The Quartermaster's Stores => Equipment - General => Topic started by: Antoine on January 16, 2010, 21:42:57

Title: Recent Warfare Technologies
Post by: Antoine on January 16, 2010, 21:42:57
Some links to new chemical technology reports. Some are probably sponsored by the US and or British military. How long between R&D and applications?

1-Tune in for sensitive explosive detection by Anna Roffey in Highlights in Chemical Science, Volume 2010, 02

Scientists in Japan and Ireland have synthesised a fluorescent organic molecule that detects explosive vapours. Tuning the self assembled structure enhances its sensing efficiency by nine times.

Masayuki Takeuchi at the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan and co-workers prepared a charge transfer molecule of binaphthyl functionalised with donor acceptor substituted stilbene. The stilbene has donor and acceptor functional groups and exhibits charge transfer fluorescence, but when in the presence of species with stronger electron acceptor properties, such as the nitro groups on the explosives trinitrotoluene (TNT) the fluorescence switches off.

more can be found at

2-Lab on a piece of paper by Michael Brown in Highlights in Chemical Technology, Volume 2010, 01

Scientists in the US have made a low-cost, disposable paper device to test the purity of drinking water.

George Whitesides, Zihong Nie and colleagues at Harvard University, Cambridge, US have designed a paper-based electrochemical device that can detect tiny concentrations of heavy metal ions in water.

Heavy-metal ions such as mercury, lead, and cadmium are toxic, non-biodegradable, and can find their way into humans and animals via drinking water. Whitesides' device can detect lead in water at levels as low as one part per billon (ppb), which is much lower than the World Health Organization guideline value (<10 ppb) for the safe level of lead in drinking water. What's more, it only costs 2 cents to make and no qualified personnel or complicated instruments are needed to use them.

more can be found at
Title: Re: Recent war Technologies
Post by: Antoine on February 25, 2010, 19:53:36
I am presently reading: Wired for war, by P.W. Singer, Ed. Penguin Books, 2009.

I was wondering what are you thinking about the book and also the topics discussed in it.

Cheers, (

Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century

What happens when science fiction becomes battlefield reality?
An amazing revolution is taking place on the battlefield, starting to change not just how wars are fought, but also the politics, economics, laws, and ethics that surround war itself. This upheaval is already afoot -- remote-controlled drones take out terrorists in Afghanistan, while the number of unmanned systems on the ground in Iraq has gone from zero to 12,000 over the last five years.  But it is only the start. Military officers quietly acknowledge that new prototypes will soon make human fighter pilots obsolete, while the Pentagon researches tiny robots the size of flies to carry out reconnaissance work now handled by elite Special Forces troops.
Wired for War takes the reader on a journey to meet all the various players in this strange new world of war: odd-ball roboticists working in latter-day “skunk works” in the midst of suburbia; military pilots flying combat mission from their office cubicles outside Las Vegas; the Iraqi insurgents who are their targets; journalists trying to figure out just how to cover robots at war; and human rights activists wrestling with what is right and wrong in a world where our wars are increasingly being handed over to machines.

P.S.: I have changed the title of the present thread to make it more "topics inclusive" but I was not able to change the topic title.
Title: Re: Recent war Technologies
Post by: Hull.Down on February 26, 2010, 01:56:25
I am presently reading: Wired for war, by P.W. Singer, Ed. Penguin Books, 2009.

I was wondering what are you thinking about the book and also the topics discussed in it.

Cheers, (

P.S.: I have changed the title of the present thread to make it more "topics inclusive" but I was not able to change the topic title.

I watched an hour TV special on Wired for War and it was very interesting.

However, the two biggest problems that was said were:

1) Computer glitches that kill friendly soldiers such as the anti-aircraft cannon robot in South Africa that had a glitch and leveled it's firing arcs onto friendly troops

2) In a war waged by money, if the $30 dollar soldier with the AK-47 breaks a $1000 robot and he dies it's "worth it".

Because it's oh so obvious that human life is not a priority of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Title: Re: Recent war Technologies
Post by: Antoine on March 31, 2010, 23:20:24
Body Armor, William G. Schulz, Chemical & Engineering News, March 29, 2010, Volume 88, Number 13 (

High-tech ceramics protect soldiers from a wide range of ballistic threats:

Soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan face danger every day, but thanks to high-tech ceramics developed since the late 1960s, they have protection against numerous ballistic threats. In best-case scenarios, these ceramics can actually shatter a bullet upon impact, leaving nothing more than possibly a bruise on the warrior.
"As threats change, armor has to change," says James W. McCauley, a materials scientist at the Army Research Laboratory who has studied and helped develop many of the armor ceramics in use today.
Unlike steel, which has long been used as body armor for the military, ceramics have the advantage of being lightweight. They also have a very high degree of hardness—in fact, ceramics are some of the hardest materials known—as well as other desirable properties for ballistic protection.
Most of the ceramic powders used in the U.S.'s body armor are made in Europe or China, says Richard Haber, director of the Ceramic & Composite Materials Center at Rutgers University. However, there is still one manufacturer, Washington Mills Ceramics, in the U.S. Firms that make armor ceramics for the Department of Defense must produce lightweight plates that can withstand more than one ballistic impact, and they must also minimize cost and weight.
How to reduce weight is a primary issue, McCauley says, because it has a direct impact on the mobility of the soldier as well as on the stress placed on the warrior's body. Cost is a factor in the military's standards, given that every solider fighting in today's wars is outfitted with this protection.
The three main types of ceramics used to make body armor are boron carbide, silicon carbide, and aluminum oxide. A fourth type of ceramic is aluminum oxynitride—known as ALON—which can be used to make transparent armor for applications such as goggles and windshields.
The powders used to form these ceramics were once primarily used in abrasives because of their hardness, which is also a useful property for armor, Haber explains. Increasing the hardness of these ceramics, he says, is achieved by grinding them into finer powders. But the more the powder particles are reduced in size, the greater the amount of impurities that are introduced from the grinding equipment. This requires additional cleaning processes. Nanoscale ceramic powders are not currently economically viable, Haber says, and other nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes cannot yet be made affordably in sufficient quantities to be practical.
Producing ceramic powders requires high temperatures. In the common Acheson process, silicon dioxide and graphite or coal-distilled coke starting materials are converted into silicon carbide electrochemically at very high temperatures. The process uses a huge amount of electricity and also produces a huge amount of carbon dioxide, Haber says.
Making boron carbide requires temperatures of 3,000 °C and also produces CO2, but the ceramic is made in a melt process instead of by electrochemical means. "The melt cools, crystallizes, and is crushed," Haber says. Aluminum oxide and ALON powders are processed via similar high-temperature methods.
With the powders in hand, three manufacturing processes are routes to the final ceramic armor plates, Haber explains. All three processes involve high temperature and are "analogous to what you do in art class" to make ceramics, says Ronald Hoffman, a research physicist at the University of Dayton Research Institute.
Hot-press manufacturing involves shaping the materials in a mold and heating them up to 2,200 °C under pressure. With direct sinter, the materials are shaped and subjected to high heat, but without pressure. And in reaction bonding, the materials are formed to shape, chemically reacted, and heated to about 1,400 °C. These different processes enhance certain performance characteristics of the ceramics and result in cost differences.
Silicon carbide is a little bit softer than boron carbide, which is "the second-hardest material after diamond. Boron carbide literally shatters the bullet," says Marc A. King, president of Ceradyne Armor Systems, a supplier of U.S. military ceramic body armor.
Ceradyne uses the hot-press process at its two manufacturing facilities, located in California and Kentucky, King says. The addition of a composite material on the back side of the ceramic plate—usually a type of high-molecular-weight polyethylene—acts as a catcher's mitt for the bullet fragments, he says. Ceradyne provides both stand-alone ceramic armor and ceramic armor plates that are fitted into vests made of Kevlar, a para-aramid synthetic fiber that is also bullet resistant.
At ALON manufacturer Surmet, "we synthesize our own aluminum oxide powder, form it into a shape we want, then put the material through a series of heat treatments," says Lee Goldman, the firm's vice president of R&D. The material is then cut, ground, and polished to give it transparency. The armor's ability to protect against bullets is based on the overall laminate design, he says, and can withstand armor-piercing rounds and improvised-explosive-device blasts. "We've tested a number of threats," Goldman says.
"A lot of chemical and physical improvements have been made in ceramic manufacturing," Hoffman says. "Improvements in powder chemistry and purity, along with particle-size control coupled with efficient densification control, have led to superior ceramic articles."
Although there is no such thing as "bulletproof," today's armor ceramics provide an unprecedented level of protection and mobility for troops on the ground.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2010 American Chemical Society
Title: Re: Recent Chemical Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on April 14, 2010, 16:51:59
Interesting take on manufacturing. Laying out parts of soft "wet" titanium hydride, folding them into shape and causing a chemical reaction to transform the part into titanium metal could result in large, seamless hull assemblies which are far lighter and stronger than any existing technology (among other uses)

