• Nanomaterials’ cryptographic potential may be ultimate defense against hackers

    The next generation of electronic hardware security may be at hand as researchers introduce a new class of unclonable cybersecurity security primitives made of a low-cost nanomaterial with the highest possible level of structural randomness. Randomness is highly desirable for constructing the security primitives that encrypt and thereby secure computer hardware and data physically, rather than by programming.

  • Disaster zones could soon be salvaged by teams of smart devices – here’s how

    We will remember 2017 as an appalling year for natural disasters. It comes months after the UN’s head of disaster planning warned that the world is not adequately preparing for disasters. This, he said, risks “inconceivably bad” consequences as climate change makes disasters more frequent and severe. In such circumstances, modern technologies like smartphones, sensors and drones could help enormously, particularly if we can get them to act like an intelligent network. We recently outlined how these three strands from political theory, social science, and biology could be brought together to develop a new paradigm for complex device networks. We see encouraging signs that such thinking is starting to catch on among researchers. These ideas should enable us to develop new approaches that will underpin and enhance a wide variety of human activities – not least when the next disaster strikes. It might even mitigate the effects of climate change, making us better at foreseeing catastrophes and taking steps to avert them.

  • Should we fear the rise of drone assassins? Two experts debate

    A new short film from the Campaign Against Killer Robots warns of a future where weaponized flying drones target and assassinate certain members of the public, using facial recognition technology to identify them. Is this a realistic threat that could rightly spur an effective ban on the technology? Or is it an overblown portrayal designed to scare governments into taking simplistic, unnecessary and ultimately futile action? Two academics offer their expert opinions.

  • Synthetic biology and bioengineering: Opportunities and risks

    Human genome editing, 3D-printed replacement organs and artificial photosynthesis – the field of bioengineering offers great promise for tackling the major challenges that face our society. But as a new article out today highlights, these developments provide both opportunities and risks in the short and long term.

  • Revolutionizing subterranean mapping and navigation

    Subterranean warfare—whether involving human-made tunnels, underground urban infrastructure, or natural cave networks—has been an element of U.S. military operations from the Second World War and Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan. As above-ground commercial and military intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities continue to grow more capable and ubiquitous, adversaries are increasingly heading underground to circumvent detection. Rapid global urbanization, furthermore, is accelerating the frequency and complexity of dangerous subterranean environments faced not just by warfighters, but also by emergency responders performing search-and-rescue missions underground: in collapsed mines, for instance, or municipal or urban settings wrecked by natural disaster. DARPA issues a Request for Information which seeks concepts for novel systems and component technologies to disruptively augment military and civilian operations underground.

  • For sustainable wooden skyscrapers, the sky’s the limit

    Australia will soon hold the record for the world’s tallest timber office building, built in Brisbane. With the help of the University of Queensland’s new research hub — Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Timber Hub — wooden skyscrapers could become the norm. “This Hub represents an opportunity to transform not just our ability to design and construct healthy, resilient, sustainable tall timber buildings; but to engage and transform the entire industry – from the sustainable forests that provide the raw timber, right through to assembling the building safely on site,” said the Hub director.

  • Infectious diseases: “Deleting” diseases from human bodies

    Gene editing is revolutionizing the bioscience research landscape and holds great promise for “deleting” diseases from human bodies. Sandia National Laboratories is working to make this technology safer and to ensure that one day it can be delivered into humans without triggering adverse immune system reactions or causing other undesirable side effects.

  • Homemade Explosive Characterization Program helps keep Americans safe

    Each day almost two million Americans travel on commercial aviation domestically and internationally, and in addition tens of millions use America’s mass transit systems. In recent months, several significant plots to take down commercial aircraft and attack public spaces have been thwarted due to the mitigation efforts of law enforcement and government counter terrorism agencies across the globe. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) says it is at the forefront of the response to, and mitigation against, such plots against the homeland.

  • Investigating the effectiveness of nanoscale nuclear waste filter

    Nuclear power accounts for roughly 11 percent of the world’s electricity, and researchers are examining more efficient and less expensive methods of capturing radioactive iodine and other common byproducts from the reactors. Researchers are investigating the effectiveness of a nanoscale “sponge” that could help filter out dangerous radioactive particles from nuclear waste.

  • Counter UAVs to drive enemy drones out of the sky

    Defense drones to seek out and bring down hostile military UAVs are being developed in Australia. Military drones have changed the landscape of the modern battlefield in recent years, but the technology to counter them has not kept pace. Reacting to this gap in the market the startup is developing two models in Adelaide, South Australia. The first is a compact counter UAV drone with metal rotors that can be stored in a soldier’s pack and launched when an enemy drone is believed to be in the area.

  • Counter UAVs to drive enemy drones out of the sky

    Defense drones to seek out and bring down hostile military UAVs are being developed in Australia. Military drones have changed the landscape of the modern battlefield in recent years, but the technology to counter them has not kept pace. Reacting to this gap in the market the startup is developing two models in Adelaide, South Australia. The first is a compact counter UAV drone with metal rotors that can be stored in a soldier’s pack and launched when an enemy drone is believed to be in the area.

  • Employing plants as discreet, self-sustaining sensors to warn of security threats

    Few military requirements are as enduring as the need for timely, accurate information. To meet this demand, the Department of Defense invests heavily in the development of powerful electronic and mechanical sensors, and in the manpower to maintain and operate those sensors. DARPA notes that nature, the master of complexity, offers potential solutions, and that the agency new Advanced Plant Technologies (APT) program looks to seemingly simple plants as the next generation of intelligence gatherers. The program will pursue technologies to engineer robust, plant-based sensors that are self-sustaining in their environment and can be remotely monitored using existing hardware.

  • New mapping software makes live-fire training safer

    Better to protect soldiers and sailors during live-fire training, the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) TechSolutions program has sponsored the development of a new Google Maps-style software tool to map out training areas in great detail. This “geospatial-awareness” tool is designed to plug into the U.S. Marine Corps’ KILSWITCH—the Kinetic Integrated Lightweight Software Individual Tactical Combat Handheld for Android.

  • Fire-resistant coating to prevent failure in steel building fires

    A few extra coats of “paint” could be all that the steel in a building needs to prevent itself from buckling and failing in a fire. Scientists came up with this idea when they were figuring out a commercially viable solution to protect reinforced concrete against underground fires. After two years of intensive research and development by the interdisciplinary team, an affordable 3-in-1 coating that offers enhanced fire and corrosion protection was invented.

  • Israel demolishes Gaza tunnel, killing 9 Palestinian militants

    The Israel military (IDF) on Monday morning destroyed a tunnel Hamas fighters were building under the Israel-Gaza Strip. The Hamas Health Ministry in Gaza said that nine Palestinians were killed and eight others were wounded when the IDF blew up the tunnel. Israel this summer began work on an underground barrier meant to counter attack tunnels.