• Building statistical foundation for next-gen forensic DNA profiling

    DNA is often considered the most reliable form of forensic evidence, and this reputation is based on the way DNA experts use statistics. When they compare the DNA left at a crime scene with the DNA of a suspect, experts generate statistics that describe how closely those DNA samples match. A jury can then take those match statistics into account when deciding guilt or innocence. These match statistics are reliable because they’re based on rigorous scientific research. However, that research only applies to DNA fingerprints, also called DNA profiles, that have been generated using current technology. Now, scientists have laid the statistical foundation for calculating match statistics when using Next Generation Sequencing, or NGS, which produces DNA profiles that can be more useful in solving some crimes.

  • Spotting spies in the sky

    The use of drones for surveillance is no longer in the realm of science fiction. Researchers have developed the first technique to detect a drone camera illicitly capturing video. The new technology addresses increasing concerns about the proliferation of drone use for personal and business applications and how it is impinging on privacy and safety.

  • Groundwater recharge project helps California’s sustainability efforts

    The depletion of California’s aquifers by over-pumping of groundwater has led to growing interest in “managed aquifer recharge,” which replenishes depleted aquifers using available surface waters, such as high flows in rivers, runoff from winter storms, or recycled waste water. At the same time, there is growing concern about contamination of groundwater supplies with nitrate from fertilizers, septic tanks, and other sources. Study shows how collecting storm-water runoff to replenish depleted groundwater supplies can be coupled with a simple strategy to reduce nitrate contaminants.

  • Climate taxes on agriculture may lead to more food insecurity than climate change itself

    New research has found that a single climate mitigation scheme applied to all sectors, such as a global carbon tax, could have a serious impact on agriculture and result in far more widespread hunger and food insecurity than the direct impacts of climate change. Smarter, inclusive policies are necessary instead.

  • How climate change will alter our food

    The world population is expected to grow to almost 10 billion by 2050. With 3.4 billion more mouths to feed, and the growing desire of the middle class for meat and dairy in developing countries, global demand for food could increase by between 59 and 98 percent. This means that agriculture around the world needs to step up production and increase yields. But scientists say that the impacts of climate change—higher temperatures, extreme weather, drought, increasing levels of carbon dioxide, and sea level rise—threaten to decrease the quantity and jeopardize the quality of our food supplies.

  • World-first program to stop hacking by quantum supercomputers

    IT experts have devised the world’s leading post-quantum secure privacy-preserving algorithm so powerful it can thwart attacks from supercomputers of the future. The Lattice-Based One Time Linkable Ring Signature (L2RS) enhanced security, and privacy-preserving features enable large transactions and transfer of data without risk of being hacked by quantum computers and privacy revoked by unauthorized users.

  • Warming temperatures could increase suicide rates across the U.S., Mexico

    Researchers compared historical temperature and suicide data and found a strong correlation between warm weather and increased suicides. They estimate climate change could lead to suicide rate increases across the U.S. and Mexico.

  • FBI wish list: An app that can recognize the meaning of your tattoos

    We’ve long known that the FBI is heavily invested in developing face recognition technology as a key component in its criminal investigations. But new records, obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, show that’s not the only biometric marker the agency has its eyes on. The FBI’s wish list also includes image recognition technology and mobile devices to attempt to use tattoos to map out people’s relationships and identify their beliefs.

  • Better decisions during a radiological emergency

    Whether a catastrophe is natural or man-made, emergency managers need to respond quickly with the optimal solution. Making decisions on the fly can be difficult, which is why significant planning must go into a disaster response strategy. Many conversations need to happen, and they need to cover a range of possible scenarios. The Radiation Decontamination tool Rad Decon was developed to facilitate those very discussions during a radiological emergency.

  • Microprocessor designers realize security must be a primary concern

    Fifty years after the founding of Intel, engineers have begun to second-guess many of the chip-making industry’s design techniques. Recently, security researchers have found that some innovations have let secrets flow freely out of computer hardware the same way software vulnerabilities have led to cyberattacks and data breaches. This realization has led to calls from microchip industry leaders, including icons John Hennessy and David Patterson, for a complete rethinking of computer architecture to put security first. Identifying and securing these newly identified hardware vulnerabilities and side-channels will be challenging, but the work is important – and a reminder that designers and architects must always think about other ways attackers might try to compromise computer systems.

  • New nerve gas detector made of a smartphone and Lego bricks

    Researchers have designed a way to sense dangerous chemicals using, in part, a simple rig consisting of a smartphone and a box made from Lego bricks, which could help first responders and scientists in the field identify deadly and difficult-to-detect nerve agents such as VX and sarin.

  • An immigrant workforce leads to innovation: Study

    New federal restrictions on the temporary H-1B visa, which allows high-skilled foreign workers to be employed by U.S. companies, have increased debate on the economic impacts of the program, but little is known about its effect on product innovation—until now. New research shows that hiring high-skilled workers from abroad may have a meaningful impact on the birth of new products and phasing out of older ones, with implications on both firm profits and consumer welfare.

  • Buried internet infrastructure at risk as sea levels rise

    Thousands of miles of buried fiber optic cable in densely populated coastal regions of the United States may soon be inundated by rising seas, according to a new study. The study, presented at a meeting of internet network researchers, portrays critical communications infrastructure that could be submerged by rising seas in as soon as fifteen years. “Most of the damage that’s going to be done in the next 100 years will be done sooner than later,” says Ban authority on the “physical internet.” “That surprised us. The expectation was that we’d have 50 years to plan for it. We don’t have 50 years.”

  • Scavenger hunt for simulated nuclear materials

    Competing in a fictitious high-stakes scenario, a group of scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) bested two dozen other teams in a months-long, data-driven scavenger hunt for simulated radioactive materials in a virtual urban environment. The competition platform was also built and managed by Lab researchers.

  • Soligenix receives European, Canadian patents for its ricin toxin vaccine (RiVax) formulation

    Soligenix, Inc., a late-stage biopharmaceutical company, announced that it has received notice of allowance for European and Canadian patent applications further extending protection around ThermoVax  including coverage of the company’s ricin toxin vaccine, RiVax. RiVax potentially would be added to the Strategic National Stockpile and dispensed in the event of a terrorist attack.