<<The Army is looking for help to develop the seeds of new age germ warfare. It wants business to help it turn computer “viruses” into military weapons.


Experts predict the viruses, if successfully developed, could be used to wreak havoc on the increasing number if computers in the battlefield.


The destructive computer programs, which have increasingly damaged commercial and research computer systems in the past four years, could be used to disrupt military communications, impede the control of weapons and feed misleading data to enemy commanders.


The viruses also could be used to alter the programming of crucial communications satellites serving combat units, the experts said.


The Army is soliciting bids from small businesses to determine the feasibility of using computer viruses in warfare.


And it is willing to pay as much as $550,000 to a company that comes up with a plan for creating the programs—and figures out how to use military radio systems to introduce them into enemy computers.


A computer virus is a kind of program designed to disrupt normal operation of a computer system or damage data on that system by altering or destroying it.


The rogue programs are most effective when introduced into the computer system of an unsuspecting user and when their damage is subtle or hidden from the user for some time.


Viruses are also self-duplicating and can spread undetected from an infected computer to other computer systems they contact. So far, more than 60 computer viruses have been identified. most of them attacking poorly guarded personal computers used by businesses, universities and individuals. The Army’s virus would have to be more sophisticated than those programs.


But some detractors of the concept say the Army could wind up with the same problem it has with biological weapons: creating destructive elements that might cause widespread damage to its own forces as well as civilians.


“This stuff is very dangerous, and most people involved in creating viruses are not aware of the threat,” said a Bay Area virus expert who asked not to be named.


“You can’t spread anthrax around the world and not have it come back around to you.  And the enemy is using the same kind of computers and software that we are.”


The Army would pay the winning bidder up to $50,000 to analyze the feasibility of creating the virus, said Joyce Crisci, the Army administrator for the project at Fort Monmouth, N.J.


If that study is accepted, the company could get as much as $500,000 in research and development money to pursue the technical development of the virus, she said. >>


This was distributed by Knight-News-Tribune, whoever they are. In May of 1990. It was in The Wall Street Journal.


So was this:


<<If Junji Kido is right, the future of the venerable electric bulb may be dim.


Here at a campus of Yamagata University in Yonezawa, Japan, a collection of run-down buildings in the mountains about 200 miles north of Tokyo, Dr. Kido and his research team are busy making paper-thin gadgets that shine with white light almost as bright as a fluorescent light bulb.


“It is a very white light for such a primitive device,” Dr. Kido says of the initial discovery, picking up a small glass slide adorned with tiny loops of copper wire and metallic silver rectangles.


Dr. Kido’s new devices—technically, a new type of light-emitting diode, or LED—represent a big step beyond current technology. Today, most LEDs shine only in red and green, a fact that limits their application to areas such as the indicator lights in stereo equipment. Ordinary LEDs, which are made out of complex materials similar to those used in semiconductor chips, also don’t glow very brightly…>>


Obviously a lot has changed since staff reporter David P. Hamilton wrote that. in 1990. I hope Dr. Kido is watching developments—or is involved in them. The white LED is everywhere these days. Small arrays work very well in flashlights and emergency lanterns. The light is spooky white.


And now larger arrays are in light bulbs with “standard” bases. However, so far the lighting surface is nearly flat, so it is hard to see how the light will be shed “globally.” Also, the cost is high.


As the LED light bulb form factor comes to resemble that of the good old incandescent, and the price comes down to, say, $5 or $6 each, this could become the  dominant technology in lighting.


I can’t wait. I would be delighted to be re-lighted.


E drymar@gmail.com. Skype lilimartini.