February 21, 2015

Russia has special fuel for Mach 5+ hypersonic missiles

Russia has invented special fuel formula enabling Russia's hypersonic aerial vehicles to fly faster than five times the speed of sound.

Unlike the US and China, who have concentrated on developing boost-glide vehicles, Russia and India are designing the so-called "hypersonic cruise missiles." While a boost-glide air vehicle first lift to an extreme altitude and then coast down to a target re-entering the atmosphere, cruise missiles travel on a non-ballistic, extremely low altitude trajectory evading early warning radar systems.

A Russia-India joint cruise missile research group will develop the world's first hypersonic cruise missile by 2023, the company's CEO was quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency as saying Wednesday.

Silicon Nanofibers could boost lithium battery energy density by ten times

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have developed a novel paper-like material for lithium-ion batteries. It has the potential to boost by several times the specific energy, or amount of energy that can be delivered per unit weight of the battery.
This paper-like material is composed of sponge-like silicon nanofibers more than 100 times thinner than human hair. It could be used in batteries for electric vehicles and personal electronics.

The nanofibers were produced using a technique known as electrospinning, whereby 20,000 to 40,000 volts are applied between a rotating drum and a nozzle, which emits a solution composed mainly of tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS), a chemical compound frequently used in the semiconductor industry. The nanofibers are then exposed to magnesium vapor to produce the sponge-like silicon fiber structure.

Silicon is widely considered as the successor to graphite-based anodes for Li-ion batteries given its highest theoretical capacity among known materials of 3579 mAh g−1, which corresponds to an ambient temperature formation of Li15Si4.

Researchers report the first synthesis of a binderless free-standing Si nanofiber (SiNF) paper with a Si weight percent in excess of 80% for application as Li-ion battery anodes, which forgoes the need for inactive polymer binders or metallic current collectors.

(a) Schematic representation of the electrospinning process and subsequent reduction process. Digital photographs of (b) as-spun SiO2 NF paper, (c) etched SiNF paper, and (d) C-coated SiNF paper as used in the Li-ion half-cell configuration.

Nature Scientific Reports - Towards Scalable Binderless Electrodes: Carbon Coated Silicon Nanofiber Paper via Mg Reduction of Electrospun SiO2 Nanofibers

Carnival of Space 393

The Carnival of Space 393 is up at Universe Today

Meet Three People Who Intend to Die on Mars at Universe Today

More than 200,000 people have applied to the Mars One Project, and 663 candidates have been put on the shortlist. Eventually just 4 people will be packed into a spacecraft and blasted off to the Red Planet in 2018. Once they get there, they’ll need to survive with what they brought with them, and what they can scrounge from the surface of the planet. And then they’ll be joined every 2 years later by another crew of potential colonists.

Dina from Iraq/USA one of severalon the Mars One shortlist of Mars candidates

Laser ignition demonstrated in a real engine could boost engine efficiency by 27%

Spark plugs can only ignite the fuel at one end of the chamber. A laser ignites the fuel in the middle of the chamber instead, burning more of the fuel and improving combustion efficiency by 27 per cent. Laser ignition could boost the fuel efficiency of a car from 40 miles per gallan up to around 50 miles per gallon, for example. The more complete burn emits fewer polluting by-products such as nitrogen dioxide. New Scientist reported on an ARPA-e energy innovation summit presentation

Lasers are also better at keeping up with the thousands of cycles a minute at which a car engine runs. They can be tuned more precisely than spark plugs so that they fire at the optimal instant for ignition. They can even be fired multiple times during the same cycle into different parts of the cylinder to maximise fuel burn.

Princeton Optronics is the first to show that it works in a real engine.

Back-up generators and ships' engines could benefit too. "There is a lot of pressure on the shipping companies to reduce the pollution from their ships," says Ghosh. "One shipping company we are talking to is interested in retrofitting their existing engines with laser ignition."

Nature Photonics in 2008 had another study on laser ignition for engines.

A new ignition concept is needed for lean-burn combustion in gasoline engines. The approach should extend the lean ignition limit air/fuel ratio to greater than 20, to enable reliable ignition under high in-cylinder pressures (up to 100 bar at the time of ignition) thus enabling high load operation, operation under high levels of exhaust gas recirculation, and lower or maintain ignitability (coefficient of variance of IMEP less than 3%). The objectives of phase I would be to develop a laser igniter for advanced automobile engines. Our goal would be to first define the specifications of the laser igniter to be developed. We would then design and build a laser igniter in and test it very thoroughly at Argonne National Laboratory. The major objectives of testing will be determining optimal laser pulse energy, number of pulses required per combustion cycle, time spacing between pulses, thermal load in the spark plug well, and other such parameters through single-cylinder engine tests. In phase II, we would develop a more advanced laser igniter and test it thoroughly for all the relevant parameters. In phase I, we would first define the specifications of the laser igniter to be developed in phase II of the program. We would then design the laser igniter to be developed in phase I and order the of the optical, mechanical and thermal components. Next we would do the optical bench test and verification of the solid state laser design and build the the laser ignition module. We would then test the laser igniter in a single-cylinder engine at Argonne National Lab. Finally, we would do the design for the improved laser igniters to be built in phase II. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The laser igniters would have near term high volume applications in automobile engines. In addition to automobile engines, it will have applications in natural gas power generation engines and other types of power generation engines such as those using biogas. In future it will have applications for natural gas truck engines and aerospace engines.

India to spend $16 billion on nuclear subs and $150 billion on stealth fighters that will be ready just in time to be obsolete

India is tripling its fleet of nuclear submarines in the country’s priciest naval expansion in five years, a move that comes as China increases naval activity in the Indian Ocean.

A cabinet committee on Tuesday approved plans to build six nuclear-powered submarines and seven stealth warships at a cost of about 1 trillion rupees ($16 billion), according to government officials familiar with the matter.

The submarines and warships will come into service from 2020 to 2030.

