June 25, 2016

Paul Allen Rocket Carrying Plane is 76% complete

Paul Allen's Stratolaunch is building a giant rocket carrying plane and it is 76% complete.

  • two superjumbo-fuselages
  • fully loaded weigh 1.3 million pounds
  • six 747 engines
  • 60 miles of wiring

B-21 bomber spending details to be hidden from american public to prevent providing info to Russia and China

The leader of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office doubled down June 21 on the service's refusal to release the overall contract value of the forthcoming B-21 stealth bomber program.

Amid questions of cost transparency, Randall Walden, the RCO's director and program executive officer, said that releasing the engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) contract award value for the long-range strike bomber would give foreign adversaries too much information.

The Air Force plans to purchase 100 aircraft at a cost of $550 million each in 2010 dollars, or $606 million each in 2016 dollars. But Walden said that he believed "that we are going to be able to beat that 550" number based on an government independent cost estimate that showed the unit cost as closer to $511 million in 2010 dollars, or $564 million in 2016 dollars.

The Air Force anticipates fielding the B-21 at operational bases and to achieve initial operational capability by 2030, and to continue fielding the fleet and evolving the aircraft as new threats and technologies emerge through 2060, Walden said.

The independent cost estimate for the EMD phase is $23.5 billion, Walden said. But that number doesn't reveal how the contract is allocated, and detractors fear that separate features such as nuclear weapons capability or unmanned flight could be packaged under separate and classified contracts, and cause the price per plane to balloon.

June 24, 2016

US Navy Admiral says a shipboard test of a 150 kilowatt laser is imminent

The Office of Naval Research “will perform a shipboard test of a 150 kilowatt laser weapon system in the near future,” said [vice chief of naval operations] Adm. Bill Moran during a speech at Booz Allen Hamilton’s Directed Energy Summit, which was held in Washington, D.C.

The Navy’s 30-kilowatt laser weapon is currently onboard the USS Ponce. The system, which has been used operationally in the Persian Gulf, offers military leaders precision accuracy at a low cost, Moran said.

The laser weapon system, or LaWs, "has an extremely low-cost per engagement ratio,” he said. “We’re spending pennies on the dollars … every time we use that capability.”

Lasers are a part of every service’s plan for the future. The Army plans to have lasers in development by 2023, with tests of lasers carried by attack helicopters this summer. The Air Force wants lasers on large planes by 2022, and plans to use lasers sooner than that to clear runways of landmines. The Marine Corps, together with the Navy, is developing truck-mounted lasers, to protect troops.

In August, 2015 Nextbigfuture covered technical details of the Navy's 150 Kilowatt laser

The 2015 Navy Expo proceedings for solid state lasers is here (42 pages)

The Navy will soon deploy a new laser gun that will be 100 to 150 kw instead of the 30 kw system they are currently testing. That weapon will go out to sea for a demonstration by FY 2018.

Here is a US Navy presentation on the progress in their development of higher power combat lasers.

A metalens will be able to tell whether a molecular has left or right chirality

One way to identify molecules with mirror versions – a property known as chirality – is to look at how they scatter light waves. The handedness is imprinted on the direction the waves vibrate, or their polarisation. But current techniques for measuring polarisation involve using multiple lenses and other optical elements like beam-splitters and filters, which can degrade the image quality.

Now Reza Khorasaninejad of Harvard University and his colleagues have come up with a single nanotechnology lens that can do the same job. The lens is made from a layer of titanium dioxide that has been etched by a beam of electrons into rows of pillars just 600 nanometres high, sitting on top of an ordinary sheet of glass.

In a row, each rectangular pillar is at an angle to the one before it, so that the orientation of the pillars along the line seems to rotate clockwise or anticlockwise. Alternating rows twist in opposite directions, creating two side-by-side images without the need for bulky optics. “We have huge control over the light shaping,” says Khorasaninejad. “The weight, size and compactness of the structure is very small.”

To test out the lens, the team took a picture of a Chrysina gloriosa, a beetle whose shell is known to reflect left-handed light (above). In the future, Khorasaninejad says they hope to improve the resolution of the lens to let them pick out left- from right-handed molecules, making it useful for developing safe drugs

NanoLetters - Multispectral Chiral Imaging with a Metalens

The vast majority of biologically active compounds, ranging from amino acids to essential nutrients such as glucose, possess intrinsic handedness. This in turn gives rise to chiral optical properties that provide a basis for detecting and quantifying enantio-specific concentrations of these molecules. However, traditional chiroptical spectroscopy and imaging techniques require cascading of multiple optical components in sophisticated setups. Here, we present a planar lens with an engineered dispersive response, which simultaneously forms two images with opposite helicity of an object within the same field-of-view. In this way, chiroptical properties can be probed across the visible spectrum using only the lens and a camera without the addition of polarizers or dispersive optical devices. We map the circular dichroism of the exoskeleton of a chiral beetle, Chrysina gloriosa, which is known to exhibit high reflectivity of left-circularly polarized light, with high spatial resolution limited by the numerical aperture of the planar lens. Our results demonstrate the potential of metasurfaces in realizing a compact and multifunctional device with unprecedented imaging capabilities

