December 31, 2016

Why can't we afford to properly test the potential monster breakthrough of EMdrive or other possible breakthroughs ?

Here is the 712 page breakdown of NASA $18 billion 2017 budget which provides only a few million for Advanced concepts and innovation projects and has not budgeted a launch of an EMDrive to Space Station.

$2.7 billion to operate and manage facilities on the ground.
$1.78 billion on Earth science
$1.45 billion on Planetary Science




Of course there is a lot more waste and inefficiency in the $4 trillion federal annual budgets.

Although NASA conducts a much more visible space program, DOD's space program is larger. There is no easy way to track national security space funding since "space" is not a specific item in DOD's budget. A portion of these activities are classified ("black") programs for which budgetary information is not available on an unclassified basis. The rest of the funding is for unclassified ("white") programs, but is spread throughout the DOD budget in research and development, operations and management, and procurement accounts for the three services and defense-wide activities. The majority of funding is in the Air Force accounts, but is difficult to identify except for major programs. According to the fiscal year (FY) 2011 edition of the annual Aeronautics and Space Report of the President (the most recent available), DOD's FY2011 space budget was $27.3 billion, which is thought to represent all spending (classified and unclassified) for national security space activities

DOD's unclassified space systems include the following programs, some of which are operational and others still in development or earlier phases:

Communications Satellites: Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS), Wide-Band Global Satcom (WGS), Milstar, Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), and Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF).
Navigation Satellites: Global Positioning System (GPS)
Early Warning: Defense Support Program (DSP), Space Based Infrared Satellite System-High (SBIRS-High), Third Generation Infrared Surveillance (3GIRS)
Weather: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), Defense Weather Satellite System (replacing the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, NPOESS, which was a joint program with NOAA and NASA)
Ballistic Missile Defense-related: Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS, formerly SBIRS-Low)
Launch Vehicles: Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (Atlas V and Delta IV), Pegasus, Taurus, Minotaur (all of these also are used by the civil space sector)

In 2015, $500 million went to training Syrian rebels. The government had vetted, trained and equipped only 145 fighters, including just 95 who had returned to Syria to fight. That worked out to cost of roughly $2 million per trainee.

The Pentagon could easily save $125 billion per year based on a Pentagon funded fiscal analysis. The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.

Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.

The 77 page report issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel.


Foxconn heading to nearly fully automated factories

Apple iPhone maker, Foxconn, is automating its factories in three phases — and it has already completed the automation process at some of its plants, Dai Jia-peng, general manager in Foxconn’s Automation Technology Development Committee

Phase 1. Factories are equipped with robots at individual workstations. Those robots will handle tasks that are either too dangerous for humans or are simply things that humans normally wouldn’t want to do.

Phase 2. Implementing robots in entire production lines.

Phase 3. Factories fully automated with a small staff for roles such as logistics, inspection, and quality control.

Plants in the Chinese cities of Chengdu, Shenzen, and Zhengzhou are already in either the second or third stage. The Zhengzhou plant is where as many as half of Apple’s iPhone’s are made. There, only one CNC line has been fully automated so far.

There are 10 lights-out (fully automated) production lines at some factories, including table one in Chengdu, AIO (all-in-one) PC and LCD monitor lines at a factory in Chongqing, western China, and a CNC line in Zhengzhou, Dai indicated.



Foxconn has deployed more than 40,000 Foxbots, industrial robots developed and produced in house, at factories in China, Dai said. Foxconn can produce about 10,000 Foxbots a year. In addition to industrial robots, Foxconn is developing robots for use in medical care, Dai said. Although robotic technology keeps improving, industrial robots will not be able to completely replace workers because humans have the flexibility to quickly switch from one task to another, Dai noted.

60,000 Foxconn jobs were automated in early 2016

December 30, 2016

SRI spinoff Superflex gets $9.6 million in funding to apply Warrior Web exosuit tech to powered senior mobility clothing

A spinoff from the robot veterans at SRI is making a big bet on ubiquitous soft robotics: SuperFlex aims to establish a new product category with what it calls “powered clothing.” The company, which initially split off in April, hopes to have a product to show in a few months, and has raised nearly $10 million to develop it.

Powered clothing, or “intelligent wearable strength” as the company also calls it, would be custom garments with flexible electric motors built in that help the wearer with everyday tasks like simply standing up and walking around — simple, that is, for people whose muscles and bones are in good shape. But it’s different from the exoskeletons you might have seen coming out of DARPA and other military-orientated research.

Lead investor Global Brain is based in Japan, where an aging population is creating friction between families, generations, and social institutions. The idea of a piece of clothing that can help someone stand up, carry groceries, and get out of the house is appealing anywhere, but especially there.

The initial product, a concept for which is shown above, would enhance core strength in the torso, hips, and legs. Users would be able to ramp up power manually if they knew they’d have trouble carrying a load of laundry, for instance, but the suit can also automatically detect actions. Many older people have trouble standing up, for instance, and the suit could detect the beginnings of that action and give a boost.

Mahoney compared it to an electric bike: power is there when you need it, but otherwise it works just like the ordinary version. The clothing itself isn’t going to be bulky or mechanical-looking, either, as early prototypes were.

The money will be used to bring the product to market, hopefully with a reveal soon and availability in 2018.


In 2009, the US population of seniors (65 and over) was 40 million or 13% of the population; by 2030 when the last baby boomer turns 65, it will be 72 million or 19% of the population.

