October 01, 2016

There is liquid water in the rest of the solar system that is 50 times Earth's volume of water on 8-17 moons and asteroids

As of December 2015, the confirmed liquid water in the Solar System outside Earth is 25-50 times the volume of Earth's water (1.3 billion cubic kilometers).

The locations of subsurface oceans are on Europa, Enceladus, Ganymede, Titan, the asteroid Ceres, Callisto, Dione and Pluto.

There also could be subsurface oceans at Rhea, Titania, Oberon, Triton, Orcus, MakeMake, Eris, 2007 OR10, and Sedna.

There is also a lot of water ice on Mars.

There was a recent paper in Geophysical Review Letters which provided analysis of NASA Cassini space probe data which provided more evidence of the subsurface oceans on Enceledus and Dione. There have been imaging of water plumes from the Hubble Telescope from Europa.

The Spitzer Space Telescope discovered that Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, has water volcanoes spouting up through cracks in its icy surface. The Cassini spacecraft at Saturn has learned more about the water volcanoes during its flyby passes of Enceladus.

The most conclusive method for detection and confirmation of extraterrestrial liquid water is currently absorption spectroscopy. Liquid water has a distinct spectral signature to other states of water due to the state of its Hydrogen bonds.

NASA estimates that Europa's subsurface ocean have twice as much water as the whole Earth.

Models of heat retention and heating via radioactive decay in smaller icy Solar System bodies suggest that Rhea, Titania, Oberon, Triton, Pluto, Eris, Sedna, and Orcus may have oceans underneath solid icy crusts approximately 100 km thick

At 1122 km (697 mi) in diameter, Dione is the 15th largest moon in the Solar System, and is more massive than all known moons smaller than itself combined. About two thirds of Dione's mass is water ice, and the remaining is a dense core, probably silicate rock

Callisto is the second-largest moon of Jupiter, after Ganymede. It is the third-largest moon in the Solar System and the largest object in the Solar System, Callisto may have a small silicate core and possibly a subsurface ocean of liquid water at depths greater than 100 km

There is a list of possible subsurface oceans in the solar system

Saturn's Moon Dione has a 40 mile thick Ocean under 60 miles of Ice

A subsurface ocean lies deep within Saturn’s moon Dione, according to new data from the Cassini mission to Saturn. Two other moons of Saturn, Titan and Enceladus, are already known to hide global oceans beneath their icy crusts, but a new study suggests an ocean exists on Dione as well.

In this study, researchers of the Royal Observatory of Belgium show gravity data from recent Cassini flybys can be explained if Dione’s crust floats on an ocean located 100 kilometers below the surface. The ocean is several tens of kilometers deep and surrounds a large rocky core. Seen from within, Dione is very similar to its smaller but more famous neighbor Enceladus, whose south polar region spurts huge jets of water vapor into space. Dione seems to be quiet now, but its broken surface bears witness of a more tumultuous past.

Geophysical Research Letters - Enceladus' and Dione's floating ice shells supported by minimum stress isostasy

Enceladus' gravity and shape have been explained in terms of a thick isostatic ice shell floating on a global ocean, in contradiction of the thin shell implied by librations. Here we propose a new isostatic model minimizing crustal deviatoric stress, and demonstrate that gravity and shape data predict a 38 ± 4km-thick ocean beneath a 23 ± 4km-thick shell agreeing with – but independent from – libration data. Isostatic and tidal stresses are comparable in magnitude. South polar crust is only 7 ± 4km thick, facilitating the opening of water conduits and enhancing tidal dissipation through stress concentration. Enceladus' resonant companion, Dione, is in a similar state of minimum stress isostasy. Its gravity and shape can be explained in terms of a 99 ± 23km-thick isostatic shell overlying a 65 ± 30km-thick global ocean, thus providing the first clear evidence for a present-day ocean within Dione.

Driverless cars, drones, robotic warehouses and factories can transform the supply chain and radically boost Global GDP in the 2020s

A few million self driving cars and trucks should be on the road by 2022. Afterwards a few million per year will be added with self driving car conversion kits and new cars and trucks.

Tesla Motors and other companies will deploy millions of self driving cars.
This can lower the cost of car per trip mile by 5 times.

Self driving Uber, Lyft and other shared vehicles would be able to service the same number of riders with fewer vehicles.

The transformation to self driving will be more rapid than many forecast. Many forecast it will take until 2050 for the full impact to be felt.

Amazon is looking to revamp the global supply chain by reducing layers and getting much more efficiency in shipping, drone delivery and self driving vehicles.

Reducing supply chain barriers could increase global GDP and world trade much more than reducing all import tariffs, according to a 2013 report by the World Economic Forum.

Enabling Trade: Valuing Growth Opportunities finds that if all countries reduce supply chain barriers halfway to global best practice, global GDP could increase by 4.7% and world trade by 14.5%, far outweighing the benefits from the elimination of all import tariffs. In comparison, completely eliminating tariffs could increase global GDP by 0.7% and world trade by 10.1%. Even a less ambitious set of reforms that moves countries halfway to regional best practice could increase global GDP by 2.6% and world trade by 9.4%.

