Climate Risks, Power Grid Security, Necrobiome. March 23, 2018, Part 1

Science Friday

A report issued last week by the Department of Homeland Security said that throughout 2016 and 2017, Russian hackers had worked to gain access to control systems at unidentified power plants and were in a position to shut them down. Their actions have finally given Washington the political will to address vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid. A new bill sponsored by Senator Angus King of Maine will establish a two year pilot program to develop techniques and technologies to better secure the grid. But it might just be too little, too late.

After death, your microbiome continues on as the necrobiome—all of the bacteria, insects, fungi, and other organisms that are involved in decomposition. And the types of bacteria that show up on the scene follow a rather predictable pattern. Biologist Jessica Metcalf is studying this bacterial order to create a “microbial stopwatch” that could be used as a forensic tool, and joins Ira to tell him more.

In the State of Science: Late last year, one of the world’s largest credit rating agencies announced that climate change would have an economic impact on the U.S. Moody’s suggested that climate risks could become credit risks for some U.S. states, including Alaska.

And Popular Science editor Rachel Feltman tells Ira about the top science stories of the week in the News Round-up.