May 28, 2015

US daily Crude oil production over 9.5 million barrels per day for the first time since 1972

Pentagon looking at integrating anti-missiles, lasers and railguns against expected future missile filled battlefield

The Pentagon has been authorized to create “the true and complete integration of air and missile defense” and on “left-of-launch and non-kinetic means of defense.”

They will be coordinating — a much wider range of tools than just traditional Patriot-style interceptors. Lasers are literally the flashiest example here, but there’s also room for rail guns; “non-kinetic” means such as cyber and electronic warfare; and even missile strikes of our own to destroy the enemy missiles before they’re fired, what’s known as “left of launch.”

Ballistic and cruise missiles aren’t the only problem. Adding precision guidance to artillery rockets, cannon shells, or even mortar rounds makes these traditional military tools much more dangerous. There’s also the proliferation of armed drones, which are effectively slower-moving, reusable cruise missiles.

“The full spectrum from smart artillery to UAVs to cruise missiles to maneuvering reentry vehicles of various kinds and anti-ship cruise missiles, anti-ship ballistic missiles, [and] hypersonics… it’s a unified problem set,” said Karako. You can’t just try to stop one and forget about the others, he warned. “For an integrated air and defense program, you have to be doing a lot of things simultaneously.”

There are targets to develop boost phase anti-missile technology by 2022 to 2025.

SpaceX Gets Certified For National Security Launches

SpaceX has won certification from Space and Missile Systems Center. This carries enormous import for the international launch industry, for the Pentagon, the Air Force and the Intelligence Community.

It’s not that Musk’s SpaceX is going to win deals tomorrow from the current national security launch monopoly, the United Launch Alliance. It’s that Musk has proven to many of the world’s most demanding acquisition experts and systems engineers that a commercial company can do rocket science to the same standards as ULA’s Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

What are the stakes? National security launches can take billion-dollar payloads that perform crucial military and intelligence work into space. Lose one to an exploding rocket and you not only have lost more than $1.25 billion — including the cost of launch — but you’ve also lost the capability, the time, the money and then you must fork over even more money to replace what was lost.

A Senate Armed Services Committee staffer put it this way, talking about disruptive effects of companies like SpaceX that don’t use the traditional Pentagon acquisition system: “SpaceX is a great case study in how this can work in the future. A non-traditional company can be created from nothing and disrupt an established market.”

The military and national security launch segment is estimated at about $70 billion through 2030 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. It is the largest in a market that also includes civilian and commercial contracts, such as work SpaceX does for NASA.

SpaceX plans to launch government satellites for less than $100 million per Falcon 9 mission, Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, told a U.S. House of Representatives sub-committee in March.

United Launch Alliance, the Boeing-Lockheed venture, charges $160 million or more for the comparably sized Atlas V spacecraft, which uses a Russian-made RD-180 engine, said Marco Caceres, director of space studies with Teal Group, a Fairfax, Virginia-based consultant.

Graphene sponge can absorb light and emit energetic electrons for breakthrough solar sail propulsion

The direct light propulsion of matter was observed on a macroscopic scale for the first time using a bulk graphene [graphene sponge] based material. The unique structure and properties of graphene and the morphology of the bulk graphene material make it capable of not only absorbing light at various wavelengths but also emitting energetic electrons efficiently enough to drive the bulk material following Newtonian mechanics. Thus, the unique photonic and electronic properties of individual graphene sheets are manifested in the response of the bulk state. These results offer an exciting opportunity to bring about bulk scale light manipulation with the potential to realize long-sought proposals in areas such as the solar sail and space transportation driven directly by sunlight.

Two working mechanisms have been well documented for beam-powered propulsion: either an external laser beam ablates/burns off propellant to provide propulsion similar to conventional chemical rockets or the direct radiation pressure generates the propulsion force governed by the Maxwell electromagnetism theory as has been proposed for the solar sail. The light intensities (irradiance) of Watt level laser and simulated sunlight in our tests were at 10^5 and 10^4 W m-2 level respectively. Based on the radiation pressure theory, the propulsion forces produced by the radiation pressure of such laser and simulated sunlight should be both at ~10^-9 N and they are orders of magnitude smaller than the force required to move and propel the bulk graphene object

So the direct radiation pressure induced mechanism can be excluded. Another possibility for explaining our laser-induced propulsion and rotation is the conventional laser beam ablating or burning off of graphene material to generate a plasma plume or carbon particles and molecules for propulsion. But such a mechanism normally needs extremely high laser power supply, so pulsed laser sources (ms/ns level pulse width and gigawatt level peak power) or ultrahigh power continuous wave laser (up to megawatt level) were used. This is contrary to our light-induced motion which can even be observed with sun light which has a much lower power. Note that the continuous wave lasers that we used were only at the Watt level.

