October 15, 2016

Virgin Galactic's sub-orbital tourism is a step towards a point to point hypersonic transportation anywhere in the world

A "hypersonic space line," or a transportation system that would transport people halfway around the earth in a matter of hours, isn't science fiction. It's a science being perfected in part at Spaceport America, according to Michael Moses, president of spaceport tenant Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Galactic announced Thursday, before Moses spoke on the second day of the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight, that the former senior vice president for operations would now oversee the company's human spaceflight program.

Virgin Galactic was supposed to launch flights from Spaceport America, in southern New Mexico, several years ago. Area taxpayers paid about $219 million to get the spaceport going. But a series of minor setbacks and a major spacecraft crash during testing in October 2014 set the company back years.

“It’s never easy to develop technologies that have never been tried before,” Moses said. “And it often takes more time than anyone anticipates.”

The replacement spacecraft is undergoing flight testing. Moses said. As soon as spacecraft’s safety is assured, Virgin Galactic will be relocating to Spaceport America to commence flying the several hundred passengers who have signed on to become astronauts — a title bestowed on people who have flown more than 62 miles or 325,000 feet above the earth — and have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a two-hour ride.

Branson, founder of Virgin Airlines, has invested more than $500 million in Virgin Galactic. His plans include more than building a rocket ship to give rich people rides into space.

“Sir Richard’s real vision is building a sub-orbital, point-to-point transportation system,” Moses said. “He wants to have the first hypersonic space line.”

Virgin Galactic’s tourism flights from Spaceport America are a means of proving technologies and gaining experience from flying multiple times. Each time SpaceShipTwo flies, taking six passengers into sub-orbital space, it will generate more than $1 million in revenue, cash that underwrites some of the investment.

If Branson’s vision is fulfilled, people will be able to fly at hypersonic speeds — that’s more than 5,000 mph — from Dallas-Fort Worth to London in two hours or from Los Angeles to Sydney in under four hours.

There are roughly 700 Virgin Galactic future astronauts who have already paid deposits for their flights on SpaceShipTwo come from more than 50 different countries, about half of which have never before sent a human to space. They span in age from under 10 to over 90 years of age.

Branson wants hypersonic point-to-point transportation, using a mix of SpaceShipTwo and LauncherOne fundamental technologies.

F-35s will have faulty insulation fixed but still lack combat readiness

Israel and Japan are likely to get their first F-35 Joint Strike Fighters on schedule, and the Air Force‘s operational F-35s should be flying by the end of this year without faulty insulation in fuel pipes that could damage the aircraft, the F-35 Joint Program Office says.

“Rapid progress is being made in fixing 15 operational F-35A aircraft needing modifications to repair non-compliant Polyalphaolefin (PAO) coolant tubes,” the JPO said in a statement. “Modifications started 7 October on the first four aircraft and the work takes about three weeks to complete. All 15 aircraft are expected to fly again by the end of the year.”

October 14, 2016

Perhaps a trillion trillion stars

Astronomer Carl Sagan was famous for saying that there were billions and billions of stars and other objects in the universe.

Recent studies have increased the estimates for stars in the Milky Way galaxy and total numbers of galaxies in the visible universe and another study suggests that up to half of all the stars lie in between galaxies.

Combined they would suggest

at least 2 trillion galaxies
perhaps 500 billion stars in the Milky Way
And another 500 billion stars in between each galaxy

This would mean an estimate of at least 2 trillion trillion stars in the visible universe.

This is 2 Septillion stars (2 x 10 ^ 24)

1. The European Space Agency (ESA) released the first data from its €750 million Gaia star-mapping mission. The new catalog contains sky positions for 1.1 billion stars, 400 million of which have never been seen before. For many stars, the positional accuracy is 300 microarcseconds—the width of a human hair. Thus there are 400 million more stars in an area previously believed to have about 700 million stars.

2. An international team of astronomers, led by Christopher Conselice, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Nottingham, have found that the universe contains at least two trillion galaxies, ten times more than previously thought.

Astronomers have long sought to determine how many galaxies there are in the observable universe, the part of the cosmos where light from distant objects has had time to reach us. Over the last 20 years scientists have used images from the Hubble Space Telescope to estimate that the universe we can see contains around 100 - 200 billion galaxies. Current astronomical technology allows us to study just 10% of these galaxies, and the remaining 90% will be only seen once bigger and better telescopes are developed.

3. As many as half of all stars in the universe lie in the vast gulfs of space between galaxies, an unexpected discovery made in a new study using NASA rockets. These stars could help solve mysteries regarding missing light and particles that theory had suggested should exist, scientists say. The stars were ejected from their birthplaces by galaxy collisions or mergers.

Some estimations suggest up to 100,000 times more rogue planets than stars in the Milky Way.

Tesla Could Double the Size of Fremont Factory and Tesla will need around $12 billion in funds through 2018

According to city planning documents reported on by the San Francisco Chronicle, Tesla could double the factory space by adding on another 4.6 million square feet to the current 4.5 million square feet. The company is looking to add new buildings in spaces like the factory’s parking lot and in an open lot next to the test track.

The move is a predictable logistics change required to deliver 500,000 cars a year by 2018, up from the 50,000 cars the company shipped last year.

By the end of 2016, Tesla is expected to ship just under 80,000 cars for the year, so this massive growth will have to come in 2017 and 2018. In the third quarter of this year, the company finally hit its quarterly car shipment goals, following two consecutive quarters where the company underwhelmed with its shipment figures.

Many of the 500,000-car figure are supposed to come from Tesla’s planned upcoming car the Model 3, which isn’t scheduled to start shipping until the end of 2017

Tesla merger with SolarCity, which goes up for a shareholder vote in November, will require $12.5 billion in cash by the end of 2018 cash in four key areas, according to a note from Oppenheimer's Colin Rusch.

Specifically, Tesla will need to fund $5 billion to $8 billion (or more) in capital expenditures combining its stationary power business with SolarCity; another $2 billion in capital for the auto unit; as well as cash for working capital and operating lease obligations.

Hyperloop One in talks to connect Russia and China with a cargo Hyperloop and get $50 million in funding from Dubai

Hyperloop One talking to Russia about a cargo Hyperloop to connect Russia with China

The model for the Hunchun-Zarubino cargo system assumes six containers departing per minute, 20 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

A Hyperloop involves using magnets to levitate pods inside an normal pressure tube. Fans blow on the pod blow air around the pod to enable speeds of just under mach one 750 mph (1,200 kph).

Hunchun, like so many of China’s new boomtowns, is a thriving manufacturing center with a growing population of 250,000. It’s a bit off the beaten path, tucked up North into a strategic nook near the borders of Russia and North Korea. But Hunchun, being so close to the border, boasts the largest logistics terminal in northeastern China, preparing textiles, electronics, grain and automobiles for export.