India plans to spend $150 billion through 2027 on new fighter jets, anti-tank missiles, helicopters and submarines. Pending purchases include 126 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault Aviation SA and 145 howitzer guns from BAE Systems Plc.

Just in time to be obsolete

The USA is shifting to drone mothership concepts because the US feels that submarines and stealth planes are being rendered less useful with new Chinese and Russian detection networks.

Obsolete Stealth Planes and Submarines likely to be replaced by drone carriers

Advances in big data and new detection methods are on track to fuse with the anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) ambitions of nations like China and Russia, which could force naval planners around the world might have to go back to the drawing board.

America’s superiority in undersea warfare is the product of decades of research and development (R and D), a sophisticated defense industrial base, operational experience, and high-fidelity training. This superiority, however, is far from assured. U.S. submarines are the world’s quietest, but new detection techniques are emerging that do not rely on the noise a submarine makes, and that may render traditional manned submarine operations far riskier in the future.

America’s competitors are likely pursuing these technologies while also expanding their own undersea forces. To sustain its undersea advantage well into this century, the U.S. Navy must accelerate innovation in undersea warfare by reconsidering the role of manned submarines and exploiting emerging technologies to field a new “family of undersea systems.”

SOSUS, an acronym for Sound Surveillance System, is a chain of underwater listening posts located around the world in places such as the Atlantic Ocean near Greenland, Iceland and the United Kingdom — the GIUK gap, and at various locations in the Pacific Ocean. The United States Navy's initial intent for the system was for tracking Soviet submarines, which had to pass through the gap to attack targets further west. It was later supplemented by mobile assets such as the Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System (SURTASS), and became part of the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS).

China is developing their own version of SOSUS with an undersea listening network.

Historical analysis shows that defences against submarines do not have to kill the submarines to be effective. So long as the submarines spend a lot more time to evade then the submarines are not performing their missions.

Bryan Clark, senior fellow for the Center Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, for lays out the problem in more layman's terms:

The ability of submarines to hide through quieting alone will decrease as each successive decibel of noise reduction becomes more expensive and as new detection methods mature that rely on phenomena other than sounds emanating from a submarine. These techniques include lower frequency active sonar and non-acoustic methods that detect submarine wakes or (at short ranges) bounce laser or light-emitting diode (LED) light off a submarine hull. The physics behind most of these alternative techniques has been known for decades, but was not exploited because computer processors were too slow to run the detailed models needed to see small changes in the environment caused by a quiet submarine. Today, “big data” processing enables advanced navies to run sophisticated oceanographic models in real time to exploit these detection techniques. As they become more prevalent, they could make some coastal areas too hazardous for manned submarines.

Singaporean developed and deployed UNET naval surveillance system

February 20, 2015

China's South China Sea Islands in 2016 and enable constant fishing and coast guard fleet presence

China's creation of artificial islands in the South China Sea is happening faster than the US and other countires expected. Beijing will be able to extend the range of its navy, air force, coastguard and fishing fleets. Chinese workers are building ports and fuel storage depots as well as possibly two airstrips that experts said would allow Beijing to project power deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.

“These reclamations are bigger and more ambitious than we all thought,” said one Western diplomat. “On many different levels it's going to be exceptionally difficult to counter China in the South China Sea as this develops.”

Satellite analysis published by IHS Jane's Defense Weekly this week showed a new installation being built on Hughes Reef. It described a “large facility” having been constructed on 75,000 square meters of sand reclaimed since August.

It also published images of Fiery Cross Reef, which now includes a reclaimed island more than 3 km (1.8 miles) long that experts said would likely become a runway.

Work is also well established on Gaven, Cuarteron and Eldad Reefs, with the new dredging taking place on Mischief Reef.

China could keep its fishing fleets and coastguard working in Southeast Asia more effectively, with crews able to re-supply and rest, said Carl Thayer, a South China Sea expert at Canberra's Australian Defense Force Academy. Oil explorers would similarly benefit.

Reuters reported in July that Chinese authorities were encouraging fishermen to sail to the Spratlys, often providing fuel subsidies to help.

Vietnam had up until now the most holdings in the Spratlys, with 25 bases on shoals and reefs. Vietnam is also quietly building up its submarine fleet to counter China.

Roilo Golez, a former Philippine national security adviser, predicted China would complete its reclamation work by early next year and announce an ADIZ (Air Defense and Identification Zone) within three years.

Can the Emdrive Be Explained by Quantised Inertia?

An Introduction to MiHsC - a model for inertia called: Modified inertia by a Hubble-scale Casimir effect (MiHsC) or quantised inertia.

The idea of inertia is that in a vacuum, where there is no friction, objects move along in a straight line at constant speed until you push on them. This tendency was first isolated by Galileo, who rolled balls down inclined planes (balls feel less friction). This tendency, inertia, has always been assumed but never explained.

Meanwhile physics has moved towards a study of information, and it has been realised in the past few decades that when you accelerate something, say, to the right, information from far to the left can never catch up to it, this means there is an information-boundary or 'horizon' to its left which is like a black hole event horizon (it is called a Rindler horizon). A kind of Hawking radiation comes off this horizon, which is called Unruh radiation (it was proposed by Bill Unruh) and is seen as background radiation, but is seen only by the accelerated object.

The new prediction from the model then is that objects with very low acceleration lose inertial mass in a new wa

It has been shown that cone-shaped cavities with microwaves resonating within them move slightly towards their narrow ends (the emdrive). There is no accepted explanation for this. Here it is shown that this effect can be predicted by assuming that the inertial mass of the photons in the cavity is caused by Unruh radiation whose wavelengths must fit exactly within the cavity, using a theory already applied with some success to astrophysical anomalies where the cavity is the Hubble volume. For the emdrive this means that more Unruh waves are “allowed” at the wide end, leading to a greater inertial mass for the photons there. The gain of inertia of the photons when they move from the narrow to the wide end, and the conservation of momentum, predicts that the cavity must then move towards the narrow end, as observed. This model predicts the available observations quite well, although the observational uncertainties are not well known.

