September 30, 2014

Partial Fermi Paradox Solution - Gamma Ray Bursts could prevent intelligent life except in the outer areas of largest 10% of galaxies

Arxiv - On the role of GRBs on life extinction in the Universe

As a copious source of gamma-rays, a nearby Galactic Gamma-Ray Burst (GRB) can be a threat to life. Using recent determinations of the rate of GRBs, their luminosity function and properties of their host galaxies, we estimate the probability that a life-threatening (lethal) GRB would take place. Amongst the different kinds of GRBs, long ones are most dangerous. There is a very good chance (but no certainty) that at least one lethal GRB took place during the past 5 Gyr close enough to Earth as to significantly damage life. There is a 50% chance that such a lethal GRB took place during the last 500 Myr causing one of the major mass extinction events. Assuming that a similar level of radiation would be lethal to life on other exoplanets hosting life, we explore the potential effects of GRBs to life elsewhere in the Galaxy and the Universe. We find that the probability of a lethal GRB is much larger in the inner Milky Way (95% within a radius of 4 kpc from the galactic center), making it inhospitable to life. Only at the outskirts of the Milky Way, at more than 10 kpc from the galactic center, this probability drops below 50%. When considering the Universe as a whole, the safest environments for life (similar to the one on Earth) are the lowest density regions in the outskirts of large galaxies and life can exist in only ~ 10% of galaxies. Remarkably, a cosmological constant is essential for such systems to exist. Furthermore, because of both the higher GRB rate and galaxies being smaller, life as it exists on Earth could not take place at z over 0.5. Early life forms must have been much more resilient to radiation.

H/T Crowlspace

China fourth largest arms exporter and has a tank comparable to the 30 year old M1A2 Abrams design

With foreign sales of $7.4 billion over the past five years, China overtook France in 2013 to become the world’s fourth-largest arms exporter, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Besides Norinco, the country’s arms makers include Aviation Industry Corporation of China, Poly Technologies Inc. and China South Industries Group Corp. Norinco is the biggest of the bunch.

The five largest suppliers of major conventional weapons during the five-year period 2008–12 were the United States (30 per cent of global arms exports), Russia (26 per cent), Germany (7 per cent), France (6 per cent) and China (5 per cent). With 20% growth each year, China will likely pass Germany for the third spot in 2014.

“The Chinese [weapon] systems are simply cheaper, they are reliable, and they are tailored to the conditions of developing countries,” said Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

As per capita incomes and economies catch up, the US remains military dominant but other countries become more problematic and not complete push overs for the US.

the MBT3000 has comparable gun, speed, and has reactive armor

China's MBT3000 third generation is $4 million versus $6.9 million for a US M1A2 Abrams tank.

The Abrams is a solid tank but has not been significantly changed for 30 years.

Graphene chips are close to significant commercialization

A research team from the University of Texas and German nanotechnology company Aixtron have worked out a way to make wafer-scale graphene measuring between 100 and 300mm.

The research offers the prospect of integrating carbon-based graphene, which is just one atom thick, with silicon on a semi-industrial scale. Until now, graphene has proved difficult to manufacture in sufficient area, quantity and reliability for viable use in processors.

IBM research scientist Shu-Jen Han led a project that announced the creation of a wafer-scale graphene circuit in January of this year but did not solve the issue of reliable industrial-scale production. The polycrystalline graphene developed by IBM has improved carrier transport characteristics and fewer defects, enabling the team to manufacture 25,000 graphene field-effect transistors from lab-generated graphene film.

ACS Nano - Toward 300 mm Wafer-Scalable High-Performance Polycrystalline Chemical Vapor Deposited Graphene Transistors

Estimated costs of the airwar and a modest ground war in Syria and Iraq

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary assessments has provided an estimated cost for the airwar in Iraq and Syria at between $2.4 to 22 billion per year.

The cost of U.S. military operations against ISIL through September 24 is likely between $780 and $930 million. The cost of future operations depends primarily on how long operations continue, the intensity of air operations, and whether additional ground forces are deployed beyond what is already planned. Assuming a moderate level of air operations and 2,000 deployed ground forces, the costs would likely run between $200 and $320 million per month. If air operations are conducted at a higher pace and 5,000 ground forces are deployed, the costs would be between $350 and $570 million per month. If operations expand significantly to include the deployment of 25,000 U.S. troops on the ground, as some have recommended, costs would likely reach $1.1 to $1.8 billion per month. On an annualized basis, the lower-intensity air operations could cost $2.4 to $3.8 billion per year, the higher-intensity air operations could cost $4.2 to $6.8 billion per year, and deployment of a larger ground contingent could drive annual costs as high as $13 to $22 billion.

Lightbridge planning first full scale nuclear reactor tests for metallic fuel that could uprate existing reactors by 10 to 17%

Lightbridge, a nuclear engineering company based in Tysons Corner, Virginia, is planning the first tests in a full-scale reactor of new fuel rods that have been engineered to boost power output of existing nuclear reactors by 10 to 17 percent. Crucially, the tests will determine whether the technology can work safely. Inserted in a conventional reactor, the new fuel could boost power 10 percent. Replacing equipment including turbines with larger-size ones would increase that to 17 percent, Lightbridge say

Currently the US generates 800 Terawatt hours per year from nuclear reactors. Boosting nuclear power by 10 to 17 percent would be 80 to 136 Terawatt hours per year in the USA. The US generated 176.8 Terawatt hours in wind power for the 12 months ended July 2014. The Lightbridge nuclear uprate could enable pressure water reactors to uprate as much as 30% but that would require upgrading more equipment. Worldwide nuclear power production was 2356 TWh in 2013. This was in spite of 50 nuclear reactors being shutdown in Japan. A global 10% boost would be 235 TWh and a 17% boost would be 400 TWh.

September 29, 2014

China, Russia and Canada win big in a warmed world and India and Africa lose big

[Ludwig Maximilians University] Russia, Canada and China are projected to gain farmland this century as the world warms up due to climate change, even as global crop-growing capacity may decline, a German study showed.

Climate change could add 5.6 million square kilometers (2.2 million square miles) of land for crops in the 2071-2100 period compared with 1981-2010, mainly in the Northern Hemisphere, according to researchers at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich. Because land suitable for triple cropping may be reduced, the net effect would be a loss of 7.8 million square kilometers of land for farming, the study found.

The study, Russia is set to gain 3.1 million square kilometers of land suitable for agriculture, Canada farmland would expand by 2.1 million square kilometers and China would gain 0.9 million square kilometers.

Green on the map is good, Yellow is bad This map summarizes the projected impact of climate change on the worldwide distribution of land suitable for agriculture in the year 2100. While new cropland is predicted to become available in the Northern hemisphere(green), conditions are expected to deteriorate in other areas, including the Mediterranean region (brown). (Source: Dr. Florian Zabel, LMU)

PLOS One - Global Agricultural Land Resources – A High Resolution Suitability Evaluation and Its Perspectives until 2100 under Climate Change Conditions

Carnival of Space 373

The Carnival of Space 373 is up at Photos to Space

Universe Today - What Is This Bizarre Ball That The Curiosity Rover Found On Mars?