If only Hunchun had an easier way to get to the coast. Unlike the far bigger export hubs to the south, Hunchun is separated from the Pacific by rugged mountains. Sure, there’s a new $6 billion passenger high speed rail link between Hunchun and the provincial capital of Jilin to the east, but to the west and south Hunchun is hemmed in by Russia's Primorye region. In winter months, roads are often impassable.

Russian economic planners have long had their eyes on developing better, faster links between China’s interior and deep water, ice-free ports along the Primorye coast south of Vladivostok. Demand for export of goods from Hunchun’s logistics center is projected to surpass 40 million tons per year by 2030. There happens to be a couple of optimal places to build a port. One of them is the seaside town of Zarubino, which had long been a fishing village until Russian government began taking steps to develop a cargo export operation there several years ago. With a little vision, investment and long-term planning, Zarubino has the potential to become an important stop on the global cargo circuit. All it needs is a direct, high-capacity link back to Hunchun and its surrounding region.

That’s where the Hyperloop enters the picture. Hyperloop One's Executive Chairman Shervin Pishevar met in June with Russia's transport minister to confirm plans to develop a passenger system for the Moscow area and a cargo route in Russia's Far East. Last month Hyperloop One and Russian investment firm Caspian Venture Capital presented a preliminary feasibility study for that latter option: use of Hyperloop technology to connect Hunchun’s logistics center with the planned Zarubino port. The study, carried out by transport institute MGTNIIP, which has offices in Moscow and Irkutsk, confirms that an investment in a Hyperloop One system can generate a sizable operating profit transporting cargo on the Hunchun – Zarubino line.

The model for the Hunchun-Zarubino cargo system assumes six containers departing per minute, 20 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

The system calls for building twin Hyperloop tubes on columns that would thread through the terrain for the 65 kilometers between Hunchun and Zarubino. That’s a short enough route not to the break the bank but long enough to take advantage of the energy efficiency of Hyperloop cruising speeds. The project as proposed would be built in two stages commencing in 2020 and 2023 with a total estimated capital cost of $1.5 billion to $2.3 billion. By the time both stages are completed and operational, cargo demand for the Zarubino Hyperloop is projected to be roughly 900,000 TEUs per year, equivalent to half of the current volumes at the ports of Houston, Genoa, or Fuzhou. (An TEU, or twenty-foot equivalent unit, is a standard unit of measure in the container cargo business.) The system when fully operational would incur $77 million in annual operating costs and operating income of close to quarter billion dollars a year. The line’s maximum capacity would be 50 million metric tons in each direction, which would propel Zarubino into the ranks of the world’s 50 busiest container ports.

Hyperloop is often associated with speed, as in a system capable of moving at 1,000 kilometers per hour quietly and comfortably. But for cargo use, speed is not the primary factor. Shippers want availability, or system uptime, which is one of Hyperloop’s advantages over rail or roads. The model for the Zarubino study assumes six containers departing per minute, 20 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Being an autonomous system enclosed in a tube eliminates a lot of safety hazards such as grade crossings, but also takes weather and operator error out of the equation. And it’s not as if the cargo is inching along. Average speeds attainable on the proposed line would be 540 kilometers an hour. Shippers also get flexibility. A Hyperloop can send a container when it is received instead of waiting for a mile-long train to be loaded with hundreds of other containers. Its magnetic non-contact traction allows it to climb grades three times steeper than the 5% for traditional freight rail, which will come in handy in the mountainous region between Zarubino and Hunchun.

If the project gets the green light from Russian and Chinese authorities, it will take 2 or 3 years to prepare the detailed feasibility study and work with regulators to update the operating framework before construction begins in earnest. Project co-developer Caspian VC, also an investor in Hyperloop One, is the venture arm of Summa Group, a diversified industrial firm based in Moscow with interests in logistics, oil pipelines and port infrastructure. Its chairman Ziyavudin Magomedov has made it a goal to bring Hyperloop to Russia and envisions a day when cargo can zip overland at subsonic speeds from China to Europe across the vast Russian interior. It’s a wildly ambitious idea with world-changing potential, reducing the time it takes cargo to get from East to West from weeks to hours.

Hyperloop One has raised an additional $50 million as it prepares for a full-scale test of a Hyperloop system in the first quarter of 2017. Hyperloop One got its latest round of funding from DP World Group of Dubai. The $50 million takes its total funding to $160 million.

First two generation 3+ nuclear reactors will be operation in China by the end of this year

The four reactor coolant pumps at unit 1 of the Haiyang nuclear power plant in China's Shandong province have been operated simultaneously at full speed for the first time. The AP1000 is set to begin operating by the end of the year.

The plant is a pressurized water reactor with improved use of passive nuclear safety. It is a generation 3.5 reactor

Because of its simplified design compared to a Westinghouse generation II PWR, the AP1000 has:

50% fewer safety-related valves
35% fewer pumps
80% less safety-related piping
85% less control cable
45% less seismic building volume

It has a core cooling system including passive residual heat removal by convection, improved containment isolation, passive containment cooling system to the atmosphere and in-vessel retention of core damage (corium) with water cooling around it. No safety-related pumps or ventilation systems are needed

In 2008 and 2009, Westinghouse made agreements to work with the Chinese State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) and other institutes to develop a larger design, the CAP1400 of 1,400 MWe capacity, possibly followed by a 1,700 MWe design. China will own the intellectual property rights for these larger designs. Exporting the new larger units may be possible with Westinghouse's cooperation

Westinghouse has been working with SNPTC and SNERDI in China to develop jointly a passively safe 1500 MWe (4040 MWt) two-loop design from the AP1000, the CAP1400, with 193 fuel assemblies and improved steam generators, operating at 323°C outlet temperature, 60-year design life, and 72-hour non-intervention period in event of accident. Average discharge burn-up is about 50 GWd/t, maximum 59.5 GWd/t. Operation flexibility includes MOX capacity, 18 to 24-month cycle, and load-following. Seismic rating is 300 gal. The CAP1400 project may extend to a larger, three-loop CAP1700 or CAP 2100 design if the passive cooling system can be scaled to that level

In November 2015 SNPTC said that CAP1400 construction would start on 31 March 2016, the delay being to ensure that the primary coolant pump issues on AP1000 were sorted and to avoid winter conditions for the major concrete pour. It is expected to take 56 months to build, with later units coming down to 50 months. Westinghouse is providing technical consulting services to SNPTC for the design. More than 80% of the components will be indigenous, and contracts for 21 of 29 long lead time components had been signed by February 2015. Construction cost is expected to be CNY 15,751/kWe ($2454/kWe) and power cost CNY 0.403/kWh for the first unit and dropping to CNY 0.38/kWh (USD 5.9 cents) subsequently. A 2014 government figure is CNY 42.3 billion ($6.5 billion) for the first two units.

In September 2007, Westinghouse and its partners the Shaw Group received authorization to construct four AP1000 units in China: two at Sanmen in Zhejiang province and two more at Haiyang.

