January 26, 2015

DARPA developing super-motorcycle with two wheel drive and quieter than normal conversation

The SilentHawk is a DARPA funded motorcycle for special forces.

What makes the bike so good for special forces is the hybrid electric engine. For normal use, traveling far from sensitive areas, the bike can use diesel, gasoline, or jet fuel, scavenging fuel as need be on missions far from base. When needed, the electric part of the engine ensures that the bike runs silent—or nearly so. DARPA’s goal is for the silent mode to ring in at 55 decibels. That's quieter than a normal conversation. The bike's louder mode could reach up to 75 decibels, which is slightly louder than the average vacuum cleaner.

SilentHawk is based on Alta Motor’s RedShift MX bike. Last year, Logos tested RedShift bikes with their new hybrid-electric engine. Now, for Phase II of testing, Logos says they plan “to proceed with an aggressive Phase II program plan, with the goal of developing and testing the first operational prototype in only 18 months.”

Special Forces toyed with the electric Zero MMX external link concept a couple years ago, but ditched it due to battery concerns



DARPA developing code for drone wolf pack teams of six or more

The U.S. military’s investments in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have proven invaluable for missions from intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) to tactical strike. Most of the current systems, however, require constant control by a dedicated pilot and sensor operator as well as a large number of analysts, all via telemetry. These requirements severely limit the scalability and cost-effectiveness of UAS operations and pose operational challenges in dynamic, long-distance engagements with highly mobile targets in contested electromagnetic environments.

DARPA’s Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program aims to overcome these challenges by developing algorithms and software that would extend the mission capabilities of existing unmanned aircraft well beyond the current state-of-the-art, with the goal of improving U.S. forces’ ability to conduct operations in denied or contested airspace. CODE researchers seek to create a modular software architecture that is resilient to bandwidth limitations and communications disruptions, yet compatible with existing standards and capable of affordable retrofit into existing platforms.


DARPA’s Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program aims to develop algorithms and software that would extend the mission capabilities of existing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) well beyond the current state of the art, with the goal of improving U.S. forces’ ability to conduct operations in denied or contested airspace. CODE would enable mixed teams of unmanned aircraft to find targets and engage them as appropriate under established rules of engagement, leverage nearby CODE-enabled systems with minimal supervision, and adapt to situations due to attrition of friendly forces or the emergence of unanticipated threats—all under the command of a single human mission supervisor. CODE envisions improvements that would help transform UAS operations from requiring multiple people to operate a single UAS to having one person able to oversee six or more unmanned vehicles simultaneously

China's navy is about 70% modernized now and will be about 85% in 2020

China's navy will have 70% modern ships in 2015 and this will increase to about 85% modern ships in 2020 This is up from less than half modern in 2010.

Modern Chinese ships are respectable in terms of size and capabilities. However, they are still inferior in size and capabilities to the equivalent american ship.

China's submarine capabilities are becoming far more capable with nuclear powered subs.

China will have four Type-094s submarines and two next-generation Type-096 submarines by the year 2020. The advanced nuclear-powered attack and ballistic missile submarines, according to Focus Taiwan News, citing Russian Military Observer, can carry 80 sea-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and 250 to 300 nuclear-armed missiles.

EU firms have been helping China's naval modernization by supplying new ship engines. German-designed engines chosen for their low noise levels power virtually all non-nuclear Chinese submarines and several classes of Chinese frigates deployed in the South China Sea, where Beijing has a host of territorial disputes, analysts say.

Citing the co-production deal signed in France, Chang said: “China uses the name of civil purchase to purchase French helicopter engines, and they shift those engines into military helicopters.”

Various cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles in China''s arsenal are a concern to the US Navy.

A Chinese website stated that the PLAN is going to build a 110,000 ton aircraft carrier, essentially a larger version of the Liaoning. Other sources report new carriers would have an an overall length of 320 meters and a planned displacement of 85,000 tons.



New Horizon starts Photographing Pluto in preparation for close approach in July

A Nasa probe is to start photographing the icy world of Pluto, to prepare itself for a historic encounter in July.

The New Horizons spacecraft has travelled 5 billion km (3 billion miles) over nine years to get near the dwarf planet.

And with 200 million km (120 million miles) still to go, its images of Pluto will show only a speck of light against the stars.

But the data will be critical in helping to align the probe properly for what will be just a fleeting fly-by.

