• ForensicsNew 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.

  • Perspective: ReadinessThe U.S. Is Unprepared to Mobilize for Great Power Conflict

    The “fully mobilized Joint Force,” the National Defense Strategy tells us, will be capable of “defeating aggression by a major power; deterring opportunistic aggression elsewhere; and disrupting imminent terrorist and WMD threats.” Yet neither that document, nor U.S. planners in general, are sufficiently grappling with certain mobilization challenges that could prove decisive in a future great power conflict. The attacks of an adversary against U.S. critical infrastructure could cause major damage and disruption in ways that could undermine overall morale and create major impediments to mobilization. Given these threats and these apparent vulnerabilities, the resilience and survivability of the U.S. homeland must remain a core priority. So too, the U.S. military, which has become accustomed to operating in much more permissive environments in its recent history, must also be prepared to mobilize and operate under such demanding conditions.

  • CybersecurityChina Cyber Attacks on AFSPC Contractors ‘Stealing Us Blind’

    “Cyber keeps me up at night,” says Brig. Gen. DeAnna Burt, director of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) operations and communications, because China’s cyber warriors are routinely breaching defense and space contractor networks and stealing data on a regular basis. “For every defense contractor in this room, the thing that keeps me up at night is how we manage data on your systems or your sub’s systems,” she warned. “We have had breaches … the Chinese and others stealing things from cleared defense contractors.”

  • Perspective: China syndromeA New Red Scare Is Reshaping Washington

    The Committee on the Present Danger, a long-defunct group that campaigned against the dangers of the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, has recently been revived with the help of Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, to warn against the dangers of China. “These are two systems that are incompatible,” says Bannon. “One side is going to win, and one side is going to lose.”

  • Perspective: Earthquake warningsQ&A: How Ridgecrest Earthquakes Helped Scientists with ShakeAlert

    U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Sarah Minson was in the thick of efforts to develop an earthquake warning system in California when a series of major temblors struck the sparsely populated community of Ridgecrest in the Mojave Desert this summer. The largest, a magnitude 7.1 quake on July 5, was the biggest to hit the state in decades. The Mercury News asked her about her work — and how this month’s big quakes is helping scientists refine California’s fledgling earthquake alert system.

  • Explosives detectorsAssessing Handheld Explosives Trace Detectors

    Individuals who carry explosives or have been involved in bomb making are likely to be contaminated with trace explosives, microscopic particles invisible to the naked eye. Without the right equipment, detecting trace explosives can be challenging for responders and security personnel. Handheld explosives trace detectors (ETDs) can be used to complement bomb-sniffing canines, which are still the gold standard in trace explosives detection. These detectors can be used to find trace explosives on individuals, hopefully preventing a dangerous incident.

  • EarthquakesAmericans Focus on Responding to Earthquake Damage, Not Preventing It, Because They’re Unaware of Their Risk

    By Matt Motta

    On July 4 and 5, two major earthquakes, followed by several thousand smaller ones, struck Southern California. Their size and the damage they caused captured attention around the country. What tends to get much less notice from the public is what can be done to prevent catastrophic damage from big quakes.

  • Grey zoneGaining Competitive Advantage for the U.S. in the Gray Zone

    The United States is entering a period of intensifying strategic competition with several rivals, most notably Russia and China. U.S. officials expect this competition to be played out primarily below the threshold of armed conflict, in what is sometimes termed the gray zone between peace and war. The United States is ill prepared and poorly organized to compete in this space, but the United States can begin to treat the ongoing gray zone competition as an opportunity more than a risk.

  • EarthquakeNew Sensor Improves Earthquake Response Efforts

    The recent massive southern California earthquakes shut down Ridgecrest Regional Hospital throughout the 4 July holiday weekend while the tiny town of Ridgecrest assessed the damages. Researchers developed a new optical sensor which could speed up the time it takes to evaluate whether critical buildings like these are safe to occupy shortly after a major earthquake.

  • PerspectiveHow Cyber Weapons Are Changing the Landscape of Modern Warfare

    In the weeks before two Japanese and Norwegian oil tankers were attacked, on 13 June, in the Gulf of Oman—acts which the United States attributes to Iran—American military strategists were planning a cyberattack on critical parts of that country’s digital infrastructure. On 20 June, the United States launched a cyberattack aimed at disabling Iran’s maritime operations. Then, in a notable departure from previous Administrations’ policies, U.S. government officials, through leaks that appear to have been strategic, alerted the world, in broad terms, to what the Americans had done.

  • Radiation risksHelping first responders deal with dirty bombs

    If a radiological dispersal device (RDD), or “dirty bomb,” ever explodes in the United States, emergency crews may be better prepared because researchers have developed a new simulator, which show first responders what an optimal response to an RDD would look like.

  • PerspectiveRadiation in Parts of the Marshall Islands Is Far Higher than Chernobyl, Study Says

    Think of the most radioactive landscapes on the planet and the names Chernobyl and Fukushima may come to mind. Yet research published Monday suggests that parts of the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific, where the United States conducted 67 nuclear tests during the Cold War, should be added to the list.

  • WildfiresClimate Change Is Driving Many California Wildfires

    Against a backdrop of long-term rises in temperature in recent decades, California has seen ever higher spikes in seasonal wildfires, and, in the last two years, a string of disastrous, record-setting blazes. This has led scientists, politicians and media to ponder: what role might warming climate be playing here?

  • Perspective: CybersecurityCyberattack Attribution and the Virtues of Decentralization

    In the midst of rising tensions between the United States and Iran over tanker attacks and Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone, reports emerged that U.S. Cyber Command had launched a responsive cyber operation against a group linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. As cyber operations by both states heat up, non-governmental actors may play pivotal roles, not just as potential victims and collateral damage from states’ actions, but also as accusers of states.

  • Perspective: SpooksIt Sure Looks Like Jeffrey Epstein Was a Spy—but Whose?

    In terms of scandals, the sordid saga of Jeffrey Epstein has it all. Mysterious gaudy fortunes. Jet-setting debauchery. Lots of pretty girls—including very young girls. Sex and more sex, not necessarily legal or consensual. Add a battalion of VIPs, including billionaires, A-list celebrities, royalty and no less than two American presidents. The only thing missing was espionage — and it’s not missing anymore.