March 19, 2016

Trump is on a clear path to the Republican nomination but Republican leaders preparing a 100 day political guerrilla war

Trump still needs to win most of the remaining delegates to avoid a contested convention. However, an analysis where Trump maintains his current level of support has him winning enough delegates for the Republican nomination.

The polling of the upcoming contests shows Trump with significant leads in all states where there are polling results. Trump has at least an 8% lead in polling averages for all remaining states with polling results. Trump appears to have very big leads in Arizona (58), New York (95), New Jersey (51), and California (172). The potential is there for Trump to win all 376 delegates. Adding to his current 695 would be 1071. 1237 is needed to win. There are 628 delegates in the other contests outside the four mentioned. Most of those have proportional allocation. Trump would only need about 26-27% of those delegates.

This article is an summarization of the numbers and the situation.

Republican leaders adamantly opposed to Donald J. Trump’s candidacy are preparing a 100-day campaign to deny him the presidential nomination, starting with an aggressive battle in Wisconsin’s April 5 primary and extending into the summer, with a delegate-by-delegate lobbying effort that would cast Mr. Trump as a calamitous choice for the general election.

Recognizing that Mr. Trump has seized a formidable advantage in the race, they say that an effort to block him would rely on an array of desperation measures, the political equivalent of guerrilla fighting. NOTE- Mitt Romney already came out very strongly against Donald Trump but that effort appears to have done nothing to slow down Trump's run to the Presidential nomination. (number and poll guru Nate Silver's website) has Trump currently at 695 delegates has Trump as 91% likely to take the 58 delegates in the winner take all Arizona primary

Arizona, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, New Jersey and Delaware are winner take all.

Trump has a 28.5 to 18.5 lead in the most recent Wisconsin polling.

Trump leads New York polling by 58.8% to 11.2%. Delegates in New York are allocated proportionally, but with a winner-take-all trigger. This means if a candidate gets over 50 percent of the votes, they are assigned all the delegates.

Trump leads Maryland polling 33.4 to 24.6.

Trump leads California polling by 30.5 to 20.6 for the most recent 9 poll average. The most recent poll Trump leads 38% to 22% and 20%.

California's system is essentially winner-take-all but with modified rules. The delegates are split between congressional delegates and state-wide delegates, with three delegates assigned to Republican National Committee officials. The top candidate state-wide picks up 10 delegates, while the top candidates in each district pick up three votes per district. Indiana and Wisconsin follow a similar method of distributing their delegates.

Trump leads the polling in Pennsylvania 32.4 to 15%

Trump has a 35.5% lead to single digits for Cruz and Kasich in New Jersey

Gene drive and the future of weaponized insects and the elimination of public health threats like Zika Virus Mosquitoes

In March of 2015, researchers at the University of San Diego reported the successful implementation of Gene drive.

Using gene drive to engineer a single mosquito out of 10,000 would cause 100 percent of them to carry the new trait within just 16 generations — mere months. This could be used to eliminate the mosquitos that carry the Zika virus. Zika virus in pregnant women can cause the babies to born with shrunken brains and heads.

Abstract on Gene Drive
An organism with a single recessive loss-of-function allele will typically have a wild-type phenotype, whereas individuals homozygous for two copies of the allele will display a mutant phenotype. We have developed a method called the mutagenic chain reaction (MCR), which is based on the CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing system for generating autocatalytic mutations, to produce homozygous loss-of-function mutations. In Drosophila, we found that MCR mutations efficiently spread from their chromosome of origin to the homologous chromosome, thereby converting heterozygous mutations to homozygosity in the vast majority of somatic and germline cells. MCR technology should have broad applications in diverse organisms.

Two edged sword

A report that ISIS was trying to weaponize mosquitoes using genetic engineering and gene drive has generally been dismissed as unlikely. The unlikely aspect is that ISIS can successfully execute the bioweapon program.

Gene drive can be used to create biosecurity threats just as it can and should be used to eliminate public health risks like Zika Virus.

March 18, 2016

NASA is in the process of getting another peer reviewed EMDrive paper published

Paul March indicated on the NASA Spaceflight forum that NASA Eagleworks is getting another EMDrive paper through peer review.

Paul March also endorsed the technical information and insights of forum member Rodal on the topic of EMdrive. Rodal indicates the differences in dielectric materials and other nuances of interpreting the known results.

