February 18, 2017

If Bruce Wayne became president we could use the next stealth bomber as Air Force One

President Donald Trump complained that Boeing was building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but the costs are out of control and were projected to be more than $4 billion.

Wright Williams and Kelley reported that the best cost-cutting solution for the executive aircraft might just be to replace those grand 747s with a fleet of modified Boeing 737s, which are much smaller. Another alternative would be to use the next stealth bomber the B21.

“The 747 is a fat radar target, about the size of a B-52...[The B-21] has stealth built in, it’s nuclear-rated and heavily shielded right off the bat. It’s going to be terribly cramped but man, it would be a survivable platform, especially if operated in twos and threes.”

The B-21 won’t even enter service until the mid-2020s, assuming the thing ever gets built. Optimistically, the current Air Force One aircraft are slated for retirement around the time the B-21 is expected to come online.

Military planes are generally not safe. About 4.7% B2 bombers have crashed and another 4.7% had engine fires.

So the stealth bomber is projected to cost about $600 million each and would be nuclear war and stealth ready, but it would be at high risk for crashing.

Russian company working on a lightweight stealth fighter to replace the Mig-29 and Mig35

Russia’s RSK-MiG is working on a new lightweight fifth-generation stealth fighter to replace the Mikoyan MiG-29 and MiG-35 Fulcrum series fighters.

Called the Liogkiy Mnogofunktsionalniy Frontovoi Samolyet (LMFS)—or Light Multi-Function Frontal Aircraft in English—United Aircraft Corporation is developing the new aircraft out of its own funds, reports aviation journalist Piotr Butowski in the French-language trade journal Air and Cosmos.

The LMFS will use a canard configuration reminiscent of the now-defunct Mikoyan Project 1.44 design, which was developed in the late 1980s as the Soviet Union’s answer to the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.

The aircraft will likely have an empty weight of roughly 33,000lbs and a maximum takeoff weight of 55,000lbs. The aircraft will be equipped with internal weapons bays and advanced avionics—assuming it ever reaches fruition.

As currently envisioned, the new fighter will be equipped with a pair of the Klimov VK-10M afterburning turbofans—which are advanced derivatives of the MiG-29-series’ RD-33 powerplant—rated at 22,000lb thrust each. That should enable the aircraft to reach speeds of between Mach 1.8 and Mach 2.0 with a range of 2485 miles when configured with external droptanks.

It is possible that Mikoyan may revise the design into a single-engine configuration if the PAK-FA’s next-generation izdeliye 30 engines reach a suitable level of maturity in time. There are few details available about the izdeliye 30 engines, but the new powerplant is expected to deliver 24,054lbs dry thrust and 39,566lbs of afterburning thrust.

Russia's PAK-FA Stealth Fighter Will Enter Service in 2018 with a new engine that will be competitive with the F-22 Raptor

Russia’s Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA fifth-generation stealth fighter may enter service in 2018, but the Kremlin is not in a particular hurry to buy the expensive new jet in large numbers. Meanwhile, Russia is continuing to develop new engines for the T-50, which is currently powered by interim Saturn AL-41F1 afterburning turbofans.

Russian deputy defense minister Yuri Borisov told the TASS News agency. "Most likely, this will be already the next state armament program, i.e. 2018-2025."

It is first necessary to complete the fighter jet’s trials, the deputy defense minister said.

"We are not in a hurry," Borisov said.

As long as the existing analogs meet the requirements of the Armed Forces, there is no need spending money on the purchase of expensive new military hardware, he said.

In the meantime, the Russians are continuing to develop the next-generation Saturn izdeliye 30—sometime referred to as the izdeliye 129—engines for the T-50. There are few details available about the izdeliye 30 engines, but the new powerplant is expected to deliver 24,054lbs dry thrust and 39,566lbs of afterburning thrust. The new engine is expected to make its first flight installed onboard the PAK-FA in the fourth quarter of 2017.

"The first flight of the aircraft with the new engine is expected in the fourth quarter of 2017," a United Engine Corporation spokesman told TASS.

With the new engine installed, the PAK-FA should be able to offer kinematic performance comparable to the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor—cruising without afterburner at speeds exceeding Mach 1.5 with a maximum speed greater than Mach 2.0 at altitudes of around 60,000ft. “Performance-wise it certainly looks to compete with the Raptor,” one senior military official with extensive experience on U.S. fifth-generation fighters told me some time ago.

The F22 has a Pratt and Whitney F119 engine. It is an afterburning turbofan engine that delivers thrust in the 35,000 lbf (160 kN) class. It is designed for supersonic flight without the use of afterburner (supercruise). Delivering almost 22% more thrust with 40% fewer parts than conventional, fourth-generation military aircraft engine models, the F119 allows sustained supercruise speeds of up to Mach 1.8

Perovskite mixed into solar ink can print 20.1% efficient solar onto glass or plastic

A U of T Engineering innovation could make printing solar cells as easy and inexpensive as printing a newspaper. Dr. Hairen Tan and his team have cleared a critical manufacturing hurdle in the development of a relatively new class of solar devices called perovskite solar cells. This alternative solar technology could lead to low-cost, printable solar panels capable of turning nearly any surface into a power generator.

“Economies of scale have greatly reduced the cost of silicon manufacturing,” says University Professor Ted Sargent (ECE), an expert in emerging solar technologies and the Canada Research Chair in Nanotechnology and senior author on the paper. “Perovskite solar cells can enable us to use techniques already established in the printing industry to produce solar cells at very low cost. Potentially, perovskites and silicon cells can be married to improve efficiency further, but only with advances in low-temperature processes.”

Today, virtually all commercial solar cells are made from thin slices of crystalline silicon which must be processed to a very high purity. It’s an energy-intensive process, requiring temperatures higher than 1,000 degrees Celsius and large amounts of hazardous solvents.

In contrast, perovskite solar cells depend on a layer of tiny crystals — each about 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair — made of low-cost, light-sensitive materials. Because the perovskite raw materials can be mixed into a liquid to form a kind of ‘solar ink’, they could be printed onto glass, plastic or other materials using a simple inkjet process.

The new perovskite solar cells have achieved an efficiency of 20.1 per cent and can be manufactured at low temperatures, which reduces the cost and expands the number of possible applications. (Photo: Kevin Soobrian)

Science - Efficient and stable solution-processed planar perovskite solar cells via contact passivation

China counting on high speed rail to drive domestic tourism to about 10% of GDP

China Daily describes the case for how high speed rail is boosting economic growth in China.

