• Storms filled 37 percent of California snow-water deficit

    The “atmospheric river” weather patterns that pummeled California with storms from late December to late January may have recouped 37 percent of the state’s five-year snow-water deficit. Researchers estimate that two powerful recent storms deposited roughly 17.5-million acre feet (21.6 cubic kilometers) of water on California’s Sierra Nevada range in January. Compared to averages from the pre-drought satellite record, that amount represents more than 120 percent of the typical annual snow accumulation for this range.

  • Electricity costs to surge in a warming world

    Climate change is likely to increase U.S. electricity costs over the next century by billions of dollars more than economists previously forecast, according to a new study. The study shows how higher temperatures will raise not just the average annual electricity demand, but more importantly, the peak demand. And to avoid brownouts and absorb these surges, utilities will need to spend between $70 billion and $180 billion in grid upgrades—power plants and futuristic energy storage systems for which ratepayers would ultimately foot the bill.

  • Sandia adds augmented reality to training toolbox

    When you hear the term “serious gaming” you might envision professional eSports competitors gearing up for a League of Legends World Championship in front of tens of thousands of live fans and tens of millions of streaming fans. At Sandia National Laboratories, serious gaming means something else entirely. Experts on physical security at Sandia apply the technology and methods of the game industry to real-world national security problems.

  • Federally developed technologies go to work

    A tool to assess and address cyber and physical security issues and an inexpensive way to create a microscope out of a cell phone are being used by businesses and individuals, thanks to teams who worked to move them out of the laboratory and into the marketplace.

  • Low-cost imaging system detects natural gas leaks in real time

    Researchers have developed an infrared imaging system that could one day offer low-cost, real-time detection of methane gas leaks in pipelines and at oil and gas facilities. Leaks of methane, the primary component of natural gas, can be costly and dangerous while also contributing to climate change as a greenhouse gas. Infrared device enables reliable monitoring under a range of environmental conditions.

  • How political science helps combat terrorism

    Richard Nielsen, an MIT expert on Islamic terrorism, estimates that about 10 percent of Muslim clerics on the Internet are jihadists. “I don’t know if this number should strike readers as high or low; it’s higher than I expected,” he says. The question he tackles is the internet changing the nature of religious authority in Islam? “The problem of modern jihadism is rooted in an ongoing crisis of Islamic authority brought about by the rise of media — first print, then cassette tapes, and now the online Fatwa Bank.” He adds that data show that the odds of dying violently are lower now than they’ve ever been. “This isn’t to say that terrorism isn’t a problem, but we should keep the true level of threat posed by terrorism in perspective.”

  • Dual-use sciene, technological innovation

    Scientific research can change our lives for the better, but it also presents risks – either through deliberate misuse or accident. Think about studying deadly pathogens; that’s how we can learn how to successfully ward them off, but it can be a safety issue too, as when CDC workers were exposed to anthrax in 2014 after an incomplete laboratory procedure left spores of the bacterium alive. Making decisions about the security implications of science and technology can be complicated. That’s why scientists and policymakers need clarity on the dual-use distinction to help consider our options.

  • Deflecting asteroids to prevent their collision with Earth

    On 15 February 2013, an asteroid with a diameter of approximately eighteen meters exploded over the Russian town of Chelíabinsk, producing thousands of meteorites that fell to Earth. Many meteorites hit the ground each year, each with a total mass exceeding one ton. An international project provides information on the effects a projectile impact would have on an asteroid. The aim of the project is to work out how an asteroid might be deflected so as not to collide with the Earth.

  • Psychological “vaccine” could immunize public against fake news on climate change

    New research finds that misinformation on climate change can psychologically cancel out the influence of accurate statements. However, if legitimate facts are delivered with an “inoculation” – a warning dose of misinformation – some of the positive influence is preserved.

  • Fish scales inspire protective wear

    For several years, researchers have been trying to replicate the kind of protection combined with flexibility offered by certain kinds of animal scales. Their goal is to create protective gloves that are both resistant to piercing and still flexible enough. After five years of work, they believe they have done it. The solution came when they started looking more closely at the scales of an alligator gar.

  • Stopping human-made droughts and floods before they start

    Alberta’s rivers are a main source of water for irrigated agriculture in Canada’s Prairie provinces. But climate change and increased human interference mean that the flow of these headwaters is under threat. This could have major implications for Canadian gross domestic product, and even global food security.

  • School shootings in U.S. linked to increased unemployment

    A rigorous new study of a quarter-century of data has found that economic insecurity is related to the rate of gun violence at K-12 and postsecondary schools in the United States. When it becomes more difficult for people coming out of school to find jobs, the rate of gun violence at schools increases.

  • Do Americans want to buy ‘smart’ guns?

    “Smart gun” refers to firearms that include some sort of safety device designed to make sure that the gun can be fired only by an authorized user. These safety devices include fingerprint recognition, wearable “tags” that a gun can recognize and other similar features. Smart guns are not yet widely available on the market. But would Americans actually buy smart guns? We need more studies with larger, nationally representative samples and more detailed questions about smart guns. However, my study sheds light on how subgroups of Americans feel about the issue. Not all gun owners or nonowners feel the same way about smart guns. Support is not evenly divided by political party. American attitudes toward smart guns are complex and do not necessarily follow the patterns we might expect.

  • UAlbany names dean of Homeland Security College

    The University at Albany has appointed Robert Griffin as its new dean for the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC). CEHC was created under the leadership of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2015, as the first of its kind in the nation. The college is dedicated to advancing educational and practical skills needed to prepare for, protect against, respond to, and recover from a growing array of natural and human-caused risks and threats in New York State and around the world.

  • NSA/DHS endorse DCC cybersecurity program

    Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe on last week praised Danville Community College for becoming the “first rural community college in Virginia” to earn a prestigious cybersecurity designation from the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DCC is now one of just four community colleges in Virginia to achieve this milestone, which the governor called “a very big deal” for both attracting new industry and securing digital information.