Showing 28 posts tagged power
Terrorists could black out large segments of the United States for weeks or months by attacking the power grid and damaging hard-to-replace components that are crucial to making it work, the National Academy of Sciences said in a report released Wednesday.
By blowing up substations or transmission lines with explosives or by firing projectiles at them from a distance, the report said, terrorists could cause cascading failures and damage parts that would take months to repair or replace. In the meantime, it warned, people could die from the cold or the excessive heat, and the economy could suffer hundreds of billions of dollars in damage.
While the report is the most authoritative yet on the subject, the grid’s vulnerability has long been obvious to independent engineers and to the electric industry itself, which has intermittently tried, in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security, to rehearse responses.
» via The New York Times (Subscription may be required for some content)
Two companies, Lockheed Martin and LaserMotive, have managed to keep the Stalker Unmanned Aerial System, also known as a drone, in flight for over 48 hours by using lasers on the ground to recharge the aircraft’s battery mid-flight. So … that’s terrifying and cool. LaserMotive held the test in an enclosed wind tunnel, and if you’re wondering what happened after 48 hours, well, it seems they just got bored.
» via Yahoo! News
Leaving home while carrying a phone, an iPad and a laptop might also mean lugging along several tangled power cords. Now add radios and GPS devices. Now strap them to your person and wrap the cords around your body beneath your 30-pound armored vest. Oh, and you’re on patrol in Afghanistan, which means there’s no place to plug in when your phone’s batteries start to die. This explains why the Pentagon is keen on eliminating those cables with wireless chargers, and now wants to boost the range to more than 50 feet.
The plan involves spending $5-6 million using the branch’s research and development centers to “increase the efficiency of power transfer over longer distances,” according to an Army statement. If successful, it means that soldiers — instead of being limited to recharging their gadgets when returning to base, or by plugging into their vehicles — could go cordless. That means recharging by a wireless battery attached to their body — no plugs. The Army also hopes to build wireless transmitters on bases, allowing soldier gear to recharge passively, without having to plug anything in. And one day, it might be used on drones.
» via Wired
Sony is building a new kind of power outlet that raises a not entirely pleasant prospect—in the future, plugging a phone into a public wall socket might require authentication and take a chunk out of your bank account. But the technology will have many important uses, Sony says, from managing payments for recharging electrical vehicles to avoiding blackouts by intelligently regulating the use of power.
Announced by Sony last month, and demonstrated today in a video posted by Tokyo news site DigInfo TV, Sony’s authentication outlet manages electricity use on a per-user and per-device basis with NFC (near field communication) and RFID (radio-frequency identification) tools.
The technology may be years away from commercial release, but a prototype demonstration shows a handheld dryer being plugged into an outlet that has the ability to authenticate devices. The dryer doesn’t need to be modified because it attaches to the outlet through a plug containing an NFC chip.
» via ars technica
Anonymous has so far plied its trade in “hactivist” exploits. But according to the director of the National Security Agency, it might soon turn its focus to U.S. infrastructure.
According to the Wall Street Journal, citing sources, Gen. Keith Alexander has said in private meetings at the White House and elsewhere that the U.S. must keep a close eye on Anonymous’ growth. He reportedly warned that if the organization continues to gain power, it might even take down a part of the U.S. power grid within the next couple of years.
How serious might such an attack on the power grid be? An industry official speaking to the Journal said that the U.S. grid has backups in place to safeguard against attacks. For a limited period of time, however, it could cause trouble.
» via CNET