Printed 3D Titanium Wet Folded Origami

The tiny origami crane sitting on a penny in the picture from University of Illinois professor Jennifer Lewis’ lab heralds a new method for creating complex three-dimensional structures for biocompatible devices, microscaffolding and other microsystems. The penny-sized titanium bird began as a printed sheet of titanium hydride ink.

Small, intricate shapes made of metals, ceramics or polymers have a variety of applications, from biomedical devices to electronics to rapid prototyping. One method of fabricating such structures is by direct-write assembly, which the Lewis group helped pioneer. In this approach, a large printer deposits inks containing metallic, ceramic or plastic particles to assemble a structure layer by layer. Then, the structure is annealed at a high temperature to evaporate the liquid in the ink and bond the particles, leaving a solid object.

However, as more layers are added, the lower layers tend to sag or collapse under their own weight – a problem postdoctoral researcher Bok Yeop Ahn encountered while trying to manufacture titanium scaffolds for tissue engineering. He decided to try a different approach: Print a flat sheet, then roll it up into a spiral – or even fold it into an assortment of shapes. Folding the printed sheets is not as easy as it would first seem.

Lewis, Ahn and their research team solved the problem by mimicking wet-folding origami, in which paper is partially wetted to enhance its foldability. By using a mixture of fast-drying and slow-drying solvents in the ink, the sheet dries partway but stays flexible enough to fold through multiple steps – 15, in the case of the crane.

The U. of I. researchers worked with professor David Dunand, the James and Margie Krebs Professor of Materials Science at Northwestern University, who initially approached Lewis with the possibility of titanium hydride inks. “I knew how to transform hydride into metallic titanium without contamination from the ink, based on prior research in my lab,” said Dunand, who focused on annealing the soft, titanium hydride origami structures into strong, metallic titanium objects.

The marriage of printing and origami techniques allows for greater structural complexity – such as the crane’s overhanging wings, a feature not producible by direct printing methods alone. In addition, Lewis’ team can print sheets with a variety of patterns, adding yet another level of architectural detail.

“By combining these methods, you can rapidly assemble very complex structures that simply cannot be made by conventional fabrication methods,” Lewis said.

Next, the team hopes to expand its origami repertoire to include much larger and much smaller structures, with an expanding array of inks. For example, the method can be extended to a variety of other ceramics and metals ranging from steels to nickel- and cobalt-based alloys to refractory and noble metals, according to Dunand.

The researchers also plan to explore possible applications including lightweight structures, biomedical devices, sensors and more.
Title: Re: Recent Chemical Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on April 22, 2010, 19:20:03
High speed comms using ordinary "twisted pair" wiring. I wonder if this technology can be applied to field wire, resulting in combat LANs which provide rich information feeds with a greater degree of security than radio and a lot less expense than fiber optic?

Achieving Fiber-Optic Speeds over Copper Lines

A 100-year-old networking trick could boost transmissions over telephone infrastructure.
By Christopher Mims

Alcatel-Lucent has developed a prototype technology that could dramatically increase the speed of data communications over the copper wires that make up the majority of the world's telephone infrastructure. The technology combines three existing techniques, known as bonding, vectoring, and DSL phantom mode. It can reach speeds of 300 megabits per second at a distance of 400 meters from a communications hub, and 100 megabits per second at one kilometer.

Squeezing more speed out of copper connections is an important goal for telecommunications companies in the United States. They want to compete with the 50-megabit-per-second speeds offered by cable providers, but DSL connections transmit data through telephone lines--a fundamentally different technology from that used by cable companies. Alcatel-Lucent's technology could help these companies extend high-speed Internet access before next-generation fiber-optic networks become widely available.

The first two components of the prototype system, vectoring and bonding, are standard ways to increase the speed of DSL broadband connections: vectoring cancels out noise in a DSL line, and bonding treats multiple lines as if they were a single cable, which increases bandwidth by a multiple almost equal to the number of cables involved. Neither technique is widely used in the United States, but they are deployed to a limited extent in both Asia and Europe, where high urban density makes them more economical.

The third component, "phantom mode," is based on a networking trick invented in 1886 by electrical engineer and telephony pioneer John J. Carty, who later became a vice president at AT&T.

A digital signal is normally transmitted through two wires twisted together--one positive and the other negative. Carty realized that it is possible to send a third signal on top of four wires separated into two twisted pairs. The negative half of this "phantom" connection is sent down one twisted pair (which is already carrying a conventional signal), and the positive half down is sent down other twisted pair. At the destination, analog processors are used to extract all three signals--two real and one "phantom"--from the two pairs.

The challenge, says Stefaan Vanhastel, director of product marketing at Alcatel-Lucent, is that any additional bandwidth gained by creating a phantom channel can easily be swamped by the increased noise that the technique introduces. The noise arises because telephone wires are often bundled tightly into a single cable, allowing for electrical induction, or "cross-talk", between them.

"The obvious solution is to remove the cross-talk, which is why we add [high-speed] DSL vectoring on top of this," Vanhastel says. Vectoring eliminates cross-talk in bundled wires by sending a signal down the cable that is exactly the opposite of the cross-talk signal, cancelling the noise out.

Combining the three techniques has the potential to increase transmission speeds far above what's possible with existing DSL connections. Typical ADSL connections top out at six megabits per second, while advanced, VDSL-powered connections to fiber-optic hubs are advertised at speeds of up to 24 megabits per second. Replacing these VDSL connections with the prototype technology could boost speeds by 300 to 1,000 percent.

There are a few catches, however. One is that a home or business must have at least two lines already connected (in the United States, many do). In addition, says Vanhastel, manufacturers have yet to introduce a three-channel modem for consumer use.

While Alcatel-Lucent is the first company to publicly announce a technology that combines these three techniques, it is not the first to deploy them in the lab or in field trials, according to Stanford University professor John Cioffi, CEO of DSL management company ASSIA. "I've seen it work in the field on customers' lines, but I can't say where and how," Cioffi says. He notes that the cost of bonding and vectoring has deterred telecommunications companies from introducing them until now.

Other approaches are being used to get more speed out of copper connections. Last year Ericsson announced that it had induced a DSL line to transmit data at 500 megabits per second, but that achievement involved bonding six separate lines. Alcatel-Lucent limited its test to two bonded lines, says Vanhastel, because that is the largest number of lines a home or business could realistically be expected to have connected.

Alcatel-Lucent doesn't believe it will roll out the combination technology until after 2011. Even so, that's well ahead of the timetable for extending fiber-optic technology to all areas of the U.S.

One-hundred-megabit DSL is "what we can see" in the next five to 10 years, says Cioffi. That will be just in time to realize the Federal Trade Commission's goal, announced in February, of rolling out 100-megabit-per-second broadband to 100 million U.S. homes by 2020.