Pluto will be photographed repeatedly during the approach, to determine the probe's position relative to the dwarf planet, explained Mark Holdridge, from the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) in Baltimore.


January 25, 2015

Two studies shows exercise improves symptoms of Parkinsons and also helps reduce the risk of Parkinsons

For the estimated half a million people in the US living with Parkinson's disease, simple day-to-day activities can prove a challenge. But a new study claims exercise can improve balance, mobility and overall quality of life for individuals with the condition. In patients with less severe Parkinson's, exercise may even reduce the risk of falls.

Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that is newly diagnosed in around 50,000 Americans each year. Onset is most common among individuals over the age of 60, and the disease affects around 50% more men than women.

Falling is common among people with Parkinson's; around 60% of individuals with the disease experience a fall each year, and approximately two thirds of these fall frequently.

Those with less severe Parkinson's disease who took part in the exercise program saw a 70% reduction in falls, compared with those who continued with their usual care.

Neurology - Exercise for falls prevention in Parkinson disease

Another study found reduction for the risks of Parkinson's disease with 1 hour of moderate physical activity each day.



Brain
A Journal of Neurology - Physical activity and risk of Parkinson’s disease in the Swedish National March Cohort



Inflammation linked proteins will enable objective measurement and a therapeutic target to treat chronic pain

Scientists have found evidence of neuroinflammation in key regions of the brains of patients with chronic pain, according to a new study from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), a Harvard affiliate.

By showing that levels of an inflammation-linked protein are elevated in regions known to be involved in the transmission of pain, the study paves the way for the exploration of potential new treatment strategies. Published online in the journal Brain, the study also identifies a possible way around one of the most frustrating limitations in the study and the treatment of chronic pain — the lack of an objective way to measure the presence or intensity of pain.

“Demonstrating glial activation in chronic pain suggests that these cells may be a therapeutic target, and the consistency with which we found glial activation in chronic pain patients suggests that our results may be an important step towards developing biomarkers for pain conditions,” explained Loggia, an assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School.


Credit: Marco Loggia/Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, MGH. Images created by averaging PET scan data from chronic pain patients (left) and healthy controls (right) reveals higher levels of inflammation-associated translocator protein (orange/red) in the thalamus and other brain regions of chronic pain patients.

Price of Flawless graphene will be reduced from $1200 a piece to $1.20 in a few years

PhD candidate Shou-En Zhu developed a method that could produce high-quality graphene for a fraction of the current price. What’s more, he demonstrated the quality in working devices.

Zhu has demonstrated millimeter-sized graphene crystals made by chemical vapour deposition of methane on a copper sheet. He sends a low-pressure mix of hydrogen, methane and argon over a copper sheet at a temperature of 1,000 degree celsius. The copper acts as a catalyst in stripping the hydrogen from the methane, leaving pure carbon that sticks to the surface and perfectly aligns with other carbon atoms into this endless sheet of pure graphene.

Other parties need ten hours to produce graphene by deposition. Zhu, however, has brought back the production time to about one hour by splitting the quartz tube in which the deposition takes place from the oven that surrounds it. After deposition, he simply slides the furnace away to speed up cooling.

“Now a single piece of graphene costs about €1,000”, said Zhu. “We expect to reduce the price by a factor of thousand to about €1 per piece in a few years.”

Zhu demonstrates the movable furnace - Photo: JW

Over the Horizon Fire Control and Detection with F35s would make US aircraft carriers safer against Chinese Cruise missiles

The Navy and Lockheed Martin are planning to demonstrate a beyond-the-horizon anti-ship missile detection and defense technology using an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The system, referred to as Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air, or NIFC-CA, uses Aegis radar, an airborne sensor and SM-6 missile to find, track and destroy approaching threats such as cruise missiles at ranges well beyond the typical radar horizon, Navy officials said.

Alongside Aegis radar and an SM-6 missile, NIFC-CA uses an E-2D Hawkeye aircraft as an airborne sensor to help relay threat information to the ship from beyond its normal radar range.

The idea with 2015-2016 demonstrations would be to use the F-35 as an airborne relay node or sensor in place of the E-2D Hawkeye. This could allow NIFC-CA to operate against an increasingly complex set of targets such as stealthy targets.


