May 30, 2015

F35 production 2018-2020 rate could be doubled in a $36 billion bulk order to avoid annual reviews

The U.S. Defense Department is considering ordering as many as 450 F-35 aircraft from Lockheed Martin Corp., sending warplane output to the fastest in three decades as it gains confidence in the advanced fighter’s performance.

The purchase would total 150 jets annually over three years and would include aircraft destined for international customers, Undersecretary Frank Kendall told reporters during a conference call Friday from Norway, where he was attending an annual meeting of F-35 customers and producers. The deal could potentially yield “double-digit” savings, Kendall said.

The Joint Strike Fighter is intended for use by the Air Force, Navy and Marines, along with sales to U.S. allies. Output has held steady at around 35 a year while the jet undergoes flight-tests and Lockheed and its suppliers debug software and boost engine reliability. As the production tempo increases, the cost of making each jet should fall from $108 million to about $80 million by decade’s end.

The hope is the order would be $36 billion instead of $48.6 billion.

Using block buy authority instead of the multi-year procurement process to buy three years’ worth of F-35s would allow defense officials to avoid Republican Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a frequent critic of cost overruns on the fighter program. McCain would probably not try to kill the F-35 but ask hard questions in an annual procurement process.

Signing the block buy would effectively “wall off the F-35 program from the rest of the DOD budget, and would increase budget pressure -- ‘uncertainty’ -- on other weapons systems and contractors,” he said.

The deal probably would include all the jets for fiscal year 2018 through fiscal 2020 in the Pentagon’s latest five-year plan

India set to complete first domestic aircraft carrier in 2018 and another about 2025 as part of 5 planned carriers

India expects to bring into service its first domestically made aircraft carrier by 2018 as it looks to counter China’s expanding military capabilities in the region.

The diesel-powered, 40,000-ton INS Vikrant will be ready within three years, Indian Navy Chief R.K. Dhowan told reporters in New Delhi today. It’s under construction at a shipyard in the southern port city of Kochi.

The aircraft carrier project is three years behind schedule after difficulties in procuring materials, including high-grade steel from Russia. When finished, it will be capable of supporting MiG-29K fighter jets, helicopters and long-range surface-to-air missile systems. INS Vikrant was started in 2008, and the keel was laid in February 2009.

India’s navy currently has two aircraft carriers: the 56-year-old INS Viraat built by the British and a refurbished Russian vessel.

In February 2015, admiral Ravi Vohra was quoted saying "India’s ultimate goal is the eventual establishment of a five-carrier fleet comprising a mix of large and small carriers

Vikrant in 2013. Incomplete but floating

Terrestrial energy allying with the University of Manchester on molten salt reactor development

Canadian Terrestrial Energy has formed an alliance with Dalton Nuclear Institute at the University of Manchester in UK to develop its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR).

The firm intends to accelerate work on the development in order to make it ready for the construction and licensing phase, which has been scheduled for early 2017.

Off Topic - John Oliver Features Japan's Mascot Obsession

Japan has a mascot obsession.

Each mascot is like an anime character come to life.

The Japanese have a long-lasting, deep emotional bond to "non-human" characters, with roots buried deep in an ancient polytheism.

The most popular Japanese mascot holds press conferences.

May 29, 2015

Canada's possible future rifle that shoots standard NATO round, shotgun shell and grenade ammo

Canadian Forces through the Soldier Integrated Precision Effects Systems (SIPES) project have developed next generation prototype gun. A bullpup design that features the ability to install either a three round 40 mm grenade launcher, or a 12-gauge shotgun. The next phase will feature a TrackingPoint style system to automatically detect targets and assist in engaging them. When optimized, the integrated weapon prototype could weigh less than a C7 equipped with a M203 grenade launcher, reducing the burden on soldiers.

A “bullpup gun means the magazine is fed into the gun behind the trigger rather than in front. The main effect of the bullpup design is that rifles can be shorter without losing any effectiveness. The gun can install either a three-round grenade launcher or a shotgun. Shotguns are useful in close quarters, while grenade launchers give more range than just hand-tossing a small explosive. The main gun fires 5.56 ammo, a standard NATO round.

Natural Gas Fracked bacterial fishmeal can save the worlds fish and enable a lot more farmed fish

Methylococcus capsulatus is a methanotroph, a bacterium that metabolises methane. Salmon will consume pelletised protein made from these bacteria. And that could be handy for fish farmers.

Calysta, a biotechnology firm in Menlo Park, California, proposes to take advantage of the rock-bottom price of methane, a consequence of the spread of natural-gas fracking, to breed Methylococci en masse as a substitute for the fish-meal such farmers now feed to their charges.

The EU and Norway have already approved the use of Methylococcus-based fish food. Though America has yet to follow suit, this means there is a large available market for the stuff.

Calysta has concentrated on making the lives of its bacteria as comfortable as possible. The internal geometry of the reactors in which they live is designed to keep them in constant contact with enough methane to grow, enough air to respire and enough ammonia to provide the nitrogen which, along with the carbon and hydrogen in the methane, is a fundamental building block of the amino acids from which proteins are made.

FeedKind™ Protein, announced to coincide with Earth Day 2015, is expected to be introduced to the Scottish and Norwegian aquaculture sectors in 2018.

FeedKind Protein is a high quality microbial protein that provides a cost-competitive alternative to conventional fishmeal. The protein, produced with minimal land and water use, is non-GMO and approved in the EU for all fish and livestock species.

FeedKind™ protein is a premium fish feed ingredient produced from naturally occurring microbes found in soil. Using a natural fermentation process similar to making yeast, these microbes produce a nutritious, high protein feed that is a sustainable alternative to fishmeal. FeedKind protein is kind to the customer, kind to the animal, and kind to the environment.