Copyright Technology Review 2010.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Antoine on April 25, 2010, 06:57:57
For hardcore Geeks  8)

Adrian Cho, Quantum Cryptography Hits the Fast Lane, ScienceNow, April 19, 2010 (

Whether for online bills or military secrets, encryption schemes help keep digital communication secure. In recent years, physicists and engineers have been developing methods that transmit uncrackable encode messages in individual particles of light, or photons. Now, one team has taken such quantum cryptography a long step forward by demonstrating a system that’s fast enough to encrypt a video transmission. “From the applications point of view, it’s very important,” says Hoi-Kwong Lo, a physicist at the University of Toronto in Canada.

A digital message consists of a long string of zeros and ones and can be encrypted in many ways. For example, each bit can be added with one from a stream of random zeros and ones called the key. Adding the key once scrambles the message; adding it a second time unscrambles it. So long as two the people sharing the secret, say, "Alice" and "Bob," do not reuse the key, this “one-time pad” method is uncrackable. However, Alice must somehow pass the key to Bob without anybody intercepting it.

Messages on the Internet are encoded in another way, using so-called public key encryption. In a nutshell, a message is scrambled by running it through a mathematical function that's easy to run forward but very difficult to run backward. However, there’s no guarantee that, given enough computing power, a hacker won’t find a way to crack such a scheme.

So-called quantum key distribution (QKD) would ensure absolute security essentially by letting Alice and Bob pass the key for one-time pad encryption right under the nose of an eavesdropper, "Eve." Researchers have developed several protocols, all of which exploit a crucial feature of quantum mechanics: It’s generally not possible to measure the state of a particle like a photon without altering it. That means that if Alice encodes the key in the photons in the right way, Eve won’t be able to intercept and measure the photons without revealing her presence to Alice and Bob.

Researchers have been developing such systems for more than a decade, and in 2008 they connected six of them together to form a rudimentary quantum network in Vienna. Now, the electronics manufacturer Toshiba, one of the participants in that event, has boosted the rate a which its system can distribute bits of key across a 50-kilometer fiber to a megabit per second, up from a few kilobits per second, says Andrew Shields, an applied physicist and assistant managing director at Toshiba Research Europe Ltd. in Cambridge, United Kingdom. The team has also shown that the system can run continuously for 36 hours, much longer than the few minutes previously achieved at a megabit-per-second rate, it reports today in Applied Physics Letters.

Key to running faster is a better photon detector, Shields says. The Toshiba systems uses devices known as semiconductor avalanche photodiodes, in which a photon hits a bit of semiconductor to trigger an “avalanche” of electric charge. It takes time for that avalanche to build and pass, which limits the detector’s rate. New photodiodes can sense smaller avalanches and, hence, run faster, Shields says. To keep the system running for hours at a time, the Toshiba team also implemented a feedback system to stretch certain meters-long optical fibers within Alice's and Bob’s detectors by a few nanometers, thus keeping the ratio of those lengths constant to a few parts in a billion. Without such stabilization, key distribution would have to stop every few minutes to allow the equipment to recalibrate itself.

The new system will get a tryout in October as part of the Tokyo QKD Network, in which researchers will use various systems to connect two buildings belonging to Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology and three other buildings. Masahide Sasaki, a physicist at the institute, says that the ability to handle video conferencing is key to high-end applications such as governmental communications. Previous systems could handle only voice conferencing, he says.

Researchers still have a way to go to reach the ultimate goal of a completely quantum-mechanical network, however. In the current systems, a secret message must essentially be unscrambled and rescrambled at each node on a network, which are then potentially vulnerable to attack. Ultimately, developers hope to be able to relay a subtle quantum-mechanical connection called entanglement from Alice to Bob across intermediate nodes so that only Bob would ever be able to decode Alice’s message. Such a network requires devices called quantum repeaters, which have yet to be developed.

Without quantum repeaters the current system protects only the optical fibers between nodes. Still, those are the most exposed part of any network and are increasingly vulnerable to attack. “Ironically,” Sasaki says, “advances [made for] QKD, such as new photon detectors with very low noise, low-loss optical circuits, et cetera., could make [such attacks] possible.”

Also more at:  (
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Antoine on May 09, 2010, 19:38:31
A fuel cell that runs on water and air

Water and air make energy, Highlights in Chemical Technology 2010, 28 April 2010: (

A fuel cell that produces power using only water and a warm breeze has been developed by researchers in Germany. The cell could be used to power sensors and military monitoring devices in remote areas.
Most fuel cells rely on the spontaneous formation of water from the combination of hydrogen and oxygen, with the energy produced determined by the changes in enthalpy between the anode and cathode. Storage of hazardous materials such as hydrogen, methanol or hydrides are needed to run these cells. Now, Emil Roduner and Andreas Dreizler at the University of Stuttgart have developed a concentration fuel cell that runs on water and air, making it cheap, safe and easy to refuel.
In Roduner's system, water is oxidized catalytically to molecular oxygen, protons and electrons at the anode, while the reverse reaction takes place at the cathode. As in normal fuel cells, the cathode and anode are separated by a polymer electrolyte membrane which allows the protons to cross to the cathode while the electrons are forced to make their way through a wire, creating a current. The water that forms at the cathode is evaporated by the air flow, keeping the water concentration gradient between the two electrodes, which acts as the driving force for the reaction.
Unlike other fuel cells no change in enthalpy occurs as water reacts to form water. This means that typically minor contributions, such as changes in entropy, become key factors in the energy output, explains Roduner. He adds that his inspiration to create the cell came from a desire to demonstrate that 'changes in entropy can still be a driving force [for fuel cells].'
Michael Janik, an expert on fuel cells at the Pennsylvania State University in State College, US, agrees that this is an unexpected method to develop a fuel cell. Janik comments that typically '[fuel cell chemists] just look at the fuel and the difference in the fuel versus the activation chemistry but Roduner uses concentration as their driving force - that's clever.'
The energy output is smaller than typical fuels cells but this system may find use in specific situations where a small energy output is needed, such as for powering small sensors or for an emergency signal. Roduner envisions its use in dry windy places, such as along the coast or a desert, to facilitate water evaporation at the cathode.

Patricia Pantos
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Antoine on May 09, 2010, 19:48:07
The Science Of Feeding Soldiers

Bethany Halford, Chemical & Engineering News 2009, 88, 40 (

You'll find also a short video at the Hyperlink above.

