February 06, 2016

Optical lens just a billionth of a meter thick can make lighter mobile phones and cameras

A flat optical lens just a billionth of a meter thick will let us see living creatures as small as a single bacterium better than ever before. The new lens, developed by researchers at Swinburne University of Technology, promises to revolutionize much of the technology around us.

Driven by developments in photonic chips and nano-optics, the global race to create a practical ultrathin lens that breaks the diffraction limit — enabling a focus less than half the wavelength of light — had been gathering pace since the turn of the millennium.

The new lens, developed by researchers at Swinburne University of Technology, promises to revolutionize much of the technology around us.

The design of the GO lens. (a) Conceptual design and laser fabrication of the GO ultrathin lens. (b) Amplitude and phase modulations provided by the transmission and refractive index difference, respectively, between the GO and rGO zones.

Nature Communications - Highly efficient and ultra-broadband graphene oxide ultrathin lenses with three-dimensional subwavelength focusing

Army Paladin self-propelled howitzer fired high velocity projectile which could be used in any 155-mm and 5-inch guns

The USA Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) was set up four years ago to find and develop new uses for existing technologies, as well as making them cheaper and faster to get into service with troops.

One of the SCO’s priorities was adapting technology from “railguns”. Such guns use neither explosives nor propellant, but instead rely on electromagnetic forces to fire projectiles at speeds of up to 4,500mph – 50pc faster than conventional weapons – with greater range and destructive force.

The high velocity projectile is being adapted for Navy 5-Inch; Navy, Marine Corps, and Army 155-mm systems; and future electromagnetic (EM) railguns.

BAE has been working with the US Navy for years, and landed several development contracts to develop railguns and the so-called “hypervelocity” projectiles they fire. Mr Carter said some of the advances from the research are being used in existing weapons.

“The SCO has got a project on gun-based missile defence, where we’re taking some of the same hypervelocity smart projectiles that we developed for the electromagnetic gun – that’s the railgun,” Mr Carter said.

He said that instead of using railguns’ projectiles for offensive purposes, they could be used defensively in conventional systems, for purposes such as shooting down other missiles.

Just over month ago the SCO had tested firing high-speed missiles from a Paladin self-propelled howitzer – a system built by BAE – and found that it “significantly increased” the weapon’s range.

The US military has “hundreds” of Paladins in its arsenal that could benefit from the advance, Mr Carter said.

AE's Paladin self-propelled guns have test-fired the hyper-velocity projectiles

The Hyper Velocity Projectile is basically a flying hypersonic spike and is launched in a similar fashion as the sabot rounds fired by Main Battle Tanks. The super low-drag spike of a projectile whizzes through the air at hyper-velocity speeds (around 5,600mph), hence its name. Oh yeah, and it is guided.

The HVP’s sleek design allows it travel much farther than tradition naval gun shells, from 30 to over 100 miles depending on what it’s fired out of.

The HPV projectile will have different versions
* an air burst
* a kinetic energy penetrator
* high-explosive round.

Because of its high-speed and miniaturized and hardened internal guidance, it could be used against surface and a ground targets, but it could also be employed against air threats, as well.

If network connectivity is added to the HVP’s design, it could be guided in-flight with command updates coming from external sensors. This means it can hit moving vehicles using a remote sensor’s data, such as from an unmanned aircraft or a ship’s radar system. Under such a scenario, a HVP could be launched from 100 miles away, toward an enemy land mass, and a loitering unmanned aircraft tracking a vehicle could provide the projectile with terminal targeting information. The whole engagement would last about one minute.

It also means that the HVP could one day become more deadly than a surface-to-air missile, as its speed makes it almost impossible to defend against.

“BAE Systems is applying its expertise and technology to develop a hyper velocity projectile (HVP) using innovative and proven technologies,” said Joe Senftle, vice president and general manager of the company’s weapon systems business. “The HVP is a next-generation, guided projectile that will give the US Navy increased velocity, precision and extended range to address a variety of current and future threats.”

Mile high skyscraper proposed for Tokyo would be twice as tall as Burj Khalifa

Grumman will show off its sixth generation stealth jet fighter design during the Superbowl

Northrop Grumman appears poised to show off its Sixth generation fighter during Super Bowl Sunday. The defense titan released a new commercial online Friday.

Northrop Grumman provided a first look at its vision for the sixth-generation fighter in December. One of the most complicated parts, analysts have noted, is that if the stealthy planes include lasers, they will need to be built in a way in which the heat doesn’t give them away on enemy radar.

The United States Air Force and United States Navy are anticipated to field their first sixth-generation fighters in the 2025–30 time frame. The USAF is pursuing development and acquisition of a sixth-generation fighter through the F-X program to replace the F-22 Raptor, and the U.S. Navy is pursuing a similar program called the Next Generation Air Dominance to replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

First Korean APR-1400 1400 megawatt nuclear reactor connected to the Grid

Unit 3 of South Korea's Shin Kori nuclear power plant was connected to the grid on 15 January and has started supplying electricity, plant owner Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) announced yesterday.

Shin Kori 3 - construction of which began in October 2008 - is the first Korean-designed Advanced Pressurised Reactor-1400 (APR-1400) to start up.

Having been issued with an operating licence for the unit by the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission on 30 October, KHNP began loading 241 fuel assemblies into the reactor on 4 November. The unit achieved first criticality on 29 December.

KHNP has since been conducting commissioning tests at the unit. These tests involve checking the unit's performance as its output is gradually increased to full capacity.

