February 05, 2016

In July 2015 there were electric planes crossing the English Channel and electric engines 5 times larger are being tested

On July 9, 2015 pilot Hugues Duwal appeared to cross the channel in a tiny Columban Cri-Cri. It’s name comes from French for “cricket”, and it is an unbelievably tiny airplane. If the E-Fan is a Smart Car, the Cri-Cri designed in the 1970s, resembles nothing so much as a Peel Trident, the world’s second-smallest car. The Cri-Cri is a half-sized cockpit put into the middle of a quarter-scale plane, with two small engines powering propellers that stick out in front of the cockpit like catfish whiskers. The wingspan is just 16 feet, so flying the whole plane is like wearing giant wings. If Duwal’s flight was indeed successful, and his CriCri was indeed an electric one and not the two-stroke engines common to Cri-Cris, then he may have under the cover of darkness snuck past Airbus and into the history books, or at least the books of minor aviation feats.



On July 10, 2015 an Airbus E-Fan crossed the english channel. The E-Fan is an electric plane that looks like the tiny, electric-smartcar version of an A-10 fighter. Powered only by batteries, it has two fans situated behind the cockpit, promising up to 45 minutes of flight time with a top speed of 137 mph. The E-Fan crossed the channel in about 40 minutes.

Airbus has stated that there are plans for development of a commercial regional electric powered aircraft in the near future.

The E-Fan 2.0 will go into production by 2017 with a side-by-side seating layout

E-Fan Specs

Crew: one
Capacity: one passenger
Length: 6.67 m (21 ft 11 in)
Wingspan: 9.50 m (31 ft 2 in)
Max takeoff weight: 550 kg (1,213 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × Electric motor , 30 kW (40 hp) each via eight-blade ducted fans,each producing thrust of 0.75 kN (266 lb st), Battery: Lithium-ion 18650, with 207 Wh/kg per cel, total of 29 kWh at a battery weight of 167 kg

Maximum speed: 220 km/h (137 mph; 119 kn) all performance figures estimated
Cruising speed: 160 km/h (99 mph; 86 kn)
Endurance: 60 min
Lift-to-drag: 16:1


Another electric plane—the Pipistrel Alpha Electro—should've crossed the Channel as well, but the flight was reportedly blocked due to a dispute between the plane maker and Siemens (which made the electric motor in the Airbus Alpha Electro).

In 2014 China’s first passenger electric plane, the RX1E Ruixiang, was produced.

The RX1E Ruixiang isn’t just the first passenger electric plane produced in China, though. It is “the world’s first electric passenger plane that received an airworthiness certificate.”



The RX1E Ruixiang’s range is not that different from the range of the two-seat E-Fan that Didier Esteyne just used to fly across the English Channel. While Esteyne’s plane has about 50 minutes of flying time on a full charge, the RX1E has about 40 minutes of flying time. The RX1E maximizes its range with the use of lightweight carbon fiber, and its battery charges in about 1½ hours.

Elon Musk says he is close to solving electric passenger jets with vertical takeoff and landing

Elon Musk says he is close to working out how to build an electric jet which would take off and land vertically. The Tesla boss revealed his plans during a question-and-answer session at the Hyperloop Pod competition in Texas.

During an interview with Marketplace in October 2015, Musk said: "I do like the idea of an electric aircraft company. I do think one could do a pretty cool supersonic, vertical-take off and landing electric jet. That would be really fun."

When asked if he was just making things up, Musk said: "No, I have a design in mind for that, but I have too many things on my plate to do, and then of course there is the Hyperloop."

In 2014, Musk also mentioned his electric plane ideas during an interview with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), when he said he was "toying" with the concept, adding: "I would love to do it, but I think my mind would explode."

Musk's comments come in the same week which saw budget airline EasyJet announce it is looking at producing hybrid electric airliners. The plans describe a kinetic energy recovery system (Kers) similar to that used by Formula One cars, where energy created by braking when landing would be stored in a battery and used to run and even taxi the plane without using its jet engines.



Airbus vertical takeoff and vertical passenger electric planes

There was an EADS (Airbus) Voltair design for a vertical takeoff and vertical passenger electric planes. Elon Musk has talked about creating a supersonic certical takeoff and vertical landing electric passenger plane. This would enable airports without runways to be in cities.

