May 26, 2015

US Air Force looking to integrate combat lasers in fighters starting 2022 and for combat lasers in AC-130J gunships

The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) is targeting demonstrating a 100+kw combat laser on a fighter by 2022. The airforce wants to integrate combat laser systems into future fighters in the 2030+.

Initially the combat lasers will be in external pod that attach to the fighter.

The General Atomics HELLADS laser, which will soon shift from a DARPA experiment to a DARPA-Air Force Research Lab joint venture. “That was a major investment on the part of DARPA,” Hardy said. “It’s the first time anybody’s shown you can make a 150-kW-class electric laser.

A typical modern fighter like the F-16 can carry at most six air-to-air missiles. Shoot six times, hit or miss, and it’s back to base to re-arm. By contrast, said Gunzinger, a laser-armed aircraft could just head back to the tanker. “Instead of landing to reload, air refueling would ‘reload’ [laser]-equipped aircraft in flight,” he said. They could keep fighting until the pilot couldn’t take it any more — or, if unmanned, for longer than any human could endure.

Special Operations Command wants a laser cannon on future AC-130s.

AC130J models could have lasers. The first two AC130J aircraft will not have the 105mm gun installed. That’ll have to be retrofitted later. The third AC10J AFSOC will simply pull the cannon off retiring AC130 aircraft and install them on the Js. The last seven J-models may carry a laser weapon according to Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold.

The AC-130J is a highly modified C-130J aircraft that contains many advanced features. It contains an advanced two-pilot flight station with fully integrated digital avionics. The aircraft is capable of extremely accurate navigation due to the fully integrated navigation systems with dual inertial navigation systems and global positioning system.

The AC-130J is the fourth generation gunship replacing the aging SOF fleet of 37 AC-130H/U/W gunships. AC-130 gunships have an extensive combat history dating to back to Vietnam where gunships destroyed more than 10,000 trucks and were credited with many life-saving close air support missions.

May 25, 2015

Multi-use non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse drone is an operational system in US air force

Boeing's "CHAMP," is short for Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project. It is a non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapon. CHAMP carries a small generator that emits microwaves to fry electronics with pinpoint accuracy. It targets not nations or cities but individual buildings, blacking out their electronics rather than blowing up physical targets (or people).

In 2012, Boeing representative was able to boast: "We hit every target we wanted to," predicting further that "in the near future, this technology may be used to render an enemy's electronic and data systems useless even before the first troops or aircraft arrive." Three years later, that future has arrived. Air Force Research Laboratory commander Maj. Gen. Tom Masiello says CHAMP is "an operational system already in our tactical air force."

Lockheed Martin builds the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile -- Extended Range (JASSM-ER), which the Air Force intends to use as CHAMP's delivery mechanism. A cruise missile with an estimated range in excess of 600 miles, JASSM-ER will itself be deployable from combat aircraft such as F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, B-1 and B-52 bombers, and the F-35 stealth fighter -- extending CHAMP's reach even further.

To date, Military Embedded Systems notes that the Air Force Research Laboratory has contracted Boeing to build only five CHAMP devices. But the trend in Pentagon acquisitions projects suggests the Air Force could soon be building these weapons en masse. From MALD-J radar-jamming drones to Switchblade kamikaze guided rockets and now CHAMP mini-electromagnetic-pulse weapons, the Air Force seems intent on fighting its next war more or less entirely by remote control.

Nvidia's Pascal is ten times faster than Maxwell processors

NVIDIA’s Pascal GPU architecture, set to debut in 2016, will accelerate deep learning applications 10X beyond the speed of its current-generation Maxwell processors. Beyond the Pascal is the Volta which will used stacked DRAM and achieve a two or three times boost.

Pascal GPUs will have three key design features that will result in dramatically faster, more accurate training of richer deep neural networks – the human cortex-like data structures that serve as the foundation of deep learning research.

