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Explosives

Science

Color-changing plants detect pollutants and explosives

There may come a day when certain plants in your workplace suddenly turn white, at which point everyone will run screaming from the building – those co-workers will have been right to do so, as the white plants indicated that a toxic gas was present. Before that scenario can take place, a little more work still needs to be done, and Colorado State University (CSU) biologist Dr. June Medford is doing it. Using a computer-designed detection trait, she is creating plants that stop producing chlorophyll when they detect pollutants or explosives in the air. Read More

Science

Researchers develop device that remotely explodes IEDs using electromagnetic energy

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) have attracted a lot of attention as a result of their use in Iraq and Afghanistan, but IEDs are used by guerillas and terrorist groups in many parts of the world, including Colombia. Being sensitive to the problem of IEDs, two Colombian doctoral students from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) set about looking for a way to explode such devices at a distance. In collaboration with two Colombian Universities the EPFL students developed a device that can explode IEDs remotely by using energy from their electromagnetic impulses. Read More

Military

Color-changing “Blast Badge” to detect relative shockwave exposure

Blast-induced traumatic brain injury from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is the "signature wound" of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the damage to the brain often not immediately obvious and no objective information of relative blast exposure, soldiers may not receive appropriate medical care and are at risk of being returned to the battlefield too soon. To overcome this inadequacy, researchers have developed a color-changing patch that could be worn on soldiers’ helmets and uniforms to indicate the strength of exposure to blasts from explosives in the field.Read More

Electronics

Electronic explosive-detecting sensor out-sniffs sniffer dogs

The recent Yemeni bomb threat has only highlighted the need for quick, accurate ways of detecting explosives. With their excellent sense of smell and the ability to discern individual scents, even when they’re combined or masked by other odors, this task is usually given to man’s best friend. But training these animals can be expensive and good sniffer dogs can be hard to find. Scientists have now developed an electronic sensor they say is more sensitive and more reliable at detecting explosives than any sniffer dog. Read More

Electronics

Simple shoe bomb detector created

Much as we might hate having to take our shoes off when going through airport security, it’s become necessary ever since a terrorist managed to get a shoe bomb aboard an American Airlines flight in December of 2001. Unfortunately, the X-raying of shoes is not enough to detect triacetone triperoxide (TATP). This easily-made explosive has been used in several bombing attempts, and is very difficult to detect in an airport environment. It doesn't fluoresce, absorb ultraviolet light or readily ionize, and can only be detected with large, expensive equipment and extensive sample preparation. Now, chemists from the University of Illinois have announced a simple new way of detecting even minute concentrations of TATP, using a piece of plastic and a digital camera.Read More

Military

New tool headed for Afghanistan disables IEDs with a precision blade of water

According to the Pentagon, improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are the number one killer and threat to troops in Afghanistan. Now a new tool that shoots a blade of water capable of penetrating steel is headed to U.S. troops in Afghanistan to help them disable these deadly devices. Developed by Sandia National Laboratories researchers, the fluid blade disablement tool produces a high-speed, precise water blade to perform some precision type destruction on whatever IED it’s up against.Read More

Science

Terahertz sensing promises breakthrough in remote bomb detection

Hidden explosives, chemical weapons, biological agents and illegal drugs could one day be optically detectable from up to 20 meters away. How? Well, every substance has its own unique terahertz (THz) radiation “fingerprint”, the waves of which pass through anything other than metal or liquid. Scientists from New York state’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are working on a way of analyzing those waves, then determining what substance they’re emanating from. The process would be harmless to both the subject and the observer, and could make the world a much safer place. Read More

Electronics

Land mine detection system built using off-the-shelf components

Land mines are terrifying and indiscriminate weapons, harming soldiers and civilians alike. Even long after the conflict in which they were deployed has ceased they end up killing and injuring civilians and render land impassable and unusable for decades. There are a variety of methods used to detect mines by both humanitarian and military groups, but many are dangerous, most are less than 100 percent reliable and some of the more reliable detection methods are prohibitively expensive. Physicists have now built a relatively inexpensive land mine detection system using off-the-shelf components – including some sourced from online auction sites.Read More
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