August 01, 2015

Star Trek Renegades a continuation of the Prime Universe with Walter Koenig and others premiered today

Star Trek: Renegades, is a professionally produced pilot intended for presentation to CBS as a possible online series.

This film was funded by the generous donations of fans from around the world. All monies went directly to the costs of making this high quality broadcast pilot. It is our hope that CBS finds "Star Trek: Renegades" to be a worthy endeavor and will continue the Star Trek franchise and legacy as an online episodic series (or on their own broadcast or cable network).

The official premier took place today at the Crest Theater (Saturday August 1, 2015 at 4:30 pm)
Renegades is also to be screened in Las Vegas on Friday, August 7th. The screening will be at 9:00pm at the AMC TOWN SQUARE 18, 6587 Las Vegas Blvd South.

You can still support the production. A $50 donation will get you a DVD or $60 for a Bluray copy of the pilot. This will be delivered in a month or so. There are other donation levels to get phaser and tricorder props.

The team behind Renegades had previously produced Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. The production of Star Trek: Renegades was funded through crowdsourcing web site Kickstarter in 2012. They requested $200,000 in funds, and beat that goal by $42,000. Additional funding was required because the script was more ambitious than previously proposed during the Kickstarter funding. Another fund raising campaign was started on Indiegogo, which raised US$132,555, much more than the targeted US$20,000.

Star Trek Renegades Synopsis

It is ten years after the starship Voyager‍ '​s return from the Delta Quadrant, and the Federation is in a crisis. The Federation's main suppliers of dilithium crystals (the primary catalyst for the fuel used in faster-than-light travel) are disappearing. Space and time have folded around several planets, effectively isolating them from any contact with outside worlds. The phenomenon is not natural – someone or something is causing it to happen. This necessitates drastic measures; some of which are outside the Federation’s normal jurisdiction. For this, Admiral Pavel Chekov, head of Starfleet Intelligence, turns to Commander Tuvok, Voyager‍ '​s former security officer and current head of the newly reorganized Section 31, Starfleet's autonomous intelligence and defense organization. Tuvok must put together a new covert, renegade crew – mostly outcasts and rogues – and even criminals. This new crew is tasked with finding out what is causing the folding of time and space, and stopping it at all costs. But will they be able to put aside their differences and stop trying to kill one another in time to accomplish their mission?

Russia Yu-71, US Prompt Global Strike and China's Wu-14 Hypersonic missile programs

Adm. Cecil D. Haney, Strategic Command’s (Stratcom) senior leader, said during remarks at a nuclear deterrence conference that despite arms control efforts, hypersonic weapons are among several threatening strategic trends emerging in the world.

China has conducted four flight tests of a 7,000 mile-per-hour maneuvering strike vehicle, and Russia is developing high-speed weapons and reportedly tested a hypersonic weapon in February.

Haney said the Pentagon is developing capabilities that can be used to counter hypersonic arms.

Stratcom is in charge of U.S. nuclear weapons and warfighting, and is tasked with protecting and countering threats to strategic space systems and cyberspace, which is used for command and control of both conventional and nuclear weapons.

China was testing extreme maneuvers of the mach 10 (7860 mph) prototype.

Unlike ballistic rockets that re-enter in a predictable path, a hypersonic weapon would be able to constantly change direction.

Russia has been working on the Yu-71 hypersonic vehicle for the last several years. Russia conducted the latest test of its hypersonic missile on February 26, but it was unsuccessful.

Pavel Podvig, a co-author of the Jane's report, said that the flight test was released atop an SS-19 missile into near space. The missile was launched from the Dombarovsky missile base. The hypersonic vehicle is part of the secret program Project 4022. Over the past five years, Russia has stepped up efforts on its hypersonic missile program to penetrate the U.S. missile defenses.

Russia could produce up to 24 nuclear-capable Yu-71 between 2020 and 2025. Russia is planning to deploy both nuclear as well as conventional configuration. The United States is also developing a hypersonic missile for its Prompt Global Strike program.

Even though both Wu-14 and Yu-71 are nuclear capable, the Chinese program has been more successful.

Ballastic missile flight profile compared to hypersonic x-51 release from B52

The US Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are developing a hypersonic glide delivery vehicle that could deploy on a modified Peacekeeper land-based ballistic missile—a system known as the conventional strike missile (CSM). In FY2008, Congress created a single, combined fund to support research and development for the CPGS mission. Congress appropriated $65.4 million for this program in FY2014 and $95.6 million in FY2015; the Obama Administration has requested $78.8 million for FY2016.

The US Army is also developing a hypersonic glide vehicle, known as the advanced hypersonic weapon (AHW). Like the HTV-2, the AHW would use a hypersonic glider to deliver a conventional payload, but could be deployed on a booster with a shorter range than HTV-2 and, therefore, may need to be deployed forward, on land or at sea.

DOD plans to spend a total of $887.5 million over the next five years. The increase supports planned flight tests in 2017 and 2020.

Thinfilm has deal for large number of printed smart memory tags per year and can roll to roll print one kilometer of memory

At the 8-11 minute portion of this video, there is discussion that Thinfilm Norway has had printed memory for a while. The memory only has 20 bits of memory in the square centimeter or so of space. This is enough to count to one million or so.

Xerox licensed the technology for production but no use cases have been disclosed.

Each one costs less than one dollar.

High end electronics still require silicon electronics. Low end electronics that you want cheap and everywhere then you want to use printed electronics.

