• Using lasers to solve hit-and-run whodunit

    Scientific sleuths are investigating how a laser-based tool called pump-probe microscopy can be used to differentiate between individual pigments of paint, even if they appear identical to the human eye. The researchers are developing the technique as a way for art historians and conservators peer under the surface of priceless paintings, without causing damage to the artwork, but there is no reason the technique cannot be used for forensics, too.

  • France unveils app to alert people to terror attacks

    Euro 2016 soccer tournament begins on Friday, and as part of the massive security operation undertaken to secure the ten millions spectators who will be watching the games from 10 June to 10 July, the French government has created a smartphone app designed to send warnings directly to people’s phones in the event of a bombing, shooting, or other disaster.

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  • Offender risk assessment tools in U.S. are promising, but questions remain

    The criminal justice system in the United States uses a variety of tools to assess the behavior of criminal offenders, and those risk assessments can have a significant impact on an offender’s fate. A new meta-analysis of the research conducted in the United States on these tools shows that – while promising – it is still unclear whether these tools reduce bias against offenders based on race or other factors.

  • Last surviving 9/11 search-and-rescue dog dies, receives hero's send-off

    The last surviving search and rescue dog who worked at Ground Zero following the 9/11 terrorist attacks died on Monday. Bretagne, a 16-year-old golden retriever, was put down at Fairfield Animal Hospital in Cypress, Texas. As Bretagne slowly walked into the hospital, she was saluted by representatives of state agencies who came to pay their respects.

  • Global small arms trade reached $6 billion in 2013

    The Small Arms Survey’s Trade Update 2016: Transfers and Transparency reports that the world’s “top” and “major” small arms exporters delivered at least $5.8 billion worth of small arms in 2013, an increase of 17 percent compared to the $5 billion worth exported in 2012. The United States exported a record $1.1 billion worth of small arms in 2013. Transfers of small arms to the United States ($2.5 billion) alone accounted for 42 percent of all imports.

  • Revisiting the relationship between hate crime and terrorism

    New research from START examines the link between hate crime (bias-motivated crime) and terrorism at the county level, focusing on far-right extremism in the United States and pulling data from the U.S. Extremist Crime Database (ECDB) and the Global Terrorism Database (GTD). Among other things, the research has found that counties experiencing increases in one type of bias-motivated or extremist violence are likely to see significant increases in other types of extremist activity.

  • Terrorist or criminal? New software uses face analysis to find out

    Pulling a poker face means betraying no visible emotion, so that opponents cannot tell what you are really thinking. But a Tel Aviv startup’s face-profiling technology recently proved fairly accurate at predicting which four players were most likely to beat out forty-six other contenders in an amateur poker tournament. The company say that its technology, which analyzes faces shown in photos and videos and classifies them according to fifteen parameters predictive of personality traits and types, can help identify terrorists.

  • Quantifying the weight of forensic evidence

    The weight-of-evidence question comes up anytime a forensic examiner assesses the likelihood that a piece of evidence left at a crime scene originated from a particular source. NIST hosted a technical colloquium on this important question, which virtually every branch of forensic science today faces. The colloquium addressed this specific question: How should forensic examiners quantify the weight of evidence they find in a case? This was the first technical colloquium in the United States to focus specifically on this issue.

  • Europe-wide ballistic information sharing would reduce gun death from terrorism, crime

    All countries across Europe are being urged to establish national “Firearms Focal Points” to collect, study, and share information about firearms and ballistics to help reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by gun crime and terrorism. This is one of the key findings following a 15-month multi-agency research project which looked to analyze the prevalence of gun crime across Europe and, based on the findings, identify initiatives and interventions that could be further pursued and developed to tackle the problem.

     

  • Cotton candy machine inspires lighter bullet proof vests, and more

    It is “boots on the ground” in this Harvard lab where the researchers are on a mission to protect U.S. troops on the battlefield. Researchersare developing next generation nanofibers at the Harvard Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC). The researchers draw their inspiration from the cotton candy machine. They use their own version of that technology to spin a wide range of polymers, both natural and synthetic, into new fabrics and materials for military use.

  • Improving hurricane intensity predictions through early use of “hurricane hunter” data

    Data collected via airplane when a hurricane is developing can improve hurricane intensity predictions by up to 15 percent, according to researchers who have been working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Hurricane Center to put the new technique into practice.

  • A warning system for tsunamis

    Right now, tsunami warning systems rely on region-specific scenarios based on previous patterns in that area. This is because scientists use sensors in the ocean, which can detect abnormal movements but cannot make accurate projections of how much water will hit a coast and how hard. But “most likely” is not a sure thing. Seismologists have created a new algorithm that could one day help give coastal cities early warning of incoming tsunamis.

  • Exploring the unique relationship between fire and mankind

    Fire has been an important part of the Earth System for over 350 million years, but humans are the only animals to have used and controlled fire. The complex interrelationships between fire and mankind transcend international borders and disciplinary boundaries. The specter of climate change highlights the need to improve our understanding of these relationships across space and time.

  • ISIS conducting chemical experiments on its prisoners

    In the ace of sustained attacks by coalition forces, ISIS has moved its chemical weapons labs to densely populated residential areas in Mosul — and is testing homemade chlorine and mustard gas on its prisoners held in different facilities in and around the city. ISIS has been working in chemical weapons for a while, relying on the expertise of scientists who served in the chemical weapons complex of Saddam Hussein, but also on Europeans with chemical degrees from leading European universities.

  • Japanese-language MyShake app crowdsources earthquake-shaking information

    UC Berkeley scientists have released a Japanese version of an Android app that crowdsources ground-shaking information from smartphones to detect quakes and eventually warn users of impending jolts from nearby quakes. The app, called MyShake, became publicly available on Sunday. Since it was first released in English on 12 February 2016, more than 170,000 people have downloaded the app from around the world, and on any given day 11,000 phones provide data to the system.