The World Economic Forum boost in global GDP was only from getting to half way the global best in 2013. The supply chain can be radically improved with self driving cars, trucks and drones.

Amazon already has super efficiency robotic warehouses.

Tesla plans to makes its factories ten times more productive every ten years by reinventing its robotic factories every two years.

Cargo Drone Motherships and drone swarm delivery

Single item delivery will not where the supply chain transformation ends.

Having cargo drone motherships that send drone delivery swarms will be more efficient. The small drones that make the end point delivery would not even need to be able to fly back to the drone mothership. They could be picked up by self driving trucks and cars.

Air Force Special Forces Request budget to modify AC-130W with a combat laser for 2018

US Special Operations Command has requested funding from the Defense Department for fiscal year 2018 budget to begin modifying an AC-130 gunship for a high energy laser capability.

If approved for the budget, Air Force Special Operations Command anticipates the service could begin the modifications as early as Fiscal 2020 on an AC-130W currently used backup aircraft inventory at Cannon AFB, New Mexico, an AFSOC spokesman told FlightGlobal. Millions of dollars have already been set aside for the ground and flight testing, AFSOC chief Lt Gen Brad Webb says.

AFSOC will determine the laser’s mounting location during testing, Webb says. The Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and AFSOC determined earlier this year that a left-side mounted laser would prove more cost effective than a belly mounted weapon. Former AFSOC chief Lt Gen Heithold has also mentioned that size, weight and power restraints favor fitting the laser into an existing space rather than adding the capability with the conventional guns. Initially, AFSOC will replace the AC-130W’s 30mm gun with a laser, Webb says.

A Century of US wars and military actions

A Century of War and Gray Zone Challenges” has a September 2015 briefing slide produced by the Intelligence Directorate of U.S. Special Operations Command. The slide analyzes US military actions and wars and rates them as wins, losses or draws.

SOCOM Intelligence Directorate’s assessment of the last century of American war — 12 and nine with a mind-boggling 43 “ties.”

The command counts just five full-fledged wars in which the United States has come up with three wins (World War I, World War II, and Desert Storm), one loss (Vietnam) and one tie (Korea).

The rankings and categorizations can be disputed.

Desert Storm is a war but not Iraq (2003-2011) or Afghanistan (2003-2014)

Were these operations targeting enemies which actually posed a threat to the U.S. constitution? Did ceaseless operations across the globe actually ensure the safety and security of the United States? Did they truly advance U.S. policy interests and if so, how?

The US has been fighting on a constant basis since 1980.

US has over 15000 troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and around 45,000 military contractors

About 600 American troops will be deployed to Iraq to further enable local security forces as they prepare to retake the key Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The addition of more than 600 additional troops in the coming weeks will bring the force management level to 5,262 U.S. troops.

There are 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan and the current plan is maintain 8,400 troop level through to the end of 2017.

NATO countries have contributed a few thousand troops to the Afghanistan mission since it began in 2001. As of May, there are almost 6,000 NATO troops based in Afghanistan, providing most of the contributions to the training mission.

There are 300 US troops in Syria as advisors

As President Obama is also relying on large numbers of guns-for-hire. This formally, restricts the number of American “troops” sent overseas. Since 2009, the ratio of contractors to troops in war zones has increased from 1 to 1 to about 3 to 1.

Private military contractors perform tasks once thought to be inherently governmental, such as raising foreign armies, conducting intelligence analysis and trigger-pulling.

Today, 75 percent of U.S. forces in Afghanistan are contracted. Only about 10 percent of these contractors are armed, but this matters not. The greater point is that America is waging a war largely via contractors, and U.S. combat forces would be impotent without them. If this trend continues, we might see 80 or 90 percent of the force contracted in future wars.

Contracting is big business, too. In the 2014 fiscal year, the Pentagon obligated $285 billion to federal contracts—more money than all other government agencies received, combined. That’s equal to 8 percent of federal spending, and three and a half times Britain’s entire defense budget. About 45 percent of those contracts were for services, including private military contractors.

Today, more contractors are killed in combat than soldiers—a stunning turnaround from the start of the wars Iraq and Afghanistan, when fewer than 10 percent of casualties were contractors. By 2010, more contractors were dying than troops. However, the real number of contractor deaths —versus the “official” tally—remains unknown.

Most of those fighting for the United States abroad aren’t even Americans. Private military companies are multinational corporations that recruit globally. When I worked in the industry, my colleagues came from almost every continent. According to a recent Pentagon report, just over 33 percent of private military contractors in Afghanistan are U.S. citizens.

September 30, 2016

Production of Long March 5 rocket is underway

Batch production of Long March 5 has begun, said Meng Fanxin, manager of the industrialized base for the carrier rocket in Tianjin.

