October 24, 2015

Real unmanned russian robotic tanks by 2017, AI, combat lasers, railguns and the Fictional Bolo Tank Timeline

A Russian defense firm that produces the brand-new Armata T-14 tank also plans to build an army of new combat robots within the next two years. This would be a next step towards machines guided by artificial intelligence

Uralvagonzavod, the company that introduced the ‘super tank’ Armata T-14 back in May, is now trying to step away from piloted military technologies and is eager to develop artificial intelligence.

"We will be able to show prototypes in 1.5 to 2 years. We are gradually moving away from crewed machines," Vyacheslav Khalitov, the company’s deputy director general

With an armored capsule for the three-man crew, the tank is notable for having an unmanned turret equipped with fully remotely controlled 125mm smoothbore cannon and 7.62mm machine gun.

Two radio jamming antidrone systems

Battelle’s revolutionary DroneDefenderTM, is a portable, accurate, rapid-to-use counter-weapon to stop suspicious or hostile drones in flight, providing critical security protection at home and abroad.

The Battelle DroneDefender uses radio control frequency disruption technologies to safely stop drones in the air, before they can pose a threat to military or civilian safety. The growing use and availability of commercially-available drones—also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)—is raising concerns among defense, security and law enforcement leaders.

DroneDefender is an inexpensive, easy-to-use, lightweight, point-and-shoot system with a demonstrated range of 400 meters. DroneDefender provides instant threat mitigation, quickly disrupting the drone so that no remote action, including detonation can occur in sensitive areas. This minimizes drone damage and the risk to public safety.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 283

Yes Vermont Yankee - Pilgrim will close by 2019 (Updated)

Entergy announced that Pilgrim will close by 2019. Entergy would like to close Pilgrim in 2017, but Pilgrim is obligated by its participation (until 2019) in the Forward Capacity Auction . The plant must keep running until 2019, or purchase replacement capacity for the grid. This post describes capacity auctions and also describes (the update) how high capacity prices hurt nuclear plants, compared to gas plants. The price problem is illustrated in a simple chart. Nuclear plants run for many hours, and they expect to obtain most of their revenue from selling power. However, gas plants run fewer hours, and expect to get more of their revenue from capacity payments. Low prices on the grid and high capacity payments tilt the playing field toward gas-fired plants.

Nextbigfuture - The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has granted an export licence covering all planned activities related to Lightbridge's advanced metallic nuclear fuel in Norway. The fuel is to undergo irradiation testing at Norway's Halden research reactor.

Lightbridge's advanced metallic fuel is made from a zirconium-uranium (Zr-U) alloy and uses a unique composition and fuel rod geometry, which, the company says, enables it to operate at a higher power density than uranium oxide fuels in use today.

Lightbridge metallic annular fuel would allow more power from existing reactors and better economics

* 10-17% power uprate and longer fuel cycles for existing PWRs; and
* Up to 30% power uprate for new build PWRs.
* Increased revenue and improved operating margins of existing nuclear power units;
* Reduced total levelized cost per kilowatt-hour for new build reactors, including over a 50% reduction in incremental capital cost per kW vs. new build; and
* Increased competitiveness of nuclear power versus other energy sources.

October 23, 2015

Carnival of Space 428

1. Universe Today - ExoMars Heads to the Red Planet in 2016

The 2016 launch window for Mars missions is fast approaching along with opposition, and ESA is refining its target window for ExoMars. Mars launch season offers the optimal time to make the trip from Earth to Mars, as missions prepare to break the surly bonds and head towards the Red Planet next spring. NASA’s InSight lander will also make the trip.

ExoMars is the first joint European Space Agency (ESA) Roscosmos mission to the Red Planet. The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter is under contract to Thales Alenia Space, and the EDM stationary lander dubbed Schiaparelli after the 19th century Italian astronomer is being constructed by Airbus Defense and Space. This would be Russia’s first successful Mars lander mission for over a dozen tries if successful.

Thermal energy harvesting antennas by more than 10,000 to 100,000 times with tiny holes in copper

Current rectenna designs work best at lower frequencies. Yet waste heat from hot objects can push into the 100 THz (100 trillion cycles per second) range. Park and his colleagues found a way to enhance thermal emission of hot bodies at the lower end of the spectrum (around 1 THz) by manipulating the surface of the object.

Park's team uses software to analyze how the nanoscale topology of a surface -- its bumps, holes or grooves -- changes the way that electromagnetic radiation interacts with the surface. In some instances the geometry supports the formation of a wave of rippling electronic charges, called a plasmon, that hugs the surface.

"We design the surface to support a surface wave, because the presence of the wave offers a new avenue for engineering thermal emission," Park said. For the case of optimizing thermal energy harvesting, the researchers found they could "spectrally tune" a surface to emit more radiation at 1 THz frequency.

The researchers first optimized the design, which consists of a copper plate with a regular array of tiny holes, using simulations. They then built the design in the lab and confirmed that the plate did indeed produce the type of surface waves predicted by the simulations.

The researchers also used computer modeling to design a bowtie-shaped antenna that would effectively capture the enhanced thermal emission. Simulations predict that an antenna placed near the holey surface could capture 10,000 to 100,000 times more thermal energy than an antenna in open space. The team is in the process of experimentally testing this prediction and hopes to have new results to report soon. The results will also help the team calculate how rectenna thermal energy harvesting might compare to other ways of harvesting waste heat, such as thermoelectric materials.

Harvard demos insect sized flying submarine robot

Researchers at the Harvard Paulson School have demonstrated a flying, swimming, insectlike robot, easing the way to create future aerial-aquatic robotic vehicles. The research was presented recently in a paper at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Germany, where first author Chen accepted the award for best student paper.

The RoboBee is a miniature robot that has long been able to fly. But what if the RoboBee lands in water? Using a modified flapping technique, researchers at the Harvard John Paulson School and Wyss Institute have demonstrate that the RoboBee can also swim. This is the first-ever aerial and aquatic capable insect-scale robot.

