November 26, 2016

$7.5 billion destroyer lost propulsion in port shaft crossing Panama canal

USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) is pier side following an engineering casualty the ship suffered transiting the Panama Canal. The guided missile destroyer will undergo repairs at a former U.S. naval station until its fit to complete its journey to Naval Station San Diego, Calif., U.S. 3rd Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry told USNI News.

The ship was in the midst of a southbound transit through the canal when it suffered the casualty, Under orders from U.S. 3rd Fleet commander Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, Zumwalt is now stopped for repairs at the former U.S. Naval Station Rodman

A defense official told USNI News on Tuesday the repairs could take up to ten days.

The ship lost propulsion in its port shaft during the transit and the crew saw water intrusion in two of the four bearings that connect to Zumwalt’s port and starboard Advanced Induction Motors (AIMs) to the drive shafts, a defense official told USNI News on Tuesday. The AIMs are the massive electrical motors that are driven by the ship’s gas turbines and in turn electrically power the ship’s systems and drive the shafts.

Before the casualty, the ship was set to arrive in San Diego by the end of the year and start weapon system activation period before joining the fleet as an operational warship sometime in 2018.

Zumwalt is the first of three in the $22-billion class. Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) and Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002) are currently under construction at BIW.

India will try to build up from slow and overcrowded trains to modern high speed rail

Indian Railways carries 23 million people daily on congested and aging tracks with roots dating back to British colonial rule. Sometimes, trains slow to a walking pace. India's Prime Minister Modi plans to spend 8.5 trillion rupees ($137 billion) through 2020 on new tracks, including bullet trains and modern stations, as he looks to spur a manufacturing boom.

The project Japan is backing will see the financial capital Mumbai linked by a 508-kilometer (316-mile) high-speed track to the economic hub of Ahmedabad, the largest city in Modi’s home state of Gujarat. Japan has agreed to provide loans to cover up to 81 percent of the cost of one of India’s biggest infrastructure endeavors.

While Japan is happy to divvy up the huge market for urban transit in increasingly traffic-choked cities across Asia, Abe wants to take the lead in high-speed rail, according to Hiroto Izumi, an adviser to the prime minister who has been negotiating the rail deal with India. He said it’s important to get a foothold in Asia’s second-most populous country to outpace China, Japan’s primary competitor.

Japan’s sales pitch revolves around quality: its network boasts a record of zero fatal accidents in more than half-century of history. Izumi said Japan’s relatively high initial costs can be offset by lower repair expenses over a lifespan of decades.

Intel will deliver 100X increase in deep learning training

Diane Bryant, executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group at Intel, says the Intel Nervana platforms will “produce breakthrough performance and dramatic reductions in the time to train complex neural networks.” She predicted that Intel would deliver a 100x increase in performance of deep learning training.

Last week at SC16, Intel revealed its product roadmap for embedding its processors with key capabilities and attributes needed to take artificial intelligence (AI) to the next level.

Intel will test the first AI-specific hardware, code-named “Lake Crest,” in the first half of 2017, with limited availability later in the year. Lake Crest will be optimized for running neural network workloads, and will feature “unprecedented compute density with a high-bandwidth interconnect.”

Intel has been moving strongly into the deep learning area with several key acquisitions, including Nervana; Movidus Systems, a developer of low-power machine vision technology that it bought in September; and Saffron Technology, a developer of “natural learning” solution profiled in Datanami.

Intel revealed details about other hardware initiatives, including the next generation of Intel Xeon Phi co-processors, code-named “Knights Mill,” which will deliver up to 4x better performance than the previous generation for deep learning. Those Knights Mill chips will be available in 2017.

If Intel can execute on and deliver what they said they would do today, Intel will be a future player in AI.”

While GPUs are doing most of the “heavy lifting” for deep neural net training today, there’s no reason why Intel — which acquired FPGA manufacturer Altera in 2015 — can’t influence the technological direction that AI follows.

There are stable hydrous water bearing minerals 1000 kilometers deep in the Earth and hold over three times the water of the oceans

High-pressure silicates can incorporate water as OH-defects into their crystal structures, with some major consequences for their physical properties. Minerals within the transition region of the mantle from 410-660 km depth could contain the majority of our planet's water and acted to control surface waters over geologic time.

Researchers have found the first direct evidence for water-bearing fluids in the uppermost lower mantle from natural ferropericlase crystal contained within a diamond from São Luíz, Brazil. The ferropericlase exhibits exsolution of magnesioferrite, which places the origin of this assemblage in the uppermost part of the lower mantle. The presence of brucite–Mg(OH)2 precipitates in the ferropericlase crystal reflects the later-stage quenching of H2O-bearing fluid likely in the transition zone, which has been trapped during the inclusion process in the lower mantle. Dehydration melting may be one of the key processes involved in transporting water across the boundary between the upper and lower mantle.

• Direct evidence for water-bearing fluids in the uppermost lower mantle.
• Exsolution of magnesioferrite from ferropericlase starts in the lower mantle.
• Brucite precipitates reflect the later-stage quenching of H2O-bearing fluids trapped in the lower mantle.
• Dehydration melting is a key process in transport of water across the 660 km discontinuity.

Analysis of a mineral inclusion in a 90-million-years-old diamond revealed that the Earth’s mantle might hide a lot more water than we believed, buried as deep as 1,000 kilometers below the surface.

Water exists far deeper in the Earth than scientists previously thought. Mookherjee and Andreas Hermann from the University of Edinburgh estimate that in the deep Earth—roughly 400 to 600 kilometers into the mantle—water is stored and transported through a high-pressure polymorph of the mineral brucite.

Previously, scientists thought brucite was not thermodynamically stable that deep in the Earth. "This opens up a Pandora's Box for us," Mookherjee said. this discovery of a new high-pressure phase of brucite indicates that water could be efficiently transported to far deeper realms without decomposition.

