April 01, 2016

Submarine and Missile Sensors to be used in Mitsubishi Self-Driving Cars

Mitsubishi is a titan of Japanese industry, a manufacturer of everything from space rockets to rice cookers. Mitsubishi is also one of Japan's key defense contractors, building the Type 10 main battle tank and Soryu-class attack submarine. Its AAM-4B medium range air-to-air missile was the first with an advanced electronically scanned array radar, making it even more advanced than the American AMRAAM missile.

Now Mitsubishi wants to get into self-driving cars, and it reckons that its military technology will give it a leg up on the competition.

Mitsubishi Electric—the division responsible for developing the AAM-4B—is planning on using sensors developed for defense applications to give autonomous cars the eyes and ears to navigate the road. Components such as millimeter-wave radars, sonars, sensors and cameras -- some of which were developed to guide missiles -- are being adapted for use in self-driving vehicles that will hit the roads by 2020.

Mitsubishi will begin production of the components for lane-keeping and automatic braking systems in the year starting April 2017.

The Japanese company will combine the sensing technologies with its quasi-zenith satellite system that would send up-to-date location data to vehicles, Adachi said. Mitsubishi will have three more such satellites in geosynchronous orbit over Japan by around 2018 to gather data round the clock

Mitsubishi, which demonstrated an autonomous driving prototype at the Tokyo Motor Show last year after starting development of driver-assistance technologies two years back, was encouraged by the demand for the EyeSight system in Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.’s Subaru brand, according to Adachi. Subaru’s system combines lane-keeping steering assistance, pre-collision braking control and adaptive cruise control to enhance safety.

Paul Allen expanding Institute for Artificial Intelligence

The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a sister company to Paul Allen’s Institute for Brain Science, plans to hire 25 people in the next year as it prepares to take its Aristo technology to the eighth grade, moving on from teaching it fourth-grade science.

Artificial intelligence has been all over the news lately, and this time not solely over fears that machines may eliminate people’s jobs. AlphaGo, an AI program developed by DeepMind, a Google company, beat one of the world’s foremost Go champions in March.

AlphaGo can train by playing the board game 24 hours a day, seven days a week. AI2’s Aristo cannot. There are only a finite number of scientific test questions in existence, and the AI2’s Aristo technology must learn using them

The machine also learns from researchers across the world. AI2 recently wrapped up a global competition in which teams ran their own programs through an eighth-grade science test to see which could get the top score.

The Allen Institute awarded the $50,000 grand prize to Chaim Linhart, a senior researcher at TaKaDu, an environmental-services company in Israel.

Next year, the stakes will be much higher. AI2 plans to offer a $1 million prize if any team can beat a certain threshold — the exact percentage has not yet been determined — followed by smaller monetary prizes for runners-up.

IBM’s resistive computing could accelerate Artificial Intelligence by 5000 times over Nvidia GPUs

IBM making progress with resistive computing. the idea for resistive computing is to have compute units that are analog in nature, small in substance, and can retain their history so they can learn during the training process.

Accelerating neural networks with hardware isn’t new to IBM. It recently announced the sale of some of its TrueNorth chips to Lawrence National Labs for AI research. TrueNorth’s design is neuromorphic, meaning that the chips roughly approximate the brain’s architecture of neurons and synapses. Despite its slow clock rate of 1 KHz, TrueNorth can run neural networks very efficiently because of its million tiny processing units that each emulate a neuron.

IBM researchers Tayfun Gokmen and Yuri Vlasov propose a new chip architecture, using resistive computing to create tiles of millions of Resistive Processing Units (RPUs), which can be used for both training and running neural networks.

A “human-scale” simulation with 100 trillion synapses (with relatively simple models of neurons and synapses) required 96 Blue Gene/Q racks of the Lawrence Livermore National Lab Sequoia supercomputer—and, yet, the simulation ran 1,500 times slower than real-time. A hypothetical computer to run this simulation in real-time would require 12GW, whereas the human brain consumes merely 20W.