At the start of the current decade, Americans with disabilities numbered:

30.6 million, difficult walking or climbing stairs
12.0 million, require assistance with daily tasks
3.6 million, using a wheelchair, the potential market for H-MEX
2.4 million, Alzheimer’s, senility or dementia

Space Experts Review EMDrive and give recommendations at Centauri Dreams

Centauri Dreams has a review of the EMDrive by Marc Millis, former head of NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics project and founding architect of the Tau Zero Foundation and other experts. They have spent the last two months reviewing the relevant papers.

Millis enlisted the help of scientists with expertise in experimental issues, all of whom also contributed to BPP, and all of whom remain active in experimental work. The revisions and insertions of George Hathaway (Hathaway Consulting), Martin Tajmar (Dresden University), Eric Davis (EarthTech) and Jordan Maclay (Quantum Fields, LLC) have been discussed through frequent email exchanges as the final text began to emerge.

A peer-reviewed article about experimental tests of an EmDrive was just published in the AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power by Harold (Sonny) White and colleagues: White, H., March, P., Lawrence, J., Vera, J., Sylvester, A., Brady, D., & Bailey, P. (2016), “Measurement of Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio-Frequency Cavity in Vacuum,” Journal of Propulsion and Power, (print version pending, online version here.

That new article, plus related peer-reviewed articles, were reviewed by colleagues in the Tau Zero network, including two who operate similar low-thrust propulsion tests stands. From our reviews and discussions, they have reached the following professional opinions – summarized in the list below and then detailed in the body of this article. They regret that they can only offer opinions instead of definitive conclusions. That ambiguity is a significant part of this story that also merits discussion.

The overview material are shown here but the original overview and the details are at the Centauri Dreams article.

This article will also reproduce the details looking at Space drive theories.



Overview Technical

(1) The experimental methods and resulting data indicate a possible new force-producing effect, but not yet satisfying the threshold of “extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims” – especially since this is a measurement of small effects.

(2) The propulsion physics explanations offered, which already assume that the measured force is real, are not sound.

(3) Experiments have been conducted on other anomalous forces, whose fidelity and implications merit comparable scrutiny, specifically Jim Woodward’s “Mach Effect Thruster.”

Implications

(1) If either the EmDrive or Mach Effect Thrusters are indeed genuine, then new physics is being discovered – the ramifications of which cannot be assessed until after those effects are sufficiently modeled. Even if it turns out that the effects are of minor utility, having new experimental approaches to explore unfinished physics would be valuable.

(2) Even if genuine, it is premature to assess the potential utility of these devices. Existing data only addresses some of the characteristics necessary to compare with other technologies. At this point, it is best to withhold judgment, either pro or con.

Pitfalls to Avoid

(1) The earlier repeated tactic, to attempt fast and cheap experimental tests, has turned out to be neither fast nor cheap. It’s been at least 14 years since the EmDrive first emerged (2002) and despite numerous tests, we still lack a definitive conclusion.

(2) In much the same way that thermal and chamber effects are obscuring the force measurements, our ability to reach accurate conclusions is impeded by our natural human behavior of jumping to conclusions, confirmation biases, sensationalism, and pedantic reflexes. This is part of the reality that also needs understanding so that we can separate those influences from the underlying physics.

Recommendations

(1) Continue scrutinizing the existing experimental investigations on both the EmDrive and Mach Effect Thrusters.

(2) To break the cycle of endlessly not doing the right things to get a definitive answer, begin a more in-depth experimental program using qualified and impartial labs, plus qualified and impartial analysts. The Tau Zero Foundation stands ready to make arrangements with suitable labs and analysts to produce reliable findings, pro or con.

(3) If it turns out that the effects are genuine, then continue with separate (a) engineering and (b) physics research, where the engineers focus on creating viable devices and the physicists focus on deciphering nature. In both cases:

Characterize the parameters that affect the effects.
Deduce mathematical models.
Apply those models to (a) assess scalability to practical levels, and (b) understand the new phenomena and its relation to other fundamental physics.
On all of the above, conduct and publish the research with a focus on the reliability of the findings rather than on their implications.


China still needs to improve jet engine technology to make FC31 competitive with US F35

China flew an improved version of its Shenyang FC-31 Gyrfalcon stealth fighter. Compared to the previous prototype, the new version features a host of refinements and has started to resemble a genuine fifth-generation stealth aircraft in many ways. The FC-31 is intended for military export markets.

It is expected to be priced around $70 million. This is half of the F35 stealth fighter price. The fourth-generation Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale fighter jets are priced at about $100 million.

The FC-31 is believed to be powered by a pair of Russian-made Klimov RD-93 afterburning turbofans each developing roughly 18,000lb of thrust at maximum power. The Chinese hope to replace those engines with a pair of indigenous WS-13E turbofans, which are expected to develop roughly 22,000lbs of thrust.

China began development of the Taishan in 2000 to replace the Klimov RD-93 turbofan, which had been selected in the 1990s to power the JF-17 light-weight fighter. It is designed to have a life span of 2,200 hours and an improved version, providing around 100 kN (22,450 lb) of thrust with afterburner, is under development

Th RD-93 is a variant used to power the JF-17 (FC-1). The Klimov poster at Zhuhai 2010 airshow gave the thrust range of the engine to be 79 kN Dry to 98 kN Wet. This was designed specifically for FC-1 with increased thrust and relocated gearbox compared to base RD-33's. Although the increase of thrust decreased the service life of RD-93 to 2200 hours from RD-33's 4000 hours. According to Air Commodore Mehmood engines are solid and reliable. They have claimed to have flown 7,000 hours with the engine and we haven’t had any problems.



Reviewing Energy and the Next Big Future of Energy

Nextbigfuture has reviewed AI and Computers and Space for 2016 and looked ahead in those areas.

Here we will look at Energy.