Chemical innovations make tasty battlefield meals, ready-to-eat

When Neil Gussman joined the Army in 1972, meals for the battlefield were served in little green cans. Open those tins, recalls the Chemical Heritage Foundation's communications manager and Army sergeant, and you were likely to find culinary delights like "gelatinous, fat-coated Spam slices" and "big wads of grease."
Known as C rations, "the 12 main courses were ham and eggs, beans and franks, spaghetti, ham slices, and permutations of Spam," Gussman says.
He reenlisted in 2007 and, to his pleasant surprise, found that the green cans had been replaced with sleek tan packages stamped "MRE," for Meal, Ready-To-Eat.
"When I got my first MRE, I was in gastronomic love," Gussman says. Inside were crunchy crackers, brand-name candy, and a heating bag that gave off no smoke or light signature. Tactical eating no longer meant meals of congealed fat, he says.
But moving from cans of "green eggs and ham" to pouches of moist lemon poppyseed cake and hot beef ravioli requires a lot of scientific innovation. "Everything in the MRE involves chemistry in some way," says Jeremy Whitsitt, the Department of Defense's combat feeding outreach coordinator. From the packaging designed to withstand downpours and airdrops to the chemical heater that warms meals and beverages, the Combat Feeding Directorate at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center (NSRDEC), in Natick, Mass., has spent years developing the modern MRE.
The unpredictable nature of military life means that battlefield meals must meet a set of strict criteria. MREs need to maintain their freshness for three years when stored below 80 °F, or six months when stored below 100 °F. "They must also be able to withstand rough handling conditions and airdrops from altitudes of 100 feet by helicopter, without a parachute, or 1,200 feet by plane, with a parachute," Whitsitt says.
An MRE's packaging presents the first line of defense in keeping it from getting beaten up during transport and in preventing oxygen, water vapor, and insects from infiltrating and spoiling the food. "It's a critical part of the overall MRE," says Danielle Froio, an NSRDEC materials engineer.
It's also the first thing you notice about an MRE as you pull apart the seal of its tough, tan meal bag made of low-density polyethylene. The food inside this bag is stored in two types of pouches, Froio explains. There's the retort pouch, which holds food that's been sterilized, and the nonretort pouch, which houses food that doesn't need sterilization.
Both pouches have a polyester outer layer that's easy to print on, so nutritional information is included with each of the MRE's components. Beneath the polyester is a layer of foil, which, Froio says, is the ultimate barrier to oxygen, water vapor, and light. A polyolefin layer also makes it possible to seal the package. And retort pouches have a fourth layer of nylon to make them durable enough to withstand the rigors of the sterilization process.
Researchers at NSRDEC are currently working to find a replacement for the foil layer in both types of pouch. "In low-temperature situations it can develop pinhole cracks that reduce the shelf life of the package," Froio explains. Although the group has examined many different polymers as possible replacements, all are permeable to oxygen or water vapor, she notes.
The researchers are now looking toward nanocomposite materials, Froio says, because their nanostructure "creates a tortuous path for the water and oxygen" to travel. They've had some success with montmorillonite- and kaolin-based nanocomposites, and a low-density polyethylene nanocomposite has been used as a meal bag in field tests.
Of course, the guidelines that govern MREs aren't limited to their durability. MREs are, after all, meals, and they have to provide enough nutrition to sustain a soldier engaged in intense physical activity. By regulation, Whitsitt says, each MRE must provide approximately 1,300 calories.
And then there's taste. Responding to the complaints about the old C rations—the ones Gussman describes as variations on Spam—NSRDEC has made an effort to create meals soldiers actually enjoy.
So how do you make cooked pasta and cake that can sit on the shelf for three years? "We build hurdles into these different food matrices to make it hard for 'bugs' to grow in them," Whitsitt says. Using acidic tomato-based sauces keeps the pH low, for example, thereby preventing bacterial growth. As for the baked goods, by tinkering with dough conditioners and adding iron-based oxygen-scavenging packets, the researchers are able to control pH and water levels to keep the breads and cakes tasting fresh.
All items packaged in a retort pouch are also sterilized by boiling. But certain foods simply don't hold up under the extremes of temperature and time—120 °C for 30 minutes—the military uses for this process. For example, says C. Patrick Dunne, the senior adviser in advanced processing and nutritional biochemistry for the Combat Feeding Directorate, "We have yet to get a really good mac and cheese out of the retort pouch."
To expand meal options and improve food quality, NSRDEC has been working on advanced processing techniques for sterilization that use microwave radiation and high pressure. "The challenge we have is to conquer the chemistry that happens during and after the sterilization process that will lead to degradation of quality," Dunne says. "You're not going to get fresh salads all the time, but we would like to give our guys something that goes beyond basic vitamins."
The novel microwave sterilization process that NSRDEC has developed in collaboration with researchers at Washington State University uses a microwave that operates at 915 MHz. This is a lower frequency than the average home microwave uses and penetrates the food to a greater extent. To keep the pouches from exploding, Dunne says, they are placed under pressure in a water bath. All told, the sterilization takes less than 10 minutes.
The one drawback to using this microwave sterilization process is that it doesn't work with the standard retort pouch. Its foil layer can't be placed in a microwave oven. Dunne says NSRDEC is looking into alternative packaging.
The military is currently testing MREs with chicken and dumplings sterilized via the microwave method. There are "benefits in taste, color, and texture" that come from microwave sterilization, Dunne points out. "You can make a salmon filet that tastes like the poached salmon you'd get in a restaurant. It does not taste like cat food."
NSRDEC is also working on high-pressure sterilization. The process places a food pouch under 100,000 psi for about three minutes. Heating is also used if the food being sterilized hasn't been pasteurized.
The result, Dunne explains, is greater variety of food that doesn't have the "tinny" flavor that comes from the current processing method. Mashed potatoes sterilized with this process have already passed the military's shelf-life and field tests.
Perhaps the most tangible chemical contribution to the MREs is the small chemical heater that makes it possible for soldiers in the field to enjoy the comfort of a hot meal and a hot cup of coffee. The heating technology, which gives off no light or smoke, makes use of the exothermic reaction of magnesium metal and water. The heater is composed of a postcard-sized polymeric "tea bag" filled with 9 g of Mg, which sits in a plastic sleeve. A solider adds just 1 oz of water to the sleeve, slips in the MRE entrée, and waits about 10 minutes.
The temperature gets up to about 60 °C, according to NSRDEC chemical engineer Peter Lavigne. "The reaction product, magnesium hydroxide, is essentially milk of magnesia, so it's disposed of without environmental concerns," he says.
The Mg powder pack also contains a little bit of salt and iron. These penetrate the magnesium oxide coating that tends to build up on the metal and prevents it from reacting. Chloride ions react with the Mg(OH)2 product to form MgOHCl, which dissolves the MgO coating. The role of iron is less clear, but it's thought to cause bimetallic corrosion that promotes the reaction between water and Mg.
Although the heater works extremely well, Lavigne says that there is concern about the hydrogen gas generated in the reaction. "We've always had an interest in eliminating hydrogen from a user-safety point of view," he says. NSRDEC is currently exploring heaters based on calcium oxide and phosphorus pentoxide exothermic hydration reactions, as well as Mg oxidation coupled with manganese dioxide to quench hydrogen generation.
"The challenge is to get at the heating profile that's safe to handle yet capable of heating a food product in a short time and is suitable for use with food," Lavigne notes.
As far as soldiers like Sgt. Gussman are concerned, any further improvements to the MRE are a bonus. "The soldiers who only know MREs sometimes ***** about them," he says. "Old soldiers who remember the canned rations know better."

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2010 American Chemical Society
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on May 30, 2010, 23:30:38
Well, how about materials that do everything?

Game Changing Fuzzy Fiber Nanomaterial

A $3 million Ohio Third Frontier award to the University of Dayton Research Institute will fund the scale-up and production of a “game-changing” new nanomaterial that will allow composites to multitask – a wind turbine tower that can de-ice its own blades in winter, or store energy to release on a calm day, powering a grid even when its blades are not moving. Or a military vehicle whose armor can serve as a battery – powering some of the vehicle’s electrical components.

    Lafdi called the material “game-changing” because of its ability to be produced in continuous sheets to desired sizes like other fabrics. “Everybody is growing carbon nanotubes on substrates,” Lafdi said. “We’re the only people who are producing them on a large-scale and continuous process, and not just in batches. This means we can produce the material at a low cost, and it also means we can produce pieces big enough to cover an aircraft.”

    Lafdi and his team have been producing 500 feet of 12-inch-wide fabric per day at a pilot plant in UDRI’s Shroyer Park Center. The new facility, to be located within Dayton’s Aerospace Hub, will be equipped to produce 60-inch-wide fabric.

