October 17, 2015

Telsa working on new third generation platform for model 3 and crossover model Y

Tesla’s Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel said that Tesla mostly shifted their staff to work on the next generation Model 3 (26 minutes into the video below).

The Model 3 is expected to have a starting price of $35,000 before any incentives and a range of more than 200 miles. The company is working on a new battery architecture to get a significant price reduction.

The Tesla Gigafactory will reduce battery cost by at least 30% through economy of scale and a new chemical structure.

The Model 3 will be on a new third generation platform.

Gen 1 was the Roadster
Gen 2 the Model S and X

The third generation will have
* a whole new platform
* new motor technology
* a brand new vehicle structure

There will be a model Y crossover vehicle on the same third generation platform.

Self driving cars would not be greatest health achievement of the century

Widespread adoption of self driving cars could prevent 90% of the 1.3 million deaths each year from car accidents. This would be a great thing but it would not be the greatest health achievement of the 21st century.

As recently as 2000, malaria killed around 850,000 people a year; likewise, since 2000 deaths from measles have fallen by 75%, to around 150,000. A list of five plausible near term disease targets—measles, mumps, rubella, filariasis and pork tapeworm—has hardly changed since the early 1990s, yet measles, mumps and rubella are all the subjects of intensive vaccination campaigns that could easily be converted into ones of eradication. Hepatitis C should be made a target, too. It kills half a million a year, and affects rich and poor countries alike, yet new drugs against it are almost 100% effective and there are no silent carriers. Eradicating these seven diseases—the five, plus malaria and hepatitis C—would save a yearly total of 1.2m lives. It would transform countless more.

Three causes that are tightly linked to extreme poverty can be eliminated and save over 7 million lives per year.

Unsafe water and sanitation
Indoor air pollution

Major oil find on Golan Heights which will never be returned to Syria

Large amounts of oil have been found on the Golan Heights. Estimates are that the amount of oil discovered will make Israel self sufficient for very many years to come.

Three drilling sites on the Golan have uncovered what is potentially billions of barrels of oil, enough to fulfill the Israeli market’s 270,000-barrel-per-day consumption for a very long time.

Israel was not going to give the Golan Heights back anyway but now that will clearly never happen. Internationally recognized as Syrian territory, the Golan Heights has been occupied and administered by Israel since 1967. It was captured during the 1967 Six-Day War, establishing the Purple Line. On 19 June 1967, the Israeli cabinet voted to return the Golan to Syria in exchange for a peace agreement, although this was rejected after the Khartoum Resolution of September 1, 1967. In the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel agreed to return about 5% of the territory to Syrian civilian control. This part was incorporated into a demilitarised zone that runs along the ceasefire line and extends eastward. This strip is under the military control of UNDOF.

Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak, and Ehud Olmert each stated that they were willing to exchange the Golan for peace with Syria. However, in 2010, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman told Syria to abandon its dreams of recovering the Golan Heights. Approximately 10% of Syrian Golan Druze have accepted Israeli citizenship. According to the CIA World Factbook, as of 2010, "there are 41 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Syria may never return to being a unified region again

The Institute for the study of war has all of the details on the Syria situation.

The oil find is a layer 350 meters thick. The layer is ten times larger than the average oil find worldwide.

Genie, the U.S. company that is doing the drilling-exploration in Golan, intereting people on its strategic advisory board.

* Rupert Murdoch
* Jacob Rothschild, the chairman of the Rothschild Foundation and the J Rothschild group of companies
* ex-CIA director James Woolsey
* Dick Cheney
* Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard University
* Bill Richardson, former secretary of energy under Bill Clinton.

Pakistan, India in a naval and nuclear arms race

Pakistan has finalized its long-negotiated submarine deal with China, with four to be built in China and four in Pakistan. Analysts believe the submarines will go a long way toward maintaining a credible conventional deterrent against India, and also largely secure the sea-based arm of Pakistan's nuclear triad.

India is making a credible nuclear strategic triad capability. India’s first ballistic nuclear submarine (SSBN), the INS Arihant (which means destroyer of enemies), has been moved out of harbor for sea trials. The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) recently tested a 3,000 km range submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) named K-4, from a pontoon submerged 30 feet deep, off the coast of Visakhapatnam located on the eastern coast.

China completed a credible nuclear triad in 2014 and China is extending its global reach.

A nuclear triad refers to the nuclear weapons delivery of a strategic nuclear arsenal which consists of three components, traditionally strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and
submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

Construction of the Pakistan submarines could begin as early as mid-2016.

These submarines have been linked by analysts to securing the sea-based arm of Pakistan's nuclear triad. However, according to recent Chinese media reports, Pakistan's access to the military grade Chinese Beidou-II (BDS-2) satellite navigation network is perhaps of equal importance.

Pakistan has had its land based nuclear missiles. Pakistan has some older bombers and is looking to acquire improved fighter bombers from China and Russia.

There is a Carnegie Endowment for Peace report on Nuclear Dynamics in the Indian Ocean.

* India’s pursuit of a sea-based nuclear strike force is the next logical step in its quest for an assured retaliatory capability.

* To enjoy an effective sea-based deterrent vis-à-vis China, India’s other prospective nuclear adversary, New Delhi has to develop larger SSBNs with greater missile carriage capacity and more powerful nuclear reactors.
* Pakistan’s naval nuclear ambitions are fueled primarily by the sense of a growing conventional, rather than strategic, imbalance between New Delhi and Islamabad.

* By dispersing low-yield nuclear weapons across a variety of naval platforms, Islamabad aims to acquire escalation dominance and greater strategic depth and to reduce the incentives for a preemptive strike on its nuclear assets.

October 16, 2015

700 nuclear engineers in China made good progress on detailed Molten salt nuclear reactor designs

Oak Ridge National Labs had a Workshop on Molten Salt Reactor Technologies. It was held on the 50th anniversary of the startup of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment.

Molten-salt reactors use liquid, rather than solid fuel rods, as the fuel to produce the nuclear reactions that heat water to make steam and, in turn, electricity. They have several advantages over conventional light-water reactors in terms of safety, anti-proliferation, and economics, and are enjoying a renaissance as the world searches for sources of low-cost, low-carbon energy.

The workshop included presentations from reactor developers including TerraPower, Flibe Energy, Moltex Energy, and Terrestrial Energy.

Xu Hongjie, the director of the molten-salt reactor program at the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics also presented. The Chinese Academy of Sciences, SINAP is collaborating with Oak Ridge to advance research on both salt-cooled reactors (which use molten salts to transfer heat and to cool the reactor) and salt-fueled reactors (in which the fuel, where the energy-producing nuclear reactions occur, is dissolved within the salt coolant.

Xu outlined a roadmap that shows that China is further along than any other advanced reactor R and D program in the world. China, which still gets nearly three-quarters of its electricity from burning coal, is racing to develop low-carbon energy sources, including both conventional nuclear plants and advanced systems such as molten-salt reactors.

