December 10, 2016

DARPA wants to control hundreds of air and ground drones from single controllers by providing a selection of swarming tactic options

DARPA's OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics program seeks to empower dismounted troops with technology to control scores of unmanned air and ground vehicles at a time

Urban canyons—with their high vertical structures, tight spaces, and limited lines of sight—constrain military communications, mobility, and tactics in the best of times. These challenges become even more daunting when U.S. forces are in areas they do not control—where they can’t rely on supply chains, infrastructure, and previous knowledge of local conditions and potential threats.

Unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) have long proven beneficial in such difficult urban environs, performing missions such as aerial reconnaissance and building clearance. But their value to ground troops could be vastly amplified if troops could control scores or even hundreds—“swarms”—of these robotic units at the same time. The prime bottleneck to achieving this goal is not the robotic vehicles themselves, which are becoming increasingly capable and affordable. Rather, U.S. military forces currently lack the technologies to manage and interact with such swarms and the means to quickly develop and share swarm tactics suitable for application in diverse, evolving urban situations.

To help overcome these challenges and dramatically increase the effectiveness of small-unit combat forces operating in urban environments, DARPA has launched its new OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program. OFFSET seeks to develop and demonstrate 100+ operationally relevant swarm tactics that could be used by groups of unmanned air and/or ground systems numbering more than 100 robots. These swarm tactics for large teams of unmanned assets would help improve force protection, firepower, precision effects, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. OFFSET plans to offer frequent opportunities for engagement with anticipated end users in the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps and would share successfully tested swarm tactics with them on a rolling basis.

“With the technologies and tactics to be developed under OFFSET, we anticipate achieving a deeper understanding of how large numbers of increasingly autonomous air and ground robots can be leveraged to benefit urban warfighters,” said Timothy Chung, DARPA program manager. “We aim to provide the tools to quickly generate swarm tactics, evaluate those swarm tactics for effectiveness, and integrate the best swarm tactics into field operations. If we’re successful, this work could also bring entirely new scalable, dynamic capabilities to the battlefield, such as distributed perception, robust and resilient communications, dispersed computing and analytics, and adaptive collective behaviors.”

To accomplish these goals, OFFSET seeks to develop an active swarm tactics development ecosystem and supporting open systems architecture, including:

An advanced human-swarm interface to enable users to monitor and direct potentially hundreds of unmanned platforms simultaneously in real time. The program intends to leverage rapidly emerging immersive and intuitive interactive technologies (augmented and virtual reality, voice-, gesture-, and touch-based) to create a novel command interface with immersive situational awareness and decision presentation capabilities. The interface would also incorporate a swarm interaction grammar, similar in concept to playbooks coaches in soccer, basketball, and other games prepare with pre-made plays combined with “freestyle” design tools that allow dynamic action and reaction based on real-time conditions in the field.

US Congressional report warns that China is getting even better at stealing US military technology and secrets

US intelligence agencies determined that several years ago China stole secrets relating to the F-35 jet fighter from a US contractor. The design secrets were detected in China’s new J-20 stealth fighter and the J-31.

The stolen secrets included details of the F-35’s electro-optical targeting system, radar-absorbing coatings and engine nozzles.

Taiwan remains a major spying target of China and, since 2002, 56 Chinese agents have been arrested there after being caught obtaining sensitive information, including about US technology shared with Taipei.

“In recent years, Chinese agents have extracted data on some of the most advanced weapons and weapons systems in the US arsenal, such as jet fighters and unmanned submersible vehicles,” states the annual report of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, released on November 16.

The United States faces a large and growing threat to its national security from Chinese intelligence collection operations. Among the most serious threats are China’s efforts at cyber and human infiltration of U.S. national security organizations. These operations are not a recent phenomenon, but reports of Chinese espionage against the United States have risen significantly over the past 15 years. The threat from Chinese intelligence operations also extends overseas.

For example, China’s growing technical intelligence * collection capabilities are increasing its ability to monitor deployed U.S. military forces. Moreover, by infiltrating and attempting to infiltrate defense entities in U.S. ally and partner countries, China could affect U.S. alliance stability and indirectly extract sensitive U.S. national defense information. Meanwhile, the national security implications of Chinese intelligence collection operations have grown amid U.S.-China competition and Beijing’s expanding military might.

Chinese intelligence threat is increasing as China reforms and centralizes its intelligence apparatus and gains experience conducting spying operations. China is also improving its human spy service.

The military spy agencies were the subject of a major reform effort in late 2015 that moved them from the General Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army to a new military service-level group called the Strategic Support Force.

U.S. Defense Industrial Entities

China’s intelligence collection operations targeting U.S. defense industrial entities and its acquisition of sensitive defense technology could undermine U.S. military superiority by accelerating China’s military modernization and giving China insight into the capabilities and operation of U.S. weapons and weapons systems.

Some spies were caught but there are more spies and operatives across the defense agencies, companies, contractors of the US and its allies.

• In June 2016, Wenxia “Wency” Man, a Chinese-born naturalized U.S. citizen, was convicted of conspiring with an agent in China to illegally export to China the MQ–9 Reaper/Predator B unmanned aerial vehicle, as well as engines used in the F–35, F–22, and F–16 jet fighters and technical data associated with these platforms.

• In June 2016, Amin “Amy” Yu, a Chinese national and permanent resident of the United States, pleaded guilty to illegally acting as an agent of the Chinese government. Ms. Yu illegally exported commercial technology used in marine submersible vehicles * to conspirators at China’s Harbin Engineering University, a research institute that supports PLA Navy military modernization.

• In March 2016, Su Bin, a Chinese national, pleaded guilty to conspiring from 2008 to 2014 to steal U.S. military technical data, including data on the Boeing C–17 Globemaster military transport aircraft and jet fi ghter aircraft, and export this information to China. Some of Mr. Su’s co-conspirators were members of the PLA Air Force.

December 09, 2016

Beyond Dome City colonies to Shell Worlds or Paraterraforming as a shortcut to making planets habitable

Existing covered areas and domes on Earth are in the 30-40 acre ranges and with costs of $400 million to 1 billion. There is also strong material (EFTE) which is 100 times lighter than glass and which can lower costs by 4 times. Very large geodesic domes could cover several square miles on Mars. Mars has one third of the gravity on Earth, so dome cities could be very large there.

A large “shell” can be used to encase an alien world (asteroid or moon), keeping its atmosphere contained long enough for long-term changes to take root.

There is also the concepts where a usable part of a planet is enclosed in an dome in order to transform its environment, which is known as “paraterraforming”.

Paraterraforming - The worldhouse concept

The 'worldhouse' concept of paraterraforming can be formulated within the existing boundaries of technological knowledge and can provide a quasi-unconstrained global habitable environment at significantly lower levels of materials requirement and economic cost. Construction can proceed on a modular basis. A coarse-grained assessment of the possibilities of paraterraforming Mars is presented. It is suggested that the establishment of a fully habitable worldhouse environment on the planet Mercury would be a much less difficult undertaking than taerraforming Venus and could be economically important for the human exploitation of the solar system.

Shell Worlds - An Approach To Terraforming Moons, Small Planets and Plutoids

One big problem with the traditional terraforming approach is finding planets with workable initial parameters: large enough, temperate enough, wet enough, axial spin not too fast or too slow, a magnetic field, etc. A novel method to creating habitable environments for humanity by enclosing airless and otherwise useless sterile planets, moons, and even large asteroids within engineered shells is proposed. These shells are subjected to two primary opposing internal forces: compression caused by gravity and tension caused by atmospheric pressure. By careful design, these two forces can cancel each other out resulting in a net stress on the shell of zero. Beneath the shell an earthlike environment could be created similar in almost all respects to that of Earth except for gravity, regardless of the distance to the sun or other star. These would be small worlds, not merely large habitats, possibly stable across historic timescales. Each would contain a full, self-sustaining ecology, which might evolve in interesting directions over time.

