May 02, 2015

Making viable hypersonic commercial airplane designs including a Mach 8 cruise passenger vehicle

HEXAFLY aims to create a multi-disciplinary platform where several breakthrough technologies can be mounted on board for testing in free flight at high speed. This approach will create the basis to increase gradually the Technology Readiness Level (TRL).

The emerging technologies and breakthrough methodologies strongly depending on envisaged flight tests at high speed can be grouped around the 6 major axes:

* High-Speed Vehicle Concepts to assess the overall vehicle performance in terms of cruise-efficiency, range potential, aero-propulsive balance, aero-thermal-structural integration, etc...

* High-Speed Aerodynamicsto assess aerodynamic vehicle shapes with high L/D (lift to drag ratio), aerodynamic manoeuvrability, stability, etc…

* High-Speed Propulsion to evaluate the performance of high-speed propulsive devices such as intakes, air-breathing engines (ABE), nozzles (SERN) including phenomena such as high-speed combustion, injection-mixing processes, etc…

* High-Temperature Materials and Structures to flight test under realistic conditions high temperature lightweight materials, active/passive cooling concepts, reusability aspects in terms oxidation, fatigue, etc…

* High-Speed Flight Control requiring real-time testing of GNC (Guidance Navigation Control) in combination with HMS/FDI technologies (Health Monitoring Systems/ Fault Detection and Isolation)

* High-Speed Environmental Impact focusing on reduction techniques for sonic boom and sensitivities of high-altitude emissions of H20, CO2, NOx on the stratosphere.

Current Mach 8 designs would use about 600 liters of fuel per passenger for a 12000 mile trip. At $1 per liter this would be about $600 per passenger for the fuel. The ticket for the flight would still need to cover the cost of the vehicle, insurance, salaries for all the support and flight staff and profit.

Long-range potential of high-speed vehicles in function of flight Mach number: Red: achievable with classical designs with minimal integration; Green: present designs based upon strongly integrated propulsion-vehicle designs with a potential limit (dashed line)

A paper describes the MR2, a Mach 8 cruise passenger vehicle, conceptually designed for antipodal flight from Brussels to Sydney in less than 4 hours. This is one of the different concepts studied within the LAPCAT II project. It is an evolution of a previous vehicle, the MR1 based upon a dorsal mounted engine, as a result of multiple optimization iterations leading to the MR2.4 concepts. The main driver was the optimal integration of a high performance propulsion unit within an aerodynamically efficient wave rider design, whilst guaranteeing sufficient volume for tankage, payload and other subsystems.

It is conceptually feasible provided liquid hydrogen is used as a fuel. With a GTOW of 400tons and a fuel burn of 180tons, the antipodal range from Brussels to Sydney is achievable within 3 hours.

Imperfect Malaria Vaccine can still help reduce Malaria cases by 36%

The world's first Malaria vaccine provides modest protection. Four injections of the RTS,S vaccine reduced cases of malaria in children aged 5 to 17 months and babies aged 6 to 12 weeks at first vaccination by 36 and 26 per cent respectively after four years, compared with non-recipients.

"Given that there were an estimated 198 million malaria cases in 2013, this level of efficacy potentially translates into millions of cases of malaria in children being prevented," says lead author Brian Greenwood of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Complete rollout of the vaccine could prevent tens of millions of cases and save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Lancet - Efficacy and safety of RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine with or without a booster dose in infants and children in Africa: final results of a phase 3, individually randomised, controlled trial

8922 children and 6537 young infants were included in the modified intention-to-treat analyses.

US Startup X-energy developing innovative Xe-100 “pebble bed” high temperature gas-cooled reactor

X-energy, a Greenbelt-based nuclear engineering company,recently convened a group of world-renowned nuclear experts to discuss best-practices in pebble fuel fabrication. X-energy will use the spherical elements to fuel their Xe-100 gas-cooled nuclear reactor in the mid-2020s. The Xe-100 is a “pebble bed” high temperature gas-cooled reactor

The Xe-100 is a helium-cooled “pebble bed” HTGR that operates at 125MWth and produces approximately 48MWe.

The Xe-100 will benefit from decades of research and safe operation in pebble bed reactors internationally, and X-energy plans to bring the remarkable features and benefits of pebble fuel to the United States for the first time. The Xe-100 will be ultra-safe, small-scale, compact, versatile, and able to respond in real-time to fluctuating grid demands.

