May 16, 2015

US Air Force Research Ramping up Program to Mature Hypersonic Weapon Technologies

U.S. Air Force researchers are moving forward with a program to develop a hypersonic munition able to attack and destroy targets quickly over long distances, and pose lethal threats to many different targets in many different locations all at the same time.

They are seeking new enabling technologies to support the High Speed Strike Weapon (HSSW) program.

Besides striking quickly, there is work describing needing hypersonic weapon capabilities to create vastly superior bunker busting weapons. Superhard weapons using diamond-SiC material, with hypersonic speed and superior nanoparticle explosives would be able to more than triple the penetrating power of a future bunker buster.

The overall program includes two demonstrations for an air-breathing vehicle and a boost-glide vehicle that focus on near-term enabling technologies that require flight testing.

They want maturing technologies in six areas:

1. modeling, simulation, and analysis (MS and A);
2. ordnance;
3. guidance navigation and control and airframe;
4. propulsion;
5. materials and structures and manufacturing; and
6. conceptual design and systems integration.

"We're taking lessons learned from X-51 and using them in development of HSSW [high-speed strike weapon]," said John Leugers, the principal aerospace engineer at the AFRL munitions directorate.

HSSW is a Lockheed Martin Skunk Works concept under which the company plans to demonstrate hypersonic flight and to provide the basis for future hypersonic programmes, including both expendable missiles and reusable aircraft.

Carnival of Space 405

The Carnival of Space 405 is up at Universe Today

The Meridiani Journal - Astronomers find first evidence of possible volcanic activity on a super-Earth exoplanet

Artist’s conception of super-Earth exoplanet 55 Cancri e, before and after volcanic activity on its day side. The surface may be partially molten. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt

Lab grown meat thirty thousand times cheaper than 18 months ago

Dutch Professor Mark Post, the scientist who made world's first laboratory grown beef burger believes so-called "cultured meat" could spell the end of traditional cattle farming within just a few decades.

A year and a half ago the professor of vascular physiology gave the world its first taste of a beef burger he'd grown from stem cells taken from cow muscle.

It passed the food critics' taste test, but at more than a quarter of a million dollars, the lab quarter-pounder was no threat to the real deal. Now, after further development, Dr Post estimates it's possible to produce lab-beef for $80 a kilo - and that within years it will be a price-competitive alternative.

A small piece of muscle you can produce 10,000 kilos of meat.

In 2013, it cost $325,000 to make lab grown meat for a burger made from cultured muscle tissue cells. Now the cost is $11 for a quarter pound lab grown patty.

China developing fast reactors that will be cheaper than coal

China has a long range plan to develop nuclear power that is cheaper than coal. China will develop its own commercial scale fast reactor in 2023 with a more advanced version in 2030. They will then scale up production as part of a build up to around 400 gigawatts of nuclear power by 2050. This would be four times more than the nuclear power currently in the USA.

China will build a lot more hydro power, wind power and solar power but there are limitations based on running out of rivers to dam and how much solar and wind can be integrated into the electrical grid.

Conditions to Deploy Fast Reactors

• The scale of PWR is large enough which could provide initial fuel loading and refueling fuel to FR
• Uranium becomes expensive enough.
• Safety level has been validate and could be built at inland site.
• Cost is lower than coal power plant.

• China Nuclear Phase 1:
– Reprocessing plant of PWR spent fuel (provide Pu to FR).
– MOX fuel plant
– Breeding FR (BR≈1.2)
– Reprocessing plant of FR spent fuel

• China Nuclear Phase 2:
– Metal fuel plant
– Pyroprocessing plant
– High breeding FR with metal fuel (BR>1.2) while the nuclear grow fast, and
– Low breeding ratio (BR≈1) while nuclear energy maintain a fixed level.

Complex oil battle with increased oil from Brazil, Russia, and China. US Shale is adapting and lowering costs

In the supposed standoff between OPEC and US light tight oil (LTO), LTO appears to have blinked. Following months of cost cutting and a 60% plunge in the US rig count, the relentless rise in US supply seems to be finally abating. LTO production growth buckled last month, sending US crude output growth into reverse and bringing a multi-year winning streak to an apparent close. Inventories already feel the pinch. US crude stocks, the top source of recent OECD builds, posted their first weekly draw in 17 weeks at the end of April. Expectations that the market would start tightening by mid-year seem to be coming true - or so would have it the bulls who over the last month have given WTI crude a 14% price lift, and counting.

But that is only part of the story.

An end to US crude builds does not spell the end of all oil inventory increases. Not only does the latest US crude draw pale in comparison with the massive builds of the first quarter, but there are also signs that, even as crude builds slow, product stocks are picking up where crude has left off. US product stocks already built counter-seasonally in March - a month when China also posted record-high distillate builds. Preliminary data show OECD-wide product stocks stopped drawing and swung into growth in April. More such builds may follow as global demand goes through a seasonal soft patch and refining activity increases worldwide.

The slowdown in the LTO patch notwithstanding, global crude supply was up by a staggering 3.2 mb/d in April year-on-year, extending the first quarter's massive gains. While the price responsiveness of LTO was widely anticipated, the strong performance of some other sources of non-OPEC supply defied expectations. Russian oil companies seem to be coping exceptionally well with lower oil prices and international sanctions, thanks to a flexible tax regime that lightens their fiscal burden as prices drop and to steep cuts in production costs that came courtesy of the rouble's depreciation. Russian production jumped by a steep 185 kb/d year-on-year in April. For all its troubles, Brazil's Petrobras is also a supply success story of sorts. Even as its balance sheet problems curtail new spending, investments made long ago are finally paying off as one FPSO after another comes into production. Brazil output was up 17% year-on-year in the first quarter. Chinese production is also growing at a healthy clip, as is output from Viet Nam and Malaysia. Meanwhile, last month's vigorous WTI price rebound is giving LTO producers a new lease on life. Several large US LTO producers have been boasting of achieving large reductions in production costs in recent weeks.