Working the math on spherical shells, they ponder the fact that if the objective is to contain a 14.7 psi Earth-normal atmosphere, such a shell would experience the same kind of pressure-induced tension found in a balloon. Assume one atmosphere of pressure at the underside of the shell and vacuum above it, and it is possible to choose a shell thickness so that the compressive stress of gravity cancels out the atmosphere-induced tensile stress in the shell. A shell made completely of steel, for example, built to enclose a world 20 kilometers above its surface, would need to be 1.31 meters thick if enclosing the Earth, and 8.05 meters thick if enclosing the Moon.

Moreover, the shell mass used is there simply to create compressive force — opposing the pressure of the atmosphere within the shell — and can be no more than dead weight. Enclosing the Earth’s Moon could be done with no more than a 1-meter thick layer of steel if it incorporated 62 meters of regolith on top of it, with open-ended combinations of steel, ice, dirt and rock possible for the job.

Large inflatable structures on Mars

There are currently large air supported structures on Earth for covering football and baseball stadiums.

These structures are built to support a lot of snow and withstand strong winds.

They could be used for large early Mars colonies

In a deflated state, robots can push regolith onto the pre-inflated structure.

After they are inflated, the robots could push the regolith for the side walls,

Later when brick and glass are being produced, there could be buildings made from local materials

Genome Editing of Pluripotent Stem Cells could forecast the next decade of biotech

It is extremely rare for a single experiment to be so impactful and timely that it shapes and forecasts the experiments of the next decade. Researchers review how two such experiments—the generation of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and the development of CRISPR/Cas9 technology—have fundamentally reshaped our approach to biomedical research, stem cell biology, and human genetics. They highlight the previous knowledge that iPSC and CRISPR/Cas9 technologies were built on as this groundwork demonstrated the need for solutions and the benefits that these technologies provided and set the stage for their success.

Despite the obvious advances that have been made as a result of iPSC and editing technologies, several challenges remain. A key limitation remains that human cells prefer to choose the imprecise NHEJ pathway to repair a DSB rather than use the more precise homologous DNA repair pathway using an exogenous repair template. Due to this pathway choice, editing events often result in NHEJ-mediated insertions and deletions at the DSB rather than the intended homology-mediated modification. NHEJ-mediated gene disruption can be useful when the researcher or clinician intends to generate a loss-of-function event. However, in most clinical treatment settings the generation of a defined allele with high frequency will be essential to devise treatment options that require editing to result in gain of function at endogenous genes. Approaches to shift the balance away from NHEJ and toward homology-mediated repair included inhibiting NHEJ with small molecules or controlling the timing of CRISPR/Cas9 delivery with respect to the cell-cycle stage. These approaches are promising, yet we are currently far away from testing the efficacy of treatment strategies that rely on gene repair or gain-of-function approaches using high-frequency HR repair events of endogenous genes.

Facing this challenge, recent studies used creative ways to take advantage of NHEJ-meditated genome editing and the fact that the simultaneous expression of two nucleases can meditate the excision or inversion of the sequence internal to the two SSNs. In the specific case of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Cas9 was employed to excise 725 kb of genomic sequences, which removed a premature STOP codon in the disease-causing DMD gene and thereby restored the reading frame and partial protein function.

Similarly, Cas9-mediated genome editing in patient-specific iPSCs was used to genetically correct the disease-causing chromosomal inversions found in patients with Hemophilia A, demonstrating that NHEJ-based approaches can be used to model and correct large-scale genomic alterations underlying human disease.

Elegant work that also takes advantage of the fact that genomic sequences between two SSN cuts can reinsert back into the locus in an inverted manner recently demonstrated that CTCF sites interact with each other in an orientation-dependent manner. Using this approach Guo et al. elucidate the impact of the directionality of CTCF sites in the mediation of large-scale genome interactions and transcriptional regulation.

Another challenge of genome editing in human cells is that human cells have relatively short conversion tracts. This means that even when a DSB is repaired by homology-directed repair (HDR) and not the NHEJ machinery, modifications can only be made with reasonable frequency very close to one side of the DSB. This presents a major obstacle toward the introduction of complex genetic changes in hPSCs. The use of Cpf1, a class 2 CRISPR effector that uses the same basic principles as Cas9, but cleaves DNA further away from the PAM sequence and generates a single-stranded overhang, may help increase the rate of HDR over NHEJ events (Zetsche et al., 2015). Overcoming this challenge will significantly facilitate the engineering of human stem cells, as it will allow us to refine the human genome more efficiently. Eventually this could result in similar resources that have been used in yeast and mESCs, such as a comprehensive collection of conditional human knockout iPSC libraries, with a homozygous iPSC line for each human gene carrying an exon flanked by LoxP sites.

Cell - Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Meet Genome Editing

86000 more deaths in 2015 vs 2014 in the USA, partially explained by increases in drug overdoses, gun deaths, suicides

2015 saw roughly 86,000 more deaths than 2014 in the USA

Standard life expectancy at birth dropped to 78.8 years from 78.9 just a year earlier. Preliminary analysis suggests the increase in deaths may have been driven by drug overdoses and an unusually severe flu season in early 2015, which may have exacerbated potentially fatal conditions such as heart disease.

Overall, drug overdose deaths rose 11 percent last year, to 52,404.

The number of people who died in car crashes was 37,757, which was also an increase of 12 percent.

Gun deaths, including homicides and suicides, totaled 36,252 which was also up 7 percent.

Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, a federal data analysis has found, with increases in every age group except older adults. The rise was particularly steep for women. It was also substantial among middle-aged Americans, sending a signal of deep anguish from a group whose suicide rates had been stable or falling since the 1950s.

The suicide rate for middle-aged women, ages 45 to 64, jumped by 63 percent over the period of the study, while it rose by 43 percent for men in that age range, the sharpest increase for males of any age. The overall suicide rate rose by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which released the study on Friday.

The increases were so widespread that they lifted the nation’s suicide rate to 13 per 100,000 people, the highest since 1986. The rate rose by 2 percent a year starting in 2006, double the annual rise in the earlier period of the study. In all, 42,773 people died from suicide in 2014, compared with 29,199 in 1999.

Obesity also hit a record high. At 28% of US population

Trump is close to appointing pro aging reversal head for the FDA and one who would move to faster drug approvals

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team is considering a Silicon Valley investor close to billionaire Peter Thiel to head the Food and Drug Administration, according to people familiar with the matter.

Jim O’Neill, the Thiel associate, hasn’t been officially selected, according to the people, who asked to remain anonymous because the decision process is private, and the Trump team could still go in another direction.

O’Neill is a managing director at Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management, and last served in government during the George W. Bush administration as principal associate deputy secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services. He’s also a board member of the Seasteading Institute, a Thiel-backed venture to create new societies at sea, away from existing governments.

Faster drug approvals with approval once proven safe and allow people to use at own risk with efficacy work after initial approval

O’Neill also could push the agency in new directions. In a 2014 speech, he said he supported reforming FDA approval rules so that drugs could hit the market after they’ve been proven safe, but without any proof that they worked, something he called “progressive approval.”

“We should reform FDA so there is approving drugs after their sponsors have demonstrated safety -- and let people start using them, at their own risk, but not much risk of safety,” O’Neill said in a speech at an August 2014 conference called Rejuvenation Biotechnology. “Let’s prove efficacy after they’ve been legalized.”

