January 03, 2015

Ukraine-Russia War spins up Cold War 2.0 and New tanks are back in national budgets

The German Parliament approved a proposal to develop a new generation of tanks. The program will be included in the medium-term planning of the German Ministry of Defense.

The decision comes amid tensions from the “Ukrainian crisis” where the number of Leopard 2A6 tanks 225/7 that the Bundeswehr (German military) aims to maintain operational would become suddenly inadequate. The German Army just received its first Leopard 2A7’s and they’re already off and running for a new MBT (main battle tank).

The new Tank will be a Leopard 3 and will be designed from the ground up and will not be a modification of a Leopard 2. Upgrading old tanks is fairly routine and accounts for the dangers of the present. Developing a new advanced tank, instead, is a bet on the future. In August, German company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), makers of the current versions of the Leopard tank, merged with French defense company Nexter. Speaking to the merger, KMW CEO mentioned the idea of a Leopard 3 tank, noting that France has a strategic perspective that stretches decades into the future.

Russia will begin mass production of new next generation T14 tanks in 2016.

Russia will have next generation Armata T-14 tank in 2015 and will lead to fully robotic tank

The "Armata" Universal Combat Platform is a Russian advanced next generation heavy military tracked vehicle platform. The "Armata" platform is intended to be the basis for a main battle tank, a heavy infantry fighting vehicle, a combat engineering vehicle, an armoured recovery vehicle, a heavy armoured personnel carrier, a tank support combat vehicle and several types of self-propelled artillery under the same codename based on the same chassis. It will also serve as the basis for artillery, air defense, and NBC defense systems.

The first deliveries of the tank to the Russian Armed Forces are scheduled for 2015 and mass production is due to begin in 2016. A total of 2,300 MBTs are expected to be supplied by 2020, modernizing 70 percent of the Russian tank fleet.

Russia's next-generation Armata main battle tank, which due to be shown to the public at the 2015 Victory Day parade (May 9, 2015) in Moscow, will undergo state testing in 2016, the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Military-Industrial Commission said.

The Armata is designed as a modular universal combat platform that could be used as a basis for a variety of combat vehicles, including main battle tanks, fire support, mine clearing, heavy flame throwing and bridge laying vehicles.

The Armata tank will reportedly feature a remotely controlled gun and fully automated loading, as well as a separate crew compartment made from composite materials and protected by multilayered armor. It is believed that this would eventually lead to the development of a fully robotic tank.

Private Russian company Lin Industrial talks big about a $9.3 billion moonbase about 2030

Tass reports that the Russian company "Lin Industrial", which is developing a missile ultralight "Taimyr", declares its readiness to establish a base on the moon within 10 years after the decision. The cost base, according to preliminary estimates, will amount to 550 billion rubles [9.3 billion]., Told Tass general designer firm Alexander Ilyin.

"The cost of creating a lunar base on the first phase of the two crew members and the second stage for four people, according to preliminary estimates, will amount to 550 billion rubles." - Said Ilyin.

He stressed that the project involves the use of existing techniques and tools that can be created in the next five years. So, as a booster is proposed to use an upgraded heavy "Angara", which took its first flight in late December. The ship, according to Ilyin, you can create on the basis of buildings lander and the orbital module "Unions" and the lunar module landing - on the basis of the upper stage "Fregat".

The draft program of development of deep space sent for approval to the Russian Cabinet on the lunar program in 2014-2025 has been proposed to allocate about 2 trillion rubles. Thus manned mission to the moon and deployment of the first elements of the lunar infrastructure are planned after 2030.

"Lin Industrial" proposes to carry out 13 launches of heavy rockets to build base on the moon, just as life-support base needed 37 starts for five years.

Privately owned Lin Industrial — which counts "World of Tanks" developer Sergei Burkatovsky among potential backers. World of Tanks is a popular online game with tens of millions (US $) in monthly revenue

January 02, 2015

First open thread of 2015

This is the first open thread for 2015

Please provide predictions for either 2015 or for the last 5 years of the decade

Other topics or links can also be provided

Happy new year

January 01, 2015

Cable has 10 Gigabit per second internet technology but will only deploy 600 megabit per second or less in 2016

Key hardware for the next generation DOCSIS 3.1 cable broadband standard, which could eventually be used by Virgin Media (Liberty Global) to deliver top UK Internet download speeds of up to 10Gbps (Gigabits per second) and 1Gbps uploads via their predominantly urban network, has successfully passed its first interoperability tests.

