January 10, 2015

Israel Iron Beam will become the world's first active duty combat laser in 2015

Iron Beam is an air defense system currently in development by Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. It is expected to enter service with the Israel Defense Forces in 2015, the system is designed to destroy short-range rockets, artillery, and mortars too small for the Iron Dome system to intercept effectively.

This will be the first combat laser fielded for active service. Israel has the pressing need for short range defense that are too close for the Iron Dome. The US has the luxury of taking time to test lasers on navy ships, trucks and fighter planes and then fielding in a few years. Israel has testing in live combat since if the Iron beam fails the mortar would have got through anyway. Patriot anti-missile systems were also rushed into active service in early days of the Iraq conflict.

Iron Beam will use a "directed high energy laser beam" to destroy hostile targets with ranges of up to 7 kilometres (4.3 miles)

Iron Beam uses a fiber optic laser to destroy an airborne target within 4-5 seconds of firing. Whether acting as a stand-alone system or with external cueing as part of an air-defense system, a threat is detected by a surveillance system and tracked by vehicle platforms in order to engage. The main benefits of using a directed energy weapon over conventional missile interceptors are lower costs per shot, an unlimited magazine, lower operational costs, and less manpower.


Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has a page on their high energy laser.

Carnival of Space 387

The Carnival of Space 387 is up at Everyday spacer

Paul Scott Anderson | The Meridiani Journal - Kepler finds ‘super-Earth’ exoplanet in first discovery of new mission


The Kepler space telescope has found its first new exoplanet, a “super-Earth,” of its secondary mission phase. The discovery adds to a current tally of 996 confirmed exoplanets and 4,183 planetary candidates already found by the revolutionary planet-hunting telescope.


Universe Today - 10 Space Science Stories to Watch in 2015 Here are six of the ten

1. New Horizons at Pluto
2. Dawn at Ceres
3. Long Duration ISS Missions - Beginning in 2015, astronauts and cosmonauts will begin year-long stays aboard the ISS to study the effects of long duration space missions. In March of 2015, cosmonaut Mikhail Korniyenko and U.S. astronaut S
5. SpaceX will make multiple Attempts to Land on a Sea Platform [first one reached the platform but stuck the landing too hard, possibly ten more attempts]
6. Akatsuki at Venus - Japanese mission
9. Advanced LIGO - Earth based gravitational wave detector goes online
10. LISA Pathfinder - The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, and the Pathfinder mission will journey to the L1 Lagrange point between the Earth and the Sun to test key technologies. LISA Pathfinder will pave the way for the full fledged LISA space platform, a series of three free flying spacecraft proposed for launch in the 2030s.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 242

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 242 is up Atomic Power Review

Forbes - 2014 - The Year In Energy

Energy soared in 2014, but the place to watch was China. China has embarked on the biggest energy expansion in world history and 2014 was the year when it all came together. China is diversifying its energy mix like no other country in the world, and now leads the world in almost all energy-related matters. China now has more natural gas reserves than anyone, has installed more wind and solar than anyone, produces and uses more coal than anyone, and soon will add nuclear power to this list of mosts.


Nextbigfuture - Economists had fundamental problems modeling the economy because they did not understand basic phyics and engineering. Correctly accounting for the first two laws of thermodynamics increases the impact of energy on the economy by ten times.

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.


Chevy Bolt will have 200 mile range and price competitive with Tesla Model 3 in 2017

General Motors Co. plans to launch a $30,000 electric vehicle called the Chevrolet Bolt that would be capable of driving 200 miles on a charge by 2017, according to people familiar with the strategy, a move to gain ground on Tesla Motors.

GM will show off a concept version of the Bolt on Monday at the Detroit auto show, eight years after the auto giant disclosed it would re-enter the electric car market with the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt, on sale since late 2010 and redesigned for 2015, is being upgraded to get better capability and sharper design, and has a backup gasoline motor on board in case juice runs out.

The Chevy Bolt, carrying a more capable battery manufactured by South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd. , will be aimed squarely at Tesla’s forthcoming Model 3, a $35,000 electric car also slated to debut in 2017. The concept version of the electric car will be a hatchback designed to look more like a so-called crossover vehicle, according to people familiar with the design.

Over Ms. Barra’s first year at GM’s helm, company shares fell 14% while Telsa shares soared 48%. Ms. Barra aims to have up to 500,000 electrified vehicles—including vehicles with partial-electric capabilities—on the road by 2017. In contrast, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said he envisions up to 500,000 annual Tesla sales of pure electrics by 2020.



Lithium ion sulfur with polymer membrane safe enough for future car batteries with improved 750 to 2700 Wh/kg energy density but still need longer life cycle

Greencarcongress reports researchers added a polysulfide to the polymer membranes during their synthesis with the aim to reduce the cathode dissolution during operation. To improve the room-temperature ionic conductivity of the polymer electrolyte, they plasticized the LiS8 added membrane.

The resulting LixSn-C/GPS-Li2S8/S-C lithium-ion sulfur cell is characterized by a high safety level, due to the polymer configuration and the absence of lithium metal anode, and expected low cost. At the lower C-rate, the cell may stably deliver a capacity of about 1500 mAh gS−1 at an average voltage of 1.8 V, while at the higher C-rate, the cell delivers a still relevant capacity of about 500 mAh gS−1 at an average voltage of 1.5 V, hence with a theoretical energy density ranging from 2700Wh/kg to 750 Wh/kg, respectively.

Longer cycle life and further characterizations are certainly required to match the severe targets of the lithium battery community.



Nature Scientific Reports - A lithium-ion sulfur battery using a polymer, polysulfide-added membrane

Researchers report the performances of a lithium-ion sulfur battery characterized by a polymer configuration. The cell, based on a sulfur-carbon cathode, a Li-Sn-C nanostructured anode and a PEO-based, polysulfide-added electrolyte, shows very good electrochemical performances in terms of stability and delivered capacity. The remarkable cell performances are ascribed to the mitigation of the cathode dissolution process due to the buffer action ensured by the polysulfide added to the polymer electrolyte. This electrolyte configuration allows the achievement of a stable capacity ranging from 500 to 1500 mAh gS-1, depending on the cycling rate. The use of a polymer electrolyte and the replacement of the lithium metal with a Li-Sn-C nanostructured alloy are expected to guarantee high safety content, thus suggesting the battery here studied as advanced energy storage system.

2015 World car sales forecast 74 million cars, China 19 million, USA 17 million

Canada's Scotiabank has a Global Auto Report They reported 71 million cars were produced in 2014 and expect 74 million cars for 2015.

China Will Continue To Lead Global Gains

China will continue to be the auto industry’s growth leader over the  coming year. We expect auto demand in China to grow 7% in 2015 to nearly 19.5 million units. Despite growing concerns about an economic slowdown in the most populous nation, demand for new automobiles continues to be driven by rising vehicle ownership in tier 2 and 3 cities, especially for CUVs, which are advancing by 40% per annum. Luxury models also continue to outperform alongside rising wealth and as households shift their purchases from a weakening real estate market. Monetary easing by the central bank and a proliferation of new models will also support car sales over the coming year. Estimates suggest that nearly 20% of all new vehicle sales are now financed in China, up from 10% as recently as 2010. Meanwhile, automakers launched 10 new CUVs in late 2014 and more are coming in the New Year. However, last year’s 12% increase likely marks the end of more than a decade of double-digit gains. We believe that growth will shift into single-digits going forward. While urbanization and employment growth remain strong, per capital urban income growth has moderated from the double-digit pace of the past decade and will dampen sales growth.