A radio frequency (RF) resonant cavity thruster is a proposed new type of electromagnetic thruster. Unlike conventional electromagnetic thrusters, a resonant cavity thruster would use no reaction mass, and emit no directional radiation.

A few variations on such thrusters have been proposed. Aerospace engineer Roger Shawyer designed the EmDrive in 2001, and has persistently promoted the idea since then through his company, Satellite Propulsion Research.

Chemical engineer Guido Fetta designed the Cannae Drive, based on similar principles. If they are found to work as claimed, providing thrust without consuming a propellant would have important applications to all areas of propulsion.

Some independent teams of scientists, notably a team at Xi'an's Northwestern Polytechnical University (NWPU), one at NASA's Eagleworks laboratories, and another at the Dresden University of Technology in Germany, have built prototypes of these designs. The NWPU team reported a small but significant thrust; NASA Eagleworks reported a much smaller thrust than the NWPU team; and the Dresden team reported a small thrust, but within experimental error.

In 2014 and 2015, the NASA Eagleworks research group at Johnson Space Center tested models of both the EmDrive and Cannae drive. They reported observing a small net thrust from both, at low power levels.

NASA's first tests of this tapered RF resonant cavity were conducted at very low power (2% of Shawyer's 2002 experiment and 0.7% of the Chinese 2010 experiment), but a net mean thrust over five runs was measured at 91.2 µN at 17 W of input power. A net peak thrust was recorded at 116 µN (about 0.0004 ounces, or approximately the same weight as a grain of rice) at the same power level. The experiment was criticized for not having been conducted under vacuum, which would have eliminated thermal air currents.

Six months later, early 2015, Paul March from Eagleworks made new results public, claiming positive experimental force measurements with a torsional pendulum in a hard vacuum: about 50 µN with 50 W of input power at 5.0×10^−6 torr, and new null-thrust tests. The new RF power amplifiers were said to be made for hard vacuum, but still fail rapidly due to internal corona discharges, with not enough funding to replace or upgrade them, so measurements are still scarce and need improvement before a new report can be published.

Glenn Research Center offered to replicate the experiment in a hard vacuum if Eagleworks manages to reach 100 µN of thrust, because the GRC thrust stand cannot measure forces lower than 50 µN.

Eagleworks later announced a plan to upgrade their equipment to higher power levels, use vacuum-capable RF amplifiers with power ranges of up to 125 W, and to design a new tapered cavity analytically determined to be in the 0.1 N/kW range. The test article will be subjected to independent verification and validation at Glenn Research Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

NASA Principal Technologist lays out strategy to develop advanced space propulsion over the next 25 years

NASA Principal Technologist Ronald J. Litchford looks at the strategic development of improved space propulsion.

Deep space transportation capability for science and exploration is fundamentally limited by available propulsion technologies. Traditional chemical systems are performance plateaued and require enormous Initial Mass in Low Earth Orbit (IMLEO) whereas solar electric propulsion systems are power limited and unable to execute rapid transits. Nuclear based propulsion and alternative energetic methods, on the other hand, represent potential avenues, perhaps the only viable avenues, to high specific power space transport evincing reduced trip time, reduced IMLEO, and expanded deep space reach. Here, key deep space transport mission capability objectives are reviewed in relation to STMD technology portfolio needs, and the advanced propulsion technology solution landscape is examined including open questions, technical challenges, and developmental prospects. Options for potential future investment across the full compliment of STMD programs are presented based on an informed awareness of complimentary activities in industry, academia, OGAs, and NASA mission directorates.

Glue could be the future for cheaper and stronger Skyscrapers, if US building codes can be updated

Composite materials are more like rigid fabrics. Sticking them together results in building-sized components that can sometimes be set hard in just a few seconds, depending on the adhesives used. Composite materials are already used to make high-performance yachts, wind turbine blades, large passenger aircraft such as Boeing’s carbon fibre Dreamliner and even commercial spacecraft such as SpaceShipOne.

Geoff Manaugh wrote an article about skyscraper glue in New Urbanist which was covered by New Scientist magazine.

Lighter buildings are also cheaper. “If you can take 30 per cent of the weight out of the upper section of a building by using lightweight composite materials, you could end up saving between 70 and 80 per cent of the material in the entire structure,” says Greg Lynn of Yale University.

