September 10, 2016

Small asteroid passes ten time closer than the moon

A small asteroid designated 2016 RB1 safely flew past Earth today at 10:20 a.m. PDT (1:20 p.m. EDT / 17:20 UTC) at a distance of about 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers, or just less than 1/10th the distance of Earth to the moon). Because the asteroid’s orbit carried it below (or over) Earth’s south pole, it did not pass within the orbits of communication or weather satellites. 2016 RB1 is estimated to be between 25 to 50 feet (7 and 16 meters) in diameter. It is the closest the space rock will come to Earth for at least the next half century.

Asteroid 2016 RB1 was discovered on Sept. 5, 2016, by astronomers using the 60-inch Cassegrain reflector telescope of the Catalina Sky Survey, located at the summit of Mount Lemmon in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Arizona -- a project of NASA'S NEO Observations Program in collaboration with the University of Arizona.

If this was a porous rock asteroid with 16 meters diameter traveling at 17 kilometers per second then it would have been an airburst [Imperial college of london impact calculator] This calculator is based on a 30 page paper Earth Impact Effects Program: A Web-based computer program for calculating the regional environmental consequences of a meteoroid impact on Earth

Distance from Impact: 500.00 meters ( = 1640.00 feet )
Projectile diameter: 16.00 meters ( = 52.50 feet )
Projectile Density: 1500 kg/m3
Impact Velocity: 17.00 km per second ( = 10.60 miles per second )
Impact Angle: 45 degrees
Target Density: 2000 kg/m3
Target Type: Crystalline Rock
The projectile begins to breakup at an altitude of 72500 meters = 238000 ft
The projectile bursts into a cloud of fragments at an altitude of 30900 meters = 101000 ft
The residual velocity of the projectile fragments after the burst is 11.9 km/s = 7.42 miles/s
The energy of the airburst is 2.35 x 10^14 Joules = 56 kilotons
No crater is formed, although large fragments may strike the surface.

If it was made of iron (8 times denser than water) and 16 meters in diameter then

The projectile begins to breakup at an altitude of 14000 meters = 46000 ft
The projectile bursts into a cloud of fragments at an altitude of 5120 meters = 16800 ft
The residual velocity of the projectile fragments after the burst is 6.76 km/s = 4.2 miles/s
The energy of the airburst is 2.09 x 10^15 Joules =500 kilotons.
Large fragments strike the surface and may create a crater strewn field. A more careful treatment of atmospheric entry is required to accurately estimate the size-frequency distribution of meteoroid fragments and predict the number and size of craters formed.

This animated gif of asteroid 2016 RB1’s close approach to Earth was imaged by astronomer Gianluca Masi on the evening of Sept. 6, 2016, using the Virtual Telescope located in Ceccano, Central Italy.
Credits: VT/Masi

Boeing testing blended wing plane for potential new super-efficient subsonic plane within 10 years

Boeing is back in the wind tunnel testing one of its most innovative and potentially game-changing advanced concepts: the Blended Wing Body.

Testing is underway through the end of September at the NASA Langley Research Center 14- by 22-Foot Subsonic Tunnel in Virginia. Boeing and NASA researchers are using a 6 percent scale, 13-foot-wingspan Blended Wing Body (BWB) model to validate testing methodology, as well as map airflow over the airplane using lasers and smoke with a technique known as particle imagery velocimetry (PIV).

Time permitting, testing will be conducted to measure the effectiveness of various control surfaces. That data will be compared with and supplement the set of data collected over the last two years on the same model at NASA Langley and the much larger 40- by 80-foot subsonic tunnel at NASA Ames Research Center in California.

Private police and security outnumber public police by five times and private security industry is $35 billion per year

Private security guards outnumber police in the US by a 5:1 ratio. The Department of Justice believes that “at least two million persons are ... employed in private security in the United States.” In the United States alone, customers spend nearly $35 billion each year on private security services. Globally private security industry approaches nearly $100 billion annually.

Private security patrols and private police get a lot of attention when security patrols are hired to protects blocks and neighborhoods in Chicago, Oakland and Detroit where there has been a failure by public police to provide for public safety.

There is a broader security industry definition. This includes IT-related private security market which estimated at $80 billion with projected growth of up to 9 per cent. Video security and alarms are also a large segment.

  • $350 billion overall securithy market breaks out to $282 billion in private sector spending and $69 billion in federal government spending on homeland security
  • Operational (non-IT) private security spending is estimated to be $202 billion with expected growth of 5.5 percent in 2013; IT-related private security market is estimated at $80 billion with growth of 9 percent projected for 2013
  • Number of full-time security workers is estimated to be between 1.9 and 2.1 million
  • 42 percent of respondents indicated spending on training would increase in 2013, with 12 percent anticipating a rise of 10 percent or more
  • Private detective/investigator is one of the fastest growing occupations, with anticipated growth of 21 percent projected through 2020; several IT positions are anticipated to grow 22 percent through 2020

The private security industry has been booming since 2010 and is only expected to continue on that path through 2020. Specific occupations within security, like private detectives, investigators and security guards, are all expected to see growth of around 20 percent through the end of the decade, far outpacing the average for all other jobs.

Experts do not agree about what constitutes private security, and various definitions have been used in research.

Private citizens in Virginia can petition the courts to carry a gun, display a badge and make arrests. There are 750 such special conservators of the peace.

Video shows Perdix microdrone launched from fighter jet flare dispenser

The Pentagons Strategic Capabilities Office has been testing micro-drones that can be dropped from moving fighter jets for nearly two years and for the first time has released a video to show it.

