It was a scientist's nightmare: an expensive test meant to study an exotic virus ruined by contamination because someone had forgotten to sterilize the equipment. And it didn't just happen once, but several times.
Except the setting wasn't a medical laboratory, it was a military cyber range in Texas. And the tests weren't from leaving old samples of Ebola in the petri dish, but a failure to cleanse and reboot infected computers used in prior tests.
The U.S. intelligence community, the collection of 16 federal agencies chaired by the director of national intelligence, is usually loathe to talk about its budget, believing that to reveal funding specifics would provide foreign adversaries with insight into U.S. clandestine activities. But when it comes to impending budget cuts related to sequestration, America's intelligence czar has a clear message of gloom and doom.
Iran’s threat earlier this year to close the Strait of Hormuz highlighted what many experts view as a longstanding fundamental weakness in U.S. naval strategy: the inability to effectively and economically spot and neutralize naval mines.
Such mines can cost as little as $1,000 each and are relatively easy for Iran to put in place. Finding and neutralizing them might take U.S. naval forces a month or more, essentially allowing Iran to achieve its strategic goal of blocking trade in the narrow body of water.
Last August, a magnitude-5.9 earthquake shook Washington, toppling chimneys, cracking masonry and even damaging the National Cathedral and Washington Monument. In less than a minute, that same earthquake could be felt up the East Coast and in New York.
But for many there and elsewhere, the first tipoff that something had hit the nation's capital was not the shockwave, but the massive outpouring on Twitter.
Policymakers have fretted over the U.S. Defense Department's science and technology (S&T) budget for decades, but with the Pentagon facing upwards of $1 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years, those concerns take on a new urgency. Because the S&T portfolio is not tied to any constituency or program, it will be in a precarious situation.
Franz Gayl, U.S. Marine Corps science adviser, knows the perils—and potential payoffs—of being an advocate for technological change. Gayl, a retired Marine, played a critical role in pushing the service to adopt Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles, in the process exposing official intransigence. Then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates cited media reports prompted by Gayl's concerns for bringing to his attention the urgent need for MRAPs. The vehicles ended up saving thousands of lives.
Kevin Kit Parker is not a typical traumatic brain injury (TBI) researcher. As an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Harvard University, his research interest until a few years ago was primarily cardiac cell biology and tissue engineering. But Parker, who is also a reserve officer in the U.S. Army, began to pursue a new area of research between two tours in Afghanistan. There, improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are the No. 1 killer of U.S. and allied troops, and Parker saw firsthand the effects of TBI.
In November, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, U.S. Army vice chief of staff, took many observers by surprise when he said he'd like to see the term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) changed to post-traumatic stress injury, making what is regarded as a mental disorder akin to a battlefield wound. While the idea is controversial, new medical studies, particularly those involving mice, may actually support this change.
A machine that quickly and accurately spots a liar has long been a dream of the national security community. Such a device could ferret out potential terrorists, double agents or dangerous criminals. The problem is that the polygraph, the mainstay of lie detection, is a cumbersome device whose utility is still debated.