Laser Cannons to Defend Ships From Pirates

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Lasers cannons could be mounted on ships and boats to help fight off pirates attempting to board the vessels.


British engineers are developing a new type of defence system that uses lasers to incapacitate pirates by dazzling them

British engineers are developing a new type of defence system that uses lasers to incapacitate pirates by dazzling them as they approach a ship.

The non-lethal weapon, which has been developed by defence company BAE Systems, is effective against moving targets more than a mile away.

The company has started developing the laser in response to the growing threat from pirates to commercial vessels, particularly off the coast of Somalia where there have been several high profile hijackings.

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US Air Force’s Revolutionary Airborne Surveillance System: ‘We can see everything’

In ancient times, Gorgon was a mythical Greek creature whose unblinking eyes turned to stone those who beheld them. In modern times, Gorgon may be one of the military’s most valuable new tools.

This winter, the Air Force is set to deploy to Afghanistan what it says is a revolutionary airborne surveillance system called Gorgon Stare, which will be able to transmit live video images of physical movement across an entire town.

The system, made up of nine video cameras mounted on a remotely piloted aircraft, can transmit live images to soldiers on the ground or to analysts tracking enemy movements. It can send up to 65 different images to different users; by contrast, Air Force drones today shoot video from a single camera over a “soda straw” area the size of a building or two.

With the new tool, analysts will no longer have to guess where to point the camera, said Maj. Gen. James O. Poss, the Air Force’s assistant deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. “Gorgon Stare will be looking at a whole city, so there will be no way for the adversary to know what we’re looking at, and we can see everything.”

Read moreUS Air Force’s Revolutionary Airborne Surveillance System: ‘We can see everything’

Utah: $1.5 Billion NSA Cyber-Security Center Under Way


Computer rendering of the first Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI) Data Center, at Camp Williams, Utah on display at Camp Williams for the groundbreaking on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011. (BDB)

CAMP WILLIAMS — Thursday’s groundbreaking for a $1.5 billion National Security Agency data center is being billed as important in the short term for construction jobs and important in the long term for Utah’s reputation as a technology center.

“This will bring 5,000 to 10,000 new jobs during its construction and development phase,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said on Wednesday. “Once completed, it will support 100 to 200 permanent high-paid employees.”

Officially named the Utah Data Center, the facility’s role in aggregating and verifying dizzying volumes of data for the intelligence community has already earned it the nickname “Spy Center.” Its really long moniker is the Community Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative Data Center — the first in the nation’s intelligence community.

A White House document identifies the Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative as addressing “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation, but one that we as a government or as a country are not adequately prepared to counter.” The document details a number of technology-related countermeasures to the security threat.

Hatch said Utah was chosen for the project over 37 other locations. He characterized the cyber-security center as the “largest military construction project in recent memory.”

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Secret Abu Dhabi Weather Project ‘Creates More Than 50 Man-Made Rainstorms’

A secret £7 million weather project in Abu Dhabi has resulted in dozens of man-made rainstorms, according to reports.


Children play in the street during a rain storm in Abu Dhabi Photo: ALAMY

Scientists employed by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE and leader of Abu Dhabi, successfully created more than 50 rainstorms in the state’s Al Ain region last year, mostly in July and August when there is virtually no rain at all. It is believed to be the first time the system has produced rain from clear skies.

They have been using giant ionisers, shaped like giant lampshades, to generate fields of negatively charged particles, which create cloud formation.

Read moreSecret Abu Dhabi Weather Project ‘Creates More Than 50 Man-Made Rainstorms’

Scientists Create Ultra-Fast Computer Chip, 20 Times Faster Than Current Desktop Computers


Dr Wim Vanderbauwhede of the University of Glasgow who led the team and (right) the chip which promises to usher in a new age of high-speed computing

Scientists have created an ultra-fast computer chip which is 20 times faster than current desktop computers.

Modern PCs have a processor with two, four or sometimes 16 cores to carry out tasks.

But the central processing unit (CPU) developed by the researchers effectively had 1,000 cores on a single chip.

The developments could usher in a new age of high-speed computing in the next few years for home users frustrated with slow-running systems.

And the new ‘super’ computer is much greener than modern machines – using far less power – despite its high speed.

Scientists used a chip called a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) which like all microchips contains millions of transistors – the tiny on-off switches which are the foundation of any electronic circuit.

Read moreScientists Create Ultra-Fast Computer Chip, 20 Times Faster Than Current Desktop Computers

Solar-Powered Pilotless Plane Breaks World Record

A solar-powered pilotless plane which was built in the UK has been recognised as having smashed the world record for the longest time spent in the air by an unmanned autonomous vehicle (UAV), after staying aloft for two weeks.

