January 30, 2016

Elon Musk identifies electric aircraft, genetics and neuron scale brain computer interfaces as high potential technologies

Elon Musk, CEO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Tesla Motors, Inc, was at Startmeup Hong Kong and talked about what he thought were areas of technological opportunity.

At 37 minutes into this video Elon Musk talks about high potential technology like Hyperloop which he currently does not have time to address

  • electric aircraft
  • genetics is thorny but is our best shot at many tough diseases
  • brain computer interfaces at the neuron level has potential for intelligence augmentation
Neural Lace was mentioned

Scientists from China and the US have found a pioneering way to inject a tiny electronic mesh sensor into the brain that fully integrates with cerebral matter and enables computers to monitor brain activity.

Researchers from Harvard and the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology in Beijing have succeeded in inventing a flexible electrical circuit that fits inside a 0.1mm-diameter glass syringe in a water-based solution.

This tiny electronic mesh sensor is thin and flexible enough to be injected into the brain and gentle enough to integrate fully with brain cells, making human cyborgs a possibilityLieber Research Group, Harvard University

When injected into the brains of mice, the mesh unfurled to 30 times its size and mouse brain cells grew around the mesh, forming connections with the wires in the flexible mesh circuit. The biochemical mouse brain completely accepted the mechanical component and integrated with it without any damage being caused to the mouse.

The mice who received the implants are thriving and while today they need to be connected by a wire to the computer so their brain activity can be monitored, in the future this could be wireless, and the same technique could be used to integrate an electric mesh with a human brain.

Brain computer interfaces at the neuron level would mean you would never forget anything and have cognitive enhancement.

Nature Nanotechnology - Syringe-injectable electronics

SpaceX Plans to Send People to Mars by 2025 and Elon Musk wants to personally visit space by 2021

Elon Musk personally wants to visit the space station within the next five years and thinks that his company will send somebody to Mars by 2025.

Speaking at the StartmeupHK Festival in Hong Kong this week, Musk said that he had already taken parabolic flights to prepare for space, but had not done much else.

  • There is a defensive reason for becoming multiplanet which is to protect humanity from a single planet extinction event
  • Establishing a city on Mars would be a great adventure for humanity
  • Mars is where a sustainable city could be established
  • Spacex is scheduled to a launch a crew to the space station by the end of 2017

Breakthroughs in high power fiber lasers enables four times faster drilling through hard rock

Foro Energy is commercializing high power lasers for the oil, natural gas, geothermal, and mining industries. Foro energy can deliver multi-kW laser power over multi-mile distances.

In the past 15 years, high power fiber laser costs have dropped by 100X+ with modular, solid state construction for rugged field transportation. However, long distance transmission of high power lasers was believed to be impossible due to physics limitations known as Stimulated Brillouin Scattering (SBS) and other nonlinear effects.

Stimulated Brillouin Scattering (SBS) is a “physics effect” that chokes off the transmission of high power laser photons in a fiber optic cable by reflecting the energy backwards to catastrophically destroy both the fiber optic cable and laser source. In short, photons and acoustic phonons interact in a vicious cycle that gets exponentially worse with increasing power and distance.

With advanced physics simulations and experimental capabilities, Foro Energy developed a solution where the fiber optic cable, laser source, and combined system are simultaneously engineered to eliminate the onset of SBS even at high laser power levels and long distances.

Another important innovation is a fiber connector built to withstand the high temperature and pressure in a deep well—without requiring the flowing-water cooling normally needed at 20 kW power levels, which is impractical at the bottom of a well. The output port is mounted within the drill bit so the laser light heats the rock just beneath the drill.

A portable oil-drilling setup includes a 20 kW fiber laser and a low-loss fiber-optic cable. The high-power 1070 nm light is delivered down the well where it fractures rock, allowing a low-power mechanical drill to remove the rock. The process potentially cuts the required power for drilling by nearly 90%.

Foro Energy’s proprietary technology overcomes these and other limitations to allow “world first” transmission of:

  • High power, by overcoming SBS
  • Over long distances, by overcoming SBS
  • With low loss, through a proprietary fiber optic specification
  • In downhole environments, through a proprietary cabling package

Over the past decade, advancements in fiber laser technology have increased power availability from less than 1 kW to greater than 50 kW.

Fiber laser costs have dropped from over $1,000/W to less than $50/W in just 15 years.

This article is a follow upfrom a 2012 nextbigfuture article on laser enhanced drilling.

Foro Energy's laser-assisted drill bits have the potential to be up to 10 times more economical than conventional hard-rock drilling technologies, making them an effective way to access the U.S. energy resources currently locked under hard rock formations.

Lack of nuclear energy and air pollution from China makes bad air quality in Japan

The restart of the third nuclear reactor in Japan to clear post-Fukushima safety rules on Friday is a small step in the country’s quest to reestablish atomic energy as part of its energy mix.

Kansai Electric Power Co. resumed operations at the No. 3 unit of its Takahama plant near the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto

Japan's 40 other operable reactors remain shut in the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 that caused a meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi facility. Twenty-five have applied to restart.

More nuclear-powered electricity generation will help reduce Japan’s fuel import bill and lead to lower electricity rates for consumers. The restart will also help the government reach its goal of having nuclear power make up as much as 22 percent of the nation’s energy needs by 2030. A total of about 30 to 33 reactors will need to restart to meet the government’s target, according to Syusaku Nishikawa, a Tokyo-based analyst at Daiwa Securities Co.

Rob Chang, a managing director and head of metals and mining for Canada, forecasts three other Japanese reactors will come back online in 2016, bringing the nation’s total to five. Eight more will start in 2017 and a total of 37 reactors will be online by 2020.

Japan imported about 85 million metric tons of LNG last year, down 3.9 percent from the previous year in the first decline since 2009, according to data from the country’s finance ministry. Thermal coal imports rose to a record.

The country’s LNG imports will fall by 2.4 million tons this year and by a further 2.2 million tons in 2017, largely because of the restart of nuclear plants.

50 trillion BTU = 1 million tons of LNG

Each 1 million BTU of LNG costs japan about $8.75 and that was as high as $18. Each 50 trillion BTU or 1 million tons of LNG is costing Japan $440 million.

As of 2012, the PM2.5 pollution level (particulate matter of 2.5 micron size) had exceeded the per-cubic-meter safety ceiling of 15 micrograms (annual average) and 35 micrograms (daily average) at about 60 percent of the monitoring sites around the country.

Japan already had significant air pollution deaths before fukushima. Since 2011 air quality has gotten worse

Japan's air quality is bad because of air pollution blown in from China and because of increased coal and fossil fuel usage.

Feb 27, 2014 in Tokyo. China had an air pollution event and it effected Japan. Japan also produces substantial air pollution.

USA is not buying the cheaper and deadlier AIP stealth submarine capabilities but the rest of the world is

Advances in modern, ultra-quiet conventional diesel-electric submarines are a serious challenge to US nuclear submarines and aircraft carrier groups

The threat of super-stealthy diesel submarines being deployed around the world has been present for decades. Still, newer boats are coming armed with advanced anti-ship weapons and are being combined with new air-independent propulsion systems (AIP) making them near impossible to find in the ocean's depths.

