December 03, 2016

Another Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 Trailer and other trailers

Russia developing Improved engines, weapons and bombs for the T-50 PAK-FA for F-22 competitive performance

Russia’s United Engine Corporation (UEC) has started ground testing a next-generation engine for the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA fifth-generation stealth fighter according to a statement by the company.

The PAK-FA—which is under development—is currently powered by a pair of 33,000-pound thrust class Saturn AL-41F1 afterburning turbofans. However, the AL-41F1—a version of which is also installed on the Sukhoi Su-35S Flanker-E—is not powerful enough to meet the requirements for the PAK-FA. Ultimately, the AL-41F is a highly modified derivative of the original Sukhoi Su-27’s AL-31F powerplant.

While the new engine—often referred to as the izdeliye 30—is being designed by the Lyul'ka design bureau under the leadership of general designer-director Eugene Marchukova, it is being tested at the Lytkarinsky Machine-Building Plant. It’s only with the addition of the second stage engine that the PAK-FA will meet the requirements of both the Russian and Indian air forces.

The designers expect to start testing the new engine on fighter jets in 2018, and for the motor to be fully integrated in 2020.

“In addition to the engine, a radar station also needs to be modified, and engineers need to remove the last deficiencies in the airframe concept, which, among all the aircraft flying today, is the most modern in the world,” said the analyst.

The powerplant is expected to deliver 24,054lbs dry thrust and 39,566lbs of afterburning thrust. With the new engine installed, the PAK-FA should be able to offer kinematic performance comparable to the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor—cruising without afterburner at speeds exceeding Mach 1.5 with a maximum speed greater than Mach 2.0 at altitudes of around 60,000ft

New PAKFA fighter weapons - 30-mm cannon

The firing unit consists of one of the lightest cannon in its class, the 9-A1-4071K, which is designed to destroy armored vehicles or armored enemy targets. During one flight, the pilot can shoot 150 rounds from the 30-mm cannon.

Research suggests blackhole or wormhole tidal forces would not spaghettify the body

Some researchers believe a singularity can be removed from a black hole (have no event horizon) and this would be a wormhole.

They modelled observers (objects like a chair, a scientist, and a spacecraft ) as an aggregation of points connected by physical or chemical interactions that hold everything together as the object travels along a geodesic line. A geodesic line is simply the path in spacetime that a free-falling object follows.

“Each particle of the observer follows a geodesic line determined by the gravitational field,” says Rubiera-Garcia. “Each geodesic feels a slightly different gravitational force, but the interactions among the constituents of the body could nonetheless sustain the body.”

Research suggests tidal forces would not spaghettify the body

A tidal force is a difference in the strength of gravity between two points. The gravitational field of the moon produces a tidal force across the diameter of Earth, which causes the Earth to deform. It also raises tides of several meters in the solid Earth, and
larger tides in the liquid oceans.

If the tidal force is stronger than a body's cohesiveness, the body will be disrupted. The minimum distance that a satellite comes to a planet before it is shattered this way is called its Roche Distance. The artistic image to the left shows what tidal disruption could be like for an unlucky moon.

A human falling into a black hole will also experience tidal forces. In most cases these will be lethal. The difference in acceleration between the head and feet could be many thousands of Earth Gravities. A person would literally be pulled apart. Some physicists have termed this process spaghettification

New work suggests body can stay together

The impact of curvature divergences on physical observers in a black hole space–time, which, nonetheless, is geodesically complete is investigated. This space–time is an exact solution of certain extensions of general relativity coupled to Maxwell's electrodynamics and, roughly speaking, consists of two Reissner–Nordström (or Schwarzschild or Minkowski) geometries connected by a spherical wormhole near the center. We find that, despite the existence of infinite tidal forces, causal contact is never lost among the elements making up the observer. This suggests that curvature divergences may not be as pathological as traditionally thought.

Accurate IMF forecasts for nominal GDP and PPP GDP for next few years

The IMF predictions for nominal GDP and PPP were inaccurate in the early 2000s, because of adjustments that shifted purchasing power parity and currency fluctuations.

Currency is still fluctuating as the Chinese yuan has weakened enough to eliminate projected nominal GDP gains in 2016.

IMF nominal GDP projections

Purchasing power parity had a large adjustment a few years ago because the 2005 PPP study did not properly look at or weight the rural areas of China and India and other developing countries. This meant that purchasing power was a lot higher in developing countries.

Their could still be some adjustments in how GDP is accounted and purchasing power corrections but it seems that any adjustments will be a lot smaller.

In purchasing power parity GDP China will be at 120% of the US economy in 2017 and the IMF is projecting that China will gain about 5% each year. IMF projects China would be at 140% of the US economy in 2021.

China is at 60% of the US economy in nominal GDP terms (currency exchange basis). Currency moves will shift the GDP ratios around more than PPP.

India will be at 40% of the GDP of the USA and will gain about 5.5 percentage points on the US. IMF projects India to be at 62% of the US PPP GDP in 2021.

Japan is at 21% of the US economy PPP GDP wise and sliding to 15.8%
Germany is at 17.6% and UK and France are at 12%. Each of the european countries will grow less than the USA.

By 2029 or 2032, China should be double the economy of the USA in PPP GDP.

At some point it seems likely that the yuan will strengthen again versus the US dollar. The US dollar is currently very strong against all currencies.

IMF PPP GDP projections for 2020 and 2021

Offtopic - Tiger Woods is back and contending

December 02, 2016

Cannae will try to prove propellentless propulsion in space in 2017 and has ambitious space probe designs with 33 years of constant acceleration to reach 3% of lightspeed

NASA peer reviewed paper showed that they had tested the propellentless EMdrive propulsion on a highly sensitive device in a vacuum and detected 1.2 millinewtons per kilowatt of propulsion.

Many remain unconvinced.

Despite having a setup that has been pretty much operating for years, how many data points are in the paper? Eighteen. Now, if this were a really time-consuming experiment, I wouldn't let that bother me. Hell, some synchrotron experiments have only a single data point. But this is clearly not a time-limited experiment.

The microwave was pulsed for about 40 seconds, and an entire data run seems to take about 200 seconds. Allowing five minutes between measurements, it should have been possible to record 12 data points for the same settings every hour. Indeed, although the researchers have numerous variables at their hands to change between experiments, they only play with one. In previous papers, they played with two, but still this limited exploration and limited data is really disheartening.

Then there's the error analysis: the authors estimate many measurement uncertainties so that each thrust measurement has an uncertainty of about ten percent. That sounds brilliant, right? Except the authors ignore the main uncertainties. In one experiment at 60 Watts of microwave power, the authors measure thrust of 128 microNewtons, while all three data points for 80 Watts of microwave power have thrusts of less than 120 microNewtons. Indeed, the thrust at 60 Watts for all data overlaps pretty much perfectly for all data taken at 80 Watts. They can only claim a slope by turning the power down to 40 Watts, where they do consistently measure less thrust.

The Cannae drive is also propellentless like the EMdrive but is a different design. They will test their system orbit in a cubesat in 2017

Cannae is not using an EmDrive thruster in their upcoming launch. Cannae is using it’s own proprietary thruster technology which requires no on-board propellant to generate thrust. In addition, this project is being done as a private venture. Cannae is only working with our private commercial partners on the upcoming mission.

Theseus Space is going to be launching a demo cubesat (probably in 2017) which will use Cannae thruster technology to maintain an orbit below a 150 mile altitude. This cubesat will maintain its extreme LEO altitude for a minimum duration of 6 months. The primary mission objective is to demonstrate our thruster technology on orbit. Secondary objectives for this mission include orbital altitude and inclination changes performed by the Cannae-thruster technology.

Cannae’s thruster technology is capable of generating thrust from a few uN up through several newton thrust levels and higher levels. The Cannae thruster technology is particularly useful for small satellite missions due to low power, mass and volume requirements. Our thruster configuration for the cubesat mission with Theseus is anticipated to require less than 1.5 U volume and will use less than 10 watts of power to perform station keeping thrusting.

