• Texas might spend up to $20 billion to protect Houston from hurricanes. Rice University says it can do it for a fraction of that.

    A government plan to guard the Houston-Galveston region from deadly storm surge could cost as much as $20 billion and isn’t expected to become reality for at least 15 years. Rice University says it has a plan that could be completed faster for a fraction of the cost.

  • Hackers’ Latest Target: School Districts

    Some hackers demand ransom; others sweep up personal data for sale to identity thieves. But whatever hackers’ motives, school systems around the country have been the targets of their cyberattacks. Nearly two-thirds of school districts in the United States serve fewer than 2,500 students, and many do not have a staff member dedicated solely to cybersecurity.

  • Upholding Scientific Integrity at Federal Agencies

    Republicans and Democrats on a House subcommittee on Thursday agreed that science-related policy decisions should be based on facts, but differed on how to protect the federal scientists who gather and analyze those facts from undue influence. 

  • U.S. and Australia Team Up against China's Dominance in Rare Earths

    An Australian rare-earth producer has enlisted an American partner to help it chip away at China’s dominance in supplying minerals that are crucial to making smartphones, missiles, batteries for electric vehicles and a long list of high-tech products. China has used its rare-earth dominance as a weapon in previous trade disputes and has signaled that it could do so again in its current fight with the U.S.

  • Coping with Climate Change with Forecast-Based Aid

    Traditionally, disaster victims have received assistance after trouble hits. If a region is flooded, say, people in the area may get aid to rebuild. But a new approach to humanitarian giving is flipping the script and offering help in advance of disaster, using in-depth weather forecasting and risk analysis to predict future victims.

  • Glaciers May Be Melting Faster Than We Expected

    From Alaska to Antarctica, thousands of glaciers flow over the land and out to the ocean. These tidewater glaciers are rapidly retreating and melting, like much of Earth’s ice, continually adding to rising sea levels. But to date, scientists have struggled to pinpoint where on the face of a glacier’s terminus the most intense melting occurs—and exactly how fast it is happening. Until now.

  • What Dragonflies Can Teach Us about Missile Defense

    Dragonfly brains might be wired to be extremely efficient at calculating complex trajectories: Dragonflies catch 95 percent of their prey, crowning them one of the top predators int he world. Sandia Lab scientists are is examining whether dragonfly-inspired computing could improve missile defense systems, which have the similar task of intercepting an object in flight, by making on-board computers smaller without sacrificing speed or accuracy.

  • Keeping First Responders Safe

    When two powerful earthquakes rocked southern California earlier this month, officials’ attention focused, understandably, on safety. How many people were injured? Were buildings up to code? How good are we at predicting earthquakes? Not a lot of people were thinking about urine, blood, and spit. But those substances are key to a PNNL effort to learn more about the health and safety of first responders.

  • Machine-learning Competition Improves Earthquake Prediction Capabilities

    Current scientific studies related to earthquake forecasting focus on three key points: when the event will occur, where it will occur, and how large it will be. The Kaggle competition, hosted by Los Alamos National Laboratory, provided a challenging dataset that was based on previously published laboratory analysis, to give the competitors a taxing project to explore. Competitors’ success predicting quake timing in the online Kaggle competition could help save lives, infrastructure.

  • Epigenetic Tool for Detecting Exposure to WMD

    With a $38.8 million award from DARPA, researchers are working on developing a field-deployable, point-of-care device that will determine in 30 minutes or less whether a person has been exposed to weapons of mass destruction or their precursors. The device will be capable of detecting the health effects of a number of substances associated with weapons of mass destruction, including biological agents, radiation, chemicals and explosives. The detection devices will scan potential exposure victims for epigenetic changes, that is, chemical modifications that affect genes, altering their expression while leaving the genetic code intact.

  • Climate Is Warming Faster Than It Has in the Last 2,000 Years

    In contrast to pre-industrial climate fluctuations, current, anthropogenic climate change is occurring across the whole world at the same time. In addition, the speed of global warming is higher than it has been in at least 2,000 years.

  • “No Doubt Left” about Scientific Consensus on Global Warming, Say Experts

    The scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming is likely to have passed 99 percent, according to the lead author of the most authoritative study on the subject, and could rise further after separate research that clears up some of the remaining doubts. The pushback has been political rather than scientific. Among academics who study the climate, the convergence of opinion is probably strengthening, according to one expert. “As expertise in climate science increases, so too does agreement with human-caused global warming,” says one expert.

  • 40 U.S. Diplomats in Cuba Have Suffered Brain Damage: Medical Report

    Brain imaging of 40 U.S. government personnel who served at the U.S. embassy in Havana in 2016, and who experienced a host of neurological symptoms after possible exposure of an unknown source, revealed significant differences in brain tissue and connectivity when compared to healthy individuals, according to a new report. Images reveal key brain differences, particularly in the cerebellum, between impacted patients and healthy individuals, which may underlie clinical findings previously reported by brain experts.

  • New Chip Device Identifies Miniscule Blood Residues for Forensic Applications

    Criminologists use luminol to identify microscopic blood drops, as well as low hydrogen peroxide concentrations, proteins and DNA. These are all invisible to the naked eye but become visible through a chemical reaction known as “chemiluminescence.” Detecting biological residues using this method is cost effective and advantageous since the detected signal does not depend on an external light source.


  • Developing ‘Smart City’ Floodwater Management

    In a world of smart watches, smart homes and smart appliances that monitor their environments to keep users safe and informed, can whole cities be smarter? Short answer: Probably, using cutting-edge information technologies to keep citizens and property safer.