With its supply of helium running out, the Pentagon is funding research into alternative methods for detecting the presence of possible “dirty bombs.”
Helium 3 gas is employed in most of the nuclear-detection systems in use today. The rare substance is currently produced as a byproduct of the radioactive decay of tritium, a material used in nuclear warheads. As helium 3 is collected from aging warheads, the supply of the gas has dwindled as the U.S. nuclear arsenal has grown smaller.
That has prompted the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency to seek out promising new technologies that can supplant the use of helium 3 in detection devices, which are used to find radiological substances. Officials fear that attackers could pair these substances with conventional explosives to disperse harmful radiation across a wide area.
To that end, the agency has awarded a $2.8 million contract to Alion Science and Technology of McLean, Va., to further its research into a next-generation detection system that utilizes bundles of thin copper tubes coated with boron, according to a Monday company press release.
The current generation of helium 3-powered detectors can alert authorities to the presence of a nearby radioactive source, but these systems cannot determine the direction from which the radiation is coming. Alion plans to use its Pentagon funding to give its boron-coated “straw” sensors the ability to pinpoint the direction of a source.
“By researching the means to make the boron-coated straw detector more precise and more reasonable to produce, Alion can help [the Defense Threat Reduction Agency] employ improved technologies to mitigate threats effectively and keep warfighters and citizens safe,” company senior vice president Terri Spoonhour said in a released statement. “But, beyond providing a drop-in replacement for He-3 detector components, this engineering effort opens up a number of possibilities for new or enhanced portable systems that can be carried into questionable areas or permanently installed to protect ports and depots.”
What We're Following See More »
When it comes to name-calling among America's upper echelon of politicians, there may be perhaps no greater spat than the one currently going on between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump. While receiving an award Tuesday night, she continued a months-long feud with the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. Calling him a "small, insecure moneygrubber" who probably doesn't know three things about Dodd-Frank, she said he "will NEVER be president of the United States," according to her prepared remarks."We don't know what Trump pays in taxes because he is the first presidential nominee in 40 years to refuse to disclose his tax returns. Maybe he’s just a lousy businessman who doesn’t want you to find out that he’s worth a lot less money than he claims." It follows a long-line of Warren attacks over Twitter, Facebook and in interviews that Trump is a sexist, racist, narcissistic loser. In reply, Trump has called Warren either "goofy" or "the Indian"—referring to her controversial assertion of her Native American heritage.
The House on Tuesday voted 403-12 "to pass an overhaul to the nation’s chemical safety standards for the first time in four decades. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act aims to answer years of complaints that the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the necessary authority to oversee and control the thousands of chemicals being produced and sold in the United States. It also significantly clamps down on states’ authorities, in an effort to stop a nationwide patchwork of chemical laws that industry says is difficult to deal with."
Citing the unpredictable nature of this primary season and the possible leverage they could bring at the convention, John Kasich is hanging onto his 161 delegates. "Kasich sent personal letters Monday to Republican officials in the 16 states and the District of Columbia where he won delegates, requesting that they stay bound to him in accordance with party rules."
Bernie Sanders "signed a letter Tuesday morning requesting a full and complete check and recanvass of the election results in Kentucky ... where he trails Hillary Clinton by less than one-half of 1 percent of the vote. The Sanders campaign said it has asked the Kentucky secretary of state to have election officials review electronic voting machines and absentee ballots from last week's primary in each of the state's 120 counties.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) “is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and … the Justice Department” for potentially improper contributions to his 2013 campaign, including while he was a Clinton Global Initiative board member. ... Among the McAuliffe donations that drew the interest of the investigators was $120,000 from” former Chinese legislator Wang Wenliang. “U.S. election law prohibits foreign nationals from donating to … elections. … But Wang holds U.S. permanent resident status.”