Once demonstrated on orbit, Theseus will offer their thruster platforms to the satellite marketplace

Cannae is commercializing proprietary propulsion technology requiring no on-board propellant to generate thrust.

The core of their technology uses the Lorentz Force imbalances created by their thrusters to create propulsion. Cannae has demonstrated 2 separate prototypes of a superconducting thruster which requires no dielectric material to generate thrust.

Inventor, Guido Fetta, delivered a paper on superconducting prototype demonstration at the 2014 AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference. Cannae has since improved upon the initial design and has demonstrated improved thrust and performance of their superconducting prototype at their Pennsylvania test facility.

Cannae is also commercializing a thruster that does not require superconducting operation in order to generate thrust. This thruster also requires no on-board propellant to generate a Lorentz Force imbalance. Cannae has demonstrated prototypes of this new thruster technology at our Pennsylvania test facility.

Cannae has various deep space probes and space freighter designs if their in orbit tests work out

The deep space probe concept vehicle outlined in this section is used to propel a scientific instrument and communication payload with a mass of 2000 kgs to a 0.1 light year (LY) distance in a 15 year time frame. This vehicle uses existing superconductor and vehicle subsystem technology performance levels. No improvements to technological performance levels are required to build the vehicle described in this section.

There are 10 Cannae Drives included in the deep space probe design.

5 x 50 MHz Thruster cavities (continuously powered)

3 x 1 GHz Steering cavities (powered as needed)

2 x 1.5 GHz Roll-control cavities (powered as needed)

The 5 Cannae Drive thruster cavities provide continuous acceleration of 8.66 x 10^-3 m/s2 to the probe. This is equivalent to accelerating at 1/1132 G. The small acceleration is constantly applied in one direction throughout the life time of the probe, continually increasing the velocity of the probe with respect to the Earth reference frame. The total thrust developed by the 5 thruster cavities is 85.5 newtons.

The three medium sized Cannae Drive cavities provide steering for the probe. These cavities are intermittently powered to provide course corrections or for flight maneuvers.

The two small Cannae Drive cavities are used to modulate the roll rate of the space probe. These cavities are also used intermittently.

All of the Cannae Drives are fixed in position on the vehicle. This eliminates moving parts from the propulsion system, allowing for longevity of operation.

Deep space probe cavity design

The Cannae Drive cavities are manufactured of aluminum. Aluminum (or another appropriate alloy) is used to minimize the thruster system mass. A substrate layer is then coated on the inside of the cavity. A top coat of 400 nm YBCO layer is then deposited over the substrate layer.

The thrusting cavities are designed with asymmetric features in areas of high electric field and in areas of high magnetic field. The average effective differential in axially-directed radiation pressure is 15% over the entire cross section of each thruster cavity. The unbalanced force developed in the thruster cavity is directed through the axial center of the 5 thruster cavities.

The design maximum H-field on the top plate of the thruster cavity is 4000 A/m with nominal maximum operating H-field on the top plate of 3270 A/m. This relatively low field is used to prevent field emission in the areas of high E-field and to keep the ohmic losses in the regions of high H-field to a minimum.

The Cannae Drive deep-space probe is designed to measure the environment of the interstellar medium. To do this, the vehicle is launched to LEO on a standard launch vehicle. The diameter of the probe in launch configuration is 4.8 meters with a height of 10 meters. These dimensions allow the probe to fit into a standard 5-meter launch vehicle fairing.

Once the vehicle is in LEO, the thruster system is powered and the vehicle accelerates in the direction of its Earth orbit. This causes the probe to slowly spiral away from Earth until it eventually escapes into deep space. The probe continues to accelerate, increasing its velocity and overcoming the gravitational attraction of the Sun. The vehicle will reach escape velocity from the Sun without gravity assists in less than 2 months.

During the LEO-to-solar-escape-velocity phase of the mission, a light-weight radiation shield is deployed to shield the thruster section of the probe from Earth’s thermal radiation and from solar radiation. Once the vehicle flight path is directed away from the Sun, the radiation shield is ejected from the probe. The temporary shielding is not depicted in Figure 1.

The probe is designed to accelerate continuously throughout its operational life time. The mission duration is designed to be 15 years, with mission-life extensions probable. After 15 years of constant 8.65 x 10-3 m/s2 acceleration, the vehicle will reach a distance from Earth of 0.1 LY (approximately 600 billion miles). At 0.1 LY, the vehicle will be travelling at approximately 1.35 % the speed of light (c). At a 0.1 LY distance, it will require over 1 month to send or receive radio signals between the probe and Earth.

For comparison, the Voyager 1 probe is currently travelling at 17.06 km/s. The Cannae-Drive-propelled, deep-space probe increases by the Voyager speed of 17.06 km/s every 23.1 days. Accelerating at design level, the Cannae-Drive-deep-space probe passes the Voyager distance from Earth (120 AU) within 2.0 years of probe launch. The Voyager required almost 35 years to reach this distance. Voyager 1 continues to increase its distance from Earth and will reach a distance of 0.1 LY in a total travel time of 1780 years. The Cannae Drive probe requires 15 years from launch to travel 0.1 LY and the thruster system uses less than 100 watts RF power to do so.

For additional comparison, a propellant-based probe designed to accelerate a 2000 kg payload to a velocity of 1.35% c (the speed of the Cannae Drive probe when it passes 0.1 LY) would require a minimum of 1.8 x 1021 kgs of propellant. This calculation assumes a propellant specific impulse of 10,000 seconds with zero structural, propellant tank and power system mass (final vehicle mass is 2000 kgs). Assuming the propellant has a specific gravity of 1, this amount of propellant could cover the entire surface area of the Earth to a height of over 2 miles. If power and structural mass estimates for the propellant-based probe are included in the propellant-requirement calculation, the situation gets much worse.

The Cannae Drive probe reaches a distance from Earth of 0.1 LY in 15 years. Because of the simplicity of design and lack of moving parts, it is anticipated that the vehicle will continue to accelerate and will continue to transmit data back to Earth. The Voyager and Pioneer deep-space probes have demonstrated that multi-decade missions are achievable. The RTG’s of the Cannae Drive probe are designed to deliver the power required to generate up to 100 watts of RF power to the thruster cavities. As RTG power levels drop below end-of-life design levels, RF power to the cavities will also drop below the 73 watt design level. As long as phase-locked power is sent to the thruster cavities, the probe will continue to accelerate. The acceleration of the probe is directly proportional to the RF power sent into the cavities. Given the proven longevity of RTGs in space applications, the Cannae Drive probe could continue to accelerate and send back data on the interstellar medium for decades.

After 33 years of constant 8.66 x 10-3 m/s2 acceleration, the Cannae Drive probe will have crossed a distance of 0.5 LY from Earth while attaining a speed of approximately 3% of c.

For deep-space applications, a Cannae Drive probe outperforms propellant-driven systems by orders of magnitude. Travel times and vehicle velocities that are impossible for propellant based systems are achievable with a Cannae Drive system. The Cannae Drive technology allows new deep-space missions that have previously existed only in science fiction.

They have space freighter design hat is based on the reactionless thrust of the Cannae Drive. This freighter is a satellite that is launched to LEO on a standard 5 meter fairing launch vehicle. Once in orbit, the freighter is used to raise the orbits of other satellites that are already in a LEO orbit. The value of the freighter is that significant reductions in launch costs are achieved. Satellites that are destined for orbits higher than LEO require only the launch costs associated with the LEO launch. For larger GEO satellites, the launch cost savings can amount to greater than $200 million per satellite.

Mass: 10,000 KGS
Solar power required: 4000 Watts
LENGTH: 10 Meters

Water can freeze at 105 to 151 degrees celsius inside of carbon nanotubes and can enable ice wires for conducting protons

A team at MIT has found a completely unexpected set of changes: Inside the tiniest of spaces — in carbon nanotubes whose inner dimensions are not much bigger than a few water molecules — water can freeze solid even at high temperatures that would normally set it boiling.