The unique properties and benefits of the Xe-100 allow it to solve energy challenges in diverse markets including government application, commercial electrical generation, and combined heat and power (CHP) industries

* A small footprint and reduced water requirement mean the Xe-100 can be installed in a much wider range of potential locations compared to other clean energy solutions

* X-energy estimates the total U.S. market at more than 240 potential locations representing 3,600 reactors (180 GWe market for their 50 MWe reactors)

X-Energy’s technical game-changer is NASA systems engineering coupled with nuclear reactor design. Company leadership includes former NASA executives who bring unique perspectives and experience in simplification, reliability, modularity, and operational efficiency to the nuclear power industry. X-Energy draws on the expertise of its sister company, SGT, Inc. (Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, Inc.), a prominent engineering services provider with over thirty active contracts with DOT, DOI, DOC, NASA, and DoD. SGT has annual revenues of approximately $500 million and a backlog of nearly $3 billion. (

A Department of Energy Technical Review Panel (TRP) recently completed an evaluation of seven advanced reactor concepts that are currently under development. The TRP noted several of the key benefits of the Xe-100 pebble bed design:

“When deployed for electricity generation, the Xe-100 can be placed in close proximity to the power users due to its intrinsic safety that excludes the possibility of a core melt.”

"Regarding regulatory environment, the TRP noted that the X-energy pebble-bed concept...[has] greater readiness for licensing than other concepts."

"In evaluating the market attractiveness of the concepts, the members rated all of the concepts similar to the current LWR technology, except for the X-energy reactor which was somewhat more attractive."

Optalysys completes 320 gigaFLOP optical computer prototype, targets 9 petaFLOP product in 2017 and 17 exaFLOPS machine by 2020

Optalysys announced that the company has successfully developed a demonstrable prototype that can process mathematical functions optically in a scaleable, lensless design.

Optalysys optical processing systems will “turbo-charge” existing computers by performing processor-intensive tasks at much faster rates and with a significant reduction in energy consumption. The prototype is portable and has a footprint similar to a desktop computer. The technology has the potential to achieve Exascale processing levels by 2020.

The prototype demonstrates optical derivative functions – mathematical building blocks commonly used in complex engineering model simulations such as weather prediction and aerodynamic modeling. It also performs correlation pattern matching used in Big Data analysis such as DNA analysis and financial modeling.

The prototype achieves a processing speed equivalent to 320 gigaFLOPs and, because it uses light rather than electricity as the processing medium, it is incredibly energy efficient. Now the principles of the approach have been proven, Optalysys is ramping-up the processing capabilities of the technology.

The first project to utilize Optalysys technology starts next month in collaboration with The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) to build a Genetic Search System called GENESYS. The system will perform large-scale DNA sequence searches with energy savings of over 95% per year. The project has been granted £0.5 million in funding from the government partner Innovate UK.

Optalysys initial products will launch in 2017 and are expected to enable existing computers to achieve HPC-levels of performance up to an equivalent processing rate of 9 petaFLOPs – comparable to the 5th fastest computer in the world today,” said Optalysys Chairman, James Duez. “Following that we plan to pursue the design of larger systems capable of achieving multiple exaFLOPs by 2020.”

Their fully-optical computer is aimed at many of the same tasks for which GPUs are currently used. Amazingly, Optalysis is claiming that they can create an optical solver supercomputer astonishing 17 exaFLOPS machine by 2020. GPGPU's have been used to implement the latest Artificial intelligence deep learning algorithms by Baidu.

Cambridge UK optical processing business Optalysys Ltd, has announced that it is part of a major collaboration project known as ESCAPE, led by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) and involving 10 other organisations.

Tesla Motors Powerwall lithium ion battery energy storage

Tesla Motors Powerwall is a home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels, or when utility rates are low, and powers your home in the evening. It also fortifies your home against power outages by providing a backup electricity supply. Automated, compact and simple to install, Powerwall offers independence from the utility grid and the security of an emergency backup.

Deliveries of the Powerwall begin this summer.

Current generation home batteries are bulky, expensive to install and expensive to maintain. In contrast, Powerwall’s lithium ion battery inherits Tesla’s proven automotive battery technology to power your home safely and economically. Completely automated, it installs easily and requires no maintenance.

