October 10, 2015

China and Russia try to catch up to US Military Exoskeletons

The US has several military exoskeleton programs.

* TALOS commando exoskeleton
* Warrior web soft exoskeleton
* Lockheed HULC lower body exoskeleton

DARPA and Special Ops Commands plan a 2018 debut for the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS -- exoskeleton to give make commandos more lethal while being better protected. They are particularly wanting this for the vulnerable first soldier to breach a compound. The TALOS program has churned out several prototypes and is on track to deliver a first-generation suit by August 2018.

The powered TALOS commando exoskeleton provides increased armor protection, increased situational awareness, increased lethality, increased, human performance.

The TALOS program is costing an estimated $80 million.

A full-size mannequin was shown wearing Revision Military's Kinetic Operations Suit looked alien with its fully-enclosed helmet and quad-tube night-vision device.

The TALOS special forces exoskeleton (military funding development over the next 3 years) imagines combat armor basically achieving the breaching of a door and withstanding small arms fire. Robotic Ballistic Shield bot already has the attachments to breach a door and shield the SWAT or soldiers protected behind it.

China is also developing military exoskeletons but they look vastly inferior

China has exoskeleton improvements over the Zhuhai 2014 version, including reinforced motors, a larger battery pack and hip section. It also has enough dexterity to allow crawling under enemy fire, as shown by an engineer testing the exoskeleton.

Russia and China's large air forces with a lot of active radar are challenging for stealth aircraft

India and Russia are working on 4.5 geenration Su-35S.

Full stealth jets like the F-22A Raptor create drastic reductions in radar detection range.

The Su-35S will have IRST (infra-red search and track) system to enable detection of stealth fighters like the F-22A. The F-22A will be able to spot the more detectable Su-35s at larger distances.

The SU-30 family has never been especially stealthy, and their overall airframe design limits what one can accomplish in this area. Nevertheless, Sukhoi cites an unspecified amount of “reduced reflectance” for the SU-35 in the X-band, which is a popular choice for modern radars, and in the angle range of plus or minus 60 degrees. Further improvements were made during testing by adding radar-absorbent materials, and removing or modifying protruding sensors that create radar reflection points.

The SU-35S will also depend on its sensors. It couples an electronically-scanned array radar with a 2-step electro-hydraulic drive unit, which creates a maximum radar beam deflection angle of 120 degrees. The NIIP Tikhomirov Irbis-E passive phased-array can reportedly detect and tracks up to 30 air targets, simultaneously engaging up to 8. It can also reportedly detect, choose and track up to 4 ground targets, and engage 2. Detection ranges of over 400 km/ 240 miles have been reported for airborne targets, which are the easiest, but resolutions are unspecified.

Russia and China will be able to cover airspace with stealth plane detecting radar from larger UAVs and ground stations. Having more detection systems and integrated communication allow for fourth generation fighters to remain effective against fifth generation fighters.

October 09, 2015

New Approach to Creating Computer Memory with exotic ring-shaped magnetic effects called Skyrmions

Scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the exotic ring-shaped magnetic effects have been coaxed out of the physicist’s deepfreeze with a straightforward method that creates magnetic skyrmions under ambient room conditions. The achievement brings skyrmions a step closer for use in real-world data storage as well as other novel magnetic and electronic technologies.

If you have a passing familiarity with particle physics, you might expect skyrmions to be particles; after all, they sound a lot like fermions, a class of particles that includes protons and neutrons. But skyrmions are not fundamental pieces of matter (not even of yogurt); they are effects named after the physicist who proposed them. Until just recently, magnetic skyrmions had only been seen at very low temperatures and under powerful magnetic fields.

The magnetic force in each individual atom in a magnet—what physicists call their “magnetic moments”—all line up the same way, like tiny compasses all pointing in the same direction. But under extreme conditions, certain magnetic materials (such as MnSi or FeCoSi) can, instead, develop spots where the moments curve and twist, forming a winding, ring-like configuration. These unusual objects possess an elasticity that protects them from outside influence, meaning the data they store would not be corrupted easily, even by stray magnetic fields or physical defects within the material. As a result, magnetic skyrmions present a promising basis for information memory systems and other nanoelectronic devices.
The topological nature of magnetic skyrmions leads to extraordinary properties that provide new insights into fundamental problems of magnetism and exciting potentials for novel magnetic technologies. Prerequisite are systems exhibiting skyrmion lattices at ambient conditions, which have been elusive so far. Here, we demonstrate the realization of artificial Bloch skyrmion lattices over extended areas in their ground state at room temperature by patterning asymmetric magnetic nanodots with controlled circularity on an underlayer with perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA). Polarity is controlled by a tailored magnetic field sequence and demonstrated in magnetometry measurements. The vortex structure is imprinted from the dots into the interfacial region of the underlayer via suppression of the PMA by a critical ion-irradiation step. The imprinted skyrmion lattices are identified directly with polarized neutron reflectometry and confirmed by magnetoresistance measurements. Our results demonstrate an exciting platform to explore room-temperature ground-state skyrmion lattices.