The Harvard RoboBee, designed in Wood’s lab, is a microrobot, smaller than a paper clip, that flies and hovers like an insect, flapping its tiny, nearly invisible wings 120 times per second. In order to make the RoboBee’s transition from air to water, the team first had to solve the problem of surface tension. The RoboBee is so small and lightweight that it cannot break the surface tension of the water. To overcome this hurdle, the RoboBee hovers over the water at an angle, momentarily switches off its wings, and crashes unceremoniously into the water in order to sink.

Next the team had to account for water’s increased density.

“Water is almost 1,000 times denser than air and would snap the wing off the RoboBee if we didn’t adjust its flapping speed,” said Helbling, the paper’s second author.

The team lowered the wing speed from 120 flaps per second to nine but kept the flapping mechanisms and hinge design the same. A swimming RoboBee changes its direction by adjusting the stroke angle of the wings, the same way it does in air. Like a flying version, it is still tethered to a power source. The team prevented the RoboBee from shorting out by using deionized water and coating the electrical connections with glue.

While this RoboBee can move seamlessly from air to water, it cannot yet transition from water to air because it can’t generate enough lift without snapping one of its wings. Solving that design challenge is the next phase of the research, according to Chen.

Anti-aging rapamycin is being tested in 20 dogs

Scientists who study aging are currently riveted by a group of 20 dogs in Seattle. The dogs, all house pets older than six years old, are early test subjects in a trial of a drug called rapamycin. The way the drug works is not completely understood, but it’s been used for years to prevent rejection of transplanted organs, and in laboratory studies, it’s lengthened the life spans of diverse species: worms, fruit flies, and mice. If it works in dogs, healthy human volunteers will be the next guinea pigs.

Rapamycin extended mouse life spans between 9 percent and 14 percent, and it worked whether mice began getting the drug during middle age or very late in their short lives. Moreover, it prevented cardiovascular damage and memory loss. That suggests that it might lengthen the period in which people are healthy and functional rather than drawing out a period of decline.

The only other substance that has recently generated as much excitement among aging researchers is the diabetes drug metformin. It’s had only modest effects in mice but has already shown promise in humans. According to a 2014 study that followed 7,800 diabetics, those on the drug not only lived longer than other people with diabetes, they lived slightly longer than nondiabetic control subjects. Researchers believe that it’s less likely than rapamycin to have problematic side effects but also less likely to show dramatic results.

In fact, rapamycin is one of several anti-aging drugs that may end up in human trials in the coming years as researchers improve their understanding of the mechanisms of aging.

There are already some known side effects: at high doses, rapamycin can raise blood sugar and thereby increase the risk of diabetes. It causes mouth lesions known as canker sores. Researchers originally worried that because it works as part of an immune-suppressive cocktail for organ transplants, it would raise the risk of infection. But then a study last year in Science Translational Medicine showed that a derivative of the rapamycin drug seemed to enhance human immunity following a flu shot.

Scientists aren’t sure why rapamycin suppresses the immune system in some contexts and boosts it in others. But they are starting to grasp how it might slow the aging process.

Science Translational - mTOR inhibition improves immune function in the elderly

Google Alphabet will spend billions on its moonshot technologies like self driving cars and anti-aging

Alphabet, the parent company recently created to keep Google’s core business separate from wilder enterprises such as self-driving cars, is preparing to ramp up spending on its most far-out projects.

That’s what Alphabet’s chief financial officer, Ruth Porat, said Thursday on the company’s first quarterly earnings call. The most significant increase will come from the division of Alphabet working on technologies related to energy and Internet access, she said, which includes the Google Fiber project that offers high-speed, low-cost broadband in several U.S. cities.

Because Alphabet only sprang into legal existence early this month, Thursday’s call was mostly taken up with discussion of results reported by Google’s original structure, which reported a larger-than-expected profit of $4.7 billion on $18.7 billion in revenue. But Porat also said that henceforth Alphabet will report revenues, profitability, and capital expenditures for both Google and a category dubbed “other bets” that combines the company’s other businesses.

The company’s “other bets” are expected to include home devices company Nest and Google X Lab.

The number of projects and divisions under Alphabet’s “other bets” designation could expand.n projects such as self-driving cars, a life sciences group where projects include an electronic contact lens, and Google’s investment arms.

Asteroid Mining Company Planetary Resources has raised $12 million

Planetary Resources of Redmond has raised $12 million in new capital for its quest to mine rare metals and water on asteroids.

The money raised this month from 16 investors is part of a targeted $20 million financing, according to a regulatory filing Wednesday.

Within 6 weeks Planetary Resources is scheduled to launch another Arkyd Space telescope satellite.

October 22, 2015

92% of earth-like worlds have yet to be born

Earth came early to the party in the evolving universe. According to a new theoretical study, when our solar system was born 4.6 billion years ago only eight percent of the potentially habitable planets that will ever form in the universe existed. And, the party won't be over when the sun burns out in another 6 billion years. The bulk of those planets -- 92 percent -- have yet to be born.

This conclusion is based on an assessment of data collected by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the prolific planet-hunting Kepler space observatory.

"Our main motivation was understanding the Earth's place in the context of the rest of the universe," said study author Peter Behroozi of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, "Compared to all the planets that will ever form in the universe, the Earth is actually quite early."

Looking far away and far back in time, Hubble has given astronomers a "family album" of galaxy observations that chronicle the universe's star formation history as galaxies grew. The data show that the universe was making stars at a fast rate 10 billion years ago, but the fraction of the universe's hydrogen and helium gas that was involved was very low. Today, star birth is happening at a much slower rate than long ago, but there is so much leftover gas available that the universe will keep cooking up stars and planets for a very long time to come.

Researchers Making Leukemia Cells Kill Each Other

AScientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found a way to change leukemia cells into leukemia-killing immune cells. The surprise finding could lead to a powerful new therapy for leukemia and possibly other cancers.

"It's a totally new approach to cancer, and we're working to test it in human patients as soon as possible," said senior investigator Richard A. Lerner, Institute Professor and the Lita Annenberg Hazen Professor of Immunochemistry at TSRI.

The findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, result from the discovery of a rare human antibody.

Unexpected Effects

The Lerner laboratory has pioneered techniques to generate and screen very large libraries of antibodies (immune system molecules), using the power of large numbers to find therapeutic antibodies that bind to a desired target or activate a desired receptor on cells.