FeedKind protein is a non-GMO product which does not compete with the human food chain

May 28, 2015

US daily Crude oil production over 9.5 million barrels per day for the first time since 1972

Pentagon looking at integrating anti-missiles, lasers and railguns against expected future missile filled battlefield

The Pentagon has been authorized to create “the true and complete integration of air and missile defense” and on “left-of-launch and non-kinetic means of defense.”

They will be coordinating — a much wider range of tools than just traditional Patriot-style interceptors. Lasers are literally the flashiest example here, but there’s also room for rail guns; “non-kinetic” means such as cyber and electronic warfare; and even missile strikes of our own to destroy the enemy missiles before they’re fired, what’s known as “left of launch.”

Ballistic and cruise missiles aren’t the only problem. Adding precision guidance to artillery rockets, cannon shells, or even mortar rounds makes these traditional military tools much more dangerous. There’s also the proliferation of armed drones, which are effectively slower-moving, reusable cruise missiles.

“The full spectrum from smart artillery to UAVs to cruise missiles to maneuvering reentry vehicles of various kinds and anti-ship cruise missiles, anti-ship ballistic missiles, [and] hypersonics… it’s a unified problem set,” said Karako. You can’t just try to stop one and forget about the others, he warned. “For an integrated air and defense program, you have to be doing a lot of things simultaneously.”

There are targets to develop boost phase anti-missile technology by 2022 to 2025.

SpaceX Gets Certified For National Security Launches

SpaceX has won certification from Space and Missile Systems Center. This carries enormous import for the international launch industry, for the Pentagon, the Air Force and the Intelligence Community.

It’s not that Musk’s SpaceX is going to win deals tomorrow from the current national security launch monopoly, the United Launch Alliance. It’s that Musk has proven to many of the world’s most demanding acquisition experts and systems engineers that a commercial company can do rocket science to the same standards as ULA’s Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

What are the stakes? National security launches can take billion-dollar payloads that perform crucial military and intelligence work into space. Lose one to an exploding rocket and you not only have lost more than $1.25 billion — including the cost of launch — but you’ve also lost the capability, the time, the money and then you must fork over even more money to replace what was lost.

A Senate Armed Services Committee staffer put it this way, talking about disruptive effects of companies like SpaceX that don’t use the traditional Pentagon acquisition system: “SpaceX is a great case study in how this can work in the future. A non-traditional company can be created from nothing and disrupt an established market.”

The military and national security launch segment is estimated at about $70 billion through 2030 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. It is the largest in a market that also includes civilian and commercial contracts, such as work SpaceX does for NASA.

SpaceX plans to launch government satellites for less than $100 million per Falcon 9 mission, Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, told a U.S. House of Representatives sub-committee in March.

United Launch Alliance, the Boeing-Lockheed venture, charges $160 million or more for the comparably sized Atlas V spacecraft, which uses a Russian-made RD-180 engine, said Marco Caceres, director of space studies with Teal Group, a Fairfax, Virginia-based consultant.

Graphene sponge can absorb light and emit energetic electrons for breakthrough solar sail propulsion

The direct light propulsion of matter was observed on a macroscopic scale for the first time using a bulk graphene [graphene sponge] based material. The unique structure and properties of graphene and the morphology of the bulk graphene material make it capable of not only absorbing light at various wavelengths but also emitting energetic electrons efficiently enough to drive the bulk material following Newtonian mechanics. Thus, the unique photonic and electronic properties of individual graphene sheets are manifested in the response of the bulk state. These results offer an exciting opportunity to bring about bulk scale light manipulation with the potential to realize long-sought proposals in areas such as the solar sail and space transportation driven directly by sunlight.

Two working mechanisms have been well documented for beam-powered propulsion: either an external laser beam ablates/burns off propellant to provide propulsion similar to conventional chemical rockets or the direct radiation pressure generates the propulsion force governed by the Maxwell electromagnetism theory as has been proposed for the solar sail. The light intensities (irradiance) of Watt level laser and simulated sunlight in our tests were at 10^5 and 10^4 W m-2 level respectively. Based on the radiation pressure theory, the propulsion forces produced by the radiation pressure of such laser and simulated sunlight should be both at ~10^-9 N and they are orders of magnitude smaller than the force required to move and propel the bulk graphene object

So the direct radiation pressure induced mechanism can be excluded. Another possibility for explaining our laser-induced propulsion and rotation is the conventional laser beam ablating or burning off of graphene material to generate a plasma plume or carbon particles and molecules for propulsion. But such a mechanism normally needs extremely high laser power supply, so pulsed laser sources (ms/ns level pulse width and gigawatt level peak power) or ultrahigh power continuous wave laser (up to megawatt level) were used. This is contrary to our light-induced motion which can even be observed with sun light which has a much lower power. Note that the continuous wave lasers that we used were only at the Watt level.

No ablation could be detected.

These results prompt them to search for other possible mechanisms for macroscopic direct light manipulation. It is well known that graphene sheet shows unique optoelectronic properties due to its Dirac conical and gapless band structure, which allows graphene to: 1) absorb all wavelength of light efficiently, 2) achieve population inversion state easily as a result of the excitation of hot electrons and the relaxation bottleneck at the Dirac point and then 3) eject the hot electrons following the Auger-like mechanism. Many studies of this effect have been reported not only for individual suspended graphene sheets but also for reduced graphene oxide sheets. In the competition of different relaxation pathways of carriers at the reverse saturated state of the optically excited graphene, due to the weak electron-phonon coupling, the Auger-like recombination is proved to be the dominant process and plays an unusually strong role in the relaxation dynamics process of the hot carriers (electrons).

