Cybersecurity: Grab'em Young
The US government and military are still recruiting at high schools
and colleges, but the latest push is a little different. Instead
of going for the jocks, they want the geeks. Specifically, they're
interested in high school and college students who want to work
in cybersecurity. And if you know someone who has what it takes,
they'll have to prove it.
Proving it should be a lot more fun - and challenging - than boot
camp, however. To choose these lucky recruits, the Center for Strategic
and International Studies is sponsoring a U.S. Cyber Challenge aimed
at finding 10,000 young Americans who dream of serving as “cyber
guardians and cyber warriors,” according to the center's statement,
and have the right stuff to guard our virtual borders. The challenge
takes on increasing urgency in light of a series of denial of service
attacks over the week of July 4th that temporarily forced commercial
and government sites in the US and South Korea offline.
Participants in the U.S. Cyber Challenge will compete in at least
one of three contests. High school students can try out the CyberPatriot
network defense competition, conducted by the Air Force Association.
The DC3 Defense Forensics Challenge, conducted by the US Department
of Defense Cyber Crime Center, is open to all students, high school
and above. NetWars, conducted by the SANS Institute, is a capture-the-flag
competition designed to work like a game, and aimed at high school
through graduate students (though anyone can play). Those completing
the U.S. Cyber Challenge who display promising skills will get invitations
to attend regional camps to polish those skills. The cream of the
crop will be hired by the National Security Agency, the FBI, Defense
Department, US-CERT, and the U.S. Department of Energy Laboratories.
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Green Laser Could Mean Major Display Advances
Star Wars movies and apparently green laser pointers to the contrary,
it has been nearly impossible to create a true green laser diode.
Its construction would require the layering of particularly finicky
materials in a specific order. Finally, researchers from Semiconductor
Technologies R&D Laboratories at Sumitomo Electric Industries
in Japan have reported success in tackling this problem.
Their new green laser diode is not very efficient yet. Operated
in pulsed mode, it boasted only a 0.1 percent efficiency, as compared
to 30 to 50 percent for blue and red laser diodes. But the researchers
will probably fix these and other problems soon, now that they have
a handle on the process.
Besides, there's a huge potential payoff in getting this working
properly. Red, blue, and green are primary colors for light. Laser
diodes in all three colors can be put into projection display systems,
dramatically reducing both the cost and size of such displays. Ars
Technica speculates that it could lead to hand-held projection display
systems. How long will we have to wait? “[B]ased on past history,
expect rapid progress from here and commercial laser diodes before
the end of next year,” Ars Technica notes.
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Healing Wounds With Diamonds
Scientists discovered a new medical application for nanotechnology:
healing wounds more quickly. Those with serious wounds face the
threat of bacterial infection. The body makes a number of infection
fighters; one of these is the hormone insulin. But how do you get
more insulin to the site of a wound?
That's where the nanotechnology comes in. Researchers at Northwestern
University learned that insulin is attracted to nanodiamonds. Nanodiamond-insulin
clusters can be placed at a wound, doing no harm to the patient.
These clusters release their insulin gradually over a period of
time thanks to conditions that naturally exist at the wound site:
skin pH levels become basic in an area that is healing. The nanodiamonds
require basic pH levels to release their insulin.
Researchers think the clusters could be used in gels, ointments,
bandages and suture materials. The nanodiamonds can hold a substantial
amount of insulin thanks to their high surface area. So far, they
have only been tested in the lab, where they were shown to release
their insulin only at pH levels found at the site of wounds, and
not at the very different pH levels normally found on skin and in
the body. The next step involves putting the nanodiamond-insulin
clusters into a gel and doing preclinical trials. The treatment
could speed up the healing process and reduce patients' risk of
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