(H / T Adam Crowl at Crowlspace )

Three independent experiments have shown that when microwaves resonate within an asymmetric cavity an anomalous force is generated pushing the cavity towards its narrow end.

This force can be predicted to some extent using a new model for inertia that has been applied quite successfully to predict galaxy rotation and cosmic acceleration, and which assumes in this case that the inertial mass of photons is caused by Unruh radiation and these have to fit exactly between the cavity walls so that the inertial mass is greater at the wide end of the cavity. To conserve momentum the cavity is predicted to move towards its narrow end, as seen.

This model predicts the published EmDrive results fairly well with a very simple formula and suggests that the thrust can be increased by increasing the input power, Q factor, or by increasing the degree of taper in the cavity or using a dielectric.

DARPA Developing Squad level Robotics and sensing technology

DARPA’s new Squad X Core Technologies (SXCT) program aims to address the challenge and ensure that dismounted infantry squads maintain uncontested tactical superiority over potential adversaries without being overburdened by cumbersome hardware. The goal is to speed the development of new, lightweight, integrated systems that provide infantry squads unprecedented awareness, adaptability and flexibility in complex environments, and enable dismounted Soldiers and Marines to more intuitively understand and control their complex mission environments.

SXCT plans to explore four key technical areas:

1. Precision Engagement: Precisely engage threats out to 0.6 mile (1,000 meters), while maintaining compatibility with infantry weapon systems and without imposing weight or operational burdens that would negatively affect mission effectiveness

2. Non-Kinetic Engagement: Disrupt enemy command and control, communications and use of unmanned assets at a squad-relevant operational pace (walking with occasional bursts of speed)

3. Squad Sensing: Detect potential threats out to 0.6 mile (1,000 meters) at a squad-relevant operational pace

4. Squad Autonomy: Increase squad members’ real-time knowledge of their own and teammates’ locations to less than 20 feet (6 meters) in GPS-denied environments through collaboration with embedded unmanned air and ground systems

DARPA’s new Squad X Core Technologies (SXCT) program aims to help dismounted infantry squads continue to achieve and maintain overwhelming tactical superiority over potential adversaries. SXCT seeks to adapt, extend and develop capabilities that would enhance small units’ real-time situational awareness and ability to precisely verify and engage hostile targets at multiple ranges. The goal is to speed the development of new, lightweight, integrated systems that provide infantry squads unprecedented awareness, adaptability and flexibility in complex environments, and enable dismounted Soldiers and Marines to more intuitively understand and control their complex mission environments

Aragoscope could be made to 1 kilometer or larger for detailed exoplanet imaging or blackholes in galactic cores

The Aragoscope: Ultra-High Resolution Optics at Low Cost starts from 1 hour into the video.

The goal is to create space telescopes with hundreds of meters of diameter.

The Aragoscope diffracts light into collection areas. A fraction of the light is collected. A hundred meter aragoscope with many 3 millimeter to one centimeter of width the diffracting rings would collect the light of a one meter telescope. The diffracting rings are a few microns across.

The Aragoscope could provide images up to 1,000 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope.

A conventional space telescope is pointed at an opaque disk along an axis to a distant target. The disk boosts the resolution of the system with no loss of collecting area. It can be used to achieve the diffraction limit based on the size of the low cost disk, rather than the high cost telescope mirror. One can envision affordable telescopes that could provide 7 centimeter resolution of the ground from geosynchronous orbit or images of the sky with one thousand times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.

February 19, 2015

China Provincial Population Deputy Head calls for a mandatory two child minimum

Mei Zhiqiang, deputy head of the birth-control bureau in Shanxi province and a Standing Committee member of the province’s political advisory body, is calling for a two child minimum in China.

“For the prosperity of our nation and the happiness of us and our children, we should make a serious effort to adjust the demographic structure and make our next generation have two children through policy and system design,” Mei said, according to various media reports.

The decades-old one-child policy has skewed China’s population older, as well as resulted in far more boys than girls, due to some couples seeking to make sure their only child would be male. The aging problem is weighing on China’s pension system, while the gender imbalance has made it hard for some men to find wives.

As a result, Mei said in his proposal to the provincial political advisory body earlier this year, the mere relaxation of the one-child policy isn’t enough, and two-child policy should be enforced.

The Dahe Daily says forcig two children would be ridiculous. The answer lies in easing the financial burden on married couples in order to encourage them to have a second child.

The Global Times says it is better to carry forward the new policy through encouragement and incentives, which will be more easily accepted by the people.

Nextbigfuture notes that the main thing is that the discussion in China has changed to how to encourage more children instead of keeping restritions on children. This would seem to mean that any bans on having children will be removed soon. It will be 24 months at most for the full no restrictions on having two children and maybe 3 years until there are not restrictions at all.

China annual number of babies could go from 16 million to 25.5 million babies in 2016.

US Census Bureau, 2010 estimate before th2 2013 changes or any new changes in China birth policy.

2020: 1,384,545,000
2030: 1,391,491,000
2040: 1,358,519,000
2050: 1,303,723,000

After the change (plus a complete lifting of any restriction children before 2018 and a shift to incentiving babies before 2022), I estimate

2020: 1.43 billion
2030: 1.53 billion
2040: 1.6 billion
2050: 1.65 billion

Here is an analysis of China's population based on changes in total fertility combined with improved life expectancy.

US Daily crude oil production highest since February 1973

Israel scales up Reverse Osmosis Desalination to slash costs with a fourth of the piping

The traditional criticism of reverse-osmosis technology is that it costs too much. The process uses a great deal of energy to force salt water against polymer membranes that have pores small enough to let fresh water through while holding salt ions back. However, Sorek desalination plant in Israel will profitably sell water to the Israeli water authority for 58 U.S. cents per cubic meter (1,000 liters, or about what one person in Israel uses per week), which is a lower price than today’s conventional desalination plants can manage. What’s more, its energy consumption is among the lowest in the world for large-scale desalination plants.