Two important trends are coming together—the advent of low-cost, disposable electronics and the proliferation of near field communication (NFC) protocols, particularly in smart devices.

Thinfilm is producing electronics in a fundamentally new way, using roll-to-roll printing. This allows electronic labels that offer a cost-per-function untouchable by any other technology. Rather than $15+ for integrated systems, Thinfilm will be able to produce electronic labels with memory, sensing, display, and/or wireless communications for tens of cents. We are currently producing memory labels on a high-volume, roll-to-roll process, producing electronics by the kilometer. We have also shown our proof-of-concept for the first integrated systems, Thinfilm’s temperature-sensing label, combining sensing, data storage, and display. With over a decade and a half of R&D behind us, printed electronics has come of age.

Though many of Thinfilm’s initial electronic labels will be stand-alone (such as a temperature indicator on a package), an even greater number will be readable via close-proximity wireless communications. One example is reading by NFC-enabled devices such as smart phones. Other systems, though, will use proprietary protocols to establish product differentiation.

The Internet of Things is accelerating, and with cheap, disposable electronics, the applications are numerous. Temperature-sensing devices able to electronically record and communicate exceeding a temperature at 1/10th the price of silicon alternatives. Sensors that can record exposure to light, humidity, and even toxic gases. Dynamic pricing displays that automatically discount a product after a certain period of time, or electronic shelf labels that are lightweight, flexible, and disposable. One-time-use medical devices such as a blood oxygen sensor for use in home care. Memory devices that allow authentication of a branded refill in consumer packaged goods.

Smart memory on a plastic card

Sheet of NFC barcode chips

“Smart Wine Bottle” using Printed Electronics to stop counterfeiting of millions of bottles wine and leading to internet of everything

Thin Film Electronics ASA (Thinfilm), a global leader in the development of printed electronics and smart systems, today announced a partnership with the G World Group (G World), a global authentication company specializing in transparency and accountability solutions. The partnership will unveil the industry’s first “smart wine bottle” built using printed electronics technology at GSMA’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2015

This “smart wine bottle” will feature Thinfilm’s patent-pending NFC OpenSense™ tags and G World’s globally patented SAMSCAN process, providing a compelling choice to global consumers for the purchase of authentic produce and consumables while delivering significant anti-counterfeit protocols for the agricultural and beverage industries. The G World system will also deliver on the new Free Trade Agreement initiatives between Australia and China, facilitating trade between the two countries by providing a transparent and accountable system for producers, governments and consumers.

Following MWC, G World and Thinfilm will execute a live field trial in collaboration with Ferngrove Wine Group, a Chinese-owned, Western Australia premium wine company. Ferngrove is a major supplier of five-star red wine to the APAC region and exports more than 600,000 bottles annually to China alone. With more than 50 designated retail outlets throughout China, Ferngrove provides a direct line of sight from the vineyard to the Chinese consumer.

G World has placed a 7-figure unit order for NFC OpenSense™ tags as part of the agreement with Thinfilm and in conjunction with the planned Ferngrove field trial.

Smart label talks to your smartphone and provide information. If the bottle was opened. It can direct you to marketing information. It can authenticate the bottle

Thinfilm specializes in printing electronics. They produce the only commercial printed rewritable memory, and are now adding additional functionality to our product line, including logic, sensing, display, and wireless communication.

Their smart devices with temperature sensing and other features sell for $1-2 each depending upon volume. You can pack one into a shipping container to know if the product was exposed to temperatures outside of the acceptable range. They sell a lot of devices for anti-theft security (ie fashion and clothes retail).

Printed electronics technology, real-time sensing capability, and near-field communication (NFC) functionality.

Thinfilm is a Norway-based company focused on expanding the traditional Internet of Things into a much broader Internet of Everything using the benefits of printed electronics. Thinfilm’s NFC Barcode and Smart Label product platforms use 13.56MHz Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to communicate from Thinfilm labels (placed on everyday things, at the item level rather than the box/palette/case level) to NFC capable devices, including smartphones and industrial readers. The 128-bit NFC Barcode is manufactured on Thinfilm’s printed-dopant polysilicon (PDPS) manufacturing platform, which enables high-performance transistors capable of handling wireless communication and NFC frequencies and data rates. The payload consists of a mix of fixed ID ROM bits, which cannot be electrically modified for security purposes, and dynamic bits that can the assigned to sensors. Thinfilm recently announced OpenSense technology, which transmits information about the state of a seal (factory sealed or previously opened) to a smartphone. This is being demonstrated in Barcelona in the form of a Johnnie Walker whisky Smart Bottle, which can communicate a unique identification number and dynamic sensing data to a smartphone. The OpenSense technology can lead to improved consumer engagement and can be used to verify authenticity of the underlying product while the seal is still intact. Next, Thinfilm’s temperature sensing Smart Labels integrate batteries, sensing circuitry, optional visual printed electrochromic displays, and NFC wireless transmission function into a single self-contained smart sensing system. These systems use NFC to tell a smartphone or other compatible device whether a food or pharmaceutical shipment stayed within specified temperature limits or whether it became too hot or too cold during transport. That simple data can help caretakers, retailers, and supply chain partners to make smart decisions by providing a real time indication of the temperature behavior (within limits vs. exceeded limits), and the big data pushed to the cloud with every interaction will help brand owners and others to make smarter business decisions based on trends captured by thousands or even millions of units active at any point in time

Argentina buying 18 Israeli Kfir Fighter Planes

Argentina is negotiating the purchase of a batch of Israel Aerospace Industries Kfir Block 60 fighters.