The RPU design proposed is expected to accommodate a variety of deep neural network (DNN) architectures, including fully-connected and convolutional, which makes them potentially useful across nearly the entire spectrum of neural network applications. Using existing CMOS technology, and assuming RPUs in 4,096-by-4,096-element tiles with an 80-nanosecond cycle time, one of these tiles would be able to execute about 51 GigaOps per second, using a minuscule amount of power. A chip with 100 tiles and a single complementary CPU core could handle a network with up to 16 billion weights while consuming only 22 watts (only two of which are actually from the RPUs — the rest is from the CPU core needed to help get data in and out of the chip and provide overall control)

Using chips densely packed with these RPU tiles, the researchers claim that, once built, a resistive-computing-based AI system can achieve performance improvements of up to 30,000 times compared with current architectures, all with a power efficiency of 84,000 GigaOps per-second per-watt.

Who Has Nuclear Weapons, And How Many Do They Have?

The Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation, estimates there are more than 15,000 nuclear weapons around the world; the U.S. and Russia possess 93 percent of them.

The exact number of nuclear weapons in each country's arsenal is often a closely guarded secret

Israel about 80 but capable of promptly making 100-200 more

Although the Israeli government neither confirms nor denies that it possesses nuclear weapons, it is generally accepted by friend and foe alike that Israel is a nuclear-armed stateÑand has been so for nearly half a century. The basis for this conclusion has been strengthened significantly since our previous estimate in 2002, particularly thanks to new documents obtained by scholars under the US Freedom of Information Act and other openly available sources. Bulletin of the American Scientist's conclude that many of the public claims about the size of the Israeli nuclear arsenal are exaggerated. We estimate that Israel has a stockpile of approximately 80 nuclear warheads for delivery by two dozen missiles, a couple of squadrons of aircraft, and perhaps a small number of sea-launched cruise missiles.

Although Israel has produced enough plutonium for 100-200 warheads, the number of delivery platforms and estimates made by the U.S. intelligence community suggest that the stockpile might include approximately 80 warheads.

Lower estimate of 120 operational nukes for China

China's nuclear weapons total: 260

The number of warheads on each submarine has been lowered from 48 to 40. This has lowered the number of “operationally available” warheads from 160 to 120. By the mid-2020s, the stockpile will be reduced to “not more than 180.”

US has 4717 warheads, 2500 retired warheads and 20,000 nuclear cores and 5000 assemblies

The U.S. government declared in April 2015 that its stockpile included 4,717 warheads as of September 2014. Since then, a small number of warheads are thought to have been retired. In addition to the roughly 4,670 warheads in the military stockpile, the U.S. government in April 2015 announced that approximately 2,500 retired warheads at that time were awaiting dismantlement. In addition, close to 20,000 plutonium cores (pits) and some 5,000 Canned Assemblies (secondaries) from dismantled warheads are in storage at the Pantex Plant in Texas and Y-12 plant in Tennessee


Russia has 4,490 nukes in their military stockpile, an estimated 2,800 retired warheads are estimated to be awaiting dismantlement. Details are scarce, but we estimate that Russia is dismantling approximately 500 retired warheads per year.

Total nuclear weapons: 7,300, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
Number that are operational: 1,790
Number retired/awaiting dismantlement: 4,490
Total nuclear tests, approximately: 715, according to the Arms Control Association.

North Korea

Total nuclear weapons: Unknown. The U.S. said in February it had intelligence indicating the secretive nation could soon have enough plutonium for nuclear weapons and was taking steps toward a long-range missile system, but experts do not believe North Korea currently has the technology to deliver weapons.
Total nuclear tests, approximately: 4

March 31, 2016

Tiny MEMS gravity sensor could detect drug tunnels, mineral deposits and trigger a commercial revolution larger than MEMS motion sensors

A new device the size of a postage stamp can detect 1-part-per-billion changes in Earth’s gravitational field—equivalent to what the gizmo would experience if it were lifted a mere 3 millimeters. The technology may become so cheap and portable it could one day be mounted on drones to spot everything from hidden drug tunnels to valuable mineral deposits.

Gravity’s force is nearly the same everywhere on Earth. But there can be minute fluctuations, based on the density of the rock or other material below. Distance from Earth’s core, which varies according to altitude, also affects the magnitude of our planet’s gravitational attraction.

