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December 2012


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December 2012

New Releases

Big Data
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Big Data: A Workshop Report

In 2012, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) approached the National Research Council's TIGER standing committee and asked it to develop a list of workshop topics to explore the impact of emerging science and technology. From the list of topics given to DIA, three were chosen to be developed by the Committee for Science and Technology Challenges to U.S. National Security Interests. The first in a series of three workshops was held on April 23-24, 2012. This report summarizes that first workshop which explored the phenomenon known as big data.

The objective for the first workshop is given in the statement of task, which explains that that workshop will review emerging capabilities in large computational data to include speed, data fusion, use, and commodification of data used in decision making. The workshop will also review the subsequent increase in vulnerabilities over the capabilities gained and the significance to national security. The committee devised an agenda that helped the committee, sponsors, and workshop attendees probe issues of national security related to so-called big data, as well as gain understanding of potential related vulnerabilities. The workshop was used to gather data that is described in this report, which presents views expressed by individual workshop participants.

Big Data: A Workshop Report is the first in a series of three workshops, held in early 2012 to further the ongoing engagement among the National Research Council's (NRC's) Technology Insight-Gauge, Evaluate, and Review (TIGER) Standing Committee, the scientific and technical intelligence (S&TI) community, and the consumers of S&TI products.

Summary of a Workshop on the Future of Antennas
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Summary of a Workshop on the Future of Antennas

The Workshop on the Future of Antennas was the second of three workshops conducted by the National Research Council's Committee for Science and Technology Challenges to U.S. National Security Interests. The objectives of the workshop were to review trends in advanced antenna research and design, review trends in commercials and military use of advanced antennas that enable improved communication, data transfer, soldier health monitoring, and other overt and covert methods of standoff data collection.

The first day's sessions, consisting of five presentations and discussions on antennas and wireless communications and control, were open to committee members, staff, guests, and members of the public. The second day was a data-gathering session addressing vulnerabilities, indicators, and observables; presentations and discussions during this session included classified material and were not open to the public.

The committee's role was limited to planning and convening the workshop. This report is organized by topic in the order of presentation and discussion at the workshop. For Day 1 the topics were Future of Antennas, Commercial State of the Art of Wireless Communications and Control, Military State of the Art of Wireless Communications and Control, and Future Trends in Antenna Design and Wireless Communications and Control. For Day 2 the topics were Vulnerabilities of Ubiquitous Antennas, and Indicators and Observables, followed by a wrap-up discussion. Summary of a Workshop on the Future of Antennas describes what happened at the workshop.

Terrorism and the Electric Power Delivery System
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Terrorism and the Electric Power Delivery System

The electric power delivery system that carries electricity from large central generators to customers could be severely damaged by a small number of well-informed attackers. The system is inherently vulnerable because transmission lines may span hundreds of miles, and many key facilities are unguarded. This vulnerability is exacerbated by the fact that the power grid, most of which was originally designed to meet the needs of individual vertically integrated utilities, is being used to move power between regions to support the needs of competitive markets for power generation. Primarily because of ambiguities introduced as a result of recent restricting the of the industry and cost pressures from consumers and regulators, investment to strengthen and upgrade the grid has lagged, with the result that many parts of the high-voltage system are heavily stressed.

Electric systems are not designed to withstand or quickly recover from damage inflicted simultaneously on multiple components. Such an attack could be carried out by knowledgeable attackers with little risk of detection or interdiction. Further well-planned and coordinated attacks by terrorists could leave the electric power system in a large region of the country at least partially disabled for a very long time. Although there are many examples of terrorist and military attacks on power systems elsewhere in the world, at the time of this study international terrorists have shown limited interest in attacking the U.S. power grid. However, that should not be a basis for complacency. Because all parts of the economy, as well as human health and welfare, depend on electricity, the results could be devastating.

Terrorism and the Electric Power Delivery System focuses on measures that could make the power delivery system less vulnerable to attacks, restore power faster after an attack, and make critical services less vulnerable while the delivery of conventional electric power has been disrupted.