Recently, the lab mounted an effort to find therapies for people with certain immune cell or blood factor deficiencies, by looking for antibodies that activate growth-factor receptors on immature bone marrow cells that might induce these bone marrow cells to mature into specific blood cell types. Over the past few years, Lerner and his team succeeded in identifying a number of antibodies that activate marrow-cell receptors in this way.


In the new study, Richard A. Lerner, institute professor and the Lita Annenberg Hazen professor of Immunochemistry at TSRI and senior investigator, teamed up with colleagues, including first author Kyungmoo Yea, an assistant professor of cellular and molecular biology at TSRI. They decided to test 20 of the recently discovered receptor-activating antibodies on acute myeloid leukemia cells taken from human patients. One of the antibodies ended up having an incredible impact on the leukemia cells.

(A) Normal BM CD34+ cells and AML cells after 4 d culture in the presence of PBS, antibody (10 μg/mL), or TPO (10 ng/mL). The red arrow indicates a megakaryocyte. The red-boxed Inset shows an enlarged image of a differentiated cell. (B) The AML cells after 4 d culture with various concentrations of antibody

PNAS - Agonist antibody that induces human malignant cells to kill one another

Predictive AI outperforms most humans

A new paper, to be presented at next week's IEEE International Conference on Data Science and Advanced Analytics, details the evolution of the university's Data Science Machine – a sort-of AI system that is adept at spotting trends and patterns in large chunks of data.

MIT ran the machine as a ringer in three human data science tournaments and had considerable success. Out of 906 human teams in the competition to find patterns in data fields, the computer system beat 615 of them.

The Data Science Machine managed to get within 87 and 96 per cent of the accurate answers submitted by human competitors. But, crucially, the Data Science Machine managed to do the job much faster than its fleshy competitors – human teams took weeks to divine patterns from the data while the computer took a maximum of 12 hours.

The competitive success of the Data Science Machine suggests it has a role alongside data scientists. Currently, data scientists are very involved in the feature generation and selection processes. Our results show that the Data Science Machine can automatically create features of value and figure out how to use those features in creating a model. Although humans beat the Data Science Machine for all datasets, the machine’s success-to-effort ratio suggests there is a place for it in data science

Deep Feature Synthesis: Towards Automating Data Science Endeavors

Robotic cargo drone for under $1 million and 120 mile range

The Air Force needs a low-cost, expendable, autonomous cargo drone to carry out resupply in contested airspace. Though the 3-ton payload Lockheed/Kaman K-MAX autonomous cargo helicopter is too high-end, the U.S. Marine Corps has operationally demonstrated the concept’s reliability in Afghanistan since 2011. Yet something like the SOCOM/MMIST CQ-10A/BSnowgoose costs less than $1 million and is capable of carrying 600 pounds of cargo 200 kilometers (120 miles).


The self launch variant or "BRAVO" SnowGoose UAV system has vertical take off and near vertical landing capability, is designed to be operated from unprepared launch and landing sites and has unmattched flexibility with regard to operating location and terrain. The CQ-10B variant is an incremental upgrade to the existing CQ-10A system.

View of the US Air Force in 2035

The Air Force Future Operating Concept is the Air Force’s overarching force development concept. It describes how future Air Force (AF) forces will provide responsive and effective Global Vigilance—Global Reach—Global Power in light of the anticipated future strategic and operational environment. The AF Future Operating Concept broadly portrays how the future Air Force will conduct its five core missions as part of a joint, interagency, or multinational force, or independently in support of national security objectives. The primary audiences for this concept are Headquarters Air Force (HAF) and Major Command (MAJCOM) strategic planners.

Main Vision

In 2035, Air Force pilots are flying afterburning “D” model Joint Strike Fighters alongside drone bombers and a fleet of stealthy unmanned aerial refuelers. In this conflict of the future, manned cargo planes lead packs of cargo drones and new hybrid airships for low-cost shipping to low-threat areas.

The Air Force still loves the F35. They envision a F-35D model. It would presumably be a derivative of the conventional Air Force F-35A. The service also envisions this model as being optionally manned and capable of advanced command and control for other uninhabited systems including the optionally manned LRS-B, uninhabited cargo and aerial refueler, and unmanned missile trucks. The Air Force is already exploring an up-engined variant of the F-35 in its ADVENT (adaptive versatile engine technology) program.

The current program calls for 80-100 long range bomber aircraft. The Air Force’s wants the LRS-B in the Future Operating Concept. They supports analyses showing that the Air Force needs more like 170 aircraft.

Drone swarm, directed energy weapons and hypersonic weapon scenario

Captain Dawson depressed the release button the instant his MMLRs reached their designated launch point. Six thousand miles away from him, his four-ship unleashed 200 pelican-sized vehicles that accelerated to 0.9 Mach and raced toward the enemy coastline. They rapidly aggregated into an evershifting array of decoys and jammers as their networked sensors built situational awareness on the enemy integrated air defense system (IADS).

The enemy quickly detected the mass of incoming projectiles, but the constantly changing picture made it impossible to determine the real targets from the decoys. No matter: their networked missiles and longrange directed-energy cannons would soon decimate this futile attack. Destroyed and disabled vehicles began to fall from the sky, but the remaining units reconstituted and continued inbound.

The enemy did not detect the approaching hypersonic missiles until it was too late. Under cover of the decoy-jammers, another formation of MMLRs had launched the hypersonic munitions from hundreds of miles away. The enemy IADS, saturated by the formation of decoy-jammers, had missed the one fleeting opportunity to target the high-speed munitions. Now in the terminal phase, the hypersonic missiles streaked into their targets. First to be destroyed was the ground-based high-energy laser that had menaced lowearth orbiting satellites for weeks—a cyber attack had locked its elevator into the up position just seconds before the missiles arrived. Other hypersonic salvos destroyed coastal defense cruise missile batteries and attack-boat pens. Finally the joint forcible entry could commence.

Thirty decoy vehicles managed to penetrate the vanquished IADS. Twenty found targets that matched their programmed criteria, striking enemy radar arrays and communication towers with their small integral warheads. The other ten, their fuel expended, self-destructed harmlessly offshore.