At present Virgin Media is only lab testing DOCSIS 3.1 and as a result their hybrid (HFC) Fibre-to-the-Local/Node (FTTN) style network, which delivers the final connection into homes via a short run of copper or high-grade coaxial cable and is predominantly based off a EuroDOCSIS variant of the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS3), offers maximum download speeds of up to 152Mbps.

It’s also widely predicted that Virgin Media will next year introduce another double speed boost, which will use the operators existing standards rather than the future DOCSIS 3.1 spec, that will take their performance up to 300Mbps for home users. But after that Virgin’s ability to pull more speed out of their existing kit will become increasingly difficult and future upgrades may require DOCSIS 3.1.

Cable giant Liberty Global, which owns Virgin Media and many other cable providers, have made no secret of their desire to see a commercial roll-out of DOCSIS 3.1 by the end of 2016 and the first completed hardware should be ready for field trials during H1-2015. In the meantime Virgin has also been conducting some limited deployments of Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology, which in the future may help to expand their coverage into areas where extending via HFC could be more troublesome.

A more likely introduction speed for cable internet users will be around 500-600Mbps, which would no doubt be accompanied by yet another new batch of cable router/modems

High Tech Lab and Government Internet getting boosted from 100 Gigabits per second to 340 Gigabits per second

The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Energy Sciences Network, or ESnet, is deploying four new high-speed transatlantic links, giving researchers at America’s national laboratories and universities ultra-fast access to scientific data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and other research sites in Europe. ESnet’s transatlantic extension will deliver a total capacity of 340 gigabits-per-second (Gbps), and serve dozens of scientific collaborations. To maximize the resiliency of the new infrastructure, ESnet equipment in Europe will be interconnected by dedicated 100 Gbps links from the pan-European networking organization GÉANT.

ESnet installed its first European network node at CERN (the major laboratory outside Geneva that houses the LHC) in mid-September, and is now deploying other equipment necessary to bring the first link online by October. The plan is for all links to be commissioned and in production by January 2015. The timing is important, because the LHC is undergoing upgrades and expected to resume operations next spring, at which point it will be generating significantly more scientific data every day.

NASA Dawn Spacecraft Nears Dwarf Planet Ceres and New Horizon begins observing Pluto Jan 15

NASA Dawn has entered its approach phase toward Ceres. The spacecraft will arrive at Ceres on March 6, 2015.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has entered an approach phase in which it will continue to close in on Ceres, a Texas-sized dwarf planet never before visited by a spacecraft. Dawn launched in 2007 and is scheduled to enter Ceres orbit in March 2015.

Dawn recently emerged from solar conjunction, in which the spacecraft is on the opposite side of the sun, limiting communication with antennas on Earth. Now that Dawn can reliably communicate with Earth again, mission controllers have programmed the maneuvers necessary for the next stage of the rendezvous, which they label the Ceres approach phase. Dawn is currently 400,000 miles (640,000 kilometers) from Ceres, approaching it at around 450 miles per hour (725 kilometers per hour).

The spacecraft's arrival at Ceres will mark the first time that a spacecraft has ever orbited two solar system targets. Dawn previously explored the protoplanet Vesta for 14 months, from 2011 to 2012, capturing detailed images and data about that body.

This artist's concept shows NASA's Dawn spacecraft heading toward the dwarf planet Ceres. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

December 31, 2014

Xiaomi third largest smartphone company and should sell 100 million smartphones in 2015

Xiaomi Corp.’s valuation could more than double to $100 billion, spurred by its latest financing round, according to investor Yuri Milner.

China’s largest smartphone vendor has the same potential as Facebook Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (BABA) to reach that valuation, said the billionaire Milner, an early investor in all three companies. Xiaomi today announced it was valued at $45 billion following a $1.1 billion funding round that included Milner’s DST, Singapore’s GIC Pte and All-Stars Investment Ltd.

