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Tag Archives: science

Why Energy Companies And The Military Want Underwater Drones

Giant submarines filled with small underwater drones to protect the seas. The concept sounds like something out of a science fiction movie or a particularly trippy Sealab 2021 episode, but the U.S. military thinks it is very doable–and that it could help augment American sea power. This week, DARPA announced their new Project Hydra, an early-stage effort to fight the “rising number of ungoverned states, piracy, and proliferation of sophisticated defenses“ through autonomous underwater vehicles. Hydra itself would center around a submarine that discreetly injects unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles into warzones.

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China in $5 bn drive to develop disputed East China Sea gas

Chinese state-run oil companies hope to develop seven new gas fields in the East China Sea, possibly siphoning gas from the seabed beneath waters claimed by Japan, a move that could further inflame tensions with Tokyo over the disputed area.

Beijing had slowed exploration in the energy-rich East China Sea, one of Asia’s biggest security risks due to competing territorial claims, but is now rapidly expanding its hunt for gas, a cheaper and cleaner energy to coal and oil imports.

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Air Force 2027: Fewer pilots, more drones, more challenges

The Air Force of the future is likely to be slightly smaller and more reliant on remotely piloted aircraft, face growing challenges from the rise of Asia and rapidly increasing space traffic, and struggle to maintain its technological superiority as the United States produces fewer scientists, engineers and other highly skilled graduates. In the report, called “Global Horizons: United States Air Force Global Science and Technology Vision,” Maybury said that the Air Force’s manned air fleet is likely to shrink slightly by 2027. But the Air Force’s fleets of remotely piloted aircraft and their missions are likely to grow.

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Egypt’s army chief El-Sissi trained at US Army War College

With unrest in Egypt, U.S. military officials looking for insight might test the ties they formed with the Egyptian defense minister, Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, when he was a student at the Army War College.

“In this little historical Pennsylvania town, the most important school in the world operates under the radar,” said retired Col. Stephen Gerras, a professor of behavioral science at the Carlisle Barracks.

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Armed resistance reemerging in Kashmir

After a substantial phase of people’s disenchantment with violence and a gradual movement away from an armed struggle toward nonviolent protests and social media campaigns, the gun seems to be returning to the center stage of Kashmir’s fight against Indian rule. New Delhi missed an opportunity to engage with a changed environment where the focus was on nonviolence and instead started terming the absence of violence as peace and silence of guns as Kashmir’s acceptance of the Indian rule.

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The oil chief’s new clothes: Behind the grand strategy

The brains of oil company bosses appear to work in different ways to the mere mortals that stalk the Palace of Westminster. These titans of grand strategy, outlining their plans at the World National Oil Companies Congress in central London, look like they have one thing in common: they take the long view. They do not operate on the five-year electoral cycles of ministers and MPs. It takes a whole decade for a new oil or gas field to become operational. Even civil wars or regime change are no obstacles to success.

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Pest Control: Syngenta’s Secret Campaign to Discredit Atrazine’s Critics

To protect profits threatened by a lawsuit over its controversial herbicide atrazine, Syngenta Crop Protection launched an aggressive multi-million dollar campaign that included hiring a detective agency to investigate scientists on a federal advisory panel, looking into the personal life of a judge and commissioning a psychological profile of a leading scientist critical of atrazine.Recently unsealed court documents reveal a corporate strategy to discredit critics and to strip plaintiffs from the class-action case.

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The Singularity Is Near: Mind Uploading by 2045?

By 2045, humans will achieve digital immortality by uploading their minds to computers — or at least that’s what some futurists believe. This notion formed the basis for the Global Futures 2045 International Congress, a futuristic conference held here June 14-15.

The conference, which is the brainchild of Russian multimillionaire Dmitry Itskov, fell somewhere between hardcore science and science fiction. It featured a diverse cast of speakers, from scientific luminaries like Ray Kurzweil, Peter Diamandis and Marvin Minsky, to Swamis and other spiritual leaders.

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A worldwide undersea gold rush is coming

An undersea gold rush could be coming soon with the rising cost of minerals and advancements in technology opening the seafloor to mining – environmental concerns not withstanding.