The discovery illustrates how even very familiar materials can drastically change their behavior when trapped inside structures measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter. And the finding might lead to new applications — such as, essentially, ice-filled wires — that take advantage of the unique electrical and thermal properties of ice while remaining stable at room temperature.

“If you confine a fluid to a nanocavity, you can actually distort its phase behavior,” Strano says, referring to how and when the substance changes between solid, liquid, and gas phases. Such effects were expected, but the enormous magnitude of the change, and its direction (raising rather than lowering the freezing point), were a complete surprise: In one of the team’s tests, the water solidified at a temperature of 105 C or more. (The exact temperature is hard to determine, but 105 C was considered the minimum value in this test; the actual temperature could have been as high as 151 C.)

Water’s behavior changes inside the tiny carbon nanotubes — structures the shape of a soda straw, made entirely of carbon atoms but only a few nanometers in diameter — depends crucially on the exact diameter of the tubes. “These are really the smallest pipes you could think of,” Strano says. In the experiments, the nanotubes were left open at both ends, with reservoirs of water at each opening.

Even the difference between nanotubes 1.05 nanometers and 1.06 nanometers across made a difference of tens of degrees in the apparent freezing point, the researchers found. Such extreme differences were completely unexpected. “All bets are off when you get really small,” Strano says. “It’s really an unexplored space.”

Strano and his team used highly sensitive imaging systems, using a technique called vibrational spectroscopy, that could track the movement of water inside the nanotubes, thus making its behavior subject to detailed measurement for the first time.

The team can detect not only the presence of water in the tube, but also its phase, he says: “We can tell if it’s vapor or liquid, and we can tell if it’s in a stiff phase.” While the water definitely goes into a solid phase, the team avoids calling it “ice” because that term implies a certain kind of crystalline structure, which they haven’t yet been able to show conclusively exists in these confined spaces. “It’s not necessarily ice, but it’s an ice-like phase,” Strano says.

Because this solid water doesn’t melt until well above the normal boiling point of water, it should remain perfectly stable indefinitely under room-temperature conditions. That makes it potentially a useful material for a variety of possible applications, he says. For example, it should be possible to make “ice wires” that would be among the best carriers known for protons, because water conducts protons at least 10 times more readily than typical conductive materials. “This gives us very stable water wires, at room temperature,” he says.

Evidence of filling and phase transition of water inside carbon nanotubes (CNTs).

Nature Nanotechnology - Observation of extreme phase transition temperatures of water confined inside isolated carbon nanotubes

Carnival of Space 486

The Carnival of Space 486 is up at Stylish Stem

Cassini spacecraft prepares for incredible ‘Ring-Grazing Orbits’ at Saturn

Cassini will be flying just past the edge of Saturn’s main rings. These close passes by the rings are called “Ring-Grazing Orbits,” during which Cassini will come within 90,000 kilometres (56,000 miles) of Saturn itself. Cassini will also use the gravitational pull of Titan to help do this, by passing close to the large moon. Titan’s gravity can affect the spacecraft’s direction and speed as it moves in closer to Saturn.

Universe Today - Japanese Company Plans Artificial Meteor Shower

A company named Sky Canvas plans to launch a colorful artificial meteor shower barrage via micro-satellite.

In the ‘strange but true department’ and a plan that would make any super-villain envious, a Japanese start-up plans to shoot meteoroids at the Earth to create the first orchestrated artificial meteor shower.

Europe will have to raise military capabilities - how much happens will be seen over the next few years

The members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) pledged in 2014 to increase their defense spending to 2 percent of their gross domestic products by 2024

During the campaign, President elect Trump indicated that he would only support NATO only if NATO countries met their commitments.

Mr. Trump raised alarm during the election campaign when he questioned whether the United States would automatically defend NATO allies if they were attacked. Mr. Trump said American support would depend on the willingness of those countries to pay their fair share for military protection.

He has also called NATO “obsolete” and said that the alliance was failing to fight terrorism.

Those allies not willing to pay for American military protection, he warned, could receive a stark message: “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.”

There have been calls for Europe to offset its dependence on American defense have been intensifying since Mr. Trump’s election. In an interview with Reuters this week, Roderich Kiesewetter, a spokesman on foreign policy for Ms. Merkel’s conservative bloc in the German Parliament, said that Europe needed to think about developing its own nuclear deterrent strategy, given the possibility of a retrenchment under Mr. Trump.

Mr. Kiesewetter said that Germany, the largest economy in the 28-member European Union, could play a central role in urging nuclear powers like Britain and France to take over from the United States in providing nuclear security guarantees for the rest of the region.

The UK meets its 2% commitment. The UK defense minister is trying to use the election of Trump to get more movement from other countries to raise their military capabilities.

December 01, 2016

Star lifting to mine star matter could explain dimming of Tabby's star

Arxiv - A physically inspired model of Dip d792 and d1519 of the Kepler light curve seen at KIC8462852, by Eduard Heindl1 , Furtwangen University, Germany

The star KIC 8462852 shows a very unusual and hard to comprehend light curve. The dip d7922 absorbs 16% of the starlight. The light curve is unusually smooth but the very steep edges make it hard to find a simple natural explanation by covering due to comets or other well-known planetary objects. We describe a mathematical approximation to the light curve, which is motivated by a physically meaningful event of a large stellar beam which generates an orbiting cloud. The data might fit to the science fiction idea of star lifting, a mining technology that could extract star matter. We extend the model to d1519 and d1568 using multiple beams and get an encouraging result that fits essential parts of the dips but misses other parts of the measured flux. We recommend further exploration of this concept with refined models.

Stars have deep gravity wells, so the energy required for such operations is large. For example, lifting solar material from the surface of the Sun to infinity requires 2.1 × 10^11 J/kg. This energy could be supplied by the star itself, collected by a Dyson sphere; using only 10% of the Sun's total power output would allow 5.9 × 10^21 kilograms of matter to be lifted per year (0.0000003% of the Sun's total mass), or 8% of the mass of Earth's moon.

Our Sun has 99.8 percent of the solar system's mass.

Star Lifting with Heating to boost solar wind

The simplest system for star lifting would increase the rate of solar wind outflow by directly heating small regions of the star's atmosphere, using any of a number of different means to deliver energy such as microwave beams, lasers, or particle beams – whatever proved to be most efficient for the engineers of the system. This would produce a large and sustained eruption similar to a solar flare at the target location, feeding the solar wind.

The resulting outflow would be collected by using a ring current around the star's equator to generate a powerful toroidal magnetic field with its dipoles over the star's rotational poles. This would deflect the star's solar wind into a pair of jets aligned along its rotational axis passing through a pair of magnetic rocket nozzles. The magnetic nozzles would convert some of the plasma's thermal energy into outward velocity, helping cool the outflow. The ring current required to generate this magnetic field would be generated by a ring of particle accelerator space stations in close orbit around the star's equator. These accelerators would be physically separate from each other but would exchange two counterdirected beams of oppositely charged ions with their neighbor on each side, forming a complete circuit around the star.

A mechanism for "harvesting" solar wind (RC = ring current, MN = magnetic nozzles, J = plasma jet).

Harvesting lifted mass

The material lifted from a star will emerge in the form of plasma jets hundreds or thousands of astronomical units long, primarily composed of hydrogen and helium and highly diffuse by current engineering standards. The details of extracting useful materials from this stream and storing the vast quantities that would result have not been extensively explored. One possible approach is to purify useful elements from the jets using extremely large-scale mass spectrometry, cool them by laser cooling, and condense them on particles of dust for collection. Small artificial gas giant planets could be constructed from excess hydrogen and helium to store it for future use.

Super advanced aliens managing the resources of a star

The lifespan of a star is determined by the size of its supply of nuclear "fuel" and the rate at which it uses up that fuel in fusion reactions in its core. Larger stars have a larger supply of fuel, but the increased core pressure resulting from that additional mass increases the reaction rate even more; large stars have a significantly shorter lifespan than small ones. Current theories of stellar dynamics also suggest that there is very little mixing between the bulk of a star's atmosphere and the material of its core, where fusion takes place, so most of a large star's fuel will never be used naturally.