Combo therapy may slow down Alzheimer's disease

Researchers propose a novel combination therapy consisting of an agent for chelating redox-active metals (Fe2+) and an antioxidant to reduce damage caused by residual oxygen free radicals, in addition to resveratrol, a modulator of AMPK and sirtuin pathways (nuclear transcription). The addition of resveratrol may have the capacity to increase activity of the NAD+- dependant deacetylases such as sirtuin family enzymes (e.g. SIRT1) and promote improved DNA repair by enhancing PARP enzyme activity through increased production of their essential substrate NAD+, and thus improve cell viability and longevity. A synergistic combination of a selected antioxidant substances, Fe2+ chelating agents and resveratrol may be expected to provide a more clinically successful treatment

Combination therapy may hold the key to slowing down Alzheimer's disease. CREDIT Dr. Nady Braidy et al, Bentham Science Publishers USAGE RESTRICTIONS Copyrights belong to Dr. Nady Braidy et al, Bentham Science Publishers

Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry - Resveratrol as a Potential Therapeutic Candidate for the Treatment and Management of Alzheimer’s Disease

China-backed Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has funded first four projects for $509 million

The board of China-backed Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) approved $509 million in investments for its first four projects on Friday.

Three of the four projects are co-financed with the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the United Kingdom Department for International Development and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The projects, announced previously, are power grid upgrades in Bangladesh, slum renovation in Indonesia and highway construction in Pakistan and Tajikistan.

"We are working on a number of additional projects and look forward to bringing them to our Board for its approval later this year," said AIIB president Jin Liqun.

AIIB was proposed by Chinese president Xi Jinping two yaers ago and began operations in January. It counts 57 founding member countries and $100 billion in committed capital. AIIB plans to invest $1.2 billion this year.

Middle class, Upper middle, Affluent and Rich in the USA

There is a survey of wealth and affluence in the USA.

IA = Investable Assets: includes education/custodial accounts, individually-owned retirement accounts, stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds, managed accounts, hedge funds, structured products, ETFs, cash accounts, annuities, and cash value life insurance policies

The estimates how many people in the USA have over $100K to invest are pretty close It is about 36 million to 41 million people.

Total Affluent Market: $100k+ Investable
Near Affluent ($100k-$249k)                    13-15 million
Lower Mass Affluent ($250k-$499k) Investable    8-10 million
Upper Mass Affluent: $500k-$999k Investable     6-7 million

$1 million+ Investable      6.3 to 10.5 million people (millionaires not including main house)
$1-$5 million Investable    4.5 million to 9.2 million
$5-25 million Investable    1.2 million
$25 million plus Investable  145000

30% of all US households have $100K to invest.

Asia now has more superrich than North America and they have more cumulative wealth as well

The 2016 CapGemini wealth report shows that Asia now has more superrich than North America.

Over the last 20 years the global high net worth individuals (HNWI, millionaires and billionaires) have increased by four times.

The Asia-Pacific region has 5.1 million HNWIs, compared to North America’s 4.8 million, but for the first time has also pulled ahead in terms of wealth. The region has $17.4 trillion held by HNWIs versus $16.6 trillion in North America and $13.6 trillion in Europe. The global figure is projected to surpass $100 trillion by 2025 — nearly triple the amount in 2006 — if the growth rates of the last decade continue, propelled predominantly by Asia-Pacific countries. Japan and China drove close to 60% of the global HNWI population growth in 2015.

HNWIs are defined as those having investable assets of $1 million or more, excluding primary residence and other consumer goods.

June 23, 2016

Marines will uses laser and stinger missiles on hummers and other combat vehicles

The Marine Corps is moving towards a future in which small dispersed units can protect themselves from incoming enemy drones with laser weapons and from missiles and aircraft with Stinger missiles, with both weapons netted into a detection system and mounted atop Humvees, Joint Light Tactical Vehicles and other combat vehicles.

Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for combat development and integration, said a Ground-Based Air Defense (GBAD) Directed Energy On-The-Move concept demonstrator with the Office of Naval Research is nearing the start of Phase 3, moving from firing a 30-kilowatt laser at a target from atop a stationary ground vehicle to firing while on the go. Upon completion of the ONR program, around 2022, the GBAD DE OTM system would transition into a program of record in the Marine Corps and likely reside alongside the Stinger missile system as a ground unit self-protection system – giving those units a much-needed upgrade after operating with the Stinger for decades.

Walsh said the Marines operated in a permissive environment in Iraq and Afghanistan for 15 years, “but when we see near-peer competitors, the development that’s going on in Russia and China, it is really waking us up to what we’re going to have to do in the future,” noting the concepts of operations and requirements for future systems are already evolving rapidly to keep up.
“So we look at our air defense capability as certainly a weak area that we have not upgraded in a long time because we haven’t had to deal with that in the operating environment we’ve been in,” he told the audience at the second-annual Directed Energy Summit, cohosted by Booz Allen Hamilton and the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment.

In the short term, the Marines are fielding the new Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) to detect incoming threats and the Common Aviation Command and Control System (CAC2S) to integrate all the data into a single operating picture. That data will be pushed to the the Direct Air Support Center (DASC), who could in turn give low-altitude air defense (LAAD) batteries specific information about incoming threats.

“Get them the feed so they can see it, now they know the target is coming and they can shoot it with a Stinger, compared to now where the Marines send someone out with binoculars to look for threats in the air, Walsh told reporters after his conference presentation.

Brexit wins as Britain votes to leave European Union

Britain votes to leave the European Union

Pound crashes to 1985 low as sterling falls below $1.35

David Cameron will be stepping down.