Most devices that measure these gravitational differences, called gravimeters, are based on two principles: They either measure the time it takes an object to fall a certain distance, or they measure the distance that a certain weight stretches a spring. (The stronger the force of gravity, the faster an object will fall, and the farther it will stretch a mass hanging by a spring.) In either case, state-of-the-art gravimeters cost more than $100,000 and are the size and weight of a car battery or larger—all of which severely limits their uses, says Giles Hammond, a physicist at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom. Although portable, current devices—some of which weigh as much as 150 kilograms—can’t easily fit in many places scientists would like to use them or be readily carried to remote locations or mounted on small drones.

Hammond and his colleagues set out to build a smaller, cheaper spring-based gravimeter. The heart of their device is a postage stamp–sized bit of silicon; it’s carved so that in its center there’s a 25-milligram bit of material left suspended by three stiff, fiberlike structures that are each about 5 micrometers across (less than one-third the diameter of the finest human hair). Together, these act as the spring. As the gravitational field surrounding the device changes—such as it would if it passed over a large underground cavern or a dense deposit of minerals, because of the sudden change of density in the underlying rocks—the tiny bit of silicon bobs up and down in response to that change, Hammond says. Those movements are tracked by monitoring the silicon’s shadow as it moves across a light detector.

The team’s gravimeter is so sensitive it can track the up-and-down motions of Earth’s surface caused by the changing positions of the sun and moon,

A postage stamp–sized device (on platform) is the heart of a new gadget that can measure minuscule changes in Earth’s gravitational field. [Giles Hammond]

Nature - Measurement of the Earth tides with a MEMS gravimeter

China proposes $50+ trillion Global UHV grid connecting all power generation including massive wind farm at the North Pole by 2050

China is proposing a $50+ trillion global energy grid. Global Energy Interconnection (GEI), a vision of a world power grid, was outlined by the State Grid Corporation of China ("State Grid")

It would be based upon a global network of Ultra High Voltage power lines connecting global power generation including massive wind farm at the North Pole and solar power from equatorial areas to energy users around the world.

If renewable generation grows at an annual growth rate of 12.4 percent over the world, then by 2050 renewable energy shall increase to 80 percent of total consumption, realizing clean energy supplement forever and completely solving the dilemmas caused by fossil fuels.

By 2050, the total CO2 emission will be controlled at about 11.5 billion tons, half of emissions in 1990, holding the temperature rise to within 2 degrees.

The accumulated investment on the global grid will exceed $50 trillion, tremendously boosting the development of new-emerging strategic industries, renewable energy, new materials and electric vehicle.

From now on to 2020, we need to promote clean energy development, domestic grid interconnection and smart grid construction in various countries. By 2030, large energy bases shall be established and grids shall be interconnected among countries within the continent.

China a leader in UHV grids

At higher voltages, eg 500kV and above, transmission losses over hundreds of kilometres are much reduced. At ultra-high voltages (UHV) eg 1000 kV AC or 800 kV DC, losses are further reduced (eg to 5% over 1000 km) but capital requirements are greater. In Germany consideration is being given to converting some existing AC lines to DC to increase their capacity. In the USA it is estimated that transmission losses amount to about 6%, or 250 TWh per year, worth some $20 billion. In India transmission losses in 2011 were 222 TWh (21%).

China is developing a very sophisticated grid system, since its main coal deposits are in the north, its main wind potential in the far west and its nuclear plants are on the coast – close to load centres. The grid system run by the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) and China Southern Power Grid Co (CSG) is growing rapidly, utilising ultra high voltage (1000 kV AC from 2009, and 800 kV DC from 2010) transmission. By 2015 SGCC invested CNY 500 billion ($75.5 billion) to extend the UHV grid to 40,000 km. By 2020, the capacity of the UHV network is expected to be some 300-400 GW, which will function as the backbone of the whole system, connecting six regional clusters. By 2020 there will be 400 GWe of clean energy sources connected, of which hydropower will account for 78 GWe, and wind power from the north a further significant portion. Wind capacity by 2020 is planned to be over 100 GWe. At the end of 2009, China had budgeted to spend $600 billion upgrading its grid. Over 2014 to 2020 high-voltage transmission lines are expected to increase from 1.15 million circuit km to 1.6 million circuit km, in line with a substantial increase in generation capacity, and operational transmission losses are expected to be 5.7%, down from 6.6% in 2010.

The USA has a patchwork of grids which are often barely interconnected. In 2012 a report from the American Society of Civil Engineers said that ageing equipment and lack of capacity was leading to intermittent failures, and said that an extra $107 billion investment was needed by 2020.