The video showss a flare canister falling after being released from an F-16 fighter jet over Alaska. A tiny parachute slows its fall until the canister breaks open, releasing the drone inside. Another video reviewed by The Washington Post, but not yet released, shows the micro-drones flying in packs of at least 20.

The Perdix drone program costs about $20 million — less than the price of a single fighter jet — and calls for SCO to figure out a way to launch drones from fighter jets, with all the constraints that might entail.

They have flown the UAV more than 500 times—about 300 of them from aircraft—and are now on Perdix’s seventh generation.

The micro-UAV is assembled entirely from commercial parts fitted into a 3D-printed fuselage.

This closeup photograph shows a Perdix micro-drone, which the Pentagon wants to drop out of fighter jets and fly in packs. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

US ramping up F35 acquisitions despite F35 testing which shows the planes are still garbage and have too few weapons

A 16 page defense department memo states that the F35 is not combat ready and is not on track for combat readiness. It was a memo for the undersecretary of the department of defense and was issued from the Pentagon’s top testing official. It based largely upon the Air Force’s own test data and showed that the declarations of combat readiness were wildly premature.

- F35 is NOT effective for missions and currently fielded threats
- F-35s are flying only one sortie every five days
- software is crashing in general under 8 hours of flight time
- cannot properly track and accurately shoot targets
- limited numbers of weapons
- high fuel burn rate, so has short duration time for missions
- sensor fusion problems can cause pilots to see double and see false objects

The Air Force and the Joint Program Office want to ramp up production and simultaneously slow-rolling future testing of the F-35. Gilmore reports that “plans and support for preparing for adequate IOT and E have stagnated.” The US will buy more planes and not put the resources, time or money to make them fully combat ready.

The F-35 program has derailed to the point where it “is actually not on a path toward success, but instead on a path toward failing to deliver the full Block 3F capabilities for which the Department is paying almost $400 billion.”

The F-35 would need to run away from combat and have other planes come to its rescue, since it “will need support to locate and avoid modern threats, acquire targets, and engage formations of enemy fighter aircraft due to outstanding performance deficiencies and limited weapons carriage available (i.e., two bombs and two air-to-air missiles).”

The Block 3i aircraft lacks the ability to employ its cannon because the software needed for it is a Block 3F development and has yet to be completed.

The internal cannon sits behind a small door that opens when the cannon is fired. Ppening the small door causes the plane to turn slightly because of the door’s drag, possibly enough to cause the cannon to miss.

September 09, 2016

Drones armed with anti-laser lasers that trick controls of enemy lasers into missing the drone

To defend against military lasers, Adsys Controls of Irvine, California, has created Helios, which can be carried on drones. To do much damage, an offensive laser needs to remain focused on its target for several seconds. Helios stops a laser from doing this by disrupting the systems controlling the beam – the Achilles’ heel for all such weapons. “Beam control is a critical function of high-energy lasers,” says Adsys CEO Brian Goldberg.

Helios can detect an incoming laser beam and identify its key characteristics, such as power, wavelength, pulse frequency and its source. Helios then interferes with the beam control – possibly by firing back a low-power laser of its own – so the attacking laser cannot fix on the target. “It provides permanent protection,” says Goldberg. “It’s not just buying time.”

He will not say exactly how the interference is done, but it may involve fooling the control system into thinking it is hitting its target despite the laser actually pointing a few metres to the side. A direct hit would have produced a big burst of reflected light, so a pulse sent back by an anti-laser laser could make it look like the original laser was on target.

Helios Counter Directed Energy Weapon System

Helios is a low SWaP, completely passive Counter Directed Energy Weapon system capable of nullifying the enemy’s DEW. Consisting of a small UAV-mounted sensor package, Helios provides full analysis of the incoming DEW beam including localization and intensity. With this information it passively jams the enemy, protecting the vehicle and the payload.

Floquet Time Crystals could exist and break time translation symmetry

Researchers have defined what it means for time translation symmetry to be spontaneously broken in a quantum system, and show with analytical arguments and numerical simulations that this occurs in a large class of many-body-localized driven systems with discrete time-translation symmetry.

In 2012 Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek first proposed the idea of time crystals. He argued that these hypothetical objects can exhibit periodic motion, such as moving in a circular orbit, in their state of lowest energy, or their "ground state." Theoretically, objects in their ground states don't have enough energy to move at all.

Physicists from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and Microsoft Station Q (a Microsoft research lab located on the UCSB campus) have demonstrated that it may be possible for time crystals to physically exist.

The physicists have focused on the implication of time crystals that seems most surprising, which is that time crystals are predicted to spontaneously break a fundamental symmetry called "time-translation symmetry." To understand what this means, the researchers explain what spontaneous symmetry breaking is.

If time crystals really do spontaneously break time-translation symmetry, then the laws of nature that govern time crystals wouldn't change with time, but the time crystals themselves would change over time due to their ground-state motion, spontaneously breaking the symmetry.

Although spontaneously broken time-translation symmetry has never been observed before, almost every other type of spontaneous symmetry breaking has been. One very common example of a spontaneously broken symmetry occurs in magnets. The laws of nature do not impose which side of a magnet will be the north pole and which will be the south pole. The distinguishing feature of any magnetic material, however, is that it spontaneously breaks this symmetry and chooses one side to be the north pole. Another example is ordinary crystals. Although the laws of nature are invariant under rotating or shifting (translating) space, crystals spontaneously break these spatial symmetries because they look different when viewed from different angles and when shifted a little bit in space.