Sorek sets significant new industry benchmarks in desalination technology, capacity and water cost. It provides clean, potable water for over 1.5 million people, comprising 20% of the municipal water demand in Israel

Sorek Overview

Capacity: 624,000 m³/day (26,000 m³/hour)
Technology: Reverse Osmosis (RO)
Project Type: Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT)
Location: Sorek, Israel
Footprint: 100,000 m² (10 ha)
Commission Date: 2013

Technological leadership - innovative design incorporating vertical arrangement of 16” membranes in a large-scale facility, resulting in a reduced footprint hence saving costs. Also utilizes IDE’s proprietary Pressure Center Design, Double Line Intake and ERS (Energy Recovery System) for increased efficiency and reduced energy consumption

Nextbigfuture site passes 50 million pageviews and 100 million google plus views

Nextbigfuture has passed some traffic milestones.

The Nextbigfuture website has passed 50 million pageviews and has over 2 million pageviews per month.

On Google Plus, Nextbigfuture has passed 100 million views

February 18, 2015

China has solid plans for four aircraft carriers by 2030 and eventually could have 10

Liaoning party chief Wang Min said the Chinese navy had started work on the country’s second aircraft carrier and had plans for four, according to the South China Morning Post.

Richard Fisher, a military expert from US thinktank the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said China may have between four and five aircraft carriers in active service by 2030. This number may eventually increase to 10 in the next few decades. Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the US chief of naval operation said, however, that the gap between US and Chinese aircraft carriers is still large. While a US carrier is capable of launching and retrieving 100 aircraft simultaneously, a Chinese aircraft carrier can only operate 10.

The Singapore Straits Times had said China's first domestically built aircraft carrier will be able to carry 50 J-15B carrier-based fighters and other aircraft such as the K-8 or the Z-8 early warning helicopters. In the future, between 25 and 27 stealth fighters such as the J-20 or the J-31 may serve aboard the Chinese aircraft carriers to replace the J-15, the PLA's current carrier-based fighter.

China could build 200 nuclear reactors in the next 15 years

Westinghouse CEO Danny Roderick said that a “realistic” assessment of future business in China would place Westinghouse in the vicinity of a 25 percent to 30 percent market share. He estimated that China could build 200 reactors in the next 15 years.

China is expected to build up its own nuclear power plant export business with its own 1,400 MW version of the AP1000, Platts reported.

Roderick said that Westinghouse is expected to provide reactor coolant pumps to Chinese plants, which could amount to deals worth $800 million.

2015 Year of the Goat

In the Chinese calendar 2015 is the year of the goat. The Chinese commonly regard sheep as an auspicious animal, and the Year of the Sheep, therefore, heralds a year of promise and prosperity.

2015 could also be the year of Goat Guy at Nextbigfuture. E-catworld is following Goat Guy's reaction to the latest Cold Fusion developments.

E-catworld is interested to see Goat Guys comments about the Parkhomov replication.

Brain cells controlled with light

EPFL scientists have used a cutting-edge method to stimulate neurons with light. They have successfully recorded synaptic transmission between neurons in a live animal for the first time.

Neurons, the cells of the nervous system, communicate by transmitting chemical signals to each other through junctions called synapses. This “synaptic transmission” is critical for the brain and the spinal cord to quickly process the huge amount of incoming stimuli and generate outgoing signals. However, studying synaptic transmission in living animals is very difficult, and researchers have to use artificial conditions that don’t capture the real-life environment of neurons. Now, EPFL scientists have observed and measured synaptic transmission in a live animal for the first time, using a new approach that combines genetics with the physics of light.

Aurélie Pala and Carl Petersen at EPFL’s Brain Mind Institute used a novel technique, “optogenetics”, that has been making significant inroads in the field of neuroscience in the past ten years. This method uses light to precisely control the activity of specific neurons in living, even moving, animals in real time. Such precision is critical in being able to study the hundreds of different neuron types, and understand higher brain functions such as thought, behavior, language, memory – or even mental disorders.

Journal Cell - In Vivo Measurement of Cell-Type-Specific Synaptic Connectivity and Synaptic Transmission in Layer 2 / 3 Mouse Barrel Cortex [paper is open access]

Russian Intelligence affiliated Kaspersky Labs reports on the NSA's Equation Group

Kaspersky Labs has a 44 page report on the hackers called the Equation Group. The Equation group are most likely hackers working for the NSA

Wired reported that the founder of Kaspersky had KGB-sponsored training and served as a Soviet intelligence officer. He was allied with Vladimir Putin’s regime and has deep and ongoing relationship with Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB.

Kaspersky Lab is an international software security group operating in almost 200 countries and territories worldwide. The company is headquartered in Moscow, Russia, with its holding company registered in the United Kingdom. Kaspersky Lab currently employs over 2,850 qualified specialists. It has 31 representative territory offices in 30 countries and its products and technologies provide service for over 300 million users and over 250,000 corporate clients worldwide. The company is specially focused on large enterprises, and small and medium-sized businesses.

Taken together, the accomplishments led Kaspersky researchers to conclude that Equation Group is probably the most sophisticated computer attack group in the world, with technical skill and resources that rival the groups that developed Stuxnet and the Flame espionage malware.

"It seems to me Equation Group are the ones with the coolest toys," Costin Raiu, director of Kaspersky Lab's global research and analysis team, told Ars. "Every now and then they share them with the Stuxnet group and the Flame group, but they are originally available only to the Equation Group people. Equation Group are definitely the masters, and they are giving the others, maybe, bread crumbs. From time to time they are giving them some goodies to integrate into Stuxnet and Flame."