    Nicknamed “fuzzy fiber” by its inventor at UDRI, Nano Adaptive Hybrid Fabric (NAHF-XTM) is the first tailored nanomaterial capable of being produced in sizes and quantities large enough to make them affordable and viable for large-scale commercial use. When incorporated into resins, fuzzy fibers enable composites to be tailored for electrical and thermal conductivity, chemical and biological sensing, energy storage and conversion, thermal management and other properties.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on June 04, 2010, 01:10:07
less geeky, and a lot more fun and useful:

New Powered Rope Climber can go 10 Feet per Second with up to 1000 Pounds Which is about three times Better than the First Power Climbers from 3 Years Ago

Atlas Devices has a new Powered Rope Ascender can climb can hold a target load capacity up to 600 pounds at a 6-feet per second rate of ascension. The lightweight ATLAS Ascender can pull a fully-loaded soldier or firefighter up a rappelling line at up to 10 ft/sec. The powerful rope not only lifts and lowers, but can tow vehicles and remotely move equipment and casualties as well, making it a valuable tool for VBSS teams. Its high-power, high-density lithium battery will allow a load to ascend 375 feet without recharging.
It is also able to recapture 10 to 15 percent of its potential energy as it descends, which can be used to recharge the battery
Previous versions of climbers had a 3 ft/sec speed and were limited to 300 pounds of lift

    The ATLAS Ascender, originally designed for use in urban combat and cave exploration by the US Army, offers unparalleled benefits in many different scenarios. Its powerful lifting capacity can directly hoist fully-loaded soldiers or firefighters at unprecedented speeds. Utilizing the ATLAS with standard rescue equipment can magnify its capacity even more, enabling effective lifting and towing capacities in excess of 1,000 lbs.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on June 04, 2010, 14:30:54
The ultimate problem: super empowered individuals with the ability to create advanced devices, weaponry or biological agents.

Smallpox in the Garage

I joined the Department of Homeland Security to create its Policy office in 2005, not long after the 9/11 commission ascribed those attacks to a failure of imagination on the part of counterterrorism officials. One of my jobs, as I saw it, was to head off future failures of imagination. We needed to spend some time thinking about how technology might enable other attacks -- as shocking and unexpected at 9/11 had been. We did indeed spend time thinking about other risks. Some of them were so likely and so devastating that they haunt me still. That's what led me to write Skating On Stilts: Why We Aren't Stopping Tomorrow's Terrorism. This chapter from Skating On Stilts offers a glimpse of the threat that worries me most.

In January 1970, a German electrician fell ill after a trip to Pakistan. He was hospitalized with what appeared to be typhoid fever. He had been isolated for several days when the doctors realized that he didn't have typhoid fever.

It was smallpox.

Fear riffled through the hospital, and the community beyond. Smallpox has probably killed more human beings than any other disease. And it kills them with particular cruelty. After starting out like a bad flu, after a few days the disease attacks the victim's skin. Tiny spots appear, spread, and then harden into pus-filled blisters. Gradually, with excruciating pain, the blisters pull the outer layer of skin away from the under-layers. Sometimes the skin pulls loose in sheets. Sometimes the blisters attack not just the skin but the eyes, the throat, and every other orifice, ripping loose skin inside the body as well. Desperate with thirst, the victims can't drink; swallowing is just too painful.

Throughout it all, the victim remains fully conscious. A third or more of the victims die. Those who survive are often permanently scarred, or blind or both.

The electrician lived. But many who came into contact with him were infected. Several died.
What was most frightening was how the virus spread. One victim spent only fifteen minutes in the hospital. All he did was ask directions, briefly opening a door that led to a corridor thirty feet from the patient's room. That was enough. He came down with smallpox.

Three other victims were even farther away -- two floors above the electrician's isolation ward. It was January, but tests revealed that opening the hospital windows just a crack allowed currents of air to drift between rooms on different floors. The virus had floated out the patient's window and along the outside wall; it then slipped into three different rooms two stories above, infecting patients in each room.

Seven years later, in 1977, Ali Maow Maalin also fell ill with smallpox. This time, though, it turned out to be good news.

Maalin was a cook from Merca, Somalia -- where smallpox was making its last stand. Vaccination was slowly tightening a noose around the disease. Because smallpox reproduces only in humans, widespread vaccination left fewer and fewer places for the virus to reproduce and spread.

The first vaccination for smallpox--or indeed for any disease -- came in 1796. That was when Edward Jenner realized that milkmaids who caught cowpox seemed to be protected from smallpox, to which cowpox was related. Jenner's vaccine based on cowpox marked the beginning of man's counterattack on smallpox. By the 1970s, vaccinations had gradually reduced the disease's natural range to the wilds of Somalia and Ethiopia.

The World Health Organization hoped to make Ali Maow Maalin the last victim of smallpox in history. It quickly vaccinated everyone who had been in contact with him, then held its breath. Would other cases flare up?

WHO waited.

A year.

Two years.


At last, after three years with no natural cases of smallpox, the World Health Assembly declared victory. It triumphantly called a special 1980 meeting.

"[T]he world and all its peoples have won freedom from smallpox," the assembly declared. This was "an unprecedented achievement in the history of public health." Together, the nations of the assembly had "freed mankind of this ancient scourge."

Copies of the virus were locked away in Atlanta and Moscow for research purposes, but the disease was gone from nature. Vaccinations stopped. Few Americans born after the 1960s have the dimpled scar on their arm that is the last trace of mankind's worst nightmare.

It had taken a bit less than two centuries for vaccination to free the world from "this ancient scourge."

Today, the likelihood that the world will remain free from this ancient scourge is close to zero.

Smallpox is back, or nearly so.

Within ten years, any competent biologist with a good lab and up-to-date DNA synthesis skills will be able to recreate the smallpox virus from scratch. Millions of people will have it in their power to waft this cruel death into the air, where it can feed on a world that has given up its immunity.

How can I be so sure? Easy. I've seen the same thing happen already, and so have you. The very same revolution that made possible the explosion of information technology--and set the table for network attacks--is now transforming biology, with consequences that are both exalting and frightening.

The same relentlessly exponential improvement in technology that gave us Moore's Law and that democratized the computer is now democratizing the technology of life. It is empowering an army of biologists to tinker with biology in ways that will help us all live longer and more comfortable lives.

And then, unless we do something, it will kill us in great numbers.

"Synthetic biology" blends biology, chemistry, and engineering. The field really began to take off when it moved from laboriously replacing a single gene to building whole stretches of the genome from scratch.

DNA is organized like a spiral staircase, and each step on the stairs is called a base pair. Linking base pairs together into longer sequences allows researchers to make more complex genes--and ultimately more complex organisms. So progress in synthetic DNA is measured by how many base pairs have been successfully strung together. In recent years, progress has been exponential.

In 2002, after a two-year effort, a team of researchers announced that they had assembled the entire polio virus. To do that, the team had to assemble 7,500 base pairs of DNA, precisely in order. The next year, scientists managed to knock years off the process, assembling a bacteriophage with 5,300 base pairs in just two weeks.

Two years later, in 2005, researchers' capabilities had tripled. A team managed to synthesize an influenza virus with 14,000 base pairs. Just a year later, they had surpassed that mark by a factor of ten, synthesizing the Epstein-Barr virus, with 170,000 base pairs.

Smallpox has 180,000.

By 2005, whether smallpox would be synthesized was simply a matter of choice, not of capability.

The following year, the outgoing secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, grew alarmed. He pointed to researchers' successes in building an entire virus from scratch and said, "In the right hands, and with the appropriate safety precautions, these are sound scientific endeavours that increase our knowledge of viruses. But if they fall into the wrong hands, they could be catastrophic."

Too late. By 2009, the state of the art had left 180,000 base pairs in the dust. A team of researchers announced that it had assembled a bacterial genome with 583,000 base pairs. Creating smallpox from scratch was no longer even an interesting challenge.

Nor were these capabilities confined to a few specialty laboratories. Foundries sprang up to sell made-to-measure DNA, at ever-declining prices that put Moore's Law to shame. Synthesizing DNA cost $10 per base pair when George W. Bush ran for president in 2000. By the time of his second inauguration, the price was $2 per base pair. When he left office in 2009, the price was down to about 25 cents. For those who don't want to use a foundry, DNA synthesizers are available for sale on eBay.

Kofi Annan was wrong. This technology isn't going to fall into the wrong hands. Just like jet travel and powerful computers, it's going to fall into everybody's hands. The Mayo Clinic. Hezbollah. Pfizer. Al Qaeda. Apple. Ted Kaczynski, Timothy McVeigh, and the Fort Hood shooter.