October 21, 2015

Update on Google Deep Mind Artificial Intelligence

Demis Hassabis gave a talk about his Google Deep Mind project In January 2014 DeepMind was acquired by Google for a reported £400 million (approximately $625 million), where Hassabis is now Vice President of Engineering leading their general AI projects.

AI researcher Ben Goertzel gave his review.

It's a well-delivered, clear and concise talk, but so far as I can tell there's nothing big and new there. Demis describes Deep Mind's well-known work on reinforcement learning and video games, and then mentions their (already published) work on Neural Turing Machines... Nothing significant seems to be mentioned beyond what has already been published and publicized previously...

Demis, Shane Legg and many other Deep Mind researchers are known to me to be brilliant people with a true passion for AGI. What they're doing is fantastic! However, currently none of their results look anywhere close to human-level AGI; and the design details that they've disclosed don't come anywhere near to being a comprehensive plan for building an AGI...

Of course, 100 smart guys working together toward pure and applied AGI, with savvy leadership and Google's resources at their disposal, is nothing to be sneered at....

For now, there are multiple different approaches to AGI, with various theoretical justifications and limited-scope practical achievements associated with them; and researchers place their confidence in one approach or another based on intuition as much as evidence, since the hard evidence is incomplete and fragmentary.

Demis Hassabis leads what is now called Google DeepMind. It is still headquartered in London and still has “solve intelligence” as its mission statement. Roughly 75 people strong at the time it joined Google, Hassabis has said he aimed to hire around 50 more. Around 75 percent of the group works on fundamental research. The rest form an “applied research team” that looks for opportunities to apply DeepMind’s techniques to existing Google products.

Over the next four years, DeepMind’s technology could be used to refine YouTube’s recommendations or improve the company’s mobile voice search.

They dream of creating “AI scientists” that could do things like generate and test new hypotheses about disease in the lab. When prodded, he also says that DeepMind’s software could also be useful to robotics, an area in which Google has recently invested heavily

DeepMind has combined deep learning with a technique called reinforcement learning, which is inspired by the work of animal psychologists such as B.F. Skinner. This led to software that learns by taking actions and receiving feedback on their effects, as humans or animals often do.

In 2013, DeepMind researchers showed off software that had learned to play three classic Atari games - Pong, Breakout and Enduro - better than an expert human. The software wasn’t programmed with any information on how to play; it was equipped only with access to the controls and the display, knowledge of the score, and an instinct to make that score as high as possible. The program became an expert gamer through trial and error.

No one had ever demonstrated software that could learn to master such a complex task from scratch.

Arxiv - Playing Atari with Deep Reinforcement Learning

An extra-muscular beagle has been created through myostatin inhibited genome engineering

Scientists in China say they are the first to use gene editing to produce customized dogs. They created a beagle with double the amount of muscle mass by deleting a gene called myostatin.

The dogs have “more muscles and are expected to have stronger running ability, which is good for hunting, police (military) applications,” Liangxue Lai, a researcher with the Key Laboratory of Regenerative Biology at the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, said in an e-mail.

The myostatin gene is well-studied—and because double-muscling isn’t known to have obvious drawbacks—it is frequently cited in debates over hypothetical future “gene-doping” among athletes. U.S. doctors are already attempting to block myostatin in gene-therapy experiments that seek to slow muscle loss in boys suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Lai said his group had no plans breed to breed the extra-muscular beagles as pets. Other teams, however, could move quickly to commercialize gene-altered dogs, potentially editing their DNA to change their size, enhance their intelligence, or correct genetic illnesses. A different Chinese Institute, BGI, said in September it had begun selling miniature pigs, created via gene editing, for $1,600 each as novelty pets.


The list of animals already engineered using gene editing in China includes goats, rabbits, rats, and monkeys.

Clearly there is also technical the feasibility of germ line engineering in humans. Human babies could have hundreds of genetic edits for greater strength and intelligence.

The dog researchers took much the same approach, directly introducing the gene-editing chemicals—a DNA snipping enzyme, Cas9, and a guide molecule that zeroes in to a particular stretch of DNA—into more than 60 dog embryos. Their objective was to damage, or knock out, both copies of the myostatin gene so that the beagles’ bodies would not produce any of the muscle-inhibiting protein that the gene manufactures.

In the end, of 65 embryos they edited, 27 puppies were born, but only two, a female and a male, had disruptions in both copies of the myostatin gene. They named the female Tiangou, after the “heaven dog” in Chinese myth. They named the male Hercules.

Lai and his colleagues reported that in Hercules, the gene editing was incomplete, and that a percentage of the dog’s muscle cells were still producing myostatin. But in Tiangou, the disruption of myostatin was complete and the beagle “displayed obvious muscular phenotype,” or characteristics. For example, her thigh muscles were large compared to those of her littermates.

In the USA 60 genes modified at one time in single animals and on the path to large scale edits of genomes

Harvard Professor George Church and his company eGensisis have modified more than 60 genes in pig embryos — ten times more than have been edited in any other animal — researchers believe they may have produced a suitable non-human organ donor.

Geneticist George Church of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, announced that he and colleagues had used the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology to inactivate 62 porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs) in pig embryos. These viruses are embedded in all pigs’ genomes and cannot be treated or neutralized. It is feared that they could cause disease in human transplant recipients.
Pigs with more human like organs for xenotransplants

Church’s group also modified more than 20 genes in a separate set of pig embryos, including genes that encode proteins that sit on the surface of pig cells and are known to trigger a human immune response or cause blood clotting. Church declined to reveal the exact genes, however, because the work is as yet unpublished. Eventually, pigs intended for organ transplants would need both these modifications and the PERV deletions.

Preparing for implantation

“This is something I’ve been wanting to do for almost a decade,” Church says. A biotech company that he co-founded to produce pigs for organ transplantation, eGenesis in Boston, is now trying to make the process as cheap as possible.