Scotland could leave the UK to remain with the EU

The Economist explains that this departure will take two years or more

Britain has voted for Brexit. What happens now? Nothing immediate is the answer for EU nationals living in Britain and Britons living elsewhere in the EU, as well as for businesses on both sides of the Channel. It will all depend on negotiations that could take years—and no one is sure quite how many years, since the only precedent is Greenland, with a population today of around 50,000, which voted to leave in 1982. The first aim of David Cameron, the prime minister, will be to calm the markets. In Asia they have already responded to the news. The pound plunged by 9% against the dollar and as much as 13% against the yen, traditionally a bolthole for anxious investors. Japan’s main stockmarket tumbled by almost 8%. London’s stock market opens at 8am, and the FTSE 100 is likely to dive. Some experts warn that sterling could fall as much as 20% overall. The chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, must now decide whether to issue an emergency “Brexit budget” as he controversially promised before the poll.

Mr Cameron has promised that Britain would immediately invoke article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, which sets a two-year timetable to agree the terms of departure.

DARPA wants to automate data science with an army of virtual data scientists

DARPA has a new program called Data-Driven Discovery of Models (D3M). The goal of D3M is to develop algorithms and software to help overcome the data-science expertise gap by facilitating non-experts to construct complex empirical models through automation of large parts of the model-creation process. If successful, researchers using D3M tools will effectively have access to an army of “virtual data scientists,” DARPA stated.

This army of virtual data scientists is needed because some experts project deficits of 140,000 to 190,000 data scientists worldwide in 2016 alone, and increasing shortfalls in coming years. Also, because the process to build empirical models is so manual, their relative sophistication and value is often limited.

D3M aims to develop automated model discovery systems that lets users with subject matter expertise but no data science background create empirical models of real, complex processes.

This capability will enable subject matter experts to create empirical models without the need for data scientists, and will increase the productivity of expert data scientists via automation.

FBO request - Data driven discovery models

Russian physicists create a high-precision 'quantum ruler'

Physicists from the Russian Quantum Center (RQC), MIPT, the Lebedev Physical Institute, and L'Institut d'Optique (Palaiseau, France) have devised a method for creating a special quantum entangled state. This state enables producing a high-precision ruler capable of measuring large distances to an accuracy of billionths of a metre. The results of the study have been published in Nature Communications.

"This technique will enable us to use quantum effects to increase the accuracy of measuring the distance between observers that are separated from one another by a medium with losses. In this type of medium, quantum features of light are easily destroyed," says Alexander Lvovsky, a co-author of the paper, the head of the RQC scientific team that conducted the research, and a professor of the University of Calgary.

The study focused on what is known as N00N states of photons in which there is a superposition of spatial positions of not one, but several photons. That is, a multiphoton laser pulse is at two points at the same time.

These states could be important for metrology, or, more precisely, they could significantly improve the capabilities of optical interferometers, such as those used to detect gravitational waves in the LIGO project.

In optical interferometers, laser beams from two mirrors "mix" with each other and interference occurs - the light waves either strengthen or cancel each other - depending on the exact position of the mirrors. This allows their microscopic displacements to be measured, because the distance between the interferometric fringes is the same as the wavelength - approximately 0.5-1 microns. However, many experiments require even greater precision. Detecting gravitational waves, for example, required measurements of displacements comparable to the diameter of a proton.

Alexander Ulanov is in the Laboratory of Quantum Optics, Russian Quantum Center. CREDIT Russian Quantum Center

NASA's Webb Telescope sunshield hasd 5 layers of Kapton and multiple coatings

The shiny silver material of the five-layer sunshield that will fly aboard NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is a complex and innovative feat of material science and engineering. Each layer is made from a unique composite material, each has a specific thickness and size, and they must be precisely separated in space. There are even special seams and reinforcements to limit meteorite damage.

NASA and its industry partners developed a lightweight, robust way to protect the telescope and mirrors from the sun's infrared radiation in the material that makes up the sunshield. Some of the things that make the sunshield unique are its strong yet ultra-thin material, special kite-like shape, and the special role of its layers.

The sunshield consists of five layers of a material called Kapton. Each layer is coated with aluminum, while sun-facing side of the two hottest layers (designated Layer 1 and Layer 2) also have a "doped-silicon" (or treated silicon) coating to reflect the sun's heat back into space. The sunshield is a critical part of the Webb telescope because the infrared cameras and instruments aboard must be kept very cold and out of the sun's heat and light to function properly.

Kapton is a polyimide film that was developed by DuPont in the late 1960s. It has high heat-resistance and remains stable across a wide range of temperatures from minus 269 to plus 400 Celsius (minus 452 to plus 752 degrees Fahrenheit). It does not melt or burn at the highest of these temperatures. On Earth, Kapton polyimide film can be used in a variety of electrical and electronic insulation applications.

An engineer in a cleanroom looks at one of the sunshield layers that shows a grid pattern of "rip-stops." CREDIT Credits: Nexvolve

Do not "blame" life extension for Rupert Murdoch and Fox News, If Murdoch died Fox would still be right wing

Scout.ai has an article whining about modern medicine and life extension which they blame for Rupert Murdoch still being alive and keeping Fox News as it is.

At age 85, Rupert Murdoch has a history of racism, homophobia, and corruption, but he still controls the world’s largest news company, NewsCorp. For more than 20 years, observers have expected Rupert to turn over control of the media empire to one of his three, more socially moderate, children.

