June 18, 2016

China plans exaflop supercomputer by 2020 and should reveal over 100 petaflop supercomputer within 4 days

A supercomputer capable of at least a billion billion calculations per second will enter service by 2020, head of the school of computing at the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) said Wednesday.

According to the national plan for the next generation of high performance computers, China will develop an exascale computer during the 13th Five-Year-Plan period (2016-2020).

"The government of Tianjin Binhai New Area, NUDT and the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin are working on the project, and we plan to name it Tianhe-3," said Liao Xiangke, the school head.

In 2010, the country's first petaflop supercomputer Tianhe-1 capable of at least a million billion calculations per second came into service in the supercomputing center. At present, Tianhe-1 performs various tasks including oil exploration, high-end equipment manufacturing, biological medicine and animation design, and serves nearly 1,000 customers.

The first details of the fully developed Tianhe-2 supercomputer are scheduled to debut in June 19-23, 2016 during the 2016 International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany.

This system is expected to deliver over 100 PFLOPS peak performance, and keep the crown of the world’s fastest (super)computer.

A new 64-core design will enable the system to reach its original performance targets. With the three million new ARM cores inside the Tianhe-2, its estimated Rpeak performance in the Linpack benchmark should exceed 100 PFLOPS.

When Tianhe-2 reach its full deployment of 32,000 Xeons, 32,000 ShenWei processor, and 96,000 Phytium accelerator cards, it could reach a range of 200-300 PFLOPS – if the building can withstand the thermal and power challenges associated with it.

Superconductors, lasers, and Bose-Einstein condensates combined into a common macro quantum effect

Superconductors are one of the most remarkable phenomena in physics, with amazing technological implications. Some of the technologies that would not be possible without superconductivity are extremely powerful magnets that levitate trains and MRI machines used to image the human body. The reason that superconductivity arises is now understood as a fundamentally quantum mechanical effect.

The basic idea of quantum mechanics is that at the microscopic scale everything, including matter and light, has a wave property to it. Normally the wave nature is not noticeable as the waves are very small, and all the waves are out of synchronization with each other, so that their effects are not important. For this reason, to observe quantum mechanical behavior experiments generally have to be performed at a very low temperature, and at microscopic length scales.

Superconductors, on the other hand, have a dramatic effect in the disappearance of resistance, changing the entire property of the material. The key quantum effect that occurs is that the quantum waves become highly synchronized and occur at a macroscopic level. This is now understood to be the same basic effect as that seen in lasers. The similarity is that in a laser, all the photons making up the light are synchronized, and appear as one single coherent wave. In a superconductor the macroscopic wave is for the quantum waves of the electrons, instead of the photons, but the basic quantum feature is the same. Such macroscopic quantum waves have also been observed in Bose-Einstein condensates, where atoms cooled to nanokelvin temperatures all collapse into a single state.

Up until now, these related but distinct phenomena have only been observed separately. However, as superconductors, lasers, and Bose-Einstein condensates all share a common feature, it has been expected that it should be able to see these features at the same time. A recent experiment in a global collaborative effort with teams from Japan, the United States, and Germany have observed for the first time experimental indication that this expectation is true.

Energy diagrams of the dressed states in the two level emitter (A) and the e–h–p dispersion (B). In the left panel of (B), the dipole coupling to the cavity photons and the e–h attractive Coulomb interactions are neglected, while it is include in the right panel. In this case, the electron band (the solid blue curve) is mixed with the +ω0-shifted hole band (the dashed red curve). In the same manner, the hole band (the solid red curve) is mixed with the −ω0-shifted electron band (the dashed blue curve). The triplet spectrum is formed in a certain wavenumber regime, where the valence band of the n + 1 total excitation numbers and the conduction band of the n coincide.

Nature Scientific Reports - High-energy side-peak emission of exciton-polariton condensates in high density regime

Genetically engineered HIV Vaccine moves to phase I human trial in summer of 2017 and other vaccine candidates in various trial stages

A vaccine for HIV developed by Oregon Health Sciences University in collaboration with the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California, Davis, is moving toward clinical trials. The vaccine uses another virus, cytomegalovirus, or CMV, as a “backbone” to carry small pieces of HIV into the body and arm the immune system.

OHSU hopes to enroll the first volunteers in a Phase 1 trial in the summer of 2017. The trial will look only at the safety of the vaccine, and whether it provokes an immune response in people.

Peter Barry, a professor of medical microbiology at UC Davis and director of the Center for Comparative Medicine, is an expert on CMV, a type of herpes virus that infects 50 percent to 70 percent of Americans, mostly without causing disease. A version of the virus called RhCMV that can infect rhesus macaques is widely used to study diseases including CMV and HIV.

Barry and postdoctoral researcher William Chang genetically engineered RhCMV so that snippets of genes from other viruses could be inserted into the virus. They shared their modifiable CMV with Professor Louis Picker at OHSU, who used this genetic backbone to create experimental vaccines against the monkey form of the AIDS virus, simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV.

Currently, there is no effective HIV vaccine but many research projects managing clinical trials seek to create one. There is evidence that a vaccine may be possible. Work with monoclonal antibodies (MAb) has shown or proven that the human body can defend itself against HIV, and certain individuals remain asymptomatic for decades after HIV infection. Potential candidates for antibodies and early stage results from clinical trials have been announced.

One HIV vaccine candidate which showed some efficacy was studied in RV 144, which was a trial in Thailand beginning in 2003 and first reporting a positive result in 2009.

Biosantech has developed a novel vaccine called Tat Oyi, which aims at the tat protein. It is in phase I/phase II trials.

The Treatment action group has what appears to be a fairly comprehensive list of all treatments in various clinical trial stages against HIV and Aids. They also list the vaccines in trials.

Light and matter mixed in a golden nanopore room temperature plasmonic nanocavity traps

Scientists have mixed a molecule with light between gold particles, creating a new way to manipulate the physical and chemical properties of matter.

Light and matter are usually separate and have distinct properties. However, molecules of matter can emit particles of light called photons. Normally, emitted photons leave the molecule and the two do not mix again.