Arxiv - Floquet Time Crystals

September 08, 2016

Russia orders 6 New Attack Submarines

Russia’s Pacific Fleet will receive six new Project 636.3 Kilo-class (aka Vashavyanka-class) diesel-electric attack submarines by 2021. “The term of delivery of the six boats [is] two in 2019, two in 2020 and two in 2021,” the head of Admiralty Shipyard, Alexander Buzakov told TASS news agency on September 7.

The Project 636.3 Kilo-class is an improved variant of the original Project 877 Kilo-class design. The updated version is slightly longer in length — the sub’s submerged displacement is around 4,000 tons — and feature improved engines, an improved combat system, as well as new noise reduction technology. The submarine has a crew of around 50 and can conduct patrols for up to 45 days. The improved Kilo-class can fire both torpedoes and cruise missiles, launched from one of six 533 millimeter torpedo tubes.

Some interesting youtube videos with Aubrey de Grey, Kurzweil and Kaku

Age related diseases are the later stages of aging.

Ultracapacitors with highest energy density works in extreme conditions

Devices called ultracapacitors have recently become attractive forms of energy storage: They recharge in seconds, have very long lifespans, work with close to 100 percent efficiency, and are much lighter and less volatile than batteries. But they suffer from low energy-storage capacity and other drawbacks, meaning they mostly serve as backup power sources for things like electric cars, renewable energy technologies, and consumer devices.

But MIT spinout FastCAP Systems is developing ultracapacitors, and ultracapacitor-based systems, that offer greater energy density and other advancements. This technology has opened up new uses for the devices across a wide range of industries, including some that operate in extreme environments.

Based on MIT research, FastCAP’s ultracapacitors store up to 10 times the energy and achieve 10 times the power density of commercial counterparts. They’re also the only commercial ultracapacitors capable of withstanding temperatures reaching as high as 300 degrees Celsius and as low as minus 110 C, allowing them to endure conditions found in drilling wells and outer space. Most recently, the company developed a AA-battery-sized ultracapacitor with the perks of its bigger models, so clients can put the devices in places where ultracapacitors couldn’t fit before.

FastCAP's Vertically Aligned Carbon Nanotubes (VA-CNTs) are grown on Stainless Steel and Silicon substrates.

FastCAP Systems' ultracapacitors (pictured) can withstand extreme temperatures and harsh environments, opening up new uses for the devices across a wide range of industries, including oil and gas, aerospace and defense, and electric vehicles. Courtesy of FastCAP Systems

How to raise a genius: lessons from a 45-year study of super-smart children - Intellectual 1% control society

There was a 45 year Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY). It has transformed how gifted children are identified and supported by the US education system. As the longest-running current longitudinal survey of intellectually talented children, SMPY has for 45 years tracked the careers and accomplishments of some 5,000 individuals, many of whom have gone on to become high-achieving scientists. The study's ever-growing data set has generated more than 400 papers and several books, and provided key insights into how to spot and develop talent in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and beyond.

Professor Julian Stanley ran the program.

“What Julian wanted to know was, how do you find the kids with the highest potential for excellence in what we now call STEM, and how do you boost the chance that they'll reach that potential,” says Camilla Benbow, a protégé of Stanley's who is now dean of education and human development at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. But Stanley wasn't interested in just studying bright children; he wanted to nurture their intellect and enhance the odds that they would change the world. His motto, he told his graduate students, was “no more dry bones methodology”.

At the start, both the study and the centre were open to young adolescents who scored in the top 1% on university entrance exams. Pioneering mathematicians Terence Tao and Lenhard Ng were one-percenters, as were Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and musician Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga), who all passed through the Hopkins centre.

“The kids who test in the top 1% tend to become our eminent scientists and academics, our Fortune 500 CEOs and federal judges, senators and billionaires,” he says.

SMPY suggests that early cognitive ability has more effect on achievement than either deliberate practice or environmental factors such as socio-economic status.

Researchers offer the following tips to encourage both achievement and happiness for smart children.

Single low dose anti-malaria drug successful in mice

Scientists say they have found a new compound that stops malaria in animal studies with a single, low dose.

Tests in mice showed the one-off treatment prevented infection for the full 30 days of the study.

The chemical compound fought early infection in the liver, as well as malaria parasites that were circulating in the blood.

The researchers hope their early work, published in the journal, Nature, could lead to new drugs for people.

"The advantage of a single dose antimalarial is that it potentially reduces costs and removes the issue of patients not completing the course of treatment.

Malaria is spread to humans by the bites of infected female mosquitoes and it is estimated that about half of the world's population is at risk of catching the disease.

In 2015, there were 214 million new cases of malaria and 438,000 malaria deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Dr Nobutaka Kato and colleagues, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, searched a library of more than 100,000 compounds for a new treatment.

They were hunting for something that would work in an entirely new way to existing drugs.

The compound they found targets an enzyme called phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetase and appears to wipe out parasites before they can multiple in the liver and be released in bigger numbers into the bloodstream.

Lead researcher Prof Stuart Schreiber hopes the findings will lead to the discovery of better antimalarials in coming years.

Nature - Diversity-oriented synthesis yields novel multistage antimalarial inhibitors

Portable chemical cooler can maintain cold chain for vaccines which will save millions of lives

A new portable cooling device to improve vaccine transportation in developing countries has been announced as the UK winner of the 2016 James Dyson Award.