Elon Musk says the Model 3 is set to be unveiled March 2016 and available in 2017

Tesla is still targeting $35K for its upcoming electric 3 Series fighter, the Model 3. Telsa CEO Elon Musk set March 2016 for its official unveiling, 10 months from now, in a conference call with financial analysts. An SEC filing in late April made it seem like the Model 3 will at least miss the 2017 model year, thanks to limits in manufacturing capacity. And Tesla certainly isn’t known for meeting its release date targets.

Other electric cars Nissan Leaf, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and lately with rebates, the Chevrolet Volt, will have a lower price. A $35K Model 3 with 200 mile range would really change the market for electric vehicles. Tesla is seen as a premium brand. Tesl has direct sales, over-the-air (OTA) OS (Operating System) updates, a sophisticated super-fast charging network, and an ownership experience free of dealerships that profit on service.

May 15, 2015

ORNL can make bigger graphene composite fabrication instead of graphene flakes as a step towards commercialization

One of the barriers to using graphene at a commercial scale could be overcome using a method demonstrated by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Graphene, a material stronger and stiffer than carbon fiber, has enormous commercial potential but has been impractical to employ on a large scale, with researchers limited to using small flakes of the material.

Now, using chemical vapor deposition, a team led by ORNL’s Ivan Vlassiouk has fabricated polymer composites containing 2-inch-by-2-inch sheets of the one-atom thick hexagonally arranged carbon atoms.
RNL’s ultrastrong graphene features layers of graphene and polymers and is an effective conductor of electricity.

Applied Materials and Interfaces - Strong and Electrically Conductive Graphene-Based Composite Fibers and Laminates

Videos on the Potential of Quantum Computing from Dwave's Chief Scientist

Eric Ladizinsky describes how quantum computing will be the next big revolution.

Eric Ladizinsky visited the Quantum AI Lab at Google LA to give a talk "Evolving Scalable Quantum Computers."

Dwave Systems might enable breakthroughs in optimization, machine learning and artificial intelligence

Nextbigfuture has had nearly 100 articles following Dwave Systems and another fifty on other quantum computers or quantum computer science. Dwave has a 512 qubit commercial adiabatic computer system. They are close to releasing an 1152 qubit processor that would have 2000 physical qubits. They will have tested and certified 1152 for commercial use on each chip. Their systems sell for about $10 million. Companies are exploring if they can make breakthroughs in optimization calculations, machine learning, deep learning and artificial intelligence with Dwave's processors.

EETimes has an update

D-Wave Systems uses a different model for computation than a universal computer, called the adiabatic (occurring without loss or gain of heat) instead of the approach take by everyone working toward a universal quantum computer—the normal gates-based model when qubits are processed in the quantum computer in a manner similar to conventional computers.

Those working toward a universal quantum computer today are obsessed with error correction methods—using up to thousands of qubits just to ensure that the superposition of values in a quantum state (part 0 and part 1) is maintained accurately throughout all of its calculations. With the adiabatic method, Hilton claimed, you don't need error correction because the qubits naturally relax into their lowest energy state.

"Our qubits go from excited level to a relaxed level, they don't need error correction at this point," Hilton told us. "But with gate-model of a universal quantum computer you need error correction to get anything to work at all."

D-Wave is pioneering more than just quantum computing, but also accumulating experience with new computing hardware paradigms—like superconductivity—that could keep Moore's Law going.

"I know testing of the D-Wave hardware has been mixed, but I understand why large companies are investing in it anyway," Mike Battista, senior manager and analyst of Infrastructure at Info-Tech Research Group, told EEtimes. "If there is even a small chance that this is the next foundational technology that underlies computing for the next few decades, the investments will be worth it. Companies that get a head start in developing algorithms and finding problems that are amenable to quantum computing will be at a huge advantage if/when viable hardware emerges."

D-Wave gets about 100 quantum computer chips per wafer (two shown here) which is mounts on a super-cooled mounting (middle below).(Source: D-Wave)

The Universe is full of rogue stars, rogue planets and galaxies that were tough for older telescopes to see

Millions of overlooked galaxies

When researchers took a closer look at surveys of galaxies in the local universe, they found many had been mischaracterised. More careful analysis of images revealed that 21 galaxies that originally looked like big 3D clouds of stars – "giant elliptical galaxies" – were actually flat 2D disc galaxies with bulges in the middle.

Those bulges have "exactly the same physical mass and compact size as the galaxies in the early universe," Graham says. This suggests that the vast majority of compact spheroids that were thought to have disappeared aren't actually missing – they've just grown a disc, possibly by gathering hydrogen gas and stars from smaller galaxies but without major mergers.

The results suggest that there are 1000 times more of these galaxies in the local universe than previously thought – roughly as many as there were in the early universe.

Astrophysical Journal - Hidig in Plain Sight: An Abundance of Compact Massive Spheroids in the Local Universe

It has been widely remarked that compact, massive, elliptical-like galaxies are abundant at high redshifts but exceedingly rare in the universe today, implying significant evolution such that their sizes at z ~ 2 ± 0.6 have increased by factors of 3 to 6 to become today's massive elliptical galaxies. These claims have been based on studies that measured the half-light radii of galaxies as though they are all single-component systems. Here we identify 21 spheroidal stellar systems within 90 Mpc. This abundance of compact, massive spheroids in our own backyard had been overlooked because they are encased in stellar disks that usually result in galaxy sizes notably larger than 2 kpc. Moreover, this number density is a lower limit because it has not come from a volume-limited sample. The actual density may be closer to 10^−4, although further work is required to confirm this. We therefore conclude that not all massive "spheroids" have undergone dramatic structural and size evolution since z ~ 2 ± 0.6. Given that the bulges of local early-type disk galaxies are known to consist of predominantly old stars that existed at z ~ 2, it seems likely that some of the observed high-redshift spheroids did not increase in size by building (three-dimensional) triaxial envelopes as commonly advocated, and that the growth of (two-dimensional) disks has also been important over the past 9–11 billion years.