As a star's mass is reduced by star lifting its rate of nuclear fusion will decrease, reducing the amount of energy available to the star lifting process but also reducing the gravity that needs to be overcome. Theoretically, it would be possible to remove an arbitrarily large portion of a star's total mass given sufficient time. In this manner a civilization could control the rate at which its star uses fuel, optimizing the star's power output and lifespan to its needs. The hydrogen and helium extracted in the process could also be used as fusion reactor fuel. Alternatively, the material could be assembled into additional smaller stars, to improve the efficiency of its use.

Building clean solar, wind and nuclear energy keeps costs lower by reducing supply chain pressures

Bjorn Lomborg calculated using the best peer-reviewed economic models show the cost of the Paris promises – through slower gross domestic product growth from higher energy costs — would reach $1 trillion to $2 trillion every year from 2030. U.S. vows alone — to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 — would reduce GDP by more than $150 billion annually.

So solutions that keep energy energy costs the same or lower and provide greenhouse-gas emissions and air pollution reduction would be better.

China's first HTR-PM (pebble bed) reactor will be completed in late 2017 and generate 210 MWe. It is expected to start commercial operation in late 2017. A proposal to construct two 600 MWe HTR plants - each featuring three twin reactor and turbine units - at Ruijin city in China's Jiangxi province passed a preliminary feasibility review in early 2015. The design of the Ruijin HTRs is based on the smaller Shidaowan demonstration HTR-PM. Construction of the Ruijin reactors is expected to start next year, with grid connection in 2021.

Nextbigfuture reader Goatguy posed the several questions about which choices would be better for improving the environment

(3a) Developing as much Wind/Solar as possible
(3b) Advocating for clean 3rd and 4th generation nuclear?

This is a darn hard one: we all know that nominally there is no safer, no cleaner and no more low environmental impact power than modern large-production nuclear. When we go with deaths-per-TWh, it is strikingly low. And safe. So … what is it: spend $100 billion on nuclear, or on PV and Wind?

It will take at least 20 years to ramp up and build enough solar or wind or nuclear generation to replace coal power.

Increasing the rate of spending on one choice causes supply chain problems which increase the cost. This is why it is best to spread bets and build several different types of non-fossil fuel solutions. There is also the bridging to pollution mitigation applied to existing coal plants which we will not be able to ramp up to replace for many years.

Replacing 12000 TWh of coal power and 40,000 TWh of oil power will take decades.

Coal to nuclear conversion can rapidly address 30% of CO2 emissions

Coal power is a major producer of global warming emissions Hoping that countries like China, India and Russia will act against their self-interest will not work. It is better to develop realistic solutions, like cleaning up coal.

China's first HTR-PM (pebble bed) reactor will be completed in late 2017 and generate 210 MWe. It is expected to start commercial operation in late 2017. A proposal to construct two 600 MWe HTR plants - each featuring three twin reactor and turbine units - at Ruijin city in China's Jiangxi province passed a preliminary feasibility review in early 2015. The design of the Ruijin HTRs is based on the smaller Shidaowan demonstration HTR-PM. Construction of the Ruijin reactors is expected to start next year, with grid connection in 2021.

The high temperature reactors can replace the coal burners at several hundred supercritical coal plants in China. The lead of the pebble bed project indicates that China plans to replace coal burners with high temperature nuclear pebble bed reactors.

HTR-PM are modular reactors that will be mainly factory mass produced. The first one is taking 6 years to make. The reactor module will head towards about two years to build when they are making them by the dozen.

Overall design of HTR-PM 600

Each NSSS module, identical to those in the demo plant in order to use proven engineering and realize standardization.
6 NSSS identical modules, coupled to one steam turbine for generation, forming one unit.
Maximally, auxiliary systems are shared by multiple modules.
Two unit at a single site.
Cogeneration is possible through steam extraction.

Technical advantages of HTR-PM 600

Inherent safety (no core meltdown) [fuel pebbles can be released by melting a passive plug when temperatures are too high. the pebbles then spread out and cool down below]
Capacity of emergency power supply system is small and allowed start-up time is longer
Elimination or simplification of emergency response, enhanced security
Simplicity: due to enhanced safety, safety-relates systems and auxiliary systems are eliminated or simplified.
Use beyond electricity generation: unique feature

The advantages of converting an existing coal power plant's boilers to nuclear

Boiler Swapping Offers Many Economic and Speed Advantages.

Swapping just the power plant's boiler preserves the power plant, its worker's jobs, its operating permits, the plant's access to cooling water, electrical grids and heavy transportation. What's not to like from a deal like this?

The Advantages of Swapping Out Supersized Boilers: Supersized Power Plants are job one: 2% of the world's 60,000 fossil fuel power plants, 1,200 supersized power plants, are making over 3/4 of coal's Global Warming. The world will never be willing or able to provide much money for Global Warming mitigation. This will enable us to re-use everything else at the power plant - including an already experienced workforce - a strategy much wiser than building the equivalent amount of generating capacity in new windmills.

1. Most of the equipment and all of the grid connections and land are already paid for

2. Already wired to our cities - no grid transmission line construction or permitting needed

3. Already have cooling water

4. Already have access roads

5. Already have railroad tracks

6. Usually have ample land for several additional future units

7. No construction delays. The new nuclear power generator can be built while the coal plant continues to operate

8. Already have proven operators who know the equipment

China has about one third of the most polluting coal plants. Replacing those 400 coal plants would address 10% of CO2 emissions.

China's plans to begin converting coal plants to walk away safe pebble bed nuclear starting in the 2020s

China’s HTR-PM (high temperature pebble bed nuclear reactor) project is squarely aimed at being a cost-effective solution that will virtually eliminate air pollution and CO2 production from selected units of China’s large installed base of modern 600 MWe supercritical coal plants.

It is a deployment program with the first of a kind commercial demonstration approaching construction completion and commercial operation by mid to late 2018. Major parts of the machinery will be able to be merged into the existing infrastructure.

The current critical path item is the completion of the steam generators — one for each of the two reactors. The shells and internals have been completed, but the final stages of attaching the piping to the thick-walled, large diameter pressure vessels will delay site delivery until sometime close to the middle of 2017.

Development challenges were overcome

Zhang Zuoyi gave an excellent overview of the design and testing challenges that the project has faced and overcome. Nearly every item on the list of critical steps for design and testing had been completed.

For example, the development effort included building four different prototypes for the helium circulators. The primary design included magnetic bearings, but the developers knew that they were well past the size limits of proven uses of magnetic bearings so they had a couple of fall back designs. They did not want the project to fail because of failure to deliver on a single component.

In another example, the reactor pressure vessels weigh in at 600 tons, making the act of installing them a very heavy lift that exceeded previously existing capabilities.

As operational experience is gained with the first unit (where two nuclear reactors feed one steam turbine), the developers will be building more boilers and installing them in configurations of six to twelve boilers providing steam to a single steam turbine.

China will replace coal burners with these high temperature nuclear units

In some cases, these nuclear boiler installations will be part of entirely new power stations. The more intriguing aspect of the concept, however, is the fact that the high temperature atomic boilers produce steam conditions that are identical to the design conditions for a large series of modern, 600 MWe steam plants that currently use coal as the heat source.

On March 20, 2016, the first of two reactor pressure vessels was installed at the demonstration HTR-PM high-temperature gas-cooled reactor unit under construction at Shidaowan in China's Shandong province. The twin-reactor unit is scheduled to start up next year. The vessel - about 25 meters in height and weighing about 700 tonnes - was manufactured by Shanghai Electric Nuclear Power Equipment. It successfully completed factory acceptance on 29 February and was dispatched from the manufacturing plant on 2 March. The pressure vessel arrived at the Shidaowan site on 10 March, plant owner China Huaneng Group announced the following day.

A proposal to construct two 600 MWe HTR plants - each featuring three twin reactor and turbine units - at Ruijin city in China's Jiangxi province passed a preliminary feasibility review in early 2015. The design of the Ruijin HTRs is based on the smaller Shidaowan demonstration HTR-PM. Construction of the Ruijin reactors is expected to start next year, with grid connection in 2021.