Most skyscrapers are built around a steel frame, which expands in the heat much more quickly than other materials, such as masonry cladding. But composite buildings are monocoque structures, like the hulls of sailing boats. Such buildings fare much better as they expand and contract. “The skin is the structure,” says Kreysler.

What’s more, composite structures are typically made from fewer parts, so assembly is simpler. But this also makes those structures stronger – sticking a smaller number of parts together along large surface areas beats bolting or nailing them together at specific, vulnerable points.

Of course, there are down sides. Most adhesives deteriorate rapidly in a fire and can even feed a blaze. Recently, composites have been blamed for a hotel fire in Dubai – materials used on the building’s exterior are thought to have fuelled the flames.

Russia Test-Fires Hypersonic Zircon Missiles

The first tests of the Russian Navy’s new hypersonic Zircon cruise missiles have been launched in Russia. The cruise missiles are expected to reach five or six times the speed of sound (Mach 5 or Mach 6).

It will be mounted on Russia's newest fifth-generation Husky-class nuclear submarines which are currently under development.

Modern Russian anti-ship missiles, like Onyx, can reach up to Mach 2.6 (750 meters per second). The sea-based Kalibr cruise missile travels at a Mach 0.9 speed, but while approaching the target, its warhead speeds up to Mach 2.9.

The Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles will also be used for Russian battleship Pyotr Veliky, Tass news agency reported last month. The range of the missile is likely to be just over 248 miles.

"The Pyotr Veliky will start repairs in the third or fourth quarter of 2019. Repairs and upgrade are due for completion in late 2022, the ship to be equipped with Zircon hypersonic anti-ship missiles," a source told Tass at the time.

March 17, 2016

Will the Singularity Artificial General Intelligence winners be Hedge Fund Managers, the Military and Spy Agencies ?

When Artificial Intelligence (AI) work began over 50 years ago, the AI field was directly aimed at the construction of "thinking machines"—that is, computer systems with human-like general intelligence. The whole package, complete with all the bells and whistles like self, will, attention, creativity, and so forth.

But this goal proved very difficult to achieve; and so, over the years, AI researchers have come to focus mainly on producing "narrow AI" systems: software displaying intelligence regarding specific tasks in relatively narrow domains.

This "narrow AI" work has often been exciting and successful. It has produced, for instance, chess-playing programs that can defeat any human; and programs that can diagnose diseases better than human doctors. It has produced programs that translate speech to text, analyze genomics data, drive automated vehicles, and predict stock prices. The list goes on and on. In fact, mainstream software like Google and Mathematica utilize AI algorithms (in the sense that their underlying algorithms resemble those taught in university courses on AI). Narrow-AI achievements, useful as they are, have not yet carried us very far toward the goal of creating a true thinking machine.

Some researchers believe that narrow AI eventually will lead us to general AI. This for instance is probably what Google founder Sergey Brin means when he calls Google an 'AI company.' His idea seems to be, roughly speaking, that Google's narrow-AI work on text search and related issues will gradually lead to smarter and smarter machines that will eventually achieve true human-level understanding and cognition.

Would the people who fund winning AGI projects have the morals of a Bernie Madoff ?

Billions funding thousands of Narrow AI efforts

On the other hand, some other researchers—including the author—believe that narrow AI and general AI are fundamentally different pursuits. The term Artificial General Intelligence or AGI, to distinguish work on general thinking machines from work aimed at creating software solving various 'narrow AI' problems.

The global VC market: Q1-Q3 2015 saw $47.2 billion invested, a volume higher than each of the full year totals for 17 of the last 20 years. There are roughly 900 companies working in the AI field, most of which tackle problems in business intelligence, finance and security. Q4 2014 saw a flurry of deals into AI companies started by well-respected and achieved academics: Vicarious, Scaled Inference, MetaMind and Sentient Technologies.

So far, we’ve seen about 300 deals into AI companies (defined as businesses whose description includes such keywords as artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision, NLP, data science, neural network, deep learning) in 2015.

Hedge funds and finance companies that are very interested in advanced program trading have been putting a lot of resources into machine learning and AI.

The NSA (US National Spy Agency) and DARPA and other governments are putting hundreds of millions to billions into brain emulation and advanced AI and massive supercomputing.

There are around 2000 billionaires in the world.

Most are not funding any high level computing but just buy and sell real estate, commodities, energy and other traditional means of amassing great wealth.