Known as the Long March 5, China's most powerful heavy-lift launch vehicle is expected to make its first test flight from Hainan's Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in November.

In the meantime, its manufacturing base in the northern port city of Tianjin is producing the second one.

"Right now, we possess the ability to batch produce rockets with diameter of both 3.35 meters and 5 meters," Meng said.

Long March 5 is a Chinese next-generation heavy lift launch system that is currently under development by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT). CZ-5 is the first Chinese vehicle with new design focusing on liquid rocket propellants from the ground up. Currently, two CZ-5 vehicle configurations are planned for different missions, with a maximum payload capacity of ~25,000 kilograms (55,000 lb) to LEO and ~14,000 kilograms (31,000 lb) to GTO.

The Long March 5 is planned to roughly match the capabilities of American EELV heavy-class vehicles such as the Delta IV Heavy.

First flight of the CZ-5 rocket is scheduled for November 2016 from Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Center on Hainan island

The Long March-4C failed a few weeks ago and lost its payload which was a remote sensing satellite.

Nanocrystalline alloys could be up to eight orders of magnitude lower creep rate at high temperature which could revolutionize jet engines

Researchers stabilized a copper alloy microstructure and found it to be strong at very high temperatures. This could lead to many new materials applications, including inside turbine engines, where temperatures can soar to more than 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The team hopes to recreate the combination of properties within other types of materials like nickel, cobalt or tantalum, which would have the potential to revolutionize engine technology.

Darling said the findings are all about the "creep response" of the paper's title, which refers to how materials deform under continuous stress at elevated temperatures.

"We're seeing orders of magnitude improvements in the creep response," he said. "There is a six to eight orders of magnitude increase in creep response relative to what conventional nanocrystal materials can do."

Nature - Extreme creep resistance in a microstructurally stable nanocrystalline alloy


Nanocrystalline metals, with a mean grain size of less than 100 nanometres, have greater room-temperature strength than their coarse-grained equivalents, in part owing to a large reduction in grain size1. However, this high strength generally comes with substantial losses in other mechanical properties, such as creep resistance, which limits their practical utility; for example, creep rates in nanocrystalline copper are about four orders of magnitude higher than those in typical coarse-grained copper. The degradation of creep resistance in nanocrystalline materials is in part due to an increase in the volume fraction of grain boundaries, which lack long-range crystalline order and lead to processes such as diffusional creep, sliding and rotation. Here we show that nanocrystalline copper–tantalum alloys possess an unprecedented combination of properties: high strength combined with extremely high-temperature creep resistance, while maintaining mechanical and thermal stability. Precursory work on this family of immiscible alloys has previously highlighted their thermo-mechanical stability and strength which has motivated their study under more extreme conditions, such as creep. We find a steady-state creep rate of less than 10^−6 per second—six to eight orders of magnitude lower than most nanocrystalline metals—at various temperatures between 0.5 and 0.64 times the melting temperature of the matrix (1,356 kelvin) under an applied stress ranging from 0.85 per cent to 1.2 per cent of the shear modulus. The unusual combination of properties in our nanocrystalline alloy is achieved via a processing route that creates distinct nanoclusters of atoms that pin grain boundaries within the alloy. This pinning improves the kinetic stability of the grains by increasing the energy barrier for grain-boundary sliding and rotation and by inhibiting grain coarsening, under extremely long-term creep conditions. Our processing approach should enable the development of microstructurally stable structural alloys with high strength and creep resistance for various high-temperature applications, including in the aerospace, naval, civilian infrastructure and energy sectors.

Global middle class numbers over 1 billion based on having between $8,500 and $47,000 in net financial assets

The Allianz Global wealth report split all households/individuals into global wealth classes in order to analyze how wealth is distributed at the global level. The division is based on the average global net per capita financial assets, which came in at EUR 23,330 in 2015.

The middle wealth (MW) class encompasses all individuals with assets corresponding to between 30% and 180% of the global average. This means that for 2015, the asset thresholds for the global wealth middle class stand at EUR 7,000 and EUR 42,000.

The “low wealth” (LW) category, on the other hand, includes those individuals with net financial assets that are below the EUR 7,000 threshold, while the term “high wealth” (HW) applies to those with net financial assets of more than EUR 42,000

Although the vast majority of the five billion people living in the countries included in our analysis still belong to the low wealth class, the number is down slightly as against 2000 to 3.4 billion, meaning that only 69% of the total population (as opposed to 80% in 2000) belong to this wealth category today. Progress has also been made in terms of their share of global net financial assets, albeit at a very modest level: the people in this category now hold 5% of global net financial assets as opposed to 3% in the past – not a huge increase, but a sign of progress all the same.