The Block 60 is the latest upgraded version of the Kfir, which was used by the Israeli air force between 1975 and 1994. Some aircraft are being offered with General Electric J79 engines with zero hours following a complete overhaul, while other examples would need to have this work performed after their powerplant reaches 1,600 flight hours.

The upgraded fighter will carry an Elta Systems EL/M-2032 active electronically scanned array radar, which can operate in simultaneous air-to-air and air-to-surface modes and is capable of tracking up to 64 targets. Its open architecture design will also allow the customer to integrate other systems, industry sources say. Argentina could pursue a deal to acquire 18 of the combat aircraft from Israel.

There are currently a combined 36 Kfirs in operational use with the air forces of Colombia (pictured), Ecuador and Sri Lanka.

China's FC-1 Xiaolong, a multirole fighter jointly developed by China and Pakistan also known as the JF-17 Thunder, had a lower price but China would not provide anti-ship missiles because of pressure from the UK.

The UK imported $26 billion of goods from China in 2014 Argentina imported $10.4 billion from China in 2014.

Facebook getting close to 10 gigabit per second internet delivered from solar powered drones with 737 wingspan

Facebook successfully tested a new laser that can transmit data at 10 gigabits per second. That's ten times faster than any previous system, and it can accurately connect with a point the size of a dime from more than 10 miles away. Facebook's Aquila is a solar powered unmanned plane that beams down Internet connectivity from the sky. It has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but weighs less than a car and can stay in the air for months at a time.

Aquila is "a very lightweight, very large wingspan aircraft capable of flying above normal airliners, above 60,000 feet, for up to three months at a time," Andy Cox, engineering lead for the Facebook aviation team

China building 40000 ton super large amphibious assault ship similar to USA Wasp Class helicopter carriers

To compete against the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's Izumo-class helicopter destroyers, China is planning to build a new class of amphibious assault ship with a displacement of 40,000 tons, according to Kanwa Defense Review, a Canada-based Chinese-language military magazine.

China displayed the model of its 40,000-ton super large amphibious assault ship, known as M1, during the Sixth International Offshore Engineering Technology and Equipment Exhibition held in Beijing in April. Unlike the 28,000-ton Izumo-class, designed with five helicopter landing spots on its flight deck, the M1 has six. While the Izumo can carry a total number of 14 aircraft, how many the M1 can carry remains a mystery.

Japanese 28000 ton Izumo

The USA has the Wasp class is a class of Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) amphibious assault ships operated by the United States Navy. Based on the Tarawa class, with modifications to operate more advanced aircraft and landing craft, the Wasp class is capable of transporting almost the full strength of a United States Marine Corps Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), and landing them in hostile territory via landing craft or helicopters. All Wasp-class ships were built by Ingalls Shipbuilding, at Pascagoula, Mississippi, with the lead ship, USS Wasp, commissioned on 29 July 1989. Eight Wasp-class ships were built, and as of 2013, all eight are active.

Each Wasp class ship has a displacement of 40,500 long tons (41,150 t) at full load, is 831 feet (253.2 m) long, has a beam of 104 feet (31.8 m), and a draft of 27 feet (8.1 m). For propulsion, most of the ships are fitted with two steam boilers connected to geared turbines, which deliver 70,000 shaft horsepower (33,849 kW) to the two propeller shafts

US 40,000 ton Wasp class carriers

Mundane Singularity Update part 1

I had looked at what will be the technologies and changes that can eventually lead to
1. Economic abundance
2. Radical life extension
3. Physical and Cognitive enhancement
4. Blood Stream Robots
5. Supermaterials
6. Open Access to space
7. Pollution elimination
8. Computer Advancement
9. Shape changing functional devices like utility fog

Here was the list with updates for the first eight out of 18
1. Pro-growth Policies

World economic growth has slowed

Global growth is projected at 3.3 percent in 2015, marginally lower than in 2014, with a gradual pickup in advanced economies and a slowdown in emerging market and developing economies. In 2016, growth is expected to strengthen to 3.8 percent.

Growth in advanced economies is projected to increase from 1.8 percent in 2014 to 2.1 percent in 2015 and 2.4 percent in 2016, a more gradual pickup than was forecast in the April 2015 WEO. The unexpected weakness in North America, which accounts for the lion’s share of the growth forecast revision in advanced economies, is likely to prove a temporary setback. The underlying drivers for acceleration in consumption and investment in the United States—wage growth, labor market conditions, easy financial conditions, lower fuel prices, and a strengthening housing market—remain intact.

India stumbled to a couple years of 4-5% or so GDP growth in 2012 and 2013 but now appears to be heading back to 7-8% GDP growth.

World financial policies are very loose in an attempt to get growth out of weak economies.
India and China are attempting to boost growth to not slowdown too much.
Instead of trying to achieve abundance it is use whatever policies that will first get back economies from bad back to pretty good.

China is trying to keep its growth going at 6.5% or higher for as long as possible.

This is a driving force for the One Belt One Road policy.
China is shifting to building out rail, energy and infrastructure in Africa, Asia and towards Europe.

I would talk about future altering high growth policy from Europe and North America but I am not aware of it.
The US is doing what it can with finance policy and trade deals.

2. Energy Efficiency - superconductors, thermoelectrics, improved grid

Superconductors and thermoelectrics have products but the big breakthrough in price and market size are taking longer to achieve.

3. Energy Revolution - Mass produced fission, fusion, and maybe cold fusion

Very low cost energy is important because energy has a larger impact on the economy than was officially recognized until recently.

