• Explosives dumped into Gulf of Mexico pose big problems

    Millions of pounds of unexploded bombs and other military ordnance that were dumped decades ago in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as off the coasts of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, could now pose serious threats to shipping lanes and the 4,000 oil and gas rigs in the Gulf, warns two oceanographers

  • Why common explosive sometimes fails

    The explosive PETN has been around for a century and is used by everyone from miners to the military, but it took new research by Sandia National Laboratories to begin to discover key mechanisms behind what causes it to fail at small scales

  • Radiation-enabled computer chips allow low-cost security imaging systems

    With homeland security on high alert, screening systems to search for concealed weapons are crucial pieces of equipment; these systems, however, are often prohibitively expensive, putting them out of reach for public spaces such as train and bus stations, stadiums, or malls, where they could be beneficial; until now

  • As shoe-scanning devices fail, passengers continue to remove their shoes

    In the last five years the U.S. government has tested several scanning devices for detecting explosives and other weapons concealed in the shoes of airline passengers; after spending millions of dollars on these devices, TSA has concluded that the detection systems are ineffective; the result: removing shoes at security check points is going to be a part of air travel for the foreseeable future

  • The costs, benefits, and efficiency of aviation security measures

    The threat of terrorist attack on American aviation has made the system the focus of intense security efforts, but it is difficult to determine if the benefits outweigh their cost; efficient security policy — a focus on getting the most security for the least cost — should be the priority in an era of fiscal austerity, says a new RAND report

  • New device dismantles pipe bombs safely, preserving forensic evidence

    Thousands of pipe bombs are made each year, and thousands of pipe bomb threats are called into local police and FBI authorities across the country; many are false alarms, but those that are not can be deadly; dismantling a pipe bomb is tricky and serious business, and missteps during the dismantling process can produce catastrophic results

  • Lifelike, cost-effective robotic hand disables IEDs

    Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a cost-effective robotic hand that can be used in disarming improvised explosive devices, or IEDs; the Sandia Hand addresses challenges which have prevented widespread adoption of other robotic hands, such as cost, durability, dexterity, and modularity

  • U.S. Army trains rats in explosives detection

    Landmines kill between 15,000 and 20,000 people a year, and continue to kill adults and children decades after a conflict ends; the U.S. Department of Defense currently relies on dogs as the animal of choice for explosives detection, but Pentagon researchers want to see whether rats can be trained to do the job; rats are smaller so they can search smaller spaces than a dog can, and are easier to transport

  • Advanced explosives detector sniffs out previously undetectable amounts of TNT

    TNT and other conventional explosives are the mainstays of terrorist bombs and the anti-personnel mines that kill or injure more than 15,000 people annually in war-torn countries; in large, open-air environments, such as airports, train stations, and minefields, concentrations of these explosives can be as small as a few parts of TNT per trillion parts of air, making it impossible for conventional bomb and mine detectors to detect the explosives and save lives

  • U.K. Ministry of Defense seeking IED sensors of the future

    The U.K. Ministry of Defense (MoD) scientists are soliciting ideas from U.K. industry and academia to showcase their innovative ideas for detecting improvised explosive devices (IEDs); in particular, MoD is looking for sensors that can detect concealed IEDs, either worn by a person or hidden in a vehicle, buried by or in the roadside or hidden in a wall, box, bag, or another container

  • New book offers useful information about explosives

    New book covers the principles, instrumentation, and applications of current technologies used to detect explosives in the field; it also discusses detection requirements, methodologies used for detector evaluation, and sampling technologies

  • Improving landmine detection – and air travel safety

    It is estimated that there are about 110 million active landmines lurking underground in sixty-four countries across the globe; each year as many as 25,000 people, most of them civilians, are maimed or killed by landmines; the mines not only kill and maim, they can paralyze communities by limiting the use of land for farming and roads for trade; researchers offer a better way to detect landmines – a method which can also be used in airports to help thwart possible terrorist threats

  • Advanced IED detectors save lives

    Almost 60 percent of all coalition forces wounded or killed in Afghanistan since the start of the war in 2001 have been due to IEDs; to complicate matters, insurgents in Afghanistan have been increasingly constructing IEDs to circumvent simple metal detectors; some IEDs contain rudimentary materials such as wooden boards, foam rubber, and plastic containers; the finished product contains very little metal making it difficult for a traditional metal detector to pick up

  • Airport security screening technology market to grow

    In 2011, TSA distributed approximately $437.1 million in contract obligations toward airport screening technologies; this amount is likely to grow in coming years as airport security authorities look for technology which would allow them to balance the requirements of tight security, on the one hand, and demands from the public for faster and less intrusive screening measures

  • Silkmoth inspires novel explosive detector

    Scientists, imitating the antennas of the silkmoth, Bombyx mori, designed a system for detecting explosives with unparalleled performance; made up of a silicon microcantilever bearing nearly 500,000 aligned titanium dioxide nanotubes, the device is capable of detecting concentrations of trinitrotoluene (TNT) of around 800 ppq 1 (that is, 800 molecules of explosive per 1015 molecules of air), thus improving one thousand-fold the detection limit attainable until now