July 30, 2016

Russia making new destroyer class

Russia’s Severnoye Design Bureau has started working on the Project 23560 Leader-class destroyer that will combine the features of a destroyer, large antisubmarine warship and guided missile cruiser.

The ship will most likely be nuclear powered. It will be capable of spending up to 90 days offshore without additional refueling or support.

The Leader-class destroyers are expected to be equipped with Kalibr-NK cruise missiles and S-500 air defense systems.
As exhibited by its mockup, the destroyer will be 200 meters long and 20 meters wide. It will be able to travel at a maximum speed of 32 knots.

The multipurpose warship will have anti-aircraft, anti-ballistic missile, anti-surface and anti-submarine capabilities.

It will further be equipped with P-800 Oniks supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles with a range of more than 300 kilometers. The Zircon hypersonic missiles could also be added to the arsenal.

The next-generation warship will also have a landing pad for two Kamov Ka-27 or Kamov Ka-32 helicopters.

The vertical launch systems (VLS) of the Poliment-Redut system will handle short-range aerial threats. The VLS will be controlled by the Poliment active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system. The Leader may carry two modules of the navalized version of the Pantsir-M SAM/gun system.

The ship will displace about 17,500 tons, which will make it close enough to Project 1144 Orlan-class heavy missile cruisers in terms of dimensions.

Skydiver becomes first person to intentionally jump and land without chute

A 42-year-old skydiver with more than 18,000 jumps made history Saturday when he became the first person to leap without a parachute and land in a net instead.

After a two-minute freefall, Luke Aikins landed dead center in the 100-by-100-foot net at the Big Sky movie ranch on the outskirts of Simi Valley.

He jumped with three other skydivers, each wearing parachutes. One had a camera, another trailed smoke so people on the ground could follow his descent and the third took an oxygen canister he handed off after they got to an altitude where it was no longer needed.

There have been others who have survived free fall without parachutes.

An example was Flight Sergeant Nicholas Stephen Alkemade (1922–1987) was a rear gunner in Royal Air Force Avro Lancaster heavy bombers during World War II, who survived—without a parachute—a fall of 18,000 feet (5,500 m) when abandoning his out-of-control, burning aircraft over Germany.

Alkemade jumped from the burning aircraft without a parachute, preferring to die by impact rather than burn to death. He fell 18,000 feet (5,500 m) to the ground below.

His fall was broken by pine trees and a soft snow cover on the ground. He was able to move his arms and legs and suffered only a sprained leg. The Lancaster crashed in flames, killing pilot Jack Newman and three other members of the crew. They are buried in the CWGC's Hanover War Cemetery.

There are about 16 (now 17) recorded incidents of individuals who had survived falls from parachutes not opening.

Genetic startups and gene sequencing projects target the developing world populations

Though countries outside the U.S., Europe, and Japan make up 60 percent of the world’s population, they contribute less than 1 percent of sequenced genomic data globally.

This is largely because poor countries historically focused their health resources on managing and eradicating communicable diseases and did not establish programs like the Human Genome Project in the U.S. and Genomics England in the U.K.

Global Gene sees a business opportunity in this omission. Taking into account population predictions, cancer statistics, and pharmaceutical research spending, company executives think the Indian market for genomic information that could be used in drug development and cancer treatment may reach $1.9 billion. Adding in China, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East—areas where Global Gene hopes to expand—would increase the total addressable market to $8.1 billion, with a 14 percent annual growth rate

The company has also already gathered more than 10,000 DNA samples with patient consent, resulting in what it says is India’s largest genomics biobank, and established the core for a reference genome (a digital “average” genome) for Indians. It says a reference genome will help it derive insights about the many diseases in India.

Global Gene isn’t the only player with its eye on Asia. A nonprofit consortium of academics and companies, called ­GenomeAsia 100K, wants to sequence 100,000 people in South, North, and East Asia and create perhaps 50 to 100 reference genomes, representing all major Asian ethnic groups, within the next four years. Japan, for example, is believed to have three major ethnic groups, with some degree of genome variation

Large-scale genetic mapping projects have often struggled to acquire enough samples to draw meaningful conclusions. Global Gene is trying to sidestep the problem by obtaining samples through multiple sources, including partner hospitals, research projects, and voluntary donations from individuals who arrange for testing on their own.

Payment may be an issue, says ­Lawton R. Burns, a professor of health-care management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who has written books about China and India. He estimates that only 25 percent of Indians have medical insurance, and most of those plans wouldn’t cover genetic testing.

Global Gene’s clinical tests range in cost from $75 to $538. India’s median income was $616 in 2013

Human Longevity Inc (HLI, Craig Venters genetic company, has two dozen sequencing machines work around the clock, sequencing one human genome every 15 minutes at a cost of under $2,000 per genome. The whole operation fits comfortably in three rooms.

Venter’s goal is to sequence at least one million genomes, something that seems likely to take the better part of a decade, and use the data generated from them—along with information about some of the DNA donors’ health histories and the results of other medical tests—to find better ways to treat and prevent a range of disorders common among aging people, from cancer to heart disease.

Yi 4K camera is half the price and matches or beats the Go Pro Hero4 Black on a spec for spec basis

The Yi4K Action Camera is almost exactly a GoPro Hero4 Black. It has similar features. The Hero4 Black costs $500, and the Yi 4K costs $250.

The Yi 4K beats the Go Pro Hero4 Black on a spec for spec basis It has twice the battery life and a built in touchscreen

Orangutan mimics human speech

An orangutan has shown an ability to emulate human speech for the first time — a feat that gets us closer to understanding how human speech first evolved from the communications of ancestral great apes.

‘Rocky’ the ginger ape has astonished experts by producing sounds similar to words in a “conversational context”.

“This opens up the potential for us to learn more about the vocal capacities of early hominids that lived before the split between the orangutan and human lineages to see how the vocal system evolved towards full-blown speech in humans,” says lead researcher Adriano Lameria, from the University of Durham, UK.

Talking Orangutan from movies

Dr Zaius [from Planet of the Ape movies] was an orangutan leading member of the Ape National Assembly, Minister of Science and also Chief Defender of the Faith

Estonia e-residency allows anyone to setup and run a business in the EU

With 1.3 million citizens, Estonia is one of the smallest countries in Europe, but its ambition is to become one of the largest countries in the world. Not one of the largest geographically or even by number of citizens, however. Largest in e-residents, a category of digital affiliation that it hopes will attract people, especially entrepreneurs.

Started two years ago, e-residency gives citizens of any nation the opportunity to set up Estonian bank accounts and businesses that use a verified digital signature and are operated remotely, online. The program is an outgrowth of a digitization of government services that the country launched 15 years ago in a bid to save money on the staffing of government offices. Today Estonians use their mandatory digital identity to do everything from track their medical care to pay their taxes.

Estonia is marketing e-residency as a path by which any business owner can set up and run a business in the European Union,

E-residency does NOT include a passport and citizenship. Nor do e-residents automatically owe taxes to the country, though digital companies that incorporate there and obtain a physical address can benefit from the country’s low tax rate. The chance to run a business out of Estonia has proven popular enough that almost 700 new businesses have been set up by the nearly 1,000 new e-resident.

Last September an Indian citizen flew to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, and spent half a day setting up a bank account and a virtual office. In addition to the price of the trip, initial setup costs were around $3,300 (€3,000), and he has ongoing expenses of about $480 (€440) a year. The Indian system of setting up a new business is “tedious” by contrast, says Kumar—time-consuming, difficult, and expensive.

A Serbian high end car services company had been paying credit-card processing fees of 7 percent. By setting up in Estonia, they can settle credit-card transactions through PayPal subsidiary Braintree for 2.9 percent and there is no tax on corporate profits so long as they remain invested in the business. Since getting his e-residency and moving the company to Estonia, profits are up 20 percent, Tasic says. Annual revenue is around $2 million.