Shin Kori 3 is expected to enter commercial operation in May following the completion of these tests, KHNP said. It becomes South Korea's 25th operable power reactor.

Unit 4 at Shin Kori - also an APR-1400 - is expected to start operating in early 2017. Unit 3 had originally been due to begin operating at the end of 2013, with unit 4 following in September 2014. However, their operation has been delayed by the need to test safety-related control cabling and its subsequent replacement.

Two more of the 1350 MWe pressurized water reactors are under construction as units 1 and 2 of the Shin Hanul site in South Korea. Those units are expected to enter service in April 2017 and February 2018, respectively.

Two further APR-1400 units are planned for both the Shin Kori and Shin Hanul sites.

Four more APR-1400s are under construction at Barakah in the United Arab Emirates. All four are scheduled to be in operation by 2020.

China will build a high temperature nuclear reactor for Saudi Arabia

China and Saudi Arabia have signed a memorandum of understanding on the construction of a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTR). It was one of 14 agreements and memoranda of understanding signed yesterday during a meeting in Riyadh of Chinese president Xi Jinping and Saudi's Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

A demonstration HTR-PM unit is under construction at Shidaowan near Weihai city in China's Shandong province. That plant will initially comprise twin HTR-PM reactor modules driving a single 210 MWe steam turbine. Construction started in late 2012 and it is scheduled to start commercial operation in late 2017.

A proposal to construct two 600 MWe HTRs at Ruijin city in China's Jiangxi province passed a preliminary feasibility review in early 2015. The design of the Ruijin HTRs is based on the smaller Shidaowan demonstration HTR-PM. Construction of the Ruijin reactors is expected to start next year, with grid connection in 2021.

CNEC said it is actively promoting its HTR technology overseas and has already signed memoranda of understanding with Saudi Arabia, Dubai, South Africa "and other countries and regions" to consider the construction of HTR plants.

Although Saudi Arabia's nuclear program is in its infancy, the Kingdom has plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 years. A 2010 royal decree identified nuclear power as essential to help meet growing energy demand for both electricity generation and water desalination, while reducing reliance on depleting hydrocarbon resources.

Last September contracts were signed between the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) and KA-CARE (King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy) to support their cooperation in developing KAERI's SMART (System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor). This is a 330 MWt (100 MWe) pressurised water reactor with integral steam generators and advanced safety features.

February 05, 2016

In July 2015 there were electric planes crossing the English Channel and electric engines 5 times larger are being tested

On July 9, 2015 pilot Hugues Duwal appeared to cross the channel in a tiny Columban Cri-Cri. It’s name comes from French for “cricket”, and it is an unbelievably tiny airplane. If the E-Fan is a Smart Car, the Cri-Cri designed in the 1970s, resembles nothing so much as a Peel Trident, the world’s second-smallest car. The Cri-Cri is a half-sized cockpit put into the middle of a quarter-scale plane, with two small engines powering propellers that stick out in front of the cockpit like catfish whiskers. The wingspan is just 16 feet, so flying the whole plane is like wearing giant wings. If Duwal’s flight was indeed successful, and his CriCri was indeed an electric one and not the two-stroke engines common to Cri-Cris, then he may have under the cover of darkness snuck past Airbus and into the history books, or at least the books of minor aviation feats.

On July 10, 2015 an Airbus E-Fan crossed the english channel. The E-Fan is an electric plane that looks like the tiny, electric-smartcar version of an A-10 fighter. Powered only by batteries, it has two fans situated behind the cockpit, promising up to 45 minutes of flight time with a top speed of 137 mph. The E-Fan crossed the channel in about 40 minutes.

Airbus has stated that there are plans for development of a commercial regional electric powered aircraft in the near future.

The E-Fan 2.0 will go into production by 2017 with a side-by-side seating layout

E-Fan Specs

Crew: one
Capacity: one passenger
Length: 6.67 m (21 ft 11 in)
Wingspan: 9.50 m (31 ft 2 in)
Max takeoff weight: 550 kg (1,213 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × Electric motor , 30 kW (40 hp) each via eight-blade ducted fans,each producing thrust of 0.75 kN (266 lb st), Battery: Lithium-ion 18650, with 207 Wh/kg per cel, total of 29 kWh at a battery weight of 167 kg

Maximum speed: 220 km/h (137 mph; 119 kn) all performance figures estimated
Cruising speed: 160 km/h (99 mph; 86 kn)
Endurance: 60 min
Lift-to-drag: 16:1

Another electric plane—the Pipistrel Alpha Electro—should've crossed the Channel as well, but the flight was reportedly blocked due to a dispute between the plane maker and Siemens (which made the electric motor in the Airbus Alpha Electro).

In 2014 China’s first passenger electric plane, the RX1E Ruixiang, was produced.

The RX1E Ruixiang isn’t just the first passenger electric plane produced in China, though. It is “the world’s first electric passenger plane that received an airworthiness certificate.”

The RX1E Ruixiang’s range is not that different from the range of the two-seat E-Fan that Didier Esteyne just used to fly across the English Channel. While Esteyne’s plane has about 50 minutes of flying time on a full charge, the RX1E has about 40 minutes of flying time. The RX1E maximizes its range with the use of lightweight carbon fiber, and its battery charges in about 1½ hours.

Elon Musk says he is close to solving electric passenger jets with vertical takeoff and landing

Elon Musk says he is close to working out how to build an electric jet which would take off and land vertically. The Tesla boss revealed his plans during a question-and-answer session at the Hyperloop Pod competition in Texas.