Graphene sponge

They believe Auger-like recombination is probably also the dominant path for the relaxation of the hot electrons for their photoexcited graphene

The average current was measured at about 3.0 × 10^-8 to 9.0 × 10^-7 A under the laser power 1.3-3.0 W (450 nm, power density 3.71× 10^4 -8.57 × 10^4 mW cm-2 for 3.5 mm2 laser spot, which means that the electron ejection rate should be about 2.0 × 10^11 to 5.7 × 10^12 s-1, so a power of 2.2 × 10^-6 to 6.4 × 10^-5
J s-1 (Watt) could be obtained based the average kinetic energy of 70 eV for the ejected electrons. This is larger than the energy necessary (more than 10^-6 Watt) to vertically propel the sample.

Note the actual propulsion force/energy should be significantly larger than the values estimated above, since clearly not all the electrons were collected in the measurement. Thus, this propulsion by Light-Induced Ejected Electrons (LIEE) is actually an energy transfer process, where the photon energy is absorbed by graphene bulk materials and converted into the kinetic energy of ejected electrons, rather than a direct momentum transfer process like in the earlier proposed propulsion by light pressure.

While the propulsion energy/force is still smaller compared with conventional chemical rockets, it is already several orders larger than that from light pressure. Assuming the area of a typical solar-cell panel structure on the satellite is ~50 m2 and because a laser-graphene sponge-based rocket does not need other moving parts, with a payload of 500 kg, the acceleration rate would be 0.09 meter per sec squared . Since the density of graphene sponge is very low and no other onboard propellant is needed (the required vacuum and light are naturally available in space), the theoretical specific impulse of our laser propulsion could be much higher

May 27, 2015

China Jilin Province offers to build 330 mile high speed line to Russian pacific port city Vladivostok

Jilin Province in China has offered to build a railway to Vladivostok for Russia’s Far East Region of Primorsky Krai. It would be the first cross-border high-speed rail link between the two countries and Russia’s major Pacific port.

“We have an idea to construct a high-speed railway to Vladivostok. In August we will open a section to Hunchun. If we want to extend it, this will be the first high-speed trans-border railway between Russia and China,” said Bayin Chaolu Deputy Secretary of the Jilin Provincial Committee Thursday in a meeting with the Primorsky Krai Governor Vladimir Miklushevskiy.

Russia’s strategic goal is to construct a transit logistics zone in the Far East to include the Primorye-1 and Primorye-2 international transit corridors. With the joint efforts of Jilin Province and Primorsky Krai the railway and other road and infrastructure projects could be completed quicker, said Miklushevskiy.

In 2014, the nominal GDP of Jilin province totaled $225 billion. Jilin has a population of about 28 million. The biggest city is Changchun which has a population of about 8 million. Vladivostock has a population of about 592,000

It is 536 kilometers (333 miles) from Changchun to Vladivostok.

Trillions in military research and procurement means the Military is leading the way to the Science Fiction Future

Most of the world is not changing very fast.
Your home gets bigger and thinner flat screen televisions,
You personally get better tablets, smartphones and wearable gadgets.
At work you get minor changes with another business laptop refresh and software upgrades and often people work with offshore contractors in India or eastern europe and order from factories in China.
The leading companies are working with Big Data and Deep Learning.

The science fiction like future of the military is

* Even more and more powerful robotic drones
* combat lasers will be in various forms of development and testing for the next ten years but will then be deployed in the hundreds of kilowatts and then megawatt ranges for planes, ships and ground vehicles
* railguns will also be deployed for ships and ground vehicles
* there will be persistent realtime surveillance of every person and vehicle on a global basis. This has already been tested on a regional basis
* hypersonic missiles, then hypersonic drones and then other hypersonic planes
* NSA is on every computer. Businesses and the NSA can see every transaction and probably every email, tweet and voice message and all internet activity
* Persistent Video Surveillance goes way beyond Big Brother

In the 2030s, there could be significant deployment and integration. This would mean systems like hypersonic vehicle with high power laser weapons.

As of January 2014, the U.S. military operates a large number of unmanned aerial systems: 7,362 RQ-11 Ravens; 990 AeroVironment Wasp IIIs; 1,137 AeroVironment RQ-20 Pumas; and 306 RQ-16 T-Hawk small UAS systems and 246 Predators and MQ-1C Grey Eagles; 126 MQ-9 Reapers; 491 RQ-7 Shadows; and 33 RQ-4 Global Hawk large systems.

As of mid-2014, the U.S. air force is training more drone pilots than fighter and bomber pilots combined. This large cohort is sometimes referred to as the chair-force.

The most advanced drone, the MQ-9 Reaper, costs $12 million which is just one tenth of the cost of a F-22, the militaries most advanced fighter jet. The Predator drone armed with a Hellfire missile is much quieter than a fighter jet, which prevents enemy troops on the ground from hearing it coming and shooting it down. In turn, this reduces cost because the drone does not have to be replaced as often as a fighter jet would if it was put into the same combat situation.
MQ9 Reaper

3D Printed and Synthetic Biology to make Rhino Horn and elephant Ivory

Pembient is leveraging advances in biotechnology to fabricate wildlife products, such as rhino horn and elephant ivory, at prices below the levels that induce poaching. Our goal is to replace the illegal wildlife trade, a $20 billion black market, the fourth largest after drug, arms, and human trafficking, with sustainable commerce.

Rhino horn is thought to have powers as a cure for cancer, an aphrodisiac and a cure-all in some Asian nations. It currently sells for $30,000 to 60,000 a pound. The average rhino horns weigh around six to eight pounds, meaning one single poaching of a rhino could easily bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Pembient conducted a survey of 500 Vietnamese rhino horn users to find that 45 percent said they would be willing to use a lab-made substitute.

This would still be a multi-billion market for Pembient and would reduce the trade in those animal products.

The additive manufacturing market for printing metal and plastic is still less then $4 billion per year. This is a potentially bigger market than the current 3D printing markets.