Along with up to 32GB of memory — 2.7X more than the newly launched NVIDIA flagship, the GeForce GTX TITAN X — Pascal will feature mixed-precision computing. It will have 3D memory, resulting in up to 5X improvement in deep learning applications. And it will feature NVLink – NVIDIA’s high-speed interconnect, which links together two or more GPUs — that will lead to a total 10X improvement in deep learning.

Pascal is Nvidia’s follow-up to Maxwell, and the first desktop chip to use TSMC’s 16nmFF+ (FinFET+) process. This is the second-generation follow-up to TSMC’s first FinFET technology — the first generation is expected to be available this year, while FF+ won’t ship until sometime next year.

2.25 million dollar NASA and America Makes Challenge for 3D printed habitats

NASA and the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, known as America Makes, are holding a new $2.25 million competition to design and build a 3-D printed habitat for deep space exploration, including the agency’s journey to Mars.

The multi-phase 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge, part of NASA's Centennial Challenges program, is designed to advance the additive construction technology needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth and beyond.

Shelter is among the most basic and crucial human needs, but packing enough materials and equipment to build a habitat on a distant planet would take up valuable cargo space that could be used for other life-sustaining provisions. The ability to manufacture a habitat using indigenous materials, combined with material that would otherwise be waste from the spacecraft, would be invaluable.

The first phase of the competition, announced Saturday at the Bay Area Maker Faire in San Mateo, California, runs through Sept. 27. This phase, a design competition, calls on participants to develop state-of-the-art architectural concepts that take advantage of the unique capabilities 3-D printing offers. The top 30 submissions will be judged and a prize purse of $50,000 will be awarded at the 2015 World Maker Faire in New York.

May 24, 2015

Driverless Cars will 'eliminate bad driving' and halve insurance costs

Car insurance costs will halve by 2020 as driverless vehicles become the norm on British roads, according to figures obtained by Telegraph Money.

Self-piloted cars could cut annual premiums by £265 on average within five years because the vehicles are expected to "eliminate bad driving", which is the cause of 90pc of road accidents.

According to industry experts, the new technology is developing at such a pace that road accidents caused by human error will be almost eliminated in the next half-decade. Nearly all new cars will park and drive on the motorway automatically, and communicate with vehicles to avoid collisions.

John Leech, head of auto at consultancy KPMG, said: "Insurance premiums could halve once vehicles which communicate with each other and an 'autopilot mode' when driving on the motorway are developed – this is likely to happen by approximately 2020."

Google's driverless car is expected to be seen on UK roads by 2025

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles – The UK Economic Opportunity (KPMG)

• The overall economic and social benefit of connected and autonomous vehicles could be in the region of £51 billion per year by 2030.
• Connected and autonomous vehicles could create an additional 320,000 jobs in the UK by 2030, 25,000 of which would be in automotive manufacturing.
• By 2030, connected and autonomous vehicles could save over 2,500 lives and prevent more than 25,000 serious accidents in the UK.

KPMG has a report- "Self Driving Cars are we Ready?

UCLASS Superdrone a bridge to fully autonomous fighters

The Navy’s planned carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will help the service in a transition from manned strike aircraft to a future autonomous strike platform, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said on Wednesday.

While the final character of the Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) is still being developed, Mabus said whatever the outcome it would likely not possess the autonomous deep strike capability into contested areas the service ultimately will require.

“What we currently think it won’t be able to do is in the current [request for proposal] we’re looking at, is to do autonomous contested strike,” Mabus told reporters following an address at the U.S Naval Academy (USNA).

“What we’re looking at UCLASS is to be the bridge between manned systems and completely autonomous unmanned strike — which will be sometime in the 2020s — to develop that program using UCLASS to get us there.”

The Navy has plans to introduce UCLASS to the fleet by 2022 to 2023

While Mabus said UCLASS might not be the penetrating strike aircraft some advocates are hoping for, the Navy will ultimately need an autonomous strike platform.

“We have to moved to unmanned. That’s the future,” he said in response to a question from an USNA midshipman.

The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet replacement program — F/A-XX...looks like it should be unmanned,” he said.