There are significant numbers of wealthy individuals and companies who are interested and are advancing AI and computing.

Most are not white knights like Elon Musk with his billion towards OpenAI.

Many would be considered by the public to be "villains" who caused the 2007 financial crisis through their pursuit of self interest by gambling with other peoples money to win billion dollar bonuses or winnings.

If AGI could be used to gain financial advantages like the Rothschild family had in the 1800s then the current financial people would seem likely to pursue it.

It is also very commonly reported that the Rothschilds' advanced information was due to the speed of a prize coop of racing pigeons held by the family. However, this is widely disputed and the Rothschild archive states that, although pigeon post "was one of the tools of success in the Rothschild business strategy during the period c.1820-1850, [...] it is likely that a series of couriers on horseback brought the news of Waterloo to Rothschild.

Far fewer pure AGI projects

Ben's Opencog wiki list of AGI projects

An integrative architecture designed to embody synergies between multiple learning algorithms and representations. Current work focuses on controlling a learning agent in a virtual world, with robotics work on the horizon.

An Embodied Artificial Life approach to evolution of an AGI, focusing on ethology and maze-running as a measuring stick for progress.

Russell Wallacee
Turn programs into procedural knowledge, via logical reasoning about code, guided by heuristics both hand coded and automatically learned.

Matt Mahoney
AGI = lots of narrow specialists + a distributed index for routing messages to the right experts + economic incentives to be useful in a decentralized, hostile market.
Language model evaluation and cost estimation by text compression.

Arthur T. Murray
Implement spreading activation as AI Minds in Forth and JavaScript.

Will Pearson
Designing an architecture to allow experimental code creation to not interfere with other parts of the system, while allowing the parts of the system to change in purposeful fashion. -Note not a full AGI approach but a prerequisite project.

YKY (Yan King Yin)
higher-order logic + fuzzy-probabilistic calculus + inductive learning.

Joseph Henry
An architecture based on replicating human cognitive abilities through direct engineering of self-modifying discrete task modules, held together via a highly general knowledge representation language

March 16, 2016

12 Navy Future SSBN(X) Nuclear Missile Submarines will cost about $96 billion to procure

The US Navy has identified the Ohio replacement program, also known as the SSBN(X) program, as the Navy’s top priority program. The Navy wants to procure the first Ohio replacement boat in FY2021, and the $773.1 million in AP funding requested for FY2017 represents the initial procurement funding for that boat.

The estimated total acquisition cost of the Ohio replacement program is about $95.8 billion in constant FY2015 dollars, including about $11.8 billion in research and development costs and about $84.0 billion in procurement costs. The Navy as of February 2015 estimated the procurement cost of the lead boat in the program at $14.5 billion in then-year dollars, including $5.7 billion in detailed design and nonrecurring engineering (DD/NRE) costs for the entire class, and $8.8 billion in construction costs for the ship itself.

The Navy in January 2015 estimated the average procurement cost of boats 2 through 12 in the Ohio replacement program at about $5.2 billion each in FY2010 dollars, and is working to reduce that figure to a target of $4.9 billion each in FY2010 dollars. Even with this cost-reduction effort, observers are concerned about the impact the Ohio replacement program will have on the Navy’s ability to procure other types of ships at desired rates in the 2020s and early 2030s.

The U.S. Navy operates three kinds of submarines—nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs), nuclear-powered cruise missile submarines (SSGNs), and nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). The SSNs and SSGNs are multi-mission ships that perform a variety of peacetime and wartime missions. They do not carry nuclear weapons. In the designations SSN, SSGN, SSBN, and SSBN(X), the SS stands for submarine, N stands for nuclear-powered (meaning the ship is powered by a nuclear reactor), G stands for guided missile (such as a cruise missile), B stands for ballistic missile, and (X) means the design of the ship has not yet been determined.

The Navy currently operates 14 Ohio (SSBN-726) class SSBNs. The boats are commonly called Trident SSBNs or simply Tridents because they carry Trident SLBMs.

Ohio-class SSBNs are designed to each carry 24 SLBMs, although by 2018, four SLBM launch tubes on each boat are to be deactivated, and the number of SLBMs that can be carried by each boat consequently is to be reduced to 20, so that the number of operational launchers and warheads in the U.S. force will comply with strategic nuclear arms control limits

Lockheed says their Laser Weapons are Ready for Use Today and laser modules can be used to scale power

“The [combat laser] technologies now exist,” said Paul Shattuck, company director for Directed Energy Systems. “They can be packaged into a size, weight, power and thermal which can be fit onto relevant tactical platforms, whether it’s a ship, whether it’s a ground vehicle or whether it’s an airborne platform.