Xiaomi founder and Chief Executive Officer Lei Jun is expanding overseas and unveiling new products including an air purifier to build on growth in China, where the company overtook Samsung in smartphone sales. A combination of high-end features and low prices has lured customers and Lei is now expanding into content and services.

In the September quarter, Xiaomi was the world’s third-largest vendor behind Samsung and Apple. It plans to sell 100 million phones next year. Xiaomi also will unveil a new “flagship product” next month.

Xiami could become China’s first global consumer brand.

Russia nuclear modernization with ICBMs on rail, new nuclear submarines and new liquid fueled ICBM

President Vladimir Putin says Russia will continue its ambitious military modernization program with a particular emphasis on nuclear strategic forces. Putin said the military is set to receive 50 new intercontinental ballistic missiles — a significantly higher number than in previous years.

As of March 2013, Russia had a military stockpile of approximately 4,300 nuclear warheads, of which roughly 1,600 strategic warheads were deployed on missiles and at bomber bases. Another 700 strategic warheads are in storage along with roughly 2,000 nonstrategic warheads. A large numberÑperhaps 3,500Ñof retired but still largely intact warheads await dismantlement

The Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN, in Russian) confirmed December 26 the successful test firing of a RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile. Late in 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin informed in a meeting with senior military officials that this type of more modern weaponry, capable of hitting up to four targets with a warhead, will gradually replace the RS-12M2 Topol-M.

Emplaced on a mobile platform, this modernized version of the RS-12M2 Topol-M differs mainly from its predecessor by being able to equip multiple reentry, independently targetable warheads.

With a height of 43 meters and a thickness of two, it is able to carry 150- and 300-kt warheads, with a range close to the 10,000 kilometers.

Sergei Karakayev, commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) recently told reporters that by the year 2020, Russia plans to start inducting into active service the new heavy liquid-fuel ballistic missiles “Sarmat”. Russia is continuing with the modernization of its own strategic nuclear forces.

In addition to the “Sarmat” missiles, work has begun on the creation of a new rail-based complex - “Barguzin”

Correctly factoring in the more important role of energy corrects economic predictions - Energy has Ten times bigger role than cost

A paper shows that the failure to describe modern economies adequately is not due to the introduction of calculus into economic theory by the so-called 'marginal revolution' during the second half of the 19th century, when the mathematical formalism of physics decisively influenced economic theory. Rather, the culprit is the disregard of the first two laws of thermodynamics and of technological constraints in the theory of production and growth of industrial economies.

Energy is ten times more important than its cost

If one foregoes cost-share weighting and determines the output elasticities of capital, labor, energy, and creativity econometrically, one gets for energy economic weights that exceed energyʼs cost share by up to an order of magnitude, and the Solow residual disappears. The production factor energy accounts for most, and creativity for the rest of the growth that neoclassical economics attributes to 'technological progress'.

According to the cost-share theorem, reductions of energy inputs by up to 7%, observed during the first energy crisis 1973–1975, could have only caused output reductions of 0.35%, whereas the observed reductions of output in industrial economies were up to an order of magnitude larger. Thus, from this perspective the recessions of the energy crises are hard to understand. In addition, cost-share weighting of production factors has the problem of the Solow residual. The Solow residual accounts for that part of output growth that cannot be explained by the input growth rates weighted by the factor cost shares. It amounts to more than 50% of total growth in many countries. Standard neoclassical economics attributes the discrepancy between empirical and theoretical growth to what is being called 'technological progress' or, sometimes, 'Manna from Heaven.' The dominating role of technological progress 'has lead to a criticism of the neoclassical model: it is a theory of growth that leaves the main factor in economic growth unexplained', as the founder of neoclassical growth theory, Robert A Solow, stated himself.

New Journal of Physics - How energy conversion drives economic growth far from the equilibrium of neoclassical economics

December 30, 2014

China new nuclear JL-2 and DF-41 missiles will cover all US territory

China could soon target the United States with sea-based nuclear weapons as it is reinforcing its submarines with long-range nuclear ballistic missiles, a US congressional report has found.

