• Rail safetyConcerns about safety of rail to transport energy liquids, gases

    The U.S. increased production of crude oil, natural gas, and corn-based ethanol created unforeseen demands and safety challenges on their long-distance transportation via pipelines, tank barges, and railroad tank cars. A debate is underway about whether the domestic energy revolution was placing stress on the transportation system that would sacrifice safety.  

  • Dirty bombsDetecting nuclear materials used in dirty bombs

    Radiological material falling into the wrong hands is a constant security concern for governments around the world. Border agencies must scan incoming vehicles and freight for radioactive material, which is a challenging task, as huge volumes of both move across borders each day. Imperial College London’s physicists have developed two devices for detecting nuclear materials.

  • Aviation securityFlights worldwide face increased risk of severe turbulence owing to climate change

    Flights all around the world could be encountering lots more turbulence in the future, according to the first ever global projections of in-flight bumpiness. A new study has calculated that climate change will significantly increase the amount of severe turbulence worldwide by 2050–2080. Severe turbulence involves forces stronger than gravity, and is strong enough to throw people and luggage around an aircraft cabin.

  • Rail safetyAverting disaster on railroad crossings

    The damsel in distress, tied up and left on the railroad tracks, is one of the oldest and most clichéd cinema tropes. This clichéd crime has connections to real, contemporary accidents that happen far more than they should. There are 200,000 crossings in the United States, and efforts to minimize the number of these crossings by creating overpasses, or elevating roadways are cost-prohibitive. Researchers found a better solution to reduce the number of accidents at railroad crossings: The Ghost Train Generator.

  • TransportationSoft target, hard problem: Keeping surface transportation secure

    Maintaining security on the U.S. surface transportation systems takes significant resources and manpower, both which tend to be in short supply. What if there were a way to detect potential threats in bags or on persons from the moment they entered the subway? What if there was a way to know the path individuals take as they move through the system, and to relay that information to transit police in real-time?

  • AnthraxCleaning up subways after release of biological warfare agent such as anthrax

    If you’re like most people, you don’t spend much time thinking about what would happen if anthrax was released into your local subway system. But Sandia Lab engineer Mark Tucker has spent much of the past twenty years thinking about incidents involving chemical or biological warfare agents, and the best ways to clean them up. Tucker’s current project focuses on cleaning up a subway system after the release of a biological warfare agent such as anthrax.

  • TerrorismU.K. raises terror threat level after London terrorist attack

    British police is searching for those responsible for an IED explosion on a London subway train. Twenty-nine people were injured in the attack. Counterterrorism experts said the IED may have malfunctioned, thus averting a larger catastrophe. British prime minister Theresa May raised the country’s terror threat level to critical, meaning an attack is expected soon.

  • 9/11 attacksSaudi government funded a “dry run” for 9/11: Court documents

    The Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C. paid two Saudis to conduct a “dry run” of the 9/11 attacks, documents submitted by lawyers for plaintiffs in a terrorism case against the Saudi government show. The complaint stated that the Saudi government paid two nationals, posing as students in the United States, to take a flight from Phoenix to Washington in November 1999 in order to test out flight deck security. The two Saudi nationals, whose tickets were paid for by the Saudi embassy, took a flight from Phoenix to Washington, but their persistent questions of the crew about cockpit security, and their several attempts to enter the cockpit, led the pilots to make an emergency landing in Ohio, and the two Saudis were escorted off the plane by FBI agents. The two men were released after an initial interrogation by the FBI.

  • Airport securityGetting past security without a plane ticket

    Starting Tuesday, 5 September, Pittsburgh International Airport has become the first U.S. airport to allow non-fliers regular access into its gate-side terminal areas since security measures changed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. The airport has won approval from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for non-ticketed customers to pass through security, though they will still have to go through the same screening as those catching flights. They will also be required to show ID so they can be vetted against no-fly lists.

  • Climate & transportationKeeping the trains running on time in the face of climate change

    There are many railway bridges around the world. In the United Kingdom alone there are more than 40,000 railway bridges. Each nation has employed its own methodology for maintenance and repairs of this essential infrastructure, but new, daunting challenges created by climate change — extreme heat, extreme cold, and severe flooding — require yet more rigorous solutions.

  • Airport securityTouch-free fingerprint scanners

    Balancing speed and security at the airport is essential to ensuring safe, reliable travel. DHS S&T and TSA are evaluating new identity verification technology that can reduce the time it takes for travelers to pass through security. The touch-free scanners allow a traveler’s fingerprints to serve as their boarding pass and identity document.

  • Radiation detectionNew app helps improve radiation detection at ports

    Evaluating radiation alarms represents a huge challenge for inspectors at seaports scanning containers for radioactive materials. Each alarm requires inspectors to perform secondary inspections on dozens of containers a day. A new smart phone application launched by the IAEA will help distinguish between alarms due to harmless amounts of naturally occurring radiation and alarms that might be a cause for concern from a security standpoint and warrant further investigation.

  • Security kiosksAutomated security kiosk to shorten lines at airports, border crossings

    Researchers have developed a next-generation automated screening kiosk which uses an algorithm of “yes” or “no” questions delivered by a computer-generated avatar, quickly and efficiently to assess the potential threats passengers may pose to others. the screening can be completed in less than four minutes with a 90 percent success rate.

  • AviationRising temperatures may limit aircraft takeoffs globally

    Global temperatures have gone up nearly 1 degree Centigrade (1.8 Fahrenheit) since about 1980, and this may already be having an effect. In late June, American Airlines canceled more than 40 flights out of Phoenix, Ariz., when daytime highs of nearly 120 degrees made it too hot for smaller regional jets to take off. Rising temperatures due to global warming will make it harder for many aircraft around the world to take off in coming decades, says a new study. During the hottest parts of the day, 10 to 30 percent of fully loaded planes may have to remove some fuel, cargo or passengers, or else wait for cooler hours to fly, a new study shows.

  • Radiation risksLab mistakenly ships radioactive material aboard commercial plane

    Employees at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have been fired and disciplinary action against other personnel was taken after small amounts of radioactive material were mistakenly shipped aboard a commercial cargo plane. Nuclear experts say the mishap could have led to serious consequences. The rapid pressure changes during flights could have damaged the packaging, causing radiation to escape.