They won't need their own labs to build bugs to order. Even today, it's possible to obtain long sequences of synthetic DNA simply by sending a message to the private "foundries" that assemble DNA to order.

Struggling to survive in a new market with thin margins, the foundries' sense of responsibility for what they make is, well, limited. The Guardian newspaper in Great Britain demonstrated this when one of its journalists successfully ordered a lightly modified piece of the smallpox genome over the web. The order was mailed to his home, no questions asked. When a dozen foundries were asked whether they screened DNA orders to see whether they were providing sequences that terrorists could turn into weapons, only five answered "yes."

As many as half the foundries questioned by journalists did not routinely screen their orders to make sure that they were not helping terrorists construct a dangerous virus. The order came in, and they filled it, often with no questions asked.

If current trends continue, anyone who can get his hands on a computer virus today will soon be able to get his hands on a custom built biological virus.

And who can get his hands on a computer virus today? In an age of drop-down-menu malware attacks, the answer is simple.

Anyone who wants to.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on July 12, 2010, 11:04:35
Scanning for threats becomes a bit easier:

Breakthrough Will Enable Remote Detection of hidden explosives, chemical, biological agents and illegal drugs
Science Daily - A major breakthrough in remote wave sensing by a team of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers opens the way for detecting hidden explosives, chemical, biological agents and illegal drugs from a distance of 20 meters.

The new, all-optical system, using terahertz (THz) wave technology, has great potential for homeland security and military uses because it can "see through" clothing and packaging materials and can identify immediately the unique THz "fingerprints" of any hidden materials."We have shown that you can focus a 800 nm laser beam and a 400 nm laser beam together into the air to remotely create a plasma interacting with the THz wave, and use the plasma fluorescence to convey the information of the THz wave back to the local detector," explains Dr. Zhang.

Nature Photonics - Broadband terahertz wave remote sensing using coherent manipulation of fluorescence from asymmetrically ionized gases

Terahertz wave sensing and imaging have received a great deal of attention because of their significant scientific and technological potential in multidisciplinary fields. However, owing to the challenge of dealing with high ambient moisture absorption, the development of remote open-air broadband terahertz spectroscopy is lagging behind the urgent need for the technology that exists in homeland security and the fields of astronomy and environmental monitoring. The requirement for on-site bias or forward collection of the optical signal in conventional terahertz detection techniques has inevitably prohibited their use in remote sensing. We introduce an ‘all-optical’ technique of broadband terahertz wave detection by coherently manipulating the fluorescence emission from asymmetrically ionized gas plasma interacting with terahertz waves. Owing to the high atmospheric transparency and omnidirectional emission pattern of the fluorescence, this technique can be used to measure terahertz pulses at standoff distances with minimal water vapour absorption and unlimited directionality for optical signal collection. We demonstrate coherent terahertz wave detection at a distance of 10 meters.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Bread Guy on July 12, 2010, 11:42:28
Scanning for threats becomes a bit easier:
Links to Canadian research along these lines here:,81068.msg775669.html#msg775669,82651.msg800552.html#msg800552
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Antoine on July 14, 2010, 04:15:06
The ultimate problem: super empowered individuals with the ability to create advanced devices, weaponry or biological agents.

Absolutely. The number of present or future powerfull and well respected scientists who are incredibly naive, lack of general culture and common sense is, in my opinion, high. Nothing is black and white, but there is a tendency, a direction taken by scientist in general toward: I am payed to discover and publish in famous papers to get more grants and fame, otherwise, on short or long term, the consequence of my research is not my problem.

Sad  :(
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on July 14, 2010, 17:59:00
IF this software solution is viable, then next generation radios and radio nets will have much more capability and be far more robust than ever:

New project enables mobile phone use in areas with no reception
July 14, 2010 by Lin Edwards

Paul Gardner-Stephen (left) talks with a colleague in the wilderness using his new system. Credit: Village Telco

( -- Australian scientists have invented software that enables mobile (cell) phones to work in remote areas where there is no conventional coverage and in locations where the infrastructure has been destroyed through disaster, or is not economically viable. The technology enables ordinary mobile phones to make and receive calls without the need for phone towers or satellites.

Leader of the team, Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen of Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia, named the project the Serval Project, after an African wildcat renowned for its problem-solving abilities. The aim is to "provide fast, cheap, robust and effective telecommunications systems" for areas where there is currently no telephone infrastructure, or where it has been destroyed by natural disasters or civil unrest.

The project includes two systems that can operate separately or be combined. One is specifically for disaster areas, and consists of a temporary, self-organizing and self-powered mobile phone network that operates via small phone towers dropped into the area by aircraft.

The second system consists of a permanent mesh-based phone network between Wi-Fi enabled mobile phones, with no tower infrastructure required. Eventually, the system will also include the “Batphone,” which will be a specially designed phone able to operate on other unlicensed frequencies.

The systems use open-source software developed by the team and dubbed Distributed Numbering Architecture (DNA). The software allows mobile phones to make calls out and receive calls on their existing numbers. The mesh network technology was developed by Village Telco and is integrated with the software to create a mesh network in which each phone acts as an independent router.

Dr Gardner-Stephen said the device essentially “incorporates a compact version of a mobile phone tower into the phone itself.” It uses the Wi-Fi interface in modern Wi-Fi-enabled phones, carrying voice over it in such a way that it does not need to go back to a tower anywhere.

The current range between phones is only a few hundred meters, which limits the usefulness of the system in remote areas, but Gardner-Stephen said adding small transmitters and more devices could expand the range considerably. The real benefit of the current system would be in disaster areas where there are plenty of phones but the towers are destroyed or the infrastructure is no longer functioning. In the recent Haiti disaster area for example, the mobile phone network was knocked out for over two days after the earthquake struck, and did not return to normal operation for a week.

Director of the Research Centre for Disaster Resilience and Health at Flinders University, Professor Paul Arbon said the systems could prove invaluable in disasters, providing an instant network allowing people to call out and receive calls from concerned relatives, and helping volunteers to coordinate the response. The system could also provide the community with updates and warnings.

The systems have been successfully tested in remote areas of the Flinders Ranges in South Australia where there is no mobile phone reception, with the three researchers creating a network over one square kilometer. The next stages in the project are to increase the range and improve sound quality. The team is also working on developing a method of dropping the temporary towers into disaster areas.

Dr Gardner-Stephen said the system could be operational within 18 months provided the project receives adequate funding. He said his dream was for every mobile phone to be equipped with the system so that if there is a disaster all the phones in the region will automatically switch to the mesh network mode of operation as a fallback.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on July 24, 2010, 22:04:06
More good stuff for the comms world: high bandwidth wireless with the potential for 80km of coverage (puts AN/PRC 522's to shame)

Millimeter-wave communication Over 84 Kilometer Range Using Panasonic Gallium Nitride Device
Panasonic has developed a high power Gallium Nitride (GaN) transistor for long-distance communication at millimeter-wave frequencies. A 25GHz wireless transceiver was fabricated using the GaN transistor. The device exhibits a maximum output power of 10.7W at 25GHz which theoretically enables communication over 84km.

25 GHz communication would enable multi-gigabit per second data communication (super fast wireless broadband).

The high power GaN transistor, fabricated on a silicon (Si) substrate is suited for mass production and takes advantages of the large diameter achievable with Si

The fabricated transceiver utilizes orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) which is suited for high capacity data communication. The averaged output power of 2W out of the 10W from the GaN transistor can achieve 84km communication in theory.