France also had a shutdown of some nuclear reactors because of concerns over japanese parts The component in question was manufactured by Japan Casting and Forging Corp., which is based in Kitakyushu. In June, ASN pointed to potential weaknesses of the Japanese steel components, with carbon concentrations exceeding standards. The Japanese part is used at 12 nuclear reactors in France, according to local reports. In June, the French regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), said it had identified 18 French nuclear power reactors operated by EDF - of both 900 MWe and 1450 MWe capacity - whose steam generators could contain high carbon concentrations.

Only three nuclear reactors are currently online in Japan: two at the Sendai plant and one at Shikoku Electric Power’s Ikata station.

Japan’s Institute of Energy Economics said Dec. 13 it estimates seven reactors will be restarted by the end of March 2017 and another 19 by March 2018.

About two-thirds of 57 nuclear reactors under construction are expected to come on line in the next three years.

Solar and battery production continue to make progress. The cost of solar and batteries continue to look promising for future market share.

Bloomberg forecasts that cheaper coal and cheaper gas will not derail the transformation and decarbonisation of the world’s power systems. By 2040, zero-emission energy sources will make up 60% of installed capacity. Wind and solar will account for 64% of the 8.6TW of new power generating capacity added worldwide over the next 25 years, and for almost 60% of the $11.4 trillion invested.

China is proposing a $50+ trillion global energy grid. Global Energy Interconnection (GEI), a vision of a world power grid, was outlined by the State Grid Corporation of China ("State Grid") It would be based upon a global network of Ultra High Voltage power lines connecting global power generation including massive wind farm at the North Pole and solar power from equatorial areas to energy users around the world. It would also be used to distribute inexpensive coal power to India and South Asia from now to 2035.

Will Solar and Wind Surpass Hydro by early 2020s ?

Several energy analysts who are pro-solar and wind believe that they will dominate global energy and not face limitations based upon grid issues and other factors The pro-solar case is based upon massive scaling of lower cost solar and low cost batteries.

In the USA, the residential solar market is starting to slow down after years of high double-digit gains—on average, the market has grown more than 50% every year in the past four years. But as the market becomes more saturated, it’s not the same high growth of a new industry, said Nicole Litvak, an analyst with GTM Research. She expects growth of around 10% to 15% in the coming years.

India plans to add 12 GW solar power, 4 GW wind energy, 500 MW biomass-based power and 225 MW small hydro power capacity between April 2016 and March 2017. Between April and September 2016, India managed to add only 3.2 GW of grid-connected renewable energy capacity compared to the full year target of 16.6 GW. India plans to have an installed solar power capacity of 100 GW and wind energy capacity of 60 GW by March 2022.

In order for solar and wind to surpass hydro then India would have to surpass hydro the target for solar by about ten times and for China to match that as well. 100GW of solar is about 100 TWh. Solar and wind need to get an additional 2000 TWh beyond the growth projected by the IEA.

Elon says there needs to be 200,000GWh of batteries to make the world go solar. This would need about 300-900 gigafactory battery factories to produce the required batteries in about 40 years.

China is cutting subsidies to wind by 15% and solar by 19% in 2017 The move comes as average solar panel prices have tumbled about 30 percent this year, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, resulting in a lowering of the bids that solar developers offer to build projects. China will also encourage local authorities to continue making use of auctions to select renewable energy developers, in order to further lower power prices


About 1000 Terawatt hours of Hydro power was added over the last ten years. This is more than the total wind and solar power generation. Hydro will still add 500 Terawatt hours over the next 5 years.

Wind and solar power combined is still less than one third the hydro power generation. The projection is that worldwide wind and solar power combined will be about half of hydro power generation in 2021.









December 29, 2016

Real Antiaging with a near term drug cocktail and then gene editing and nanotechnology














Amazon patents blimp warehouse and billboards that use gliding drones for near instant fulfillment of sales

Amazon has been awarded a patent for a giant flying warehouse that acts as a launchpad for drones to deliver items within minutes.

The U.S. e-commerce giant described plans for an "airborne fulfillment center" (AFC) such as an airship or blimp that would float at an altitude of around 45,000. The airship will be stocked with lots of products.

When a customer places an order, a drone or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will fly down and deliver the package. Amazon insists that this would require little power because the drone would be gliding down rather than having to take off and land.


Amazon's filing reveals several uses for the warehouse blimp. One example is at a football match where customers may want certain items such as food or merchandise. Ahead of the game, the AFC could stock up on items and deploy these during the game with drones when they are ordered. The airship could also be used as a giant advertising board, allowing customers to order the items on display. All of these can be ordered "within minutes".

The drones would be able to communicate with each other via a mesh network to give information such as weather and route. UAVs could also recharge on the airship.

Amazon's filing explains that the blimp would remain in the air and be refueled and replenished using a shuttle. This could be a smaller aircraft capable of docking onto the AFC and unloading products as well as fuel.


Medical, police and Military Applications

The Amazon blimp and drone delivery would be as close as might get to Star Trek replicators and teleportation for near instant provisioning.

At 45000 it would be 8.5 miles straight down. Everything within 10 miles or so would be about a 13 miles flight.

If it takes 5 minutes for an order to selected from within the blimp.

20 minute deliveries should be possible.

Emergency deliveries of medicines or defibrillators could be possible within 11 minutes. The emergency items could have priority position within the warehouse for less than 1 minute selection. Then special faster drones could delivery those urgent items.

130 mile per hour emergency drones could make 13 mile flights in 10 minutes.

Spacex shows a Falcon Heavy at the Rocket Factory

Spacex shows the Falcon Heavy on instagram Falcon Heavy interstage being prepped at the rocket factory. When FH flies next year, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two.