Record Volumes In North America
Calendar-year 2015 is likely to set all-time highs for the  North American auto market. Over the coming year, combined vehicle sales and production in Canada, Mexico and the United States are expected to surpass the 2000 peak, when sales totalled 19.8 million units and assemblies topped 17.6 million. Both Canada and Mexico set sales records in 2014, and are poised to exceed those totals in 2015, as exports from both countries benefit from robust U.S. demand. Meanwhile, U.S. purchases are set to approach 17 million units.

Spacex has once per month launch schedule but targeting twice per month

Spacex has an aggressive launch schedule for 2015. They are going to try to launch about once per month. They plan to ramp to twice per month launches

The Spacex manifest of upcoming missions does not include the planned dates

The Christian Science Monitor notes how Spacex is 12 years old but still has the agility and spirit of a startup company. Spacex is also close to being certified for big defense contract missions.



Spacexstats has estimated dates for the Spacex missions

Here is a link to Spacexstats list of upcoming missions for Spacex

10 Jan 2015 09:47:10 SpaceX CRS-5 NASA Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-40, Florida
The fifth CRS mission to the ISS will carry pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the station. Secondary payloads include 2 small satellites to be deployed from the ISS airlock.

29 Jan 2015 DSCOVR NOAA Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-40, Florida
Falcon 9 will loft the much-delayed Deep Space Climate Observatory to Sun-Earth L1 for NOAA, where it will function as an Earth and Solar Observation satellite.

February 2015 Eutelsat 115W B and ABS-3A Asia Broadcast Satellite Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-40, Florida
This marks SpaceX's first dual comm. satellite launch, of Eutelsat 115W B & ABS-3A. The satellites, built by Boeing, use Solar Electric Propulsion, making it feasible to fit both on a single Falcon 9 and removing the need for weighty Hydrazine.

March 2015 Dragon Inflight Abort SpaceX / NASA Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-4E, Vandenberg, California
Dragon will abort from a Falcon 9 mid flight at Max-Q to demonstrate its in flight crew escape system as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program requirements by firing its 8 Superdraco engines before splashing down off the coast of California.

31 Mar 2015 Jason 3 NOAA, Eumetsat, NASA, & CNES Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-4E, Vandenberg, California
Jason 3 is a scientific Earth observation satellite designed to monitor and precisely measure the world’s oceans, and is operated as a collaboration between NOAA, Eumetsat, NASA, & CNES.

8 Apr 2015 SpaceX CRS-6 NASA Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-40, Florida
The sixth of twelve Dragon ISS resupply missions to the ISS.

Q2 2015 SES-9 SES World Skies Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-40, Florida
A Falcon 9 rocket will launch SES-9 for SES World Skies in 2015, their second satellite with SpaceX

13 Jun 2015 SpaceX CRS-7 NASA Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-40, Florida
The seventh cargo resupply mission of Dragon to the ISS, also carrying the IDA 1 satellite as a secondary payload.

H1 2015 Falcon Heavy Test Flight SpaceX Falcon Heavy LC-39A, Florida
SpaceX will launch the demonstration mission of the 28 engine Falcon Heavy rocket from the historic Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral in early 2015.

Mid 2015 Orbcomm OG2 Launch 2 Orbcomm Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-40, Florida
The second scheduled launch for Orbcomm will complete their new OG2 satellite constellation by launching the remaining 11 satellites into LEO.

2 Sep 2015 SpaceX CRS-8 NASA Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-40, Florida
The eighth cargo resupply mission of Dragon to the ISS. Notably, Bigelow Aerospace will provide the BEAM inflatable module as unpressurized cargo to be attached to the station.

Q3 2015 AMOS-6 Spacecom Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-40, Florida
AMOS-6 is a 5500kg geostationary communications satellite operated by Spacecom, and will replace the aging AMOS-2 satellite at 4 degrees West.

Q4 2015 Eutelsat 117W B and ABS-2A Asia Broadcast Satellite Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-40, Florida
This marks SpaceX's second dual-GTO satellite launch. Both satellites, built by Boeing, use Solar Electric Propulsion, removing the need for heavy and expensive Hydrazine.

Late 2015 JCSAT-14 SKY Perfect JSAT Corparation Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-40, Florida
Will replace JCSAT-2A at 154 East

2015 SAOCOM 1A CONAE (Argentina) Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-4E, Vandenberg, California
SAOCOM 1A is an Earth observation satellite for the Argentine Space Agency that will be placed into a polar orbit by a Falcon 9 from Vandenberg.

2015 SAOCOM 1B CONAE (Argentina) Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-4E, Vandenberg, California
Once launched, SAOCOM-1B for the Argentine Space Agency (CONAE) will complete the Earth observing SAOCOM constellation. It marks a rare launch out of Vandenberg.

2015 TurkmenSat 1 Thales Alenia Space (Turkmenistan) Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-40, Florida
A Falcon 9 will launch Turkmenistan's first communications satellite into GTO orbit in late 2014.

April 2016 STP-2 U.S. Air Force Falcon Heavy LC-39A, Florida
Space Test Program-2 is the second scheduled Falcon Heavy launch, and the second EELV-class mission awarded to SpaceX by the U.S. Air Force. Aboard will a number of small-cubesat missions, and Planetary Society’s LightSail solar sail mission.

2016 DragonLab Launch 1 SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-40, Florida
DragonLab is the free-flying, reusable variant of Dragon that does not berth with the ISS. Whether Dragon v1 or Dragon v2 will be used for this mission is unknown.

2018 Radarsat Constellation Canada Falcon 9 v1.1 SLC-4E, Vandenberg, California
The Radarsat constellation mission is currently being developed by MDA Corporation for Canada. The three satellite mission will be placed into a polar Earth Observing orbit, and are designed for maritime surveillance, and disaster management.

Spacex first stage reaches the barge but landing was too hard - ISS mission was success

SpaceX lofted a Dragon cargo capsule on its way to the International Space Station early Saturday, but a highly anticipated attempt to land a Falcon 9 rocket booster on an ocean platform ended with the stage smashing into the barge. The primary mission though was to place a Dragon capsule in orbit that is carrying more than 5,000 pounds of food, supplies and science experiments to the station and its six-person crew.

SpaceX could follow as soon as Jan. 29 with another Falcon 9 launch of a government science satellite, and possibly another landing attempt, if the drone ship can be repaired quickly.





January 09, 2015

Spacex will try again to launch ISS mission with chance of proving reusable rocket viability

Spacex will again try to launch what could be a rocket that will attempt to successfully land its first stage on a barge. This will enable recovery and reuse. This is the link to the livestream broadcast on Saturday Weather is currently 80% “GO” for Falcon 9 and Dragon’s launch attempt tomorrow. Liftoff is targeting 4:47am EST – set your alarms.

Elon Musk is developing rockets that could be reused, rather than burn up on re-entry to earth’s atmosphere, in the belief they’ll drastically reduce the cost of trips to Mars. Launch has been delayed until Friday because of some Z actuator glitch.

He could make history -- and remake the space launch sector -- when new technology that captures spent rocket segments is put to the test for the first time today.



Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. will try to land a Falcon 9 rocket atop an unanchored ocean platform bobbing in the Atlantic Ocean after the missile propels a cargo capsule towards a rendezvous with the International Space Station.

