• Cybersecurity on the fly

    When we think of cybersecurity, we think of applying protection measures to our desktop computers such as installing antivirus programs and using passcodes and pin numbers. Just like our computers, aircraft systems are vulnerable and are not exempt from a cyber-attack. If hacked, some examples of possible cyber effects on aircraft systems can be anything from breakdowns in communication and navigation systems to the more critical systems such as collision avoidance and life support systems.

  • Hackers could take control of missiles on U.K. subs, start a “catastrophic” nuclear war: Report

    Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons deterrent program consists of four Vanguard-class submarines, each carrying up to sixteen Trident II D5 ballistic missiles with a nuclear warhead. Hackers could take control of nuclear weapons-carrying Vanguard-class submarines and start a “catastrophic” nuclear war, a new report warns. The 38-page report warns a security breach could “neutralize operations, lead to loss of life, defeat or perhaps even the catastrophic exchange of nuclear warheads (directly or indirectly).” Des Browne, former U.K. Defense Secretary, said: “To imagine that critical digital systems at the heart of nuclear weapon systems are somehow immune or can be confidently protected by dedicated teams of network managers is to be irresponsibly complacent.”

  • Diplomat: Hezbollah is now more powerful than most NATO members

    The Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah is “now more militarily powerful than most North Atlantic Treaty Organization members,” a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations says. In violation of UN Resolution 1701, which was adopted to end the 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah has acquired an estimated 150,000 missiles — more than the combined arsenals of 27 NATO nations — with a range capable of striking “anywhere in Israel” and the ability to “launch 1,500 of them a day,” Ron Prosor wrote.

  • Coroners unable to agree on cause of death, or whether a case merits inquest

    Around 507,000 people die in England and Wales every year. Nearly half (45 percent) of these deaths are reported to coroners, who investigate those believed to be violent, unnatural, or of unknown cause, to find out the identity of the deceased and the circumstances of his or her death. A former top detective turned university researcher has published his findings that coroners in England and Wales are seemingly unable to agree on what caused a person’s death or whether it merits an inquest, even when faced with identical case information.

  • Face Recognition Challenge seeks better face-identification software

    Have you developed software to identity faces in general web photographs? Can your software verify that a face in one photograph is the same as in another? The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) announced the launch of the Face Recognition Prize Challenge (FRPC). The challenge aims to improve biometric face recognition by improving core face recognition accuracy.

  • What it takes to be a forensic fingerprint examiner?

    Being a forensic examiner seems glamorous on TV. But working in a crime lab requires long hours of intense focus that are anything but action-packed. This is especially true for fingerprint examiners, who must focus on minute visual details that would leave most people cross-eyed. It’s not a job for everyone.Experts are developing tests to help identify people with the pattern-matching skills needed for analyzing fingerprints.

  • Using antimalarial compound to detect bloodstains

    As seen on crime shows, investigators use a combination of luminol and other substances to light up bloodstains at crime scenes. But now, researchers report that combining luminol with artemisinin, a natural peroxide and antimalarial treatment, reduces the risk of false positives compared to the traditional method.

  • No funds for California's earthquake early-warning system in Trump's proposed budget

    The Trump administration’s proposed budget would eliminate federal funding for an earthquake early warning system being developed for the U.S. West Coast. Critics say that if the relevant clauses in the budget proposal become law, the long-planned seismic warning effort will be killed. Scientists say the withdrawal of federal funds would likely end the early-warning project, which aims to send smartphone tremor alert messages to West Coast residents.

  • Israel to install earthquake early-warning system

    Israel has selected Ottawa, Canada-based Nanometrics to build an earthquake early-warning system in Israel. The alert system will give a 10-to-30-second alert of an impending earthquake. The system’s success depends on the distinction between two types of waves an earthquake generates — P waves (for primary) and S waves (for secondary). P waves are very fast, traveling through rock at between four and seven kilometers per second, and are thus the first waves to arrive at a recording station following an earthquake. An S-wave has a shearing motion that makes the rock vibrate perpendicular to its path. This movement slows the S-wave, so that it travels at two to five kilometers per second, or about half the speed of the P-wave. It is S waves which are almost entirely responsible for the damage and destruction associated with earthquakes.

  • The rising homegrown terror threat on the right

    Dealing effectively with far-right violence requires that we treat its manifestations as domestic terrorism. I consider domestic terrorism a more significant threat than the foreign-masterminded variety in part because it is more common in terms of the number of attacks on U.S. soil. The number of violent attacks on U.S. soil inspired by far-right ideology has spiked since the beginning of this century, rising from a yearly average of 70 attacks in the 1990s to a yearly average of more than 300 since 2001. I would argue that this trend reflects a deeper social change in American society. The iceberg model of political extremism, initially developed by Israeli political scientist Ehud Shprinzak, can illuminate these dynamics. Murders and other violent attacks perpetrated by U.S. far-right extremists compose the visible tip of an iceberg. The rest of this iceberg is under water and out of sight. It includes hundreds of attacks every year that damage property and intimidate communities. The significant growth in far-right violence in recent years is happening at the base of the iceberg. Changes in societal norms are usually reflected in behavioral changes. It is thus more than reasonable to suspect that extremist individuals engage in such activities because they sense that their views are enjoying growing social legitimacy and acceptance, which is emboldening them to act on their bigotry.

  • Drones help in better understanding of wildfires

    U.S. Geological Survey scientists and partners are taking technology to the next level, using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to acquire both fire intensity and emissions data during prescribed burns. This effort combines expertise from multiple USGS partners that could reduce the harmful effects of smoke impacts from use of prescribed burns. Lessening the risk to property and lives during wildfires is a primary purpose of prescribed burns.

  • Tech firms urge Congress to enact surveillance reforms

    More than thirty leading internet companies have sent a letter to the chair of the House Judiciary Committee asking for reforms to the law used for carrying out mass surveillance. The letter concerns Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The act must be renewed by Congress before the end of the year. Over the years, the U.S. security agencies have creatively interpreted the law to allow them to store information on potentially millions of U.S. citizens – even though the law specifically requires the opposite.

  • $2-million grant for training next generation of nuclear arms control experts

    Post-Cold War arsenal reductions by the United States and Russia have slowed, and both sides continue to keep many hundreds of weapons on hair trigger alert ready to launch within minutes of a country’s leader pushing the button. Meanwhile, concerns grow about nuclear programs in North Korea, South Asia, and the Middle East. Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security (SGS) has received a $2-million grant from the MacArthur Foundation. The award will support SGS’ efforts to educate and train the next generation of researchers and scientists studying nuclear non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament.

  • Creating high-speed internet lane for emergency situations

    In a disaster, a delay can mean the difference between life and death. Emergency responders don’t have time to wait in traffic — even on the congested information superhighway. Researchers are developing a faster and more reliable way to send and receive large amounts of data through the internet. By a creating a new network protocol, called Multi Node Label Routing protocol, researchers are essentially developing a new high-speed lane of online traffic, specifically for emergency information.

  • AI to aid in humanitarian efforts

    Mobile phones are one of the fastest growing technologies in the developing world with global penetration rates reaching 90 percent. However, the fact that most phones in developing countries are pre-paid means that the data lacks key information about the person carrying the phone, including gender and other demographic data, which could be useful in a crisis. Researchers have developed an AI algorithm to accurately predict the gender of pre-paid mobile phone users, so that emergency response teams would have better information about those affected by disasters.