The potential for exploiting undersea reserves is higher than any time in history. Incentives for undersea mining are rising metal prices, the high profitability of mining companies, declining yields of land-based nickel, copper and cobalt sulphide deposits (over years of mining), as well as new advancements in the machinery that’s used to extract and process mineral rich rocks from the seabed.

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UAVs are searching for oil in Norway

Like an army, science needs the high ground. This is true when it comes to oil exploration and especially so in the rugged landscape of Norway. The Virtual Outcrop Geology (VOG) group at the Norwegian Centre for integrated petroleum research (CIPR) is working to capture this vantage point in a distinctly 21st century way, by using UAVs to seek out oil by helping geologists build 3D models of the terrain. We tend to think of oil exploration as taking place on desert plains or out in the ocean, but finding oil deposits depends on having a comprehensive understanding of local geology

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Rare Earths, Oil, Gas, Other Commodities Up For Grabs As Arctic States Grants China, India, Japan, Other Select Nations ‘Observer Status’

It won’t be long before the essential raw minerals and commodities of the planet’s Far North such as rare earths, oil and gas get gobbled up by the industrialists.

On Wednesday, the Arctic Council granted China, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore new Observer States status. Essentially, the six nations gained rightful entry to listen in on meetings of the council, as well as propose and finance policies. Observers, however, do not have powers related to decision making within the council.

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IRS to Spy on Our Shopping Records, Travel, Social Interactions, Health Records and Files from Other Government Investigators

Starting this year, the IRS tools will be able to track all credit card transactions, for starters. The agency has also instructed agents on using online sources such as social media and e-commerce sites including eBay, as well as the rich data generated by mobile devices. In one controversial disclosure in April, the ACLU showed documents in which the IRS general counsel said the agency could look at emails without warrants, but the IRS has said it will not use this power.

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US looks to allies to secure Arabian Gulf

“It is our hope that the Gulf Cooperation Council, the GCC, can play an important role in the future providing security for this region,” he told an audience at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies Research. Across the board, he said, Washington is urging allies to build local capacity. “That’s what we’re doing for the UAE and that’s what we’re doing with other countries. Yes, we give them the help they need, we give them assistance, but the fact is that they have to help provide for their security.” For months, many commentators from Riyadh to Doha to Manama have sensed and relayed this shift in US policy.

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Geopolitics makes a global comeback

For half a century, geopolitical theory was effectively banned. In the USSR, this branch of science was described as “bourgeois.” In the West, it was considered politically incorrect, and was largely the preserve of provincial professors with no hope of entering the establishment. The situation began to change with the advent of the new century, and now geopolitics is back in ordinary usage and quickly regaining its political correctness and legitimacy. There is no single definition of geopolitics. But in the most general terms, it can be described as the science of investigating the relationship between foreign policy, international relations, and geographical and natural surroundings.

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“In vitro eugenics” is coming, predicts Australian bioethicist

The production of embryos using sperm and eggs generated with stem cells rather than through sex would also be useful in studying genetic diseases and for drug testing. But Dr Sparrow points out that it would be splendid for eugenics. Generations of people could be created in Petri dishes, eliminating unsatisfactory genes in the quest for better human beings. “In effect,” he writes enthusiastically, “scientists will be able to breed human beings with the same (or greater) degree of sophistication with which we currently breed plants and animals.”

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Brain Scan Predicts Whether Convicts Will Re-Offend: Welcome To The Sci-Fi Future

In a twist that evokes the dystopian science fiction of writer Philip K. Dick, neuroscientists have found a way to predict whether convicted felons are likely to commit crimes again from looking at their brain scans. Convicts showing low activity in a brain region associated with decision-making and action are more likely to be arrested again, and sooner.The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the prisoners’ brains during computer tasks in which subjects had to make quick decisions and inhibit impulsive reactions.

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Science-fiction turns real: Genetically engineering animals for war

Whether it’s rescue rat-bots or bomb-sniffing beetle drones, electronics are helping us create new beasts of burden, allowing us to conscript creatures into the modern animal workforce. These animals’ brains are being taken hostage, their nervous systems forced to cooperate with our plans. As Maharbiz wrote in an account of his research, “[W]e wanted to be sure we could deliver signals directly into the insect’s own neuromuscular circuitry, so that even if the insect attempted to do something else, we could provide a countercommand. Any insect that could ignore our commands would make for a crummy robot.”

