• Causal link established between climate, conflict, and migration

    Researchers have established a causal link between climate, conflict, and migration for the first time, something which has been widely suggested in the media but for which scientific evidence is scarce. There are numerous examples in recent decades in which climatic conditions have been blamed for creating political unrest, civil war, and subsequently, waves of migration. One major example is the ongoing conflict in Syria, which began in 2011. Many coastal Mediterranean countries in Europe are also inundated with refugees arriving by sea fleeing conflict in Africa.

  • To protect us from the risks of advanced artificial intelligence, we need to act now

    Artificial intelligence can play chess, drive a car and diagnose medical issues. Examples include Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo, Tesla’s self-driving vehicles, and IBM’s Watson. This type of artificial intelligence is referred to as Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) – non-human systems that can perform a specific task. With the next generation of AI the stakes will almost certainly be much higher. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) will have advanced computational powers and human level intelligence. AGI systems will be able to learn, solve problems, adapt and self-improve. They will even do tasks beyond those they were designed for. The introduction of AGI could quickly bring about Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI). When ASI-based systems arrive, there is a great and natural concern that we won’t be able to control them.

  • Robots to operate in nuclear no-go zones

    Sturdy, intelligent robots which react to their surroundings are being developed to work in situations which are too dangerous for humans, such as cleaning up Europe’s decades-old radioactive waste or helping during a nuclear emergency.

  • Breeding challenges of land mine-finding rats

    Thousands of people – many of them children – are hurt or killed by land mines each year, so finding these devices before they explode is critical. There is a surprising champion of detection: the African giant pouched rat. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, the pouched rats are large – they can grow up to 3 feet long, including the tail – but are still too small to set off the land mines. They have an exceptional sense of smell – they are also used to detect tuberculosis – but scientists know very little about their biology or social structure, and they’re difficult to breed in captivity.

  • Climate change tipping point may be coming sooner than we think

    Global carbon emissions reached a record high in 2018, rising by an estimated 3.4 percent in the U.S. alone. This trend is making scientists, government officials, and industry leaders more anxious than ever about the future of our planet. While it’s known that extreme weather events can affect the year-to-year variability in carbon uptake, but a new study is the first to actually quantify the effects through the 21st century and demonstrates that wetter-than-normal years do not compensate for losses in carbon uptake during dryer-than-normal years, caused by events such as droughts or heatwaves.

  • Portable ultrasound scanner identifies underage victims, border-crossers

    Human trafficking is a worldwide problem, and a serious crime. Researchers have developed a portable, non-invasive, ultrasound scanning device to identify underage victims trying to cross borders illegally. It was specifically designed as a means of uncovering, fighting and preventing human trafficking, but the German government is now exploring the use of the scanner to identify the age of asylum seekers.

  • New decision-making tool for oil spill clean-up

    Engineers have created an interactive decision tree aimed at finding the best solution for specific oil spill scenarios. Numerous chemical dispersant technologies are available to address different types of oil spills and countless variables and external conditions can play into the effectiveness of any given dispersant. The decision-making tool helps bridge this gap to determine how a dispersant technology will perform under different spill scenarios.

  • Near-term climate prediction “coming of age”

    The quest for climate scientists to be able to bridge the gap between shorter-term seasonal forecasts and long-term climate projections is “coming of age,” a study shows. The research has shown the true capabilities of near-term climate predictions, out to just a few years ahead.

  • Benefits of next-generation wargames

    Technological advances for game engines and cloud architectures are fueling the development of next-generation wargames that can increase insights for policymakers. Researchers say that the new technologies are making wargame tools more accessible and providing strategists with more insights.

  • Sierra snowpack could drop by nearly 80% by end of century

    A future warmer world will almost certainly feature a decline in fresh water from the Sierra Nevada mountain snowpack. Now a new study that analyzed the headwater regions of California’s 10 major reservoirs, representing nearly half of the state’s surface storage, found they could see on average a 79 percent drop in peak snowpack water volume by 2100.

  • Connected vehicles’ windshield wipers could help prevent flooding

    We’ve been promised all kinds of benefits from a future of connected vehicles, but flood control? One of your car’s oldest features has been put to a new, high-tech use by University of Michigan researchers. Utilizing a test fleet in the city of Ann Arbor, engineers tracked when wipers were being used and matched it with video from onboard cameras to document rainfall. They found that tracking windshield wiper activity can provide faster, more accurate rainfall data than radar and rain gauge systems we currently have in place.

  • Preparing for extreme weather

    From high winds and heavy rainfall to droughts and plummeting temperatures, people in Europe have already begun to feel the effects of extreme weather. As we get used to this new reality, scientists are investigating how it will affect how we get around and whether our infrastructure can cope.

  • Administration unveils its Missile Defense Review

    Thirty-five years after Ronald Reagan vowed to make nuclear weapons “impotent and obsolete,” the administration has today unveiled its Missile Defense Review – the latest iteration of U.S. efforts to build an effective ballistic missile defense. The Pentagon says that its search for more effective missile defense technologies is the result of its focus on near-peer adversaries such as China and Russia, but the administration’s Missile Defense Review appears more suitable for defending the United States against more limited attacks, such as those likely to come from North Korea or, perhaps, Iran.

  • Producing vaccines without the use of chemicals

    Producing vaccines is a tricky task – especially in the case of inactivated vaccines, in which pathogens must be killed without altering their structure. Until now, this task has generally involved the use of toxic chemicals. Now, however, an innovative new technology developed by Fraunhofer researchers – the first solution of its kind – will use electron beams to produce inactivated vaccines quickly, reproducibly and without the use of chemicals.

  • Coastal wetlands need to move inland in fight against climate change

    Up to 30 percent of coastal wetlands could be lost globally as a result of rising sea levels, with a dramatic effect on global warming and coastal flooding, if action is not taken to protect them, new research warns. The global study suggests that the future of global coastal wetlands, including tidal marshes and mangroves, could be secured if they were able to migrate further inland.