During an interview with Marketplace in October 2015, Musk said: "I do like the idea of an electric aircraft company. I do think one could do a pretty cool supersonic, vertical-take off and landing electric jet. That would be really fun."

When asked if he was just making things up, Musk said: "No, I have a design in mind for that, but I have too many things on my plate to do, and then of course there is the Hyperloop."

In 2014, Musk also mentioned his electric plane ideas during an interview with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), when he said he was "toying" with the concept, adding: "I would love to do it, but I think my mind would explode."

Musk's comments come in the same week which saw budget airline EasyJet announce it is looking at producing hybrid electric airliners. The plans describe a kinetic energy recovery system (Kers) similar to that used by Formula One cars, where energy created by braking when landing would be stored in a battery and used to run and even taxi the plane without using its jet engines.

Airbus vertical takeoff and vertical passenger electric planes

There was an EADS (Airbus) Voltair design for a vertical takeoff and vertical passenger electric planes. Elon Musk has talked about creating a supersonic certical takeoff and vertical landing electric passenger plane. This would enable airports without runways to be in cities.

The EADS all electric passenger plane design depends upon batteries achieving 1000 watt hours per kilogram and superconducting engines being developed. High temperature superconducting motors are expected to reach power densities of 7-8 kW/kg with almost no electrical losses. This compares to 7 kW/kg for today’s turboshaft engines. An essential requirement for the VoltAir concept is to have a light and low-drag airframe. Advanced carbon fiber composite materials are used, and an unconventional configuration with an optimum fuselage thickness-to-length ratio is selected to minimize aerodynamic drag while providing a maximum useful internal volume. The fuselage’s generous volume is used for a better integration of the landing gear, significantly improving the aerodynamic properties of the wing-to-fuselage junction.

Distributed small electric engines and batteries that also acted as part of the structure of a plane (as body panels) could be innovations that Elon Musk has for enabling commercially interesting electric passenger jets.

EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. In 2010, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 45.8 billion and employed a workforce of nearly 122,000.

Electric sport bikes with range up to nearly 200 miles on a single charge

Zero Motorcycles’ Z-Force® motor and power pack, the Zero S pulls hard to speeds above 90 mph and offers a city range of up to 197 miles with the optional Power Tank accessory. Or, take advantage of public charging stations and get back on the road three times faster with the new Charge Tank accessory.

The Zero SR shares the same DNA as the Zero S but is built for riders who simply want to go faster and accelerate harder. Featuring a larger 660 amp motor controller, the Zero SR delivers 25% more power (67 hp) and 56% more torque (106 ft-lb). To accommodate the increased output, its motor uses higher temperature magnets to ensure better performance during extended periods at higher speeds.

With more torque than most 1000cc sport bikes, the Zero SR pulls hard off the line…and just keeps pulling. Launching from 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds en route to a top speed over 100 mph, the Zero SR offers spirited riders an edge in competitive riding. From lap times at the local track day to sweeping the podium at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the Zero SR is fundamentally changing the way electric motorcycles are perceived.

2016 Zero S or DS, with the 9.8kWh battery pack: $10,995

2016 Zero S or DS, with the 13kWh battery pack: $13,995

2016 Zero SR or DSR, with the 13kWh battery pack: $15,995

2016 Zero FX or FXS, with the 3.3 kWh battery module: $8,495

2016 Zero FX or FXS, with the 6.5 kWh battery module: $10,990

Charge tanks for the S-series bikes cost $1,988, and power tank additional batteries cost $2,674.

In the United States, the E-motorcycle Federal Tax Credit covers 10% of the purchase price of a street legal electric motorcycle up to a maximum of $2,500. Motorcycle accessories may also be eligible for a 10% federal tax credit when purchased on the same invoice as your motorcycle. Some states and cities offer additional incentives.

Charging accessories may be eligible for a 30% federal tax credit when billed on a separate invoice. Both incentives are scheduled to end December 31, 2016.

The 2016 Zero SR, with the additional range batteries can cost $16801 with the 10% tax credits instead of $18669.

Saietta trying to be the Tesla of Electric motor superbikes

NGS (Next Generation Saietta) is a new breed of motorbike spearheading a new electric era for bikers, delivering superbike performance, a highly distinctive iconic design and unmatched personalisation.

NGS boasts a number of technology firsts including a revolutionary new electric motor, an innovative lightweight, immensely strong structural monocoque, industry-leading battery capacity and range, 3D printing of the body and even a new, highly distinctive roar!

NGS will undergo rigorous engineering testing throughout 2016 including taking part in an extensive race programme. First customer bikes will be delivered before the end of 2017 as part of a limited edition of up to 100 bikes priced around £50,000 (excluding local taxes, about US$70,000).

Next Generation Saietta

They previously had the £15,000 (US$21000) Saietta R that could go 105 mph

They have a powerful range of lightweight electric motors

Saietta Engineering made the first electric plane to cross the English Channel (mid-2015)

Hybrid electric motor bike that can go up to 40mph and other ebikes

Bolt Motorbikes has a hybrid electric bike that can reach 40mph and has up to 50 mile range on one charge. It uses iron phosphate batteries and costs about $5495.

28 mph electric bike for $599

There is a $599 electric bike called the Wave ebike that goes up to 28 mph and has a 52 mile single charge range

B52 Stealth Electric Bike

The B-52 stealth electric bike blends traditional pedal-power with 5.2kW of pure-electric thrust, all bolted to a motocross-inspired frame. With 250mm of rear wheel travel, paired-up with a 200mm front end, the B-52 drives through an advanced 9-speed sequential gearbox and stops with confidence, thanks to Magura hydraulic disc brakes.