Note : Nextbigfuture was using the term "Blame" based on scout.ai article. I have no problem with Fox News. I do not have any cable TV. Only internet. The point is that the premise that executives dying would change media is false. ie. MSNBC having executives die would not change MSNBC either. If shorter lives accelerated reform then North Korea could see reform as they have gone through four leaders in a few decades.

Scout.ai hates Murdoch and Cheney

Roger Ailes, 76, has been already been fighting with Murdoch's sons over control of Fox News. It seems obvious that if Fox News were dominated by Murdoch's sons and became less right wing then Roger Ailes would go off to a different media company and create the right wing alternative to a "soft" Fox News. Breitbart might also expand into cable.

In the scenario of a softer Fox News, MSNBC ratings would still be terrible.

Nextbigfuture believes that if Donald Trump fails in his bid for the Presidency then he will form his own network. Trump was able to get 30 million to tune into a Presidential debate. It will not be an ideologically pure channel but it will likely be anti-immigrant. I would see Donald luring Howard Stern to the new channel. It will be more entertainment and media circus. I would expect it to have double the ratings of Fox.

The shift to more reality TV style and lower fact content would continue.

NBCs tonight show has gone from Johnny Carson to Jay Leno to Conan O'Brien to Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon. It still is the ratings leader. It is maintaining a similar niche in the political spectrum. It is slowly shifting as the entire audience shifts.

In a world of shorter lives, there would still be a lot of political continuity. If Fidel Castro had a shorter life by 10-15 years, Fidel still hands off to his brother.

The North Korean leaders have been relatively short lived but they are still handing down political continuity.

There was the cultural shift in the United States to more racial equality. It did not happen because the people with racist views died. People changed their minds or softened their views.

There has been a cultural shift on gay marriage and legalization of marijuana. Some of this has been the aging out process, but it has been baby boomers getting more power even though the older people with different views are still alive.

Even with longevity, if the younger generations get jobs and money then they get more influence. At 18, they still get their vote in democratic countries.

Africa has a lot of tribal views and antagonism towards gays and other groups. Even though many African countries have shorter lifespans this has not accelerated any move towards greater "enlightenment".

So what do we see in the Scout.ai article? They are liberal and want Dick Cheney and Rupert Murdoch dead, because MSNBC remains pathetic.

Unexpected insight into how cancer spreads in the body

Cancer cells appear to depend on an unusual survival mechanism to spread around the body, according to an early study led by Queen Mary University of London; the discovery could help with future development of novel treatments to prevent metastasis.

The discovery could help with future development of novel treatments to prevent metastasis and secondary tumors.

The spread of cancer around the body - metastasis - is one of the biggest challenges in cancer treatment. It is often not the original tumour that kills, but secondary growths. These happen when cancer cells are able to break away from the primary site, travel around the body and 'seed' new tumours.

A key question in cancer research has been how cancer cells are able to survive once they break away from a tumour to spread around the body. Cells are relatively protected when they are attached to other cancer cells and their surroundings, but become more vulnerable when they detach and 'float', and normally undergo cell death.

This metastasis animation shows the primary tumor. CREDIT Barts Cancer Institute, QMUL

Nature communications - Beta 1-integrin–c-Met cooperation reveals an inside-in survival signalling on autophagy-related endomembranes

US Navy pushing ahead with laser combat weapons and soon will field a 100 kilowatt laser

The US Navy is “fully committed” to developing and fielding advanced directed energy weapons to deal with emerging threats and to reduce the cost per shot, the Navy’s number two officer said today.

“We need to push technology forward” and do it faster than historic advances in fielding new weapons capabilities, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Moran said at the Directed Energy Summit, cohosted by Booz Allen Hamilton and the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment.

The 30 kilowatt solid-state XN-1 laser on Ponce has been authorized for use as a defensive weapon, he said. The Navy “will field a 100-kilowatt system in the near future,” he added.

The Navy also is working to field high-power microwave systems, which can create unbearable heat on a person without lasting injury, to provide “enhance self-protection” with non-lethal system, Moran said. And, he warned, “these technologies are being developed and fielded by a lot of countries. If we don’t go forward, we will fall behind.”

Listing some of the advantages of directed energy weapons, Moran said they could provide “deep magazines” on warships so they do not have to use expensive and limited numbers of conventional weapons “on targets that you can handle with directed energy.”

Using directed energy weapons, which only require powerful burst of electrical power, also can reverse the negative cost-per-kill ratio of using multi-million-dollar defensive missiles against relatively cheap anti-ship cruise missiles, he indicated.

June 22, 2016

China making a copy of a B-2 stealth bomber which is called the Xian H-20 bomber

China’s Xian Aircraft Corp. is developing a new strategic bomber that may be a ‘flying wing’ design called the Xian H-20. Certain contributions to the H-20 project were made by Noshir Gowadia, a design engineer who previously worked for Northrop Grumman. He also contributed to the B-2 Spirit development. In 2011, he was convicted to 32 years for selling classified information to China.

China's definition of long-range strategic bomber is a minimum range of 8,000 km (5,000 miles) without refueling and the capacity to carry a payload of more than 10 tons of air-to-ground ammunition

China may be working on a new supersonic theater bomber, sometimes called H-18. This may be similar to a US B1 bomber.

China is developing new power-projection platforms and new-technology weapons.