The Equation group is a highly sophisticated threat actor that has been engaged in multiple CNE (computer network exploitation) operations dating back to 2001, and perhaps as early as 1996. The Equation group uses multiple malware platforms, some of which surpass the well-known “Regin” threat in complexity and sophistication. The Equation group is probably one of the most sophisticated cyber attack groups in the world; and they are the most advanced threat actor we have seen.

Kasperky calls then the Equation group because of their love for encryption algorithms and obfuscation strategies and the sophisticated methods used throughout their operations. In general, the Equation group uses a specific implementation of the RC5 encryption algorithm throughout their malware. Some of the most recent modules use RC6, RC4 and AES too, in addition to other cryptographic functions and hashes.

One technique in particular caught our attention and reminded us of another complex malware, Gauss. The GrayFish loader uses SHA-256 one thousand times over the unique NTFS object ID of the victim’s Windows folder to decrypt the next stage from the registry. This uniquely ties the infection to the specific machine, and means the payload cannot be decrypted without knowing the NTFS object ID

What is the most sophisticated thing about the EQUATION group?

Although the implementation of their malware systems is incredibly complex, surpassing even Regin in sophistication, there is one aspect of the EQUATION group’s attack technologies that exceeds anything we have ever seen before. This is the ability to infect the hard drive firmware. We were able to recover two HDD firmware reprogramming modules from the EQUATIONDRUG and GRAYFISH platforms. The EQUATIONDRUG HDD firmware reprogramming module has version 3.0.1 while the GRAYFISH reprogramming module has version 4.2.0. These were compiled in 2010 and 2013, respectively, if we are to trust the PE timestamps

Combining statistics from KSN and our sinkhole, we counted more than 500 victims worldwide. A lot of infections have been observed on servers, often domain controllers, data warehouses, website hosting and other types of servers. At the same time, the infections have a self-destruct mechanism, so we can assume there were probably tens of thousands of infections around the world throughout the history of the Equation group’s operations. As an interesting note, some of the “patients zero” of Stuxnet seem to have been infected by the EQUATION group. It is quite possible that the EQUATION group malware was used to deliver the STUXNET payload.

The Equation group uses a vast C and C infrastructure that includes more than 300 domains and more than 100 servers. The servers are hosted in multiple countries, including the US, UK, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Panama, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Colombia and Czech Republic.

Revolutionary Vision: Implants, Prosthetics, Smart Glasses, and the Telescopic Contact Lens

1. [via Eurekalert EPFL] An estimated 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide. Age-related macular degeneration alone is the leading cause of blindness among older adults in the Western world. But this week at the AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose, California, Eric Tremblay from EPFL in Switzerland unveils a new prototype of his telescopic contact lens--the first of its kind--giving hope for better, stronger vision. The optics specialist also debuts complementary smart glasses that recognize winks and ignore blinks, allowing wearers of the contact lenses to switch between normal and magnified vision.

The conference Abstract for the Smart Glasses and Telescopic Contact Lenses for Macular Degeneration is here. They plan to shortly enter clinical trials.

Inside the lens

The first iteration of the telescopic contact lens--which magnifies 2.8 times--was announced in 2013. Since then the scientists behind the DARPA-funded project have been fine-tuning the lens membranes and developing accessories to make the eyewear smarter and more comfortable for longer periods of time, and thus more usable in every day life.

The contacts work by incorporating a very thin reflective telescope inside a 1.55mm thick lens. Small mirrors within bounce light around, expanding the perceived size of objects and magnifying the view, so it's like looking through low magnification binoculars.

Wink-controlled glasses

The researchers have also developed a novel method to electronically switch the wearer's view between normal, or unmagnified vision and telescopic. This switching functionality is crucial for the lenses to be widely useful for non-AMD sufferers who will be able to have magnification "on demand". In the system debuted at AAAS, electronic glasses use a small light source and light detector to recognize winks and ignore blinks. The wearer will wink their right eye for magnification, and left eye for normal vision.

There are glasses already on the market for people with AMD that have mounted telescopes, but they tend to look bulky and interfere with social interaction. They also do not track eye movement, so you have to position your eyes and tilt your head to use them.

The combination of the telescopic contact lenses and optional blink-controlled eyewear represent a huge leap in functionality and usability in vision aid devices and a major feat for optics research.

2. At the same conference session Revolutionary Vision: Implants, Prosthetics, Smart Glasses, and the Telescopic Contact Lens there was a talk by Daniel Palanker , Stanford University on Restoration of Sight with Photovoltaic Subretinal Prosthesis

February 17, 2015

Board of Apple Should Get Elon Musk as CEO for Apple to become a Multi-Trillion Dollar Company

It has been predicted that Apple should buy Tesla Motors just before the Model 3 is released. This makes no sense for Elon Musk and the owners of Tesla. Tesla is winning and will do even better when the Gigafactory is producing batteries and the Model 3 is in production. Elon can easily raise tens of billions to finance expansions at Tesla. The money does not have to come from Apple.

Apple meanwhile has been building a larger and larger hoard of cash. Apple is nearing $200 billion in cash and cash equivalents. The cash is increasing at $18 billion per quarter and would increase faster if there were no stock buybacks.

Since the beginning of fiscal 2014, Apple has spent $45 billion to repurchase its stock.

Tim Cook reiterated his commitment to returning excess cash to shareholders.

Apple recent stock success has come from entering the China market with a deal with China mobile and finally following Android smartphone makers to making large smartphones. The success is copying what Google and other companies like Samsung were already doing.

This shows the lack of vision at Apple.

Elon Musk has product design vision as seen with the Tesla Model S and he successful achieve engineering wins. This is seen with Spacex, Tesla and Solar City.

Elon Musk and his new investors (Google and Fidelity) are planning to create a lower altitude network of thousands of satellites for high speed internet service. The plan is to create a global internet service that could help fund the city on Mars. Spacex satellite network would have up to 4000 smaller mass produced satellites that would fly at about 700 kilometers for faster response and communication speeds.

Why Can't the Massive US Military Impose its Will on moderate sized Enemies ?

