Archive for the ‘Missouri’ Category

drone-proof-burqa
As debate over the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in the U.S. rages on, a fashion designer introduces clothing that blocks drone-mounted infrared cameras.

As the U.S. government draws up plans to use surveillance drones in domestic airspace, opposition to what many consider an unwarranted and significant invasion of privacy is mounting across the country, from rural Virginia to techopolis Seattle. Although officials debate anti-drone legislation at federal, state and local levels, one man is fighting back with high-tech apparel.

A New York City privacy advocate-turned-urban-guerilla fashion designer is selling garments designed to make their wearers invisible to infrared surveillance cameras, particularly those on drones. And although Adam Harvey admits that his three-item Stealth Wear line of scarves and capes is more of a political statement than a money-making venture, the science behind the fashion is quite sound.

“Fighting drones is not my full-time job, but it could be,” says Harvey, an instructor of physical computing at Manhattan’s School of Visual Arts and the creator of the CV Dazzle project, which seeks to develop makeup and hairstyles that camouflage people from face-recognition cameras and software.

Harvey’s newest medium, metalized fabric, has been around for more than 20 years. It holds in body heat that would burn bright for infrared cameras—a characteristic that could prove attractive to those who do not want unmanned aerial vehicles spying on them.

Metalized fabric
Metal is very good at absorbing and scattering infrared light, says Cheng Sun, a Northwestern University assistant professor of mechanical engineering. In that sense there is nothing exotic in how metalized fabric works—it “would strongly attenuate the [infrared] light,” he says. The metal would dissipate heat to surroundings as well, making the wearer harder to pinpoint.

To date, the fabric has primarily been used in tape and gaskets to protect electronics and communications equipment from static electricity and electromagnetic interference, according to Larry Creasy, director of technology for metalized fabric-maker Laird Technologies, based in Saint Louis.

Here’s how metalizing works, at least at Laird: Woven fabric, commonly nylon or polyester, is coated with a special catalyst—a precious metal Creasy declined to specify—that helps copper bind to the fiber. Once dry, the fabric is submerged in a copper sulfate–plating bath and dried. A nickel sulfamate bath follows to help the finished fabric withstand the elements and abrasions. The result is a flexible, breathable fabric that can be cut with ordinary tools but that protects against electromagnetic interference and masks infrared radiation, Creasy says. The process adds weight to the original fabric. An untreated square yard of nylon weighs about 42.5 grams. Treated, the same patch weighs more than 70 grams.

The fashion
Harvey’s fabric is coated with copper, nickel and silver, a combination that gives his scarves, head-and-shoulders cloak and thigh-length “burqa” a silvery and “luxurious” feel. The material blocks cell signals, as well, adding an element of risk to tweeting, texting and other mobile activities, as the wearer must break cover to communicate.

Stealth Wear is sold only via a U.K. Web site. The burqa goes for about $2,300, the “hoodie” is $481 and the scarf is $565—luxury items, but so, too, is privacy today, Harvey says.

The impetus
The high cost and limited availability are significant drawbacks—Harvey says he’s only sold one Stealth Wear item online, a scarf. But the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicts 10,000 commercial drones will ply domestic airspace by 2017—almost twice the that of the U.S. Air Force’s current fleet of unmanned aircraft. The number of drones flying in the U.S. today is hard to pin down because not every company and agency that gets FAA approval to fly a drone actually puts one in the air. In fact, 1,428 private-sector and government requests have been approved since 2007, according to the FAA. A Los Angeles Times report states that 327 of those permits are still active. Meanwhile, President Obama signed a law in February 2012 that gives the FAA until September 2015 to draw up rules that dictate how law enforcement, the military and other entities may use drones in U.S. airspace.

As of October 2012, 81 law agencies, universities, an Indian tribal agency and other entities had applied to the FAA to fly drones, according to documents released by the FAA to the Electronic Freedom Frontier following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Government entities as diverse as the U.S. Department of State and Otter Tail County, Minn., are among them.