In 2005, The HMS Gotland, a modern AIP submarine serving in the Swedish Navy created havok in war games exercise. The Gotland virtually ‘sunk’ many U.S. nuclear fast attack subs, destroyers, frigates, cruisers and even made it into the 'red zone' beyond the last ring of anti-submarine defenses within a carrier strike group. Although it was rumored she got many simulated shots off on various U.S. super-carriers, one large-scale training exercise in particular with the then brand new USS Ronald Reagan ended with the little sub making multiple attack runs on the super-carrier, before slithering away without ever being detected.

The 1600 ton displacement Gotland Class was the first operational Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) submarines in the world.

AIP system can utilize advanced batteries that are charged by 75kw generators. The Gotland has generators run by a pair of diesel and liquid oxygen fueled Stirling Engines. The result of this unique, yet remarkably simple system is two weeks of submerged air independent propulsion while traveling at about 6mph. Kockums' AIP system is virtually silent, even in comparison to multi-billion dollar nuclear powered boats that still have to pump high-volumes coolant to their reactors.

The small and quiet sub is even more deadly with a state of the art combat management system. It features an incredible user friendly interface. During a single attack, the system can guide multiple torpedoes at once, which can result in more than a mission kill for even very large naval combatants like aircraft carriers, with each torpedo striking in a different section of the hull if ordered to do so.

January 29, 2016

Genetically Modified Mosquito May Become Weapon Against Zika Virus

Genetically modified mosquitoes that would help fight the Zika virus are getting urgent attention from U.S. regulators as global health officials raise alarms about the pathogen’s spread.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is in the final stages of reviewing an application from Intrexon Corp.’s Oxitec unit to conduct a field trial in the Florida Keys, Oxitec Chief Executive Officer Hadyn Parry said in a phone interview. Parry wasn’t able to provide further details on the timing of an FDA decision.

Oxitec genetically modifies the males in a breed of mosquito known as Aedes aegypti -- responsible for transmitting Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya and Yellow Fever -- so that their offspring die young. The Zika virus has been spreading “explosively” in South and Central America, the World Health Organization said Thursday. Developing a vaccine could take years, drugmakers and health experts have cautioned.

Nextbigfuture agrees that genetic and chemical weapons (like DDT) should be used to eliminate the Aedes mosquito to improve world public health.

Stocks jump worldwide as Japan stimulates with negative interest rate

Stocks jumped worldwide and the yen slumped on Friday after the Bank of Japan stunned markets by adopting negative interest rates, while hopes the Federal Reserve will slow the pace of future U.S. rate hikes also underpinned stock gains.

The BOJ unexpectedly cut a benchmark rate below zero in a bold move to stimulate the Japanese economy. Volatile markets and slowing global growth have threatened the central bank's efforts to overcome deflation.

Equities surged globally, the yen tumbled and sovereign debt rallied after the BOJ said it would charge 0.1 percent for excess reserves, an aggressive policy pioneered by the European Central Bank. The BOJ said it may cut rates further if necessary.

China pitches rules it would like for “outer space, cyberspace, deep sea and polar regions

China has outlined its preferred framework for international rules on internet governance, couching them as a push for peaceful development of the four “new frontiers” of “outer space, cyberspace, deep sea and polar regions.”

Wang Qun, China's ambassador to the United Nations (UN) and director-general of the nation's Ministry of Foreign Affair, last week addressed the UN and outlined China's hope that the worlds can “ensure the peaceful development and use of … new frontiers to the benefit of the entire mankind.”

China wants that code of conduct to specify five things:

  • Compliance comply with the UN Charter and other universally recognized basic norms governing international relations
  • Respect for the cyberspace sovereignty of each state
  • Resolution of international disputes in this field by peaceful means
  • Cyberspace only to be utilized for activities for the maintenance of international peace and security
  • Cyberspace should not be used as a means to interfere in the internal affairs of other states or to the detriment of the latter’s national interests.

China's mightily peeved at the USA's online espionage activities and can always mention Edward Snowden when expressing its ire, as doing so rather dents any deniability Washington may attempt to muster. The Communist nation's also indignant when accused of any online espionage of its own, declaring such suggestions baseless and unfair.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 297

1. From Atomic Insights: Clean energy, sustainable energy - both terms include nuclear energy

During a Democratic Party debate, Senator Sanders said he wants to move away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. Governor Martin O’Malley declared that he believes in science and has a plan that will result in a 100% clean electric energy grid by 2050 that includes solar, wind, new technologies etc.

Though Senator Sanders has a lengthy record of opposing nuclear energy, his use of the word “sustainable” provides an opportunity for changing his mind with new information. Governor O’Malley has a record of supporting new nuclear plants from his time as Maryland’s governor. That indicates that his definition of "clean energy" includes nuclear.

2. Forbes - James Conca - DOE Tries To Change The Rules On Nuclear Waste Disposal

DOE is trying to change the rules on nuclear waste disposal. For the better. Instead of the old top-down decision-making, DOE is going to implement a consent-based strategy. So instead of ordering some individual state to take all of the Nation’s high level nuclear waste whether they like it or not, we’ll ask “Who would like to take this waste? It will create fantastic jobs, will bring huge economic benefit to the region and, contrary to popular opinion, it’s safer than putting in a Mall.”

Deep Borehole Disposal uses a combination of the natural properties of deep crustal rocks plus engineered barriers like asphalt, bentonite and concrete to isolate waste for geologic time. At these depths, you’re so deep in the crust that the overlying rocks don’t matter. The water table doesn’t matter. The climate doesn’t matter. Human activities don’t matter. Because of its size, it will take more technological advances for most of our nuclear waste, but some waste is small and perfect for this approach. Source: Sandia

3. Yes Vermont Yankee - Renewables at 90% only IF grid-level storage comes first

Renewables cannot be a high percentage of grid power, unless grid-level storage is available. Previous posts at this blog described how natural-gas fired electricity substituted for the nuclear plant output. Some people commented that renewables could eventually substitute for natural gas. The current post describes why renewables cannot expand to that level, without energy storage.

F35 stealth fighter program resorting to systemic cheating and lying to pretend a bad project is not really worse

To try and get around software-associated delays, the F35 test program is being revised: some test points are being eliminated, reducing the total number of test points remaining for Block 2B from 529 down to 243; and some fixes are being deferred to the Block 3 program.

Skipping and deferring tests that were previously deemed to be necessary translates to a more sloppy and rushed effort to still meet deadlines.

A major operational test series planned for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been abandoned in an attempt to protect the schedule for delivering a fully operational aircraft.

Previously reported improvement in reliability was due to changes in how failures were reported. ie. They started lying in how they reported failures

The Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation also notes that an apparent improvement in a major reliability metric — "mean flight hours between failure – design controllable" — up to late summer 2014 may be due to changes in reporting. More failures were reported as "induced," or due to maintenance actions, and fewer to "inherent" design problems. Also, once a redesigned version of a failure-prone part is introduced into the fleet but before 100% of the fleet has been retrofitted, the program stops counting failures of the previous version, improving the system’s on-paper reliability even though failures are occurring.

One of the F-35’s distinctive features, the Distributed Aperture System, is still problematical, the report says, continuing "to exhibit high false-alarm rates and false target tracks, and poor stability performance, even in later versions of software.