Faster trains with efficient services can expand and improve the Chinese tourism industry, which saw a year-on-year growth of 15.9 percent, totaling 423.3 billion yuan ($61.78 billion) during the recently ended Spring Festival holiday week. Plus, the high-speed railway has opened up hitherto remote places to tourists, expanding business opportunities.

In 2016, the domestic tourism sector's revenue reached 3.9 trillion yuan, equivalent to more than 5 percent of the country's GDP. And in South China's Guangdong province, the tourism revenue was equivalent to nearly 15 percent of the provincial GDP.

China's economic development has always had a geographical dimension. Since the 1980s, its economic growth was led by large-scale development and opening-up of certain cities - the special economic zones in Shenzhen in the 1980s, Pudong (Shanghai) in the 1990s, and Chongqing, which was brought under direct central government administration, in the 2000s.

China's high-speed railway network will continue to expand in 2017, helping distant cities to form economic ties with their more advanced counterparts, and proximate cities to form their own economic clusters.

China’s tourism industry will emerge as an economic powerhouse contributing 10.5 per cent to the GDP by 2020, according to a report released by China national tourism administration in mid-2016. Tourists spending will rise to a colossal US$1.22 trillion from about $500 billion in just five years, it said.

While that is a huge figure, it is not unfeasible given the domestic tourism industry has grown at an average 22.4 per cent per year since 1985 when it was a mere $1.3bn, the administration said in its China Tourism Development Report, which was released at the four-day First World Conference on Tourism for Development, which will end in Beijing tomorrow.

Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reported that China’s business travel market has overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest. Chinese spending in this segment came to $291.2bn, just topping US spending of $290.2bn in 2015.

"China surpassing the United States in business travel spending marks a major inflection point and truly demonstrates the global nature of today’s economy," said Michael McCormick, the GBTA executive director.

The US is likely to fall further behind this year as Chinese business travel spend is expected to grow 10.1 per cent to $320.7bn compared with 1.9 per cent growth in the US, which will notch up $295.7bn, the GBTA said.

It predicted a 9.8 per cent growth in Chinese business travel in 2017. China business travel is dominated by domestic travel, which accounts for 95 per cent of total business travel spending.

Tourism and related sectors last year employed 79.1 million people, accounting for 10.2 per cent of the country’s total working population.

Bill Gates warns of bioterrorism killing 30 million in a year and DARPA already has Pandemic Prevention Platform project to develop response to new viruses within 60 days

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has warned a deadly pathogen could easily wipe out 30 million people in a year, and that the example of Ebola was one to heed.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Mr Gates said there was a "reasonable probability" of such a virus spreading, and that it would most likely do so in fragile states where it is difficult to stop epidemics.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates joined the United Nations to warn world leaders about a new series of threats shaping up as megatrends, led by global warming, superbugs and artificial intelligence.

“The next epidemic could originate on the computer screen of a terrorist intent on using genetic engineering to create a synthetic version of the smallpox virus, or a super contagious and deadly strain of the flu,” said Gates, whose private foundation helps combat public health and global warming problems. “Getting ready for a global pandemic is every bit as important as nuclear deterrence and avoiding a climate catastrophe.”

Over the past several years, DARPA-funded researchers have pioneered RNA vaccine technology, a medical countermeasure against infectious diseases that uses coded genetic constructs to stimulate production of viral proteins in the body, which in turn can trigger a protective antibody response. As a follow-on effort, DARPA funded research into genetic constructs that can directly stimulate production of antibodies in the body DARPA launched the Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) program, aimed at developing that foundational work into an entire system capable of halting the spread of any viral disease outbreak before it can escalate to pandemic status. Such a capability would offer a stark contrast to the state of the art for developing and deploying traditional vaccines—a process that does not deliver treatments to patients until months, years, or even decades after a viral threat emerges.

“DARPA’s goal is to create a technology platform that can place a protective treatment into health providers’ hands within 60 days of a pathogen being identified, and have that treatment induce protection in patients within three days of administration. We need to be able to move at this speed considering how quickly outbreaks can get out of control,” said Matt Hepburn, the P3 Program Manager. “The technology needs to work on any viral disease, whether it’s one humans have faced before or not.”

Recent outbreaks of viral infectious diseases such as Zika, H1N1 influenza, and Ebola have cast into sharp relief the inability of the global health system to rapidly contain the spread of a disease using existing tools and procedures. State-of-the-art medical countermeasures typically take many months or even years to develop, produce, distribute, and administer. These solutions often arrive too late—if at all—and in quantities too small to respond to emerging threats. In contrast, the envisioned P3 platform would cut response time to weeks and stay within the window of relevance for containing an outbreak.

The Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) program aims to develop an integrated platform that uses nucleic acid sequences to halt the spread of viral infections in sixty days or less. Using nucleic-acid-based technologies pioneered by DARPA as a foundation, the program now seeks to create an end-to-end platform by developing technologies to overcome remaining bottlenecks that hinder rapid response to pandemic threats. The three required technology areas cover growth of virus to support testing of treatments; rapid evolution of protective antibodies outside of the body; and safe and efficient delivery of nucleic-acid-based protective treatments.

Spacex will delay their first unmanned Red Dragon Mars mission until 2020

SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell confirmed today that SpaceX is now targeting the year 2020 for the Mars trip, a move that will allow the company to better focus on its other ambitious projects. Spacex will focus more heavily on their crew program and their Falcon Heavy program.

Trips to Mars are best launched every 26 months, when the planet aligns with Earth on its orbit.

NASA’s next Mars rover is supposed to launch in 2020, as well as the rover for the ExoMars mission — a joint project between Roscosmos and the European Space Agency to look for signs of life on the planet. The United Arab Emirates plans to send an orbiter to Mars in 2020 as well, and even China has expressed a goal of reaching Mars by the end of the decade.

SpaceX is planning an unmanned mission to Mars using the Dragon V2 rocket — starting in 2020 and launch a rocket to Mars every 26 months. The plan is for the first manned Mars mission in 2024 or 2026.

The plan for 2020 is for a sample return Mars rover to be delivered to the Martian surface while also testing techniques to enter the Martian atmosphere with equipment a human crew could eventually use

DNA nanocomputer detect antibodies and could be used to control drug delivery into the bloodstream

Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) present a new method that should enable controlled drug delivery into the bloodstream using DNA computers. In the journal Nature Communications the team, led by biomedical engineer Maarten Merkx, describes how it has developed the first DNA computer capable of detecting several antibodies in the blood and performing subsequent calculations based on this input. This is an important step towards the development of smart, ‘intelligent’ drugs that may allow better control of the medication for rheumatism and Crohn’s disease, for example, with fewer side-effects and at lower cost.