A magnetized cobalt disk (red) placed atop a thin cobalt-palladium film (light purple background) can be made to confer its own ringed configuration of magnetic moments (orange arrows) to the film below (purple arrows), creating a skyrmion in the film. The skyrmion, which is stable at room temperature, might be usable in computer memory systems. Credit: Dustin Gilbert/NIST

Nature Communications - Realization of ground-state artificial skyrmion lattices at room temperature

Researchers find a way to use light to draw and erase quantum-mechanical circuits

A team of scientists from the University of Chicago and Penn State University has accidentally discovered a new way of using light to draw and erase quantum-mechanical circuits in a unique class of materials called topological insulators.

In contrast to using advanced nanofabrication facilities based on chemical processing of materials, this flexible technique allows for rewritable “optical fabrication” of devices. This finding is likely to spawn new developments in emerging technologies such as low-power electronics based on the spin of electrons or ultrafast quantum computers.

Topological insulators (TIs) have attracted much attention due to their spin-polarized surface and edge states, whose origin in symmetry gives them intriguing quantum-mechanical properties. Robust control over the chemical potential of TI materials is important if these states are to become useful in new technologies, or as a venue for exotic physics. Unfortunately, chemical potential tuning is challenging in TIs in part because the fabrication of electrostatic top-gates tends to degrade material properties and the addition of chemical dopants or adsorbates can cause unwanted disorder. Here, we present an all-optical technique which allows persistent, bidirectional gating of a (Bi,Sb)2Te3 channel by optically manipulating the distribution of electric charge below its interface with an insulating SrTiO3 substrate. In this fashion we optically pattern p-n junctions in a TI material, which we subsequently image using scanning photocurrent microscopy. The ability to dynamically write and re-write mesoscopic electronic structures in a TI may aid in the investigation of the unique properties of the topological insulating phase. The optical gating effect may be adaptable to other material systems, providing a more general mechanism for reconfigurable electronics.

Persistent optical gating of a TI channel

Arxiv - Persistent Optical Gating of a Topological Insulator

New Horizons Finds Blue Skies and Water Ice on Pluto

The first color images of Pluto’s atmospheric hazes, returned by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft last week, reveal that the hazes are blue.

“Who would have expected a blue sky in the Kuiper Belt? It’s gorgeous,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado.

The haze particles themselves are likely gray or red, but the way they scatter blue light has gotten the attention of the New Horizons science team. “That striking blue tint tells us about the size and composition of the haze particles,” said science team researcher Carly Howett, also of SwRI. “A blue sky often results from scattering of sunlight by very small particles. On Earth, those particles are very tiny nitrogen molecules. On Pluto they appear to be larger — but still relatively small — soot-like particles we call tholins.”

Scientists believe the tholin particles form high in the atmosphere, where ultraviolet sunlight breaks apart and ionizes nitrogen and methane molecules and allows them to react with one another to form more and more complex negatively and positively charged ions. When they recombine, they form very complex macromolecules, a process first found to occur in the upper atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan. The more complex molecules continue to combine and grow until they become small particles; volatile gases condense and coat their surfaces with ice frost before they have time to fall through the atmosphere to the surface, where they add to Pluto’s red coloring.

In a second significant finding, New Horizons has detected numerous small, exposed regions of water ice on Pluto. The discovery was made from data collected by the Ralph spectral composition mapper on New Horizons.

Pluto’s Blue Sky: Pluto’s haze layer shows its blue color in this picture taken by the New Horizons Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC). The high-altitude haze is thought to be similar in nature to that seen at Saturn’s moon Titan. The source of both hazes likely involves sunlight-initiated chemical reactions of nitrogen and methane, leading to relatively small, soot-like particles (called tholins) that grow as they settle toward the surface. This image was generated by software that combines information from blue, red and near-infrared images to replicate the color a human eye would perceive as closely as possible.

China's J31 stealth fighter specifications were revealed online

China's J31 stealth fighter copied much of the technology of the fifth generation US F-35 fighter jet. Specifications for the J-31 were revealed online.

The J-31 is a mid-weight, twin rudder and twin-engine jet with the typical configuration that is commonly shared by other 5th generation fighters such as Sukhoi T-50. J-31 incorporates certain stealth characters such as forward swept intake ramps with diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI) bumps, trapezoidal wings and a two-piece canopy.

The J-31 appears to be a smaller and more agile aircraft than the Chengdu J-20 that resembles a twin engine F-35C.

The reported maximum engine thrust figure of "88.29 kn" or 9 tons, does conform with statements made by Chinese officials to IHS Jane's at the 2015 Paris Air Show that China was testing a new 9-ton medium thrust turbofan on the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation FC-1/JF-17 fighter. Thought to be an improved version of the WS-13 Taishan turbofan reportedly developed from the Russian Klimov 8.29-ton thrust RD-33 turbofan, it will power versions of the single-engine FC-1 and the twin-engine FC-31. China is working on an improved variant named WS-13A with 100KN of thrust for use on the J-31.

The data posted online describes the FC-31 as "designed for high survivability, low radar detectability, low IR (infrared) signature, and excellent capabilities for electronic counter measures".