The United States Navy's Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program is an aircraft carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle to provide an unmanned intelligence and strike asset to the fleet. The Navy plans to arm the proposed UCLASS with weapons currently in the carrier air wing's inventory. Weapons requirements will be outlined in final proposals and will be influenced by specific proposals. With the priority of the aircraft on ISR, the airframe will accommodate a fifth-generation AESA radar. It will have multiple intelligence (multi-int) sensors to include electro-optical/infrared sensors and full-motion video cameras. The sensor suite allows for detection and tracking of targets on land or at sea. Integrating weaponry is still being planned, but will include Joint Direct Attack Munitions.

Though its primary roles will be ISR and strike, there is the potential to use it as a "flying missile magazine" to supplement the F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-35C as a type of "robotic wingman." Its weapons bay could be filled with AIM-120 AMRAAMs and be remotely operated by an E-2D Hawkeye or F-35C flight leader

An artist’s concept of a proposed Lockheed Martin UCLASS design. Lockheed Martin Image

HSBC says there is no traditional stimulus left and the only hope is structural reforms and increased retirement ages

HSBC has a report "The World Economy's Titanic Problem" which indicates that in the event of a future recession, the world economy has run out of traditional stimulus. HSBC Chief Economist Stephen King says the US Federal Reserve has had to cut rates by over 500 basis points to right the ship in each of the recessions since the early 1970s.

Budget deficits are still uncomfortably large and debt levels uncomfortably high: while the US fiscal position has improved, it remains structurally weak.

We investigate the options for policymakers given this shortage of traditional ammunition, including:
(i) reducing the risk of recession;
(ii) reverting to quantitative easing;
(iii) moving away from inflation targeting;
(iv) using fiscal policy to replace monetary policy;
(v) using fiscal and monetary policy together in a bid to introduce so-called “helicopter money”; and
(vi) pushing interest rates higher through structural reforms designed to lower excess savings, most obviously via increases in retirement age.

We conclude that only the final option is likely to lead to economic success. Politically, however, it seems implausible. As a result, we are faced with a serious shortage of effective policy lifeboats.

As for plausible recession triggers, we highlight four major risks:
1) a rise in US wages which leads to a falling profit share and a major equity decline
2) a series of systemic failures within the non-bank financial sector
3) a major weakening of the Chinese economy, sending shockwaves around the world; and
4) a premature attempt by the Federal Reserve to normalise monetary policy, in a repeat of the mistakes made by the Bank of Japan in 2000 and, more recently, by the European Central Bank in 2011.

John Nash and wife Alicia die together in Taxi accident on NJ Turnpike

The famed Nobel-prize winner John Nash and Princeton University scholar and his wife Alicia were killed when a taxi carrying them slammed into a guardrail on the New Jersey Turnpike, ejecting and killing both. He was 86 and she was 82. They were featured in the movie A Beautiful Mind.

Mr. Nash was the father of what is known in economics as the “Nash Equilibrium,” a state where rivals in a game, a negotiation or a competition can’t advance their gains by changing their positions and thus reach a steady state.

For work on nonlinear partial differential equations, Mr. Nash last week received the prestigious Abel Prize in Oslo from the king of Norway for outstanding work in mathematics.

Driving in New Jersey Saturday, Mr. Nash’s taxi driver, Tarek Girgis, attempted to pass another car, according to New Jersey State Police Sgt. Gregory Williams. The driver lost control, crashed into a guardrail and then hit another car. An investigation into the crash is ongoing, though there is nothing suspicious about the nature of the accident, the officer said.

A bionic lens can be inserted in a procedure like cataract surgery can give vision three times better than 20-20 starting in 2017

The objective of OcumeticsTM Technology Corporation is to offer better than 20/20 vision for a lifetime.

Employing state-of-the art materials and production techniques, OcumeticsTM Technology Corporation is pleased to announce the development of one of the world’s most advanced intraocular lenses, one that is capable of restoring quality vision at all distances, without glasses, contact lenses or corneal refractive procedures, and without the vision problems that have plagued current accommodative and multifocal intraocular lens designs.