Well over $100 billion has been spent on the F35 program so far and it is well on its way to total program costs of over $1.5 trillion.

The lifetime cost of each F35 (procurement and operation and maintenance) will make each 32000 pound plane cost more than its equivalent in gold by weight.

  • F35 program is cheating on its scheduled milestones
  • F35 program is lying about reliability failures
  • F35 program is costing $30+ billion every year
  • F35 fighter jet is really not combat ready yet after over $100 billion
  • There are serious questions about the military effectiveness of the F35 even after its gets working versus lower cost improvements that could be made to other planes

Japan will likely try to partner with the USA on a sixth generation jet fighter project

Japan has spent $331 million on the X-2 Stealth fighter prototype but it would cost roughly $60 billion to develop and field a modern stealth combat aircraft.

Japan is not likely to develop the X-2 into a fully operational stealth aircraft—the cost is just not worth it for a limited production run. Instead, the country is likely setting itself up to participate in a future co-development effort with an international partner. The most likely partner would be the United States, which is gearing up to develop the F-X and F/A-XX follow-ons to the F-22 Raptor and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

The Japanese have long coveted the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, but U.S. law prevented the export of the stealthy air superiority fighter.

The US sixth-generation fighters are expected to use advanced engines such as Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology to allow longer ranges and higher performance. Risk reduction began in 2012 so that engine development can start around 2020. An engine is to be ready when fighters are introduced by the Navy in 2028 and the Air Force in 2032.

The ADaptive Versatile ENgine Technology (or ADVENT) program is an aircraft engine development program run by the United States Air Force with the goal of developing an efficient variable cycle engine for next generation military aircraft in the 20,000 lbf (89 kN) thrust class.

Japan unveils first homegrown stealth fighter prototype

A prototype of the first Japan-made stealth fighter was unveiled to the media Thursday at a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. factory in central Japan.

The fighter will first undergo ground tests before making its maiden flight in mid-February or later.

The country’s first domestically made stealth fighter — 14.2 meters long, 9.1 meters wide and 4.5 meters high — is scheduled to fly from Nagoya airport, which is adjacent to the factory, to the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force’s Gifu Air Base in Kakamigahara in neighboring Gifu Prefecture.

The agency said the development of a full-scale test model began in fiscal 2009, with costs for the program totaling about ¥39.4 billion (about $331 million).

The fighter features stealth capabilities, with the use of carbon fiber absorbing radio waves and making it difficult for radar to detect the aircraft.

A prototype of the first Japan-made stealth fighter is shown to the media Thursday at a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. factory in Aichi Prefecture. | KYODO

Japan plans to assess data obtained from the prototype and decide by fiscal 2018 whether to develop domestically or engage in joint international development of aircraft to replace the ASDF’s F-2 fighter.

January 28, 2016

Technological progress in big data analytics could create Shale 2.0 and bring US oil costs to $5-20 per barrel

The Oil-price collapse was caused by the astonishing, unexpected growth in U.S. shale output, responsible for three-fourths of new global oil supply since 2008. And as lower prices roil operators and investors, the shale skeptics’ case may seem vindicated. But their history is false: the shale revolution, “Shale 1.0,” was sparked not by high prices—it began when prices were at today’s low levels—but by the invention of new technologies. Now, the skeptics’ forecasts are likely to be as flawed as their history.

The information here is from a paper called "Shale 2.0: Technology and the Coming Big-Data Revolution in America's Shale Oil Fields" was released in May by Mark P. Mills, senior fellow for the Manhattan Institute and faculty fellow at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Technological progress, particularly in big-data analytics, has the U.S. shale industry poised for another, longer boom, a “Shale 2.0.”

We’re not at the end of this shale era, we’re at the very beginning.

The shale industry is unlike any other conventional hydrocarbon or alternative energy sector, in that it shares a growth trajectory far more similar to that of Silicon Valley’s tech firms. In less than a decade, U.S. shale oil revenues have soared, from nearly zero to more than $70 billion annually (even after accounting for the recent price plunge). Such growth is 600 percent greater than that experienced by America’s heavily subsidized solar industry over the same period

The transition to Shale 2.0 will take the following steps:

1. Oil from Shale 1.0 will be sold from the oversupply currently filling up storage tanks.
2. More oil will be unleashed from the surplus of shale wells already drilled but not in production.
3. Companies will “high-grade” shale assets, replacing older techniques with the newest, most productive technologies
in the richest parts of the fields.
4. As the shale industry begins to embrace big-data analytics, Shale 2.0 begins.

World Health Emergency - malformed babies caused by Zika Virus - NBF use gene drive to eliminate all Aedes mosquitos

WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, will convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations

Outbreak in the Americas

In May 2015, Brazil reported its first case of Zika virus disease. Since then, the disease has spread within Brazil and to 22 other countries and territories in the region.

Arrival of the virus in some countries of the Americas, notably Brazil, has been associated with a steep increase in the birth of babies with abnormally small heads and in cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a poorly understood condition in which the immune system attacks the nervous system, sometimes resulting in paralysis.

A causal relationship between Zika virus infection and birth defects and neurological syndromes has not been established, but is strongly suspected.

  • Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
  • People with Zika virus disease usually have a mild fever, skin rash (exanthema) and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
  • There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.
  • The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
  • The virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacifi

Zika virus is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti in tropical regions. This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

The Zika virus, linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, is "spreading explosively" and could infect as many as 4 million people in the Americas, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which is like dengue and causes mild fever, rash and red eyes. An estimated 80 percent of people infected have no symptoms. Much of the effort against the illness focuses on protecting people from mosquitoes and reducing mosquito populations.

Developing a safe and effective vaccine could take a year, WHO Assistant Director Bruce Aylward said, and it would take six to nine months just to confirm whether Zika is the actual cause of the birth defects, or if the two are just associated.

Gene drive could be used to eliminate the Aedes mosquitos

January 27, 2016

Jaeyoung Park confirms publication of patent filing for Polywell Fusion and promises more technical disclosure in interview with Nextbigfuture

Nextbigfuture interviewed Jaeyoung Park who leads the EMC2 commercial fusion effort. EMC2 is developing the work of late Dr. Robert Bussard for magneto-electrostatic fusion, also known as “Polywell fusion”. Dr. Park confirmed the recent publication of an EMC2 patent filing. Dr Park also discussed the reasons behind EMC2's silence, which had been driven by the Navy’s concern about technology disclosure of Polywell technology

The patent filing (can be found here using the application number 14645306, http://portal.uspto.gov/pair/PublicPair) is based on a breakthrough of high-pressure plasma confinement that was described in a 2015 Physical Review X paper, a leading physics journal. Park told Nextbigfuture that 14 versions of the magnetically insulated grid device were made between 1994 and 2012. The last one in the series, the WB-8, achieved ~30 times better confinement than the previous one, WB-7. However, the neutron yields were much less than WB-7, indicating necessary plasma heating was missing in WB-8. This prompted re-examination of the magnetically insulated grid approach.

