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Terrorism

There's bomb-making residue in them thar sewers – and EMPHASIS may be able to tell where i...

When people make improvised explosive devices (IEDs), many of the waste products end up simply going down the drain. With that in mind, the European Union-funded EMPHASIS consortium is now developing technology to track those chemicals within the waste stream, so that their point of origin can be located.  Read More

The prototype boarding gate that scans boarding passes for traces of explosive compounds

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 Boston Subway (Photo: DanTD)

Over the next six months, the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate is releasing a harmless bacterium into the underground train system as part of its “Detect to Protect” program. It’s purpose isn’t to frighten commuters, but to test sensors designed to detect biological weapon attacks.  Read More

The SAPBER device (right), paired with an existing bomb disposal robot

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

IMASS can sample and detect eight substances simultaneously (Photo: BBI International)

In war and disaster, ignorance can be deadly, so it’s important that soldiers and first responders get the information they need as quickly as possible. Dr. Peter White, a scientist with Britain's Ministry of Defence, has invented a handheld device that makes collecting samples and carrying out tests in the field much simpler and faster than previously possible. Developed at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), the Integrated Multiplex Assay and Sampling System (IMASS) can collect samples of and detect eight different substances simultaneously.  Read More

FiRST is a new app from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, that advises first respo...

Imagine if you were a police officer who suddenly realized that the abandoned vehicle you were assessing contained a bomb. While you might have had some training in how to handle such situations, would it all easily come back to you in the heat of the moment? Well, even if it wouldn’t, you might still know what to do ... if you were using the FiRST app. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security developed the application for emergency response personnel, to serve as a step-by-step guide for managing bomb threats.  Read More

Silk treated with chlorine has been shown to kill anthrax-like bacteria within minutes of ...

When anthrax spores go dormant, they develop a tough outer coating that can withstand heat, radiation and antibiotics, in one case even allowing them to come back to life after 250 million years. It seems that such spores could be no match, however, for a special pair of silk curtains.  Read More

The 'Questionable Observer Detector' is a computer system that is able to identify people ...

Chances are, you’ve seen at least one or two TV shows in which the police examine news footage shot at several different crime scenes, and recognize the same person’s face showing up repeatedly in the crowds of onlookers ... the ol’ “criminal returning to the scenes of their crimes” scenario. Realistically, it’s pretty hard to believe that one person could look through all that footage, and remember all those faces. It turns out that a computer could do it, however, as scientists at Indiana’s University of Notre Dame have illustrated with their “Questionable Observer Detector," or QuOD.  Read More

Adam Hutter, Director of NUSTL, presents Cecilia Murtagh (center) and Gladys Klemic with p...

Personal radiation dosimeter badges are the things that you may have seen people wearing in nuclear power plants, that measure how much radiation is in the immediate environment. Unfortunately, the devices don’t provide real-time feedback – instead, they must be sent off to a processing lab, which determines the wearer’s radiation exposure after the fact. Now, however, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is working on a wallet-sized card that would serve the same purpose, but that could also be read on the spot using a handheld reading device. Called the Citizen's Dosimeter, it could be used to detect the presence of ionizing radiation caused by nuclear accidents or dirty bombs.  Read More

The prototype BioExplorers system uses live sniffer mice to detect explosives (Photo: Rama...

Mice ... they may nibble our food, poop in our cupboards, and make us go "eek," but they may also someday keep us from getting blown up. Before they can do that, however, Israeli tech company BioExplorers has to get its mouse-based explosives detection system out of the prototype stage and into production. If it ever does see the light of day, then people at airports, arenas, and other high terrorism-risk areas may routinely be getting a sniff-down by containers of live rodents.  Read More

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