The EADS all electric passenger plane design depends upon batteries achieving 1000 watt hours per kilogram and superconducting engines being developed. High temperature superconducting motors are expected to reach power densities of 7-8 kW/kg with almost no electrical losses. This compares to 7 kW/kg for today’s turboshaft engines. An essential requirement for the VoltAir concept is to have a light and low-drag airframe. Advanced carbon fiber composite materials are used, and an unconventional configuration with an optimum fuselage thickness-to-length ratio is selected to minimize aerodynamic drag while providing a maximum useful internal volume. The fuselage’s generous volume is used for a better integration of the landing gear, significantly improving the aerodynamic properties of the wing-to-fuselage junction.

Distributed small electric engines and batteries that also acted as part of the structure of a plane (as body panels) could be innovations that Elon Musk has for enabling commercially interesting electric passenger jets.

EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. In 2010, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 45.8 billion and employed a workforce of nearly 122,000.








Electric sport bikes with range up to nearly 200 miles on a single charge

Zero Motorcycles’ Z-Force® motor and power pack, the Zero S pulls hard to speeds above 90 mph and offers a city range of up to 197 miles with the optional Power Tank accessory. Or, take advantage of public charging stations and get back on the road three times faster with the new Charge Tank accessory.

The Zero SR shares the same DNA as the Zero S but is built for riders who simply want to go faster and accelerate harder. Featuring a larger 660 amp motor controller, the Zero SR delivers 25% more power (67 hp) and 56% more torque (106 ft-lb). To accommodate the increased output, its motor uses higher temperature magnets to ensure better performance during extended periods at higher speeds.

With more torque than most 1000cc sport bikes, the Zero SR pulls hard off the line…and just keeps pulling. Launching from 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds en route to a top speed over 100 mph, the Zero SR offers spirited riders an edge in competitive riding. From lap times at the local track day to sweeping the podium at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the Zero SR is fundamentally changing the way electric motorcycles are perceived.


2016 Zero S or DS, with the 9.8kWh battery pack: $10,995

2016 Zero S or DS, with the 13kWh battery pack: $13,995

2016 Zero SR or DSR, with the 13kWh battery pack: $15,995

2016 Zero FX or FXS, with the 3.3 kWh battery module: $8,495

2016 Zero FX or FXS, with the 6.5 kWh battery module: $10,990

Charge tanks for the S-series bikes cost $1,988, and power tank additional batteries cost $2,674.

In the United States, the E-motorcycle Federal Tax Credit covers 10% of the purchase price of a street legal electric motorcycle up to a maximum of $2,500. Motorcycle accessories may also be eligible for a 10% federal tax credit when purchased on the same invoice as your motorcycle. Some states and cities offer additional incentives.

Charging accessories may be eligible for a 30% federal tax credit when billed on a separate invoice. Both incentives are scheduled to end December 31, 2016.

The 2016 Zero SR, with the additional range batteries can cost $16801 with the 10% tax credits instead of $18669.



Saietta trying to be the Tesla of Electric motor superbikes

NGS (Next Generation Saietta) is a new breed of motorbike spearheading a new electric era for bikers, delivering superbike performance, a highly distinctive iconic design and unmatched personalisation.

NGS boasts a number of technology firsts including a revolutionary new electric motor, an innovative lightweight, immensely strong structural monocoque, industry-leading battery capacity and range, 3D printing of the body and even a new, highly distinctive roar!

NGS will undergo rigorous engineering testing throughout 2016 including taking part in an extensive race programme. First customer bikes will be delivered before the end of 2017 as part of a limited edition of up to 100 bikes priced around £50,000 (excluding local taxes, about US$70,000).

Next Generation Saietta

They previously had the £15,000 (US$21000) Saietta R that could go 105 mph

They have a powerful range of lightweight electric motors

Saietta Engineering made the first electric plane to cross the English Channel (mid-2015)

Hybrid electric motor bike that can go up to 40mph and other ebikes

Bolt Motorbikes has a hybrid electric bike that can reach 40mph and has up to 50 mile range on one charge. It uses iron phosphate batteries and costs about $5495.




28 mph electric bike for $599

There is a $599 electric bike called the Wave ebike that goes up to 28 mph and has a 52 mile single charge range




B52 Stealth Electric Bike

The B-52 stealth electric bike blends traditional pedal-power with 5.2kW of pure-electric thrust, all bolted to a motocross-inspired frame. With 250mm of rear wheel travel, paired-up with a 200mm front end, the B-52 drives through an advanced 9-speed sequential gearbox and stops with confidence, thanks to Magura hydraulic disc brakes.