Now, scientists have trapped a single molecule in such a tiny space that when it emits a photon, the photon cannot escape. This produces an oscillation of energy between the molecule and the photon, creating a mixing of the properties of matter and light.

This unusual interaction of a molecule with light will provide new ways to manipulate the physical and chemical properties of matter, and could be used to process quantum information, aid in the understanding of complex processes at work in photosynthesis, or even manipulate the chemical bonds between atoms.

The mixing – called ‘strong coupling’ – was achieved at the University of Cambridge following theoretical simulations by scientists from Imperial College London and Kings College London. The results of the experiment are published today in the journal Nature.

Nature - Single-molecule strong coupling at room temperature in plasmonic nanocavities

Comparing single-molecule optical cavities.

Plasmonic nanocavity containing a dye molecule.

World's first 1,000-processor chip

A microchip containing 1,000 independent programmable processors has been designed by a team at the University of California, Davis, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The energy-efficient "KiloCore" chip has a maximum computation rate of 1.78 trillion instructions per second and contains 621 million transistors. The KiloCore was presented at the 2016 Symposium on VLSI Technology and Circuits in Honolulu on June 16.

"To the best of our knowledge, it is the world's first 1,000-processor chip and it is the highest clock-rate processor ever designed in a university," said Bevan Baas, professor of electrical and computer engineering, who led the team that designed the chip architecture. While other multiple-processor chips have been created, none exceed about 300 processors, according to an analysis by Baas' team. Most were created for research purposes and few are sold commercially. The KiloCore chip was fabricated by IBM using their 32 nm CMOS technology.

By splitting programs across a large number of processor cores, the KiloCore chip designed at UC Davis can run at high clock speeds with high energy efficiency. CREDIT Andy Fell/UC Davis

LIGO detects gravitational waves again from colliding black holes

For the second time, scientists have directly detected gravitational waves — ripples through the fabric of space-time, created by extreme, cataclysmic events in the distant universe. The team has determined that the incredibly faint ripple that eventually reached Earth was produced by two black holes colliding at half the speed of light, 1.4 billion light years away.

The scientists detected the gravitational waves using the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) interferometers, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington. On Dec. 26, 2015, at 3:38 UTC, both detectors, situated more than 3,000 kilometers apart, picked up a very faint signal amid the surrounding noise.

GW151226: Observation of Gravitational Waves from a 22-Solar-Mass Binary Black Hole Coalescence

Should the US Air Force be abolished or substantially altered

The United States needs airpower, but does it need an air force? In Grounded, Robert M. Farley persuasively argues that America should end the independence of the United States Air Force (USAF) and divide its assets and missions between the United States Army and the United States Navy.

In the wake of World War I, advocates of the Air Force argued that an organizationally independent air force would render other military branches obsolete. These boosters promised clean, easy wars: airpower would destroy cities beyond the reach of the armies and would sink navies before they could reach the coast. However, as Farley demonstrates, independent air forces failed to deliver on these promises in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the first Gulf War, the Kosovo conflict, and the War on Terror. They have also had perverse effects on foreign and security policy, as politicians have been tempted by the vision of devastating airpower to initiate otherwise ill-considered conflicts. The existence of the USAF also produces turf wars with the Navy and the Army, leading to redundant expenditures, nonsensical restrictions on equipment use, and bad tactical decisions.

War is Boring Interviews the author of Grounded

The case for an independent Air Force Service

War on the Rocks has the case for why the Air Force needs to be remain an independent service

Farley disregards what the Air Force does best—air domain dominance—and undervalues a key component of United States historical successes in combat.

Air domain dominance doesn’t just happen. The mission requires the right people, equipment, training and doctrine to succeed. Undertaking a Capability Based Analysis (CBA) offers a means of evaluating the potential impact of Farley’s recommendation on this fundamental Air Force mission. A thorough CBA takes into consideration the doctrine, organization, training, materiel, logistics, personnel and facilities required for a given mission.

Air Force doctrine prioritizes achieving command of the skies above the land and maritime battlespace first and foremost in any conflict.

The Air Force has five core missions:
(1) air and space superiority;
(2) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR);
(3) rapid global mobility;
(4) global strike; and
(5) command and control.

Nextbigfuture options

NBF - Perhaps at least a sixth core mission could be added to the Air Force. Close combat air support of the Army and other services. Currently combat support for the army is not part of the five core missions of the Air force.

One Amazon commenter suggested that the Air Force become a department of the Army like the Marines are a department of the Navy.

The Department of the Air Force could be dissolved and the US Air Force become a part of the Department of the Army made to report to the US Army in the same way that the US Marine Corps is part of the Navy Department and reports to the US Navy. In this way, the US Air Force would still be a distinct service but the US Army would control the mission and budgets of the US Air Force so that the US Air Force would support the US Army and not the other way around.

Directional Infra-Red Counter Measure tricks missile targeting

BIRD Aerosystems unveiled at Eurosatory its new Directional Infra-Red Counter Measure system called SPREOS (Self Protection Radar Electro-Optic System).

The new SPREOS combines a radar based sensor (verification) and an active laser (DIRCM), and provides enhanced protection against the immediate threat of Man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS).

"We at BIRD see a great potential to this very unique and patented DIRCM solution" said Ronen Factor, Co-CEO "we believe our SPREOS unique combination of radar and laser technology provides potential customers with the most advanced DIRCM solution. SPREOS, will provide customer with cutting edge technology with the a very attractive price tag that will help the market to easily adapt the DIRCM concept"
ird Aerosystems’ DIRCM unveiled at Eurosatory yesterday complements the company’s existing Airborne Missile a Protection System (AMPS), applying flare countermeasures.

Once the countermeasure game plan is selected the SPREOS employs a dual-band laser effector embedded into the radar antenna to deliver an appropriate, directional IR jamming signal to deceive the target’s seeker. Since the system’s radar continuously tracks the target, the effectiveness of the countermeasures employed is constantly assessed in real time, thus enabling the defense system to employ scalable defenses along the engagement. Throughout the process, the system’s AAR-60 sensors continue to watch out for new threats and could engage them with more traditional flares, if such countermeasures are available on board.