Xu detailed a multi-stage plan to build demonstration reactors in the next five years and deploy them commercially beginning around 2030. The institute plans to build a 10-megawatt prototype reactor, using solid fuel, by 2020, along with a two-megawatt liquid-fuel machine that will demonstrate the thorium-uranium fuel cycle. (Thorium, which is not fissile, is converted inside a reactor into a fissile isotope of uranium that produces energy and sustains the nuclear reaction.)

In all, there are 700 nuclear engineers working on the molten-salt reactor at SINAP, Xu said, a number that dwarfs other advanced-reactor research programs around the world. The team has a preliminary design for a 10-megawatt thorium-based molten-salt reactor, and has mastered some of the technical challenges involved in building and running such reactors, such as the preparation of high-purity molten salts and the control of tritium, a dangerous isotope of hydrogen that can be used in the making of nuclear weapons. Limiting the production of tritium is a key research goal for the development of molten-salt reactors.

Most of the audience at Oak Ridge was familiar with the outlines of the Chinese program, the level of sophistication and the progress to date were startling to many listeners.

“It’s very surprising how far they’ve come in four years,” said John Kutsch, the vice president for business development at Terrestrial Energy, which is developing its own version of a molten-salt reactor. “That shows you what throwing hundreds of researchers at a project will do to speed progress.”

This is a slide from a prior presentation

How close are we to nuclear fusion ?

I answered a Quora question about How close are we to nuclear fusion ?

The popular question is when will we have commercial nuclear fusion that has a significant impact on the energy production of the world.
Updated Prospects for Commercial Nuclear Fusion

I have had several articles summarizing the prospects for commercial nuclear fusion

The ITER project and the national ignition projects are decades away according to their own timelines. They are really counting on advanced superconductors to reduce the size and improve projected cost and performance.

So the near term possibilities are the smaller projects.

Helion Energy got funding increased towards tens of millions instead of a few million. John Slough works out of the University of Washington. If all proceeds on schedule then a Helion Energy machine that that proves commercial energy gain would be a 50 Megawatt system built in 2019. $200 million will be needed for the commercial pilot plant. The plan would be to start building commercial systems by 2022. I would give Helion the edge in terms of odds to be first to succeed. However, just like nuclear fission, their can be more than one successful technology. Different countries can adopt different or even multiple designs. There will also be nuclear fusion for space propulsion (actually easier than beating coal or natural gas for energy production. Run a fusion propulsion for minutes or hours and it is better than ion drive. Nuclear fusion will have a lot of applications that will need different designs.

Prototypes every two years

Elon Musk sees a future of all electrically powered transportation including supersonic passenger jets

Elon Musk likes the idea of an electric aircraft company. He believes a supersonic, vertical take-off and landing electric passenger jets are possible. He has a design in mind for that.

Elon believes that Aircraft and ships, and all other modes of transport, will go fully electric - not half electric, but fully electric. The only mode of transportation that will not go electric is rockets.

Battery efficiency is growing about 8 percent annually, according to Manghani. Prices are expected to drop 50 percent in the next two to three years, says Sam Wilkinson, research manager for solar and energy storage at IHS Technology.

Richard Lugg is the man behind the HyperMach [Mach 4 cruise] SonicStar supersonic business jet concept. HyperMach's design has supersonic laminar flow, plasma drag and boom reduction, and superconducting electric propulsion. Lugg’s name appears on a new US patent (8,636,241, filed in 2006) for a hybrid jet/electric VTOL aircraft.

Elon Musk, the billionaire behind PayPal and SpaceX, has suggested that his next big project could be a supersonic vertical take-off passenger jet.

There is battery technology which would greatly increase the energy density (watt hours per kilogram) of batteries. This will make the supersonic electric passenger plane feasible.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 282

1. James Conca, Forbes, Should We Fear That Russian Nuclear Materials Are Being Smuggled To Terrorists?

FBI and Moldova have been thwarting Russian nuclear smugglers trying to sell radioactive and nuclear materials to terrorists. Four such sting operations have occurred in Moldova since 2010, with the smugglers trying to sell radioactive uranium and cesium for millions of dollars. But what is this material used for? Not nuclear weapons, but something called a Dirty Bomb, or radiation dispersal device. Our irrational fear of radiation makes a dirty bomb the ultimate weapon of terror. But a psychological weapon, not a nuclear weapon. The public should not be any more afraid of a dirty bomb than an ordinary car bomb.

2. Hiroshima Syndrome's Fukushima Commentary – The News Media’s penchant for only reporting the nuclear-negative is a crime

The Press’ proclivity for accentuation of the nuclear negative, and elimination of the positive, is obvious. A prime example is the Fukushima child thyroid study. A questionable posting alleging a Fukushima child thyroid cancer epidemic hits the streets and gets widespread coverage. However, the factual information showing the kids in Fukushima have a lower rate of anomalies than the rest of Japan has never seen the light of day. The Press is committing a moral crime on the human race!

Russia has restored much of its Soviet era military capability

Putin’s expansionist policy in Russia’s neighborhood is backed up by a poised and professional military thanks to Russia’s most significant military reforms since the 1930s.

ECFR Visiting Fellow Gustav Gressel, asserts that reforms initiated in response to the blundering invasion of Georgia in 2008, have left Russia with a military that would make short work of any of its neighbors, were they left isolated by their Western allies, though he calls into question Russia’s capacity in Syria.

Gressel argues that many Western policy makers, have been lulled into a false sense of security by focusing primarily on the military hardware component of Russian military modernization.

Russia’s fighter jets are, for now at least, conducting nearly as many strikes in a typical day against rebel troops opposing the government of President Bashar al-Assad as the American-led coalition targeting the Islamic State has been carrying out each month this year.

The operation in Syria — still relatively limited — has become, in effect, a testing ground for an increasingly confrontational and defiant Russia under Mr. Putin. In fact, as Mr. Putin himself suggested on Sunday, the operation could be intended to send a message to the United States and the West about the restoration of the country’s military prowess and global reach after decades of post-Soviet decay.

The Russian campaign in Syria is giving officials and analysts far greater insight into the new Russian military.

“We’re learning more than we have in the last 10 years,” said Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, noting the use of the new strike fighters and the new cruise missile, known as the Kalibr. “As it was described to me, we are going to school on what the Russian military is capable of today.”

If our space telescopes imaged an alien megastructure then what would we see ?

Researchers have noted that planet-sized (or larger) artificial structures could be discovered with Kepler as they transit their host star. Jason Wright and other astronomers present a general discussion of transiting megastructures, and enumerate ten potential ways their anomalous silhouettes, orbits, and transmission properties would distinguish them from exoplanets. We also enumerate the natural sources of such signatures. Several anomalous objects, such as KIC 12557548 and CoRoT-29, have variability in depth consistent with Arnold's prediction and/or an asymmetric shape consistent with Forgan's model. Since well motivated physical models have so far provided natural explanations for these signals, the ETI hypothesis is not warranted for these objects, but they still serve as useful examples of how nonstandard transit signatures might be identified and interpreted in a SETI context. Boyajian et al. 2015 recently announced KIC 8462852, an object with a bizarre light curve consistent with a "swarm" of megastructures. We suggest this is an outstanding SETI target. They develop the normalized information content statistic M to quantify the information content in a signal embedded in a discrete series of bounded measurements, such as variable transit depths, and show that it can be used to distinguish among constant sources, interstellar beacons, and naturally stochastic or artificial, information-rich signals. They apply this formalism to KIC 12557548 and a specific form of beacon suggested by Arnold to illustrate its utility.