US Air Force says unfocused and disjointed hypersonic development is losing to focused efforts in Russia and China

Here is a link to a 16 page unclassified Summary of A Threat to America’s Global Vigilance, Reach, and Power High-speed maneuvering weapons

The U.S. lead in the technologies of high-speed flight is in question, particularly as it pertains to military applications. Several countries around the world have been quite busy establishing their own capabilities, in many cases building directly on work gleaned from the United States. These countries have recognized the military potential of speed and see it as a promising counter to U.S. capabilities.

Their investments have been significant, their advancements notable, and their accomplishments in some cases startling. These countries have made no secret of the fact of their interest in hypersonics, nor of their intentions. They have taken advantage of data and lessons learned from the United States and have been helped by the start-stop approach to technology development (including canceling programs even after major successes) and inefficiencies in the U.S. acquisition processes. As a result, the Committee on Future Air Force Needs for Defense Against High-Speed Weapon Systems has concluded that the United States may be facing a threat from a new class of weapons that will effectively combine speed, maneuverability, and altitude in ways that could challenge this nation’s tenets of global vigilance, reach, and power.

A lifting-body hypersonic weapon, operating at high altitude but in the sensible atmosphere, could use aerodynamic forces to make its trajectory difficult to predict and even more difficult to interdict. As a result, this report highlights some of the challenges to providing a defensive capability against the combination of speed and maneuverability.

When this study began, the committee hoped to identify a class of technology, or suite of technologies, perhaps even currently in development, for employment against high-speed maneuvering threats. The committee saw many concepts and heard about many different possible approaches, but in the end it concluded that there are no “silver bullets.” Stopping a maneuvering hypersonic weapon will be difficult, which is precisely why potential adversaries may be pursuing such systems. More importantly, the committee found that while methods might be developed to defend against one or two incoming threats, traditional approaches in employing defensive measures may be less effective against multiple high-speed maneuvering weapons.

Offense and defense are two sides of the same coin; as in the days of the Cold War, the only reliable deterrent to the use of a hypersonic weapon may in fact be the threat of a corresponding hypersonic countermeasure that might hold at risk the very sites from which the adversaries’ hypersonic strike would originate. To better understand the potential operational capabilities and technical characteristics of such weapons, as well as their potential vulnerabilities, it will be important for the United States to make its own timely investments in this area. To this end, the United States’ relatively leisurely pace of disjointed hypersonics technology developments, the lack of diversity in concepts, and the absence of a clear acquisition pathway appear to stand in stark contrast to potential adversaries’ feverish pace of research and development and test and evaluation, as well as their broadly cast net of technology options.

China’s multiple tests of a hypersonic glide vehicle dubbed DF-ZF appear to be the more advanced program. The most recent test took place in April.

A Russian official announced in August that developing hypersonic missiles to defeat U.S. missile defenses is a high priority and that the first weapons could be fielded by 2020.

Russia flight-tested its experimental Yu-71 hypersonic glider in April atop a SS-19 missile.

The Pentagon currently has no well-resourced program to either developing hypersonic missiles or to counter them.

Congress has sought to prod the Missile Defense Agency into focusing more resources on hypersonic missiles.

Status of the Arms Race in Space

China and Russia have deployed anti-satellite capability. Russia has deployed what could be multiple kamikaze satellites such as "Kosmos 2499" -- designed to sidle up to American satellites and then, if ordered, disable or destroy them.

A technical adviser at the Secure World Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to space sustainability, pointed out earlier this year that the Kosmos 2499 platform bares an incredible resemblance to the Cold War era Russian Naryad, which was an anti-satellite weapon system shelved in the 1980s by the communist nation.

China has launched the "Shiyan" -- equipped with a grappling arm for damaging satellites.

China’s Shiyan satellites were launched in 2013. Three were launched together and proceeded to engage in orbital corrections, followed by more dramatic maneuvers and finally a rendezvous with a completely different type of Chinese satellite using a prototype manipulator arm. China claimed that these satellites, as well as the others they’ve launched since, were designed for use capturing and studying orbiting debris, but China’s unwillingness to reveal research about the missions with the international community has raised eyebrows and concerns among U.S. officials.

In 2007, China destroyed one of its own – an aging Fengyun-1C weather satellite – via an anti-satellite test.

Gen. John Hyten, head of US Strategic Command, warned that adversaries will soon be able to threaten US satellites in every orbital regime. "We have very good surveillance and intelligence capabilities, so we can see the threats that are being built," said Hyten. "So we're developing capabilities to defend ourselves. It's really that simple."

The US depends on space more than any other nation. In a nightmare scenario, as adversaries launch a massive cyber attack on key infrastructure and disable and destroy our satellites in space, televisions would go blank, mobile networks silent, and the Internet would slow and then stop.

Dependent on time stamps from GPS satellites, everything from stock markets to bank transactions to traffic lights and railroad switches would freeze. Airline pilots would lose contact with the ground, unsure of their position and without weather data to steer around storms.
World leaders couldn't communicate across continents. In the US military, pilots would lose contact with armed drones over the Middle East. Smart bombs would become dumb. Missiles would sit immobile in their silos. The US could lose early warning of nuclear attacks for parts of the Earth.

The US Air Force Space Command was created in 1982 when Earth's orbit was less contested, and today has some 38,000 employees, an annual budget of nearly $8.9 billion, and 134 locations around the globe. The broader Pentagon space budget is $22 billion.

The X-37 is operated by the United States Air Force for orbital spaceflight missions intended to demonstrate reusable space technologies.[4] It is a 120%-scaled derivative of the earlier Boeing X-40.

The X-37 began as a NASA project in 1999, before being transferred to the U.S. Department of Defense in 2004. It conducted its first flight as a drop test on 7 April 2006, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The spaceplane's first orbital mission, USA-212, was launched on 22 April 2010 using an Atlas V rocket. Its successful return to Earth on 3 December 2010 was the first test of the vehicle's heat shield and hypersonic aerodynamic handling. A second X-37 was launched on 5 March 2011, with the mission designation USA-226; it returned to Earth on 16 June 2012. A third X-37 mission, USA-240, launched on 11 December 2012 and landed at Vandenberg AFB on 17 October 2014. The fourth X-37 mission, USA-261, launched on 20 May 2015 and is in progress.

The X-37 is the smallest and lightest orbital spaceplane flown to date; with a launch mass of around 11,000 pounds (5,000 kg), it is approximately a quarter the size of the Space Shuttle orbiter

The X-37B is probably used used as a spy satellite or to deliver weapons from space

OPEC and Russia agree to oil cuts which is lifting prices and will help US shale oil

OPEC struck a long-sought agreement to reduce production by 1.2 million barrels a day. Both U.S. and international crude futures are trading north of $50 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, is up $1.27, or 2.57%, at $50.71. Brent crude, the global benchmark, is up $1.41, or 2.72%, at $53.25 a barrel.

The agreement struck by representatives of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries marked the group’s first concerted effort to slash output since 2008 and sent U.S. crude prices up more than 9% Wednesday.

The deal is expected to accelerate the rebalance of supply and demand in the market, which will likely shift to a 500,000-barrel deficit in the first half of next year, Bernstein Research said. It added that the deficit could rise to more than 1 million barrels a day by the second half of next year.

Higher prices, however, are likely to cause more U.S. shale producers to increase production.

The latest production data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed U.S. production increased by 9,000 barrels a day to 8.7 million barrels for the week ended Nov. 25.

OPEC is banking on a reduction from producers outside the bloc of 600,000 barrels a day. Russia has agreed to trim output by as much as 300,000 a day, though Energy Minister Alexander Novak said the cut will be gradual. While Oman committed to a 10 percent reduction, Mexico rebuffed an assertion by Nigeria that it would also play its part. The remainder of the non-OPEC cut is as yet unaccounted for.

“One of the key things, and potentially the deal breaker, will be what happens if Nigeria or Libya recovers some of their production,” said Spencer Welch, a director at consultants IHS Energy. “Will OPEC stick to the 32.5 million maximum, and if so, who will provide the extra cuts?”