According to Shaul Mazor, Bird’s VP Marketing and Business Development, the new system is a ‘game changer’ in the market, due to its inherent false alarm rejection capability, ensuring enhanced protection of aircrafts against any type of MANPADS launch, with zero activation as a result of false alarms. “We developed the SPREOS based on the vast experience BIRD gained in hundreds of projects that have already been implemented in recent years.” Mazor added, saying the new system, currently in advanced phase of development would be more affordable, than current laser based DIRCMS, enabling more platforms, both military, paramilitary and civilian, to be protected by Bird’s the new lifesaving system.

June 17, 2016

California economy larger than World Number 6 France and Texas is ahead of tenth place Canada

America’s largest state economy is California, which produced $2.46 trillion of economic output in 2015, just slightly above the GDP of France during the same period of $2.42 trillion. California's has a workforce of about 19 million compared to an employment level in France of slightly more than 25 million workers. It takes 32% (and 6 million) more workers in France to produce the same economic output last year as California.

California as a separate country would have been the 6th largest economy in the world last year, ahead of France ($2.42 trillion) and India ($2.09 trillion) and not too far behind No. 5 UK at $2.85 trillion.

America’s second largest state economy – Texas – produced $1.59 trillion of economic output in 2015, which would have ranked the Lone Star State as the world’s 10th largest economy last year. GDP in Texas was also slightly higher than Canada’s GDP last year of $1.55 trillion. However, to produce about the same amount of economic output as Texas required a workforce in Canada (18 million) that was 50% larger than employment in the state of Texas (12 million)

America’s third largest state economy – New York with a GDP in 2015 of $1.44 trillion – produced slightly more economic output last year than South Korea ($1.38 trillion). As a separate country, New York would have ranked as the world’s 11th largest economy last year, ahead of both No. 12 South Korea and No. 13 Russia ($1.32 trillion). Amazingly, it took almost three times as many workers in South Korea (26 million) to produce roughly the same amount of economic output that required only 9.2 million New York workers

LiquidPIston demos engine in go-kart that has the same power but is ten times smaller

LiquidPiston built a functioning engine and has demonstrated it powering a Go-kart. Shkolnik says the engine could see its first practical application, in a drone, within a few years. The liquid piston engine weighed 4 pounds and replaced a 40 pound engine.

Ultimately, the LiquiPiston engine will power exoskeletons, robots, drones, boats, electric cars, and generators. A typical 30 kilowatt-hour generator weighs 1,000 pounds or more, with military versions are closer to 3,000 pounds. Shkolnik says LiquidPiston’s engine could generate that kind of power in a unit that weighs less than 400.

Shkolnik says LiquidPiston can make its gas-powered engine so efficient, it could recharge the car with fewer emissions than plugging into the grid, at least in areas that burn coal for power. Developing the engine to that stage will take partnerships, and the company is in discussions to license its tech.

The engine is an all-metal rotary engine. It is an inside out Wankel engine.

The go-kart's conventional piston engine is on the left, the LiquidPiston rotary alternative is on the right

IEEE Spectrum interviewed Shkolnik

“Many people immediately try to sell improved engines to the automotive and truck market, and I can’t blame them, it’s a $300 billion market,” Shkolnik says. “But to bring a new engine to life in the automotive world takes at least seven years and costs, quite literally, $500 million—and that’s for a piston engine, where the risk is low.”

So he’s looking first at markets that have an urgent need for very compact engines—hand-held power tools, cargo-carrying drones for the likes of Amazon and FedEx, and most interestingly, range extenders for cars.

“We have the concept of a 30-kilowatt engine operating on diesel, 30 lbs, in a 10 by 8 inch box,” Shkolnik says. “It could be part of an e-vehicle for masses, giving you the range you’re accustomed to—300 miles instead of 30—and rapid refueling.”

Pulsed ultrasound makes microbubbles which temporarily open the blood brain barrier for treatment of brain cancer, alzheimers and stroke

For the first time, doctors have temporarily opened the protective barrier of the human brain and shown that it helps to boost the delivery of cancer medication to brain tumors. The new approach may allow us to temporarily lift the brain barrier. Microbubbles – tiny bubbles of an innocuous gas wrapped in a lipid coating – can be injected into the bloodstream, where they stick around for about 4 minutes. If ultrasound is applied to a specific area of the body or brain within that time, it can cause the bubbles in its path to vibrate. This vibration has been found to temporarily open up the blood-brain barrier in animals, and last year, a team at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Canada, said they had achieved the same feat in one human volunteer.

The ground breaking therapy, which uses tiny bubbles and ultrasound to transport chemotherapy drugs to the brain could also potentially be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and stroke.

Our brains are protected by a barrier of cells, which act to stop potentially harmful things – from cells to chemical and bacterial toxins – from getting in. But this blood-brain barrier also stops medicines from making their way in, making it difficult for doctors to treat some brain diseases with drugs.

Take glioblastoma, a highly aggressive kind of brain tumor, for example. We have one drug that can bypass the blood-brain barrier to treat the disease. If the tumor becomes resistant to that drug, doctors have to prescribe medicines like carboplatin. With these, only 4 per cent of the dose gets into the brain, says Alexandre Carpentier at the Assisance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris in France.

Science Translational Medicine - Clinical trial of blood-brain barrier disruption by pulsed ultrasound

Aggressive chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant can halt the progression of multiple sclerosis

Aggressive chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant can halt the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), a small study has suggested.

The research, published in The Lancet, looked at 24 patients aged between 18 and 50 from three hospitals in Canada.

For 23 patients the treatment greatly reduced the onset of the disease, but in one case a person died.

An MS Society spokeswoman said this type of treatment does "offer hope" but also comes with "significant risks".

Around 100,000 people in the UK have MS, which is an incurable neurological disease.

