• MICROCHIPSReasserting U.S. Leadership in Microelectronics

    By Adam Zewe

    The global semiconductor shortage has grabbed headlines and caused a cascade of production bottlenecks that have driven up prices on all sorts of consumer goods, from refrigerators to SUVs. The chip shortage has thrown into sharp relief the critical role semiconductors play in many aspects of everyday life. But years before the pandemic-induced shortage took hold, the United States was already facing a growing chip crisis. MIT researchers lay out a strategy for how universities can help the U.S. regain its place as a semiconductor superpower.

  • AVALANCHESimulations Can Improve Avalanche Forecasting

    Currently, avalanche forecasts in Canada are made by experienced professionals who rely on data from local weather stations and on-the-ground observations from ski and backcountry ski operators, avalanche control workers for transportation and industry, and volunteers who manually test the snowpack. But simulated snow cover models developed by a team of researchers are able detect and track weak layers of snow and identify avalanche hazard in a completely different way.

  • CLIMATE CHALLENGES2021 Was U.S. 4th-Warmest Year on Record, Fueled By a Record-Warm December

    The year 2021 was marked by extremes across the U.S., including exceptional warmth, devastating severe weather and the second-highest number of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters on record. The U.S. was struck with 20 separate billion-dollar disasters in 2021.

  • WEATHER DISASTERSWeather Disasters in U.S. Dominate Natural Disaster Losses in 2021

    In 2021, natural disasters caused overall losses of $280bn, of which roughly $120bn were insured. Alongside 2005 and 2011, the year 2021 proved to be the second-costliest ever for the insurance sector (record year 2017: $146bn, inflation-adjusted). Overall losses from natural disasters were the fourth-highest to date (record year 2011: $355bn). Hurricane Ida was the year’s costliest natural disaster, with overall losses of $65bn (insured losses of $36bn). In Europe, flash floods after extreme rainfall caused losses of $54bn (€46bn) – the costliest natural disaster on record in Germany. Many of the weather catastrophes fit in with the expected consequences of climate change, making greater loss preparedness and  climate protection a matter of urgency.

  • PANDEMICSThe Battle of the SARS-CoV-2 Variants

    In order to fight the pandemic in the long term, it is crucial to understand why one variant prevails over another. A new study has provided important answers by comparing the spread and transmission of different emerging variants in parallel.

  • CLIMATE CHALLENGESCities Boosted Rain, Sent Storms to the Suburbs During Europe’s Deadly Summer Floods

    When it comes to extreme weather, climate change usually gets all the attention. But according to a new study, the unique effects of cities – which can intensify storms and influence where rain falls – need to be accounted for as well.

  • RESILIENCECompound-Flood Modeling Tools Hel Build Community Climate Resilience

    In 2021, extreme flooding from rain affected residents across the United States, causing property damage and loss of life. These extreme weather events are becoming all too common. In fact, a recent United Nations report—Climate Change 2021—found that heavy rain events are likely to become more intense and frequent, resulting in an increase in severe flooding events around the globe.

  • ADVERSARIAL AIAiding Evaluation of Adversarial AI Defenses

    There are many inherent weaknesses that underlie existing machine learning (ML) models, opening the technology up to spoofing, corruption, and other forms of deception. Evaluation testbed, datasets, tools developed on GARD program were released to jump-start community and encourage creation of more robust defenses against attacks on ML models.

  • CLIMATE CHALLENGESDecember in Texas Hottest on Record in More Than 130 Years

    The state climatologist says last month was the warmest December since 1889. From Dallas through Abilene to Del Rio, temperatures averaged 5 to 9 degrees above normal.

  • NEUROTECHNOLOGYThe Big Promises and Potentially Bigger Consequences of Neurotechnology

    By Elise Thomas

    Neurotechnology is an umbrella term for a range of technologies which interact directly with the brain or nervous system. This can include systems which passively scan, map or interpret brain activity, or systems which actively influence the state of the brain or nervous system. There are growing excitement and growing concern about the potential applications of neurotechnology for everything from defense to health care to entertainment.

  • COASTAL CHALLENGESAntarctica’s “Doomsday” Glacier: How Its Collapse Could Trigger Global Floods and Swallow Islands

    By Ella Gilbert

    Driven by global warming, sea level has risen around 20cm since 1900, an amount which is already forcing coastal communities out of their homes and exacerbating environmental problems such as flooding, saltwater contamination and habitat loss. The massive Thwaites glacier in West Antarctica is similar in size to Great Britain, and it contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by 65cm if it were to completely collapse. The worry is that Thwaites might not be the only glacier to go.

  • ARGUMENT: MILITARY TECHNOLOGYAre New and Emerging Technologies Game-Changers for Smaller Powers?

    We are now entering into what is usually referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, which is characterized by the fusion of technologies and platforms in the form of a “system of systems.” Michael Claesson and Zebulon Carlander write that “In previous industrial revolutions, innovation was integrated into military capabilities, such as weapons systems, logistics, and organization. The fourth industrial revolution will be no different.” The add that “New and emerging technologies might therefore offer a new arena for small and medium states in which they can exploit possibilities to offset the capabilities of bigger and better-resourced adversaries.”

  • ROBOTICSAutonomous Air and Ground Vehicles Swarms Take Flight in Final Field Experiment

    DARPA’s OFFSET program envisions future small-unit infantry forces employing large-scale teams of unmanned air and/or ground robots to accomplish diverse missions in complex urban environments. OFFSET specifically focused on advancements in collaborative swarm autonomy and human-swarm teaming capabilities.

  • FORENSICSMeet the Maggot: How This Flesh-Loving, Butt-Breathing Marvel Helps Us Solve Murders

    By Michelle Harvey

    Not all superheroes wear capes – some live in rubbish bins, garbage dumps and on dead bodies. Maggots, the humble little legless larvae, are actually nature’s antibacterial soldiers. Their ability to survive and thrive in decomposing matter is making them our new secret weapon in forensic entomology – the science of using insects to solve crimes.

  • CLIMATE CHALLENGESControlled Burning of Natural Environments Could Help Offset Carbon Emissions

    Planting trees and suppressing wildfires do not necessarily maximize the carbon storage of natural ecosystems. A new study has found that prescribed burning can actually lock in or increase carbon in the soils of temperate forests, savannahs and grasslands.