The record-breaking flight took place in July over the US and has now been ratified by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), which governs air sports records. The 50kg craft remained airborne for 14 days, 22 minutes and 8 seconds – 11 times longer than the previous record.

Potential uses for the aircraft, which is built by defence technology company Qinetiq, include the long-distance tracking of hijacked ships and aerial monitoring of forest fires. Chris Kelleher, chief designer, said: “This aircraft can help track pirates off the Horn of Africa and also ensure that soldiers’ communications remain unaffected when fighting in mountainous or hilly terrain.”

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SkyWatch™: Manned Mobile Surveillance System


Added: 28 Dec. 2010

Elevated, Highly Mobile Security Solutions

Vantage point is everything when it comes to surveillance. SkyWatch™ units provide a high level platform for an array of surveillance options. Every tower includes the basics for the comfort and safety of the officer inside through adjustable heat and air conditioning, tinted sliding glass windows and comfortable seating. And no matter the application, only one person is required to set up and deploy a unit.

The SkyWatch can easily be relocated and is rugged enough to handle even the most primitive off-road conditions. And all models are adaptable for cameras, radios, public address systems and other equipment integration.

Now, one officer can cover an area previously requiring three or more personnel.

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Scientists Develop Reactor to Make Fuel From Sunlight

Scientists raise hopes for a large-scale renewable source of liquid fuel with a simple reactor that mimics plants

A simple reactor that mimics plants by turning sunlight into fuel has been demonstrated in the laboratory, boosting hopes for a large-scale renewable source of liquid fuel.

“We have a big energy problem and we have to think big,” said Prof Sossina Haile, at the California Institute of Technology, who led the research.

Haile estimates that a rooftop reactor could produce about three gallons of fuel a day. She thinks transport fuels would be the first application of the reactor, if it goes on to commercial use. But she said an equally important use for the renewable fuels would be to store solar energy so it is available at times of peak demand, and overnight. She says the first improvements that will be made to the existing reactor will be to improve the insulation to help stop heat loss, a simple move that she expects to treble the current efficiency.

The key component is made from the metal cerium, which is almost as abundant as copper, unlike other rare and expensive metals frequently used as catalysts, such as platinum. Therefore, said Haile, availability would not limit the use of the device. “There is nothing cost prohibitive in our set-up,” she said. “And there is plenty of cerium for this technology to make a major contribution to global gasoline supplies.”

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How Your Smartphone is Keeping Track of You: Apps Secretly Monitor Users

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Big Brother iPhone Patriot App Turns Users Into Government Spies



Drawback? Most programmes for smartphones, such as this iPhone, send data back to companies that sold them

Dozens of popular iPhone apps are secretly monitoring users and sending information back to companies – who then use it to target them with adverts.

More than half of the programmes and games for smartphones sent data back to the private companies once they had been downloaded, a study found.

The apps include the wildly popular Angry Birds game and music identifying software Shazam, which comes pre-installed on every iPhone.

Armed with this information firms including Google track the individuals’ movements and sell personalised adverts for which they can make more money than regular ones.

The study found that of 101 apps tested, 56 transmitted the phone’s individual number to a private company in some way, known as the Unique Device Identifier or UDID.

Some 47 sent the phone’s location and five sent age, gender and other personal information.

More data was sent back about a user’s location on the Apple’s iPhone than Google’s Android smartphone, the research discovered, even though both companies have promised not to let such practices take place.

The research was carried out in the U.S. but it would apply to users downloading apps from anywhere in the world.

Read moreHow Your Smartphone is Keeping Track of You: Apps Secretly Monitor Users

Big Brother iPhone Patriot App Turns Users Into Government Spies


Patriot App has been criticised for encouraging neighbours to report each other

It claims to be a handy way to make you a ‘better citizen’.

But a new app for the iPhone has been condemned by critics who claim it is turning mobile users into a network of government spies.

The PatriotApp links your phone to American security and law enforcement agencies via the Internet and allows you to report anything you want at the touch of a button.

By simply pressing the relevant icon, users can sound the alarm for terrorism, ‘suspicious activity’, a health pandemic or an environmental safety issue.

The $0.99 app, named after the controversial Patriot Act brought in by the U.S. government after 9/11, is designed to ‘encourage active citizen participation in the War on Terror and in protecting their families and surrounding communities’, its makers Citizen Concepts claim.

But critics say it is like putting Big Brother in the palm of your hand and could easily be open to abuse by those with questionable agendas.

The app works by making a direct link between your phone and law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The software also links up to your Facebook and Twitter page meaning you can post alerts on there if needed.

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