• Solar Thermal Tower Key Component of National Energy Goals

    Sandia hosted a Feb. 16 groundbreaking ceremony to begin the construction of a new solar tower at the National Solar Thermal Test Facility. The project is part of DOE’s effort to develop concentrating solar power technology that may provide clean, utility-scale electricity.

  • California’s Best New Source of Water? Reuse.

    While expensive solutions like new reservoirs and seawater desalination grab attention, California communities are quietly building up their capacity to clean stormwater and wastewater for reuse for irrigation, industry and, yes, drinking water too.

  • Taiwan’s High-End Semiconductors: Supply Chain Interdependence and Geopolitical Vulnerability

    What are the geopolitical implications of Taiwan’s dominance in global semiconductor production? How would the peaceful annexation or outright invasion of Taiwan by China affect the United States, its allies and partners, and the global economy? What are the United States’ options for mitigating or reversing the unfavorable effects of either unification scenario?

  • Why Rain on Snow in the California Mountains Worries Scientists

    For much of the United States, storms with heavy rainfall can coincide with seasonal snow cover. When that happens, the resulting runoff of water can be much greater than what is produced from rain or snowmelt alone. The combination has resulted in some of the nation’s most destructive and costly floods.

  • Expanding the AI Toolbox of Cybersecurity Defenders

    Scientists have taken a key step toward harnessing a form of artificial intelligence known as deep reinforcement learning, or DRL, to protect computer networks. DRL shows the promise of an autonomous AI in proactive cyber defense.

  • Understanding Plants Improves Wildland-Fire Modeling in Uncertain Future

    Drought and warmer temperatures make vegetation dynamics crucial to fire behavior and effects. A new conceptual framework for incorporating the way plants use carbon and water into fine-scale computer models of wildland fire provides a critical first step toward improved global fire forecasting.

  • High-Fidelity Simulation Offers Insight into 2013 Chelyabinsk Meteor

    On the morning of Feb. 15, 2013, a small asteroid exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, sending a loud shockwave and sonic boom across the region, damaging buildings and leaving around 1,200 people injured. Meteoric events are natural disasters and, just like any other natural disaster, we can do more to be prepared. “They are not high-probability events, but we shouldn’t dismiss them as science fiction either,” says one scientist.

  • Australian Government Needs to Go ack to Basics to Build an Australian Rare-Earths Industry

    China has moved well beyond an aspiration to monopolize the production of rare earths. It aims for leadership in the production of the full range of goods making use of rare earths—from electric cars to wind turbines, MRI scanners, lasers and rocket motors.

  • How to Deal with Winter Droughts and Water Shortages

    Warmer winters and sparse rainfall have dried up southern Europe. Water scarcity in Italy, France and other countries is threatening this year’s harvests. What to do?

  • Making Nuclear Energy More Competitive

    Through research on high burnup fuels and improving the design of nuclear power plants, NSE doctoral student Assil Halimi is adopting a dual approach to addressing some of the industry’s toughest challenges.

  • Next Generation 911 Interoperability

    An estimated 240 million calls are routed to first responders every year via our country’s 911 system. It is critical that responders and operators have access to the best tools and resources available so that they can effectively answer these calls quickly and accurately and keep our communities safe. New testing and certification program, laboratory will improve the functionality of our national 911 system.

  • The U.S. Needs to Ditch Its America-First Approach to Critical Minerals

    More and more countries with advanced economies have begun to prioritize the supply and value chains for critical minerals and rare-earth elements because of their links with advanced and low-emissions technologies. In some countries, governments have responded to the critical minerals challenge by adopting a new version of economic nationalism. But unilateral responses will not produce secure or reliable supply chains. Indeed, economic nationalism may actually aggravate the problem.

  • Havana Syndrome Not Caused by Directed-Energy Weapons: U.S. Intelligence

    In 2016 in Havana, Cuba’s capital, a growing number of U.S. diplomats reported symptoms of unexplained ailment, and over the next five years, employees in many other U.S. embassies complained about identical symptoms, which included dizziness, nausea, headaches, ringing ears, and disorientation. A comprehensive investigation by several agencies of the U.S. intelligence community has now concluded that the symptoms of what came to be called the Havana Syndrome were not the result of an adversary nation using directed-energy or radiation weapons.

  • AI Nuclear Weapons Catastrophe Can Be Avoided

    There is a growing concern that emerging AI features will only increase the potential for disaster through the possibility of semiautonomous or fully autonomous nuclear weapons. Noah Greene writes that “As the Soviet-era Col. Petrov case kindly taught us, without a human firmly in control of the nuclear command-and-control structure, the odds of disaster creep slowly toward an unintended or uncontrolled nuclear exchange.”

  • Great Leap Nowhere: The Challenges of China’s Semiconductor Industry

    China is struggling in the battle for advanced semiconductor technology. With President Joe Biden’s most recent round of export controls on semiconductors, China is now facing an increasingly urgent challenge as it seeks to ramp up its domestic innovative capacity for high-end chips. These difficulties and challenges notwithstanding, Elliot Ji writes, “U.S. policymakers should be keenly aware that China’s relative success with creative adaptation means that it can boost certain sectors of the chip industry by exploiting leaky export controls and engaging in cyber espionage.”