Freeman Dyson showed that if a civilization undertook megaengineering projects, the effects on the star would be detectable, and potentially dramatic. Specifically, he noted that large light-blocking structures around a star would obscure the star, making it dimmer in the optical, and reradiate the collected starlight in the thermal infrared (according to its effective temperature). This paper focuses on the former effect, but the latter effects would also be observable with modern astronomical techniques.

Long-term, precise photometric monitoring of stars for transiting exoplanets by Kepler is effectively a search for alien megastructures while searching for transiting planets, because Kepler had the capacity not only to detect such structures but the photometric precision to distinguish many classes of megastructures from exoplanets. In principle, then, an analysis of Kepler (or similar) data should provide an upper limit to their frequency in the Galaxy. Calculating such an upper limit, however, would first require robustly characterizing any and all anomalous signals, of which there are many. Such anomalies are inherently astrophysically interesting, and so deserve careful attention for both conventional astrophysics and SETI.

There are six potential aspects of transiting megastrutures that lead to ten observable signatures that would distinguish them from transiting exoplanets.

1. A non-spherical megastructure would generate a non-standard light curve in reflection or emission
2. Artificial structures might be subject to non-gravitational forces, such as radiation pressure or active thrusts and torques for attitude control and station keeping. As such, their transit signatures might be distinguished by an \impossible" mismatch among the duration and period of the transits, and the stellar density

The most extreme case of an anomalous orbit is a static shield, an object held stationary with respect to the star through the balance of thrust (via, for instance, radiation pressure) and gravitational accelerations (a statite). n this case there would be no transits to observe, but the shield might obscure a constant fraction of the stellar disk. Light curves of an exoplanetary transit of a star with such a shield would be anomalously short and asymmetric. In a reversal of the proposal of Arnold, here it is the apparent aspect of the star that is non-circular due to alien megastructures, not the transiting object.

More on the star with hundreds of transits

Phil Plait is blogger and astronomer called the Bad Astronomer. He explains the special star which might have a Dyson Swarm.

A Jupiter size planet has blocks 1% of a Stars light, but this has some dips of 15% and 22% and hundreds of other non periodic smaller dips.

KIC 8462852 is a star somewhat more massive, hotter, and brighter than the Sun.

It is 1480 light-years away. The Kepler data for the star are pretty bizarre: There are dips in the light, but they aren’t periodic. They can be very deep; one dropped the amount of starlight by 15 percent, and another by a whopping 22 percent.

Straight away, we know we’re not dealing with a planet. Even a Jupiter-sized planet only blocks roughly 1 percent of this kind of star’s light, and that’s about as big as a planet gets. It can’t be due to a star, either; we’d see it if it were. And the lack of a regular, repeating signal belies both of these as well. Whatever is blocking the star is big, though, up to half the width of the star itself.

There are lots of these dips in the star’s light. Hundreds. And they don’t seem to be periodic at all. They have odd shapes to them, too. A planet blocking a star’s light will have a generally symmetric dip; the light fades a little, remains steady at that level, then goes back up later. The dip at 800 days in the KIC 8462852 data doesn’t do that; it drops slowly, then rises more rapidly. Another one at 1,500 days has a series of blips up and down inside the main dips. There’s also an apparent change in brightness that seems to go up and down roughly every 20 days for weeks, then disappears completely. It’s likely just random transits, but still. It’s bizarre.

Comets are a good guess, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario where they could completely block 22 percent of the light from a star; that’s a huge amount. Really huge.

New Spacex Falcon 9 rocket should launch in 6 to 8 weeks

Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, expects to return a repaired and upgraded Falcon 9 rocket to flight around the start of December, a company vice president said, less than six months after one exploded shortly after liftoff.

The 208-foot-tall (63-meter) rocket carrying cargo for the International Space Station exploded less than three minutes after liftoff from Florida on June 28.

The cause of the accident was traced to a faulty bracket inside the rocket’s upper-stage liquid oxygen tank. When the steel bracket broke, a bottle of high-pressure helium was released, causing the tank to over-pressurize and explode.

"We believe in the next six to eight weeks we’ll be able to return to flight," Lee Rosen, SpaceX vice president of mission and launch operations, said on Tuesday at the International Astronautical Congress under way this week in Jerusalem.

The Falcon 9, which failed after 18 successful flights, will carry a communications satellite for Luxembourg-based SES SA.

Privately owned SpaceX is also expected to attempt to land the rocket’s first-stage on a platform in the ocean after the second-stage takes over to deliver the SES satellite into orbit.

October 15, 2015

IBM wants to commercialize silicon brains with Deep learning for smarter phones

In August last year, IBM unveiled a chip designed to operate something like the neurons and synapses of the brain. Now IBM has begun work on a next generation aimed at making mobile devices better at tasks that are easy for brains but tough for computers, such as speech recognition and interpreting images.

“We’re working on a next generation of the chip, but what’s most important now is commercial partners,” says John Kelly, a senior vice president at IBM who oversees IBM Research and several business units, including two dedicated to the company’s Watson suite of machine intelligence software. “Companies could incorporate this in all sorts of mobile devices, machinery, automotive, you name it.”

Adding brain-inspired chips to products such as phones could make them capable of recognizing anything their owners say and tracking what’s going on around them, says Kelly. The closest today’s devices come to that is listening out for certain keywords. Apple’s latest iPhone can be roused by saying “Hey Siri,” and some phones using Google’s software can be woken with the phrase “OK Google.”

Google Loon is almost perfected and Google plans to scale Globally ASAP

Google has “almost perfected” its Loon balloon technology, with the first deal with operators set to be announced “hopefully very soon”, Wael Fakharany, regional business lead for Google [x], revealed this morning in Cape Town, South Africa.

“For the last two years we have almost perfected the technology, it’s time for us now to scale in this part of the world,” he said in a session discussing rural broadband coverage.

When quizzed about the attitude of operators to the project, Fakharany said that “the response has been very positive, because we work very closely with operators and take on operators as our strategic partners”.

“The operators control the distribution, marketing, OSS, BSS, CRM – the customer relationship is with the telcos. We are just the infrastructure provider,” he said. “There is a viable commercial business model and is based on skin-in-the-game, sharing costs and revenue with operators for completely untouched potential.”

According to the executive, once the first deal with an operator is in place, others are likely to follow – but it needs someone to take the first step.

Loon is an ambitious project that attempts to use helium-filled balloons to provide internet connectivity, and has so far been tested by operators such as Telefonica, Telstra and Vodafone.