Church released few details about how his team managed to remove so many pig genes. But he says that both sets of edited pig embryos are almost ready to implant into mother pigs. eGenesis has procured a facility at Harvard Medical School where the pigs will be implanted and raised in isolation from pathogens.

eGenesis is a life sciences company whose mission is to transform xenotransplantation into an everyday, lifesaving ​medical procedure.

Action at a distance is confirmed to be real and allows for better secure quantum communication

Researchers working at Delft University in The Netherlands, have succeeded in closing the two loopholes that have prevented proving that local realism does not hold at the quantum level.

The experiment has remarkable practical value as well, as entanglement allows for a form of secure communication. The measurement outcomes can be used as an encryption key which is fundamentally impossible to eavesdrop on as it doesn’t travel between two points, but is created through the instantaneous entanglement link.

At issue is proving that quantum entanglement does not occur due to some strange unexplainable communication factor, or variable as Einstein suggested—a task that has proved exceptionally challenging—so much so that despite nearly a century of trying, no one, until now apparently, has been able to do it.

One of the ways to "prove" that entanglement does not occur due to some unknown factor that allows for communication to move between two entanglement particles, is to cause entanglement to come about between two particles that are far enough apart that any unknown force allowing them to communicate, would have to travel faster than light, which everyone agrees cannot happen. That was one of the loopholes described by John Bell, who famously came up with a way to prove mathematically that it should be possible to distinguish between quantum mechanics and so-called hidden variables. If such variables existed, he noted, measurements of certain results would have to be less than a critical value. If an experiment could be run that violated that inequality, that would "prove" that quantum mechanics has at least some non-local characteristics. Another loophole, it has been noted, occurs because single photons are difficult to measure—some get lost during transmission, particularly if sending them at a great enough distance to overcome the first loophole, making experimental results difficult to verify.

In this new experiment, led by Ronald Hanson, the researchers set about closing both loopholes, which would theoretically shut the door on local realism.

Arxiv version of full paper - Loophole-free Bell inequality violation using electron spins separated by 1.3 kilometers

Nature - Loophole-free Bell inequality violation using electron spins separated by 1.3 kilometers

More than 50 years ago, John Bell proved that no theory of nature that obeys locality and realism can reproduce all the predictions of quantum theory: in any local-realist theory, the correlations between outcomes of measurements on distant particles satisfy an inequality that can be violated if the particles are entangled. Numerous Bell inequality tests have been reported; however, all experiments reported so far required additional assumptions to obtain a contradiction with local realism, resulting in ‘loopholes’. Here we report a Bell experiment that is free of any such additional assumption and thus directly tests the principles underlying Bell’s inequality. We use an event-ready scheme that enables the generation of robust entanglement between distant electron spins (estimated state fidelity of 0.92 ± 0.03). Efficient spin read-out avoids the fair-sampling assumption (detection loophole), while the use of fast random-basis selection and spin read-out combined with a spatial separation of 1.3 kilometres ensure the required locality conditions. We performed 245 trials that tested the CHSH–Bell inequality S less than 2 and found S = 2.42 ± 0.20 (where S quantifies the correlation between measurement outcomes). A null-hypothesis test yields a probability of at most P = 0.039 that a local-realist model for space-like separated sites could produce data with a violation at least as large as we observe, even when allowing for memory in the devices. Our data hence imply statistically significant rejection of the local-realist null hypothesis. This conclusion may be further consolidated in future experiments; for instance, reaching a value of P = 0.001 would require approximately 700 trials for an observed S = 2.4. With improvements, our experiment could be used for testing less-conventional theories, and for implementing device-independent quantum-secure communication and randomness certification

Bell-test schematic and experimental realization.

26 pages of supplemental information

Canada likely to drop purchase of 65 F-35 jets and save C$56-126 billion

Canada's Prime Minister Elect Justin Trudeau vowed in September during the election campaign to open a fresh competition to replace Canada's aging fighter jets, rather than continuing with the F-35 program. Justin Trudeau has also pledged to put a stop to his country's role in bombing Islamic State targets in strife-torn Syria, where the Australian air force recently commenced operations, as well as Iraq.

The development of the F-35 has been dogged by controversy and claims it will not measure up against the latest Russian and Chinese fighter jets, although officials insist the plane is state-of-the-art.

On 16 July 2010, the Government of Canada under Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced its intention to buy 65 F-35s to replace the Canadian Forces' existing 80 CF-18s.

A 2014 independent report warned that the true price tag would be least C$10-billion higher for a total of C$56-billion. Under the worst-case scenario, the report by University of British Columbia academic Michael Byers predicted, the full lifetime bill for Canada's F-35 Lightning jets would hit C$126-billion – about $81-billion higher than Ottawa’s working estimate of C$45.8-billion.

The Liberal fiscal plan is to run short-term deficit of about C$10 billion for each of the first three years and then a balanced budget by the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Canada has an annual military budget of about C$20 billion.

Canada has very little military even for a country of its economic size and population. Australia spends about A$32 billion (C$30 billion)and has 65% of the population of Canada. Canada spends less than half per capita on defense than Australia.

October 20, 2015

Full scale or miniature prototypes of the long range strike bomber may have already been built for testing

Prototypes of new US long range strike bombers may already have been built and tested after it was revealed that spending on the project has jumped to $1 billion in 2015.

The U.S. Air Force is moving forward with plans for a top-secret next generation bomber that could one day fly without a pilot.

Spending on the project has topped a billion dollars this year alone - and companies vying to win a contract to build the bombers are already said to have built either full-scale or miniature prototypes and tested them in wind tunnels.

Spending on the long range bomber was $200 million in 2012.
A billion dollars has been spent in 2015.
Spending could increase to $3 billion in 2018.

100 brand-new bombers will hopefully cost as $55 billion in total. They will replace 1960s-vintage B-52s and B-1s from the ’80s.

Laser produced blackhole interstellar drive

PBS space time reviews interstellar travel options.

They reviewed
* the Orion pulsed nuclear drive.

* Nuclear fusion drives

* antimatter (pion drives)

* laser light sails

* blackhole drive (schwarzschild kugelblitz)
Blackhole made by light.
The sweet spot is 600 billion kg in the size of a proton.
It would radiate 160 petawatts. It would evaporate in 3.5 years.
The lasers that create must be more powerful.
It would accelerate to 10% of lightspeed in 20 days.