Drone spaceport ship heads to its hold position in the Atlantic to prepare for a rocket landing




Electric Scooter with vending machine like battery swaps in 6 seconds would be great for Asian Cities

The Gogoro Smartscooter was revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show. It is the first high-performance, zero emissions, connected two-wheeled electric vehicle on the market—but in many ways the bigger story today is actually the Gogoro Energy Network. The Gogoro Energy Network is a battery-swapping infrastructure that can be deployed across a city to give people access to portable power through battery vending machines called GoStations. The Smartscooter is the first to be integrated into the Gogoro Energy Network, and both will begin initial rollout later this year.

* Zero to 30 in 4.2 seconds
* Top speed of 60 mph
* Fifty-fifty weight distribution
* range of around 100 miles per charge

Pull up to a battery swap station [kind of like a Redbox DVD station], each of which holds eight 20-pound batteries. Pull your dead battery out of the scooter, swap it for a fresh on in the battery bank and off you go. It takes six seconds.

That makes the question of charging times—a significant speed bump for EV adoption—almost moot. Who cares how long a battery takes to charge, as long as it’s juiced up when you pick it up? “We no longer want to talk about charge time,” Luke says. “We want to talk about swap time.”


Production of 300,000 fuel pebbles per year will start in August as China prepare factory mass produced nuclear reactors

Qualification irradiation tests of fuel elements for the demonstration HTR-PM high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) plant being built at Shidaowan, China, have been completed in the Netherlands.

China's Institute for Nuclear and New Energy Technology (INET) at Tsinghua University has conducted research on HTGR fuel element technology over the past 30 years. It developed a trial production line with an annual capacity of 100,000 spherical fuel elements. However, INET requires qualification of its fuel to support licensing of the HTR-PM reactor systems.

The construction of a pilot production line for fuel elements for the Shidaowan HTR-PM is nearing completion in Baotou, Inner Mongolia. The production line will have an annual capacity of 300,000 fuel elements. It is expected to be commissioned in August.

The demonstration HTR-PM plant being constructed at Shidaowan, near Weihai city in Shandong province, will initially comprise twin HTR-PM reactor modules driving a single 210 MWe steam turbine. Construction started in late 2012, with commercial operation scheduled in 2017. A further 18 such HTR-PM units are proposed at Shidaowan. These will be modular factory mass produced nuclear reactor units.


US Navy buying $81 million in heat resistant batteries for hypersonic railguns

The U.S. Navy placed an $81.4 million order with K2 Energy Solutions Inc. for a battery system to power an electromagnetic railgun. K2 will design and build the lithium-ion storage system.

The U.S. Navy plans to install and test a prototype electromagnetic railgun aboard a joint high speed vessel in fiscal year 2016. The final operational system will be capable of launching guided, multi-mission projectiles to a range of 110 nautical miles against a wide range of threats.

The electromagnetic rail gun is designed to fire 10 rounds a minute without the use of propellants. General Atomics and BAE Systems Plc have built prototypes, and muzzle velocities may exceed Mach 6, the speed the projectiles leave the weapon.

K2 Energy designs a variety of energy storage systems based on its lithium iron phosphate cathode technology. The company's proprietary batteries have undergone extensive testing and analysis, and results suggest a level of safety that is significantly better than other lithium ion battery chemistries.

The operating life of a battery, with HT (high temperature) technology, improves by as much as six times when compared to conventional lithium ion technology measured at 60 degrees C (140 degrees F).

The Electromagnetic Systems Group of General Atomics (GA-EMS) is actively working to bring electromagnetic railgun technology to the Department of Defense for multiple missions: integrated air and missile defense, surface fire support and anti-surface warfare.

GA-EMS has developed, built and successfully tested two railguns, the internally funded the Blitzer™ 3 MJ system and a 32 MJ launcher for the Office of Naval Research (ONR). GA-EMS also designed and built the pulse power supply for both guns and is developing projectiles for air and missile defense and precision strike.

GA-EMS is continuing the Blitzer family of railguns with a 10 MJ system designed for mobile and fixed land-based applications.

Railguns deliver muzzle velocities up to twice those of conventional guns, resulting in shorter time to target and higher lethality at greater range with no propellant required onboard the platform. Railguns offer much deeper magazines and lower cost per engagement compared with missiles of comparable range.

The scalability of the GA-EMS launcher and the modularity of the pulse power system enables deployment on a variety of platforms and delivers multi-mission capability from a single weapons system.




US upgrading anti-missile systems to counter hypersonic weapons from China, Russia and Others

Missile defense specialists at Lockheed Martin said that extended-range version of the Army’s Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system is being developed to deal with hypersonic threats.

Lockheed received a $78 million contract from the U.S. Army for upgrades to the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). The program will take hardware from early-production ATACMS Block 1 missiles and develop an enhanced and affordable weapon system capable of eliminating targets without the risk of unexploded ordnance, which meets the U.S. Army’s long-range precision strike requirement. The program’s first phase will include flight tests, followed by production beginning in 2016.

Hypersonic missiles are maneuvering strike vehicles launched atop missiles that travel at speeds of up to Mach 10, or 10 times the speed of sound. They maneuver and glide along the edge of space, making them difficult targets for missile defenses.

Current U.S. missile defense sensors and interceptors are designed primarily to hit ballistic missile warheads that travel in predictable flight paths from launch, through space and into ground targets.

China surprised U.S. intelligence agencies last year by conducting three flight tests of the Wu-14 in January, August and December. The vehicle traveled at speeds up to Mach 10, or nearly 8,000 miles per hour.

US Intelligence agencies assessed that the Wu-14 would be able to break through current US defenses.



January 08, 2015

Two Real Military Projects that must be merged - Robotic Sharks and combat lasers

Wired reports that the Navy has a working robotic shark.

It is five feet long and nearly 100 pounds, is about the size of an albacore tuna but looks more like a shark, at least from a distance. It’s part of an experiment to explore the possibilities of using biomimetic, unmanned, underwater vehicles, and the Navy announced it wrapped up testing of the design last week.

The robot uses its tail for propulsion and control, like a real fish. It can operate in water as shallow as 10 inches or dive down to 300 feet. It can be controlled remotely via a 500-foot tether, or swim independently, periodically returning to the surface to communicate. Complete with dorsal and pectoral fins, the robofish is stealthy too: It looks like a fish and moves like a fish, and, like other underwater vehicles, is difficult to spot even if you know to look for it.


The US Army, Navy and Air force all have combat lasers in testing or field testing. Ships, fighter planes, humvees, trucks with combat lasers.


Now both exist. Robotic Sharks and Combat Lasers

Integrate them. Make the robotic shark bigger and put combat lasers onto it.

Trillions of tax payer money is already wasted. Tens of billions on 11th through 13 aircraft carrier groups. Hundreds of billions extra on overpriced fighter jets. Spend thirty million dollars and integrate the robotic shark with combat lasers. You cannot get this close and not put them together.

You have the chocolate and the peanut butter. Make the Peanut butter cup.

Low cost, walk away safe molten salt reactor design that will lead to thorium reactors

There is a new design for simple, low cost molten salt reactor that will eventually lead to a low cost thorium nuclear power cycle.

ThorCon requires no new technology. ThorCon is a straightforward scale-up of the successful Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE). The MSRE is ThorCon’s pilot plant. There is no technical reason why a full-scale 250 MWe prototype cannot be operating within four years.