With regard to the status of the project, Fakharany said the focus for the near future is about bringing it to scale, and not just in the Southern Hemisphere, where its initial tests have taken place.

Google is also pushing ahead with high altitude internet drones and then internet satellites to achieve complete global internet coverage.

Deep within Google, the company is working on two new drone concepts as part of something called Project Titan that, it says, will be used for internet access and surveying, rather than delivery.

The Google sources also said that, aside from internet connectivity, the drones will also be engaged in data harvesting, particularly in relation to the deforestation of the planet.

Kilogram definition changing from physical object to physical constants

Redefinition of the kilogram will not make the kilogram more precise, but it will make it more stable. A physical object can lose or gain atoms over time, or be destroyed, but constants remain the same. And a definition based on constants would, at least in theory, allow the exact kilogram measure to be available to someone anywhere on the planet, rather than just those who can access the safe in France, says Richard Davis, former head of the mass division of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Sèvres, France, which hosts the metal kilogram.

In 2011, the CIPM formally agreed to express the kilogram in terms of Planck’s constant, which relates a particle’s energy to its frequency, and, through E = mc2, to its mass. This means first setting the Planck value using experiments based on the current reference kilogram, and then using that value to define the kilogram. The CIPM’s committee on mass recommends that three independent measurements of Planck’s constant agree, and that two of them use different methods.

One method, pioneered by an international team known as the Avogadro Project, involves counting the atoms in two silicon-28 spheres that each weigh the same as the reference kilogram. This allows them to calculate a value for Avogadro’s constant, which the researchers convert into a value for Planck’s constant. Another method uses a device called a watt balance to produce a value for Planck’s constant by weighing a test mass calibrated according to the reference kilogram against an electromagnetic force.

Natural possibilities must be ruled out before claims of an alien megastructure are made

Here is a SETI paper written by Jason Wright who was on the team that found a star which has observed emissions that are consistent with a Dyson Swarm Jason Wright's philosophy of SETI is that you should reserve the alien hypothesis as a last resort. It would be such a big deal if true, it’s important that you be absolutely sure before claiming you’ve detected something, lest everybody lose credibility. Much more so for SETI.

But from a SETI perspective, one should focus one’s resources on the best targets. Looking for astronomical anomalies is a reasonable way to focus one’s search. There is no inconsistency between assuming purely natural explanations for all phenomena, and targeting SETI efforts at the most astrophysically inexplicable phenomena.

An Extraordinary Hypothesis for an Extraordinary Object

We have in KIC 8462 a system with all of the hallmarks of a Dyson swarm: aperiodic events of almost arbitrary depth, duration, and complexity. Historically, targeted SETI has followed a reasonable strategy of spending its most intense efforts on the most promising targets. Given this object's qualitative uniqueness, given that even contrived natural explanations appear inadequate, and given predictions that Kepler would be able to detect large alien megastructures via anomalies like these, we feel is the most promising stellar SETI target discovered to date. We suggest that KIC 8462 warrants significant interest from SETI in addition to traditional astrophysical study, and that searches for similar, less obvious objects in the Kepler data set are a compelling exercise

Natural possibilities vs megastructures

Kepler Space telescope could have detected a dyson swarm or a very unlikely massive displacement of comets

For over four years, NASA’s Kepler mission measured the bright-ness of objects within a 100 square-degree patch of sky in the direction of the constellations Cygnus and Lyrae. The program’s targets were primarily selected to address the Kepler mission goals of discovering Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. Kepler targeted over 150,000 stars, primarily with a 30-minute observing cadence, leading to over 2.5-billion data points per year (over 10 billion data points over the nominal mission lifetime)

KIC 8462852 is an unique source in the Kepler field. They conducted numerous observations of the star and its environment, and our analysis characterizes the object as both remarkable (e.g., the “dipping” events in the Kepler light curve) and unremarkable (ground-based data reveal no deviation from a normal F-type star) at the same time. They presented an extensive set of scenarios to explain the occurrence of the dips, most of which are unsuccessful in explaining the observations in their entirety. However, of the various considered, they find that the break-up of a exocomet provides the most compelling explanation.

The light pattern suggests there is a lot of objects circling the star, in tight formation. That would be expected if the star were young. When our solar system first formed, four and a half billion years ago, a messy disk of dust and debris surrounded the sun, before gravity organized it into planets, and rings of rock and ice. But this unusual star isn’t young. If it were young, it would be surrounded by dust that would give off extra infrared light. There doesn’t seem to be an excess of infrared light around this star.

It appears to be mature.

If another star had passed through the unusual star’s system, it could have pulled a lot of comets inward. A huge number of comets could have made the dimming pattern. It would have had to have happened few thousand years ago. This would be a one in several million chance event for it to happen with the billions of year life of stars.

An interesting possibility is that we are looking at an alien built Dyson Swarm of orbiting solar arrays.

A "Dyson swarm" consists of a large number of independent constructs (usually solar power satellites and space habitats) orbiting in a dense formation around the star. This construction approach has advantages: components could be sized appropriately, and it can be constructed incrementally. Various forms of wireless energy transfer could be used to transfer energy between components and Earth. It is the most technically feasible method of gathering most of the power from a star.

Three astronomers want to point a radio dish at the star to look for wavelengths associated with technological civilisations. And the first observations could be ready to take place as early as January, with follow-up observations potentially coming even quicker.

One operator controls 50 drones at one time

A team at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, has succeeded in launching 50 drones that were all piloted by a single person.

The Zephyr drones they used are custom-made, largely from hobby parts, and cost about $2000 each. Getting so many into the air at once was challenging because they cannot be hand-launched like some smaller drones

The number of drones launched was more than just a stunt. Launching physically presents an opportunity to test out drone swarm behavior beyond simulations. There's no better way to find out how a drone swarm might act and control than to actually have a drone swarm.

The long-term goal is to have the swarms determine how to act on their own, and ARSENL reportedly intends to test this by eventually having a 50 vs. 50 drone swarm dogfight.

They only used one launcher. They can use multiple launchers. At present, the pre-flight safety checks limit launches to one every 30 seconds, but Jones thinks that they should be able to cut that to 10 seconds or less. He says that they may also build a second launcher, as there is no reason why the swarm has to be launched one at a time.

How Fixing the Bay Bridge went from $250 million to a likely $13 billion including interest and financing costs

After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake rocked the Bay Area, official go estimates for rebuilding the damaged Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland.

The first cost estimates, released in 1995, figured both east and west spans of the bridge could be upgraded for $250 million.

In September 2013, the price tag for eastern span alone had reached a reported $6.5 billion.

In 1996, the cost estimate increased to $1 billion. This was the result of detailed engineering studies conducted during the year or so after the initial estimate was released. Among other things, soil testing in the Bay had revealed that bridge pilings would need to be anchored “deeper into bedrock than expected.

In 1997, Caltrans offered a range of cost estimates for various retrofit designs to the east span. Ultimately the state legislature agreed to fund the bridge to the tune of $1.285 billion. This would have been a straightforward viaduct unadorned by a tower.