Sanmen unit 1 is expected to be the first AP1000 to begin operating later this year, while Haiyang 1 is also expected to start up by the end of the year.

SNPTC announced last month that the four main pumps at Sanmen 1 had been operated continuously at full speed for five hours as part of the unit's start-up. The company said that, at full-speed, the pumps' vibration, stator temperature and bearing temperature were within the normal range.

Four AP1000 reactors are being built in the USA - two each at Vogtle and Summer - while three AP1000s are also proposed for the Moorside site in the UK.

US Army testing self driving supply trucks

US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC, has been testing robotic trucks for the Army in Michigan and Michigan will be the main location for developing autonomous technology for commercial trucks.

TARDEC is developing its vehicle-to-infrastructure capabilities to increase safety, reduce distracting tasks and carry supplies for soldiers, he said.

In June, the four-vehicle convoy of tractor-trailers on Interstate 69, about 40 miles east of Flint, Mich., showed the trucks’ ability to communicate with roadside units set up by the Michigan Department of Transportation. The so-called vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) connectivity is a crucial step toward building a network of autonomous commercial trucks and passenger vehicles.

Eventually, V2I will be able to send vehicles information about traffic signals and relay information about collisions on the road, among other data.

Army’s chief roboticist, Bob Sadowski, discussed in a video the challenges for the military to design autonomous trucks that can crawl their way through some of the nastiest terrain on Earth without a human to help them.

Orbital Antares rocket on launch pad and ready for weekend launch to ISS

Orbital ATK is scheduled to launch the Antares rocket this weekend

Orbital ATK commenced delivery of cargo to the ISS under the NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract in 2014.

The Antares launch system utilizes Orbital ATK's proven MACH avionics system and many management approaches, engineering standards, production and test processes common to Orbital ATK’s family of successful small-class Pegasus and Minotaur launch vehicles. The Antares design has been upgraded with newly-built RD-181 first stage engines to provide greater payload performance and increased reliability. The company is currently targeting a return to flight in 2016 with a total of 6 missions thru 2018 to fulfill the company’s CRS1 agreement with NASA to deliver supplies to the ISS. Orbital ATK recently was awarded the CRS2 contract which includes at least six missions starting in 2019.

The Antares 230 rocket carrying the S.S. Alan Poindexter Cygnus spacecraft rolled to the pad on Wednesday and is set for launch this coming Sunday, October 16th at 8:03 p.m. EDT

Spacex still has to get back to launching after their explosion. Orbital is thus critical for ISS service missions.

October 13, 2016

Structured light and quantum dot film let flying drones detect obstacles while flying at 43 mph and 20 meter detection range will get boosted to over 100 meters within a year

InVisage Technologies launched its Spark Micro-LiDAR (SML20) module. The previously announced Spark4K 13-megapixel, 1.1-micron NIR sensor enables the SML20 module to sense structured light patterns with high acuity at a range of 20 meters, even in direct sunlight. This means drones can now self-navigate at a much higher speed. With a sensor module of just 8.5 by 8.5 by 4.5 millimeters, SML20 is ultra-light, compact, and low power. These advantages make SML20 ideal for drones and other mobile autonomous devices that require a lighter, more power-efficient alternative to conventional LiDAR without the limitations of ultrasonic and stereo-camera depth sensing systems.

The new sensor uses an infrared pulsed laser, which operates at a wavelength at which water vapor absorbs most sunlight before it reaches ground level, reducing the glare. The laser light reflected to the sensor is then detected by a layer of film made of quantum dots engineered to react to specific wavelengths of light. These quantum dots are five times as sensitive of the silicon-based detectors used in other sensors, enabling them to pick up reflections from a lower-powered laser.

According to programme manager Jennifer Lillie, the sensor detects obstacles 20 meters ahead at 30 frames per second. This is enough for commercial quadrotors moving at their top speed of 70 kilometers per hour to change path or decelerate to avoid collision. Lillie describes the sensor as “biscotti-sized”, making it suitable for small drones.

“In order to perform autonomously at a high flight speed of 20 meters per second, drones and other unmanned vehicles require at least half a second to recognize an upcoming obstacle and another half a second to change trajectory or decelerate in order to avoid it. This means accurate ranging at 20 meters is crucial,” said Jess Lee, InVisage President and CEO. “SML20 is the only solution enabling obstacle avoidance at that distance without being weighed down by a traditional bulky LiDAR.”

Many obstacle avoidance systems have turned to mechanical and solid state LiDAR for depth sensing, but conventional LiDARs place high demands on weight, size and power budgets, making them unsuitable for drones. The cost of LiDAR is also significant and can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars per unit. Ultrasonic sensors and stereo cameras do offer more compact form factors than LiDAR, but ultrasonic systems offer only a sub-five-meter range and stereo cameras have high CPU demands and ranging capabilities limited by camera disparity. The SML20 eliminates the need to compromise, delivering effective collision avoidance with small size, minimal weight, and all-inclusive power consumption between 200 and 500 mW on average, according to the range requirements of the application.

CRISPR gene editing corrects sickle cells in a mouse

Science Translational Medicine - Selection-free genome editing of the sickle mutation in human adult hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells

Hammering out the sickle cell mutation

Sickle cell disease is a genetic disorder caused by a mutation in one of the hemoglobin genes, which causes deformation of red blood cells and results in occlusion of blood vessels, severe pain crises, and progressive organ injury. To correct the mutation that causes this disease, DeWitt et al. modified hematopoietic stem cells from sickle cell disease patients using a CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing approach. The authors showed that the corrected cells successfully engrafted in a mouse model and produced enough normal hemoglobin to have a potential clinical benefit in the setting of sickle cell disease.


Genetic diseases of blood cells are prime candidates for treatment through ex vivo gene editing of CD34+ hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs), and a variety of technologies have been proposed to treat these disorders. Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a recessive genetic disorder caused by a single-nucleotide polymorphism in the β-globin gene (HBB). Sickle hemoglobin damages erythrocytes, causing vasoocclusion, severe pain, progressive organ damage, and premature death. We optimize design and delivery parameters of a ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex comprising Cas9 protein and unmodified single guide RNA, together with a single-stranded DNA oligonucleotide donor (ssODN), to enable efficient replacement of the SCD mutation in human HSPCs. Corrected HSPCs from SCD patients produced less sickle hemoglobin RNA and protein and correspondingly increased wild-type hemoglobin when differentiated into erythroblasts. When engrafted into immunocompromised mice, ex vivo treated human HSPCs maintain SCD gene edits throughout 16 weeks at a level likely to have clinical benefit. These results demonstrate that an accessible approach combining Cas9 RNP with an ssODN can mediate efficient HSPC genome editing, enables investigator-led exploration of gene editing reagents in primary hematopoietic stem cells, and suggests a path toward the development of new gene editing treatments for SCD and other hematopoietic diseases.

