November 07, 2008

Update on Making a Real Bolo SuperTank

Previously this site had speculated on using current and in development technology to create a Bolo supertank from science fiction. From Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends : Caterpillar engineers and computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University have teamed up to develop an autonomous 700 ton mining truck. The super-large mining truck was a baseline from which modifications were made as seen below where the original article is repeated. Discover News has more details on Caterpillar's plans.

Japan-based Komatsu already has already delivered autonomous mining trucks to its customers, but these are smaller than the Caterpillar ones. Both companies are transforming their trucks into 'robots' for three reasons. Improvements in safety, efficiency and productivity will reduce costs and increase availability.

"The Caterpillar trucks will be equipped with numerous high-tech gadgets and software to keep them on the road. GPS receivers would continuously monitor the location and direction of the trucks. Laser range finders would sweep the road in front of the trucks to identify large objects. Video equipment would then determine if the object is a hazard, such as a rock, or not. All of the information would then be run through a computer program that would tell the robotic driver to avoid the obstacle or not and by how much. The software to run the trucks will be adapted from CMU's part in the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Urban Challenge."

Fully automated mining trucks promise to reduce maintenance costs while increasing productivity. While being careful not to say what Caterpillar's performance expectations will be, Stentz offered a 'very rough calculation' that by running at peak capacity 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the trucks could be up to 100 percent more productive.

Matching science fiction super-tanks with real world 700 ton tank with 36,000 HP fission reactor, railguns, lasers, super armor, supercomputer, AI, missiles and more.

What are Bolo Tanks ?
Bolo's are fictional artificially intelligent super-heavy tanks. They were described in science fiction books by Keith Laumer.

Online books have the specifications for the different bolo models.

Bolo Mark X      350 tons     Laser cannon, railguns, missiles, preloaded computer  
battle plans
Bolo Mark XII    500 tons     Intercontinental missiles, surface to space missiles
Bolo Mark XIII   565 tons     Fission powered engine, laser cannon
Bolo Mark XIV    728-900tons  Fusion powered engine, hellbore weapon (half 
megaton/sec plasma gun = 2.1 petajoules/sec)

Adapting Existing Equipment

We can start by adapting a factory for the biggest mining trucks or the large military hovercrafts.

The Caterpillar 797B is an ultra class mining truck manufactured by Caterpillar Inc. The 797B is the largest mechanical dump truck in the world.

They use 50 gallons of diesel per hour and have 13ft tires. Each tire costs $40,000.
Weight 310 tons empty, 690 tons with full load
3500-3750 HP engines
Height: 25 ft (7.6 m)
Length: 47 ft (14.5 m)
Body width: 32 ft (9.8 m)
Fuel capacity: 1,800 US gallons (6,800 L)
Cost: About US$5 million

A Russian Bora class guided missile hovercraft weighs about 1050 tons

Length: 654 ft (19.7 m)
Beam: 17 ft (5.4 m)
Draught: 3.8 ft 8 in (1.4 m)
Speed: 12 knots (14 mph/22 km/h) cruise

55 knots (63 mph/102 km/h) maximum
Range: 2,500 nmi (4,600 km) at 12 knots
800 nmi (1,500 km) at 55 knots

• Twin M10-D1 type gas turbine engines rated at 40,000 horsepower (30,000 kW) bound to two primary three-blade propellers
• Twin M511A reduction gear diesel engines rated at 20,000 horsepower (15,000 kW) bound to two primary three-blade propellers
• Twin M52OM3 auxiliary diesel engines driving superchargers rated at 6,800 horsepower (5,100 kW) used to inflate the skirts

• 2 × Quadruple MT-206ME launchers for 3M-80E "Moskit" marine cruise missiles (or various others)
• 1 × 9K33M "Osa-MA" type surface-to-air missile anti-aircraft defense suite
• 1 × AK-176M automatic 76.2 mm cannon or 1 × AK-100 automatic 100 mm cannon
• 2 × AK-630 30 mm anti-aircraft Gatling cannons
• 16 × 9K38 Igla man-portable shoulder mounted surface-to-air missile launcher sets
• 2 × 14.5 mm naval machine gun mounts
• 1 × DP-64 anti-saboteur grenade launcher

Arming a big mining truck like the guided missile hovercraft is already getting pretty close to a pretty good Bolo tank.

Next technology is coming that matches up with the more futuristic aspects of Bolos.

Fission power
As is frequently covered at this site Hyperion Power Generation should have 27 MW of electricity factory produced nuclear reactor ready in 2013. One MW is equal to 1341 horsepower. So 27 MW is 36,200 HP. This is 24 times more power than the 1500 HP engine of an M1 tank and is ten times the power of the engines of the big mining trucks. It can run 5 years between reloading the nuclear fuel. The waste that is removed at the end of five years is the size of a softball.

The reactor will have no moving parts and is only about a 1.5 meter on a side cube. It should weigh ten tons or less.

A large conventional diesel engine can generate 89,000 HP and weighs 2000 tons

Railguns and lasers
Megawatt class solid state lasers should be ready in 2012. Each megawatt laser would probably need up to 5 megawatts of the nuclear power plant power to fire because of inefficiency converting electrical to laser energy. This efficiency can be improved with more refined technology such as optical fiber lasers.

Railguns should be ready for test deployment for navy ships in 2012 and an integrated railgun in 2016-2018.

A railgun firing. Current test gun can achieve 32 megajoules of power.

At full capability, the rail gun will be able to fire a a 40-pound projectile more than 200 nautical miles at a muzzle velocity of mach seven and impacting its target at mach five. In contrast, the current Navy gun, MK 45 five-inch gun, has a range of nearly 13 miles. The high velocity projectile will destroy its targets due to its kinetic energy rather than with conventional explosives. The desired railgun would have 64 megajoules to fire. In our proposed real Bolo tank, ultracapacitors would store 3+ seconds of reactor energy for each railgun firing.

Railguns can fire smaller projectiles into space (or make bigger and more powerful railguns). So hitting objects in orbit is possible from a supertank.