Avic said the fifth-generation fighter jet, which has a 1,200 km (750-mile) combat range and a top speed of 2,205 kph (1,370 mph).

The J31 has a maximum payload capacity of 8 metric tons.

Pakistan Air Force is looking to buy 30 to 40 J-31 aircraft.

A sub-scale model of the Shenyang FC-31 fifth-generation fighter made its second appearance at the September 2015 Beijing Air Show. Source: Via Top81 web page

Micro-supercapacitors with lithium battery energy and supercapacitor advantages

Micro-supercapacitors are a promising alternative to micro-batteries because of their high power and long lifetime. They have been in development for about a decade but until now they have stored considerably less energy than micro-batteries, which has limited their application. Now researchers in the Laboratoire d'analyse et d'architecture des systèmes (LAAS-CNRS)1 in Toulouse and the INRS2 in Quebec have developed an electrode material that means electrochemical capacitors produce results similar to batteries, yet retain their particular advantages

They have developed an electrode material whose energy density exceeds all the systems available to date. The electrode is made of an extremely porous gold structure into which ruthenium oxide has been inserted. It is synthesized using an electrochemical process. These expensive materials can be used here because the components are tiny: of the order of square millimeters. This electrode was used to make a micro-supercapacitor with energy density 0.5 J/cm², which is about 1000 times greater than existing micro-supercapacitors, and very similar to the density characteristics of current Li-ion micro-batteries.

With this new energy density, their long lifetime, high power and tolerance to temperature variations, these micro-supercapacitors could finally be used in wearable, intelligent, on-board microsystems.

Russia's military overall is inferior to the USA but Russia can dominate regions

The U.S. spends nearly 10 times more than Russia on national defense. The U.S. operates 10 aircraft carriers; Russia has just one. And the U.S. military maintains a broad technological edge and a vastly superior ability to project power around the world.

Russia is now developing some key technologies, new fighting tactics and a brazen geopolitical strategy that is aggressively undermining America's 25-year claim to being the only truly global superpower. The result: Russia is unexpectedly re-emerging as America's chief military rival.

At least locally, Russia has the potential to generate superior forces.

Russia has preserved, even modernized, its own "triad" with nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, a large fleet of long-range strike aircraft and increasingly sophisticated nuclear-armed submarines.

There are specific conventional areas where the Russians excel — among them aircraft, air defenses, submarines, and electronic warfare.

China today spends more on defense annually than Russia, but still imports platforms and advanced weaponry from Russia.

Russia's airspace also is heavily fortified. The quality of Russia's stealth aircraft is far weaker than those of the U.S., but Russia has cutting-edge anti-stealth systems, and also has invested heavily in robust surface-to-air missile systems and arrayed its forces domestically to protect its border regions

NBF- Russia can protect its airspace and borders and can project dominant power a thousand miles from its borders. Russia has over ten times the military that the US faced in the Iraq wars.

Wakefield accelerators can make accelerators vastly more powerful and compact and could power Xray free electron lasers

CERN approved a boost in funding for a planned experiment called the Advanced Wakefield Experiment, or AWAKE. Due to switch on next year, AWAKE will accelerate particles by ‘surfing’ them on waves of electric charge created in a plasma, or ionized gas. It is a method that could allow future accelerators to probe matter and the forces of nature at ever-higher energies, without the usual accompanying increase in the instruments’ size and therefore cost.

Plasma wakefield accelerators send a pulse of charged particles or laser light through a plasma, which sets electrons and positively charged ions oscillating in its wake. The resulting regions of alternating negative and positive charge form waves that accelerate further charged particles. Injected at just the right time, these particles effectively surf the waves (see ‘Wakefield acceleration’). Crucially, as the electric fields are much stronger than those in a conventional collider, the acceleration can be as much as 1,000 times greater over the same distance.

Estimates indicate a wakefield machine just a few kilometres long could produce electrons with 6 times the energy of those that would be produced by the next planned conventional accelerator, the 31-kilometre-long Inter-national Linear Collider.

Wakefield-accelerated electrons could drive X-ray free-electron lasers, which probe matter using powerful bursts of light that are short enough to capture the motions of molecules. These are currently kilometres long — but using wakefield technology might allow them to fit into labs or hospital basements.

China launching satellite for dedicated tracking and targeting of US aircraft carriers

A report claims that the Gaofen-4 geostationary earth observation satellite will be launched by the end of this year with the express purpose of hunting US aircraft carriers. The satellite is equipped with a visible light imager at 50 meters and infrared staring optical imager at 400 meters.

China has created the means of holding at risk US aircraft carriers with two new anti-ship ballistic missiles, the DF-21D and the new DF-26. However, locating US aircraft carriers is not easy, and China has developed a variety of airborne and space-based sensors to ease the search.

NBC News reports that the USA pulled the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is home to about 5,000 service members and 65 combat planes, so that it can undergo maintenance. The ship officially exited the gulf around 11 p.m. ET. The temporary measure is also the result of mandatory budget cuts. Russia is running bombing campaigns in Syria.