ISOBAR can keep vaccines cold for up to six days and can be recharged on the go in just over an hour, providing a safe and effective means of transportation.

The device was invented by Loughborough University Industrial Design and Technology graduate William Broadway as part of his final year project.

William will receive £2,000 to develop ISOBAR, which he plans to put towards building more prototypes and applying for patents.

ISOBAR uses a chemical process to provide a long term cooling effect for vaccine delivery. A mix of ammonia and water is heated in a lower pressure vessel. The ammonia vaporises and separates from the water into the upper chamber where it is trapped by a valve. It remains trapped until the cooling effect is needed.

It is anticipated that ISOBAR could save millions of lives, due to the fact that current vaccine programmes in developing countries do not meet the international standards for temperature safe vaccine distribution which leads to vaccines losing potency.

Unsafe temperature control - 70% of vaccine require 2-8˚C to maintain potency. Studies conducted by found that 77% of countries did not comply with safe vaccine transportation practices outlined by the World Health Organisation.

Will Broadway, 22-year old engineering student, explains how his portable cooling device works to improve vaccine transportation in developing countries. Broadway was announced UK winner of the 2016 James Dyson Award on Thursday. The video was posted on Loughborough University’s

NASA NIAC E-sail Phase 2 Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) had their 2016 symposium on August 23-25, 2016. Bruce Wiegmann, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System "HERTS". E-sail phase 2 project

September 07, 2016

Chief of Naval Operations confident US carrier fleets and aircraft can operate inside anti-access/area denial zones

The United States Navy is absolutely confident in the ability of its aircraft carriers
and carrier air wings to fly and fight within zones defended by so-called anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) weapons. Both Russia and China—and to a lesser extent Iran—have been developing layered anti-ship and anti-aircraft defenses that would make it more difficult for the U.S. Navy to operate closer to their shores.

The Navy has improved the performance of the air wing to the development of new technologies such as improved targeting pods, new long-range stand-off weapons and the Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) battle network. Essentially, the NIFC-CA construct—the first iterations of which are already being fielded—allows any component of the strike group to act as a sensor or shooter for another component of the unit. Thus a Boeing EA-18G Growler airborne electronic attack aircraft could pass on targeting data concerning a threat to a Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet—which could then launch a weapon to destroy the target.

Richardson was clear that China's purported capabilities were only speculations.

"What you see often is a display of, 'Here's this launcher. Here's a circle with a radius of 700 miles, and it's solid-color black inside' ... And that's just not the reality of the situation," he said.

"You've got this highly maneuverable force that has a suite of capabilities that the force can bring to bear to inject uncertainty," Richardson continued.

China's Type 001a carrier has nearly finished construction and should launch from drydock in early 2017

China's domestic 001a aircraft carrier is nearly complete and could be ready for sea trials by early 2017 The carrier now awaits only the installation of its superstructure - also known as the "island" of an aircraft carrier. This part houses the bridge of the ship, its aviation facilities, and its radar and electronic warfare systems in addition to other key systems.

The new carrier is thought to be displace 60,000 to 70,000 tons. That's far short of the new US Gerald Ford class's 100,000 tons. The Type 001a will probably carry something in the area of 48 aircraft, including 36 J-15 multi-role carrier-based fighters and another dozen Z-18 or Z-9 helicopters. The new ship will probably be launched from drydock sometime early next year and will float pierside for the rest of the refitting process. That will take at least a few years, and ship trials will take another year or two. It will not be fully operational until 2020 or later.

The J-15 is structurally based on the Russian Su-33, the indigenous fighter features Chinese technologies as well as avionics from the J-11B program

Stem cells delivered via Skin gun can reduce second degree burn treatment from 3 to 4 weeks to days

RenovaCare is developing breakthrough technologies to address America’s $45 billion wound and burn treatment market. Our flagship CellMist™ System makes use of a patient’s own stem cells, which are sprayed onto wounds using our novel SkinGun™ device.

For patients suffering severe burns and other wounds, the prospect of a quick-healing, gentle spray containing their own stem cells will be a promising alternative to conventional skin graft surgery, which can be painful, prone to complications, and slow-to-heal. Based on preliminary case studies, CellMist™ System patients can be treated within 90 minutes of arriving in an emergency room; a patient’s stem cells are isolated, processed, and sprayed on to wound sites for rapid healing.

Preliminary investigational use in Europe and the United States indicate the potential efficacy and safety of RenovaCare’s technologies. Clinical observations point to the potential for regeneration of new skin in as little as four days, rather than the many weeks of painful and risky recovery required by traditional skin graft techniques. These technologies are the result of nearly a decade of ongoing research and development dedicated to finding the most effective way to access the regenerative properties of a patient’s own skin stem cells, and the most efficient way to deliver these potent cells to heal moderate to severe skin wounds. We believe that RenovaCare’s CellMist™ System and SkinGun™ spray device are the world’s most advanced technologies of their kind.

This device system requires further clinical evaluation and data collection prior to submission of a premarketing application to the US FDA. At this time it is an investigational system and is not available for general use or sales in the United States.