The high power GaN transistor enables communication over far longer distances than those obtained using conventional GaAs transistors.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Antoine on August 06, 2010, 00:38:58
Highlights in Chemical Biology,  July 2010 (

Logical injury assessment

With the aim of improving the survival rate of injured soldiers, US Scientists have designed a biocomputing system that is capable of diagnosing multiple injuries from a sample of urine or blood.
Explosions on battlefields can result in patients with multiple injuries that need quick diagnosis. Currently, this is done by physical examination and a comprehensive series of laboratory tests in hospital. When an organ is injured, the body releases chemicals that can be used as biomarkers to indicate particular internal injuries. Multiple injuries release a wide range of biomarkers and now a team led by Evgeny Katz from Clarkson University, and Joseph Wang at the University of California San Diego, have developed a diagnostic tool that can be used in the field and is able to differentiate between many chemical inputs to provide a diagnosis.
The system comprises six logic gates made from enzymes that are sensitive to twelve biomarker inputs associated with six different pathological conditions, including soft tissue injury, abdominal trauma and brain injury. The enzyme gates each produce a logic output (1 or 0), which together form a 6-bit 'injury code', that allows full diagnosis of the patient's condition.
Katz says the use of biocomputing, or biomolecular chemical reactions, instead of electronic computers, simplifies the analysis so it can be performed in field conditions. He adds that 'this is the first fundamental result for the use of biocomputing systems for biomedical applications.'
AP de Silva, an expert in molecular sensor technology at Queen's University Belfast in the UK, comments, 'multiplexing several enzyme gates to develop injury codes builds on previous applications of molecular logic in diagnosing electrolyte abnormalities and TB infection.'
The team now intends to develop their work further for other biomedical applications and hope to develop on-body sensors.

By Harriet Brewerton
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: TimBit on August 06, 2010, 11:32:31
Absolutely. The number of present or future powerfull and well respected scientists who are incredibly naive, lack of general culture and common sense is, in my opinion, high. Nothing is black and white, but there is a tendency, a direction taken by scientist in general toward: I am payed to discover and publish in famous papers to get more grants and fame, otherwise, on short or long term, the consequence of my research is not my problem.

Sad  :(

I remember listening with fascination to one of my philosophy professors lecturing on epistemology and the ancient Greeks' take on science vs technology. To them, science was merely the observation of nature and the decyphering of its laws. Technology was a completely different beast. It built on science to create things, to alter environment. The sequential aspect of both phenomena meant that there was time to reflect on the impact of the science before applying it. Today the two have become inextricably linked, and it is rare to see any corporation or university investing in pure research that is not directly linked with expected benefits. Therefore, this pause is now absent and the ethical/philosophical/human consequences of science are more often than not unavoidable.

I read often about all the nuclear scientists in Manhattan project who though their work was fascinating and never really stopped to think about what they were creating. Ken Alibek, #2 of Biopreparat, said the same thing about his work weaponizing tularemia and plague: at first he had some moral doubts, but the work was fascinating. Now read Wired for War (excellent book, I agree) and notice how the roboticists say the same thing: it's friggin cool! Simply put, I think there is not enough distance between scientists and their offspring for them to ponder the human consequences.

Call me a paranoid luddite if you will, but I still think a small, sun-powered cottage in a far remote place is probably an investment I'll make someday soon...just in case.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Antoine on August 11, 2010, 00:06:34
Interesting post TimBit.

I wonder where can be found the finest balance between technology/science and human factor to insure the success of a mission with the lowest casualty cost ?

I still think a small, sun-powered cottage in a far remote place is probably an investment I'll make someday soon...just in case.

Bella Coola in BC, is the place you are looking for (I was there for a week not long time ago).  :)

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Antoine on September 04, 2010, 02:30:07
For hardcore Geeks  8)

Adrian Cho, Quantum Cryptography Hits the Fast Lane, ScienceNow, April 19, 2010

Didn't take time to be cracked:

Zeeya Merali , Quantum crack in cryptographic armour, Nature, Published online 20 May 2010 (

A commercial quantum encryption system has been fully hacked for the first time.

Quantum cryptography isn't as invincible as many researchers thought: a commercial quantum key has been fully hacked for the first time.

In theory, quantum cryptography — the use of quantum systems to encrypt information securely — is perfectly secure. It exploits the fact that it is impossible to make measurements of a quantum system without disturbing it in some way. So, if two people — Alice and Bob, say — produce a shared quantum key to encode their messages, they can be safe in the knowledge that no third party can eavesdrop without introducing errors that will show up when they compare their keys, setting off warning bells.
In practice, however, no quantum cryptographic system is perfect and errors will creep in owing to mundane environmental noise. Quantum physicists have calculated that as long as the mismatch between Alice's and Bob's keys is below a threshold of 20%, then security has not been breached. Now, however, quantum physicist Hoi-Kwong Lo and his colleagues at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, have hacked a commercial system released by ID Quantique (IDQ) in Geneva, Switzerland, while remaining below the 20% threshold.
"Even with a relatively simple attack, the hacker can get the complete key, and nobody would know anything about it," says Lo.
Lo's hack works by intercepting the bits that Alice sends to Bob while creating the key, and resending a slightly modified version to Bob. In standard quantum cryptographic techniques, Alice encodes each bit using the polarization of photons. When she sends these bits out, the polarization should be perfectly oriented in one of four directions, separated by 45 degrees (north, northeast, east or southeast).
In a perfect world, any hacking attempt would disturb a significant fraction of the bits' orientations, introducing errors just above the threshold. However, in practice, Alice cannot switch orientations for successive bits instantaneously — each time she wants to send a bit with a new orientation, she has to change the voltage applied to the photon to shift its orientation. This gives the hacker time to swoop in and hijack the bit before it is sent out to Bob, measure it, and then send it on its way again.
However, if the hacker simply sends the bit to Bob along one of the four orientations that Alice originally defined, the hacker's presence will be discovered because his measurements will introduce random errors into the system that exceed the 20% limit. But Lo's team has now demonstrated that if the hacker sneakily sends the bits along slightly different directions, the errors introduced by his interference will fall just under the 20% threshold at 19.7%1.
Hack attack
"This is not the first time that researchers have claimed to hack quantum cryptographic systems, and it won't be the last," says Grégoire Ribordy, chief executive of IDQ. Lo's group performed a partial hack on the IDQ system in 20082, and other researchers have also demonstrated ways to hack quantum cryptographic systems3.
However, Ribordy argues that Lo's hack does not threaten the security of IDQ's commercial product, which contains extra alarms above those included in the version that was sold to Lo's group a few years ago. For instance, the current commercial release aborts if errors exceed just 8%.
Ribordy also notes that an additional alarm would be triggered when the hacker joins the line, momentarily perturbing the system far beyond the 20% threshold. However, Lo argues that such a heavily alarmed system would be accidentally triggered too often to be practical. "Even a passing heavy truck would trigger a false alarm," he says.
Quantum hacker Vadim Makarov, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, agrees that the hack does not threaten IDQ's current security. As Lo and his team did not alert IDQ of the hack in advance, Makarov adds that Lo's team must be careful not to breach the hackers' unwritten code of ethics, which prescribes that hackers should alert the company to any flaws in its systems before making them public. "This prevents the bad guys out there from exploiting the published loophole before the vendor has a chance to patch it, or at least alert the users," he says.
Lo, however, does not agree that publishing his demonstration before contacting the company was unethical, because his group originally published the theory behind the hack in 20074. "People have known about this idea for a long time, we have just put it into action," he says. "But we haven't done anything destructive to the company — these flaws are very simple to fix."
In the long run, Lo believes that his work will strengthen quantum cryptography. "Each time we find a new loophole, it is fairly easy for companies to close them," he says. "But we've shown that all assumptions about security need to be carefully tested."
Nicolas Gisin, a physicist who is on the board of directors at IDQ, agrees that hackers at research institutes can play an important part in identifying unexpected flaws, which companies can then address before they can be exploited maliciously. "The success of [quantum cryptography] and of IDQ make it inevitable — and actually profitable — to see the emergence of a new community of quantum hackers," he says.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Antoine on September 04, 2010, 02:35:45
Didn't take time to be cracked

and better:

Zeeya Merali , Hackers blind quantum cryptographers, Nature, Published online 29 August 2010 (

Lasers crack commercial encryption systems, leaving no trace.