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Temporary Tattoos Could Make Electronic Telepathy, Telekinesis Possible

Temporary Tattoos Could Make Electronic Telepathy, Telekinesis Possible

Temporary electronic tattoos could soon help people fly drones with only thought and talk seemingly telepathically without speech over smartphones, researchers say. Commanding machines using the brain is no longer the stuff of science fiction. In recent years, brain implants have enabled people to control robotics using only their minds, raising the prospect that one day patients could overcome disabilities using bionic limbs or mechanical exoskeletons. His team is developing wireless flexible electronics one can apply on the forehead just like temporary tattoos to read brain activity.

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Designing Life: Should Babies Be Genetically Engineered?

Designing Life: Should Babies Be Genetically Engineered

The increasing power and accessibility of genetic technology may one day give parents the option of modifying their unborn children, in order to spare offspring from disease or, conceivably, make them tall, well muscled, intelligent or otherwise blessed with desirable traits.

Would this change mean empowering parents to give their children the best start possible? Or would it mean designer babies who could face unforeseen genetic problems? Experts debated on Wednesday evening (Feb. 13) whether prenatal engineering should be banned in the United States.

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Philadelphia Courts Begin Using Computer Forecasts to Predict Future Criminal Behavior, Determine Jail Time


Judges in the Philadelphia court system are now taking advantage of powerful new computer models to help determine how much jail time an offender should get. Computers have been forecasting weather and economic trends for years, but applying algorithms to human behavior is relatively new. University of Pennsylvania professor Richard Berk, a pioneer in the field, his forecasts, which use an algorithm to predict whether someone will offend again, have been used by city probation and parole officers for about three years, to decide how much supervision a defendant needs.

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Lasers: Asia’s Coming “Sci-Fi” Arms Race

Lasers: Asia’s Coming Sci-Fi Arms Race

A more recent example is U.S.-based Raytheon Corp’s laser close-in weapon system (CIWS). First unveiled publically at the Farnborough Airshow in July 2010, the company demonstrates its ability to disable a variety of objects including aircraft, drones, rockets and surface ships, using a 50kW solid-state laser beam.

Coupled with last-line of defense equipment such as the U.S. Navy’s Phalanx radar-controlled CIWS, which uses a multiple-barreled 20mm Gatling gun to shoot down approaching objects, the laser CIWS has the advantage of longer range and, theoretically, unlimited ammunition.

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X-37b and the 5 Scariest Super Weapons the Military is Developing in 2013


2012 was an action-packed year and it doesn’t look like the world is showing any signs of slowing down. Even as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, and focus has shifted away from Iran, Russia, and China due to the elections and fiscal cliff dealings. Super soldiers, electronic and laser weapons, orbital bombardment … the wars of the futures are terrifying to consider. Albert Einstein once said that World War III will be fought with the most fearsome weapons mankind has ever known. All indicators point to him being right.

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German Military Laser Destroys Targets Over 1Km Away

HEL Okt/Nov 2012

Rheinmetall Defense recently tested a 50kW, high-energy laser at their proving ground facility in Switzerland. According to the company, the laser passed the test with “flying colours.”

The system isn’t actually a single laser but two laser modules mounted onto Revolver Gun air defense turrets made by Oerlikonand attached to additional power modules. The laser modules are 30 kW and 20 kW, but a Beam Superimposing Technology (BST) combines two lasers to focus in a “superimposed, cumulative manner” that wreaks havoc on its targets.

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Google’s Eric Schmidt ‘to visit North Korea’?!

Google's Eric Schmidt 'to visit North Korea'

Mr Schmidt will be travelling to North Korea on a private trip led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson that could take place as early as this month, sources told The Associated Press news agency. The sources, two people familiar with the group’s plans, asked not to be named because the visit had not been made public.

The trip would be the first by a top executive from US-based Google, the world’s largest internet search provider, to a country considered to have the most restrictive internet policies on the planet.

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British Land Grab: From Antarctica to Queen Elizabeth Land?


After the Queen’s visit to the Foreign Office this week, Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that the southern part of the British Antarctic Territory will now be known, at least on British maps, as “Queen Elizabeth Land”. Within hours of this announcement, made in acknowledgement of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee and her service to the country, the story was top of the tweeting trends in the UK.