Human Performance Modification
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Human Performance Modification: Review of Worldwide Research with a View to the Future 

The Committee on Assessing Foreign Technology Development in Human Performance Modification chose to focus on three general areas of HPM: human cognitive modification as a computational problem, human performance modification as a biological problem, and human performance modification as a function of the brain-computer interface based on its review of the literature, the presentations it received and on its own expertise. Human Performance Modification: Review of Worldwide Research with a View to the Future summarizes these findings.

Materials and Manufacturing Capabilities for Sustaining Defense Systems
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Materials and Manufacturing Capabilities for Sustaining Defense Systems: Summary of a Workshop
NASA's Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus
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NASA's Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus 

Please see below for more information.


BAST Celebrates 30 Years


On November 26, 2012, the National Research Council's Board on Army Science and Technology (BAST) celebrated its 30th anniversary in conjunction with its annual meeting. The meeting was followed by a reception in the Rotunda and dinner in the Members Room at the NAS building and was attended by senior Army leadership from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army for Logistics, retired general officers, and others who have had a relationship with the BAST over the past several years.

The BAST was established on February 15, 1982, at the request of then-Under Secretary of the Army, the Honorable James R. Ambrose. The BAST provides the Department of the Army with a credible source of independent and objective advice on significant scientific and technical issues. 


New Report: NASA's Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus

NASA is widely admired for astonishing accomplishments since its formation in 1958. Looking ahead over a comparable period of time, what can the nation and the world expect of NASA? What will be the agency's goals and objectives, and what will be the strategy for achieving them? More fundamentally, how will the goals, objectives, and strategy be established and by whom? How will they be modified to reflect changes in science, technology, national priorities, and available resources?

In late 2011, the United States Congress directed the NASA Office of Inspector General to commission a "comprehensive independent assessment of NASA's strategic direction and agency management." Subsequently, NASA requested that the NRC conduct this independent assessment. In the spring of 2012, the NRC Committee on NASA's Strategic Direction was formed and began work on its task. The committee determined that, only with a national consensus on the agency's future strategic direction-along the lines described in the full NRC report -can NASA continue to deliver the wonder, the knowledge, the national security and economic benefits, and the technology that have been typified by its earlier history.

Report | Report brief | Press release | Project page

NASA's Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus references the following NRC reports:

Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society (2012) Report | Report brief | Press release | Project page with a video of the public release event, white papers, slides from the town halls, and other project information.  

Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022 (2011) Report | Full color booklet (2012) | Press release | Project page, including NASA's response to the decadal survey and a video of committee chair Steve Squyres' presentation at the 42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

Recapturing a Future for Space Exploration: Life and Physical Sciences Research for a New Era (2011) Report | Full color booklet (2012) | Report brief | Press release | Interim report | Project page with past reports and useful links.

New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2010) Report | Full color booklet (2011) | Report brief | Press release | Report of the Panel on Implementing Recommendations from the New Worlds, New Horizons Decadal Survey (2012) | 2011 Panel Reports | Project page, including webcasts of national eTownhall release events, committee slides, press coverage, and other project information.

Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond (2007) Report | Full color booklet (2008) | A Midterm Assessment of NASA's Implementation of the Decadal Survey (2012) | Project page with a list of past meetings and information on the current project.

NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities: Restoring NASA's Technological Edge and Paving the Way for a New Era in Space (2012) Report | Report brief | Press release | Interim report | Project page

America's Future in Space: Aligning the Civil Space Program with National Needs (2009) Report | Press release | Project page

Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics: Foundation for the Future (2006) Report | Press release


Upcoming Meetings

December 17, 2012
Overcoming Barriers to EV Deployment Meeting 2
Board on Energy and Environmental Systems
Washington, DC

December 18, 2012
Cybersecurity Foundations Meeting 2
Computer Science and Telecommunications Board
More information

December 19, 2012
Committee on Human Spaceflight
Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board
Washington, DC
Online Registration





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