• Misplaced Trust: Trust in Science May Foster Pseudoscience

    Trusting science is, in principle, a good thing, but there is a catch: A new study finds that people who trust science are more likely to believe and disseminate false claims containing scientific references than people who do not trust science. In other words, says one researcher, trust in science “makes people vulnerable to pseudoscience.”

  • UFOs and Aliens in Germany

    The U.S. government’s release of a report on unidentified aerial sightings has been met with much interest in Germany. Enthusiasts believe UFOs have been sighted here, too. “We’re just a small blue planet in the middle of an infinite universe,” UFO researcher Robert Fleischer says. “Anything is possible out there.”

  • Rethinking Research Security

    How can or should the United States protect the gains of innovation without damaging the very research base it wants to protect? Ainikki Riikonen and Emily Weinstein write that the U.S. government has rightfully identified the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as an adversary intent on stealing technology for its national interests, and the Department of Justice established the China Initiative as a countermeasure. “But the China Initiative misses the mark on an effective approach to research security. It is out of alignment with evolving research security initiatives in the rest of the federal government…. In its current form, research security under the China Initiative may damage America’s ability to innovate and continue defining the cutting edge of technological research in the long term.”

  • Why Gain-of-Function Research Matters

    There are unanswered questions about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, so both the U.S. government and scientists have called for a deeper examination of the validity of claims that a virus could have escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China. Much of the discussion surrounds “gain-of-function” research. What is gain-of-function research? What are the benefits of this research, and how risky is it?

  • It’s Time to Talk about Lab Safety

    A new website, GlobalBioLabs.org, is an interactive web-based map of global Biosafety Level 4 facilities and biorisk management policies. Only 17 of the 23 countries that house BSL-4 laboratories have national biosafety associations or are members of international partnerships.

  • Let Scientific Evidence Determine Origin of SARS-CoV-2: Presidents of the National Academies

    Earlier this week, the leaders of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued a statement about the ongoing debate regarding the origins of the COVID-19 virus. “We urge that investigations into the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 be guided by scientific principles, including reliance on verifiable data, reproducibility, objectivity, transparency, peer review, international collaboration, minimizing conflicts of interest, findings based on evidence, and clarity regarding uncertainties” they write.

  • Here’s What Scientists Learn from Studying Dangerous Pathogens in Secure Labs

    There are about 1,400 known human pathogens – viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and helminths that can cause a person’s injury or death. But in a world with a trillion individual species of microorganisms, where scientists have counted only one one-thousandth of one percent, how likely is it researchers have discovered and characterized everything that might threaten people? Not very likely at all. And there’s a lot to be gained from knowing these microscopic enemies better.

  • World's Largest Outdoor Earthquake Simulator Undergoes Major Upgrade

    A major upgrade to the world’s largest outdoor earthquake simulator reached a milestone mid-April when the facility’s floor—all 300,000 lbs of it—was put back into place. When completed this fall, the simulator will have the ability to reproduce multi-dimensional earthquake motions with unprecedented accuracy to make structures and their residents safer during strong shakes.

  • Researchers Look at Nuclear Weapon Effects for Near-Surface Detonations

    Researchers have taken a closer look at how nuclear weapon blasts close to the Earth’s surface create complications in their effects and apparent yields. Attempts to correlate data from events with low heights of burst revealed a need to improve the theoretical treatment of strong blast waves rebounding from hard surfaces.

  • How Virus Detectives Trace the Origins of an Outbreak – and Why It’s So Tricky

    Every time there is a major disease outbreak, one of the first questions scientists and the public ask is: “Where did this come from?” As an expert in viral ecology, I am often asked how scientists trace the origins of a virus. In my work, I have found many new viruses and some well-known pathogens that infect wild plants without causing any disease. Plant, animal or human, the methods are largely the same. Tracking down the origins of a virus involves a combination of extensive fieldwork, thorough lab testing and quite a bit of luck.

  • DOD UFO Report Boldly Goes Where No Official Report Has Gone Before

    If you have an interest in UFOs (unidentified flying objects, for the uninitiated) and have always wondered what exactly the US government and intelligence services know about them, June may be a big month for you, as a DOD task force will share data it collected on unusual flight phenomena with Congress. UFO enthusiasts rejoice, but some experts with decades of research under his belt doesn’t believe aliens have ever been to Earth.

  • China’s Determined Effort to Build an S&T Infrastructure

    For half a century, China, with dogged determination, has pursued its effort to build an S&T infrastructure. A new report from the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) notes that foreign technology acquisition continues to play a large role in this effort, with commercial technology products becoming increasingly attractive targets. Beijing’s “hybrid innovation system” blends forms of academic collaboration, industry partnerships, cyber espionage, direct investment, and influence operations to enhance China’s comprehensive national power.

  • DHS Awards $4.2 Million to U.S. Small Business for Homeland Security R&D

    DHS S&T announced the award of 29 competitive research contracts to 25 small businesses across the United States to participate in Phase I of the DHS Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. Each project will receive up to $150,000 from the DHS SBIR Program to conduct proof-of-concept research over a five-month period to address specific homeland security technology needs.

  • New Replication Crisis: Research Which Is Less Likely to Be True Is Cited More

    Papers in leading psychology, economic and science journals that fail to replicate and therefore are less likely to be true are often the most cited papers in academic research, according to a new study. The study explores the ongoing “replication crisis” in which researchers have discovered that many findings in the fields of social sciences and medicine don’t hold up when other researchers try to repeat the experiments.

  • A "Horizon Strategy" Framework for Science and Technology Policy

    The current U.S. innovation model has in multiple respects fallen short in the face of today’s technology competition challenges, including from the state-sponsored technology strategy China is employing in support of its geopolitical objectives. A new report outlines a framework for federal investment in science and technology.