Top Speed: 80km/h (49 mph)
Range: up to 80km (49 miles)

The Bomber utitilizes 72 volts 20ah of lifepo4 batteries. It has a $10,000 price.



First new US reactor since 1996 is nearly ready to start

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has approved the expenditure of a further $200 million on the completion of Watts Bar 2, which would bring final spending on the project to a total of up to $4.7 billion.

The scope of the project has increased by $125 million through regulatory orders and other items occurring since TVA's $4.5 billion estimate to complete the project was approved, Johnson said. These orders were particularly related to regulatory requirements brought in after the 2011 Fukushima accident and cybersecurity issues, which were not foreseen in the original budget.

Construction of Watts Bar 2, a 1165 MWe (net) pressurized water reactor, began in 1972 but work was suspended in 1985 when the unit was about 55% complete. TVA decided to resume work on the unit in 2007, awarding an engineering, procurement and construction contract to Bechtel.

This would make it the first nuclear plant to start up in the US since Watts Bar 1, which was licensed in 1996 after a similarly lengthy construction hiatus. It will also be the first US nuclear plant to comply with all the NRC's post-Fukushima upgrades as well as the newest cybersecurity requirements.

Watts Bar Unit 2 is essential to diversifying TVA’s power sources to ensure that the more than 9 million people served by TVA and their local power companies have affordable and reliable electricity generated in an environmentally friendly manner




February 04, 2016

DNA used to assemble nanoparticles into a copy of the crystalline structure of diamond

Using bundled strands of DNA to build Tinkertoy-like tetrahedral cages, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have devised a way to trap and arrange nanoparticles in a way that mimics the crystalline structure of diamond. The achievement of this complex yet elegant arrangement, as described in a paper published February 5, 2016, in Science, may open a path to new materials that take advantage of the optical and mechanical properties of this crystalline structure for applications such as optical transistors, color-changing materials, and lightweight yet tough materials.

"We solved a 25-year challenge in building diamond lattices in a rational way via self-assembly," said Oleg Gang, a physicist who led this research at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) at Brookhaven Lab in collaboration with scientists from Stony Brook University, Wesleyan University, and Nagoya University in Japan.

The scientists employed a technique developed by Gang that uses fabricated DNA as a building material to organize nanoparticles into 3D spatial arrangements. They used ropelike bundles of double-helix DNA to create rigid, three-dimensional frames, and added dangling bits of single-stranded DNA to bind particles coated with complementary DNA strands.



Science - Diamond family of nanoparticle superlattices

Electronic nematicity as a universal feature in cuprate high-temperature superconductors

Physicists at the University of Waterloo have led an international team that has come closer to understanding the mystery of how superconductivity, an exotic state that allows electricity to be conducted with practically zero resistance, occurs in certain materials.

The findings show evidence of electronic nematicity as a universal feature in cuprate high-temperature superconductors. Cuprates are copper-oxide ceramics composed of two-dimensional layers or planes of copper and oxygen atoms separated by other atoms.

Physicists all over the world are on a quest to understand the secrets of superconductivity because of the exciting technological possibilities that could be realized if they could make it happen at closer to room temperatures. In conventional superconductivity, materials that are cooled to nearly absolute zero ( −273.15 Celsius) exhibit the fantastic property of electrons pairing up and being able to conduct electricity with practically zero resistance. If superconductivity worked at higher temperatures, it could have implications for creating technologies such as ultra-efficient power grids, supercomputers and magnetically levitating vehicles.



Science - Nematicity in stripe-ordered cuprates probed via resonant x-ray scattering

Elon Musk and Spacex to reveal the Spacex Mars roadmap at IAC from Sept 26-30th 2016

At the StartmeupHK Festival in Hong Kong, Musk stated that he was prepared to unveil SpaceX's Mars roadmap at the International Astronautical Conference, which will take place from September 26 to 30 in Mexico. And according to Berger of Ars Technica, Musk's plan may call for the kick-off of humans to Mars by 2025, a fairly ambitious goal that puts it nearly a decade ahead of NASA's nebulous Mission to Mars plans.

SpaceX is working on the Falcon Heavy, a rocket ready to debut later this year capable of lifting 58 tons of material into Low Earth Orbit, which is about four times the lifting power of the Falcon 9. It's specs are just a few hairs short of NASA's own Space Launch System, the largest rocket since the Saturn V rockets that carried out the Apollo moon landings.