Robotic driving and armor

Actual vehicle being developed is the CMU crusher (self driving military vehicle)

The alternative to the "super alloy" of the Bolo would be better ceramic armor or the new durable liquid metal (twice as strong as titanium)

Current progress to autonomous robots is substantially because of better 3d LADAR

More on the DARPA robotic driving systems

There is rapid cost to reduce the cost and increase the effectiveness of graphene and carbon nanotubes for very strong materials by themselves or as additives in to plastics and metals.

Computer brain
Around 2015, a supercomputer using about 20 million embedded microprocessors could deliver 200 petaflops of performance. It would cost about $75 million, and use up to 4 megawatts of power. The supertank could use one that was one tenth as powerful. 400KW of power for a 20 petaflop supercomputer.

AI is getting better and running on a very power computer would make the AI more effective.

The Hyperion nuclear reactor would provide enough power for engine, supercomputer, railgun and lasers. The vehicle would also be big enough to carry missiles and big gatling guns.

Gene Therapy Might Cure Aids

A patient with leukemia and aids had his bone marrow cells replaced with those from a donor who has a naturally occurring genetic mutation that renders his cells immune to almost all strains of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Doctors have not been able to detect the virus in his blood for more than 600 days, despite his having ceased all conventional AIDS medication. Normally when a patient stops taking AIDS drugs, the virus stampedes through the body within weeks, or days. Last year, AIDS killed two million people; 2.7 million more contracted the virus.

While cautioning that the Berlin case could be a fluke, David Baltimore, who won a Nobel prize for his research on tumor viruses, deemed it "a very good sign" and a virtual "proof of principle" for gene-therapy approaches. Dr. Baltimore and his colleague, University of California at Los Angeles researcher Irvin Chen, have developed a gene therapy strategy against HIV that works in a similar way to the Berlin case. Drs. Baltimore and Chen have formed a private company to develop the therapy.

About 1% of Europeans, and even more in northern Europe, inherit the CCR5 mutation from both parents. People of African, Asian and South American descent almost never carry it.

There is a potentially safer alternative: Re-engineering a patient's own cells through gene therapy. Gene therapy also faces daunting technical challenges. For example, the therapeutic genes are carried to cells by re-engineered viruses, and they must be made perfectly safe. Also, most gene therapy currently works by removing cells, genetically modifying them out of the body, then transfusing them back in -- a complicated procedure that would prove too expensive for the developing world. Dr. Baltimore and others are working on therapeutic viruses they could inject into a patient as easily as a flu vaccine. But, he says, "we're a long way from that."

Carnival of Space 78

Carnival of of Space week 78 is up at Simostronomy

This site contributed an article about minimagnetosphere's for ion radiation protection for future astronauts. Potentia Tenebras Repellendi also had coverage on the same topic and had more pictures. Radiation with an inherent electric charge can be stopped by the cheap, lightweight and low power shield.

Check out Simostronomy for more

Call for Donors for a Private Effort to Apply Leukocyte Infusion Anti-Cancer Therapy

You can be part of validating a promising anti-cancer therapy.

If you are under the age of 30 and have no history of cancer in your family (parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, brothers and sisters all with no cancer) then there is a private effort where you can donate some blood and find out if you anti-cancer cells. If your blood type matches they will be used for the experimental treatment of an anti-aging researcher. This is a real effort and the author has personally met the anti-aging researcher who has the cancer, who spoke at Foresight Unconference last year.

Benefits of applying and donating:
1. You could find out that you have cancer immunity. Tests would be paid by Kronos Lab.
2. You could save someones life
3. You could advance a potentially broadly applicable treatment for cancer. Transferring cancer immunity from highly immune people to those without immunity. Broad success could save millions each year.
4. This private effort could accelerate the development of this treatment by one year or more. 7 million people die each year from cancer worldwide. Getting a one year acceleration on a broadly successful cure for cancer would be a very good thing.

Here is a description of the private effort.

The protocol for this therapy involves identifying young donors with a blood type matching the patient and with no history of cancer in their family. These donors must also have a tissue type that is appropriate for this type of transfusion (similar to the typing done for organ donation but the “matching” is a little bit different). Samples from these donors are tested for their granulocyte cancer-killing ability. We need to find a minimum of 4 people, preferably more, who have a compatible cell type and high cancer-killing activity.

This effort is very time sensitive. I need to find matched donors as quickly as possible. The initial screening involves only a questionnaire and a standard blood draw. Promising matches will move to Phase II of this process, which involves a possible trip to an East Coast research center where scientists can perform the cancer killing activity test (using another standard blood draw). Travel would of course be provided.

The strongest candidates after the cancer killing activity is determined will be selected to have their granulocytes removed using pheresis technology, the same technology used for platelet donation. Granulocyte populations replenish within 2 hours. Granulocyte pheresis is commonly used for other indications so there is nothing new or controversial about the donation. These cells would then be transfused into me in hopes that they recognize the tumor and attack it.

If you are interested in being considered as a candidate, please complete the form below and return it via email to Wendy Bezotte, at or fax at (602) 667-5623 as soon as possible.

Project: CK-001


First Name:

Last Name:

Date of Birth:

Telephone Number:

E-mail Address:

Mailing Address:

1. Gender Male Female

2. Race: White Black Asian Other:

3 Blood Type: A+ A-

B+ B-


O+ O-

Don’t know

4. Have you donated blood or blood products in the last 12 months? Yes No

5. Have you ever been deferred from giving blood or blood products? Yes No

6. Have you ever been diagnosed with cancer? Yes No

7. Has ANY member of your family ever been diagnosed with cancer? Yes No

8. If you answered YES to Question 7, who are they? (check all that apply)

Mother Mother's Father

Mother's Mother Mother's Sibling(s)

Father Father's Father

Father's Mother Father's Sibling(s)

Sibling(s) Niece/Nephew

Cousin(s) Other

Please specify the cancer type(s), if known:

9. Have you ever been a recipient of a blood transfusion? Yes No

10. Do you have any of the following infectious diseases?
HIV HEP A HEP B HEP C TB Sexually Transmitted Disease

11. For females:

11a. Are you currently pregnant? Yes No

11b. Have you ever had a multiple birth pregnancy (twins, triplets etc.)? Yes No

Form completed by:

Print Name Date

Signature (if completed electronically, printed name is sufficient)

Kronos Laboratory

LIFT clinical trials have been organized but have been delayed for bioethical review.