140 wind turbines can double the capacity factor of wind power to 60%

NREL finds that capacity factor of wind energy doubles when wind turbines go from 80 meters tall for most commercial turbines in the USA today to 140 meters tall. Germany’s wind industry already averages 120 meters for new wind turbines, with some as tall as 140 meters. Wind power technology that reaches higher altitude gets to stronger and more reliable wind.

GE has space frame wind towers that are easier to assemble and can reach heights of 139 meter hub height GE space frame tower can be easily delivered to, and assembled at any project site, including those where terrain makes movement of traditional tower sections difficult.

The ultimate potential could be wind power that is ten times more than current electrical demand. There is the climate impact, in that stopping or slowing wind reduces the cooling from wind.

Ramez Naam covers the potential and challenges for next generation wind power.

GE space frame wind tower technology

Map shows that 140 meter towers reach stronger and more reliable wind. This allows wind power to be placed near population that would want to use the energy.

October 14, 2015

40 mm laser guided missile has 13 times the range of standard M203 grenade launcher

Raytheon Company successfully fired two new Pike 40 mm precision-guided munitions from a standard tube grenade launcher during flight tests at Mile High Resources in Texas. Both rounds landed within the targeted impact area after flying more than 2,300 yards.

"Pike uses a digital, semi-active laser seeker to engage both fixed and slow-moving, mid-range targets," said J. R. Smith, Raytheon's Advanced Land Warfare Systems director. "This new guided munition can provide the warfighter with precision, extended-range capability never before seen in a hand-held weapon on the battlefield."

Weighing less than two pounds and measuring just 16.8 inches in length, Pike can be fired from a conventional, single-shot grenade launcher such as the M320 or EGLM (Enhanced Grenade Launching Module). Pike's rocket motor ignites eight to 10 feet after launch and is nearly smokeless for reduced launch signature.

"Pike will become smarter and smarter as we continue to develop its capabilities," said Smith. "In the current configuration, the warfighter will enter programmable laser codes prior to loading Pike into its launcher. Spiral development calls for multiple-round simultaneous programming and targeting with data link capabilities."

Additional Pike upgrades include the ability to fire it from platform-mounted launchers on small boats, all-terrain vehicles and small unmanned aircraft systems.

The standard issue M203 40mm grenade launcher has a range of around 150 yards.

Westinghouse planning to work towards a lead cooled fast reactor prototype in about 2035

Westinghouse is seeking to collaborate with the US Department of Energy (DOE) on the development of a lead-cooled fast reactor (LFR). It will be the company's first foray into fourth generation reactor designs.

The company announced on 8 October that it had submitted a project proposal for the LFR under the DOE's Advanced Reactor Industry.

The Westinghouse LFR would be "designed to achieve new levels of energy affordability, safety and flexibility", the company said. In addition to featuring accident-tolerant fuel, the reactor's use of lead as a coolant "will further enhance reactor safety, and optimize the plant's economic value through lower construction costs and higher operating efficiency than other technologies", it said.

In addition to electricity generation, the Westinghouse LFR could be used for hydrogen production and water desalination, the company noted. It also said the reactor's load-following capabilities "would further support the increased use of renewable energy sources".

The DOE was soliciting proposals by 5 October for cost-shared advanced reactor concept development projects with the potential to be demonstrated in the 2035 timeframe.

Through its Advanced Reactor Industry Competition for Concept Development funding opportunity, the DOE will partner with industry to fund up to two awards of some $6 million each in financial year 2015. The department said it will invest up to $3.6 million in each project, with a federally funded research and development centre providing up to an additional $2.4 million. Recipients will be required to invest $1.5 million as part of the cost share. The funding opportunity allows for multiple-year funding for up to two awards with a total of $40 million in DOE cost share per award.

The lead-cooled fast reactor concept features a fast neutron spectrum, high-temperature operation, and cooling by molten lead or lead-bismuth eutectic, low-pressure, chemically inert liquids with very good thermodynamic properties.

Two of Russia's foremost new reactor plans are for the 300 MWe BREST fast reactor, also lead-cooled, and the 100 MWe SVBR, cooled by lead-bismuth eutectic. Demonstration units of both are almost ready to start construction. In Europe, the 120 MWe ALFRED is being developed, and a consortium was set up in 2013 for its construction which may be from 2017.

One person show Bioviva - tests antiaging gene therapy on herself

Elizabeth Parrish, the 44-year-old CEO of a biotechnology startup called BioViva, says she underwent a gene therapy at an undisclosed location overseas last month, a first step in what she says is a plan to develop treatments for ravages of old age like Alzheimer’s and muscle loss.

Parrish says she had received two forms of gene therapy produced under contract with a commercial laboratory, which she did not identify, outside the United States. In one treatment, she says, she received injections into her muscles containing the gene follistatin, which in animal experiments is shown to increase muscle mass by blocking myostatin, itself an inhibitor of muscle growth. She says she also received an intravenous dose of viruses containing genetic material to produce telomerase, a protein that extends telomeres, a component of chromosomes known as the “aging clock.” Telomerase is a frequent target of anti-aging research because the molecule is present in cells that can continue to divide indefinitely, like stem cells and tumors.

The idea for extending life span using telomerase, for instance, is based on work by the laboratory of Maria Blasco, a Spanish scientist who in 2012 showed that telomerase gene therapy could extend the life span of mice by as much as 20 percent.

George Church is a leading genetics expert who teaches at Harvard and is involved in a dozen or so companies. George thinks targeted DNA changes could in fact extend the normal human life span, which has a maximum length of about 120 years. Earlier this month, at a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences organized to weigh policy on genetic interventions, Church proposed telomerase as one bearing serious consideration. “I think we are very close. I think the world is close, so long as we don’t have a setback,” he says. “The extension of life span is quite dramatic in model organisms … it would be amazing in humans.”

Northrop Grumman all terrain hellhound has 100kw generator and could integrate a 30kw laser in months

At the Association of the United States Army conference, Northrop Grumman announced that they’re looking to integrate a 10-kilowatt solid-state fiber laser onto their newest tactical dune buggy.

The Hellhound is a rear-engine vehicle with seating for six, weighs in at 13,000 pounds, loaded. It can be transported by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

The most important item on board is the integrated starter generator system from German manufacturer Jenoptik. It’s a mini power plant that runs as long as the engine is running and puts out 100 kilowatts of usable power, a first for a small truck

It could thus power a 40 kilowatt laser. A 30kw fiber laser is possible within a matter of months.

Particle accelerators using terahertz radiation can be over 100 times smaller

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has built the first prototype of a miniature particle accelerator that uses terahertz radiation instead of radio frequency structures. A single accelerator module is no more than 1.5 centimetres long and one millimetre thick. The terahertz technology holds the promise of miniaturising the entire set-up by at least a factor of 100, as the scientists surrounding DESY’s Franz Kärtner from the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) point out. They are presenting their prototype, that was set up in Kärtner's lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the U.S., in the journal Nature Communications. The authors see numerous applications for terahertz accelerators, in materials science, medicine and particle physics, as well as in building X-ray lasers

In the electromagnetic spectrum, terahertz radiation lies between infrared radiation and microwaves. Particle accelerators usually rely on electromagnetic radiation from the radio frequency range; DESY’s particle accelerator PETRA III, for example, uses a frequency of around 500 megahertz. The wavelength of the terahertz radiation used in this experiment is around one thousand times shorter. “The advantage is that everything else can be a thousand times smaller too,” explains Kärtner, who is also a professor at the University of Hamburg and at MIT, as well as being a member of the Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging (CUI), one of Germany’s Clusters of Excellence.