It is no longer a technological problem to make laser weapons work. It’s one of integration at the service level.

Asked flatly if the services came to them tomorrow and asked for a laser weapon in the 30 KW range to be delivered, the two men, along with Robert Afzal, a senior fellow with Laser and Sensor Systems, agreed they could produce a viable weapon for fielding.

That doesn’t mean that giant city-melting lasers are on their way. Right now, the weapons are limited to the 15-30 KW scale; going much further requires figuring out how to deal with atmospheric interference, an issue which becomes more complicated with weapons mounted on airborne systems.

But a 30 KW weapon can still bore a hole through a two inch piece of steel in seconds.

Modular lasers can scale in power like computer servers being added to a rack

A number of advancements in recent years have allowed the company to move forward with laser technology, but the biggest one is the movement in fiber-laser technology, which is largely driven from developments in the commercial sector.

The men described the technology as similar to a rack of servers. Once you figure out how to connect them all, you can add more power by adding another server. The same is true for the laser weapons: you add more power slots into the rack and increase its power.

Lockheed confident they can fly demonstrator hypersonic missiles by 2018 and reusable hypersonic aircraft the size of an F-22 could be demoed in the 2020s

Lockheed CEO Hewson says Lockheed is now producing a controllable, low-drag, aerodynamic configuration capable of stable operations from takeoff to subsonic, transonic, supersonic and hypersonic, to Mach 6.

Hypersonic flight is defined as anything about Mach 5, meaning five times the speed of sound or 3,600 miles per hour. To put it into perspective, a jet flying at hypersonic speeds could cross the continental United States in about half an hour.

Lockheed is working on breakthroughs in new thermal protection systems, innovative aerodynamic shapes, navigation guidance and control improvements, and long-range communication capabilities.

Based on lessons learned from HTV-2, Lockheed is currently supporting two new customer efforts in hypersonics:

1. the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept, or HAWC, and
2. the Tactical Boost Glide vehicle

Lockheed’s secretive Skunkworks arms is working with Aerojet Rocketdyne to mature technologies for HAWC, a joint DARPA-US Air Force effort, according to Skunkworks executive vice president Rob Weiss. Lockheed’s HAWC uses a booster to get up to altitude and then fires a “scramjet” engine that funnels in oxygen from the outside air to reach upwards of Mach 5.

Lockheed will submit a proposal for the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept later this month, and expects a contract award in the middle of the year, Weiss said. A demonstrator aircraft will fly in the 2018 timeframe.

Marillyn Hewson said Lockheed's engineers are on the verge of making technology such as scramjet engines, which have been talked about for years, a reality. This illustration shows the design for the SR-72's engine. The plane will also have a 'warm structure' that will heat up during flight

Hewson also showed an image of a third hypersonic concept, similar to the HAWC but with a recoverable “turbine-based combined cycle” engine, Weiss explained. The HAWC’s booster is designed for a single use, he stressed. There is not yet a DARPA project for this capability, and Lockheed still needs to mature the propulsion technology, he said.

Lockheed estimates it will cost less than $1 billion to develop, build and fly a reusable hypersonic demonstrator aircraft the size of an F-22s than $1 billion.

Lockheed sees a hypersonic weapon capability in the 2020s, and a hypersonic air vehicle – manned or unmanned – in the 2030s

"The technology could also enable hypersonic passenger flights, and even easier access to space," she said. The question is whether there's an appetite for such an aircraft right now. "Now is the right time," Hewson insisted. "We know we must continue to disrupt ourselves before our competitors do."

Spiderfab, Expandable stations and Reusable rockets could make affordable Bezos vision of millions working in orbit and Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos envisions “millions” of people living in orbit as his exploration company, Blue Origin, and other commercial ventures develop spacecraft to make travel more widely available.

Investment from wealthy entrepreneurs with a passion for space will usher in a new era that makes leaving the Earth’s atmosphere accessible to anyone, Bezos said Tuesday.