China’s military is set to acquire a reliable, hard-to-destroy sea-based nuclear deterrent, with a dozen JL-2 missiles that are being mounted on its JIN class submarines, according to a report submitted to Congress by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

The missiles have a strike range of around 7,350 km, meaning they can reach all 50 US states if they are launched from waters west or east of Hawaii.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding China’s stockpiles of nuclear missiles and nuclear warheads, it is clear China’s nuclear forces over the next three to five years will expand considerably and become more lethal and survivable with the fielding of additional road-mobile nuclear missiles; as many as five JIN SSBNs,each of which can carry 12 JL–2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles; and intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) (for an overview of China’s nuclear ballistic missiles, deployment modes, and maximum ranges, see Table). At the same time, China likely will continue to improve its silo-based nuclear force; harden its nuclear storage facilities, launch sites, and transportation networks; and expand its already extensive network of underground facilities.

JL-2 submarine missile

Carnival of nuclear energy 241

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 241 is up at Hiroshima Syndrome

Nuke Power Talk - The comment period for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed rule to reduce carbon emissions closed December 1, and since then news reports on the comments filed by various groups have continued to trickle in. Although the next step now is for the EPA to review the comments and respond to them, two reports on filings caught my attention--those from the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and those from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI).

NARUC called for better recognition of nuclear power in EPA's carbon plan. They stated in a resolution that they "jointly recognize the need to maintain the existing, baseload nuclear generation fleet" and urge the EPA to assure that carbon reduction regulations encourage states to "preserve, life-extend and expand" reliable and affordable nuclear generation. They specifically take aim at a provision in the draft rule that would require incorporating 5.8 percent of existing nuclear generating capacity when calculating a state's target emissions, and they advocate removal of output from nuclear energy facilities still under construction from state rate-setting goals.

Reducing traffic congestion with artificial intelligence

Traffic congestion can be reduced if people reduce their speed when an obstruction is predicted further down the road. Yet figuring out what the ideal speed is at any given time to maximize flow is a hard nut to crack. For his master'ss graduation in computer science project (EEMCS faculty) Walraven did just that. He developed an algorithm that determines speed limits. A traffic flow model was combined with reinforcement learning technique.

Traffic jams can be avoided with reinforcement learning techniques used in artificial intelligence. (Photo: Wikimedia commons)

Carbon nanotubes could make longer duration qubits for quantum memory in future quantum computers

Researchers from Delft University of Technology studied how decoherence could be measured in mechanical resonators, basically tiny vibrating strings made from carbon nanotubes, and found that the processes of decoherence in a vibrating nanotube can be thought of in a very similar way as the decoherence of a quantum bit. Using this similarity, you can visualize the loss of quantum information by thinking about a vibrating guitar string.


Avoiding decoherence is the key to building a working quantum computer. As this decoherence is caused by random movements of matter surrounding qubits, qubits are usually operated at extremely low temperatures to keep their environment as quiet as possible. Potentially, quantum information can also be stored in nanostrings: miniscule vibrating carbon nanotubes. Because the nanotubes are so small and light, they are a sensitive tool for learning about mechanical decoherence. An important question is if mechanical quantum resonators could preserve quantum information for a much longer period than qubits. If they could, then they could be used as a ‘quantum memory’ in future quantum computers.

The nanostring is visible as a thin white line on this elecron microscope image

First 3D Metamaterials will enable higher resolution ultrasound, stealth submarines and other applications

Researchers have developed the first three dimensional metamaterials by combining physico-chemical formulation and microfluidics technology. This is a new generation of soft metamaterials that are easier to shape. In their experiment, the researchers got ultrasonic oscillations to move backwards while the energy carried by the wave moved forwards. Their work opens up new prospects, especially for high-resolution imaging (ultrasonography).

The new type of metamaterial, in the fluid phase, is formed of porous silicone microbeads embedded in a water-based gel. This metafluid is the first three-dimensional metamaterial to work at ultrasonic frequencies. In addition, due to its fluid nature, it can be made using physico-chemical processes and microfluidics technologies, which are much easier to implement than micromechanical methods.

One of the properties of porous media is that sound travels through them at very low speed (a few tens of meters per second) compared to water (1500 meters per second). Due to this sharp contrast, the whole suspension has the properties of a metamaterial provided the bead concentration is sufficient: when the researchers studied the propagation of ultrasonic waves through this medium, they directly measured a negative refractive index. Within such a metafluid, the energy carried by the wave travels from the emitter to the receiver, as expected, whereas the oscillations appear to move backwards in the opposite direction, rather like a dancer doing the 'moonwalk'.