Giving poor rural people income producing cows or chickens provides a lasting antipoverty effect

An Anti-poverty “Graduation” program gave over 20,000 participants a one-time asset transfer, often providing people with animals, such as cows or chickens, from which they could earn income. It supplemented that asset donation with temporary spending support; training on running a business; frequent home visits from project staff; and information about health care. Participants were also encouraged to save money.

Some specifics were tailored to each country, but in each case, participants’ results were compared to those of people with similar income levels who did not take part in the project. The wealth gains were observed in five of the six countries; only Honduras was an exception.

Overall, with more than 20,000 people enrolled across six countries over a three-year period, the experiment produced a 5 percent increase in per capita income, an 8 percent increase in food consumption, a 15 percent increase in assets, and a 96 percent increase in savings, compared with similar groups of people not enrolled in the program.

It supplemented that asset donation with temporary spending support; training on running a business; frequent home visits from project staff; and information about health care. Participants were also encouraged to save money.

“The results show that three years after the intervention, hunger is down, consumption is up, and income is up,” says Abhijit Banerjee, the Ford Professor of International Economics at MIT, and a co-author of the paper detailing the findings.

The “Graduation” program was targeted at substantial groups of very poor citizens in Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, India, Pakistan, and Peru; about 48 percent of households in the experiment had daily per capita consumption of less than $1.25. While the welfare of recipients was expected to increase in the short run, those gains proved durable.

“It seems to be an improvement that happens and stays intact,” Banerjee says, noting that the self-reported mental health of participants improved as well: “They are happier, too.”

Science - A multifaceted program causes lasting progress for the very poor: Evidence from six countries

Pfizer partnering with Ido Bachelet on DNA nanorobots

Pfizer is cooperating with the DNA robot laboratory managed by Prof. Ido Bachelet at Bar-Ilan University. Bachelet has developed a method of producing innovative DNA molecules with characteristics that can be used to "program" them to reach specific locations in the body and carry out pre-programmed operations there in response to stimulation from the body. This cooperation was revealed in a lecture by Pfizer president of worldwide research and development (WRD), portfolio strategy and investment committee chairman, and executive VP Mikael Dolstein at the IATI Biomed Conference in Tel Aviv being concluded today.

Research will focus on the possibility that the robots will deliver the medical proteins to designated tissue.

Bachelet came to Bar-Ilan from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) several years ago. At a Tedmed event held two years ago, he explained, "In order to make a nanometric robot, we first of all create a selected DNA sequence, and then fold it using a process called DNA origami. With this method, a person can give a command to a computer, which folds the DNA molecule as needed.

"The result is that a DNA sequence can be made in the form of a clam, for example, and containing a drug. The DNA molecule, however, contains a code activated upon encountering certain materials in the body. For example, the clam can be designed to change its shape and release the drug only when it meets a cancer cell or the right tissue.

"In addition, the molecules can receive signals from each other, and can theoretically change their shape according to signals from the body, and can be pre-programmed to attach themselves to one another. In the future, it will be possible to combine each such molecule with a miniature antenna. When the antenna receives an external signal, it will make a small change in the molecule that will make it open or close, and dissipate or connect itself to another molecule."

Substituting regular fat with Modified, stronger fats could enable stronger cells and slower aging

Bolstering cells with a dose of heavy fat may be the key to curing degenerative diseases. Mikhail Shchepinov, director of Retrotope, a biotech company based in Los Altos, California, wants eventually to slow down the ageing process. But he is starting with a related problem – treating the inherited movement disorder Friedreich's ataxia, with which ageing shares a mechanism. They are both caused, in part, by a molecular attack on our cells. Shchepinov's idea is to counteract this assault by reinforcing our cells' defences, slowing the progression of this incurable disease. If it works, it should demonstrate that the approach is also suitable for tackling aging.

The damage he wants to address is caused by molecules called oxygen free radicals, made when our cells metabolise. Free radicals have unpaired electrons that desperately try to find a partner by tearing electrons off other molecules. This triggers a chain reaction as the denuded atom then does the same to its neighbour.

This chain reaction is particularly dangerous for the fatty acids that form our cell membranes. "They burn like gunpowder until hundreds of thousands are damaged," says Shchepinov. Proteins and DNA also come off badly. Blocking the reaction should prevent the damage, but Shchepinov has a different idea.

He reckons we can protect our cells from free radicals simply by strengthening the bonds between molecules that make up our cell membranes. This can be done by swapping the hydrogen in the fatty acids for a different form known as deuterium. Because deuterium has an extra neutron, it is heavier than hydrogen and forms stronger bonds.

The idea is that substituting some of the fats we normally eat with modified, stronger fats in pill-form should allow us to build stronger cells. To test the idea, Shchepinov and his colleagues developed heavy versions of an omega-6, polyunsaturated fatty acid. "It's not a nutrient – it's a new chemical that is different from the fats you get in your diet," says Retrotope co-founder Robert Molinari, the biochemist who is leading the clinical trial.

Mikhail Shchepinov believes aging is just a collection of diseases. If the fatty acids benefit people with these diseases, they will automatically extend lifespan, he says. "Maybe people will live until they are 180 and start dying of something else," he says. "It's a complex approach, but I hope our fatty acids will play a role."