EMC2 went back to the original 1985 Bussard patent and found key missing steps. They revised the reactor design to correct the shortcuts and compromises that Bussard had to make for the WB6 prototype reactor. With the revision, the EMC2 team was able to solve the missing pieces and finally achieved magnetic confinement of energetic electrons moving at about one tenth of the speed of light (equivalent to 70 million degrees at 78 million miles/hour) in a new scaled down test device,WB-X (Arxiv - High Energy Electron Confinement in a Magnetic Cusp Configuration).

The key aspect of Polywell fusion about fuel heating was originally proposed by Philo Farnsworth and separately by a team of Los Alamos Laboratory scientists in the 1950s and the 1960s. The electron beam based heating of fusion fuels can be the most efficient and economical heating method for fusion, if energetic electron beams are efficiently confined. The EMC2 team is excited that they finally achieved this critical step. The use of electron beam based fusion fuel heating can greatly accelerate the path toward practical fusion power by making use of a very mature technology dating back to the old cathode ray tube and origins of television.

Park also confirmed that EMC2 no longer works on a Navy project, while expressing his gratitude for their past support. It appears that budget cuts and other priorities may have impacted Navy funding streams. As such, EMC2 is seeking private funding or other funding sources. He admitted that recent turmoil in the energy market and a limited interest in fusion energy by US investors has made his task more difficult. In addition, he expressed his frustration that there was disagreement between EMC2 and Navy with respect to ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulation control, which hindered EMC2’s ability to get their message out to potential investors. Park pointed out the irony that, while the Navy decided to move away from funding Polywell, they were still interested in controlling the technology.

EMC2 had worked with the State Department, which holds decision authority for ITAR issues to determine which part (if any) of Polywell technology needs to be protected for national security reasons. While the lengthy review had hurt EMC2’s fundraising efforts, Dr. Park shared the news that the State Department has decided that the Polywell fusion technology is not subject to ITAR. As such, Park promises more technical disclosure about Polywells fusion [These disclosures could be made first via Nextbigfuture].

EMC2 now has a design based on 30 years of Polywell R and D and 18 total test devices. Park estimates that a $30 million/ 3 year EMC2 effort could remove the remaining scientific concerns of successfully developing commercial fusion power technology. If successful in this final round of testing, a net power producing Polywell fusion reactor could then be built within a few years for an estimated $300 million, a small sum compared to other fusion approaches. Other approaches are discussed at Issues.org.

Russia blinks and wants to talk to Saudi Arabia and OPEC about coordinated oil production cuts

Russian officials have decided they should talk to Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries about output cuts to bolster oil prices, the head of Russia's pipeline monopoly said on Wednesday, remarks that helped spur a sharp rise in world prices.

Oil futures surged more than 5 percent after the comments by Nikolai Tokarev, head of oil pipeline monopoly Transneft, which gave the strongest hint yet of possible cooperation between the top non-OPEC oil producer and the cartel to try to reverse a record glut.

On its own, a production cut by OPEC would provide only marginal support to the oil price under the present market conditions, as would a cut by Russia alone. However, if the two sides cut together, such a move would cause substantial ripples in the oil market.

The only problem for both is that it would be the ultimate fool’s gambit. The move would support the price; but what it will also do is give a whole lot of non-OPEC producers, including and especially ultra efficient US shale players who have kept going even at $30 per barrel, some much needed breathing room.

If Russia and OPEC actually go down such an improbable route, then it would a victory for independent US upstarts on an epic scale.

U.S. shale player Continental Resources said weakness in the energy sector will manifest itself in a slow decline in overall production through 2016.

Continental said in a statement laying out its plans for the year that first quarter production will average around 215,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and drop around 13 percent to 185,000 boe in the fourth quarter.

AI beats European Go champion but the exciting aspect is how it trained itself to get better and can play many other games

The first classic game mastered by a computer was noughts and crosses (also known as tic-tac-toe) in 1952 as a PhD candidate’s project. Then fell checkers in 1994. Chess was tackled by Deep Blue in 1997. The success isn’t limited to board games, either - IBM's Watson won first place on Jeopardy in 2011, and in 2014 our own algorithms learned to play dozens of Atari games just from the raw pixel inputs. But one game has thwarted A.I. research thus far: the ancient game of Go. Invented in China over 2500 years ago, Go is played by more than 40 million people worldwide.


  • Deep Mind artificial intelligence beat the human european Go champion
  • Go is way more complex than Chess
  • The AI was not specifically tailored for the one task of playing Go
  • The AI took initial rules database and then played against itself to learn how to get better
  • This is way more general purpose than prior AI


In a breakthrough for artificial intelligence, a computing system developed by Google (Deep Mind) researchers in Great Britain has beaten a top human player at the game of Go, the ancient contest of strategy and intuition that has bedeviled AI experts for decades.

Machines have topped the best humans at most games held up as measures of human intellect, including chess, Scrabble, Othello, even Jeopardy!. But with Go—a 2,500-year-old game that’s exponentially more complex than chess—human grandmasters have maintained an edge over even the most agile computing systems. Earlier this month, top AI experts outside of Google questioned whether a breakthrough could occur anytime soon, and as recently as last year, many believed another decade would pass before a machine could beat the top humans.

But Google has done just that. “It happened faster than I thought,” says Rémi Coulom, the French researcher behind what was previously the world’s top artificially intelligent Go player.

Deep Learning is killing every problem in Artificial intelligence

The DeepMind system, dubbed AlphaGo, matched its artificial wits against Fan Hui, Europe’s reigning Go champion, and the AI system went undefeated in five games witnessed by an editor from the journal Nature and an arbiter representing the British Go Federation.

Using a vast collection of Go moves from expert players—about 30 million moves in total—DeepMind researchers trained their system to play Go on its own. But this was merely a first step. In theory, such training only produces a system as good as the best humans. To beat the best, the researchers then matched their system against itself. This allowed them to generate a new collection of moves they could then use to train a new AI player that could top a grandmaster.

“The most significant aspect of all this…is that AlphaGo isn’t just an expert system, built with handcrafted rules,” says Demis Hassabis, who oversees DeepMind. “Instead, it uses general machine-learning techniques how to win at Go.”

AlphaGo was not preprogrammed to play Go: rather, it learned using a general-purpose algorithm that allowed it to interpret the game’s patterns, in a similar way to how a DeepMind program learned to play 49 different arcade games.

Nature - Google AI algorithm masters ancient game of Go

Elon Musk says Electric cars need to be more ‘futuristic’ to attract buyers

Electric car manufacturers have to design futuristic vehicles to entice buyers in order to ride out the challenge of plunging oil prices, Tesla co-founder Elon Musk said today.

The luxury all-electric US car maker, founded in 2003, rose to prominence as oil prices soared and made alternative energy vehicles more tempting.

Now the fledgling industry is under pressure, said Musk.

Tesla itself saw shares dive earlier this month after it reported deliveries at the bottom end of its forecast for the 2015 fourth quarter.

The company is taking orders for its new Model X, released this year, which boasts some self-driving facilities and Back To the Future-style 'falcon-wing' doors

Tesla is looking to recruit 1,600 software engineers to help develop 'Autopilot', its autonomous car IT system and aims to have a fully self-driving car by 2018.

The system has capabilities like the 'Summon' function so drivers can call the car from the garage to their side at will, like a pet.

The company is taking orders for its new Model X, released this year, which boasts some self-driving facilities and Back To the Future-style 'falcon-wing' doors.