ThorCon is a simple molten salt reactor. Unlike all current reactors, the fuel is in liquid form. If the reactor overheats for whatever reason, ThorCon will automatically shut itself down, drain the fuel from the primary loop, and passively handle the decay heat. There is no need for any operator intervention. In fact there is nothing the operators can do to prevent the drain and cooling. ThorCon is walkaway safe.

The ThorCon reactor is 30 meters underground. ThorCon has four gas tight barriers between the fuelsalt and the atmosphere. Three of these barriers are more than 25 meters underground. Unlike nearly all current reactors, ThorCon operates at near-ambient pressure. In the event of a primary loop rupture, there is no dispersal energy and no phase change. The spilled fuel merely flows to a drain tank where it is cooled. The most troublesome fission products, including strontium-90 and cesium-137, are chemically bound to the salt. They will end up in the drain tank as well.

The ThorCon nuclear island requires one-sixth as much steel and one-fourth as much concrete as the portion of the coal plant upstream from the turbine. A 1 GWe ThorCon nuclear island requires less than 400 tons of superalloys and other exotic materials. ThorCon operating at near ambient pressure has a 2:1 advantage in steel and a 5:1 advantage in concrete over its nuclear competitors on the nuclear side. Much more importantly, very little of ThorCon’s concrete is reinforced. Reinforced concrete is impossible to automate, drives the critical path, is not amenable to block construction, and entombs the critical portion of the plant in a mausoleum making repair and replacement extremely difficult. In contrast, ThorCon can be produced entirely in bargable blocks at shipyard assembly line productivity.

Based on resource and labor requirements and allowing for stringent inspection and testing, the ThorCon nuclear island should cost less than $500 per kW on an overnight basis. ThorCon uses the same steam and electrical side as a standard 500 MWe supercritical coal plant. But gone are the massive coal handling systems, the 100 m high boiler, the flue gas treatment system, and the ash handling and storage system. A generous estimate of the overnight cost of the ThorCon steam side, everything but the nuclear island, is $700/kW. This is a well established number.


$1.2 trillion in new nuclear power projects by 2030

Investments totaling some $1.2 trillion could be made in new nuclear power projects around the world, according to the latest forecast by the World Nuclear Association (WNA). China is planning to make over half (142) of the 266 new reactors by 2030. Asia makes up over 60% of the planned construction spending at $781 billion.

Europe and the CIS are also seen as regions for growth, with potential investments of $179 billion and $163 billion, respectively. In North America, where five units are under construction and seven more predicted, investment could total $90 billion by 2030. Africa and Latin America could see investments of $20 billion and $14 billion, respectively.

CRISPR Gene edits human stem cells precisely and efficiently

A powerful “genome editing” technology known as CRISPR has been used by researchers since 2012 to trim, disrupt, replace or add to sequences of an organism’s DNA. Now, scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine have shown that the system also precisely and efficiently alters human stem cells.

Previous research has shown that CRISPR (third generation gene editing) can generate genomic changes or mutations through these interventions far more efficiently than other gene editing techniques, such as TALEN (2nd generation gene editing) , short for transcription activator-like effector nuclease.

CRISPR 100 times better then TALENS in some efficiency tests

The researchers compared the ability of both genome editing systems to either cut out pieces of known genes in iPSCs or cut out a piece of these genes and replace it with another. As model genes, the researchers used JAK2, a gene that when mutated causes a bone marrow disorder known as polycythemia vera; SERPINA1, a gene that when mutated causes alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency, an inherited disorder that may cause lung and liver disease; and AAVS1, a gene that’s been recently discovered to be a “safe harbor” in the human genome for inserting foreign genes.

Their comparison found that when simply cutting out portions of genes, the CRISPR system was significantly more efficient than TALEN in all three gene systems, inducing up to 100 times more cuts. However, when using these genome editing tools for replacing portions of the genes, such as the disease-causing mutations in JAK2 and SERPINA1 genes, CRISPR and TALEN showed about the same efficiency in patient-derived iPSCs, the researchers report.



Terrestrial Energy working with Oak Ridge National Lab on molten salt reactor design

Canadian company Terrestrial Energy is to collaborate with the USA's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to develop its molten salt reactor to the engineering blueprint stage.

Molten salt reactors (MSRs) use fuel dissolved in a molten fluoride or chloride salt. As an MSR fuel salt is a liquid, it functions as both the fuel (producing the heat) and the coolant (transporting the heat away and ultimately to the power plant).  This means that such a reactor could not suffer from a loss of coolant leading to a meltdown. The basic technology is not new - it was first demonstrated at ORNL in the 1960s, where a 7.4 Wt test reactor, the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE), operated from 1965 to 1969.

Terrestrial's Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) builds on that early work and also on ORNL's later Denatured Molten Salt Reactor (DMSR) design. Indeed, several former ORNL scientists sit on Terrestrial Energy's advisory board, and Terrestrial Energy CEO Simon Irish explained to World Nuclear News that it makes "absolute sense" to work with ORNL which already has the expertise and experience with the design from which IMSR evolved.

The collaboration with ORNL is expected to enable the IMSR to complete the conceptual design stage - where all design parameters are fully specified to start preparing engineering blueprints - in late 2016.

Terrestrial Energy's standout feature over other MSR projects active today, Irish said, is that it already has a reactor design specified to a recognised industrial level, putting the company in a strong market position. All of Terrestrial Energy's decisions are to simplify and speed a commercial molten salt reactor to market. They will still have a reactor that will greatly lower the costs and have improved efficiency over todays pressure water and boiler water nuclear reactors.


Land and Sea silk roads being boosted with new high speed rail will boost Eurasian trade

Programmable Hinges and pistons made from DNA show complexity and capability for future nano-robots

DNA parts were designed with full-size mechanical parts such as hinges and pistons in mind.The project is the first to prove that the same basic design principles that apply to typical full-size machine parts can also be applied to DNA—and can produce complex, controllable components for future nano-robots.

Ohio State mechanical engineers describe how they used a combination of natural and synthetic DNA in a process called “DNA origami” to build machines that can perform tasks repeatedly.

“Nature has produced incredibly complex molecular machines at the nanoscale, and a major goal of bio-nanotechnology is to reproduce their function synthetically,” said project leader Carlos Castro, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. “Where most research groups approach this problem from a biomimetic standpoint—mimicking the structure of a biological system—we decided to tap into the well-established field of macroscopic machine design for inspiration.”


PNAS - Programmable motion of DNA origami mechanisms

Sandstone structures on Mars look like structures created by microbes on earth and are Evidence of life of Mars from 3.7 billion years ago

There may not be life on the surface of Mars at the present, this does not exclude the possibility that life may have thrived earlier on the Red Planet. The early history of Mars seems to have been very similar to that of Earth, especially with respect to the ancient hydrosphere. The sedimentary structures in the Gillespie Lake Member, Mars, constitute a promising set of potential biosignatures that compel further analyses by Mars rovers, including future sample return missions from Mars. The sandstone structures on Mars look like structures created by microbes on earth.

