of the Global Computer-Chip Industry

    Silicon Valley may now be more popularly associated with software companies such as Google and Facebook but it takes its name from the material most used to make semiconductors. Semiconductors – or computer chips – power everything from mobile phones to military systems. The semiconductor industry sits at the center of the modern world. This point is key to appreciating what’s going on in the US government’s battle with Chinese technology giant Huawei.

  • Containing a Nuclear Accident with Ground-up Minerals

    Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are developing a promising new way to prevent the spread of radioactive contamination and contain the hot molten mass that develops within a nuclear reactor during a catastrophic accident. A team of scientists discovered and patented a process for injecting sand-like minerals into the core of a nuclear reactor during an accident to contain and slow down the progression of a meltdown.

  • Designing the Coastal City of the Future

    Boston is situated along the Gulf of Maine, which is warming faster than 99 percent of the ocean due, in part, to changing sea patterns from melting ice in Greenland and the Arctic Ocean. Coupled with increased heat and precipitation, the rising sea level is threatening the low-lying city, much of which was built on landfill over the past 300 years along a 50-square-mile harbor. To save the 685,000-person city, the local government is calling on architects to help implement one of the most ambitious municipal resiliency plans in the United States: Climate Ready Boston. Launched in 2016 by Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Climate Ready Boston is an initiative to prepare the city for the long-term impacts of climate change.

  • Arctic Ice Is Melting Faster Than Expected. These Scientists Have a Radical Idea to Save It.

    glaciers, polar land, and sea ice are rapidly melting, much faster than many scientists expected, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report on oceans and the cryosphere released Wednesday reiterated. During a five-day heat wave this summer, Greenland lost more than 60 billion tons of ice, including the biggest loss in a 24-hour period since record-keeping began. Recent projections warn that Arctic summers could be nearly ice-free in 10 to 40 years. These grim warnings have prompted more researchers to apply technological solutions that intervene in the earth’s climate systems to slow the impacts of global warming, also known as “geoengineering.”

  • Ecosystem Investments Could Minimize Storm Damage

    A new study provides information on how to invest in natural coastal ecosystems that the Bahamian government, community leaders and development banks are applying in post-disaster recovery and future storm preparation in the Bahamas.

  • China’s Access to Foreign AI Technology

    Within the pages of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Report, presented in January of this year by former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, is a section titled ‘Emerging and Disruptive Technologies and Threats to Economic Competitiveness’.  The assessment summarizes the Intelligence Community’s concerns about AI and Autonomy. In an example of just what the U.S. Government is worried about, the Justice Department recently filed a criminal complaint against a Chinese government official and associates accusing them of trying to get U.S. universities to sponsor visas for people they described as Chinese research scholars, when in fact, says DOJ, the people had been sent to recruit American scientists. 

  • 250,000 Cubic Meters of Ice in Danger of Breaking Off Europe's Mont Blanc

    Highlighting concerns about global warming, Italian authorities now fear that part of the glacier on Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain, is at risk of collapse. Experts have been monitoring the Planpicieux glacier on Mont Blanc for some time and concerns have been mounting in Italy that a section of the glacier is at risk of collapsing. Mayors of the picturesque ski towns in the area have been taking civil defense measures, including plans for evacuation on a short notice.

  • Can Going Nuclear Combat Climate Change?

    To mitigate climate change, the proportion of low-carbon electricity generation must increase from today’s 36 percent to 85 percent by 2040, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says. IEA and other advocates argue that nuclear power could help fill this gap. However, barriers to a nuclear energy renaissance include safety concerns, aging reactors and high costs for new ones.

  • Global Climate in 2015-2019 Shows Climate Change Accelerating

    The tell-tale signs and impacts of climate change – such as sea level rise, ice loss, and extreme weather – increased during 2015-2019, which is set to be the warmest five-year period on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have also increased to record levels, locking in the warming trend for generations to come.

  • Sniffing Out Signs of Trouble

    A NIST researcher is conducting the first field test of a high-tech sniffing device called a PLOT-cryo — short for “porous layer open tubular cryogenic adsorption.” This NIST-invented device can be used to detect very low concentrations of chemicals in the air. The technology offers a new way to screen shipping containers at ports of entry.

  • Keeping TSA Detection Systems in Check

    As the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screens nearly two million people each day, officers are faced with the challenge of finding even the smallest sign of a threat. Microscopic particles of explosives can cling to a nefarious actor despite their best intentions to conceal any evidence of hidden contraband on their person or in their bags. S&T chemist Dr. Jim Deline developed a novel method to more efficiently test TSA detection equipment.

  • NYC Building a Seawall to Protect City from Rising Seas

    On Staten Island, the section of New York City which suffered most of Superstorm Sandy’s devastation, most of the homes destroyed by the storm still sit empty. City engineers have concluded that there was no point fixing and rehabilitating these homes until other measures are taken to protect the Staten Island from the next devastating storms. And climate change will only make these storms more frequent and more intense. These other measures are now underway.

  • Global Warming Has “Profound Consequences” for Oceans, Cryosphere

    The ocean and the cryosphere – the frozen parts of the planet – play a critical role for life on Earth. A total of 670 million people in high mountain regions and 680 million people in low-lying coastal zones depend directly on these systems. Four million people live permanently in the Arctic region, and small island developing states are home to 65 million people. Global warming has profound consequences for these ecosystems: The ocean is warmer, more acidic and less productive; melting glaciers and ice sheets are causing sea level rise; and coastal extreme events are becoming more severe.

  • Science Fiction Has Become Dystopian Fact

    So which dystopia are we living in? Most educated people have read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. So influential have these books been that we are inclined to view all disconcerting new phenomena as either “Orwellian” or “Huxleyan”. If you suspect we shall lose our freedom to a brutally repressive state, grinding its boot into our faces, you think of George. If you think we shall lose it to a hedonistic consumer culture, complete with test-tube designer babies, you quote Aldous. “My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power,” Huxley wrote in a letter to Orwell in 1949. Niall Ferguson agrees: “As I reflect on the world in 2019, I am struck by the wisdom of [Huxley’s] words. In Xi Jinping’s China, we see Totalitarianism 2.0. The boot on the face remains a possibility, of course, but it is needed less and less as the system of social credit expands, aggregating and analyzing all the digital data that Chinese citizens generate.”