An analogy for the method presented by the TU/e researchers is a security system that opens the door depending on the person standing in front of it. If the camera recognizes the person, the door unlocks, but if the person is unknown, the door remains locked. “Research into diagnostic tests tends to focus on the ‘recognition’, but what is special about this system is that it can think and that it can be connected to actuation such as drug delivery," says professor of Biomedical Chemistry Maarten Merkx.

DNA computer

To be able to perform such an action, ‘intelligence’ is needed, a role that is performed in this system by a DNA computer. DNA is best known as a carrier of genetic information, but DNA molecules are also highly suitable for performing molecular calculations. The sequence within a DNA molecule determines with which other DNA molecules it can react, which allows a researcher to program desired reaction circuits.

DNA-based molecular circuits allow complex signal processing in antibody detection.

Nature Communications - Antibody-controlled actuation of DNA-based molecular circuits

Trump suggests a large order for Boeing F/A 18XT Super Hornets could be imminent instead of some F35A

President Donald Trump suggested that a larger purchase of Boeing Co.’s F/A-18 Super Hornet may be in the offing. “We are looking seriously at a big order,” Trump said Friday of the fighter jet, with another Boeing plane, the newest 787 Dreamliner, looming in the background. “I think we may get there.”

The Defense Department is studying the capabilities of the Super Hornet, designed in the 1990s, against those of Lockheed’s F-35, which is still in development even as it’s being produced. Trump indicated that price differences between the two fighters could sway the Pentagon to replace some orders for the F-35, which the president has criticized for cost overruns and delays, with more purchases of the Boeing jet.

“If the price doesn’t come down, we would,” Trump told reporters. “The F-18’s a great plane and now put a stealth component onto it.”

Reporters earlier spotted White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus holding a brochure for the F/A-18 XT, a proposed Super Hornet upgrade that could serve as a stand-in as Lockheed ramps up production of the F-35, the Pentagon’s costliest weapons system

Advanced Super Hornet

Trump told reporters that, unless prices continued coming down on the F-35, he would be prepared to cut future F-35 contracts and order more Super Hornets instead. He also advocated taking steps to increase the stealth of the Super Hornet, according to Time's White House correspondent Zeke Miller.

The Navy has already requested money for two Super Hornets in its 2017 budget, and is set to request another 14 in 2018.

The F/A-18 XT twin-engine plane is also designed to come equipped with longer-range, low-drag, stealthy conformal fuel tanks; long-range sensors that can detect and target threats without having to depend on radar; a new advanced cockpit system to enhance situational awareness, providing the pilot with the capability to see, track and target multiple long range targets; and improved low-observable next-generation radar cross section for increased survivability, according to the company.

Lockheed has been pushing out data to defend the troubled F35 program

The U.S. Air Force is the largest F-35 operator of all the international forces with a planned purchase of 1,763 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant. The F-35 is the Pentagon’s biggest acquisition program estimated at nearly $400 billion for almost 2,500 aircraft. The Marine Corps currently flies the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant, with plans to purchase 353 STOVL jets and 67 F-35C carrier variant aircraft. The U.S. Marine Corps declared F-35B IOC in August 2016. Together with the Marines, the U.S. Navy will bring 5th Generation capability to the sea with 260 F-35C jets. The U.S. Navy plans to declare F-35C IOC in 2018.

Elon Musk discusses our need to merge more closely with AI at the World Government Summit

Elon Musk indicated at a recent conference that to some degree, we are already cyborgs. You think of the digital tools that you have, the applications that you have. You can ask a question and instantly get an answer from Google. You already have a digital tertiary layer. I say ‘tertiary’ because you think of the animal brain or the primal brain, and then the cortex, the thinking brain, and then your digital self as the third layer.

Elon feels humans must merge more closely with machine intelligence

February 17, 2017

Many Ethicists are idiots

There is a 261 page report that reviews the ethics of genome editing

The report’s recommendations are that in very, very limited cases, editing of viable human embryos should be allowed to go forward in the United States — a conclusion that’s certain to prove controversial. In particular, the report argues, clinical trials to edit human sperm, eggs, and embryos should be permissible in cases where there’s a high chance of preventing babies from being born with serious genetic diseases and no “reasonable alternatives” exist.

The panel says editing embryos for human enhancement — say, making people stronger or more intelligent — should absolutely not proceed in the United States until there’s much broader society-wide discussion of the thorny ethics involved, like the risks of exacerbating the gap between rich and poor

The report says
1) Basic research on human cells in a lab (this is OK)
2) Clinical trials to edit somatic cells in living humans. (This is ok per the report to edit non-reproductive cells)
3) Editing sperm, eggs, and embryos to stop inheritable diseases. (this is ok per the report)
4) Editing the human genome for “enhancement.”
The report has problems with this because it can make inequality worse
Might it one day become so prevalent that enhancement becomes mandatory, like vaccines are today?
Should parents have a right to improve their children through genetic modification?
How far should regulations around genome editing go to respect religious and cultural discomfort?
Are there risks we haven’t even thought of yet?

So is report saying that we should debated it it was ok to have vaccines prior to their deployment. This saying that the world rushed to deploy vaccines before ethicists permitted it.

The report is saying that we need to examine how many rights parents have to improve their children.
Parents can pay for better education. Parents can spend more time working to help their kids to learn. But how about poorer people or single moms ? They do not have the time to work with their kids or afford better education. We better have an ethicist tell us that we are increasing inequality by helping our kids.

How about inheritance ? should there not be 100% taxes on inheritance. We are perpetuating inequality by allowing money to move generations.
Also, should we not force out kids to equal state homes. Otherwise they will get inequal benefits by living in more expensive homes or better circumstances.

Also, why should Michael Jordan have been allowed to exercise and practice basketball ? He was increasing his inequal basketball advantage.

Why was Einstein allowed to study ? He was increasing his advantage in science knowledge.

Why should Japan be allowed to improve pollution or public health standards ? They are increasing their life expectancy advantage over other countries.

Maybe Health clubs and fitness equipment should be banned. They can be effectively used to increase human strength. They were not reviewed by Ethicists before deployment

Libraries and schools need review. They can increase effective intelligence and increase inequality. Maybe ethics classes can be permitted because they can safely not increase intelligence or inequality.

