Month: February 2013

A broader reading of seismic waves from North Korea

A broader reading of seismic waves from North Korea

A few minutes short of noon, local time, on February 12, an underground blast in a remote corner of North Korea sent seismic waves worldwide, leaving clear recordings on thousands of seismometers. Some of these seismological recorders belong to clandestine intelligence-gathering networks in the service of individual nations. You and I will probably never see the data gathered by these networks, but we don't need to. Primarily to monitor earthquakes within active fault zones, thousands of seismometers around the globe record ground motion and distribute that information to the public.

How to safeguard loose nukes

How to safeguard loose nukes

Four years ago, President Barack Obama called preventing nuclear terrorism a top security priority. But even though he said in his State of the Union speech last week that Washington “would continue leading the global effort to secure nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands,” the United States is only marginally safer from that threat today than it was at the beginning of his first term.

Citizen cybersecurity

Citizen cybersecurity

With increasing reports of cyber attacks on US banks, oil facilities, power plants, and even military systems, it comes as good news that the Obama administration is crafting policy on cybersecurity. In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, the President said that “America must … face the rapidly growing threat from cyber attacks,” and urged Congress to pass legislation that would help it do so.

Does missile defense work?

Does missile defense work?

After launching a rocket in December and vowing to conduct a third nuclear test, North Korea followed up last week by saying it would take measures “stronger than a nuclear test” and releasing a bizarre YouTube video that appeared to depict a rocket attacking an American city. (The video has since been removed from YouTube; excerpts and commentary can be watched here.)

The Arctic as a bridge

The Arctic as a bridge

No country owns the North Pole or the expanse of the Arctic Ocean surrounding it. The Arctic region has a population of about 4 million, including more than 30 distinct groups of indigenous people using dozens of languages; they have lived there for more than 10,000 years. The area also has a unique and diverse ecosystem that includes fish, marine mammals, birds, land animals, and a thriving web of bacteria, viruses, algae, worms, and crustaceans that live in sea ice.