Supports anti-aging and aging reversal medicine

He advocated anti-aging medicine, saying he believed it was scientifically possible to develop treatments that would reverse aging, though the drug industry’s approach to the idea was “long overdue for innovation.”

Would support not regulating 23andme

In the same 2014 speech, O’Neill said that when he was in the HHS he had opposed the FDA regulating some companies, such as 23andMe Inc., that perform complex laboratory-developed tests using mathematical algorithms.

“In order to regulate in this space, FDA had to argue that an algorithm, a series of numbers that match up to things, is a medical device,” he said. “I found that really astonishing -- astonishing that someone could say it with a straight face, and astonishing that someone could claim the ability to shut down companies that were never touching a patient but only accurately matching algorithms.”

Taiwan Semiconductor will invest $15.7 billion on 3 and 5 nanometer CPUs with mass production by 2022

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.the world's largest contract maker of semiconductors, plans to invest NT$500 billion (US$15.7 billion) in its 3-nanometer (3nm) and 5-nanometer (5nm) processes, with the aim of mass-producing the chips by 2022, Technology Minister Yang Hung-duen said Tuesday.

The project is expected to create more than 10,000 jobs and construction is slated to start in 2020.

The firm requires around 50 to 80 hectares of land and had chosen Kaohsiung Science Park as the location for its new plant, the ministry said.

According to the chip supplier, its 7 nm chips will go into production in 2018, while construction required for its 5 nm process will begin next year.

The firm said it would continue to grow the research team for 3 nm production, boosting its research and development team to more than 300 people.

The investment is needed to compete on even terms against its deep-pocketed American and South Korean rivals, as well as to make a foray into some of the emerging tech sectors that are expected to become multi-billion dollar industries in the future; namely, artificial intelligence, machine learning and self-driving vehicles, all of which require some serious processing power.

TSMC has already been working on 5nm chip technology. TSMC has now got over 300 of its engineers working on 3nm and 2nm chips. The company plans to start mass production of its 7nm chips in early 2018.

TSMC is roughly tracking to the industry roadmap from 2014.

China developing H-20 Stealth Bomber for 2025 that will match the US B-2 which was introduced in 1997

The Xian H-20 is a subsonic stealth bomber design of the People's Liberation Army Air Force, due to enter service in the future. It is a "strategic project" for china. The aircraft will feature a wing design similar to that of the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, with components already being manufactured. Analysts note that the bomber may enter service by 2025, and will seek to replace China's existing fleet of Xian H-6K bombers.

Admiral Yin said the H-20 stealth bomber will certainly be on par with the United States' Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit. He noted China has gained some experience in stealth technology from the development of Chengdu J-20 and the Shenyang J-31 stealth fighters, so the material and design isn't a big problem.

The US B-2 entered service in 1997 as the second aircraft designed to have advanced stealth technology after the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk attack aircraft
The US Northrop B-2 is capable of all-altitude attack missions up to 50,000 feet (15,000 m), with a range of more than 6,000 nautical miles (6,900 mi; 11,000 km) on internal fuel and over 10,000 nautical miles (12,000 mi; 19,000 km) with one midair refueling.

According to the China Daily, Chinese military officials have made clear intentions to develop a strategic bomber capable of striking targets beyond the second island chain without aerial refueling, while carrying a payload of at least 10 tons

China's first stealth bomber will be developed and produced by Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation, the same firm that makes the H-6K.

The H-6K has a range of about 3200 nautical miles.

China's decision to go ahead with its own stealth bomber seems to have been triggered by its failure to buy Russia's supersonic Tupolev Tu-22M3 variable-sweep wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber developed by the Tupolev Design Bureau.

This Russian bomber has a combat radius of 2,400 kilometers and can carry up to 24,000 kilograms of bombs and missiles.

Western military analysts said China needs the H-20 to deny the U.S. from entering the "First Island Chain" from Alaska to the Philippines, and to cement its military leadership in Asia.

Printable electronics with 1 to micron features and a speed of 5 seconds per meter

Engineers at MIT have invented a fast, precise printing process that may make such electronic surfaces an inexpensive reality. In a paper published today in Science Advances, the researchers report that they have fabricated a stamp made from forests of carbon nanotubes that is able to print electronic inks onto rigid and flexible surfaces.

A. John Hart, the Mitsui Career Development Associate Professor in Contemporary Technology and Mechanical Engineering at MIT, says the team’s stamping process should be able to print transistors small enough to control individual pixels in high-resolution displays and touchscreens. The new printing technique may also offer a relatively cheap, fast way to manufacture electronic surfaces for as-yet-unknown applications.

“There is a huge need for printing of electronic devices that are extremely inexpensive but provide simple computations and interactive functions,” Hart says. “Our new printing process is an enabling technology for high-performance, fully printed electronics, including transistors, optically functional surfaces, and ubiquitous sensors.”

The key to printing tiny, precise, high-resolution patterns is in the amount of pressure applied to stamp the ink. The team developed a model to predict the amount of force necessary to stamp an even layer of ink onto a substrate, given the roughness of both the stamp and the substrate, and the concentration of nanoparticles in the ink.

To scale up the process, Mariappan built a printing machine, including a motorized roller, and attached to it various flexible substrates. The researchers fixed each stamp onto a platform attached to a spring, which they used to control the force used to press the stamp against the substrate.
“This would be a continuous industrial process, where you would have a stamp, and a roller on which you’d have a substrate you want to print on, like a spool of plastic film or specialized paper for electronics,” Hart says. “We found, limited by the motor we used in the printing system, we could print at 200 millimeters per second, continuously, which is already competitive with the rates of industrial printing technologies. This, combined with a tenfold improvement in the printing resolution that we demonstrated, is encouraging.”

After stamping ink patterns of various designs, the team tested the printed patterns’ electrical conductivity. After annealing, or heating, the designs after stamping — a common step in activating electronic features — the printed patterns were indeed highly conductive, and could serve, for example, as high-performance transparent electrodes.

Going forward, Hart and his team plan to pursue the possibility of fully printed electronics.

“Another exciting next step is the integration of our printing technologies with 2-D materials, such as graphene, which together could enable new, ultrathin electronic and energy conversion devices,” Hart says.

High-speed printing and process performance metrics.(A) Custom-built desktop P2R printing system with a CNT stamp attached on a flat flexure and a PET film attached to a roller with a diameter of 5 cm. (B) Optical microscope image of Ag honeycomb pattern with minimum internal linewidth of 3 μm printed on a PET substrate at a printing speed of 0.2 m/s using the P2R system. (C) Comparison of speed and resolution of conventional printing technologies for electronically functional materials. Conventional processes include flexography, gravure, screen, and inkjet. Soft lithography includes μCP and nTP; Nozzle-based high-resolution printing methods include direct writing and EHD printing. Tip-based methods include DPN and polymer pen lithography (PPN). (D) Comparison of volume per unit length, lateral feature size, and thickness of ink that transfers to the substrate by single print (by mechanical contact or drop) in conventional printing technologies, compared to nanoporous flexographic printing, as shown in this paper.

Direct printing of ultrathin colloidal ink patterns using microstructured nanoporous stamps.Schematics of the printing procedure (A) and the uniform transfer of ink (B) from the nanoporous stamp to the target substrate surface via conformal contact. (C) Scanning electrode microscopy (SEM) images of stamp features comprising an array of squares (side length, 25 μm), along with corresponding optical and atomic force microscopy (AFM) images of the resulting printed Ag ink [particle size, less than 10 nm; 50 to 60 weight % (wt %) in tetradecane] patterns. (D) Photographs of printed Ag ink patterns on a rigid glass plate and on a flexible polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film. (E) SEM image of the stamp feature (upper left) and optical microscope image of the printed Ag NP ink pattern (lower right) of a flower-like pattern with feature widths varying from 20 to 150 μm. (F) Fluorescence microscope image (wavelength emission, 620 nm) of printed QD ink (CdSe/ZnS, ~5 to 6 nm, 10 wt % dispersed in tetradecane) of a pattern with minimum internal linewidth of 5 μm and hole size of 11 μm.