Cataract surgery is the most common and successful procedure in medicine. It is a painless and gentle procedure. Utilizing standard surgical techniques, augmented by the accuracy of femtosecond laser incision technology, ophthalmic surgeons will be able to implant the OcumeticsTM Bionic Lens to enable patients to achieve their visual goals.

The tiny Bionic Lens, which looks like a tiny button, would be inserted into the eye during an eight-minute surgery where the patient’s sight would be corrected instantly. The device would be folded like a taco in a saline-filled syringe, and then it would be implanted into the eye, where it would be placed in position within 10 seconds. The surgery would be available only to patients of at least 25 years of age, since people that age have eyes that fully matured.

Dr. Garth Webb and his team worked on the technology for eight years, spending $3 million on research and development.

“This is vision enhancement that the world has never seen before,” he said. “If you can just barely see the clock at 10 feet, when you get the Bionic Lens you can see the clock at 30 feet away.”

Even though the Bionic Lens sounds very exciting, the product will require additional testing before becoming commercially available. The device will undergo trials on animals and then blind human eyes at first. The final product could be available as soon as 2017.

Large Survey Telescope will image the entire sky every few nights for a thousand fold increase in survey power

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is a planned wide-field "survey" reflecting telescope that will photograph the entire available sky every few nights. The LSST is currently in its design and mirror-development phases. Site construction is scheduled to begin in October 2014, with engineering first light in 2019, science first light in 2021, and full operations for a ten-year survey commencing in January 2022.

The LSST will image the entire visible sky every few nights, thus capturing changes and opening up the time-domain window over an unprecedented range of timescales for billions of faint objects. Each sky patch will be visited 1000 times during the survey with a pair of exposures per visit. The LSST data will enable qualitatively new science. Billions of objects in our universe will be seen for the first time and monitored over time. Motivated by the evident scientific progress enabled by large sky surveys, multiple national reports have concluded that a dedicated ground-based wide-field imaging telescope with an effective aperture of 6-8 meters is a high priority for astronomy, physics, and planetary science over the next decade. With a thousand-fold increase in survey power in time-volume space over current facilities, LSST is likely to make unexpected discoveries.

The LSST design is unique among large telescopes (8 m-class primary mirrors) in having a very wide field of view: 3.5 degrees in diameter, or 9.6 square degrees. For comparison, both the Sun and the Moon, as seen from Earth, are 0.5 degrees across, or 0.2 square degrees. Combined with its large aperture (and thus light-collecting ability), this will give it a spectacularly large etendue of 319 m2∙degree2.

To achieve this very wide, undistorted field of view requires three mirrors, rather than the two used by most existing large telescopes: the primary mirror (M1) will be 8.4 metres (28 ft) in diameter, the secondary mirror (M2) will be 3.4 metres (11.2 ft) in diameter, and the tertiary mirror (M3), located in a large hole in the primary, will be 5.0 metres (16 ft) in diameter.

The 30 terabytes of data obtained each night will open a new window on the deep optical universe - the time domain - enabling the study of variability both in position and time. This enables control of systematics required for precision probes of dark energy. Rarely observed events will become commonplace, new and unanticipated events will be discovered, and the combination of LSST with contemporary space-based missions will provide powerful synergies

SR72 hypersonic spy drone could be flying by 2030

The SR-72 will travel at six times the speed of sound—the fastest military jet ever made—and fly as high as 80,000 feet. The SR-72,will evade assault, take spy photos, and attack targets at speeds of up to Mach 6. That’s twice as fast as its predecessor.

Aeronautical engineers at Lockheed Martin and Aerojet Rocket­dyne have been designing the SR-72 at their Skunk Works black site in California for the past several years. It will require a hybrid propulsion system: a conventional, off-the-shelf turbo jet that can take the plane from runway to Mach 3, and a hypersonic ramjet/scramjet that will push it the rest of the way. Its body will have to withstand the extreme heat of hypersonic flight, when air friction alone could melt steel. Its bombs will have to hit targets from possibly 80,000 feet. Lockheed says the craft could be deployed by 2030. Once it is, the plane’s ability to cover one mile per second means it could reach any location on any continent in an hour—not that you’ll see it coming.