The first launch of the Spacex Falcon Heavy is expected to take place in early 2017.



Predictions of human intelligence possible from DNA alone as we near effective embryo selection and gene editing of humans

Stephen Hsu at Infoproc reports that we now know enough about the genetic architecture of human intelligence to make predictions based on DNA alone. While it is a well-established scientific fact that variations in human cognitive ability are influenced by genes, many have doubted whether scientists would someday decipher the genetic code sufficiently to be able to identify individuals with above or below average intelligence using only their genotypes. That day is nearly upon us.

The figures below are taken from a recently published paper (see bottom), which examined genomic prediction on a longitudinal cohort of ~1000 individuals of European ancestry, followed from childhood into adulthood. (The study, based in Dunedin, New Zealand, extends over 40 years.) The genomic predictor (or polygenic score) was constructed using SSGAC GWAS analysis of a sample of more than one hundred thousand individuals. (Already, significantly more powerful predictors are available, based on much larger sample size.) In machine learning terminology, the training set includes over a hundred thousand individuals, and the validation set roughly one thousand.

These graphs show that individuals with higher polygenic score exhibit, on average, higher IQ scores than individuals with lower polygenic scores.

Effective embryo selection is nearing


  • The cost of embryo selection is modest, at $1500 + $200 per embryo, with the sequencing cost projected to drop rapidly. Embryo selection cost will drop in future
  • Embryo selection was unprofitable in late 2015 (mean: -$673) in the USA under the lowest estimate of the value of an IQ point, but profitable under the highest (mean: $4763). The main constraints on selection profitability is the polygenic score; under the highest value, the NPV EVPI of a perfect SNP predictor is $27b and the EVSI per education/SNP sample is $71k
  • Selection can be made much more profitable by selecting on multiple phenotype traits; selection scales near-linearly with equally-valuable traits, and considering an example using 7 traits (IQ / height / BMI / diabetes / ADHD / bipolar / schizophrenia), there is a gain of 2.8x over IQ alone ($4977 to about $14130)
The maximum amount of IQ gain if screening allowed for optimal selection

Chickens have become physically larger because of breeding and farming methods

China will spend half a trillion dollars on rail and high speed rail by 2020

China plans to spend 3.5 trillion yuan ($503 billion) to expand its railway system by 2020 as it turns to investments in infrastructure to bolster growth and improve connectivity across the country.

The high-speed rail network will span more than 30,000 kilometers (18,650 miles) under the proposal, according to details released at a State Council Information Office briefing in Beijing Thursday. The distance, about 6.5 times the length of a road trip between New York and Los Angeles, will cover 80 percent of major cities in China.

The plan will see high-speed rail lines across the country expand by more than half over a five-year period

China will also add 3,000 kilometers to its urban rail transit system under the plan released Thursday.

At the end of 2015, China had 121,000 kilometers of railway lines, including 19,000 kilometers of high-speed tracks, according to a transportation white paper issued Thursday. The U.S. had 228,218 kilometers of rail lines as of 2014, according to latest available data from the World Bank.



National Interest analysis is that Advanced Super Hornet could perform 80% of F-35 missions

Dave Majumdar, the defense editor for The National Interest, assessment is that an Advanced Super Hornet could perform could offer a less costly 80 percent solution for the U.S. Navy’s requirements. Once developed to its full potential, the Advanced Super Hornet could perform most of the missions envisioned for the F-35C except penetrating strike—it would have to rely on stand-off weapons for that mission.

The Marines would simply be out of luck since a short takeoff/vertical landing variant of the Advanced Super Hornet is simply a physical impossibility

Switching to mostly Advanced Super Hornet's could save around $15 billion per year or more for 30-50 years.

Sensor Fusion can be matched

When development is complete, the F-35 will be able to correlate all of the data from its various sensors and data networks and then present that information in a single coherent and easily understandable display. Currently, only the Lockheed Martin F-22 and F-35 have such a capability, but the Navy is working on adding a similar “sensor fusion” system to the Super Hornet. The Navy’s Multi-Sensor Integration effort for the Super Hornet is being developed in three phases—some of which have been fielded—with the goal of developing a sensor fusion capability similar to the F-22 and F-35.

According to Navy officials, the Super Hornet’s MSI program drew lessons from both the F-22 and F-35. However, one major difference between the Super Hornet’s sensor fusion and the F-22 and F-35 is the limited capabilities of the F/A-18E/F’s current displays. Boeing, however, has an option to fit a new large 11’X19’ high-definition color display into the Super Hornet cockpit that would address that issue.



Stealth will decrease in importance a lot over the next ten years and the F-35 will not really be ready for 4 years

Stealth will remain the end all and be all of survivability as Lockheed Martin and the Air Force publicly contend. The Russians and the Chinese are developing low-frequency radars that can track fighter-sized stealth aircraft that are—just by the laws of physics—optimized to defeat radars in the fire control bands (Ku, X, C and part of S). Electronic warfare will become increasingly necessary to support stealth aircraft as time goes on as low frequency radars proliferate. “[Stealth] is needed for what we have in the future for at least ten years out there and there is nothing magic about that decade,” then chief of naval operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said at the U.S. Naval Institute annual meeting in Washington, D.C, in 2014. “But I think we need to look beyond that. So to me, I think it’s a combination of having aircraft that have stealth but also aircraft that can suppress other forms of radio frequency electromagnetic emissions so that we can get in.”

The F-35 Chief tester said the F35 will not be ready for combat testing til 2019-2020 and F35C wings are not strong enough to carry missiles.