SENS conference where the anti-cancer treatment was discussed.

November 06, 2008

Room Temperature Interchange of Strongly Bound Atoms Using Mechanical Force

From Foresight Institutes Nanodot report of new Japanese research.

Robert Freitas (author of Nanomedicine) commented on the new Japanese work:
This paper reports purely mechanical-based covalent bond-making and bond-breaking (true mechanosynthesis) involving atom by atom substitution of silicon (Si) atoms for tin (Sn) atoms in an Sn monolayer surface on a Si(111) surface; also demonstrates atomically precise exchange of lead (Pb) and indium (In) on Si(111) surface. This is the first report of a complex pattern being drawn on a 2D surface, literally atom by atom, purely via mechanical forces

Working on a single atomic layer of tin atoms grown on a single-crystal silicon surface, the Japanese-European collaboration maneuvered an atomic force microscope (AFM) tip precisely (plus or minus 0.01 nm) over a single silicon atom defect in the tin surface, and were able to reversibly exchange a tin atom on the apex of the tip and the silicon atom on the surface. These experiments were done at room temperature and, unlike earlier demonstrations in which a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) tip was used to interchange atoms weakly bond to a metallic surface through use of an electrical bias, this demonstration used mechanical force to interchange strongly bound atoms.

26 page Supplement to the research paper "Complex Patterning by Vertical Interchange Atom Manipulation Using Atomic Force Microscopy".

Some had stated that mechanosynthesis was not feasible.

Nobel prize winner Richard Smalley had argued mechanosynthesis to place atoms was not possible. Smalley had said:

the same argument I used to show the infeasibility of tiny fingers placing one atom at a time applies also to placing larger, more complex building blocks. Since each incoming "reactive molecule" building block has multiple atoms to control during the reaction, even more fingers will be needed to make sure they do not go astray. Computer-controlled fingers will be too fat and too sticky to permit the requisite control. Fingers just can't do chemistry with the necessary finesse.

From the abstract of the paper:
The ability to incorporate individual atoms in a surface following predetermined arrangements may bring future atom-based technological enterprises closer to reality. Here, we report the assembling of complex atomic patterns at room temperature by the vertical interchange of atoms between the tip apex of an atomic force microscope and a semiconductor surface. At variance with previous methods, these manipulations were produced by exploring the repulsive part of the short-range chemical interaction between the closest tip-surface atoms. By using first-principles calculations, we clarified the basic mechanisms behind the vertical interchange of atoms, characterizing the key atomistic processes involved and estimating the magnitude of the energy barriers between the relevant atomic configurations that leads to these manipulations.

To characterize what was happening between the atoms involved, the researchers did a first principles quantum mechanics simulation of the tip-surface interactions. The simulations show that the key step happens when the outermost atom of the tip and the target atom on the surface have an equal number of bonds with the surrounding atoms so that they lose the property of being part of the tip or the surface.

The method used here of vertical interchange of atoms between tip and surface was found to be about ten times faster than previous lateral manipulations of atoms with the AFM. Using vertical manipulation as an atomic pen, the authors wrote the chemical symbol for silicon (Si) with 12 silicon atoms on the tin surface. In supplementary material, the authors report doing similar manipulations with lead and indium atoms on a silicon surface. They propose that:

This manipulation technique may pave the way toward selective semiconductor doping, practical implementation of quantum computing, or atomic-based spintronics. The possibility of combining sophisticated vertical and lateral atom manipulations with the capability of AFM for single-atom chemical identification may bring closer the advent of future atomic-level applications, even at room temperature.

Theoretical and experimental mechanosynthesis related papers.

Noriaki Oyabu, Oscar Custance, Insook Yi, Yasuhiro Sugawara, Seizo Morita, “Mechanical vertical manipulation of selected single atoms by soft nanoindentation using near contact atomic force microscopy,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 90(2 May 2003):176102; (Abstract) (APS story)
ABSTRACT. A near contact atomic force microscope operated at low-temperature is used for vertical manipulation of selected single atoms from the Si(111)–(7×7) surface. The strong repulsive short-range chemical force interaction between the closest atoms of both tip apex and surface during a soft nanoindentation leads to the removal of a selected silicon atom from its equilibrium position at the surface without additional perturbation of the (7×7) unit cell. Deposition of a single atom on a created vacancy at the surface is achieved as well. These manipulation processes are purely mechanical, since neither bias voltage nor voltage pulse is applied between probe and sample. Differences in the mechanical response of the two nonequivalent adatoms of the Si(111)–(7×7) with the load applied is also detected.
NOTE: This landmark paper is the first to report purely mechanical-based covalent bond-making and bond-breaking, i.e., the first experimental demonstration of true mechanosynthesis.

Morita S, Sugimoto Y, Oyabu N, Nishi R, Custance O, Sugawara Y, Abe M, “Atom-selective imaging and mechanical atom manipulation using the non-contact atomic force microscope,” J. Electron Microsc. (Tokyo) 53(2004):163-168.
ABSTRACT. We succeeded in distinguishing between oxygen and silicon atoms on an oxygen-adsorbed Si(111)7 x 7 surface, and also distinguished between silicon and tin atoms on Si(111)7 x 7-Sn intermixed and Si(111) square root(3) x square root(3)-Sn mosaic-phase surfaces using non-contact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM) at room temperature. Atom species of individual atoms are specified from the number of each atom in NC-AFM images, the tip-sample distance dependence of NC-AFM images and/or the surface distribution of each atom. Further, based on the NC-AFM method but using soft nanoindentation, we achieved two kinds of mechanical vertical manipulation of individual atoms: removal of a selected Si adatom and deposition of a Si atom into a selected Si adatom vacancy on the Si(111)7 x 7 surface at 78 K. Here, we carefully and slowly indented a Si atom on top of a clean Si tip apex onto a predetermined Si adatom to remove the targeted Si adatom and onto a predetermined Si adatom vacancy to deposit a Si atom, i.e. to repair the targeted Si adatom vacancy. By combining the atom-selective imaging method with two kinds of mechanical atom manipulation, i.e. by picking up a selected atom species and by depositing that atom one by one at the assigned site, we hope to construct nanomaterials and nanodevices made from more than two kinds of atom species in the near future.
NOTE: This is another experimental demonstration of true mechanosynthesis, using silicon (Si) adatoms on Si surface.