According to the cost-share theorem, reductions of energy inputs by up to 7%, observed during the first energy crisis 1973–1975, could have only caused output reductions of 0.35%, whereas the observed reductions of output in industrial economies were up to an order of magnitude larger. Thus, from this perspective the recessions of the energy crises are hard to understand. In addition, cost-share weighting of production factors has the problem of the Solow residual. The Solow residual accounts for that part of output growth that cannot be explained by the input growth rates weighted by the factor cost shares. It amounts to more than 50% of total growth in many countries.

Horizontal multi-frac oil and gas has boosted US production which has contributed to lower global oil and gas prices. Natural gas which is less than half as polluting as coal has displaced about 40% of the coal used in the USA.

China wants to shift from coal energy dependency to reduce air pollution. China is looking to scale up nuclear power to provide energy at least as low cost as current coal energy. China will have built up all of the hydro by 2020 and will then turn to getting really serious about scaling up nuclear power.

China's 200 MWe HTR-PM pebble bed reactor will now be completed about 2017. This will then be built into several 600 MWe units.

China is also looking at supercritical water reactors. These have a similar supply chains to existing pressure water reactors and are potentially could supply energy at about half the cost.

Terrestrial Energy in Canada is working on a molten salt reactor prototype which could be completed by 2020.

Fast neutron reactors appear ready to become mainstream commercial in the 2020s and should then ramp up for major deployment in the 2030s.

Russia's SVBR-100 is interesting because it has the potential for factory mass production.

China's larger gigawatt reactors are interesting because those are ones that China will mass deploy in 2030 and beyond.

Nuclear fusion projects continue to develop.
The closest to possible commercialization are
General Fusion in Canada
Helion Energy
Tri-alpha Energy
LPP Fusion

Possible super-controversial breakthroughs
Cold Fusion aka Low Energy Nuclear Reactions - Rossi Energy Catalyzer continues to make claims. Blacklight Power makes claims.

4. Additive manufacturing

Applications that can help develop space industry or for tissue engineering have the potential to have most big future impact.

5. Not so mundane - neuromorphic chips, quantum computers, photonics

There was a detailed analysis of a roadmap to human brain scale neuromorphic systems using FPGAs. There was also an analysis of some commercial applications for signal processing and image recognition.

There has been major funding of neuromorphic and brain emulation projections. Europe has a 1 billion euro ten year project. DARPA and US projects are of similar scale when funding is added together. There are major neuromorphic projects at IBM and Qualcomm and other companies.

July 31, 2015

IARPA crowd prediction moving to commercial spinoff and lessons on making better predictions

You can pre-register for beta testing of a commercial crowd prediction spinoff of the IARPA Good Judgement project.

The Good Judgment Project out-performed all other research teams in geopolitical forecasting. The Good Judgment Project was a four-year research study organized as part of a government-sponsored forecasting tournament. Thousands of people around the world predict global events. Their collective forecasts are surprisingly accurate.

The Aggregative Contingent Estimation (ACE) Program was sponsored by IARPA (the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity). The ACE Program aimed "to dramatically enhance the accuracy, precision, and timeliness of forecasts for a broad range of event types

Perovskite combined with quantum dots for superefficient LED lighting and high speed communication

University of Toronto researchers have combined two promising solar cell materials together for the first time, creating a new platform for LED technology.

The team designed a way to embed strongly luminescent nanoparticles called colloidal quantum dots (the chocolate chips) into perovskite (the oatmeal cookie). Perovskites are a family of materials that can be easily manufactured from solution, and that allow electrons to move swiftly through them with minimal loss or capture by defects.

The result is a black crystal that relies on the perovskite matrix to ‘funnel’ electrons into the quantum dots, which are extremely efficient at converting electricity to light. Hyper-efficient LED technologies could enable applications from the visible-light LED bulbs in every home, to new displays, to gesture recognition using near-infrared wavelengths.

“When you try to jam two different crystals together, they often form separate phases without blending smoothly into each other,” says Dr. Riccardo Comin, a post-doctoral fellow in the Sargent Group. “We had to design a new strategy to convince these two components to forget about their differences and to rather intermix into forming a unique crystalline entity.”

The resulting heterogeneous material is the basis for a new family of highly energy-efficient near-infrared LEDs. Infrared LEDs can be harnessed for improved night-vision technology, to better biomedical imaging, to high-speed telecommunications.

A glowing quantum dot seamlessly integrated into a perovskite crystal matrix (Image: Ella Marushchenko).

Nature - Quantum-dot-in-perovskite solids

Scientist develops model for robots with bacterial brains

A Virginia Tech scientist used a mathematical model to demonstrate that bacteria can control the behavior of an inanimate device like a robot.

“Basically we were trying to find out from the mathematical model if we could build a living microbiome on a nonliving host and control the host through the microbiome,” said Warren Ruder, an assistant professor of biological systems engineering in both the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering.

"We found that robots may indeed be able to function with a bacterial brain,” he said.

For future experiments, Ruder is building real-world robots that will have the ability to read bacterial gene expression levels in E. coli using miniature fluorescent microscopes. The robots will respond to bacteria he will engineer in his lab.

On a broad scale, understanding the biochemical sensing between organisms could have far reaching implications in ecology, biology, and robotics.