Nigel B. Cook's Repost of An Account of 9 Men Trapped In Lethal Fallout In 1954 Who Lived

A guest article by Joseph Friedlander

Nigel B. Cook's Glasstone.Blogspot Blog
   Nigel B. Cook's Glasstone.Blogspot Blog has beautiful coverage of many nuclear topics here. http://glasstone.blogspot.co.uk/
Cook is a master researcher who digs up incredible piles of research on all topics nuclear and the following is a partial repost of a 1957 article about men surrounded by lethal fallout for 20 hours in 1954 that Nigel posted at http://glasstone.blogspot.co.uk/2007/01/censored-information-from-effects-of.html
Read the whole thing there (big page, may take some searching)

I have bolded particularly interesting details for the reader to notice below.

I should  emphasize that below the line is all Nigel's work or quoting other's work which is lost to the casual reader deep in the above link. 

The Bravo test story of the nine people trapped by fallout in the firing bunker at Enyu Island, south west Bikini Atoll, 1 March 1954:


We Were Trapped by Radioactive Fallout

Saturday Evening Post, July 1957 

by Dr. John C. Clark
as told to Robert Cahn

Here, revealed for the first time, is how nine scientists were caught 20 miles from ground zero when the biggest H-bomb of all time went off. (Note: This was written in 1957. Four years later the new biggest bomb was not 15 but 50 megatons--JF) This is their chilling story. 

. . . by Dr. John C. Clark as told by Robert Cahn

When we locked open the main firing switch in the control room before leaving to arm the H-bomb that February day at Bikini in 1954, I had no feeling that this one would be any different from the more than forty other nuclear test shots in which I had participated. Since it was a thermonuclear bomb of a relatively large predicted yield which we were testing, we had tried to figure out in advance all the possibilities of danger and to make allowances for all eventualities. But this is not easy when one is concerned with a device which produces an explosive force roughly equivalent to 15,000,000 tons of TNT --- 1000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima atom bomb.

The energy released by the thermonuclear blast -- which we call the "yield" -- could not be pre-determined with absolute accuracy. Nor could we tell beforehand exactly how extensive the air-wave and tidal-wave effects would be or the precise amount and distribution of the "fallout"-- the radioactive particles from the nuclear cloud which drop back to earth. In the business of testing nuclear devices there are always a few unknowns. 

The temperature was in the high eighties, the sky was clear and there was just a slight breeze blowing as we got into the helicopters for the flight to the shot island approximately twenty miles northwest, at the other end of Bikini atoll. It was a perfect day for the end of February--far different from the weather at some places Stateside. All our extensive preparations for this first shot in Operation Castle had come off on schedule and we contemplated no trouble ahead. Little did we realize that within eighteen hours we would become unsolicited human guinea pigs during the strangest and most hazardous effects ever experienced from an American nuclear test.

After clearing the coconut palms through which our landing strip had been cut, I looked down at our sturdy control blockhouse. It certainly seemed out of place among the palms and pandanuses on our tiny tear-drop-shaped island. Coral sand covered most of the roof--sand which the radiation experts said would help protect anybody inside the building from stray fallout radiation.

The structure had also been sealed to withstand up to at least a five-foot tidal wave and built of reinforced concrete to resist the overpressure and underpressure effects expected from the blast. It certainly looked secure enough even to satisfy those who had argued that we would be safer if the firing were controlled from a greater distance. But inasmuch as our control island, Enyu, was the most distant spot on the atoll from ground zero, to go farther would have necessitated firing from a ship. And we wanted to avoid the more complicated ship-controlled firing if at all possible.

It was now shortly after noon and as our Marine helicopter pilot headed north over the atoll, I could see the last few supply ships pulling away from Enyu. The operational plan called for all ships to be safely out to sea by the time we armed the gadget. We hoped to have the arming completed and be back at the control island in time for the helicopters to return to their mother ships before dark.
As we headed across the lagoon to the first of our instrument stations, the string of islands and reefs which comprise Bikini atoll looked like so many beads on a necklace. The largest islands are one to two miles long and at their widest are less than 800 yards across. Others are no more than reefs or sandspits. In a few minutes we dropped down onto one of the small islands. While Herb Grier, an electrical engineer from Boston, checked on some of the recording instruments, I locked open a part of the circuitry in a blast-proof bunker. The Commander of the firing party must lock open all the switches in the firing circuits with padlocks and keep the only key. It's not that we don't trust others. But in the business of arming a thermonuclear bomb, you must be absolutely certain that no circuits are closed at the time of arming.

About two o'clock, after making a few more stops to check on instruments and to lock open switches, we arrived at the shot site. With me were Grier and Barney O'Keefe, both of the Boston firm of Edgerton, Germeshausen and Grier, electrical contractors to the Atomic Energy Commission. Already there, having flown up in another helicopter, was Dr. Gaelen Felt, one of the top young scientists from Los Alamos. 

Felt, Grier and O'Keefe had specific duties concerned with the numerous optical and electronic experiments which are always co-ordinated in the test of a nuclear device. My job was to check on everything at the shot site, and then, when all was in order, to arm the bomb.

We were almost finished with the checking when Gaelen discovered helium, used in optical experiments, leaking from one of the key setups. Some rapid calculations disclosed that by shot time the next morning there would not be sufficient pressure left in the tanks to carry out the experiment. I radioed the information to Dr. Alvin C. Graves, scientific deputy to the task-force commander, who was aboard the command ship. Without this experiment, the test would not be held.

We soon discovered that we could not fix the leaks in the short time left. But we came up with another solution to the problem. If we delayed the arming procedure for seven hours and opened the valves at the last possible moment, there would still be enough helium for the experiment. We did not desire to return after dark because our island landing mat had no lights. However, it was either set back the arming or postpone the test and Doctor Graves gave us the go-ahead for our emergency plan.

We sat around until dark taking it easy while the whirly-bird pilots went off to a nearby construction site and scrounged some food that had been left there by the workmen. The temperature, which varies less than ten degrees night and day, was still in the eighties. Shortly before eleven P.M. we opened the valves of the helium tanks. I then requested permission from the command ship to arm the bomb. Before the final connections are made, a check must be made to determine that no other personnel are in or near the shot island. We are pretty darn sure the bomb won't go off when we arm it, but with the complex circuitry involved there is always the one chance in a million that something might go wrong.
Barney and Herb accompanied me to the artificial sandpit which was ground zero, This "island" had been dredged up out of the coral sand so that it could be in the most advantageous position for the shot. As a safety precaution, we always have someone else along to check every action of the person arming the device just to make doubly certain that each step is done correctly. Much of the work in an atomic test can be done by automation, but for all the experimental bomb tests so far we have done the arming by hand.

All went according to plan, however, and I made the final connections which armed the bomb. We quickly got into the helicopters and headed back, retracing our path to close the switches I had locked open earlier in the day. The pilots could easily follow the white-coral shoreline and we got back to Enyu about midnight. The men who had been checking things at the control point took our places in the helicopters, which then scooted off to join their ships, already headed away from the shot site.