Almost 600 million in total, have achieved promotion to the middle wealth class – particularly in the up-and-coming economies. While the lion’s share is naturally attributable to China, other countries in Asia, almost all countries in Latin America (with the exception of Brazil) and many eastern European countries have also been writing this very same success story in recent years. This story of advancement translates directly into a bigger global middle wealth class: over the past few years, the number of people who belong to this category has more than doubled. For the last two years, this global middle class has counted more than 1 billion members

The financial assets of Canadian households grew at more than twice the rate seen in the US. One thing that the two countries have in common, however, is a slowdown in year-on-year asset growth, with the rate of growth falling from 8.8% to 6.2% in Canada and from 5.7% to 2.4% in the US.

Canadian household wealth averaged a little over half of the US per household level. Canadians were ahead of all western european countries except Switzerland.

Allianz global wealth report says the best years are over

Allianz unveiled the seventh edition of its "Global Wealth Report", which puts the asset and debt situation of households in more than 50 countries under the microscope. Based on the findings of the report, it seems that the best years are a thing of the past: global financial assets climbed by 4.9 percent in 2015, just a whisker above the growth rate of economic activity.

In the three previous years, financial assets grew at twice that pace, with an average rate of 9 percent. It is certainly no coincidence that slowing growth has hit Europe, the US and Japan the hard-est. In Western Europe (3.2 percent) and the US (2.4 percent), growth more than halved in 2015. At the other end of the spectrum is Asia (excl. Japan), where financial assets expanded by 14.8 percent. The region's lead over the rest of the world is only getting bigger. This also applies in relation to the world's other two up-and-coming regions, Latin America and Eastern Europe, where average growth was only half that in Asia. The days in which these regions were able to keep up with their counterparts in Asia are long gone. Of the total global financial assets of EUR 155 trillion, the region Asia (excl. Japan) accounted for 18.5 percent in 2015; this not only means that the proportion of assets held by this region has more than trebled since 2000 but also that the region’s share now far outstrips that of the eurozone (14.2 per-cent).

Here is a link to the 126 page report

At the global level, however, the deleveraging process appears to have come to an end. Household liabilities measured as a percentage of nominal
economic output, came in at 65.3%, on a par with the year before. This is down 9% from the high in 2009.

Global net financial assets, which came in at a new record high of EUR 116 trillion at the close of 2015.

Ten percent have immune systems that ignore HIV and thus the immune system is saved and AIDS does not develop

Ten percent of children have a "monkey-like" immune system that stops them developing Aids, a study suggests.

An untreated HIV infection will kill 60% of children within two and a half years, but the equivalent infection in monkeys is not fatal.

The findings could lead to new immune-based therapies for HIV infection.

The virus eventually wipes out the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to other infections, what is known as acquired human immunodeficiency syndrome (Aids).

The researchers analysed the blood of 170 children from South Africa who had HIV, had never had antiretroviral therapy and yet had not developed Aids.

Tests showed they had tens of thousands of human immunodeficiency viruses in every millilitre of their blood.

Their immune system is ignoring the virus as far as possible

"Waging war against the virus is in most cases the wrong thing to do."

Counter-intuitively, not attacking the virus seems to save the immune system.

HIV kills white blood cells - the warriors of the immune system.

And when the body's defences go into overdrive, even more of them can be killed.

Immune systems that avoid the HIV trap survives.

Science Translational Medicine - Nonprogressing HIV-infected children share fundamental immunological features of nonpathogenic SIV infection

US Military Research Labs will take commercial technology for a constant game changing third offset innovation

The US Army, Navy and Air Force all have dedicated research labs

The military research labs are currently pursuing what is called the third military offset strategy.

First offset - nuclear weapons

In the Cold War, the U.S. and its NATO allies sought a series of competitive advantages over the Soviet Union, a means by which to offset their very, very great conventional strength. The United States actually pursued two offset strategies. The first came with President Eisenhower's New Look Strategy in the early 1950s. When President Eisenhower came into office in 1953, the United States was heavily outnumbered by the Soviet conventional superiority on the European central front.

Eisenhower estimated it would take 92 U.S. and NATO divisions to have any chance of checking, at the time, 175 Soviet divisions. But a force that size, with Europe rebuilding itself after the Second World War, and with the United States starting to try to balance its budget for a long-term competition with the Soviet Union, it was neither politically or economically viable.

So to counter Soviet superiority without bankrupting the West, Eisenhower directed a top-level strategic review which resulted in what was called the New Look. And that said the U.S. would reduce military manpower and would rely instead on its nuclear arsenal, where we had a big advantage at the time, for deterrence. We had a very substantial lead at the time, and that technological advantage in nuclear weapons and their delivery systems provided the most effective offset to Soviet strength and their geographical advantage.

Second offset -precision weapons

Soviets built up their tactical and nuclear -- strategic nuclear forces. By the 1970s, the dangers of nuclear escalation were just too high.

In the 1970s, the US developed a second offset strategy. In 1973, what became DARPA launched a project called the Long-Range Research and Development Planning Program.

Precision conventional weapons were developed which had near zero miss.