Tom Streithorst spent much of the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a news cameraman embedded with the American military. He provides an article at pieria.co.uk on Why the World’s Biggest Military Keeps Losing Wars.

Tom gives four reasons

1. Too much logistics, not enough combat.

They call it the tooth to tail ratio: the number of combat soldiers compared to the number in support roles. More than three-quarters of Americans in Iraq didn’t fight.

US mess halls had pecan pie, sweet ice tea, lobster and steak on Fridays, all shipped halfway around the globe. The logistical tail was wagging the combat dog. In Afghanistan, the Americans had to pay off the Taliban so the supplies could get through.

Donald Rumsfeld was right about one thing: the American military is too big and bulky. Special Forces are lean and mean and - not coincidentally - more successful.

New More Detailed Ceres Images from NASA

Craters and mysterious bright spots are beginning to pop out in the latest images of Ceres from NASA's Dawn spacecraft. These images, taken Feb. 12 at a distance of 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers) from the dwarf planet, pose intriguing questions for the science team to explore as the spacecraft nears its destination.

These two views of Ceres were acquired by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on Feb. 12, 2015, from a distance of about 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers) as the dwarf planet rotated. The images have been magnified from their original size. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Spiderman and Marvel movie franchises will have a shared universe

Marvel Spider-Man will be in the third Captain America movie. Captain America Civil War.

Sony and Disney have come to an agreement where Spiderman will appear in some Disney marvel movies and there will be cross promotion of Spiderman movies with Marvel Movies. Spiderman will also appear in Avengers Infinity War part 1 and part 2.

Spiderman had been licensed to Sony for movies. Sony has the rights to Spiderman so long as they keep making movies.

The Spiderman movie franchise will be rebooted again. There will also be a new actor playing Spiderman.

This may also be model for 20th Century Fox which has Fantastic Four and the X-men movie franchises. Fantastic Four and X-men will have a shared movie universe as well but currently it will not overlap with Avengers and Spiderman.

Canada Will Increase Immigration 8% in 2015

Immigration Canada reports that Canada has admitted about 250,000 immigrants per year for the last five years.

The 2015 immigration plan unveiled by the government of Canada last week sets a target of between 260,000 and 285,000 new permanent residents next year, an increase of about 20,000 people from the goal for 2014.

Canada's increased immigration levels, coincides with the implementation of a new Express Entry immigration system which processes immigrants to Canada under Economic Class programs.

The Express Entry immigration selection system came into operation in January, 2015

This could end up a bit above the medium population projection. Immigration was 269,000 to 275,000 in the 2014-2016 medium population projection. Canada usually comes within 5000-7000 of the to the high end of the immigration targets.

The High population projection from 2012 had 326,000 to 331,000 immigrants in the 2014-2016 timeframe.

Businesses and national newspapers in Canada are pushing for immigration levels of 350,000 to 400,000.

High Projection

2020   39 million
2025   42 million
2030   44 million
2035   47 million
2040   50 million
2045   53 million
2050   56 million
2055   59 million
2060   63 million

Medium Projection
2020   38 million
2025   40 million
2030   41.7 million
2035   43.5 million
2040   45 million
2045   46.5 million
2050   48.6 million
2055   50 million
2060   52 million

For Big Impact Quantum Computers would need to Improve on UPS Orion Type Systems

Arguably the world’s largest operations research project, ORION uses expansive fleet telematics and advanced algorithms to gather and calculate countless amounts of data to provide UPS drivers with optimized routes. [UPS Orion background information]

Each business day, UPS drivers deliver between 125 and 175 packages. The number of route combinations a driver can make is far greater than the number of nanoseconds the earth has existed. To ensure UPS drivers use the most optimized delivery routes in regard to distance, fuel and time, UPS developed On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation (ORION).

The ORION program is the result of a long-term operational technology investment and commitment by UPS that will be more than a decade in the making from the initial development of the algorithm to full deployment to nearly all 55,000 routes in the North American market by 2017. 2013 marked the first major ORION deployment by a team of 500 dedicated resources to rollout ORION to 10,000 UPS routes. As results are exceeding expectations, in 2014 UPS increased the ORION team to 700 to speed deployment to 45% of US routes by the end of the year.

Results with ORION

With 10,000 routes optimized with ORION, UPS saves more than 1.5 million gallons of fuel and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 14,000 metric tons. Initial results show miles reduced with each route using ORION and a reduction of just one mile per driver per day over one year can save UPS up to $50 million.

In 2014, 24,000 routes will be optimized with ORION, nearly half of all US routes.

Dwave Systems will be commercially releasing an 1152 qubit quantum annealing system. The Dwave System had exceeded the capabilities of classical computers in some very narrow situations with their 512 qubit system. If Dwave or other quantum computers can improve the overall logistical results for large companies there will be significant economic impact.

Watts Bar close to licensing and would be first new US reactor in 20 years

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has reached a "critical regulatory step" towards the start up of the USA's first new nuclear power reactor in 20 years.

An independent body within the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has recommended proceeding with the licensing process for Watts Bar Unit 2, near Spring City, Tennessee. Its recommendation is part of the information NRC commissioners will consider when making a final decision on issuing an operating license for the reactor.

In 2002, TVA began work to restart a previously mothballed nuclear reactor at Browns Ferry Unit 1, which was completed in May 2007. Unit 1 had been mothballed since 1985.

Modumetal makes cost effective nanolaminated steel up to ten times stronger and corrosion resistant

Modumetal is creating a revolutionary new class of nanolaminated materials that will change design and manufacturing forever by dramatically improving the structural, corrosion and high temperature performance of coatings, bulk materials and parts

Modumetal is based on the interaction of different materials at their interfaces. By laminating metals, Modumetal creates a new way to influence material properties. By growing metal using low-cost electrochemistry, Modumetal enables a whole new class of applications of these materials.

