On guard: Sentinel plants could warn of bioterror

U.S. soldiers walk down a trail in a war zone. One of them pulls out a hand-held electronic device and points it at a native plant. The readings on the device indicate the plant was exposed to nerve gas sometime in the last 48 hours, allowing the soldiers to don protective gear before they suffer a lethal dose. Although such a device does not exist, it’s not as far-fetched as it may sound. As concerns grow over the threat of bioterrorism and weapons of mass destruction, university researchers are working on an early warning system — the figurative canary in the mineshaft — that could be as unobtrusive and ubiquitous as plants in a landscape.

U.S. gov't Total Information Awareness update

The Department of Defense will establish two boards to provide oversight of the Total Information Awareness Project, the program designed to develop tools to track terrorists. The two boards, an internal oversight board and an outside advisory committee, will work with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), as it continues its research. These boards will help ensure that TIA develops and disseminates its products to track terrorists in a manner consistent with U.S. constitutional law, U.S. statutory law, and American values related to privacy.

Navy testing hybrid Marine recon vehicle

Marine recon may soon get some new wheels: a vehicle with a hybrid electric and diesel drive. Fast, quiet, and with excellent off-road performance, the Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Targeting Vehicle (RST-V)?less formally called the Shadow?last month successfully completed a 1000 mile test of its performance and reliability. It successfully sustained highway speeds over its extended drive through mountain passes, rain, snow, and rough construction zones.