The CellMist™ System RenovaCare’s CellMist™ System is comprised of two components:

  1. CellMist™ Solution A liquid suspension of the patient’s own stem cells
  2. SkinGun™ An ultra-gentle spray device which delicately deposits the CellMist™ Solution on to a patient’s wounds

Wikipedia indicates that so far the skin gun treatment has been used exclusively with second degree burns, though there is strong evidence that the treatment will be successful in treating a variety of skin wounds and skin disorders. Patients with infected wounds or with delay in wound healing are suitable for cell grafting treatment. Third-degree burns, however, completely deprive victims of both their epidermis and dermis skin levels, which exposes the tissue surrounding the muscles. The skin gun has not progressed to the point where it can be used for such advanced wounds, and these patients must seek more traditional treatment methods. The skin gun is generally not used for burn victims with anything less than a second-degree burn either. First degree-burns still maintain portions of the epidermis and can readily heal on their own, thus they do not need this expensive technology.

Currently, the skin gun's applications have not been extended to include the regeneration of skin lost due to other injuries or skin diseases. It is also limited in that it is only effective immediately following the burn incident.

The average healing time for patients with second degree burns is three to four weeks. This is reduced to a matter of days with skin gun treatment

Traditional skin grafting can be risky, in that chances for infection are relatively high. The skin gun alleviates this concern because the increased speed in which the wound heals directly correlates to the decreased time the wound can be vulnerable to infection. Because of the rapid re-epithelialization associated with skin gun treatment, harmful side effects that can result from an open wound are significantly reduced. Applying the skin cells is quick and doesn't harm the patient because only a thin layer of the patients’ healthy skin is extracted from the body into the aqueous spray. The electronic spray distributes the skin cells uniformly without damaging the skin cells, and patients feel as if they are sprayed with salt water.

Because the skin cells are actually the patient’s own cells, the skin that is regenerated looks more natural than skin grown from traditional methods. During recovery, the skin cells grow into fully functional layers of the skin, including the dermis, epidermis, and blood vessels.[17] The regenerated skin leaves little scarring. The basic idea of optimizing regenerative healing techniques to damaged biological structures demonstrated by the skin gun in the future may also be applied to engineering reconstruction of vital organs, such as the heart and kidneys.

There are major limitations: the method will not work on deep burns that go through bone and muscle, specifically below the dermis. As of 2011, only several dozen patients have been treated; it remains an experimental, not a proven, method. As of 2011, the skin gun was still in its prototyping stage, since it has only treated a dozen patients in Germany and the US, compared to over 50,000 treated with Dermagraft bioengineered skin substitute. There is thus a lack of published peer reviewed clinical evidence, and no knowledge of long-term stability of the newly generated skin

Skingun Procedure

There is a seven page review of the skingun at the International Journal of Pharmacometrics and Integrated Biosciences (IJPIB)

Skingun Procedure - Initially stamp-sized healthy skin of the injured patient is taken and stem cells were collected from it. Then they are harvested by using suitable enzymes. The prepared cell suspension is injected into sterile syringe and inserted into the gun. This gun helps in uniform spreading of the cells on wound. These cells will migrate, multiple, and differentiate forming a new tissue. The complete process occurs with in 2 hr. Full regeneration of skin occurs in 2 weeks and complete formation of texture tools 2-3 months

Stage 1

Projects investigating neural regeneration in the retina funded by NIH

The National Institutes of Health will fund six projects to identify biological factors that affect neural regeneration in the retina. The projects are part of the National Eye Institute (NEI) Audacious Goals Initiative (AGI), a targeted effort to restore vision by regenerating neurons and their connections in the eye and visual system. These projects will receive a total of $12.4 million over three years, pending availability of funds

Most irreversible blindness results from the loss of neurons in the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye. Many common eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, put these cells at risk. Once these neurons are gone, humans have little if any capacity to replace them.

These six projects will add to the knowledge base from several recent key advances. Researchers recently reported a technique that increases the regenerative capacity of retinal axons in a mouse model of optic nerve injury, a model commonly used to study glaucoma and other optic neuropathies. Progress also has been made in identifying factors that either stimulate or inhibit regeneration of neurons required for vision. The newly-funded projects will further this area of research by identifying cues that guide axons to appropriate targets in the brain, allowing functional connections to re-establish between the eye and the visual processing system.

The six projects include:
Molecular discovery for optic nerve regeneration

Researchers at Stanford and other institutions have demonstrated through a series of interventions in mice with optic nerve injury that they can successfully regenerate retinal ganglion cells axons, which form the optic nerve that transmits visual information from the retina to the brain. In this next research phase they hope to identify genes and proteins that help or hinder this ability of retinal ganglion cells to regenerate, grow axons to a target and become functional in mice. Promising molecular candidates will be investigated in longer-term animal studies designed to assess changes in the animals’ vision.

Screening for molecules that promote photoreceptor synaptogenesis

Researchers plan to study precursor photoreceptor cells derived from human stem cells to determine what factors help coax them into becoming fully developed and connected photoreceptor cells. They expect their studies to identify a list of small molecules and candidate genes that contribute to the ability of photoreceptor cells to home in on their appropriate target cells in the retina, known as bipolar cells. In a healthy eye, bipolar cells receive signals from photoreceptor cells across a synapse and then transmit this information either directly or indirectly to retinal ganglion cells. Generating appropriate synapses between photoreceptor and bipolar cells is an essential step in restoring vision through photoreceptor transplantation.

Microbiome impacts tissue repair and regeneration

Researchers at the Stowers Institute have established a definitive link between the makeup of the microbiome, the host immune response, and an organism’s ability to heal itself.

They showed that a dramatic shift in the microbial community of planaria robs the freshwater flatworm of its superior regenerative abilities. This same shift has been observed in human inflammatory disorders, though previous attempts to mimic it in lower organisms like fruit flies or zebrafish have proved unsuccessful.