PNAS - High-pressure phase of brucite stable at Earth’s mantle transition zone and lower mantle conditions

Significance - High-pressure phase of brucite stable at Earth’s mantle transition zone and lower mantle conditions

Hydrous minerals help transport water deep into Earth’s mantle, and form part of a cycle that regulates the sustained presence of surface water on Earth. To understand the deep-water cycle, it is crucial to study the properties of hydrous minerals under the conditions present in Earth’s mantle. Brucite is one of the simplest hydrous minerals and stores significant amounts of water as hydroxyl groups. It is assumed to decompose in the mantle transition zone, but we show here that a more compact high-pressure phase is stabilized instead that pushes the stability region of brucite into the lower mantle. Brucite might be present in much larger quantities, and play a larger role in water transport and storage, than previously thought.

Abstract - High-pressure phase of brucite stable at Earth’s mantle transition zone and lower mantle conditions

We investigate the high-pressure phase diagram of the hydrous mineral brucite, Mg(OH)2, using structure search algorithms and ab initio simulations. We predict a high-pressure phase stable at pressure and temperature conditions found in cold subducting slabs in Earth’s mantle transition zone and lower mantle. This prediction implies that brucite can play a much more important role in water transport and storage in Earth’s interior than hitherto thought. The predicted high-pressure phase, stable in calculations between 20 and 35 GPa and up to 800 K, features MgO6 octahedral units arranged in the anatase–TiO2 structure. Our findings suggest that brucite will transform from a layered to a compact 3D network structure before eventual decomposition into periclase and ice. We show that the high-pressure phase has unique spectroscopic fingerprints that should allow for straightforward detection in experiments. The phase also has distinct elastic properties that might make its direct detection in the deep Earth possible with geophysical methods.

Water exists one-third of the way to the Earth’s core. A 90 million year old diamond from a volcano near the São Luíz river in Juina, Brazil has a sealed inclusion, an imperfection in the stone. It contains minerals trapped by the forming diamond.

Through infrared microscopy, scientists analyzing the material found it included hydroxyl ions in its chemical make-up, a compound usually formed from water molecules. And there were a lot of these ions present in the inclusion.

They found it was mainly composed of ferropericlase, a mixture of iron and magnesium oxide which can absorb some other metals, such as chromium, aluminum, and titanium, in the extremely hot and pressurized environment of the lower mantle. Jacobsen found that these “extra” metals had separated from the ferropericlase, a phenomena that can only take place in milder conditions as the diamond inches towards the surface. Based on the composition, they estimate the inclusion formed at around 1,000 kilometers deep. The inclusion was sealed in the diamond since the beginning, and for the metals to be present at all, it had to have originated in the lower mantle. That means the water signature can only come from the lower mantle.

Ringwoodite is polymorphous with forsterite, (Mg)2SiO4, and has a spinel structure. Spinel group minerals crystallize in the isometric system with an octahedral habit. Olivine is most abundant in the upper mantle, above about 410 km (250 mi); the olivine polymorphs wadsleyite and ringwoodite are thought to dominate the transition zone of the mantle, a zone present from about 410 to 660 km depth.

Ringwoodite is thought to be the most abundant mineral phase in the lower part of Earth’s transition zone. The physical and chemical property of this mineral partly determine properties of the mantle at those depths. The pressure range for stability of ringwoodite lies in the approximate range from 18 to 23 GPa.

An ultra-deep diamond found in Juína, Mato Grosso in western Brazil, contained inclusions of ringwoodite—the only known sample of natural terrestrial origin—thus providing evidence of significant amounts of water as hydroxide in the Earth's mantle. The gemstone, about 5mm long, was blasted up from the depths by a diatreme eruption. The ringwoodite inclusion is too small to see with the eye. The mantle reservoir is found to contain about three times more water, in the form of hydroxide contained within the wadsleyite and ringwoodite crystal structure, than the Earth's oceans combined

Japanese and other researchers also are helping illuminate the deep water cycle

AMD APU roadmap to 7 nanometers in 2019

The following are the leaked AMD codenames that are part of the Avian APU roadmap:

Gray Hawk: 7nm APU based on Zen+ architecture.
Snowy Owl: 14nm APU based on Naples.
Horned Owl: 14nm APU based on Zen cores, will succeed Raven Ridge.
Banded Kestrel: 14nm APU, roughly half of Horned Owl.

Horned Owl and Banded Kestrel are both part of the mainstream APU roadmap and will be built on the 14nm FinFET process from GlobalFoundries/Samsung. Horned Owl is the mainstream portion that will be succeeding the Raven Ridge platform

Snowy Owl is a server class APU based on a cut down version of the Naples processor, which is itself based on the Zeppelin die.

The Gray Hawk APU will be the next-next generation APU built on the 7nm process and will be rocking the Zen+ architecture. This uArch is the successor to the upcoming Zen architecture and will be manufactured on either TSMC’s or GloFo’s 7nm process.

AI Supercomputing era has arrived and FP16 exaflop supercomputers in 2018

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia made a strong showing at SC16 in Salt Lake City last week. Most prominent wins were achieving the number one spot on the Green500 list with new in-house DGX-1 supercomputer, SaturnV, and partnering with the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and several national laboratories to accelerate cancer research as part of the Cancer Moonshot initiative.

The company kicked off its SC activities with a press briefing on Monday (Nov. 14), during which CEO Jen-Hsun Huang characterized 2016 as a tipping point for the GPU computing approach popularized by Nvidia for over a decade.

Not surprisingly, Huang’s main message was that the GPU computing era has arrived. Throughout the hour-long talk, Huang would revisit the theme of deep learning as both a supercomputing problem and a supercomputing opportunity.

November 25, 2016

Carnival of Space 484

Carnival of Space 484 is up at Everyday Spacer

Universe Today - New Theory of Gravity Does Away With Need for Dark Matter

Unlike the traditional view of gravity as a fundamental force of nature, Verlinde sees it as an emergent property of space. Emergence is a process where nature builds something large using small, simple pieces such that the final creation exhibits properties that the smaller bits don’t. Take a snowflake. The complex symmetry of a snowflake begins when a water droplet freezes onto a tiny dust particle. As the growing flake falls, water vapor freezes onto this original crystal, naturally arranging itself into a hexagonal (six-sided) structure of great beauty. The sensation of temperature is another emergent phenomenon, arising from the motion of molecules and atoms.