China's air force continues to progress with the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter, expected to enter service in 2017-18, with four more pre-production aircraft having flown in the past year for a total of eight flight-test assets. Fourth-generation Chengdu J-10B and Shenyang J-11D and J-16 fighters will continue testing toward near-term production. A new strategic bomber, the Xian H-20, will also continue development, and a unique twin-fuselage UAV, the Shenyang Divine Eagle, was seen undergoing tests in May 2015.

High Speed rail projects in Texas

Local leaders in Dallas-Fort Worth, where traffic congestion is a near-universal concern among many of the region’s roughly 7 million residents, want the world’s biggest passenger rail operators to know that if they’re willing to build the super-fast trains in North Texas they will find a more-than-receptive audience.

Texas Central Partners, a private company armed with technology from Japan’s largest rail provider, has already proposed building a high-speed line from Dallas to Houston. That project, which could cost $10 billion or more but would be privately funded, is on course to be completed in 2022 — although it is opposed by many elected leaders. Last week, state Rep. Bryon Cook, R-Corsicana, asked the attorney general’s office to rule on whether Texas Central Partners would have the power of eminent domain, to take land needed for the bullet trains.

Meadows’ commission is working on expanding the system beyond Dallas and Houston, to also include stops in Arlington and Fort Worth and eventually Austin, San Antonio and possibly cities in adjacent states. So far, there has been little or no vocal opposition to the concept of high-speed rail in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

Texas needs trains that can fill a void left by airlines, who are putting more emphasis on international and other long-distance flights and less emphasis on intrastate travel.

Israel plans 37 mile wall that will go tens of meters below ground as well which is deeper than Egypt 18 meter deep Gaza wall

Israel recently announced plans to build an underground wall along its 37-mile border with Gaza to thwart Hamas' sophisticated underground network of tunnels and bunkers. Hamas, which said Gazans are gearing up for the next war, used tunnels to smuggle weapons, supplies and fighters to attack Israel during the 50-day conflict that began July 8, 2014.

The Ministry of Defense refused to comment on details or timelines for the new plan, but the Israeli military did lift the gag order on the project as the country prepares to mark the anniversary.

Construction of the concrete barrier will cost $570 million and stretch dozens of miles below and above ground, according to the Israeli Ynet news website. The underground wall will replace a wire fence in place since 2005, when Israel withdrew from Gaza.

Israel's new wall will reach tens of meters underground.

The Israeli army has also spent more than $330 million in the past two years on developing an underground sonar detection system as a defense against the tunnel threat, security analyst Yossi Melman wrote last month in the Israeli newspaper Maariv.

While technological progress has remained confidential, Israel has made minor headway in locating tunnels using traditional intelligence methods. The Israeli daily Haaretz recently reported that Bassam Mahmoud Baraka, a senior Hamas member, had “defected” to Israel and potentially shared details about Gaza's intricate tunnel network, the second such case to lead Israel to locate tunnels.

Several years ago Egypt began constructing a huge metal wall along its border with the Gaza Strip as it attempts to cut smuggling tunnels. The wall is about 10-11km (6-7 miles) long and extends 18 meters below the surface.

Hamas charges an annual $2,500 for the right to operate a tunnel from Gaza to Egypt.

Construction of the barrier was damaging dozens of smuggling tunnels as deep as 30 meters, causing them to collapse on a nearly daily basis and killing operators, especially tunnels near the Rafah border terminal. They added that most of the 1,500 tunnels between Gaza and Egypt remained unaffected.

An ocean lies a few kilometers beneath Saturn's moon Enceladus's icy surface which is thinner than early estimates

With eruptions of ice and water vapor, and an ocean covered by an ice shell, Saturn's moon Enceladus is one of the most fascinating in the Solar System, especially as interpretations of data provided by the Cassini spacecraft have been contradictory until now. An international team including researchers from the Laboratoire de Planétologie Géodynamique de Nantes (CNRS/Université de Nantes/Université d'Angers), Charles University in Prague, and the Royal Observatory of Belgium1 recently proposed a new model that reconciles different data sets and shows that the ice shell at Enceladus's south pole may be only a few kilometers thick. This suggests that there is a strong heat source in the interior of Enceladus, an additional factor supporting the possible emergence of life in its ocean. The study has just been published online on the website of Geophysical Research Letters.

Initial interpretations of data from Cassini flybys of Enceladus estimated that the thickness of its ice shell ranged from 30 to 40 km at the south pole to 60 km at the equator. These models were unable to settle the question of whether or not its ocean extended beneath the entire ice shell. However, the discovery in 2015 of an oscillation in Enceladus's rotation known as a libration, which is linked to tidal effects, suggests that it has a global ocean and a much thinner ice shell than predicted, with a mean thickness of around 20 km. Nonetheless, this thickness appeared to be inconsistent with other gravity and topography data.

© LPG-CNRS-U. Nantes/U. Charles, Prague. Image showing the thickness of Enceladus's ice shell, which reaches 35 kilometers in the cratered equatorial regions (shown in yellow) and less than 5 kilometers in the active south polar region (shown in blue).

Geophysical Research Letters - Enceladus's internal ocean and ice shell constrained from Cassini gravity, shape, and libration data

US Air Force developing capability to launch tens of thousands of drones as jammers, decoys, cameras and “kamikazes”

The US Air Force is developing the capability to overwhelm the integrated air defence systems of Iran, North Korea, Russia or China with tens of thousands of small and relatively cheap small unmanned aircraft acting as jammers, decoys, cameras and “kamikazes”.