Tesla needs both electric vehicles and solar power to boom if it hopes to fulfill the projected output from a vast $5 billion battery “gigafactory” it’s building in Nevada.

Tesla expects that many sales will come from commercial customers who pay a variable rate of electricity over the course of a day based on demand. Such customers already see significant reductions in their energy bills by drawing on stored electricity during periods of peak energy demand.

Tesla’s Nevada gigafactory, which it’s building with Panasonic, will have an annual production capacity of 35 gigawatt-hours by 2020, more than all the lithium-ion batteries produced globally in 2013.

Such a large investment in what is still a niche market is risky, but Tesla claims that the new factory will cut battery costs by 30 percent when it begins operations, as early as 2016. Tesla’s biggest challenge will likely be filling enough orders for the output. By 2020, the plant will be able to produce enough batteries for half a million electric vehicles per year. Last year, Tesla sold around 20,000 cars.


Powerwall comes in 10 kWh weekly cycle and 7 kWh daily cycle models. Both are guaranteed for ten years and are sufficient to power most homes during peak evening hours. Multiple batteries may be installed together for homes with greater energy need, up to 90 kWh total for the 10 kWh battery and 63 kWh total for the 7 kWh battery.

Alex Jessup Detailed Future Soldier Concept Art and the real military TALOS and Warrior Web projects

U.S. Special Operations Command is moving on to Phase 2 in the development of its “Iron Man” exoskeleton that would give Special Forces troops head-to-toe bulletproof protection while allowing for fluid movements. Socom has issued a grant to Ekso Bionics, a robotic exoskeleton company and one of the companies that worked on the first phase, to continue its work under the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, project, according to an announcement from the company. With this latest award, Ekso will now have garnered $35 million in contracts in the four-phase project, the company said. Its Phase 2 work is expected to be completed later this year.

The TALOS exoskeleton project is to create
* bulletproofing [likely with liquid armor]
* enhanced weapons
* have the ability to monitor vitals
* provide wearer superhuman strength and perception.

The suit would comprise layers of smart material and sensors.

The suit may not be intended for an entire squad, but for a lead operator who will breech a door first, to protect them as they are the most vulnerable team operator in that situation

SOCOM plans to spend $20 million per year on development to total $80 million, which some see as far too low. In previous endeavors to create "digitized" soldiers such as Land Warrior, the U.S. Army spent $500 million on three major contracts from 1996 to 2006 before its features became reliable. It is generally expected that successful development and deployment of heavy and light exoskeletons will exceed $1 billion each.

Admiral McRaven planned to have portions of a prototype by June 2014, with the first "independently operational combat suit prototype" delivered by July 2018. Science and technology officials believe that technologies envisioned for the suit won't be achievable before around 2026.

Other TALOS objectives

* Advanced Armor: Materials to support next generation full-body ballistic protection
* Mobility / Agility: Enhancement platforms such as powered exoskeletons
* Situational Awareness
* Light / noise discipline
* Command, Control, Communications and Computers (e.g., conformable and wearable antennae and wearable computers)
* Individual soldier combat ready displays including non-visual means of information display
* Power generation and management
* Thermal management of suit occupant
* Medical: Embedded monitoring and biomechanical modeling [eventually seal wounds]
* Have the suit weigh less than 400 lb (180 kg) and generate 12 kW of power for 12 hours.

Although the objective of the program is to incorporate new technologies into a fully powered and integrated suit, components developed under it could be issued individually to troops in the short term to enhance their effectiveness. Non-lethal weapons, new armor materials, more compact communications gear, advanced night vision, and 3-D audio can be used as individual pieces of equipment before they are all put together in one powered exoskeleton

DARPA Warrior Web Light weight exoskeleton or soft exosuit

Warrior web would be light and low power. This would be more for reducing injury carrying the 100 pounds of gear and providing some more integrated sensors and displays

A successful Warrior Web suit would allow soldiers to run a 4 minute mile with a 100 pound pack with reduced chance of injury and with less fatigue.

Fictional Concept Art

Alex Jessup is an artist with interesting detailed future soldier concept art.

Pathways, Timelines and Superintelligence Scenario

Wait but Why summarizes some of the timelines and definitions for artificial super-intelligence. The general consensus among AI researchers is that Artificial superintelligence could arrive around 2060.