Living Cells Interfaced with a Biomimetic Robot as a Model System for Host-Microbiome Interactions. (A) A synthetic gene network – also known as an engineered gene circuit. Uploading a gene circuit into living bacteria endows cells with a programmable biomolecular network. (B) Engineered bacteria and their circuits can be introduced into an organism’s microbiome. The networks of the host and microbiome combine to form a complete gene network. In the absence of the complete host-microbiome network, host behavior is erratic. A programmed microbiome drives new, and potentially rational, host behavior. (C) A robot with a microfluidic chemostat mimics the microbiome’s environment within an organism. The robot is conceptualized to include a miniature fluorescent microscope, along with the pumps necessary to deliver inducers to the onboard microfluidic chemostat. This microscope allows for modulations in the reporter protein levels to be interpreted by the robot electronically. In the absence of a living microbiome, robotic host behavior can be erratic. A programmed, living microbiome drives new host robotic behavior.

Nature Scientific Reports - Exploring Host-Microbiome Interactions using an in Silico Model of Biomimetic Robots and Engineered Living Cells

China will build three large nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with electromagnetic catapults

China's first domestically-built aircraft carrier could be nuclear-powered, Chinese web media reported Thursday, quoting an internal document of the shipbuilder responsible for building the carrier.

Russia-based also reported in an article on July 28 that China is sure to show the world its domestically-built aircraft carrier ahead of schedule, with all the equipment 100 percent produced domestically.

Vasily Kashin, the author of the article, said that China will build three aircraft carriers, most likely nuclear-powered and equipped with an electromagnetic aircraft launch system.

China is not likely to complete all three until about 2025. This would put China a distant second behind the United States which has 11 large 100,000+ ton nuclear aircraft carrier with catapult launch.

July 30, 2015

Interview with John Bucknell about his Airbreathing nuclear thermal rocket design

The first article about John Bucknell's AIAA paper is here.

The Nuclear Thermal Turbo Rocket - A Conceptual High-Performance Earth-to-Orbit Propulsion System by John Bucknell

A new propulsion concept called the Nuclear Thermal Turbo Rocket (NTTR) is proposed for Earth to Orbit applications. The NTTR utilizes a nuclear fission reactor to thermally heat hydrogen propellant into a rocket plenum. The rocket nozzles are located at the tips of a variable pitch thrust fan connected to the plenum by passages in the fan blades, and each nozzle is a linear aerospike on the trailing edge of the blade. The thrust fan is located in a duct such that the heated hydrogen propellant is combusted with ambient sourced oxygen to augment the rocket thrust. The fan is of variable pitch to provide maximum thrust for varying inlet velocity. The duct has a variable geometry inlet, able to provide appropriate mass flow and compression to the combustor throughout the trajectory, and a variable geometry outlet to provide appropriate nozzle area for maximum thrust. The rocket nozzles act as propellant injectors during the airbreathing portion and pure rockets during low atmospheric density portions, with the NTTR utilizing a single gas path from launch to orbital velocity. The propulsion concept is of high performance and is able to transport more than 50% mass fraction in a Single Stage to Orbit (SSTO) via an air-breathing rocket trajectory with intended complete reusability. Payload fractions of up to 19% are predicted (inert mass includes reactor radiation shielding) due to a mission average Specific Impulse (Isp) of 1,662 seconds

Here is information from an email interview with John Bucknell.

Question 1. Can you list out your modifications compared to older designs and experiments ?

Background to question 1 -
The NERVA experiments had an ISP of about 875, and the thinking was they could have been upgraded to 975
The Timberwind design (1987-91) in theory could reach 1000 ISP
And some current designs are at 925 ISP.
There were nuclear light bulb - gas core design open cycle design with ISP in the 3000 to 5000 range and closed cycle 1500-2000 ISP.

Answer 1 from John Bucknell
The pure rocket portion of the system is pretty conventional - I used an off-the-shelf design reactor (MITEE) with peak propellant temps limited to about 2200 deg C so as to limit fuel element erosion that starts at about 2500 deg C. Mass loss of the fuel element at 2750 deg C was a fraction of a percent per 100 hours of operation (ie not much). The Isp as a pure rocket is 890 seconds in vacuum. When in airbreathing mode the exit temp drops since so much more fuel is being pushed through the core - with around 1000 deg C propellant temps. So no exotic designs needed, it's the airbreathing that ups the Isp.

Question 2. Also, if Spacex gets reusable stages then how does yours reusable nuclear thermal rocket compare ?

Answer 2 from John Bucknell
As compared to SpaceX's reusability - same motivations. However, a SSTO can land, refuel and launch again whereas the F9R needs to be reintegrated. And the upper stage doesn't have the mass budget (yet) for propulsive recovery. But the big kicker is payload fractions - my design is only 15% of the GLOW of a F9R for the same payload (at the low end of estimates - top end is 1.5x payload), so the rocket is far simpler and easier to build. And bigger rockets generally have better payload fractions - so a scaled up version could get Saturn V sized payloads at still only 60% of the GLOW of a F9R.

Aircraft carriers, submarines, tanks, lasers and Emdrive were the top posts in July

The Nextbigfuture website is nearing 59 million pageviews and 150 million views on Google Plus.

Some have in comments have asked about the topic selection of Nextbigfuture.

The articles that have generated the most traffic and revenue are the aircraft carrier, fighter planes, bombers, submarines, tanks, laser and railgun articles. Also, occasionally some articles like Emdrive.

Some have accused this site of being a paid promoter of China. This kind of accusation shows a kind of naive cluelessness.
China is an $11 trillion GDP country. The leadership does not care world public opinion and only cares about their own people if there is an actual risk of 1911 style uprisings.