Aging- a theory based on free-radical and radiation-chemistry

This paper describes a theory about mechanisms of aging that is based on free radical chemistry: "Aging and the degenerative diseases associated with it are attributed basically to the deleterious side attacks of free radicals on cell constituents and on the connective tissues. The free radicals probably arise largely through reactions involving molecular oxygen catalyzed in the cell by oxidative enzymes and in the connective tissues by traces of metals such as iron, cobalt, and manganese."

Retrotrope is changing aging as we know it, so that people do not have to suffer the ravages of many degenerative diseases. Retrotope is a pharmaceutical company startup that is leading the advance of a revolutionary new unified theory of aging and degeneration that can result in dramatically new approaches to therapy.

Russia trying to sell 100,000 ton heavy aircraft carriers

Russia's Krylovsky State Research Center (KRSC) has developed a new multipurpose heavy aircraft carrier design called Project 23000E or Shtorm (Storm).

A scale model of the ship is going to be demonstrated for the first time at the International Maritime Defence Show 2015 in St Petersburg from 1-5 July, Valery Polyakov, the deputy director of KSC, told IHS Jane's .

"The Project 23000E multipurpose aircraft carrier is designed to conduct operations in remote and oceanic areas, engage land-based and sea-borne enemy targets, ensure the operational stability of naval forces, protect landing troops, and provide the anti-aircraft defence," Polyakov said.

The design has a displacement of 90-100,000 tons, is 330 m in length, 40 m wide, and has a draft of 11 m. It has a top speed of 30 kt, cruising speed of 20 kt, a 120-day endurance, a crew of 4-5,000, and designed to withstand sea state 6-7. Currently it has been designed with a conventional power plant, although this could be replaced by a nuclear one, according to potential customers' requirements.

KRSC's design for a future Russian supercarrier. The model features a split air wing comprising navalised T-50 PAKFAs and MiG-29Ks, as well as jet-powered naval early warning aircraft and Ka-27 naval helicopters. Source: Nikolai Novichkov

NBF - India and China are the main likely customers for 100,000 ton supercarrier. China could buy one in order to learn the technology. However, Russia has never built a carrier of this size. Russia also had a lot of problems with an aircraft carrier project they performed for India.

The 45,000 ton aircraft carrier project was an upgrade of a mothballed Soviet carrier. The project ending up costing $2.2 billion instead of $974 million and it was years late. The builder Sevmash spent a few years extorting more money for the project.

China will complete Moscow-Kazan High Speed Rail by 2018 and will increase speed on 9 Indian rail lines to 100 mph

In a boost to Beijing’s bid to improve connectivity with Russia and Europe, China Railway Group Limited announced on Wednesday that one of its subsidiaries has won the $390 million Moscow-Kazan high-speed rail contract together with two Russian companies.

The China-led consortium will jointly conduct surveying, regional development planning and design for the project between 2015 and 2016.

The high-speed railway linking Moscow and Kazan, capital of Tatarstan Republic, is scheduled to open in 2018 before the Russia FIFA World Cup.

Travel will be shortened from the current 14 hours to 3.5 hours.

China has a high speed rail deal with India as well

India and China today agreed to enhance cooperation in the rail sector as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang chalked out an action plan for progress on various projects, including for raising train speeds to up to 160-kmph on existing routes.

Training for handling heavy haul operations and assistance in the setting up of a railway university, too, were in the focus during discussions between the two leaders in Chinese capital Beijing, rail officials said here.

Railways had identified nine routes, including Delhi-Agra and Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysore, for running trains at an increased speed of 160-kmph [100 mph]. Railways is keen to raise train speeds on the existing lines with an upgrade of the signalling system and strengthening of tracks.

China to invest US$50 billion in Brazilian infrastructure projects

China will invest US$50 billion to help overhaul Brazil’s ageing infrastructure, Brasilia said, ahead of an official visit by Premier Li Keqiang.

“There are US$50 billion in new projects,” said Jose Graca Lima, Brazil’s undersecretary of state, who oversees Asia and Oceania.

“We shall have to await the end of the visit to expand upon which projects,” he said, without providing details.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. (ICBC) plans to start a fund of up to $50 billion, to be managed by Brazil’s state-owned bank Caixa Economica Federal, for investing in infrastructure projects in the South American country, according to a person familiar with the situation.

May 14, 2015

Photonic Laser Thruster has moved a one pound object on a frictionless track as proof the system will work for space propulsion

Y.K. Bae Corporation announced their proprietary Photonic Laser Thruster (PLT) has successfully accelerated a 450 gram (~1 lb.) spacecraft simulator with pure laser light for the first time in history. The project was funded by a Phase II grant of NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC), which funds the most promising ideas for the next generation NASA space missions.

Conducted in a Class 1,000 cleanroom, Y.K. Bae's demonstration amplified photon power 400-times to achieve photon thrust up to 1.1 milliNewtons by bouncing photons several hundred times between two laser mirrors. The amplified thrust successfully propelled a gliding platform along a 2 meter frictionless air track, simulating zero-gravity.

"Moving a 450 gram platform unequivocally validates the useful power-to-thrust ratio of PLT," said Dr. Claude Phipps, Chair of International High Power Laser Ablation and Directed Energy Symposium. "I can see future development that includes optical cavities that span many kilometers achieved with precise mirror alignment to enable maneuvering spacecraft many kilometers apart, and propellant-free propulsion of satellites in formations."