December 28, 2016

CBS Star Trek Discovery likely set in Four Year Klingon War in Prime Timeline and Cast is revealed

Star Trek: Discovery is an upcoming American television series created by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman for CBS All Access. It is the first series developed specifically for that service, and the first Star Trek series since Star Trek: Enterprise concluded in 2005. Set roughly a decade before the events of the original Star Trek series, separate from the timeline of the concurrent feature films, Discovery explores a previously mentioned event from the history of Star Trek while following the crew of the USS Discovery. Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts serve as showrunners on the series, with producing support from Akiva Goldsman.

Star Trek: Discovery is set to premiere on CBS in May 2017, before moving to All Access. The first season will consist of 13 episodes

Main Cast

Sonequa Martin-Green as Rainsford:
The lieutenant commander of the USS Discovery, referred to as "Number One". The decision to not make the series protagonist a starship captain, like previous Star Trek series' did, was made "to see a character from a different perspective on the starship—one who has different dynamic relationships with a captain, with subordinates, it gave us richer context". The decision to call her Number One was made in honor of the character of the same name portrayed by Majel Barrett in the original Star Trek pilot "The Cage". The character was initially pitched to CBS as only being called Number One in the series
Doug Jones as Saru: A Science Officer serving as a lieutenant aboard the Discovery.
Anthony Rapp as Stamets: A Science Officer specializing in astromycology (the study of fungi in space

Recurring

Michelle Yeoh as Georgiou: Captain of the USS Shenzhou.
Shazad Latif as Kol: Commanding Officer of the Klingons, and protege of T'Kuvma.
Chris Obi as T'Kuvma: A Klingon leader who is looking to unite the Klingon houses.
Mary Chieffo as L'Rell: Battle Deck Commander of the Klingon ship



Michelle Yeoh is in the cast









Researchers Use World's Smallest Diamonds to Make Wires Three Atoms Wide for early example of diamondoid assembly

Scientists at Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have discovered a way to use diamondoids – the smallest possible bits of diamond – to assemble atoms into the thinnest possible electrical wires, just three atoms wide.

By grabbing various types of atoms and putting them together LEGO-style, the new technique could potentially be used to build tiny wires for a wide range of applications, including fabrics that generate electricity, optoelectronic devices that employ both electricity and light, and superconducting materials that conduct electricity without any loss. The scientists reported their results today in Nature Materials.

“What we have shown here is that we can make tiny, conductive wires of the smallest possible size that essentially assemble themselves,” said Hao Yan, a Stanford postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the paper. “The process is a simple, one-pot synthesis. You dump the ingredients together and you can get results in half an hour. It’s almost as if the diamondoids know where they want to go.”

This animation shows molecular building blocks joining the tip of a growing nanowire. Each block consists of a diamondoid – the smallest possible bit of diamond – attached to sulfur and copper atoms (yellow and brown spheres). Like LEGO blocks, they only fit together in certain ways that are determined by their size and shape. The copper and sulfur atoms form a conductive wire in the middle, and the diamondoids form an insulating outer shell. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)


Nature Materials - Hybrid metal–organic chalcogenide nanowires with electrically conductive inorganic core through diamondoid-directed assembly

Cooling by radiating heat into space

Physicists have achieved record levels of temperature reduction using the process of radiative cooling, by which heat is beamed from Earth’s surface into outer space. Zhen Chen and his colleagues at Stanford University lowered the temperature of a thermal emitter – a device designed to give out more heat than it takes in – to 42.2 °C below that of the surrounding air

“To achieve high-performance cooling, the key is to couple whatever object you want to cool with outer space and to decouple it from the ambient environment,” says Chen. The researchers placed the emitter in a vacuum chamber, isolating it from the atmosphere and cutting off almost any heat transfer through conduction or convection, which could cause the emitter to warm up. Heat from the emitter was radiated out of a specially designed window on top of the vacuum chamber, which was directed at a clear patch of sky.

Earth’s atmosphere allows thermal radiation of wavelengths between 8 and 13 micrometres to pass through it into outer space – but most objects release heat at different wavelengths. The Stanford emitter, however, was specifically designed so that most of the heat it emits falls within that range, meaning that on a clear day it will pass straight out into space without being bounced back by the atmosphere

Within half an hour of pumping air out of the vacuum chamber, the temperature of the emitter plummeted to 40 °C below that of the surrounding air. Over the next 24 hours, it averaged 37 °C below the air temperature, and reached its biggest reduction of 42.2 °C when exposed to the peak of the sun’s heat.




Bigger reduction
Previous attempts at radiative cooling have achieved maximum temperature reductions of up to 20 °C, unless they are at high altitude and with very low humidity.

Jeremy Munday at the University of Maryland in College Park, says the team’s record-breaking results are down to their use of vacuum chambers and sun shades, which prevent sunlight from directly hitting the emitter. “They’re getting significantly below water-freezing temperature during daylight by improving their set-up,” he says.

Nature Communications - Radiative cooling to deep sub-freezing temperatures through a 24-h day–night cycle


China plans space missions to dark side of the moon and Mars and beyond

China's ambitious and fast-growing space program is targeting a landing on the dark side of the moon by 2018, and reaching Mars before the end of the decade.

China's space agency held a press conference on Tuesday to mark the release of a policy paper, and outlined the government's goals for exploring deep space.

Wu Yanhua, deputy chief of the National Space Administration, said Beijing aims to launch its first Mars probe around 2020 to carry out orbiting and roving exploration, followed by a second mission that would include collection of surface samples from the red planet.

China launched an ion drive HEP-100MF thruster. It was jointly developed by research teams from the Harbin Institute of Technology (H.I.T.) and the China Academy of Space Technology's (CAST) Institute 502, successfully debuted Nov. 22 aboard an orbiting Shijian-17 satellite. The satellite was launched Nov. 3 by a Long March 5 rocket. This will be used for deep space missions.

