• CybersecurityA Human-Machine Collaboration to Defend Against Cyberattacks

    By Zach Winn

    Being a cybersecurity analyst at a large company today is a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack — if that haystack were hurtling toward you at fiber optic speed. PatternEx merges human and machine expertise to spot and respond to hacks.

  • IoTCustom Circuits to Make IoT Systems 14,000 Times Harder to Crack than Current Tech

    The “internet of things” (IoT) allows devices — kitchen appliances, security systems, wearable technologies and many other applications — to communicate with each other through networks. With the world on the verge of adopting them by the billions, the best possible security is paramount. Engineers have one-upped their own technique to increase security for the “internet of things.” In truth, their upping is far greater than one.

  • Hardware securityMixed-Signal Hardware Security Thwarts Powerful Electromagnetic Attacks

    Security of embedded devices is essential in today’s internet-connected world. Security is typically guaranteed mathematically using a small secret key to encrypt the private messages. When these computationally secure encryption algorithms are implemented on a physical hardware, they leak critical side-channel information in the form of power consumption or electromagnetic radiation. Now, researchers have developed technology to kill the problem at the source itself – tackling physical-layer vulnerabilities with physical-layer solutions.

  • Protective gearWWI Helmets Protect Against Shock Waves as Well as or Better than Modern Designs

    Biomedical engineers have demonstrated that, despite significant advancements in protection from ballistics and blunt impacts, modern military helmets are no better at protecting the brain from shock waves created by nearby blasts than their First World War counterparts. And one model in particular, the French Adrian helmet, actually performed better than modern designs in protecting from overhead blasts.

  • Planetary securityHow to Deflect an Asteroid

    By Jennifer Chu

    MIT researchers have devised a framework for deciding which type of mission would be most successful in deflecting an incoming asteroid. Their decision method takes into account an asteroid’s mass and momentum, its proximity to a gravitational keyhole, and the amount of warning time that scientists have of an impending collision — all of which have degrees of uncertainty, which the researchers also factor in to identify the most successful mission for a given asteroid.

  • Software securityTool Identifies Source of Errors Caused by Software Updates

    We’ve all shared the frustration — software updates that are intended to make our applications run faster inadvertently end up doing just the opposite. These bugs, dubbed in the computer science field as performance regressions, are time-consuming to fix since locating software errors normally requires substantial human intervention. Researchers and computer scientists have designed a tool to identify the source of errors caused by software updates.

  • Planetary securityAliens May Be Sending Us Probing Messages Every 16 Days

    Is there intelligent life out there in the universe? If so, have these intelligent aliens seen us? Have they been trying to find out more about us? New research says they may have been. A just-published scientific paper presents details of blasts of radio waves sent every 16 days from a nearby massive spiral galaxy. Are these radio waves, aimed in the direction of Earth, generated by aliens? Note that the spiral  galaxy in question is 500 million light years distant: Even if the fast radio bursts (FRBs) detected were generated by an intelligent civilization, that civilization may no longer exist.

  • ArgumentThe Next Deadly Pathogen Could Come from a Rogue Scientist. Here’s How We Can Prevent That.

    In the past few years, something new has become possible in biology: cheaply “printing” DNA for insertion into a cell. Kelsey Piper writes in Vox that this means a scientist who needs a particular DNA sequence to, say, create new bacteria for research can now order that DNA sequence from a lab. “But what if I asked them to print for me the genetic code of the influenza that caused the 1918 flu that killed millions of people? What if I sent them the instructions for a new disease that I have reason to believe is dangerous? What if I was doing legitimate research, but my lab didn’t adhere to modern safety standards?”

  • ForensicsForensic Proteomics: Going Beyond DNA Profiling

    A new book details an emerging forensic method that could become as widespread and trustworthy as DNA profiling. The method is called mass-spectrometry-based proteomics, which examines the proteins that make up many parts of living things. These proteins exist in unique combinations in everything from blood cells and clothing fibers to certain types of medicine and the diseases they fight. Because proteomics analyzes these proteins directly, forensic proteomics can fill in when DNA is missing, ambiguous, or was never present to begin with.

  • China syndromeThe Silent Threat of the Coronavirus: America’s Dependence on Chinese Pharmaceuticals

    By Christine Crudo Blackburn, Andrew Natsios, Gerald W Parker, and Leslie Ruyle

    As the new coronavirus, called 2019-nCoV, spreads rapidly around the globe, the international community is scrambling to keep up. In the midst of all of this, a potential crisis simmers in the shadows: The global dependence on China for the production of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. Today, about 80 percent of pharmaceuticals sold in the U.S. are produced in China. This number, while concerning, hides an even greater problem: China is the largest and sometimes only global supplier for the active ingredient of some vital medications. The U.S. must develop a response plan for the inevitable shortages in the near-term and take necessary actions to reclaim control of our medical supply chain. Continuing to overlook this long-known vulnerability will only lead to catastrophe.

  • EncryptionA First: All-Optical Stealth Encryption Technology

    Researchers have unveiled the first all-optical “stealth” encryption technology that will be significantly more secure and private for highly sensitive cloud-computing and data center network transmission.

  • Nuclear wasteGlaciers May Offer Safe Sites for Nuclear Waste Storage

    New insights into rates of bedrock erosion by glaciers around the world will help to identify better sites for the safe storage of nuclear waste. The findings of a new research overturn earlier research, showing that erosion rates do not increase with the speed of glacier flow as quickly as previously anticipated.

  • TransportationTransportation Beliefs of 20 Years Ago Largely Myths, Today’s Predictions Will Be as Well

    As long as humans have been moving, there have been fantastic predictions about how technology will revolutionize transportation. Most of them turn out to be myths. A new study revisits an influential article that called out widely held transportation predictions of 20 years ago as myths, finding it is still highly accurate.

  • Nuclear detectionSmaller Detection Device for Nuclear Treaty Verification, Archaeology Digs

    Most nuclear data measurements are performed at accelerators large enough to occupy a geologic formation a kilometer wide, like the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center located on a mesa in the desert. But a portable device that can reveal the composition of materials quickly on-site would greatly benefit cases such as in archaeology and nuclear arms treaty verification.

  • FirefightingSafe, Effective Shipboard Firefighting

    Fire on board! This is a grave danger for any ship, but especially so when a ship is ostensibly safely docked in harbor – where “normal” firefighters are on duty and have to cope with the special challenges on board a ship. The countless types of vessels and their different structures coupled with the unique aspects of firefighting operations on the water present unusual and difficult operating conditions for traditional firefighters and involve many risks.