No ablation could be detected.

These results prompt them to search for other possible mechanisms for macroscopic direct light manipulation. It is well known that graphene sheet shows unique optoelectronic properties due to its Dirac conical and gapless band structure, which allows graphene to: 1) absorb all wavelength of light efficiently, 2) achieve population inversion state easily as a result of the excitation of hot electrons and the relaxation bottleneck at the Dirac point and then 3) eject the hot electrons following the Auger-like mechanism. Many studies of this effect have been reported not only for individual suspended graphene sheets but also for reduced graphene oxide sheets. In the competition of different relaxation pathways of carriers at the reverse saturated state of the optically excited graphene, due to the weak electron-phonon coupling, the Auger-like recombination is proved to be the dominant process and plays an unusually strong role in the relaxation dynamics process of the hot carriers (electrons).

Graphene sponge

They believe Auger-like recombination is probably also the dominant path for the relaxation of the hot electrons for their photoexcited graphene

The average current was measured at about 3.0 × 10^-8 to 9.0 × 10^-7 A under the laser power 1.3-3.0 W (450 nm, power density 3.71× 10^4 -8.57 × 10^4 mW cm-2 for 3.5 mm2 laser spot, which means that the electron ejection rate should be about 2.0 × 10^11 to 5.7 × 10^12 s-1, so a power of 2.2 × 10^-6 to 6.4 × 10^-5
J s-1 (Watt) could be obtained based the average kinetic energy of 70 eV for the ejected electrons. This is larger than the energy necessary (more than 10^-6 Watt) to vertically propel the sample.

Note the actual propulsion force/energy should be significantly larger than the values estimated above, since clearly not all the electrons were collected in the measurement. Thus, this propulsion by Light-Induced Ejected Electrons (LIEE) is actually an energy transfer process, where the photon energy is absorbed by graphene bulk materials and converted into the kinetic energy of ejected electrons, rather than a direct momentum transfer process like in the earlier proposed propulsion by light pressure.

While the propulsion energy/force is still smaller compared with conventional chemical rockets, it is already several orders larger than that from light pressure. Assuming the area of a typical solar-cell panel structure on the satellite is ~50 m2 and because a laser-graphene sponge-based rocket does not need other moving parts, with a payload of 500 kg, the acceleration rate would be 0.09 meter per sec squared . Since the density of graphene sponge is very low and no other onboard propellant is needed (the required vacuum and light are naturally available in space), the theoretical specific impulse of our laser propulsion could be much higher

May 27, 2015

China Jilin Province offers to build 330 mile high speed line to Russian pacific port city Vladivostok

Jilin Province in China has offered to build a railway to Vladivostok for Russia’s Far East Region of Primorsky Krai. It would be the first cross-border high-speed rail link between the two countries and Russia’s major Pacific port.

“We have an idea to construct a high-speed railway to Vladivostok. In August we will open a section to Hunchun. If we want to extend it, this will be the first high-speed trans-border railway between Russia and China,” said Bayin Chaolu Deputy Secretary of the Jilin Provincial Committee Thursday in a meeting with the Primorsky Krai Governor Vladimir Miklushevskiy.

Russia’s strategic goal is to construct a transit logistics zone in the Far East to include the Primorye-1 and Primorye-2 international transit corridors. With the joint efforts of Jilin Province and Primorsky Krai the railway and other road and infrastructure projects could be completed quicker, said Miklushevskiy.

In 2014, the nominal GDP of Jilin province totaled $225 billion. Jilin has a population of about 28 million. The biggest city is Changchun which has a population of about 8 million. Vladivostock has a population of about 592,000

It is 536 kilometers (333 miles) from Changchun to Vladivostok.

Trillions in military research and procurement means the Military is leading the way to the Science Fiction Future

Most of the world is not changing very fast.
Your home gets bigger and thinner flat screen televisions,
You personally get better tablets, smartphones and wearable gadgets.
At work you get minor changes with another business laptop refresh and software upgrades and often people work with offshore contractors in India or eastern europe and order from factories in China.
The leading companies are working with Big Data and Deep Learning.

