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Laser-Powered Lightning Rod Intercepts Strikes 600 Feet Away

Plus, DARPA tests an augmented reality training system with cooking tutorials, the nation's second lithium mine gets the green light, and the Department of the Interior needs better password management.

lightning in a mason jar


A group of European researchers has developed a method of vastly improving the old-fashioned lightning rod. The system fires 1,000 terawatt-level laser pulses per second into storm clouds, intercepting lightning as it forms and directing it toward a 26-foot rod. This laser-driven method can cover areas of up to 590 feet in any direction, making it much more effective than traditional lightning rods, which are limited by their height to catching lightning in much smaller areas.
Source: Popular Science


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is testing a new augmented reality system to help military personnel perform complex tasks with a perhaps surprising pilot: cooking. Perceptually-enabled Task Guidance (PTG) goggles see and hear what the user does, guiding them with AI instructions to complete tasks. The long-term goal is to help less experienced military members assist with medical issues in the field and helicopter co-piloting, for example, but cooking is serving as the perfect demo. It’s “a good example of complex physical tasks that can be done in many ways,” said Bruce Draper, who manages the program. “There’s specialized technology, there are specialized devices and there’s a lot of different ways it can be accomplished.”
Source: Engadget


Esmeralda County, Nev., could become home to the nation’s second lithium mine. The Department of Energy has approved a $700 million conditional loan to mining company Ioneer to build the Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project, projected to produce enough lithium for 370,000 electric vehicles annually when it’s running at full strength. If the project goes through, the mine likely won’t start producing until 2026.
Source: Engadget


A report published in January found that the Department of the Interior needs better password management. Auditors were able to crack 21 percent of DOI’s 85,944 passwords. Of those, 288 belonged to department employees with high user privilege, and 362 belonged to senior government employees. They also found that 89 percent of DOI’s “high-value assets” weren’t protected by multifactor authentication.
Source: Gizmodo
Lauren Harrison is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 15 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.