Popular Mechanics has covered the recent work

First fully warm blooded fish revealed in analysis

The Opah is a fish that has been known and eaten for many years but recent analysis shows that it is fully warm blooded. Opah specimens are rarely caught by recreational anglers. They are prized trophies for deep-water anglers as their large size and attractive form lend themselves well to taxidermy. Opahs are frequently caught as bycatch in many longline tuna fisheries. Opah is becoming increasingly popular in seafood markets. It first became popular as a sushi and sashimi in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The meat is lightly flavored and lends itself well to a variety of preparations, principally saute. Opah flesh has a light-pink to orange color, but turns white when cooked. It is popular in Hawaii, especially in restaurants. An average of 35% of an opah's weight is consumable, with the remaining 65% being bone and thick skin.

Opahs are the first fish discovered to be completely warm-blooded. Although the Salmon shark has the ability to regulate its blood temperature, allowing them to function in the fridid North Pacific waters, the Opah is completely warm-blooded

New research by NOAA Fisheries has revealed the opah, or moonfish, as the first fully warm-blooded fish that circulates heated blood throughout its body much like mammals and birds, giving it a competitive advantage in the cold ocean depths.

The silvery fish, roughly the size of a large automobile tire, is known from oceans around the world and dwells hundreds of feet beneath the surface in chilly, dimly lit waters. It swims by rapidly flapping its large, red pectoral fins like wings through the water.

Fish that typically inhabit such cold depths tend to be slow and sluggish, conserving energy by ambushing prey instead of chasing it. But the opah’s constant flapping of its fins heats its body, speeding its metabolism, movement and reaction times, scientists report today in the journal Science.

That warm-blooded advantage turns the opah into a high-performance predator that swims faster, reacts more quickly and sees more sharply, said fisheries biologist Nicholas Wegner of NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif., lead author of the new paper.

“Before this discovery I was under the impression this was a slow-moving fish, like most other fish in cold environments,” Wegner said. “But because it can warm its body, it turns out to be a very active predator that chases down agile prey like squid and can migrate long distances.”

Science - Whole-body endothermy in a mesopelagic fish, the opah, Lampris guttatus

Airplane market til 2033

Boeing has an airplane market outlook to 2033 The Current Market Outlook is Boeing's long-term forecast of air traffic volumes and airplane demand. The forecast helps shape their product strategy and guide long-term business planning. They have shared the forecast with the public for more than 50 years to inform decisions by airlines, suppliers, and the financial community.

They start fresh every year, factoring the effects of current business conditions and developments into our analysis of the long-term drivers of air travel. The forecast details demand for passenger and freighter airplanes, both for fleet growth and for replacement of airplanes that retire during the forecast period. They also project the demand for passenger-to-freighter conversions.

Fuel is now the largest component of airline cost structure. This fact has spurred manufacturers to produce more efficient airplanes, such as the 787 and the 737 MAX, and encouraged airlines to optimize other cost and revenue centers to maintain profitability in the face of high fuel prices.

GE9X engine for the 777X will be 10% more efficient than any twin aisle engine

The GE9X was selected to power the new Boeing 777X. The GE9X will be the most fuel-efficient engine GE has ever produced on a per-pounds-of-thrust basis, designed to achieve a 10% improved aircraft fuel burn versus the GE90-115B-powered 777-300ER and a 5% improved specific fuel consumption versus any twin-aisle engine at service entry. In addition, the engine will deliver an approximate 10-to-1 bypass ratio, a 60-to-1 overall pressure ratio and margin to Stage 5 noise limits.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has the GEnx engine. There are 320 engines in service.

The Boeing 777 has GE90 engine. There were more than 1,675 engines delivered.

The 777X is a jumbo jet killer.

Boeing 777X will build on 787 Dreamliner technology as the largest and most efficient twin engine jet

The Boeing777X is twin-engine, twin-aisle will build on the success of the 777 and 787 Dreamliner. The 777X is the largest and most efficient twin-engine jet in the world. Its folding raked wingtip and optimized span deliver greater efficiency, significant fuel savings and complete airport gate compatibility. And its GE9X engine is the most advanced, fuel-efficient commercial engine ever.

Performance, however, is just part of the story. The cabin interior of the 777X is inspired by the comforts and conveniences of the 787 Dreamliner and will include larger windows, a wider cabin, new lighting and enhanced architecture — all of which will be custom tailored for a unique 777X experience.

The 777X will feature new engines, new composite material wings, and technologies from the Boeing 787.

777-8X: US$360.5 million [350 passengers, 10700 mile range]
777-9X: US$388.7 million [406 passengers, 9400 mile range]

In December 2014, Boeing began construction on a new 367,000-square-foot (34,100 m2) composites facility in St. Louis to build 777X parts; completion is set for 2016. The expansion will create about 700 new jobs. The facility will feature six autoclaves with work on 777X wing and empennage parts to start in 2017. There are already about 300 firm orders

In May 2015 Boeing announced it would convert the current 787 'surge' line at Everett by the end of 2015 into an early production line for the 777X with the first 777X expected to roll off that line in 2018

Design plans call for the 777X to feature cabin design details that were originally introduced on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. These include larger windows than prior commercial aircraft, increased cabin pressure equivalent to 6,000 feet (1,800 m) altitude, higher ceilings, and more humidity. Structural changes are required versus the original 777 fuselage design in order to incorporate these design improvements as well as greater cabin width. Folding wingtips to fit the current 777 size category are planned for the 777X

Analyst makes the case for Google to Acquire CenturyLink to boost Google Fiber

UK's first Superconducting Quantum Bit Foundry

Researchers have designed, built and operated the first working superconducting qubit device in the UK.

Quantum bits, or qubits, are the building blocks for a future computer hardware that calculates according to the rules of quantum physics. Able to run programs and perform tasks that our present day computers simply cannot do, quantum computers are thought to be the next major step in the future of computing.