The science fiction like future of the military is

* Even more and more powerful robotic drones
* combat lasers will be in various forms of development and testing for the next ten years but will then be deployed in the hundreds of kilowatts and then megawatt ranges for planes, ships and ground vehicles
* railguns will also be deployed for ships and ground vehicles
* there will be persistent realtime surveillance of every person and vehicle on a global basis. This has already been tested on a regional basis
* hypersonic missiles, then hypersonic drones and then other hypersonic planes
* NSA is on every computer. Businesses and the NSA can see every transaction and probably every email, tweet and voice message and all internet activity
* Persistent Video Surveillance goes way beyond Big Brother

In the 2030s, there could be significant deployment and integration. This would mean systems like hypersonic vehicle with high power laser weapons.

As of January 2014, the U.S. military operates a large number of unmanned aerial systems: 7,362 RQ-11 Ravens; 990 AeroVironment Wasp IIIs; 1,137 AeroVironment RQ-20 Pumas; and 306 RQ-16 T-Hawk small UAS systems and 246 Predators and MQ-1C Grey Eagles; 126 MQ-9 Reapers; 491 RQ-7 Shadows; and 33 RQ-4 Global Hawk large systems.

As of mid-2014, the U.S. air force is training more drone pilots than fighter and bomber pilots combined. This large cohort is sometimes referred to as the chair-force.

The most advanced drone, the MQ-9 Reaper, costs $12 million which is just one tenth of the cost of a F-22, the militaries most advanced fighter jet. The Predator drone armed with a Hellfire missile is much quieter than a fighter jet, which prevents enemy troops on the ground from hearing it coming and shooting it down. In turn, this reduces cost because the drone does not have to be replaced as often as a fighter jet would if it was put into the same combat situation.
MQ9 Reaper

3D Printed and Synthetic Biology to make Rhino Horn and elephant Ivory

Pembient is leveraging advances in biotechnology to fabricate wildlife products, such as rhino horn and elephant ivory, at prices below the levels that induce poaching. Our goal is to replace the illegal wildlife trade, a $20 billion black market, the fourth largest after drug, arms, and human trafficking, with sustainable commerce.

Rhino horn is thought to have powers as a cure for cancer, an aphrodisiac and a cure-all in some Asian nations. It currently sells for $30,000 to 60,000 a pound. The average rhino horns weigh around six to eight pounds, meaning one single poaching of a rhino could easily bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Pembient conducted a survey of 500 Vietnamese rhino horn users to find that 45 percent said they would be willing to use a lab-made substitute.

This would still be a multi-billion market for Pembient and would reduce the trade in those animal products.

The additive manufacturing market for printing metal and plastic is still less then $4 billion per year. This is a potentially bigger market than the current 3D printing markets.

China's air pollution is still very bad but could get close to levels in the US and Europe by 2020

China's government has cracked down on burning coal for home heating and the closure of small, dirty coal-fired plants close to major cities. They has also been widespread deployment of scrubbers and other antipollution technology that has long been standard in the West. According to some estimates, close to 90 percent of the coal plants in China now have basic pollution controls. “On the conventional pollutants in flue gas, by 2020 the level of compliance in China will be equal to the U.S. or Europe,” says Latta.

Pollution levels in many of China’s major cities fell from 2013 to 2014, according to Greenpeace, and dropped by nearly another one-third in the first quarter of 2015. Levels of PM 2.5, the deadly particulates that contribute to emphysema and other respiratory diseases, fell by 31 percent in Hebei Province, which includes the Beijing metropolitan area, according to government figures collected by the environmental group. The skies over Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen—the coastal megacities hardest hit by coal smog—are not exactly blue, but they are getting less gray.

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, burning about as much every year as the rest of the world combined. According to a study first published in the medical journal The Lancet, 1.2 million people die prematurely every year from air pollution in China. That’s about the population of Dallas dying every year, mostly because of coal. Air pollution can make big cities like Beijing and Shanghai nearly unlivable, and the giant coal mines of the interior have ravaged millions of square miles.

Here is a site that reports measured PM2.5 Air quality is still bad (mostly unhealthy levels) but they are back down to 2012 levels instead of the worse 2013 and 2014 levels.

Air pollution levels are still averaging 5 times the level recommended by World Health Organization

May 26, 2015

Radial shape 250 nanometer or better hyperlens function across a wider range of wavelengths with lower losses

Instead of concentric rings, UB researchers formed tiny slivers of gold and PMMA (a transparent thermoplastic) into a radial shape for hyperlens function across a wider range of wavelengths with lower losses. The design of this metamaterial hyperlens, which looks like a Slinky suspended in motion, overcomes the diffraction limit in visible frequency range. Moreover, it can be integrated with an optical waveguide, opening the door to hyperlens-based medical endoscopes.