Top Speed: 80km/h (49 mph)
Range: up to 80km (49 miles)

The Bomber utitilizes 72 volts 20ah of lifepo4 batteries. It has a $10,000 price.

First new US reactor since 1996 is nearly ready to start

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has approved the expenditure of a further $200 million on the completion of Watts Bar 2, which would bring final spending on the project to a total of up to $4.7 billion.

The scope of the project has increased by $125 million through regulatory orders and other items occurring since TVA's $4.5 billion estimate to complete the project was approved, Johnson said. These orders were particularly related to regulatory requirements brought in after the 2011 Fukushima accident and cybersecurity issues, which were not foreseen in the original budget.

Construction of Watts Bar 2, a 1165 MWe (net) pressurized water reactor, began in 1972 but work was suspended in 1985 when the unit was about 55% complete. TVA decided to resume work on the unit in 2007, awarding an engineering, procurement and construction contract to Bechtel.

This would make it the first nuclear plant to start up in the US since Watts Bar 1, which was licensed in 1996 after a similarly lengthy construction hiatus. It will also be the first US nuclear plant to comply with all the NRC's post-Fukushima upgrades as well as the newest cybersecurity requirements.

Watts Bar Unit 2 is essential to diversifying TVA’s power sources to ensure that the more than 9 million people served by TVA and their local power companies have affordable and reliable electricity generated in an environmentally friendly manner

February 04, 2016

DNA used to assemble nanoparticles into a copy of the crystalline structure of diamond

Using bundled strands of DNA to build Tinkertoy-like tetrahedral cages, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have devised a way to trap and arrange nanoparticles in a way that mimics the crystalline structure of diamond. The achievement of this complex yet elegant arrangement, as described in a paper published February 5, 2016, in Science, may open a path to new materials that take advantage of the optical and mechanical properties of this crystalline structure for applications such as optical transistors, color-changing materials, and lightweight yet tough materials.

"We solved a 25-year challenge in building diamond lattices in a rational way via self-assembly," said Oleg Gang, a physicist who led this research at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) at Brookhaven Lab in collaboration with scientists from Stony Brook University, Wesleyan University, and Nagoya University in Japan.

The scientists employed a technique developed by Gang that uses fabricated DNA as a building material to organize nanoparticles into 3D spatial arrangements. They used ropelike bundles of double-helix DNA to create rigid, three-dimensional frames, and added dangling bits of single-stranded DNA to bind particles coated with complementary DNA strands.

Science - Diamond family of nanoparticle superlattices

Electronic nematicity as a universal feature in cuprate high-temperature superconductors

Physicists at the University of Waterloo have led an international team that has come closer to understanding the mystery of how superconductivity, an exotic state that allows electricity to be conducted with practically zero resistance, occurs in certain materials.

The findings show evidence of electronic nematicity as a universal feature in cuprate high-temperature superconductors. Cuprates are copper-oxide ceramics composed of two-dimensional layers or planes of copper and oxygen atoms separated by other atoms.

Physicists all over the world are on a quest to understand the secrets of superconductivity because of the exciting technological possibilities that could be realized if they could make it happen at closer to room temperatures. In conventional superconductivity, materials that are cooled to nearly absolute zero ( −273.15 Celsius) exhibit the fantastic property of electrons pairing up and being able to conduct electricity with practically zero resistance. If superconductivity worked at higher temperatures, it could have implications for creating technologies such as ultra-efficient power grids, supercomputers and magnetically levitating vehicles.

Science - Nematicity in stripe-ordered cuprates probed via resonant x-ray scattering

Elon Musk and Spacex to reveal the Spacex Mars roadmap at IAC from Sept 26-30th 2016

At the StartmeupHK Festival in Hong Kong, Musk stated that he was prepared to unveil SpaceX's Mars roadmap at the International Astronautical Conference, which will take place from September 26 to 30 in Mexico. And according to Berger of Ars Technica, Musk's plan may call for the kick-off of humans to Mars by 2025, a fairly ambitious goal that puts it nearly a decade ahead of NASA's nebulous Mission to Mars plans.

SpaceX is working on the Falcon Heavy, a rocket ready to debut later this year capable of lifting 58 tons of material into Low Earth Orbit, which is about four times the lifting power of the Falcon 9. It's specs are just a few hairs short of NASA's own Space Launch System, the largest rocket since the Saturn V rockets that carried out the Apollo moon landings.

The Spacex Mars plan may include discussion of both a super-heavy rocket as well as starships that could ferry large numbers of people from Earth to Mars, known as the Mars Colonial Transporter.

Nextbigfuture has had a couple of articles about the Elon Musk StartmeupHK talk. We had noted his talk about Mars plans to be revealed later this year but did not focus on the mention of the International Astronautical Conference with specific dates.

Elon talked about reasons for going to Mars.

  • 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

Scientists extend life of mice by 35 per cent by removing accumulated cells that no longer divide with compound AP20187

Researchers at Mayo Clinic have shown that senescent cells – cells that no longer divide and accumulate with age – negatively impact health and shorten lifespan by as much as 35 percent in normal mice. The results, which appear today in Nature, demonstrate that clearance of senescent cells delays tumor formation, preserves tissue and organ function, and extends lifespan without observed adverse effects.