Supercomputers find a way of making 'imitation graphene' from salt

Researchers from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), the Technological Institute for Superhard and Novel Carbon Materials (TISNCM), the National University of Science and Technology MISiS (Russia), and Rice University (USA) used computer simulations to find how thin a slab of salt has to be in order for it to break up into graphene-like layers. Based on the computer simulation, they derived the equation for the number of layers in a crystal that will produce ultrathin films with applications in nanoelectronics.

From 3D to 2D

Unique monoatomic thickness of graphene makes it an attractive and useful material. Its crystal lattice resembles a honeycombs, as the bonds between the constituent atoms form regular hexagons. Graphene is a single layer of a three-dimensional graphite crystal and its properties (as well as properties of any 2D crystal) are radically different from its 3D counterpart. Since the discovery of graphene, a large amount of research has been directed at new two-dimensional materials with intriguing properties. Ultrathin films have unusual properties that might be useful for applications such as nano- and microelectronics.

Previous theoretical studies suggested that films with a cubic structure and ionic bonding could spontaneously convert to a layered hexagonal graphitic structure in what is known as graphitisation. For some substances, this conversion has been experimentally observed. It was predicted that rock salt NaCl can be one of the compounds with graphitisation tendencies. Graphitisation of cubic compounds could produce new and promising structures for applications in nanoelectronics. However, no theory has been developed that would account for this process in the case of an arbitrary cubic compound and make predictions about its conversion into graphene-like salt layers.

Transition from a cubic arrangement into several hexagonal layers.

Israel has a desalination fresh water surplus and desalination could be used to reduce middle east conflicts

Just a few years ago, in the depths of its worst drought in at least 900 years, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus. That remarkable turnaround was accomplished through national campaigns to conserve and reuse Israel’s meager water resources, but the biggest impact came from a new wave of desalination plants.

Sorek desalination plant uses 16 inch membranes which are more efficient

Desalination works by pushing saltwater into membranes containing microscopic pores. The water gets through, while the larger salt molecules are left behind. But microorganisms in seawater quickly colonize the membranes and block the pores, and controlling them requires periodic costly and chemical-intensive cleaning. But Bar-Zeev and colleagues developed a chemical-free system using porous lava stone to capture the microorganisms before they reach the membranes. It’s just one of many breakthroughs in membrane technology that have made desalination much more efficient. Israel now gets 55 percent of its domestic water from desalination, and that has helped to turn one of the world’s driest countries into the unlikeliest of water giants.

“The Middle East is drying up,” says Osnat Gillor, a professor at the Zuckerberg Institute who studies the use of recycled wastewater on crops. “The only country that isn’t suffering acute water stress is Israel.”

That water stress has been a major factor in the turmoil tearing apart the Middle East. Water will likely be a source of conflict in the Middle East in the future.

Syria fared much worse in the drought. As the drought intensified and the water table plunged, Syria’s farmers chased it, drilling wells 100, 200, then 500 meters (300, 700, then 1,600 feet) down in a literal race to the bottom. Eventually, the wells ran dry and Syria’s farmland collapsed in an epic dust storm. More than a million farmers joined massive shantytowns on the outskirts of Aleppo, Homs, Damascus and other cities in a futile attempt to find work and purpose.
Water is driving the entire region to desperate acts.

According to the authors of “Climate Change in the Fertile Crescent and Implications of the Recent Syrian Drought,” a 2015 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was the tinder that burned Syria to the ground. “The rapidly growing urban peripheries of Syria,” they wrote, “marked by illegal settlements, overcrowding, poor infrastructure, unemployment, and crime, were neglected by the Assad government and became the heart of the developing unrest.”

Israel started in 2007, when low-flow toilets and showerheads were installed nationwide and the national water authority built innovative water treatment systems that recapture 86 percent of the water that goes down the drain and use it for irrigation — vastly more than the second-most-efficient country in the world, Spain, which recycles 19 percent.

Even with those measures, Israel still needed about 1.9 billion cubic meters (2.5 billion cubic yards) of freshwater per year and was getting just 1.4 billion cubic meters (1.8 billion cubic yards) from natural sources. That 500-million-cubic-meter (650-million-cubic-yard) shortfall was why the Sea of Galilee was draining like an unplugged tub and why the country was about to lose its farms.

The country faces a previously unfathomable question: What to do with its extra water? Enter desalination. The Ashkelon plant, in 2005, provided 127 million cubic meters (166 million cubic yards) of water. Hadera, in 2009, put out another 140 million cubic meters (183 million cubic yards). And now Sorek, 150 million cubic meters (196 million cubic yards). All told, desalination plants can provide some 600 million cubic meters (785 million cubic yards) of water a year, and more are on the way.

Desalination used to be an expensive energy hog, but the kind of advanced technologies being employed at Sorek have been a game changer. Water produced by desalination costs just a third of what it did in the 1990s. Sorek can produce a thousand liters of drinking water for 58 cents. Israeli households pay about US$30 a month for their water — similar to households in most U.S. cities, and far less than Las Vegas (US$47) or Los Angeles (US$58).

IDE, the Israeli company that built Ashkelon, Hadera and Sorek, recently finished the Carlsbad desalination plant in Southern California, a close cousin of its Israel plants, and it has many more in the works. Worldwide, the equivalent of six additional Sorek plants are coming online every year. The desalination era is here.

The US$900 million Red Sea–Dead Sea Canal project is a joint venture between Israel and Jordan to build a large desalination plant on the Red Sea, where they share a border, and divide the water among Israelis, Jordanians and the Palestinians. The brine discharge from the plant will be piped 100 miles north through Jordan to replenish the Dead Sea, which has been dropping a meter per year since the two countries began diverting the only river that feeds it in the 1960s. By 2020, these old foes will be drinking from the same tap.

China CH-4B drone copies the MQ-9 Reaper drone but with weaker engines

Video of China's CH-4b drone shows it is a copy of the American MQ-9 Reaper drone.

Like the Reaper, the CH-4B has a nose-mounted sensor turret incorporating both daytime and infra-red cameras. The cameras are capable of zooming on target and appear stabilized. The sensor turret also apparently has a laser rangefinder and designator.

The Chinese drone also has six external hard points for carrying up to 770 pounds of munitions, including the Blue Arrow 7 laser-guided air-to-surface missile, TG-100 laser, inertial or GPS-guided bombs, and the HJ-10 anti-tank missile. This also mirrors the Reaper, which can carry the Hellfire anti-tank missile, Paveway laser-guided bomb, and JDAM satellite-guided bombs.

Still, the CH-4B is an inferior performer compared to the Reaper. The Reaper has seven outboard stations compared to the CH-4B's six, and can carry five times as much ordnance. The two aircraft still have the same endurance, each capable of staying in the air for up to 14 hours. This suggests that the Chinese unmanned airplane has weaker engines than the American version, and sacrificed payload for loiter capability

Danazol treatment led to telomere elongation in patients with telomere diseases for antiaging effect

Telomerase, an enzyme naturally found in the human organism, is the closest of all known substances to a "cellular elixir of youth." In a recent study, Brazilian and US researchers show that sex hormones can stimulate production of this enzyme.

The strategy was tested in patients with genetic diseases associated with mutations in the gene that codes for telomerase, such as aplastic anemia and pulmonary fibrosis. The authors say that the results suggest that the approach can combat the damage caused to the organism by telomerase deficiency.

The study was performed by Brazilian researchers in collaboration with colleagues at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US. Among the scientists involved was Rodrigo Calado, a professor at the University of São Paulo's Ribeirão Preto Medical School (FMRP-USP) and a member of the Center for Cell-Based Therapy (CTC), one of the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (RIDCs) supported by FAPESP.

"One of the processes associated with aging is progressive shortening of telomeres, DNA-protecting structures at the ends of chromosomes, like the plastic tips on shoelaces," Calado said. "Each time a cell divides, its telomeres get shorter. Eventually, the cell can't replicate anymore and dies or becomes senescent. However, telomerase can keep the length of telomeres intact, even after cell division."