MS causes the immune system to attack the lining of nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Most patients are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s.

One existing treatment is for the immune system to be suppressed with chemotherapy and then stem cells are introduced to the patient's bloodstream - this procedure is known as an autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT).

The Canadian researchers went further - not just suppressing the immune system, but destroying it altogether.

It is then rebuilt with stem cells harvested from the patient's own blood which are at such an early stage, they have not developed the flaws that trigger MS.

The authors said that among the survivors, over a period of up to 13 years, there were no relapses and no new detectable disease activity.
All the patients who took part in the trial had a "poor prognosis" and had previously undergone standard immunosuppressive therapy which had not controlled the MS - which affects around two million people worldwide.

The Lancet - Immunoablation and autologous haemopoietic stem-cell transplantation for aggressive multiple sclerosis: a multicentre single-group phase 2 trial

Strong immunosuppression, including chemotherapy and immune-depleting antibodies followed by autologous haemopoietic stem-cell transplantation (aHSCT), has been used to treat patients with multiple sclerosis, improving control of relapsing disease. We addressed whether near-complete immunoablation followed by immune cell depleted aHSCT would result in long-term control of multiple sclerosis.

They did this phase 2 single-arm trial at three hospitals in Canada. They enrolled patients with multiple sclerosis, aged 18–50 years with poor prognosis, ongoing disease activity, and an Expanded Disability Status Scale of 3·0–6·0. Autologous CD34 selected haemopoietic stem-cell grafts were collected after mobilisation with cyclophosphamide and filgrastim. Immunoablation with busulfan, cyclophosphamide, and rabbit anti-thymocyte globulin was followed by aHSCT. The primary outcome was multiple sclerosis activity-free survival (events were clinical relapse, appearance of a new or Gd-enhancing lesion on MRI, and sustained progression of Expanded Disability Status Scale score). This study was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01099930.

Between diagnosis and aHSCT, 24 patients had 167 clinical relapses over 140 patient-years with 188 Gd-enhancing lesions on 48 pre-aHSCT MRI scans. Median follow-up was 6·7 years (range 3·9–12·7). The primary outcome, multiple sclerosis activity-free survival at 3 years after transplantation was 69·6% (95% CI 46·6–84·2). With up to 13 years of follow-up after aHSCT, no relapses occurred and no Gd enhancing lesions or new T2 lesions were seen on 314 MRI sequential scans. The rate of brain atrophy decreased to that expected for healthy controls. One of 24 patients died of transplantation-related complications. 35% of patients had a sustained improvement in their Expanded Disability Status Scale score.

They describe the first treatment to fully halt all detectable CNS inflammatory activity in patients with multiple sclerosis for a prolonged period in the absence of any ongoing disease-modifying drugs. Furthermore, many of the patients had substantial recovery of neurological function despite their disease's aggressive nature.

Long March 7 rocket will revolutionize China's manned space program

The Long March 7 is a Chinese kerosene fueled carrier rocket, which is being developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. Its maiden flight is scheduled for 26 June 2016

The Long March 7 is the medium-lift variant of a new generation rocket family that includes the heavier-lift Long March 5 and the small-mid cargo Long March 6. The structure will be based on the reliable, man-rated Long March 2F rocket. It will inherit the 3.35m-diameter core stage and 2.25m-diameter liquid rocket boosters.

China will also be switching from russian Soyuz style capsules to something like the American Apollo capsules.

The goal is to build a more cost-effective and less hazardous rocket family to replace today's Long March 2 and eventually the Long March 3. It will be capable of placing a 5,500 kilograms (12,100 lb) payload into a sun-synchronous orbit.

With payloads cited in the 10-20 ton, it will use two YF-100 engines in the core stage and one YF-100 engine for the four liquid rocket boosters.

The Long March 7’s maiden flight will not only test the new rocket and a next-generation human-rated spacecraft. It will also mark the first use of a new island spaceport in the South China Sea.

Rocket components slated for the Long March 7’s inaugural flight left port at Tianjin, China, on May 8, heading to the launch base on Hainan Island off China’s southern coast

Flights from the Hainan spaceport, named the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, will drop spent rocket stages over the ocean instead of on land. Built between 2009 and 2014, the launch center sits at 19 degrees north latitude, closer to the equator than any other Chinese rocket base, giving China better access to place satellites in geostationary orbit.

Wenchang launch center

China also plans to use the new spaceport for interplanetary missions, including the Chang’e 5 robotic lunar probe, which aims to return samples from the moon as soon as next year.

Hainan island

China plans to replace its current outdated rockets — based on decades-old designs — with a new fleet of Long March 5, 6 and 7 boosters.

The conical spacecraft capsule is similar to the American Orion and Apollo capsules and would be capable of carrying between two and six crew members. The capsule would be attached to service modules of different sizes depending upon the mission.

CCTV has paid a visit to the manufacturing base in Tianjin, where the new-generation carrier rocket, the Long March-7, had been assembled. The rocket has been built with environment concerns in mind; it uses kerosene and liquid oxygen as fuel to reduce air pollution. Designers have also opted for equipment that uses ‘brain-like’ computer chips, which are able run tests of their own.

June 16, 2016

China is in preliminary talks with Ukraine to finish the second Antonov 225 cargo plane

China is in talks with the Ukraine to finish a half built second copy of the Antonov cargo plane. It would likely cost about $300 million to complete the plane.

The Antonov An-225 Mriya is a strategic airlift cargo aircraft that was designed by the Soviet Union's Antonov Design Bureau in the 1980s. It is powered by six turbofan engines and is the longest and heaviest airplane ever built, with a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tonnes (710 short tons). The Antonov An-225, initially developed for the task of transporting the Buran spaceplane, was an enlargement of the successful Antonov An-124. The first and only An-225 was completed in 1988

Partially built second Antonov 225

The only existing Antonov 225

US Air force empty talk about replacing the A-10 close air support

The US Air Force mainly wants to keep poring money into the F35s and other advanced systems.