Companies and countries do not pay for a lot of blogger articles to sway opinion. Some companies pay for ad campaigns, but that is generally click based and the revenue is strongly driven by the traffic. There are also some tiny new companies with new products who might actually play for positive blog articles. However, this is a tiny fraction of the ad money. If the company is so small that they are looking for blog coverage then they are also close to just begging for free article coverage. This would mean no money.

China just uses directly state controlled media.

The top traffic China sites are Sina and Xinhau and the product sites. A top China traffic site needs to be in chinese language and mobile focused. It also should probably WeChat focused.

WeChat is a mobile text and voice messaging communication service developed by Tencent in China, first released in January 2011. It is the largest standalone messaging app by monthly active users. As of August 2014, WeChat has 438 million active users; with 70 million outside of China.

Sri Lanka is the first country to sign up for Google Loon

Sri Lanka is the first country to sign up for Google Loon.

"Hopefully in a few months every person and every device on the island will be covered by 3G (third generation," Deputy Economic Policy Minister Harsha de Silva said in his twitter feed.

Sri Lanka's Telecom Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the Google Loon balloons will cover every village from Dondra to Point Pedro, in reference to the northernmost and Southernmost points in the island.

Each balloon could cover about 5,000 square kilometres and with a little over a dozen the entire country could be covered.

Project Loon is a project being developed by Google with the mission of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas.. The project uses high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 32 km (20 mi) to create an aerial wireless network with up to 3G-like speeds. It was named Project Loon, since Google itself found the very idea of providing internet access to the remaining 5 billion population unprecedented and "crazy."

The balloons are maneuvered by adjusting their altitude to float to a wind layer after identifying the wind layer with the desired speed and direction using wind data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Users of the service connect to the balloon network using a special Internet antenna attached to their building. The signal travels through the balloon network from balloon to balloon, then to a ground-based station connected to an Internet service provider (ISP), then onto the global Internet. The system aims to bring Internet access to remote and rural areas poorly served by existing provisions, and to improve communication during natural disasters to affected regions

Google Loon started by building much, much bigger balloons able to hold equipment capable of beaming connectivity 20 km down to the earth below—starting with our modestly larger early Albatross design, all the way up to our 141-foot-long Hawk and beyond. To ensure there’s always a balloon overhead to provide connection, we needed to build a system that can manufacture these balloons at scale, leading to our latest balloon design, the Nighthawk, the likes of which has never been seen before.

Shanghai and Yangtze River Delta Megaregion

The Yangtze River Delta (YRD which includes Shanghai), one of the major engines of China's economic growth, has a level of urbanisation that sees it at the head of the national league. At present, a number of the region’s provinces are engaged in building several new-style urban clusters, including work on enhancing the construction of individual cities and townships. At the same time, inter-city and cross-regional transportation systems and other infrastructure development projects are also being improved across the YRD region. Many of the YRD provinces are now committed to promoting a wider spectrum of industries, spurring economic development, and boosting regional employment. They have also taken a lead in building smart cities, strengthening the quality and efficiency of urban management, and in facilitating the development of low-carbon, livable cities. All of this offers clear business prospects for a number of Hong Kong-based businesses.

China's urbanisation rate jumped from below 37% in 2000 to 53.7% in 2013. The YRD region has a level of urbanisation that places it at the very top of the national league. In 2013, the YRD provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang had a per-capita GDP of Rmb74,607 and Rmb68,462, respectively. This is notably higher than the national figure of Rmb41,908. In another telling statistic, the urbanisation rate of both provinces hit 64%. This is higher than the national average by about 10 percentage points, and places it third - behind only Guangdong (67.8%) and Liaoning (66.5%) - among mainland provinces.

The region accounts for 20 percent of China's Gross Domestic Product and is responsible for one third of its imports and exports.

YRD should by 80% urban before 2020

Shanghai is at the core of the larger Yangtze River Delta, home to nearly 160 million residents crowded into an area the size of Oregon. The Yangtze Delta includes the provinces of Zhejiang, Shanghai and Jiangsu and stretches from Ningbo, through Hangzhou, Shanghai, Suzhou, Changzhou, and Zhenjiang to Nanjing.

With 20% of the GDP of China, this area already has about $2.2 to 2.5 trillion (nominal) in GDP and should be about $3 to 3.5 trillion in 2020 and about the level of Japan's GDP before 2030.

Per capita GDP is already at US$15,000 per person and should be $20,000 by 2020 and $30,000 per person before 2030. On a Purchasing power parity basis the whole YRD is almost at $25000 per person already.

The top half of China admin regions. There 31 admin regions in China. Shanghai is 3rd, Jiangsu is 4th and Zhejiang is 5th

July 29, 2015

IARPA funding for improved Quantum Computer Qubits and Quantum error correction

IARPA is seeking innovative solutions for the Logical Qubits (LogiQ) Program. LogiQ intends to build a logical qubit from a number of imperfect physical qubits by combining high-fidelity multi-qubit operations with extensible integration. The LogiQ Program is envisioned to begin 1 February 2016 and end by 31 January 2021.

Current quantum computing systems have important limitations that hinder their path to fault-tolerant quantum computation. First and foremost, the overall performance of multi-qubit systems is inferior to the performance of the individual qubits. These physical qubits are susceptible to system noise and losses induced by their environment, insufficient operation fidelity, lack of error correction, poor feedback and dynamical control, and inadequate multi-qubit control. Success in building practical quantum computers hinges on the ability to combat environment-induced decoherence and errors in quantum gates. This can be effectively and extensibly achieved by innovations that encode physical qubits into a logical qubit.