“Cellular senescence is a biological mechanism that functions as an ‘emergency brake’ used by damaged cells to stop dividing,” says Jan van Deursen, Ph.D., Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular biology at Mayo Clinic, and senior author of the paper. “While halting cell division of these cells is important for cancer prevention, it has been theorized that once the ‘emergency brake’ has been pulled, these cells are no longer necessary.”

The immune system sweeps out the senescent cells on a regular basis, but over time becomes less effective. Senescent cells produce factors that damage adjacent cells and cause chronic inflammation, which is closely associated with frailty and age-related diseases.

Senescent cells are important because they prevent cancer spreading by stopping cell division and when people are young they are regularly cleared out of the body before they can cause problems.

As we age the body stops being able to get rid of the dead cells as quickly and they can build up, stopping new cells regenerating.

Now scientists have shown that mice who received a special compound to clear out the senescent cells lived 35 per cent longer than those allowed to age normally. They were also stronger and healthier for longer.

If the same effects could be replicated in humans it could mean people living for decades longer, and in much better health.

First author Dr Darren Baker, a molecular biologist at Mayo Clinic, is optimistic about the potential implications for humans.

"The advantage of targeting senescent cells is that clearance of just 60-70 percent can have significant therapeutic effects,” he said.

he clearance of senescent cells also delays tumour formation, preserves tissue and organ function, and extends lifespan without any adverse effects.

The mice also looked healthier and had less inflammation in fat, muscle and kidney tissue.

Researchers used a compound called AP20187 to trigger genes into ramping up their removal of senescent cells.

"Senescent cells that accumulate with aging are largely bad, do bad things to your organs and tissues, and therefore shorten your life but also the healthy phase of your life," says Dr. van Deursen.

“And since you can eliminate the cells without negative side effects, it seems like therapies that will mimic our findings - or our genetic model that we used to eliminate the cells - like drugs or other compounds that can eliminate senescent cells would be useful for therapies against age-related disabilities or diseases or conditions."

Other scientists are also working towards anti-ageing therapies and a trial in the US to test the diabetes drug metformin are due to start later this year.

Prof Ilaria Bellantuono, Professor of Musculoskeletal Ageing, University of Sheffield, said: “This work is interesting because it confirms some of the findings from a previous study, which used mice with accelerated ageing, using mice which are ageing naturally. It shows improved health in some aspects of their ageing such as reduced incidence of cancer, cataracts, and improved memory, suggesting that removal of these aged cells can be beneficial.

Clearance of senescent cells prolongs healthspan.

Nature - Naturally occurring p16Ink4a-positive cells shorten healthy lifespan

Talk Polywell has interesting discussion of EMC2 fusions work and progress and possible ways forward

Talk Polywell is having a discussion with Dr. Jaeyoung Park who leads EMC2 Fusion.

Nextbigfuture had a recent interview with Dr. Jaeyoung Park and is still in active correspondence with him.

If there are any questions you have about EMC2 Fusion's electrostatic fusion process and progress for Dr. Park, then please put that into the comments and we should be able to get a response from Dr. Park. NOTE - There are certain sensitive areas for the US Navy who previously funded the work.

The discussion at Talk Polywell on the physics of the prototype fusion reactors and possible ways to improve it are very interesting.

Slides from a presentation of what electrostatic fusion polywell fusion

All F35s to date will require modifications prior to use in combat and the pilot ejection system will kill 23% of lighter pilots

A newly released Pentagon report on the F35 indicates that every F35 aircraft bought to date requires modifications prior to use in combat.

Tthe F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is over three years behind schedule and some $200 billion over its original budget.

The fighter jet has been in development for nearly 15 years, weathered half a dozen years of testing and experienced myriad hardware malfunctions and software glitches along the way. Once it's declared ready for combat, it will be the most expensive weapons system in world history.

Now they are attempting to rush the F35 ahead in spite of all of the known problems.

(H/T to Patrick Tucker of Defense One)

Pilot Escape System would break the neck of the pilot - 100% some kind of neck injury and 23% chance of death for pilots below 165 pounds

The program conducted two sled tests on the pilot escape system in July and August 2015 that resulted in failures of the system to successfully eject a manikin without exceeding load/stress limits on the manikin. These sled tests were needed in order to qualify the new Gen III HMDS for flight release. In July 2015, a sled test on a 103-pound manikin with a Gen III helmet at 160 knots speed demonstrated the system failed to meet neck injury criteria. The program did not consider this failure to be solely caused by the heavier Gen III helmet, primarily due to similarly poor test results observed with the Gen II helmet on a 103-pound manikin in 2010 tests. The program conducted another sled test in August 2015 using a 136-pound manikin with the Gen III helmet at 160 knots. The system also failed to meet neck injury criteria in this test. Similar sled testing with Gen II helmets in 2010 did not result in exceedance of neck loads for 136-pound pilots.

After the latter failure, the Program Office and Services decided to restrict pilots weighing less than 136 pounds from flying any F-35 variant, regardless of helmet type (Gen II or Gen III). Pilots weighing between 136 and 165 pounds are considered at less risk than lighter weight pilots, but still at an increased risk (compared to heavier pilots). The level of risk was labeled “serious” by the Program Office based on the probability of death being 23 percent, and the probability of neck extension (which will result in some level of injury) being 100 percent. Currently, the Program Office and the Services have decided to accept this level of risk to pilots in this weight range, although the basis for the decision to accept these risks is unknown

February 03, 2016

US military buildup of 9 more Virginia class submarines, robotic boats, microdrones and more to counter China and Russia's military

Ash Carter, the Pentagon chief, said the US has ambitious plans for military spending on sophisticated weaponry for fiscal year 2017. These were partly designed with China in mind.