China's air pollution is still very bad but could get close to levels in the US and Europe by 2020

China's government has cracked down on burning coal for home heating and the closure of small, dirty coal-fired plants close to major cities. They has also been widespread deployment of scrubbers and other antipollution technology that has long been standard in the West. According to some estimates, close to 90 percent of the coal plants in China now have basic pollution controls. “On the conventional pollutants in flue gas, by 2020 the level of compliance in China will be equal to the U.S. or Europe,” says Latta.

Pollution levels in many of China’s major cities fell from 2013 to 2014, according to Greenpeace, and dropped by nearly another one-third in the first quarter of 2015. Levels of PM 2.5, the deadly particulates that contribute to emphysema and other respiratory diseases, fell by 31 percent in Hebei Province, which includes the Beijing metropolitan area, according to government figures collected by the environmental group. The skies over Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen—the coastal megacities hardest hit by coal smog—are not exactly blue, but they are getting less gray.

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, burning about as much every year as the rest of the world combined. According to a study first published in the medical journal The Lancet, 1.2 million people die prematurely every year from air pollution in China. That’s about the population of Dallas dying every year, mostly because of coal. Air pollution can make big cities like Beijing and Shanghai nearly unlivable, and the giant coal mines of the interior have ravaged millions of square miles.

Here is a site that reports measured PM2.5 Air quality is still bad (mostly unhealthy levels) but they are back down to 2012 levels instead of the worse 2013 and 2014 levels.

Air pollution levels are still averaging 5 times the level recommended by World Health Organization

May 26, 2015

Radial shape 250 nanometer or better hyperlens function across a wider range of wavelengths with lower losses

Instead of concentric rings, UB researchers formed tiny slivers of gold and PMMA (a transparent thermoplastic) into a radial shape for hyperlens function across a wider range of wavelengths with lower losses. The design of this metamaterial hyperlens, which looks like a Slinky suspended in motion, overcomes the diffraction limit in visible frequency range. Moreover, it can be integrated with an optical waveguide, opening the door to hyperlens-based medical endoscopes.

More studies are required, but such a tool could improve doctors’ ability to detect some of the most lethal forms of cancer, such as ovarian cancer.

For example, today’s high-resolution endoscopes can resolve objects to about 10,000 nanometers. The hyperlens could improve that to at least 250 nanometers or better. This is important because the earlier doctors are able to discover hard-to-find cancers, the more success they have treating the disease.

Another potential application centers on optical nanolithography, the process of passing light through a mask to a pattern on polymer film. Continuous improvement in this field is essential to building the next generation of optoelectronic devices, data storage drives, sensors and other gadgets.

The hyperlens also show promise in sequencing single molecules, a potential advancement with broad implications in numerous fields of research including physics, chemistry and biology.

Scientists at the University of Buffalo have created a prototype visible light "hyperlens" that may help image objects that were once only clearly viewable through electron microscopes (Credit: University of Buffalo)

Nature Communications- Experimental demonstration of a non-resonant hyperlens in the visible spectral range

Intel, Samsung, and Taiwan Semiconductor moving to 10 nanometer process in 2016

Samsung announced its next-generation process technology, a 10nm FinFET node, at a company event. The process node will be in full production by the end of 2016, about the same time as its rival TSMC. The Samsung 10nm process offers “significant power, area, and performance advantages” and targets a broad range of markets, said foundry senior vice president Hong Hao.

In April, it was confirmed the Samsung Galaxy S6 uses an Exynos processor made in Samsung's 14nm FinFET process. Samsung beat rival TSMC to become the second chip maker after Intel to ship a 14nm FinFET chip.

Apple will play a large role in determining the 10nm leader because of its massive wafer volumes, Jones said. The company orders 40,000 wafers per month, which would significantly help fill a fab but also require $8 billion in capital expenditures from a chip maker.

Samsung is expected to make Apple's iPhone 7 SoC in its 14nm process, in large part because it beat TSMC to market by several months. Jones said Samsung has a high probability of getting Apple’s 2016 and 2017 business in 10nm, which will be followed by business from second-largest volume purchaser Qualcomm.

China's military paper discusses goal of offense and defense and Taiwan pitches sharing South China Sea Resources

China's state council has released a white paper on China's military. In general the paper indicates that China is shifting a military just for defense to one focused on offense and defense.

Taiwan pitches sharing South China Sea Resources
Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou laid out a plan on Tuesday to ease tensions in the vast, resource-rich South China Sea where China has chafed against its neighbours by expanding islets with landfill to solidify its claims in the region.

Ma’s plan calls for setting aside maritime sovereignty disputes in the region and jointly exploring for resources.

“We emphasise that whereas sovereignty can’t be divided, resources can be shared,” Ma said in his speech on Tuesday at an Asia-Pacific research forum in Taipei.

The China Military White Paper

The US Naval Institute has a complete copy of the english translation of the white paper

China has overlapping claims with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said China's reclamation in the Spratlys was comparable with construction of homes and roads on the mainland.

Here are the highlights

The paper had a focus on winning cyberwar and maritime war

China vowed to increase its "open seas protection", switching from air defence to both offence and defence, and criticised neighbors who take "provocative actions" on its reefs and islands

China's air force would shift its focus from territorial air defense to both offense and defense, and building airspace defenses with stronger military capabilities.

New class of magnets that swell in volume in magnetic field could be game changer for many applications

A new class of magnets that swell in volume when placed in a magnetic field and generate negligible amounts of wasteful heat during energy harvesting, has been discovered by researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) and Temple University.

“Our findings fundamentally change the way we think about a certain type of magnetism that has been in place since 1841,” said Chopra, who also runs the Materials Genomics and Quantum Devices Laboratories in Temple’s College of Engineering.

The researchers and others say this transformative breakthrough has the potential to not only displace existing technologies but create altogether new applications due to the unusual combination of magnetic properties.