For years, the US Air Force has been trying to kill the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the service’s close-air-support workhorse. Officials have cited budget constraints and the need to save money to invest in other platforms as reasons to get rid of it. Congress has kept the plane alive, but service leaders are already thinking about what comes next.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh is talk about firepower on demand or a flying vending machine with different missiles on request. The A-10 eats up about $20,000 per flying hour, he noted. “Let’s find something that’s $4,000 or $5,000 a flying hour that brings more firepower, that is more responsive,” he said. The Air Force is trying to procure additional F-35 joint strike fighters, a new KC-46 tanker and a new B-21 long-range strike bomber. Finding an A-10 replacement is “not the highest priority".

Under current plan the Warthog will be gone from the USAF’s inventory by 2023. This is long before the USAF could develop and field anything even closely adequate. Basically they are saying, “we’ll study the problem and get back to you.” In other words they are waiting out the A-10's shot clock.

The Air Force likes to say that the A-10 is not survivable in a war against a modern peer-state competitor, or in layman’s terms, a country with power on par with America’s. That is debatable on many levels, but the same can largely be said for the F-16 or F-15.

Additionally, the A-10 still has not reached its survivability potential. The addition of towed decoys, updated jamming pods and directed energy infrared countermeasures, when paired with the A-10's low-flying mission profile, would likely make them more survivable than any sub 5th generation fighter aircraft. But all this is irrelevant because no American tactical aircraft fights alone, and deploying troops to areas where the enemy has uncontested aerial supremacy is a suicidal tactic.

The A-10 fleet costs less than two percent of the Air Force’s entire budget to operate annually. Surely that is a small price to pay for such an effective and historically useful capability. One that is currently being used to devastating effect against ISIS in the Iraq and Syria and to deter Russian aggression in Europe.

Two OV10 Bronco were used in 2015. They cost $20 million in total. The plane is older than the A10

The Turbo prop OV10 Bronco are efficient and capable but they do not bring nearly the same combat punch or survivability to the fight that the A-10 does. They are strictly low-intensity counter-insurgency aircraft, not tank busters. They also lack the Warthog’s payload and most importantly its cannon, the most precise and deadly aerial fire support tool on any jet in the Pentagon’s stable.

The US Army and the marines needs to be given authority to acquire any replacement for the A10. The US Air force interests are not aligned on close air support.

McKinsey had four global growth scenarios out to 2025

McKinsey believes three sets of forces will shape the global economy over the coming decade. The first two are stimulus policies and shifting energy markets. These are near-term forces, whose effects are felt on a daily basis. The next two forces, urbanization and aging, are powerful, inexorable trends aggravating ongoing structural challenges. Finally, two forces are of uncertain and variable magnitude: technological innovation and global connectivity. All of these trends could intermittently disrupt and transform sectors.

The Past ten years were bad for the world economy

McKinsey forecasts two scenarios better than the 30 year world growth average and two below

Overall the demographics will be poor for economic growth

However, Offsetting the aging population is the fact that urbanization will continue to increase.

High-tech innovations in robotics and 3-D printing could enable mature and emerging economies alike to boost labor productivity and rapidly expand industrial horizons, while also shifting global trade patterns.

So at least some level of automation will be needed to offset the aging workforce.

Best case - By 2025, the global economy will have grown to $90 trillion in constant 2015 dollars, from $62 trillion in 2015. [3.7% average global growth]
Pretty good but bumpy - Global growth reaches 3.2 percent a year over the course of the decade, a relatively high historical level, and by 2025 the global economy reaches $88 trillion in 2015 dollars.
New slower normal - the global economy reaches $86 trillion in 2015 dollars.
Slow with Rolling regional crises - World economy is 78.6 trillion in 2015 dollars.

India could replace China as the World's growth engine around 2027 to 2029

India is expected to equal China's economic size in 2005 around 2023-2030. China was 4.9% of world GDP in 2005.

If India continues to grow at around 7%, it would have the same global punch as the 2005 economy of China in 2029

India's economy grew a stronger-than-expected 7.9% in the March quarter, making it the fastest growing major economy.

HSBC said that if India grows at 8% rate, it would achieve the 4.9% share by 2027.

India's investment rate has been lower than that of China's. HSBC said that India would have to boost its investment rate by 10% or so of GDP, to achieve China's faster growth rate of the last decade. If India achieved and sustained 10% annual GDP growth then it would match China's 2005 economy in 2023

China is the world's second largest economy, with a GDP of over $10 trillion, five times bigger than India's $2 trillion economy.

China's staggering growth - an average of 10 per cent between 2002 and 2012 according to World Bank - not only helped raise living standards in the country, but also paved the way for the emergence of China as an engine of global growth.

Size and orbits of the possible three new planets in our solar system

Adam Crowl reviewed the three research papers that are calculating Kuiper Belt asteroids for the gravitational effects of currently unseen planets in our solar system.

The ninth planet is believed to be about 4 times the size of the Earth and at about 700 AU (700 times farther from the Sun than the earth is to the sun).

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters - Commensurabilities between ETNOs: a Monte Carlo survey

The data is hinting at two more worlds at 213 and 329 AU (7 and 10 times farther than Pluto). What while they be like? Patryk Lykawka suggested back in 2008 that a Mars-to-Earth mass object (or objects) sculpted the inner Kuiper Belt – the suggested Planets 10 and 11 could well be such.

Modifying and enhancing gene drive to overcome resistance

A gene drive is a piece of “selfish” DNA that can spread rapidly through a population. But fears that engineered gene drives could spread out of control may be exaggerated as there are flaws in the existing designs that mean they will not last long in the wild. Modified versions of gene drive are in the works that might just deliver on the technology’s enormous potential to do good or bad.

Most plants and animals have matching pairs of chromosomes, but pass down only one of each pair to an offspring – the other comes from the other parent. This means that if you add a piece of DNA to one chromosome, normally only half the offspring will inherit it.

Gene drives cheat by “copying and pasting” themselves to the other chromosome too, meaning all offspring inherit them and they can spread rapidly throughout a population. This happens even when the new DNA confers a disadvantage to the offspring – which is the very reason the technology is so beneficial to us.