So instead of finding ways to raise people up and increase wealth, health, intelligence and other factors as we can, then we should not be permitted to do it unless we start by raising the bottom. Or perhaps we cannot even progress until permitted by ethicists

But should we just control what genetics people have to prevent children that are too strong or too smart ? So we should prevent pro-athletes or Olympians from marrying each other. Andre Agassi and Stephie Graph should not have been permitted to have children. Scientists and people with high IQ need to not have children. We are stacking the genetic deck in their favor.

There are hundreds of multi-generation pro-sports families. Clearly we needed to get the ethicists involved. There are also multi-generation where all ended up as doctors or scientists. How about Tom Brady and Gisele ? Where are the genetic ethicists on that ?

But what about Eugenics ?

So the issue with Eugenics programs in the past, was that some of them were used as excuses to kill or sterilize a lot of people.

No special ethics degree is needed to know that it is bad to have policy to kill or sterilize a lot of people.

Researchers devise efficient power converter for internet of things by reducing resting power consumption by 50%

A new design reduces converter’s resting power consumption by 50 percent.

he “internet of things” is the idea that vehicles, appliances, civil structures, manufacturing equipment, and even livestock will soon have sensors that report information directly to networked servers, aiding with maintenance and the coordination of tasks.

Those sensors will have to operate at very low powers, in order to extend battery life for months or make do with energy harvested from the environment. But that means that they’ll need to draw a wide range of electrical currents. A sensor might, for instance, wake up every so often, take a measurement, and perform a small calculation to see whether that measurement crosses some threshold. Those operations require relatively little current, but occasionally, the sensor might need to transmit an alert to a distant radio receiver. That requires much larger currents.

Generally, power converters, which take an input voltage and convert it to a steady output voltage, are efficient only within a narrow range of currents. But at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference last week, researchers from MIT’s Microsystems Technologies Laboratories (MTL) presented a new power converter that maintains its efficiency at currents ranging from 500 picoamps to 1 milliamp, a span that encompasses a 200,000-fold increase in current levels.

“Glassy carbon” electrodes transmit more robust signals to restore motion in people with damaged spinal cords

When people suffer spinal cord injuries and lose mobility in their limbs, it's a neural signal processing problem. The brain can still send clear electrical impulses and the limbs can still receive them, but the signal gets lost in the damaged spinal cord.

The Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE)--a collaboration of San Diego State University with the University of Washington and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology--is working on an implantable brain chip that can record neural electrical signals and transmit them to receivers in the limb, bypassing the damage and restoring movement. Recently, these researchers described in a study published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports a critical improvement to the technology that could make it more durable, last longer in the body and transmit clearer, stronger signals.

Sam Kassegne, deputy director for the CSNE at SDSU, and colleagues developed electrodes made out of glassy carbon. (Credit: Sam Kassegne)

Nature Scientific Reports - Highly Stable Glassy Carbon Interfaces for Long-Term Neural Stimulation and Low-Noise Recording of Brain Activity

February 16, 2017

George Church indicates reversal of aging will be a reality within ten years

While discussing creating a hybrid elephant - wooly mammoth using CRISPR genome editing, Harvard's George Church predicted that reversal of aging will be a reality within ten years.

Nextbigfuture suspects that this could mean clearly reversing aging in mice cells as a proof in principle in ten years. But evidence suggests Church does mean full and significant aging reversal in humans within ten years. In March of 2016 Church said, aging should be thought of as a program that might be reversed, noting, "If we could take one of my skin cells and turn it into an embryo-like cell and turn it back into a skin cell it has reset almost all of the developmental indications of age. We have 65 gene therapies that are being test in mice and larger animals. If they go well we will go straight into human trials. That could be as little as two years ..

In June 2016, Church indicated that first phase I aging reversal human trials could be in a year or two.

"I [Church] don't think it is about stalling or curing, its about reversing. Curing gives you the impression of immortality. Stalling gives you the impression that you'll be 85 forever, which is not great."

Fahy: Using your most favorable pathway for intervention, how long will it take before a human trial might be possible?

Church: I think it can happen very quickly. It may take years to get full approval, but it could take as little as a year to get approval for phase one trials. Trials of GDF11, myostatin, and others are already underway in animals, as are a large number of CRISPR trials. I think we'll be seeing the first human trials in a year or two.

Fahy: Can you say what those trials might be?

Church: I helped start a company called Editas that is aimed at CRISPR-based genome editing therapies in general. Some of those will be aimed at rare childhood diseases and others hopefully will be aimed at diseases of aging. We also have a company focused specifically on aging reversal that will be testing these therapies in animal and human models.

George Church's team closing in on hybrid mammoth elephant embryo using CRISPR genome editing to increase to 45 genome edits of elephant from 15 edits a few years ago

Scientist leading ‘de-extinction’ effort says Harvard team could create hybrid mammoth-elephant embryo in two years

“Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo,” said Harvard Prof George Church. “Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits. We’re not there yet, but it could happen in a couple of years.”

The creature, sometimes referred to as a “mammophant”, would be partly elephant, but with features such as small ears, subcutaneous fat, long shaggy hair and cold-adapted blood. The mammoth genes for these traits are spliced into the elephant DNA using the powerful gene-editing tool, Crispr

Until now, the team have stopped at the cell stage, but are now moving towards creating embryos – although, they said that it would be many years before any serious attempt at producing a living creature.

“We’re working on ways to evaluate the impact of all these edits and basically trying to establish embryogenesis in the lab,” said Church.

Since starting the project in 2015 the researchers have increased the number of “edits” where mammoth DNA has been spliced into the elephant genome from 15 to 45.

“We already know about ones to do with small ears, subcutaneous fat, hair and blood, but there are others that seem to be positively selected,” he said.

Church also outlined plans to grow the hybrid animal within an artificial womb rather than recruit a female elephant as a surrogate mother - a plan which some believe will not be achievable within the next decade.

“We hope to do the entire procedure ex-vivo (outside a living body),” he said. “It would be unreasonable to put female reproduction at risk in an endangered species.”

He added that his lab is already capable of growing a mouse embryo in an artificial womb for 10 days - halfway through its gestation period.

Ex Google CEO underestimated AI but New CEO Pichai sees transition from smartphone era to AI era

Eric Schmidt was CEO of Google from Aug 2001 to April 2011. Eric has recently admitted that he underestimated machine learning and artificial intelligence

Schmidt's assessment back then was that artificial intelligence research faced tremendous obstacles that inhibited its progress. He "didn't think it would scale," he said of the machine learning tech.

And he said he also didn't think it would "generalize," meaning becoming more flexible and elastic, like the human mind, rather than remaining a specialized tool suited only to specific tasks.