Assault breakers were developed with aircraft using light area sensor cueing and surface-to-surface ballistic missiles that could dispense a blanket of anti-armor submunitions. And it culminated in a very successful demonstration in 1982 at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The USA had actually picked a competitive advantage that the Soviets, could not duplicate, and therefore injected uncertainty in their minds, changing their war-fighting calculus.

The Assault Breaker Program was picked up by the joint force. Army and the Air Force started to talk about air-land battle.

Third offset - constant significant military innovation

There's going to be three key differences between what is happening in this offset strategy and the earlier ones.

1. First, it's going to have a much more trying temporal component. In 1975 and in the 1950s, we knew our adversary and we said, "We can pick something where we will have an enduring advantage." We don't think we're in that type of environment right now.

Look for promising technologies that can be implemented in the FYDP, the future years defense program which is generally about five years out. Identify long-range advances that we can pull up and hopefully field in the '20s, and then plant the seeds for R and D, which will give us an advantage for the '30s.

The US will be constantly updating this strategy, rather than trying to pick the one single unitary field theory that's going to make that work.

2. US face multiple potential competitors, from small regional states like North Korea and Iran, to large advanced states like Russia and China, to non-state adversaries and actors with advanced capabilities.

3. The third big difference is that in the 1950s and the 1970s, generally these advances were military capabilities that were brought along by military labs. But now with robotics, autonomous operating guidance and control systems, visualization, biotechnology, miniaturization, advanced computing and big data, and additive manufacturing like 3D printing, all those are being driven by the commercial sector.

Hypersonic weapons


Water purification

Air Force Research Lab

Air Force research lab (AFRL) budget in 2017 is about $2.5 billion, a 4.5-percent increase over 2016

September 29, 2016

Landing drones on a manned aircraft is the hard part of new motherships

General Atomics, which builds the iconic Predator, has rolled out its offering for DARPA’s Gremlins program, blandly called the Small Unmanned Air Vehicle (SUAS). The goal: Build drones — and equally critical, a launch and recovery system — that can take off from a manned aircraft, conduct a mission and come back aboard the plane.

Getting the drone back is “the DARPA-hard part,” said Chris Pehrson, General Atomics VP for Strategic Development in an interview at the Air Force Association conference here last week.

General Atomics also has a more “elegant” solution, a mechanism mounted under the C-130’s wing that reels out a cable on which the drone can catch, then reels it back in. It’s similar to the hose-and-drogue system used by the US Navy and many allies to refuel in mid-air.

But the reel-in-reel-out mechanism doesn’t meet the Gremlins requirement, Pehrson acknowledged, because you can’t fit very many drones under an aircraft’s wings. Gremlins wants to pack the cargo bay with drones, 16 of them, to make the mothership a kind of airborne aircraft carrier. The only way to get drones in and out of the cargo bay is with a mechanical arm.

AETP program should boost F-35 and B-21 bomber engines by 10-20% thrust and 25% fuel efficiency in mid-2020s

Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, who heads the F35 joint program office, said at last week’s Air Force Association conference that the “mid-2020s” is when the power plant on the joint strike fighter could be refreshed, whether through improvements to the Pratt & Whitney F135 design currently used or through a new engine design from another competitor.

“I would expect ... that somewhere in the mid-2020s much of the work being done in the labs right now with our industry partners will find its way onto the F-35,” Bogdan told an audience Sept. 21. “Whether it finds its way onto the F-35 in the current engine or some modified engine remains to be seen, but we do fully expect in the mid-20s to include some advanced technologies on engines.”

The Air Force is currently funding the early stages of the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) competition, with both Pratt and General Electric Aviation participating. The goal of AETP is to see if the companies can successfully add a third stream of air inside the engine. The program’s goal is to “demonstrate 25 percent improved fuel efficiency, 10 percent increased thrust, and significantly improved thermal management,” according to an Air Force statement.

Both companies received contracts worth $1.01 billion over the summer to fund the research under AETP, with a period of performance ending in September 2021

Theoretically, engine improvements could also be rolled into the B-21 Raider bomber, which is expected to enter production by the mid-2020s. Pratt & Whitney is the engine supplier on the program; and although neither they nor Northrop Grumman, the prime on the B-21, have said what engine is being used, speculation is that some form of the F135 engine will power the bomber.

IBM Neuromorphic chip hits DARPA milestone and has been used to implement deep learning

IBM delivered on the DARPA SyNAPSE project with a one million neuron brain-inspired processor. The chip consumes merely 70 milliwatts, and is capable of 46 billion synaptic operations per second, per watt–literally a synaptic supercomputer in your palm.

Along the way—progressing through Phase 0, Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3—we have journeyed from neuroscience to supercomputing, to a new computer architecture, to a new programming language, to algorithms, applications, and now to a new chip—TrueNorth.