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Oklahoma cyber spy school prepares next generation of 007s


Stalking is part of the curriculum in the Cyber Corps, an unusual two-year program at the University of Tulsa that teaches students how to spy in cyberspace, the latest frontier in espionage.

Students learn not only how to rifle through trash, sneak a tracking device onto a car and plant false information on Facebook, they also are taught to write computer viruses, hack digital networks, crack passwords, plant listening devices and mine data from broken cell phones and flash drives. The little-known program has funneled most of its graduates to the CIA and the Pentagon’s National Security Agency, which conducts America’s digital spying.

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The Boeing computer-blitzing drone that could cripple a nation’s electronics


Scientists have turned fantasy into reality by developing a missile that targets buildings with microwaves that disable computers but don’t harm people.

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing successfully tested the weapon on a one-hour flight during which it knocked out the computers of an entire military compound in the Utah desert. It is thought that the missile could penetrate the bunkers and caves believed to be hiding Iran’s suspected nuclear facilities.

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Gulf States Rethink Ties to Muslim Brotherhood


Observers believe that the reason why some Gulf states have launched a campaign against Muslim Brotherhood members is because they are worried of the group’s reaching power in the Arab Spring countries. Adding to their worries is the developing relationship between Muslim Brotherhood governments on the one hand and the Turkish Republic, which seems to have found in the organization a new ally that could help Turkey extend its influence in the Arab region.

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Kuwait takes hard line on protesters as tension rises


Kuwait’s government has made clear it is willing and able to suppress unauthorized street protests, saying it must protect public safety, but risks provoking worse popular unrest by taking a hard line.

Police fired tear gas and smoke bombs to disperse thousands of Kuwaitis protesting over new voting rules late Sunday. Last month a prominent opposition figure was arrested after speaking at a protest rally where he appealed to the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, to avoid “autocratic rule.”

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Boeing tests electronics-killing CHAMP microwave missile


It’s perhaps every tech-lover’s nightmare, but it’s something everyone should be aware of: electronics-killing missiles. On October 16th, Boeing tested one such weapon named CHAMP, a non-lethal high-powered microwave missile that successfully snuffed the life out of a bunch of PCs, making history in the process. In fact, the test was so successful, the missile killed the cameras set up to record the event as well.

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Canadian spies’ ‘Camelot’: Defence hoping to attract world-class talent with $880M intelligence complex

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Canada’s electronic spy organization says that the state-of-the-art headquarters now being built in an Ottawa suburb will make it a leader among its allies and attract the best and brightest of spies, according to newly released government documents obtained by The Ottawa Citizen.

When finished in 2015-16, Communications Security Establishment Canada’s new $880-million spy campus in Gloucester is expected to be home to more than 1,800 employees.

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‘Green Brain’ project to create an autonomous flying robot with a honey bee brain


The team will build models of the systems in the brain that govern a honey bee’s vision and sense of smell. Using this information, the researchers aim to create the first flying robot able to sense and act as autonomously as a bee, rather than just carry out a pre-programmed set of instructions.

If successful, this project will meet one of the major challenges of modern science: building a robot brain that can perform complex tasks as well as the brain of an animal. Tasks the robot will be expected to perform, for example, will include finding the source of particular odours or gases in the same way that a bee can identify particular flowers.

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FinSpy Software Meant to Fight Crime Is Used to Spy on Dissidents


Morgan Marquis-Boire works as a Google engineer and Bill Marczak is earning a Ph.D. in computer science. But this summer, the two men have been moonlighting as detectives, chasing an elusive surveillance tool from Bahrain across five continents.

What they found was the widespread use of sophisticated, off-the-shelf computer espionage software by governments with questionable records on human rights. While the software is supposedly sold for use only in criminal investigations, the two came across evidence that it was being used to target political dissidents.

The software proved to be the stuff of a spy film: it can grab images of computer screens, record Skype chats, turn on cameras and microphones and log keystrokes. The two men said they discovered mobile versions of the spyware customized for all major mobile phones.

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Hackers backdoor the human brain, successfully extract sensitive data


With a chilling hint of the not-so-distant future, researchers at the Usenix Security conference have demonstrated a zero-day vulnerability in your brain. Using a commercial off-the-shelf brain-computer interface, the researchers have shown that it’s possible to hack your brain, forcing you to reveal information that you’d rather keep secret.

