News Briefs

May 28, 2014
By Rita Boland

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have launched a project called Beyond Moore Computing to discover the future of computing. Possibilities include next-generation supercomputers, systems that learn autonomously and machines that require less energy. The plateauing of Moore’s Law is causing an increase in energy costs for modern scientific computers that eventually will make supercomputers impractical because of enormous energy consumption. New computer architectures are required to solve the problem. A major focus will be on the transistor level. Experts at Sandia foresee multiple computing device-level technologies rather than one dominant architecture.

May 21, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) gave a sneak preview Wednesday to an impressive collection of promise-to-change-the world projects—technology such as the High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems (HACMS), software built in from inception to negate security vulnerabilities to just about anything operated by a computer. And that means just about anything.

From keyless entry automobiles, to bomb bots, drones, power grids, home security systems, even refrigerators—the HACMS engineers are writing software to safeguard networked, embedded information technology systems from hackers and attackers, be they nation states, terrorists, criminals or malicious teenagers, says Program Manager Kathleen Fisher.

May 22, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Just as the U.S. Navy initially resisted the transition from sail to steam-powered ships and elements of the Army dismissed air power and fought against the shift from horses to tanks, some parts of the military continue to resist the expansion of uninhabited systems into traditional combat roles. As a result, the U.S. Defense Department is failing to invest in game-changing technology that could increase efficiencies and save lives, according to a just-released report from the Center for a New American Security.

May 22, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Army has released a draft request for proposals to procure additional Rifleman Radios, moving the system toward full rate production. The Rifleman Radio is part of the Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit program. Under the full and open competition approach, the Army will award contracts, and qualified vendors will compete for delivery orders as needed.

May 22, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Fred Downs shows off his new prosthetic arm developed by DEKA Research and Development Corporation and funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). By Sandra JontzIt took four decades for Fred Downs to be able to pinch himself with his left hand. Or open a jar. Or turn a key in the front door of his Virginia home.

Downs now sports a new prosthetic arm funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and which only last week received Food and Drug Agency approval for commercial use.

May 21, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the U.S. Navy successfully conducted the first flight test of the Aegis Ashore system at the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex and Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), according to a Defense Department news release. 
The Aegis Weapon System fired a Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block IB guided missile from the Vertical Launch System (VLS), which successfully acquired, tracked and engaged a simulated ballistic missile target. A live target missile launch was not planned for Tuesday’s flight test.

May 20, 2014
By George I. Seffers

People with access to privileged data—such as health care records, sensitive company information, intellectual property or personal records—frequently put their organization’s sensitive information at risk, according to a new report by Raytheon Company. The survey report, “Privileged User Abuse & The Insider Threat,” finds that many individuals often are granted access to data and areas of the network not necessary for their roles and responsibilities. Furthermore, 65 percent of survey respondents indicated that curiosity—not job necessity—drives them to access sensitive or confidential data.

Key findings include:

May 15, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Researchers are working on a computer that just could soon do the thinking for humans. Computers today, while advanced, still mostly perform calculating functions using a central processing unit and memory that stores both a program and data, taking direction from the program and data from memory to function. Sandia National Laboratories researchers are developing “neuro-inspired” computing systems to work basically like human brains. They could detect patterns and anomalies to computing solutions.

May 9, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Navy has evaluated color-coded chemical detection technology known as colorimetric explosive detection kits, the service recently announced. Colorimetric detection technology is based upon a series of chemical reactions that produce a visual response, most often in the form of a color change dependent upon the molecular structure of the compounds being tested. 

May 7, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
Scientists will use the new capability to study the formation of interstellar grains in the outflow of carbon stars.

NASA scientists at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, reproduced the processes that occur in the atmosphere of a red giant star and lead to the formation of planet-forming interstellar dust.


At Ames, scientists use a specialized facility called the Cosmic Simulation Chamber (COSmIC) to recreate and study dust grains similar to those that form in the outer layers of dying stars. The research can help them understand the composition and evolution of the universe and creation of planets, to include Earth-like planets, according to a news statement.

May 5, 2014
By Maryann Lawlor

Sandia National Laboratories' Predicting Performance Margins (PPM) project is working on improving the understanding of material science. The long-term, multidisciplinary program aims at identifying how material variability affects performance margins for an engineering component or machine part. The goal is to determine a science-based foundation for materials design and analysis to help predict how they will perform in specific applications. The research could lead to safer and more reliable spacecraft, bridges, power grids, cars, nuclear power plants and other complex engineered systems.

May 2, 2014
George I. Seffers

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) will open spaces on its campus for local researchers from academia, industry and other government agencies to foster in-person interactions for deeper insight into the service’s technological challenges.

May 2, 2014
By George I. Seffers

High school students and teachers get to learn about the world of cybersecurity through Sandia National Laboratories' Cyber Technologies Academy (CTA), which offers free classes for those interested in computer science and cybersecurity.

April 30, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

FirstNet, the independent authority tasked with building a first-ever, nationwide wireless broadband network for public safety, announced Wednesday a huge initiative toward realization of the network.

The agency finalized a yearlong process to establish mechanisms and relationships that will let it systematically collect critical information and input from all U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia that will benefit from the network.

May 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

New York City wants to build a citywide network of Internet hotspots offering free Wi-Fi to replace the city’s aging network of payphones. The endeavor, led by the Department of Information and Telecommunications, will supply all five boroughs with free access and is predicted to create local jobs for the development, according to city officials.

“This administration has committed to making New York City work better for every community, and this [request for proposals] for free outdoor Wi-Fi is a downpayment on that promise,” Mayor Bill de Blasio says. “For years, the question was, ‘What to do with payphones?’ and now we have an answer.”

April 25, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

High school students from Hampton, Virginia, not only carried off top honors Friday in the Exploration Design Challenge but will work with the NASA and Lockheed Martin spacecraft integration team to have their anti-radiation concept approved to fly into space.

The students of Team ARES, from the Governor’s School for Science and Technology, will work to get their equipment approved and then installed onto Orion’s crew module, according to a press release.

April 23, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

A high-tech workshop giving hobbyists and professionals alike access to millions of dollars of gadgetry, from computers to woodworking tools and other equipment they might otherwise not be able to afford, opened in Virginia and offers enthusiasts a place to literally build their dreams—or at least a cutting board for Mother’s Day. Membership for most who join TechShop comes with a cost but is free for military veterans, as TechShop has partnered with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation.

April 17, 2014
By Maryann Lawlor

The U.S. Defense Department will award $167 million in research funding to academic institutions as part of the department’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI). During the next five years, 24 awards will be issued through the program to support multidisciplinary basic research, which will be conducted by teams of investigators that intersect more than one traditional science and engineering discipline. More than 60 academic institutions are expected to participate in the 24 research efforts.

April 14, 2014
By Rita Boland

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released guidance to help citizens protect themselves from the recent Heartbleed cyberthreat. This bug makes websites that use OpenSSL vulnerable to attacks that could be used to obtain names, passwords and credit card numbers. Steps the department recommends for the public are: change passwords every few weeks; set strong passwords, ideally with letter, number and symbol combinations; use different passwords for different websites; and never share a password.

April 15, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration has issued a request for proposals to further develop “extreme scale” supercomputer technology under the FastForward program. Contracts will total about $100 million and the funding period will be from July 2014 to November 2016. Proposals are due May 9.

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