The study, published in the journal eLife, provides a valuable model for uncovering the basic molecular mechanisms governing the interplay of immunity and regeneration, and could point the way toward new therapies to combat serious human ailments like chronic non-healing wounds.

Credit: Courtesy: Chris Arnold. Progression of lesions and tissue resorption in planarians when exposed to pathogenic bacteria. The normal animal is to the left, while the middle animal displays a characteristic head lesion, and the animal on the right has already lost its head to bacterial infection.

Lay Summary of Findings

Shifts in the balance of the human microbiome – the microbial communities that call our bodies home – underlie persistent inflammatory disorders, chronic non-healing wounds, and scar formation. In an article published in the journal eLife, Stowers Institute scientists explore the interplay between the microbiome, host immunity, tissue repair, and regeneration in planaria, a freshwater flatworm. Postdoctoral Research Associate Chris Arnold, Ph.D., his advisor Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, Ph.D., and their collaborators find that ailing flatworms experience a dramatic expansion of pathogenic Proteobacteria that closely mirrors changes associated with human ailments. This bacterial infection stimulated the flatworms’ immune response, impeding its regeneration capabilities. The study provides a valuable animal model for understanding host-microbiome interactions and for designing therapies that may enhance healing in humans.

eLife - Pathogenic shifts in endogenous microbiota impede tissue regeneration via distinct activation of TAK1 / MKK / p38

IBM Watson Artificial Intelligence XPRIZE -Using AI in new ways to solve the World's biggest problems #Gsummit

At the Singularity University Global Summit 2016, Nextbigfuture interviewed Amir Banifatemi who is managing the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE. Amir Banifatemi is a founder and managing partner at K5 Ventures. He focuses on working with startups and growth-oriented companies on products and initiatives that could trigger significant breakthrough with strong economic and societal impact. He has a special emphasis on machine learning and predictive systems, IoT, knowledge sharing and crowdsourcing, Education, and digital health.

The IBM Watson AI XPRIZE is a $5 million AI and cognitive computing competition challenging teams globally to develop and demonstrate how humans can collaborate with powerful AI technologies to tackle the world’s grand challenges. This prize will focus on creating advanced and scalable applications that benefit consumers and businesses across a multitude of disciplines. The solutions will contribute to the enrichment of available tools and data sets for the usage of innovators everywhere. The goal is also to accelerate the understanding and adoption of AI’s most promising breakthroughs.

Every year leading up to TED 2020, the teams will compete for interim prizes and the opportunity to advance to the next year’s competition. The three finalist teams will take the TED stage in 2020 to deliver jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring TED Talks demonstrating what they have achieved.

Typical of all XPRIZE competitions, the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE will crowdsource solutions from some of the most brilliant thinkers and entrepreneurs around the world, creating true exponential impact.

Teams do not need to use IBM Watson software.

The $3,000,000 Grand Prize, $1,000,000 2nd Place, and $500,000 3rd Place purses will be awarded at the end of competition at TED2020, for a total of $4.5 million.

Milestone and Special Prizes

Two Milestone Competition prize purses will be awarded at the end of each of the first two rounds of the competition, and the Judges may award additional special prizes to recognize special accomplishments. A total of $500,000 will be available for these prizes and will be allocated by the Judges for special accomplishments.

Registration opened on June 23 and will remain open until December 1st, after which there is a three-month period to submit detailed development plans. Three rounds of selection will follow, which will bring the final entrants down to 10 teams.

Teams will have until February 15, 2017 to finalize their applications.

How did the AI XPRIZE begin ?

XPRIZE had been working with TED for a few years. TED is interested in spreading great ideas and have great ideas impact the world. Two years ago in discussions with XPRIZE - TED wanted to see an XPrize that would encourage ideas for how artificial intelligence could be used to solve the world's biggest problems.

Singularity University has twelve Grand Challenge Areas

  1. Learning - Access to information and experiences that build knowledge and skills for all people at all stages of their lives for personal fulfillment and benefit to society.
  2. Water - Ample and safe water for consumption, sanitation, industry, and recreation for all people at all times.
  3. Space - Safe and equitable use, and stewardship of, space resources and technologies for the benefit of humanity and our future as a multi-planetary species.
  4. Health - Optimal physical and mental health, including access to cost effective prevention, early diagnosis, and personalized therapy for individuals and communities.
  5. Prosperity - Equitable access to economic and other opportunities for self-fulfillment where all people are free from poverty.
  6. Environment - Sustainable and equitable stewardship of Earth's ecosystems for optimal functioning both globally and locally.
  7. Food - Consumption of sufficient, safe and nutritious food to maintain healthy and active lives for all people at all times.
  8. Energy - Ample, accessible and sustainable energy for the needs of humanity.
  9. Security - Safety of all people from physical and psychological harm, including in virtual worlds; and protection of physical, financial, digital systems.
  10. Disaster Resilience - Effective and efficient disaster risk reduction, emergency response, and rehabilitation that saves lives and livelihoods, minimizes economic loss, and builds resilience both globally and locally.
  11. Governance - Equitable participation of all people in formal and societal governance in accordance with principles of justice and individual rights; free from discrimination and identity-based prejudices; and able to meet the needs of an exponentially changing world.
  12. Shelter - Secure, safe and sustainable shelter for residence, recreation, and industry for all people at all times.

