• Deadly heatwaves on the rise

    Seventy-four percent of the world’s population will be exposed to deadly heatwaves by 2100 if carbon gas emissions continue to rise at current rates, according to a new study. Even if emissions are aggressively reduced, the percent of the world’s human population affected is expected to reach 48 percent. “We are running out of choices for the future,” says one expert. “For heatwaves, our options are now between bad or terrible.”

  • Possible correlation found between TMI meltdown and thyroid cancers

    Three Mile Island (TMI), located near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, had a partial meltdown accident on 28 March 1979. During the accident, radiation was released into the environment, which the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission said was in small amounts with no detectable health effects. Penn State College of Medicine researchers have shown, for the first time, a possible correlation between the partial meltdown at TMI and thyroid cancers in the counties surrounding the plant.

  • Stacking countermeasures for layered defense against chemical, biological threats

    Just as we must protect computer systems against assaults in the form of viruses and trojans in the cyber world, we must protect our soldiers from a multitude of chemical and biological threats on the battlefield. No one countermeasure can mitigate every threat, which is why the Joint Science and Technology Office at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency is developing a portfolio of novel capabilities and medical countermeasures to protect our troops.

  • Remote detection of hazardous radioactive substances

    Remote detection of radioactive materials is impossible when the measurement location is far from its source. A typical radiation detectors, like Geiger-Muller counters can detect 1 milli Curie (mCi) of Cobalt-60 (60Co) at a maximum distance of 3.5 meters, but are inefficient at measuring lower levels of radioactivity or at longer distances. Researchers have developed a method for the remote detection of hazardous radioactive substances. With the help of this newly developed detection device, the detection of various types of radioactive materials can be done from a remote distance.

  • After 18 months, hurricane vulnerability documents arrive — but they're thin

    During Hurricane Katrina, rushing water caused one refinery’s oil tank to rupture, sending oil into more than 1,700 homes a mile away. And the Houston area has many schools and neighborhoods that are less than a mile from large refineries and oil storage terminals. Eighteen months ago, we asked the government for documents that should have shed a lot of light on Houston’s vulnerability to a massive hurricane. After finally receiving them, it turns out the documents are basically useless.

  • Replacing coal with solar will save lives, money

    Tens of thousands of Americans die prematurely each year from air pollution-related diseases associated with burning coal. By transitioning to solar photovoltaics (PV) in the United States, up to 51,999 American lives would be saved at $1.1 million invested per life. To fully replace all the coal production in the United States with solar PV, it would take 755 gigawatts—a significant increase compared to the 22.7 gigawatts of solar installed in the United States currently.

  • Expediting detection of harmful pathogens in food supply

    When food shopping, it is easy to overlook what it took to get your favorite meats and produce to the grocery store shelves. Anything perishable – beef, chicken, pork, vegetables, fruit, dairy and even water – must undergo a rigorous and time-consuming inspection process before shipping to its destination. FIU researchers are commercializing a device that reduces the screening process to just a few hours at the same cost as current devices.

  • Experts expect a surge in ransomware attacks this week – this time without a “kill switch”

    A second version of the disruptive WannaCry ransomware – a version which does not contain the “kill switch” used by a young security analyst to shut down many of last week’s cyberattacks – is set to be released by the same group of hackers. There are fears that Monday could see a surge in the number of computers taken over by the devastating WannaCry ransomware hack. Rob Wainwright, head of the European Union police agency, Europol, warned anyone who thought the problem was going away was mistaken. “At the moment, we are in the face of an escalating threat. The numbers are going up, I am worried about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn (on) their machines on Monday morning,” he said.

  • Pocket-size biological solution to radioactive threats

    Yaky Yanay, co-CEO of Pluristem Therapeutics, last week surprised the participants The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York by saying that a small glass vial he pulled out of his pocket offered a solution to Iran’s nuclear threats. “I have the solution in my pocket.” The company has developed an anti-radiation therapy that can be stockpiled for emergencies. The therapy harnesses the power of the human placenta to contain the cascading effect of radiation exposure in the body and allow for the natural healing of cells.

  • Researchers identify security concerns in 1 in 3 FDA-approved drugs

    Nearly one out of every three drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have a new safety issue detected in the years after approval, says a new study. While most of the safety concerns are not serious enough to require withdrawal of a drug from the market, the finding highlights the need for ongoing surveillance of new drugs in the post-market period, said the researchers.

  • U.K. hospitals, clinics hit by large-scale ransomware cyberattack

    The NHS has confirmed that hospitals across England have been hit by a large-scale cyberattack. The attack has locked staff out of their computers and forced emergency patients to be diverted to hospitals not hit by the attack. The IT systems of NHS facilities across England have been hit simultaneously – and the screens of computers connected to the networks under attack showed a pop-up message demanding a ransom in exchange for allowing staff access to the PCs.

  • Doctors should be paid by salary, not fee-for-service: Behavioral economists

    While most conflict of interest research and debate in medicine focuses on physicians interacting with pharmaceutical and device companies, one important source of conflicts is largely ignored in the medical literature on conflicts of interest: how doctors are paid. A new study outlines the problems associated with the fee-for-service arrangements that most doctors currently operate under. Such compensation schemes, the authors argue, create incentives for physicians to order more, and different, services than are best for patients.

  • New computer model assesses risk of a Zika epidemic in real-time

    New research describes a new model for assessing real-time risk of a Zika virus epidemic in the United States. The computer simulation, based on data from Texas including population dynamics, historical infection rates, socioeconomics, and mosquito density, is designed to help policymakers gauge the underlying epidemic threat as cases first appear in U.S. cities.

  • Cost of Zika outbreak in U.S. could be high

    Even a relatively mild Zika outbreak in the United States could cost more than $183 million in medical costs and productivity losses, a computational analysis suggests. A more severe outbreak could result in $1.2 billion or more in medical costs and productivity losses. “This is a threat that has not gone away. Zika is still spreading silently and we are just now approaching mosquito season in the United States, which has the potential of significantly increasing the spread,” says one researcher.

  • Killing drug-resistant bacteria dead with bioinspired agent

    Microbial resistance to antibiotics and biocides is increasing, and our ability to effectively treat bacterial infections and contamination is under threat. It is important that scientists develop new antibiotic drugs, but we also need new strategies to deal with bacterial contamination that are not reliant on antibiotics. Researchers have developed a bioinspired antimicrobial treatment that can rapidly kill drug-resistant bacteria. The treatment consists of iodo-thiocyanate complexes, which are inspired by enzymes and reactive molecules produced by our immune system.