In a real-world scenario, the researchers foresee a game that is specially tailored by hackers to extract sensitive information from your brain — or perhaps an attack vector that also uses social engineering to lull you into a false sense of security. It’s harder to extract data from someone who knows they’re being attacked — as interrogators and torturers well know.

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Future Shock: IARPA, CIA Looks To Forecast Future Major World Events

Global Worldwide Network of People

DARPA’s sister agency — the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, which funds experimental projects for the U.S. intelligence community — is running a four-year, $50-million program that pays people willing to predict major world events, including wars and terrorist strikes. Unlike the earlier scheme, participants can’t profit from their predictions.

The study, known as Aggregative Contingent Estimation, is designed to see whether the 17 agencies in the U.S. intelligence community can aggregate the judgment of its thousands of analysts — rather than rely on the expertise of just a few — to issue more accurate warnings to policy makers before and during major global events.

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Good Stranger: DoD/DARPA Records Citizens’ Encounters with SFPD

DARPA plans to use the recordings in the development of a military training simulator that will use artificial intelligence to read and react to a trainee’s body language and facial expressions. DARPA is dumping $32.5 million into Good Stranger and related projects; the agency states that the training module will eventually be cheaper than arranging live role-players to train soldiers.

DARPA hopes to learn how officers react to language barriers and cultural differences, and how their responses can de-escalate potentially volatile interactions. Andraychak says SFPD is “honored” to have been selected, and the departments will get more than just bragging rights — they’ll eventually receive one of those artificial intelligence training modules of their own.

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L.A. Cops Embrace Crime-Predicting Algorithm

A recent study suggests that computers could be better than seasoned police analysts at predicting when and where crime will strike next in a busy city.

Software tested in Los Angeles was twice as good as human analysts at predicting where burglaries and car break-ins might happen, according to a company deploying the technology.

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Russia set to conduct surveillance flyover to inspect Canada’s military, industrial infrastructure

The Russians are conducting what has quietly become their annual flyover of key Canadian sites this week, revealing the two countries’ regular surveillance of one another at a time when a spy scandal and Arctic sovereignty have markedly strained relations.

Russia has routinely exercised a 10-year-old treaty right to fly over Canada and inspect the country’s military infrastructure, industrial complexes, cities and transportation hubs, according to a National Defence spokesman. He said it is the only one out of 34 countries to fly over Canadian soil under the Open Skies treaty.

The upcoming flight is novel in its timing, too: It is Russia’s first information-gathering flight since a Canadian intelligence officer was arrested under suspicion of espionage, allegedly for the Russians, back in January.

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Israel’s Strategic Analyst: Attack Iran, Propose Mideast Peace Deal

Israel’s premier strategic analyst, Yehezkel Dror, has produced a new study for the Begin-Sadat Center which advocates a military attack on Iran accompanied by an Israeli proposal for a comprehensive peace deal. Essentially, this paper is a blueprint for Bibi Netanyahu in his march toward war. It outlines the major issues he faces in persuading the Israeli public and world opinion that his decision is just. It warns him of the pitfalls that naysayers will suggest and offers him arguments against the nabobs of negativism.

The thinking behind Dror’s analysis is so tortured, so Machiavellian that it’s worth a look. Dror, who is an emeritus professor of political science at Hebrew University, understands that an Israeli attack on Iran would be highly controversial and likely cause severe disruption both in the Middle East and in the world at large.

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A Future of Self-Surveillance?: Tech Pioneers Track Bodily Functions Day and Night

Larry Smarr’s large intestine appears to float in the middle of the room, nestled like a stuffed sausage between his other virtual organs.

Smarr, a computer science professor, adjusts the dark-tinted 3D glasses perched on his nose and picks up an electronic pointer. “And this is where the wall of my colon is inflamed,” he says, pointing out a spot where the intestinal walls are indeed noticeably swollen.

A supercomputer combined MRI images of the 63-year-old professor to create the three-dimensional illusion now projected on the wall. It gives the impression that the viewer could go for a stroll inside the researcher’s abdomen.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everybody could look inside their own bodies like that?” asks Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunication and Information Technology (Calit2) in La Jolla, near San Diego.

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Russian Defense ministry tests electromagnetic weapon, might use it to suppress mass protests

Experts from the science and research center of Russia’s Defense Ministry are testing a unique electromagnetic weapon with non-lethal effects, Interfax news agency reported Tuesday.