Nick Bostrom defines superintelligence as “an intellect that is much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills".

Less Wrong has some visualization and summary of superintelligence pathways

This displays the five pathways toward superintelligence that Bostrom describes in chapter 2 and returns to in chapter 14 of the text. According to Bostrom, brain-computer interfaces are unlikely to yield superintelligence. Biological cognition, i.e., the enhancement of human intelligence, may yield a weak form of superintelligence on its own. Additionally, improvements to biological cognition could feed back into driving the progress of artificial intelligence or whole brain emulation. The arrows from networks and organizations likewise indicate technologies feeding back into AI and whole brain emulation development.

Artificial intelligence and whole brain emulation are two pathways that can lead to fully realized superintelligence. Note that neuromorphic is listed under artificial intelligence, but an arrow connects from whole brain emulation to neuromorphic. In chapter 14, Bostrom suggests that neuromorphic is a potential outcome of incomplete or improper whole brain emulation. Synthetic AI includes all the approaches to AI that are not neuromorphic; other terms that have been used are algorithmic or de novo AI.

NBF believes that the primarily hardware based approaches to superintelligence tend to be more narrow solvers. If very good quantum computer computers are realized. The systems are cracking mathematically hard problems and assisting the process to improve machine learning.

Powerful solvers have human involvement to put in and get out answers and do not have the runaway AI scenario.

Before 2060 there should be
There should be advanced Optalysis style optical computers that have implemented Deep learning.

A startup company called Optalysis is trying to invent a fully-optical computer that would be aimed at many of the same tasks for which GPUs are currently used. Amazingly, Optalysis is claiming that they can create an optical solver supercomputer astonishing 17 exaFLOPS machine by 2020.

Deep Learning + 17 exaFLOP optical computer = 17 ExaFLOP Deep learning system by 2020.

The GPGPUs that implemented the Baidu Deep learning brain may be replaced by new optical computers.

Deep learning is a hot AI (artificial intelligence) field now. It is being used to develop AI that can perform tasks like learning to play video games better than humans

May 01, 2015

Russian Thermobaric flame weapons are designed for urban warfare

In December, 2014 Russia created a new heavy weapons regiment based in Nizhniy Novgorod. Russia has three other three other new thermobaric units. They use russian thermobaric launchers which propel fuel-air rounds. The rounds disperse a flammable cloud, which then ignites. The main targets are bunkers, caves, and buildings — pretty much any enclosed space. These mixtures can burn, but they mainly kill through blast pressure and sucking out the oxygen from confined areas.

The U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office's monthly newsletter, OE Watch, interprets Russia's expansion of thermobaric units as a sign the Kremlin is preparing for urban warfare in the future.

Russia has a vehicle they call the TOS-1A Solntsepek flamethrower. The TOS-1 heavy flame thrower system is a 220mm 24-barrel multiple rocket launcher system which can fire rockets with thermobaric or incendiary warhead.

Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2015

The World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on Emerging Technologies, a panel of 18 experts, draws on the collective expertise of the Forum’s communities to identify the most important recent technological trends.

Here is their list

* Fuel cell vehicles [NBF -says this is wrong]
* Next-generation robotics [NBF - agrees with robotics getting more important]
* Recyclable thermoset plastics
* Precise genetic-engineering techniques [NBF - CRISPR gene editing is a big deal]
* Additive manufacturing [NBF - still several breakthroughs away from delivering on the promise]
* Emergent artificial intelligence [NBF - does not think improved Watson will be that important]
* Distributed manufacturing [NBF - craft and hobby scale but a will remain a small part of the supply chain]
* ‘Sense and avoid’ drones [NBF - drones matter but this aspect is not that interesting]
* Neuromorphic technology [NBF - there is potential and the tech is interesting but real big applications have not arrived]
* Digital genome [NBF - not that big a deal]

NBF believes the WEF pick of Fuel cell vehicles is wrong.

A Lux research report indicates that hydrogen fuel cells and fuel cell vehicles will be a tiny market by 2030 PEM fuel cells will reach $2 billion on the backs of forklifts and light-duty vehicles, while buses will remain miniscule. A robust hydrogen vehicle fueling infrastructure is necessary but ultimately insufficient to overhaul the passenger vehicle market.

Joe Romm identified problems with fuel cell vehicles.