Ancient Sedimentary Structures in the < 3.7 Ga Gillespie Lake Member, Mars, That Resemble Macroscopic Morphology, Spatial Associations, and Temporal Succession in Terrestrial Microbialites

Sandstone beds of the less than 3.7 billion years Gillespie Lake Member on Mars have been interpreted as evidence of an ancient playa lake environment. On Earth, such environments have been sites of colonization by microbial mats from the early Archean to the present time. Terrestrial microbial mats in playa lake environments form microbialites known as microbially induced sedimentary structures (MISS). On Mars, three lithofacies of the Gillespie Lake Member sandstone display centimeter- to meter-scale structures similar in macroscopic morphology to terrestrial MISS that include ‘‘erosional remnants and pockets,’’ ‘‘mat chips,’’ ‘‘roll-ups,’’ ‘‘desiccation cracks,’’ and ‘‘gas domes.’’ The microbially induced sedimentary-like structures identified in Curiosity rover mission images do not have a random distribution. Rather, they were found to be arranged in spatial associations and temporal successions that indicate they changed over time. On Earth, if such MISS occurred with this type of spatial association and temporal succession, they would be interpreted as having recorded the growth of a microbially dominated ecosystem that thrived in pools that later dried completely: erosional pockets, mat chips, and roll-ups resulted from water eroding an ancient microbial mat–covered sedimentary surface; during the course of subsequent water recess, channels would have cut deep into the microbial mats, leaving erosional remnants behind; desiccation cracks and gas domes would have occurred during a final period of subaerial exposure of the microbial mats. In this paper, the similarities of the macroscopic morphologies, spatial associations, and temporal succession of sedimentary structures on Mars to MISS preserved on Earth has led to the following hypothesis: The sedimentary structures in the less than 3.7 billion years Gillespie Lake Member on Mars are ancient MISS produced by interactions between microbial mats and their environment. Proposed here is a strategy for detecting, identifying, confirming, and differentiating possible MISS during current and future Mars missions


Potential MISS erosional remnant on Mars (top); edge of a microbial mat–overgrown erosional remnant on Portsmouth Island, USA (middle); erosional remnant of a modern MISS on Mellum Island, Germany (bottom). Credit: Mars: NASA; Earth: Nora Noffke

If proposed Directional time dilation theory correct would mean no accelerated expansion, no dark energy, but time passage faster in the past

Dark energy is an unknown form of energy that is proposed to drive the accelerated expansion of the universe. A new study by University of Georgia professor Edward Kipreos suggests that changes in how people think about time dilation—the slowing of time predicted by Albert Einstein—can provide an alternate explanation of dark energy.

Einstein's general theory of relativity indicates that time dilation in response to gravity is directional in that an object in high gravity will have slower time than an object in low gravity. In contrast, Einstein's theory of special relativity describes reciprocal time dilation between two moving objects, such that both moving objects' times appear to be slowed down relative to each other.

The new paper makes the case that instead of being reciprocal, time dilation in response to movement is directional, with only the moving object undergoing time dilation.


Top: Diagrams of SNe plotted for z and m-M (green, left) and zTC and m-MTC for which redshifts and distance moduli have been adjusted to compensate for increased blueshifted emissions under TC conditions (blue, center). The straight line in each is a linear regression derived using SNe Ia with z less than 0.14. Bottom: Residuals in distance moduli relative to the linear regression line derived using SNe Ia with z less than 0.14. An overlay of high-redshift SNe Ia at increased magnification is shown on the right. Orange lines mark the shift between positions for selected SNe Ia.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115550.g001


PLOS One - Implications of an Absolute Simultaneity Theory for Cosmology and Universe Acceleration


Russia is modernizing Soviet era airborne combat laser program to match US and China combat lasers

Russia is also developing combat laser weapons alongside with the US said army general Yury Baluevsky, former Chief of the Russian General Staff.

The US is field testing various combat 50-150 KW combat lasers on ships, trucks and fighter jets.

Last year, China indicated that their combat lasers were shooting down drones. The Chinese laser defense system is able to shoot down various small aircraft within a two-kilometer radius and can do so in five seconds after locating its target. China was also said to be developing railguns and lasers for integration into their naval ships.

Since the time of the Soviet Union, Russia has substantial potential to create combat laser systems, airborne in particular, he says.

The initial program started back in 1970s. The first A-60 test-bed aircraft (modified Ilyushin-76 airlifter) took into the air in 1981 and two years later it was laser-equipped and performing experiments. Another test-bed aircraft joined the program in 1991.

To this day only the latter flying laboratory remains, but the actual work on the airborne combat laser system did not stop over the last two decades. Over the years the A-60 program developed into an operable 1LK222 laser system. During state tests in 2009, the system was tested on the optical systems of a satellite on 1,500km-high orbit. After that information about the project went into shadows.

Russian A60 airborne combat laser test bed

Helium 3 might make better fusion bombs and Chinese lunar rover will return lunar soil in 2017

Chang'e 5 is an unmanned Chinese lunar exploration mission currently under development, which is expected to land on the Moon by 2017. Chang'e 5 will be China's first sample return mission, aiming to return at least 2 kilograms of lunar soil and rock samples back to the Earth

The lunar regolith on all surface of the Moon is estimated to contain 2,469,000 tons of helium 3.

One ton of helium-3 has the potential to produce 1.5 times more destructive power than the Tsar Bomba. Tsar Bomba had 50 megatons of yield.


January 07, 2015

Charlie Hebdo jihad massacre #JeSuisCharlie

The US embassy in France and all of twitter, facebook and other internet sites are providing support for the Charlie Hebdo French magazine company that was attacked by muslim extremists.

Masked gunmen opened fire Wednesday in the offices of a French satirical newspaper known for provocative content on Islam, killing at least 12 people and then escaping after carrying out the country’s bloodiest terrorist attack in decades.

PJ Media has some liveblogging of the event

Coverage and support for the satire and freedom of speech that Charlie Hebdo represented has and will increase



Drone Carrier Naval Ship Designs

Drone carrier naval ships have been designed, but so far none appear to have been deployed. The UXV Combatant is a concept warship designed by BVT Surface Fleet (now BAE Systems Surface Ships), which was displayed at the Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEi) in 2007. If built it would be expected to displace approximately 8,000 tonnes and "launch, operate and recover large numbers of small unmanned vehicles for extended periods, the UXV plays the role of mother ship - a permanent base and control centre for the futuristic unmanned land, sea and air vehicles before, during and on completion of their missions". If approved, it would be expected to enter service with the Royal Navy some time after 2020. It shares some common design features with the Type 45 destroyer, which will be beneficial both to the ease of production and cost.

UXV combatant concept design

Underwater drones that can act as decoys for submarines are being developed and will be deployed by the United States, Russia and other countries.

Next Generation American and Russian Submarines will have underwater drones and robots that will act as improved decoys

Russia’s fifth generation nuclear submarines will be armed with robots and underwater drones in addition to conventional weaponry.

"The new [fifth] generation [of submarines] will be equipped with both contemporary weapons and those currently being developed,” Nikolay Novoselov, deputy CEO of the Malakhit design engineering bureau, told RIA-Novosti.

“We’re talking about battle robots which can be released by the submarine, and a type of underwater drone,” he explained.

According to the designer, the robots would be disposable or returnable of military, surveillance or communications purpose.

“They’ll be released by the submarine and stay offline before being remotely activated on command. It will give the submarine time to leave the area, with the drone staying in place to maintain a semblance that the submarine is still there,” he said.

Novoselov stressed that developing robots for submarines isn’t an exclusive Russian field, as “the whole world is moving in this direction.”

Russia is currently building three more fourth generation Yasen-class submarines, with three more contracted for 2015. Severodvinsk is the flagship of the Yasen-class submarines, which will become the backbone of the Russian Navy’s conventional submarine force.



In addition to 533mm torpedoes, Yasen-class submarines can fire cruise missiles from its eight vertical launching systems. They can also carry Onyx and Kalibr supersonic anti-ship missiles.