October 08, 2015

Special Forces TALOS powered strength boosting exoskeleton with electrically activated liquid body armor will debut in 2017

DARPA and Special Ops Commands plan a 2018 debut for the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS -- exoskeleton to give make commandos more lethal while being better protected. They are particularly wanting this for the vulnerable first soldier to breach a compound. The TALOS program has churned out several prototypes and is on track to deliver a first-generation suit by August 2018.

Research on the TALOS suit has also been a boon in other areas, helping the military develop improved technologies related to lightweight armor and communications systems.

Navy Cmdr. Anthony Baker, the head of JATF- TALOS, was reluctant to talk about the program when reporters approached him.

"We have powered exoskeletons on contract being developed; the foundation is the exoskeleton," he said. "All I can say is 'we are shooting for the vision,'" which calls for "increased armor protection, increased situational awareness, increased lethality, increased, human performance."

The TALOS program is costing an estimated $80 million.

An amalgam of academics, defense industry types and Pentagon personnel are trying to fine-tune the battery-powered exoskeleton, which would reduce strain on the body, provide superior ballistic protection and in-helmet technologies to boost communications and visibility

Manufactured by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SOCOM (Special Operations COMmand ) intends to outfit the TALOS with a revolutionary type of electrically-activated shield called liquid body armor. While wearing the suit, the operator simply triggers a magnetic or electrical current on the TALOS and the body armor transitions from liquid to solid in a matter of milliseconds.

In 2013, the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) partnered with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to engineer a next-generation, super-soldier style suit for military operators. According to Defense One, the team’s early blueprint aimed to outfit the suit with full-body ballistic protection, integrated heating and cooling systems, 3D audio, embedded sensors and computers, and life-saving oxygen and hemorrhage controls — among other advanced tech.

A full-size mannequin was shown wearing Revision Military's Kinetic Operations Suit looked alien with its fully-enclosed helmet and quad-tube night-vision device.

Revision's suit features hard, body armor protection, capable of stopping rifle rounds, that covers 60 percent of the operator – compared to the 18 percent armor coverage operators currently wear.

It also features a powered, lower-body exoskeleton, to transfer the additional weight of the armor down to the waste belt and supports it with motorized actuators on each leg, according to Brian Dowling, program manager.

Spacex plans to return to flight with upgraded Falcon 9 v1.2 with 33% more power

SpaceX had been working for some time on an upgrade to the current Falcon 9 v1.1, sometimes called v1.2, with increased thrust. That first launch of the upgraded Falcon 9 was scheduled for September before the June 28 launch failure.

The upgraded Falcon 9 will be slightly taller than the Falcon 9 v1.1 and have a 33-percent increase in performance, said Lee Rosen, vice president of mission and launch operations for SpaceX, in another panel session here Sept. 1. “It has the same engines that we’ve flown before, but with some upgrades and things like that to increase reliability and performance,” he said.

The first static firing of the upgraded Falcon 9's first stage with densified propellant, completed on 9/21/2015.

Static test firing in mid September

The updated version 1.2 engine design was already planned before the explosion, and SpaceX is taking pains to ensure that the struts don't fail again.

The new engines will boast an extra boost. According to Spaceflight Now, each of the nine engines on the Falcon 9 rocket will provide 170,000 pounds of sea level thrust—up from 147,000 on the previous version.

The new upgrades will help the rocket carry heavier cargo into space, and will hopefully leave enough propellant left over after the launch to do a controlled landing of the rocket's first stage. That would help to usher in an era of rockets that are reusable and hence, cheaper.

The Falcon 9 Upgrade involves changes throughout the rocket with the exception of the payload fairing and is not just a slightly modified Octaweb first-stage motor configuration and the increased thrust of the Merlin 1D engines.

The first stage landing legs have been upgraded and the first stage structure enhanced. The grid fins, to help guide the first stage to landing, sport a new design. The interstage structure is longer, the second stage Merlin Vacuum engine’s thrust is increased, its nozzle lengthened and the overall length of the second stage is increased.

SpaceX has said it will attempt a barge landing of the first stage used for the SES-9 launch, the first such attempt following a launch to geostationary transfer orbit, the destination of most telecommunications satellites.

Four out of Eight Yuan Class Submarines will be built in Pakistan

Pakistan will build four of the eight submarines it plans to purchase from China, potentially speeding up the timeframe for delivery of the class to the Pakistan Navy, according to Rana Tanveer Hussain, minister for defence production.

The minister did not specify when the construction would begin, but said it would be happening soon. A training centre would be set up in Karachi for this purpose. He also did not specify the type of submarines but it was speculated that the deal was for Yuan-class Type-041 diesel-electric submarines equipped with AIP systems.

The eight submarine contract is worth about USD 4 billion to USD 5 billion and is the biggest arms export deal for China.

Israeli team SpacIL plans 2017 robotic lunar mission as leading Google LunarX Prize contender

A team from Israel called SpaceIL has signed a contract to launch its robotic lunar lander toward the moon aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in the second half of 2017. SpaceIL is therefore a strong contender to win the $20 million top prize in the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP), contest organizers said.

