• How an “AI-tocracy” Emerges

    Many scholars, analysts, and other observers have suggested that resistance to innovation is an Achilles’ heel of authoritarian regimes. But in China, the use of AI-driven facial recognition helps the regime repress dissent while enhancing the technology, researchers report.

  • Adapting to Wildfires in a Warming World

    Recent wildfires in Canada and California offer a preview of a world made far more dangerous by climate change, one in which smoke and fire exact an ever-increasing toll on public health and the economy.

  • Climate Change Is Increasing Stress on Thousands of Aging Dams Across the U.S.

    There are more than 91,000 dams across the U.S., in all 50 states, with diverse designs and purposes. The average dam age is 60 years, and more than 8,000 dams are over 90 years old. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ report card for the nation’s infrastructure gave U.S. dams a “D” grade.

  • As Unprecedented Rainfalls Occur More Frequently, What Can Be Done About the Resulting Flash Floods?

    Record rainfall is wreaking havoc in northern India and New York state as flash floods inundate communities. Experts have called for better resilience through ‘weatherproofing.’

  • Software System Finds, Tracks Moving Objects as Small as a Pixel

    A new patented software system developed at Sandia can find the curves of motion in streaming video and images from satellites, drones and far-range security cameras and turn them into signals to find and track moving objects as small as one pixel. The developers say this system can enhance the performance of any remote sensing application.

  • Radar Can Help Fight Wildfires, Identify Flash-Flood Risks

    Radar imaging technology can provide valuable insight into the location and extent of wildfires in remote Arctic and Subarctic forests, like those currently burning in Canada. Capable of penetrating clouds and smoke, and imaging day and night, Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) can play a critical role in wildfire monitoring.

  • Next-Generation Flow Battery Design Sets Records

    Sugar additive plays a surprising role, boosting flow battery capacity and longevity for this grid energy resilience design. Researchers report that the flow battery, a design optimized for electrical grid energy storage, maintained its capacity to store and release energy for more than a year of continuous charge and discharge.

  • China’s Gallium and Germanium Controls: What They Mean and What Could Happen Next

    From August, China is to restrict exports of gallium and germanium, two critical elements for making semiconductor chips. China dominates the supply of both elements. The restrictions look likely to lead to higher prices for gallium and germanium, as well as longer delivery times.

  • Forensics Lab Cracks Case on Newer, “Greener” Gunshot Residue

    Discoveries by forensic scientists about how gunshot residue behaves on skin, hair and fabric will allow crime scene investigators to catch up to the proliferation of new, eco-friendly types of ammunition and make faster, more informed decisions at crime scenes and in forensic laboratories.

  • What Are the Odds of a Truly Catastrophic, Even Extinction-Causing, Disaster?

    The Forecastong Research Institute (FRI) brought together forecasters from two groups with distinctive claims to knowledge about humanity’s future — experts in various domains relevant to existential risk, and “superforecasters” with a track record of predictive accuracy over short time horizons. FRI asked tournament participants to predict the likelihood of global risks related to nuclear weapon use, biorisks, and AI, along with dozens of other related, shorter-run forecasts.

  • A Quantitative Analysis of the In-Orbit Collision Risk and Its Effects on the Earth

    Since the launch of the first satellite in 1957, the proliferation of space debris has continued unabated. The European Space Agency (ESA) estimates that over 131 million useless objects, ranging from 1 millimeter to 10 centimeters in size, currently orbit the Earth at an average speed of 36,000 kilometers per hour. “Any fragment larger than 1 centimeter poses a potentially lethal threat in the event of a collision,” says an expert.

  • Sooner Than You Might Think: Virtual Power Plants Are Coming to Save the Grid

    Networks of thousands of home-based batteries could be key to a cleaner, more reliable electricity system. After years of pilot projects, utilities and battery companies now have networks with thousands of participants in California, Utah, and Vermont, among others.

  • How U.S. Colleges, Universities Can Mitigate Risks Related to Foreign-Funded Language and Culture Institutes

    A new report from the National Academies recommends steps that U.S. colleges and universities can take to identify and mitigate risks associated with foreign-funded language and culture institutes on campuses. The report follows one released in January that examined Confucius Institutes — Chinese government-funded language and culture centers.

  • Researchers Devise a Way to Evaluate Cybersecurity Methods

    A savvy hacker can obtain secret information, such as a password, by observing a computer program’s behavior, like how much time that program spends accessing the computer’s memory. Security approaches that completely block these “side-channel attacks” are so computationally expensive, so engineers often apply what are known as obfuscation schemes. MIT researchers have developed a system which analyzes the likelihood that an attacker could thwart a certain security scheme to steal secret information.

  • How Secure Are Voice Authentication Systems Really?

    Voice authentication has increasingly been used in remote banking, call centers and other security-critical scenarios. Attackers can break voice authentication with up to 99 percent success within six tries.