Such computers require electronic components that operate according to the laws of quantum physics, and one of the most advanced technologies presently under study worldwide for this purpose is that based on superconductors - metals that lose all of their resistance when cooled to temperatures close to absolute zero and instead display quantum coherent effects. Potential applications of the new technology, however, spread far beyond the field of quantum computing and include potential advancements in medicine and space exploration.

Professor Astafiev, leader of the NanoPhysics and NanoTechnology research group at Royal Holloway and an expert in the field, made the breakthrough in this new and fast moving technology following an investment of about £1.5 million in advanced research equipment from both Royal Holloway and collaborators at NPL.

New Antimatter source found in Thunderclouds

Researchers in airplanes flew into thunderclouds and detected a signature spike in photons that does not fit any known source of antiparticles.

Although powerful storms have been known to produce positrons — the antimatter versions of electrons — the antimatter observed by Dwyer and his team cannot be explained by any known processes, they say. “This was so strange that we sat on this observation for several years,” says Dwyer, who is at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

A key feature of antimatter is that when a particle of it makes contact with its ordinary-matter counterpart, both are instantly transformed into other particles in a process known as annihilation. This makes antimatter exceedingly rare. However, it has long been known that positrons are produced by the decay of radioactive atoms and by astrophysical phenomena, such as cosmic rays plunging into the atmosphere from outer space. In the past decade, research by Dwyer and others has shown that storms also produce positrons, as well as highly energetic photons, or γ-rays.

It was to study such atmospheric γ-rays that Dwyer, then at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, fitted a particle detector on a Gulfstream V, a type of jet plane typically used by business executives. On 21 August 2009, the pilots turned towards what looked, from its radar profile, to be the Georgia coast. “Instead, it was a line of thunderstorms — and we were flying right through it,” Dwyer says. The plane rolled violently back and forth and plunged suddenly downwards. “I really thought I was going to die.”

During those frightening minutes, the detector picked up three spikes in γ-rays at an energy of 511 kiloelectronvolts, the signature of a positron annihilating with an electron.

Lightning is only the most visible product of clouds’ intense electric fields.

Atomic switch networks—nanoarchitectonic design of a complex system for natural computing

Self-organized complex systems are ubiquitous in nature, and the structural complexity of these natural systems can be used as a model to design new classes of functional nanotechnology based on highly interconnected networks of interacting units. Conventional fabrication methods for electronic computing devices are subject to known scaling limits, confining the diversity of possible architectures. This work explores methods of fabricating a self-organized complex device known as an atomic switch network and discusses its potential utility in computing. Through a merger of top-down and bottom-up techniques guided by mathematical and nanoarchitectonic design principles, we have produced functional devices comprising nanoscale elements whose intrinsic nonlinear dynamics and memorization capabilities produce robust patterns of distributed activity and a capacity for nonlinear transformation of input signals when configured in the appropriate network architecture. Their operational characteristics represent a unique potential for hardware implementation of natural computation, specifically in the area of reservoir computing—a burgeoning field that investigates the computational aptitude of complex biologically inspired systems.

An atomic switch network, showing (a) the array of platinum electrodes and (b) an SEM image of self-organized silver nanowires on a grid of copper posts. Overlapping junctions of wires form atomic switches. Scale bar = 500 µm. Credit: Demis, et al. ©2015 IOP Publishing

IOP Science Nanotechnology - Atomic switch networks—nanoarchitectonic design of a complex system for natural computing

MIT student integrate fiber optics for more energy efficient chips

An MIT student team has developed a way to integrate fiber optics — glass or plastic components that can transmit data using light waves — into computer chips, replacing copper wires that rely on electricity.

Using light instead of electricity can drop energy usage by about 95 percent in chip-to-chip communications and increase bandwidth tenfold, team member Alex Wright, a graduate student in the MIT Sloan School of Management, said. Incorporating the technology into massive data centers, run by tech giants like Facebook, she added, could help cut energy usage in these centers by up to 10 percent. “We’re replacing electricity with light and, with it, we’re ushering in a new era of energy efficiency,” Wright said.

DARPA investigating ways to Restore Active Memory

A new DARPA program aims to investigate the role of neural “replay” in the formation and recall of memory, with the goal of helping individuals better remember specific episodic events and learned skills. The 24-month fundamental research program, Restoring Active Memory Replay or RAM Replay, is designed to develop novel and rigorous computational methods to help investigators determine not only which brain components matter in memory formation and recall but also how much they matter. To ensure real-world relevance, those assessments will be validated through performance on DoD-relevant tasks instead of conventional computer-based behavioral paradigms commonly used to assess memory in laboratory settings. New knowledge and paradigms for memory assessment and formation could translate into improved rehabilitation and recovery for injured warfighters challenged by impaired memory.

RAM (Restoring Active Memory) Replay The DARPA RAM Replay program is interested in investigating memory replay with respect to the consolidation of episodic memories and newly learned skills, and how these memories are recalled and utilized by humans during subsequent task performance

May 13, 2015

World Population might be 7.5 billion this year with corrected counting errors

Online World population meters indicate that the world population is 7.314 billion people

However, the UN reports that their estimate of World population has 1-2% error. An evaluation of a series of United Nations population projections between the 1950s and 1990s found that all but one had a margin of error of less than 4%. Most factors indicate an undercount. World population could be 7.4 billion or even 7.5 billion now.