Low energy terahertz radiation could reset computer memory in a picosecond which is 1000 times faster then current memory

A novel, highly energy efficient and ultrafast magnetization control scheme is successfully demonstrated by international team of scientists from the Netherlands, Germany, and Russia. With low-energy terahertz photons the team succeeded to make a magnet wobble in a trillionth of a second.

“Our finding addresses the long-term technological ambition of a direct, high-speed manipulation of magnetic data bits by an electric field, which is achieved at terahertz frequencies in our experiment” says Dr. Rostislav Mikhaylovskiy, the leader of the project at Radboud University in the Netherlands.

The researchers generated very strong pulses of electric field, which cycle within 1 picosecond, i.e. one trillionth of a second. The corresponding frequency is called terahertz which is one trillion of a Hertz. The terahertz electric field is so strong that it can induce a voltage of a million of Volts in a magnet. Thereby it perturbs the orbital motion of the electrons and deflects the direction of the magnetic anisotropy axis. Importantly, this process happens so fast that the magnetization cannot follow this new orientation. Instead, the magnetization starts to wobble around. The amplitude of the magnetization oscillations scales nonlinearly with the driving electric field.

The work could be applicable in recording devices in the near future, using high-frequency transistor amplifiers in combination with tailor-cut near-field antennas. They are working on attaining higher terahertz fields sufficient for the magnetization reversal using terahertz antennas. Another next step is to perform systematic studies of the ultrafast control of the spin-orbit interaction and the magnetic anisotropy in a broad spectral range, to compare the efficiencies of the pumping in the far-, mid-infrared and visible ranges and thus to identify the most efficient, least dissipative, as well as the fastest approach for the manipulation of spins.

Future information technologies, such as ultrafast data recording, quantum computation or spintronics, call for ever faster spin control by light. Intense terahertz pulses can couple to spins on the intrinsic energy scale of magnetic excitations. Here, we explore a novel electric dipole-mediated mechanism of nonlinear terahertz-spin coupling that is much stronger than linear Zeeman coupling to the terahertz magnetic field. Using the prototypical antiferromagnet thulium orthoferrite (TmFeO3), we demonstrate that resonant terahertz pumping of electronic orbital transitions modifies the magnetic anisotropy for ordered Fe3+ spins and triggers large-amplitude coherent spin oscillations. This mechanism is inherently nonlinear, it can be tailored by spectral shaping of the terahertz waveforms and its efficiency outperforms the Zeeman torque by an order of magnitude. Because orbital states govern the magnetic anisotropy in all transition-metal oxides, the demonstrated control scheme is expected to be applicable to many magnetic materials.

Nature Photonics - Nonlinear spin control by terahertz-driven anisotropy fields

Great Wall trailer

The Great Wall - In Theaters This February

Premise - In the battle for humanity, an elite force makes a heroic stand atop the Great Wall of China

It is a fantasy monster genre movie.

Third trailer for Star Wars Rogue One

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer 3 (2016)

Rogue One will be released on December 16, 2016.

Foxconn reaches 40,000 robots of original 1 million robot automation goal

In 2011, Foxconn had announced a plan to replace 500,000 mainland Chinese workers with 1 million robots over the next 3-5 years.

Foxconn is the company that builds Apple's iPhone and iPad hardware and many of the android smartphones as well.

Foxconn, has so far installed 40,000 production robots across China as it looks to minimize the number of people it employs.

With the exception of some components like servo motors and speed reducers, the robots are being built entirely in-house, Foxconn's Dai Chia-peng told Taiwan's Central News Agency, as quoted by DigiTimes. It's unclear how many of the so-called "Foxbots" are being used to manufacture Apple products.

The machines are, however, said to be operating an industrial facility in Zhengzhou, a tablet plant in Chengdu, and computer/peripherals plants in Kunshan and Jiashan.

Dai commented that Foxconn is currently manufacturing 10,000 robots per year. Each one can potentially go far towards replacing human labor —in Kunshan alone, Foxconn is known to have cut 60,000 workers.

Thirty-five Taiwanese companies, including Apple’s supplier Foxconn, spent a total of 4 billion yuan (HK$4.74 billion) on artificial intelligence last year, according to the Kunshan government’s publicity department.

So it was robotics, artificial intelligence, process changes and demand changes that impacted the workforce.

As many as 600 major companies in Kunshan have similar plans, according to a government survey.

The job cuts do not augur well for Kunshan, which had a population of more than 2.5 million at the end of 2014, two-thirds of whom were migrant workers.

The Observable Universe has 2 trillion galaxies which is ten times more than previous estimates

An international team of astronomers, led by Christopher Conselice, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Nottingham, have found that the universe contains at least two trillion galaxies, ten times more than previously thought.

Astronomers have long sought to determine how many galaxies there are in the observable universe, the part of the cosmos where light from distant objects has had time to reach us. Over the last 20 years scientists have used images from the Hubble Space Telescope to estimate that the universe we can see contains around 100 - 200 billion galaxies. Current astronomical technology allows us to study just 10% of these galaxies, and the remaining 90% will be only seen once bigger and better telescopes are developed.

Prof Conselice’s research is the culmination of 15 years’ work, part-funded by a research grant from the Royal Astronomical Society awarded to Aaron Wilkinson, an undergraduate student at the time. Aaron, now a PhD student at the University of Nottingham, began by performing the initial galaxy-counting analysis, work which was crucial for establishing the feasibility of the larger-scale study.

Arxiv- The Evolution of Galaxy Number Density at z < 8 and its Implications (22 pages)

US Navy Secretary says Ford aircraft carrier is a textbook example of how not to build a ship

The $13 billion supercarrier USS Ford and the $500 million Littoral Combat Ship are both suffering engine trouble. But Navy Secretary Ray Mabus took pains today to defend LCS even as he derided Ford as “a textbook example of how not to build a ship.”

“The Ford is a textbook example of how not to build a ship,” Ford told reporters. “(We were) building it while it’s still being designed” — which results in costly do-overs of already-finished components — “(and) trying to force too much new and unproven technology on it” — whose teething troubles result in unplanned delays and costs.

“That was already on fire when I got in,” said Mabus, who became Navy Secretary the year the Ford’s keel was laid. “But we’ve stopped the cost growth.” The carrier’s schedule is still slipping, however, with a November delivery to the fleet postponed indefinitely due to problems in the Main Turbine Generators (MTG).

Next week the Philippines could basically give up Scarborough Shoal in South China Sea and develop oil and gas in partnership with China

Next week Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, who took power in late June, will make his first state visit to China.

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte not expecting and will not be demanding: the return of Scarborough Shoal, which China seized from the Philippines in 2012, sparking demonstrations by Filipinos around the world.