The more massive the object, the more it distorts space-time, shown here as the green mesh. Earth orbits the Sun by rolling around the dip created by the Sun’s mass in the fabric of space-time. It doesn’t fall into the Sun because it also possesses forward momentum. Credit: LIGO/T. Pyle

Universe Today - Pluto Has a Subsurface ‘Antifreeze’ Ocean

This cutaway image of Pluto shows a section through the area of Sputnik Planitia, with dark blue representing a subsurface ocean and light blue for the frozen crust. Artwork by Pam Engebretson, courtesy of UC Santa Cruz.

Nextbigfuture - Space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow said Nov. 17 that he believes that the Trump administration should as much as double NASA’s budget in the coming years and make plans for a human return to the moon.

The Obama administration, in its fiscal year 2017 budget proposal, requested $19 billion for NASA, less than half a percent of the overall request of more than $4 trillion.

Nextbigfuture - NASA is requesting help to minimize the production, operations, and maintenance (POM) costs of the Space Launch System (SLS), Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS).

SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft are costing more than $3 billion per year in development costs.

The request would also look at other launch systems. Clearly Spacex offers a lower cost alternative

This request is likely a signal to the Trump administration that NASA is willing to look at other rockets instead of the ridiculously overpriced Space Launch System.

Nextbigfuture - Planetary Resources, Inc., the asteroid mining company, announced today that it has finalized a 25 million euro agreement that includes direct capital investment of 12 million euros and grants of 13 million euros from the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the banking institution Société Nationale de Crédit et d’Investissement (SNCI). The funding will accelerate the company’s technical advancements with the aim of launching the first commercial asteroid prospecting mission by 2020.

Japan will build a 130 petaflop AI cloud infrastructure supercomputer in 2017

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will spend 19.5 billion yen ($173 million) to build a 130 petaflop supercomputer in 2017. It will be called the AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure (ABCI).

The US is also planning to build a 200-250 petaflop supercomputer dedicated for Artificial intelligence in 2017

ABCI will be an open innovation platform with computing resources of more than hundred petaflops for world-class AI R and D. Through industry and academia collaboration, Algorithms, Big Data, and Computing Power will be leveraged in a single common public platform.

ABCI will rapidly accelerate the deployment of AI into real businesses and society.

It will offer extreme computing power with more than hundred petaflops tailored for AI, ML (Machine Learning) and DL (Deep Learning)

With deployment planned for the AIST facility at the Kashiwa Campus of the University of Tokyo, the machine will be constrained by power and available space. The AIST design document calls for extreme energy efficiency in the 3 Megawatt machine with a PUE rating of 1.1. With additional budget, power, and space, Matsuoka claims the architecture could scale to 2 Exaflops at just 30 Megawatts.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for companies, bureaucrats and the political class to work more closely together so Japan can win in robotics, batteries, renewable energy and other new and growing markets.

Cloud Infrastructure

Big Data and HPC integrated in modern design for advanced data analytics, scientific simulation, etc.
Ultra high bandwidth and low latency in memory, network and storage for accelerating various AI workloads
Open hardware and software architecture with accelerator support based on commodity devices
Wide-ranging Big Data and HPC standard software stacks for cloud ecosystem
Multi-petabyte-class shareable big data storage for AI R and D collaboration
Advanced cloud-based operation including dynamic deployment, container based virtualized provisioning, multitenant partitioning, automatic failure recovery, etc

Billionaire Broad Group CEO still adamant that 838 meter tall Skycity skyscraper will be built

Broad Group CEO Zhang still is still adamant that the 838 meter tall Skycity will be built.

“Construction is one of the most polluting of all industries but I can make the most environmentally sound buildings for half the price and 10 times the speed of anyone else,” Mr Zhang says.

He believes his company, Broad Group, which he founded in the late 1980s making boilers and air-conditioning units, and where he remains chairman and CEO, will eventually control 30 per cent of the global construction industry with its revolutionary but largely unproven technology.

Up until 2015, a total investment of more than 666 million USD has been invested for research and development, and more than 30 pilot and commercial projects have been completed

As factory-made technology is used, the efficiency of production, installation, logistics has become 6-10 times higher and material waste is next to zero, the total cost is 20-40% lower than that of conventional buildings.

The 57 story miniskycity was supposed to be 97 stories tall but had to have reduced height because of limitations near the airport.

Environment Value

BSB’s (Broad Sustainable Building) core value sticks to “7 sustainable principles”:
(1) 90% factory-made (construction waste less than 1%)
(2) 5 times more energy efficient
(3) PM2.5 filtration by 99%
(4) Withstand a 9.0 magnitude earthquake
(5) land saving (a focus only on high-rises)
(6) material saving ( all steel structure, recyclable)
(7) durable (e.g. stainless steel pipes for water supply, air-conditioning and fire protection).

Six Country coal energy phase out plans to 2030 is 3% of current world coal usage

Six countries have all recently announced the imminent phase-out of all coal-fired power plants.

Germany     270 TWh from coal, plan to phase out by 2050, half by 2030
Canada       76 TWh from coal, plan to phase out by 2030
France       10 TWh from coal, plan to phase out by 2023
Netherlands  25 TWh from coal, plant to phase out by 2030
Austria      7 TWh, plans to phase out by 2025
Finland      10 TWh, plans to phase out by 2030

The six countries will phase out 265 TWh of coal power by 2030 and 400 TWh of coal power by 2050.

The world used 8716 TWh of coal power in 2014. The world is currently using 9000 TWh of coal power.

The pledges if met will mean 3% of current coal power would be phased out by 2030.