“Chopra and Wuttig’s work is a good example of how basic research advances can be true game changers,” said Tomasz Durakiewicz, National Science Foundation condensed matter physics program director. “Their probing of generally accepted tenets about magnetism has led to a new understanding of an old paradigm. This research has the potential to catapult sustainable, energy-efficient materials in a very wide range of applications.”

These magnets could also find applications in efficient energy harvesting devices; compact micro-actuators for aerospace, automobile, biomedical, space and robotics applications; and ultra-low thermal signature actuators for sonars and defense applications.

Self-strain associated with highly periodic cellular micromagnetic structure gives rise to NJMM

Nature - Non-Joulian magnetostriction

Cambridge Professor of Neuroscience Communication says Brain Uploading is possible into a 100 trillion circuit system

Dr Hannah Critchlow strips down the brain. Using Radio, TV and Festival platforms she designs, produces and presents brainy interactive experiences for the public. She has featured on BBC, Sky and ITV channels and presented live events to over 30, 000 people across the globe. She is Neuroscience public engagement professor at Cambridge University.

In 2014 Hannah was named as a Top 100 UK scientist by the Science Council for her work in science communication.

At the Telegraph UK, Dr Hannah Critchlow said that if a computer could be built to recreate the 100 trillion connections in the brain their it would be possible to exist inside a programme.

Dr Critchlow, who spoke at the Hay Festival on ‘busting brain myths’ said that although the brain was enormously complex, it worked like a large circuit board and scientists were beginning to understand the function of each part.

Asked if it would be possible one day to download consciousness onto a machine, she said: “If you had a computer that could make those 100 trillion circuit connections then that circuit is what makes us us, and so, yes, it would be possible.

She was featured in Soap box Science blog in Nature.

Propeller based hoverboard flies three football field lengths while other still trying for maglev hoverboards

Canadian inventor Catalin Alexandru Duru's propeller-based hoverboard managed to travel a total distance of 275.9 m (905 ft 2 in) to achieve a new Guinness World Records title for Farthest flight by a hoverboard.

In the incredible footage below Catalin reaches a height of 5 meters on his prototype hoverboard covering a distance of over twice that of two full sized football pitches before gently landing in the exquisite waters of Lake Ouareau in Quebec, Canada.

He claims that the machine, which he built and designed over the course of 12 months, can be used anywhere and can reach ‘scary heights’ which he would like to potentially explore in the near future.

Cigar Lake Uranium mine commercial production and positive multiyear nuclear outlook

The Cigar Lake uranium project in northern Saskatchewan is now officially in commercial operation, Cameco has announced.

Mining at Cigar Lake began in March 2014, and the first processed product packaged in October 2014. The operation is expected to produce 6 million to 8 million pounds of uranium oxide (2308 to 3077 tU) this year, ramping up to full annual production rate of 18 million pounds per year (6920 tU) by 2018.

Cigar Lake is owned by Cameco (50.025%), Areva Resources Canada Inc (37.1%), Idemitsu Canada Resources (7.875%) and TEPCO Resources Inc (5.0%) and is operated by Cameco. Ore from Cigar Lake is processed at the McClean Lake mill, 70 km northeast of the mine site and operated by Areva Resources Canada.

Morningstar analyst David Wang has a positive uranium report. The global nuclear reactor fleet should grow 37 percent by 2025, which will drive 40 percent growth in uranium demand over the same time frame.

Because power plants buy several years’ worth of supply in advance, uranium prices could start to move significantly higher as soon as 2017. He thinks the spot price of uranium could hit $75 a pound in 2019 in real terms (adjusted for inflation), for a 100 percent-plus gain from recent levels of $36. "We expect new reactor capacity to drive the strongest uranium demand growth in decades," he says.

US Air Force looking to integrate combat lasers in fighters starting 2022 and for combat lasers in AC-130J gunships

The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) is targeting demonstrating a 100+kw combat laser on a fighter by 2022. The airforce wants to integrate combat laser systems into future fighters in the 2030+.

Initially the combat lasers will be in external pod that attach to the fighter.

The General Atomics HELLADS laser, which will soon shift from a DARPA experiment to a DARPA-Air Force Research Lab joint venture. “That was a major investment on the part of DARPA,” Hardy said. “It’s the first time anybody’s shown you can make a 150-kW-class electric laser.

A typical modern fighter like the F-16 can carry at most six air-to-air missiles. Shoot six times, hit or miss, and it’s back to base to re-arm. By contrast, said Gunzinger, a laser-armed aircraft could just head back to the tanker. “Instead of landing to reload, air refueling would ‘reload’ [laser]-equipped aircraft in flight,” he said. They could keep fighting until the pilot couldn’t take it any more — or, if unmanned, for longer than any human could endure.

Special Operations Command wants a laser cannon on future AC-130s.

AC130J models could have lasers. The first two AC130J aircraft will not have the 105mm gun installed. That’ll have to be retrofitted later. The third AC10J AFSOC will simply pull the cannon off retiring AC130 aircraft and install them on the Js. The last seven J-models may carry a laser weapon according to Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold.

The AC-130J is a highly modified C-130J aircraft that contains many advanced features. It contains an advanced two-pilot flight station with fully integrated digital avionics. The aircraft is capable of extremely accurate navigation due to the fully integrated navigation systems with dual inertial navigation systems and global positioning system.

The AC-130J is the fourth generation gunship replacing the aging SOF fleet of 37 AC-130H/U/W gunships. AC-130 gunships have an extensive combat history dating to back to Vietnam where gunships destroyed more than 10,000 trucks and were credited with many life-saving close air support missions.

May 25, 2015

Multi-use non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse drone is an operational system in US air force

Boeing's "CHAMP," is short for Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project. It is a non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapon. CHAMP carries a small generator that emits microwaves to fry electronics with pinpoint accuracy. It targets not nations or cities but individual buildings, blacking out their electronics rather than blowing up physical targets (or people).

