• Monitoring Current and Future Biological Threats

    DHS S&T has awarded $199,648 to Mesur.io Inc., for analysis and reporting of outbreak-related data. The Mesur.io project proposes to adapt their Earthstream Platform to provide DHS and NBIC with data that tracks metrics related to an outbreak or emergence to predict various risks of a biological threat.

  • Biohazard: A Look at China’s Biological Capabilities and the Recent Coronavirus Outbreak

    When people think about weapons of mass destruction (WMD), they tend to think of things that go “boom.” The bigger the weapon, the bigger the boom, and the worse the impact. However, not all weapons need a big boom to be effective. Every day, millions of people are affected by a weapon that has the potential to do far more damage than a nuclear bomb, a weapon we cannot see, a weapon we call germs.

  • Pathogens Have the World’s Attention

    The novel coronavirus has demonstrated just how devastating a transmissible pathogen can be—and just how difficult to contain. Nathan Levine and Chris Li write that “the sobering truth is that, as deadly diseases go, the world got lucky. The global case fatality rate of COVID-19 is around 2 percent. One need only compare this to SARS (10 percent), smallpox (30 percent), pulmonary anthrax (80 percent), or Ebola (90 percent) to consider that the coronavirus could easily have been much, much worse.”

  • Homeland Security for Radiological and Nuclear Threats

    Radiation exposure events are complicated: there is a variety of radiation sources, and since radiation is invisible, and its effect may not always be immediately apparent, first responders and emergency services must prepare for a “worried well” of people requiring attention: individuals who do not have other physical injuries but are concerned about whether they have received a radiation exposure.

  • Toxic: A History of Nerve Agents, from Nazi Germany to Putin’s Russia

    Nerve agents are very much in the news these days. Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria repeatedly used Sarin against its own people during that country’s civil war. The Putin regime employed Novichoks in both Russia and the United Kingdom against citizens it deemed insufficiently loyal to Moscow. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un utilized VX in the assassination of his brother at an airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Across the globe, the use of nerve agents is challenging the international nonproliferation regime in numerous ways.

  • Working Toward a More Secure World

    Neutron resonance transmission analysis (NRTA), which is used for identifying specific kinds of special nuclear materials. Elements come in different forms, or isotopes, and one way to differentiate among isotopes is to bombard them with neutrons. A reliable method for pinning down the nature of nuclear materials is crucial in nuclear security, where verification of weapons treaties may depend on establishing if a warhead slated for elimination is real or fake. The same kind of technology is useful for determining the enrichment status of nuclear fuel, or for revealing the presence of concealed radioactive material.

  • Innovative Chemical Weapons Detection Technology

    An innovative new chemical detection technology called SEDONA, or SpEctroscopic Detection of Nerve Agents, was recognized as a 2020 R&D 100 Award-winner.When deployed at security checkpoints, border crossings, and ports of entry across the country, SEDONA will enhance DHS’s abilities to detect and intercept dangerous chemicals and nerve agents. 

  • Harnessing Earth’s Magnetic Field to Detect Chemicals

    A newly designed spectroscopy instrument allows scientists, industry, and governments to decipher even trace amounts of chemicals using the Earth’s own magnetic field. The portable tool will help scientists, industry, and governments easily detect and identify trace amounts of chemicals.

  • The Lessons and Legacy of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

    A decade after a powerful earthquake and tsunami set off the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan, Stanford experts discuss revelations about radiation from the disaster, advances in earthquake science related to the event and how its devastating impact has influenced strategies for tsunami defense and local warning systems.

  • How Fukushima Triggered Germany's Nuclear Phaseout

    The Fukushima disaster shook the belief in safe nuclear power to its core. For Germany, it marked a historic turning point for environmentalism.

  • Fukushima: Ten Years On from the Disaster, Was Japan’s Response Right?

    How should a government react when confronted by clear evidence of radioactive material being released into the environment? We set out to determine how best to respond to a severe nuclear accident using a science-led approach. Could we, by examining the evidence, come up with better policy prescriptions than the emerging playbook deployed in Ukraine and Japan? Together with colleagues, we used research methods from statistics, meteorology, reactor physics, radiation science and economics and arrived at a surprising conclusion.

  • Explainable AI: A Must for Nuclear Nonproliferation, National Security

    As it is with raw human intelligence, so it is with artificial intelligence (AI). We may not know exactly what’s going on inside that elaborate black box built by humans, but its decisions can be so accurate that it earns our trust, if not our comprehension. But the need for understanding escalates when the stakes are higher. For national security concerns, it’s not good enough to know that a system works; scientists demand to know how and why. That’s the foundation for a field of study known as “explainable AI.”

  • The “Red Line” That Wasn’t

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons (CW) against his own people is the greatest challenge the Chemical Weapons Convention has ever faced. This breach of the taboo against CW use sparked numerous national and international investigations to determine the details of exactly what happened and who had done it. Joby Warrick’s Red Line is a useful addition to this debate, but the definitive book on the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war remains to be written.

  • The Fukushima Disaster Didn’t Scare the World Off Nuclear Power

    Ten years ago, three nuclear reactors melted down at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan, producing the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.The disaster, caused by an earthquake-triggered tsunami, pushed Japan and a few other countries to rethink their use of nuclear energy. But elsewhere, it didn’t spur major changes. Instead, experts say, climate change could force a major reckoning with how the world uses nuclear power.

  • Radiation Knows No Bounds—but Builds Strong Bonds Between Two Communities

    PNNL’s detection prowess harkens back to early studies at Hanford, a former plutonium production site near the laboratory. This work gave rise to PNNL’s expertise in radiochemistry, nuclear physics, and the ability to sense, measure, and identify radioactivity at increasingly lower levels. PNNL’s scientific studies during Hanford operations also built expertise in predicting how contaminants would move in the environment and in estimating radiation releases and exposures.