USA also developing larger long duration autonomous underwater and surface drones

The ‘Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle’ program has now been introduced by the Office of Naval Research to build prototype machines. The project will develop the critical technologies needed to enable UUVs to operate and survive in the littorals for 70+ days. The LDUUV is a pier- launched and recovered UUV (without the need for ship-launch or recovery) with the capability to transmit in the open ocean and conduct over-the-horizon missions in littoral waters. This system will enable the extension of Navy platform sensing capability over the horizon and extend its influence. The creation of this UUV is intended to act as a significant force multiplier for the US Navy and will help close Warfighter gaps in a cost-effective manner. Two technology areas have been identified as critical to achieving this goal. These areas are Autonomy and Endurance Technologies.

As per the Navy, the goal is to “…acquire, deliver, and maintain operationally effective Unmanned Maritime Systems (UMS) as fully functional and integrated systems for the war fighter, and to direct UMS experimentation and technology maturation to develop future UMS capability.”


January 06, 2015

Cambrian Genomics is a Kinko's for DNA laser printing and custom life forms including DNA modified humans

Cambrian Genomics, which has created a promising laser DNA-printing technology, has raised a sizable $10 million round of funding, by far the largest in the company’s history.

In a pair of interviews, on and off the stage at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna today, the CEO of San Francisco-based Cambrian Genomics explained the mission of his company, which is often benignly described as “laser-printing DNA.”

So what does that mean?

“We want to make everything that is alive on the planet,” he explained. “Everything that is alive is not optimal. It can be made better.”

But he doesn’t have plans for replication: “We want to make totally new organisms that have never existed,” he said. “And replace every existing organism with a better one. It just seems obvious that eventually every human will be designed on a computer.”

Eight exoplanets have a good chance of being habitable

Astronomers announced today that they have found eight new planets in the "Goldilocks" zone of their stars, orbiting at a distance where liquid water can exist on the planet's surface. This doubles the number of small planets (less than twice the diameter of Earth) believed to be in the habitable zone of their parent stars. Among these eight, the team identified two that are the most similar to Earth of any known exoplanets to date.

"Most of these planets have a good chance of being rocky, like Earth," says lead author Guillermo Torres of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

These findings were announced today in a press conference at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

The two most Earth-like planets of the group are Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b. Both orbit red dwarf stars that are smaller and cooler than our Sun. Kepler-438b circles its star every 35 days, while Kepler-442b completes one orbit every 112 days.

With a diameter just 12 percent bigger than Earth, Kepler-438b has a 70-percent chance of being rocky, according to the team's calculations. Kepler-442b is about one-third larger than Earth, but still has a 60-percent chance of being rocky.

To be in the habitable zone, an exoplanet must receive about as much sunlight as Earth. Too much, and any water would boil away as steam. Too little, and water will freeze solid.

Kepler-438b receives about 40 percent more light than Earth. (In comparison, Venus gets twice as much solar radiation as Earth.) As a result, the team calculates it has a 70 percent likelihood of being in the habitable zone of its star.

Kepler-442b get about two-thirds as much light as Earth. The scientists give it a 97 percent chance of being in the habitable zone.

Astronomers have also found evidence that the recipe for Earth also applies to terrestrial exoplanets orbiting distant stars.

The team targeted Kepler-93b, a planet 1.5 times the size of Earth in a tight, 4.7-day orbit around its star. The mass and composition of this world were uncertain. HARPS-North nailed the mass at 4.02 times Earth, meaning that the planet has a rocky composition.

The researchers then compared all ten known exoplanets with a diameter less than 2.7 times Earth's that had accurately measured masses. They found that the five planets with diameters smaller than 1.6 times Earth showed a tight relationship between mass and size. Moreover, Venus and Earth fit onto the same line, suggesting that all these worlds have similar rock-iron compositions.


Spacex reusable rocket landing attempt delayed until Friday and Elon talked Mars colonization plans and rockets

Elon Musk is developing rockets that could be reused, rather than burn up on re-entry to earth’s atmosphere, in the belief they’ll drastically reduce the cost of trips to Mars. Launch has been delayed until Friday because of some Z actuator glitch.

He could make history -- and remake the space launch sector -- when new technology that captures spent rocket segments is put to the test for the first time today.

Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. will try to land a Falcon 9 rocket atop an unanchored ocean platform bobbing in the Atlantic Ocean after the missile propels a cargo capsule towards a rendezvous with the International Space Station.

The livestream of the launch is at this link At T-1 hour 20 minutes, weather has improved to 90% "go". (2 am PST, 5pm EST)





Elon Musk also says that in 2015, he will unveil his plan for getting human colonists to Mars, as well as his 21st-century design for spacesuits.

Q: Mars. Could you please clarify what the Mars Colonial Transporter actually is? Is it a crew module like Dragon, a launch vehicle like Falcon, or a mix of both? Does it have inflatable components? Is MCT just a codename?

A: The Mars transport system will be a completely new architecture. Am hoping to present that towards the end of this year. Good thing we didn't do it sooner, as we have learned a huge amount from Falcon and Dragon.

Goal is 100 metric tons of useful payload to the surface of Mars. This obviously requires a very big spaceship and booster system.

Q: In order to use the full MCT design (100 passengers), will BFR be one core or 3 cores?

A: At first, I was thinking we would just scale up Falcon Heavy, but it looks like it probably makes more sense just to have a single monster boost stage.

Q Why does Musk say there's just a 50-50 chance that Tuesday's landing maneuver will work?

A: I pretty much made that up. I have no idea

Will history remember President Obama more for Cold War 2.0 than the Middle East Wars ?

The Cold War was a state of political and military tension after World War II between powers in the Western Bloc (the United States, its NATO allies and others) and powers in the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its allies in the Warsaw Pact). Historians have not fully agreed on the dates, but 1947–1991 is common.

Cold War II, also known as the Second Cold War, New Cold War, and Colder War, is a term appearing in the 2010s to refer to the renewed ongoing tensions, hostilities, and political rivalry between the Putin-led Russian Federation on one hand, and the state representatives of entities such as the G7 and NATO on the other hand, chiefly influenced by United States and Germany.

In 2012, Russian General Nikolay Yegorovich Makarov threatened that if the United States were to deploy an anti-ballistic missile shield in Poland and Czech Republic, Russia would respond by deploying Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad. After a four-year stint as Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin returned to the Russian presidency and began to promote a new brand of ideology known as Putinism, which promotes conservative Russian values and opposition to the West, particularly the United States. By the early 2010s, polls from the Levada Center showed that Russians viewed the United States, Georgia, and the Baltic states as Russia's greatest enemies.

Relations got really bad with the Ukraine-Russia war. The US and Europe have applied economic and other sanctions on Russia.

Just in the last few days, Russia has revised its military doctrine for the first time since 2010. Decrying what it sees as Western efforts to turn Ukraine into a "front line of confrontation,” the revised doctrine would allow for Russia to deploy precision conventional weapons “as part of strategic deterrent measures” against what it sees as its principal threat: NATO.



Maginot Line in the South China Sea

The Maginot Line was a line of concrete fortifications, obstacles, and weapons installations that France constructed just before the border with Switzerland and the borders with Germany and Luxembourg during the 1930s.