There were nine of us remaining in the blockhouse. In addition to Doctor Felt, O'Keefe, Grier and myself, there were Dr. Harold Stewart, a scientist from the Naval Research Laboratory; Lt. Douglas Cochrane, a radio expert; John L. Sanderson, of Holmes & Narver, Los Angeles contractors who did the construction work and two radio technicians, Airman First Class Gerald Scarpino and Master Sergeant Alton Greene.

We made our last-minute checkouts of circuits and then waited for the final weather reports from the command ship. Around three A.M.-- zero hour was scheduled for shortly before daybreak--the scientific director radioed, "We have just had the weather briefing and we agreed to continue. So go ahead and start the count-down."

Herb Grier, who was making the time announcements, waited for the tone from WWV, thc world-wide standard-time station. "It is now minus two hours," announced Grier at the beep of the signal. Almost 100 miles away, on small islands in the atolls of Rongelap, Rongerik and Utirik, technicians from an American military weather group checked their watches and recording devices. At other points on the ocean, personnel on ship instrumentation stations synchronized their time settings. And in the air, pilots and navigators coordinated with our announcement to make certain they would be at their correct position at shot time. Other aircraft had already completed search flights in the area and had seen no stray ships. Apparently, as we found out later, they somehow failed to spot the little Japanese trawler Fukuryu Maru--the Fortunate Dragon--fishing about seventy miles off our shot island.

At minus one hour we started our final preparations. I told John Sanderson to button up the generators in a nearby concrete bunker and to secure the control building. After closing the doors to the structure housing the generators, Sanderson climbed a ladder outside our blockhouse to put metal plates and gaskets over the air-conditioning vents. He then entered the blockhouse and sealed the submarine hatch which had been installed as our only door and which was completely watertight and blastproof.

At H hour minus fifteen minutes I told Grier to push the button on the automatic sequence timer. Contrary to popular belief, we don't push a button to set off the bomb. Everything is done electrically by the sequence timer, although up until the last second I can pull a switch to stop the bomb from going off. Also there are "no-go" devices built into the circuitry which automatically prevent the detonation-- should any of the primary experiments not be ready to function properly. There are hundreds of experiments conducted during most nuclear detonations, but we usually limit those which can lock out a detonation to four or five. However, some of these four or five circuits are closed so late that even at the last second we are not sure that a no-go device won't halt the test.
Those last few seconds in the control room are always quite tense. We keep watching the control panel, where lights flash from red to green to show when experiments and circuits are ready to operate. Some remote-controlled cameras near the bomb are not turned on until between minus three quarters of a second and minus a half second. We would rather not have to rely on such delicate timing, but these ultra-high-speed cameras work at a rate of over l,000,000 frames a second and require split-second control.

The purpose of nuclear detonations is always to obtain experimental data, and it would be a waste of money and months of scientific effort if the bomb went off and the recording equipment was not in complete readiness.
After the sequence timer had been started, we all gathered in the control room for a final briefing. I requested that all who were not needed in the control room should stand in the hall. I told them that although we expected no difficulty, there would he a ground shock shortly after the bomb went off. This would be followed by the air shock wave, which, at twenty miles' distance, would probably do no great damage. Finally, there was the possibility of a tidal wave sweeping over the building. If it came, it was due at about H plus seven minutes. I told them I had agreed with Doctor Graves that, inasmuch as we had no observation windows, we would wait until H plus fifteen minutes before "unbuttoning" the building, to make absolutely sure we were not under water.

At H minus ten minutes, Grier, O'Keefe and Lieutenant Cochrane manned posts at the control panel. Hal Stewart was in a nearby room where he had his spectrographic instruments, and I stayed in the center of the control room.
"At the next tone it will be H minus one minute," announced Grier a few minutes later.

"Thirty seconds," announced Grier. "Fifteen...." All exccpt two of the lights were green. "Ten . . . nine . . . eight . . . seven ... six ... five...." All was absolutely quiet except for the soft whining of the sequence timer. "Four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . Zero."

I looked at the panel; all the lights were green, we knew the bomb should have detonated.
"How did it go Al?" I called on the radio to Doctor Graves, forty miles away on the command ship.

"It's a good one," he answered.

Inside our blockhouse we still had no physical evidence that anything had happened, but we braced ourselves against a possible sharp ground shock.

It came--but not as expected. Less than twenty seconds after Zero the entire building started slowly rocking in an indescribable way. I grabbed the side of the control panel for support. Some of the men just sat down on the floor. I had been in earthquakes before, but never anything like this. It lasted only a few seconds, but just as we were breathing easier, another ground shock hit us, with the same undulating motion. Then, a minute later, came the air blast. First the overpressure, then the sucking out by the underpressure. The concrete building creaked, but stayed firm. A few yards away, as we found out later, frame buildings had been blown down by the hurricane winds from the blast.

Immediately after the air blast. Felt noticed some water coming in through the conduits behind the control panel. And about the same time water in the lavatory started shooting up to the ceiling. I radioed the information to Doctor Graves who was as perplexed as we were. Water effects were not expected for six more minutes. We later found out that this water had been forced up from the lagoon by the overpressure created from the air blast, and had come in through pipes and conduits.

For the next few minutes nothing happened. We waited for any possible tidal wave effect.
H plus seven minutes went by. Nothing happened. H plus ten minutes. Finally, at H plus fourteen. I radioed Doctor Graves and told him we would open the door. Cautiously, Sanderson moved the steel plate to make sure we were not under water. When nothing happened, he opened the door. Everything was calm outside.

While I stayed inside to man the radio, the others went out to look at the mushroom." In a couple of minutes, Grier came back to relieve me at the radio and I went outside, taking along a Geiger counter. The shot cloud had spread out and was pure white. It was an awesome sight. I casually placed the radiation counter on top of a fence outside the door and turned away to talk to Gaelen Felt, who was pointing out that the blast had torn the doors open on his instrument trailers nearby. All of a sudden I noted that the radiation meter was already reading eight mill roentgen [per hour]. That meant we were receiving radiation at the rate of 8/1000 of a roentgen per hour, far less than would be received from an ordinary chest X ray.

While we watched, the counter went up to twenty mill roentgen [per hour], then to forty. While this was not yet a dangerous amount of radioactivity, there should not have been any radiation at the distance we were from the bomb blast. It could mean only one thing: we were already getting fallout. We could hardly believe it. The wind was supposed to take the fallout in almost an opposite direction. But our Geiger counters were registering radioactivity, and counters are usually accurate.

After the counter reached fifty mill roentgen [per hour], I had to turn the knob to change scales. The pointer kept climbing. I called for everyone to get inside. It still was far below dangerous radiation levels, but we had no idea how fast and how much it might increase. A dose of 75 to 125 roentgen received in a short interval may produce nausea and other symptoms of radiation sickness. About 450 roentgen might be fatal.

By the time we were back in the blockhouse, the reading near the door was one roentgen [ per hour], and in the control room it was about twenty mill roentgen [per hour]. I radioed Doctor Graves, who checked with the weather boys. No one could understand why we should be getting fallout, but were. Of course it was a known fact that winds at higher altitudes sometimes blow in opposite directions and could shear the bomb cloud as it passed through diferent levels. But no such opposing winds had been predicted.
A few minutes later I again called Doctor Graves on the radio.

"The radiation is building up pretty fast, Al," I reported. "Inside by the door it now reads ten r [per hour]. The level here in the Control room is fifty milli-r [per hour]."