Schmidt had underestimated the power of simple algorithms to "emulate very complex things," he said, while qualifying that "we're still in the baby stages of doing conceptual learning."

Google's current CEO Sundar Pichai has described the world as having entered an "AI-first" era. The preceding phase was a focus on all things mobile- and smartphone-first, according to Pichai, who succeeded Schmidt after a second CEO stint by Google co-founder Larry Page

This past fall, Google held two major product launches in San Francisco less than a week apart. At the first, it unveiled Google Cloud, a big expansion of offerings for business customers, such as the G Suite assortment of productivity tools (formerly known as Google Apps). The second was an Apple-esque hardware extravaganza at which the company announced the first Google-designed smartphones (the Pixel and Pixel XL), as well as a competitor to Amazon’s Echo speaker (Google Home), a virtual-reality headset (Daydream View), a wireless router (Google Wifi), and an upgrade to its video-streaming gizmo (Chromecast Ultra).

The wide scope represented by that lineup may suggest that Pichai isn’t picking his competitive battles. But his key ambitions are bound by a core prediction: that the world is moving from the smartphone age into, in Pichai’s phrase, an "AI-first" era, in which Google products will help people accomplish tasks in increasingly sophisticated, even anticipatory ways. The Pixel phones and Google Home, for instance, are the first devices with embedded support for Google Assistant, a rival to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa that is designed not only to handle straightforward commands but also fuzzier requests such as "Play that Shakira song from Zootopia." The Assistant is also designed to engage in relatively complex conversations related to tasks such as making vacation arrangements.

Were Netflix and Redbox obligated to retrain Blockbuster employees ?

On Quoram there is a question - Don't technologies companies who promote AI have an obligation to retrain our workforce to deal with the job disruption ?

Were Netflix and Redbox obligated or required to retrain Blockbuster Video employees ?
Was Walmart obligated or required to retrain Zellers, KMart, Sears or mom and pop store employees ?
Will Tesla be required to retrain Ford or GM workers ?

More interesting would be
Would Intel or other companies that hire thousands of H1B tech workers from India or other foreign nations have an obligation to chip in for retraining fifty something unemployed or underemployed IT workers already in the US ?

It would seem that the reasons that they are going to H1B workers is to avoid any or most job training.

Elon Musk wants to speed up tunneling by 10 times and lower costs by 10 to 100 times and create 30 layers of mostly underground cities

Tunnel technology is older than rockets, and boring speeds are pretty much what they were 50 years ago. As with space launches, tunnels are often funded through cost-plus government contracts, in which the contractor assumes no risk for cost overruns, which tend to be enormous as a result. Famously, Boston’s Big Dig, which moved a section of Interstate 93 underground, was delayed by roughly eight years and cost $12 billion more than originally planned, but all tunnels tend to be wildly expensive. In L.A., plans to extend the subway’s Purple Line by 2.6 miles will cost more than $2.4 billion and take almost 10 years. “It’s basically a billion dollars a mile,” Musk says. “That’s crazy.”

Musk wouldn’t comment on Trump, but a person close to him says that while the Boring Company would be open to building tunnels as part of Trump’s infrastructure plan, it intends to move forward regardless of what happens in Washington. Musk says he hopes to build a much faster tunneling machine and use it to dig thousands of miles, eventually creating a vast underground network that includes as many as 30 levels of tunnels for cars and high-speed trains such as the Hyperloop.

Objections spring to mind. Such as: Wouldn’t having hundreds of feet of hollow tunnels destabilize the ground? Nope, Musk says, the mining industry does it all the time. “The earth is big, and we are small,” he says. “We are so f---ing small you cannot believe it.” Not only are these megatunnels possible, he argues, they’re the only way we can rid ourselves of the scourge of traffic.

“We have skyscrapers with all these levels, and we have a flat, two-dimensional road system,” he says. “When everyone decides to go into these structures and then exits them at the same time, you’re going to get jammed.” Tunnels, on the other hand, would represent a 3D transportation network.

Musk chose the SpaceX parking lot as the site of his first dig, mostly because it was convenient and he could legally do so without city permits. The plan is to expand the current hole into a ramp designed for a large tunnel boring machine and then start digging horizontally once the machine is 50 feet or so below ground, which would make it low enough to clear gas and sewer lines and to be undetectable at the surface. The company, such as it is, is working on securing permits and hopes to have them by the time the tunnel hits the property line. At the moment, Musk won’t say exactly where this “demo tunnel,” as he calls it, will lead—only that it will accommodate cars and be the very beginning of a vast underground transportation network.

As crazy as tunneling sounds, Musk points out that it’s arguably less crazy than Silicon Valley’s go-to traffic solution: flying cars. Google’s Larry Page has funded two personal-aircraft startups, Zee.Aero and Kitty Hawk, and companies such as Uber and Airbus have skunk works. But Musk thinks flying cars are a dumb idea, at least for city travel. “Obviously, I like flying things,” he says. “But it’s difficult to imagine the flying car becoming a scalable solution.” As long as the laws of physics hold, he explains, any flying car will need to generate a lot of downward force to stop it from falling out of the sky, which means wind and noise for those on the ground, not to mention debris from midair fender-benders. “If somebody doesn’t maintain their flying car, it could drop a hubcap and guillotine you,” he says. “Your anxiety level will not decrease as a result of things that weigh a lot buzzing around your head.”

Nextbigfuture NOTES - Elon objection to uncontrolled flying cars would be the same for very large numbers of sizable drones. Flying drones pr flying cars would need to have corridors where they could travel and where the risk of anything falling or falling off would be mitigated.

Disney develops Wireless Power Transfer and demonstrates safe transfer of 1900 watts with 40-95% efficiency

Wireless power delivery has the potential to seamlessly power our electrical devices as easily as data is transmitted through the air. However, existing solutions are limited to near contact distances and do not provide the geometric freedom to enable automatic and un-aided charging. We introduce quasistatic cavity resonance (QSCR), which can enable purpose-built structures, such as cabinets, rooms, and warehouses, to generate quasistatic magnetic fields that safely deliver kilowatts of power to mobile receivers contained nearly anywhere within. A theoretical model of a quasistatic cavity resonator is derived, and field distributions along with power transfer efficiency are validated against measured results. An experimental demonstration shows that a 54 m3 QSCR room can deliver power to small coil receivers in nearly any position with 40% to 95% efficiency. Finally, a detailed safety analysis shows that up to 1900 watts can be transmitted to a coil receiver enabling safe and ubiquitous wireless power.