China's 096 Nuclear Sub has specs comparable to the US Ohio Submarine

There are some reports that China deployed the 096 nuclear submarine.

In 2014, a report stated a US military officer said it was quite probable that China has completed its deployment of six 096 submarines. It is also reported that an 096 submarine launched a JL-3 SLBM from the Yellow Sea and successfully hit its target in Gobi Desert 8,000 kilometers away.

The 096 is reported to be able to carry 24 nuclear missiles and has other specifications that rival the 40 year old US Ohio submarine. U.S. defense officials have stated that it might begin its first sea patrol in 2014.

Thomas Spypek analysis "China’s Sea-Based Nuclear Deterrent in 2020: Four Alternative Futures for China’s SSBN Fleet" for the CSIS suggests that it is most likely that China would have four to six 096 nuclear submarines operational by 2020. Thomas M. Skypek is a national security analyst specializing in strategic planning, policy analysis, and net assessment. He is a 2010 Washington Fellow at the National Review Institute.

The Spypek analysis appears to be older and it seems likely that the Chinese 096 nuclear submarine development is more advanced and likely to go to the higher end of older estimates.

The chinese navy (PLAN) is close to deploying a credible sea-based nuclear deterrent for the first time in its history, the Jin-class (094) platform is not without performance deficiencies and operational challenges.

The U.S. Navy currently enjoys quantitative and qualitative superiority over the PLAN as well; it has a fleet of 14 Ohio-class SSBNs. But is it conceivable that the PLAN could dramatically close the gap by 2020?

USA, Russia and China Submarine Lower Detectability Race

Admiralty Shipyards, a Russian company, held a ceremonial launching the Varshavyanka-class diesel-electric submarines. Dubbed the Krasnodar, the vessel is the fourth of a planned six upgraded Kilo-class subs Russia is constructing under Project 636.3.

Russian claims the Varshavyanka-class are the “quietest in the world, and so was dubbed ‘black hole’ by NATO.”

The US Congressional Research Service has the following chart of diesel submarine quietness.

The new Kilo is armed with 18 torpedoes and eight surface-to-air Club missiles, Project 636.3 submarines are mainly intended for anti-shipping
and anti-submarine missions in relatively shallow waters. They have an extended combat range and can strike surface, underwater and land targets,” Russia Today previously reported. The torpedoes are launched out of six 533-mm bays, which automatically reload every 15 seconds.

Fifty-two sailors are needed to operate the subs, which displace 3,100 tons and can maintain continuous patrol for 45 days

Are wearable electronics jumping the shark with CH4 Fart measuring device ?

There is a kickstarter for a new wearable device that measures your farts and tells you what foods to avoid.

Farts are almost always a result of your food intake. As you digest food, gases such as hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide collect in your intestines. If you could you keep track of your farts vs. the type of food you are consuming, you would know what foods to avoid and fix the problem. CH4 does exactly that!

CH4 is very simple to use: you turn the device on and put it in your back pocket or attach it to the back of your belt. Then, in the CH4 phone app, you keep track of your meals.

The app automatically tracks your gases and recommends changes to your diet that will eliminate them.

If the $180,000 Kickstarter is funded then the first devices will be $120 each.

CH4 from Rodrigo Narciso on Vimeo.

Widespread taxibots would provide todays mobility with 10% of the cars

Self-driving shared vehicles could take 9 out of 10 cars off city streets. Fleets of “TaxiBots” and “AutoVots” can deliver today’s mobility with significantly fewer cars–new study. A fleet of self-driving shared cars could make 90% of conventional cars in mid-sized cities superfluous, according to a study published by the International Transport Forum at the OECD. Even during peak hours, only one third (35%) of the current number of cars would be needed to provide the same number of trips as today. ITF researchers used actual transport data from Lisbon, Portugal, to modal the impact of two concepts: “TaxiBots”, self-driving vehicles shared simultaneously by several passengers (ride sharing)and “AutoVots”, which pick-up and drop-off single passengers sequentially (car sharing). The largest reduction is achieved where a fleet of TaxiBots is complemented by a subway or other high-capacity public transport. But even in the least effective scenario, 50% of cars would no longer be needed (AutoVots without subway)

36 page report, Urban Mobility System Upgrade - How shared self-driving cars could change city traffic