These results open the way to numerous applications ranging from high-resolution ultrasound imaging to sound insulation and stealth in underwater acoustics. In addition, the soft-matter physico-chemical techniques used to make this metamaterial makes it possible to produce fluid or flexible materials with adaptable shapes, potentially at the industrial scale.

Nature Materials - Soft 3D acoustic metamaterial with negative index

December 29, 2014

2014 Military Review - DARPA showed off self guided 50 caliber sniper rounds

DARPA's Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program conducted the first successful live-fire tests demonstrating in-flight guidance of .50-caliber bullets in the spring of 2014. This video shows EXACTO rounds maneuvering in flight to hit targets that are offset from where the sniper rifle is initially aimed. EXACTO's specially designed ammunition and real-time optical guidance system help track and direct projectiles to their targets by compensating for weather, wind, target movement and other factors that could impede successful aim.

The EXACTO program is developing new approaches and advanced capabilities to improve the range and accuracy of sniper systems beyond the current state of the art.

The Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) system seeks to improve sniper effectiveness and enhance troop safety by allowing greater shooter standoff range and reduction in target engagement timelines. The objective of the EXACTO program is to revolutionize rifle accuracy and range by developing the first ever guided small-caliber bullet. The EXACTO 50- caliber round and optical sighting technology expects to greatly extend the day and nighttime range over current state-of-the-art sniper systems. The system combines a maneuverable bullet and a real-time guidance system to track and deliver the projectile to the target, allowing the bullet to change path during flight to compensate for any unexpected factors that may drive it off course.

China making $800-900 billion more funds available for loans and will cut rates in the first half of 2015

hina Cwill broaden the definition of a deposit in 2015, boosting the lending capacity of Chinese banks that have to cap loans at 75 percent of funds held. The relaxation, reported by the official Xinhua News Agency yesterday, could make an additional 5 trillion yuan ($800 billion) to 5.5 trillion yuan available, according to analysts at Credit Agricole CIB and Guotai Junan Securities Co.

“Beijing is trying to stimulate lending and they are trying not to use strong measures,” said Dariusz Kowalczyk, an economist at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong. “Policy makers across the globe are trying to boost demand by increasing bank lending, especially to businesses, so in this sense China’s efforts to boost lending fit well into the picture.”

The PBOC will lower the benchmark one-year lending rate by 25 basis points to 5.35 percent in the first quarter and by another 15 basis points by the end of June, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg Dec. 18-23. The central bank may cut banks’ required reserve ratio by a total of 1 percentage point in the first half, the survey found.

China billionaire seeks to beat Tesla with electric cars

Jia Yueting, chairman and founder of Leshi Internet Information and Technology (Beijing) Co. [Jia net worth about $2.3 billion], said at the beginning of December, 2014 that the maker of Web-enabled televisions has spent the past year developing an electric car and will seek a license to manufacture them in China.

Leshi will bank on its experience “managing disruptive change” and is confident of surpassing Tesla in creating the most connected electric car, he said in e-mailed comments yesterday.

The 41-year-old’s ambitions to venture into electric cars come as China proposes to grant auto manufacturing licenses to companies other than carmakers to encourage innovation and create local challengers to Tesla, as part of a broader plan to cut air pollution, reduce dependence on imported oil and lead the global auto industry.

There are no details about the new electric cars from Jia Yueting.

Ad Block Plus uses more memory and slows computer more than ads

Adblock Plus (ABP), which is by far the most popular add-on for Firefox and Chrome, is actually increasing the amount of memory used by your web browser, rather than decreasing it. Furthermore, ABP also increases the amount of time (and CPU cycles) required to render a website. Instead of making web surfing more responsive, ABP actually makes your surfing experience slower.

ABP’s initial popularity stemmed from its ability to block noisy, annoying, and resource-hogging Flash ads. Now, because ABP’s block list is so large, it probably consumes more RAM and CPU cycles than it saves (though it will vary from site to site, of course).

Mozilla developer Nicholas Nethercote explains the memory effect of Adblock Plus

Other options for getting rid of video ads are Privoxy, Flashblock or Noscript.

