• Deep-sea sponges may offer key to antibiotic drug resistance

    Infectious diseases remain a major threat to human health causing millions of deaths worldwide, especially in medically less-developed countries and regions. In 2016, there were an estimated 1.2 million tuberculous deaths, 1.03 million HIV/AIDS deaths, and 719,600 malaria deaths. This situation is significantly worsened by the prevalence of multi-drug resistance. Researchers may have a solution to this problem using sea sponges collected from the ocean depths.

  • Houston and Hurricane Harvey: The lessons

    Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas on 25 August 2017 as a Category 4 storm. Over the next four days, Harvey dropped more than 40 inches of rain over eastern Texas, causing catastrophic flooding. The resulting floods inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, displaced more than 30,000 people and prompted more than 17,000 rescues. Total damage from the hurricane is estimated at $125 billion. Through extensive interviews, a new Post-Event Review Capability (PERC) study identifies lessons learned from the 2017 Houston floods and provides recommendations for enhancing flood resilience - before the next event occurs.

  • Enhanced detection of nuclear events thanks to deep learning

    A deep neural network running on an ordinary desktop computer is interpreting highly technical data related to national security as well as — and sometimes better than — today’s best automated methods or even human experts.

  • Drones could be used to detect dangerous “butterfly” landmines

    It is estimated that there are at least 100 million military munitions and explosives of concern devices in the world, of various size, shape and composition. Millions of these are surface plastic landmines with low-pressure triggers, such as the mass-produced Soviet PFM-1 “butterfly” landmine. Drones could be used to detect dangerous “butterfly” landmines in remote regions of post-conflict countries.

  • Climate change will soon hit billions of people, and many cities are taking action

    By mid-century, billions of people in thousands of cities around the world will be at risk from climate-related heat waves, droughts, flooding, food shortages and energy blackouts, but many cities are already taking action to blunt such effects, says a new report from a consortium of international organizations.

  • As coastal communities face more frequent, severe disruptions, costly choices loom

    Sea levels are rising. Tides are inching higher. High-tide floods are becoming more frequent and reaching farther inland. And hundreds of U.S. coastal communities will soon face chronic, disruptive flooding that directly affects people’s homes, lives, and properties. Long before rising seas permanently submerge properties, millions of Americans living in coastal communities will face more frequent and more severe disruptions from high-tide flooding. As this flooding increases, it will reach a threshold where normal routines become impossible and coastal residents, communities, and businesses are forced to make difficult, often costly choices.

  • Global warming accelerating rise in sea levels

    A new study discovered that rising sea levels could be accelerated by vulnerable ice shelves in the Antarctic. The study discovered that the process of warmer ocean water destabilizing ice shelves from below is also cracking them apart from above, increasing the chance they’ll break off. “This study is more evidence that the warming effects of climate change are impacting our planet in ways that are often more dangerous than we perhaps had thought,” said one researcher.

  • Tensions among fishing countries rise as climate change drives fish to new habitats

    Out-of-date fisheries regulatory system has not kept up with the realities of global warming and shifting fish populations. New fisheries are likely to appear in more than seventy countries all over the world as a result of climate change. History has shown that newly shared fisheries often spark conflict among nations. Conflict leads to overfishing, which reduces the food, profit and employment fisheries can provide, and can also fracture international relations in other areas beyond fisheries.

  • Studying swarm behaviors can teach us how to help drones fly safely

    Civil engineers observe how flying insects avoid collisions, to help devise safe, self-regulated systems for drones and driverless cars. “Many types of animals swarm or flock or otherwise move in coordinated ways,” says a researcher. “No individual animal knows what every other animal is doing, yet somehow they move cohesively as a group.”

  • Novel transmitter protects wireless data from hackers

    Today, more than eight billion devices are connected around the world, forming an “internet of things” that includes medical devices, wearables, vehicles, and smart household and city technologies. By 2020, experts estimate that number will rise to more than twenty billion devices, all uploading and sharing data online. But those devices are vulnerable to hacker attacks that locate, intercept, and overwrite the data, jamming signals and generally wreaking havoc. A novel device uses ultrafast “frequency hopping” and data encryption to protect signals from being intercepted and jammed.

  • New app tracks locations, vitals, keeping first responders safe

    When first responders are on a mission, being able to quickly and easily track the location of their fellow responders can be challenging, especially in situations where the team is spread out. Many responders are only able to coordinate their locations by radioing each other or the command post and providing a very detailed message on their exact location. This can be time consuming and can change every second if they are in an emergency situation or on a call. The Watchtower mobile application allows users to track and report their location using the GPS already built into a smartphone.

  • Working around helium shortage

    Doctors use X-rays to see inside people, and scientists use neutrons to peer inside advanced materials and devices such as fuel cells to better understand and improve them. But a critical shortage of a rare form of helium used for detecting neutrons—which are difficult to spot directly—threatens to slow advances in this critical type of materials research. Scientists found a way to replace expensive and scarce helium-3 gas with previously studied crystals of more abundant materials.

  • Worry: Hurricanes are slowing down

    Some hurricanes are moving more slowly, spending increased time over land and leading to catastrophic local rainfall and flooding, according to a new study. The speed at which hurricanes track along their paths — their translational speed — plays a role in the damage and devastation they cause. Their movement influences how much rain falls in a given area. This is especially true as global temperatures increase. “The rainfalls associated with the ‘stall’ of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey in the Houston, Texas, area provided a dramatic example of the relationship between regional rainfall amounts and hurricane translation speeds,” says one researcher. “In addition to other factors affecting hurricanes, like intensification and poleward migration, these slowdowns are likely to make future storms more dangerous and costly.”

  • Coastal communities: Record number of high tide flooding days last year

    People living on the coast may see flooded sidewalks and streets more frequently this year due, in part, to El Nino conditions that are predicted to develop later this year, and from long-term sea level rise trends. Increased flooding trend is likely to continue: The projected increase in high tide flooding in 2018 may be as much as 60 percent higher across U.S. coastlines as compared to typical flooding about 20 years ago, according to NOAA scientists.

  • Next-generation water harvester delivers fresh water from air

    Last October, researchers headed down to the Arizona desert, plopped their newest prototype water harvester into the backyard of a tract home and started sucking water out of the air without any power other than sunlight. The successful field test of their larger, next-generation harvester proved what the team had predicted earlier in 2017: that the water harvester can extract drinkable water every day/night cycle at very low humidity and at low cost, making it ideal for people living in arid, water-starved areas of the world.