Science Advances - Ultrathin high-resolution flexographic printing using nanoporous stamps

Reaction Engines UK progressing to full demonstrator hypersonic engine in 2020 and fully reusable spaceplanes and hypersonic fighter jets around 2030

SABRE - Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine - is a new class of engine for propelling both high speed aircraft and spacecraft. SABRE engines are unique in delivering the fuel efficiency of a jet engine with the power and high speed ability of a rocket.

Unlike jet engines, which are only capable of powering a vehicle up to Mach 3, three times the speed of sound, SABRE engines are capable of Mach 5.4 in air-breathing mode, and Mach 25 in rocket mode for space flight. They are simply going to revolutionise the way we travel around the globe, and into orbit. Like jet engines, SABRE can be scaled in size to provide difference levels of thrust for different applications which is crucial to our success - it's going to enable a whole generation of air and space vehicles.

There are three core building blocks to the SABRE engine, the pre-cooler, the engine core and the thrust chamber. Each of these systems can be developed and validated using ground based demonstrations which saves cost and time relative to flight test, a design feature that benefitted the development of the propeller and jet engine, We plan to demonstrate each of these independently over the next four years, beginning with a high temperature test of the pre cooler in 2017.

We’re about to start building a significant new UK test site to test critical subsystems and aim to test a fully integrated engine core in 2020.

Reaction engines finalized the UK Government’s £60 million commitment in November, 2016. In November 2015, BAE Systems invested £20.6 million in Reaction Engines to acquire 20 per cent of its share capital and agreed to provide industrial, technology development and project management expertise to support Reaction Engines during its development phase.

Orbital Access Ltd announced December 7, 2016 that it has been awarded a £250,000 grant by the UK Space Agency to technically and commercially evaluate a roadmap for UK small space payload launchers. The project, coined FSPLUK, aims to define an initial commercially viable launch system able to be brought to service by 2020 leading to a fully re-usable system for services to start in 2030. The project focusses on horizontal take-off launch systems to exploit the UK’s forthcoming spaceport. The FSPLUK project team led by Orbital Access comprises BAE SYSTEMS, Reaction Engines, Fluid Gravity Engineering, the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde, Surrey Satellite Technologies, Clyde Space and the STFC.

The US Air Force Research lab has started working on key SABRE technologies. AFRL is working on the engine's precooler. This device precools the air entering the engine at speeds greater than four times the speed of sound (Mach 4). SABRE's precooler will cool such air from more than 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 degrees Celsius) down to minus 238 F (minus 150 C) in one one-hundredth of a second. The oxygen in the chilled air will become liquid in the process.

The AFRL precooler test program, which is called Durable Pre-cooling Heat Exchangers for High Mach Flight, consists of three phases, the last of which could involve test flights. Two SABREs will power Skylon — a privately funded, single-stage-to-orbit concept vehicle that is 276 feet (84 meters) long. At takeoff, the plane will weigh about 303 tons (275,000 kilograms). AFRL views a single-stage-to-orbit Skylon space plane as "technically very risky as a first application [of SABRE]," and this is why the lab is developing two-stage-to-orbit concepts.

SABRE burns hydrogen and oxygen. It acts like a jet engine in Earth's thick lower atmosphere, taking in oxygen to combust with onboard liquid hydrogen. When SABRE reaches an altitude of 16 miles (26 kilometers) and five times the speed of sound (Mach 5), however, it switches over to Skylon's onboard liquid-oxygen tank to reach orbit.

December 08, 2016

Leadership, making a talent base and the building of silicon valley

What is it that's magical about this place [Silicon Valley]? And is it something that could be replicated in other parts of the world?

Everybody wants to replicate it. What they fail to understand is that replication is a 30- or 40-year effort. It's not an overnight transformation.

And it takes that long because the educational institutions which serve as the source-- not only of many of the great ideas which are transformed into new things in the Valley-- but also of the talent base. So you need talent. It begins with great people. And one of the remarkable things about the Bay Area is, as you pointed out, it brings great people from all over the globe to this incredible place. It's built an environment over time that, while it's not a perfect meritocracy, it's as good as any place I've ever seen. And it's a welcoming place for people from all walks of life. You can come from anywhere in the world and find people in the Valley that speak the language you spoke when you were born, that eat the kind of food you really enjoy. And that makes it a very welcoming place to bring talented individuals. You know-- flat management structures. There are a lot of things that happen.

Systematic Innovation

Astro Teller, director of the moonshot factory at Alphabet known simply as X, explains how he is a "culture engineer" and how he systematizes innovation by creating a work environment where employees are encouraged to be audacious. He says they are given the freedom to work on projects that inspire them and that they want to own – whether they fail or succeed.

Transcript of Teller talking systematic innovation

- I'm a culture engineer. The thing that excites me the most is not making stratospheric balloons, or self-driving cars, or working on contact lenses, or on UAVs that can deliver packages. The thing that excites me the most is trying to systematize innovation. And, when I was young, I used to think that systematizing innovation might be some combination of things you could get if you just went to all the business books, and you picked out the smartest things from each of the business books.

Hire the smartest people and fail fast, and this, and that, and the other thing. It's kind of true, it just turns out that if you do that, you don't actually get much innovation. What excites me is, what would it take to actually get a group of people to do the things that it says in those business books that you guys have all read. If this is the set of things they should do, and this is the set of things they do do, and for any of you who've been in business before, you know how big a gulf there is. Wherever you worked, I promise you, that gulf existed. There's a reason that there's such a big gap between the things that you want them to do, and the things they actually spend their time doing.

It's because this is the lip service that you're giving, but this is this paths of least resistance, emotionally, to doing those things. They don't care what you said they should do. They're going to follow the paths of emotional least resistance. Cultural engineering is the process of trying to get this, the paths of least resistance, to actually line up with the things you want them to do. So I'm gonna give you a few examples. The first one is, let me unpack a little bit more about the audacious goals some more. Here's how most companies do something sort of like the audacious goals. Have you guys heard of OKRs? Objectives and key results? So this is the way objectives and key results actually works in a business. You, are gonna need to be, you report to me, and you're gonna have to be held accountable by me, because I'm the manager. So we're gonna start this weird haggle situation.

We're gonna figure out what your OKRs are. You're gonna try to haggle them as low as you can. Sandbag, sandbag,
sandbag. Because you know I'm gonna hold you accountable for whatever it is that we decide on. So then I can feel you pulling them down, so I'm gonna pull them up, up, up, up, up. I wanna haggle, haggle, haggle, you can do more, you can do more, you're sandbagging. And we end up in this place in the middle, where now you feel like you don't really own that OKR. It's higher than the things that you were saying and you were making all these arguments about why that's an unreasonable number, or metric, for me to hold you to. It's either the wrong metric or it's too big, relative to what you think you can actually accomplish. And I feel bad too, because I feel like it's two-thirds or half of what I actually was trying to talk you into.