A mature network of military facilities in the Spratlys, including an expanded Fiery Cross presence, would effectively extend China’s ability to project power by over 800 kilometers (500 miles), particularly through Chinese Coast Guard patrols in contested areas and potentially even air operations. Similar to its relative economic supremacy, China’s relative advantages in military size, modernization, and professionalism suggest that it is the only South China Sea claimant that is potentially capable of establishing de facto air and sea denial over tiny islet networks in a maritime setting as vast as the Spratly archipelago.

China’s German-built Tianjing Hao dredger is the largest of its type in Asia and China’s primary weapon in island-building, cost approximately $130 million to build. China may invest over $5 billion over ten years on reclamation in Johnson South Reef; the Philippines’ 2014 military budget is less than $2 billion.

China is the only claimant whose economic prowess can support projects that, without violence, significantly alter the status quo there. Admittedly, it is difficult to find credible data on whether other contenders have dredged or pursued similar island-building tactics

Infrastructure improvements are enhancing China’s ability to sustain its naval and maritime law enforcement presence in the South China Sea. This is particularly the case at Fiery Cross Reef, where a five-square mile project has been under construction intermittently since 1988. According to IHS Jane’s, Chinese facilities there serve as ‘‘base’’ for conducting land reclamation projects elsewhere in the Spratly Islands and host communications equipment, a greenhouse, a wharf, a helipad, and coastal artillery. Andrew S. Erickson, associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College, and Austin M. Strange, PhD student at Harvard University, suggest Fiery Cross Reef could eventually sustain a PLA Navy command and control center twice the size of Diego Garcia, a U.S. naval base in the Indian Ocean. China also appears to be constructing an airstrip at Johnson South Reef.

China in 2014 made significant progress on various land reclamation projects on Johnson South Reef, Johnson North Reef, Cuateron Reef, Gaven Reef, and Fiery Cross Reef, all of which are Chinese-controlled outposts in the disputed Spratly Islands. In addition to dredging sand to make islands where there previously were none, China appears to be expanding and upgrading military and civilian infrastructure—including radars, satellite communication equipment, antiaircraft and naval guns, helipads, and docks—on some of the islands


January 05, 2015

India and Pakistan skirmish in war like situation in Kashmir

Thousands of Indians have fled from their homes as fighting between India and Pakistan spread along a 200-km (124 mile) stretch of the border in the disputed region of Kashmir.

Tension between the nuclear-armed rivals has risen since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called off peace talks in August and clashes along stretches of their border have been erupting intermittently since October.

At least 10 Indian and Pakistani soldiers and civilians have been killed in fighting over the past week.

About 6,000 civilians in Indian-controlled Kashmir fled from their homes late on Monday as fighting moved to civilian areas, said Shantmanu, the divisional commissioner of Jammu region. About 4,000 left after fighting began last week.

Since the partition of British India in 1947 and creation of modern republics of India and Pakistan, the two South Asian countries have been involved in four wars, including one undeclared war, as well as many border skirmishes and military stand-offs.

The dispute over Kashmir has been the cause, whether direct or indirect, of all major conflicts between the two countries with the exception of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, where conflict originated due to turmoil in erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).


Understanding DNA repair and cancer resistance genes from Bowhead whales to enable 200 year lives in humans

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have sequenced the genome of the bowhead whale, estimated to live for more than 200 years with low incidence of disease.

The bowhead whale is the longest living mammal on earth. The team wanted to understand why they live so long and don't succumb to some of the same illnesses as humans do earlier in life.

Sequencing of the bowhead whale showed changes in genetic information that related to cell division, DNA repair, disease and aging that with further analysis, could help inform future studies in longevity and cancer resistance.

In their findings published in the journal Cell Reports, the team found as many as 80 candidate genes that may help protect the whale from cancer or contribute to it being the longest living mammal on earth. The team found that the whales have genes related to DNA repair, as well as those regulating how cells proliferate, that differ from those found in humans.

"We know DNA damage and DNA mutation are important for cancer. So when we find genes related to DNA repair and DNA damage responses, we think maybe this could be involved in longevity and disease resistance of the bowhead," Magalheas said. "In that sense, you don't find a fountain of youth in the genome but you find some promising leads."

Longevity work on Bowhead Whales was funded by SENS related organizations

Two groups which funded most of the whale research -- the Life Extension Foundation and the Methuselah Foundation -- are seeking that magic potion. Life Extension focuses on such things as hormonal and nutritional supplements to fight aging while Methuselah is heavily invested in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine "to create a world where 90 year olds can be as health as 50 year olds, by 2030."

Go to this link to support the Methuselah Foundation.

Go to this link to support SENS research. This is the best chance for radical life extension that you can support with public money.



Cell Reports - Insights into the evolution of longevity from the bowhead whale genome

Insights into the Evolution of Longevity from the Bowhead Whale Genome (12 pages)

Nvidia Tegra X1 Superchip will be the brain of self driving cars

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang unveiled the new 256-core chip, which uses the same Maxwell architecture deployed in the world’s top gaming graphics cards. Slated to arrive in products during the first half of the year, Tegra X1 provides more power than a supercomputer the size of a suburban family home from 15 years ago.

CEO Jen-Hsun Huang showed what Tegra X1 can do by revealing NVIDIA DRIVE computers for the car.

“Your future cars will be the most advanced computers in the world,” Jen-Hsun told a crowd of more than 350 reporters, analysts and partners packed into a ballroom at The Strip’s Four Season’s Hotel. “There will be more computing horsepower inside a car than anything you own today.”

NVIDIA DRIVE PX is a radical step toward the era of auto-piloted cars. Powered by dual Tegra X1 processors, DRIVE PX, with inputs for 12 high-resolution camera, promises to make driving safer and more enjoyable by introducing Surround-Vision and Auto-Valet capabilities.

NVIDIA DRIVE CX is a cockpit computer that can drive next-gen infotainment systems by lighting up to nearly 17 million pixels, better than 10-times the number in current state-of-the-art cars.

Eyes on the road: NVIDIA DRIVE PX weaves together different views to give next-generation cars better awareness of their surroundings


Oil lowest price since 2009 as Russia Boosts Production and Euro lowest since 2005 on new Greece Crisis Fears

Oil dropped to the lowest in more than five and a half years amid growing supply from Russia and Iraq and signs of manufacturing weakness in Europe and China.

John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy, said by phone. “The Chinese and European PMI figures signal weaker demand, while there’s ever-increasing supply. Nobody is cutting back on output and now the Russians are posting post-Soviet production highs.”

West Texas Intermediate for February delivery fell 58 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $52.69 below $50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest close since April 30, 2009. Brent for February settlement dropped 91 cents, or 1.6 percent, to close at $56.42 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe. It’s the lowest settlement since April 30, 2009.



The euro tumbled to its lowest level against the dollar (US$1.18 = 1 Euro) in nearly nine years on Sunday night amid mounting fears that Greece could exit the eurozone.

The sharp slide came as Asian markets accelerated a sell-off sparked on Friday, when Mario Draghi gave his strongest hint ever that the European Central Bank was ready to launch quantitative easing to tackle the threat of deflation.

New Non-invasive MRI can detect early stage Alzheimer's in a living animal

No methods currently exist for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, which affects one out of nine people over the age of 65. Now, an interdisciplinary team of Northwestern University scientists and engineers has developed a noninvasive MRI approach that can detect the disease in a living animal. And it can do so at the earliest stages of the disease, well before typical Alzheimer’s symptoms appear.

Led by neuroscientist William L. Klein and materials scientist Vinayak P. Dravid, the research team developed an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) probe that pairs a magnetic nanostructure (MNS) with an antibody that seeks out the amyloid beta brain toxins responsible for onset of the disease. The accumulated toxins, because of the associated magnetic nanostructures, show up as dark areas in MRI scans of the brain.

