• Preparing for an Explosive Attack

    Explosives are a popular choice among terrorists for causing disruption, casualties and destruction. Although chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons may cause much more damage, explosives can still be the first choice because they are relatively easy to make, transport and use. DHS S&T says it wants to make sure that state and local leaders have choices, too, by arming them with technology to plan for worst-case scenarios and mitigate the fallout of terrorist attacks.

  • No Laughing Matter: Laughter Signature as New Biometrics

    The popular view of biometric security often invokes fingerprint readers, iris or retinal scans, and voice-activated systems. Researchers have now demonstrated how the way a person laughs might be used in biometrics. Initial tests of the approach show that a prototype laughter recognition algorithm can be 90 percent accurate.

  • Predicting Unprecedented Events

    Yogi Berra said that “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” but scientists have not given up on trying to do so. Researchers combined avalanche physics with ecosystem data to create a computational method for predicting extreme ecological events. The method may also have applications in economics and politics.

  • How French Technology Can Control Wearing of a Mandatory Mask

    The French government announced that as of Monday, wearing a face mask in enclosed public places will become mandatory. How would it be possible to check whether thousands of people are following the government’s instructions or not? Several French start-ups have developed solutions which are now being tested. Valentin Hamon-Beugin writes in Le Figaro [in French] that some companies have developed tools which rely on the use of CCTVs. Software is installed in the cameras, and using artificial intelligence, it detects masked faces. “It’s not about facial recognition. We simply recognize the human form behind the mask, but we don’t have access to the identity of the people filmed,”explains Virginie Ducable, project manager at RedLab, a Normandy-based start-up. No image is stored on servers, only statistical data is sent to the client. “These statistics can serve them in a concrete way. For example, if they find that too few people are wearing a mask at any given time, they will be able to automatically launch voice announcements urging them to follow health guidelines,” she adds. Olivier Gualdoni, CEO of Drone Volt, whose subsidiary, Aérialtronics, is working on a similar project, “Our solution aims to prevent, not to punish. We are completely opposite of the repression stereotypes associated with artificial intelligence.”

  • With Coronavirus Antibodies Fading Fast, Vaccine Hopes Fade, Too

    Disturbing new revelations that permanent immunity to the coronavirus may not be possible have jeopardized vaccine development and reinforced a decision by scientists at UCSF and affiliated laboratories to focus exclusively on treatments. Peter Fimrite writes in the San Francisco Chronicle that several recent studies conducted around the world indicate that the human body does not retain the antibodies that build up during infections, meaning there may be no lasting immunity to COVID-19 after people recover. Strong antibodies are also crucial in the development of vaccines. So molecular biologists fear the only way left to control the disease may be to treat the symptoms after people are infected to prevent the most debilitating effects, including inflammation, blood clots and death.

     

  • Texas to Face Driest Conditions of Last 1,000 Years

    Texas’ future climate will have drier summers and decreasing water supplies for much of the remainder of the twenty-first century — likely resulting in the driest conditions in the last 1,000 years, according to research led by Texas A&M University scientists.

  • “Threshold Cryptography” Bolsters Protection of Sensitive Data

    A new publication by NIST cryptography experts proposes the direction the technical agency will take to develop a more secure approach to encryption. This approach, called threshold cryptography, could overcome some of the limitations of conventional methods for protecting sensitive transactions and data.

  • Showcasing Cybersecurity Technologies

    Twelve innovative cybersecurity technologies available for commercial licensing from four U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories will be showcased to the public during a series of free webinars starting this month.

  • E-Waste-Eating Protein Creates Rare Earth Elements

    Rare earth elements (REE) are essential for American competitiveness in the clean energy industry because they are used in many devices important to a high-tech economy and national security. Researchers have designed a new process, based on a naturally occurring protein, that could extract and purify REE from low-grade sources. It could offer a new avenue toward a more diversified and sustainable REE sector for the United States.

  • Flood Bot: New Flood Warning Sensors

    Ellicott City, Maryland, suffered devastating floods in 2016 and 2018. The disasters left residents and officials wondering how technology could help predict future severe weather, and save lives and property. Scientists offer an answer: The Flood Bot network.

  • New Nontoxic Ammunition

    Every time a gun fires, lead leaches into the air. A scientific advancement could provide a comparable replacement for lead-based explosive materials found in ammunition, protecting soldiers and the environment from potential toxic effects.

  • During Droughts: Where Is the Water?

    In low precipitation periods – where and how is the limited available water distributed and what possibilities are there for improving retention in the soil and the landscape?

  • Using Frequency Analysis to Recognize Fake Images

    They look deceptively real, but they are made by computers: so-called deep-fake images are generated by machine learning algorithms, and humans are pretty much unable to distinguish them from real photos. New method makes it possible to expose fake images created by computer algorithms rather than by humans.

  • Touting Criticized Study, White House Presses FDA to Authorize Hydroxychloroquine — Again

    In March, the FDA, on scant evidence, initially gave emergency use authorization to hydroxychloroquine. The agency in April issued a safety warning about potential cardiac problems before withdrawing its approval last month. The reason for the FDA authorization withdrawal was the results of several large-scale, randomized, double-blind trials, all of which showed that not only does hydroxychloroquine offer no benefits to COVID-19-infetced patients, but that it substantially increases the risk of serious heart problems and heart-related deaths. Laurie McGinley and Josh Dawsey write in the Washington Post that earlier this month, a Henry Ford Health System study found death rates were 50 percent lower among the patients treated with hydroxychloroquine, the authors said. They also said the drug posed no safety problems. The study has been criticized by scientists, but the White House and Trump supporters in the media have urged the FDA to reauthorize hydroxychloroquine for emergency use.

  • Venice Ambitious Anti-Flood System Passes First Trial

    Venice On Friday conducted the first test of a controversial dam system made up of 78 inflatable barriers, aiming to protect the city from severe flooding. The ambitious and costly dam system, launched in 2003, has been plagued by corruption and is nearly a decade behind schedule. It will becoe fully operational by the end of 20201, and it is designed to hold water surges as high as 10 feet.