Of course Nextbigfuture is a free site that has an interest in ad revenue. If there is a complaint about an advertiser that is using video ads, then we block those annoying ads.

Memory Usage

1. There’s a constant overhead just from enabling ABP of something like 60–70 MiB. (This is on 64-bit builds; on 32-bit builds the number is probably a bit smaller.) This appears to be mostly due to additional JavaScript memory usage, though there’s also some due to extra layout memory.

2. there’s an overhead of about 4 MiB per iframe, which is mostly due to ABP injecting a giant stylesheet into every iframe. Many pages have multiple iframes, so this can add up quickly. For example, if you load TechCrunch and roll over the social buttons on every story (thus triggering the loading of lots of extra JS code), without ABP, Firefox uses about 194 MiB of physical memory. With ABP, that number more than doubles, to 417 MiB. This is despite the fact that ABP prevents some page elements (ads!) from being loaded.

Solar power and nuclear power can be built by 2030 to provide non-polluting power

NASA proposed 30 day crewed Venus Mssion

NASA Langley researchers want to get a better idea about conditions on our nearest planetary neighbor, Venus, so they have come up with HAVOC or a High Altitude Venus Operational Concept – a lighter-than-air rocket ship that would help send two astronauts on a 30-day mission to explore the planet’s atmosphere. Exploration of Venus is a challenge not only because its smog-like sulfuric acid-laced atmosphere, but also its extremely hot surface temperature and extremely high air pressure on the surface.

The atmosphere of Venus is an exciting destination for both further scientific study and future human exploration. A lighter-than-air vehicle can carry either a host of instruments and probes, or a habitat and ascent vehicle for a crew of two astronauts to explore Venus for up to a month. The mission requires less time to complete than a crewed Mars mission, and the environment at 50 km is relatively benign, with similar pressure, density, gravity, and radiation protection to the surface of Earth. A recent internal NASA study of a High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC) led to the development of an evolutionary program for the exploration of Venus, with focus on the mission architecture and vehicle concept for a 30 day crewed mission into Venus’s atmosphere. Key technical challenges for the mission include performing the aerocapture maneuvers at Venus and Earth, inserting and inflating the airship at Venus, and protecting the solar panels and structure from the sulfuric acid in the atmosphere. With advances in technology and further refinement of the concept, missions to the Venusian atmosphere can expand humanity’s future in space.

December 28, 2014

Improved batteries and Aerodynamics give Tesla Roadster 3.0 400 mile range

The Roadster 3.0 package applies what Tesla has learned in Model S to Roadster. No new Model S battery pack or major range upgrade is expected in the near term.

Battery technology has continued a steady improvement in recent years, as has Tesla experience in optimizing total vehicle efficiency through Model S development. Tesla has long been excited to apply their learning back to their first vehicle, and are thrilled to do just that with the prototype Roadster 3.0 package. It consists of three main improvement areas.

The original 2008 Roadster had a 230 mile range but the upgraded version will have about 400 mile range

1. Batteries - 31% better than 7 years ago
The original Roadster battery was the very first lithium ion battery put into production in any vehicle. It was state of the art in 2008, but cell technology has improved substantially since then. Tesla has identified a new cell that has 31% more energy than the original Roadster cell. Using this new cell they have created a battery pack that delivers roughly 70kWh in the same package as the original battery.

Multiferroic heroics put instant-on computing in sight

If data could instead be encoded without current – for example, by an electric field applied across an insulator – it would require much less energy, and make things like low-power, instant-on computing a ubiquitous reality.

Cornell researchers have made a breakthrough in that direction with a room-temperature magnetoelectric memory device. Equivalent to one computer bit, it exhibits the holy grail of next-generation nonvolatile memory: magnetic switchability, in two steps, with nothing but an electric field.

A conceptual illustration of magnetization reversal, given by the compasses, with an electric field (blue) applied across the gold capacitors. The compass needles under the electric field are rotated 180 degrees from those not under the field (0 degrees rotated). The two-step switching sequence described in the paper is represented by the blurred compass needle under the electric field, making an intermediate state between the 0 and 180-degree rotated states. via John Herron

Nature - Deterministic switching of ferromagnetism at room temperature using an electric field

China planning three aircraft carriers and eventual path to nuclear carriers that will copy US supercarrier tech

China's first domestic carrier, like the Liaoning, might be standard (30,000-40,000 tons) in size. Yin Zhuo, a naval expert, said that it cannot be a supercarrier (over 60,000 tons) , since they are too costly and technologically complex for China.