“We’re making all these investments that you see in our defense budget that are specifically oriented towards checking the development of the Chinese military,” Carter said.

To stave off China’s increasing military power, including its ship killing missiles and electronic warfare, the $582.7 billion defense budget request calls for major spending on cyber security, more firepower for submarines, new robotic boats and underwater vessels as well as new missile interceptors to be installed on American warships.

In his speech, Carter said both Russia and China were “developing weapons and ways of war that seek to achieve their objectives rapidly, before — they hope — we can respond.” The military spending was aimed at placing a higher priority on the threats posed by both powers, he said.

$71.4 billion will be spent on military research and development in 2017.

The Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) is doing a lot of the weapons research.

First is a project focused on advanced navigation. What the SCO's doing is taking the same kinds of micro-cameras, sensors, MEMS [microelectromechanical systems], and so forth that are littered throughout our smartphones and everything today, and putting them on our small diameter bombs to augment the existing target capabilities on the SDB. This will eventually be a modular kit that will work with many other payloads, enabling off network targeting through commercial components, small enough to hold in your hand like your phone, and cheap enough to own like your phone.

Another project uses swarming autonomous vehicles in all sorts of ways and in multiple domains. In the air, they develop micro-drones that are really fast, really resistant. They can fly through heavy winds and be kicked out the back of a fighter jet moving at Mach 0.9, like they did during an operational exercise in Alaska last year, or they can be thrown into the air by a soldier in the middle of the Iraqi desert. And for the water, they've developed self-driving boats which can network together to do all kinds of missions, from fleet defense to close-in surveillance, without putting sailors at risk. Each one of these leverages the wider world of technology. For example, the microdrones use a lot of commercial components and are actually 3-D printed and the boats build on some of the same artificial intelligence algorithms that long-ago and in a much more primitive form were on the Mars lander.

February 02, 2016

US Navy is seeking modular weapons and radar systems for increased firepower in 2030 Future Surface Combatant ships

The US Navy (USN) is assessing how best to recapitalise its fleet of Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers (CGs) and eventually Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers (DDGs), the naval staff's surface warfare head told IHS Jane's on 7 January that he is seeking modular weapons and radar systems to provide long-range offensive punch, as well as multilayered defensive capability.

Rear Admiral Peter J Fanta, director of surface warfare (N96), said that the USN's future surface combatant effort must glean lessons from ongoing warship programmes, and build upon new concepts and technologies being introduced on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and Zumwalt-class (DDG 1000) destroyer.

The US Navy is preparing to build Flight III destroyers, the latest version of the Arleigh Burke class that has been under construction since the 1980s, and just began at-sea tests of the first of the Zumwalt class stealth destroyer, a design conceived in the late 1990s. The US Navy is also planning for next generation surface warship designs, dubbed the Future Surface Combatant, currently scheduled to begin procurement in 2030.

Open Architecture and Modularity defined

Open architecture (as defined by Admiral Fanta) means the Navy owns the data rights and can hire somebody to go build a new system using those data rights. They know the interface points, they know how those machines talk to each other. They say “This is your spec, go write these specs” or go write this software into your code so it plugs into mine and they don’t have to spend a billion dollars changing your code every time they want to upgrade the ship.

Modularity (as defined by Admiral Fanta) means not necessarily plug-and-play modules but being able to upgrade when technology allows me to upgrade at a reasonable rate. They can describe the next set of weapons, sensors, engineering components, hull designs that all allow them to go build that next ship. That’s more what they are going for than a particular hull design. They are looking for a family of ships that can do more than one thing, because every time they build a single-mission ship it tends to get decommissioned before its life expectancy. That’s really what this capabilities-based assessment and analysis of alternatives and everything else the Navy doing is driving us to.

NASA new large scale aircraft demonstrator could be supersonic low-boom plane or other breakthrough aviation possibilities

NASA has plans for its first large-scale aircraft demonstrator in decades. Which aircraft? Although a supersonic low-boom flight demonstrator (LBFD) is the most mature concept, NASA has several other potential candidates.

Boeing backs a low-boom demo as an essential step toward a future high-speed airliner, but the initial beneficiary of the technology is expected to be a supersonic business jet—a market sector that has not enjoyed overwhelming support from lawmakers. But with Airbus now backing supersonic business-jet developer Aerion, the jobs issue yet may carry the day.

Lockheed Martin demo aircraft proposal

NASA has other, subsonic flight-demonstrator options in the works, but none are as far forward as the LBFD and may not be ready for launch if funding does become available in fiscal 2017.

The D8 “double-bubble” airliner concept is proposed by Aurora Flight Sciences and Lockheed Martin’s Hybrid Wing Body (HWB) airlifter.

The "double bubble" D8 Series future aircraft design concept comes from the research team led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Based on a modified tube and wing with a very wide fuselage to provide extra lift, its low sweep wing reduces drag and weight; the embedded engines sit aft of the wings. The D8 series aircraft would be used for domestic flights and is designed to fly at Mach 0.74 carrying 180 passengers 3,000 nautical miles in a coach cabin roomier than that of a Boeing 737-800.

Boeing has the long-studied Blended Wing Body (BWB) and more recent Truss-Braced Wing (TBW) airliner configurations.

Truss-Braced Wing (TBW)

Blended Wing Body

February 01, 2016

Brazil declares war on the mosquito transmitting the Zika Virus and MIT has the plan to kill the mosquitos quickly

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff went so far as to declare war on Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits Zika.