So now we have this thing that neither of us believes in, and this is the OKR. This is a stick, it's a weapon. And my management plan for the entire quarter or year, is I'm going to beat you with the OKR stick. You're not doing it enough, you're not doing it enough. This is 21st century management somehow. It doesn't work very well. This is not how to get people to be innovative. You cannot get them to do the things you really want them to do, especially if your lip service includes things like creativity, and failing fast, and being transparent, and a lot of emotionally hard things, while you're beating them with the OKR stick. Crazy idea, what if instead, you just got to pick what you were gonna do? Let's call it your audacious goal for the quarter.

It's your goal, I'm not gonna haggle with you about it.

You pick it. You get up in front of all of us, once a quarter, and say I'm gonna try to get this thing done, and I know that I'm almost certain not to get it done, but I'm proud of the fact that I'm going to try to do something that sounds so crazy hard, so unlikely. The goal is to have it be something that you can accomplish about one-tenth of the time. If you're positive you're not gonna accomplish it, that's not very interesting, you're not really gonna try. On the other hand, if you're confident you're gonna do it, it's not audacious, by definition. So you want it to be in that sort of 10% range. And, you're going to end up getting held accountable by yourself, because you picked it, and by the whole community because you want everyone to be proud of you.

Now, I can be your coach and mentor, instead of having to beat you with the OKR stick. So, at X, we have audacious goals. And every quarter, every team gets up and says here is what our audacious goal for the quarter was, here's how we did against it, and here's what we're gonna try to do for the next quarter.

And some teams don't do it some quarters, and that's actually OK, too. They don't look as audacious when they don't do it, but that's fair game, because you need to be crisp about what you're gonna do if you're gonna try to do it.

First completely soft robot

A team of Harvard University researchers with expertise in 3-D printing, mechanical engineering, and microfluidics has demonstrated the first autonomous, untethered, entirely soft robot. This small, 3-D-printed robot — nicknamed the “octobot” — could pave the way for a new generation of such machines.

Soft robotics could help revolutionize how humans interact with machines. But researchers have struggled to build entirely compliant robots. Electric power and control systems — such as batteries and circuit boards — are rigid, and until now soft-bodied robots have been either tethered to an off-board system or rigged with hard components.

The “octobot” is a squishy little robot that fits in the palm of your hand and looks like something in a goody bag from a child’s birthday party. But despite its quirky name and diminutive size, this bot represents an astonishing advance in robotics.

According to the Harvard researchers who created it, it’s the first soft robot that is completely self-contained. It has no hard electronic components—no batteries or computer chips—and moves without being tethered to a computer.

The octobot is basically a pneumatic tube with a very cute exterior. To make it move, hydrogen peroxide—much more concentrated than the kind in your medicine cabinet—is pumped into two reservoirs inside the middle of the octobot’s body. Pressure pushes the liquid through tubes inside the body, where it eventually hits a line of platinum, catalyzing a reaction that produces a gas. From there, the gas expands and moves through a tiny chip known as a microfluidic controller. It alternately directs the gas down one half of the octobot’s tentacles at a time.

The alternating release of gas is what makes the bot do what looks like a little dance, wiggling its tentacles up and down and moving around in the process. The octobot can move for about eight minutes on one milliliter of fuel.

Zubrin makes the case for innovation and expansion of resources and the ideas of limited resources is the most dangerous idea

Robert Zubrin makes the case that innovation and innovative people and scientific progress increases resources.

Hitler and Malthus made the case that there is only so much to go around and you must fight and kill for it.

However, there was 1 billion people at the time of Malthus and they had the equivalent in todays dollars of GDP $180 per person.

Malthus made the case that there was finite resources and we had to stop population growth.

But now there are 7 billion people with the equivalent of $9000 GDP per person.

7 times the population, 50 times the wealth (7 squared) and 350 times the total wealth (7 cubed)

Some say the US has used too many resources, but they say this in rooms lighted by the invention of Edison.

The US has 4% of the world's population but has made 50% of the inventions.

The world will be better with more wealthy and educated people.

If China and India have caught up to the USA then innovation will increase ten times.

We are threatened not by too many people but by too many people who believe that there are too many people.

If colonize Mars then it is tangible proof that we have more than the resources of Earth.

It is precisely because there is so much trouble on Earth that human creativity is boundless and we are expanding resources with innovation.

We are not living at the end of history but at the beginning of history.

Spacex hopes to being launches again January 2017

Spacex is finalizing the investigation into our September 1 anomaly and are working to complete the final steps necessary to safely and reliably return to flight, now in early January with the launch of Iridium-1. This allows for additional time to close-out vehicle preparations and complete extended testing to help ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance prior to launch.

“This allows for additional time to close-out vehicle preparations and complete extended testing to help ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance prior to launch,” wrote the company in an online update Tuesday, referencing the potential January launch of an initial 10 of 72 satellites for its customer, telecommunications company Iridium Communications. SpaceX’s satellite launch contract with Iridium, worth $492 million, was the largest commercial space deal ever at the time of signing in 2010, according to

This delays ten commercial satellite deliveries SpaceX was on the hook to launch for customers by the end of this year, as Mr. Quilty reported in SpaceNews. Additionally, a November supply delivery to the International Space Station (ISS) under a contract SpaceX signed with NASA also had to be scrapped. (There are other companies and international space agencies that can deliver supplies to the ISS.)

The delays have caused Spacex today to lose one launch order to French competitor Arianespace.

There's an acceptance that SpaceX brought significant changes to the industry and that at some point SpaceX will probably succeed, but the question is when?

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 337

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 337 is up at Neutron Bytes

MZ consulting - A new study by UNSCEAR shows that there is more radiation coming from coal plants than nuclear plants – and that workers mining the rare earths required for solar and wind are subject to higher doses than nuclear workers.

Report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (24 pages)

They calculated the collective doses to defined population groups resulting from one year’s global and regional electricity generation by each energy technology, integrated over specific time periods. The second metric consisted of the relevant collective doses divided by the amount of electricity generated by each technology. The reference year used for the comparisons was 2010.

The Committee estimated that the contribution from the coal cycle was more than half of the total collective dose to the local and regional public from the discharges due to a single year’s global electricity generation. That estimate was based on the assumption that the discharges originated from modern coal plants. The nuclear fuel cycle, on the other hand, contributed less than a fifth. The contribution from the coal cycle comes from discharges of natural radionuclides (primarily radon and its radioactive progeny) during coal mining, combustion of coal at power plants and coal ash deposits. Similarly, almost half of the exposures of the global public from the nuclear fuel cycle result from discharges of natural radionuclides during uranium mining and milling activities. These values depend on the share of each technology in total electricity production; in 2010 the coal cycle contributed about 40 per cent, the largest amount. Although radon and its progeny are relatively important contributors to the collective doses to the public for both the nuclear fuel cycle and the coal cycle, the associated individual doses are small compared with doses due to inhalation of radon and its progeny at levels that occur naturally in homes.

The Committee found, however, that the contribution of a given technology to the exposures of the global public was not simply a function of how much electricity that technology generated.

The Committee also assessed occupational exposures. The largest collective dose to workers per unit of electricity generated resulted from coal mining, because of exposures to naturally occurring radionuclides. Of all the collective doses evaluated, both to the public and to workers, the exposure of workers from coal mining made the largest contribution, although it has fallen over time because of improving mining conditions. By far the largest collective dose to workers per unit of electricity generated was found in the solar power cycle, followed by the wind power cycle. The reason for this is that these technologies require large amounts of rare earth metals, and the mining of low-grade ore exposes workers to natural radionuclides during mining.

Forbes- James Conca - Illinois Sees The Light – Retains Nuclear Power

The Illinois State legislature passed The Future Energy Jobs Bill (SB 2814) with less than an hour remaining in the legislative session, allowing Exelon’s Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear power plants to remain open. This will save 4,200 jobs and over 22 billion kWhs of carbon-free power each year, more than all of the state’s renewables combined.