Another issue at the center of speculation is whether the new carrier will be nuclear-powered. Nuclear-powered aircraft carriers have been the backbone of the US Navy since 1961, when it deployed the Enterprise, the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The US Navy believes that there are many advantages to using nuclear carriers over conventional carriers, since a similar amount of nuclear fuel can provide millions of times more energy than coal or oil, with the high power density allowing more space for fuel, ammunition and other supplies.

China is considering developing three large nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the designs of which were found similar to the Nimitz- and Ford-class carriers of the United States.

Jinshuai Model Crafts is displaying models of proposed aircraft carrier hulls 17, 18, and 19 on its website and catalogs. These models provide clues to a vital question: what direction will China’s domestic aircraft carrier design and production take? In short, the models suggest: China will progress as quickly as possible to a large nuclear-powered design, similar to a Nimitz- or Ford-class hull with Chinese characteristics, and let deck aviation capabilities grow into the gargantuan new platform as they become able to do so.
One of the Models that hint at the future of chinese aircraft carriers

In December 2013 China's Central Military Commission told Duowei News it planned to commission two Liaoning-pattern aircraft carriers by 2020, designated as Type 001A. Contracts have been awarded to China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation to build the two carriers. The cost is projected to be US$9 billion. A waist catapult could be fitted to one or both vessels to facilitate airborne early warning aircraft operation and air control. Presently Liaoning combines unassisted ski-jump launched aircraft with helicopters for antisubmarine and air defense operations.

DARPA project for autonomous UAVs that fly 45 mph in compex indoor spaces

DARPA aims to give small unmanned aerial vehicles advanced perception and autonomy to rapidly search buildings or other cluttered environments without teleoperation.

Military teams patrolling dangerous urban environments overseas and rescue teams responding to disasters such as earthquakes or floods currently rely on remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicles to provide a bird’s-eye view of the situation and spot threats that can’t be seen from the ground. But to know what’s going on inside an unstable building or a threatening indoor space often requires physical entry, which can put troops or civilian response teams in danger.

To address these challenges, DARPA issued a Broad Agency Announcement solicitation today for the Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program. FLA focuses on creating a new class of algorithms to enable small, unmanned aerial vehicles to quickly navigate a labyrinth of rooms, stairways and corridors or other obstacle-filled environments without a remote pilot. The solicitation is available here: http://go.usa.gov/MGWx

The program aims to develop and demonstrate autonomous UAVs small enough to fit through an open window and able to fly at speeds up to 20 meters per second (45 miles per hour)—while navigating within complex indoor spaces independent of communication with outside operators or sensors and without reliance on GPS waypoints.

DARPA’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy program aims to develop and demonstrate autonomous UAVs small enough to fit through an open window and able to fly at speeds up to 20 meters per second (45 miles per hour) through complex indoor spaces, independent of communication with outside operators or sensors and without reliance on GPS waypoints. If successful, the algorithms developed in the program could enhance unmanned system capabilities by reducing the amount of processing power, communications, and human intervention needed for low-level tasks, such as navigation around obstacles in a cluttered environment.

Lasers in space could trap and shape reflective dust into telescopes with diameters wider than a planet for detailed imaging of exoplanets

Here we look in detail at the Phase I report for Orbiting Rainbows. NASA provided the funding for a phase 2 study project. They would use several lasers to trap and shape billions of reflective dust particles into single or multiple lenses that could grow to reach tens of meters to thousands of kilometers in diameter. According to Swartzlander, the unprecedented resolution and detail might be great enough to spot clouds on exoplanets. The diameter of the lens would be similar to what hypertelescopes could achieve in space however, the laser shaped dust clouds could more cheaply have a filled in lens.

Swartzlander developed and patented the techniques known as “optical lift,” in which light from a laser produces radiation pressure that controls the position and orientation of small objects.