Modumetal’s advanced manufacturing technology makes it possible to GROW nanolaminate structures, much like nature grows shell and bone.

Kevin Bullis MIT Technology Review indicates the Modumetal process can increase the strength of metals such as steel by as much as 10 times.

Modumetal uses an advanced form of electroplating, a process already used to make the chrome plating you might see on the engine and exhaust pipes of a motorcycle. Electroplating involves immersing a metal part in a chemical bath containing various metal ions, and then applying an electrical current to cause those ions to form a metal coating.

The company uses a bath that contains more than one kind of metal ion and controls how ions are deposited by varying the electrical current. By changing the current at precise moments, it can create a layered structure, with each layer being several nanometers thick and of different composition. The final coating can be up to a centimeter thick and can greatly change the properties of the original material.

David Lashmore, a professor of materials science at the University of New Hampshire who has conducted work in the area, says nano-engineered layers can make a material stronger by stopping cracks from moving through it.

Pebble-Bed Fluoride-Salt-Cooled High-Temperature Reactor

University of California at Berkeley researchers provide a Technical Description of the “Mark 1” Pebble-Bed Fluoride-Salt-Cooled High-Temperature Reactor (PB-FHR) Power Plant.

MIT leads (with partners at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin, and Westinghouse) a 3-year research program to investigate a new high-temperature reactor that may enable economic variable electricity production and can't have accidents with on-site releases of radioactivity. The potential for such a breakthrough is a consequence of improvement in technologies developed for other purposes over the last 50 years. The reactor is called the Fluoride-salt-cooled High-temperature Reactor (FHR).

* Superior economics (30% less expensive than LWR)
* Limit severe accidents
* 700°C for higher thermal eciency and process heat
* Better non-proliferation and waste characteristics

A report describes the results of work at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) to develop an initial pre-conceptual design for a small, modular 236-MWth pebble-bed fluoridesalt-cooled, high-temperature reactor (PB-FHR). This design study contributes to a larger U.S. Department of Energy Integrated Research Project (IRP) collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Wisconsin, Madison to establish the technical basis to design, license, and commercially deploy FHRs.

The Mark-1 (Mk1) PB-FHR design described here differs from previous FHR designs developed and published by UCB and others. It uses a nuclear air-Brayton combined cycle (NACC) based upon a modified General Electric 7FB gas turbine, designed to produce 100 MWe of base-load electricity when operated with only nuclear heat, and to increase this power output to 242 MWe using gas co-firing for peak electricity generation. Due to the high thermal efficiency of the NACC system, the steam-bottoming condenser of the Mk1 PB-FHR requires only 40% of the cooling water supply that is required for a conventional light water rector (LWR), for each MWh of base-load generation. As with conventional natural-gas combined cycle (NGCC) plants, this makes the efficiency penalty of using dry cooling with air-cooled condensers much smaller, enabling economic operation in regions where water is scarce.

The primary purpose of the Mk1 design, with its co-firing capability, is to provide a new value proposition for nuclear power. The new value proposition for NACC arises from additional revenues earned by providing flexible grid support services to handle the everincreasing demand for dispatchable peak power, in addition to traditional base-load electrical power generation. Because under base-load operation NACC power conversion has lower fuel costs than NGCC, and under peaking operation has higher efficiency in converting natural gas to electricity than NGCC, NACC plants will always dispatch before conventional NGCC plants.

February 16, 2015

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 248

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 248 is up at ANS Nuclear Cafe

James Conca at Fortune looks at Energy Returned on Investment or EROI. EROI was an early concept that easily demonstrated the advantages, as well as the investment needed, to exploit these new energy sources (The Encyclopedia of Earth). Also referred to as Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI), EROI is the ratio of energy returned to energy invested in that energy source, along its entire life-cycle.* When the number is large, energy from that source is easy to get and cheap. However, when the number is small, the energy from that source is difficult to get and expensive.

When the number is one, there is no return on the energy invested, and the entire investment has been wasted. The break-even number for fueling our modern society is about 7.

Energy Returned on Investment, or EROI, with and without energy storage (buffering or load following). CCGT is combined-cycle natural gas turbine. Nuclear is conventional Pressurized Water Reactors, fast reactors are several times higher. Solar CSP is concentrated solar (á la Ivanpah), solar PV is photovoltaic solar cells like on rooftop solar. Energy sources must exceed the economic threshold of about 7 (blue line) in order to yield the surplus energy required to support a modern society. EROI is similar to Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI). After Weißbach (2013)

Calacanis predicts that Apple will buy Tesla Motors

Jason Calacanis, serial entrepreneur, has predicted that Apple will buy Tesla Motors for $75 billion within 18 months.

There are reports of a massive project at Apple, with hundreds of executives working on an electric minivan. Additionally, an Apple self-driving car has been spotted on the roads.

Elon has been very public in saying that in order to complete the mission at Tesla he needs to get the third generation car out.

Jason believes Apple would be desperate to buy Tesla between when the Gen 3 is announced but before it is delivered, because once the Model 3 hits the road Tesla’s market cap would make a deal with Apple a merger -- not an acquisition.

Nextbigfuture agrees that it would be good for Apple to buy Tesla and Apple could offer to buy it.

Nextbigfuture sees little reason for Elon Musk to agree to do it.

A World War 2 Betrayal of Trust that is costing the USA a trillion dollars today

The Guadalcanal Campaign, also known as the Battle of Guadalcanal and codenamed Operation Watchtower by Allied forces, was a military campaign fought between 7 August 1942 and 9 February 1943 on and around the island of Guadalcanal in the Pacific theatre of World War II. It was the first major offensive by Allied forces against the Empire of Japan.

Surprised by the Allied offensive, the Japanese made several attempts between August and November 1942 to retake Henderson Field. Three major land battles, seven large naval battles (five nighttime surface actions and two carrier battles), and continual, almost daily aerial battles culminated in the decisive Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in early November 1942

Bad weather allowed the Allied expeditionary force to arrive unseen by the Japanese on the night of 6 August and the morning of 7 August, taking the defenders by surprise. This is sometimes called the Midnight Raid on Guadalcanal.