Fabricated in Samsung’s 28nm process, with 5.4 billion transistors, TrueNorth is IBM’s largest chip to date in transistor count. While simulating complex recurrent neural networks, TrueNorth consumes less than 100mW of power and has a power density of 20mW / cm2

Deep learning efforts today are run on standard computer hardware using convolutional neural networks. Indeed the approach has proven powerful by pioneers such as Google and Microsoft. In contrast neuromorphic computing, whose spiking neuron architecture more closely mimics human brain function, has generated less enthusiasm in the deep learning community. Now, work by IBM using its TrueNorth chip as a test case may bring deep learning to neuromorphic architectures.

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) in August (Convolutional networks for fast, energy-efficient neuromorphic computing), researchers from IBM Research report, “[We] demonstrate that neuromorphic computing, despite its novel architectural primitives, can implement deep convolution networks that approach state-of-the-art classification accuracy across eight standard datasets encompassing vision and speech, perform inference while preserving the hardware’s underlying energy-efficiency and high throughput.”

The impact could be significant as neuromorphic hardware and software technology have been rapidly advancing on several fronts. IBM researchers ran the datasets at between 1,200 and 2,600 frames/s and using between 25 and 275 mW (effectively >6,000 frames/s per watt). They report their approach allowed networks to be specified and trained using backpropagation with the same ease-of-use as contemporary deep learning. Basically, the new approach allows the algorithmic power of deep learning to be merged with the efficiency of neuromorphic processors.

“The new milestone provides a palpable proof of concept that the efficiency of brain-inspired computing can be merged with the effectiveness of deep learning, paving the path towards a new generation of chips and algorithms with even greater efficiency and effectiveness,” said Dharmendra Modha, chief scientist for brain-inspired computing at IBM Research-Almaden, in an interesting article by Jeremy Hsu on the IBM work posted this week on the IEEE Spectrum (IBM’s Brain-Inspired Chip Tested for Deep Learning.)

PNAS - Convolutional networks for fast, energy-efficient neuromorphic computing

IBM has first cloud based platform for AI-Powered Decision-Making

- Tapping into cognitive capabilities, Project DataWorks automates the intelligent deployment of data products on the IBM Cloud using Machine Learning and Apache Spark
- Provides one environment for collaboration among data professionals and business users of all types on the IBM Cloud
- Ingests data faster than any current solution in market, from 50 to hundreds of Gbps, and all endpoints: enterprise databases, Internet of Things, streaming, weather, and social media

IBM unveiled “Project DataWorks,” a Watson initiative that is the industry’s first cloud-based data and analytics platform to integrate all types of data and enable AI-powered decision-making. Project DataWorks is designed to make it simple for business leaders and data professionals to collect, organize, govern and secure data, so they can gain the insights needed to become a cognitive business.

Businesses today understand the competitive advantage of gaining insights from data. However, obtaining those insights can be increasingly complex, and most of this work is done by highly skilled data professionals who work in silos with disconnected tools and data services that may be difficult to manage, integrate, and govern. Also, because data is never static, businesses must continually iterate their data models and products—often manually—to benefit from the most relevant, up-to-date insights.

Project DataWorks can help businesses break down these barriers by connecting all data and insights for their users. All data-driven professionals can work together on an integrated, self-service platform, sharing common datasets and models in a trusted manner that helps ensure governance, while rapidly iterating data projects and products. Now, instead of spending time finding and preparing data for analysis, users can focus their efforts on the core mission – uncovering business-changing insights.

Available on Bluemix, IBM’s Cloud platform, Project DataWorks can help to redefine how data professionals collaborate by tapping into a number of key innovations, such as Apache Spark, IBM Watson Analytics, and the IBM Data Science Experience.

D-Wave Systems Previews 2000-Qubit Quantum System and Early tests show new features have up to 1000 times performance improvement over 1000 Qubit system

D-Wave Systems Inc., the world's first quantum computing company, announced details of its most advanced quantum computing system, featuring a new 2000-qubit processor. The announcement is being made at the company’s inaugural users group conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The new processor doubles the number of qubits over the previous generation D-Wave 2X™ system, enabling larger problems to be solved and extending D-Wave’s significant lead over all quantum computing competitors. The new system also introduces control features that allow users to tune the quantum computational process to solve problems faster and find more diverse solutions when they exist. In early tests these new features have yielded performance improvements of up to 1000 times over the D-Wave 2X system.

China's next stealth fighter the FC31 Gyrfalcon will continue to close the technology gap with the USA

China is working on a second prototype of its FC31 (aka J31) fighter. It is a smaller jet than the China's J20. China should have 12 of the J20s built by 2017. The FC31 could begin deployment around 2022.

The FC-31 Gyrfalcon is a twin-engine, mid-size fifth-generation jet fighter currently under development by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation.

New scaled models displayed at the Zhuhai Airshow revealed several planned differences from the first 31001 flying prototype. The differences include a stealthier cockpit, a next-generation helmet mounted sight, holographic cockpit displays, EOTS, aerodynamic revisions and more powerful engines.

The 01 prototype powered by two indigenous WS-13E turbofan engines flew for the first time on July 1, 2016.