Coal power usage is still expected to increase to 12000 TWh in 2040.

The key to the future of coal power is how much coal is used in China, India and other emerging economies in Asia and Africa and if there is a radical transformation with solar power and batteries.

There are some predictions of massive renewable energy buildup.

It should be very clear by 2024 if the massive renewable buildout scenario is developing.

There should be nearly a dozen Tesla (or competing) gigabattery factories then.
China would have to rolled back coal plant buildout and begun exporting non-coal generated electricity on any Asian supergrid.

China successfully fires radical 300+ mile range hypersonic missile that would put key parts of US air operations at risk

In November 2016, a Chinese J-16 strike fighter test-fired a larger and longer range hypersonic missile and successfully destroying the target drone at a very long range.

The missile is about 28 percent of the length of the J-16, which measures 22 meters (about 72 feet). The puts the missile at about 19 feet, and roughly 13 inches in diameter. The missile appears to have four tailfins. Reports are that the size would put into the category of a very long range air to air missile (VLRAAM) with ranges exceeding 300 km (roughly 186 miles), likely max out between 250 and 310 miles. (As a point of comparison, the smaller 13.8-foot, 15-inch-diameter Russian R-37 missile has a 249-mile range).

This missile would easily outrange any American (or other NATO) air-to-air missile.

The VLRAAM's powerful rocket engine will push it to Mach 6 speeds, which will increase the no escape zone (NEZ), that is the area where a target cannot outrun the missile, against even supersonic targets like stealth fighters.

The VLRAAM is one of the world's largest air to air missiles. Its other advanced features include an AESA radar, a infrared/electro-optical seeker (under the yellow-orange cover on the forward section above the nosecone), and satellite navigation midcourse correction.

Large radar able to detect stealth targets

The new, larger missile's added value is not just in range. It has a large active electronically scanned (AESA) radar, which is used in the terminal phase of flight to lock onto the target. The AESA radar's large size—about 300-400% larger than that of most long range air-to-air missiles—and digital adaptability makes it highly effective against distant and stealthy targets, and resilient against electronic countermeasures like jamming and spoofing.

Another researched VLRAAM function is datalinking; the papers called for the VLRAAM to be embedded within a highly integrated combat networks. It is envisioned as just part of a larger wave of networked solutions aggregated through multiple Chinese systems. For example, a J-20 stealth fighter wouldn't mount the missile (the VLRAAM is too large to fit in the J-20's weapons bay), but could use its low observable features to fly relatively close in order to detect enemy assets like AEW and C aircraft (which are vital to gather battlespace data for manned and unmanned assets, but subsonic in speed and less able to evade missiles). Then before breaking off contact, the J-20 would signal a J-16 400 km (249 miles) away (outside the range of most air to air missiles) providing it the data needed to launch the VLRAAM at the target. This would offer China a longer range version of present U.S. tactics that involve using the fifth generation F-22 as a sensor for 4th generation fighters as the "shooters."

Canada buying eighteen F/A 18 Super Hornets to save $500 million vs same number of F-35s

Canada will instead acquire 18 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets to augment its aging fleet of 77 CF-18 Hornets instead of buying F-35s.

The competition to replace the CF-18s — a smaller, lighter version of the more modern and heavily-armed Super Hornet — will now reopen.

Canada might buy F-35s around 2025 or they could buy more Super Hornets and their advanced sensors.

The Boeing F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet are twin-engine carrier-capable multirole fighter aircraft variants based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The F/A-18E single-seat and F/A-18F tandem-seat variants are larger and more advanced derivatives of the F/A-18C and D Hornet. The Super Hornet has an internal 20 mm M61 rotary cannon and can carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons. Additional fuel can be carried in up to five external fuel tanks and the aircraft can be configured as an airborne tanker by adding an external air refueling system.

Survivability is an important feature of the Super Hornet design. The U.S. Navy took a "balanced approach" to survivability in its design. This means that it does not rely on very low-observable technology, i.e. stealth. Instead, its design incorporates a combination of signature reduction, advanced electronic-warfare capabilities, reduced ballistic vulnerability, the use of standoff weapons, and innovative tactics that collectively enhance the safety of the fighter and crew in an affordable manner.

The F/A-18E/F's radar cross-section was reduced greatly from some aspects, mainly the front and rear. The design of the engine inlets reduces the aircraft's frontal radar cross-section. The alignment of the leading edges of the engine inlets is designed to scatter radiation to the sides. Fixed fanlike reflecting structures in the inlet tunnel divert radar energy away from the rotating fan blades.

The Super Hornet employs reportedly the most extensive radar cross section reduction measures of any contemporary fighter, other than the F-22 and F-35 as of 2004. While the F/A-18E/F is not a stealth fighter like the F-22, it will have a frontal radar cross-section an order of magnitude smaller than prior generation fighters.

In September 2013, Boeing provided Canada with cost and capability data for its Advanced F/A-18 Super Hornet, suggesting that a fleet of 65 aircraft would cost $1.7 billion less than a fleet of F-35s. The Advanced Super Hornet builds upon the existing Super Hornet. The U.S. Navy buys Super Hornets for $52 million per aircraft, while the advanced version would cost $6–$10 million more per aircraft, depending on options selected.


Maximum speed: Mach 1.8 (1,190 mph, 1,915 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
Range: 1,275 nmi (2,346 km) clean plus two AIM-9s
Combat radius: 390 nmi (449 mi, 722 km) for interdiction mission
Ferry range: 1,800 nmi (2,070 mi, 3,330 km)
Service ceiling: 50,000+ ft (15,000+ m)
Rate of climb: 44,882 ft/min[169] (228 m/s)

F35C will be operational on aircraft carriers starting 2018 and there will be 60 by 2021

The US Navy's F-35C is the services' first-ever stealthy carrier-launched multi-role attack fighter -- slated to be operational in 2018. The Navy F-35C is the services' first-ever stealthy carrier-launched multi-role attack fighter, engineered to perform a wider range of missions than any carrier aircraft has done before.