China plans include sending probes to Jupiter and its moons. By around 2030, China hopes to be more competitive with NASA's deep space program.

China has its complete space white paper online

China's plans for the next 5 years in space are



China launched spacecraft to use and develop millisecond pulsar navigation

In November, China launched the world's first spacecraft with a deep space x-ray navigation system. The X-ray Pulsar Navigation 1 (XPNAV 1) satellite, which the country launched on Nov. 10 aboard a solid-fueled Long March 11 rocket from the Jiuquan Space Launch Center in the Gobi Desert, is the world's first x-ray navigation system to go in orbit, beating out NASA's Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology (SEXTANT), which is scheduled to be installed on the ISS next year.

Millisecond pulsars generate x-ray pulses at such short intervals, that by measuring the time differential from multiple known pulsars (like a GPS using pulsars instead of satellites), a spacecraft can determine its location in the solar system within 5 kilometers (3.1 miles), which is pretty good for deep space. The trick is to find pulsars that provide pulses at a consistent pace; x-ray pulsars often speed up or slow down the frequency of their bursts.

If all goes as planned, the XPNAV 1 will both gather data to build the pulsar x-ray database and then be able to use that data to independently verify its location. The 529-pound satellite has two detectors to measure x-rays generated by pulsars. Over the next five to ten years, XPNAV 1 will build a database of x-rays from 26 pulsars, measuring their frequencies against other electromagnetic activity in space. It will also measure the accuracy and consistency of pulsar x-rays against background space noise, without having to worry about atmospheric interference. It will verify the usability of the data by testing the data to see if the data can predict the satellite's location, independent of other navigation aids.

The advantages of x-ray navigation include greater accuracy and reliability; spacecraft wouldn't need to rely on radio signals that take longer to travel into deep space and lose signal fidelity. X-ray navigation is also cheaper, because the spacecraft would no longer need large, expensive ground-based radio antennae for navigation signals. Additionally, the spacecraft would be more autonomous, saving bandwidth for the transmission of scientific data back to earth.


Simulations made by the team provided crucial measurements regarding the future development of the XNAV method. The scientists concluded that at the distance of Neptune (about 30 astronomical units from the Earth), a 3-D location of a spacecraft with an accuracy of 18.6 miles (30 kilometers) can be calculated by locking onto three pulsars. Moreover, they estimated that even an accuracy of 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) can be achieved when locking onto a particular pulsar, called PSR B1937+21, for 10 hours. Due to the fact that PSR B1937+21 is a millisecond pulsar, completing almost 642 rotations per second, and thanks to its very stable rotation, it is capable of keeping time as well as atomic clocks.

The Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) is an International Space Station (ISS) payload devoted to the study of neutron stars through soft X-ray timing. Neutron stars are unique environments in which all four fundamental forces of nature are simultaneously important. They squeeze more than 1.4 solar masses into a city-size volume, giving rise to the highest stable densities known anywhere. The nature of matter under these conditions is a decades-old unsolved problem, one most directly addressed with measurements of the masses and, especially, radii of neutron stars to high precision (i.e., better than 10 percent uncertainty). With few such constraints forthcoming from observations, theory has advanced a host of models to describe the physics governing neutron star interiors; these models can be tested with astrophysical observations.

From NICER's ISS platform, a star-tracker-based pointing system allows the XTI to point to and track celestial targets over nearly a full hemisphere. The pointing system design accommodates the ISS vibration and contamination environments, and enables (together with NICER's GPS-based absolute timing) high-precision pulsar light-curve measurements through ultra-deep exposures spanning the 18-month mission lifetime. Anticipated launch of NICER is in early 2017.

December 27, 2016

Taiwan Semiconductor says 10 nanometer chips are on schedule for first quarter of 2017, 7 nm also in 2017, 5nm in 2019 and 3nm around 2022

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) says that 10nm is on schedule, countering news media reports that the yields of TSMC and Samsung at the industry’s most advanced technology node are lagging expectations.

TSMC’s 10nm process is “totally on track” and will contribute to sales revenue for the first time in the first quarter of 2017, according to Elizabeth Sun, senior director, TSMC's Corporate Communications, refuting a report by Taiwan’s Digitimes website that was picked up by other news media. The company’s 10nm process will account for less than one percent of TSMC’s overall revenue during the first quarter of 2017, she said.

Intel, Samsung and TSMC have been vying to be first with 10nm SoCs and capture profits from foundry customers such as Apple and Qualcomm. In November, Qualcomm announced it is in production with its next generation mobile SoC, the Snapdragon 835, in Samsung's 10nm process. Intel, earlier this year, said that its 10nm process could outperform other foundries and will be used to make ARM-based mobile chips for companies including LG Electronics.

In the third quarter this year, TSMC transferred 10nm development from R&D to production and had five tape outs lined up for mobile products. The company predicted that high-end smartphones, the main driver in the semiconductor business, will move to 10nm from 16nm during 2017.

While some industry executives say that Moore’s Law has reached its limit at 10nm, the top three chipmakers – Intel, Samsung and TSMC – are using three dimensional tweaks to take geometries to an “effective” 1nm. Earlier this month, TSMC said that it is planning to build a fab that will make 3nm SoCs as early as 2022.

TSMC said that it will ramp 7nm in 2017, followed by 5nm in 2019, to support smartphones and high-end mobile products with new features, including virtual reality and augmented reality.