The bulk of the reduction approved on Wednesday will be shouldered by Saudi Arabia, which agreed to a 486,000-barrel-a-day cut.

November 30, 2016

Deep learning on Computronium versus the human brain

Cognitive Scientist Joscha Bach was asked what ingredients of human-level artificial intelligence we seem to be missing, and how to improve AI forecasts more generally.

  • Before we can implement human-level artificial intelligence (HLAI), we need to understand both mental representations and the overall architecture of a mind
  • There are around 12-200 regularities like backpropagation that we need to understand, based on known unknowns and genome complexity
  • We are more than reinforcement learning on computronium: our primate heritage provides most interesting facets of mind and motivation
  • AI funding is now permanently colossal, which should update our predictions
  • AI practitioners learn the constraints on which elements of science fiction are plausible, but constant practice can lead to erosion of long-term perspective
  • Experience in real AI development can lead to both over- and underestimates of the difficulty of new AI projects in non-obvious ways

According to different sources, brain seems to be worth between about 3 x 10^13 FLOPS and 10^25 FLOPS. The median estimate is 10^18 FLOPS.

Some use Traversed Edges Per Second (TEPS) instead of floating point operations. TEPS measure a computer’s ability to communicate information internally. Some can also estimate the human brain’s communication performance in terms of TEPS, and use this to meaningfully compare brains to computers. We estimate that the human brain performs around 0.18 – 6.4 * 10^14 TEPS. This is within an order of magnitude more than existing supercomputers in 2015.

At current prices for TEPS, they estimate that it costs around $4,700 – $170,000/hour to perform at the level of the brain. Their best guess is that ‘human-level’ TEPS performance will cost less than $100/hour in seven to fourteen years. It would be about eight more years beyond that to get to $1/hour for human level TEPS performance.

Molecular mechanical nanocomputer designs are theoretically 100 billion to 100 trillion times more energy efficient than todays supercomputers.

Ralph Merkle, Robert Freitas and others have a theoretical design for a molecular mechanical computer that would be 100 billion times more energy efficient than the most energy efficient conventional green supercomputer. Removing the need for gears, clutches, switches, springs makes the design easier to build.

Existing designs for mechanical computing can be vastly improved upon in terms of the number of parts required to implement a complete computational system. Only two types of parts are required: Links, and rotary joints. Links are simply stiff, beam-like structures. Rotary joints are joints that allow rotational movement in a single plane

A molecular model of a diamond-based lock, ¾ view

This would be 1 million to 1 billion times less than the $1/hour level.

So a technological brute force acceleration looks likely in the 15 to 35 year timeframe. We will at least have some improvements on deep learning and reinforcement learning. Substantial trillion+ qubit general purpose quantum computers and all optical computers will also be available.

What would we get in terms of artificial intelligence if the insights into algorithms lags the hardware. With really good hardware how much can performance and capabilities lag ?

Google cloud division head is correct that even if Kurzweil is right and Technological Singularity is 2045, the current odds are she will not live to see it

Diane Greene, head of Google’s cloud division, said in an interview at the Code Enterprise conference Tuesday in San Francisco, “Nobody expected some of the advances we are seeing as quickly as we’re seeing them,” she added. “I don’t expect to see the [Technological] Singularity in my sentient lifetime."

Diane Greene is 61

Ray Kurzweil has predicted that the Technological Singularity will be in 2045 and Ray gives himself ten years leeway in whether to mark his predictions as accurate

A woman in the USA who is 61 can currently expect to live to about 87.

So barring significant success with life extension then Diane Greene is correct that if Ray Kurzweil is accurate then odds are she will not make it to 2045. She might make it to 2042.

Under current life expectancy charts. Ray Kurzweil would not expect to make it either.

Ray is 68 and would expect to live about 20 more years under normal circumstances. Ray is taking a lot of medicines and treatments that he hopes will prolong his life.

Ray has of course signed up for cryonics.

Cryonics is an effort to save lives by using temperatures so cold that a person beyond help by today's medicine might be preserved for decades or centuries until a future medical technology can restore that person to full health.

China will spend trillions to create its three giant integrated megaregions

China aims to fund infrastructure and public projects worth 10.6 trillion yuan ($ 1.6 trillion) through public-private partnerships (PPPs) to leverage investment from the private sector

Authorities aim to fund a total of 9,285 infrastructure and public service projects through PPPs, said Shi Yaobin, China's vice finance minister, at a forum in Shanghai.

Yangtze River Delta megacity

Shanghai is at the core of the larger Yangtze River Delta, home to nearly 160 million residents crowded into an area the size of Oregon. The Yangtze Delta includes the provinces of Zhejiang, Shanghai and Jiangsu and stretches from Ningbo, through Hangzhou, Shanghai, Suzhou, Changzhou, and Zhenjiang to Nanjing.

China is merging the cities in the area into a unified megaregion using high speed rail and other infrastructure.

There are about 170 million people in the area now but should have about 260 million in ten to fifteen years as the full integration is achieved.

With 20% of the GDP of China, this area already has about $2.2 to 2.5 trillion (nominal) in GDP and should be about $3 to 3.5 trillion in 2020 and about the level of Japan's GDP before 2030.

Per capita GDP is already at US$15,000 per person and should be $20,000 by 2020 and $30,000 per person before 2030. On a Purchasing power parity basis the whole YRD is almost at $25000 per person already.

Fight Aging predicts the sequence of arrival for meaningful antiaging therapies

The full antiaging rejuvenation toolkit of the next few decades will consist of a range of different treatments, each targeting a different type of molecular damage in cells and tissues. Fightaging predicts the likely order of arrival of some of these therapies, based on what is presently going on in research, funding, and for-profit development.

1) Clearance of Senescent Cells

Everon Biosciences, Oisin Biotechnologies, SIWA Therapeutics, and UNITY Biotechnology are all forging ahead with various different approaches to the selective destruction of senescent cells. No doubt many groups within established Big Pharma entities are also taking a stab at this, more quietly, and with less press attention. UNITY Biotechnology has raised more than $100 million to date, demonstrating that there is broad enthusiasm for this approach to the treatment of aging and age-related disease

Researchers have established that senescent cells exist in the immune system, and may be important in immune aging. Similarly, the immune cells involved in the progression of atherosclerosis are also senescent, and removing them slows the progression of that condition. Other research has shown that removing senescent cells from the lungs restores lost tissue elasticity and improves lung function. Beyond these specific details, senescent cells clearly contribute to chronic inflammation in aging, and that drives the progression of near all common age-related conditions. The less inflammation the better.

2) Immune System Destruction and Restoration

At the present time it is a challenge to pick second place. A number of fields are all equally close to realization.

The destruction and recreation of the immune system wins out because it is already possible, already demonstrated to be successful, and just missing one component part that would enable it to be used by ordinary, healthy, older people. At present researchers and clinicians use chemotherapy to destroy immune cells and the stem cells that create them. Repopulation of the immune system is carried out via cell transplants that are by now a safe and proven application of stem cell medicine, little different from the many varieties of first generation stem cell therapy. This approach has been used to cure people with multiple sclerosis, and has been attempted with varying degrees of success for a number of other autoimmune conditions for going on fifteen years now: there are researchers with a lot of experience in this type of therapy.

The catch here is that chemotherapy is a damaging experience. The cost of undergoing it is high, both immediately, and in terms of negative impact on later health and life expectancy, similar to that resulting from a life spent smoking. It only makes sense for people who are otherwise on their way to an early death or disability, as is the case for multiple sclerosis patients. However, there are a number of approaches very close to practical realization that will make chemotherapy obsolete for the selective destruction of immune cells and stem cells - approaches with minimal or no side-effects. A combined approach targeting c-kit and CD47 was demonstrated earlier this year, for example. Sophisticated cell targeting systems such as the gene therapy approach developed for senescent cell clearance by Oisin Biotechnologies could also be turned to stem cell or immune cell destruction, given suitable markers of cell chemistry. There are quite a few of these, any one of which would be good enough.