We then discussed the possibility of sending in helicopters to take us to the ships. But Doctor Graves rightly decided that much as he would like to get us off the island, at the rate the radiation was building up outside, it was too risky for all concerned to attempt a helicopter rescue.

We agreed it was safer now to be inside our sand-covered blockhouse than to be outside in the intense, direct radiation from the fallout even for the short time a rescue operation might take. Of course we had no idea how much the radiation might build up inside the blockhouse. But it became increasingly clear that we had no choice. We were trapped.
In a few minutes the radiation level in the control room reached 100 mill roentgen [per hour]. This was above a safe level in which to stay for any great length of time. At this point we did not know how long we would have to stay in the building, so we decided to see if there might be a safer place to which we could retreat.

Felt and O'Keefe first checked Stewart's room near the door. They found the radiation level there many times higher than in the control room. They then went to the radio room across the hall from the control room. Here also the level was too high for safety. There were only three rooms left - a communications room, my small office and a data-processing room. I breathed a sigh of relief when Felt told me that the level in this data room was only ten mill roentgen [per hour]. Fortunately, considerably more sand had been piled on top of the part of the building covering the fifteen-by-twenty-foot data-processing room, and the sand was shielding us from the radiation.

I advised the command ship of our situation. I told them that we had found a room in the blockhouse which seemed perfectly safe unless the fallout level outside got much higher. At the rate of ten milliroentgen per hour we could remain for days without harmful effects. I did advise them, however, that we would man the radio in the control room only every fifteen minutes.

I told the men to make themselves as comfortable as they could in the data room. There were a few Army cots in the building and these were moved into this room. It was now about H plus one hour and I was most concerned as to what was happening to the radiation level outside. I took the radiation meter, opened the door and gingerly placed it outside at arm's length for a quick reading. It read forty roentgen [per hour]. I quickly closed the door.

Shortly after we had gone into the data room, Hal Stewart asked permission to get his spectroscopic plates and film out of his room. If he did not get them at once, all his test results would be ruined. We figured out that he could stay for eight minutes without getting too much radiation, so I said go ahead. He rushed into the room, wrapped the plates and film in a black cloth, and got back in just under seven minutes.

We were not exactly a happy bunch as we sat around in that small back room. We had been forced to turn off the air conditioner because it brought in fallout particles from outside. The entire building soon got hot and sticky. Only a few yards away in the construction camp were steaks we had planned on having breakfast. Instead, we were munching C rations.

A little over an hour after shot time, Doctor Graves radioed that the command ship was also starting to pick up radiation. They would have to move farther away and we might lose radio contact. And about that time our generator began failing and the lights gradually went out, leaving us in darkness, and with only battery-powered radio equipment.

We kept checking the Geiger counter with our flashlights. After the first hour, it was still at ten mill roentgen [per hour]. If the wind didn't change and cause more fallout we probably were safe, because the radiation outside the blockhouse would decay with the passing of time. But we already had had one unpredicted wind shift. Now we really didn't know what to expect.

The minutes ticked on. We could hear the command ship, but they could not pick up our signal. However, about three in the afternoon they started coming back, and once again I contacted Doctor Graves. Our radiation level had not increased and we figured the best thing do was to remain inside until late in the afternoon to let the outside radiation level fall. We worked out a plan for a rescue operation to take place at about 5 30 P.M.
Late in the afternoon we checked the outside radiation and found it to be about twenty roentgen per hour. To keep the "hot" dust off our bodies, we wrapped ourselves completely in bed sheets, cutting holes only for our eyes. Three helicopters were sent from the command ship. As we heard them overhead we left the blockhouse, got into our jeeps and drove the half mile to the landing mat. The pilots hovered as we left the building and set down when we arrived at the mat, The whole operation took less than five minutes. As soon as we were in the helicopters we took off the sheets and a radiological safety officer checked us. Within twenty minutes we were back on ship, where we showered and were given a thorough radiation check. None of us had received any harmful amount of radiation.

The next day we found out how really fortunate we had been. It was estimated that fallout radiation outside our blockhouse was several hundred roentgen. Had we been forced to stay outside the entire day without protective cover, it would have been fatal to all of us. 
The twenty-three Japanese fishermen in the Fortunate Dragon, which was seventy miles further away from the shot than we were, received burns. Twenty-eight American personnel manning weather stations, and 236 natives on Rongelap, Rongerik and Utirik also received radiation during the unforeseen fallout. 

However disconcerting it may have been to us at the moment, our experience proved to be a windfall for the Civil Defense people. They had long hoped for something more than theoretical data on what might happen under extreme radiation conditions if people had the proper safeguards. Now, for the first time, humans had been in an area of lethal radiation and had been unharmed because of adequate protective covering. Civil Defense had representatives at the test site during the operation and by making a study of our experience they were able more reliably to predict how Americans might protect themselves during a radiation disaster. It has now been figured, according to Civil Defense, that shelter in an old-fashioned cyclone cellar with a covering of earth three feet thick would reduce the radiation level to about 1/5000 of that outside. 

When we finished measuring the yield of the bomb, it was found to have been almost twice that which had been predicted, a margin of error not incompatible with a totally new weapon and certainly welcome to the scientists. It had been so powerful that at one of the concrete bunkers one and a half miles from ground zero a twenty-ton door had been blown right through the building against the back wall fifteen feet away. And on our control island twenty miles away all the wooden buildings had been completely demolished.

Nigel B. Cook's comment on the above incident at the link above: 
[For technical report on the damage to these structures, see Wayne J. Christensen, “Blast Effects on Miscellaneous Structures, Operation Castle, Project 3.5,” U.S. Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, weapon test report WT-901, 1955. The two massive concrete instrument bunkers at 2500 yards survived 130 psi peak overpressure from the Bravo test but were damaged in detail. The door referred to is the shutter door on Station 1341 at “Able” (codename) Island, 7500 feet from ground zero for Bravo shot, hit by 130 psi peak overpressure. The report states that light wooden buildings severely damaged when hit by 1.4 psi peak overpressure and a total positive blast duration of 13.4 seconds, at 14.5 miles from ground zero of the Bravo detonation.]

Two days later when we returned to our control island, the radiation level was still much too high for personnel to remain any length of time. Bulldozers were brought in to scrape off the top soil containing most of the radiation and push it into the ocean. This reduced the radiation level around the blockhouse enough so that we could use it again for part of the test work. But for the remainder of the tests on that atoll we made a change in plans--the firing operations were conducted from the command ship. Being guinea pigs once was more than enough for us.

The End.

About the author:

Dr. John C. Clark is a scientist who has specialized in weapons of war since he directed research in "detonation phenomena" at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in World War II. In the past ten years he has often been Firing Party Commander and Test Director for nuclear tests in Nevada and the Pacific. On two occasions when malfunctions in recording devices stopped tests at the last moment, Doctor Clark personally disarmed the bombs. He left the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory staff last March to join the Astronautics Division of General Dynamics Corporation's Convair Plant in San Diego.