Ideally, the dielectric particles should have 50% transmissivity and 50% reflectivity, no absorption, and to avoid diffraction they must be smaller than the wavelength of light. This giant, but tenuous, optical assembly has to be maintained either continuously or intermittently via separated free-flying pulsed lasers, which must have enough power, continuous
operation capabilities, and adequate pointing capability to maintain the cloud stably in orbit

Orbiting Rainbows: Optical Manipulation of Aerosols and the Beginnings of Future Space Construction [143 page final Phase 1 report for NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC)]

Researchers propose to construct an optical system in space in which the nonlinear optical properties of a cloud of micron-sized particles are shaped into a specific surface by light pressure, allowing it to form a very large and lightweight aperture of an optical system, hence reducing overall mass and cost. Other potential advantages offered by the cloud properties as optical system involve possible combination of properties (combined transmit/receive), variable focal length, combined refractive and reflective lens designs, and hyper-spectral imaging. A cloud of highly reflective particles of micron size acting coherently in a specific electromagnetic band, just like an aerosol in suspension in the atmosphere, would reflect the Suns light much like a rainbow. The only difference with an atmospheric or industrial aerosol is the absence of the supporting fluid medium. This new concept is based on recent understandings in the physics of optical manipulation of small particles in the laboratory and the engineering of distributed ensembles of spacecraft clouds to shape an orbiting cloud of micron-sized objects. In the same way that optical tweezers have revolutionized micro- and nano-manipulation of objects, our breakthrough concept will enable new large scale NASA mission applications and develop new technology in the areas of Astrophysical Imaging Systems and Remote Sensing because the cloud can operate as an adaptive optical imaging sensor. While achieving the feasibility of constructing one single aperture out of the cloud is the main topic of this work, it is clear that multiple orbiting aerosol lenses could also combine their power to synthesize a much larger aperture in space to enable challenging goals such as exo-planet detection. Furthermore, this effort could establish feasibility of key issues related to material properties, remote manipulation, and autonomy characteristics of cloud in orbit. There are several types of endeavors (science missions) that could be enabled by this type of approach, i.e. it can enable new astrophysical imaging systems, exo-planet search, large apertures allow for unprecedented high resolution to discern continents and important features of other planets, hyperspectral imaging, adaptive systems, spectroscopy imaging through limb, and stable optical systems from Lagrange-points. Future micro-miniaturization might hold promise of a further extension of our dust aperture concept to other more exciting smart dust concepts with other associated capabilities.

Annual Smartphone shipments will increase from 1.3 billion in 2014 to 1.9 billion in 2018

IDC forecasts smartphone increasing from 1.3 billion annual shipments in 2014 to 1.9 billion in 2018

According to a new mobile phone forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, worldwide smartphone shipments will reach a total of nearly 1.3 billion units in 2014, representing an increase of 26.3% over 2013. Looking ahead, IDC expects 1.4 billion smartphones to be shipped worldwide in 2015 for a 12.2% year-over-year growth rate. Slower annual growth continues throughout the forecast with unit shipments approaching 1.9 billion units in 2018, resulting in a 9.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the 2014–2018 forecast period.

Dell'oro Group World Cellular Infrastructure

China and India drove global growth in cellular infrastructure markets in 2014, according to analysts from Dell'Oro Group. China was the top buyer of LTE base stations and India led the world in purchasing microwave backhaul systems.

The big story in cellular infrastructure in 2014 was China. The global market for the TD-LTE flavor of radio access networks used mainly in China jumped to $6.4 billion this year from $2.4 billion last year.

Antiaging Rapamycin used to boost immune response in humans

Mannick and her colleagues decided to investigate whether a rapamycin-like drug could reverse the natural decline that elderly people experience in their ability to fight off infections.

In the clinical trial, more than 200 people age 65 and older randomly received either the experimental drug or a placebo for several weeks, followed by a dose of flu vaccine.

Flu is particularly hard on seniors, with people 65 and older accounting for nine out of 10 influenza-related deaths in the United States, according to background information provided by the researchers.

Those who received the experimental version of rapamycin developed about 20 percent more antibodies in response to the flu vaccine, researchers found. Even low doses of the medication produced an improved immune response.

Science Translational Medicine - mTOR inhibition improves immune function in the elderly

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