By 2050, we need to accelerate the development of energy bases at the North Pole (wind power) and the Equatorial Regions (solar power), realizing intercontinental interconnections. By then the global energy interconnection will basically come into being.

The GEI initiative will require an unprecedented technology overhaul, including innovations in power, grid, and storage technologies.

State Grid has developed the necessary ultra-high voltage (UHV) grid technology to serve as a platform for extensive development, deployment and utilization of clean energy worldwide. State Grid has already built seven of its advanced power lines in China and has ten more under construction. Last year the company announced it was building an almost 1,300 mile long line in Brazil, connecting a hydroelectric dam on the Amazon River to cities in the southeastern part of the country.

According to estimates from State Grid's research institute, it costs USD$0.08 per kilowatt-hour to generate and send wind power to China's Xinjiang gird, and USD$0.04 to send it to Germany via UHV lines. The total cost of USD$0.12 is half that of clean power's generation cost in Germany.

Neurophage Pharma may be able to treat Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Huntingtons and other brain diseases

Israeli scientist named Beka Solomon, a professor at Tel Aviv University, made a serendipitous discovery one day when she was testing a new class of agents against Alzheimer’s disease. If it pans out, it might mark the beginning of the end of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and many other neurodegenerative diseases. It’s a remarkable story, and the main character isn’t Solomon or any other scientist but a humble virus that scientists refer to as M13.

Among the many varieties of viruses, there is a kind that only infects bacteria. Known as bacteriophages, or just phages, these microbes are ancient (over three billion years old) and ubiquitous: they’re found everywhere from the ocean floor to human stomachs. The phage M13’s goal is to infect just one type of bacteria, Escherichia coli, or E. coli, which can be found in copious amounts in the intestines of mammals. Like other microorganisms, phages such as M13 have only one purpose: to pass on their genes. In order to do this, they have developed weapons to enable them to invade, take over, and even kill their bacterial hosts. Before the advent of antibiotics, in fact, doctors occasionally used phages to fight otherwise incurable bacterial infections.

Neurophage Pharmaceuticals is a company formed around using the key proteins of the M13 virus to treat disease.

M13 phage-treated mice had 80% fewer plaques than untreated ones.

They were able to show the M13 phage dissolved amyloid-beta plaques when the phage was delivered through the rodents’ nasal passages. Over the next two years, researchers at NeuroPhage discovered something totally unexpected: the M13 virus could also dissolve other amyloid aggregates—the tau tangles found in Alzheimer’s and also the amyloid plaques associated with other diseases, including alpha-synuclein (Parkinson’s), huntingtin (Huntington’s disease), and superoxide dismutase (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). The phage even worked against the amyloids in prion diseases (a class that includes Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). Fisher and his colleagues demonstrated this first in test tubes and then in a series of animal experiments. Astonishingly, the simple M13 virus appeared in principle to possess the properties of a “pan therapy,” a universal elixir of the kind the chemist Chris Dobson had imagined.

The M13 phage's special abilities involved a set of proteins displayed on the tip of the virus, called GP3.

March 30, 2016

Lockheed sells an order for a dozen LMH1 hybrid airships

Lockheed Martin has landed its first contract for the hybrid airship it created inside its top secret Skunk Works division. In a deal valued at $480 million, Straightline Aviation (SLA) has signed a letter of intent to purchase 12 of the heavier-than-air airships that measure nearly a football field long. First delivery is scheduled for 2018, with the final airship expected no later than 2021.

The helium-filled airships will be able to carry 20 tons of cargo to remote places without roads. They will even be able to hover over open water. Lockheed has been pitching the airships as a cheaper, more environmentally friendly way to deliver supplies and equipment.

"There is a real need for this," said SLA CEO Mike Kendrick. "It can cost up to $1 billion to put all the infrastructure in for an oil well." He said falling commodity prices have not hurt interest in the airships — quite the opposite, given the cost savings — and U.K.-based SLA has four or five customers ready to try out the airships whenever they're finally ready.

Russia sells commercial space company Sea Launch

Russia sold the commercial space project known as Sea Launch. They would not say who the buyer was.