11,000 U.S. Marines came ashore on Guadalcanal between Koli Point and Lunga Point. Tulagi and two nearby small islands, Gavutu and Tanambogo, were assaulted by 3,000 U.S. Marines.

During the landing operations on 7 and 8 August, Japanese naval aircraft based at Rabaul, under the command of Sadayoshi Yamada, attacked the Allied amphibious forces several times, setting afire the transport USS George F. Elliot (which sank two days later) and heavily damaging the destroyer USS Jarvis. In the air attacks over the two days, the Japanese lost 36 aircraft, while the U.S. lost 19, both in combat and to accident, including 14 carrier fighters.

After these clashes, Fletcher was concerned about the losses to his carrier fighter aircraft strength, anxious about the threat to his carriers from further Japanese air attacks, and worried about his ships' fuel levels. Fletcher withdrew from the Solomon Islands area with his carrier task forces the evening of 8 August. As a result of the loss of carrier-based air cover, Turner decided to withdraw his ships from Guadalcanal, even though less than half of the supplies and heavy equipment needed by the troops ashore had been unloaded. Turner planned, however, to unload as many supplies as possible on Guadalcanal and Tulagi throughout the night of 8 August and then depart with his ships early on 9 August. [wikipedia excerpts of the Guadalcanal Campaign]

The lightly-equipped Marines ended up surrounded. For months (August until November) the Japanese planes, opposed by only a handful of Marine fighters flying from a crude beachhead airstrip, pounded the hapless Americans. [David Axe at war is boring]

The carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) under aerial attack during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons.

Ibiblio hyperwar describes more details of the Guadalcanal campaign.

As an organization, the Marine Corps was forever changed by its exposure on Guadalcanal. “The lesson learned was that the U.S. Marine Corps needed to be able to bring its air power with it over the beach because the large-deck Navy aircraft carriers might not always be there,” said Ben Kristy, an official Marine historian. [David Axe at war is boring]

Star Citizen Crowdfunding has raised Seven times more than biggest pre-2014 crowdfunding

The Space combat video game, Star Citizen, s the largest crowd-funded project of any genre with over 755,000 backers. Listed on December 2014 at more than $65,300,000 as a Guinness World Record. It has raised $72.568 million. Of the total amount, $6,238,563 were raised on Kickstarter and Roberts' own website on November 19th, 2012. It is being made by Chris Roberts who designer of Wing Commander.

In 1991 Wing Commander won Computer Gaming World '​s Overall Game of the Year award. In 1996 the magazine ranked it as the seventh best PC video game of all time, also listing the game's Game Over funeral cutscene among the 15 best ways to die in computer gaming. In 2011, Maximum PC included it on the list 16 classic games that need to be remade today, stating: "Chris Roberts and Origin really nailed the space opera with this series, which blended fast action and a fairly engaging (if hokey) story. Way ahead of its time.

In 1999, Wing Commander hit the big screen with the film of the same name. It made $11.5 million in domestic box office and had a $30 million production budget

Wikipedia has a partial list of the most successful crowdfunding project

1. Star Citizen has raised $72.568 million so far

World Bank list Pearl River as bigger than Tokyo

February 15, 2015

Orbiting Rainbow Project Experiment updates

Three NASA NIAC talks

0 to 30 minutes - Marco Pavone, Stanford University - Spacecraft/Rover Hybrids for the Exploration of Small Solar System Bodies

31 -60 minutes - Thomas Prettyman, Planetary Science Institute - Deep mapping of small solar system bodies with galactic cosmic ray secondary particle showers

Focus on the third talk

61+ minutes - Marco Quadrelli, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory - Orbiting Rainbows Phase II

An orbiting rainbow is an artificial cloud in space engineered to reflect electromagnetic energy and perform useful functions.

Lasers hit and trap the tenuous cloud periodically to image distant objects. It is not on continuously because that would fry the cloud material.

Algorithms will be used to pull the clear image from the noise in the system.

Need to bring down the wave front error.

Nextbigfuture looked at this work before that this laser cloud imaging could effectively create massive space telescope.

Carnival of Space 392 - Rings 200 times larger than Saturn's Rings around exoplanet J1407

The Carnival of Space 392 is up at Urban Astronomer

There is a gigantic ring system around exoplanet J1407b. It is much larger, heavier than Saturn’s rings

Astronomer Eric Mamajek at the University of Rochester and his co-author from the Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands, have discovered that the ring system that they see eclipse the very young Sun-like star J1407 is of enormous proportions, much larger and heavier than the ring system of Saturn. The ring system – the first of its kind to be found outside our solar system – was discovered in 2012 by a team led by Rochester’s Eric Mamajek.

A new analysis of the data, led by Leiden’s Matthew Kenworthy, shows that the ring system consists of over 30 rings, each of them tens of millions of kilometers in diameter. Furthermore, they found gaps in the rings, which indicate that satellites (“exomoons”) may have formed. The result has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.

“The details that we see in the light curve are incredible. The eclipse lasted for several weeks, but you see rapid changes on time scales of tens of minutes as a result of fine structures in the rings,” says Kenworthy. “The star is much too far away to observe the rings directly, but we could make a detailed model based on the rapid brightness variations in the star light passing through the ring system. If we could replace Saturn’s rings with the rings around J1407b, they would be easily visible at night and be many times larger than the full moon.”

“This planet is much larger than Jupiter or Saturn, and its ring system is roughly 200 times larger than Saturn’s rings are today,” said co-author Mamajek, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester. “You could think of it as kind of a super Saturn.”

Artist’s conception of the extrasolar ring system circling the young giant planet or brown dwarf J1407b. The rings are shown eclipsing the young sun-like star J1407, as they would have appeared in early 2007. Credit: Ron Miller

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