The New England Journal of Medicine - Danazol Treatment for Telomere Diseases

In the study, the telomere length measured at 24 months (the time point used for evaluation of the primary end point) in 12 patients, was plotted against each patient’s baseline telomere measurement. They had a telomere attrition rate of 96 bp per year or less. Data for 15 patients were missing at 24 months; in the analysis of the primary end point, these patients were considered as not having had a response. Significant telomere elongation was found at 6, 12, and 24 months after the initiation of treatment with danazol, as compared with baseline.

July 29, 2016

Avengers 3 and 4 are standalone movies and there will be at least 3 Star Wars Han Solo movies

Marvel Avengers 3 and Avengers 4 will not be a two-parter. The studio will release the first part “Avengers: Infinity War” as a standalone movie on May 4, 2018. The second film, now called “Avengers Untitled,” will hit as planned on May 3, 2019.

“The movies are two very different movies,” answered Joe Russo. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo directed Captain America Winters Soldier and Captain America Civil War.

They said it is misleading having them labeled as “Part 1” and “Part 2”

Star Wars Han Solo

26 year-old ‘Hail Caesar!’ scene-stealer Alden Ehrenreich will be the new Han Solo. The new plan is to make at least three Star Wars Han Solo movies.

New Hearable Wearables predicted to be over $15 billion market by 2020

Samsung just introduced hearable wearables devices will at least get a mass-market introduction. Hearables will help people of normal hearing by enhancing their ability to hear in the presence of noise.

WiFore Consulting predicts that hearables will be the fastest growing wearable market, exploding upward to over $16 billion by 2020. The reason is that hearing is perhaps the most important sense — even more than vision. Ask any videographer and they will confirm that a good audio track trumps the video track, which users will forgive for glitches if the audio track is pristine.

The Dash, $299 made by Bragi —a $3 million Kickstarter) won last year's CES Best Innovation Award, but has only become widely available this year.

The Dash uses balanced armature speakers, which don't push air—the same kind used in hearing aids. However, unlike your garden variety hearing aid, which lacks adequate bass when listening to music over Bluetooth, Knowles balanced armature speakers aim to outperform conventional air-pushing moving-coil "cone" speakers

Skin-Like Oxide Thin-Film Transistors for Transparent Displays

With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) era, strong demand has grown for wearable and transparent displays that can be applied to various fields such as augmented reality (AR) and skin-like thin flexible devices. However, previous flexible transparent displays have posed real challenges to overcome, which are, among others, poor transparency and low electrical performance. To improve the transparency and performance, past research efforts have tried to use inorganic-based electronics, but the fundamental thermal instabilities of plastic substrates have hampered the high temperature process, an essential step necessary for the fabrication of high performance electronic devices.

As a solution to this problem, a research team led by Professors Keon Jae Lee and Sang-Hee Ko Park of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed ultrathin and transparent oxide thin-film transistors (TFT) for an active-matrix backplane of a flexible display by using the inorganic-based laser lift-off (ILLO) method. Professor Lee's team previously demonstrated the ILLO technology for energy-harvesting

This image shows ultrathin, flexible, and transparent oxide thin-film transistors produced via the ILLO process.

Advance Materials - Skin-Like Oxide Thin-Film Transistors for Transparent Displays

Solar Cells converts Co2 into hydrocarbon fuel

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have engineered a potentially game-changing solar cell that cheaply and efficiently converts atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into usable hydrocarbon fuel, using only sunlight for energy.

The finding is reported in the July 29 issue of Science and was funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy. A provisional patent application has been filed.

Unlike conventional solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity that must be stored in heavy batteries, the new device essentially does the work of plants, converting atmospheric carbon dioxide into fuel, solving two crucial problems at once. A solar farm of such “artificial leaves” could remove significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and produce energy-dense fuel efficiently.

“The new solar cell is not photovoltaic — it’s photosynthetic,” says Amin Salehi-Khojin, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at UIC and senior author on the study.

“Instead of producing energy in an unsustainable one-way route from fossil fuels to greenhouse gas, we can now reverse the process and recycle atmospheric carbon into fuel using sunlight,” he said.

Simulated sunlight powers a solar cell that converts atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into syngas.

Israel receives first customized F35 stealth fighters

Lockheed-Martin delivered Israel's first F-35 Lightning II "Adir". It has passed all tests, and is due to be delivered in December.

The F-35 Lightning II Adir has top-of-the-line stealth technology, highly sensitive sensors of every kind, and fuel-optimizing computer systems to keep it in the air.

Access to the F-35’s software source code remains a live issue for the Israelis, as it has been with the Australians, British, and others. That access is necessary when air forces want to upgrade the aircraft’s computers, and/or integrate new weapons, communications, or electronic warfare systems. Israeli planes generally undergo heavy modifications to incorporate Israeli electronics and weapons systems, and the USA has allowed the Israelis access to the F-15 and F-16’s software. Israel has since exported a number of those enhancements for F-16 and F-15 customers in Asia and Latin America.

The USA doesn’t seem willing to bend on the software code issue for anyone, and insists on routing upgrade and change requests through Lockheed Martin, with attendant costs and possible delays.

Israel has gone ahead with an initial buy anyway, while negotiating to add key items. Israeli “F-35i Adir” fighters will include compatible communications systems and datalinks, and provisions to insert some locally-built ECM and defensive electronics.

Israel will also want to broaden the plane’s weapons array to include Israeli weapons, as a subject of future agreements. Items mentioned in reports to date include Python short-range air-to-air missiles, and dual-mode guidance Spice GPS/IIR smart bombs. Those items are still being negotiated, and Israel’s top-of-the-line strike fighter will need even more weapons than these in order to be fulfill its role.

Japan likely to restart 19 nuclear reactors by March 2018

Seven Japanese nuclear power reactors are likely to be in operation by the end of next March and 12 more one year later, according to an estimate by the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ). Judicial rulings and local consents will influence the rate of restart, it notes.

In its Economic and Energy Outlook of Japan Through 2017, the IEEJ has considered the economic and environmental impacts in financial years 2016 and 2017 (ending March 2017 and 2018, respectively) of various scenarios for the restart of reactors in Japan.

The organization estimates that if restarts take place according to the current schedule - the "reference scenario" - seven reactors could restart by the end of FY2016 (ending March 2017). By the end of FY2017, 19 units could be restarted, generating some 119.8 TWh of electricity annually, compared with total nuclear output of 288.2 TWh in FY2010, the year prior to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Under this scenario, compared with FY2010, total spending on fossil fuel imports in FY2017 decreases by JPY4.7 trillion ($45 billion), while the electricity cost - including fuel costs, feed-in tariffs and grid stabilization costs - increases by about JPY100/MWh. Relative to the same period, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to 1094 million tonnes CO2. According to the IEEJ, energy-related emissions reached a historical high of 1235 million tonnes CO2 in FY2013.

The IEEJ's high-case scenario assumes a total of 25 units are restarted by the end of FY2017, generating 151.2 TWh annually, with total fossil fuel imports spending decreasing by JPY0.7 trillion relative to the low-case scenario where only 12 reactors are assumed to restart, producing 39.1 TWh. In the high-case scenario, the average electricity unit cost is lowered by about JPY600/MWh and energy-related emissions decrease by 52 million tonnes CO2.

So far four Japanese reactors - Sendai units 1 and 2 and Takahama units 3 and 4 - have been restarted under the new safety regulations. However, both Takahama 3 and 4 have been offline since March due to an injunction imposed by a district court.

Nanoblocks form pixels to enable meta-hologram

By carefully arranging many nanoblocks to form pixels on a metasurface, researchers have demonstrated that they can manipulate incoming visible light in just the right way to create a color "meta-hologram." The new method of creating holograms has an order of magnitude higher reconstruction efficiency than similar color meta-holograms, and has applications for various types of 3D color holographic displays and achromatic planar lenses.

The pixels on the new metasurface consist of three types of silicon nanoblocks whose precise dimensions correspond to the wavelengths of three different colors: red, green, and blue. To enhance the efficiency for the blue light, two identical nanoblocks corresponding to the blue light are arranged in each pixel, along with one nanoblock for red light and one for green light.