Earlier, he announced that Blue Origin will put $200 million into a new rocket assembly facility and launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

"Our ultimate vision is millions of people living and working in space," Bezos said during a rare, 30-minute interview in Florida with reporters after the Blue Origin announcement.

"We have a long way to go."

The 51 year old Bezos the world’s seventh-richest man with a net worth of around $47 billion. Bezos is 3 and half times richer than Elon Musk ($13 billion net worth). Elon Musk also wants millions of people in space. Although Elon wants more people in cities in Mars than in orbit.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' Net Worth Soared by $32.1 Billion in 2015

Bigelow expandable space stations and larger reusable rockets would enable large scale space colonization

Bigelow Aerospace has designed 2100 cubic meter expandable space station modules which might be launchable by a slightly refined Spacex Heavy.
The larger planned Mars colonization transport (MCT) would be able to launch modules that are three to five times larger.
Fuel could be launched and stored at fuel depots in orbit. This would enable more cargo to be moved to Mars with refueling in orbit and other locations in space.

Spacex could launch 100 Bigelow 2100 cubic meter modules for about $1 billion using two reusable Spacex Heavies over as little as one year (one launch per week). Blue Origin might also be able to make larger reusable rockets.

This would be 200,000 cubic meters of volume. This would be enough for 2000 people with the same facilities per person as the Hercules resupply depot design.

Spacex could launch 1000 Bigelow 6000 cubic meter modules in one year.

This would be 600,000 cubic meters of volume. This would be enough for 6000 people with the same facilities per person as the Hercules resupply depot design.

Reaching 1 million people in orbit would be 170 of the one thousand expandable modules. 6000 people is a bit more than the number of people in a large aircraft carrier. The Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas has 3309 rooms and suites.

1 million people would be like 170 large light weight versions of cruise ships, hotels or air craft carrier structures in orbit.

Robotic and additive manufacturing could enable massive frames and massive solar power arrays

Tethers Unlimited is currently developing a revolutionary suite of technologies called "SpiderFab" to enable on-orbit fabrication of large spacecraft components such as antennas, solar panels, trusses, and other multifunctional structures. SpiderFab provides order-of-magnitude packing- and mass- efficiency improvements over current deployable structures and enables construction of kilometer-scale apertures within current launch vehicle capabilities, providing higher-resolution data at lower life-cycle cost.

They have received a $500,000 phase 2 NASA NIAC contract, which follows a $100,000 phase 1 contract to develop the technology.

100 of the 2100 cubic meter stations would be about $50 billion without any volume discount.
100 of the 6000 cubic meter station might be about $100 billion.
Launching with reusable rockets would be about $1 billion.
Say $10-20 billion for Spiderfab constructed solar power dish arrays and structure.
There would need to be $10-20 billion for operations.
It would be less than the cost of the international space station.

Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement

The US Navy has been procuring Virginia (SSN-774) class nuclear-powered attack submarines since FY1998. The two Virginia-class boats requested for procurement in FY2017 are to be the 25th and 26th boats in the class. The 10 Virginia-class boats programmed for procurement in FY2014-FY2018 (two per year for five years) are being procured under a multiyear-procurement (MYP)contract.

The Navy estimates the combined procurement cost of the two Virginia-class boats requested for procurement in FY2017 at $5,408.9 million, or an average of $2,704.5 million each. The boats have received a total of $1,623.3 million in prior-year advance procurement (AP) funding and $597.6 million in prior-year Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) funding. The Navy’s proposed FY2017 budget requests the remaining $3,188.0 million needed to complete the boats’ estimated combined procurement cost. The Navy’s proposed FY2017 budget also requests $1,767.2 million in AP funding for Virginia-class boats to be procured in future fiscal years, bringing the total FY2017 funding request for the program (excluding outfitting and post-delivery costs) to
$4,955.2 million.

The Navy’s proposed FY2017 budget also requests $97.9 million in research and development funding for the Virginia Payload Module (VPM).

The engines and other components of the planned B21 stealth bomber

The planned B21 stealth bomber will likely use a pair of unaugmented 28,000lbs-class F135s engines from the F-35 With some tweaks, such as an increased bypass ratio, a version of the F135 could probably produce more than 30,000lbs of thrust while potentially increasing fuel efficiency. Sixty thousand pounds of thrust should be more than adequate for a highly efficient flying wing that’s slightly smaller than the B-2.