Vision of the Future Mostly Unchanged: You Get What You Pay for

IO9 asks can futurism escape the 1990s.

People should consider diverting $100-150 per year in science fiction movies, DVD, books, toys and games towards actual scientific attempts at life extension and molecular nanotechnology. This does not include another average of $60-100 per person on cosmetic surgery, vitamins and dietary supplements. Why settle for imagination, illusion and fake procedures and invest in attempts at real solutions ?

Note: You can also just divert some money from this or other sources depending upon your personal priorities. ie. still buy science fiction but eat out less or buy less junk food which is bad for you anyways. Go to the movies less and rent the DVD and accumulate a fund for putting towards actual research. Recognize that in most cases vitamins do nothing and put those funds towards research that has the potential to make a big difference.

SENS life extension project
Robert Freitas Diamond Mechanosynthesis research fund (real molecular manufacturing.
There is also a private attempt to accelerate a promising cancer cure.
There are other direct investments in bringing about a real version of the future. If you have a particular future that you are interested in bringing about sooner than ask about in the comments and I and my readers can help determine the current best option.

This site has already noted how hard it is to make and get wide adoption of "change your everyday life in a radical way technology".

This article will review how of the average of about $100-150 per year that people in the US spend on science fiction or via tax dollars on science research or as a proportion of corporate research that money does not translate into progress on life extension, molecular nanotechnology, advanced AI, broad access to space or other aspects of the vision of future which has endured since 1990. On the plus the internet was transformed from a niche academic tool into the global phenomenon that it is and cellphones became common and we have handheld and laptop computers that are more powerful than some of Cray supercomputers but which are either bogged down running Windows Vista or running video games.

What have we spent our money on since 1990?
Global spending on science fiction movies, dvd, games, toys, tv and books is probably over $100 billion/year. U.S. sales of supplements totaled about $9.7 billion in 2007 and are generally recognized to have zero to minimal beneficial effect and definitely do not extend life (unless you were going to die of scurvy). American spent $13.2 billion on cosmetic surgery in 2007.

The anime industry exceeds $20 billion per year in Japan alone and is probably $40 billion worldwide. A lot of anime can be classified as science fiction.

Science Fiction movie box office for the United States has ranged consistently from $700-1.2 billion each year on an inflation adjusted basis from 1995-2008. There was two outlier years on the bottom $189 million in 2002 and $542 million in 1995 and two outlier years on the top end with $1.6 and 1.7 billion.

Science Fiction share of DVD sales and rentals is probably a slightly larger percentage.

Science Fiction has been around 5-7% of US book sales. US book sales have been about $20-25 billion per year. Worldwide science fiction book sales can be 10-11% in countries like Russia.

NASA and the Department of Defence space budgets have been about $30-45 billion per year. However, they have spent almost nothing on broadening civilian access to space or lowering space launch costs or creating an infrastructure in space. It is mostly buildings and staff on the ground in the districts of powerful senators and congressmen. It is also communication and spy satellites. It was also spent launching a space shuttle that was known to be a death trap and building a space station which was known would not change the world.

Reviewing What Happened With Nanotechnology Funding
Billions each year have been spent by governments worldwide on something labelled nanotechnology. Virtually all of that was not an attempt to enable the pre-1990 vision of molecular nanotechnology.

The history of the almost funding of molecular nanotechnology was reviewed in Wired Magazine.

Drexler presented his theories to Congress in 1992. He testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space during a hearing about "new technologies for a sustainable world." Subcommittee chair Al Gore declared his enthusiasm and vowed to fund exploratory research.

Under attack from all sides, Drexler was nonetheless poised for victory in Washington. After years of lobbying by the Foresight Institute, in May 2003 the House passed the Nanotechnology Research and Development Act by a lopsided vote of 405 to 19. The bill contained a provision - written by California representative Brad Sherman, a Drexler supporter who had spoken at Foresight's annual conference the previous year - calling for a study to "develop, insofar as possible, a consensus on whether molecular manufacturing is technically feasible." If the technology was deemed feasible, the study would find "the estimated time frame in which molecular manufacturing may be possible on a commercial scale; and recommendations for a research agenda necessary to achieve this result."

With this language, Congress was on the verge of making Drexler's dream a reality. But by November - five months later - the provision had vanished from the legislation.

What turned the tide on Capitol Hill? Drexler's ideas had always been outlandish and his political skills underdeveloped. That combination became an Achilles' heel as opposition emerged from two quarters. First, a group called the NanoBusiness Alliance entered the fray. Formed in October 2001, the alliance wasn't interested in anything as starry-eyed or scary as self-replicating molecular assemblers; it wanted to sell newfangled products like "nanotech" suntan lotion, ski wax, and paint. One of the founders, venture capitalist F. Mark Modzelewski, was a notorious opponent of Drexlerian notions; in a later email exchange with blogger and nanotech booster Glenn Reynolds, he likened Drexler's theories to "a wino's claims on skid row that bugs are crawling under his skin."

Meanwhile, support for Drexler's ideas softened elsewhere in Washington. The White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy worried that fears whipped up by the likes of Crichton and Joy would turn the public against nanotech, just as similar scares had fueled opposition to GM foods and nuclear power. As New Hampshire's John Sununu remarked on the Senate floor, "some people have expressed concern that nanotechnology will lead to a superrace of humans or a situation where nanomachines attack or even dominate human beings."