As the center’s director, Dmitry Soskov said, the weapon would be most effective in local conflicts, where there is no solid frontline. It would also be very useful while suppressing mass riots in cities.

“The new weapon is designed to have non-lethal effects on humans. It has a striking factor in the form of electromagnetic radiation of very high frequency. The directed ray causes intolerable pain,” Soskov said.

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Viet Nam, China army brass urge stronger defence ties

High-ranking army officers of Viet Nam and China have affirmed the importance of defence ties in the comprehensive co-operative strategic partnership between the two Parties and States.

The statement was made by Senior Lieutenant-General Do Ba Ty, chief of the General Staff of the Viet Nam People’s Army, and his Chinese counterpart Chen Bingde during talks in Beijing on Monday.

They expressed their pleasure at the development of the two countries’ defence ties, saying that the two sides had effectively implemented the protocol signed between the two defence ministries in 2003, along with other co-operative agreements.

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IARPA: The Forecasting World Events Project

Forecasting World Events (FWE) is a nationwide research program funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). Our study will investigate various aspects of individual and group predictions to gain fresh insights into the factors that influence people’s predictions about key world events and trends. In addition, we will look at ways to leverage and integrate this information to develop more accurate overall predictions.

The Project’s forecasting questions will be quite varied in subject matter and scope, spanning such domains as global security and politics, business and economics, public health, science and technology, and social and cultural change.

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Riots may be controlled with chemicals

Future riots could be quelled by projectiles containing chemical irritants fired bypolice using new weapons that are now in the final stages of development.

The Discriminating Irritant Projectile (Dip) has been under development by the Home Office’s centre for applied science and technology (Cast) as a potential replacement for plastic bullets.

Documents obtained by the Guardian reveal that last summer’s riots in England provided a major impetus to Home Office research into new-generation riot control technology, ranging from the Dip to even more curious weaponry described by Cast technicians as “skunk oil”.

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American Universities Infected by Foreign Spies Detected by FBI

Hearkening back to Cold War anxieties, growing signs of spying on U.S. universities are alarming national security officials. As schools become more global in their locations and student populations, their culture of openness and international collaboration makes them increasingly vulnerable to theft of research conducted for the government and industry.

“We have intelligence and cases indicating that U.S. universities are indeed a target of foreign intelligence services,” Frank Figliuzzi, Federal Bureau of Investigation assistant director for counterintelligence, said in a February interview in the bureau’s Washington headquarters.

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US navy to position three aircraft carriers near Iran

The US navy will have three aircraft carriers positioned near Iran in the coming days, and is doubling the number of minesweeping ships and helicopters based in the Gulf.

Israel, meanwhile, is keeping up rhetoric that makes many think the Jewish state — the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, which is not involved in the talks — is serious about possibly attacking Iran, with or without US support.

A majority of Israel’s 14-member security cabinet now supports Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in launching a pre-emptive strike on Iran in a bid to end its nuclear programme, the Israeli newspaper Maariv reported on Thursday, citing political sources it did not identify.

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Japan may shoot down North Korean rocket

The last time this happened, when North Korea said it was launching a satellite using a long-range missile, Japan said it had the right to shoot the thing down.

Tokyo is again considering a similar warning, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, citing unidentified government officials.

An attempted satellite launch in 2009 — like a similar effort in 1998 — were widely declared to be failures, with the payloads crashing into the Pacific Ocean. But North Korea insists one of the satellites went into full orbit, where it remains today, broadcasting patriotic anthems.

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More Than Human? The Ethics of Biologically Enhancing Soldiers

Our ability to “upgrade” the bodies of soldiers through drugs, implants, and exoskeletons may be outstripping the ethical norms of war as we’ve understood them.

If we can engineer a soldier who can resist torture, would it still be wrong to torture this person with the usual methods? Starvation and sleep deprivation won’t affect a super-soldier who doesn’t need to sleep or eat. Beatings and electric shocks won’t break someone who can’t feel pain or fear like we do. This isn’t a comic-book story, but plausible scenarios based on actual military projects today.

In the next generation, our warfighters may be able toeat grass,communicate telepathically,resist stress, climb walls like a lizard, and much more. Impossible?