The B-21’s electronic warfare systems will most likely be an advanced derivative of the F-35’s AN/ASQ-239 system—which is BAE Systems most advanced product. It is known that BAE Systems offered a much more capable next-generation electronic warfare suite that was rejected because of its lack of maturity. The B-21—with its open architecture design—will be provisioned to accept replacement hardware as time goes on.

About $20 billion for futuristic update to levees to protect against $62 billion of damage to San Francisco Bay Area by rising oceans by 2100

Kuth and Ranieri, the husband-and-wife founders of a namesake architecture firm in San Francisco's North Beach, submitted a proposal in the International Rising Tides competition to solve the problem of rising ocean water. The answer was was equal parts high-tech and high-design. They envisioned a "ventilated levee" that minimized impacts on the environment and bay views. BCDC's judges selected the project, dubbed Folding Water, as one of six winners of the competition.

Picture it as a narrow capital 'V' that sits mostly beneath the surface of the water, but stretches across the mouths of bay inlets. The top of the stem closest to the shore could double as a dock, and the edges might include locks for small craft. The oceanside stem would be capped with a mechanical wall that tilts higher as sea levels rise, creating a waterfall that drops into the space between.

Anyone standing on the shore would see a nearly natural maritime scene: a dock, the bay and a small waterfall when the levee is at work.

A system of "pump ventilators" would be built into the walls, returning excess water to the sea while mimicking the effects of tidal exchange. Natural pressure would force ocean waters and small sea life into the estuary through one side of these tubes, while the mixed water would be pumped back out the other side.

Protecting all the low-lying areas at risk along San Francisco Bay would require 10 to 15 levees, each of which could be calibrated to maintain the natural ecology of a specific cove.

March 15, 2016

AlphaGo closes out the five match Go series with a win over Lee Sedol in the human versus computer competition

Google DeepMind's program AlphaGo beat human Go World Champion Lee Sedol in the fifth match winning the 5 match series 4-1.

Militaries using technology to mimic civilian vehicles like realistic versions of Autobots will violate the Geneva Convention

Under article 37 of the 1949 Geneva conventions, ruses such as camouflage, decoys, mock operations and misinformation are all permitted however, complete disguising as a civilian is not.

‘Adaptiv’ technology [developed by BAE Systems in Sweden] uses cameras on-board the target, such as an armored vehicle to detect the infrared readings of the background and then project it from the vehicle to blend into the background. The technology can also be used to pretend to be a civilian car.

Adaptiv tech consists of an array of about 1000 hexagonal Peltier plates which can be rapidly heated and cooled to form any desired image, such as of the natural background or of a non-target object.

For crypsis, the panels can display an infrared image of the vehicle's background; this can be updated as the vehicle moves. For mimesis, an image of a chosen object, such as a car, can be retrieved from Adaptiv's library and superimposed on the background. The illustration shows Adaptiv mimicking a four wheel drive car, using part of the panel, while the rest of the panel is cryptic, imitating the natural background. The technology is said to reduce the range at which a vehicle would be detected to less than 500 meters.

The panels forming Adaptiv's pixels are hexagons approximately 5.5 inches (14 cm) wide. They are robust, contributing to the armour of the vehicle that carries them. The system allows its operator to "grab" a thermal image from a vehicle or other object for display.

The company intends to develop a lighter version that could be used on helicopters. A version for ships could in principle use larger panels.

An armored vehicle fitted with 'Adaptiv' infrared side panels, switched off (left), and on to simulate a large car (right), demonstrates both crypsis and mimesis.

March 14, 2016

Crowdfunding project aims to give children in developing world an AI-enhanced tablet

Artificial Intelligence researcher Ben Goertzel has launched a crowdfunding effort on indiegogo to develop an AI teaching tablet for children in developing countries. The project, called the YaNetu AI Teaching Tablet aims to create a tablet computer that will use advanced AI techniques to assist schoolchildren in the developing world in learning basic skills. Goertzel is the father of the open source OpenCOG software program, which has the ultimate aim of developing human-level AI intelligence. The tablet will teach children in the Amharic language, will be solar powered, and will be able to provide each student with individualized lessons.

The project aims to raise $90,000 to hire researchers to develop the necessary software, which will be coupled to a generic tablet and OpenCog software. Individuals who donate $250 will receive a YaNetu teaching tablet. Contributions to this project will be doubly effective since it will support education in rural Africa as well as the development of OpenCog software, which is 100% open source.

