• Insects as potential weapons in biological warfare

    Owing to present-day armed conflicts, the general public is well aware of the terrifying effects of chemical weapons. Meanwhile, the effects of biological weapons have largely disappeared from public awareness. A project funded by a research agency of the U.S. Department of Defense is now giving rise to concerns about being possibly misused for the purpose of biological warfare.

  • World heritage sites under threat from climate change

    UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Mediterranean such as Venice, the Piazza del Duomo, Pisa, and the Medieval City of Rhodes are under threat of coastal erosion and flooding due to rising sea levels. The authors have identified areas with urgent need for adaptation planning and suggest the iconic nature of such sites can be used to promote awareness of the need to take action to mitigate climate change.

  • Unhackable communication: Single particles of light could bring the “quantum internet”

    Hacker attacks on everything from social media accounts to government files could be largely prevented by the advent of quantum communication, which would use particles of light called “photons” to secure information rather than a crackable code. The problem is that quantum communication is currently limited by how much information single photons can help send securely, called a “secret bit rate.” Researchers created a new technique that would increase the secret bit rate 100-fold, to over 35 million photons per second.

  • The problem with using ‘super recognizers’ to spot criminals in a crowd

    People often say that they never forget a face, but for some people, this claim might actually be true. So-called super recognizers are said to possess exceptional face recognition abilities, often remembering the faces of those they have only briefly encountered or haven’t seen for many years. Their unique skills have even caught the attention of policing and security organizations, who have begun using super recognizers to match photographs of suspects or missing persons to blurry CCTV footage. But recent research shows that the methods used to identify super recognizers are limited, and that the people recruited for this work might not always be as super as initially thought.

  • Climate change could cause global beer shortages

    Severe climate events could cause shortages in the global beer supply, according to new research. The study warns that increasingly widespread and severe drought and heat may cause substantial decreases in barley yields worldwide, affecting the supply used to make beer, and ultimately resulting in “dramatic” falls in beer consumption and rises in beer prices.

  • Geoengineering, other technologies won’t solve climate woes

    The countries of the world still need to cut their carbon dioxide emissions to reach the Paris Agreement’s climate targets. Relying on tree planting and alternative technological solutions such as geoengineering will not make enough of a difference.

  • Exposing security vulnerabilities in terahertz data links

    Scientists have assumed that future terahertz data links would have an inherent immunity to eavesdropping, but new research shows that’s not necessarily the case. The study shows that terahertz data links, which may play a role in ultra-high-speed wireless data networks of the future, aren’t as immune to eavesdropping as many researchers have assumed. The research shows that it is possible for a clever eavesdropper to intercept a signal from a terahertz transmitter without the intrusion being detected at the receiver.

  • Open-source hardware could defend against the next generation of hacking

    Imagine you had a secret document you had to store away from prying eyes. And you have a choice: You could buy a safe made by a company that kept the workings of its locks secret. Or you could buy a safe whose manufacturer openly published the designs, letting everyone – including thieves – see how they’re made. Which would you choose? It might seem unexpected, but as an engineering professor, I’d pick the second option.

  • Making Oregon safer in quakes and fires

    Research by University of Oregon seismologist is shaping a new set of policy agendas designed to help Oregon prepare for a Cascadia earthquake and other natural disasters. His work on the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system and its companion multihazard monitoring efforts informed Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s just-released document, “Resiliency 2025: Improving Our Readiness for the Cascadia Earthquake and Tsunami.”

  • Global hotspots for potential water conflicts

    Scientists at the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission have identified the hotspots where competition over the use of shared water resources could lead to disagreements between countries. The scientists determined that the Nile, Ganges-Brahmaputra, Indus, Tigris-Euphrates and Colorado rivers are “water hotspots”, where “hydro-political interactions” are most likely to occur. These areas are already under water stress, and future demographic and climatic conditions are expected to exert further pressure on scarce water resources.

  • The 1800s Global Famine could happen again

    Researchers have completed the most thorough analysis yet of The Great Drought — the most devastating known drought of the past 800 years — and how it led to the Global Famine, an unprecedented disaster that took 50 million lives. She warns that the Earth’s current warming climate could make a similar drought even worse.

  • Does more education reduce political violence?

    Recent evidence of above-average levels of education among genocide perpetrators and terrorists, such as those who carried out the 9/11 attacks, has challenged the consensus among scholars that education has a generally pacifying effect. Is it true that more schooling can promote peaceful behavior and reduce civil conflict and other forms of politically-motivated group violence?

  • Florida Panhandle counties less prepared for emergency than rest of state

    found that the vast majority of counties in the Florida Panhandle were less prepared for emergency evacuation compared to the rest of the state. Of the 67 counties in Florida, 10 were rated as having weak levels of evacuation preparedness, and all of these counties were located in the Panhandle/North Florida. Eleven of 16 counties with moderately rated plans also were in this region. Only seven of the counties in the Panhandle had strong plans.

  • Who believes in conspiracies? Research offers a theory

    The Apollo moon landing was staged. The CIA killed JFK. 9/11 was a plot by the U.S. government to justify a war in the Middle East. President Barack Obama was not a natural born citizen. The massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school was staged as a pretense for increased gun control. The “deep state” is trying to destroy Donald Trump’s presidency. Conspiracy theories have been cooked up throughout history, but they are increasingly visible lately, likely due in part to the president of the United States routinely embracing or creating them. What draws people to conspiracy theories? New research suggests that people with certain personality traits and cognitive styles are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories.

  • Insect Allies: Friend or foe?

    In 2016 DARPA launched the Insect Allies project, budgeting $45 million over four years to transform agricultural pests into vectors that can transfer protective genes into plants within one growing season. Scientists are concerned that such technology might be used for nefarious purposes. In a recent Science article, the scientists note the profound implications of releasing a horizontal environmental genetic alteration agent – implications that touch on regulatory, economic, biological, security, and societal issues.