Nigel B. Cook's comment on the above incident at the link above: 

There is another account of this incident by Bernard J. O'Keefe in his 1983 book "Nuclear Hostages" (252 pages, Houghton Mifflin, Boston). O'Keefe was also in the firing bunker at the time of the Bravo test, and recalls different figures for the fallout radiation buildup, from memory I believe he claimed it reached 65 R/hr outside the shelter door at 1 hour after burst. He also provides more details of the electrical failure, explaining that he analysed the electrical supply on an oscilloscope as it began to fail and one of the three AC phases was blown. This reduced the voltage available and as a result of overload the remaining phases broke down. Unlike Dr Clarke's 1957 account above, O'Keefe gives details of the electromagnetic pulse at shot time on the control panel, blowing meters and indicator lights after travelling back to the bunker via underwater cables to the bomb about 20 miles away. The EMP current pulse from Bravo coupled from the explosion via the cable to Enyu Island probably resulted in the damage to the generator system.

At 6:07 pmBlogger nige said...
Update regarding the quotation in this post of Glasstone's 1962/4 "Effects of Nuclear Weapons" statement that something like a foot of earth cover over fallout will reduce the dose rate by a factor of 10:

Actually, because most radiation from fallout comes directly from a wide surrounding area, the protection afforded is much better than a factor of 10: the gamma rays from a smooth uniformly contaminated terrain come from an average distance of 15 metres from the observer/geiger counter centred at ~1 metre height.

These direct gamma rays are therefore travelling through not the 1 foot vertical earth cover (the contribution from fallout below your feet is negligible) but are travelling at an angle of only 3.8 degrees from the horizontal (not 90 degrees as the 1 foot or factor of 10 shielding suggests), and hence travel through a larger slant distance of earth, about 5 metres thickness of earth for the fallout 15 metres away.

Obviously this increases the amount of earth-scattered radiation reaching the observer, so when you put an earth layer over fallout, the distance of mean fallout contribution (i.e., the radius beyond which the fallout gives 50% of the total dose) is no longer 15 metres, but is reduced greatly.

However, the shielding is still much better than Glasstone's factor of 10 protection suggests.

James Sartor gives data on page 96 of The Control of Exposure of the Public to Ionizing Radiation in the Event of Accident or Attack, Proceedings of a Symposium Sponsored by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), April 27-29, 1981, Held at the International Conference Center, Reston, Virginia which show that 1 foot of earth cover over fallout gives a protection factor of 50, while 6 inches of earth cover gives a protection factor of 6.7.
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Russia, China, North Korea and Iran are developing anti-satellite capabilities

Russia and China are increasingly pursuing the ability to attack America’s space-based assets, but is there anything the Pentagon can do to thwart Beijing and Moscow’s ambitions?

Space-based capabilities like GPS, communications and reconnaissance satellites are the sinews that hold the U.S. military together, allowing American forces to operate across the globe.

Russia’s leaders also openly assert that Russian armed forces have anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, conduct ASAT research and employ satellite jammers.

Russia carried out the first successful flight test of a new anti-satellite missile in November, 2015 Russian state-run press reports have identified the mobile transporter-launcher for what is described as “a new Russian long-range missile defense and space defense intercept complex.” The weapon is “being developed within the scope of the Nudol OKR [experimental development project],” Novosti reported in 2014.

The new weapon is being developed by the Almaz-Antey Air Defense Concern.

Hyten, the Space Command commander, said he does not want to see conflict extend to space but also noted “we have to be able to defend ourselves.”

Hyten said several nations, including Russia, North Korea, China, and Iran, are developing anti-satellite capabilities.

China is developing hypersonic weapons and antisatellite weapons.

The US Space Fence program will work in conjunction with the rest of our space surveillance network to provide the Joint Space Operations Center or JSpOC, an integrated picture of the joint operating environment, providing significantly improved un-cued space surveillance capabilities. It will enhance US capability of tracking objects in low earth orbit.

The is relocating a C-Band radar to Australia—in order to provide low earth orbit coverage in the Southern altitude

Charles Bombardier has improved hypersonic design able to go 24 times the speed of sound with counterflow air cooling

The Antipode is the second hypersonic jet by Canadian inventor and engineer, Charles Bombardier. The Antipode design is a 10-seat private jet that uses rocket boosters to take off, detaches the rockets at altitude of 12km, fires its hypersonic engines to hit speeds of Mach 24 (20,000 km/h), and gets you from New York to London in 11 minutes.

To cool the jet from the heat of hypersonic travel

It would channel some of the air, flowing at supersonic speed, through a nozzle located on the nose of the aircraft, producing a counterflowing jet of air that would induce LPM (a novel aerodynamic phenomenon called ‘long penetration mode), which would in turn lead to a drop in surface temperature due to aeroheating and a reduction of the shockwave and noise caused by breaking the sound barrier.

According to the designer, the most difficult part of building the Antipode would be the development of a stable and reliable scramjet engine—a feat NASA has yet to accomplish. There’s also the question of how to alleviate the paralyzing g-forces passengers would experience on board the craft.

Long Penetration Mode Counterflowing Jets for Supersonic Slender Configurations — A Numerical Study (18 pages NASA, University of Alabama), The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Ohio State University)

A novel approach of using counterflowing jets positioned strategically on the aircraft and exploiting its long penetration mode (LPM) of interaction towards sonic-boom mitigation forms the motivation for this study. Given that most previous studies on the counterflowing LPM jet have all been on blunt bodies and at high supersonic or hypersonic flow conditions, exploring the feasibility to obtain a LPM jet issuing from a slender body against low supersonic freestream conditions is the main focus of this study. Computational fluid dynamics computations of axisymmetric models (cone-cylinder and quartic geometry), of relevance to NASA’s High Speed project, are carried out using the space-time conservation element solution element viscous flow solver with unstructured meshes. A systematic parametric study is conducted to determine the optimum combination of counterflowing jet size, mass flow rate, and nozzle geometry for obtaining LPM jets. Details from these computations will be used to assess the potential of the LPM counterflowing supersonic jet as a means of active flow control for enabling supersonic flight over land and to establish the knowledge base for possible future implementation of such technologies.

Prior studies on counterflowing jets (supersonic) issuing from a central nozzle located on the nose of a bluntbody into a supersonic freestream, indicate two modes of jet interaction, namely the short penetration mode (SPM) and the LPM. A strong bow shock, a jet terminal shock, a free stagnation point, and a recirculation region characterize the SPM as shown in Fig. 1(a). Here, the jet does not penetrate into the bow-shock and results in a stable flowfield configuration. SPM is observed for jets operating with large jet pressure ratios (large mass flow rates). Operating the jet under pressure conditions slightly larger than the nozzle design conditions results in what is known as the LPM jet. The LPM is an unstable flowfield characterized by the familiar diamond-pattern jet plume that penetrates into the bow-shock. When the jet, issuing from the nozzle, penetrates the bow shock, the shock standoff distance becomes significantly higher than that found in flows without significant shock penetration (e.g., a SPM jet or a no-jet case) and the shock strength decreases. The ability of the LPM to disperse and weaken the bow shock has been confirmed experimentally as well as computationally. LPM jets, however, only exist for a narrow range of conditions beyond which the jet switches into SPM.

The Antipode concept comes just months after Bombardier unveiled his designs for the Skreemr, a four-winged scramjet that could carry 75 passengers at speeds of up to Mach 10 - so, 10 times the speed of sound and five times faster than today’s Concorde jets

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