US citizens and internet archive moving to Canada

One of the Internet’s largest libraries says it’s so concerned about a Trump presidency that it wants to duplicate itself in another country: Canada. The Internet Archive is host to the Wayback Machine, a database of billions of web pages, as well as thousands of movies and software. It’s a U.S.-based non-profit and has started to solicit donations to create an “Internet Archive of Canada,” a copy of its current library, which it says will cost millions of dollars.

The Internet Archive has only 150 staff but runs one of the top-250 websites in the world. Reader privacy is very important to us, so we don’t accept ads that track your behavior. We don’t even collect your IP address. But we still need to pay for the increasing costs of servers, staff and rent.

In mid-2015, there were a total 343,000 Americans who had moved to Canada.

About 9000 Americans move to Canada in an average year.

Tens of thousands of Americans have given the move to Canada more consideration after the election of Trump

Future bomb disposal with leaner laser-armed robots

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight techs may soon use lasers to dispose of explosive devices, said Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Schott, superintendent of Eglin’s 96th Civil Engineer Group.

“The next step in our technology — that’s actually been proven, and we’re just maturing it now — is lasers,” Schott said during a Nov. 17 interview.

“The problem of why it took so long to mature is the amount of wattage needed in a laser to disrupt an ordnance item causes so much heat, it required too much air conditioning,” he said. “But they’ve got it down small enough now where the laser will disrupt an ordnance item and not require so much cooling.”

The plan is to position the lasers “on top of an MRAP,” or Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, he said.

“We’re finalizing the self-target part of [the lasers] where you don’t have to zoom in and target each [IED], but [that] it will do that kind of for you,” Schott said. “The longest part is burning through the ordnance, and the idea is to burn through the outer case of it, and get the inside to not detonate, but to burn out.”

The US Air Force is working with RE2 Robotics, which is developing ​a robotics system that would inspect ​an airfield for unexploded IEDs, ordnance and other debris in the aftermath of a hostile airstrike or attack, eliminate any dangers, and repair the damage.

Robots have only “just begun” to advance, made smaller to fit through doorways and climb stairs — something EOD techs have wanted for quite some time, officials said.

But now that these advancements are here, the technological enhancements, especially for combat robots, have gone through the roof, “especially with portability,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Hoagland, 96th EOD Flight craftsman.

Exoplanet space telescope will launch in December 2017

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is a planned space telescope for NASA's Explorers program, designed to search for exoplanets using the transit method. It is planned for launch in December 2017.

The primary mission objective for TESS is to survey the brightest stars near the Earth for transiting exoplanets over a two-year period. The TESS project will use an array of wide-field cameras to perform an all-sky survey. With TESS, it will be possible to study the mass, size, density and orbit of a large cohort of small planets, including a sample of rocky worlds in the habitable zones of their host stars. TESS will provide prime targets for further characterization by the James Webb Space Telescope, as well as other large ground-based and space-based telescopes of the future.

TESS is designed to carry out the first space-borne all-sky transiting exoplanet survey. It is equipped with four wide-angle telescopes and associated charge-coupled device (CCD) detectors. Science data will be transmitted to Earth every two weeks. Full-frame images with an effective exposure time of two hours will be transmitted as well, enabling scientists to search for unexpected, transient phenomena, such as the optical counterparts to gamma-ray bursts.

In order to obtain unobstructed imagery of both the northern and southern hemispheres of the sky, TESS will utilize a 2:1 lunar resonant orbit called P/2, an orbit that has never been used before. The spacecraft's 373,000 km (232,000 mi) apogee is timed to keep the craft away from the Moon, which acts as a destabilizing agent. This highly elliptical orbit should remain stable for decades, and will keep TESS's cameras in a stable temperature range. The majority of the orbit is spent outside the Van Allen belts to avoid radiation damage to TESS. Every 13.7 days at its perigee of 108,000 km (67,000 mi), TESS will downlink the data it has collected during the orbit to Earth over a period of approximately three hours

TESS will monitor the brightnesses of more than 500,000 stars during a two year mission, searching for temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits. Transits occur when a planet’s orbit carries it directly in front of its parent star as viewed from Earth.

TESS is expected to catalog more than 3000 transiting exoplanet candidates, including a sample of ~500 Earth-sized and ‘Super Earth’ planets, with radii less than twice that of the Earth. TESS will detect small rock-and-ice planets orbiting a diverse range of stellar types and covering a wide span of orbital periods, including rocky worlds in the habitable zones of their host stars.

TESS stars will be 30-100 times brighter than those surveyed by the Kepler satellite; thus,TESS planets should be far easier to characterize with follow-up observations. These follow-up observations will provide refined measurements of the planet masses, sizes, densities, and atmospheric properties.

TESS will provide prime targets for further, more detailed characterization with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), as well as other large ground-based and space-based telescopes of the future. TESS's legacy will be a catalog of the nearest and brightest stars hosting transiting exoplanets, which will comprise the most favorable targets for detailed investigations in the coming decades.

November 29, 2016

Millimeter accurate GPS in smartphones and self driving cars would result from tiny atomic clocks

Designer Carbon Materials Ltd is developing advanced nanomaterials for a range of applications, including energy harvesting, bio-sensing and quantum nanoelectronics.

They are producing designer endohedral fullerene molecules with tailored electronic properties. Designer Carbon Materials Ltd is a spin-out company from the University of Oxford. It is based on research led by Dr Kyriakos Porfyrakis and his academic group of 9 researchers.

They have developed technology for the scaled-up production of endohedral fullerenes. Our patented arc-reactor system can bring endohedral metallofullerene production to the gram-scale and beyond, faster and more efficiently than conventional arc reactors. They have access to state-of-the-art facilities for the purification of a range of fullerene molecules, including endohedral metallofullerenes and endohedral nitrogen fullerenes.

Endohedral fullerenes, also called endofullerenes, are fullerenes that have additional atoms, ions, or clusters enclosed within their inner spheres. The first lanthanum C60 complex was synthesized in 1985 and called La@C60.[2] The @ (at sign) in the name reflects the notion of a small molecule trapped inside a shell. Two types of endohedral complexes exist: endohedral metallofullerenes and non-metal doped fullerenes.

Nitrogen endohedral fullerenes is being used to create a small and portable atomic clock – the most accurate time-keeping system in the world – and could make the GPS navigation on driverless cars accurate to 1 millimeter.

"At the moment, atomic clocks are room-sized," said Lucius Cary, a director of the Oxford Technology SEIS fund, which now holds a minority stake. "This endohedral fullerene would make it work on a chip that could go into your mobile phone.

In 2007, there was an arxiv paper which described the design of a Micron-Scale Atomic Clock

Nitrogen atom is introduced into a fullerene cage. This endohedral fullerene is then coated with an insulating shell and a number of them are deposited as a thin layer on a silicon chip. Next to this layer a GMR sensor is fabricated which is close to the endohedral fullerenes. This GMR sensor measures oscillating magnetic fields on the order of micro-gauss from the nuclear spins varying at the frequency of the hyperfine transition (413 MHz frequency). Given the micron scale and simplicity of this system only a few transistors are needed to control the waveforms and to perform digital clocking. This new form of atomic clock exhibits extremely low power (nano watts), high vibration and shock resistance, stability on the order of 10^-9, and is compatible with MEMS fabrication and chip integration. As GMR sensors continue to improve in sensitivity the stability of this form of atomic clock will increase proportionately.

It is possible to separate each endohedral fullerene from its neighbors by coating it with a glass shell. Silica gel, an inorganic polymer, has a three-dimensional network and can easily be synthesized via the sol-gel route. Fullerenes cannot be incorporated into sol-gel glasses homogeneously due to low solubility. This problem can be overcome by functionalization of the fullerenes with such groups as will form some kind of bond (hydrogen, van der Waals, or covalent) with the growing silica network

The simple scheme discussed gives us a micron scale atomic clock with 10^−9 accuracy and a power dissipation of a nanowatt (10 nW capacitive drive but we can use resonant circuits to store the energy). This will likely be adequate for many mobile/sensor net applications but not adequate for more demanding situations. What can be done?