Scarborough Shoal is a large coral atoll with a reef-rimmed lagoon, Scarborough Shoal lies about 120 nautical miles (222 km, 138 miles) from the Philippines’ coast. Filipino fishermen have relied on the atoll’s rich fishing grounds for generations. China has blocked their access to it since the takeover.

This could be good news for Chinese and Philippine energy companies. China’s prevented the Philippines from exploring for oil off its own coast. There are oil or natural gas deposits that fall within both the nine-dash line and other nations’ EEZs. China and Philippines could negotiate “joint development”. Each could getting a share of the profits.

The Philippines would take a position closer to Cambodia’s, a country that has backed Beijing’s South China Sea positions in international forums.

Cambodia received significant aid or investment from China.

In mid-September Duterte said the Philippines would begin buying weapons from China and Russia (the US is the traditional main supplier), and that it would cease joint patrols of the South China Sea with the US.

The Philippines will likely get a lot of loans and trade deals at the meeting next week.

Yemen is another new war for the USA which brings the total to five - Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen

The United Stateslaunched its first strike on Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen in retaliation for days of attacks on a navy warship, becoming an active combatant in a brutal war led by Washington’s ally Saudi Arabia.

The Pentagon announced late on Wednesday that it struck and destroyed three radar sites controlled by the Iranian-backed Houthi movement in Yemen. The sites were described as being involved in two missile attacks over the past four days on the destroyer USS Mason, operating out of the Bab al-Mandeb waterway between Yemen and east Africa.

The US has conducted lethal attacks in Yemen against al-Qaida forces throughout Obama’s presidency, killing civilians as well as US nationals, Wednesday’s reprisal strikes were Washington’s first against the Houthis. They raised the prospect of deeper US involvement in what many in the region and Washington see as a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Anthony H. Cordesman analyses the US war sitation for the Center for Strategic and International Studies

The United States is at war in varying degrees in four different countries in the Middle East and North Africa—Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen—as well as continuing its “longest war” in Afghanistan. All five of these wars now involve ISIS to some degree—ISIS is the central focus of the wars in Iraq, Syria, and Libya—and probably to a degree that seriously threatens the future stability of the MENA region and U.S. strategic interests.

In each case, the United States may be succeeding to the point where it is tipping the balance enough to achieve the narrow strategic goal of “defeating” ISIS to the point where ISIS no longer controls major cities or blocs of territory.

There is no prospect in any such war, however, that the United States will win a near term victory in either the broader strategic sense of fully defeating ISIS, or in the grand strategic sense of ending a war with a stable and desirable outcome.

Once again, the United States does not seem to be learning from its past. The real test of victory is never tactical success or even ending a war on favorable military terms, it is what comes next. World War I was a military victory that became a grand strategic disaster.

It is critical to look beyond the current U.S. obsession with ISIS and look at the broader threat. If one looks at the most recent START statistics on terrorism in the State Department annual report on terrorism, and only considers the top five threats, three are clearly Islamist extremist: ISIS (in Syria and Iraq), the Taliban, and Boko Harum. There are more than 40 Islamist extremist groups listed in the START database, but if one looks only at these top three, ISIS was responsible for only 37% of the attacks and 38% of the deaths.

Yemen is a military and civil strategic nightmare. Yemen’s elected (one candidate) government, the remnants of the Saleh regime, the Houthi Shiite rebels, the separatist factions in the south, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and various tribal factions have no clear reason to reconcile or stop fighting. Any peace is almost certain to be temporary and unstable. Worse, Yemen is so poor, so limited in water, lacking in economic development, so tied to a narco-economy, and so highly populated that it has no clear path towards nation building its various factions can agree upon.

The issue is simplest in Libya. Libya has cooperated to some degree in fighting ISIS. Libya will need a decade of rebuilding and reform to produce true stability and raise its per capita income and income distribution to acceptable levels. This requires both stable internal politics and leadership, and serious international aid.

The fight against ISIS in Iraq has to some extent led both Arab and Kurd to focus on ISIS instead of their own ethnic power struggles, and led Turkey to accept the fact that the United States is using both the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds as lead elements in its fight against ISIS. Any defeat of ISIS in Iraq will also will trigger greater Sunni demands for a better solution to ensuring the protection and status of Iraqi Sunnis in Iraq’s major cities and mixed areas, and for resolving the future “federal” status of the Sunni-dominated portions of Western Iraq.

The end result could well be a U.S.-led military “victory” over ISIS that adds up to a serious U.S. strategic defeat. Without some effective civil-military effort to bring unity and recovery, the best outcome could be a hopelessly unstable mess. If the Obama Administration has such plans or such a strategy, it is one of the few well-kept secrets in Washington. Its absence, however, is a good way to leave office and ensure the next President gets most of the blame.

Syria is also an obvious mess with many factions, poverty and long term instability.

BBC and Critical Threats summarize the Yemen Situation

BBC News reports, Yemen is in the grip of its most severe crisis in years, as competing forces fight for control of the country.

Who is fighting whom?

In recent months Yemen has descended into conflicts between several different groups, pushing the country "to the edge of civil war", according to the UN's special adviser.

The main fight is between forces loyal to the beleaguered President, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, and those allied to Zaidi Shia rebels known as Houthis, who forced Mr Hadi to flee the capital Sanaa in February.

Yemen's security forces have split loyalties, with some units backing Mr Hadi, and others the Houthis and Mr Hadi's predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has remained politically influential. Mr Hadi is also supported in the predominantly Sunni south of the country by militia known as Popular Resistance Committees and local tribesmen.

Both President Hadi and the Houthis are opposed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has staged numerous deadly attacks from its strongholds in the south and south-east.

The picture is further complicated by the emergence in late 2014 of a Yemen affiliate of the jihadist group Islamic State, which seeks to eclipse AQAP and claims it carried out a series of suicide bombings in Sanaa in March 2015.

After rebel forces closed in on the president's southern stronghold of Aden in late March, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia responded to a request by Mr Hadi to intervene and launched air strikes on Houthi targets. The coalition comprises five Gulf Arab states and Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Sudan.

What happens in Yemen can greatly exacerbate regional tensions. It also worries the West because of the threat of attacks emanating from the country as it becomes more unstable.

Western intelligence agencies consider AQAP the most dangerous branch of al-Qaeda because of its technical expertise and global reach. The US has been carrying out operations, including drone strikes, against AQAP in Yemen with President Hadi's co-operation, but the Houthis' advance has meant the US campaign has been scaled back.

Yemen is strategically important because it sits on the Bab al-Mandab strait, a narrow waterway linking the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden, through which much of the world's oil shipments pass. Egypt and Saudi Arabia fear a Houthi takeover would threaten free passage through the strait.

Critical Threats.org has a Yemen situation report

October 12, 2016

Injectable Wires can prod individual brain cells and be safely stay in the brain for more than a year

Novel treatments for neurological diseases might be possible with a flexible mesh that can prod individual brain cells.

