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Terrorism

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

Dr. June Medford, with some of her pollutant- and explosive-sniffing plants

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

The SUBITO system is intended to detect unattended baggage, and track down its owner

We’ve told you before about CCTV programs that can identify criminal behavior, or that skip through footage where nothing’s happening. Now, a consortium of ten organizations from six European countries is working on another concept involving video monitoring of public spaces. It’s called the SUBITO project, for Surveillance of Unattended Baggage and the Identification and Tracking of the Owner, and it’s intended to do pretty much what the name suggests. Installed in existing security camera systems at places such as airports or train stations, the software will identify baggage that has been left unattended, and that could therefore possibly contain an explosive device. It will then search back to identify the person who deposited that baggage, then follow them forward through various cameras to establish their present location.  Read More

P300 brain wave reading technology could possibly prevent terrorist attacks, such as the s...

Recently, 29 students from Northwestern University in Illinois planned a terrorist attack. Researchers from the university were subsequently able to learn details of the attack, even though the students never admitted to anything. How was this possible? Well, essentially, the researchers read the students’ minds. More specifically, they monitored their P300 brain waves – brief electrical patterns in the cortex, which occur when meaningful information is presented to someone with “guilty knowledge.” In this case, it was a mock planned attack, but the research team believe their process could be used to prevent the real thing.  Read More

Members of the Rensselaer terahertz sensing research team (Photo: Rensselaer/Daria Robbins...

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

The auxetic blast-proof curtain being put to the test

OK, so first of all, how can a fabric possibly get thicker when stretched? Doesn’t that go against the laws of physics? Not, it turns out, when that material is auxetic. Cat skin and shin bones also apparently possess this quality. The University of Exteter, in collaboration with their spin-off company Auxetix Ltd, have developed an auxetic blast-proof curtain. If a bomb were to go off near such a curtain, the pressure wave would stretch the fabric outwards, thus thickening it and making it better able to hold back flying glass and other debris. The curtain is intended to be fitted over windows of buildings that are terrorist targets, or that are subject to events such as hurricanes.  Read More

Decon Green keeps terrorist attack sites... green, so to speak

If a terrorist attack has left an area contaminated with nerve gas, chances are no one wants to add any other noxious substances to it. Using conventional chlorine- and lye-based decontamination agents, however, that’s exactly what’s happening. Not only can these substances run off and harm people or the environment, they can also react with the very materials they’re cleaning up, forming new toxic substances. It is for reasons such as these that the US military has developed Decon Green - a non-toxic set of ultra-strength cleaners.  Read More

The one-inch wide by three-inch long Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array that con...

Researchers from a national security laboratory in the U.S. have announced a technology which can detect the presence of thousands of microorganisms in just 24 hours. Hundreds of thousands of probes on a 1 x 3 inch glass slide can look for the entire range of known viruses and bacteria in a single test, which could prove invaluable in product safety testing, medical diagnosis and bioterrorism detection and prevention.  Read More

A diagram illustrating how the Cell-All system would work

Our smartphones can already surf the Net, take photos and videos, play games, and even make phone calls, so why not... have them smell the air? That what America’s Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate would like to see happen. The Cell-All initiative would see cell phones equipped with a sensor capable of detecting deadly chemicals. In the event of a terrorist chemical attack, the device could conceivably save numerous lives.  Read More

Researchers in the UK hope to deploy a smarter CCTV system that helps to actively prevent ...

The negative impact surrounding terrorism, crime and anti-social behavior has resulted in an escalation in the amount of remote surveillance undertaken around the world, but especially in the UK, which, according to the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), has deployed more than 4 million CCTV cameras. Putting aside privacy issues for another article, the increase in CCTV usage has had very little success in preventing crime. The main problem seems to lie in the amount of video captured versus the amount that can be viewed and interpreted by trained staff. To overcome these shortcomings, UK researchers are investigating the use of computer technology that recognizes suspicious behavior in live Internet-enabled CCTV feeds from buses and trains, allowing control room staff to intervene and protect drivers and passengers from assaults, thefts and other incidents.  Read More

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