Molecular manufacturing is a "loaded term," a Senate staffer says. "It upsets a lot of people."

The sponsors of the House bill were more interested in making sure it got through the Senate than they were in preserving funding for Drexler's ideas. Thus, when House and Senate staff members met to discuss their respective bills, they scuttled the molecular manufacturing study. In the Senate version, Arizona's John McCain introduced an "amendment in the nature of a substitute" in which the provision no longer appeared.

The watered-down bill was passed by the unanimous consent of the Senate on November 18 and signed into law by Bush on December 3. During the ceremony, Richard Smalley stood at the president's side.

Recently there has been about $30 million funded to Zyvex and its partners to develop atomically precise manufacturing and $3.2 million to verify the viability of diamondoid mechanosynthesis.

So even when governments have been saying that they have been investing in nanotechnology or space, they are not really investing to get what people really want from space or nanotechnology.

There is no need to wonder why the a real future of molecular nanotechnology and life extension has not happened when the money that individuals spend (either directly or through taxes) is spent on other things. You get better movie special effects, better video games, communication satellites and spy satellites and facilities on the ground working on government programs and the same kinds of stories of the future because that is where the money is being spent. Now is the time when we can divert some of our individual money into funding the real deal with strong possibilities of the desired results.

November 05, 2008

Rarefaction Wave Tank Gun to be Shown at 26th Army Science Conference

The Sonic RAREFACTION WAVE GUN (RAVEN) is a Projectile Launch Method that achieves:
- Unprecedented Reductions in Recoil Impulse. It can shoot faster, cooler and can be lighter than a current gun while packing the same punch or more. The latest raven gun will be shown at the 26th Army Science conference Dec 1-4, 2008 in Florida. It will be presented by its inventor during Session D which covers weapons research.

50% - 100% Recoil Reduction for No Velocity Loss
• High Velocity Guns Can Be Nearly Recoilless
• High Efficiency Recoilless Operation Obtainable
• Can Maintain High Lethality on a Lighter Platform (M1 Tank gun on a Bradley, 30 ton or less instead of 62 tons)

Approximately 50% Reduction in Barrel Heating
• Enables Lightweight Gun Barrel Technology
• Allows Increased Firing Rate
• Mitigates Need for Erosion Protective Coatings
• May Use More Energetic Propellants

Approximately 2/3 Reduction in Muzzle Blast
• Lower Vision Obscuration
• Lower Overpressure on Front of Vehicle/Platform

While Maintaining the Efficiency & High Projectile Velocity of Conventional Guns (No Loss in Projectile Velocity)

The 105mm or Larger Next Generation Raven Should be Ready at the Dec 1st Show
Direct Fire RAVEN Demonstrator (FY06 Design, FY07 Build & Test)
• Based on 105mm FCS MRAAS Direct & Indirect Fire Cannon
• Swing Chamber Allows Rear Venting & Rapid Fire
• Rear Venting Cased Telescoped Ammunition (Slug Projectile)
• Inertial Breech Vent to Expansion Nozzle (Thrust Generated)
• Split Nozzle (Inertial Breech Cast Steel Outer Nozzle Slides Over
Composite/Steel Fixed Inner Gun Nozzle)
• Next Generation RAVEN Demonstrator (FY07 Design, FY08 Build & Test)
• Design for Minimum Weight – Advanced Materials
• Alternative & More Efficient Vent Methods


ARES, Inc., Port Clinton, Ohio, was awarded on Jul. 25, 2008, a $10,214,127 cost-plus fixed fee contract for the design, engineering, manufacturing, test and performance evaluation services in support of the rarefaction wave gun technology development and demonstration. Work will be performed in Port Clinton, Ohio, and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2008.

RArefaction waVE guN (RAVEN) propulsion constitutes a novel means to dramatically reduce the recoil momentum and heat imparted to future cannons during firing. The method may be considered a hybrid propulsion technology with features common to both closed-breech cannons and recoilless rifles. Reduction of recoil and gun heating would greatly facilitate large caliber gun integration within light future combat system (FCS) vehicles. Analysis of a RAVEN launcher comparable to the current 120-mm M256 firing an M829 kinetic energy round would impose 75% less recoil momentum and reduce barrel heating at the muzzle by 50%

At the core of the RW cannon technology is an 80% reduction in recoil, a 40% reduction in the inbore temperature and a 50% reduction in weight. These never before achieved improvements will enable the Army Vision for its Future Combat System and other similar systems to have the fire power of an M1 tank with the
weight that is half that of the Bradley.

Rarefaction wave gun technology is an important breakthrough capability in gun systems that will allow tremendous improvements in performance and weight reduction for next generation weapon systems. Research, engineering and development of these advanced gun propulsion, manufacturing and materials technologies will enable
lighter projectile launcher platforms with increased lethality, both essential for future manned and unmanned combat systems. The U.S. Army Benet Laboratories is pleased to partner with ARES, Inc. and utilize their considerable experience in gun systems design and manufacturing."

Carnivals of Space 76 and 77

Carnival of Space 76 is at at as(si)tronomi.

The Carnival of Space 77 is up at tomorrow is here
Astroengine talks about five things to pack for one way mission to Mars

Centauri Dreams talks about why extraterrestrials might make interstellar beacons

Out of the cradle talks about asteroids and orbital debris

This site had sent a space and energy roundup: IEC fusion, Spacex, lunar lander competition

New Metamaterial Could be Affordable and High Volume and Small Magnetosphere Radiation Protection for Space Travellers

There were two interesting developments in physics :

1. higher volume metamaterial production could enable practical uses out of the lab and

2.small magnetosphere (several hundred of meters instead of 100+ kilometers wide) radiation protection for space travellers. This could enable light weight and safe protection for astronauts going to Mars.

The minimagnetosphere system is no bigger than a large desk and uses the same energy as an electric kettle. Two mini-magnetospheres will be contained within two mini satellites located outside the spaceship. Should there be an increase in solar wind flux, or an approaching cloud of energetic particles from a flare and/or coronal mass ejection (CME), the magnetospheres can be switched on and the solar ions are deflected away from the spacecraft.

