• ResilienceCities can save lives, resources by using a vulnerability reduction scorecard

    A new planning tool enables communities to effectively reduce their vulnerabilities to hazards across their network of plans – including transportation, parks, economic development, hazard mitigation, emergency management and comprehensive land use.

  • Water securityDutch aquifers bank rainwater to help farmers keep the water running

    Climate change is increasing the risk of water shortages across Europe, but researchers in the Netherlands are hoping to ease pressure by generating a steady supply of clean water and heat from deep underground reservoirs known as aquifers.

  • Planetary securityWandering Earth: rocket scientist explains how we could move our planet

    By Matteo Ceriotti

    In the Chinese science fiction film “The Wandering Earth,” recently released on Netflix, humanity attempts to change the Earth’s orbit using enormous thrusters in order to escape the expanding sun – and prevent a collision with Jupiter. The scenario may one day come true. How could we go about it and what are the engineering challenges?

  • CybersecurityWill the next cyberattack be in the hospital?

    By Brian Blum

    You may not think of hackers targeting hospitals, but this is where our wired world may be most vulnerable, and the results could be deadly. Israeli startup Cynerio aims to stop hackers from targeting medical devices, a potent new danger in our connected world.

  • Acoustic detectionLocating a shooter from the first shot using cellphone

    In the past several decades, militaries have worked hard to develop technologies that simultaneously protect infantry soldiers’ hearing and aid in battlefield communication. Now a French researcher has developed a proof of concept that uses the microphones in a TCAPS system to capture a shooter’s acoustic information and transmit this to a soldier’s smartphone to display shooter location in real time.

  • FloodsFloods will cost the U.K. billions, but AI can help make sewers the first defense

    By Jonathan Sykes

    The U.K. will need to spend £1 billion a year on flood management to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, according to the national Environment Agency. Coastal defenses – including sea walls, buffer areas and evacuation plans – can help to protect towns and cities against flooding from storm surges. But inland flooding caused by excess rainwater requires more nuanced solutions. Today, artificial intelligence (AI) can use data to help make decisions about how water should flow in and around human settlements, to avoid the worst effects of flooding.

  • EarthquakesThe why, how, where, and what of earthquake early warning

    Earlier this year, Los Angeles became one of the first cities in the country to roll out ShakeAlert – a dedicated earthquake early warning system. Advanced warning of an earthquake has long been a goal for everyone from seismologists to local governments. Especially in cities like Los Angeles, located along the notorious San Andreas fault. But what about cities like Seattle?

  • Hypersonic weaponsU.S., Russia, China race to develop hypersonic weapons

    By Iain Boyd

    Russia and China have recently touted their progress in developing hypersonic vehicles, which fly much faster than the speed of sound, which is 767 mph. Hypersonic missiles are rocket-boosted to high altitude and may be launched from land, sea or air. Over the past 60 years, U.S. interest in hypersonic vehicles has waxed and waned. Now it seems the U.S. is back in the hypersonic effort in a serious way.

  • Hypersonic weaponsUsing AI in future hypersonic systems

    A test launch for a hypersonic weapon — a long-range missile that flies a mile per second and faster — takes weeks of planning. So, while the U.S. and other states are racing to deploy hypersonic technologies, it remains uncertain how useful the systems will be against urgent, mobile or evolving threats. Sandia National Laboratories thinks artificial intelligence and autonomy could slash these weeks to minutes for deployed systems.

  • PerspectiveChina: Determined to dominate cyberspace and AI

    China is chasing dominance in emerging artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in both the private and military sectors, as a central part of its effort to be the leading global cyber power, Chris C. Demchak writes in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The rise of AI – a subset of cyber as are machine learning, quantum computing, and other new technologies – does not herald a new arms race equivalent to that of the Cold War. Rather, the concern should be on the profound disruption to the existing Westernized global order. In the 1990s, Western nations, led by the United States, created what Demchak calls a “Westernized national creation”: cyberspace. Cyberspace, however, has created a multitude of ubiquitous, embedded vulnerabilities whose easy exploitation directly accelerated the rise of an otherwise impoverished authoritarian and aggressive China. Today, no single democracy has the scale and sufficient resources alone to match the foreknowledge and strategic coherence of the newly confident and assertive China. There is thus a need to create a Cyber Operational Resilience Alliance (CORA) to provide the scale and collective strategic coherence required to ensure the future wellbeing and security of democracy in an overwhelmingly authoritarian, post-Western, cybered world.

  • SurveillanceHow artificial intelligence systems could threaten democracy

    By Steven Feldstein

    U.S. technology giant Microsoft has teamed up with a Chinese military university to develop artificial intelligence systems that could potentially enhance government surveillance and censorship capabilities. The advent of digital repression is profoundly affecting the relationship between citizen and state. New technologies are arming governments with unprecedented capabilities to monitor, track and surveil individual people. Even governments in democracies with strong traditions of rule of law find themselves tempted to abuse these new abilities.

  • Rare earth materialsDetecting rare metals used in smartphones

    A more efficient and cost-effective way to detect lanthanides, the rare earth metals used in smartphones and other technologies, could be possible with a new protein-based sensor that changes its fluorescence when it binds to these metals.

  • DNA identificationRapid DNA technology ID’ed California wildfire victims

    Amid the chaos and devastation of a mass casualty evet, medical examiners often provide closure as they identify victims in the aftermath, but their ability to do this quickly can vary depending on the size, scope, and type of disaster. Such challenges were the case following the Camp Fire wildfire that killed eighty-five people and devastated communities in Paradise, California, in the fall of 2018. S&T’s Rapid DNA technology became the first resort as it provided identifying information in under two hours when dental records and fingerprints weren’t available.

  • Planetary securityNuclear weapons might save the world from an asteroid strike – but we need to change the law first

    By James A. Green

    The schlocky 1998 Bruce Willis movie Armageddon was the highest grossing film of that year. The blockbuster saw a master oil driller (Willis) and an unlikely crew of misfits place a nuclear bomb inside a giant asteroid heading for Earth, blow it up – and save humanity. Armageddon isn’t exactly a documentary: it’s packed full of sci-fi nonsense. But, 20 years on, its basic plot – of using a nuclear explosion to avert a cataclysmic asteroid collision – doesn’t seem quite as silly as it did at the time.

  • Planetary securityCelestial menace: Defending Earth from asteroids

    Incoming asteroids have been scarring our home planet for billions of years. This month humankind left our own mark on an asteroid for the first time: Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft dropped a copper projectile at very high speed in an attempt to form a crater on asteroid Ryugu. A much bigger asteroid impact is planned for the coming decade, involving an international double-spacecraft mission.