At a hacker conference in New York on Friday, a German security consultant demonstrated just how "disruptive" 3-D printing can really be. Using a 3-D printer, the hacker/consultant printed out various plastic copies of handcuff keys for bracelets manufactured by both English and German security firms. Then he used them to easily pop open both sets of cuffs.
That inconspicuous brown box above is reportedly a new kind of laser-based molecular scanner that can collect spectroscopic information from more than 150 feet away. It can instantly probe your clothing and luggage for chemical traces of anything--explosives, drugs, biological matter--and you will never even know it.
Using both the military and software sides of their education, a team of Polish military students studying computer engineering at Wojskowa Akademia Techniczna (Military University of Technology) presented at the Imagine Cup here in Sydney an app that uses the built-in magnetometer in a Windows phone to detect the magnetic signature of land mines buried in the ground.
Back in February Congress directed the Federal Aviation Administration to fast-track the integration of unmanned aerial systems into the U.S. national airspace, but it didn't tell the FAA how exactly to do this. To fly unmanned drones in shared airspace with conventional manned aircraft (or with other drones) is dangerous without a means for planes to know where other aircraft--manned and unmanned--are. Termed "sense and avoid" (or "see and avoid") this technology is a key but difficult piece of our drone-enabled future, and the Army just took some huge steps toward making it a reality.
Soldiers scanning the battlefield for threats may soon get a new tool: a brain-scanning set of binoculars that can pick up on a soldier’s unconscious recognition of a potential threat and bring it to his conscious attention. It’s just one of many ways DARPA and other military research groups are looking to have soldiers mind-meld with their machines and materiel, and as the BBC reports, it demonstrates how remarkably close we are to deploying mind-control on the battlefield.
Over at Picatinny Arsenal, the research and development facility and proving ground for the U.S. Army’s weaponry, engineers are developing a device that shoots lighting bolts along a laser beam to annihilate its target. That’s right: lighting bolts shot down laser beams. This story could easily end right here and still be the coolest thing we’ve written today, but for the scientifically curious we’ll continue.
In late 2011, DARPA announced its intention to create an on-orbit capability to harvest dead satellites and recycle their parts into new orbiting communications outposts. In 2012, the research arm of the DoD is making good.
Gaining access to your gym or office building could soon be as simple as waving a hand at the front door. A Hunsville, Ala.-based company called IDair is developing a system that can scan and identify a fingerprint from nearly 20 feet away. Coupled with other biometrics, it could soon allow security systems to grant or deny access from a distance, without requiring users to stop and scan a fingerprint, swipe an ID card, or otherwise lose a moment dealing with technology.
The Air Force’s X-37B--its secret robotic space plane that’s been orbiting the Earth on a mission shrouded in mystery for more than a year--landed safely in the wee hours Saturday morning at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Orbital Test Vehicle 2 (OTV-2) is the second X-37B test vehicle to successfully complete an orbital mission and autonomously return to Earth, following sister spacecraft OTV-1’s 225-day mission in 2010.
The latest TOP500 ranking of the world’s fastest supercomputers is out this morning, and America is (finally) back on top. After nearly three years trailing supercomputers abroad--Japan’s K computer reigned supreme for most of last year, with China’s Tianhe-1A close behind--the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has stolen the top spot via Sequoia, a 16.32 petaflops (that’s a quadrillion floating point operations per second) IBM machine built from 96 racks containing 98,304 computing nodes and 1.6 million cores.