Highlights Undercount now
* High population growth in Nigeria and other African countries but they have the oldest and most inaccurate Census
* China hiding many second and third children
* Various scientific studies show that assumed decreased fertility in Africa is not happening or happening more slowly which means a lot more children, so a census with missing people from ten years ago assumes smaller families but there were more

Highlights Under Projected
* Various scientific studies show that assumed decreased fertility in Africa is not happening or happening more slowly which means a lot more children. This error repeats and compounds for projections
* Small families diminish and eventually larger families are the ones left breeding
* Countries with decreasing populations will shift to pro-fertility policies to sustain workforce levels
* Africa is conquering AIDS and other diseases but the fear of AIDS would
* since the UN 2012 estimates, recent information is showing that Africa fertility is staying higher and the high estimate of 10.9 billion is more likely for 2050 than the medium 9.6 billion estimate

In Africa, however, the quality of data can pose significant problems. “Some [African] countries have very few censuses, and a number of censuses are of doubtful accuracy,” Professor Rob Dorrington, Professor of Actuarial Science at the University of Cape Town, told Africa Check.

Only around 12 of the 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have held a census in the past 10 years.

Countries like Eritrea, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo did not conduct population censuses between 2005 and 2014, as required by the UN for their 2010 round of projections. This year Angola conducted its first national census in 30 years, Dr Mady Biaye, Technical Advisor for East and Southern Africa at the United Nations Population Fund told Africa Check. Nigeria for example has far less accurate population recording systems. Other countries have not held censuses for decades.

In Nigeria the country’s census figures have been the subject of controversy for decades. Accusations of rigging date back to the 1950s and have continued unabated under military and civilian regimes.

The error could be even higher. The census figures for many African countries are not accurate. In some instances current population estimates are based on old census data and are little more than projections themselves.

China has the One Child policy where tens of millions of people are not registered. Their parents hide second children and they do not have State documentation. The second children are illegals in their own country. China makes more of its people illegals than the illegals from Mexico and South America in the USA. Deliberate avoidance of census takers is therefore likely to be higher in China than in other countries.

In 2012, for the second UN population revision in a row, the world’s projected population for 2050 was revised higher in the UN’s medium-fertility variant; it is now projected to reach nearly 9.6 billion in 2050, up from 9.3 billion. As in earlier revisions, there is a very important caveat to this projection: It assumes a gradual convergence in countries’ fertility rates, the main driver of demographic trends, towards 2.1 children per woman, which would lead to a roughly stable global population. But for the last several revisions, these assumptions have proven too optimistic.

The UN produces three main scenarios: Low, Middle, and High variants. The Low and High variants are similar to the Medium except that the TFR is one-half child less and one-half child more than the Medium. Under these three variants, world population in 2050 is projected at 8.3 billion (low), 9.6 billion (medium), and 10.9 billion (high). The largest variation by far is among the less developed countries.

Nigeria's current population estimate might be 20 million low. The future population has had big upward revisions

iPhone 6S predicted to be substantial upgrade

Apple may be developing the next iPhone as more than just an incremental upgrade.

Likely to be launched in September as per Apple's usual time frame, the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus (assuming Apple continues with its usual naming convention) will start off by offering a Force Touch feature -- which would monitor the area on which the finger touches the screen to decide how much pressure you're applying.

G for Games has predicted specifications based on supply chain reports and other sources

iPhone 6s 4.7 inch display
iPhone 6s Plus 5.5-inch display
* sapphire covered display

* 6s line-up will be powered by Apple’s A9 chipset
* 12MP rear-cameras
* built out of a 60% stronger aluminum (Series 7000 aluminum like the Apple iWatch)

The Force Touch is the No. 1 selling feature predicted by Kuo for the iPhone 6S. Already adopted by the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display and the 12-inch MacBook, this technology makes the trackpad pressure-sensitive, so it responds differently based how you press the surface.

Air Force should certify Spacex Falcon 9 no later than June 2015 and Allow Spacex to nearly Halve the cost of Air Force Launches

The Air Force expects to certify SpaceX no later than June to compete for space launches, under an updated agreement that streamlines the certification process

Once certified, SpaceX, with its Falcon 9 launch vehicle, can compete for national security space launches against United Launch Alliance, the Boeing-Lockheed Martin team that currently has a monopoly on Air Force launches.

The new agreement, announced May 8 by Air Force Space Command, clarifies that the commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center can certify SpaceX as long as the company has demonstrated its ability to design, produce, qualify and deliver the launch system. SpaceX must be able to provide future mission assurance support required to deliver national security payloads to specific orbits on schedule.

Spacex should be certified and be able to compete for two launches this year, along with seven more in 2016 and 2017. The company, founded by PayPal founder Elon Musk, has already carried multiple payloads for NASA.

SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell promised in March that if the Air Force allowed Spacex to bid on its launch contracts, SpaceX will put U.S. government satellites into space at a price much cheaper than ULA charges.

How much cheaper? According to a transcript of the proceedings, Shotwell told Congress it would cost "on the order of $80 million to $90 million" apiece to put a Falcon 9 rocket in low Earth orbit, or "$150 million to $160 million" to build and launch a Falcon Heavy (a Falcon 9 rocket with two additional boosters). Averaged across both rocket types, she put the cost at about $120 million.

In contrast, ULA charges taxpayers $400 million every time it launches a rocket into space. Commented Shotwell, "I don't know how to build a $400 million rocket. ... I don't understand how ULA are as expensive as they are."

Spacex Falcon 9 launch

North Korea does not have a useful Submarine Launched Missile

North Korea staged at an “ejection test,” designed to demonstrate the ability of a sub to shoot up a missile from under the water, have it ignite, and begin flight.

The missile appears to have gone about 100 or 150 meters, according to South Korean officials, about the length of a football field.

North Korea has enough material for perhaps six atomic bombs, maybe more, but there is no available evidence that it has operationalized any weapons.