More studies are required, but such a tool could improve doctors’ ability to detect some of the most lethal forms of cancer, such as ovarian cancer.

For example, today’s high-resolution endoscopes can resolve objects to about 10,000 nanometers. The hyperlens could improve that to at least 250 nanometers or better. This is important because the earlier doctors are able to discover hard-to-find cancers, the more success they have treating the disease.

Another potential application centers on optical nanolithography, the process of passing light through a mask to a pattern on polymer film. Continuous improvement in this field is essential to building the next generation of optoelectronic devices, data storage drives, sensors and other gadgets.

The hyperlens also show promise in sequencing single molecules, a potential advancement with broad implications in numerous fields of research including physics, chemistry and biology.

Scientists at the University of Buffalo have created a prototype visible light "hyperlens" that may help image objects that were once only clearly viewable through electron microscopes (Credit: University of Buffalo)

Nature Communications- Experimental demonstration of a non-resonant hyperlens in the visible spectral range

Intel, Samsung, and Taiwan Semiconductor moving to 10 nanometer process in 2016

Samsung announced its next-generation process technology, a 10nm FinFET node, at a company event. The process node will be in full production by the end of 2016, about the same time as its rival TSMC. The Samsung 10nm process offers “significant power, area, and performance advantages” and targets a broad range of markets, said foundry senior vice president Hong Hao.

In April, it was confirmed the Samsung Galaxy S6 uses an Exynos processor made in Samsung's 14nm FinFET process. Samsung beat rival TSMC to become the second chip maker after Intel to ship a 14nm FinFET chip.

Apple will play a large role in determining the 10nm leader because of its massive wafer volumes, Jones said. The company orders 40,000 wafers per month, which would significantly help fill a fab but also require $8 billion in capital expenditures from a chip maker.

Samsung is expected to make Apple's iPhone 7 SoC in its 14nm process, in large part because it beat TSMC to market by several months. Jones said Samsung has a high probability of getting Apple’s 2016 and 2017 business in 10nm, which will be followed by business from second-largest volume purchaser Qualcomm.

China's military paper discusses goal of offense and defense and Taiwan pitches sharing South China Sea Resources

China's state council has released a white paper on China's military. In general the paper indicates that China is shifting a military just for defense to one focused on offense and defense.

Taiwan pitches sharing South China Sea Resources
Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou laid out a plan on Tuesday to ease tensions in the vast, resource-rich South China Sea where China has chafed against its neighbours by expanding islets with landfill to solidify its claims in the region.

Ma’s plan calls for setting aside maritime sovereignty disputes in the region and jointly exploring for resources.

“We emphasise that whereas sovereignty can’t be divided, resources can be shared,” Ma said in his speech on Tuesday at an Asia-Pacific research forum in Taipei.

The China Military White Paper

The US Naval Institute has a complete copy of the english translation of the white paper

China has overlapping claims with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said China's reclamation in the Spratlys was comparable with construction of homes and roads on the mainland.

Here are the highlights

The paper had a focus on winning cyberwar and maritime war

China vowed to increase its "open seas protection", switching from air defence to both offence and defence, and criticised neighbors who take "provocative actions" on its reefs and islands

China's air force would shift its focus from territorial air defense to both offense and defense, and building airspace defenses with stronger military capabilities.

New class of magnets that swell in volume in magnetic field could be game changer for many applications

A new class of magnets that swell in volume when placed in a magnetic field and generate negligible amounts of wasteful heat during energy harvesting, has been discovered by researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) and Temple University.

“Our findings fundamentally change the way we think about a certain type of magnetism that has been in place since 1841,” said Chopra, who also runs the Materials Genomics and Quantum Devices Laboratories in Temple’s College of Engineering.

The researchers and others say this transformative breakthrough has the potential to not only displace existing technologies but create altogether new applications due to the unusual combination of magnetic properties.

“Chopra and Wuttig’s work is a good example of how basic research advances can be true game changers,” said Tomasz Durakiewicz, National Science Foundation condensed matter physics program director. “Their probing of generally accepted tenets about magnetism has led to a new understanding of an old paradigm. This research has the potential to catapult sustainable, energy-efficient materials in a very wide range of applications.”

These magnets could also find applications in efficient energy harvesting devices; compact micro-actuators for aerospace, automobile, biomedical, space and robotics applications; and ultra-low thermal signature actuators for sonars and defense applications.

Self-strain associated with highly periodic cellular micromagnetic structure gives rise to NJMM

Nature - Non-Joulian magnetostriction

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