Discomfort rising
Although Harvey’s anti-drone fashions are not currently flying off the shelves, he could soon find himself leading a seller’s market if recent events are any metric:

•The Charlottesville, Va., city council has passed a watered-down ordinance that asks the federal and commonwealth governments not to use drone-derived information in court. Proponents had sought to make the city drone-free (pdf).

•Virginia, Minnesota, Oregon, Montana, Arizona (pdf) and Idaho legislators are trying to at least regulate or even prohibit, drones in their skies.

•Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn returned the city’s two surveillance drones after a hostile public reception.

•A bipartisan pair of U.S. Representatives has introduced legislation to limit information-gathering by government-operated drones as well as prohibit weapons on law-enforcement and privately owned unmanned aerial vehicles.

Drone advocates defend the use of the technology as a surveillance tool. “We clearly need to do a better job of educating people about the domestic use of drones,” says Ben Gielow, government relations manager for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Gielow says U.S. voters must decide the acceptability of data collection from all sources, adding, “Ultimately, an unmanned aircraft is no different than gathering data from the GPS on your phone or from satellites.”

GPS does not use infrared cameras, however, and satellites are not at the center the current privacy debate brewing in Washington—factors that could make Harvey’s designs all the more fashionable.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=drone-proof-anti-infrared-apparel&page=2

 

 

 

It started with fever, fatigue,  diarrhea and loss of appetite.

But for two farmers in northwestern Missouri, the severe illness that followed a tick bite led epidemiologists on a journey to a new viral discovery.

“It’s brand new to the world,” said William Nicholson with the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Disease at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s unique in that it’s never been found elsewhere and it is the first phlebovirus found to cause illness in humans in the Western Hemisphere. At this point we don’t know how widespread it may be, or whether it’s found in other states. We don’t know how many people in Missouri may have had this virus, as the finding of a completely new virus was a surprise to us.”

Nicholson, one of the authors of the report detailing the two cases published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, suspects the new virus is a member of the tick-borne phlebovirus and is a distant cousin to Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome Virus (SFTSV), a virus found in central and northeastern China and known to cause death in 13 to 30% of patients.

There are more than 70 distinct viruses in the phlebovirus family, and they’re grouped according to whether they are carried and transmitted by sandflies, mosquitoes or ticks.

“We’re not saying at this point that it is tick-borne,” Nicholson said. “We suspect ticks. It might be a lone star tick or another tick, but we have not ruled out sandflies or mosquitoes.”

According to Nicholson, this new virus “clusters genetically” – or is very similar, yet distinct – to other tick-transmitted phleboviruses and more distantly with the sandfly and mosquitoes. Researchers identified it by genetically sequencing the entire genome of the virus and comparing it to existing viral genomes.

“We’re casting a wide net so we can really figure out where this virus is located and how it’s being transmitted,” he said. “We are also going to be doing laboratory studies to learn more about the biology of the virus and how it might be transmitted.”

One farmer was a healthy 57 year-old man; the other, a 67-year-old man with type II  diabetes. Recovery for both farmers was slow. Both were hospitalized for about two weeks in 2009, and took about a month and a half to recovery fully.

It’s unknown whether this new virus can be transmitted from person to person, but no family members or caregivers reported symptoms similar to either patient.

At the moment, Nicholson said, there is no cause for concern. “I don’t think anyone should be worried. We are not worried … we are curious of what role the virus plays in human disease.”

To that end, an epidemiological study is underway in western Missouri, where researchers hope to identify new patients with similar symptoms. For now, researchers will turn their attention to the large number of vertebrae hosts maintaining the virus in nature – mammals both wild and and domestic, as well as birds. In the fall, they will check out the deer and wild turkey population.

Tick-borne diseases are on the rise in the United States. And while this new disease might not be tick-borne, ticks are the number-one suspect. Nicholson says people should use repellent, check themselves for bites or ticks, and avoid certain areas – if possible – that might serve as good habitats for ticks, such as wooded areas and areas with fallen leaves.

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/30/new-virus-found-in-missouri-ticks-suspected/?hpt=hp_bn12