Astronaut John Glenn, first American to orbit the earth, has died at the age of 95

John Glenn was an American aviator, engineer, astronaut, and United States Senator from Ohio. He was one of the "Mercury Seven" group of military test pilots selected in 1959 by NASA to become America's first astronauts and fly the Project Mercury spacecraft.

On February 20, 1962, Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission and became the first American to orbit the Earth and the fifth person in space, after cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov and the sub-orbital flights of Mercury astronauts Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom.

Nantero raises another $21 million to commercialize nanotube memory

Nantero Inc., the nanotechnology company developing next-generation memory using carbon nanotubes, today announced the closing of an over $21 million financing round. The lead investor in the round was Globespan Capital Partners and also included participation from both new and existing strategic and financial investors. Nantero currently has more than a dozen partners and customers in the consumer electronics, enterprise systems, and semiconductor industries actively working on NRAM®. The new funding will enable the company to support these partners in bringing multiple products into the market, while also enabling new customers to begin development. This financing round brings the total invested in Nantero to date to over $110 million.

“This round enables Nantero to accelerate its pace in product development, especially of its multi-gigabyte DDR4-compatible memory product,” said David Poltack, Managing Director, Globespan Capital Partners. “Nantero has multiple industry-leading customers who would like to receive NRAM even sooner. The fact that several of these customers, as well as key partners in the ecosystem, have decided to also invest in Nantero is a strong sign of confidence given how well they know Nantero and its product from years of working together.”

“The customer traction we’ve achieved at Nantero has been overwhelming, as evidenced by our recent announcement that NRAM had been selected by both Fujitsu Semiconductor and Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor,” said Greg Schmergel, Co-Founder & CEO of Nantero. “With this additional funding, we will be able to help these existing customers speed their time to market while also supporting the many other companies that have approached us about using Nantero NRAM in their next generation products.”

Nantero, Fujitsu Semiconductor and Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor announced in August, 2016 an agreement for Fujitsu and Mie Fujtisu to license Nantero's technology for NRAM, non-volatile RAM using carbon nanotubes, and to conduct joint development towards releasing a product based on 55-nm process technology.

Three companies are aiming to develop a product using NRAM non-volatile RAM that achieves several 1000 times faster rewrites and many thousands of times more rewrite cycles than embedded flash memory, making it potentially capable of replacing DRAM with non-volatile memory.

Fujitsu Semiconductor plans to develop an NRAM-embedded custom LSI product by the end of 2018, with the goal of expanding the product line-up into stand-alone NRAM product after that. Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor, which is a pure-play foundry, plans to offer NRAM-based technology to its foundry customers.

Comment from Masato Matsumiya, System Memory VP, Fujitsu Semiconductor "Non-volatile memory using Nantero’s carbon-nanotube technology is a marked advance beyond conventional technology. Fujitsu Semiconductor has been designing and producing FRAM, a type of non-volatile RAM, since the late 90s, and is one of the few companies to have integrated FRAM design and production capabilities. We will be able to build on our experience and skill in this field to develop and produce NRAM as well. The combination of Nantero’s technology with our design and production capabilities promises to meet the longstanding needs of our customers for non-volatile memory that is higher density, faster, more energy efficiency, and with a higher rewrite cycle."

Nantero’s NRAM technology is based on carbon nanotubes and allows for non-volatile memory with high density and random access, promising to expand Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor’s line of embedded non-volatile memory products, which are a major focus of our business.

They are working with us on productization for multiple markets.  NRAM technology, with its combination of nonvolatility, high speed and high density, is uniquely positioned to allow for the continued evolution of memory beyond the projected limits and capabilities of classical technologies.

The computer memory market is about $85 billion per year
Embedded memory is about $10 billion per year
DRAM is $45 billion per year
Flash is about $30 billion per year

Nantero is looking to eventually get to half the price of DRAM
The memory is already about the same speed as DRAM and 1000 times faster than flash
They will use multi-level cells for higher density
Eventually after dominating the computer memory they will also be able to develop carbon nanotube transistors for computer logic.

Carbon nanotube memory will also be able to get down to 5 nanometer width sizes.
They will be able to extend computer performance improvement by 20 years.

The memory is at 1 volt and lasts for 100 billion cycles.

The nonvolatile nature of the memory (no energy needed to keep memory) and months of standby time will mean this memory will be perfect for enabling the internet of things and the vision of trillions of sensors

Previously in 2015, Nextbigfuture had technical details.

Thin film nanocrystal from Australia could make thin as glass night vision goggles that do not need external power

Scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have designed a nano crystal around 500 times smaller than a human hair that turns darkness into visible light and can be used to create light-weight night-vision glasses.

Professor Dragomir Neshev from ANU said the new night-vision glasses could replace the cumbersome and bulky night-vision binoculars currently in use.

"The nano crystals are so small they could be fitted as an ultra-thin film to normal eye glasses to enable night vision," said Professor Neshev from the Nonlinear Physics Centre within the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.

"This tiny device could have other exciting uses including in anti-counterfeit devices in bank notes, imaging cells for medical applications and holograms."

Co-researcher Dr Mohsen Rahmani said the ANU team's achievement was a big milestone in the field of nanophotonics, which involves the study of behaviour of light and interaction of objects with light at the nano-scale.

"These semi-conductor nano-crystals can transfer the highest intensity of light and engineer complex light beams that could be used with a laser to project a holographic image in modern displays," said Dr Rahmani, a recipient of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award based at the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.

The material can make infrared light visible, raising the possibility of night-vision goggles as thin as glass and free of external power. Conventional night vision goggles look a bit like binoculars and require electricity. Here’s how they work: An “objective lens” in front collects low-level and near-infrared light, whose photons are converted by a photocathode into electrons. The goggles use thousands of volts of electricity to send the electrons down a vacuum-sealed tube into a plate with millions of tiny holes. Pushing the electrons through the holes releases other electrons in a chain reaction called cascaded secondary emission. The effect: where there was one electron, there are now hundreds, all in the same pattern as the original photons. When the electrons hit the final layer, which is covered in phosphorescent material, what was dark becomes light.

Nanoletters - Nonlinear Generation of Vector Beams From AlGaAs Nanoantennas

The quest for nanoscale light sources with designer radiation patterns and polarization has motivated the development of nanoantennas that interact strongly with the incoming light and are able to transform its frequency, radiation, and polarization patterns. Here, we demonstrate dielectric AlGaAs nanoantennas for efficient second harmonic generation, enabling the control of both directionality and polarization of nonlinear emission. This is enabled by specialized III–V semiconductor nanofabrication of high-quality AlGaAs nanostructures embedded in optically transparent low-index material, thus allowing for simultaneous forward and backward nonlinear emission. We show that the nanodisk AlGaAs antennas can emit second harmonic in preferential direction with a backward-to-forward ratio of up to five and can also generate complex vector polarization beams, including beams with radial polarization.

Silicon Nanowires are promising architecture for 5 nanometer node

At the 2016 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in San Francisco, researchers from CEA-Leti presented two papers unveiling promising nanowire architectural blocks for the 5 nanometer node.

This Nanowire Surface Potential (NSP) based model, they write, was validated both by numerical simulations and experimental data, which leads us to the second paper, "Vertically Stacked-Nanowires MOSFETs in a Replacement Metal Gate Process with Inner Spacer and SiGe Source/Drain,” demonstrating an actual physical implementation.

In this paper, Leti shares its finding on the very first functional devices featuring stacked-NWs transistors with integrated inner spacers to reduce parasitic capacitances and SiGe source drain (S/D) stressors to boost performance.