The Hop instead of a Rover

While the other Google Lunar X Prize teams developed large rovers to move the required 500 meters on the Moon’s surface, in order to conserve mass, SpaceIL developed the idea of a space hop: to have the spacecraft land and then take off again with the fuel left in its propulsion system, and then perform another landing 500 meters away.
Efficiency and Multi functionality

For extra efficiency, SpaceIL believes in multifunctional use of every single part of the spacecraft. For example, the propulsion system will be used both for landing and for performing the 500 meter hop.

October 07, 2015

Long Range Bomber Contract Award in final stages

The US Air Force is still working through the details of a contract award for the next-generation bomber, and expects an announcement on the final downselect in the next few months. The Pentagon is still deciding between proposals from Northrop Grumman, builder of the B-2 stealth bomber, and a Boeing-Lockheed Martin team.

The six-month delay in awarding the contract has already prompted lawmakers to cut $460 million from the program in fiscal 2016, Forbes said during the hearing. The Air Force stands to lose $100 million for each additional month the announcement is delayed, one congressional source said.

The Pentagon is planning to procure 80-100 LRS-Bs to replace the Air Force’s aging B-1 and B-52 bombers. Initial operating capability is slated for the mid-2020s, with nuclear certification planned two years after that.

However, lawmakers expressed concern during the hearing that 80-100 LRS-Bs is insufficient to replace the current fleet. The Air Force has 159 bombers in inventory today: 76 B-52s, 63 B-1s and 20 B-2s.

The US Air Force is in the final phase of discussion before awarding a contract for the next-generation bomber, and expects an announcement very soon.

“We’re in the final closing phase and it’s going well and you should expect to hear something pretty soon,” William LaPlante, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, said during an event hosted by Defense One on Tuesday.

Ending Extreme Poverty and current count of the poor

Globally, only about 10 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty; in Africa the number is down to 35 percent. “Technology has absolutely had a leading role,” Economist Sachs said. “Nothing has been as important as the mobile phone.”

The World Bank uses an updated international poverty line of US $1.90 a day, which incorporates new information on differences in the cost of living across countries (the PPP exchange rates). The new line preserves the real purchasing power of the previous line (of $1.25 a day in 2005 prices) in the world’s poorest countries. Using this new line (as well as new country-level data on living standards), the World Bank projects that global poverty will have fallen from 902 million people or 12.8 per cent of the global population in 2012 to 702 million people, or 9.6 per cent of the global population, this year.

Actual poverty data from low income countries come with a considerable lag but the organization, which released the information on the eve of its Annual Meetings in Lima, Peru, based its current projections on the latest available data.

Facebook’s Internet Drone Team Is Collaborating with Google’s Stratospheric Balloons Project

Facebook and Google compete intensely for your time online and for the ad dollars of corporations. But now the two companies are collaborating on efforts to use balloons and drone aircraft to expand Internet access to the four billion people that don’t have it.

Documents filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission show that both companies are pushing for international law to be modified to make it easier to use aircraft around 20 kilometers above the earth, in the stratosphere, to provide Internet access.

At the Solve conference at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Monday, representatives of the competing projects said they are now working together, although they wouldn’t say exactly how.

Japan offering Australia bigger and better version of Soryu class submarine and 100% technology transfer in US$38.8 billion deal

A Japanese consortium has placed a $35 billion bid to construct submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. While France’s DCNS Group and Germany’s Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems (TKMS) have offered proposals, several analysts believe Japan is the only bidder with submarines large enough to meet Australia’s demands.

Japan has offered to construct a state-of-the-art submarine concept which would be larger than its 4,000-ton Soryu-class submarine using new designs and sustainment centers in Japan as well as Adelaide and Perth. In addition, Japan has offered to train hundreds of Australian engineers in Kobe, its manufacturing hub, as well as Australia.

Australia is seeking a long-range submarine, about 4,000-tonnes, bigger than the 3,300-tonne Collins that it currently deploys. To compete against Japan’s 4,200-tonne Soryu class, TKMS is submitting a 4,000-tonne Type 216, and DCNS is offering a smaller, non-nuclear variant of its 5,300 tonne Barracuda-class submarines.

Japan would transfer 100 percent of the technology involved in building a larger version of Japan’s state-of-the-art 4,000-ton diesel-electric Soryu-class submarine to the Australian submariner community.

Australia is only looking to get about 12 submarines, but clearly they are top of the line non-nuclear submarines

Nanoscale wrench with 1.7 nanometer opening

University of Vermont chemist Severin Schneebeli has invented a new way to use chirality to make a nanoscale wrench. His team’s discovery allows them to precisely control nanoscale shapes and holds promise as a highly accurate and fast method of creating customized molecules.

This use of “chirality-assisted synthesis” is a fundamentally new approach to control the shape of large molecules — one of the foundational needs for making a new generation of complex synthetic materials, including polymers and medicines.

Like NanoLegos

Experimenting with anthracene, a substance found in coal, Schneebeli and his team assembled C-shaped strips of molecules that, because of their chirality, are able to join each other in only one direction. “They’re like Legos,” Schneebeli explains. These molecular strips form a rigid structure that’s able to hold rings of other chemicals “in a manner similar to how a five-sided bolt head fits into a pentagonal wrench,” the team writes.