The researchers explain that each pixel can be thought of as a "meta-molecule" because it is the basic repeating, subwavelength unit of the larger metasurface that constitutes the entire hologram. The meta-molecules enable the metasurface to control light in ways that are not possible without modern nanoscale design.

When red, green, and blue lasers illuminate the hologram, each nanoblock manipulates the phase of its corresponding color. The researchers explain that a key achievement of the study was to minimize the interactions between nanoblocks so that the nanoblocks function almost independently of each other. Then by orienting the nanoblocks in different ways, the researchers could change the light's phase manipulation, resulting in different holographic images.

Nanoletters - Visible-Frequency Dielectric Metasurfaces for Multiwavelength Achromatic and Highly Dispersive Holograms

Smart Bricks containing bioreactors will integrate massive-parallel computing processors

Smart bricks capable of recycling wastewater and generating electricity from sunlight are being developed by a team of scientists from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol). The bricks will be able to fit together and create 'bioreactor walls' which could then be incorporated in housing, public building and office spaces

The UWE Bristol team is working on the smart technologies that will be integrated into the bricks in this pan European 'Living Architecture' (LIAR) project led by Newcastle University. The LIAR project brings together living architecture, computing and engineering to find a new way to tackle global sustainability issues.

The smart living bricks will be made from bio-reactors filled with microbial cells and algae. Designed to self-adapt to changing environmental conditions the smart bricks will monitor and modify air in the building and recognise occupants.

Each brick will contain Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) containing a variety of micro-organisms specifically chosen to clean water, reclaim phosphate, generate electricity and facilitate the production of new detergents, as part of the same process.

The MFCs that will make up the living engine of the wall of smart bricks will be able to sense their surroundings and respond to them through a series of digitally coordinated mechanisms.

Vortex laser encodes 10 times more data

Researchers are pushing laser technology forward using another light manipulation technique called orbital angular momentum, which distributes the laser in a corkscrew pattern with a vortex at the center.

Usually too large to work on today’s computers, the UB-led team was able to shrink the vortex laser to the point where it is compatible with computer chips. Because the laser beam travels in a corkscrew pattern, encoding information into different vortex twists, it’s able to carry 10 times or more the amount of information than that of conventional lasers, which move linearly.

The vortex laser is one component of many, such as advanced transmitters and receivers, which will ultimately be needed to continue building more powerful computers and datacenters.

The image above shows vortex laser on a chip. Because the laser beam travels in a corkscrew pattern, encoding information into different vortex twists, it’s able to carry 10 times or more the amount of information than that of conventional lasers. Credit:University of Buffalo.

Babylon 5 actors continue to die prematurely

Another Babylon 5 actor has died

Jerry Doyle has died at the age of 60

He played Garibaldi who was chief of security.

Babylon 5 was a TV show in the mid 1990s

It was one of my personal favorite shows of all time.

There was a 20th anniversary memorial video that listed those who were involved with the TV show Babylon 5 (1994-1998) who have passed away. The list of 16 actors and five who were involved behind the camera.
Johnny Seka (1934-2006)
Lois Nettleton (1929-2008)
Greg McKinney (1957-1998)
Roy Brocksmith (1945-2001)
Jeff Corey (1914-2002)
Silvana Gallardo (1953-2012)
Robin Sachs (1951-2013)
Tim Choate (1944-2004)
Turhan Bey (1922-2012)
Paul Winfield (1939-2004)
Malachi Throne (1928-2013)
Majel Barrett-Roddenberry (1932-2008)
Jeff Conaway (1950-2011)
Michael O'Hare (1952-2012)
Richard Biggs (1960-2004)
Andrew "Andreas" Katsulas (1946-2006)
Howard Block (1946-1994)
John McPherson (1941-2007)
John Stears (1934-1999)
Richard Compton (1938-2007)
Peter Ledger (1945-1994)

July 28, 2016

Zoltan Istvan is running as Science oriented Presidential candidate

Zoltan Istvan is running as a Transhumanist party candidate. He has a science focus. Here is an email interview with Nextbigfuture

What has the campaign been like for you ? What media attention ?

My campaign has been a whirlwind since it started nearly 20 months ago. The amount of attention given to it has been both wonderful and overwhelming. It turns out no one visible has ever really made a Presidential run entirely based on a science and technology platform. So there has been lots of curiosity from the public as to what type of ideas I have.

The most important concept of my campaign is simple: Science and Technology can best help and fix the problems and issues the United States and the world faces. It’s better to use science and technology to solve issues rather than historic precedence, religious ideals, ethnic propensities, or cultural values.

Please summarize key aspects of your platform ?

The main idea of my Presidential platform is to put science, medicine, and technology at the forefront of US politics. Right now, most politics is about common social issues, like taxes, immigration, and foreign policy. While these issues are important, I don’t think they’re as important as artificial intelligence, designer babies, and eliminating human suffering and hardship using tech innovation.

Some key points of my platform including support for a Universal Basic Income, using radical technology (like nanotechnology) to fix the environmental crisis, the use of chip implants to help personal safety, direct digital democracy, a transhumanist Olympics, and much more government resources for space exploration.

July 27, 2016

Chinese J-20 production version spotted

The fourth low production rate copy of the Chinese J-20 stealth fighter has been spotted

The J-20 will fly at up to 1305 mph

The appearance of LRIP aircraft suggests that the type is nearing introduction into service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. A number of J-20s have been seen on satellite imagery at the China Flight Test Establishment base at Xi’an-Yanliang. The latest report to Congress on Chinese defense developments by the U.S. Department of Defense suggests that the J-20 could become operational in 2018.

The J-20 appears to be designed for long-range interception with an emphasis on frontal-aspect low-observability. It has an infrared search and track sensor and possibly also an electro-optical distributed aperture system (EODAS), the latter a Chinese-designed system similar to that on the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter. The weapons are carried internally, with a central bay expected to contain four beyond visual range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs). There is also provision for two short-range AAMs in two separate weapons bays on each side of the fuselage.

The main question that is left for the design is the powerplant, with all J-20s built so far being powered by two Russian Saturn AL-31 engines. China hopes eventually to install 180-kN (40,000-pound-thrust)-rated WS-15 turbofans. But China’s jet engine development program has been stymied by manufacturing and reliability issues. Even the less ambitious WS-10 turbofan is yet to fully enter service with the single-engine Chengdu J-10 fighter, although it has been flying on the twin-engine Shenyang J-11 Flanker since 2010.

<img src="http://www.ainonline.com/sites/default/files/uploads/2016/07/web7-2016-4-chinese-j-20.jpg>Osier to <br /> <br /> <br />

If Spacex Mars missions and colonization succeed then Musk becomes Columnbus, Isabella I

Spacex and Elon Musk plan to spend $300 million on their first Red Dragon mission to Mars in 2018. This will be ten times more than NASA will spend

If this leads to Spacex performing a series of mainly successful unmanned and then a manned mission to Mars around 2024 or 2026 then that manned mission would be like Columbus sending people to the new world.

By funding it Elon Musk would have the role of Isabella the first.

Spacex and whoever are in the mission would be Columbus.

The first permanent colony would be like Spanish colony Isabella.

Permanent colonization of a new planet would be a greater milestone and achievement for humanity.

China now has the current largest seaplane which will be used for firefighting and south Vhina sea operations

China has completed the world's largest seaplane that is currently operating.

The amphibious AG600 is about the size of a Boeing 737 and will be used to fight forest fires and perform marine rescue operations, state-run news agency Xinhua said.

The spruce goose made by Howard Hughes was a larger seaplane. It weighed 180 tons and had a 97 meter wingspan.

With a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tons, the AG600 is the largest seaplane in the world, Xinhua said. It has a reported flight range of 4,500 kilometers and can collect 12 tons of water in only 20 seconds.