Col Travis “Flare” Burdine, the air force’s division chief for remotely piloted aircraft operations at the Pentagon, is preparing to unveil the air force’s first comprehensive vision statement relating to smaller unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS).

The air force would launch its drones from heavy bombers, and whichever ones have not been struck by an expensive surface-to-air missiles (SAM) would be picked up the back of a Lockheed Martin C-130 turboprop transport aircraft.

“I need a stealth bomber that’s going to get close, and then it’s going to drop a whole bunch of smalls – some are decoys, some are jammers, some are [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] looking for where the SAMs are. Some of them are kamikaze airplanes that are going to kamikaze into those SAMs, and they’re cheap. You have maybe 100 or 1,000 surface-to-air missiles, but we’re going to hit you with 10,000 smalls, not 10,000 MQ-9s. That’s why we want smalls.”

There are several programs which will help the air force achieve its vision of swarming, highly-automated aircraft cheap enough to build in large quantities

  • DARPA Gremlins project - seeks to launch low-cost UAS in volleys and recover them in the back of a C-130.
  • “low-cost attritable strike UAS demonstration” broad agency announcement that was released in June 2015, which seeks aircraft that are high-performance but essentially expendable if needed.
  • DARPA’s Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program aims to remove limitations around the number of swarming drones and enable more complex operations with new algorithms and software for existing unmanned aircraft that would extend mission capabilities and improve U.S. forces’ ability to conduct operations in denied or contested airspace. CODE researchers seek to create a modular software architecture beyond the current state of the art that is resilient to bandwidth limitations and communications disruptions yet compatible with existing standards and amenable to affordable retrofit into existing platforms.

  • The US Air force is also considering launch concepts like the "arsenal plane", which could be based on a Boeing B-1B or the B52.

NASA confirms that Earth has a second moon or multi-century quasi satellite

A small asteroid has been discovered in an orbit around the sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth, and it will remain so for centuries to come.

As it orbits the sun, this new asteroid, designated 2016 HO3, appears to circle around Earth as well. It is too distant to be considered a true satellite of our planet, but it is the best and most stable example to date of a near-Earth companion, or "quasi-satellite."

Asteroid 2016 HO3 was first spotted on April 27, 2016, by the Pan-STARRS 1 asteroid survey telescope on Haleakala, Hawaii, operated by the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy and funded by NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office. The size of this object has not yet been firmly established, but it is likely larger than 120 feet (40 meters) and smaller than 300 feet (100 meters).

"Since 2016 HO3 loops around our planet, but never ventures very far away as we both go around the sun, we refer to it as a quasi-satellite of Earth," said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object (NEO) Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "One other asteroid -- 2003 YN107 -- followed a similar orbital pattern for a while over 10 years ago, but it has since departed our vicinity. This new asteroid is much more locked onto us. Our calculations indicate 2016 HO3 has been a stable quasi-satellite of Earth for almost a century, and it will continue to follow this pattern as Earth's companion for centuries to come."

Asteroid 2016 HO3 has an orbit around the sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Is Elon Musk Iron Man or a Bond Villian? Bond Villain may have the stronger case

Is billionaire Elon Musk more like Iron Man or a Bond Villian? Bond Villain may have the stronger case for now.

In the bond film MoonRaker, Hugo Drax is a billionaire who owns Drax Industries, a private company which constructs space shuttles for NASA.

Drax planned to colonize space in space stations. Elon Musk plans to colonize Mars.

Elon Musk is a billionaire who owns Spacex, a private company who makes rockets for NASA.

Billionaire tech entrepreneur and investor Elon Musk has bought James Bond's iconic Lotus Esprit vehicle from The Spy Who Loved Me, with the intention of making its movie transformation from car to submarine a reality.

A Tesla Model S can float and effectively drive on water.

Elon Musk is developing Artificial Intelligence for a robot butler

Elon Musk is develop artificial intelligence which will enable robots that can do housework, have conversations and play games.

Elon has funded OpenAI. OpenAI’s mission is to build safe AI, and ensure AI's benefits are as widely and evenly distributed as possible.

OpenAI will measure intelligence using a metric which consists of a variety of OpenAI Gym environments with a unified action and observation space (so a single agent can run across all of them), including games, robotics, and language-based tasks. Their implementation will evolve over time, and they’ll keep the community updated along the way

They are working to enable a physical robot (off-the-shelf; not manufactured by OpenAI) to perform basic housework. There are existing techniques for specific tasks, but we believe that learning algorithms can eventually be made reliable enough to create a general-purpose robot. More generally, robotics is a good testbed for many challenges in AI.

They plan to build an agent that can perform a complex task specified by language, and ask for clarification about the task if it’s ambiguous. Today, there are promising algorithms for supervised language tasks such as question answering, syntactic parsing and machine translation but there aren’t any for more advanced linguistic goals, such as the ability to carry a conversation, the ability to fully understand a document, and the ability to follow complex instructions in natural language. We expect to develop new learning algorithms and paradigms to tackle these problems.

They will train an agent capable enough to solve any game in their initial metric. Games are virtual mini-worlds that are very diverse, and learning to play games quickly and well will require significant advances in generative models and reinforcement learning. (They are inspired by the pioneering work of DeepMind, who have produced impressive results in this area in the past few years.)