The C-shaped strips can join to each other, with two bonds, in only one geometric orientation. So, unlike many chemical structures — which have the same general formula but are flexible and can twist and rotate into many different possible shapes — “this has only one shape,” Schneebeli says. “It's like a real wrench,” he says — with an opening a hundred-thousand-times smaller than the width of human hair: 1.7 nanometers.

“It completely keeps its shape,” he explains, even in various solvents and at many different temperatures, “which makes it pre-organized to bind to other molecules in one specific way,” he says.

A blue wrench (of molecules) to adjust a green bolt (a pillarene ring) that binds a yellow chemical “guest.” It’s a new tool — just 1.7 nanometers wide — that could help scientists catalyze and create a host of useful new materials. (Image courtesy of Severin Schneebeli)

Angewandte Chemie International Edition - Regulating Molecular Recognition with C-Shaped Strips Attained by Chirality-Assisted Synthesis

Critical conditions needed for LENR aka Cold Fusion

E-catworld has information from the research notes of Louis F. DeChiaro, Ph.D, a physicist with the US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), Dahlgren Warfare Center.

Louis F. DeChiaro wrote a review of current low energy nuclear reactions (LENR aka Cold Fusion) work.

DeChiaro has a 23 page presentation

His background is in Condensed Matter Physics.
He discusses the atomic vibrational LENR initiation mechanism.
There is a lengthy list of prerequisite conditions for successful LENR.

1. It is necessary to set up conditions favoring the formation of molecular hydrogen (H2 or D2) inside the solid lattice for a certain range of possible values of lattice constant and for some fraction of the allowed values for electron momentum. This condition alone rules out almost ALL the elemental , because the electron density is just too large to permit molecules to form, except near vacancies in the lattice where a metal atom is absent.

Making 25 cent mini-brains with spheres of nervous system tissue

Brown University researchers describe a relatively accessible method for making a working – though not thinking – sphere of central nervous system tissue. The advance could provide an inexpensive and easy-to-make 3-D testbed for biomedical research.

If you need a working miniature brain — say for drug testing, to test neural tissue transplants, or to experiment with how stem cells work — a new paper describes how to build one with what the Brown University authors say is relative ease and low expense. The little balls of brain aren’t performing any cogitation, but they produce electrical signals and form their own neural connections — synapses — making them readily producible testbeds for neuroscience research, the authors said.

A bundle of neurons
A bioengineering team at Brown University can grow “mini-brains” of neurons and supporting cells that form networks and are electrically active.
Image: Hoffman-Kim lab/Brown University

Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods - Three-Dimensional Neural Spheroid Culture: An In Vitro Model for Cortical Studies

October 06, 2015

Four new Breakout Labs Startups funded by Peter Thiel - Gecko inspired glue and new way to combat aging

Breakout Labs, a program of Peter Thiel’s philanthropic organization, the Thiel Foundation, announced today that four new companies advancing scientific discoveries in biomedical, chemical engineering, and nanotechnology have been selected for funding.

“We’re always hearing about bold new scientific research that promises to transform the world, but far too often the latest discoveries are left withering in a lab,” said Lindy Fishburne, Executive Director of Breakout Labs. “Our mission is to help a new type of scientist-entrepreneur navigate the startup ecosystem and build lasting companies that can make audacious scientific discoveries meaningful to everyday life. The four new companies joining the Breakout Labs portfolio – nanoGriptech, Maxterial, C2Sense, and CyteGen – embody that spirit and we’re excited to be working with them to help make their vision a reality.”

- adhesives: inspired by geckos

- sense of smell for the digital world (can reduce the 1.3 billion tons per year of food wastage)

- Metals that Completely Repel Water
- dramatically increase the human healthspan with new approach to antiaging

IMF lowers World Growth Forecast from 3.3% to 3.1% for 2015

The IMF projection for Global growth for 2015 is projected at 3.1 percent, 0.3 percentage point lower than in 2014, and 0.2 percentage point below the forecasts in the July 2015 World Economic Outlook (WEO) Update. Prospects across the main countries and regions remain uneven. Relative to last year, the recovery in advanced economies is expected to pick up slightly, while activity in emerging market and developing economies is projected to slow for the fifth year in a row, primarily reflecting weaker prospects for some large emerging market economies and oil-exporting countries.

Here is a link to the October, 2015 forecast

The IMF discussed the economic risks and prospects.

Prospects across the main countries and regions remain uneven. Relative to last year, growth in advanced economies is expected to pick up slightly, while it is projected to decline in emerging market and developing economies. With declining commodity prices, depreciating emerging market currencies, and increasing financial market volatility, downside risks to the outlook have risen,
particularly for emerging market and developing economies. Global activity is projected to gather some pace in 2016. In advanced economies, the modest recovery that started in 2014 is projected to strengthen further. In emerging market and developing economies, the outlook is projected to improve: in particular, growth in countries in economic distress in 2015 (including Brazil, Russia, and some countries in Latin America and in the Middle East), while remaining weak or negative, is projected to be higher next year, more than offsetting the expected gradual slowdown in China

China's One Child Policy continues Multi-year erosion and millions of ghost people will be legalized

Parents of newborn babies in southern China's Guangdong Province will no longer have to prove they obediently limited, through any means including forced abortion, the size of their nuclear families.