PLOS One - Quasistatic Cavity Resonance for Ubiquitous Wireless Power Transfer

February 15, 2017

Oak Ridge National Lab Neutronic and Fuel Cycle Analysis of the Transatomic Power Molten Salt Reactor

Presenting the results from the first phase of the collaboration between Transatomic Power Corporation (TAP) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to provide neutronic and fuel cycle analysis of the TAP core design through the Department of Energy Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear, Nuclear Energy Voucher program. The TAP design is a molten salt reactor using movable moderator rods to shift the neutron spectrum in the core from mostly epithermal at beginning of life to thermal at end of life. Additional developments in the ChemTriton modeling and simulation tool provide the critical moderator-to-fuel ratio searches and time-dependent parameters necessary to simulate the continuously changing physics in this complex system. Results from simulations with these tools show agreement with TAP-calculated performance metrics for core lifetime, discharge burnup, and salt volume fraction, verifying the viability of reducing actinide waste production with this design. Additional analyses of time step sizes, mass feed rates and enrichments, and isotopic removals provide additional information to make informed design decisions. This work further demonstrates capabilities of ORNL modeling and simulation tools for analysis of molten salt reactor designs and strongly positions this effort for the upcoming three-dimensional core analysis

A recent Third Way report detailing $1.3 billion in private investment in advanced reactor technology includes several liquid-fueled molten salt reactor (MSR) concepts. Interest in these MSR concepts is driven by the enhanced safety, economic, and promising fuel cycle benefits of these advanced reactor concepts. The Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy established the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) to provide private companies pursuing innovative nuclear energy technologies with access to the technical support necessary to move toward commercialization.

India detailed solar and renewable plans to 2022 with solar pumps for agriculture, minigrids, roof top solar and utility energy

India has reiterated its goal of scaling up its solar power capacity to 100 GW by 2022. It is targeting 60 GW from wind energy and plans to bring in hydro power, from which it generates 40 GW, into the category of renewable energy. By 2022, the country plans to generate around 175 GW from clean and renewable sources.

Combined with 1.1 GW of expected rooftop solar capacity, India should add a total of 8.8 GW in 2017, ranking it amongst the top three global markets after China and the USA.

There was a 2015 91 page report on India's renewable energy plan of 175 GW by 2022

International Finance Corp, the private sector investment arm of the World Bank, could invest about Rs 100 crore in renewable energy company Clean Max Enviro Energy Solutions, one of the largest solar solutions providers in India.

According to a disclosure made on its website, IFC, one of the largest private sector investors in the country, said proceeds from the round is expected to be used by the Mumbai-based company to commission more than 250 MW of solar projects over the next three years.

Solar rooftop: Government of India targets to achieve 100 GW solar capacity by 2022. Out of this, 40 20 GW is planned to be deployed through rooftop PV plants.

In 2017, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, along with the Solar Energy Corporation of India, has already identified several solar power projects with cumulative capacity of 20 gigawatts. Under the second phase an additional 20 gigawatts capacity will be added. While the existing solar power park program has been expanded the overall installed capacity target remains the same at 100 gigawatts by March 2022. This could essentially mean that the government recognizes that the planned capacity addition of 40 gigawatts under rooftop solar segment may be too large a target.

Based on tariffs of electricity for commercial consumers across various states, it is evident that solar rooftop tariffs are already at parity. In cases, where the users can avail accelerated depreciation (AD), the cost of solar is actually lower than the commercial tariffs in many states. Hence, we expect that no subsidy will be necessary for solar installations by commercial segments in most states.

As per existing scheme of the Government of India, 15% capital subsidy is allowed for residential and institutional segments. At Rs. 8 crore/MW, it is estimated that a Central Financial Assistance of a total of Rs. 12,000 crores may be required by 2022 to achieve 10 GW of rooftop capacity through residential/ institutional segments. Remaining 30 GW is expected to be deployed through commercial and industrials segments, which would require no subsidy but enabling policy and regulatory environment and support from utilities. The quantum of financial assistance required for 10 GW of rooftop by 2022 must be considered as an upper bound since the reduction in capital costs of rooftop systems is not considered.

RE-Based Electricity Access through Mini-Grids: The Government of India has also rolled out “Power for All” programme to address India’s energy security challenge. This programme seeks to provide round the clock electricity to each household by 2019. However, the programme appears ambitious when approximately 400 million people do not have access to electricity today.

A transition solution could be to provide immediate access to basic electricity needs by RE-based tail-end generation with or without the need to create new distribution infrastructure (mini-grids). The table-3 provides the year wise target and cost differential envisaged for such mini-grid systems. The Expert Group acknowledges that such interventions would also require consideration of technical aspects of generation systems, distribution infrastructure, and even storage systems so that integration with the utility grid is possible whenever utility grid reaches and becomes reliable.

Solar-Powered Agriculture Feeders: The 100 GW solar power target is divided into large-scale centralized power plants (50 GW) and distributed smaller scale projects (40 GW of rooftop mainly used by industrial, commercial and residential consumers and 10 GW grid-connected tail-end plants). The only option for solar power use in agriculture presently is in the form of individual solar pumps. They are suitable for areas not served by the grid and with high water tables, but require high upfront capital subsidies

It is estimated that during 13th Plan Period, about 62,800 circuit kilometers (ckm) of transmission lines, 15,000 MW of High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) terminal capacity and 128,000 MVA of transformation capacity of the 400 kV and above voltage level transmission systems would be required. Accordingly, the plan estimates that total fund requirement for 13th Plan would be of the order of Rs. 260,000 crore as against Rs. 234,000 crore required in 12th plan period. This would consist of Rs. 160,000 crore for 400kV and above transmission system and about 100,000 crores for 220 kV and below systems most of which would be for state transmission systems.

February 14, 2017

88 Dove cubesats will provide frequently updated coverage the earth's landmass at 3 to 5 meter resolution

Today, Planet will launch the largest sat fleet ever, on a rocket carrying the most satellites in history, when it sends 88 new craft from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India.

These devices, called Doves, will flock with already-orbiting instruments to capture pictures of the Earth. They’re tiny, weighing less than 11 pounds. But with their powers combined, they can track much more of the Earth than massive satellites from military-industrial juggernauts like DigitalGlobe. Even more, Planet just this month purchased another mini-sat company, Terra Bella, from Google, to amp up its space surveillance. And that means it can sell more data—data perhaps about where you live or work or play—for more money.