The Spacex Mars plan may include discussion of both a super-heavy rocket as well as starships that could ferry large numbers of people from Earth to Mars, known as the Mars Colonial Transporter.

Nextbigfuture has had a couple of articles about the Elon Musk StartmeupHK talk. We had noted his talk about Mars plans to be revealed later this year but did not focus on the mention of the International Astronautical Conference with specific dates.

Elon talked about reasons for going to Mars.

  • There is a defensive reason for becoming multiplanet which is to protect humanity from a single planet extinction event
  • Establishing a city on Mars would be a great adventure for humanity
  • Mars is where a sustainable city could be established
  • Spacex is scheduled to a launch a crew to the space station by the end of 2017






Scientists extend life of mice by 35 per cent by removing accumulated cells that no longer divide with compound AP20187

Researchers at Mayo Clinic have shown that senescent cells – cells that no longer divide and accumulate with age – negatively impact health and shorten lifespan by as much as 35 percent in normal mice. The results, which appear today in Nature, demonstrate that clearance of senescent cells delays tumor formation, preserves tissue and organ function, and extends lifespan without observed adverse effects.

“Cellular senescence is a biological mechanism that functions as an ‘emergency brake’ used by damaged cells to stop dividing,” says Jan van Deursen, Ph.D., Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular biology at Mayo Clinic, and senior author of the paper. “While halting cell division of these cells is important for cancer prevention, it has been theorized that once the ‘emergency brake’ has been pulled, these cells are no longer necessary.”

The immune system sweeps out the senescent cells on a regular basis, but over time becomes less effective. Senescent cells produce factors that damage adjacent cells and cause chronic inflammation, which is closely associated with frailty and age-related diseases.

Senescent cells are important because they prevent cancer spreading by stopping cell division and when people are young they are regularly cleared out of the body before they can cause problems.

As we age the body stops being able to get rid of the dead cells as quickly and they can build up, stopping new cells regenerating.

Now scientists have shown that mice who received a special compound to clear out the senescent cells lived 35 per cent longer than those allowed to age normally. They were also stronger and healthier for longer.

If the same effects could be replicated in humans it could mean people living for decades longer, and in much better health.

First author Dr Darren Baker, a molecular biologist at Mayo Clinic, is optimistic about the potential implications for humans.

"The advantage of targeting senescent cells is that clearance of just 60-70 percent can have significant therapeutic effects,” he said.

he clearance of senescent cells also delays tumour formation, preserves tissue and organ function, and extends lifespan without any adverse effects.

The mice also looked healthier and had less inflammation in fat, muscle and kidney tissue.

Researchers used a compound called AP20187 to trigger genes into ramping up their removal of senescent cells.

"Senescent cells that accumulate with aging are largely bad, do bad things to your organs and tissues, and therefore shorten your life but also the healthy phase of your life," says Dr. van Deursen.

“And since you can eliminate the cells without negative side effects, it seems like therapies that will mimic our findings - or our genetic model that we used to eliminate the cells - like drugs or other compounds that can eliminate senescent cells would be useful for therapies against age-related disabilities or diseases or conditions."

Other scientists are also working towards anti-ageing therapies and a trial in the US to test the diabetes drug metformin are due to start later this year.

Prof Ilaria Bellantuono, Professor of Musculoskeletal Ageing, University of Sheffield, said: “This work is interesting because it confirms some of the findings from a previous study, which used mice with accelerated ageing, using mice which are ageing naturally. It shows improved health in some aspects of their ageing such as reduced incidence of cancer, cataracts, and improved memory, suggesting that removal of these aged cells can be beneficial.


Clearance of senescent cells prolongs healthspan.


Nature - Naturally occurring p16Ink4a-positive cells shorten healthy lifespan

Talk Polywell has interesting discussion of EMC2 fusions work and progress and possible ways forward

Talk Polywell is having a discussion with Dr. Jaeyoung Park who leads EMC2 Fusion.

Nextbigfuture had a recent interview with Dr. Jaeyoung Park and is still in active correspondence with him.

If there are any questions you have about EMC2 Fusion's electrostatic fusion process and progress for Dr. Park, then please put that into the comments and we should be able to get a response from Dr. Park. NOTE - There are certain sensitive areas for the US Navy who previously funded the work.