The emergence of a first-of-its kind carrier-launched stealth fighter is intended to give the Navy more combat attack flexibility and attack sophisticated enemy air defenses or fortified targets from a sea-based carrier. Such an ability can allow a maneuvering carrier to hold targets at risk from closer proximity if land-bases are far from the combat vicinity.

The new stealth Joint Strike Fighter is slated to become operational by 2018, when it will join the carrier air wing and fly alongside the F/A-18 Super Hornet, E2D Hawkeye surveillance planes and other aircraft. Over the next five years, the Navy plans to acquire as many as 60 or more of the new fighters.

The F-35C is engineered with a new technology called Delta Flight Path which helps pilot land on a carrier deck more easily. Test pilots and engineers credited the F-35C's Delta Flight Path technology with significantly reducing pilot workload during the approach to the carrier, increasing safety margins during carrier approaches and reducing touchdown dispersion.

Stealthy F-35C carrier aircraft, having a lower radar signature, are expected to deliver advanced attack and air-to-air and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, able to perform a wider range of operations without being detected by an enemy.

The aircraft is part of a broader Navy strategy to be well equipped in the event that it needs to engage in massive, major-power war against a near-peer adversary such as Russia and China known to have advanced air-defenses and air-to-air platforms

Two F-35C Lightning II carrier variants conducted their first arrested landings aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) off the coast of the eastern United States on Oct. 2, 2015.

By 2025, the Navy's aircraft carrier-based air wings will consist of a mix of F-35C, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, MH-60R/S helicopters and Carrier Onboard Delivery logistics aircraft such as the emerging Navy Osprey tiltrotor aircraft variant

F-35C cost per plane as more than $337 million.

The United States Navy intends to buy 480 F-35Cs to replace the F/A-18A, B, C, and D Hornets and complement the Super Hornet fleet. The first F-35C was rolled out on 29 July 2009. The United States Marine Corps will also purchase 80 F-35Cs, enough for five squadrons.

On 22 June 2013, Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-101 received the Navy's first F-35C at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

The USN is dealing with the following issues in adapting their carriers to operate the F-35C.

  • The F135 engine exceeds the weight capacity of traditional underway replenishment systems and generates more heat than previous engines.
  • The stealthy skin requires new repair techniques; extensive skin damage will necessitate repairs at Lockheed's land-based facilities.
  • The adoption of lithium-ion batteries needing careful thermal management, and higher voltage systems than traditional fighters.
  • Storing of new weapons not previously employed on carrier aircraft.
  • Large quantities of classified data generated during missions shall require additional security.

In February 2014, Lockheed said the F-35C was on schedule for sea trials after the tailhook was redesigned.

Summit 200-250 petaflop artificial intelligence supercomputer being built in 2017 and possibly one exaflop at half precision

The future “Summit” pre-exascale supercomputer that is being built out in late 2017 and early 2018 for the US Department of Energy for its Oak Ridge National Laboratory looks like a giant cluster of systems that might be used for training neural networks. And that is an extremely convenient development.

More than once during the SC16 supercomputing conference this week in Salt Lake City, the Summit system and its companion “Sierra” system that will be deployed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, were referred to as “AI supercomputers.” This is a reflection of the fact that the national labs around the world are being asked to do machine learning on the same machines that would normally just do simulation and modeling to advance science, not just to advance the art of computation but to make these systems all look more cool and more useful. With pre-exascale machines costing hundreds of millions of dollars, it is important to get the most use out of them as possible.

China still has the two fastest supercomputers in the world, and Titan at Oak Ridge National Laboratory remains number three.

The most powerful supercomputer, a relatively new Chinese supercomputer named Sunway TaihuLight, is capable of 93 petaflops. It is built entirely using processors designed and made in China. In June, it displaced Tianhe-2, an Intel-based Chinese supercomputer that had claimed the number one spot on the six previous TOP500 lists.

Tianhe-2, the number two system, achieved a speed of 33.86 petaflops, or more than 33,000 trillion calculations per second, in a test known as the LINPACK benchmark. That ranking program uses a series of linear equations to test computer systems around the world.

Titan (25 petaflop), the number three system, was the top supercomputer for a short time. It was number one in November 2012, but it was bumped to number two behind Tianhe-2 in June 2013. This past June was the first time it had been number three.

As big as a basketball court, Titan is 10 times faster than Jaguar, the computer system it replaced. Jaguar, which was capable of about 2.5 petaflops, had ranked as the world’s fastest computer in November 2009 and June 2010.

IBM and Nvidia are under pressure to make the Summit machine more powerful, and is cramming more GPUs in the nodes and scaling up the number of nodes to make it happen. At 43.5 teraflops peak, the Summit machine at 4,600 nodes would break through 200 petaflops of peak theoretical performance, which would probably put IBM at the top of the Top 500 supercomputer rankings in November 2017 if the machine can be up and running with Linpack by then. This 200 petaflops number is a psychological barrier, not a technical one, but in a Trump Administration, it might be a very important psychological barrier indeed. (China is winning the Petaflops War.)

At 50 teraflops of performance per node (doable if the feeds and speeds for Volta work out), that is a 230 petaflops cluster peak, and if the performance of the Volta GPUs can be pushed to an aggregate of 54.5 teraflops, then we are talking about crossing through 250 petaflops – a quarter of the way to exascale. And this is also a massive machine that could, in theory, run 4,600 neural network training runs side-by-side for machine learning workloads (we are not saying it will), but at the half precision math used in machine learning, that is above an exaflops of aggregate compute capacity.

Looking for life on Mars — in Chile

Two geoscientists at Arizona State University have made a discovery among hot springs in Chile that may spur scientists to revisit a location on Mars explored several years ago by NASA's Spirit rover. The discovery involves fingerlike structures that form in the hot spring deposits by processes that combine biological and non-biological activity

The Chilean hot springs are at a place called El Tatio and lie at the edge of the extremely dry Atacama Desert, one of the best "Mars analog" sites on Earth.

