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+ - Lawrence Krauss on the Pope's encyclical: Not even close?->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: Lawrence Krauss muses on the hoopla surrounding Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change, and finds the document lacking: 'It is ironic that while the scientific community has long tried to raise warning signals and induce action to address human-induced climate change, an encyclical from the pope on this subject is being taken by many as an ultimate call to action on this urgent issue.'
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+ - Should nuclear devices be used to stop asteroids?->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: Seth Baum ponders whether nuclear devices should be kept on hand for the purpose of destroying near-Earth objects (NEOs) that pose a threat to the planet. Baum acknowledges that 'The risk posed by NEOs is not zero, but it is small relative to the risk posed by nuclear weapons." Even so, Baum writes, since the consequences of an NEO hitting the earth would be catastrophic, keeping 10 or 20 nuclear devices available might be a good idea, and would be 'insignificant compared to the thousands now held in military arsenals.' An interesting read.
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+ - Uber puts passengers at risk with a flawed driver-approval process->

Submitted by Mark Wilson
Mark Wilson writes: Uber, the San Francisco-based private taxi firm, is putting its passengers in grave danger. The company uses a computerized driver sign-up system that can be easily fooled into authorizing drives with fake insurance papers. The transport network exploded onto the scene a few years ago, and a whistleblower claims that it is all too easy to cheat the system making it possible for virtually anyone to sign up to be an Uber driver.

The vulnerability was found to have been exploited in London where there are around 15,000 Uber drivers in operation. The scam has been demonstrated by The Guardian who worked with a whistleblower to fraudulently sign up as a driver. It was achieved using fabricated insurance papers from a made up company with a fake letterhead.

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+ - Homeland Security's Level 4 Bio Research Lab Coming to Kansas->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: As the author writes, 'It is absolutely mind-boggling that Homeland Security has decided to move the lab, to be known as the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, to the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan, Kansas, smack in the middle of cattle country and Tornado Alley. Builders recently broke ground on the brand-new $1.25 billion dollar facility, which is set to be fully operational in 2022. It will include a biosafety level 4 lab, meaning one designed to handle deadly and exotic pathogens for which no vaccines or treatments exist. Not surprisingly, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the lab’s move to Kansas. Ranchers and farmers in the area are understandably worried, while local officials are eager for the jobs and investments the lab will bring.'
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+ - Combating climate risks with 3D printing

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: While security risks that emanate from climate change will not always require military responses, the technological innovations that 3D printing makes possible can significantly improve the tools available for both militaries and civilian institutions when responding to, preparing for, and mitigating those risks. These benefits come in five main forms, and this article details what they are and how each may work: Rapid response and prototyping; Democratization of preparedness and response; De-globalizing hazards; Increasing accessibility; Enhancing energy efficiency. The authors clearly believe that 3D printing will be a key tool in mitigating effects from natural disasters: 'If the United States, including the Department of Defense, truly believes that climate change presents “immediate risks to national security,” then developing all the tools necessary to combat those risks should be a high priority. 3D printing, given its potential utility in helping us adapt to and mitigate climate risks, and doing so cost-effectively, is one tool that deserves close attention.'

+ - Combating climate risks with 3D printing->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: While security risks that emanate from climate change will not always require military responses, the technnological innovations that 3D printing makes possible can significantly improve the tools available for both militaries and civilian institutions when responding to, preparing for, and mitigating those risks. These benefits come in five main forms, and this article details what they are and how each may work: Rapid response and prototyping; Democratization of preparedness and response; De-globalizing hazards; Increasing accessibility; Enhancing energy efficiency. The authors clearly believe that 3D printing will be a key tool in mitigating effects from natural disasters: 'If the United States, including the Department of Defense, truly believes that climate change presents “immediate risks to national security,” then developing all the tools necessary to combat those risks should be a high priority. 3D printing, given its potential utility in helping us adapt to and mitigate climate risks, and doing so cost-effectively, is one tool that deserves close attention.'
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+ - New test could reveal every virus that's ever infected you->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit writes: Can’t remember every viral infection you’ve ever had? Don’t worry, your blood can. A new test surveys the antibodies present in a person’s bloodstream to reveal a history of the viruses they’ve been infected with throughout their life. The method could be useful not only for diagnosing current and past illnesses, but for developing vaccines and studying links between viruses and chronic disease.
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+ - Space weapons and nuclear war->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: Amid tension between nuclear-armed nations, one side uses antisatellite weapons to disable its adversary's space assets. Is it seeking advantage in a conventional conflict, or preparing a nuclear first strike? In this scenario, the cost of miscalculation could be vast. How can the risk be mitigated? The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has started a debate that explores how warfare in space, which is not prohibited by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, could lead to nuclear exchanges on earth.
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+ - You thought NSA bulk data collection was dead?

