When Hurricane Sandy struck New York City a few weeks ago, seven of the 14 under-river subway tunnels flooded as a result of the storm surge, halting operation of some subway lines for more than a week. One possible future safeguard for this kind of disaster: huge, inflatable tunnel plugs.
By Michael Myser
Posted 09.04.2012 at 5:52 pm 3 Comments
About 40 percent of U.S. trade—some $1.4 trillion a year—passes through the country’s 360 ports and waterways. (The rest arrives via truck, rail or plane.) And despite increased protection since 9/11, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says that these ports remain especially vulnerable to attack from small vessels carrying improvised explosive devices, including radioactive dirty bombs.
Packed with smart meters, smart appliances, smart windows and doors, smart lighting, smart HVAC and other smart what-have-you, the smart home of the future is purportedly going to be overflowing with sensors that make life more efficient and convenient. Now, it could be packed with sensors that make sure you’re not splayed on the floor alone in the living with a busted hip, unable to reach the phone.
The Emotiv brain-computer interface was designed to let users control their computers with their thoughts alone, opening up a new avenue for hands-free computing as well as a potential means for those with disabilities to communicate through machines. So much for good intentions.
We've already seen that it's possible to print parts of a gun--and have it work--using a 3-D printer. The project was highly controversial, but now a group wants to make sure that anyone can print a working gun at home.
3-D printing has yielded items both fascinating and potentially troubling. Now we can add one more to the list of printed achievements: The U.S. Army has had a rapid prototyping wing for some time, and now they've deployed full teams--complete with scientists and 3-D printers--to Afghanistan.
The first priority in a bomb-related emergency is, of course, to safely dismantle the bomb. If it's a pipe bomb--the basement-built explosive device--a robot could be sent in to do the job. But enlisting one could hurt officials' secondary objective: obtaining evidence to determine who built the bomb. SAPBER, a new robot, can safely disarm it and turn over the forensics needed to track down its maker.
You are unique. This is one of the more obscure ways you're unique: An alternating current of different frequencies running through you causes a reaction that's noticeably different from anyone else's. Researchers from Dartmouth University are trying to put this difference to use by creating wearable electronics that respond to--and only to--their intended user.
U.S Customs and Border Protection has a new hire on hand at its Nogales, Ariz., border crossing between the United States and Mexico. CBP has installed an avatar kiosk at the checkpoint to help quickly move persons enrolled in CBP’s Trusted Traveler program through the border crossing quickly, analyzing what they say--both their words and the way they say them--for suspicious signals.
By David Hambling
Posted 08.01.2012 at 3:28 pm 13 Comments
In the 1930s, U.S. Navy researchers stumbled upon the concept of radar when they noticed that a plane flying past a radio tower reflected radio waves. Scientists have now applied that same principle to make the first device that tracks existing Wi-Fi signals to spy on people through walls.
There’s more to iris scans than meets the eye, and that could end up being their undoing. New academic research coming out at the Black Hat Security conference this week shows a way to recreate iris images from the digital codes underlying iris-scanning security protocols--images that are so good that they can trick commercial-grade iris-scanning security devices into thinking they’re the real thing.
Usually it’s a problem when you can’t remember a password. But in this particular case, it’s by design. A new security technique mashes up cryptography with neuroscience to create passwords that are stored in users' brains but cannot be recalled, recited, or otherwise extracted by another party.
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.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.