Planet will launch 88 satellites, which will be the largest fleet of satellites to be launched in history. The Dove satellites, collectively known as Flock 3p, will ride aboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. They will head to a morning crossing time, sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) at an approximate altitude of 500 kilometres (310 mi).

Doves form a satellite constellation that provides a complete image of Earth at 3-5 meter optical resolution and open data access.

Another plan for a larger future US Navy

There are a few competing studies with recommendations for a larger US Navy. There is one from MITRE and another by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA).

The Navy needs a vastly larger fleet — 414 warships — to win a great-power war, well above today’s 274 ships or even the Navy’s unfunded plan for 355, the think-tank MITRE calculates in a congressionally-chartered study. That ideal fleet would include:

14 aircraft carriers instead of today’s 11;
160 cruisers and destroyers instead of 84;
72 attack submarines instead of today’s 52;
New classes ranging from a missile-packed “magazine ship,” to diesel-powered submarines, to a heavy frigate to replace the Littoral Combat Ship, which would be cancelled.

The CSBA and an internal US Navy study recommend 12 aircraft carriers, but the CSBA also wants ten smaller aircraft carriers The CSBA wants 340 manned ships and 80 unmanned, MITRE says 414 manned ships, and the the Alternative Future Fleet wants 321 manned ships and 138 unmanned.

The MITRE plan is even more radical than the competing plan submitted to Congress by the Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments. Although both studies would grow the fleet, upgrade the America-class amphibious assault ship into a conventionally powered light carrier, cancel LCS, and build a new frigate, MITRE calls for a larger force overall and more new types of ship.

Building a 414-ship fleet “is unrealistic,” MITRE acknowledges, even assuming the Budget Control Act is repealed. So the study lays out what MITRE considers a good-enough plan to build and upgrade as many ships as possible for an additional $4.5 billion a year ($1.7 billion in shipbuilding funds and $2.8 billion for new weapons, mostly missiles).

This good-enough plan includes many compromises. Most notably, it slows down the production of aircraft carriers in the near term — even though MITRE believes we ultimately need more — because the Navy doesn’t have enough fighter jets to equip them all, and an aircraft carrier without aircraft is pretty pointless. To close the airpower gap, MITRE advocates buying more F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, since it believes “accelerating F-35C (Joint Strike Fighter) production does not appear to be a viable option.”

MITRE argues against today’s reliance on a small number of exquisitely expensive long-range missiles for anti-aircraft and missile defense. Instead MITRE advocates large barrages of precision-guided shells fired from conventional naval cannon — known as the Hyper-Velocity Projectile — and ultimately from electromagnetic railguns. Fielding HVP “must be a top priority” because it would turn the 5″ guns on every Navy cruiser and destroyer into missile defense systems.

Suggested style of ship to replace the LCS

China's plans launch of first cargo spacecraft in April as part of planned for manned space station by 2022

China plans to launch its first cargo spacecraft in April, state media reported on Tuesday, taking a step toward its goal of establishing a permanently manned space station by 2022.

President Xi Jinping has prioritized advancing China's space program, saying it was needed to enhance national security and defense. Plans for the maiden voyage of the cargo spacecraft were reported on the front page of the People's Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper.

The Tianzhou-1 cargo resupply spacecraft will be carried into space by a Long March-7 Y2 rocket launched from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in south China's island province of Hainan, the daily reported, citing the China Manned Space Agency.

The Tianzhou-1 is designed to dock with the Tiangong 2 space laboratory, or "Heavenly Palace 2", which China used to carry out its longest ever manned space mission last October, sending two astronauts into space for a month aboard the laboratory.

The spacecraft can carry 6 tonnes of goods, 2 tonnes of fuel and can fly unmanned for three months, the newspaper said.

Trump administration investigating the large scale development of space with Spacex and Blue Origin likely big winners

The Trump administration is considering a bold and controversial vision for the U.S. space program that calls for a "rapid and affordable" return to the moon by 2020, the construction of privately operated space stations and the redirection of NASA's mission to "the large-scale economic development of space," according to internal documents obtained by POLITICO.

It is setting off a struggle for supremacy between traditional aerospace contractors and the tech billionaires who have put big money into private space ventures.

The early indications are that private rocket firms like Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and their supporters have a clear upper hand in what Trump's transition advisers portrayed as a race between "Old Space" and "New Space," according to emails among key players inside the administration. Trump has met with Bezos and Musk, while tech investor Peter Thiel, a close confidant, has lobbied the president to look at using NASA to help grow the private space industry.

The ambitious plans for commercially exploring space outlined in the documents propose potential new moon landings within the next three years as well as, "private lunar landers staking out de facto 'property rights' for American on the Moon, by 2020."

If the US moves to develop lunar and other space resources, then other countries would have to race to develop their own capabilities to access space resources. Regardless of any treaties whoever gets the resources would benefit.

There are also existing companies (Planetary Resources, Deep Space Industries) that are focused on space mining.

February 13, 2017

Artificial Intelligence technical talent with F-you money do not hesitate to say F-you and leave for their own startups

For the past year, Google's car project has been a talent sieve, thanks to leadership changes, strategy doubts, new startup dreams and rivals luring self-driving technology experts. Also, key talent had enough accumulated compensation so that they were no longer dependent on continuing salaries.

Early staffers had an unusual compensation system that awarded supersized payouts based on the project's value. By late 2015, the numbers were so big that several veteran members didn't need the job security anymore, making them more open to other opportunities, according to people familiar with the situation. Two people called it "F-you money."

Artificial Intelligence technical talent with F-you money do not hesitate to say F-you and leave

In December, the car unit morphed into a standalone business called Waymo, and the system was replaced with a more uniform pay structure that treats all employees the same, according to a person familiar with the situation. Still, the original program got so costly that a top executive at parent Alphabet Inc. highlighted it last year to explain a jump in expenses. A spokeswoman for Alphabet, the holding company that owns Google and "Other Bets" like the autonomous car business

The unorthodox system started in 2010, soon after Google unveiled its first self-driving vehicle. It was constructed to tie employees' fortunes to the performance of the project, rather than Google's advertising money machine. In addition to cash salaries, some staffers were given bonuses and equity in the business and these awards were set aside in a special entity. After several years, Google applied a multiplier to the value of the awards and paid some or all of it out. The multiplier was based on periodic valuations of the division, the people said.

The precise metrics that the division was measured by-- and caused the bonuses to balloon-- are not known. But by 2015, the Google car project had come a long way: Google’s vehicles had logged more than one million autonomous miles; car companies including Toyota Motor Corp. and Tesla Inc. announced their own plans to develop autonomous systems; and analysts predicted the technology would transform the auto industry.