This ability to detect the molecular toxins may one day enable scientists to both spot trouble early and better design drugs or therapies to combat and monitor the disease. And, while not the focus of the study, early evidence suggests the MRI probe improves memory, too, by binding to the toxins to render them “handcuffed” to do further damage.


Fluorescent amyloid beta oligomers (green), bound to cultured hippocampal neurons, were detected with greater than 90 percent accuracy by the magnetic nanostructure probe (red). (Adapted from Viola et al., Nature Nanotechnology, 2014.)

Nature Nanotechnology - Towards non-invasive diagnostic imaging of early-stage Alzheimer's disease

January 04, 2015

Roadster 3.0 upgrade shows Tesla will upgrade Model S to 500+ mile range in 2017 and the advantage of upgrade overhauls

Tesla recently provided upgrades for 2400 Roadsters sold from 2008 to 2012 with a boost in range to over 400 miles Tesla is is probably the only Technology company to retrofit an older generation product with the latest technology. The old range was 244 miles. The first Roadsters in 2008 were becoming due for new battery packs.

The improved range are from
* new lithium-ion battery pack with higher energy density (70 kwh instead of 53 kwh)
* a new “aero kit” that reduces drag on the car
* new tires with less rolling resistance

Tesla Model S will have 500+ mile range probably by 2017 – 2018; and all the existing Model S, could be retrofitted with the new Battery Packs, when available.

Battery Swaps and Component Upgrade Overhaul for electric cars

Tesla is testing out battery swapping. They can just pull the whole battery pack out of cars and replace them in minutes.
The Roadster battery, aero kit and tire overhaul shows that it is far easier and simpler to upgrade electric cars versus gasoline combustion vehicles.

the undercarriage of a Telsa Model X. The battery, electric motors and wheels.

The battery swapping technique of taking a battery pack out and putting in a new one in as little as 90 seconds

Elon Musk developing Robotic power changing cord for Tesla cars

Tesla is working on an automatic charging system that will extend from the wall on its own and connect to a Model S "like a solid metal snake," adding that it would work with all existing Model S vehicles on the road.



Graphene can be used to collect hydrogen from moist ambient air to power fuel cells

University of Manchester research suggests that the use of graphene or monolayer boron nitride can allow the existing membranes to become thinner and more efficient, with less fuel crossover and poisoning. This can boost competitiveness of fuel cells.

You can put a hydrogen-containing gas on one side, apply small electric current and collect pure hydrogen on the other side. This hydrogen can then be burned in a fuel cell.

The Manchester group demonstrated that their one-atom-thick membranes can be used to extract hydrogen from a humid atmosphere. They hypothesise that such harvesting can be combined together with fuel cells to create a mobile electric generator that is fueled simply by hydrogen present in air.

“We worked with small membranes, and the achieved flow of hydrogen is of course tiny so far. But this is the initial stage of discovery, and the paper is to make experts aware of the existing prospects. To build up and test hydrogen harvesters will require much further effort.”

Dr Sheng Hu, a postdoctoral researcher and the first author in this work, added: “It looks extremely simple and equally promising. Because graphene can be produced these days in square meter sheets, we hope that it will find its way to commercial fuel cells sooner rather than later”.


Proton transport through 2D crystals. a, Examples of I‐V characteristics for monolayers of hBN, graphite and MoS2. The upper inset shows experimental schematics. Middle inset: Electron micrograph of a typical graphene membrane before depositing Nafion. Scale bar: 1 µm. In a scanning electron microscope, 2D crystals give rise to a homogenous dark background and can only be seen if contamination, defects or cracks are present (Supplementary Fig. 2). Small (pA) currents observed for MoS2 membrane devices (lower inset) are due to parasitic parallel conductance. b, Histograms for 2D crystals exhibiting detectable proton conductivity. Each bar represents a different sample with a 2 µm diameter membrane. Left and right insets: charge density (in electrons per Å2) integrated along the direction perpendicular to graphene and monolayer hBN, respectively. The white areas are minima at the hexagon centers; the maxima correspond to positions of C, B and N atoms. 

Nature - Proton transport through one-atom-thick crystals

Arxiv - Proton transport through one-atom-thick crystals (19 pages)

China also developing railguns and lasers for their navy but will first have a modern missile cruiser in about 2017

China appears to be developing a new cruiser, potentially called the Type 055, which reportedly would displace approximately 10,000 tons and carry large numbers [about 128] of antiship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and land-attack cruise missiles as well as potentially laser and rail-gun weapons. The first 055 hull to begin construction in the 2015-2016 timeframe. The 055 CG is expected to replace PLAN Type 052D destroyer as China's main combatant surface, with at probably twice as many missile launchers (128 vs. 64). The 055 CG will play a major part in China's naval strategy starting with a projected entry into service of 2017-2020. Its large size, formidable armament and powerful sensors will match or exceed that any current U.S. or allied AEGIS warship in the Pacific.

It will become the principal escort for China’s future aircraft carrier battle group.

The US has begun testing combat lasers on ships, planes and ground vehicles in 2014 and will being testing railguns in 2016.

China appears to be building its first big cruisers. Although shipbuilders have yet to lay down the first ship of the class, a mockup suggests that China could be planning a cruiser of (by contemporary standards) very large proportions.

Some analysts have estimated the Type 055 at around 12,000 tons, and have suggested that it could carry up to 128 vertical launch cells. A cruiser of this size could threaten to strike into the deep interior with cruise missiles, or could control the airspace in order to protect a task force.



Congressional report expects China Navy Shipbuilding Technical Proficiency to catch up to Russia by 2020 and the USA by 2030

A 2014 US Congressional report on China's military capability and production capability provides the following assessment. China’s acquisition of platforms, weapons, and systems has emphasized qualitative improvements, not quantitative growth, and centered on improving its ability to strike opposing ships at sea and operate at greater distances from the Chinese mainland.

China’s power projection capability will grow rapidly between now and 2020 with the addition of up to approximately 60 new submarines and surface ships; China’s first carrier-based aviation wing and second aircraft carrier; and 600 new modern combat aircraft, including China’s first fifth-generation fighters.

Navy Shipbuilding

China’s shipbuilders already have surpassed their counterparts in Western Europe, Japan, and South Korea in terms of the number and types of ships they can produce; China’s shipbuilders could reach the technical proficiency of Russian shipbuilders by 2020 and approach the technical proficiency of U.S. shipbuilders by 2030. China has demonstrated it is capable of manufacturing a wide range of naval combatants, including patrol boats, frigates, destroyers, large amphibious ships, and conventional and nuclear submarines and is developing its first indigenous aircraft carrier. Jesse Karotkin, senior intelligence officer for China at the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), testified to the Commission that ‘‘during 2013 alone, over fifty naval ships were laid down, launched, or commissioned, with a similar number expected in 2014.’

Navy Technology

China is developing its own marine gas turbines and already has produced them domestically for its YUYIclass hovercraft. China likely will develop the ability to mass produce marine gas turbines for larger combatant ships in the next decade. Gas turbines will give PLA Navy ships better acceleration and combat maneuverability than steam turbines that power them today due to their high power-to-weight ratio, speed, fuel efficiency, and compact size. Gas turbines also will allow the PLA Navy to achieve higher readiness rates, because they do not require the start-up time of steam turbines.


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