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Explosives

With pat downs, metal detectors, X-ray machines, and “puffer machines,” catching a plane can see you and your belongings scanned and probed more thoroughly than a trip to the doctor. Yet another explosives-detecting device may soon be added to the airport screening arsenal. However, because the explosives-detecting equipment is integrated into a boarding gate, the developers claim it won’t disrupt the flow of passengers boarding a plane. Read More
The advent of unmanned combat vehicles is generating a need for smaller weapon systems to fit their reduced dimensions. As a result, more powerful explosives are being sought to get the most performance from smaller warheads. Introduction of new explosives is a rather slow process, as premature detonation of an explosive is extremely embarrassing. The desire for higher-performance explosives persists, though, so explosive chemists get used to dancing along the edge of instability. Fortunately, new chemistry occasionally appears that pushes the edge back a bit. The recent synthesis of a stable, high-performance explosive by a research team at the University of Michigan indicates that such new chemistry is now at hand. Read More
While improvised explosive devices are certainly not designed to be “safe,” pipe bombs are particularly notorious for being unstable. When police forces respond to calls regarding such bombs, they usually utilize a remote-control bomb disposal robot to disable or detonate them. Unfortunately, this process often results in a loss of forensic evidence, that could be used to track down the bomb-maker. That’s where the Department of Homeland Security’s new Semi Autonomous Pipe Bomb End-cap Remover (SAPBER) comes into play. It’s a device that dismantles pipe bombs, leaving all of their components intact. Read More
Engineers at the University of Connecticut (UConn) have developed a fluorescent nanofibrous film capable of detecting ultra-trace levels of explosive vapors from landmines and other buried explosive devices. In the presence of explosive molecules, the film’s fluorescence is suppressed when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. In this way, the lightweight film, which is similar to paper, could be rolled out over suspect areas to mark the location of explosive devices. Read More
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is extending the testing of its Blast Gauge that measures the abrupt pressure and acceleration changes a soldier is exposed to in the event of a exposure to a blast. These external forces can result in traumatic brain injury (TBI), an often invisible injury that can cause a host of physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral effects. DARPA’s Blast Gauge is designed to provide medics with quantitative data to better identify those at risk of TBI so as to provide better treatment. Read More
With unexploded ordnance and land mines remaining a serious global problem, we’ve seen many efforts to develop new technology to detect these dangers, such as using terahertz waves and inkjet-printable sensors. But instead of relying on the development of new technology, some students at the Military University of Technology in Warsaw have sought to use an existing one in a new way with the development of their SAPER explosives detection app for smartphones. Read More
Contrary to what some cartoons might have led you to believe, explosives aren’t always emblazoned with the letters TNT making them easy to identify. Some people will actually go to the trouble of disguising explosives by placing them in nondescript containers. This means that to analyze them, some close quarter examination that puts someone at risk is usually required. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) have developed a detection method using laser light that allows explosives to be detected not only from distances of over 100 meters (328 ft), but works even when the explosives are hidden inside an opaque container. Read More
I don't know about other people, but when I was a child, I was inventing things such as a musical instrument made out of a folded piece of cardboard and some rubber bands. Ten year-old Clara Lazen, however, has done something a little more noteworthy. The fifth-grader from Kansas City, Missouri, built a model of a molecule that is new to science. If the molecule itself were to actually be created, it could possibly be used for energy storage, or in explosives. Read More
Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs, are one of the largest sources of coalition casualties in Iraq. Many of these IEDs take the form of roadside bombs, which are hidden on or alongside a road, then detonated when a moving vehicle passes near them. While there is more than one way of causing these bombs to detonate, they are often set off by a hidden human observer, using a radio-control device. Forces using the new Vehicle Protection Jammer from EADS subsidiary Cassidian, however, should find themselves at a greatly-reduced risk of such attacks. Read More
Aerojet has conducted a successful demonstration of its "scalable effects" warhead. The recent flight test was carried out at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico using Lockheed Martin's new Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System-Plus (GMLRS+). As the name suggests, the scalable effects warhead allows the user to select the explosive yield of the weapon depending on the nature of its intended target. Read More
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