Higher Volume and Cheaper Metamaterials Produce Bottom Up
Ars Technica report on the metamaterials.

In a step that may help move metamaterials out of the lab, a new negative-index metamaterial has been developed, one with a novel structure that can be made using cheaper "bottom-up" fabrication techniques. The hallmark of a negative-index metamaterial is its precise array of nanostructures, which can interact with electromagnetic waves in a controlled manner. This demands precision fabrication that is generally accomplished with a top-down approach. Fabricating a structure with nanoscale precision using top-down methods requires exotic equipment and a lot of time—neither of which are desirable for getting that material into the real world.

The chinese researchers of Northwestern Polytechnical University Xi'an, China, ended up with was a material system that is nothing like earlier negative-index metamaterials: silver dendritic cells or, more simply, silver snowflakes.

By controlling the conditions of dendritic growth on a glass substrate and then examining the results, researchers were able to identify silver dendrites that were properly formed to pass infrared frequencies. Combining two layers of dendrites separated by a polymer film formed a capacitor-like configuration. This metamaterial could pass multiple bands of the infrared spectrum to some extent; in some cases, over 50 percent of the intensity was transmitted.

The amount of material made was even more impressive than its properties. Previous negative-index metamaterials were produced on the order of square micrometers—the new silver dendrite material was made in sheets of several hundred square millimeters.

The interaction of a flowing plasma with a dipole magnetic field: measurements and modelling of a diamagnetic cavity relevant to spacecraft protection.

Here we describe a new experiment to test the shielding concept of a dipole-like magnetic field and plasma, surrounding a spacecraft forming a 'mini magnetosphere'. Initial laboratory experiments have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of a magnetized plasma barrier to be able to expel an impacting, low beta, supersonic flowing energetic plasma representing the solar wind. Optical and Langmuir probe data of the plasma density, the plasma flow velocity and the intensity of the dipole field clearly show the creation of a narrow transport barrier region and diamagnetic cavity virtually devoid of energetic plasma particles. This demonstrates the potential viability of being able to create a small 'hole' in a solar wind plasma, of the order of the ion Larmor orbit width, in which an inhabited spacecraft could reside in relative safety. The experimental results have been quantitatively compared with a 3D particle-in-cell 'hybrid' code simulation that uses kinetic ions and fluid electrons, showing good qualitative agreement and excellent quantitative agreement. Together the results demonstrate the pivotal role of particle kinetics in determining generic plasma transport barriers.

Researchers at the Science and Technology Facilities Council's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, the Universities of York, Strathclyde and IST Lisbon, have undertaken experiments, using know-how from 50 years of research into nuclear fusion, to show that it is possible for astronauts to shield their spacecrafts with a portable magnetosphere - scattering the highly charged, ionised particles of the solar wind and flares away from their space craft.

Computer simulations done by a team in Lisbon with scientists at Rutherford Appleton last year showed that theoretically a very much smaller "magnetic bubble" of only several hundred meters across would be enough to protect a spacecraft.

Now this has been confirmed in the laboratory in the UK using apparatus originally built to work on fusion. By recreating in miniature a tiny piece of the Solar Wind, scientists working in the laboratory were able to confirm that a small "hole" in the Solar Wind is all that would be needed to keep the astronauts safe on their journey to our nearest neighbours.

Dr. Ruth Bamford, one of the lead researchers at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, said, "These initial experiments have shown promise and that it may be possible to shield astronauts from deadly space weather".

November 04, 2008

the Technology of the Upcoming 26th Army Science Conference

The 26th Army Science conference theme is "Transformational Army Science and Technology – Harnessing Disruptive S&T for the Soldier."

The four day agenda is here.

Dr. John A. Parmentola, Director of Research and Laboratory Management, gave a talk a few months ago that will form the basis of his keynote address highlighting top research. Dr. Parmentola gave a briefing to a blogger roundtable attended by nextbigfuture. He indicated that there would be a live demonstration from of 3D holographic communication. They will have cameras transmitting 3D holographic images to another end of the conference.

UPDATE CNN "Holograms" Realtime Special Effects: Army Will Have Real Deal Holograms
CNN beamed Jessica Yellin's image from Chicago to the CNN press center in New York City, where Wolf Blitzer and team were covering the election returns. NOTE: this was a televised live action special effect. It was not a real hologram.

Yellin, who claimed she was the first person to be beamed in a hologram on live TV, explained for the audience how this was done. She said that she was standing in a tent outside of the Obama headquarters in Chicago where the CNN crew had set up 35 high-definition cameras in a ring. She stood in the center of this ring and the cameras picked up her every movement and transmitted the image in 3D to the press center studio in New York. An array of computers takes the crunched info feed from the subject's side in order to mesh it with the video from Wolf's side.

The Army Demonstration will have holograms on the receiving end that people can walk around and watch different angles.

The ASC PhotonOpticon hologram display was part of the AMC exhibit booth at the 2008 Association of the United States Army annual meeting .

Previous information on the PhotonOpticon. It is a hologram-type effect where video images of varying levels of translucency are projected onto a transparent screen. Unlike ordinary holograms, the PhotonOpticon is able to move and to incorporate synchronized audio. The new demonstration could have an improved display so that the people can walk around the projected and moving realtime display.

Regenerative Medicine

The Army is investing in research to develop clinical therapies for:
– Burn repair [Burns account for 10 percent of war casualties]
– Wound healing without scarring
– Organ regeneration or transplantation
– Limb reconstruction (fingers, ears, and noses)
– Craniofacial reconstruction

Session K on Biomedicine has a talk on surviving burns covering 90% of the body

Inkjet Gene Printing: A Novel Approach to Achieve Gene Modified Cells for Tissue Engineering. from Wake Forest Regenerative Medicine

From bladder and trachea, to cartilage and heart –- Wake Forest has successfully grown more than 20 types of cells in the laboratory. A $90 million effort involves two academic groups that form the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM). Therapies developed by AFIRM will also benefit people in the civilian population. A team of scientists from Wake Forest and the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine has committed to develop clinical therapies over the next five years that will focus on the following five areas:
● Burn repair
● Wound healing without scarring
● Craniofacial reconstruction
● Limb reconstruction, regeneration or transplantation
● Compartment syndrome, a condition related to inflammation after surgery or injury that can lead to increased pressure, impaired blood flow, nerve damage and muscle death.