China has had the 45 ton Harbin SH5 seaplane. The new seaplane is 22% bigger.

The AVIC General Aircraft Company has won 17 orders for the amphibious aircraft AG600, including two at 2014 Zhuhai Air Show.

AVIC expected to deliver 60 AG600 amphibious aircraft in 15 years. The AVIC TA-600, also known as AG-600, is a large amphibious flying boat that is being designed and built in China by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).

Dutch men are tallest at an average of 6 feet tall

The latest study of population height shows most countries with male and females getting taller. The US used to have the tallest people but the tallest men are now in the Netherlands at an average of 6 feet tall.

Men born in 1996 surpass average heights of 181 cm in the Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia, Latvia and Denmark, with Dutch men, at 182.5 cm (180.6–184.5), the tallest people on the planet. The gap with the shortest countries – Timor-Leste, Yemen and Laos, where men are only ~160 cm tall – is 22–23 cm, an increase of ~4 cm on the global gap in the 1896 birth cohort. Australia was the only non-European country where men born in 1996 were among the 25 tallest in the world. Women born in 1996 are shortest in Guatemala, with an average height of 149.4 cm (148.0–150.8), and are shorter than 151 cm in the Philippines, Bangladesh and Nepal. The tallest women live in Latvia, the Netherlands, Estonia and Czech Republic, with average height surpassing 168 cm, creating a 20 cm global gap in women’s height

The tallest women average 5 feet 6 inches.

Greater height in adulthood is both beneficially (cardiovascular and respiratory diseases) and harmfully (colorectal, postmenopausal breast and ovarian cancers, and possibly pancreatic, prostate and premenopausal breast cancers) associated with several diseases, independently of its inverse correlation with BMI

The ~20 cm height range in the world is associated with a 17% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality and 20–40% higher risk of various site-specific cancers, in tall versus short countries.

The pace of growth in height has not been uniform over the past century. The impressive rise in height in Japan stopped in people born after the early 1960s. In South Korea, the flattening began in the cohorts born in the 1980s for men and it may have just begun in women. As a result, South Korean men and women are now taller than their Japanese counterparts. The rise is continuing in other East and Southeast Asian countries like China and Thailand, with Chinese men and women having surpassed the Japanese (but not yet as tall as South Koreans). The rise in adult height also seems to have plateaued in South Asian countries like Bangladesh and India at much lower levels than in East Asia, e.g., 5–10 cm shorter than it did in Japan and South Korea.

Increases in European men’s heights in the 19th and 20th century have been highlighted, we found that the largest gains since the 1896 birth cohort occurred in South Korean women and Iranian men, who became 20.2 cm (17.5–22.7) and 16.5 cm (13.3–19.7) taller, respectively. As a result, South Korean women moved from the fifth shortest to the top tertile of tallest women in the world over the course of a century. Men in South Korea also had large gains relative to other countries, by 15.2 cm (12.3–18.1). There were also large gains in height in Japan, Greenland, some countries in Southern Europe (e.g., Greece) and Central Europe (e.g., Serbia and Poland, and for women Czech Republic). In contrast, there was little gain in height in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

On average the world is about 3 to 4 inches taller. The countries with most gains at 5 to 6 inches taller va low gainers at 1 to 2 inches.

July 26, 2016

DARPA robotic subhunting trimaran successfully meets initial at sea trials

Leidos, a national security, health, and infrastructure solutions company, announced today that on June 22, it completed initial performance trials of the technology demonstration vessel it is developing for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)'s Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program. The at-sea tests took place off the coast of San Diego, California.

The 132-foot trimaran, christened Sea Hunter at a ceremony in April, met or surpassed all performance objectives for speed, maneuverability, stability, seakeeping, acceleration/deceleration, and fuel consumption, as well as establishing confidence in mechanical systems reliability in an open-ocean environment. Sea Hunter is designed to operate for extended periods at sea with no person on board and only sparse supervisory control throughout deployment. While initial vessel tests require a pilot on board the ship, later tests are planned to have no personnel on board.

The completion of Sea Hunter's performance trials is the first milestone in the two-year test program co-sponsored by DARPA and the Office of Naval Research. Testing in upcoming months is scheduled to include testing of sensors, the vessel's autonomy suite, compliance with maritime collision regulations, and proof-of-concept demonstrations for a variety of U.S. Navy missions.

Unlocking the potential for ultra-lightweight and flexible 3D-printed metallic materials

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) engineers have achieved unprecedented scalability in 3D-printed architectures of arbitrary geometry, opening the door to super-strong, ultra-lightweight and flexible metallic materials for aerospace, the military and the automotive industry.

In a study published online July 18 in Nature Materials (link is external), LLNL engineers report building multiple layers of fractal-like lattices with features ranging from the nanometer to centimeter scale, resulting in a nickel-plated metamaterial with a high elasticity not found in any previously built metal foams or lattices.

"With these 3D features we've been fabricating on a nanoscale, you can get some really interesting properties, but people have never been able to scale them up and see how they behave," said lead author Xiaoyu "Rayne" Zheng (link is external), a former LLNL technical staff member who led the study and recently transferred to academia as a professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech (link is external). "We've figured out a strategy of hierarchically building them to take advantage of the nanoscale features but use them at a large scale. It turned out better than we could have imagined."

3D printing could make lightweight and stronger material to revolutionize lasers

LLNL researchers are exploring the use of metal 3D printing to create strong, lightweight structures for advanced laser systems - an effort they say could alter the way lasers are designed in the future.

In a Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program, physicist Ibo Matthews and his team are experimenting with a new research-based metal 3D printer, one of only four of its kind in the world, using a customized software platform capable of unprecedented design control.
The powder bed laser-melting printer, made by the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (link is external) (ILT) and German startup Aconity 3D (link is external), was installed in December 2015. Lab engineers have added diagnostics and high-speed cameras to examine thermal emissions and to image the surface of parts as they're being built. Matthews said the modifications will help the researchers determine how defects or deformations occur during the 3D printing process.

"It's very flexible; it allows us to change any of the parameters we want," he said. "We're developing confidence in what we've built. If any defects occur, it is our aim that the user can have a 3D map available at the end of the build that shows what and where it happened."

Matthews and his team are building on their experience in laser materials processing and interaction gained in support of both the National Ignition Facility (NIF) and directed energy projects to develop new approaches to metal 3D printing. Their work is part of an overall strategy to broaden the NIF & Photon Science (NIF&PS) laser applications portfolio and maintain core competencies in laser-matter interaction science. Moreover, NIF scientists are intrigued by the potential for the metal 3D printing platform to support lasers - not just at NIF, but in airborne systems that need to be extremely lightweight, such as those used for remote sensing and aerial scanning.

July 25, 2016

Hydrogel and nanoparticle surgical microbots

EPFL scientist Selman Sakar teamed up with Hen-Wei Huang and Bradley Nelson at ETHZ to develop a simple and versatile method for building such bio-inspired robots and equipping them with advanced features. They also created a platform for testing several robot designs and studying different modes of locomotion. Their work, published in Nature Communications, produced complex reconfigurable microrobots that can be manufactured with high throughput. They built an integrated manipulation platform that can remotely control the robots’ mobility with electromagnetic fields, and cause them to shape-shift using heat.

A robot that looks and moves like a bacterium
Unlike conventional robots, these microrobots are soft, flexible, and motor-less. They are made of a biocompatible hydrogel and magnetic nanoparticles. These nanoparticles have two functions. They give the microrobots their shape during the manufacturing process, and make them move and swim when an electromagnetic field is applied.

Building one of these microrobots involves several steps. First, the nanoparticles are placed inside layers of a biocompatible hydrogel. Then an electromagnetic field is applied to orientate the nanoparticles at different parts of the robot, followed by a polymerization step to “solidify” the hydrogel. After this, the robot is placed in water where it folds in specific ways depending on the orientation of the nanoparticles inside the gel, to form the final overall 3D architecture of the microrobot.