In 2012, Boeing representative was able to boast: "We hit every target we wanted to," predicting further that "in the near future, this technology may be used to render an enemy's electronic and data systems useless even before the first troops or aircraft arrive." Three years later, that future has arrived. Air Force Research Laboratory commander Maj. Gen. Tom Masiello says CHAMP is "an operational system already in our tactical air force."

Lockheed Martin builds the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile -- Extended Range (JASSM-ER), which the Air Force intends to use as CHAMP's delivery mechanism. A cruise missile with an estimated range in excess of 600 miles, JASSM-ER will itself be deployable from combat aircraft such as F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, B-1 and B-52 bombers, and the F-35 stealth fighter -- extending CHAMP's reach even further.

To date, Military Embedded Systems notes that the Air Force Research Laboratory has contracted Boeing to build only five CHAMP devices. But the trend in Pentagon acquisitions projects suggests the Air Force could soon be building these weapons en masse. From MALD-J radar-jamming drones to Switchblade kamikaze guided rockets and now CHAMP mini-electromagnetic-pulse weapons, the Air Force seems intent on fighting its next war more or less entirely by remote control.

Nvidia's Pascal is ten times faster than Maxwell processors

NVIDIA’s Pascal GPU architecture, set to debut in 2016, will accelerate deep learning applications 10X beyond the speed of its current-generation Maxwell processors. Beyond the Pascal is the Volta which will used stacked DRAM and achieve a two or three times boost.

Pascal GPUs will have three key design features that will result in dramatically faster, more accurate training of richer deep neural networks – the human cortex-like data structures that serve as the foundation of deep learning research.

Along with up to 32GB of memory — 2.7X more than the newly launched NVIDIA flagship, the GeForce GTX TITAN X — Pascal will feature mixed-precision computing. It will have 3D memory, resulting in up to 5X improvement in deep learning applications. And it will feature NVLink – NVIDIA’s high-speed interconnect, which links together two or more GPUs — that will lead to a total 10X improvement in deep learning.

Pascal is Nvidia’s follow-up to Maxwell, and the first desktop chip to use TSMC’s 16nmFF+ (FinFET+) process. This is the second-generation follow-up to TSMC’s first FinFET technology — the first generation is expected to be available this year, while FF+ won’t ship until sometime next year.

2.25 million dollar NASA and America Makes Challenge for 3D printed habitats

NASA and the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, known as America Makes, are holding a new $2.25 million competition to design and build a 3-D printed habitat for deep space exploration, including the agency’s journey to Mars.

The multi-phase 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge, part of NASA's Centennial Challenges program, is designed to advance the additive construction technology needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth and beyond.

Shelter is among the most basic and crucial human needs, but packing enough materials and equipment to build a habitat on a distant planet would take up valuable cargo space that could be used for other life-sustaining provisions. The ability to manufacture a habitat using indigenous materials, combined with material that would otherwise be waste from the spacecraft, would be invaluable.

The first phase of the competition, announced Saturday at the Bay Area Maker Faire in San Mateo, California, runs through Sept. 27. This phase, a design competition, calls on participants to develop state-of-the-art architectural concepts that take advantage of the unique capabilities 3-D printing offers. The top 30 submissions will be judged and a prize purse of $50,000 will be awarded at the 2015 World Maker Faire in New York.

May 24, 2015

Driverless Cars will 'eliminate bad driving' and halve insurance costs

Car insurance costs will halve by 2020 as driverless vehicles become the norm on British roads, according to figures obtained by Telegraph Money.

Self-piloted cars could cut annual premiums by £265 on average within five years because the vehicles are expected to "eliminate bad driving", which is the cause of 90pc of road accidents.

According to industry experts, the new technology is developing at such a pace that road accidents caused by human error will be almost eliminated in the next half-decade. Nearly all new cars will park and drive on the motorway automatically, and communicate with vehicles to avoid collisions.

John Leech, head of auto at consultancy KPMG, said: "Insurance premiums could halve once vehicles which communicate with each other and an 'autopilot mode' when driving on the motorway are developed – this is likely to happen by approximately 2020."

Google's driverless car is expected to be seen on UK roads by 2025

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles – The UK Economic Opportunity (KPMG)

• The overall economic and social benefit of connected and autonomous vehicles could be in the region of £51 billion per year by 2030.
• Connected and autonomous vehicles could create an additional 320,000 jobs in the UK by 2030, 25,000 of which would be in automotive manufacturing.
• By 2030, connected and autonomous vehicles could save over 2,500 lives and prevent more than 25,000 serious accidents in the UK.

KPMG has a report- "Self Driving Cars are we Ready?

UCLASS Superdrone a bridge to fully autonomous fighters

The Navy’s planned carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will help the service in a transition from manned strike aircraft to a future autonomous strike platform, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said on Wednesday.

While the final character of the Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) is still being developed, Mabus said whatever the outcome it would likely not possess the autonomous deep strike capability into contested areas the service ultimately will require.

“What we currently think it won’t be able to do is in the current [request for proposal] we’re looking at, is to do autonomous contested strike,” Mabus told reporters following an address at the U.S Naval Academy (USNA).

“What we’re looking at UCLASS is to be the bridge between manned systems and completely autonomous unmanned strike — which will be sometime in the 2020s — to develop that program using UCLASS to get us there.”

The Navy has plans to introduce UCLASS to the fleet by 2022 to 2023

While Mabus said UCLASS might not be the penetrating strike aircraft some advocates are hoping for, the Navy will ultimately need an autonomous strike platform.

“We have to moved to unmanned. That’s the future,” he said in response to a question from an USNA midshipman.

The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet replacement program — F/A-XX...looks like it should be unmanned,” he said.