Sea Launch was founded in 1995 as a joint-venture between Russia's largest space company Energia, U.S. aerospace giant Boeing, with participation of firms in Norway and Ukraine. The concept is simple: a floating launch platform that sails to the Earth's equator to reduce launch costs.


Most likely the buyer was Boeing, because they hold a judgment against Russians for $365 million.

In 2014, Sea launch faced procurement difficulties as relations between Russia and Ukraine collapsed in the wake of Moscow's annexation of Crimea. Sea Launch is designed to work with Zenit rockets — built in Ukraine, but some 70 percent of the components are Russian.

There are two possible ways this can develop from now -- either the Zenit rocket will get re-motorized to RD-815 engine to become an all-Ukrainian vehicle or Russians will try to renew the existing sourcing scheme with RD-170. Either way Ukraine wins. Russian plans to shut off Ukraine from commercial space have failed.

We do not understand 149 of the 473 genes in Craig Venter’s artificial cell with the minimum genome needed for life

Genomics entrepreneur Craig Venter has created a synthetic cell that contains the smallest genome of any known, independent organism. Functioning with 473 genes, the cell is a milestone in his team’s 20-year quest to reduce life to its bare essentials and, by extension, to design life from scratch.

Venter, who has co-founded a company that seeks to harness synthetic cells for making industrial products, says that the feat heralds the creation of customized cells to make drugs, fuels and other products. But an explosion in powerful ‘gene-editing’ techniques, which enable relatively easy and selective tinkering with genomes, raises a niggling question: why go to the trouble of making new life forms when you can simply tweak what already exists?

The genome of the minimal cells is like nothing in nature. Venter says that the cell, which is described in a paper released on 24 March in Science, constitutes a brand new, artificial species.

“The idea of building whole genomes is one of the dreams and promises of synthetic biology,” says Paul Freemont, a synthetic biologist at Imperial College London, who is not involved in the work.

The design and synthesis of genomes from scratch remains a niche pursuit, and is technically demanding. By contrast, the use of genome editing is soaring — and its most famous tool, CRISPR–Cas9, has already gained traction in industry, agriculture and medicine, notes George Church, a genome scientist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, who works with CRISPR. “With much less effort, CRISPR came around and suddenly there are 30,000 people practising CRISPR, if not more.”

Thomas Deerinck and Mark Ellisman/NCMIR/UCSD. Each cell of JCVI-syn3.0 contains just 473 genes, fewer than any other independent organism.

Unicorn like Rhino existed 29000 years ago when humans were making clay figures and had invented the bow and arrow

A long-extinct animal known as the Siberian unicorn—which was actually a long-horned rhinoceros—may have walked the Earth 29,000 years ago, at the same time as prehistoric humans.

32000 years ago, human populations around Europe figure out how to harden clay figures by firing them in an oven at high temperatures.

Around 30,000 years ago, humans invented the bow and arrow.

The oldest ceramic Venus of Dolní Věstonice existed around 29000 years ago.

Humans were using stone tools.

Evidence of oat harvesting dating to 30,600 BC has been found in Paglicci Cave, Italy. Evidence of plant cultivation dating from 23,000 years ago has been found at the Ohalo II site

The Venus of Brassempouy is preserved in the Musée d'Archéologie Nationale at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris.

Extra long M777A2 howitzer will have 70 kilometer range instead of 30 kilometers

Picatinny Arsenal engineers have been working to create a longer, newly modified M777A2 howitzer that has the potential to double the range of current M777 artillery systems. Charged with developing technology to extend the range of all 155mm artillery, the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) project is funded by science and technology office at the US Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center.

The ERCA program evaluates the introduction of a longer barrel, developed for the XM907 Common Cannon Assembly Support system, as well as the XM1113 rocket assisted projectile and XM654 supercharge, an autoloader and new fire control system.

The M777 can shoot about 30 kilometers, but once all of the upgrades are complete the M777A2 will be able to shoot about 70 kilometers

The newly modified M777A2 howitzer has the potential to double the system's current artillery range. Benet Labs designed the tube and Picatinny designed all of the carriage modifications. Photo by Erin Usawicz.

March 29, 2016

Stem cell derived neurons regenerate damaged corticospinal tracts of rats

Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, with colleagues in Japan and Wisconsin, report that they have successfully directed stem cell-derived neurons to regenerate lost tissue in damaged corticospinal tracts of rats, resulting in functional benefit.