Both building blocks are required for the 5nm node, the researchers believe, which would extend the scaling limits of CMOS technology as a natural progression from FinFETs.

Physical Compact Model for Stacked-planar and Vertical Gate-All-Around MOSFETs, O. Rozeau, S. Martinie, T. Poiroux, F. Triozon, S. Barraud, J. Lacord, Y.-M. Niquet*, C. Tabone, R. Coquand, E. Augendre, M. Vinet, O. Faynot, and J.-C. Barbé, CEA-Leti, *CEA-INAC

In this work, a predictive and physical compact model for NanoWire/NanoSheet (NW/NS) Gate-All- Around (GAA) MOSFET is presented. Based on a novel methodology for the calculation of the surface potential including quantum confinement, this model is able to handle arbitrary NW/NS cross-section shape of stacked-planar and vertical GAA MOSFETs (circular, square, rectangular). This Nanowire Surface Potential (NSP) based model, validated both by numerical simulations and experimental data, is demonstrated to be very accurate in all operation regimes of GAA MOSFETs.

December 07, 2016

Microwave oil recovery could unlock trillions of barrels of oil and drinkable water from Oil shale and oil sands

Peter Kearl is co-founder and CTO of Qmast which is a Colorado-based company pioneering the use of the microwave technology to recover oil. Oil giants BP and ConocoPhillips are pouring resources into developing similar extraction techniques, which can be far less water- and energy-intensive than fracking.

There is more than 4.285 trillion barrels of oil barrels of oil in the Green River Formation (2011 U.S. Geological Survey of resource in-place). Using oil shale cutoffs of potentially viable (15 gallons per ton) and high grade (25 gallons per ton), it is estimated that between 353 billion and 1.146 trillion barrels of the in-place resource have a high potential for development

The Green river formation is the world’s largest known deposit of kerogen-rich rock and covers Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. This is oil shale.

Oil shale is not shale oil. Shale oil is essentially liquid oil locked up in rock that’s found in deep formations and requires hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for it to flow freely to the wellbore for extraction. Oil shale, on the other hand, isn’t really oil yet. Instead, it is found in more shallow formations that contain solid organic materials called kerogen. Oil shale must be heated to get oil out of it.

Producers would microwave oil shale formations with a beam as powerful as 500 household microwave ovens, cooking the kerogen and releasing the oil. It also would turn the water found naturally in the deposits to steam, which would help push the oil to the wellbore. “Once you remove the oil and water,” Kearl continues, “the rock basically becomes transparent” to the microwave beam, which can then penetrate outward farther and farther, up to about 80 feet from the wellbore. It doesn’t sound like much, but a single microwave-stimulated well, which would be drilled in formations on average nearly 1,000 feet thick, could pump about 800,000 barrels. Qmast plans to have its first systems deployed in the field in 2017 and start producing by the end of that year.

Qmast estimates his pumping costs will be about $9 per barrel, which is only about $2 more than conventional wells.

Qmast would be to lower a high-power, 2.45-gigahertz emitter – essentially a supercharged microwave oven – into the ground.

The idea that a microwave antenna might do the job has actually been around for a while. However, equipment that can create, steer and stabilize the beam was too bulky to fit down a narrow well. Now, designs that will soon make the technology cheap and commonplace are emerging from small outfits, including one Kearl has set up, and from the defense industry.

But just as a ceramic mug in a microwave oven remains cold to the touch while its contents warm up, porous rocks don’t heat up when zapped with microwaves. The trick is that any water trapped in their pores will. If that is mixed up with solid hydrocarbons, the boiling water will heat and liquefy these. The water then turns to steam, and everything can flow through the cleared pores and cracks to be collected at the surface

Kearl thinks there is another, immediate use for his technology: to unblock existing oil and gas wells that have become too sluggish to be worth operating. In oil wells, this happens when paraffin wax and other impurities build up in the conduits to the pipe. Similarly, fracking well production declines quickly when the shale absorbs water, causing the rock to swell and squeeze into the fractures and block the gas’s exit. Many of these wells are abandoned despite there being . plenty of remaining oil or gas, and new wells are dug. If microwaves can melt paraffin and boil off water, blocked wells will flow like new. “They could be effectively rehabilitated by microwave heating,” says Kearl. This could help protect environmentally sensitive areas. “If we can produce more oil from old wells, that would lessen interest in drilling for new sources of oil,” says Stephen Brown, an energy economist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Ninth crash of an F/A-18 hornet in the last 6 months

A US F/A-18 Hornet has crashed earlier today in Japan. Rescue efforts to recover the pilot would be underway. This would be the 9th major incident involving a “Legacy Hornet” (including the Canadian CF-18 lost on Nov. 28, 2016) in the last 6 months.

The rate of crashes involving legacy Hornets is alarming.

Two U.S. Marine Corps F-18 Hornets from MCAS Miramar crashed on Nov. 9 near San Diego. Another one on Oct. 25. A Swiss Air Force Hornet was lost on Aug. 29, whereas a Navy F/A-18C crashed on Aug. 2. On Jul. 27 USMC F/A-18 crashed so as the Blue Angels Hornet that crashed on Jun. 2.

The U.S. Marine Corps temporarily grounded its non-deployed Hornets. A few days after the ban was lifted, two more F/A-18Cs were lost on Nov. 9.

The U.S: Marine Corps has launched a plan that will see Boeing upgrade 30 retired legacy Hornets (currently stored at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona) to a standard dubbed F/A-18C+.

With this upgrade, that will also embed new avionics, the service will be able to keep up with its operational tasks until the F-35 is able to take over.

Once upgraded to the C+ standard, these “gap fillers” should be more than enough to conduct combat operations in low-lethality scenarios like those that see the USMC at work these days.

Furthermore, once these “refreshed” Hornets are delivered to the squadrons, older airframes can be retired, improving flight safety.”

Human wall climbing technology is here but it takes three different paddles to climb brick, metal and smooth walls

About ten years ago at DARPA began the Z-man project to enable soldiers to climb the walls of buildings

Nextbigfuture had been tracking the project all of that time. In 2006, nextbigfuture had incorporated advanced wall climbing in a set of predictions of the future based on the anticipated success of the Z-man and several other approaches to climbing walls.

The project has taken longer than expected.

Whatever the scientists learned about gecko wall-climbing, whatever new approaches they took, the results didn't seem applicable to human use. "This program would have been over in two years if we could have done exactly what the gecko does," Main says. "But what the gecko does that humans can't do is flex between two contact points all the time. People can't get their hand on the wall and their foot on the wall, and put a lot of force into sliding them toward each other." Plus, there are all types of walls. What works on glass may not work on brick, which may not work on metal.

Draper Labs in Cambridge, Massachusetts had a minor breakthrough.

They had considered creating hand and foot paddles with a silicone "skin" made with nano-ridges, just like a gecko's. But it still wouldn't be strong enough to hold most people up on a wall. So they shifted their attention to another animal they'd been studying at the same time: spiders. In watching the insects climb brick, they discovered an ingenious array of fishhook spines, tightly assembled with the hooks facing downward. Those hooks grab into the brick face without slipping, as long as the spider's—or the climber's—body weight is suspended directly below them. Soon they developed hand paddles with tiny metal spines. And those paddles worked, allowing you to climb any wall, just as long as that wall was brick. This led researchers to also experiment with steel and iron.