Whole Mouse brain mapping within reach with methods for reconstruction of all nerve cells and their connections

Learning, it is widely believed, is based on changes in the connections between nerve cells. Knowing which nerve cells are connected to which other nerve cells would considerably help us to understand how the brain works. Scientists have therefore long dreamed of mapping and then decoding the connectome, the circuit diagram of the brain. With the development of a special staining method, Shawn Mikula and Winfried Denk and of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried have now closed one of the last methodological gaps: how to stain an entire brain. The mapping of a whole mouse brain now seems within reach, but even if the equipment works as designed, the collection of the data alone will take several years and the analysis of the approx. 40 petabytes of data may take decades.

A new staining method closes one of the last methodological gaps: Now it's possible to map every nerve cell and its synapses in a mouse brain.© MPI of Neurobiology/ S. Mikula

April 30, 2015

Car Sharing, bikes, self driving cars are part of a long shift to fewer cars per person

The Guardian UK has an article about cities can outgrow the automobile.

There are technologies and policies which can reduce the use and need for automobiles. These would need to be combined with urban design and planning to reduce the usage of automobiles.

The USA has about 809 cars per 1000 people.

There are some modern countries and cities in Asia and Europe with 300-500 cars per 1000 people.

Hong Kong has 77 per 1000 people and Singapore 149 per 1000 people.

Hong Kong and Singapore achieved good wealth per capita and low car usage with a lot of skyscrapers and high rises and high costs to own a car (parking spaces have massive costs in Hong Kong and Singapore has big fees for buying cars).

More skyscrapers could be achieved with lower cost factory mass produced skyscrapers

The Sky City design is a 200 story building that would cost about as much as an 80 story Trump Tower Chicago.
There is a design for a 600 story Sky City. A 600 Story Sky City could hold 250,000 people and have 2000 to 5000 square foot condominiums inside.

Currently the biggest car free areas and populations are in ancient cities like Venice. Generally 80,000 people or less.

There are car-free movements. There is a case for going car free or reducing cars per person to improve the environment.

China's Broad group built acomplete 57 story skyscraper in record 19 days which means 3 floors in a day. A 57-floor 2-million-square-foot (180,000-square-meter) skyscraper fully built with energy-efficient, factory-produced Lego-like blocks. They are now building these at a record three floors per day.

Cable free magnetic elevators could be built to go between and inside buildings

Operating on the basic premise of a circular system, such as a paternoster, MULTI consists of various cabins running in a loop at a targeted speed of 5 meters per second, enabling passengers to have near-constant access to an elevator cabin every 15 to 30 seconds, with a transfer stop every 50 meters.

Schierenbeck said, "Per year, New York City office workers spend a cumulative amount of 16.6 years waiting for elevators, and 5.9 years in the elevators. This data provides how imperative it is to increase the availability of elevators."

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 258

1. Yes Vermont Yankee Blog: Atoms Not Dams: Surprising Facts for Earth Day.

Noting Jim Conca's post on the biggest power plants (by electricity produced, not by nameplate), I note that Vermont Yankee was a bigger power plant (produced more power per year) than Hoover Dam. Every Day is Earth Day when you support nuclear energy! Blog post by Meredith Angwin.

2. At Northwest Clean Energy Blog -Ecomodernism--a fresh approach to thinking about the environment

The "Ecomodernist Manifesto" and a recent New Yorker article by Jonathan Franzen both look at the balance of addressing climate change versus saving ecologies that exist today. The "Ecomodernist Manifesto" forms a more upbeat conclusion: with dense clean energy sources, such as nuclear and advanced solar, we can have vibrant ecologies, a healthy planet, and healthy people. (Franzen doesn't even mention nuclear as an option.) Blog post by Meredith Angwin.

Seabed and deep dive submarines and submersible drones and sub hulls with steel and titanium alloys

There have been proposals to have a new class of seabed operating military submarines. They operate undetected on the ocean floor where hills and rocks reflect sonar and magnetic detection. The average depth of the ocean is about 14,000 feet.

The pressure on a submarine's hull increases with depth, limiting the depth below the ocean surface at which it can operate. The water pressure increases by 44.45 pounds per square inch for every 100 feet of additional depth in salt water.

This would mean a submarine hull would need to withstand 622,000 psi to operate on the ocean floor and more like 900000 psi to have a safety margin.