OpenAI is supported by over US$1 billion in commitments; however, only a tiny fraction of the $1 billion pledged is expected to be spent in the first few years

On April 27, 2016, OpenAI released a public beta of "OpenAI Gym", a platform for reinforcement learning research that aims to provide an easy-to-setup general-intelligence benchmark with a wide variety of different environments (somewhat akin to, but broader than, the ImageNet Large Scale Visual Recognition Challenge used in supervised learning research), and that hopes to standardize the way in which environments are defined in AI research publications, so that published research becomes more easily reproducible.

Engine upgrades in the 2020s could make the F-35 engine longer lasting to reduce eventual operating costs by 30% for the project $1.5 trillion program

Pratt and Whitney are working on a block one improvement to the F135 engine (used on the F-35 stealth fighter) which will offer between a 7% and 10% improvement in thrust, as well as between 5% and 7% better mission fuel burn, and is undergoing testing now.

Although higher thrust and better fuel burn have obvious payload, range and mission advantages, Pratt expects the main benefit to come from trading the performance for lower operating temperatures and longer time on wing. “We are planning a life-extension for the F135, like we did on the [F100] -229 with an engine enhancement package where you had a 50% improvement in life. So we have set a goal to reduce sustainment costs for the F135 by a factor of 30%. A big piece of that will be increasing the life, which means reducing the number of depot overhauls you do over the life of the engine,” says Croswell. “The real focus for the Joint Program Office and Navy is on reducing life-cycle cost,” adds Kenyon.

Pratt and Whitney is nearing completion of the extensive F135 system development and demonstration (SDD) program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter engine. They are revealing new details of a proposed upgrade that could cut fuel burn by as much as 7% on aircraft entering service by the early 2020s. The upgrade package builds on a fuel-burn reduction technology effort driven by the U.S. Navy and an improved compressor developed by Pratt.

The improved design is focused on changes to the aerodynamics of the six integrated bladed rotors that form the high-pressure compressor module; it “takes advantage of the advances in aero design capability that have happened since the start of the F135 program,” Kenyon says

It is a drop in replacement engine during depot visits

A few units of stem cell created blood will be scaled up to hundreds of thousand of units by 2020 to solve blood bank shortage issues

Megakaryon of Japan has a joint research with Harvard University to develop blood outside of the body. Success would eliminate the blood bank shortages. They are producing blood platelets in vitro from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.

Megakaryon CEO Miwa aims to start mass in vitro production of blood by 2020. At present, the company can only make a few units of blood every two weeks. In Japan alone, annual demand totals 800,000 units. Megakaryon is working with Japanese drugmakers and manufacturers of materials to create a mass-production system.

In vitro blood will be a boon to both wealthy countries and developing ones, Miwa said. It can reduce the risk of infection in places where a proper blood donation and screening system has yet to be established and the risky underground trade in blood is widespread.

Indonesian Navy corvette fired on 12 chinese fishing ships in the South China Sea

the Indonesian navy Kapitan Pattimura-class corvette has fired upon a group of 12 Chinese fishing ships after the vessels were detected in waters around the Natuna islands region, the service said in a statement on 18 June.

The corvette, KRI Imam Bonjol was said to have opened fire after the group of fishing vessels failed to respond to instructions given. "After several warning shots were ignored, [ Imam Bonjol ] placed a shot across the bow of one of the 12 fishing vessels," said the service, adding that only then did the fishing vessel that was fired upon complied.

The Chinese vessel, which has been identified by IHS Maritime as Qiong Dan Zhou 19038 , has since been detained with its crew of six men and a woman on the TNI-AL's base at Ranai in Riau Islands. The rest of the fishing vessels in the group successfully fled the scene, said the service.

  • An Indonesian warship has opened fire on a group of Chinese vessels, injuring one fisherman
  • Incident threatens to further escalate tensions between Beijing and Jakarta over the disputed waters

The Chinese vessel, which has been identified by IHS Maritime as Qiong Dan Zhou 19038 , has since been detained with its crew of six men and a woman on the TNI-AL's base at Ranai in Riau Islands. The rest of the fishing vessels in the group successfully fled the scene, said the service.

An Indonesian Navy Kapitan Pattimura (Parchim I)-class corvette, KRI Pati Unus. The ship is similar to KRI Imam Bonjol, the ship that opened fire on a group of Chinese vessels said to be fishing illegally in the Natuna islands region in June 2016. Source: Indian Navy

June 21, 2016

Baidu improves efficiency by 30 times and scaling by 16 time for Deep Learning on 128 GPU chips

Baidu made GPUs 30x more efficient on smaller units of work for Deep Learning artificial intelligence and it enables better strong scaling. Baidu achieved a 16x increase in strong scaling, going from 8 GPUs without our technique to 128 GPUs with it. Their implementation sustains 28 percent of peak floating point throughput at 128 GPUs over the entire training run, compared to 31 percent on a single GPU.

Although deep learning algorithms are typically compute bound, we have not figured out how to train them at the theoretical limits of performance of large clusters, and there is a big opportunity remaining. The difference between the sustained performance of the fastest RNN training system that we know about at Baidu, and the theoretical peak performance of the fastest computer in the world is approximately 2500x.

