• Climate change is driving wildfires, and not just in California

    There are multiple reasons why wildfires are getting more severe and destructive, but climate change tops the list, notwithstanding claims to the contrary by President Donald Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. According to the latest U.S. National Climate Assessment, released on 23 November, higher temperatures and earlier snowmelt are extending the fire season in western states. By 2050, according to the report, the area that burns yearly in the West could be two to six times larger than today. For climate scientists like me, there’s no longer any serious doubt that human activity – primarily burning fossil fuels – is causing the atmosphere to warm relentlessly. Climate change is driving a rapid increase in wildfire risk that has become a national problem. At the same time, healthy forests have become essential for the many valuable benefits they provide the nation and its people. Neither more effective forest management, nor curbing climate change alone will solve the growing wildfire problem, but together they can.

  • Revolutionizing cybersecurity through quantum research

    Scientists have found a novel way to safeguard quantum information during transmission, opening the door for more secure and reliable communication for warfighters on the battlefield. Recent advancements of cutting-edge technologies in lasers and nanophysics, quantum optics and photonics have given researchers the necessary tools to control and manipulate miniature quantum systems, such as individual atoms or photons - the smallest particles of light.

  • Quick, precise method for detecting chemical warfare agents

    Sarin is a man-made nerve agent that can spread as a gas or liquid. According to the Center for Disease control, exposure to large doses will over-stimulate glands and muscles, and can lead to loss of consciousness or respiratory failure. Even small doses can cause a long list of distressing and dangerous symptoms. “Low-level nerve agent exposure leads to ambiguous signs and symptoms that cannot be easily discriminated from other conditions, which may result in a delay in treatment and permanent damage,” says an expert. “If trace amounts can be detected quickly, you can prevent permanent damage to human health.”

  • Iran planned to build five 10-Kt bombs by 2003: Nuclear experts

    The Institute for Science and International Security published a paper Tuesday containing new details about Iran’s nuclear weapons program and demanding that the International Atomic Energy Agency ensure that Iran’s nuclear weapons program is “ended in an irretrievable permanent manner.” According to the report, Iranian documents show that Iran had specific plans to build five 10-kiloton nuclear devices by 2003. The plans from the archive show that Iran’s planning for these weapons was very detailed, including expected costs and a timetable.

  • Bolstering extended deterrence in a complex world

    A variety of threats from Russia, China and North Korea makes it critical that U.S. policymakers take a fresh look at what constitutes an effective strategy to deter interstate aggression, a new RAND report finds. The authors argue that growing opportunism in aggression seems less common than desperation through paranoia about growing threats to security or status. Large-scale aggression tends to emerge as a last resort, they find.

  • Virginia bill would let cities ban guns from protests

    The city of Charlottesville, Virginia, was powerless to prevent attendees from carrying guns at last year’s Unite the Right rally. But one of the state’s top officials, Attorney General Mark Herring, thinks he can prevent a similar situation from unfolding in the future.

  • Why research on firearm safety is essential

    The University of Michigan announced a new website that aims to share what’s known, and what experts still need to find out, about guns and people under age 19. The site offers free access to data on the issue, as well as training for health care providers and others.

  • Warmer winter temperatures linked to increased crime

    Milder winter weather increased regional crime rates in the United States over the past several decades, according to new research that suggests crime is related to temperature’s effect on daily activities. A new study finds U.S. crime rates are linked to warmer temperatures, and this relationship follows a seasonal pattern.

  • Firearm deaths, injuries among children

    Nearly 28,000 American children and teens have died because of firearms in the past decade – second only to the 44,800 who died in motor vehicle collisions. But while the number of young people who die each year from car and truck crashes has fallen, it’s stayed about the same for guns.

  • Stronger buildings could delay wildfire destruction, but not stop it

    Low humidity and strong winds in California mean that this month’s wildfires could strike again. Unfortunately, better building materials and planning can only offer so much protection, says an engineering expert.

  • The bitter lesson of the Californian fires

    California is burning, again. Dozens of peoples have been killed and thousands of buildings destroyed in several fires, the most destructive in the state’s history. The California fires are just the most recent in a series of major wildfires, including fires in Greece in July this year that killed 99 people, Portugal and Chile in 2017, and Australia. Why do wildfires seem to be escalating? Despite president Donald Trump’s tweet that the California fires were caused by “gross mismanagement” of forests, the answer is more complex, nuanced, and alarming.

  • Preventing chemical weapons as sciences advance and converge

    Revolutionary advances in science and technology are threatening the ability of the Chemical Weapons Convention to prevent the development, possession and potential use of chemical weapons. Scientists warn of this increased chemical weapons risk, which is the result of rapid scientific change. Alarming examples of the dangers from chemical weapons have been seen recently in the use of industrial chemicals and the nerve agent sarin against civilians in Syria, and in the targeted assassination operations using VX nerve agent in Malaysia and novichok nerve agent in the U.K.

  • With military edge eroding, U.S. may lose military conflict with Russia or China

    A commission investigating Donald Trump’s defense strategy has said the United States could lose a military conflict with China or Russia. It argued that the U.S. ability to defend itself and its allies was in doubt. The report suggested that if the U.S. went to war with countries such as China and Russia, it may not win. “The U.S. military could suffer unacceptably high casualties and loss of major capital assets in its next conflict. It might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia,” the commission said. “The United States is particularly at risk of being overwhelmed should its military be forced to fight on two or more fronts simultaneously.”

  • Nuclear experts: Archive shows that Iran had “advanced capabilities” to produce nukes

    The documents in an archive seized by Israel show that Iran had “more advanced capabilities to make nuclear weapons themselves,” according to a paper being prepared by an anti-proliferation think tank, experts say. Foreign Policy, which saw an early draft of the paper being produced by the Institute for Science and International Security, reported that the information contained in the archive “demonstrates that Washington and the IAEA were constantly underestimating how close Tehran was to a bomb.”

  • Scotland Yard investigating anti-Semitism in British Labour Party ranks

    The Scotland Yard is investigating many instances of anti-Semitism among the rank and file of the British Labour Party since Jeremy Corbyn took over the party’s leadership in 2015. The Scotland Yard’s dossier, which was leaked to the press, consists of 80 pages of allegations about the Labour Party’s anti-Semitism, including Holocaust denial. Statements attributed to party members include “We shall rid the Jews who are cancer on us all” and “Zionist extremist MP who hates civilized people about to get a good kicking.”