The proof-of-principle prototype and verified that a single module was able to increase electron energy levels by 7 keV. According to the scientists, this figure could eventually soar up to 10 MeV, over 10 times more than what the best (and largest) modules can do today. The current goal is to produce a compact 20 MeV accelerator. They hope to have that problem solved in two-three years. There is of course the potential to build high energy machines of the scale of SLAC at reduced cost in the future

Terahertz accelerator modules easily fit into two fingers. Credit: DESY/Heiner Müller-Elsner

Nature Communications - Terahertz-driven linear electron acceleration

China now has largest middle class with 109 million adults vs 92 million American middle class

Global wealth reached 250 trillion US dollars in 2015, slightly less than a year earlier, due to adverse exchange rate movements. The underlying wealth trends do, however, generally remain positive, according to the Credit Suisse Research Institute's annual "Global Wealth Report." The rise in household wealth was particularly strong in the US and China between mid-2014 to mid-2015. "Wealth is (nevertheless) still predominantly concentrated in Europe and the United States. However, the growth of wealth in emerging markets has been most impressive, including a fivefold rise in China since the beginning of the century," said Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam. China now accounts for a fifth of the world population, while holding nearly 10 percent of the global wealth. The Chinese middle class is now, for the first time, the world's largest.

This year, the Chinese middle class for the first time outnumbered it. The Chinese middle class now counts 109 million adults, well ahead of the 92 million adults part of the American middle class. Globally, 14 percent of the adult population belonged to the middle class in 2015 – 664 million adults in total.

Wealth Inequality Continues to Widen

Wealth inequality has widened in the aftermath of the financial crisis and this year was no exception. This year's rise in equity prices and in the size of financial assets in high-wealth countries pushed up the wealth of some of the richest countries and people, resulting in increased wealth inequality. The top percentile of wealth holders now own just over half of the world's wealth and the richest decile 87.7 percent.

158 page Credit Suisse 2015 global wealth databook

64 page Credit Suisse 2015 global wealth report

October 13, 2015

Oversupply of oil through at least 2016

Oil prices rose on Tuesday with technical support for U.S. crude and despite a weaker demand outlook from the International Energy Agency (IEA) which is expected to keep the world oil market oversupplied for at least another year.

Brent futures for November delivery rose 38 cents to $50.24 a barrel, a 0.8 percent gain, by 11:13 a.m EDT (1513 GMT). U.S. crude rose 99 cents or 2.1 percent to $48.09 per barrel.

IEA monthly oil forecast expects oversupply until at least through 2016

* After a relatively stable month in September, crude oil price benchmarks rallied in early October on expectations of lower US output and rising tension in the Middle East. At the time of writing, ICE Brent was trading at $51.90/bbl with NYMEX WTI lower at $48.80/bbl.

* Global demand growth is expected to slow from its five-year high of 1.8 mb/d in 2015 to 1.2 mb/d in 2016 - closer towards its long-term trend as previous price support is likely to wane. Recent downgrades to the macro-economic outlook are also filtering through.

* World oil supply held steady near 96.6 mb/d in September, as lower non-OPEC production was offset by a slight increase in OPEC crude. Non-OPEC accounted for just under 40% of the 1.8 mb/d annual increase in total oil output. Lower oil prices and steep spending curbs are expected to cut non-OPEC output by nearly 0.5 mb/d in 2016.

* OPEC crude supply rose by 90 kb/d in September to 31.72 mb/d as record Iraqi output more than offset a dip in Saudi supply. A slowdown in forecast demand growth and slightly higher non-OPEC supply lowers the 2016 'call' on OPEC by 0.2 mb/d from last month's Report to 31.1 mb/d.

* OECD commercial inventories extended recent gains and rose by 28.8 mb in August to stand at 2 943 mb by end-month. Since this was nearly double the 15.0 mb five-year average build for the month, inventories' surplus to average levels widened to 204 mb.

* The onset of seasonal turnarounds in the OECD and the FSU is estimated to have curbed global refinery runs by 1.9 mb/d in September to 79.4 mb/d. Runs remained remarkably strong, particularly in Asia and the Middle East, leaving global throughputs up nearly 2 mb/d on a year ago.

Next two Avengers movies will have a combined budget of one billion dollars

The next two Avengers films, Infinity War Part One and Two, will have a combined production budget of one billion dollars.

The above the line costs, that paid to the screenwriter, director, producers and principal actors will be a cool four hundred million dollars alone.

DARPA making drones that deliver the goods and then vanish

It sounds like an engineering fantasy, or maybe an episode from Mission Impossible: A flock of small, single-use, unpowered delivery vehicles dropped from an aircraft, each of which literally vanishes after landing and delivering food or medical supplies to an isolated village during an epidemic or disaster. And it would be nothing more than a fantasy, were it not that the principle behind disappearing materials has already been proven.

Building on recent innovations in its two-year-old Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program, which has developed self-destructing electronic components, DARPA today launched ICARUS, a program driven by a vision of vanishing air vehicles that can make precise deliveries of critical supplies and then vaporize into thin air.

“Our partners in the VAPR program are developing a lot of structurally sound transient materials whose mechanical properties have exceeded our expectations,” said VAPR and ICARUS program manager Troy Olsson. Among the most eye-widening of these ephemeral materials so far have been small polymer panels that sublimate directly from a solid phase to a gas phase, and electronics-bearing glass strips with high-stress inner anatomies that can be readily triggered to shatter into ultra-fine particles after use. A goal of the VAPR program is electronics made of materials that can be made to vanish if they get left behind after battle, to prevent their retrieval by adversaries.

“With the progress made in VAPR, it became plausible to imagine building larger, more robust structures using these materials for an even wider array of applications. And that led to the question, ‘What sorts of things would be even more useful if they disappeared right after we used them?’” Olsson said. “In discussions with colleagues, we were able to identify a capability gap that we decided was worth trying to close.”

Progress in the development of vanishing polymers has opened pathways toward vanishing systems, such as air-dropped delivery vehicles.

October 12, 2015

DARPA Rapid Automated Language Toolkit

Understanding local languages is essential for effective situational awareness in military operations, and particularly in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts that require immediate and close coordination with local communities. With more than 7,000 languages spoken worldwide, however, the U.S. military frequently encounters languages for which translators are rare and no automated translation capabilities exist. DARPA’s Low Resource Languages for Emergent Incidents (LORELEI) program aims to change this state of affairs by providing real-time essential information in any language to support emergent missions such as humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, peacekeeping and infectious disease response. The program recently awarded Phase 1 contracts to 13 organizations.