The United States Navy's Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program is an aircraft carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle to provide an unmanned intelligence and strike asset to the fleet. The Navy plans to arm the proposed UCLASS with weapons currently in the carrier air wing's inventory. Weapons requirements will be outlined in final proposals and will be influenced by specific proposals. With the priority of the aircraft on ISR, the airframe will accommodate a fifth-generation AESA radar. It will have multiple intelligence (multi-int) sensors to include electro-optical/infrared sensors and full-motion video cameras. The sensor suite allows for detection and tracking of targets on land or at sea. Integrating weaponry is still being planned, but will include Joint Direct Attack Munitions.

Though its primary roles will be ISR and strike, there is the potential to use it as a "flying missile magazine" to supplement the F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-35C as a type of "robotic wingman." Its weapons bay could be filled with AIM-120 AMRAAMs and be remotely operated by an E-2D Hawkeye or F-35C flight leader

An artist’s concept of a proposed Lockheed Martin UCLASS design. Lockheed Martin Image

HSBC says there is no traditional stimulus left and the only hope is structural reforms and increased retirement ages

HSBC has a report "The World Economy's Titanic Problem" which indicates that in the event of a future recession, the world economy has run out of traditional stimulus. HSBC Chief Economist Stephen King says the US Federal Reserve has had to cut rates by over 500 basis points to right the ship in each of the recessions since the early 1970s.

Budget deficits are still uncomfortably large and debt levels uncomfortably high: while the US fiscal position has improved, it remains structurally weak.

We investigate the options for policymakers given this shortage of traditional ammunition, including:
(i) reducing the risk of recession;
(ii) reverting to quantitative easing;
(iii) moving away from inflation targeting;
(iv) using fiscal policy to replace monetary policy;
(v) using fiscal and monetary policy together in a bid to introduce so-called “helicopter money”; and
(vi) pushing interest rates higher through structural reforms designed to lower excess savings, most obviously via increases in retirement age.

We conclude that only the final option is likely to lead to economic success. Politically, however, it seems implausible. As a result, we are faced with a serious shortage of effective policy lifeboats.

As for plausible recession triggers, we highlight four major risks:
1) a rise in US wages which leads to a falling profit share and a major equity decline
2) a series of systemic failures within the non-bank financial sector
3) a major weakening of the Chinese economy, sending shockwaves around the world; and
4) a premature attempt by the Federal Reserve to normalise monetary policy, in a repeat of the mistakes made by the Bank of Japan in 2000 and, more recently, by the European Central Bank in 2011.

John Nash and wife Alicia die together in Taxi accident on NJ Turnpike

The famed Nobel-prize winner John Nash and Princeton University scholar and his wife Alicia were killed when a taxi carrying them slammed into a guardrail on the New Jersey Turnpike, ejecting and killing both. He was 86 and she was 82. They were featured in the movie A Beautiful Mind.

Mr. Nash was the father of what is known in economics as the “Nash Equilibrium,” a state where rivals in a game, a negotiation or a competition can’t advance their gains by changing their positions and thus reach a steady state.

For work on nonlinear partial differential equations, Mr. Nash last week received the prestigious Abel Prize in Oslo from the king of Norway for outstanding work in mathematics.

Driving in New Jersey Saturday, Mr. Nash’s taxi driver, Tarek Girgis, attempted to pass another car, according to New Jersey State Police Sgt. Gregory Williams. The driver lost control, crashed into a guardrail and then hit another car. An investigation into the crash is ongoing, though there is nothing suspicious about the nature of the accident, the officer said.

A bionic lens can be inserted in a procedure like cataract surgery can give vision three times better than 20-20 starting in 2017

The objective of OcumeticsTM Technology Corporation is to offer better than 20/20 vision for a lifetime.

Employing state-of-the art materials and production techniques, OcumeticsTM Technology Corporation is pleased to announce the development of one of the world’s most advanced intraocular lenses, one that is capable of restoring quality vision at all distances, without glasses, contact lenses or corneal refractive procedures, and without the vision problems that have plagued current accommodative and multifocal intraocular lens designs.

Cataract surgery is the most common and successful procedure in medicine. It is a painless and gentle procedure. Utilizing standard surgical techniques, augmented by the accuracy of femtosecond laser incision technology, ophthalmic surgeons will be able to implant the OcumeticsTM Bionic Lens to enable patients to achieve their visual goals.

The tiny Bionic Lens, which looks like a tiny button, would be inserted into the eye during an eight-minute surgery where the patient’s sight would be corrected instantly. The device would be folded like a taco in a saline-filled syringe, and then it would be implanted into the eye, where it would be placed in position within 10 seconds. The surgery would be available only to patients of at least 25 years of age, since people that age have eyes that fully matured.

Dr. Garth Webb and his team worked on the technology for eight years, spending $3 million on research and development.

“This is vision enhancement that the world has never seen before,” he said. “If you can just barely see the clock at 10 feet, when you get the Bionic Lens you can see the clock at 30 feet away.”

Even though the Bionic Lens sounds very exciting, the product will require additional testing before becoming commercially available. The device will undergo trials on animals and then blind human eyes at first. The final product could be available as soon as 2017.

Large Survey Telescope will image the entire sky every few nights for a thousand fold increase in survey power

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is a planned wide-field "survey" reflecting telescope that will photograph the entire available sky every few nights. The LSST is currently in its design and mirror-development phases. Site construction is scheduled to begin in October 2014, with engineering first light in 2019, science first light in 2021, and full operations for a ten-year survey commencing in January 2022.

The LSST will image the entire visible sky every few nights, thus capturing changes and opening up the time-domain window over an unprecedented range of timescales for billions of faint objects. Each sky patch will be visited 1000 times during the survey with a pair of exposures per visit. The LSST data will enable qualitatively new science. Billions of objects in our universe will be seen for the first time and monitored over time. Motivated by the evident scientific progress enabled by large sky surveys, multiple national reports have concluded that a dedicated ground-based wide-field imaging telescope with an effective aperture of 6-8 meters is a high priority for astronomy, physics, and planetary science over the next decade. With a thousand-fold increase in survey power in time-volume space over current facilities, LSST is likely to make unexpected discoveries.

