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Terrorism


— Aircraft

Could bomb-proof lining prevent another Lockerbie?

On December 21, 1988, a terrorist bomb detonated in the luggage hold of Pan Am flight 103 causing the 747 airliner to break up over Lockerbie, Scotland, and killing 243 passengers, 16 crew, and 11 people on the ground. To help prevent such a tragedy from occurring again, a European consortium, including the University of Sheffield, is developing Fly-Bag; a flexible fabric and composite liner capable of containing explosions inside an aircraft to improve its chances of survival.

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— Military

New catalyst material quickly neutralizes nerve gas

While the Iran-Iraq war of 1981-1988 saw the only large-scale use of chemical weapons since WWII, in a world beset by rogue states, civil wars, and terrorism, protecting against nerve agents and disposing of them remains a major problem. One bright spot is a team from Northwestern University, which has developed a new material capable of neutralizing nerve gases. The zirconium-based Metal-Organic Framework (MOF) called NU-1000 is not only useful for disposing of stockpiles of such toxins, but also for use in gas masks and protective suits for soldiers and rescue workers. Read More
— Electronics

GE RFID tech turns stickers into explosives detectors

A global economy brings many benefits, but it also makes international terrorism extremely difficult to combat. With more goods passing through the world's shipping terminals and airports than ever before, hunting explosives with large, static detectors or teams of inspectors armed with detecting devices and reagents is a bottleneck that increases the chances of evasion. To help US counterterrorism efforts, GE has developed RFID stickers that act as wireless, battery-free explosives detectors that can be placed almost anywhere. Read More
— Military

US Navy demonstrates how robotic "swarm" boats could protect warships

In an age plagued by terrorism, the threat posed to the world’s navies and merchant fleets by small craft laden with explosives or crews with automatic weapons is a very real and present danger. To help combat this, the United States Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) is developing a fleet of robotic patrol boats that can not only act as escorts for larger warships or merchant vessels, but can also autonomously swarm around a threatening craft and destroy it. Read More
— Science

Sensors in sewers could locate bomb-makers

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
— Aircraft

Prototype explosives-detecting boarding gate keeps passengers moving

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
— Robotics

Device takes pipe bombs apart, and preserves the evidence

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
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