Once the final shape is achieved, an electromagnetic field is used to make the robot swim. Then, when heated, the robot changes shape and “unfolds”. This fabrication approach allowed the researchers to build microrobots that mimic the bacterium that causes African trypanosomiasis, otherwise known as sleeping sickness. This particular bacterium uses a flagellum for propulsion, but hides it away once inside a person’s bloodstream as a survival mechanism.

Ultra-flat circuits will have unique properties

The old rules don’t necessarily apply when building electronic components out of two-dimensional materials, according to scientists at Rice University.

The Rice lab of theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson analyzed hybrids that put 2-D materials like graphene and boron nitride side by side to see what happens at the border. They found that the electronic characteristics of such “co-planar” hybrids differ from bulkier components.

Their results appear this month in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters.

Shrinking electronics means shrinking their components. Academic labs and industries are studying how materials like graphene may enable the ultimate in thin devices by building all the necessary circuits into an atom-thick layer.

“Our work is important because semiconductor junctions are a big field,” Yakobson said. “There are books with iconic models of electronic behavior that are extremely well-developed and have become the established pillars of industry.

Nano Letters - Carrier Delocalization in Two-Dimensional Coplanar p–n Junctions of Graphene and Metal Dichalcogenides

Three Dwave 2X quantum computing machines installed outside of Dwave and each has over 1000 qubits

The USC-Lockheed Martin Quantum Computing Center (QCC) based at the USC Information Sciences Institute (ISI) has been upgraded — to 1,098 qubits from 512. The D-Wave 2X™ processor is enabling QCC researchers to continue their efforts to close the gap between academic research in quantum computation and real-world critical problems.

“Our QCC researchers have been studying and elucidating the capabilities of the D-Wave quantum annealing processors since 2011, starting with the first commercially released model, and we are fortunate to be able to continue this cutting-edge work with this new, third-generation model,” said Daniel Lidar, the scientific director of the USC-Lockheed Martin Quantum Computing Center.

The QCC is hosted at the USC Information Sciences Institute of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. The QCC hosts one of two D-Wave systems that currently operate outside of D-Wave’s headquarters; the other, owned by Google, is hosted at NASA’s Ames Research Center. A third is being installed at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The new processor will be used to study how and whether quantum effects can speed up the solution of tough optimization, machine learning and sampling problems. Machine-learning algorithms are widely used in artificial intelligence tasks.

“Quantum computing has the potential to solve complex engineering problems that classical computers cannot efficiently solve,” said Greg Tallant, Lockheed Martin fellow and lead for the USC-Lockheed Martin QCC. “This emerging technology is expected to achieve things like rapidly debugging millions of lines of software code and solving hard computational problems in the aerospace industry. At its fullest capability, quantum computing could advance the way we solve critical issues and plan for future generations.”

The QCC researchers expect that with continued development, the D-Wave 2X system will enable breakthrough results in quantum optimization.

Stem cell injections reduce scarring during bypass surgery and possibly increase survival of patients with surgery

11 patients were injected with stem cells during bypass surgery. The stem cells injected into their hearts caused a 40% reduction in the size of scarred tissue. Such scarring occurs during a cardiac event such as a heart attack, and can increase the chances of further heart failure. The scarring was previously thought to be permanent and irreversible.

At the time of treatment, the patients were suffering heart failure and had a very high (70%) annual mortality rate. But 36 months after receiving the stem cell treatment all are still alive, and none have suffered a further cardiac event such as a heart attack or stroke, or had any readmissions for cardiac-related reasons.

Twenty-four months after participants were injected with the stem cell treatment there was a 30% improvement in heart function, 40% reduction in scar size, and 70% improvement in quality of life, as judged by the Minnesota living with heart failure (MLHF) score.

Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research - Implantation of a Novel Allogeneic Mesenchymal Precursor Cell Type in Patients with Ischemic Cardiomyopathy Undergoing Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting: an Open Label Phase IIa Trial

Heart failure is a life-limiting condition affecting over 40 million patients worldwide. Ischemic cardiomyopathy (ICM) is the most common cause. This study investigates in situ cardiac regeneration utilizing precision delivery of a novel mesenchymal precursor cell type (iMP) during coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) in patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy (LVEF less than 40 %). The phase IIa safety study was designed to enroll 11 patients. Preoperative scintigraphy imaging (SPECT) was used to identify hibernating myocardium not suitable for conventional myocardial revascularization for iMP implantation. iMP cells were implanted intramyocardially in predefined viable peri-infarct areas that showed poor perfusion, which could not be grafted due to poor target vessel quality. Postoperatively, SPECT was then used to identify changes in scar area. Intramyocardial implantation of iMP cells with CABG was safe with preliminary evidence of efficacy of improved myocardial contractility and perfusion of nonrevascularized territories resulting in a significant reduction in left ventricular scar area at 12 months after treatment. Clinical improvement was associated with a significant improvement in quality of life at 6 months posttreatment in all patients. The results suggest the potential for in situ myocardial regeneration in ischemic heart failure by delivery of iMP cells.

New technique can reveal subcellular details and long-range connections in the brain

MIT researchers have developed a new technique for imaging brain tissue at multiple scales, allowing them to peer at molecules within cells or take a wider view of the long-range connections between neurons.

This technique, known as magnified analysis of proteome (MAP), should help scientists in their ongoing efforts to chart the connectivity and functions of neurons in the human brain, says Kwanghun Chung, the Samuel A. Goldblith Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and a member of MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) and Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.

“We use a chemical process to make the whole brain size-adjustable, while preserving pretty much everything. We preserve the proteome (the collection of proteins found in a biological sample), we preserve nanoscopic details, and we also preserve brain-wide connectivity,” says Chung, the senior author of a paper describing the method in the July 25 issue of Nature Biotechnology.

The researchers also showed that the technique is applicable to other organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys.

A new technique called magnified analysis of proteome (MAP), developed at MIT, allows researchers to peer at molecules within cells or take a wider view of the long-range connections between neurons Courtesy of the researchers.

Nature Biotechnology - Multiplexed and scalable super-resolution imaging of three-dimensional protein localization in size-adjustable tissues

New chemistry could overcome key drawbacks of lithium-air batteries

Lithium-air batteries are considered highly promising technologies for electric cars and portable electronic devices because of their potential for delivering a high energy output in proportion to their weight. But such batteries have some pretty serious drawbacks: They waste much of the injected energy as heat and degrade relatively quickly. They also require expensive extra components to pump oxygen gas in and out, in an open-cell configuration that is very different from conventional sealed batteries.

But a new variation of the battery chemistry, which could be used in a conventional, fully sealed battery, promises similar theoretical performance as lithium-air batteries, while overcoming all of these drawbacks.

The new battery concept is called a nanolithia cathode battery

Pairing lithium and oxygen (from air) can theoretically lead to electrochemical cells with the highest specific energy possible. Indeed, the theoretical specific energy of a non-aqueous Li-air battery (in the charged state with Li2O2 product and excluding the oxygen mass) is ~12 kWh/kg. This is comparable with the theoretical specific energy of gasoline (~13 kWh/kg). In practice, the Li-air batteries with a specific energy of ~1.7 kWh/kg at the cell level have been developed, which is about 5 times greater than that of commercial lithium-ion batteries, and which is sufficient to run a Fully Electric Vehicle (FEV) for 500 km (311 miles) on a single charge.

Nature Energy - Anion-redox nanolithia cathodes for Li-ion batteries

NASA to Map the Surface of an Asteroid

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will launch September 2016 and travel to a near-Earth asteroid known as Bennu to harvest a sample of surface material and return it to Earth for study. The science team will be looking for something special. Ideally, the sample will come from a region in which the building blocks of life may be found.

To identify these regions on Bennu, the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) team equipped the spacecraft with an instrument that will measure the spectral signatures of Bennu’s mineralogical and molecular components.

Known as OVIRS (short for the OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer), the instrument will measure visible and near-infrared light reflected and emitted from the asteroid and split the light into its component wavelengths, much like a prism that splits sunlight into a rainbow.