Engineer a gene drive to spread genes that stop mosquitoes carrying malaria, for instance, and you could eradicate the disease once and for all. A similar technique could also win the war on Zika virus.

However, one fear over this research is that experimental gene drives could escape from labs and begin to spread – perhaps with disastrous consequences, such as driving a beneficial species to extinction. Another fear is that if gene drives are deliberately released and turn out to have unintended consequences, there may be little we can do to stop them spreading.

In practice though, resistance to a gene drive often evolves in just a few generations, meaning these fears may be unfounded – for now anyway.

BioRxIV - Evolutionary dynamics of CRISPR gene drives

Super-resolution microscopy reveals details eight times smaller then visible light wavelength of immune cells' surface

Researcher Lillemeier wanted more detail on how the T-cell receptors are arranged in tissue and how that arrangement might change when the T cells are activated in living hosts. The team used a super-resolution microscope developed in the laboratory of co-senior author Hu Cang, assistant professor at Salk's Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center and holder of the Frederick B. Rentschler Developmental Chair. This microscopy approach, called light-sheet direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM), let the researchers watch T cell receptors in the membranes of T cells in mouse lymph nodes at a resolution of approximately 50 nanometers. Visible light has wavelengths of 390 to 700 nanometers.

The new imagery confirmed the previous observation that protein islands of T-cell receptors merge into larger "microclusters" when T cells are activated. But it also showed that, before cells are activated, the protein islands are already arranged in groups--dubbed "territories" by Lillemeier's team. "The pre-organization on the molecular level basically turns the T cell into a loaded gun," says Lillemeier.

The organization of surface receptors enables T cells to launch fast and effective immune response against antigens. Understanding how the molecular organization mediates the sensitivity of T cell responses could help researchers make the immune system more or less sensitive. In the case of autoimmune diseases, clinicians would like to turn down the immune system's activity, while turning up the activity could help fight infections or cancers.

The research could also have implications for understanding other receptors in the body, which have a wide range of functions both within and outside the immune system. "We think that most receptors on the surfaces of cells are organized like this," says Ying Hu, first author and postdoctoral researcher at the Salk Institute.

Salk scientists used light-sheet super-resolution imaging to capture the rearrangement of T-cell receptors from nanometer-scale protein islands (left) to micrometer-scale microclusters (right) after T-cell activation in mouse lymph nodes. CREDIT Salk Institute

Direct stochastical optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM) utilizes the photoswitching of a single fluorophore. In dSTORM, fluorophores are embedded in an oxidizing and reducing buffer system (ROXS) and fluorescence is excited. Sometimes, stochastically, the fluorophore will enter a triplet or some other dark state which is sensitive to the oxidation state of the buffer. As the molecules return stochastically they can be excited to fluoresce so that single molecule positions can be recorded. Development of the dSTORM method occurred in 3 independent laboratories at about the same time and was called 'Reversible photobleaching microscopy -RPM", "Ground state depletion microscopy followed by individual molecule return" -GSDIM as well as the now generally accepted moniker dSTORM.

Japanese researchers find new superconductivity phase of hydrogen sulfide which could lead to room temperature superconductivity

A research group in Japan found a new compound H5S2 that shows a new superconductivity phase on computer simulation. Further theoretical and experimental research based on H5S2 predicted by this group will lead to the clarification of the mechanism behind high-temperature superconductivity, which takes place in hydrogen sulfide.

Last year, a striking news came out that H2S broke the record for superconducting critical temperature under high-pressure. However, the chemical composition ratio of sulfur and hydrogen and the crystal structure during the process in which superconductivity takes place have not been well understood.

A research group led by Takahiro Ishikawa, Specially Appointed Assistant Professor, and Katsuya Shimizu, Professor, at Center for Science and Technology under Extreme Conditions, Graduate School of Engineering Science, Osaka University, Tatsuki Oda, Professor at School of Mathematics and Physics, Kanazawa University, and Naoshi Suzuki, Professor at Faculty of Engineering Science, Kansai University predicted a new superconductivity phase of hydrogen sulfide (H5S2), which was presented at a pressure of 1.1 million bar on computer simulation. The superconducting critical temperature obtained from H5S2, whose calculated value was the same as the experimental value. This result may lead to the clarification of the mechanism behind high-temperature superconductivity, which takes place in hydrogen sulfide by further theoretical and experimental research based on H5S2.

Furthermore, by applying methods used and knowledge obtained by this group to other light element hydrides, it will become possible to establish guidelines for enhancing superconducting critical temperature to near room temperature.

Recently, hydrogen sulfide was experimentally found to show the high superconducting critical temperature (Tc) under high-pressure. The superconducting Tc shows 30–70 K in pressure range of 100–170 GPa (low-Tc phase) and increases to 203 K, which sets a record for the highest Tc in all materials, for the samples annealed by heating it to room temperature at pressures above 150 GPa (high-Tc phase). Here we present a solid H5S2 phase predicted as the low-Tc phase by the application of the genetic algorithm technique for crystal structure searching and first-principles calculations to sulfur-hydrogen system under high-pressure. The H5S2 phase is thermodynamically stabilized at 110 GPa, in which asymmetric hydrogen bonds are formed between H2S and H3S molecules. Calculated Tc values show 50–70 K in pressure range of 100–150 GPa within the harmonic approximation, which can reproduce the experimentally observed low-Tc phase. These findings give a new aspect of the excellent superconductivity in compressed sulfur-hydrogen system.

Nature Scientific Reports- Superconducting H5S2 phase in sulfur-hydrogen system under high-pressure

June 15, 2016

A Drug developed using artificial intelligence can slow the growth of cancer

Early trial data shows a drug developed using artificial intelligence can slow the growth of cancer in clinical trials.

The data, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference, showed some tumors shrank by around a quarter.

The compound will now be taken into more advanced trials.

Scientists said we were now in an explosive stage of merging advances in computing with medicine.