Teams will benefit from competition even if they do not win

There are several benefits from team competing in the AI XPRIZE even if they do not ultimately win.
They will get advice from IBM experts and other world class artificial intelligence experts
They will be able to utilize the donated resources of IBM, Google and others
They will be able to gain recognition and publicity for their project

A number of other institutions are reaching out to help.
Institutions are making data available for teams to use to make progress on the problems. Competing teams will have access to data relevant to the different grand challenge areas.

There will be support and mentorship to help teams craft sufficiently ambitious goals.

Registration for teams is $1500 and early registration is $1000.
Teams will be able to access far more resources than the registration fee.
Venture capitalists and Angel investors will be looking at the teams to see if there is an investment opportunity outside of the XPRIZE.

Teams get to keep their intellectual property.
When teams competed in the first suborbital XPRIZE, they got to keep their rockets and everything they developed.
Teams did have to explain what they had done. The explanation for AI XPRIZE will be even more important.

Apple unveils iPhone 7 and new water resistant Apple Watches

Apple has a new waterproof iWatch

It is Water Resistance to 50 Meters
has GPS
Two-Times-Brighter Display
Dual-Core Processor
and will have watchOS 3

Apple also has special Nike and Hermes watches.

Apple Watch Series 2 makes it even easier to access third-party apps, receive and respond to notifications and conveniently use Apple Pay. Apple Watch Series 2 will be available in more than 25 countries beginning Friday, September 16.

For swimmers, Apple developed all-new algorithms after hundreds of hours of research for two new workout options, pool and open water. Apple Watch Series 2 can count laps, track average lap pace and auto-detect stroke type to accurately measure active calorie burn.

With built-in GPS, Apple Watch Series 2 records precise distance, pace and speed for outdoor workouts such as walking, running or cycling, without needing to take an iPhone. Users can begin an outdoor workout immediately as Apple Watch Series 2 uses Wi-Fi, GPS and locally stored satellite data to quickly identify their location. On completion of an outdoor workout, view a route map that shows variations in speed in the Activity app on iPhone. Whether running, going for a swim or walking between meetings, the Activity app on Apple Watch Series 2 counts all daily activity towards the Stand, Move and Exercise rings.

Apple Watch is available in two different case sizes, 38 mm and 42 mm. Apple Watch Series 1 will be available in gold, rose gold, silver or space gray aluminum cases paired with a Sport Band and starts at just $269 (US); Apple Watch Series 2 will be available in gold, rose gold, silver or space gray aluminum, or silver or space black stainless steel cases paired with a wide variety of bands starting at $369 (US); and the new ceramic Apple Watch Edition starts at $1249 (US) from, Apple Stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers and carriers. For local availability, visit Apple Watch Nike+ starts at $369 (US) and Apple Watch Hermès starts at $1149 (US).

The iPhone 7 Plus will have two 12 megapixel cameras, one with a wide angle, and a second with telephoto.

The front-facing camera gets a boost to 7 megapixels. It includes auto image stabilization and wide color capture.

Nintendo Is Bringing Super Mario Run to Apple iPhone and iPad in time for Christmas

A new Mario game will be available on the Apple app store in time for the holiday season.

One of the most popular video game characters of all time is finally coming to Apple devices.

Mario, the plump plumber who is the familiar face of several of Nintendo’s most successful video games, will be getting his own mobile game on Apple’s app store sometime before holiday season, Nintendo announced at an Apple event on Wednesday in San Francisco.

The new Nintendo game, Super Mario Run, will be available for a set price instead of a so-called freemium model. In a freemium model, users can download games for free but must pay money for additional features.

Users can make Mario jump and collect coins, play against other users on a global network, and build and customize their own so-called “mushroom kingdom” using the coins they collect from their matches.

September 06, 2016

Russia working on railguns with space launch speed, robot avatars, exoskeletons and smart bullets

In a series of laboratory tests the Russian prototype has fired its projectile at a whopping 6.25 kilometers per second. A weapon capable of firing at a speed like this renders useless all existing means of ship, plane or tank protection.

Moreover, a projectile made from several kilos of tungsten is comparable to a small-yield nuclear artillery shell as it generates almost as much energy without leaving behind a deadly trail of radiation. During the latest such test the projectile reached the speed of over 11 kilometers a second [mach 33], which means that the Russian railgun can send payloads right into space.

Future soldier exoskeleton upgrade

An upgraded version of the Ratnik-2 "soldier of the future " outfit more than 80,000 Russian servicemen were equipped with last year, Ratnik-3 will integrate various biomechanical tools, including exoskeletons. What makes ratnik-3 so special is that it will enable the soldier to control his “onboard” systems by voice this radically increasing his chances of survival in combat.

The Ratnik outfit is mainly designed for snipers, riflemen, drivers of armored vehicles and airborne combat vehicle gunners. Russian military engineers are working out unified combat subsystems where a soldier could act as part of a single structure.

Designing Ultrasound Tools with Lego-Like Proteins

Ultrasound imaging is used around the world to help visualize developing babies and diagnose disease. Sound waves bounce off the tissues, revealing their different densities and shapes. The next step in ultrasound technology is to image not just anatomy, but specific cells and molecules deeper in the body, such as those associated with tumors or bacteria in our gut.

A new study from Caltech outlines how protein engineering techniques might help achieve this milestone. The researchers engineered protein-shelled nanostructures called gas vesicles—which reflect sound waves—to exhibit new properties useful for ultrasound technologies. In the future, these gas vesicles could be administered to a patient to visualize tissues of interest. The modified gas vesicles were shown to: give off more distinct signals, making them easier to image; target specific cell types; and help create color ultrasound images.