South Korea makes 13 foot tall humanoid manned mech

A 13-foot tall 1.5-ton “Method-2,” mech is the brainchild of South Korean robotics company Hankook Mirae Technology

"Our robot is the world's first manned bipedal robot and is built to work in extreme hazardous areas where humans cannot go (unprotected)," said company chairman Yang Jin-Ho.

While its enormous size has grabbed media attention, the creators of Method-2 say the project's core achievement is the technology they developed and enhanced along the way.

"Everything we have been learning so far on this robot can be applied to solve real-world problems," said designer Vitaly Bulgarov on his Facebook page.








DARPA has drop-in removable autopilot kit for existing aircraft

DARPA’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program envisions flight operations with reduced onboard aircrew while improving mission performance and flight safety—all through a tailorable, drop-in, removable kit that would provide advanced automation to existing aircraft. In two important steps toward that goal, DARPA has recently completed Phase 2 of this development effort and has decided to partner on Phase 3 of ALIAS with Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company (Stratford, Conn.).

ALIAS’ Phase 2 accomplishments included:

  • Successful flight demonstrations of ALIAS technology installed in two different Cessna 208 Caravan fixed-wing aircraft, a Diamond DA-42 fixed-wing aircraft, and a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter
  • Successful ground demonstrations of ALIAS responding to various simulated flight contingency events, such as system failures, that might cause pilots to deviate from pre-set plans or standard courses of action
  • Demonstration of quickly tailoring ALIAS to new platforms, and showing that installation and removal of the kit did not impact airworthiness
DARPA’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program demonstrates its developmental technology system on a Cessna 208 Caravan fixed-wing aircraft (top) and a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter (bottom) during Phase 2 flight tests. ALIAS envisions a tailorable, drop-in, removable kit that would provide high levels of automation in existing aircraft and facilitate reduced need for onboard crew.

Carrie Fisher aka Princess Leia has died

Carrie Fisher, the actress best known as Star Wars‘ Princess Leia Organa, has died after suffering a heart attack. She was 60.


Fisher wed musician Paul Simon in 1983. It was an explosive marriage, according to Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon author Peter Ames Carlin, and was cut short by swinging stages of depression, the actresses’ drug use and an array of personal insecurities. The relationship continued, though, on-and-off for several years after the pair divorced in 1984.

The star’s substance abuse problem was well-known, starting at only age 13 when she first started smoking marijuana, Fisher previously told The Telegraph. She said she later dabbled in drugs like cocaine and LSD.

It is likely that a lifetime of drug use impacted her health.

Drugs were also related to the other recent celebrity death of George Michael. During the past year George Michael is thought to have battled heroin addiction.

HRL confirmed lightest material as world record and it is 100 times lighter than Styrofoam

HRL researchers originally made headlines with a famous image of a metal microlattice structure resting atop an unaffected dandelion. Now the material has been vetted and confirmed by the Guinness book as having no peer among metals when it comes to weight. Made of nickel phosphorus, the microlattice is approximately 100 times lighter than Styrofoam®.

"The point of achieving the record for lightest metal was to show the flexibility of the manufacturing process," said Bill Carter, Director of the Sensors and Materials Laboratory at HRL. "With the same process we can produce a strong and useful material that can be made with the density of aluminum all the way down to well below the density of air (excluding the air inside). Achieving a density at any point between those requires only a small change in the creation process. It can be done quickly, relatively inexpensively, and made to order."



DARPA awards $1.5 million to HRL Labs for oscillator with 500 times better temperature stabiilty for ultra low power atomic clocks

When it comes to military electronics – whether in the realm of communications, navigation, or tactical systems – timing and synchronization are critical. When deployed, even the best battery-fueled atomic clocks are less than ideal because of frequency variations under power cycling, long-term frequency drift, and temperature sensitivity. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded HRL Laboratories, LLC, $ 1.5 million to develop an ultra-low power oven controlled crystal oscillator (OCXO) for use as a frequency reference for new high-performance, low-power atomic clocks.

Dr. Randall Kubena, Principal Scientist at HRL's Sensors and Materials Laboratory, will coordinate the effort, which is funded under DARPA's Atomic Clock with Enhanced Stability (ACES) Program. "We will incorporate both microelectromechanical system-based processing and quartz dry plasma etching techniques," he said. "This allows for both direct on-quartz heating for ultra-low power operation and stress isolation between the heater and the active resonator." Stress isolation is essential for high stability of the frequency over temperature. According to Kubena, HRL will also develop new high-Q resonator designs for low phase noise.


China finishing first domestic CV-17 aircraft carrier and preparing catapults for next CV-18 carrier

The second PLAN aircraft carrier, CV-17 is in advanced stages of construction at Dalian Shipbuilding in northeastern China. It will be the first aircraft carrier built entirely in China. The Liaoning was purchased from the Ukraine in the late 1990s and towed to China for an extensive rebuild.

The CV-17 has a somewhat larger displacement than the CV-16 Liaoning. It has greater internal hanger space for aircraft stowage below deck, and a larger island.

Located on the starboard side of the flight deck, in similar orientation as that on the Liaoning, the island of the CV-17 is substantially larger. Analysis of the new island structure, which was constructed in two modules before attachment to the vessel due to its size, seems to suggest a more advanced communications equipment suite and updated Type 346A active phased array radar (APAR).

The Type 346A radar can be found on the Type 052D destroyers of the PLAN, and is most likely to be fitted on the Type 055 Destroyers currently under construction. By contrast, the Liaoning is equipped with an earlier Type 346 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. Photographs of the mock-up island located in Wuhan, which is used for training and orientation of naval crews, support this hypothesis.


China has test flight of an improved FC-31 Gyrfalcon stealth fighter

China has tested the latest version of its fifth-generation J-31 stealth fighter The newest version of the J-31, now renamed the FC-31 Gyrfalcon, took to the air for the first time on Friday, the China Daily reported.