Staff departures from the car division increased in 2016. Some were frustrated with the pace of progress and had doubts about new leader John Krafcik, while others wanted to start their own autonomous vehicle companies, people familiar with the matter said. The big payouts exacerbated the situation because team members had less financial incentive to stay, the people familiar with the situation said.

Chris Urmson, previous leader of the project, departed in August and is working on a startup. Other early project members left to form Otto, a self-driving trucking company that was quickly snapped up by Uber Technologies Inc. Bryan Salesky, a former Google car executive, started Argo AI, which got a $1 billion investment from Ford Motor Co. on Friday.

Urmson and Salesky didn’t respond to requests for comment. Sebastian Thrun, who started the car project and helped design the pay system, didn’t respond to questions, either.

Dubai plans roll out of chinese single passenger Ehang 184 self-flying pod taxis starting July 2017

Dubai has tested a Chinese prototype of a self-driving hover-taxi, its transport authority said on Monday, with the aim of introducing the aerial vehicle in the emirate by July.

The test of the one-man electric vehicle comes as the city state in the United Arab Emirates seeks to ensure a quarter of its means of transport are self-driving by 2030.

The EHang 184 can travel on a programmed course at 100 kilometres an hour (60 mph) at an altitude of 300 metres (1,000 feet), the authority said in a statement. The new version has an endurance of about 30 minute flying time. This is about 30 mile range. The drones can handle a flier and a small bag weighing up to a combined total of 220 pounds.

A passenger simply needs to select a destination for the autonomous taxi to take off, fly the route and touch down in the chosen spot monitored by a ground control center, it said.

The EHang 184 is very similar to a multicopter UAV with an X8 configuration.

The vehicle, made by Chinese drone manufacturer EHang, can recharge in two hours and make trips of up to 30 minutes.

The head of the Dubai Roads and Transportation Authority said Dubai wants to develop passenger-carrying drones as a way to move people around the United Arab Emirates’ biggest city. Officials said flights could begin in July, though few other details were offered.

The Chinese-made EHang 184 drone will be tested. It is an egg-shaped craft with four legs sticking out, each with two small propellers.

Elon Musk says that humans must have a high bandwidth cyborg connection to computers to remain relevant in the age of Artificial Intelligence

Elon Musk says humans need to merge with machines to become a sort of cyborg. "Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence," Musk told an audience at the World Government Summit in Dubai, where he also launched Tesla in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

"It's mostly about the bandwidth, the speed of the connection between your brain and the digital version of yourself, particularly output."

Musk explained what he meant by saying that computers can communicate at "a trillion bits per second", while humans, whose main communication method is typing with their fingers via a mobile device, can do about 10 bits per second.

In an age when AI threatens to become widespread, humans would be useless, so there's a need to merge with machines, according to Musk.

"Some high bandwidth interface to the brain will be something that helps achieve a symbiosis between human and machine intelligence and maybe solves the control problem and the usefulness problem," Musk explained.

The technologists proposal would see a new layer of a brain able to access information quickly and tap into artificial intelligence.

Driverless cars will happen faster than people realize

During his talk, Musk touched upon his fear of "deep AI" which goes beyond driverless cars to what he called "artificial general intelligence". This he described as AI that is "smarter than the smartest human on earth" and called it a "dangerous situation".

While this might be some way off, the Tesla boss said the more immediate threat is how AI, particularly autonomous cars, which his own firm is developing, will displace jobs. He said the disruption to people whose job it is to drive will take place over the next 20 years, after which 12 to 15 percent of the global workforce will be unemployed.

"The most near term impact from a technology standpoint is autonomous cars … That is going to happen much faster than people realize and it's going to be a great convenience," Musk said.

Tesla launches electric cars in Dubai

Tesla has started selling its luxury electric cars in Dubai, marking its first foray into the Middle East.

Sales of luxury cars in the Gulf states are among the highest in the world per capita, although some brands have suffered as lower oil prices have dampened consumer demand.

California-based Tesla is accepting online orders from customers in the United Arab Emirates, a pop-up store in the Dubai Mall and a Tesla service center being built on Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road, which is due to open in July.

Founder Elon Musk said on Monday that Tesla will open a store and service center in Abu Dhabi in 2018 and plans to expand to Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Musk declined to elaborate on his wider plans or timeline for expansion outside the UAE at a press conference in Dubai.

Telsa's prices start from 275,000 dirhams ($74,884) for its Model S, which has a range of 632 km from a single charge and 344,000 dirhams for the Model X, which can travel up to 565 km.

Customers who take delivery of the cars, which will begin in July of this year, will be able to charge their vehicles at home or at 28 locations across the UAE, which Tesla hopes to increase to 50 by the end of the year.

Outside the U.S., Tesla's website says it is in Mexico, Canada, Europe, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan.

Apple nears $700 billion valuation on iPhone 8 anticipation

Tallest US dam has a damaged spillway which causes the evacuation of about 188000 people

About 188,000 residents near Oroville, Calif., were ordered to evacuate Sunday after a hole in an emergency spillway in the Oroville Dam threatened to flood the surrounding area. Thousands clogged highways leading out of the area headed south, north and west, and arteries major and minor remained jammed as midnight approached on the West Coast — though by early Monday, Lake Oroville’s water level had dropped to a point at which water was no longer spilling over, and the crisis appeared to be stabilizing.

The lake level reached its peak of 902.59 feet at about 3 a.m. Sunday and dropped to 898 feet by 4 a.m. Monday, according to the Sacramento Bee. Water flows over the emergency spillway at 901 feet.

“The drop in the lake level was early evidence that the Department of Water Resources’ desperate attempt to prevent a catastrophic failure of the dam’s emergency spillway appeared to be paying dividends,” the Bee reported Monday.

Repair crews are hoping boulders will help be the stopgap against erosion at the Oroville Dam emergency spillway. The California Department of Water Resources says the plan is to drop large rocks and boulders, called rip-rap, into the erosion causing concern at the emergency spillway. DWR’s hope is that they’ll be able to drop enough rock to protect the impacted area from further erosion. Helicopters will be used to drop in the boulders.

A spillway failure could cause 35 foot wall of water to hit some of the town below the dam.

Rain is forecasted for this Thursday and Friday.

The 770-foot-tall Oroville Dam is the nation’s tallest, about 44 feet higher than the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. The lake is the linchpin of California’s government-run water delivery system, sending water from the Sierra Nevada for agriculture in the Central Valley and for residents and businesses in Southern California.

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