• Experts: Israel used cyber weapon to disrupt Iran's nuclear reactor

    The Stuxnet malware has infiltrated industrial computer systems worldwide in July and August; now, cyber security experts say that the worm was, in fact, is a search-and-destroy cyber weapon meant to hit a single target — Iran’s Bushehr reactor; Stuxnet amazed — and stunned — computer security experts: too large, too encrypted, too complex to be immediately understood, it employed amazing new tricks, like taking control of a computer system without the user taking any action or clicking any button other than inserting an infected memory stick; in Stuxnet, the world faces a new breed of malware that could become a template for attackers wishing to launch digital strikes at physical targets worldwide — Internet link not required

  • U.K. defense minister lends support to notion of an EMP threat

    The U.K. minister of defense, Liam Fox, appears to be lending support to the idea of an imminent electromagnetic strike against the West; in speech to an EMP-threat organization on Monday, Fox said that “As the nature of our technology becomes more complex, so the threat becomes more widespread — While we all benefit from the products of scientific advances so we also create vulnerabilities that can be exploited by our enemies. However advanced we become the chain of our security is only as strong as its weakest link”; security experts say an EMP strike is difficult to execute, and that a terrorist organization or a rogue state with only one bomb would rather use it to destroy a major city than disrupt the electrical grid and communication networks

  • MIT: No shortage of uranium for nuclear energy, more research needed

    New study challenges the assumption that the world is running out of uranium — and suggests that nuclear power using today’s reactor technology with a once-through fuel cycle can play a significant part in displacing the world’s carbon-emitting fossil-fuel plants, and thus help to reduce the potential for global climate change

  • The National Infrastructure Bank idea gains adherents

    The U.S. aging infrastructure will eventually constrain economic growth; government alone can no longer finance all of the nation’s infrastructure requirements; a national infrastructure bank (NIB) could fill the gap; the NIB could attract private funds to co-invest in projects that pass rigorous cost-benefit tests, and that generate revenues through user fees or revenue guarantees from state and local governments; investors could choose which projects meet their investment criteria, and, in return, share in project risks that today fall solely on taxpayers

  • A first: a Master's degree in infrastructure protection

    Ottawa’s Carleton University has unveiled a first-of-its-kind degree program: a Master of Infrastructure Protection; the program was launched last week, is offering a unique mix of courses related to engineering and national security policy; the aim is to educate infrastructure designers and engineers about policy-related issues, and policy makers about the design and engineering of the interconnected systems that form Canada’s economic and societal backbone

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  • Age of pipes blamed for deadly San Bruno gas explosion

    Robots called “smart pigs” can inspect new pipelines, and modern pipelines have automated valves that stop gas flow when sensors detect a pressure drop — but the natural gas pipeline in San Bruno, California, is 54-years old; to shut off the old pipeline after the deadly explosion, workers had to retrieve keys and drive to two secured sites 1.5 to 2 kilometers from the fire, then manually crank valves shut

  • Louisiana worried about Corps' levee armoring plans

    Louisiana says the Corps of Engineers is $1 billion short for completing levee construction around New Orleans, while the Corps says it has enough money; the disagreement over the cost of completing levee construction centers on a long-simmering argument over the last construction task scheduled for earthen levees throughout the system: deciding what type of armoring will keep the levees from washing away if they are overtopped

  • South Africa shelves small nuclear plant scheme

    South Africa is shelving the development of a cutting-edge nuclear reactor — Pebble Bed Modular Reactor — after the program failed to find private investors or customers abroad; South Africa was one of the few countries in the world engaged in research on the technology, touted as much safer than earlier generations of nuclear plants

  • Geoengineering may affect different regions differently

    Geoengineering approaches would succeed in restoring the average global temperature to “normal” levels, but some regions would remain too warm, whereas others would “overshoot” and cool too much; in addition, average rainfall would be reduced

  • Security standards for smart grid evolve

    Digital technology in the smart grid measures and distributes the delivery of electricity to consumers and has the potential to reduce energy use and costs for consumers as it’s deployed in more areas of the country; security experts say, however, that the new network will offer new avenues for criminals to infiltrate, corrupt and steal data

  • Using bacteria to create self-healing concrete

    Cement production has an impact on the environment as it is very energy intensive, accounting for about 7 percent of the total anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 emissions; in addition to the energy consumption from production and transportation, air pollution, as well as land use and impacts on the landscape from related mining activities are also matters of concern; means of increasing the service life of concrete structures would make the material not only more durable, but also more sustainable — and researchers find that embedding certain bacteria in the concrete promises to do just that

  • Braess paradox "disappears" under high traffic demands

    In an urban area with a lot of traffic, adding a new road to distribute the traffic may seem like a sensible idea. According to the Braess paradox, just the opposite occurs: a new route added in a transportation network increases the travel times of all individual travelers; scientists found that that the paradox stops occurring as the demand for travel increases

  • Asteroids: Earth will be hit by a shotgun blast instead of a single cannonball

    Scientists find that many asteroids are not solid rocks, but a collection of small gravel-sized rocks, held together by gravity; instead of a solid mountain colliding with Earth’s surface, the planet would be pelted with the innumerable pebbles and rocks of which it is composed, like a shotgun blast instead of a single cannonball; this knowledge could guide the defensive tactics to be taken if an asteroid were on track to collide with the Earth

  • Governments begin to consider "peak oil" concept

    Oil is a fossil fuel, so by definition it is in limited supply; eventually we will reach a point at which oil production hits its maximum capability — or peak — and then begins to decline; the concept of “peak oil” means that because there are not endless supplies of oil, and because it is a finite resource, then at some point we will reach a tipping point at which it becomes impossible to continue increasing oil production; some even contend that we are already at that point