North Korea plays its weak hand very well. It puts on an impressive show with ancient technology. The sub in this test appears to be based on the Soviet Golf class that entered service in 1958. The missile itself seems to be a 1970s Soviet system. Claims by some South Korean officials that Kim could develop a real SLBM within three to five years overestimate the ability of even the clever North Koreans to stretch these mid-20th-century technologies.

Even if the alarmists are correct, this missile can fly no more than 1,500 miles. That means, as nuclear expert Jeffrey Lewis has noted, the North Koreans would have to sail their sub 60 to 90 days to get within range of the continental United States

North Korea executed a defense chief and 15 other senior officials this year

North Korea executed its defense chief by putting him in front of an anti-aircraft gun at a firing range, Seoul's National Intelligence Service told lawmakers, the latest in a series of high-level purges since Kim Jong Un took charge in Pyongyang.

Hyon Yong Chol, 66, who headed the isolated country's military, was charged with treason, including disobeying Kim and falling asleep during an event at which North Korea's young leader was present, according to South Korean lawmakers briefed in a closed-door meeting with the spy agency on Wednesday.

North Korea has killed another 15 senior officials this year.

Would US aircraft and Navy Ships Going Close to China's South Sea Islands Shift China's Policy or Cause Accelerated Island Buildup ?

The U.S. military is considering using aircraft and Navy ships to directly contest Chinese territorial claims to a chain of rapidly expanding artificial islands, U.S. officials said, in a move that would raise the stakes in a regional showdown over who controls disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has asked his staff to look at options that include flying Navy surveillance aircraft over the islands and sending U.S. naval ships to within 12 nautical miles of reefs that have been built up and claimed by the Chinese in an area known as the Spratly Islands.

If the U.S. challenges China’s claims using ships or naval vessels and Beijing stands its ground, the result could escalate tensions in the region, with increasing pressure on both sides to flex military muscle in the disputed waters.

According to U.S. estimates, China has expanded the artificial islands in the Spratly chain to as much as 2,000 acres of land, up from 500 acres last year. Last month, satellite imagery from defense intelligence provider IHS Jane’s showed China has begun building an airstrip on one of the islands, which appears to be large enough to accommodate fighter jets and surveillance aircraft.

Over the years, U.S. vessels and aircraft have had several encounters with Chinese assets, often arising from disagreements over Beijing’s territorial claims.

* April 2001 A Chinese fighter collides with a U.S. Navy electronic surveillance aircraft near China’s Hainan Island in the South China Sea, forcing the EP-3 to make an emergency landing.
* March 2001, May 2003, March 2009 there were incidents involving US survey ships and surveillance ships
* Nov. 2013 The U.S. flies a pair of B-52 bombers over disputed islands in the East China Sea to contest * Beijing’s air identification zone.
* Dec. 2013 A Chinese ship blocks the path of a U.S. Navy cruiser, the Cowpens, in the South China Sea, some distance from China’s aircraft carrier, forcing the Cowpens to change course to avoid a collision.
* Aug. 2014 a Chinese fighter conducted what U.S. officials said was a dangerous intercept of a U.S. Navy maritime patrol aircraft that was flying in international airspace about 135 miles east of Hainan Island.

Would US aircraft and Navy Ships going close to China's south sea islands shift China's island building policy or cause an accelerated island buildup ?

* US and China bumped planes in the region in 2001. China still proceeded to build the islands 13 years later
* US has recently not acted on several mid-east "red-lines"
* US is not showing strong action against Russian provocations or against Russia in the Ukraine

May 12, 2015

Nano memory cell can mimic the brain’s long-term memory

RMIT University researchers have mimicked the way the human brain processes information with the development of an electronic long-term memory cell.

Researchers at the MicroNano Research Facility (MNRF) have built the one of the world’s first electronic multi-state memory cell which mirrors the brain’s ability to simultaneously process and store multiple strands of information.

The development brings them closer to imitating key electronic aspects of the human brain – a vital step towards creating a bionic brain – which could help unlock successful treatments for common neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Advanced Functional Materials - Donor-Induced Performance Tuning of Amorphous SrTiO3 Memristive Nanodevices: Multistate Resistive Switching and Mechanical Tunability

A $9 one Gigahertz computer

A Kickstarter sold $9 CHIP computers that had 1 gigahertz processors

For $9 you would get one C.H.I.P. and a composite cable for maximum bare-bones enjoyment.

For $19 you would get one CHIP, a cable and a battery or a VGA adapter instead of a battery

They are being produced by the Next Thing Company

Spacex has successful Dragon Crew Capsule Abort test and plans next reusuable first stage to land on land and not at sea

The Spacex Dragon module simulated a major failure in its engines and performed an emergency bail-out procedure over NASA’s Cape Canaveral facility. The verdict? A success overall, but NASA will require a lot more work done before it risks one of its highly trained astronauts on a third-party vehicle.

The test lasted just under two minutes in total, assessing the capsule’s ability to get itself into a safe position for bail-out, and to there land softly enough to protect any human occupants. The capsule’s eight SuperDraco engines fired for just five seconds, producing for that period something like 120,000 pounds of thrust (or about 3% of the thrust of SpaceX’s enormous Falcon Heavy rocket). Aiming itself over the nearby Cape, the capsule lifted to about 5,000 feet. Here, it ditched the “trunk” section, and deployed parachutes, slowly descending nose-first toward the water.

SpaceX offers reliable launch services at prices 20 percent to 30 percent lower than its competitors and grab significant chunks of the $2 billion civil and commercial launch markets. (It is expected to gain clearance to compete for U.S. military launch contracts in June). It now has roughly 40 missions in its multiyear launch manifest. These successes have helped Musk build a company valued at $12 billion, with more than 3,000 employees.

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