The obvious material was magnets, and the two men created paddles that locked and unlocked from the wall by shifting a handle on the paddle up or down. Strap your legs in, and you could climb any surface, just as long as it was metal. The uses were immediately apparent. "There are a lot of steel structures like oil rigs that people needed safety and climbing equipment to manage," Main says. The magnetic paddles, which are depicted on the cover of this issue, have been licensed to a high-end military-supply company, Atlas Devices, and the technology is rumored to be already in use by special-operations forces to climb onto ships, tankers, and oil platforms.

For climbing glass and other smooth non-metallic surfaces, the team at Draper were inspired to combine the gecko skin and suction cups with leg power. Their new paddle consisted of synthetic gecko skin layered inside suction cups. To increase the efficiency of those suction cups, they attached foot stirrups to a series of pistons. When the foot stirrups are depressed, the pistons evacuate extra air inside the suction cups. This smashes the nano-ridges against the wall surface, activating the van der Waals forces. And when the suction is released by lifting the climber's weight off of the stirrup, the paddle can be easily moved elsewhere. Equally impressive is the cost: Carter and his team estimate that each pair will cost only $3,000 to $5,000.

Although it takes three types of paddles to conquer any surface instead of one, Main is confident that the technology will one day be combined into a single device. Like all military contractors, DARPA is cagey about if, where, and how the Z-Man has been deployed in the field.

December 06, 2016

China building a Malaysian version of Shenzhen and pan asian high speed rail

China is building a trans-asia high speed rail line in south east asia and helped build a $100 billion city in Malaysia, just across the border from Singapore.

China has begun building a high speed rail that will connect Myanmar’s cities. This will cut the journey time from Muse, Shan State, to Yangon to one hour.

“This will be an Asian continental railroad that will connect Kunming and Ruili in Yunnan province with Thailand and Malaysia via Myanmar. Work has already begun on the rail link between Kunming and Ruili, and work is proceeding on the Lu Zen tunnel,” said China’s consul general Wang Zongying.

“We want to connect Southeast Asia with a trans-Asia railroad that will go as far as Indonesia and Singapore, and we look forward to cooperation from the countries concerned,” he told The Myanmar Times. China was devoting great attention to questions of cost, he said.

He told the audience that the train would eventually reach a speed of 350kph, cutting the journey time from Muse to Yangon to an hour.

$100 billion on a Malaysian version of Shenzhen

China is betting that the city of Johor Bahru, bordering Singapore, will eventually become the next Shenzhen. Shenzhen is a 10 million person city across the border from Hong Kong.

Chinese companies have come to Malaysia as growth in many of their home cities is slowing, forcing some of the world’s biggest builders to look abroad to keep erecting the giant residential complexes that sprouted across China during the boom years. They found a prime spot in this special economic zone, three times the size of Singapore, on the southern tip of the Asian mainland.

The Forest City project will span four artificial islands. Photographer: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg

The scale of the projects is dizzying. Country Garden’s Forest City, on four artificial islands, will house 700,000 people on an area four times the size of New York’s Central Park. It will have office towers, parks, hotels, shopping malls and an international school, all draped with greenery. Construction began in February and about 8,000 apartments have been sold, the company said.

It’s the biggest of about 60 projects in the Iskandar Malaysia zone around Johor Bahru, known as JB, that could add more than half-a-million homes. The influx has contributed to a drop of almost one-third in the value of residential sales in the state last year, with some developers offering discounts of 20 percent or more. Average resale prices per square foot for high-rise flats in JB fell 10 percent last year, according to property consultant CH Williams Talhar and Wong.

New material could lead to erasable and rewriteable optical chip

A military drone flying on a reconnaissance mission is captured behind enemy lines, setting into motion a team of engineers who need to remotely delete sensitive information carried on the drone's chips. Because the chips are optical and not electronic, the engineers can now simply flash a beam of UV light onto the chip to instantly erase all content. Disaster averted.

"The molecules in this material are very sensitive to light, so we can use a UV light or specific light wavelengths to erase or create optical components," Zheng said. "Potentially, we could incorporate this LED into the chip and erase its contents wirelessly. We could even time it to disappear after a certain period of time."

To test their innovation, the researchers used a green laser to develop a waveguide -- a structure or tunnel that guides light waves from one point to another -- on their nanomaterial. They then erased the waveguide with a UV light, and re-wrote it on the same material using the green laser. The researchers believe they are the first to rewrite a waveguide, which is a crucial photonic component and a building block for integrated circuits, using an all-optical technique

Nanoletters - Photoswitchable Rabi Splitting in Hybrid Plasmon–Waveguide Modes

Nearing feasibility for Terahertz spintronics and all-optical spin manipulation

The discovery of femtosecond demagnetization by laser pulses is 20 years old.

Terahertz spintronics and all-optical spin manipulation are becoming more and more feasible. The aim of this perspective is to point out where we can connect the different puzzle pieces of understanding gathered over 20 years to develop novel applications. Based on many observations in a large number of experiments. Differences in the theoretical models arise from the localized and delocalized nature of ferromagnetism. Transport effects are intrinsically non-local in spintronic devices and at interfaces. We review the need for multiscale modeling to address the processes starting from electronic excitation of the spin system on the picometer length scale and sub-femtosecond time scale, to spin wave generation, and towards the modeling of ultrafast phase transitions that altogether determine the response time of the ferromagnetic system. Today, our current understanding gives rise to the first usage of ultrafast spin physics for ultrafast magnetism control: THz spintronic devices. This makes the field of ultrafast spin-dynamics an emerging topic open for many researchers right now.

The ultimate way to gain control over magnetism is through coherent excitation with a light field. This implies an interaction of the laser field directly with the spin system. While coherent control seems feasible with ultrastrong THz field pulses, where the B-field amplitude reaches the Tesla range, there are reports that too much heat is deposited and the coherence is disturbed. For light in the visible region, coherent excitation of ferromagnetism and a corresponding model has been proposed by Bigot et al. In this detailed experiment, they extracted coherent signals that are only present as the laser pulse interacts with the sample, presented in Figure 11, for a CoPt3 film. One can picture a polarization that is driven by the light in a transient state. Those ultrashort polarization effects are also known from other material systems such as MnGaAs and manganites. They leave a typical fingerprint in the complex Kerr rotation that can be described in a Raman-type model. Other approaches have been developed for metals. An interesting pathway is to use this coherent polarization to trigger interactions with another part of the magnetic subsystem as, for example, the spin-polarized surface states in topological insulators, as seen in the different response for the components of the complex Kerr rotation from the Bi2Se3 family, (Bi0.57Sb0.43)2Te3 shown in Figure 11(b). It is believed that these processes are faster than the thermal demagnetization effect. Their investigation will shed light on the inverse Faraday effects and further ultrafast processes that happen faster than the scattering time of the electrons in a coherent state, ultimately leading to attosecond control of magnetization.

Ultrafast magnetism has arrived at the stage of quantitative prediction and understanding. Modeling becomes an important aspect for predictions: the understanding of how much power can be saved for all-optical writing to make it efficient within multiscale approaches leads to new ultrafast all-optical nanomemories addressing nanometer FePt grains. On all timescales, the spin-orbit interaction is one of the main players acting in two ways: resulting in switching asymmetries via magnetic-optics and the control of spin-flips. On the other hand, spin-orbit effects and spin-dependent transport can be controlled on THz time scales for applications. Ultrafast laser pulse based trigger and control of the spin currents and ultrafast spin waves set the stage for THz spintronics. We believe that the combination of ultrafast magnetism and spintronics has more interesting discoveries in fundamental physics and applications in future.

FIG. 11. Coherent control in ferromagnets and topological insulators. Copyright 2009 Macmillan Publishers Limited.140,144,150 Citation: J. Appl. Phys. 120, 140901 (2016);

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