Spotting every difference between a cancerous and a healthy cell is beyond even the brightest human minds.

So the US biotechnology company Berg has been feeding as much data as its scientists could measure on the biochemistry of cells into a supercomputer.

The aim was to let an artificial intelligence suggest a way of switching a cancerous cell back to a healthy one.

It led to their first drug, named BPM31510, which tries to reverse the Warburg effect - the phenomenon in which cancerous cells change their energy supply.

Pentagon military assessment of China

Increasing investment and improving technology are improving all China's defense industrial sectors. However there is a distinct pecking order persists among them.

In descending order of favor and results:

  1. missiles and space,
  2. shipbuilding,
  3. aviation, and
  4. ground-forces materiel.

For years, China has clearly been a leading power in space and counter-space capabilities, but a Pentagon report has provided unprecedented details. With respect to space capabilities, in 2015 China launched 19 rockets bearing 45 diverse spacecraft, including navigation, surveillance, and test satellites. China introduced the “next generation” Long March (LM)-6 and the LM-11 SLVs. Of military relevance, the LM-11 is a “quick response” system to orbit a small payload. In another sign of sophistication, a single LM-6 orbited 20 “CubeSats” (small satellites), including four Xingchen femto-satellites weighing only 100 grams each.

Meanwhile, China’s Beidou/Compass positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) satellite network is on track to span the globe by 2020. It is behind the U.S. GPS system, but more versatile than Russia’s GLONASS and further along than Europe’s Galileo.

It is widely known that China has developed and deployed directed energy weapons, satellite jammers, and kinetic kill vehicles; a major reason Beijing purports to champion space arms control, but categorically refuses to consider initiatives that restrict ground-based anti-satellite (ASAT) capabilities.

Rheinmetall Lynx is new modular infantry fighting vehicle

Rheinmetall Lynx is an advanced new modular family of vehicles that offers our customers the highest levels of survivability, mobility, lethality and capacity while utilizing proven technologies.

Four core capabilities characterize the Lynx infantry fighting vehicle: firepower, force protection, situational awareness and mobility.

Firepower: Lynx features a Rheinmetall LANCE turret armed with a stabilized, externally powered, airburst-capable automatic cannon (either 30mm or 35mm). This enables Lynx to effectively engage targets with high precision at ranges of up to 3,000 metres – even on the move. Lynx can also be equipped with an antitank guided missile launcher and a secondary weapon station linked to the main optics (main sensor slaved armament). Not only does Lynx have hunter-killer capability, it can operate in killer-killer mode, since the commander and gunner can observe and engage targets independently of each other.

Force protection: With the diesel engine mounted in the forward section and a modular armor concept, the vehicle architecture offers a high degree of protection. The vehicle’s ballistic armor shields Lynx from antitank weapons, medium-calibre ammunition, artillery shrapnel, IEDs and bomblets. In addition, a spall liner in the vehicle interior protects the entire crew. Mine and IED protection packages, decoupled seats and the optional hard kill Active Defense System (ADS) significantly boost the vehicle’s survivability.

Precise atom implants are progress to practical ion based silicon quantum dot Computers

Sandia National Laboratories has taken a first step toward creating a practical quantum computer, able to handle huge numbers of computations instantaneously.

A “donor” atom propelled by an ion beam is inserted very precisely in microseconds into an industry-standard silicon substrate.

The donor atom — in this case, antimony (Sb) —carries one more electron (five) than a silicon atom (four). Because electrons pair up, the odd Sb electron remains free.

Instruments monitor the free electron to determine if, under pressure from an electromagnetic field, it faces up or down, a property called “spin.” Electrons in this role, called qubits, signal “yes” or “no” from the subatomic scale, and so act as the information bearers of a quantum computer.

The ability to precisely place a donor atom in silicon means that it should be possible to insert a second donor atom just far enough away, in the “Goldilocks” zone where communication is neither lost through distance nor muffled by too-close proximity. Sandia will try to do this later this year, said lead researcher Meenakshi Singh, a postdoctoral fellow. Qubits “talking” to each other are the basis of quantum computing circuits.

The successful Sandia first step makes use of electromagnetic forces provided by a neighboring quantum dot pre-embedded in the silicon. The quantum dot — itself a tiny sea of electrons — contains a variety of energy levels and operates like a transistor to block or pass the qubit.

While components of this experiment have been demonstrated before, this is the first time all have worked together on a single chip, with researchers knowing accurately the vertical and horizontal placement of each qubit, instead of mere statistical approximations.

Applied Physics Letters - Electrostatically defined silicon quantum dots with counted antimony donor implants

NATO needs to armor up its defense of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania

From the perspective of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Russia's threat to the three Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — former Soviet republics, now member states that border Russian territory — may be the most problematic scenario for Europe. In a series of war games conducted between summer 2014 and spring 2015, RAND Arroyo Center examined the shape and probable outcome of a near-term Russian invasion of the Baltic states. The games' findings are unambiguous: As presently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members. Fortunately, it will not require Herculean effort to avoid such a failure. Further gaming indicates that a force of about seven brigades, including three heavy armored brigades — adequately supported by airpower, land-based fires, and other enablers on the ground and ready to fight at the onset of hostilities — could suffice to prevent the rapid overrun of the Baltic states.

As Presently Postured, NATO Cannot Successfully Defend the Territory of its Most Exposed Members
Across multiple games using a wide range of expert participants in and out of uniform playing both sides, the longest it has taken Russian forces to reach the outskirts of the Estonian and/or Latvian capitals of Tallinn and Riga, respectively, is 60 hours.

Such a rapid defeat would leave NATO with a limited number of options, all bad.

It Is Possible to Avoid Such Consequences

A force of about seven brigades, including three heavy armored brigades — adequately supported by airpower, land-based fires, and other enablers on the ground and ready to fight at the onset of hostilities — could suffice to prevent the rapid overrun of the Baltic states.

While not sufficient to mount a sustained defense of the region or to achieve NATO's ultimate end state of restoring its members' territorial integrity, such a posture would fundamentally change the strategic picture as seen from Moscow.