The meshes—about the length of a pen cap—are able to do something unprecedented: once injected into the brain of a living mouse, they can safely stimulate individual neurons and measure the cells’ behavior for more than a year.

Electronic brain interfaces like these could someday be crucial for people with neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s. The disease causes a group of neurons in one area of the brain to begin dying off, triggering uncontrollable tremors and shakes. Sending targeted electrical jolts to this area can help whip the living neurons back into shape and stop Parkinson’s symptoms.

The extremely flexible mesh, made of gold wires sandwiched between layers of a polymer, easily coils into a needle so it can be injected rather than implanted, avoiding a more extensive surgery. Part of the mesh sticks out though the brain and a hole in the skull so that it can be wired up to a computer that controls the electric jolts and measures the neurons’ activity. But eventually, Lieber says, the controls and power supply could be implanted in the body, as they are in today’s systems for deep brain stimulation.

The researchers foresee the mesh having many uses beyond Parkinson’s. It might help treat depression and schizophrenia more precisely than today’s drugs, which bathe the entire brain in chemicals and cause an array of side effects.

First, though, it needs to be tested in humans. Lieber’s group is partnering with doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital and will soon begin experiments in people with epilepsy

The device is flexible enough to be injected by a needle. The net-like structure prevents it from disrupting neurons too much once implanted.

Tennessee develop mach 4 wind tunnel and then upgrading to hypersonic mach 5

University of Tennessee Space Institute developing mach 4 wind tunnel and then will upgrade to hypersonic mach 5 wind tunnel

The Hypersonic Research Initiative is a large concept within the walls of UTSI, and the institute is looking to bring on a new field of study — never before seen at the institute.

Currently, researchers are using wind tunnels capable of Mach 2, or two times the speed of sound, to study different flow features and aerodynamics.

Soon, UTSI will be equipped to produce Mach 4, a supersonic speed, inside the largest wind tunnel in the academic world. While this ability will bring large amounts of research opportunities, the institute aspires higher, aiming to reach Mach 5, or hypersonic, at five times the speed of sound.

Recently, hypersonic aircrafts have become a popular topic throughout the nation. The U.S. Air Force announced plans to invest a large amount of resources into hypersonic aircrafts in hopes of beginning testing within the next five years.

In addition to the applications for hypersonics within this hemisphere, Schmisseur hopes the initiative will help extend space access by producing satellites for orbit or safely bringing astronauts home.

Overall, the multi-phase research plan will focus around detailed research on the fundamental aspects of high speed flows. Through this research, complex flow and shock wave studies will partner with experimental studies on high Mach speeds.

A new tunnel will be installed to produce Mach 4, with a focus on transferring to Mach 5 soon after. The transfer will not come easy.

“Once you get above Mach 4, the temperature drops and liquefies the air,” Advanced Research Labs Director Joel Davenport said. “To heat the air poses a much more difficult process.”

From Mach 4, researchers will study and learn the various aspects and mannerisms of the tunnel to prepare for Mach 5 and beyond.

John Wick 2 trailer and Doctor Strange Universes Within

John Wick 2 is out in February 2017

Doctor Strange is out November 4

Soybean nitrogen breakthrough could nearly double the production of soybeans and legumes which make up 30% of the world's crops

Washington State University biologist Mechthild Tegeder has developed a way to dramatically increase the yield and quality of soybeans.

Her greenhouse-grown soybean plants fix twice as much nitrogen from the atmosphere as their natural counterparts, grow larger and produce up to 36 percent more seeds.

Tegeder designed a novel way to increase the flow of nitrogen, an essential nutrient, from specialized bacteria in soybean root nodules to the seed-producing organs. She and Amanda Carter, a biological sciences graduate student, found the increased rate of nitrogen transport kicked the plants into overdrive.

Current Biology- Increasing Nitrogen Fixation and Seed Development in Soybean Requires Complex Adjustments of Nodule Nitrogen Metabolism and Partitioning Processes

• Increasing nodule ureide export improves nitrogen fixation and shoot nutrition
• UPS1 function is coupled with nodule metabolic and transport pathways
• Nitrogen partitioning processes and nodulation are linked
• Organic nitrogen transporters can be used in plant breeding and seed production


Legumes are able to access atmospheric di-nitrogen (N2) through a symbiotic relationship with rhizobia that reside within root nodules. In soybean, following N2 fixation by the bacteroids, ammonia is finally reduced in uninfected cells to allantoin and allantoic acid. These ureides present the primary long-distance transport forms of nitrogen (N), and are exported from nodules via the xylem for shoot N supply. Transport of allantoin and allantoic acid out of nodules requires the function of ureide permeases (UPS1) located in cells adjacent to the vasculature [2 and 3]. We expressed a common bean UPS1 transporter in cortex and endodermis cells of soybean nodules and found that delivery of N from nodules to shoot, as well as seed set, was significantly increased. In addition, the number of transgenic nodules was increased and symbiotic N2 fixation per nodule was elevated, indicating that transporter function in nodule N export is a limiting step in bacterial N acquisition. Further, the transgenic nodules showed considerable increases in nodule N assimilation, ureide synthesis, and metabolite levels. This suggests complex adjustments of nodule N metabolism and partitioning processes in support of symbiotic N2 fixation. We propose that the transgenic UPS1 plants display metabolic and allocation plasticity to overcome N2 fixation and seed yield limitations. Overall, it is demonstrated that transporter function in N export from nodules is a key step for enhancing atmospheric N2 fixation and nodule function and for improving shoot N nutrition and seed development in legumes.

US sending THAAD anti-missiles to South Korea and Korea is building three new fast guided missile patrol ships

The US military is to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) counter missile battery to the Republic of Korea (RoK) as quick as possible, the White House said on 10 October in response to an official protest. It is expected that a THAAD battery could deploy to South Korea sometime in 2017.

South Korean shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction (HHIC) announced on 12 October that it signed a KRW199.1 billion (USD177.10 million) contract with the country's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) for three additional 'B' variants of the Patrol Killer Experimental (PKX) fast attack craft.

The vessels, each of which can accommodate a crew of 20, will supplement an initial batch of 16 PKX-Bs currently being built for the Republic of Korea Navy. The ships are scheduled to be delivered by 2019.

The first PKX-B was launched on 28 July at HHIC's shipyard in Busan.

The 210-tonne platforms have an overall length of 44 m, an overall beam of 7 m, and are lighter and faster than the previous generation of PKX-A guided-missile patrol boats that HHIC delivered in 2005.

As well as being more manoeuvrable, the new vessels will carry 76 mm artillery, long-range guided missiles and two remote-controlled 12.7 mm machine guns. Propelled by water jets, the craft has a top speed of 40 kt

Japan making progress with domestic stealth fighter and plans for unmanned wingmen robotics support fighters

The main flight-test program of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) X-2 fighter technology demonstrator will begin within weeks, following three months of ground testing.