The Logical Qubits (LogiQ) Program seeks to overcome the limitations of current multi-qubit systems, described in the previous paragraph, by building a logical qubit from a number of imperfect physical qubits. LogiQ envisions that program success will require a multi-disciplinary approach that increases the fidelity of quantum gates, state preparation, and qubit readout; improves classical control; implements active quantum feedback; has the ability to reset and reuse qubits; and performs further system improvements.

Additionally, LogiQ seeks a modular architecture design of two coupled logical qubits that creates a flexible and feasible path to larger systems. Modular designs facilitate the incorporation of next-generation advances with minimal constraints, while maintaining or improving performance.

Researchers at IARPA and IBM have been working on the logical qubit issue with some success. IBM scientists announced in April that they had developed a new qubit circuit design that is claimed to be the only physical architecture that could successfully scale to larger dimensions.

Nature Communication - Demonstration of a quantum error detection code using a square lattice of four superconducting qubits

Nuclear Thermal Turbo Rocket with supercharged air augmentation

The Nuclear Thermal Turbo Rocket - A Conceptual High-Performance Earth-to-Orbit Propulsion System by John Bucknell

A new propulsion concept called the Nuclear Thermal Turbo Rocket (NTTR) is proposed for Earth to Orbit applications. The NTTR utilizes a nuclear fission reactor to thermally heat hydrogen propellant into a rocket plenum. The rocket nozzles are located at the tips of a variable pitch thrust fan connected to the plenum by passages in the fan blades, and each nozzle is a linear aerospike on the trailing edge of the blade. The thrust fan is located in a duct such that the heated hydrogen propellant is combusted with ambient sourced oxygen to augment the rocket thrust. The fan is of variable pitch to provide maximum thrust for varying inlet velocity. The duct has a variable geometry inlet, able to provide appropriate mass flow and compression to the combustor throughout the trajectory, and a variable geometry outlet to provide appropriate nozzle area for maximum thrust. The rocket nozzles act as propellant injectors during the airbreathing portion and pure rockets during low atmospheric density portions, with the NTTR utilizing a single gas path from launch to orbital velocity. The propulsion concept is of high performance and is able to transport more than 50% mass fraction in a Single Stage to Orbit (SSTO) via an air-breathing rocket trajectory with intended complete reusability. Payload fractions of up to 19% are predicted (inert mass includes reactor radiation shielding) due to a mission average Specific Impulse (Isp) of 1,662 seconds.

Examining the shortcomings of prior concepts and systematically integrating major features of existing technical work is the innovation pathway. What is desired is a propulsion system capable of SSTO for highest reusability simultaneously with highest mass fraction delivered for lowest operational costs so as to minimize access to orbit costs. Nuclear thermal rockets already offer the highest Isp of launch-capable pure rocket propulsion systems, whereas the Supercharged Ejector Scramjet (SESJ, Ref. 8) and afterburning supersonic Rocket Fan are the highest launch to hypersonic Isp chemical combined cycle systems proposed so it is logical to attempt to integrate those cycles. The Rocket Fan study predates a later study where the performance of Supersonic Through-Flow Fans (STFF) was expanded and detailed by adding variable pitch fan capability with enhanced low speed thrust and reduced mass as compared to Airturbo Ramjet solutions for Mach 5 cruise applications. RBCC solutions typically use the supercharging fan only for subsonic or low supersonic augmentation, whereas STFFs can operate with fan face Mach numbers from 0 to around 4.5. Air-augmented nuclear rockets are only mentioned once in the literature – the Nuclear Air-Enhanced Rocket (NEAR) which is a ducted rocket that performed as an ejector rocket and ramjet.

The new proposed propulsion concept is called the Nuclear Thermal Turbo Rocket (NTTR), which is a supercharged air-augmented nuclear thermal rocket architecture.  It operates in rocket fan, ramjet, scramjet and pure rocket modes.

July 28, 2015

US Navy will field 100 kilowatt or stronger lasers and ten shot per minute railguns by 2020

The US Navy is pursuing a multi-pronged approach to fielding energy weapons by the end of the decade, with the hopes of upgrading its 30 kilowatt laser gun to 100 kw or more, and giving its electromagnetic railgun a higher repetition rate.

Rear Adm. Bryant Fuller, chief engineer at Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), said in a panel presentation at the Directed Energy Summit, hosted by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and Booz Allen Hamilton, that both follow-on technologies should be in the hands of sailors in the fleet by 2020.

“Sometime in the very near future” the Navy will award a development contract for the larger follow-on system, a laser gun of 100 to 150 kw. That weapon will go out to sea for a demonstration by FY 2018, he said, keeping in line with the goal of transitioning technology from the lab to the warfighter as quickly as possible for operational testing.

The other half of the Navy’s push to deliver energy weapons to the fleet is the electromagnetic railgun. A manual-load version will go to sea on a Joint High Speed Vessel next year, but the Navy is already working on a version that would allow for 10 shots per minute. This “rep rate” version, despite challenges including thermal management in the barrel, is expected to go to sea by FY 2019.

Indonesia wants China to build Indonesia into an Asian production base

Indonesian president Joko Widodo expressed on Monday his hope that China will build Indonesia into an Asian production base with ever increasing economic cooperation between the two countries.