The typical NATO standard brigade consists of approximately 3,200 to 5,500 troops. However, in Switzerland and Austria, the numbers could go as high as 11,000 troops.

So Rand is recommending about 25000 to 35000 troops. However, the main component are the tanks and air power which would be about $13 billion worth of equipment.

Rand defends the analysis of prepositioning a deterrent level of defense that could hold the Eastern European baltic countries for the many weeks it would take for reinforcements to be deployed.

Arguments against the Rand analysis are:

  1. While Russia has been willing to use force against countries like Georgia and Ukraine, there is no reason to think it would attack members of NATO.
  2. Strengthening NATO’s defense along its eastern frontier could ultimately lead to the very conflict it seeks to prevent.
  3. The more challenging Russian military threat to the Baltic republics would be limited “salami-slicing” incursions to which NATO would have political difficulty responding.

New calculations suggest there could be not one but three more new planets in the solar system

A new astronomical study lead researchers to suggest the most stable scenario is one in which there is not just one new planet in the solar system, but rather several more beyond Pluto.

Orbital observations and calculations by Caltech astronomers suggested there is a Planet Nine. The theoretical 'Planet Nine' is believed to be 10 times the mass of Earth, and takes between 10,000 and 20,000 years to orbit the sun.

According to this new study, also based on numerical (N-body) simulations, the orbit of the new planet proposed by Batygin and Brown would have to be modified slightly so that the orbits of the six ETNOs analysed would be really stable for a long time.

These results also lead to a new question: Are the ETNOs a transient and unstable population or, on the contrary, are they permanent and stable? The fact that these objects behave in one way or another affects the evolution of their orbits and also the numerical modelling.

“If the ETNOs are transient, they are being continuously ejected and must have a stable source located beyond 1,000 astronomical units (in the Oort cloud) where they come from”, notes Carlos de la Fuente Marcos. “But if they are stable in the long term, then there could be many in similar orbits although we have not observed them yet”.

The stable movement of the asteroids may be the result of the gravitational pull of two or more undiscovered planets. Planet 9 and the two new planets have not actually been discovered, but are based on predictions resulting from scientific observations.

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters - Dynamical impact of the Planet Nine scenario: N-body experiments

The Planet Nine hypothesis has now enough constraints to deserve further attention in the form of detailed numerical experiments. The results of such studies can help us improve our understanding of the dynamical effects of such a hypothetical object on the extreme trans-Neptunian objects or ETNOs and perhaps provide additional constraints on the orbit of Planet Nine itself. Here, we present the results of direct N-body calculations including the latest data available on the Planet Nine conjecture. The present-day orbits of the six ETNOs originally linked to the hypothesis are evolved backwards in time and into the future under some plausible incarnations of the hypothesis to investigate if the values of several orbital elements, including the argument of perihelion, remain confined to relatively narrow ranges. We find that a nominal Planet Nine can keep the orbits of (90377) Sedna and 2012 VP113 relatively well confined in orbital parameter space for hundreds of Myr, but it may make the orbits of 2004 VN112, 2007 TG422 and 2013 RF98 very unstable on time-scales of dozens of Myr, turning them retrograde and eventually triggering their ejection from the Solar system. Far more stable orbital evolution is found with slightly modified orbits for Planet Nine.

Commensurabilities between ETNOs: a Monte Carlo survey

Many asteroids in the main and trans-Neptunian belts are trapped in mean motion resonances with Jupiter and Neptune, respectively. As a side effect, they experience accidental commensurabilities among themselves. These commensurabilities define characteristic patterns that can be used to trace the source of the observed resonant behaviour. Here, we explore systematically the existence of commensurabilities between the known ETNOs using their heliocentric and barycentric semimajor axes, their uncertainties, and Monte Carlo techniques. We find that the commensurability patterns present in the known ETNO population resemble those found in the main and trans-Neptunian belts. Although based on small number statistics, such patterns can only be properly explained if most, if not all, of the known ETNOs are subjected to the resonant gravitational perturbations of yet undetected trans-Plutonian planets. We show explicitly that some of the statistically significant commensurabilities are compatible with the Planet Nine hypothesis; in particular, a number of objects may be trapped in the 5:3 and 3:1 mean motion resonances with a putative Planet Nine with semimajor axis ˜700 au.

US Air Force and Navy look to operationalize a future system of systems by 2025 instead of building a Sixth Generation fighter

The USAir Force’s new view – that the F-22 and F-35 replacement may be a system of systems and would include unmanned aerial vehicles – puts the service squarely in line with the Navy. In 2015 Navy Secretary Ray Mabus predicted that the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter would be the last traditional manned fighter the Navy would buy. In January the Navy began a requirements study for the Next Generation Air Dominance program – the effort formerly known as F/A-XX, or the sixth-generation fighter program – and Navy aviation leadership told USNI News that the effort would be conducted with input from the Navy but not in a joint manner.

The US Air force is looking for faster and more flexible upgrades of components and modules of a larger system.

Various aspects of a future System of Systems

  • integrated network systems
  • operationalize combat-focused space and cyber forces
  • increase range and payload
  • increase speed, manoeuvrability and stealth for the air space penetration components
  • Modest investments will also be made to upgrade and life-extending fourth-generation aircraft and modernize the F-22 Raptor
  • Leverage automation and machine learning

The goal is to operationalize a future air superiority network by 2025.

The sixth generation fighter project (F-X) would have turned into a 20 to 30-year development program. Instead, the Air Force plans to start an AOA in January, 2017, to look at options for “what we can get short of a 20 or 30 year leap". The planning effort, called “Next Generation Air Dominance,” is scheduled to be complete by the middle of 2018.

The US Air Force will likely leverage existing bombers into Arsenal planes with more drones and missiles.

The Air Force seems likely to integrate with the US Navy's vision of a kill web or tactical cloud. They will put data up in the cloud and users are going to go grab it and use it as a contributor to a targeting solution.

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