• Energy-efficient dyke-inspection robots

    There are many dykes in the Netherlands, and their structural health must be continuously monitored. Inspecting the condition of dykes and other sea defense structures is typically a task for robots, working in a team and in a highly autonomous way. But if they move around across the dykes, perform tests, and communicate the results for six hours a day, they use a lot of energy. Introducing charging stations is not a realistic scenario. A Dutch researcher had a better idea: an innovative automatic gearbox or the robots, which uses two metal hemispheres instead of a belt drive.

  • Sensors monitor bridges’ health – and tweet the information they gather

    While bridge collapses are rare, there have been enough of them to raise concerns in some parts of the world that their condition is not sufficiently monitored. Sweden is taking a hi-tech approach to its aging infrastructure. Researchers are rigging up the country’s bridges with multiple sensors that allow early detection of wear and tear. The bridges can even tweet throughout the course of a day.

  • Record-breaking hot year may be the new normal by 2025

    The hottest year on record globally in 2015 could be just another average year by 2025 if carbon emissions continue to rise at their current rate, according to new research. And no matter what action we take, human activities had already locked in a “new normal” for global average temperatures that would occur no later than 2040. However, while annual global average temperatures were locked in, it was still possible with immediate and strong action on carbon emissions to prevent record-breaking seasons from becoming average — at least at regional levels.

  • Drowning: Warming above 2 degrees centigrade would place many coastal cities at risk

    The first predications of coastal sea level with warming of two degrees by 2040 show an average rate of increase three times higher than the twentieth century rate of sea level rise. By 2040 with 2 degrees centigrade warming, more than 90 percent of coastal areas will experience sea level rise exceeding the global estimate of 20cm, with up to 40cm expected along the Atlantic coast.

  • Nanobionic spinach plants can detect explosives

    Spinach is no longer just a superfood: By embedding leaves with carbon nanotubes, MIT engineers have transformed spinach plants into sensors that can detect explosives and wirelessly relay that information to a handheld device similar to a smartphone. This is one of the first demonstrations of engineering electronic systems into plants, an approach that the researchers call “plant nanobionics.”

  • Natural protection: Coastal wetlands reduce cost of flood damages during hurricanes

    As communities across the Southeast United States and the Caribbean count the cost of flood and wind damage during Hurricane Matthew, a pioneering study has quantified how much protection natural coastal habitats provide during hurricanes. The study found more than $625 million in property damages were prevented during this natural catastrophe by coastal wetlands along the Northeast coast. Without wetlands, the damage bill would be much higher for Sandy and other predicted hurricanes. Where wetlands remain, the average damage reduction from Sandy was greater than 10 percent.

  • Loss of Arctic sea ice linked to personal CO2 emissions

    Three square meters of Arctic summer sea ice disappears for every ton of carbon dioxide a person emits, wherever they are on the planet. The rapid retreat of Arctic sea ice is one of the most direct indicators of the ongoing climate change on Earth, and the newly discovered linear relationship helps us understand our personal contribution to global climate change for the first time and highlights the importance of lowering emissions to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

  • DHS seeking faculty, graduate, undergraduate students for summer 2017 research programs

    DHS is seeking faculty, undergraduate, and graduate students interested in participating in one of its 10-week programs in summer 2017, including its Summer Research Team Program for Minority Serving Institutions and its Homeland Security — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (HS-STEM) Summer Internship Program. The deadlines for applying for both programs occur in December 2016.

  • Nuclear CSI: Noninvasive procedure could spot criminal nuclear activity

    Determining whether an individual – a terrorist, a smuggler, a criminal — has handled nuclear materials, such as uranium or plutonium, is a challenge national defense agencies currently face. The standard protocol to detect uranium exposure is through a urine sample; however, urine is able only to identify those who have been recently exposed. Scientists have developed a noninvasive procedures that will better identify individuals exposed to uranium within one year.

  • New 3-D crime-scene forensics technology

    Researchers are developing a new type of portable crime-scene forensics technology designed to take precise high-resolution 3-D images of shoeprints and tire tread marks in snow and soil. The system will cost around $5,000, which is about one-tenth the cost of systems commercially available, and represents an alternative to the traditional method of plaster casting.

  • World on track for temperature rise of 2.9 to 3.4 degrees this century: UN

    Scientists agree that limiting global warming to under 2℃ this century (compared to pre-industrial levels), will reduce the likelihood of more-intense storms, longer droughts, sea-level rise, and other severe climate impacts. To have any chance of limiting global warming to 2℃ this century, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in 2030 cannot exceed 42 gigatons. A new report finds that 2030 emissions are expected to reach 54 to 56 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent, placing the world on track for a temperature rise of 2.9 to 3.4 degrees this century.

  • NSF awards FSU $4.6 million grant to support cybersecurity scholars

    A new multimillion grant to the Florida State University Department of Computer Science will help dozens of students finance their education and help prepare them for careers in cybersecurity. The NSF awarded the department a $4.6 million grant to help fund the education of students who are specifically pursuing cybersecurity studies. It is the largest grant in the department’s history.

  • Math abilities are not innate, but rather depend on many factors

    The prevalent theory today suggests people are born with a “sense of numbers,” an innate ability to recognize different quantities, like the number of items in a shopping cart, and that this ability improves with age. A new theory regarding how the brain first learns basic math could alter approaches to identifying and teaching students with math learning disabilities. The researchers offer a better understanding of how, when, and why people grasp every day math skills.

  • Risk of student radicalization in Quebec low

    A new survey of CEGEP students found that the risk of violent radicalization among Quebec youth remains “very weak,” while incidents of racism and hate speech remain common. CEGEP is a network of publicly funded pre‑university colleges in the province of Quebec’s education system – similar to U.S. community colleges.

  • Worrisome milestone: Atmospheric CO2 levels reach 400 parts per million in 2015

    Globally averaged concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached the symbolic and significant milestone of 400 parts per million for the first time in 2015 and surged again to new records in 2016 on the back of the very powerful El Niño event. CO2 levels had previously reached the 400 ppm barrier for certain months of the year and in certain locations but never before on a global average basis for the entire year. The longest-established greenhouse gas monitoring station at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, predicts that CO2 concentrations will stay above 400 ppm for the whole of 2016 and not dip below that level for many generations.