• Hiding explosives in plain sight: Searchers thrown off by multiple targets

    Researchers find that one strategy a terrorist might adopt is to carry explosives on his body - and liquid jell in his luggage; screeners would likely spot the jell, ask the passenger-terrorist to discard it - and, subconsciously influenced by “satisfaction of search,” move on to screen the next passenger; the research suggests that security might be improved if the screeners worked in a space where they could not see how many travelers were waiting in line and therefore did not feel pressure to hurry with the searches

  • Report claiming 600,000 Iraqi civilians died in the second Gulf War based on fabrication and falsification

    The 2006 Lancet survey, written by Dr. Gilbert Burnham of Johns Hopkins, claimed 654,965 Iraqi deaths related to the war, or 2.5 percent of the Iraqi population; scientists examining the survey found many flaws in it, and professional bodies censured Burnham for unethical and misleading methodology; John Hopkins University suspended Burnham for five years from being a principal investigator on human subject research; new paper offers evidence that Burnham engaged in data fabrication and falsification in nine broad categories

  • U.K. Home Offices praises University of Reading CCTV research

    The Computational Vision Group at the University of Reading has developed computer systems which emulate human vision and is currently working on improving the effectiveness of CCTV for safety, security, and threat assessment purposes; the systems will be used in crowd image analysis, spotting unattended luggage, and detecting threats to aviation both on the ground and in the air

  • New antiterror technology tool uses human logic

    A new interactive image-based software can be used on touch-screen table-top displays and other large-screen systems better to manage the huge amounts of data collected in connection with alleged terrorist plots

  • No dog left behind: DARPA seeks dog-training machines

    Impatient with old-fashioned dog trainers and their archaic techniques of squeaky toys and personal affection, DARPA solicits ideas for machines which would “automates the training of complex behaviors in animals without human intervention”; the training machines should also be able to collect performance metrics that will “indicate” a dog’s “intelligence, capability, and progress”

  • Breakthrough: Robot makes scientific discovery on its own

    Researchers build a robot which used artificial intelligence to discover simple but new scientific knowledge about the genomics of the baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae; not only this: the robot hypothesized that certain genes in baker’s yeast code for specific enzymes, which catalyze biochemical reactions in yeast — and then devised experiments to test these predictions, ran the experiments, interpreted the results, and repeated the cycle

  • Composite materials extend life of existing bridges

    The Obama administration’s stimulus package directs large amounts of money toward rehabilitating the aging U.S. infrastructure; Jayhawks researchers are testing a new class of devices that could double the life of America’s existing bridges using composite materials

  • Mathematician foresees tight races in MLB's Eastern divisions

    The baseball season is about the begin, and a professor of mathematics has developed an intricate model to predict the winners of the American and National leagues; his model computes the probability of a team winning a game against another team with given hitters, bench, starting pitcher, relievers, and home field advantage

  • DARPA wants stealthy 3D building-interior mapping kit

    SWAT teams, special forces units, and first responders often are called upon to storm buildings in which terrorists hide; would it not be better if these units had up-to-date, accurate pictures of the insides of the structures they are about to storm? DARPA thinks it is a good idea

  • Disinfectants create toxic by-products

    Using disinfectants to keep water drinkable was one of the major achievements of the twentieth century; a recent study now shows that the chemicals used to purify the water we drink and use in swimming pools react with organic material in the water yielding toxic consequences

  • Andrew Marshall: Futurist-in-chief

    DARPA is not the only Pentagon outfit in which bold, out-of-the-box ideas and concepts are tested; the Office of Net Assessment (ONA), led since its 1973 inception by Andrew Marshall, should be recognized as well for its original work

  • Computer models of unconventional warfare

    Wildcats researchers to design intelligent software that can analyze the behavior and customs of political and cultural groups; part of the Asymmetric Threat Response and Analysis Project, known as ATRAP

  • DARPA, U.S. Army looking for social computing technology

    Here is the Pentagonese for social network technology: “new technologies to rapidly create theoretically-informed, data-driven models of complex human, social, cultural, and behavioral dynamics that are instantiated in near-realtime simulations”

  • TSA wants to screen your baggage -- emotional baggage, that is

    To improve on X-ray and millimeter-wave scanning and go beyond group profiling, some suggest screening passengers for hostile intentions

  • Soft power: CIA funded first Russian edition of Dr. Zhivago

    The Soviet authorities banned Boris Pasternak’s “Dr. Zhivago” because of its critical treatment of the 1917 revolution; the manuscript was smuggled to the West and published — but to be considered for the Noble Prize, a work of fiction must be published in its original language; the CIA steps in to fund publishing the Russian version of the book (in Holland) — allowing the Noble Prize committee to award Pasternak, and embarrass the USSR