Co-authors Steve Ruff and Jack Farmer, of ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration, report that El Tatio produces silica deposits with structures influenced by living organisms that appear nearly identical to those found eight years ago by Spirit in Gusev Crater on Mars. Their report was recently published by Nature Communications.

The question naturally arises whether what Spirit found on Mars might also have been influenced by life.

"Mars exploration has reached a stage where we can start looking for 'biosignatures'," said lead author Ruff. Biosignatures are naturally occurring traces that indicate the presence of life, either today or in the past.

On Earth fossils are an everyday example of a biosignature of past life. But biosignatures can take more subtle forms such as organic molecules trapped in rocks. Biosignatures can also include physical structures such as compacted mats of microorganisms called stromatolites, found in various environments on Earth.

No lander or rover on Mars has yet detected any fossils. So scientists assume that any Martian biosignature would be small — think microscopic — and difficult to identify, let alone even find, on a planet with as much surface area as all of Earth's land areas.

Home Plate is a ancient and eroded volcanic ash deposit about 100 yards across that lies in Gusev Crater's Columbia Hills. At some point in the past a hot spring was active here, producing silica outcrops that appear nearly identical to features found at the El Tatio hot springs in Chile. The silica outcrops lie next to Home Plate's right edge, near the Spirit rover (circled). Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Nature Communications - Silica deposits on Mars with features resembling hot spring biosignatures at El Tatio in Chile

November 24, 2016

China and the USA have a combined $1 trillion truck freight market and companies are racing to self driving trucks

China does not have restrictions on testing autonomous (self driving) vehicles.

A number of companies are developing automation technologies that promise to lower costs, reduce accidents, and improve overall efficiency for the trucking industry by allowing drivers to make longer trips that include periods of rest.

In Europe and the U.S., Volvo, Daimler, Uber, and others are testing trucks capable of driving themselves under expert supervision. But several Chinese-based companies are working on automated trucks, and lenient regulations as well as a desire to overhaul the country’s chaotic trucking industry may smooth the way for the technology’s introduction. This could provide a handy edge in the race to develop a lucrative new way of hauling goods.

A street scene captured and parsed using TuSimple's technology.

Intercity freight transportation will be a huge market in China, says Xiaodi Hou, CTO of TuSimple, a company based in San Diego and Beijing that’s developing an automated trucking platform in partnership with a large Chinese truck maker (Hou declined to name which). He says there is effectively no restriction on testing self-driving systems in China currently, and he believes the government will be supportive because it wants to see the trucking industry improve.

Across China, around 7.2 million trucks and 16 million drivers are responsible for intercity transportation of goods, according to figures provided by TuSimple. This industry is worth more than $300 billion, and drivers account for around 40 percent of the costs incurred by truck companies. Some long-distance trips across China require two or even three drivers to complete. Autonomy would allow a single driver to sleep during long highway stretches.

The truck freight industry in the U.S. is even bigger, valued at around $700 billion. Uber, which is also developing automated taxis in Pittsburgh, has moved quickly to create self-driving trucks after acquiring a startup called Otto in August this year

Blood from old people has harmful toxins so blood banks need to be changed and all blood needs to be regularly filtered

Can transfusions of “young blood” make old people healthier? That’s the hope of a few startup companies and some wish-to-live-forever billionaires who think transfusions from youngsters might delay aging.

But scientists in California who invented a gadget to test the question say instead it’s the harmful toxins in old people’s blood that seem to be the problem.

A research team led by Irina Conboy at the University of California, Berkeley, developed a pump to continuously move blood between two mice. One was young, the equivalent of a human 20-year-old, while the other was the mouse equivalent of an 80-year-old.

Over 24 hours, the two animals’ blood was completely intermixed.

Five days later, old mice did see some benefits from having young blood in their veins, including better muscle repair. But Conboy, who reported her findings in Nature Communications, says the really striking finding was just how bad old blood was for the younger animals. The aged blood inhibited the formation of brain cells in young mice and caused the animals to fall behind their peers in a strength test where they are hung upside down on a wire mesh. “The young mice became almost as decrepit as the old ones,” she says.

One day people will instead go to a medical facility to get their blood cleared of proteins that may build up and promote aging. Conboy says she and other scientists are working to identify what those molecules are.

Given the swift and negative effects of old blood on younger mice—the results appeared immediately—this type of research could eventually raise questions about the age of blood-bank donors. A 2008 study in Blood found that the average age of blood donors in the U.S. was 35, but since repeat donors tend to be older, about 35 percent of blood came from people over 50, including many in their 60s.

UK will add £2 billion a year by 2020-21 for a UK version of DARPA and £23 billion over 5 years to boost economic productivity

The UK government has confirmed that it will spend an extra £2 billion a year by 2020-21 on collaboration between business and scientists as well as creating a technology fund modelled on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), the US military research agency credited with developing the internet.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced the extra money earlier this week, but there had been concerns it might go to areas less likely to directly benefit universities, such as research tax credits for companies.

The Autumn Statement makes clear the extra £2 billion – a 20 per cent increase in government research and development spending, according to the statement – will be distributed by UK research councils and Innovate UK in two funding streams.

The first is an “Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund”, a cross-disciplinary fund that will “support collaborations between business and the UK’s science base, which will set identifiable challenges for UK researchers to tackle”.

Based on Darpa, the fund will back technologies “decided by an evidence-based process”.

There will also be second stream of funding to “increase research capacity and business innovation, to further support the UK’s world-leading research base and to unlock its full potential”.

The UK’s new research body, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will award this funding on the basis of “national excellence”, while there will also be more grant funding for Innovate UK.

The extra spending on research and development is part of a National Productivity Investment Fund worth £23 billion from 2017-18 to 2021-22 designed to boost the UK’s lacklustre economic productivity.

