• How Do We Know Whether a Virus Is Bioengineered?

    Since the onset of the pandemic, theories – or, rather, conspiracy theories – and no-evidence assertions argued that the coronavirus was intentionally engineered by Chinese scientists as a potential bioweapon, despite the consensus of scientists and intelligence experts that the virus’s genetics indicate that it is most likely a zoonotic pathogen. The scientists relied on a Finding Engineering-Linked Indicators (FELIX) analysis to reach their conclusion, but there are other detection tools – trouble is, these other tools may be used to engineer viruses for bioattacks.

  • Facing Climate Threats, Landmarks May Have to Adapt and “Transform”

    How much effort should be spent trying to keep Venice looking like Venice – even as it faces rising sea levels that threaten the city with more frequent extreme flooding? As climate change threatens cultural sites, preservationists and researchers are asking whether these iconic locations should be meticulously restored or should be allowed to adapt and “transform.”

  • Overhauling the Circulatory System of the American West

    It might be tempting to think of cowboys and cattle drives, but the real story of the American West can be summed up in one word: water. While the costs might be daunting, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) has teamed up with the Oregon-based Farmers Conservation Alliance to radically reimagine the role of irrigation systems in the West.

  • $26 million NSF initiative to establish new Center for Quantum Networks

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) has launched a major new initiative to establish and lead the Center for Quantum Networks, or CQN. The new center is funded through an initial $26 million, 5-year grant awarded to the University of Arizona, with an additional five-year $24.6 million renewal option.

  • Testing Interoperability, Compatibility of Next Generation 911 systems

    Next Generation 911 (NG911) is an updated version of the current nationwide emergency response system operating on an Internet Protocol (IP) platform that will enable voice, video, photographs, text, and future communications technologies to be transmitted to and by the public and first responders for assistance. The Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI), a DHS Center of Excellence led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), will develop a framework and process for testing the interoperability and compatibility of NG911 systems.

  • Research Suggests Racism Could Be a Genetic Trait

    Despite increased information and knowledge, racism is still a powerful force around the world. How can racist attitudes and practices have survived so many generations? A new study argues that beliefs that some groups are superior to others are deeply influenced by genetics.

  • Poison: Chasing the Antidote

    While targeted chemical attacks on civilians tend to make headlines, the most common poisoning reports in the United States are from accidental exposure to household chemicals such as insect sprays, cleaning solutions or improperly washed fruit or vegetables. In any case, the remedy is a fast-acting, poison-chasing drug compound, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory says it is on the forefront developing a new generation of life-saving antidotes.

  • Turning Waste into Valuable Critical Minerals

    A new way to treat acid mine drainage (AMD) could help transform the environmental pollution problem into an important domestic source of the critical rare earth elements needed to produce technology ranging from smart phones to fighter jets.

  • Assembling Offshore Wind Turbines

    The United States offshore wind energy industry is growing, with planned commitments to build 26 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind projects along the East Coast from now through 2035. This is the clean power equivalent of 26 nuclear power plants, or roughly 10 times the average electric energy used by the entire state of Delaware. Marshalling ports, large waterside sites with the acreage and weight-carrying capacity necessary to assemble, house and deploy the huge wind turbines ready to ship out into the ocean, will be critical to meeting this current and committed demand for offshore wind.

  • Protecting Yourself against Facial Recognition Software

    The rapid rise of facial recognition systems has placed the technology into many facets of our daily lives, whether we know it or not. What might seem innocuous when Facebook identifies a friend in an uploaded photo grows more ominous in enterprises such as Clearview AI, a private company that trained its facial recognition system on billions of images scraped without consent from social media and the internet. A new research project from the University of Chicago provides a powerful new protection mechanism.

  • Real-time Imaging to Help Prevent Deadly Dust Explosions

    Dust explosions can be among the most dangerous and costly workplace incidents. Dust builds up in agricultural, powder-handling or manufacturing settings, causing hazards to employees and posing the risk of exploding. Researchers have developed an image- and video-based application using OpenCV algorithms that detect explosible suspended dust concentration.

  • Bay Area Coastal Flooding Triggers Region-Wide Commute Disruptions

    Researchers have modeled how coastal flooding will impact commutes in the Bay Area over the next twenty years. Regions with sparse road networks will have some of the worst commute delays, regardless of their distances from the coast.

  • What is Ammonium Nitrate, the Chemical that Exploded in Beirut?

    Ammonium nitrate has the chemical formula NHNO₃. Produced as small porous pellets, or “prills,”it’s one of the world’s most widely used fertilizers. It is also the main component in many types of mining explosives, where it’s mixed with fuel oil and detonated by an explosive charge. For an industrial ammonium nitrate disaster to occur, a lot needs to go wrong. Tragically, this seems to have been the case in Beirut.

  • Consumers Do Not Fully Trust Smart Home Technologies

    Researchers investigating the trust consumers have in “smart home” – homes in which smart devices are connected to each other to create an “internet of things” (IoT) — found that consumers were worried about the likelihood of security incidents. Businesses and policymakers will have to work together to gain consumer trust in smart home technologies.

  • Protection against Terrorist Attacks with Homemade Explosives

    Terrorist attacks often feature the use of homemade explosives. For the police and security forces to be able to take appropriate precautions and assess the damage after an attack, they need access to the right kind of tools. Researchers have now developed a sophisticated risk-analysis system to help prevent such attacks. At the same time, the software-based system assists with the forensic investigation of such incidents.