IT to Fight Terror
Los Alamos National Laboratory focuses its science on homeland defense.
Computerworld - Los Alamos National Laboratory, which developed the atomic bomb that helped end World War II, has since Sept. 11 focused the scientific expertise of its 7,500 employees on homeland defense and the war on terrorism while continuing its mission of nuclear weapons research.
The Los Alamos, N.M.-based laboratory, which is owned by the Department of Energy and operated by the University of California, is tapping into its expertise in everything from quantum physics to computer science. Research is backed by massive supercomputers, including a 30-trillion-operations-per-second cluster due to go online by year's end.
Los Alamos isn't looking for immediate results. Rather, it's applying its resources in arcane sciences to develop tools and even products that can be applied years down the road, though it will also commercially spin off promising systems quicker.
For example, according to Terry Hawkins, leader of the laboratory's nonproliferation and internal security division, Los Alamos is developing a method to detect biological agents such as anthrax by combining a biological antigen with a computer chip. The antigen, Hawkins says, "acts the same as a human cell" in detecting the presence of an agent. The antigen is housed in a double-layer membrane formed from lipids, a class of insoluble organic compounds that are constituents of living cells.
Electrical current in the membrane passed to the chip could give a user an instant readout of the type of biological agent it has detected. Hawkins says Los Alamos has already developed a system that can detect the potentially deadly Hanta virus, which is prevalent in mice in the Southwest, and he believes that in time it may be possible to develop a portable, programmable device that can detect a number of viruses. Such a tool could also play a significant role in helping public health agencies battle diseases such as the common flu, he adds.
Deborah Leishman heads a knowledge modeling team at Los Alamos that helped develop a tool called EpiSims for simulating the spread of epidemics - natural or terrorist-induced - in a large urban area. She says the tool will help public health agencies integrate data from various sources, such as emergency rooms around a metropolitan area, into a database that will provide insights that can't be gleaned from single data points.
Los Alamos developed EpiSims as a spin-off from an even larger program called Transportation Analysis Simulation System (TranSims) designed to model the ebb, flow and social interactions of people in a large city. Leishman says TranSims can help emergency management agencies devise evacuation plans for cities that don't have them, such as Washington.
- Securing Mobile App Data - Comparing Containers and App Wrappers Analysts agree that Mobile Device Management (MDM) is not enough when it comes to securing app data. Although it remains a critical component...
- PCI 3.0 Compliance In this white paper, learn how PCI-DSS 3.0 effects how you deploy and maintain PCI compliant networks using CradlePoint devices.
- Mitigating Security Risks at the Networks Edge This white paper provides strategies and best practices for distributed enterprises to protect their networks against vulnerabilities, threats, and malicious attacks.
- 5 Strategies for Modern Data Protection Read the five strategies for modern data protection that will not only help solve your current data management challenges but also ensure that...
- Business-driven data protection Setting up data protection infrastructures with your organizations' core mission or business in mind is key. In this webinar, the ARCserve team will...
- On-Demand Webinar: Mind the Gap! Watch the webinar featuring Bob Janssen, CTO and Co-Founder of RES Software, to start building a solid foundation for business and IT to... All Security White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!