Darpa was seen as successful in the US because many of its military technology projects, the internet being the best know example, were seen to have had positive spill over effects into the wider economy, he said. However, there was a huge cultural difference between the “risk taking culture” of Darpa and the “grant giving culture” of the UK research councils,

DARPA developing robots to fix and maintain satellites that are one tenth of the distance to the moon

DARPA is developing robotic support and maintenance of geosynchronous Earth orbit satellites with the Phoenix and GEO programs

The traditional process of designing, developing, building and deploying space systems is long, expensive and complex. These difficulties apply especially to the increasing number of expensive, mission-critical satellites launched every year into geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO), approximately 22,000 miles above the Earth. Unlike objects in low Earth orbit (LEO), such as the Hubble Space Telescope, satellites in GEO are essentially unreachable with current technology.

DARPA's Phoenix program seeks to change this paradigm and reduce the cost of space-based systems by developing and demonstrating new satellite assembly architectures and delivery systems. Phoenix is currently focusing on two primary technical areas of research:

  • Satlets: A new low-cost, modular satellite architecture that can scale almost infinitely. Satlets are small independent modules (roughly 15 pounds/7 kg) that incorporate essential satellite functionality (power supplies, movement controls, sensors, etc.). Satlets share data, power and thermal management capabilities. They also physically aggregate (attach together) in different combinations that would provide capabilities to accomplish a range of diverse space missions with any type, size or shape payload. Because they are modular, they can be produced on an assembly line at low cost and integrated very quickly with different payloads. DARPA is presently focused on validating the technical concept of satlets in LEO.
  • Payload Orbital Delivery (POD) system: The POD is a standardized mechanism designed to safely carry a wide variety of separable mass elements to orbit—including payloads, satlets and electronics—aboard commercial communications satellites. This approach would take advantage of the tempo and “hosted payloads” services that commercial satellites now provide while enabling lower-cost delivery to GEO.

DARPA Phoenix program has already completed its first phase.

The program envisions numerous benefits, including:

Improved satellite usefulness, lifespan, resilience and reliability
Lower satellite construction and deployment costs

Trump will eliminate $2 billion climate change research from NASA

Donald Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by Nasa as part of a crackdown on “politicized science”, his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said.

Nasa’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding in favor of exploration of deep space, with the president-elect having set a goal during the campaign to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century.

This would mean the elimination of Nasa’s world-renowned research into temperature, ice, clouds and other climate phenomena. Nasa’s network of satellites provide a wealth of information on climate change, with the Earth science division’s budget set to grow to $2 billion next year. By comparison, space exploration has been scaled back somewhat, with a proposed budget of $2.8 billion in 2017.

Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign adviser, said there was no need for Nasa to do what he has previously described as “politically correct environmental monitoring”.

“We see Nasa in an exploration role, in deep space research,” Walker told the Guardian. “Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission.

“My guess is that it would be difficult to stop all ongoing Nasa programs but future programs should definitely be placed with other agencies. I believe that climate research is necessary but it has been heavily politicized, which has undermined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing. Mr Trump’s decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science.”

Nextbigfuture believes that NASA should have a focused goals of lowering the cost space launch by several orders of magnitud and to develop advanced space colonization, space industrialization and advanced propulsion.

For climate change,

1. The world knows that it would be safer to develop non-fossil fuel sources of energy and to reduce particulates and emissions.

2. There are new cheap nano-satellites, long duration drones that can also perform monitoring of the climate.

3. Ground stations also can monitor carbon levels.

Instead of $2 billion on monitoring, actual programs to reduce black carbon could be funded.

November 23, 2016

Mars Ice Deposit Holds as Much Water as Lake Superior

Frozen beneath a region of cracked and pitted plains on Mars lies about as much water as what's in Lake Superior, largest of the Great Lakes, researchers using NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have determined.

Scientists examined part of Mars' Utopia Planitia region, in the mid-northern latitudes, with the orbiter's ground-penetrating Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument. Analyses of data from more than 600 overhead passes with the onboard radar instrument reveal a deposit more extensive in area than the state of New Mexico. The deposit ranges in thickness from about 260 feet (80 meters) to about 560 feet (170 meters), with a composition that's 50 to 85 percent water ice, mixed with dust or larger rocky particles.

At the latitude of this deposit -- about halfway from the equator to the pole -- water ice cannot persist on the surface of Mars today. It sublimes into water vapor in the planet's thin, dry atmosphere. The Utopia deposit is shielded from the atmosphere by a soil covering estimated to be about 3 to 33 feet (1 to 10 meters) thick.

"This deposit probably formed as snowfall accumulating into an ice sheet mixed with dust during a period in Mars history when the planet's axis was more tilted than it is today," said Cassie Stuurman of the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas, Austin. She is the lead author of a report in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Mars today, with an axial tilt of 25 degrees, accumulates large amounts of water ice at the poles. In cycles lasting about 120,000 years, the tilt varies to nearly twice that much, heating the poles and driving ice to middle latitudes. Climate modeling and previous findings of buried, mid-latitude ice indicate that frozen water accumulates away from the poles during high-tilt periods.

› Water ice makes up half or more of an underground layer in a large region of Mars about halfway from the equator to the north pole.

› The amount of water in this deposit is about as much as in Lake Superior. It was assessed using a radar aboard a NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars.

› This research advances understanding about Mars' history and identifies a possible resource for future astronauts.

Subsurface Water-Ice Deposit in Utopia Planitia, Mars
Scalloped Terrain Led to Finding of Buried Ice on MarsRadargrams Indicating Ice-Rich Subsurface Deposit Diagonal striping on this map of a portion of Mars' Utopia Planitia region indicates the area where a large subsurface deposit rich in water ice was assessed using the Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Rome/ASI/PSI

World Energy 2040 and a closer look at India's energy plans

In the International Energy Outlook 2016 (IEO2016) Reference case, world net electricity generation increases 69% by 2040, from 21.6 trillion kilowatthours (kWh) in 2012 to 25.8 trillion kWh in 2020 and 36.5 trillion kWh in 2040. Electricity is the world’s fastest-growing form of end-use energy consumption, as it has been for many decades. Power systems have continued to evolve from isolated, small grids to integrated national markets and even international markets.