Submitted by fustakrakich
fustakrakich writes: Guess again!
US officials confirmed to the Guardian that in the coming days they will ask a secret surveillance court to revive the program – deemed illegal by a federal appeals court – all in the name of “transitioning” the domestic surveillance effort to the telephone companies that generate the so-called “call detail records” the government seeks to access. The unconventional and unexpected legal circumstance depends on a section of the USA Freedom Act, which Obama signed into law on Tuesday, that provides a six-month grace period to prepare the surveillance and legal bureaucracies for a world in which the National Security Agency is no longer the repository of bulk US phone metadata. During that time, the act’s ban on bulk collection will not yet take effect.

+ - Who's behind mysterious flights over US cities? FBI->

Submitted by kaizendojo
kaizendojo writes: The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology — all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.

The planes' surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge's approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.

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+ - DARPA wants to make complex 3D printing trustworthy, dependable, safe->

Submitted by coondoggie
coondoggie writes: If additive manufacturing technologies like 3D printing are to become mainstream for complex engineering tasks – think building combat fighter aircraft wings or complete rocket engines – there needs to be a major uptick in the reliability and trustworthiness of such tools. That’s what researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) aim to do with its Open Manufacturing program which this week announced new labs and other facilities that will be used to develop these additive technologies and prove whether or not they can be trusted for widespread use in complicated applications.
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+ - Cool Tool: The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Cost Calculator->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has launched a very cool new tool that will thrill energy wonks and anyone interested in understanding the per kilowatt cost of nuclear energy. Developed over the last two years in a partnership between the Bulletin and the University of Chicago, the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Cost Calculator estimates the cost of electricity produced by three configurations of the nuclear fuel cycle:

1. The once-through fuel cycle used in most US nuclear power plants, in which uranium fuel is used once and then stored for later disposal.; 2. A limited-recycle mode in which a mix of uranium and plutonium (that is, mixed oxide, or MOX) is used to fuel a light water reactor; 3. A full-recycle system, which uses a fast neutron spectrum reactor that can be configured to “breed” plutonium that can subsequently be used as either nuclear fuel or weapons material.

This online tool lets users test how sensitive the price of electricity is to a full range of components—more than 60 parameters that can be adjusted for the three configurations of the nuclear fuel cycle considered. The results provide nuanced cost assessments for the reprocessing of nuclear fuel and can serve as the basis for discussions among government officials, industry leaders, and public interest groups.

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+ - Fuel Free Spacecrafts Using Graphene

Submitted by William Robinson
William Robinson writes: While using a laser to cut a sponge made of crumpled sheets of Graphene oxide, Researchers accidentally discovered that it can turn light into motion. As the laser cut into the material, it mysteriously propelled forward. Baffled, researchers investigated further. The Graphene material was put in a vacuum and again shot with a laser. Incredibly, the laser still pushed the sponge forward, and by as much as 40 centimeters. Researchers even got the Graphene to move by focusing ordinary sunlight on it with a lens.Though scientists are not sure why this happens, they are excited with new possibilities such as light propelled spacecraft that does not need fuel.

+ - Introduction to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Cost Calculator->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: China has dozens of nuclear power plants under construction and in the planning stages. India is planning its own massive expansion of nuclear generation capacity. Countries across the Middle East—from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates to Tunisia and Jordan—are seriously considering the creation of nuclear power sectors. And as countries around the world make policy decisions about nuclear technology, they will also be making choices about nuclear fuel cycles and whether to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, separating out uranium and plutonium for reuse. These decisions will have major implications for international security. If the growth of nuclear power is accompanied by increased reprocessing, new stores of plutonium will be created around the world, increasing the chances that terrorists or governments could steal or divert it to make nuclear bombs.

Over the last two years, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the University of Chicago have created an online tool that will help countries understand the true cost of choosing the reprocessing route—and perhaps also help limit the spread of nuclear reprocessing. The calculator lets users test how sensitive the price of electricity is to a full range of components—more than 60 parameters that can be adjusted for the three configurations of the nuclear fuel cycle considered by this tool.

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+ - Is Elon Musk's new PowerWall a Game Changer?-> 1 1

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: Is Elon Musk's new PowerWall a Game Changer? Maybe yes and maybe no: 'But fantastic battery storage doesn’t actually lower the cost of renewable energy. It doesn’t decrease the amount of energy that needs to be produced. Nor does it increase renewable’s low capacity factor or its low efficiency.' The author ultimately decides that the PowerWall could allow countries to install a really low-carbon energy mix, but cautions: 'But let’s not confuse a great battery with solving the real problems of our energy future.'
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