"The corticospinal projection is the most important motor system in humans," said senior study author Mark Tuszynski, MD, PhD, professor in the UC San Diego School of Medicine Department of Neurosciences and director of the UC San Diego Translational Neuroscience Institute. "It has not been successfully regenerated before. Many have tried, many have failed -- including us, in previous efforts."

"The new thing here was that we used neural stem cells for the first time to determine whether they, unlike any other cell type tested, would support regeneration. And to our surprise, they did."

The researchers grafted multipotent neural progenitor cells into sites of spinal cord injury in rats. The stem cells were directed to specifically develop as a spinal cord, and they did so robustly, forming functional synapses that improved forelimb movements in the rats. The feat upends an existing belief that corticospinal neurons lacked internal mechanisms needed for regeneration.

"There is more work to do prior to moving to humans," Tuszynski said. We must establish long-term safety and long-term functional benefit in animals. We must devise methods for transferring this technology to humans in larger animal models. And we must identify the best type of human neural stem cell to bring to the clinic."

Corticospinal axons extensively regenerate into NPC grafts.

Nature Medicine - Spinal cord reconstitution with homologous neural grafts enables robust corticospinal regeneration

Baidu using AI to turn large amounts of data into huge amounts of value

Baidu's FaceYou app lets you add all sorts of spooky effects or animal characteristics to a digital image of your face.

Face You makes use of an AI technique called deep learning to automatically identify key points on a person’s face, so that software can then position and stretch a virtual mask with amazing accuracy.

Deep learning is driving a lot more than just goofy apps at Baidu, though. It is making existing products smarter and helping the company’s engineers dream up many entirely new ideas.

Baidu is China’s most successful Internet business: over 92 percent of the country’s more than 536 million Internet search users employ its portal services and mobile apps. And it continues to grow. In the past year it has moved into new areas, including music streaming, insurance, and banking.

Baidu's AI team created deep-learning platform called Paddle that engineers in other departments could use. And researchers from the institute are often embedded within other departments. As a result, deep learning has been used to improve Baidu’s antivirus filters and to predict when a hard drive in one of the company’s giant server farms will fail, among other things.

Neuromorphic supercomputer has 16 million neurons

Today, Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) and IBM announced the development of a new Scale-up Synaptic Supercomputer (NS16e) that highly integrates 16 TrueNorth Chips in a 4×4 array to deliver 16 million neurons and 256 million synapses. LLNL will also receive an end-to-end software ecosystem that consists of a simulator; a programming language; an integrated programming environment; a library of algorithms as well as applications; firmware; tools for composing neural networks for deep learning; a teaching curriculum; and cloud enablement.

The $1 million computer has 16 IBM microprocessors designed to mimic the way the brain works.

IBM says it will be five to seven years before TrueNorth sees widespread commercial use, but the Lawrence Livermore test is a big step in that direction.

Like the human brain, TrueNorth doesn’t burn a lot of energy. A server chip typically consumes upward of 150 watts; 16 TrueNorth chips, just 2.5 watts.

Qualcomm is working on a similar chip called Zeroth. Microsoft researchers are experimenting with programmable processors designed to work with the company’s Bing search engine.

Russia Navy getting improved 885M submarines in 2016 but next subs could use composite structures

The Russian Navy will take delivery of an improved Project 885M Yasen-class attack submarine in 2016. They hope to procure a minimum of eight Yasen-class attack boats.

The Yasen-class boats do not make use of a double-hull—instead it has hybrid design with a lighter structure over the vessel’s pressure hull according to Russian media reports. Another unique feature for a Russian vessel is that it incorporates a spherical bow sonar called the Irtysh-Amfora for the first time. As a result, Severodvinsk has its torpedo tubes located at about mid-ship like U.S. submarines. The vessel has eight torpedo tubes, four of which are 650mm tubes while the rest are 533mm tubes. Combat Fleets of the World estimates that the Yasen-class may carry as many as 30 torpedoes.

The Project 885M is an impressive and very capable vessel, it is not quite an equal to the latest American Virginia-class boats in terms of acoustical or sensor performance. In terms of raw performance, the Severodvinsk and her sisters are likely more similar to the U.S. Navy’s three Seawolf-class attack boats.