“The global diversity of languages makes it virtually impossible to ensure that U.S. personnel will be able to understand the situation on the ground when they go into new environments,” said Boyan Onyshkevych, DARPA program manager. “Through LORELEI, we envision a system that could quickly pick out key information—things such as names, events, sentiment and relationships—from public news and social media sources in any language, based on the system’s understanding of other languages. The goal is to provide immediate, evolving situational awareness that helps decision makers assess and respond as intelligently as possible to dynamic, difficult situations.”

HP partnering with Sandisk to offer competing memristor memory solution against Intel / Micron 3D Xpoint

-SanDisk Corporation, a global leader in flash storage solutions, and HP announced a long-term partnership to collaborate on a new technology within the Storage Class Memory (SCM) category. The partnership will center around HP’s Memristor technology and expertise and SanDisk’s non-volatile ReRAM memory technology and manufacturing and design expertise to create new enterprise-wide solutions for Memory-driven Computing. The two companies also will partner in enhancing data center solutions with Solid State Drives (SSDs).

The technology is expected to be up to 1,000 times faster than flash storage and offer up to 1,000 times more endurance than flash storage. It also is expected to offer significant cost, power, density and persistence improvements over DRAM technologies. The SCM technology and its characteristics are intended to allow systems to employ tens of terabytes (TB) of SCM per server node for applications such as in-memory databases, real-time data analytics, transactional and high-performance computing.

This technology is focused on addressing the massive streams of data generated by the convergence of social media, security, mobility, big data analytics, cloud and the Internet of Things. The partnership aims for the companies to augment existing flash memory-based SSD product lines with this technology, providing high-performance storage solutions to enterprise data centers. It also aims to contribute to HP’s breakthrough new computing model, The Machine, which reinvents the fundamental architecture of computers to enable a quantum leap in performance and efficiency, while lowering costs and improving security.

* HP is partnering to help launch its vision of the Machine
* HP is partnering to actually get high volume Memristor technology shipping

Electromagnetic Interaction traced to Dirac Equation

An international group of physicists has traced the origin of an electromagnetic interaction to the Dirac equation, a fundamental equation of quantum physics.

The interaction couples the spin of the electron to the angular momentum of the electromagnetic field and it is responsible for a variety of phenomena in a large class of technologically important materials.

In addition to charge, electrons have spin. By understanding and using the different states achieved when an electron's spin rotates, researchers could potentially increase information storage capacity in computers, for example.

Surendra Singh, professor of physics, and Bellaiche were part of the U of A team that proposed in 2013 that the angular momentum of an electromagnetic field can directly couple to the spin of an electron to produce a physical energy. This direct coupling explains known, subtle phenomena in magnetoelectric materials and predicts effects that have not yet been experimentally observed.

“For a long time, scientists explained these effects by using only the so-called spin-orbit coupling,” Singh said. “Our paper shows that the angular magnetoelectric interaction also contributes to these effects and that this term, along with spin-orbit coupling, follows naturally from a more exact theory of electron-light. It just had been ignored for so long.”

Physical Review B - Relativistic interaction Hamiltonian coupling the angular momentum of light and the electron spin

Mass Production T-14 Main Battle Tank will be half price and get mostly declassified for potential large export market success

Russia expects serious export potential for the Armata platform, including the T-14 MBT (Main Battle Tank). Russia is planning to mass produce the T-14 and cut its price in half. Russia is following the path to replicating the export success of its T-72 tank. The T-72 was widely exported and saw service in 40 countries and in numerous conflicts. Over 20,000 T-72 tanks were built.

"If we talk about the T-14 Armata, I think the degree of classification will be removed after more trials and development work is done. The vehicle will be adopted by the Russian Ministry of Defense, get a passport image and then will be possible for sales to foreign customers," Khalitov told in TV Channel Zvezda in an interview.

A number of countries, including India and China, were interested in purchasing the T-14 Armata. The need to purchase for China makes sense, since its main battle tank, the Type 99, is a derivative of the old Soviet T-72 main battle tank, with a design that stretches back to the mid-1980s.

The Indian army operates the Soviet-built T-90, which is itself a derivative of the T-72. Delhi also uses other tanks such as the indigenously produced Arjun Mark-1 tank. These have proven unreliable at times.

The Armata uses a new type of armor, which designers say is significantly more resistant to enemy fire. On top of that, the vehicle is protected by an improved version of reactive armor, which explodes on impact to stop a projectile from reaching the main layer of armor.

The Armata is also equipped with a so-called active protection system, forming an outer perimeter of its defenses. When the system spots an enemy projectile, it fires a round to destroy it or knock it off its path.

The current version of the Armata is equipped with a remotely controlled standard-caliber 125-mm cannon, with fully automated loading, which can fire both regular shells and rockets.

Designers say that a much more powerful 152-mm cannon could be easily fitted to the Armata in the future.

The tank's modular structure also allows for quick and easy modernization of its elements and systems.

The price of the latest Russian Armata T-14 tank will be just 250 million rubles (3.7 million dollars) once it goes into mass production, according to Oleg Siyenko, CEO of Uralvagonzavod, the manufacturer of the tank.

The cost of the Armata T-14 was previously estimated at between 400 and 500 million rubles (about $6.5 million). Such a high price per unit was due to the lack of mass production, as the production of prototypes is always more expensive for the manufacturer.

The Armata will go into mass production in 2017-2018 and Russia’s armed forces will receive 2,300 T-14 tanks by 2020.

Within 80 days Elon Musk should reveal a detailed design for the Mars Colonial Transport Rocket

Elon Musk has indicated that Spacex would reveal the design for a Mars Colonial Transport Rocket by the end of the year. This means the design should be revealed within 80 days.

SpaceX began development of the large Raptor rocket engine for the Mars Colonial Transporter before 2014, but the MCT will not be operational earlier than the mid-2020s.

Musk stated that Mars Colonial Transporter will be "100 times the size of an SUV", and capable of taking 100 people at a time to Mars. Also, SpaceX engine development head Tom Mueller said SpaceX would use nine Raptor engines on a single rocket, similar to the use of nine Merlin engines on each Falcon 9 booster core. He said "It's going to put over 100 tons of cargo on Mars." The large rocket core that will be used for the booster to be used with MCT will be 10 meters (33 ft) in diameter, nearly three times the diameter and over seven times the cross-sectional area of the Falcon 9 booster cores.
Mars Colonial Transport Rocket will probably look like a supersized Falcon Heavy. Similar in size the the Space Launch system with larger side boosters and more powerful Raptor rockets

The super-heavy lift launch vehicle for MCT will lift the 100 tonnes (220,000 lb)+ payload of the MCT into orbit and is intended to be fully-reusable. The rocket has not yet been named by SpaceX. The MCT launch vehicle will be powered by the Raptor bipropellant liquid rocket engine.

Elon Musk provided information to Waitbutwhy about his vision for colonizing Mars and his expectation that humanity would colonize the solar system after conquering Mars.