The Mitsubishi X-2 Shinshin is a Japanese experimental aircraft for testing advanced stealth fighter aircraft technologies. It is being developed by the Japanese Ministry of Defense Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) for research purposes. Many consider this aircraft to be Japan's first domestically made stealth fighter.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense has released new details about its plans for future unmanned aircraft that would fly in supporting roles, aiding piloted fighters in the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force, or JASDF. Specifically, JASDF is hoping to add two distinct craft to its fleet: unmanned wingmen that would fly in formation with and receive commands from a pilot in a conventional fighter, and a high-flying ballistic-missile defense (BMD) aircraft that would use sensor arrays to track missile threats.

The BMD aircraft is slated to enter service around 2030, while the the first iteration of the unmanned wingman—which will fly ahead of fighters as a sensor carrier—is to be developed in the next 15 to 20 years. A second version of the unmanned wingman that will fire munitions and act as a missile sponge, directing incoming threats toward itself and away from the manned fighter, will be developed with the same airframe and engine as the sensor carrier if all goes according to plan.

Given the difficulty of programming an autonomous system with the aerial maneuvers necessary for successful air-to-air engagements, most countries have focused on air-to-surface platforms for unmanned aircraft. Japan, however, seems to be more optimistic and hopes the unmanned craft can fly alongside its advanced stealth fighter aircraft, the F-3, which is currently under development with a planned production date in 2027.

A mockup of Japan's unmanned ballistic-missile detector aircraft design. Japanese Defense Ministry

Japan will have a robotic version of Goose from Top Gun

Flyt Aerospace seeks to use multiple drone engines to make personal flying car like drones

Flyt Aerospace has flown a person using a personal vertical take off and landing inside a hanger. They are taking commercial drone flight systems and combining them for personal flight.

Their next prototype will have 12 larger engines and should have a 30 minute flight time.

They envision using it for
- personal commuter flying
- personal tourism
- Emergency Services
- Military
- Cargo and Other applications

They are bootstrapping and are seeking various kinds of help

Beyond Exaflop supercomputers will require new materials, new architectures, new memory and quantum computers

Eurolab HPC tries to assess the future disruptive technology for high performance computing beyond Exascale computers

They survey the currents state of research and development and its potential for the future of the following hardware technologies:
CMOS scaling
Die stacking and 3D chip technologies
Non-volatile Memory (NVM) technologies
Resistive Computing
Neuromorphic Computing
Quantum Computing
Graphene and
Diamond Transistors

They categorize the technologies as:
o Sustaining technologies: CMOS scaling and Die stacking
o Disruptive technologies that potentially create a new line of HPC hardware: NVM and Photonics
o Disruptive technologies that potentially create alternative ways of computing: Resistive, Neuromorphic, and Quantum Computing
o Disruptive technologies that potentially replace CMOS for processor logic: Nanotube, Graphene, and Diamond technologies

China stabilizes GDP growth at about 6.5-7%

China's economy performed better than expected in the third quarter and the country's debt risks are under control, Premier Li Keqiang said on Tuesday.

"China's economy in the third quarter not only extended growth momentum in the first half but showed many positive changes," Li said in the speech in Macau that was broadcast live on state television.

Key indicators such as factory output, company profits and investment have rebounded, he said, ahead of China's release of third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) data on Oct. 19.

More than 10 million new urban jobs were created in the first nine months, with the survey-based jobless rate falling below 5 percent in September, he said, while acknowledging that the economy still faces downward pressure.

China will be able to achieve its main economic targets this year and maintain medium- to high-speed growth, he said.

The government is aiming for annual economic growth of 6.5-7 percent in 2016, compared with 6.9 percent in 2015, the slowest expansion in a quarter of a century.

Despite a rocky start to the year and stubbornly weak exports, China's economy grew 6.7 percent in the first half, buoyed by higher government infrastructure spending and a housing market frenzy which is beginning to raise fears of overheating. HSBC expects a similar rate of expansion in third quarter.

Wall Street Journal survey economists and they are concerned about China's housing bubble

Stimulus measures appear to have stabilized China’s economy over the past few months, but the government now faces a resulting housing bubble that it needs to contain without choking off growth, economists say.

Dwarf planet detected three times farther than Pluto

A new dwarf planet has been found and it is 330 miles across and some 8.5 billion miles from the sun. It takes 1,100 years to complete one orbit.

David Gerdes of the University of Michigan led the team that found the new dwarf planet. They used a special camera called the Dark Energy Camera that the U.S. Department of Energy commissioned to make a map of distant galaxies. Software was developed to compare observations over many months to detect movement (which indicates planets and asteroids and not distant stars).

The Dark Energy Camera, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy to make a map of distant galaxies, is mounted on the Blanco Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in the Chilean Andes.
Reidar Hahn/Courtesy of The Dark Energy Survey

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 329

1. Neutron Bytes - Dan Yurman, U.S. Navy Sets Plans to Upgrade Idaho Spent Fuel Facility

The Naval Reactors facility needs a new wet storage facility to cool off spent fuel from its nuclear propulsion program.

The Navy and U.S. Department of Energy want to build a $1.6 billion facility at a nuclear site in eastern Idaho that would handle fuel waste from the nation’s fleet of nuclear-powered warships through at least 2060.

The new facility would be built at the Energy Department’s 890-square-mile Idaho National Laboratory, the nation’s primary lab for commercial nuclear energy research.

The Navy’s plan is sure to set off a significant response from anti-nuclear groups and two ex-governors who have stridently opposed any new spent nuclear fuel, from any source, being brought to the state.

2. Nextbigfuture - Update on the Liquid Fluoride Thorium reactor projects.

The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor is a type of Molten Salt Reactor. Molten Salt Reactors are Generation IV nuclear fission reactors that use molten salt as either the primary reactor coolant or as the fuel itself; they trace their origin to a series of experiments directed by Alvin Weinberg at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The LFTR is differentiated from other variants of the MSR by the fact that it runs on thorium rather than uranium, thorium being an element that is fertile rather than fissile, and which will transmute to fissile uranium-233 upon exposure to neutrons.

China and the USA (Flibe Energy) are working to develop LFTR reactors.

October 11, 2016

President Obama declares goal of sending humans to Mars by 2030 but does not announce any significant budget for the goal

President declares the goal of sending humans to Mars by 2030

We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America's story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time. Getting to Mars will require continued cooperation between government and private innovators, and we're already well on our way. Within the next two years, private companies will for the first time send astronauts to the International Space Station.

The next step is to reach beyond the bounds of Earth's orbit. I'm excited to announce that we are working with our commercial partners to build new habitats that can sustain and transport astronauts on long-duration missions in deep space. These missions will teach us how humans can live far from Earth -- something we'll need for the long journey to Mars.

This week, we'll convene some of America's leading scientists, engineers, innovators and students in Pittsburgh to dream up ways to build on our progress and find the next frontiers.