“OVIRS is key to our search for organics on Bennu,” said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for the OSIRIS-REx mission at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “In particular, we will rely on it to find the areas of Bennu rich in organic molecules to identify possible sample sites of high science value, as well as the asteroid’s general composition.”

OVIRS will work in tandem with another OSIRIS-REx instrument — the Thermal Emission Spectrometer, or OTES. While OVIRS maps the asteroid in the visible and near infrared, OTES picks up in the thermal infrared. This allows the science team to map the entire asteroid over a range of wavelengths that are most interesting to scientists searching for organics and water, and help them to select the best site for retrieving a sample.

In the visible and infrared spectrum, minerals and other materials have unique signatures like fingerprints. These fingerprints allow scientists to identify various organic materials, as well as carbonates, silicates and absorbed water, on the surface of the asteroid. The data returned by OVIRS and OTES will actually allow scientists to make a map of the relative abundance of various materials across Bennu’s surface.

“I can’t think of a spectral payload that has been quite this comprehensive before,” said Dennis Reuter, OVIRS instrument scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

OVIRS will be active during key phases throughout the mission. As the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft approaches Bennu, OVIRS will view one entire hemisphere at a time to measure how the spectrum changes as the asteroid rotates, allowing scientists to compare ground-based observations to those from the spacecraft. Once at the asteroid, OVIRS will gather spectral data and create detailed maps of the surface and help in the selection of a sample site.

Using information gathered by OVIRS and OTES from the visible to the thermal infrared, the science team will also study the Yarkovsky Effect, or how Bennu's orbit is affected by surface heating and cooling throughout its day. The asteroid is warmed by sunlight and re-emits thermal radiation in different directions as it rotates. This asymmetric thermal emission gives Bennu a small but steady push, thus changing its orbit over time. Understanding this effect will help scientists study Bennu’s orbital path, improve our understanding of the Yarkovsky effect, and improve our predictions of its influence on the orbits of other asteroids.

But despite its capabilities to perform complex science, OVIRS is surprisingly inexpensive and compact in its design. The entire spectrometer operates at 10 watts, requiring less power than a standard household light bulb.

“When you put it into that perspective, you can see just how efficient this instrument is, even though it is taking extremely complicated science measurements,” said Amy Simon, deputy instrument scientist for OVIRS at Goddard. “We’ve put a big job in a compact instrument.”

Unlike most spectrometers, OVIRS has no moving parts, reducing the risk of a malfunction.

“We designed OVIRS to be robust and capable of lasting a long time in space,” Reuter said. “Think of how many times you turn on your computer and something doesn’t work right or it just won’t start up. We can’t have that type of thing happen during the mission.”

Drastic temperature changes in space will put the instrument’s robust design to the test. OVIRS is a cryogenic instrument, meaning that it must be at very low temperatures to produce the best data. Generally, it doesn’t take much for something to stay cool in space. That is, until it comes in contact with direct sunlight.

Heat inside OVIRS would increase the amount of thermal radiation and scattered light, interfering with the infrared data. To avoid this risk, the scientists anodized the spectrometer’s interior coating. Anodizing increases a metal’s resistance to corrosion and wear. Anodized coatings can also help reduce scattered light, lowering the risk of compromising OVIRS’ observations.

The team also had to plan for another major threat: water. The scientists will search for traces of water when they scout the surface for a sample site. Because the team will be searching for tiny water levels on Bennu’s surface, any water inside OVIRS would skew the results. And while the scientists don’t have to worry about a torrential downpour in space, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft may accumulate moisture while resting on its launch pad in Florida’s humid environment.

Immediately after launch, the team will turn on heaters on the instrument to bake off any water. The heat will not be intense enough to cause any damage to OVIRS, and the team will turn the heaters off once all of the water has evaporated.

“There are always challenges that we don’t know about until we get there, but we try to plan for the ones that we know about ahead of time,” said Simon.

OVIRS will be essential for helping the team choose the best sample site. Its data and maps will give the scientists a picture of what is present on Bennu’s surface.

In addition to OVIRS, Goddard will provide overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the mission’s principal investigator at the University of Arizona. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

The new US aircraft carrier and its planned F-35 fighter will both not be truly combat ready until after 2020

The F-35 fighter plane will not truly be combat ready until 2022 and the aircraft carrier where the navy's F-35 would launch from will also not be combat ready until a redesigned launching and recovery system is built and installed. The current recovery system will likely break after 25 consecutive landings. High likelihood of failure for landing within 1 day and for launching within 4 days.

An independent watchdog group is saying that the long list of unresolved problems means that the F-35 won’t be ready for combat until 2022. The watchdog group, the well-respected Project on Government Oversight, is basing its analysis on a recent Department of Defense report that found numerous serious problems with the fifth-generation fighter.

The watchdog analysis comes after one of the three F-35 variants has already been declared combat ready. The F-35B, designed for the Marines, was declared ready to go in July 2015. However, the jet has not been used by the Marines in combat, despite plentiful opportunities in Syria and Iraq. And the Project on Government Oversight maintains that the declaration was premature, and that official testing proves that the jet is not ready for active duty. Some analysts have speculated that the Pentagon is trying to buy hundreds of planes before testing has been completed.

Aircraft carrier failing at key tasks of launching and recovering planes and reloading weapons

According to a June 28 memo, Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department's director of operational test and evaluation, ;said the most expensive warship in history [the new Gerald Ford aircraft carrier] continues to struggle launching and recovering aircraft, moving onboard munitions, conducting air traffic control and with ship self-defense.

"These four systems affect major areas of flight operations," Gilmore wrote in his report to Pentagon and Navy weapons buyers Frank Kendall and Sean Stackley. "Unless these issues are resolved ... they will significantly limit CVN-78's ability to conduct combat operations.

Fixing these problems would likely require redesigning the carrier's aircraft launch and recovery systems, according to Gilmore, a process that could result in another delay for a ship that was expected to join the fleet in September 2014.

The F-35 has cost taxpayers over $400 billion to date

Arresting Gear

The Navy estimates the arresting gear could be operated for approximately 25 consecutive landings, or cycles, between critical failures. That means it has a “negligible probability of completing” a 4-day surge “without an operational mission failure,” Gilmore wrote.

The electro-magnetic launch system’s reliability is higher but “nonetheless I have concerns,” Gilmore wrote. Recent Navy data indicates the carrier can conduct only 400 launches between critical failures, “well below the requirement” of 4,166 takeoffs, Gilmore wrote.

Gilmore said the system would have to increase its reliability to 1,600 launches between critical failures “to have a 90 percent chance of completing a day of sustained operations.” The Navy program office’s determined that the carrier “has less than a 7 percent chance of completing the four-day combat surge” plan, Gilmore wrote.

The Ford carrier has cost taxpayers over $20 billion so far ($5 for research, almost $15 billion for the first one and $4 billion or so for start of construction on the second.)

The current MK 7 hydraulic arresting system outfitted on the ten Nimitz-class aircraft carriers will be replaced on the Gerald Ford-class carriers by the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) unit for recovery operations. The AAG is designed for a broader range of aircraft, including UAVs, while reducing manpower and maintenance. Rotary engines which use simple energy-absorbing water turbines (or twisters) coupled to a large induction motor provide finer control of the arresting forces.

New super aircraft cannot land or recover aircraft for four days without failing and fixing this would require a redesign

According to a June 28 memo, Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department's director of operational test and evaluation, said the most expensive warship in history [the new Gerald Ford aircraft carrier] continues to struggle launching and recovering aircraft, moving onboard munitions, conducting air traffic control and with ship self-defense.

"These four systems affect major areas of flight operations," Gilmore wrote in his report to Pentagon and Navy weapons buyers Frank Kendall and Sean Stackley. "Unless these issues are resolved ... they will significantly limit CVN-78's ability to conduct combat operations.

Fixing these problems would likely require redesigning the carrier's aircraft launch and recovery systems, according to Gilmore, a process that could result in another delay for a ship that was expected to join the fleet in September 2014.