The National Interest has an analysis of the F35 vs the J-31

Recently revealed details concerning China’s Shenyang FC-31 fighter suggest that the aircraft not only looks like the Pentagon’s Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), but it also offers comparable aerodynamic performance. But the real question is how far along Beijing has come in the development of subsystems like radars and engines. Moreover, there is the question of how well Chinese industry can integrate all of those disparate technologies into an operational aircraft.

The Chinese FC31 jet was based on stolen JSF (F35) technology—and could eventually be more or less a match for the American jet. “I think they’ll eventually be on par with our fifth-gen jets—as they should be, because industrial espionage is alive and well,” a senior U.S. military aviator said.

The F-22 might be able to generate a kill ratio of thirty-to-one today against the Chinese J-11 Flanker, but the U.S. Air Force has only 120 combat coded Raptors. The Raptor might only generate a three-to-one kill ratio against the J-31 or J-20, which means attrition will take a serious toll on U.S. forces.

Broad Group USA targets their first USA pre-fabricated skyscraper by end of 2019

China's Broad Group presented at the Offsite Construction Expo Sept. 21 to 22 in Washington, DC.

The expo was an effort to draw more attention to permanent modular construction, the Modular Building Institute, National Institute of Building Sciences and other industry groups.

Despite the promises of a higher quality product in a shorter timeframe and growing chatter around the alternative method, permanent modular construction still faces the obstacles of an industry averse to change and concerns regarding the altered timeline of traditional construction.

Although they expect wider implementation of offsite, experts cite concerns of a change in the traditional project workflow — from the need to bring in modular builders earlier in the process to questions regarding building codes standards for prefab units.

The biggest change is decisions need to be made earlier so the project can go to fabrication and production.

Builders considering modular construction to do their research well in advance of starting the project, as they need to consider where permanent modular construction companies are located and what regions they cover, decide whether the building's design is suitable to modular construction, and ensure that all team members come together early to collaborate in the process.

Design-build is recommended as the contract type most suitable for modular projects, as it allows architects and contractors to come on board at the early stages and decide on details together, rather than the traditionally separated design-bid-build process.

During the most buzzed-about session of the expo, a representative from China-based prefab buildings maker the Broad Group explained the details behind the popular YouTube videos of a 30-story hotel in China’s Hunan Province being constructed in 15 days.

Broad Group USA general manager Sunny Wang said that 93% of the T30 Broad Sustainable Building was built with prefab components.

They have built 30 Broad Sustainable Buildings, with the majority in China and one in Mexico. They use a 2.5 million-square-foot factory with 4,000 employees to create the "mainboards" that are then assembled on-site.

Broad has its sights set on the North American market, as it envisions the building components being manufactured in the China facility and shipped to the U.S. "I hope in another two years we’ll see the first in the U.S.," Wang said. "Offsite construction is the future of the world."

Brookhaven breakthrough determines density of electron pairs controls critical temperature in superconductors and this will pave the way to room temperature superconductors

In a recent breakthrough, scientists at the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory got one step closer to understanding how to make that possible. The research, led by physicist Ivan Bozovic, involves a class of compounds called cuprates, which contain layers of copper and oxygen atoms.

To figure out the mystery of “high-temperature” superconductivity in the cuprates, scientists need to understand how the electrons in these materials behave. Bozovic’s team has now solved part of the mystery by determining what exactly controls the temperature at which cuprates become superconducting.

The standard theory of superconductivity says that this temperature is controlled by the strength of the electron-pairing interaction, but Bozovic’s team has discovered otherwise. After 10 years of preparing and analyzing more than 2,000 samples of a cuprate with varying amounts of strontium, they found that the number of electron pairs within a given area (say, per cubic centimeter), or the density of electron pairs, controls the superconducting transition temperature. In other words, it’s not the forces between objects that matter here, but the density of objects--in this case, electron pairs.

A bonding structure of copper and oxygen atoms on a plane within a cuprate.

US Army and Marines deploying anti-drone technology and surveillance drones by end of 2017 at the squad level

PAtrick Tucker of Defense One reports that in the Ukraine-Russia war the Russian-backed infantry and artillery units have used more than 16 types of drones to identify enemy positions and deliver fire, often within minutes.

The US Army has the Maneuver Fires Integration Experiment at Fort Sill in Oklahoma to speed next-generation anti-drone technology to soldiers.

The Army wants to press the attack with its own small drones. They are developing a whole family of unmanned systems from the very low squad level.

  • vertical-takeoff-and-push capability
  • drones that can fly autonomously
  • drones that can resist complex electromagnetic attacks (aka cyber hacking and EMP)
  • drones “that can be deployed from a vehicle and hover over a vehicle

The 18-gram PD-100 Black Hornet from Prox Dynamics is an autonomous tactical drone being rapidly deployed to special operations units and Marines.

$50,000 to $60,000 PD100 drone

By the end of 2017, the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, wants every Marine squad downrange to carry an unmanned aerial vehicle for reconnaissance and surveillance.