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Pentagon taps students to build robots, drones

With an eye toward revolutionizing how defense systems and vehicles are made, the Pentagon has tapped a team of Bay Area-based scientists, engineers and hackers to create a program that will enlist California high school students to build robots, drones and other low- and medium-tech gadgets.

The Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has awarded $2 million of a $10 million program to two outfits that have joined forces to develop a pilot project in 10 schools.

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DARPA’s new spy satellite could provide real-time video from anywhere on Earth

“It sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake” could be the theme song for a new spy satellite being developed by DARPA. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s latest proof-of-concept project is called the Membrane Optical Imager for Real-Time Exploitation (MOIRE), and would provide real-time images and video of any place on Earth at any time — a capability that, so far, only exists in the realm of movies and science fiction. The details of this huge eye-in-the-sky look like something right out of science fiction, as well, and it would be interesting to determine if it could have applications for astronomy as well.

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DNA Hackers: Synthetic biology weaponized virus, zero-day exploit to infect your brain?

rom the let’s get futuristically freaky department, future hacking crimes could take a decidedly sinister twist; not hacking to breach systems but brains, bodies and behaviors. This DNA hacking goes way beyond potentially using police bees to bust biohackers, or even storing unhackable data in box of bio-encrypted bacteria. It’s not science fiction to hack insulin pumps or to use jamming signals to stop hackers from lethal pacemaker attacks, but now bioengineers and security futurists are warning that the day is coming when criminals and bioterrorists hunt for vulnerabilities that will give a new meaning to zero-day exploits. In the future, a weaponized virus will aim to infect you, your brain and body biology, and not just your computer or mobile device.

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Brazil has thousands working in forced labor: ILO

Thousands of people still toil in forced labor in Brazil, despite government attempts to curtail the practice, the International Labour Organization said in a new report.

Since 1995, more than 40,000 people have been rescued from forced labor, citing field reports from the poor, rural areas in the country’s northeast and interviews with 121 people who were released between 2006 to 2007.

The workers were found to be mostly black males who grew up in poverty, began working as children and had little formal education, said the ILO report.

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Does future hold ‘Avatar’-like bodies for us?

The boldest scheme for immortality came from media mogul Dmitry Itskov, who introduced his “Project Immortality 2045: Russian Experience.” He claimed support from the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Education and Science, as well as actor Seagal, to create a research center capable of giving humans life-extending bodies.

Itskov’s wildly ambitious plans include creating a humanoid avatar body within five to seven years, transplanting a human brain into a new “body B” in 10 to 15 years, digitally uploading a human brain’s consciousness in 20 to 25 years, and moving human consciousness to hologram-like bodies in 30 to 35 years.

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Government Aims to Build a ‘Data Eye in the Sky’

The most optimistic researchers believe that these storehouses of “big data” will for the first time reveal sociological laws of human behavior — enabling them to predict political crises, revolutions and other forms of social and economic instability, just as physicists and chemists can predict natural phenomena.

“This is a significant step forward,” said Thomas Malone, the director of the Center for Collective Intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “We have vastly more detailed and richer kinds of data available as well as predictive algorithms to use, and that makes possible a kind of prediction that would have never been possible before.”

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Plutonium found 40km from Fukushima plant

Small amounts of plutonium believed to have escaped from Japan’s tsunami-crippled nuclear plant have been detected in soil more than 40km away, say government researchers, a finding that will fuel already widespread fears about radiation risk.

The discovery came as authorities lifted evacuation advisories on other towns near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power station in the north-east prefecture of Fukushima, saying radiation readings showed they were safe for residents.

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Artificial neural network created from DNA

Source: Caltech Researchers at the California Institute of Technology(Caltech) have made an artificial neural network out of DNA, creating a circuit of interacting molecules that can recall memories based on incomplete patterns, just as a brain can. The research demonstrates how molecular systems can exhibit autonomous brain-like behaviors. How it works Using a simple DNA gate architecture that […]

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Will the Government Pay for Your Birth Control?

Source: Atlantic Wire Free birth control could soon be a reality. A medical advisory panel from the Institute of Medicine–a non-partisan group–recommended to the Health and Human Services Department eight services for women it believes should qualify as preventive care, including contraception,reports The New York Times. Under health care reform, insurers must fully cover the cost of […]

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