A next-generation Russian nuclear submarines may use composite structures — imagine something akin to a cutting-edge carbon fiber — in an attempt to drastically reduce their acoustical signatures.

Multilayer composite coatings for the body, bow and stern rudders, stabilizers, cutting the fence, even propellers and shaft line could be used in the new generation of Russian submarines. The goal is to dramatically reduce the detectability of the boat.

The use of composites in the construction of new ships can not only reduce the weight and increase the reliability but also reduce operating costs, because composites do not require painting and are not subject to corrosion. This type of design can be manufactured in one process, which reduces the complexity of manufacturing the housing parts or assemblies 30-40% mechanisms.

Currently, decisions on the basis of composite materials are bench testing. According to Valery Polovinkina first adaptive composite propeller can be presented to the full-scale tests already in 2018.

The appearance of these boats is expected after the completion of the current shipbuilding program for 4th generation submarines: strategic submarines of Project 955 Type "Northwind" and multi-purpose attack submarines of Project 885 type "Ash".

Near term airplane engines that are 20% more efficient and 70% efficiency gains in the 2020s

Pratt and Whitney and CFM International are making new more efficient airplane engines. Pratt and Whitney says its new engines—which use an internal gearbox to slow down the speed of the fan—could save 20 percent on fuel consumption compared to an airliner with a conventional engine. Competitor CFM International, meanwhile, has introduced its own advanced engine, called the Leap, which could achieve similar improvements without such a radical break from existing technology. Both new engines have been deployed on different versions of Airbus’s new jet, the A320neo.

Pratt and Whitney spent more than 20 years and $1 billion developing its new geared turbofan engines, which use larger fans (up to 81 inches in diameter on the A320neo) and a gearbox to make the fans rotate more slowly than the internal turbine that drives them, making them more efficient than traditional engines. Adding the gearbox, however, makes the engines heavier and increases aerodynamic drag. The PurePower PW1000G engine's fan-drive gear system is just one component of this next-generation engine. The PurePower PW1000G engine also incorporates advances in aerodynamics, lightweight materials and other major technology improvements in the high-pressure spool, low-pressure turbine, combustor, controls, engine health monitoring and more.

The CFM International Leap engine uses lightweight composite materials, such as carbon fiber fan blades, to achieve energy efficiency gains that the company says are comparable to those of the Pratt and Whitney engine. The Leap represents “the ultimate refinement of the traditional turbofan engine,” says aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia, vice president for analysis at the Teal Group.

NASA is supporting R and D on a number of experimental aircraft, including the D8, a novel jumbo-jet design being developed by a partnership that includes Pratt and Whitney, MIT, and Aurora Flight Sciences.

The D8 configuration has the potential of achieving a 71% reduction in fuel burn, a 60 EPNdB reduction in noise, and an 87% reduction in LTO NOx – all relative to a best-in-class Boeing 737-800 narrow-body aircraft.

The efficiency gains of the D8 are the result of a tightly integrated design approach, considering the air vehicle as a single, integrated system rather than an assembly of individual parts. For example, increased lift generated by the wide “double-bubble” fuselage means smaller wings are needed to carry the vehicle’s weight, resulting in less fuel to fly a given mission. When the engines are integrated into the back of the fuselage, thrust requirements are further reduced due to efficiencies from Boundary Layer Ingestion (BLI). This means that smaller engines can be used, which reduces weight, and hence fuel even further. This cycle of repeated optimization is what gives the D8 such groundbreaking efficiency, but it requires that all facets of the aircraft be designed together.

March 28, 2016

Nervana Systems creating optimized deep learning chip for accelerated deep learning

Nervana Systems ise building the first optimized, full-stack platform for machine intelligence. It will be built for ease of use, speed, and scale. Nervana’s brain-inspired deep learning solution abstracts away the complexities associated with AI development. They allow users to focus on building solutions that tackle the world’s toughest machine learning problems.

Nervana Systems has launched a deep learning cloud while it builds a chip designed for AI.

After two years of effort and more than $24 million in venture funding Nervana Systems has opened up its deep learning cloud so any business can build computer models that can learn.

They are building a specialized chip for deep learning.

Nervana’s cloud is based on graphics processors purchased from Nvidia, but the founders of Nervana hope to replace the underlying hardware by the end of 2016 with specialized chips of their own design. Until then, the founders have both re-engineered the firmware that the Nvidia chips use and built their own software framework so deep learning jobs run faster on their cloud.