“At the end of next year, my goal is that every deployed Marine infantry squad had got their own quadcopter,” he said. “They’re like 1,000 bucks.”

The MIX-16 exercise also employed a small number of pocket-sized PD-100 drone systems, made by Proxdynamics. But while these systems are lightweight and easy to operate, they don’t meet the $1,000 price point that Neller mentioned. The systems cost $50-$60,000 apiece, with additional costs for accessories.

One future solution Neller proposed is 3-D printing, a new technology being aggressively explored by the Marine Corps logistics community.

“Maybe we can just buy the design [for a quadcopter] and print our own,” Neller said. “I’m not joking.”

An unfinished draft of the U.S. Army Robotic and Autonomous Systems Strategy describes how the Army will use drones in the near term (2016-20) the mid-term (2020-30), and the far term (2030-40).

The DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter is well reviewed as a camera drone on Amazon and costs about $1100

  • Auto takeoff and auto return home with GPS technology, makes controlling easy. App enables monitoring/camera operation easy
  • Capture 4K ultra HD video at 30 fps, supported resolutions include: 12.0MP (4000 x 3000) photos. The f/2.8 lens with a broad field of view delivers crisp, clear images
  • Gimbal stabilization technology, along with a hover function allows you to capture smooth, clean footage while the camera is in the air
  • Use DJI director software with a built-in video editor to add music, text, and more to your videos

With extra batteries and waterproof case it is just short of $1400.

September 28, 2016

South Korea will build or buy a new anti drone laser defense after failing to down North Korean drones in August

South Korea will develop or purchase a new laser air defense weapon to bring down small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sent by North Korea, military officials said Wednesday.

"Amid growing worries about possible terror attacks by North Korea's unmanned drones, we are planning to secure a high-precision weapon which can detect, trace and hit a small aircraft," a defense official told Yonhap News Agency.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has entered into a project to develop core technologies for a laser weapon. The Agency for Defense Development (ADD) has designated Hanwha Defense Systems as test product developer, according to the agencies.

"Depending on research and development (R & D) results, it will be determined whether the country can produce and deploy its own air defense system," said an ADD official. "If not, the military plans to import a foreign air-defense system to counter North Korean unmanned aircraft."

Currently, the low flying UAVs sent over by the North and detected by the South can be shot down with surface-to-air missiles or anti-aircraft guns, the official explained.

The move comes after the military detected but was unable to down North Korean UAVs that crossed the military demarcation line (MDL) five times in August.

Tiltrotor drone is in development and the target is 2023 for production

Bell Helicopter is designing a new tiltrotor drone about the size of the Air Force’s armed MQ-9 Reaper, with similar capabilities, that it hopes the Marines will buy.

They call it the V-247 Vigilant, so named because Bell promises that two of the sea-based drones could provide Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) over a given area 24/7.

The V-247 is designed to meet the as-yet general Marine Corps requirement known as MUX, an acronym within an acronym standing for Marine Air Ground Task Force Multimission Unmanned Expeditionary. Under MUX, the Marines want their own ship-based, armed ISR drone so they won’t have to depend on land-based Air Force MQ-9 Reapers to support their operations.

the V-247’s wingspan would be 65 feet – one foot shorter than the Reaper’s – and hold two 30-foot-diameter tilting rotors – each eight feet smaller in diameter than the V-22’s. The V-247 fuselage will be 37 feet long, Tobin said, and hold a single engine able to generate 5,000 to 6,000 shaft horsepower. The V-22 uses two Rolls-Royce AE-1107 C Liberty engines that generate 6,000 shaft horsepower each. The V-247 would cruise at 250 knots, he said, the same as a V-22, allowing the Vigilant to serve as an armed V-22 escort.

Two V-247s would fit inside the hold of a C-17 cargo aircraft, Tobin said. Despite its relatively small size, though, the V-247’s maximum takeoff weight is expected to be about 30,000 lbs — roughly three times the Reaper’s maximum takeoff weight. The aircraft would carry up to about 13,000 lbs. of fuel, armament and sensors, he said. It would have a mission radius of as much as 450 nautical miles, the same as a V-22, with 11 to 15 hours on station, or fly as much as 1,400 nautical miles on a tank of gas, depending on the mission. The V-247 also could refuel in midair, a Bell handout said.

The V-247 will be sized to fit on the deck of a guided missile destroyer, Tobin said. By folding its rotor blades and stowing its wing by swiveling it across the top of the fuselage lengthwise, it could fit inside a DDG’s helicopter hangar. On a stand to Tobin’s left as he spoke stood a big 1/8th scale model of the V-247 – far larger than the one we saw on Lt. Gen. Davis’s desk last month – automated to fold its rotor blades and stow its wing to demonstrate shipboard storage. Bell is expected to display the model at the Sept. 27-30 Modern Day Marine exposition at Quantico Marine Base, and at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meetings Oct. 3-5 in Washington.

Tobin said Bell could start building the V-247 as soon as 2023.

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