The deepest diving military submarine was believed to be the Russian Alfa (4000 feet). Any seabed submarine would need to be able to handle triple the water pressure of the Alfa's Titanium hull.

South Korea has a new steel, aluminum, nickel alloy that is inexpensive (ten times cheaper than titanium) and as strong as titanium. There are also developments which could make Titanium alloys inexpensive.

There are also new iron, aluminum, scandium alloys that light and very strong

Soviet Alfa nuclear submarine

Blue Origin New Shepard reusable rocket has first development test flight

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin's New Shepard space vehicle as it makes its first developmental test flight.

Yesterday Blue Origin flew the first developmental test flight of our New Shepard space vehicle. Our 110,000-lbf thrust liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen BE-3 engine worked flawlessly, powering New Shepard through Mach 3 to its planned test altitude of 307,000 feet. Guidance, navigation and control was nominal throughout max Q and all of ascent. The in-space separation of the crew capsule from the propulsion module was perfect. Any astronauts on board would have had a very nice journey into space and a smooth return.

In fact, if New Shepard had been a traditional expendable vehicle, this would have been a flawless first test flight. Of course one of our goals is reusability, and unfortunately we didn’t get to recover the propulsion module because we lost pressure in our hydraulic system on descent. Fortunately, we’ve already been in work for some time on an improved hydraulic system. Also, assembly of propulsion module serial numbers 2 and 3 is already underway – we’ll be ready to fly again soon.

They continue to be big fans of the vertical takeoff, vertical landing architecture. They chose VTVL because it’s scalable to very large size. We’re already designing New Shepard’s sibling, her Very Big Brother – an orbital launch vehicle that is many times New Shepard’s size and is powered by our 550,000-lbf thrust liquefied natural gas, liquid oxygen BE-4 engine.

Emdrive Roger Shawyer believes midterm EMdrive interstellar probe could flyby Alpha Centauri

Roger Shawyer invented the Emdrive. NASA is testing the EMdrive and the Cannae drive and getting interesting results Shawyer presented in October, 2014.

EMDrive results have not been conclusively proven yet and there is no proven underlying theory and any scaling has not been determined.

There are interesting results in the 50-900 micronewton ranges. There does seem to be scaling with increased power levels.

Shawyer sees scaling up the superconducting version of EMdrive to 300 Newtons per kilowatt combined with radioisotope thermoelectric generators or small scale nuclear fission systems to achieve 200 kilowatts for a Alpha Centauri ten year flyby probe. A probe that reaches about 60% of lightspeed and covers 4 light years in ten years.

300 newtons per kilowatt would be scaling up the energy to thrust efficiency by 300 times.

NASA Eagleworks now calculate scaling to many Newtons if EMdrive matches Sonny Whites quantum vacuum theories

NASA eagleworks calculate that if high power Magnetron enhancement works they could achieve 2000 newtons of thrust and high levels of newtons per kilowatt.

Sawyer projected interstellar probe

Shawyers's Development of a Demonstrator Engine

Although the experimental thruster had verified the static thrust equation, it became apparent that the concept would not become generally accepted until a viable engine could be demonstrated. Accordingly, a proposal for the design, manufacture and test of a complete demonstrator engine was submitted to DTI. A Research and Development grant was awarded in September 2003 and the work started with a mission analysis phase.

This work enabled the specification of the demonstrator engine to be optimised against the requirements of a typical commsat mission. Unlike the experimental thruster, the engine would be rated for continuous operation and extensive design work was required to increase the specific thrust by raising the design factor and unloaded Q.

The engine was built with a design factor of 0.844 and has a measured Q of 45,000 for an overall diameter of 280 mm. The microwave source is a water cooled magnetron with a variable output power up to a maximum of 1.2 kW.

To obtain the predicted thrust the engine must maintain stable resonance at this high Q value. Major design challenges have included thermal compensation, tuning control and source matching.

The engine was tested in a large static test rig employing a calibrated composite balance to measure thrust in 3 directions, up, down and horizontal. A total of 134 test runs were carried out over the full performance envelope, with a maximum specific thrust of 214mN/kW being measured.

Possible Polar Cap on Pluto

For the first time, images from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft are revealing bright and dark regions on the surface of faraway Pluto – the primary target of the New Horizons close flyby in mid-July.