In the latest example of a gradual easing of the controversial one-child policy, police officers at the province's Public Security Bureau recently stopped demanding to see family-planning compliance certificates before registering "hukou," or household registration, for babies.

After the policy change was publicly announced in July, non-certified parents who had disobeyed the old rule but failed to register their babies flocked to apply for hukous. Some even waited in hours-long lines.

Some parents said they hurried to register out of fear that the policy easing might be temporary, even though authorities had insisted it was permanent. Many recalled that Guangdong birth control rules were temporarily waived during nationwide census counts in 2000 and 2010. Parents who had babies in those years could apply for hukous without impunity.

A father in the province's largest city, Guangzhou surnamed, said he was so worried that the latest easing might be temporary that he quickly applied for a hukou for his second son, who is now more than 3 years old.

Other non-certified parents, though, said they would wait to register for a hukou in hopes authorities would further relax the rules. Many feared registering a child without a certificate, even under the latest adjustment, could eventually lead to fines equal to as much as six times a family's annual income

About half of the 13 million people without a hukou in 2010 – the year of the most recent nationwide census – were born in violation of the one-child policy, census officials said. As a result, they were ineligible for schooling and not covered by the social welfare system. A person without a hukou cannot even board a train. A hukou is a requirement for anyone in China who wants vital government services, including health care and education.

LPP Fusion will Line Vacuum Chamber With Titanium Compound to Suppress Oxidation as Contamination is still too high

Based on the results of test shots fired in September, LPPFusion’s research team has decided to line the vacuum chamber of the device with titanium or a titanium compound. While we cleaned oxides off the tungsten, these compounds have reappeared due to oxygen in the stainless steel chamber. After some research, we concluded that the oxygen was coming from the break-up of chromium oxide in the stainless steel when it is exposed to the hot plasma. The basic solution to this is to cover up the steel with a material that tightly binds oxygen and that won’t give it up even with high heat. Titanium and its compounds are the accepted best material for this purpose.

LPPFusion’s team first fired the newly cleaned tungsten electrodes on Sept. 9. This initial shot provides the coating of the insulator that produces a thin current sheath. Such a thin sheath is needed for the pinch that in turn produces fusion reactions. Since this first shot does not have the insulator coating, it never produces fusion. What was not expected was the large amount of oxygen released, as evidenced by an increase in the chamber pressure. In addition, the characteristic yellow-gold color of tungsten bronze (a compound of tungsten, oxygen and hydrogen) also reappeared. It was spread widely on the steel chamber walls and more lightly back on the tungsten electrodes.

A second cleaning with abrasives of both electrodes and the chamber was not successful. Two more shots fired on Sept. 22 also showed clear evidence of the presence of large amounts of oxygen. We estimated from the extent of the colored oxides that at least 30 mg of oxides were generated for each shot. This is far more than the 30 micrograms we see as an acceptable level of impurities in the plasma.

Oxide deposits (colored material) were still heavy after first shot on Sept. 9

Oxide deposits were much lighter, but still present after cleaning and two more shots on Sept. 22

Deposits on the steel chamber were still heavy, providing a reservoir for oxidation. Darker markings are from surface changes due to adhesives in tape applied during an earlier cleaning

Facebook to provide free internet to Africa with satellites starting in second half of 2016

Facebook is teaming up with the French satellite company Eutelsat (ETCMY) to launch a satellite that will provide internet access to people in sub-Saharan Africa. The satellite will launch next year and service will start in the second half of 2016. It will reach 14 countries in West, East and Southern Africa.

Facebook will use the satellite to bring free Internet access to rural areas. The company is using satellites, lasers and drones to get the "next billion" people around the world online as part of its Internet.org initiative. It has already connected people in nearly 20 countries.

"Facebook's mission is to connect the world and we believe that satellites will play an important role in addressing the significant barriers that exist in connecting the people of Africa," said Chris Daniels, VP of Internet.org, in a statement.

Facebook and Eutelsat are leasing the AMOS-6 satellite from Israeli company Spacecom. The two companies will share the satellite and use it for their own individual services. Eutelsat will expand its paid broadband connections in the region for businesses and well-off individuals.

Internet.org has been criticized for limiting what services people can access through the free smartphone app. It currently includes free access to 60 services, including health and finance tools and, of course, Facebook. The app was recently renamed "Free Basics by Facebook" in an attempt to distance it from other Internet.org projects

Lockheed beginning production of 60 kw combat laser modules for the US Army and Air Force

Lockheed Marting begins production of a new generation of modular high power lasers this month. The first laser built using the modular technique will be a 60-kilowatt system for a U.S. Army vehicle.