Widodo made his statement during a meeting with the visiting chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Yu Zhengsheng, said Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting between Widodo and Yu, Marsudi said that China's increasing overseas investment makes it possible to have more factories built in Indonesia. "The Indonesia president has expressed his hope that the targets of the economic cooperation between the two countries to be met," Marsudi said.

According to the minister, Indonesia and China have proposed to expand two-way trade and mutual visits to reach targets of US$150 billion and 10 million, respectively, before 2020.

CRISPR Genetic Engineering Advance, Scientists Successfully Edit Human T Cells

In a project spearheaded by investigators at UC San Francisco, scientists have devised a new strategy to precisely modify human T cells using the genome-editing system known as CRISPR/Cas9. Because these immune-system cells play important roles in a wide range of diseases, from diabetes to AIDS to cancer, the achievement provides a versatile new tool for research on T cell function, as well as a path toward CRISPR/Cas9-based therapies for many serious health problems.

Using their novel approach, the scientists were able to disable a protein on the T-cell surface called CXCR4, which can be exploited by HIV when the virus infects T cells and causes AIDS. The group also successfully shut down PD-1, a protein that has attracted intense interest in the burgeoning field of cancer immunotherapy, as scientists have shown that using drugs to block PD-1 coaxes T cells to attack tumors.

The CRISPR/Cas9 system has captured the imagination of both scientists and the general public, because it makes it possible to easily and inexpensively edit genetic information in virtually any organism. T cells, which circulate in the blood, are an obvious candidate for medical applications of the technology, as these cells not only stand at the center of many disease processes, but could be easily gathered from patients, edited with CRISPR/Cas9, then returned to the body to exert therapeutic effects.


T-cell genome engineering holds great promise for cancer immunotherapies and cell-based therapies for HIV, primary immune deficiencies, and autoimmune diseases, but genetic manipulation of human T cells has been inefficient. We achieved efficient genome editing by delivering Cas9 protein pre-assembled with guide RNAs. These active Cas9 ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) enabled successful Cas9-mediated homology-directed repair in primary human T cells. Cas9 RNPs provide a programmable tool to replace specific nucleotide sequences in the genome of mature immune cells—a longstanding goal in the field. These studies establish Cas9 RNP technology for diverse experimental and therapeutic genome engineering applications in primary human T cells.

Efficient editing ofCXCR4in primary human CD4+T cells. (A) Experimental scheme of Cas9:single-guide RNA ribonucleoprotein (Cas9 RNP) delivery toprimary human CD4+T cells for genome editing, followed by genetic and phenotypic characterization. (B) Schematic representation of sgRNA target (blue)and PAM (green) sequence designed to edit coding sequence in the humanCXCR4locus. (C) FACS plots show increasing percentages of cells with low CXCR4expression (CXCR4lo) with higher concentrations of CXCR4 Cas9 RNP (Cas9 RNPlo:0.9μM; Cas9 RNPhi:1.8μM) compared with control-treated cells (Cas9without sgRNA, CTRL; final concentration: 1.8μM). (D) T7 endonuclease I (T7E1) assay demonstrates genome editing in theCXCR4locus with more editingobserved in FACS-sorted CXCR4locells than in CXCR4hicells. Expected PCR product size (938 nt) and approximate expected sizes of T7E1-digested fragmentsare indicated. The total editing frequencies are indicated as percentage of Total Edit below the agarose gel image. (E) Mutation patterns detected by cloningand Sanger sequencing of theCXCR4locus in sorted Cas9 RNP (1.8μM)-treated CXCR4hiand CXCR4locells are compared with the sequence from CXCR4locontrol-treated cells (CTRL). Reference (REF) sequence is shown on top of clonal sequences from each population with sgRNA target (blue) and PAM (green)sequences indicated. Red dashes denote deleted bases, and red sequences indicate mutated nucleotides. Arrowhead indicates the predicted Cas9 cut site. Poor quality sequences obtained from three additional CXCR4 clones were removed from the sequence alignment

PNAS - Generation of knock-in primary human T cells using Cas9 ribonucleoproteins

Full paper with supporting information is here

Intel and Micron have new class of non-volatile memory that is 1000 times faster and 10 times denser than NAND Flash memory

Intel Corporation and Micron Technology, Inc. today unveiled 3D XPoint™ technology, a non-volatile memory that has the potential to revolutionize any device, application or service that benefits from fast access to large sets of data. Now in production, 3D XPoint technology is a major breakthrough in memory process technology and the first new memory category since the introduction of NAND flash in 1989.

The explosion of connected devices and digital services is generating massive amounts of new data. To make this data useful, it must be stored and analyzed very quickly, creating challenges for service providers and system builders who must balance cost, power and performance trade-offs when they design memory and storage solutions. 3D XPoint technology combines the performance, density, power, non-volatility and cost advantages of all available memory technologies on the market today. The technology is up to 1,000 times faster and has up to 1,000 times greater endurance than NAND, and is 10 times denser than conventional memory.

New Class of Memory from Intel and Micron Unleashes the Performance of PCs, Data Centers and More

* Intel and Micron begin production on new class of non-volatile memory, creating the first new memory category in more than 25 years.
* New 3D XPoint™ technology brings non-volatile memory speeds up to 1,000 times faster than NAND, the most popular non-volatile memory in the marketplace today.
* The companies invented unique material compounds and a cross point architecture for a memory technology that is 10 times denser than conventional memory.
* New technology makes new innovations possible in applications ranging from machine learning to real-time tracking of diseases and immersive 8K gaming.

3D Xpoint™ technology is up to 1000x faster than NAND and an individual die can store 128Gb of data

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