Gene Gun-delivered DNA Vaccines for Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome: Advancement to Clinical Trials

In addition to safety, a major advantage of gene gun delivery, as compared to other delivery methods, is that DNA is deposited directly into cells rather than into intracellular spaces, thus greatly decreasing the amount of DNA required for immunogenicity. In addition, gene gun administration delivers the DNA to an immunologically active site (the epidermis) where one antigen-presenting cell (APC) can interact with up to 5000 Tor B-cells, and is almost painless

Summary of Key Sessions and Agenda Topics
Weapons in Session D

Protection and Survival in Session F

Nanotechnology is covered on the third day.

Materials is covered in session G

Autonomous and unmanned vehicles in session E

Power and Energy in session H

Computing/ integration in Session C

Mems/Photonics Comm and sensors in Session N

Session J. Behavioral Sciences and Human Performance This covers investigating sleep, attention management, platoon dynamics and more.

Several presenters will cover brain and neuroscience.

Resveratrol Follow Up Drug 1000 Times More Potent

A new drug proves effective in fighting obesity and related diseases while increasing stamina in mice and mimics calorie-restricted diet.

Estimates of life extension from calorie restriction are 3 to 13 years.

The effects of the compound are similar to those of resveratrol, a molecule found in red wine that has previously been shown to extend life span and have health benefits in mice. But SRT1720 is a thousand times more potent than resveratrol, meaning that it could be taken in smaller doses. A person would have to drink hundreds of glasses of wine to get the same health benefits from resveratrol, and, while supplements are available, it is unclear whether they are as effective. "Resveratrol will pretty soon look like ancient technology," says Sinclair.

It is significant that the drug mimics the effects of a calorie-restricted diet, since this has previously been tied to increased life expectancy, says William Evans, a professor of geriatric medicine, nutrition, and physiology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

It's as if the couch-potato mice underwent a strict diet and exercise regime, says David Sinclair, a biologist at Harvard Medical School, in Boston, who is one of the cofounders of Sirtris but was not involved in the current study. The new study "is a major step forward, showing that we can design and synthesize potent, druglike molecules that could slow down the aging process," says Sinclair.

Sinclair says that a cousin molecule of SRT1720, which is even more potent, is currently in human trials and will enter clinical studies for the treatment of diseases like type 2 diabetes in 2009. "We could know as early as next year if the same types of benefits we see in mice, we see in humans," he says.

The potential longevity-enhancing drug has passed its final animal testing challenge, pushing closer to reality the dream of all-purpose drugs against diseases of aging.

Mice given the new drug, called SRT1720, gorged on high-fat food for four months without gaining weight or developing diabetes, and ran twice as far on a treadmill as their control-group counterparts. Similar drugs are expected to follow down the pipeline.

Curing the buildup of junk in the lysosome has the potential to extend human life more, perhaps 20-40 years.

Cells have a lot of reasons to break down big molecules and structures into their component parts, and a lot of ways to do so. Unfortunately, one of the main reasons to break things down is because they have been chemically modified so that they no longer work, and sometimes these chemical modifications create structures that are so weird that none of the cell's degradation machinery works on them.

This situation is very rare, but in the long run these modified chemicals add up. Ultimately the chemicals end up in the lysosome, a special vessel that contains the most powerful degradation machinery in the cell; if something can't be broken down there, it just stays there forever. This doesn't matter in cells that divide regularly, because division dilutes the junk enough that it remains at harmlessly low levels, but non-dividing cells gradually fill up with this stuff, making them dysfunctional. The heart, the back of the eye, some nerve cells (especially motor neurons) and, most of all, white blood cells trapped within the artery wall all suffer from this.

Eventually, these cells can't process any more of this junk, and they stop working correctly. This failure is the key cause of atherosclerosis (the unstable buildups, called plaques, that build up in the artery wall and eventually burst and cause heart attacks and strokes).

Dwave Quantum Computer Latest Pictures and Information

Dwave posted a recent presentation of their Adiabatic Quantum Computer system. [58 pages]

In May 2008, Dwave had developed a 48 qubit quantum computer system and this month (November, 2008) Dwave will produce their 128 qubit design.

Background of Dwave and the Older RSFQ Superconducting Design

Dwave cools superconducting circuits to nearly absolute zero.

The approach Dwave Systems chose
• Business: Quantum adiabatic algorithms
– Solve combinatorial optimization & constraint satisfaction problems
– For experts: quadratic unconstrained binary optimization
• Technology: Superconducting adiabatic quantum computer (AQC)
– Grid of magnetic flux qubits connected by tunable flux transformers
• Science: AQC known to be exceptionally robust against noise
– Ground state entanglement an equilibrium property of the system

Prototype systems available for use now in at least two flavors (ours, liquid-state NMR)

History back to IBM Josephson junction supercomputer ~ late 70s
– Ultra fast (700+ GHz) and ultra low power
– Only approach where (V)LSI quantum circuits can be built using standard fab

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) has identified Superconducting Rapid Single Flux Quantum (RSFQ) technology as the most promising technology in the continuing demand for faster processors.

Dwave is Trying Minimize Changes to Existing Computer Processes and Configurations
They use modified SQL with preferences, constraints and optimization to query their system.

The quantum computers will be accessed via web interfaces and will be housed in configurations that are compatible with existing computer centers.

Quantum Algorithms
Algorithms and their speed-ups available at the Quantum Algorithm Zoo. Note: Adiabatic versions of some of these algorithms may not exist and may not have the same speedup.

Dwave believes their system will run quantum algorithms that are useful and will offer significant speedup over classical computers.