In the five year timeframe Gregory Diamos at Baidu is watching two things from Deep Learning chip and software makers: peak floating point throughput and software support for deep learning. So far GPUs are leading both categories, but there is certainly room for competition. If other processors want to compete in this space, they need to be serious about software, in particular, releasing deep learning primitive libraries with simple C interfaces that achieve close to peak performance. Looking farther ahead to the limits of technology scaling, Diamos hopes that a processor is developed in the next two decades that enables deep learning model training at 10 PFLOP per second in 300 Watts, and 150 EFLOP per second in 25 MWatts.

Baidu is using machine learning for image recognition, speech recognition, the development of autonomous vehicles and more.

Baidu's research allows them to train their models faster, which so far has translated into better application level performance, e.g. speech recognition accuracy.

Persistent RNNs: Stashing Recurrent Weights On-Chip

DARPA expands TERN drone program to make long duration drones that can take off from small ships

Northrop Grumman has received a $17.7 million contract modification as part of DARPA's Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node, or Tern, program. The modification takes the contract's total to $150.2 million.

Tern is a project that aims to make it quicker, easier, and less expensive for the U.S. military to deploy drones for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and strike capabilities.

Northrop's contract modification goes toward phase 3 of the Tern program, helping to design, develop and demonstrate enabling technologies and system attributes for a medium-altitude, long-endurance shipboard-capable drone launch and recovery system that can be used on smaller ships.

Phase 3 in particular focuses on design, fabrication and testing of a Tern prototype.

Additional tasks included under the modification include the fabrication, assembly and checkout of a second Tern air vehicle.

Raytheon makes progress on next generation GPS OCX for ten times the accuracy against atmospheric conditions

Raytheon (NYSE: RTN) has passed both a qualification and a critical design review milestone as part of its development of the U.S. Air Force's Global Positioning System Next Generation Operational Control System, or GPS OCX. This new system offers significant improvements to the GPS on which the U.S. military and millions of civilians rely, including enhanced availability, accuracy and security.

OCX's development is delivered in "blocks," with Block 0 comprising the Launch and Checkout System for the launch and early orbit of GPS III satellites. Block 1 builds on Block 0 to deliver the full OCX capability, which allows the Air Force to transition from its current GPS ground controls to the modernized and secure GPS OCX. Block 2 delivers concurrently with Block 1 and includes GPS Navigation Warfare enhancements.

The first successful milestone for the OCX Monitor Station Receiver Element was the Block 1 Electromagnetic Interference Test, which was completed with a 100 percent requirements pass rate. The rigorous qualification test of the OSMRE demonstrates that the unit meets susceptibility and emissions electromagnetic interference requirements necessary in deployment as part of the 17 monitoring stations around the world. The second milestone for the OSMRE was the successful Block 2 hardware Critical Design Review, clearing the way for hardware development.

The GPS system and the critical navigation information it provides are measured by accuracy, availability and integrity. By all three measures, the new GPS OCX system is scheduled to deliver enormous improvements and enhancements, dramatically increasing the performance and effectiveness of the entire GPS system. For example, the new Kalman filter that is at the heart of the GPS OCX navigation solution will double the accuracy of the current system for all users. GPS OCX will lift the cap on the number of satellites in the GPS constellation, allowing more satellites and better geometry in hard-to-reach areas such as urban canyons and mountainous terrain. Additionally, all critical OCX external interfaces will employ digital signatures, protecting information from tampering so it can be trusted by users.

GPS OCX will also employ a new architecture that works with both legacy and new types of signals to enable full utilization of current signal capabilities. For example, besides M-code and L1C, the current control system also cannot process L2C and L5 signals; all of these are planned capabilities for by GPS OCX. Activation of the new civil signals will bring the same multiple-frequency capabilities to civil and commercial users that have been available to military users for years. By eliminating atmospheric distortions and allowing signal redundancy to mitigate radio frequency interference, the new system will be 10 times more accurate.

US Navy has breakthrough acoustic technology for submarine technological superiority

US Navy leaders say the service is making progress developing new acoustics, sensors and quieting technologies to ensure the U.S. retains its technological edge in the undersea domain – as countries like China and Russia continue rapid military modernization and construction of new submarines.

The innovations, many details of which are secret and not available, include quieting technologies for the engine room to make the submarine harder to detect, a new large vertical array and additional coating materials for the hull, Navy officials explained.

“We are talking about changes in sensors and changes in the capabilities aboard the ship that we think could be very dramatic in terms of improving our ability to compete in our acoustic spectrum,” Rear Adm. Charles Richard, Director of Undersea Warfare, told Scout Warrior in a special interview.

The idea with “acoustic superiority,” is therefore to engineer a circumstance wherein U.S. submarines can operate undetected in or near enemy waters or coastline, conduct reconnaissance or attack missions and sense any movement or enemy activities at farther ranges than adversaries can

Acoustic sensor technology works by using underwater submarine sensors to detect sound “pings” in order to determine the contours, speed and range of an enemy ship, submarine or approaching weapon. Much like radar analyzes the return electromagnetic signal bounced off an object, acoustics works by using “sound” in a similar fashion. Most of the undersea acoustic technology is “passive,” meaning it is engineered to receive pings and “listen” without sending out a signal which might reveal their undersea presence or location to an enemy, Richard explained.

Testing of these innovations is now underway on board an experimental prototype version of a Virginia-Class attack submarine called the USS South Dakota.

Described as a technology insertion, the improvements will eventually be integrated on board both Virginia-Class submarines and the now-in -development next-generation nuclear-armed boats called the Ohio Replacement Program.

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