First, as GMR sensors improve (BMR, etc.), we can use more diluted fullerene stacks to gain a sharper line by a cubic factor in separation as we lose an equal amount of magnetic signal. A nanoscale-precise placing of fullerenes would give us a very well determined perturbation situation that can be exploited for accuracy. In the limit of true nanotechnology the ultimate clock is a single fullerene with considerable shielding. This should be competitive with very good atomic clocks of vastly more volume.

Progress to overcoming the last obstacle to the creation of all optical computers

Recent developments in nanoscience have led to dramatic decreases in computer components size. The inherent property of such small-size systems is the impossibility of separation of the environment from the system under consideration. For this reason, the investigation of open and, in particular, non-Hermitian systems has been among the main topics of physics over the last decade.

Recent work solves much of the loss problem with photonics. Optical signals travel much faster than electrons — at the speed of light — and are not subject to "resistance." Scientists have already created all the major components needed to create the ultimate all optical computer. nfortunately, the waveguides down which optical signals travel in a photonic computer introduce loses much like the resistance against electrons in copper wires.

Unfortunately, when traversing the twists and turns of photonic circuits, they do loose "intensity," just as less than 100% of light is reflected from a mirror. If this problem was solved it would go long way to realizing the all-optical computer of the future without the need for amplifier or superconductivity.

All-optical computers using photons traveling at the speed-of-light in theory could make the electronics we know today obsolete. All the subsystems are in place, but one key obstacle remained — optical losses. Now the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) claims it may have cleared that last hurdle.

According to the journal, Nature, a new method that can compensate for losses just by carefully designing dual waveguides to match the wavelength of the light traveling through them. By doing so, the traveling waves can reinforce each other along the way, thus introducing a slight gain that compensates for the normal losses.

“We have learned how to amplify optical waves by periodically changing the distance between their waveguides. Thus by merely configuring their flow of energy we can compensate for the normal losses in a waveguide resulting in a net gain,” professor Alexander Pukhov, a senior researcher at MIPT’s Laboratory of Quantum Information Theory

They demonstrated that when the system is at the exceptional point, any perturbation that changes the parameters of the system leads to increasing eigenmode amplitudes. As a result, the system becomes unstable with respect to such perturbation. This phenomenon is a new effect in optical non-Hermitian systems: parametric instability near the exceptional point (PIEP).

Changing the coupling constant leads to an increase in total power limited only by nonlinear effects. Moreover, we show that the transmission coefficient of such waveguides is larger than in a system with constant parameters

The phenomenon of PIEP may be used in metamaterial, plasmonic, and nanooptic devices whose applicability is substantially restricted by losses. It opens a wide range of applications in optics, plasmonics, and optoelectronics, in which loss is an inevitable problem and plays a crucial role.

While still in the design stage, MIPT's next step is to prove the concept in the laboratory. After optimizing the effect, the last major obstacle to the era of photonic computers will be removed.

Dependency of signal intensity (solid line) and field amplitude (dashed line) depends on the coordinates along in the first and second waveguides.
(Source: MIST)

Nature Scientific Reports - Parametric instability of optical non-Hermitian systems near the exceptional point

In contrast to Hermitian systems, the modes of non-Hermitian systems are generally nonorthogonal. As a result, the power of the system signal depends not only on the mode amplitudes but also on the phase shift between them. In this work, we show that it is possible to increase the mode amplitudes without increasing the power of the signal. Moreover, we demonstrate that when the system is at the exceptional point, any infinitesimally small change in the system parameters increases the mode amplitudes. As a result, the system becomes unstable with respect to such perturbation. We show such instability by using the example of two coupled waveguides in which loss prevails over gain and all modes are decaying. This phenomenon enables compensation for losses in dissipative systems and opens a wide range of applications in optics, plasmonics, and optoelectronics, in which loss is an inevitable problem and plays a crucial role.

Solar plane will fly two and half times higher than regular commercial jets

SolarStratos is planning to fly a solar-powered plane to an altitude of over 80,000 ft (24,000 m) most commercial jets fly at an altitude of about 30,000 feet.

SolarStratos is the first commercial two-seater solar plane in history, it will also be the first manned solar plane penetrating the stratosphere. Calin Gologan (PC-Aero GmbH – technical partner PostalSolar) is the designer. The basis of the commercial aircraft will be used and the aerodrome will be pushed to the limit of its ability to succeed in our crazy bet. This tandem two-seater, with a wingspan of 24 meters and a weight of 450 kilos will fly like any other SolarStratos aircraft which means not perpetually. This will in no way impair the Mission SolarStratos, which will be a flight in high altitude.

For weight reasons, the vessel will not be pressurised, obliging Raphaël to wear an astronaut’s pressurised suit which will function uniquely with solar energy constituting a world first.

The flight mission is currently set for 2018.

Spacex Satellite net could start gigabit per second operation in 2020 with 800 to 1600 satellites covering the North America, Europe and Asia

The SpaceX satellite constellation is a development project underway by SpaceX to develop a low-cost, high-performance satellite bus and requisite customer ground transceivers to be used to implement a new space-based internet communication system.

SpaceX has plans to also sell satellites that use the same satellite bus, satellites that might be used for scientific or exploratory purposes

Development began in 2015, initial prototype test-flight satellites are expected to be flown in 2017, and initial operation of the constellation could begin as early as 2020.

By October 2016, SpaceX had developed test-flight satellites that they hope to launch in 2017 and they are focusing on a significant business challenge of achieving a sufficiently-low-cost design for the user equipment, aiming for something that can ostensibly install easily at end-user premises for approximately US$200.

The internet communication satellites are expected to be in the smallsat-class of 100-to-500 kg (220-to-1,100 lb)-mass, which are intended to be orbiting at an altitude of approximately 1,100 kilometers (680 mi). Initial plans as of January 2015 are for the constellation to be made up of approximately 4400 cross-linked satellites, more than twice as many operational satellites as are in orbit in January 2015

SpaceX plans to begin flight testing of their satellite technologies in 2017, with the planned launch of two test satellites, MicroSat-1a and MicroSat-1b. The satellites will orbit in a circular low Earth orbit at 625 kilometers (388 mi) altitude in a high-inclination orbit for a planned six to twelve-month duration. The sats will communicate with three testing ground stations in Washington and California for short-term experiments of less than ten minutes duration, roughly daily. Both microsats will be launched into 625 km circular orbits at approximately 86.4 degrees inclination, and will include panchromatic video imager cameras to film image of Earth and the satellite

SpaceX expects its own latencies to be between 25 and 35ms, similar to the latencies measured for wired Internet services. Current satellite ISPs have latencies of 600ms or more, according to FCC measurements.

SpaceX promises that its satellites will boast impressive bandwidth, the amount of data that can be delivered each second. That could potentially reduce or eliminate the need to impose strict limits on consumers.

“Once fully optimized through the Final Deployment, the system will be able to provide high bandwidth (up to 1Gbps per user), low-latency broadband services for consumers and businesses in the US and globally,” SpaceX told the FCC. “Subject to additional development work, SpaceX plans to design and manufacture its own satellites, gateway earth stations, and user terminals.” Home Internet customers would receive a "low-profile user terminal that is easy to mount and operate on walls or roofs."

Each satellite will provide aggregate downlink capacity of 17 to 23Gbps, the application said. “With deployment of the first 800 satellites, the system will be able to provide US and international broadband connectivity; when fully deployed, the system will add capacity and availability at the equator and poles for truly global coverage,” SpaceX said.

Upgrades will follow

SpaceX said per-satellite bandwidth should increase periodically as the company deploys improvements. “The system leverages phased array technology to dynamically steer a large pool of beams to focus capacity where it is needed,” the company said. “Optical inter-satellite links permit flexible routing of traffic on-orbit. Further, the constellation ensures that frequencies can be reused effectively across different satellites to enhance the flexibility and capacity and robustness of the overall system.”

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