Several technological approaches may start to look appealing to eliminate mosquitos.

1. Cell phones are useful because they record the movements of their owners. That data can be used to track disease hot spots and predict where they may flare up next. The technique has already been employed in Africa in the battle against malaria and in Pakistan against dengue fever—both mosquito-borne diseases like Zika.

2. Genetically modified mosquitoes could also have a role to play. Successful tests in the Cayman Islands and Brazil have shown that the introduction of modified male mosquitoes can cause local populations to crash. But these tests, conducted by the British firm Oxitec, have so far been on the scale of a few neighborhoods. Ramping up the process to cover all of Brazil would require a huge logistical effort to grow

3. Then there is the gene drive. This newly developed technology involves inserting genes into an organism in such a way that a trait spreads throughout a whole population. In theory, a gene drive could be created that prevents mosquitoes from incubating Zika virus—or destroys the entire species of A. aegypti. A gene drive has been created that prevents mosquitoes from harboring the malaria parasite. But some researchers are understandably concerned about intentionally messing with natural selection. Once a drive is released into a wild population, there is no turning back, and there is no telling what sort of side effects it might have.

Ultimately, it is unlikely that any one method will stop Zika in its tracks. Winning this war is possible—it has been done before.

Nextbigfuture had advocated a few days ago using gene drive to kill the Zika mosquitos.

New delivery method boosts efficiency of CRISPR genome-editing system

MIT researchers have now developed a way to deliver the CRISPR genome repair components more efficiently than previously possible, and they also believe it may be safer for human use. In a study of mice, they found that they could correct the mutated gene that causes a rare liver disorder, in 6 percent of liver cells — enough to cure the mice of the disease, known as tyrosinemia.

“This finding really excites us because it makes us think that this is a gene repair system that could be used to treat a range of diseases — not just tyrosinemia but others as well,” says Daniel Anderson, associate professor in MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES).

High accuracy

With a combined nanoparticle and viral delivery method, about one in 16 cells had a gene corrected, a 15-fold improvement over the 2014 study. The researchers also found that this approach generated less off-target DNA cutting than methods in which the Cas9 gene is integrated into a cell’s genome.

Nature Biotechnology - Therapeutic genome editing by combined viral and non-viral delivery of CRISPR system components in vivo

Mixotropic plankton may have big effect on ocean’s carbon storage

Researchers at MIT and Bristol University in the United Kingdom have found that these microscopic, mixotrophic organisms may have a large impact on the ocean’s food web and the global carbon cycle.

The scientists developed a mixotrophic model of the global ocean food web, at the scale of marine plankton, in which they gave each plankton class the ability to both photosynthesize and consume prey. They found that, compared with traditional models that do not take mixotrophs into account, their model produced larger, heavier plankton throughout the ocean. As these more substantial microbes die, the researchers found they increase the flux of sinking organic carbon particles by as much as 35 percent.

The results, says Mick Follows, associate professor in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, suggest that mixotrophic organisms may make the ocean more efficient in storing carbon, which in turn enhances the efficiency with which the oceans sequester carbon dioxide.

In the oceans, plankton can range in size from less than 1 micron, to about 1 millimeter in diameter. Typical ocean models that incorporate plankton often group them in 10 general size classes, each of which fall into a “two-guild” structure, as either photosynthesizers, or consumers of prey.

“If (mixotrophs) weren’t in the oceans, we’re suggesting atmospheric carbon dioxide might be higher, because there would less of the large, carbon rich particles formed which efficiently transfer carbon to depth,” Mick Follows says. Image: James Fraser/Biodiversity Heritage Library

MIT Won the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Design Contest

MIT grad students beat out more than 100 other teams with their design for a passenger-carrying Hyperloop "pod," and will now start building a small-scale prototype to test this summer next to SpaceX's headquarters

The Delft University of Technology from the Netherlands were the next runners-up. Auburn University won in the category of best overall subsystem. Twenty-two teams in all will go on to test their pods in Hawthorne, although up to 10 other teams could also qualify after further judging in the coming weeks, according to SpaceX.

Elon Musk's Hyperloop proposal would transport passengers in aluminum pods traveling as fast as 760 mph, mostly following the route of California's I-5. The estimated cost would be $6 billion for the passenger-only model, or $7.5 billion for a larger model capable of transporting freight.

Elon Musk was at the competition. Elon said he is close to something with electric passenger jets.

Russia using Generation 4.5 Su-35s fighter in Syria

The advanced supermaneuverable russian Su-35S multirole fighters have began combat missions in Syria.

All Russian warplanes have recently been conducting operations with an obligatory cover provided by Russian and Syrian fighter jets as wells as modern air defense systems including the S-400 Triumf.

The fighter has new avionics, a modern radar and advanced engines. It can accomplish incredible tricks without deceleration and can fly at a speed of 2400 kmph, outpacing all rivals in its class. The warplane is armed with 30mm guns, a huge number of missiles and rockets.

Starry using phased array technology to enable gigabit millimeter wireless internet

Starry is redefining how Internet should be: Wireless. Affordable. Remarkably fast. the startup Starry, announced it would bring gigabit-speed internet access to consumers, without data caps, at a price that is equal or less than your average broadband plan.

They have created the world’s first mmWave active phased array technology specifically for consumer Internet communications; the foundation for Starry Internet. Our system takes underutilized high-frequency spectrum and gives it new purpose. Using their proprietary technology, they are building a nationwide wireless broadband network capable of delivering maximum speeds of up to a gigabit of Internet service to your home.