Economic growth is an important factor in electricity demand growth. Although world gross domestic product (GDP) growth slows in the IEO2016 Reference case in comparison with the past two decades, electricity demand continues to increase, especially among the emerging non-Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (non-OECD) economies. In 2012, electricity generation in non-OECD countries represented slightly more than one-half of world electricity demand. With continued strong economic growth, the non-OECD share of world electricity generation increases to 61% in 2040 (Figure 5-1), as total non-OECD electricity generation nearly doubles, from 11.3 trillion kWh in 2012 to 22.3 trillion kWh in 2040

• Renewable energy is the world’s fastest-growing energy source, increasing by 2.6%/year; nuclear energy grows by 2.3%/year, from 4% of the global total in 2012 to 6% in 2040.
• Fossil fuels continue to supply more than three-fourths of world energy use in 2040.

• In 2012, coal provided 40% of the world’s total net electricity generation. By 2040, coal, natural gas, and renewable energy sources provide roughly equal shares (28-29%) of world generation.
• With current policies and regulations, worldwide energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rise from about 32 billion metric tons in 2012 to 36 billion metric tons in 2020 and then to 43 billion metric tons in 2040, a 34% increase.

By the end of 2014, the global installed capacity of wind power reached 373 GW, with an annual growth rate of 15.8%, accounting for 6.1% of total installed capacity worldwide; wind power annual generation reached 702.9 TWh, accounting for 2.96% of the world's total power generation.

By the end of 2014, the global installed capacity of solar power reached 184.93 GW (including 180.4 GW for photovoltaic power, and 4.53 GW for solar thermal power), with a growth rate of 31%. Solar power generation reached 185.9 TWh(including 183.2 TWh for photovoltaic power, and 2.7 TWh for solar thermal power), accounting for about 0.78% of world's total generation.

India has talked about installing 100 GW of solar power by 2022.

Some environmentalists hope that India would install 1000 GW of solar power by 2030. This would be four times the current world total and would produce about 1000 TWh of power each year.

As of 30 September 2016, the country's solar grid has a cumulative capacity of 8,626 MW (8.63 GW). In January 2015, the Indian government significantly expanded its solar plans, targeting US$100 billion of investment and 100 GW of solar capacity, including 40 GW directly from rooftop solar, by 2022. Large scale solar power deployment began only as recently as 2010, yet the ambitious targets would see India installing more than double that achieved by world leaders China or Germany in all of the period up to 2015 year end.

In 2012, India generated 1,050 TWh of grid power. In a high growth scenario, India grows electrical power by 7.3% per year for 20 years and gets to about 5000 TWh in 2033.

India's growth will likely not be quite that fast and the solar power is likely to be a lot less. It seems more likely that India will end up importing electricity via an Asian supergrid where cheap electricity from China coal power is used.

F-35B controls missiles on an Aegis equipped destroyer to shoot down a drone

The Marines completed a proof-of-concept test in which a Marine Corps F-35B detected a cruise-missile decoy (a drone), passed targeting information to a remote sensor, and set up a shot by an Aegis combat system of the sort you’ll find on modern destroyers. A battery controlled by the Aegis fired a live SM-6 missile, which took down the drone.

The Aegis weapon system is on 33 ships

The Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) program, which is carried out by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Navy, gives Navy Aegis cruisers and destroyers a capability for conducting BMD operations. Under MDA and Navy plans, the number of BMD-capable Navy Aegis ships is scheduled to grow from 33 at the end of FY2016 to 49 at the end of FY2021. The figure for FY2020 may include up to four BMD-capable Aegis cruisers in reduced operating status as part of a program to modernize 11 existing Aegis cruisers

The SM-6 has a range of up to 290 miles.

Thermoelectric Material in Paintable Liquid Form can go onto almost any surface to convert heat to electricity

A new study, led by Professor Jae Sung Son of Materials Science and Engineering at UNIST has succeeded in developing a new technique that can be used to turn industrial waste heat into electricity for vehicles and other applications.

In their study, the team presented a new type of high-performance thermoelectric (TE) materials that possess liquid-like properties. These newly developed materials are both shape-engineerable and geometrically compatible in that they can be directly brush-painted on almost any surface.

Scientists hope that their findings, described in the prestigious journal Nature Communications this week, will pave the way to designing materials and devices that can be easily transferred to other applications.

Schematic illustrating for the fabrication of painted thermoelectric devices.

Nature Communications - High-performance shape-engineerable thermoelectric painting

Deepmind AI is good at lipreading like fictional Hal9000 from 2001

Artificial intelligence is getting its teeth into lip reading. A project by Google’s DeepMind and the University of Oxford applied deep learning to a huge data set of BBC programmes to create a lip-reading system that leaves professionals in the dust.

The AI system was trained using some 5000 hours from six different TV programmes, including Newsnight, BBC Breakfast and Question Time. In total, the videos contained 118,000 sentences.

The AI vastly outperformed a professional lip-reader who attempted to decipher 200 randomly selected clips from the data set.

The professional annotated just 12.4 per cent of words without any error. But the AI annotated 46.8 per cent of all words in the March to September data set without any error. And many of its mistakes were small slips, like missing an ‘s’ at the end of a word. With these results, the system also outperforms all other automatic lip-reading systems.

“It’s a big step for developing fully automatic lip-reading systems,” says Ziheng Zhou at the University of Oulu in Finland. “Without that huge data set, it’s very difficult for us to verify new technologies like deep learning.”

Two weeks ago, a similar deep learning system called LipNet – also developed at the University of Oxford – outperformed humans on a lip-reading data set known as GRID. But where GRID only contains a vocabulary of 51 unique words, the BBC data set contains nearly 17,500 unique words, making it a much bigger challenge.

Arxiv - Lip Reading Sentences in the Wild

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