The images were captured in early to mid-April from within 70 million miles (113 million kilometers), using the telescopic Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera on New Horizons. A technique called image deconvolution sharpens the raw, unprocessed images beamed back to Earth. New Horizons scientists interpreted the data to reveal the dwarf planet has broad surface markings – some bright, some dark – including a bright area at one pole that may be a polar cap.

“As we approach the Pluto system we are starting to see intriguing features such as a bright region near Pluto’s visible pole, starting the great scientific adventure to understand this enigmatic celestial object,” says John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “As we get closer, the excitement is building in our quest to unravel the mysteries of Pluto using data from New Horizons."

This image of Pluto and it largest moon, Charon, was taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on April 15, 2015. The image is part of several taken between April 12-18, as the spacecraft’s distance from Pluto decreased from about 69 million miles (111 million kilometers) to 64 million miles (104 million kilometers). Credits: NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI

April 29, 2015

A Tablet app was used to direct an Air Strike with a MV22 Osprey in a live fire training exercise

On March 27, DARPA successfully tested the full Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) prototype system for the first time as part of TALON REACH, a U.S. Marine Corps infantry/aviation training exercise conducted in the southwest region of the United States in partnership with the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One and the Marine Infantry Officer Course (IOC). The demonstration marked the first successful integration of automated, digital, real-time coordination capability into a military aircraft system, including rail-launched munitions, digital data links and advanced software in support of ground forces.

PCAS includes two main components, PCAS-Air and PCAS-Ground. PCAS-Air consists of weapons management, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and communications systems located on a modular Smart Launcher Electronics (SLE) device designed to enable plug-and-play hosting of tactical software and mounting of equipment on almost any aircraft. PCAS-Air communicates with ground forces through PCAS-Ground, a suite of situational awareness and mapping software on commercial Android tablet computers. Two interoperable PCAS-Ground software applications have been developed with government partners: the Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division (NAWC-WD) and the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Rome Labs.

Prior to the full-system demonstration in March, Marines in combat in both Afghanistan and Iraq, with both crisis response Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (SPMAGTFs) and with Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs), have successfully employed the PCAS-Ground system component, the Marine version of which is called Kinetic Integrated Low-cost SoftWare Integrated Tactical Combat Handheld (KILSWITCH). KILSWITCH made its debut when DARPA provided more than 750 systems for testing in Afghanistan in early 2013. Since the initial DARPA fielding, Marines have implemented Android tablets in the thousands, and field reports document dramatically improved navigation, situational awareness, fires coordination and communications.

During the full-system demonstration, an IOC JTAC used a PCAS-Ground tablet to identify a target position near an unmanned truck and communicate its position to the PCAS-Air module inside a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, via a digital link added to the MV-22 as part of the PCAS modifications. PCAS enabled both the JTAC and the aircraft’s weapon systems officer, who also had a PCAS-Ground tablet, to share real-time information, enabling them to quickly confirm the shot and execute the order.

The MV-22 Osprey used in the PCAS test was modified and operated by Bell Helicopter. A PCAS-Air module was installed inside the aircraft, and the crew carried a PCAS tablet connected with the ground forces via a digital link added to the MV-22 as part of the PCAS modifications. The wireless connection allowed the aircraft’s weapons systems officer to quickly confirm the shot and execute the order.

The Marines’ PCAS tablet capability revolves around the KILSWITCH application developed by program partner NAWC-WD. At well under a pound, a KILSWITCH tablet provides Marines with actionable data and enhanced situational awareness over an extended area even when their view is otherwise obstructed. In the screenshot here, dismounted Marine infantry elements, along with a JTAC and a sensor-equipped overhead Marine CAS aircraft (the red cursor indicates where the sensor is pointing) use this system to collaborate on a complex engagement.

Ericsson mobile report confirms its smartphones, mobile video and mobile apps for everyone in the world

The Ericsson Mobility Report Mobile World Congress edition, February 2015 predicts continued growth in mobile subscriptions and traffic over the coming years. It also looks at the surging demand for mobile broadband, the growth in popularity of streaming video and the transition towards LTE in all regions.

Africa had 880 million mobile subscribers at then end of Q3 2014 and is adding about 23 million per quarter. Africa should be at about 950 million mobile subscribers now and should end 2015 with 1 billion.

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