When writer
Ross Andersen asked Musk about the prospect of moving beyond Mars to other places in the Solar System, Musk was optimistic: “If we can establish a Mars colony, we can almost certainly colonize the whole Solar System, because we’ll have created a strong economic forcing function for the improvement of space travel. We’ll go to the moons of Jupiter, at least some of the outer ones for sure, and probably Titan on Saturn, and the asteroids. Once we have that forcing function, and an Earth-to-Mars economy, we’ll cover the whole Solar System.”

But, he added, “the key is that we have to make the Mars thing work. If we’re going to have any chance of sending stuff to other star systems, we need to be laser-focused on becoming a multi-planet civilization. That’s the next step.”

In that way, colonizing Mars isn’t just important because we expand outward and back up the hard drive, but also because colonizing Mars turns us into a species that knows how to expand to new planets and terraform them. It builds us what is probably the most important skill a species can have if they’re to survive for a long time.

With enough time, we’ll move out to many other bodies in the Solar System, and we’ll terraform each of them into a place humans can call home.

The Solar System could become one vast world for humans. Maybe Jupiter’s moon Europa becomes known as the Solar System’s tech hub, while Saturn’s Titan becomes the place you have to move if you really want to be in the entertainment industry. Maybe some people will spend their whole lives on one heavenly body, while others will be avid travelers and brag that they’ve set foot on 12

238 age related gene deletions that can extend lifespan by up to 60% for largest single gene deletion effect

Following an exhaustive, ten-year effort, scientists at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the University of Washington have identified 238 genes that, when removed, increase the replicative lifespan of S. cerevisiae yeast cells. This is the first time 189 of these genes have been linked to aging. These results provide new genomic targets that could eventually be used to improve human health. The research was published online on October 8th in the journal Cell Metabolism.

“This study looks at aging in the context of the whole genome and gives us a more complete picture of what aging is,” said Brian Kennedy, PhD, lead author and the Buck Institute’s president and CEO. “It also sets up a framework to define the entire network that influences aging in this organism.”

The Kennedy lab collaborated closely with Matt Kaeberlein, PhD, a professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Washington, and his team. The two groups began the painstaking process of examining 4,698 yeast strains, each with a single gene deletion. To determine which strains yielded increased lifespan, the researchers counted yeast cells, logging how many daughter cells a mother produced before it stopped dividing.

The theoretical applications for combating aging in people could be huge, provided researchers can indeed figure out which genomic targets are amenable to alteration.

Especially when you consider how effective some of the gene deletions were. In the most stunning result of the study, which is published in Cell Metabolism, researchers found that removing a particular gene called LOS1 extended the life of the yeast by 60 percent.


•4,698 deletions tested yields the most comprehensive yeast data set on aging
•Longevity clusters center on known, conserved biological processes
•Enrichment of lifespan-extending C. elegans orthologs suggests conservation
•Genome-wide information uncovered aging pathways such as tRNA transport


Many genes that affect replicative lifespan (RLS) in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae also affect aging in other organisms such as C. elegans and M. musculus. We performed a systematic analysis of yeast RLS in a set of 4,698 viable single-gene deletion strains. Multiple functional gene clusters were identified, and full genome-to-genome comparison demonstrated a significant conservation in longevity pathways between yeast and C. elegans. Among the mechanisms of aging identified, deletion of tRNA exporter LOS1 robustly extended lifespan. Dietary restriction (DR) and inhibition of mechanistic Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) exclude Los1 from the nucleus in a Rad53-dependent manner. Moreover, lifespan extension from deletion of LOS1 is nonadditive with DR or mTOR inhibition, and results in Gcn4 transcription factor activation. Thus, the DNA damage response and mTOR converge on Los1-mediated nuclear tRNA export to regulate Gcn4 activity and aging.

Cell Metabolism - A Comprehensive Analysis of Replicative Lifespan in 4,698 Single-Gene Deletion Strains Uncovers Conserved Mechanisms of Aging

Antidrone weapons 50mm cannon, high energy lasers and radio frequency interference

Army engineers, who are seeking to adapt ongoing research to counter aerial systems that could threaten Soldiers, successfully shot down two aircraft as part of their final technology demonstration.

Although the research project began with the objective to counter rockets, artillery and mortars, the project scope was expanded to include threats from unmanned aerial threats, sometime called drones, whose use has expanded rapidly.

Although a missile-based C-RAM defense system has been selected as the technical approach for the Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 Intercept Program of Record, the gun alternative continued to mature as force-protection technologies for other potential applications.

During the final testing Aug. 19 at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, engineers shot down two Class 2 Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) using command guidance and command warhead detonation. The UAS was an Outlaw class aircraft, a product of Griffon Aerospace, and the intercept engagements occurred at over a kilometer range and about 1500 meters.

The first shoot-down at the kilometer range was a replication of the test performed April 22, in which the EAPS technology first successfully intercepted a loitering UAS. Some fire-control improvements were made after the April 22 tests, and were validated during the August 19 testing.

The second shoot down was executed at a 50 percent greater range and exceeded the EAPS demonstration objectives.

The Picatinny area-protection systems tracks both the incoming threat and interceptor, then computes an ideal trajectory correction for the interceptor to maximize probability of mission success. A thruster on the interceptor/projectile is used for course correction. The ground station uplinks the maneuver and detonation commands, while receiving downlinked assessment data.

The interceptor takes the commands and computes the roll orientation and time to execute thruster and warhead detonation. The warhead has a tantalum-tungsten alloy liner to form forward propelled penetrators for defeat of C-RAM targets, and steel body fragments to counter unmanned aerial systems. C-RAM stands for counter rockets, artillery and mortars.

TPP, TTIP and One Belt One Road

The Transpacific Partnership is mainly about adding Japan to the decades old North American Free Trade Agreement.

Tariff levels in developed countries are at about 1.5% or less.

China's average tariff is about 3.5%.

Undeveloped countries typically have tariffs of about 8-15%.

The US is trying negotiate a trade agreement with Europe. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, with the aim of promoting multilateral economic growth. The American government considers the TTIP a companion agreement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. After a proposed draft was leaked in March 2014, the European Commission launched a public consultation on a limited set of clauses and in January 2015 published parts of an overview. If an agreement is to be made, it is not expected to be finalized before 2016.

China also has trade negotiations but they are focusing on global infrastructure.

China's Belt and Road Initiative is a development strategy and framework, proposed by People's Republic of China that focuses on connectivity and cooperation among countries primarily in Eurasia, which consists of two main components, the land-based "Silk Road Economic Belt" (SREB) and oceangoing "Maritime Silk Road" (MSR). The strategy underlines China's push to take a bigger role in global affairs, and its need to export China's production capacity in areas of overproduction such as steel manufacturing.

China plan is to boost trade and economic activity by building the physical trade infrastructure via rail, ports and pipelines. They are building up the cities, factories and energy infrastructure of trade partners. They are boosting the capacity of partners to buy and consume and building the volume and speed of goods, commodities and people to move between partners.

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