China, Taiwan Agree on More Direct Flights, Shipping, Mail

China and Taiwan agreed on 108 weekly flights that no longer have to go through Hong Kong airspace.
The two sides also agreed to direct shipping links between 63 Chinese ports and 11 Taiwanese ports. The transport links will take effect within 40 days. Direct shipping links can save more than $100 million in costs a year, Zheng Lizhong, the deputy to China's top Taiwan envoy, said.

China and Taiwan will discuss financial ties in coming months, including allowing Taiwan banks to directly buy stakes in or units of banks and securities brokerages in China, Straits Exchange Foundation's Vice Chairman Kao Koong-lian said today.

``Chances are high'' that the two sides will sign a memorandum of understanding agreeing on ``financial ties in the next round of talks in the first half of next year,'' he said. Chen has invited his counterpart Chiang to visit China in the first half of 2009 for the next round of talks, Kao said.

Taiwan's DPP Opposes This
``Even if these economic benefits existed, it is controlled in the hands of China, and the government seems to be prepared to trade off our sovereignty in order to gain these economic benefits,'' said DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, in a statement issued yesterday.

``Taiwan and China simply are trying to recover the basic communication channels they lost previously, so there is no need to overexpose the sovereignty issue,'' Chinese Culture University's Yang said. ``The DPP simply is seeing it as a zero- sum game to meet its own political needs.''

November 03, 2008

Near perfect solar coating and a record 10% efficient dye solar cell

A new antireflective coating developed by researchers at Rensselaer could help to overcome two major hurdles blocking the progress and wider use of solar power. The nanoengineered coating, pictured here, boosts the amount of sunlight captured by solar panels and allows those panels to absorb the entire spectrum of sunlight from any angle, regardless of the sun’s position in the sky.Credit: Rensselaer/Shawn Lin

An untreated silicon solar cell only absorbs 67.4 percent of sunlight shone upon it — meaning that nearly one-third of that sunlight is reflected away and thus unharvestable. Shawn-Yu Lin, professor of physics at Rensselaer, and his team's new nanoengineered reflective coating absorbed 96.21 percent of sunlight shone upon it — meaning that only 3.79 percent of the sunlight was reflected and unharvested. This huge gain in absorption was consistent across the entire spectrum of sunlight, from UV to visible light and infrared, and moves solar power a significant step forward toward economic viability. A stationary solar panel treated with the coating would absorb 96.21 percent of sunlight no matter the position of the sun in the sky. So along with significantly better absorption of sunlight, Lin's discovery could also enable a new generation of stationary, more cost-efficient solar arrays.

Record 10% Efficient Dye Sensitive Solar Cell
A team of chinese and swiss researchers set new benchmarks for high-performance and practical dye-sensitized solar cells with low-volatility and solvent-free electrolyte, which is realized by the rational design of a high molar extinction coefficient sensitizer to enhance the light-harvesting and charge-collection yields of stained mesoscopic semiconducting films synchronously. This progress will foster the large-scale production and application of dye-sensitized solar cells

A team of chinese and swiss researchers report a high molar extinction coefficient heteroleptic polypyridyl ruthenium sensitizer, featuring an electron-rich 3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene unit in its ancillary ligand. A nanocrystalline titania film stained with this sensitizer shows an improved optical absorption, which is highly desirable for practical dye-sensitized solar cells with a thin photoactive layer, facilitating the efficient charge collection. In conjunction with low-volatility and solvent-free electrolytes, we achieved 9.6−10.0% and 8.5−9.1% efficiencies under the air-mass 1.5 global solar illumination. These dye-sensitized solar cells retain over 90% of the initial performance after 1000 h full sunlight soaking at 60 °C.

Return to Supersonic Commercial Flight in 2015

The Aerion Supersonic Jet has test flights planned for 2012.

- Aerion Supersonic Jet will fly New York to Paris flights in four hours and 15 minutes versus about seven and a half hours in existing subsonic models. The SBJ will fly coast to coast U.S. at speeds up to .99 Mach in less than four hours.
- The aircraft’s top speed of Mach 1.6 eliminates the requirement for special high-temperature materials.
- the Aerion jet can be operated over many land masses at speeds above Mach 1. Over certain national or regional corridors, including parts of Canada, Australia and Siberia, the aircraft can fly at unrestricted speeds up to its maximum speed of Mach 1.6. And in other regions governed by ICAO regulations, the aircraft is capable of operating at boomless cruise speeds up to Mach 1.15.
- Aerion's new design has operating costs comparable to today's large business jets.
- It is expected to cost 47.5 million pounds
- Aerion has teamed with Pratt & Whitney to adapt the latest generation of the proven and ubiquitous JT8D engine for the supersonic business jet. The JT8D to be employed on the SBJ will incorporate some of the recently developed and patented noise suppression technology to achieve Stage 4 noise requirements.

Maximum cruise speed: 1.6 Mach
Long range cruise (supersonic): 1.5 Mach
No boom cruise (supersonic): ~1.1 to 1.2 Mach
High speed cruise (subsonic): .99 Mach
Long range cruise (subsonic): .95 Mach
Maximum takeoff weight: 90,000 pounds
Basic operating weight: 45,100 pounds
Maximum fuel: 45,400 pounds
Engines: Two PW JT8D-219
Thrust: Flat rated to 19,600
Wing area: 1,200 sq. ft.
Approach speed: 120 kts*
Balanced Field length < 6,000 feet
Landing distance, wet runway: 3,460 feet
Range (NBAA IFR): > 4,000 nm
Ceiling: 51,000 feet

SAI's Quiet Supersonic Transport
Supersonic Aerospace International LLC hired Lockheed Martin’s famed ’Skunk Works’ to design and build a revolutionary quiet supersonic passenger aircraft, known as “QSST.”

- QSST will be ready for flight in 2013, with certification for service and customer delivery in 2015.
- QSST can fly at speeds of Mach 1.6 to 1.8, which is 1056 to 1,188 miles per hour, with a non-stop range that will exceed 4,000 nautical miles, or over 4,600 statute miles.
- QSST’s projected price is expected to be $80 million (U.S.) per aircraft in today’s dollars.

Supersonic business jet at wikipedia