Engineering, Meet Harry Potter!

March 27, 2013

An ultra-thin “invisibility cloak” developed by US researchers can hide three-dimensional objects from microwaves. The team from the University of Texas at Austin have used a new, ultrathin layer called a “metascreen”, just micrometres thick that can hide objects in their natural environment, in all directions and from all of the observers’ positions.

Read the entire article from E&T Magazine here.


Civilian GPS Jammers Threaten Signals

February 13, 2013

Illegal civilian GPS jammers are behind the growing threat of signal interference, according to research being revealed today.

Researchers will present a study at GNSS Vulnerabilities 2013: Countering the Threat, at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, UK confirming that it is GPS jammers available online for as little as £30 that pose the greatest threat to signals rather than extreme solar weather as was previously thought.

The devices are believed to be used by drivers of commercial vehicles fitted with tracking devices in order to mask their whereabouts, but it is feared they could interfere with critical systems relying on GPS for timing information such as power networks and financial markets or navigation devices used by ships and light aircraft.

But alongside the research, presenters will also demonstrate a series of new technologies including intelligent receivers and radio-based backups that will protect against the impact of these jammers.

Bob Cockshott, director of Position, Navigation and Timing at the ICT Knowledge Transfer Network and organiser of the conference, said: “Our more complete understanding of the risks posed to Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) is bringing forward new mitigation technologies and approaches.

“There is no one solution that fits all. Instead we need to combine the right protection and back-up technologies with legal reforms which punish the ownership and use of these jammers, and finally advise government and industry on new commercial and civil policies that will reduce the incentive to jam in the first place.”

The latest figures on GPS jammer use on British roads comes from the Technology Strategy Board funded SENTINEL Project and its new suite of detectors which includes one deployed close to a busy airport that has been logging as many as 10 interference events per day.

The interference profile, with marked peaks during the week and a drop of hits at the weekend, indicates that human activity is the primary cause rather than natural sources of interference such as the effects of space weather.

More specifically, marked peaks during rush hour suggest the main users of jammers are commercial drivers of company vehicles rather than organised criminal gangs – who have previously been caught with jammers in lorry hijackings.

Charles Curry, founder of Chronos Technology, and a leader of the project, said: “Over the past four months our sensors near this airport have detected nearly 100 events on Mondays, but this falls to less than 30 on a Sunday.

“The pattern of behaviour suggests it is likely to be civilian sourced jamming and most likely the evasion of tracking within commercial vehicles for moonlighting activities or for other non-work purposes.

“More broadly we are also seeing an overall increase in interference incidence which is worrying at a time when GPS is being thrust upon people more and more with GPS tracked car insurances, company vehicle tracking, criminal tagging or asset tracking.”

The danger of these jammers is confirmed by new results presented today from the STAVOG project, which developed state-of-the-art interference simulations to mimic both extreme solar weather and the latest illegal jamming devices available online and tested them on a variety of marine grade receivers used in commercial shipping vessels.

Project manager Dr Chaz Dixon said: “The results from the simulated solar storms were unexpectedly dull. Concerns over the impact of space weather on the most precise use of GPS such as offshore oil operations are legitimate, but our testing proved that modern receivers cope remarkably well with even high levels of disturbance.

“Instead the real danger seems to come from illegal jammers which other studies have shown are increasingly common. Even the cheapest ones available online can cause complete outages of the receiver signal.”


Pentagon to boost cybersecurity force

January 29, 2013

From E&T Magazine (January 29, 2013)

The Pentagon plans to assign significantly more personnel in coming years to counter increasing threats against U.S. government computer networks and conduct offensive operations against foreign foes, a U.S. defence official said.

The plan, which would increase both military and civilian staffing at U.S. Cyber Command, comes as the Pentagon moves toward elevating the new command and putting it on the same level as the major combatant commands.

The official said no formal decisions had been made on the expanding staffing levels or changing Cyber Command into a “unified” command like U.S. Strategic Command, which currently oversees cyber command and the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal.

Any changes to the combatant command structure would be made based on strategic and operational needs, and take into account the need for efficient use of taxpayer dollars, said the official, who was not authorised to speak publicly.

The Pentagon was working closely with U.S. Cyber Command and the major military commands to develop “the optimum force structure for successfully operating in cyberspace,” the official said.

The Washington Post, quoting senior defence officials, reported that the Pentagon had decided to expand Cyber Command’s current staffing level of 900 to 4,900 in coming years.

The official confirmed that Cyber Command planned to expand its force significantly, but said the specific numbers cited by the Post were “pre-decisional.”

The newspaper said senior Pentagon officials had agreed to increase the force late last year amid a string of attacks, including one that wiped out more than 30,000 computers at a Saudi Arabian state oil company.

The plan calls for creating three types of force under the Cyber Command, said the defence official.

“National mission forces,” would protect computer systems that undergird electrical grids and other kinds of infrastructure.

“Combat mission forces,” would help commanders abroad execute attacks or other offensive operations, while “cyber protection forces,” would focus on protecting the Defence Department’s own systems.

Details were still being worked out, the official said.

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Webinar – “Paradigm Shifts in Defense Innovation”

January 24, 2013

Dr. John C. Schmidt, Innovation Director & Enterprise Technical Executive at Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems is the speaker in an upcoming webinar from IET USA on February 20 at 10 AM EST.  The 60 minute seminar will focus on recent cutting edge innovations such as: the evolution of radar and multifunction systems; modern battlefield communication systems; detection of sniper and small arms fire; biological and chemical hazard systems.  This is a must see for everyone in the defense industry, so sign up today for this unique seminar!


Is Dreamliner Teething or Media Overreacting?

January 14, 2013

There have been several reported incidents of problems with Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner over the past couple weeks including two more recent incidents in Japan.  So the big question is, is this normal or is the media overreacting because they prefer sensationalism over science?  Boeing’s top 787 engineer said that the problem rates for the 787 are no higher than those for their highly successful 777 and there have been no reports yet of anything happening in flight.  So, what do you think?  Is the 787 just teething, or is the media making mountains out of molehills?


AF Harvey Award Winner – Hugh Griffiths

December 20, 2012

SciTech and the IET are proud to announce the most recent winner of the AF Harvey Engineering Research Award, Hugh Griffiths of University College London.  Professor Griffiths was chosen by the IET out of a number of high caliber candidates from across the world for this award due to his outstanding contributions to radar research and his continuing work to make major improvements in bistatic radar and its applications.

You can read the press release from the IET here.

While Hugh Griffiths is very well known in the international radar arena for his work, SciTech has directly benefited from his expertise from our first days in publishing.  Hugh has been a critical advisor as we built our line of radar references and textbooks, a master reviewer, and is currently working on developing the 3rd Edition of our bestselling book, Introduction to Airborne Radar.  His willingness to help and to be a leader in the radar community has always been evident to us and we couldn’t be more thankful.

Our sincerest congratulations, Hugh!


Radar 2012 Conference

October 9, 2012

SciTech Publishing will be present at the Radar 2012 conference in Glasgow (October 22-25) and will be showcasing the newest volume in the Principles of Modern Radar series, Advanced Techniques, for the first time.  Radar 2012 is sponsored by The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) of which SciTech is now an imprint.  There will be several tutorials conducted by SciTech and IET authors such as Hugh Griffiths, Mark Davis, William Melvin, Peter Tait, Simon Watts and more.  For more information on Radar 2012, go here.


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