History of Carbon and Air Pollution in Charts

Russian President Putin declares Syria Mission Accomplished and the planned withdrawal of Russian Forces

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has abruptly declared that he is withdrawing the majority of Russian troops from Syria, saying the six-month military intervention had largely achieved its objective.

The news on Monday, relayed personally to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, in a telephone call from Putin, followed a meeting in the Kremlin with the Russian defence and foreign ministers. He said the pullout, scaling back an intervention that began at the end of September, is due to start on Tuesday.

His move was clearly designed to coincide with the start of Syrian peace talks in Geneva and will be seen as a sign that Russia believes it has done enough to protect Assad’s regime from collapse.

Putin said he had ordered his diplomatic staff to step up their efforts to achieve a settlement to end the civil war which has cost at least 250,000 lives and is due to enter its sixth year on Tuesday.

Moscow will, however, maintain a military presence in Syria, and a deadline for complete withdrawal has not yet been announced. Putin said that the existing Russian airbase in Hemeimeem in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia and a naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartous would continue to operate. The Russian air force has been capable of running 100 sorties a day from the base and would be able quickly to re-equip it if it felt the military balance required it to do so.

The Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said on Monday the intervention had led to the death of 2,000 rebels fighting against the Syrian government and the killing of 17 field commanders. He added that more than 200 oil installations had been attacked, 400 settlements taken and the chief route to supply rebel fighters from Turkey had been cut off.

Russian airstrikes killed 4,408 people including 1,733 civilians between September 2015 and early March 2016, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

March 13, 2016

​Simple Origami fold may hold the key to designing Pop-up Furniture, Medical Devices and Scientific Tools

Mahadevan and his team have characterized a fundamental origami fold, or tessellation, that could be used as a building block to create almost any three-dimensional shape, from nanostructures to buildings.

The folding pattern, known as the Miura-ori, is a periodic way to tile the plane using the simplest mountain-valley fold in origami. It was used as a decorative item in clothing at least as long ago as the 15th century. A folded Miura can be packed into a flat, compact shape and unfolded in one continuous motion, making it ideal for packing rigid structures like solar panels. It also occurs in nature in a variety of situations, such as in insect wings and certain leaves.

“Could this simple folding pattern serve as a template for more complicated shapes, such as saddles, spheres, cylinders, and helices?” asked Mahadevan.

“We found an incredible amount of flexibility hidden inside the geometry of the Miura-ori,” said Levi Dudte, graduate student in the Mahadevan lab and first author of the paper. “As it turns out, this fold is capable of creating many more shapes than we imagined.”

Think surgical stents that can be packed flat and pop-up into three-dimensional structures once inside the body or dining room tables that can lean flat against the wall until they are ready to be used.

Optimal calculated origami tessellations and their physical paper analogues.

Geometry of generalized Miura-ori.

Nature Materials - Programming curvature using origami tessellations

Harvard creates three-dimensional actuated scalable snapology-origami-inspired transformable metamaterial

Imagine a house that could fit in a backpack or a wall that could become a window with the flick of a switch.

Harvard researchers have designed a new type of foldable material that is versatile, tunable and self actuated. It can change size, volume and shape; it can fold flat to withstand the weight of an elephant without breaking, and pop right back up to prepare for the next task.

“We’ve designed a three-dimensional, thin-walled structure that can be used to make foldable and reprogrammable objects of arbitrary architecture, whose shape, volume and stiffness can be dramatically altered and continuously tuned and controlled,” said Johannes T. B. Overvelde, graduate student in Bertoldi’s lab and first author of the paper.

The structure is inspired by an origami technique called snapology, and is made from extruded cubes with 24 faces and 36 edges. Like origami, the cube can be folded along its edges to change shape. The team demonstrated, both theoretically and experimentally, that the cube can be deformed into many different shapes by folding certain edges, which act like hinges. The team embedded pneumatic actuators into the structure, which can be programmed to deform specific hinges, changing the cube’s shapes and size, and removing the need for external input.

Snapology Inspired

Analysis of the possible shapes of the extruded cube unit cell.

Fabrication and deformation of a single extruded cube unit cell and the corresponding mechanical metamaterial.

Nature Communications - A three-dimensional actuated origami-inspired transformable metamaterial with multiple degrees of freedom

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