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Terrorism

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

Good Thinking

New blast-proof curtain gets thicker when stretched

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

Military

Environmentally-friendly decontaminants developed for chemical attacks

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

Medical

New detection technology identifies thousands of bacteria and viruses within 24 hours

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

Telecommunications

Smartphone sensor could detect toxic chemicals

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

Digital Cameras

Smarter CCTV system to be used to recognize and prevent crime

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

Electronics

Behavioral screening could boost airport security

If terrorists aimed to frustrate millions of air travelers with time consuming pre-flight baggage searches they definitely seem to have made progress, but new technologies used to analyze human behavior could provide an alternative to the time consuming process of analyzing the content of passengers’ carry-on luggage. These systems would detect signs of emotional strain that could indicate that a passenger may intend to commit an act of terror. It might sound like science fiction, but such technology is much further advanced than most might think, and it’s not surprising that Israel, a country that faces constant security threats, has become a leader in developing such technologies.Read More

Aircraft

Guardian system protects commercial flights from terrorist missile threats

Being shot out of the sky with a surface-to-air missile might not be at the forefront of your mind when traveling on a commercial airliner, but with shoulder-mounted, infra-red anti-aircraft rockets selling for as little as US$5000 in trouble spots around the world, it's perhaps surprising that it's only happened a few dozen times in recent years. Once launched, such a missile travels at twice the speed of sound towards its target, so countermeasures must be automatic and instant - which brings us to Northrop Grumman's GUARDIAN system. This anonymous-looking pod provides 360-degree laser-based missile defense for commercial airliners for a total cost of around a dollar per passenger over the aircraft's service life.Read More

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