• Dream of ideal “invisibility” cloaks for stress waves dashed

    Whether Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, which perfectly steers light waves around objects to make them invisible, will ever become reality remains to be seen, but perfecting a more crucial cloak is impossible, a new study says. It would have perfectly steered stress waves in the ground, like those emanating from a blast, around objects like buildings to make them “untouchable.”

  • Finding and fixing natural gas leaks quickly, economically

    From production to consumption, natural gas leaks claim lives, damage the climate and waste money. Researchers are working on better ways to find and fix gas leaks quickly and inexpensively from one end of the system to the other.

  • Narrowing the search for advanced life in the universe

    Scientists may need to rethink their estimates for how many planets outside our solar system could host a rich diversity of life. Toxic gases limit the types of life we could find on habitable worlds.

  • Secure multiparty computation protecting privacy at the ballot box

    Shortly after the start of the new year, Americans around the nation will start returning to polling stations to vote in presidential primaries. How confident they feel in the voting process could depend on this thing called secure multiparty computation.

  • New computer attack mimics user's keystroke characteristics, evading detection

    Researchers have developed a new attack called “Malboard,” which evades several detection products that are intended to continuously verify the user’s identity based on personalized keystroke characteristics. 

  • Showing emergency responders the fastest, safest path to incident scenes

    Getting to your destination has never been easier, thanks to a number of popular global positioning systems (GPS) -based navigation apps available for download on smart devices. For first responders, there can be drawbacks to using the same apps and following the same routes as everyone else. When every second counts getting to an emergency scene, good enough just won’t cut it.

  • The U.S. needs an industrial policy for cybersecurity

    Industrial policies are appropriate when market failures have led to the under-provision of a good or service. The cybersecurity industry’s growth has been held back for several reasons, including intractable labor shortages. Vinod K. Aggarwal and Andrew W. Reddie write in Defense One that both the United States and United Kingdom suffer from a documented shortage of skilled programmers and computer scientists working on cybersecurity issues, and the U.S. alone is projected to have a shortage of 1.2 million professionals by 2022, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The market has also been hindered by so-called “information problems,” as firms are often not aware of their own vulnerabilities and avoid sharing information about data breaches given the reputation costs associated with disclosure. So what can the government do about it?

  • U.S. moves to lessen dependence on foreign-sourced rare earth materials

    Critical minerals are needed for many products used by Americans in everyday life. These minerals are also used to make many other products important to the American economy and defense. The assured supply of these critical minerals is thus essential to the U.S. economic security and national defense. Currently, the United States is heavily dependent on foreign sources of critical minerals – importing more than 50 percent of the U.S. annual consumption of 31 of the 35 minerals. The U.S. relies completely on imports to supply its demand for 14 critical minerals.

  • WhatsApp's loophole reveals role of private companies in cyber-surveillance

    Last month, WhatsApp’s latest security flaw was discovered, a flaw which allow governments to spy on dissidents, activists, and journalists. An Israeli cyber company is reportedly behind the loophole — and not for the first time.

  • Climate change already affecting global food production—unequally

    The world’s top 10 crops —  barley, cassava, maize, oil palm, rapeseed, rice, sorghum, soybean, sugarcane, and wheat — supply a combined 83 percent of all calories produced on cropland. Yields have long been projected to decrease in future climate conditions. Now, new research shows climate change has already affected production of these key energy sources — and some regions and countries are faring far worse than others.

  • ARCHANGEL: Securing national archives with AI and blockchain

    Researchers are using its state-of-the-art blockchain and artificial intelligence technologies to secure the digital government records of national archives across the globe – including the U.K., Australia, and the United States of America.

  • The economic cost of devastating hurricanes and other extreme weather events is even worse than we thought

    June marks the official start of hurricane season. If recent history is any guide, it will prove to be another destructive year thanks to the worsening impact of climate change. If this is not bad enough, there is this: a meaningful assessment of the costs of climate change – using basic economic principles I teach to undergrads – paints a scary picture indeed.

  • Silicon Valley’s scramble for China

    In August 2012, China launched one of its first major “smart city” projects for the remote oil town of Karamay in the autonomous province of Xinjiang. “Information technology is not just about technology. It should be integrated with all aspects of life in our city and make people’s lives more convenient,” said then Karamay Mayor Chen Xinfa. Nafeez Ahmed writes in Coda Story that A report released last year by subsidiary Deloitte China, titled “Super Smart City: Happier Society with Higher Quality,” celebrates China’s drive to build “super smart cities” which integrate data across services like health care, transport, education and public safety. Billed by Deloitte as a virtual utopia, China’s smart cities represent the biggest and most intrusive surveillance architecture ever built by any single nation, according to experts and analysts.

  • Huawei and the U.S.-China supply chain wars: The contradictions of a decoupling strategy

    In two dramatic policy announcements last month, the Trump administration effectively barred U.S. companies and government agencies from buying telecommunications equipment or services from – or selling any components to – Chinese technology champion Huawei. President Donald Trump signed a broadly phrased executive order restricting any transaction of information communication technology (products or services linked to a “foreign adversary” deemed to pose an “unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States”), while the Commerce Department placed Huawei the company and its affiliates on its Entity List – a designation that requires U.S. firms and foreign companies selling products that contain American components to acquire a license from the U.S. government before trading with a blacklisted company. Darren Lim and Victor Ferguson write in War on the Rocks that these moves represent the latest steps towards “decoupling,” the unwinding of the interlocking supply chains and trading relationships that have made the U.S. and Chinese economies so deeply interdependent over the past two decades. Whether deliberate or not, the restrictions on Huawei have prompted some to argue that we are witnessing the collapse of an open, global market for information communication technology goods and services. Others cite the new policies as the latest confirmation of an emerging “economic” or “technology” Cold War between China and the United States.

  • A study exposes the health risks of gene-editing human embryos

    A missing chunk of DNA – called Δ32 mutation —is 32 base pairs long and smack in the middle of the CCR5 gene, might be the most studied mutation in human history. The spontaneous deletion, which arose thousands of years ago, has a striking relationship with one of the worst human diseases: HIV/AIDS. People who inherit this mutation from both of their parents are naturally immune. last year, a Chinese scientist named He Jiankui used Crispr to try to endow two human embryos with the Δ32 mutation and immunity to HIV. Megan Molteni writes in Wired that last week, it emerged that fertility clinics around the world have been seeking He’s advice on offering a CCR5 Crispr edit as a service to prospective parents. Now, new research is suggesting that such a procedure might actually be an early death sentence.