The aircraft will accelerate to about Mach 3 under turbojet power, switch to ramjet power to take it to about Mach 5, and then switch again to scramjet mode, which uses supersonic air for combustion.

The SR-72 may face significant challenges to being accepted by the Air Force, as they are opting to develop the Northrop Grumman RQ-180 stealth UAV to perform the task of conducting ISR missions in contested airspace. Compared to the SR-72, the RQ-180 is less complex to design and manufacture, less prone to problems with acquisition, and can enter service as soon as 2015.

In December 2014 NASA awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to study the feasibility of building the SR-72's propulsion system using existing turbine engine technologies. The $892,292 contract funds a design study to determine the viability of a TBCC propulsion system by combining one of several current turbine engines, with a very low Mach ignition Dual Mode Ramjet (DMRJ). NASA previously funded a Lockheed Martin study that found speeds up to Mach 7 could be achieved with a dual-mode engine combining turbine and ramjet technologies. The problem with hypersonic propulsion has always been the gap between the highest speed capabilities of a turbojet, from around Mach 2.2 to the lowest speed of a ramjet at Mach 4. Typical turbine engines cannot achieve high enough speeds for a ramjet to take over and continue accelerating. The NASA-Lockheed study is looking at the possibility of a higher-speed turbine engine or a ramjet that can function in a turbine engine's slower flight envelope; the DARPA HTV-3X had demonstrated a low-speed ramjet that could operate below Mach 3. Existing turbofan engines powering jet fighters and other experimental designs are being considered for modification. If the study is successful, NASA will fund a demonstrator to test the DMRJ in a flight research vehicle

In the Late-2020s a microlensing survey could tell if Rogue planets are more common than planets around Stars

The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is a proposed infrared space observatory which was selected by National Research Council committee as the top priority for the next decade of astronomy. The WFIRST space telescope could be in space by 2024 if it is started in 2017.

Estimates suggested that every planetary system in the galaxy booted at least one planet into interstellar space. With billions of planetary systems in the Milky Way, there may be billions, maybe even hundreds of billions, of rogue planets in the galaxy, says planetary scientist Sara Seager of MIT.

“A census of rogues,” Liu says, “is the only way we are going to fully understand the extent of what’s out there in the Milky Way.”

Two traits distinguish a star from a brown dwarf and to an extent, from a planet: mass and the presence or absence of nuclear fusion. Stars, even small ones, are at least 80 times the mass of Jupiter, which at 318 times the mass of Earth is the most massive planet in the solar system — and is often used by astronomers to gauge the size of other gaseous objects. According to theoretical calculations about how stars work, objects must be 80 Jupiter masses or more to fuse hydrogen nuclei (protons) into helium. This process liberates energy, which is how stars burn bright, speckling the night sky.

Brown dwarfs are smaller, anywhere between 13 and 80 Jupiter masses. They are not dense enough to fuse hydrogen. But they may have been big and hot enough to fuse deuterium nuclei (a proton plus a neutron) with protons or other nuclei, which means they once generated energy but no longer do.

Any sphere less than about 13 Jupiter masses is not large or dense enough to fuse any kind of atomic nuclei. As a result, some astronomers define orbs with less than roughly 13 Jupiter masses — even untethered ones — as planets.

One study suggests there could be 100,000 rogue planets for every star in the Milky way.

Astronomy and Astrophysics - CFBDSIR2149-0403: a 4–7 Jupiter-mass free-floating planet in the young moving group AB Doradus?

MASS MATTERS Small stars, brown dwarfs and rogue planets can be similar in diameter but have different masses. Mass is one characteristic used to distinguish the objects. However, for classification purposes, astronomers may need to look beyond mass to consider how an orb formed and what elements it’s made of.

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