Starry will launch the multi-gigabit internet service in Boston though other places could soon follow. Variety reported last week on FCC filings showing that Starry applied to test its service in 15 cities, including Seattle, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, and Washington, D.C.

Starry Station will retail at $349.99 and people will be able to reserve at Starry.com until February 5. After February 5, Starry Station will be available for sale on Starry.com and pre-order on Amazon.com through Amazon Launchpad (Amazon’s innovative program for startups). All orders will begin shipping in March 2016

The NYU Wireless project, a team of academics made a number of extensive measurements in a dense urban environment trying to emulate transmission for cellular type applications with millimeter waves, similar to those proposed by Starry. "We could serve people up to 200 meters away at high speeds, even without direct line of sight. It was quite remarkable."

Starry is claiming its phased array technology can deliver a fast, reliable signal to homes up to 2 kilometers away. The greater the range, the fewer base stations are needed to reach a critical mass of customers.

Starry Station makes your existing DSL, cable, or fiber Internet service seem simple. By consciously learning about your home Internet health, Starry identifies potential problems and suggests ways to fix them. Starry Wi-Fi Station comes in handy for other things too, like finding out how many devices are online, what’s using the most data, and more. The only thing easier than using Starry? Setting it up. In a few simple steps, it’s ready to go.

Google Reveals Project Skybender for solar powered millimeter wave 5G internet drones 40 times faster than 4G

Google is running tests at New Mexico’s Spaceport Authority with new millimetre wave technology to deliver data from drones – potentially 40 times faster (multi-gigabit per second) than 4G.

Google is testing solar-powered drones at Spaceport America in New Mexico to explore ways to deliver high-speed internet from the air, the Guardian has learned.

In a secretive project codenamed SkyBender, the technology giant built several prototype transceivers at the isolated spaceport last summer, and is testing them with multiple drones, according to documents obtained under public records laws.

In order to house the drones and support aircraft, Google is temporarily using 15,000 square feet of hangar space in the glamorous Gateway to Space terminal designed by Norman Foster for the much-delayed Virgin Galactic spaceflights.

Project SkyBender is using drones to experiment with millimetre-wave radio transmissions, one of the technologies that could underpin next generation 5G wireless internet access. High frequency millimetre waves can theoretically transmit gigabits of data every second, up to 40 times more than today’s 4G LTE systems. Google ultimately envisages thousands of high altitude “self-flying aircraft” delivering internet access around the world.

“The huge advantage of millimetre wave is access to new spectrum because the existing cellphone spectrum is overcrowded. It’s packed and there’s nowhere else to go,” says Jacques Rudell, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle and specialist in this technology.

A broadcast at 28GHz, the frequency Google is testing at Spaceport America, would fade out in around a tenth the distance of a 4G phone signal. To get millimetre wave working from a high-flying drone, Google needs to experiment with focused transmissions from a so-called phased array. “This is very difficult, very complex and burns a lot of power,” Rudell says.

The SkyBender system is being tested with an “optionally piloted” aircraft called Centaur as well as solar-powered drones made by Google Titan, a division formed when Google acquired New Mexico startup Titan Aerospace in 2014. Titan built high-altitude solar-powered drones with wingspans of up to 50 metres.

Polymer memristor used as basis for a perceptron

The perceptron invented by Frank Rosenblatt in 1957 and popularized in Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert's 1969 book Perceptrons: An Introduction to Computational Geometry may no longer be just theory.

Russian and Italian scientists, led by Vyacheslav Demin at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and the National Research Center Kurchatov Institute (Moscow) have described a perceptron in detail in a paper by Demin and his collaborators titled Hardware elementary perceptron based on polyaniline memristive devices.

The most exciting element of their perceptron was the polymer-memristor they constructed from organic polyaniline (PANI)—a highly conductive polymer that has been used as the active electronic component in experimental non-volatile memories

The Russian memristor is fabricated from polyaniline and has already been proven capable of realizing Marvin Minsky's Perceptron. (Source: Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology)

Organic Electronics - Hardware elementary perceptron based on polyaniline memristive devices

• Elementary perceptron is realized on polyaniline-based memristive devices.
• Training procedure is demonstrated for perceptron to perform NAND and NOR functions.
• Possibility of realization of neural network with organic memristive links is shown.

Elementary perceptron is an artificial neural network with a single layer of adaptive links and one output neuron that can solve simple linearly separable tasks such as invariant pattern recognition, linear approximation, prediction and others. We report on the hardware realization of the elementary perceptron with the use of polyaniline-based memristive devices as the analog link weights. An error correction algorithm was used to get the perceptron to learn the implementation of the NAND and NOR logic functions as examples of linearly separable tasks. The physical realization of an elementary perceptron demonstrates the ability to form the hardware-based neuromorphic networks with the use of organic memristive devices. The results provide a great promise toward new approaches for very compact, low-volatile and high-performance neurochips that could be made for a huge number of intellectual products and applications.

Hows it works
Polyaniline memristors have been demonstrated before, individually and for non-volatile memories, but the Russian and Italian scientists claim their implementation is the first that formed into a genuine analog neural network--a single layer perceptron. Their memristors were fabricated at the millimeter scale for convenience, using a polyaniline solution, a glass substrate, and chromium electrodes, but the researchers claim that within five years they could be manufacturable at 10-nanometers--rivaling silicon chips.

The memristor prototype is still quite large (the coin is about half the size of a U.S. penny) but the researchers say it can be downsized to 10 nanometers. (Source: Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology)

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