The new FC-31 has “better stealth capabilities, improved electronic equipment and a larger payload capacity” than the previous version which debuted in October 2012, the newspaper said, quoting aviation expert Wu Peixin.

“Changes were made to the airframe, wings and vertical tails which make it leaner, lighter and more manoeuvrable,” Wu told the paper.

The FC-31 Gyrfalcon can carry 8 tons of weapons The FC-31 has a maximum take-off weight of 28 metric tons, a flight radius of 1,250 km, and a top speed of Mach 1.8 or 1.8 times the speed of sound. The aircraft can easily carry 8 tons of weapons, holding six missiles in its internal weapons bay, plus six more under its wings.

Sergey Kornev, head of Russia's Air Force Equipment Export Department, earlier told RIA Novosti the J-31 will fly on Russian aircraft engines RD-93.

The jet is manufactured by Shenyang Aircraft Corp, a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corp of China.

The fighter will be exported to other countries is expected to sell for about US$70 million, the article said, aiming to take market share away from more expensive fourth-generation fighters like the Eurofighter Typhoon.


The Chengdu J-20 twin-engine stealth fighter bears similarity to the F-22 Raptor made by Lockheed Martin Corp., while the Shenyang J-31 twin-engine multi-role fighter resembles the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter design also made by Lockheed.

In the 1960s, China worked from the blueprints and other materials, and eventually produced the J-7, a virtual copy of the Soviet MiG-21. The Chinese eventually sold the J-7 (F-7 export variant) in direct competition with the MiGs sold by the Soviets. Indeed, after the US-PRC rapprochement of the early 1970s, the Chinese sold J-7s directly to the Americans, who used them as part of an aggressor squadron to train US pilots to fight the Soviets.

In the 1990s there were several huge arms deals between Moscow and Beijing. One of the most important involved the sale, licensing, and technology transfer of the Su-27 “Flanker” multirole fighter. The deal gave the Chinese one of the world’s most dangerous air superiority fighters, and gave the Russian aviation industry a lifeline. China produced the J-11 as a copy of the Su-27.

Americans analysts suspected that China was stealing information associated with the F-35. The Snowden leaks confirmed extensive Chinese industrial espionage. The likely reality of this theft became clear when information about the J-31 stealth fighter became available. The J-31 looks very much like a twin-engine F-35, without the VSTOL capabilities of the F-35B.

December 26, 2016

Jerry Pournelle talks about China's orbital tests of the EMDrive as a bigger than Sputnik moment

Jerry Pournelle is a famed science fiction author who also had an interesting technology career

Jerry Eugene Pournelle (born August 7, 1933) is an American science fiction writer, essayist and journalist who contributed for many years to the computer magazine Byte. Pournelle was an intellectual protégé of Russell Kirk and Stefan T. Possony. Pournelle wrote numerous publications with Possony, including The Strategy of Technology (1970). The Strategy has been used as a textbook at the United States Military Academy (West Point), the United States Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs), the Air War College, and the National War College.

Pournelle worked in the aerospace industry includes time he worked at Boeing in the late-1950s. While there, he worked on Project Thor, conceiving of "hypervelocity rod bundles", also known as "rods from God". He edited Project 75, a 1964 study of 1975 defense requirements. He worked in operations research at The Aerospace Corporation, and North American Rockwell Space Division, and was founding President of the Pepperdine Research Institute. In 1989, Pournelle, Max Hunter, and retired Army Lieutenant General Daniel O. Graham made a presentation to then Vice President Dan Quayle promoting development of the DC-X rocket.

Jerry says, the question becomes, given the magnitude of this, why is it a surprise? We have 21 expensive intelligence agencies; not one of them knew the Chinese orbited an EM Drive? Of course it will be a while before we can do orbital tests. We have no rockets. That’s preparedness. Perhaps Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos can help? This is a signal larger than Sputnik. If the Intelligence Community knows about Russian hacking, why doesn’t it know about Chinese testing of a reactionless drive?

Nextbigfuture has covered the EMDrive and the propellentless Cannae drive

China's space agency has officially confirmed that it has been funding research into the controversial space propulsion technology EmDrive, and that it plans to add the technology to Chinese satellites imminently.

The China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), a subsidiary of the Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) and the manufacturer of the Dong Fang Hong satellites, has held a press conference in Beijing explaining the importance of the EmDrive research and summarizing what China is doing to move the technology forward.

China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) team statements corresponds with information provided to IB Times from an anonymous source. According to their informant, China already has an EM Drive on board its version of the International Space Station, the space laboratory Tiangong-2.

Chinese researchers have at least constructed an EM Drive and have been studying it for more than five years now.

Chief designer of the CAST communication satellite division, Li Feng, told the media that so far their EM Drive only produces millinewtons of thrust (similar to NASA's version) and to make it functional, they need to get those levels up to between 100 millinewtons and 1 newton.

The team is allegedly now working on the cavity design of the EM Drive and the position of the thruster, before testing their new versions on their satellites in orbit.

Logically if an EMDrive was placed on Tiangong-2 and no thrust was produced, this would be apparent right away. If tiny thrust was produced in orbit and in a vacuum then further research would be pursued. Further research could still occur if thrust seemed to be produced on the ground but did not appear in orbital microgravity. However in the case of no result in orbit, then the CAST team would probably not hold a press conference.

"This technology is currently in the latter stages of the proof-of-principle phase, with the goal of making the technology available in satellite engineering as quickly as possible," Li Feng explained at the press conference.

"Although it is difficult to do this, we have the confidence that we will succeed."


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