Production of the fiber modules laser will take place at Lockheed Martin's Bothell, Washington facility. The modular laser design allows the laser power to be varied across an extremely wide range according to the needs of a specific mission and threat. Its incorporation of commercial fiber laser components into easily reproduced modules makes production of Lockheed Martin's laser highly affordable. The Army has the option to add more modules and increase power from 60kW to 120kW as a result of the laser's modularity.

Lockheed's Rob Afzal indicates that systems could made with 10, 20, 50, 100 of the 60 kw laser modules.

100 laser modeles would enable 6 Megawatt laser weapon systems.

DARPA funds seven teams to modulate nerves to treat disease

DARPA's Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program, which has as its goal the development of a closed-loop system that treats diseases by modulating the activity of peripheral nerves. The teams will initially pursue a diverse array of research and technological breakthroughs in support of the program’s technical goals. Ultimately, the program envisions a complete system that can be tested in human clinical trials aimed at conditions such as chronic pain, inflammatory disease, post-traumatic stress and other illnesses that may not be responsive to traditional treatments.

“The peripheral nervous system is the body’s information superhighway, communicating a vast array of sensory and motor signals that monitor our health status and effect changes in brain and organ functions to keep us healthy,“ said Doug Weber, the ElectRx program manager and a biomedical engineer who previously worked as a researcher for the Department of Veterans Affairs. “We envision technology that can detect the onset of disease and react automatically to restore health by stimulating peripheral nerves to modulate functions in the brain, spinal cord and internal organs.”

DARPA parafoil system provides the equivalent of a mast as tall as a skyscraper

DARPA’s Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) research effort recently demonstrated a prototype of a low-cost, fully automated parafoil system designed to extend maritime vessels’ long-distance communications and improve their domain awareness. Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could carry intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness.

DARPA has successfully tested a TALONS prototype that can be deployed by hand from smaller boats, or by mast from larger ships. Before open-water testing, TALONS’ rapid development began with land-based testing near Tucson, Arizona, in June 2014, followed by mock-up testing and measurement near Assateague Island National Seashore in Virginia in December of that year.

In the Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore, the TALONS team improved hand-deployment techniques for smaller boats and sent the system up to 500 feet in altitude, tuning and programming automatic launch-and-recovery and autopilot systems. The Virginia Beach demonstration occurred several miles offshore and used a mast-deployment technique that extended TALONS’ reach to 1,000 feet in altitude to display the system’s utility for larger ships.

October 05, 2015

Towards pills that can mimick many of the benefits of exercise

Everyone knows that exercise improves health, and ongoing research continues to uncover increasingly detailed information on its benefits for metabolism, circulation, and improved functioning of organs such as the heart, brain, and liver. With this knowledge in hand, scientists may be better equipped to develop "exercise pills" that could mimic at least some of the beneficial effects of physical exercise on the body. But a review of current development efforts, publishing October 2 in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, ponders whether such pills will achieve their potential therapeutic impact, at least in the near future.

Several laboratories are developing exercise pills, which at this early stage are being tested in animals to primarily target skeletal muscle performance and improve strength and energy use--essentially producing stronger and faster muscles. But of course the benefits of exercise are far greater than its effects on only muscles.

"Clearly people derive many other rewarding experiences from exercise--such as increased cognitive function, bone strength, and improved cardiovascular function," says Laher. "It is unrealistic to expect that exercise pills will fully be able to substitute for physical exercise--at least not in the immediate future."

Figure from an earlier 2013 look at exercise polypill

Physiology online - Exercise is the Real Polypill (2013)

Trends in Pharmacological Sciences - Exercise Pills: At the Starting Line (2015)

Australia develops two qubit silicon quantum computer

A team of Australian engineers has built a quantum logic gate in silicon for the first time, making calculations between two qubits of information possible – and thereby clearing the final hurdle to making silicon quantum computers a reality.

“What we have is a game changer,” said team leader Andrew Dzurak, Scientia Professor and Director of the Australian National Fabrication Facility at UNSW.

“We’ve demonstrated a two-qubit logic gate – the central building block of a quantum computer – and, significantly, done it in silicon. Because we use essentially the same device technology as existing computer chips, we believe it will be much easier to manufacture a full-scale processor chip than for any of the leading designs, which rely on more exotic technologies.

“This makes the building of a quantum computer much more feasible, since it is based on the same manufacturing technology as today’s computer industry,” he added.

Lead author Menno Veldhorst (left) and project leader Andrew Dzurak (right) in the UNSW laboratory where the experiments were performed.

Silicon two-qubit logic device, incorporating SET read-out and selective qubit control.

Exchange spin funnel

Nature - A two-qubit logic gate in silicon

Current Review of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions aka Cold Fusion by the US Naval Sea Systems Command

The US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) of the U.S. Navy has released a report regarding LENR (aka Cold Fusion) and its potential applications

Rossi 1 Megawatt LENR Plant

* Original version ~100 10 kW. Ecats in std. 20 ft. ship container.
* More recent version uses four 250 kW reactors.
* Completed over 200 days of 400 day test @ US customer factory.
* Heat is now being used by customer for mfg. operations.
* Performance report expected around Feb-Mar., 2016.
* C.O.P. (Pout /Pin) typically varies between 20 and 80

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