"It's somewhat like engineering with molecular Legos," says assistant professor of chemical engineering and Heritage Principal Investigator Mikhail Shapiro, who is the senior author of a new paper about the research published in this month's issue of the journal ACS Nano and featured on the journal's cover. "We can swap different protein 'pieces' on the surface of gas vesicles to alter their targeting properties and to visualize multiple molecules in different colors."

Protein-shelled structures called gas vesicles, illustrated here, can be engineered with Lego-like proteins to improve ultrasound methods. The gas vesicles can help detect specific cell types and create multicolor images.
Credit: Barth van Rossum for Caltech

ACS Nano - Molecular Engineering of Acoustic Protein Nanostructures

New Breed of Optical Soliton Wave Discovered

Applied scientists led by Caltech's Kerry Vahala have discovered a new type of optical soliton wave that travels in the wake of other soliton waves, hitching a ride on and feeding off of the energy of the other wave.

Solitons are localized waves that act like particles: as they travel across space, they hold their shape and form rather than dispersing as other waves do. They were first discovered in 1834 when Scottish engineer John Scott Russell noted an unusual wave that formed after the sudden stop of a barge in the Union Canal that runs between Falkirk and Edinburgh. Russell tracked the resulting wave for one or two miles, and noted that it preserved its shape as it traveled, until he ultimately lost sight of it.

These optical microcavities are where solitons are created. The solitary waves circle around the microscopic disks at the speed of light.
Credit: Qi-Fan Yang/Caltech

Quantum Enigma Encryption Machine

Researchers at the University of Rochester have moved beyond the theoretical in demonstrating that an unbreakable encrypted message can be sent with a key that’s far shorter than the message—the first time that has ever been done.

Until now, unbreakable encrypted messages were transmitted via a system envisioned by American mathematician Claude Shannon, considered the “father of information theory.” Shannon combined his knowledge of algebra and electrical circuitry to come up with a binary system of transmitting messages that are secure, under three conditions: the key is random, used only once, and is at least as long as the message itself.

The quantum enigma machine developed by researchers at the University of Rochester, MIT, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. (Image by Daniel Lum/University of Rochester)

Physical Review A - Quantum enigma machine: Experimentally demonstrating quantum data locking

Omega Laser producing five times higher nuclear fusion yield

Scientists at the University of Rochester have taken a significant step forward in laser fusion research. Experiments using the OMEGA laser at the University’s Laboratory of Laser Energetics (LLE) have created the conditions capable of producing a fusion yield that’s five times higher than the current record laser-fusion energy yield, as long as the relative conditions produced at LLE are reproduced and scaled up at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

The findings are the result of multiple experiments conducted by LLE scientists Sean Regan, Valeri Goncharov, and collaborators, whose paper was published in Physical Review Letters. Arijit Bose, a doctoral student in physics at Rochester working with Riccardo Betti, a professor of engineering and physics, interpreted those findings in a paper published as Rapid Communications in the journal Physical Review E (R).

Bose reports that the conditions at LLE would produce over 100 kilojoules (kJ) of fusion energy if replicated on the NIF. While that may seem like a tiny flicker in the world’s ever-expanding demand for energy, the new work represents an important advance in a long-standing national research initiative to develop fusion as an energy source. The 100 kJ is the energy output of a 100-watt light for about 20 minutes, but in a fusion experiment at NIF, that energy would be released in less than a billionth of a second and enough to bring the fuel a step closer to the ignition conditions.

“We have compressed thermonuclear fuel to about half the pressure required to ignite it. This is the result of a team effort involving many LLE scientists and engineers,” said Regan, the leader of the LLE experimental group.

If ignited, thermonuclear fuel would unleash copious amounts of fusion energy, much greater than the input energy to the fuel.

“In laser fusion, an ignited target is like a miniature star of about a 10th of a millimeter, which produces the energy equivalent of a few gallons of gasoline over a fraction of a billionth of a second. We are not there yet, but we are making progress” said Betti, the Robert L. McCrory Professor at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics.
The OMEGA laser's 20-cm disk amplifiers at the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics. (Photo by Adam Fenster/University of Rochester)

Kuangchi plans to invest US$1.5 billion in stratospheric balloon tourism

KuangChi Science, a Shenzhen-based future science company, plans to invest 10 billion yuan ($ 1.5 billion) in a project in Hangzhou that allows ordinary people to experience life in the future and near-outer space flight simulations.

Liu Ruopeng, president of KuangChi, said that people will be able to experience what it feels like to live in a futuristic room where furniture can move, think and reconfigure themselves in Future Valley.

Visitors to the Valley can also log into a simulation aircraft of a deep space tour that offers the experience of flying up to 21 kilometers above the ground, which is just beyond the border of outer space.

The Kuang-Chi GCI Fund & Incubator, a global incubator mechanism initiated by Kuang-Chi, was established in Tel Aviv. The first phase of $ 50 million has just been invested into projects that aim to change the future of Man's way of life.

Kuang-Chi Group set up a subsidiary of KuangChi Science in 2014, which went public in Hong Kong Stock Exchange in August 2014. Around 3,000 scientists from more than 40 countries will congregate in the Valley to conduct research. The Valley is expected to open by the end of next year.

Here is the KuangChi Science website

Warner Brothers orders its own official webpages for the Dark Knight and the Matrix to cease and desist

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