Nervana Systems was founded by Naveen Rao, the former head of Qualcomm’s artificial intelligence chip efforts and two others who also left the mobile chip company to start Nervana.

Nirvana's Neon™ framework is open source and can be deployed on CPUs, GPUs or custom Nervana hardware. It supports all the commonly used models including convnets, MLPs, RNNs, LSTMs and autoencoders.

Why neon™?

• Fastest deep learning framework
• Easy to use Python-based framework
• Assembler level optimization for Maxwell GPUs
• Abstracts parallelism data caching and loading
• Support for different deep learning models
• Multiple backends (CPU, GPU, TX1, Nervana Engine)
• User-friendly and easily extensible
• Open source (Apache 2.0)

Biological mechanism passes on long-term epigenetic 'memories' from parents to children

According to epigenetics -- the study of inheritable changes in gene expression not directly coded in our DNA -- our life experiences may be passed on to our children and our children's children. Studies on survivors of traumatic events have suggested that exposure to stress may indeed have lasting effects on subsequent generations. But how exactly are these genetic "memories" passed on?

A new Tel Aviv University study pinpoints the precise mechanism that turns the inheritance of environmental influences "on" and "off." The research, published last week in Cell and led by Dr. Oded Rechavi and his group from TAU's Faculty of Life Sciences and Sagol School of Neuroscience, reveals the rules that dictate which epigenetic responses will be inherited, and for how long.

"Until now, it has been assumed that a passive dilution or decay governs the inheritance of epigenetic responses," Dr. Rechavi said. "But we showed that there is an active process that regulates epigenetic inheritance down through generations."


•New RNAi episodes extend the duration of heritable epigenetic effects
•Amplification of heritable exo-siRNAs occurs at the expense of endo-siRNAs
•A feedback between siRNAs and RNAi genes determines heritable silencing duration
•Modified transgenerational epigenetic kinetics (MOTEK) mutants are identified


In C. elegans, small RNAs enable transmission of epigenetic responses across multiple generations. While RNAi inheritance mechanisms that enable “memorization” of ancestral responses are being elucidated, the mechanisms that determine the duration of inherited silencing and the ability to forget the inherited epigenetic effects are not known. We now show that exposure to dsRNA activates a feedback loop whereby gene-specific RNAi responses dictate the transgenerational duration of RNAi responses mounted against unrelated genes, elicited separately in previous generations. RNA-sequencing analysis reveals that, aside from silencing of genes with complementary sequences, dsRNA-induced RNAi affects the production of heritable endogenous small RNAs, which regulate the expression of RNAi factors. Manipulating genes in this feedback pathway changes the duration of heritable silencing. Such active control of transgenerational effects could be adaptive, since ancestral responses would be detrimental if the environments of the progeny and the ancestors were different.

Passing stress from one generation to the next

Researchers have been preoccupied with how the effects of stress, trauma, and other environmental exposures are passed from one generation to the next for years. Small RNA molecules -- short sequences of RNA that regulate the expression of genes -- are among the key factors involved in mediating this kind of inheritance. Dr. Rechavi and his team had previously identified a "small RNA inheritance" mechanism through which RNA molecules produced a response to the needs of specific cells and how they were regulated between generations.

Cell - A Tunable Mechanism Determines the Duration of the Transgenerational Small RNA Inheritance in C. elegans

March 27, 2016

Japans technological strengths in advanced submarines

Japan discussed the technological strengths of their submarines compared to French and German competition.

Japanese submarines can dive much longer without having to surface. This is a significant technology. Japan's Ministry of Defense has said it plans to replace conventional lead-acid batteries with more powerful lithium-ion cells, which will enable the vessels to cruise at high speeds underwater.

The Japanese submarine is as capable in combat as the German boats. Japan is also advanced in combat systems (which can pick out specific sounds of the enemy from surrounding noise and conduct operations based on this information). In addition, Japan has a well-developed supply chain for submarine building. There are companies that can custom-make even a single screw for a submarine.

Military ships require special steel plate processing. The inner shell of the boat should be as tough as it can be to resist the high pressure deep under the sea. The work requires skilled welding techniques that cannot be acquired overnight.

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