Commanders said delays to the USS Gerald R. Ford have resulted in extended deployments for the operational carriers in order for the Navy to meet its commitments around the world, placing additional stress on sailors and crew members.

The report comes just days after the Navy announced the Ford will not be delivered before November 2016 due to unspecified testing issues, walking back testimony from April in which Stackley told Congress the Ford would be ready by September.

Now that delivery date could be pushed to 2017, according to the Navy.

To date, construction on the Ford is 98 percent complete with 88 percent of the test program finished.

Despite delays to the USS Gerald R. Ford's delivery, the Navy says that the Ford-class carriers will yield a $4 billion reduction per ship cost as compared to its predecessor, the Nimitz Class.

The next carrier in the Ford class, the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), is scheduled to launch in 2020. That ship was 18% percent complete as of March.

Arresting Gear

The Navy estimates the arresting gear could be operated for approximately 25 consecutive landings, or cycles, between critical failures. That means it has a “negligible probability of completing” a 4-day surge “without an operational mission failure,” Gilmore wrote.

The electro-magnetic launch system’s reliability is higher but “nonetheless I have concerns,” Gilmore wrote. Recent Navy data indicates the carrier can conduct only 400 launches between critical failures, “well below the requirement” of 4,166 takeoffs, Gilmore wrote.

Gilmore said the system would have to increase its reliability to 1,600 launches between critical failures “to have a 90 percent chance of completing a day of sustained operations.” The Navy program office’s determined that the carrier “has less than a 7 percent chance of completing the four-day combat surge” plan, Gilmore wrote.

The current MK 7 hydraulic arresting system outfitted on the ten Nimitz-class aircraft carriers will be replaced on the Gerald Ford-class carriers by the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) unit for recovery operations. The AAG is designed for a broader range of aircraft, including UAVs, while reducing manpower and maintenance. Rotary engines which use simple energy-absorbing water turbines (or twisters) coupled to a large induction motor provide finer control of the arresting forces.

Existing water twister systems are fixed in their capacity to absorb energy. For AAG there is a variable energy dissipation by the water twister. There is an actual moving plate inside the water twister that adjusts how much resistance to the water is generated. Initially there was an underestimation of the forces involved inside the water twister because it is a three-dimensional flow field. Internal plates that take the force of the water weren't strong enough and finding a solution has taken some time

In 2016 the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Defense found that the AAG remained unproven.

July 24, 2016

Navy studies Enders Game and Holodecks when looking to make new Navy Battle Lab

General Robert Neller, Marine Commandant, thinks the Navy and Marine training systems we have as far as simulators and simulation are pretty good for individual task/condition/standard, for air crew, for drivers, for even firing individual weapons, gunnery, things like that, but he think the thing that we are looking for is, where’s the equivalent of our Holodeck, where a fleet commander or division commander or air wing commander can go in and get a rep. Right now that almost requires an actual provision of the real stuff, which is really expensive . . . . Where’s our Enders Game battle lab kind of thing where we can not just give our leadership reps, but we can actually find out who the really good leaders are.

Description of Enders Battle Lab by Navy

Everything I Ever Needed to Know about Simulation and Training I Learned from Ender’s Game

Using virtual training environments, the children go head-to-head on an individual level against computers that simulate Formic battle tactics to gain the knowledge and abilities required to defeat the enemy. The children can then compete against one another in the virtual environments to further develop their strategies. The next phase involves live collective training. Divided into armies, the soldiers must learn to function as a single unit to accomplish a mission objective in the battleroom. With enough skill, soldiers can become commanders of their armies and must learn to lead them effectively. By merging these individual and collective training components, the soldiers’ knowledge, skills, and abilities can translate into operational readiness.

While the concept of an Ender’s Game battle lab may seem like pure fantasy to some, the technology to build it may be right around the corner. In order to turn Neller’s vision into reality, several organizational changes must occur.

* The Navy needs to not pay to reinvent what exists. As the current Pokémon Go craze clearly demonstrates, working augmented reality is now widely available to the public at virtually no cost.

* Senior leaders and acquisition professionals need to consider open source software (OSS) services, such as GitHub, as the new norm for software procurement. OSS services allow users to take available code and modify it for a specific use at potentially a much lower cost than developing their own version from scratch or purchasing a commercial software license.

* Another form of technological advancement needing consideration is the rise of machine learning and “bot” technology. Sophisticated software algorithms show great utility in modern computer networks, with their ability to monitor computer systems, offer data access, and to check network activity, while adapting themselves to varying conditions without human direction.

* traditional wargaming is a competition among participants based on a scenario that is conducted in a turn-based manner. They make people think and solve problems. This same process is easily replicated, repeated and expanded by using a virtual environment. Virtual wargaming offers many advantages over traditional simulations

Enders Game Battle School

Enders Game Zero G Training Combat

Newly discovered material property may lead to high temp superconductivity

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Ames Laboratory have discovered an unusual property of purple bronze that may point to new ways to achieve high temperature superconductivity.

While studying purple bronze, a molybdenum oxide, researchers discovered an unconventional charge density wave on its surface.

A charge density wave (CDW) is a state of matter where electrons bunch together in a repeating pattern, like a standing wave of surface of water. Superconductivity and charge density waves share a common origin, often co-exist, and can compete for dominance in certain materials.

Conventional CDWs and superconductivity both arise from electron-phonon interactions, the interaction of electrons with the vibrations of the crystal lattice. Electron-electron interactions are the likely origin of unconventional, high-temperature superconductivity such as found in copper- and iron-based compounds.

Unconventional, electron-electron driven CDW are extremely rare and its discovery here is important, because the material showed an ‘extraordinary’ increase of CDW transition temperature from 130K (-143°C) to 220K (-53 °C) and a huge increase of energy gap at the surface.

Bulk and surface CDW transition. (a) High-energy x-ray diffraction patterns of the reciprocal lattice plane ( H K 0 ). The CDW superstructure peaks are marked by blue arrows (logarithmic color scale). (b) High-resolution diffraction patterns of the ( 92 0 0) CDW peak (linear color scale). (c) Plot of the temperature dependence of the CDW peak (linear color scale). The intensity is obtained by summing up the high-resolution diffraction patterns of the ( 92 0 0) peak along the transverse direction in (b), and is plotted along the longitudinal direction. (d) LEED images. Red arrows point to CDW superstructure peaks.

Summary of the temperature-dependent CDW gap and band structure evolvement. (a) Temperature dependence of the surface (red solid circles) and bulk (blue solid circles) CDW gap. The surface gap is extracted from the back bending point of the surface band and the bulk gap is extracted from the leading edge shift of kF EDCs [Fig. 1]. The gray solid line is a BCS-like temperature dependence with Δ0=12  meV . The integrated intensity of the CDW peak measured by x-ray diffraction [Fig. 2] is shown with yellow solid circles. Black data points represent the intensity of CDW peaks measured by LEED. Dashed line is a guide to the eye. (b) Illustration of the surface (blue line) and bulk (red line) band dispersion. (c) Illustration of surface (red) and bulk (blue) CDW formation in real space. Dashed lines represent a density distribution of conducting electrons.

Bulk and surface CDW gaps: (a) Measured FS at 130 K. Intensity is integrated within EF±10  meV and data are symmetrized with sixfold symmetry. Dashed arrows indicate three nesting vectors, each connecting two quasi-1D FS sheets [51]. The red rectangle is expanded in the left-bottom inset to demonstrate the FS hybridization. (b)–(d) ARPES intensity measured along the cut (red line) shown in (a). (e) Extracted band dispersion from (d). (f) EDCs along the same cut. (g)–(i) ARPES intensity divided by Fermi function close to EF at 130, 75, and 45 K. (j) Temperature dependence of the EDCs at kF showing opening of bulk CDW gap. (k) Same as in (j), but symmetrized about EF .

Physics Review Letters - Discovery of an Unconventional Charge Density Wave at the Surface of K0.9Mo6O17

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