Jeff Lee's 2013 talk Singularity Propulsion: The Acceleration Curves of a Schwarzschild Kugelblitz Starship

The petawatt Hawking radiation of γ-ray laser-created subatomic black holes (Schwarzschild Kugelblitzes or SKs) has been proposed as a propulsive and power source for interstellar starships. In order to avoid underestimates of a SK’s Hawking power by approximately 3 orders of magnitude and overestimates of its life expectancy by 2-3 orders of magnitude (which occur when assuming purely photonic emission), this paper accounts for the entire instantaneous Hawking spectrum. Additionally shown is that 45% of the Hawking power and 55-58% of the Hawking flux are emitted on inaccessible channels. Based on the accessible Hawking spectrum, the acceleration curves of a SK-powered starship, in which the Hawking radiation is incident upon a fully-absorbing inertial plate, are determined.

More of the real spirit of Star Wars than in 3 Prequels in one new Star Wars Awakens Trailer

Episode VII in the Star Wars Saga, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, opens in cinemas December 17, 2015.

More of the real spirit of Star Wars than in 3 Prequels

Wi-fi trick for Indoor Location Fixes accurate to 40 centimeters

The Wi-Fi equipment serving offices, airports, and other large buildings could be easily upgraded to allow mobile devices to get indoor location fixes to an accuracy of less than half a meter, Stanford researchers have shown. The technology, dubbed SpotFi, could lead to GPS-style maps for indoor spaces.

The new technique requires multiple Wi-Fi access points to get a location fix.

They are working on a variant of their technique that a device could use to get a rougher sense of its location from a single access point. That might help a drone being controlled by a smartphone, for example, he says. The Stanford group is also thinking about how to commercialize SpotFi for use in workplaces or other buildings with multiple Wi-Fi access points like malls and airports.

Indoor location technology based on Wi-Fi is already on the market. But the most accurate requires specialized hardware and is not widely deployed. Another method that works using existing Wi-Fi equipment can typically locate a device only to within a few meters or sometimes even less accurately, says Sachin Katti, an assistant professor at Stanford University whose research group developed SpotFi.

“We can use off-the-shelf, already deployed Wi-Fi infrastructure but get accuracy comparable to state-of-the-art systems that require specialized equipment or modifications,” says Katti. In tests, a Wi-Fi device could locate itself with a median accuracy of 40 centimeters (16 inches).

SpotFi: Decimeter Level Localization Using WiFi by Manikanta Kotaru, Kiran Joshi, Dinesh Bharadia, Sachin Katti of Stanford

SpotFi makes two key technical contributions. First, SpotFi incorporates super-resolution algorithms that can accurately compute the angle of arrival (AoA) of multipath components even when the access point (AP) has only three antennas. Second, it incorporates novel filtering and estimation techniques to identify AoA of direct path between the localization target and AP by assigning values for each path depending on how likely the particular path is the direct path. Our experiments in a multipath rich indoor environment show that SpotFi achieves a median accuracy of 40 cm and is robust to indoor hindrances such as obstacles and multipath


* should be able to localize any target device that has a commodity WiFi chip and nothing else. They should not require the target to have any other hardware, be it sensors such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, barometers, cameras, etc., or radios such as UWB, ultra-sound, Bluetooth LE, etc.

* should be accurate, ideally as accurate as the best known localization systems that use wireless signals (even including those that do not satisfy the above two requirements). To the best of our knowledge, the most accurate such localization systems are ArrayTrack [1]
and Ubicarse [2] and these systems achieve an accuracy ranging from 30–50 cm in office environments. Achieving such accuracy would be the target.

Simplified dangers around energy

I wrote an answer on Quora about the dangers of energy to the environment.

I have written several articles that have looked at deaths per terawatt hour. Nuclear energy compares very favorably against other energy sources on that basis. I have looked at detailed medical studies and many other references. I have looked at it just looking at industrial and transportation deaths and including medical impacts. I have looked at short term and long term.

Let me simplify Deaths per TWH by energy source.

Particulates - incomplete burning is the driver of fossil health impact

Most energy now is from the fossil fuels. Oil, Natural Gas and coal. They are about 100 times more deadly than hydro, nuclear, solar and wind.

The reason is mainly particulates. They are not burned completely and this air pollution is like forcing babies, people with asthma and the elderly to smoke every day. The levels of particulate air pollution varies by the day and this change shows up in hospital admissions. The impact on health is by the hour and day. There were huge air pollution events in the past. The London fog killed 12000 people over several days when the weather caused air pollution to get trapped and people dropped dead with blue lips as they suffocated.

China targets eliminating extreme poverty within China by 2020

The Chinese government will enact more support policies to lift the country's 70 million poor people above the poverty line by 2020, President Xi Jinping pledged on Friday ahead of the 23rd International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The government will take all necessary steps to achieve the poverty reduction goal, including lifting 10 million people out of poverty by the end of this year, he said.

Among the steps, Hong told a news conference in Beijing, the government will beef up subsidizing banks to provide loans of less than 50,000 yuan ($ 7,900) as seed funds to help families in poverty-stricken areas to start their own businesses. Additionally, because 42 percent of poor households are impoverished due to medical issues affecting family members, governments at all levels will improve the social security network, especially the healthcare system.

Moreover, the government will help about 10 million poor villagers who live in geographical areas considered not suitable for living to move out and resettle before 2020, Hong said.

China will move some industries to help with jobs in some areas and they will move poor communities out of areas with poor farmland and poor resources.

In 2014, China’s rural poverty line was 2,300 yuan a year, or 6.3 yuan a day. At today’s exchange rates that is only about $1.03, which would seem much meaner than the World Bank’s line of $1.25. But the Bank’s poverty line is calculated at purchasing-power parity exchange rates, not market exchange rates. To the World Bank, someone is suffering from extreme poverty if they consume less than what $1.25 could buy in America in 2005. To the Chinese government, a rural person is poor if they earn less than what 6.3 yuan could buy in rural China in 2010. China’s poverty line was equivalent to $1.77 in America in 2005.