EMC2 Chief Scientist presents A Path to Electrostatic Nuclear Fusion

As previously noted EMC2 Fusion would need at least $100 million in funding and seven years to get to a breakeven nuclear fusion device.

The high-pressure confinement, also known as high-beta confinement, is what's described in the ArXiv paper. One of the keys to solving that problem was to redesign the Wiffle-Ball to do away with the joints between the reactor's rings, Park said.

However, the test device did not demonstrate the neutron production that would be required for an actual fusion reaction. "We tried to do it, but we just didn't have enough equipment to do it," Park said. "We thought that getting the Wiffle-Ball effect validated was a good accomplishment."

EMC2 Fusion still has to show that the design can support a fusion reaction that eventually produces more power than is put into the system. Such a system would have to smash ions together in the center of a hot, magnetized cloud of electrons.


EMC2 Chief Scientist presented the prior work and the high level of what is needed to achieve net power electrostatic nuclear fusion.

Roll to roll manufactured decorative perovskite solar panels will be 5 times better and 10 times cheaper

VTT Technical Centre of Finland has developed and utilized a mass production method based on printing technologies allowing the manufacturing of decorative, organic solar panels. Design freedom improves the range of applications of the panels on the surfaces of interior and exterior building spaces. VTT is also studying the feasibility of printing technology in the mass production of solar panels made from inorganic perovskite materials.

The new mass production method enables to create interior design elements from organic solar panels (OPV, organic photovoltaics) harvesting energy from interior lighting or sunlight for various small devices and sensors that gather information from the environment. The panels can, for example, be placed on windows and walls and on machines, devices and advertisement billboards. Until now, it has only been possible to pattern OPV panels into a form of stripes.

The solar panel manufactured with VTT's gravure and screen printing technologies is only around 0.2 mm thick, and includes the electrodes and polymer layers where the light is collected. Furthermore, graphics can be printed to improve its visual appearance.


VTT is developing roll-to-roll manufacturing methods for inorganic perovskite solar panels

VTT is also currently examining how well the roll-to-roll printing methods are suited to the manufacturing of inorganic solar panels made from perovskite materials. The first perovskite solar cells manufactured in the laboratory using solution-based processes have been promising. The performance of this solar cell is roughly five times better than that of an organic photovoltaic cell, and the material costs can be even ten times lower.


Freely designed decorative organic solar panels are applicable also in indoor use to harvest energy from indoor light. Production methods are cost-effective and materials can be recycled after the use. New materials such as perovskite can be printed with same methods and increase efficiency in future.

January 24, 2015

Revamped collider and a 50 times better detector will hunt the WIMP particles in 2015

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics lab near Geneva, Switzerland, is scheduled to restart in March after a major upgrade. It is widely seen as the last chance in a generation to create — and thus confirm — theoretical particles known as WIMPs, or weakly interacting massive particles. A super-sensitive ‘direct-detection’ experiment, which is designed to catch naturally occurring WIMPs streaming from the heavens, is also due to start this year.

At the same time, the failure so far to glimpse WIMPs at either the LHC or through direct-detection experiments, combined with surprise signals from others, is fuelling suggestions that dark matter is made of something else. A range of alternatives that were previously considered underdog candidates now look “less exotic”, says Kevork Abazajian, a theorist who studies particle cosmology at the University of California, Irvine.

Large Hadron Collider


Russian Navy can only deploy 45 of its 270 ships

The Russian navy is on the edge of a precipitous decline in ship numbers and combat power, owing to huge industrial shortfalls that have been decades in the making. Today the Russian navy possesses around 270 warships including surface combatants, amphibious ships, submarines and auxiliaries. Of the 270 ships, just 125 or so are in a working state. And of those 125, only around 45 are oceangoing surface warships or submarines that are in good shape and deployable.

Most of the Soviet-vintage ships will decommission in the next few years as they became too old to sail safely and economically.

Gorenburg, Harvard Analyst, says the Russian shipbuilding industry could build somewhere between half and 70 percent of the vessels Moscow wants by 2020. “The earliest that Russia could build a new aircraft carrier is 2027, while new destroyers are still on drawing board, with the first unlikely to be commissioned for 10 years.

The U.S. Navy possesses some 290 warships. Pretty much all of them are well-maintained, deployable, oceangoing vessels.

China has plans to grow its navy to 351 ships by 2020 as the Chinese continue to develop their military’s ability to strike global targets.



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