The LSST design is unique among large telescopes (8 m-class primary mirrors) in having a very wide field of view: 3.5 degrees in diameter, or 9.6 square degrees. For comparison, both the Sun and the Moon, as seen from Earth, are 0.5 degrees across, or 0.2 square degrees. Combined with its large aperture (and thus light-collecting ability), this will give it a spectacularly large etendue of 319 m2∙degree2.

To achieve this very wide, undistorted field of view requires three mirrors, rather than the two used by most existing large telescopes: the primary mirror (M1) will be 8.4 metres (28 ft) in diameter, the secondary mirror (M2) will be 3.4 metres (11.2 ft) in diameter, and the tertiary mirror (M3), located in a large hole in the primary, will be 5.0 metres (16 ft) in diameter.

The 30 terabytes of data obtained each night will open a new window on the deep optical universe - the time domain - enabling the study of variability both in position and time. This enables control of systematics required for precision probes of dark energy. Rarely observed events will become commonplace, new and unanticipated events will be discovered, and the combination of LSST with contemporary space-based missions will provide powerful synergies

SR72 hypersonic spy drone could be flying by 2030

The SR-72 will travel at six times the speed of sound—the fastest military jet ever made—and fly as high as 80,000 feet. The SR-72,will evade assault, take spy photos, and attack targets at speeds of up to Mach 6. That’s twice as fast as its predecessor.

Aeronautical engineers at Lockheed Martin and Aerojet Rocket­dyne have been designing the SR-72 at their Skunk Works black site in California for the past several years. It will require a hybrid propulsion system: a conventional, off-the-shelf turbo jet that can take the plane from runway to Mach 3, and a hypersonic ramjet/scramjet that will push it the rest of the way. Its body will have to withstand the extreme heat of hypersonic flight, when air friction alone could melt steel. Its bombs will have to hit targets from possibly 80,000 feet. Lockheed says the craft could be deployed by 2030. Once it is, the plane’s ability to cover one mile per second means it could reach any location on any continent in an hour—not that you’ll see it coming.

The aircraft will accelerate to about Mach 3 under turbojet power, switch to ramjet power to take it to about Mach 5, and then switch again to scramjet mode, which uses supersonic air for combustion.

The SR-72 may face significant challenges to being accepted by the Air Force, as they are opting to develop the Northrop Grumman RQ-180 stealth UAV to perform the task of conducting ISR missions in contested airspace. Compared to the SR-72, the RQ-180 is less complex to design and manufacture, less prone to problems with acquisition, and can enter service as soon as 2015.

In December 2014 NASA awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to study the feasibility of building the SR-72's propulsion system using existing turbine engine technologies. The $892,292 contract funds a design study to determine the viability of a TBCC propulsion system by combining one of several current turbine engines, with a very low Mach ignition Dual Mode Ramjet (DMRJ). NASA previously funded a Lockheed Martin study that found speeds up to Mach 7 could be achieved with a dual-mode engine combining turbine and ramjet technologies. The problem with hypersonic propulsion has always been the gap between the highest speed capabilities of a turbojet, from around Mach 2.2 to the lowest speed of a ramjet at Mach 4. Typical turbine engines cannot achieve high enough speeds for a ramjet to take over and continue accelerating. The NASA-Lockheed study is looking at the possibility of a higher-speed turbine engine or a ramjet that can function in a turbine engine's slower flight envelope; the DARPA HTV-3X had demonstrated a low-speed ramjet that could operate below Mach 3. Existing turbofan engines powering jet fighters and other experimental designs are being considered for modification. If the study is successful, NASA will fund a demonstrator to test the DMRJ in a flight research vehicle

In the Late-2020s a microlensing survey could tell if Rogue planets are more common than planets around Stars

The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is a proposed infrared space observatory which was selected by National Research Council committee as the top priority for the next decade of astronomy. The WFIRST space telescope could be in space by 2024 if it is started in 2017.

Estimates suggested that every planetary system in the galaxy booted at least one planet into interstellar space. With billions of planetary systems in the Milky Way, there may be billions, maybe even hundreds of billions, of rogue planets in the galaxy, says planetary scientist Sara Seager of MIT.

“A census of rogues,” Liu says, “is the only way we are going to fully understand the extent of what’s out there in the Milky Way.”

Two traits distinguish a star from a brown dwarf and to an extent, from a planet: mass and the presence or absence of nuclear fusion. Stars, even small ones, are at least 80 times the mass of Jupiter, which at 318 times the mass of Earth is the most massive planet in the solar system — and is often used by astronomers to gauge the size of other gaseous objects. According to theoretical calculations about how stars work, objects must be 80 Jupiter masses or more to fuse hydrogen nuclei (protons) into helium. This process liberates energy, which is how stars burn bright, speckling the night sky.

Brown dwarfs are smaller, anywhere between 13 and 80 Jupiter masses. They are not dense enough to fuse hydrogen. But they may have been big and hot enough to fuse deuterium nuclei (a proton plus a neutron) with protons or other nuclei, which means they once generated energy but no longer do.

Any sphere less than about 13 Jupiter masses is not large or dense enough to fuse any kind of atomic nuclei. As a result, some astronomers define orbs with less than roughly 13 Jupiter masses — even untethered ones — as planets.

One study suggests there could be 100,000 rogue planets for every star in the Milky way.

Astronomy and Astrophysics - CFBDSIR2149-0403: a 4–7 Jupiter-mass free-floating planet in the young moving group AB Doradus?

MASS MATTERS Small stars, brown dwarfs and rogue planets can be similar in diameter but have different masses. Mass is one characteristic used to distinguish the objects. However, for classification purposes, astronomers may need to look beyond mass to consider how an orb formed and what elements it’s made of.

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