The discussion at Talk Polywell on the physics of the prototype fusion reactors and possible ways to improve it are very interesting.

Slides from a presentation of what electrostatic fusion polywell fusion







All F35s to date will require modifications prior to use in combat and the pilot ejection system will kill 23% of lighter pilots

A newly released Pentagon report on the F35 indicates that every F35 aircraft bought to date requires modifications prior to use in combat.

Tthe F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is over three years behind schedule and some $200 billion over its original budget.

The fighter jet has been in development for nearly 15 years, weathered half a dozen years of testing and experienced myriad hardware malfunctions and software glitches along the way. Once it's declared ready for combat, it will be the most expensive weapons system in world history.

Now they are attempting to rush the F35 ahead in spite of all of the known problems.

(H/T to Patrick Tucker of Defense One)

Pilot Escape System would break the neck of the pilot - 100% some kind of neck injury and 23% chance of death for pilots below 165 pounds

The program conducted two sled tests on the pilot escape system in July and August 2015 that resulted in failures of the system to successfully eject a manikin without exceeding load/stress limits on the manikin. These sled tests were needed in order to qualify the new Gen III HMDS for flight release. In July 2015, a sled test on a 103-pound manikin with a Gen III helmet at 160 knots speed demonstrated the system failed to meet neck injury criteria. The program did not consider this failure to be solely caused by the heavier Gen III helmet, primarily due to similarly poor test results observed with the Gen II helmet on a 103-pound manikin in 2010 tests. The program conducted another sled test in August 2015 using a 136-pound manikin with the Gen III helmet at 160 knots. The system also failed to meet neck injury criteria in this test. Similar sled testing with Gen II helmets in 2010 did not result in exceedance of neck loads for 136-pound pilots.

After the latter failure, the Program Office and Services decided to restrict pilots weighing less than 136 pounds from flying any F-35 variant, regardless of helmet type (Gen II or Gen III). Pilots weighing between 136 and 165 pounds are considered at less risk than lighter weight pilots, but still at an increased risk (compared to heavier pilots). The level of risk was labeled “serious” by the Program Office based on the probability of death being 23 percent, and the probability of neck extension (which will result in some level of injury) being 100 percent. Currently, the Program Office and the Services have decided to accept this level of risk to pilots in this weight range, although the basis for the decision to accept these risks is unknown



February 03, 2016

US military buildup of 9 more Virginia class submarines, robotic boats, microdrones and more to counter China and Russia's military

Ash Carter, the Pentagon chief, said the US has ambitious plans for military spending on sophisticated weaponry for fiscal year 2017. These were partly designed with China in mind.

“We’re making all these investments that you see in our defense budget that are specifically oriented towards checking the development of the Chinese military,” Carter said.

To stave off China’s increasing military power, including its ship killing missiles and electronic warfare, the $582.7 billion defense budget request calls for major spending on cyber security, more firepower for submarines, new robotic boats and underwater vessels as well as new missile interceptors to be installed on American warships.

In his speech, Carter said both Russia and China were “developing weapons and ways of war that seek to achieve their objectives rapidly, before — they hope — we can respond.” The military spending was aimed at placing a higher priority on the threats posed by both powers, he said.

$71.4 billion will be spent on military research and development in 2017.

The Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) is doing a lot of the weapons research.

First is a project focused on advanced navigation. What the SCO's doing is taking the same kinds of micro-cameras, sensors, MEMS [microelectromechanical systems], and so forth that are littered throughout our smartphones and everything today, and putting them on our small diameter bombs to augment the existing target capabilities on the SDB. This will eventually be a modular kit that will work with many other payloads, enabling off network targeting through commercial components, small enough to hold in your hand like your phone, and cheap enough to own like your phone.

Another project uses swarming autonomous vehicles in all sorts of ways and in multiple domains. In the air, they develop micro-drones that are really fast, really resistant. They can fly through heavy winds and be kicked out the back of a fighter jet moving at Mach 0.9, like they did during an operational exercise in Alaska last year, or they can be thrown into the air by a soldier in the middle of the Iraqi desert. And for the water, they've developed self-driving boats which can network together to do all kinds of missions, from fleet defense to close-in surveillance, without putting sailors at risk. Each one of these leverages the wider world of technology. For example, the microdrones use a lot of commercial components and are actually 3-D printed and the boats build on some of the same artificial intelligence algorithms that long-ago and in a much more primitive form were on the Mars lander.


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