The number of people in the World living in extreme poverty around the world is likely to fall to under 10 percent of the global population in 2015, according to World Bank projections released today, giving fresh evidence that a quarter-century-long sustained reduction in poverty is moving the world closer to the historic goal of ending poverty by 2030.

The 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.

In its regional forecasts for 2015, the Bank said that poverty in East Asia and the Pacific would fall to 4.1 per cent of its population, down from 7.2 per cent in 2012; Latin America and the Caribbean would fall to 5.6 per cent from 6.2 in 2012; South Asia would fall to 13.5 per cent in 2015, compared to 18.8 per cent in 2012; Sub-Saharan Africa declines to 35.2 per cent in 2015, compared to 42.6 per cent in 2012. Reliable current poverty data is not available for the Middle East and North Africa because of conflict and fragility in key countries in the region

China proposed to help other developing countries in need to increase livelihood with 2 billion US dollar funds from the south-south cooperation fund. And China will unconditionally acquit debt of the least developed countries and small island countries by 2015.

Lightbridge progress on testing advanced metallic nuclear fuel

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has granted an export licence covering all planned activities related to Lightbridge's advanced metallic nuclear fuel in Norway. The fuel is to undergo irradiation testing at Norway's Halden research reactor.

The licence has been granted to the Institute for Energy Technology (IFE), which operates the 25 MW boiling water reactor, and is valid for a standard three-year term from 31 October 2018. The licence , which is extendable, follows the signature in July of a 10-year services agreement between Lightbridge and the IFE covering irradiation testing of fuel samples under prototypic commercial reactor operating conditions. Post-irradiation examination of the fuel samples is to be carried out in Sweden by Studsvik and will require a separate export licence, which the IFE is to apply for

Lightbridge CEO Seth Grae said that the export approval, along with a release of initial task and purchase orders, illustrated the project's progress. "We are pleased to have this export approval secured by our Norwegian partners, and remain fully committed to the start of full-scale lead test assembly demonstration in a commercial reactor in the 2020 to 2021 time frame," he said.

Lightbridge's advanced metallic fuel is made from a zirconium-uranium (Zr-U) alloy and uses a unique composition and fuel rod geometry, which, the company says, enables it to operate at a higher power density than uranium oxide fuels in use today.

Lightbridge metallic annular fuel would allow more power from existing reactors and better economics

* 10-17% power uprate and longer fuel cycles for existing PWRs; and
* Up to 30% power uprate for new build PWRs.
* Increased revenue and improved operating margins of existing nuclear power units;
* Reduced total levelized cost per kilowatt-hour for new build reactors, including over a 50% reduction in incremental capital cost per kW vs. new build; and
* Increased competitiveness of nuclear power versus other energy sources.

October 19, 2015

Closeup of Pluto's Moon Charon

This mosaic of Pluto’s largest moon Charon was taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on New Horizons shortly before closest approach on July 14, 2015; it resolves details as small as 340 yards (310 meters). The scene at bottom is about 125 miles (200 kilometers) across. Credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI

The sweeping mosaic above is made from the highest-resolution images that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will return of Charon. This view extends from the limb at left to the terminator, or day-night line, at right.

From the left, the view moves from rugged cratered terrain, across the great faulted canyons of the Serenity Chasma, and onto the resurfaced plains of Vulcan Planum, both informally named. The expanded view of Vulcan Planum at bottom, with its rilles (grooves or long, narrow depressions) and intermittently spaced impact craters, highlights a landscape reminiscent of the volcanic plains on Earth’s moon (lunar mare). However, while the lunar maria are made of basalt, these plains on Charon consist of water ice.

Like George W Bush for the USA, Canada elects Justin Trudeau son of its Past Leader for Canadian Dynasty

Pierre Trudeau was Canada's Prime Minister from April 20, 1968, to June 4, 1979, and again from March 3, 1980, to June 30, 1984. Pierre Trudeau, who died in 2000, was in power for 15 years.

Pierre Trudeau came to power in 1968 on a wave of popular support dubbed "Trudeaumania".

Justin Trudeau is the eldest son of Pierre Trudeau. He was just elected to become Prime Minister of Canada.

Justin Trudeau will become the second-youngest prime minister in Canadian history.

Justin Trudeau, then 28, emerged as a prominent figure in October 2000, after delivering a eulogy at his father's state funeral. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) received numerous calls to rebroadcast the speech after its initial transmission, and leading Quebec politician Claude Ryan described it as "perhaps [...] the first manifestation of a dynasty."

Trudeau pledged to run a C$10 billion annual budget deficit for three years to invest in infrastructure and help stimulate Canada's anemic economic growth.

UK vision of future 2020 soldiers with sensor laden body armor

Sensor-laden body armor, a smart watch that monitors life signs and smart glasses with integrated cameras are all part of a futuristic design for military uniforms, unveiled today.

The Future Soldier Vision (FSV) is part of the Ministry of Defence’s plan to ensure that British soldiers of the future have high quality equipment, utilising the latest technologies. Today’s unveiling shows what a soldier could be wearing and using on the battlefield in the 2020s, based on current military research and emerging commercial technology.

The first phase of the concept has been developed by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) with industry partners Kinneir Dufort and SEA Ltd with the British Army. It will be on display at the Future Soldier Showcase at DSEI, in the Land Zone.

Positron Dynamics plans to fly an antimatter powered cubsat by 2019

In 2013, Positron Dynamics had seed funding from Paypal billionaire Peter Thiel’s Breakout Labs. Initial simulations show that as much as 10 micrograms of positrons could be produced each week with a linear accelerator," says co-founder Ryan Weed, PhD, a physicist and former cryogenic engineer for Jeff Bezos’s space flight company Blue Origin.

Now they have stated in a new presentation that they will have an antimatter powered cubesat vehicles in 2016-2019. They will be able to keep a cubesat in low earth orbit for seven years instead of few days. Then they will enable high speed spacecraft to go the outer solar system and then to the stars at a significant fraction of the speed of light.

Mason Peck is an associate professor at Cornell University and former NASA Chief Technologist. Mason Peck is now on the Positron Dynamics team.