Possible extraterrestrial intelligence evidence - Peculiar periodic spectral modulations 234 solar type stars out of 2.5 million stars

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey has analyzed 2.5 million stars and is seeing very short light pulses along with normal light spectrums from their stars. The brief light pulses seen at 234 out of 2.5 million stars is consistent with a high power laser (which our current technology is capable of making) and shining in the direction of other stars. This method of signaling and detection was written in a prior 2012 research paper.

A Fourier transform analysis of 2.5 million spectra in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey was carried out to detect periodic spectral modulations. Signals having the same period were found in only 234 stars overwhelmingly in the F2 to K1 spectral range. The signals cannot be caused by instrumental or data analysis effects because they are present in only a very small fraction of stars within a narrow spectral range and because signal to noise ratio considerations predict that the signal should mostly be detected in the brightest objects, while this is not the case. We consider several possibilities, such as rotational transitions in molecules, rapid pulsations, Fourier transform of spectral lines and signals generated by Extraterrestrial Intelligence (ETI). They cannot be generated by molecules or rapid pulsations. It is highly unlikely that they come from the Fourier transform of spectral lines because too many strong lines located at nearly periodic frequencies are needed. Finally we consider the possibility, predicted in a previous published paper, that the signals are caused by light pulses generated by Extraterrestrial Intelligence to makes us aware of their existence. We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an ETI signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis. The fact that they are only found in a very small fraction of stars within a narrow spectral range centered near the spectral type of the sun is also in agreement with the ETI hypothesis. However, at this stage, this hypothesis needs to be confirmed with further work. Although unlikely, there is also a possibility that the signals are due to highly peculiar chemical compositions in a small fraction of galactic halo stars.

The objects listed in Tables 1 and 2 should also be observed with large telescopes to obtain spectra with high resolutions and high signal to noise ratios that would allow studying the signals in greater details to definitely confirm that they are not data reduction or instrumental effects.

They considered the possibility that the signals are caused by intensity pulses generated by Extraterrestrial Intelligence (ETI), as suggested by Borra (2012), to make us aware of their existence. The shape of the detected signals has exactly the shape predicted by Borra (2012). The ETI hypothesis is strengthened by the fact that the signals are found in stars having spectral types within a narrow spectral range centered near the G2 spectral type of the sun. Intuitively, we would expect stars having a spectral type similar to the sun to be more likely to have planets capable of having ETI. This is a complex and highly speculative issue (see Lammer et al. 2009) and we shall not delve on it. Let us however note that all of the active optical SETI observational projects listed in Tarter (2001) search for signals in Solar-type stars. Reines and Marcy (2002) and Howard et al. (2004) searched for signals generated by lasers in nearby solar stars. In particular, let us note that Howard et al. (2004) searched for nanosecond optical pulses from nearby solar stars

The ETI hypothesis requires that all different ETI transmitters choose to broadcast with the same time separation of pulses and one may wonder why they do so. This is a highly speculative issue that may have several explanations. A possible explanation that makes sense is that all ETI use the same time separation to make it clear that the pulses all come from ETI.

Part of 6 pages of 234 stars with periodic spectral modifications

Arxiv - Searching for extraterrestrial intelligence signals in astronomical spectra, including existing data [Borra 2012]

At first sight, one may question the validity of the ETI hypothesis because of the energy required to send the pulses to distant stars. The energy issue is discussed in Borra (2012) that shows that technology presently available on Earth could be used to send signals having the energy needed to be detected 1000 light years away. Obviously, more advanced civilizations would have technologies capable to generate much stronger signals; Borra (2012) elaborates on this. As an illustration of this, just imagine how the suggestion made by Borra (2012) would have been considered if submitted in 1950, before the invention of the laser, when it would have suggested the use of a light bulb to send the signal.

At this stage, the ETI generation of the spectral modulation is a hypothesis that needs to be confirmed with further work. This can be done by repeatedly observing the stars in Tables 1 and 2 with photoelectric detectors capable of detecting very rapid intensity signals. However ETI may not necessarily send us pulses at all times so that a lack of detections in some stars may not necessarily signify that ETI does not exist. The reason why ETI may not send pulses
at all times may simply come from the fact that the signals must be sent to a very large number of stars so that too much energy would be required to send pulses to all stars at all times. The kind of signal that we have detected can be generated by pairs of pulses that have the same time separation t but with the pairs sent with time separations significantly larger than (Borra 2012). One could therefore look for the ETI pulses using techniques similar to the one described in Leeb et al. (2013) because pairs of pulses separated by a constant value of t = 1.6465 10^-13 seconds could be sent with a periodicity having a period much larger than t (e.g. 10^-6 seconds). Leeb et al. (2013) estimate that a telescope having a 1.7-m diameter could detect signals from a G2V star 500 ly distant so that this type of signal could be detected in stars to distances as large as 2000 ly with existing telescopes. However the detected stars in Tables 1 and 2 are at distances greater than 8000 ly, so that a 30-m telescope would be needed to observe the stars listed in tables 1 and 2

The SDSS uses a dedicated 2.5-meter f/5 modified Ritchey-Chrétien altitude-azimuth telescope located at Apache Point Observatory, in south east New Mexico. The scope is about 4 times taller than a regular person

The new fourth phase of the SDSS will include observations from the Southern Hemisphere for the first time. The southern observations will be taken from the Irénée du Pont Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in northern Chile (Latitude 29° 0′ 52.56″ S, Longitude 70° 41′ 33.36″ W, Elevation 2380m). The du Pont telescope is a Ritchey-Chrétien 2.5-meter f/7.5 telescope with a Gascoigne corrector lens.

Pulse-radio technology design for 1-terabit wireless

Rice University wireless researchers are taking a page from radio inventor Guglielmo Marconi to create the first laser-free, wireless system capable of delivering 1 terabit of data per second.

Such a speed would be more than 20,000 times faster than today’s top 4G wireless networks and about 20 times faster than the U.S.’ speediest home internet services. A terabit is 1 trillion bits of information. A 1 terabit-per-second signal could simultaneously stream about 200,000 high-definition movies.

“Breaking the terabit-per-second barrier with radio will enable an entirely new set of wireless applications and communication paradigms,” said Edward Knightly, professor and chair of Rice’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and principal investigator on a new $1.3 million, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop terabit wireless technology.

This silicon-germanium chip converts a digital trigger to a 5-picosecond pulse of radiation with a frequency spectrum exceeding 1 terahertz. The chip supports a repetition rate up to 10 gigahertz, provides beam-steering capability and contains a two-by-four array of transmitters with antennas that can each be independently programmed with resolution steps of 300 femtoseconds. (Photo by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)

Rice University engineering researchers Aydin Babakhani (left) and Edward Knightly are taking a page from the radio inventor Guglielmo Marconi to create the first laser-free, wireless system capable of delivering 1 terabit of data per second. (Photo by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)

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