Peck has published in various aerospace sub-disciplines including; air-bearing spacecraft simulation, low-power space robotics, hopping rovers, and Lorentz-augmented orbits

Peck was awarded $75,000 in 2007 by NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) to study how a large fleet of microchip-size space probes in Earth orbit might propel themselves into the Interplanetary Transport Network; and thence as far as Jupiter's moon Europa. This was to be achieved by exploiting the Lorentz Force, enabled by using photovoltaics to maintain an electrostatic charge while orbiting in Earth's magnetic field

Geochemists find evidence of life 4.1 billion years ago which is 300 million years earlier than believed

UCLA geochemists have found evidence that life likely existed on Earth at least 4.1 billion years ago — 300 million years earlier than previous research suggested. The discovery indicates that life may have begun shortly after the planet formed 4.54 billion years ago.

“Life on Earth may have started almost instantaneously,” added Harrison, a member of the National Academy of Sciences. “With the right ingredients, life seems to form very quickly.”

The new research suggests that life existed prior to the massive bombardment of the inner solar system that formed the moon’s large craters 3.9 billion years ago.

“If all life on Earth died during this bombardment, which some scientists have argued, then life must have restarted quickly,” said Patrick Boehnke, a co-author of the research and a graduate student in Harrison’s laboratory.

PNAS - Potentially biogenic carbon preserved in a 4.1 billion-year-old zircon


Evidence for carbon cycling or biologic activity can be derived from carbon isotopes, because a high 12C/13C ratio is characteristic of biogenic carbon due to the large isotopic fractionation associated with enzymatic carbon fixation. The earliest materials measured for carbon isotopes at 3.8 Ga are isotopically light, and thus potentially biogenic. Because Earth’s known rock record extends only to ∼4 Ga, earlier periods of history are accessible only through mineral grains deposited in later sediments. We report 12C/13C of graphite preserved in 4.1-Ga zircon. Its complete encasement in crack-free, undisturbed zircon demonstrates that it is not contamination from more recent geologic processes. Its 12C-rich isotopic signature may be evidence for the origin of life on Earth by 4.1 Ga.


Evidence of life on Earth is manifestly preserved in the rock record. However, the microfossil record only extends to ∼3.5 billion years (Ga), the chemofossil record arguably to ∼3.8 Ga, and the rock record to 4.0 Ga. Detrital zircons from Jack Hills, Western Australia range in age up to nearly 4.4 Ga. From a population of over 10,000 Jack Hills zircons, we identified one >3.8-Ga zircon that contains primary graphite inclusions. Here, we report carbon isotopic measurements on these inclusions in a concordant, 4.10 ± 0.01-Ga zircon. We interpret these inclusions as primary due to their enclosure in a crack-free host as shown by transmission X-ray microscopy and their crystal habit. Their δ13CPDB of −24 ± 5‰ is consistent with a biogenic origin and may be evidence that a terrestrial biosphere had emerged by 4.1 Ga, or ∼300 My earlier than has been previously proposed.

China could respond to US patrols within 12 miles of Artificial islands by seizing 209 more rocks and building them into islands

On Saturday, October 10, 2015, Newsweek reported that a senior Chinese military official requesting anonymity, made the following assertion.

“There are 209 land features still unoccupied in the South China Sea and we could seize them all. And we could build on them in 18 months.”

The U.S. dispatched freedom-of-navigation patrols to the South China Sea six times since 2011, including three times navigating the waters around the Spratly Islands. But no patrols have gone within 12 nautical miles of the rocks and reefs where China has built its artificial islands since 2012.

Here are highlights, A 28 page report for the US congress "Chinese Land Reclamation in the South China Sea: Implications and Policy Options", by Ben Dolven, Specialist in Asian Affairs, Jennifer K. Elsea Legislative Attorney, Susan V. Lawrence Specialist in Asian Affairs, Ronald O'Rourke Specialist in Naval Affairs, Ian E. Rinehart, Analyst in Asian Affairs June 18, 2015

In a May 30, 2015, speech, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said China had created over 2,000 acres (809 hectares) of land in the South China Sea in the past 18 months, “more than all other claimants combined ... and more than in the entire history of the region.” China has also undertaken construction of harbors, radar towers, an airstrip long enough to support most military aircraft, and other facilities. Defense Department officials have also reportedly identified artillery vehicles on at least one of the artificial islands.

Big Dredger that in 193 days built up island volume triple the volume of the Hoover Dam

Chinese reports credit new technology for China’s success in rapidly transforming Chinese-controlled features in the Spratlys. China has deployed a sophisticated new dredger known as the Tianjing, or “Sky Whale,” operated by state-owned Tianjin Dredging Co., Ltd, a unit of China Communications Construction Company, Ltd. According to reports on the website of the vessel’s designer and owner, the Tianjing was designed by Shanghai Jiaotong University and the German engineering firm Vosta LMG and built by China Merchants Heavy Industry Yard in Shenzhen between April 28, 2008 and January 2010. It is now the third largest self-propelled cutter suction dredger in the world, and the largest in Asia, with the ability to dredge to a depth of 30 meters (98 feet) and to move 4,500 cubic meters (159,000 cubic feet) of clay, compacted sand, gravel, and rocks per hour. Because it is self-propelled, it can make its own way to the southern part of the South China Sea, unlike non-self-propelled vessels, which need to be towed. Once in place, the Tianjing can easily shuttle among all the Spratlys reefs that China occupies.

Writing on a popular Chinese news aggregator site, Guancha, commentator Shi Yang reported that the Tianjing spent 193 days moving among five reefs in the Spratly Island group between September 2013 and June 2014. Shi estimated that in that time, the Tianjing blasted more than 10 million cubic meters (13 million cubic yards) of sand and sea water onto the reefs, or the equivalent of three times the volume of concrete used to build the Hoover Dam. “In this reclamation contest involving national will and capacity, where China is coming from behind, the advanced technology and superior products of the industrial departments will undoubtedly be crucial,” Shi wrote.

NBF - China build up its urban areas with a new Los Angeles every year. It would be relatively trivial for China to build 10 to 20 new Dredgers and build up the 209 sites into more artificial islands.

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