Quantum hackers have performed the first 'invisible' attack on two commercial quantum cryptographic systems. By using lasers on the systems — which use quantum states of light to encrypt information for transmission — they have fully cracked their encryption keys, yet left no trace of the hack.
Quantum cryptography is often touted as being perfectly secure. It is based on the principle that you cannot make measurements of a quantum system without disturbing it. So, in theory, it is impossible for an eavesdropper to intercept a quantum encryption key without disrupting it in a noticeable way, triggering alarm bells.
Vadim Makarov at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim and his colleagues have now cracked it. "Our hack gave 100% knowledge of the key, with zero disturbance to the system," he says.
In standard quantum cryptographic techniques, the sender — called 'Alice' for convenience — generates a secret key by encoding classical bit values of 0 and 1 using two different quantum states of photons, or particles of light. The receiver, 'Bob', reads off these bit values using a detector that measures the quantum state of incoming photons. In theory, an eavesdropper, 'Eve', will disturb the properties of these photons before they reach Bob, so that if Alice and Bob compare parts of their key, they will notice a mismatch.
In Makarov and colleagues' hack, Eve gets round this constraint by 'blinding' Bob's detector — shining a continuous, 1-milliwatt laser at it. While Bob's detector is thus disabled, Eve can then intercept Alice's signal. The research is published online in Nature Photonics today1.
Breaking the rules
The cunning part is that while blinded, Bob's detector cannot function as a 'quantum detector' that distinguishes between different quantum states of incoming light. However, it does still work as a 'classical detector' — recording a bit value of 1 if it is hit by an additional bright light pulse, regardless of the quantum properties of that pulse.
That means that every time Eve intercepts a bit value of 1 from Alice, she can send a bright pulse to Bob, so that he also receives the correct signal, and is entirely unaware that his detector has been sabotaged. There is no mismatch between Eve and Bob's readings because Eve sends Bob a classical signal, not a quantum one. As quantum cryptographic rules no longer apply, no alarm bells are triggered, says Makarov.
"We have exploited a purely technological loophole that turns a quantum cryptographic system into a classical system, without anyone noticing," says Makarov.
Makarov and his team have demonstrated that the hack works on two commercially available systems: one sold by ID Quantique (IDQ), based in Geneva, Switzerland, and one by MagiQ Technologies, based in Boston, Massachusetts. "Once I had the systems in the lab, it took only about two months to develop a working hack," says Makarov.
This is the latest in a line of quantum hacks. Earlier this year, a group led by Hoi-Kwong Lo at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, also showed that an IDQ commercial system could be fully hacked. However, in that case, the eavesdropper did introduce some noticeable errors in the quantum key2.
Grégoire Ribordy, chief executive of IDQ, says that the hack of Makarov and his group is "far more practical to implement and goes further than anything that has gone before".
Both IDQ and MagiQ welcome the hack for exposing potential vulnerabilities in their systems. Makorov informed both companies of the details of the hack before publishing, so that patches could made, avoiding any possible security risk.
"We provide open systems for researchers to play with and we are glad they are doing it," says Anton Zavriyev, director of research and development at MagiQ.
Ribordy and Zavriyev stress that the open versions of their systems that are sold to university researchers are not the same as those sold for security purposes, which contain extra layers of protection. For instance, the fully commercial versions of IDQ's system also use classical cryptographic techniques as a safety net, says Ribordy.
Makarov agrees that the hack should not make people lose confidence in quantum cryptography. "Our work will ultimately make these systems stronger," he says. "If you want state-of-the-art security, quantum cryptography is still the best place to go."
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 09, 2010, 23:16:21
Portable high res mapping:

Portable Laser Backpack Revolutionizes 3D Mapping

by Maria Callier
Air Force Office of Scientific Research

9/7/2010 - ARLINGTON, Va. -- A portable, laser backpack for 3D mapping has been developed at the University of California, Berkeley, where it is being hailed as a breakthrough technology capable of producing fast, automatic and realistic 3D mapping of difficult interior environments.

Research leading to the development of the reconnoitering backpack, was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Army Research Office under the guidance of program managers, Dr. Jon Sjogren (AFOSR) and Dr. John Lavery (ARO).

The backpack is the first of a series of similar systems to work without being strapped to a robot or attached to a cart. At the same time, its data acquisition speed is very fast, as it collects the data while the human operator is walking; this is in contrast with existing systems in which the data is painstakingly collected in a stop and go fashion, resulting in days and weeks of data acquisition time.

Using this technology, Air Force personnel will be able to collectively view the interior of modeled buildings and interact over a network in order to achieve military goals like mission planning.

Under the direction of Dr. Avideh Zakhor, lead researcher and UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering, the scientists have been able to use this more portable method of mapping by way of sensors or lightweight (less than eight ounces) laser scanners.

"We have also developed novel sensor fusion algorithms that use cameras, lasers range finders and inertial measurement units to generate a textured, photo-realistic, 3D model that can operate without GPS input and that is a big challenge," said Zakhor.

There are many basic research issues to achieve a working system, including calibration, sensor registration and localization. Using multiple sensors facilitates the modeling process, though the data from various sensors do need to be registered and precisely fused with each other in order to result in coherent, aligned, and textured 3D models. Localization is another technical challenge since without it; it is not possible to line up scans from laser scanners in order to build the 3D point cloud, which is the first step in the modeling process.

"It is fair to say that embarking on such a hands-on project, to make indoor 3D modeling a matter of routine, a number of research questions of a fundamental nature came up," said Sjogren. "It is typical of the work that Prof. Zakhor has done for AFOSR/Air Force Research Laboratory over the years, that she meets these challenges head-on, and in most cases solves the problem sufficient to demonstrate a prototype system."

Sjogren noted that what is left for others is to examine the approach that was taken, and extend the techniques that were brought in, to a wider context.

"We are gratified to see how technology can drive science in a domain of critical relevance to practical defense implementations," he said.

Even though they don't have all the answers yet, the scientists are boldly looking ahead to how this technology can be used in the future when they plan to model entire buildings and develop interactive viewers that allow users to virtually walk through buildings before they are there in person.

In the meantime, the cutting-edge technology is being successfully implemented on campus.

"We have already generated 3D models of two stories of the electrical engineering building at UC Berkeley, including the stairway and that is a first," said Zakhor.

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), located in Arlington, Virginia, continues to expand the horizon of scientific knowledge through its leadership and management of the Air Force's basic research program. As a vital component of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), AFOSR's mission is to discover, shape and champion basic science that profoundly impacts the future Air Force.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 19, 2010, 01:05:06
Uh oh:

Deleting gene RGS14 removes a limit to learning and memory

Deleting a gene removes a limit to learning and memory in mice. RGS14 appears to hold mice back mentally, John Hepler, PhD, professor of pharmacology at Emory University School of Medicine, says he and his colleagues have been jokingly calling it the "Homer Simpson gene." RGS14 is also found in humans.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 24, 2010, 11:17:31
Exoskeletons have been developed for military use (think Starship Troopers or the Forever War as fictional developments of the trope), and I have personally seen one at the AUSA exhibition in Washington DC in 2006 powered by a couple of Li-ion batteries from a laptop. The demonstrator challenged us to load his backpack with 175lbs of barbell plates, then proceeded to run down the hall....

Now a more sophisticated development (with more peaceful applications)

Personal Exoskeletons for Paraplegics
A mobile device helps patients with spinal cord injuries walk.
By Kristina Grifantini

Exoskeletons--wearable, motorized machines that can assist a person's movements--have largely been confined to movies or military use, but recent advances might soon bring the devices to the homes of people with paralysis.

So far, exoskeletons have been used to augment the strength of soldiers or to help hospitalized stroke patients relearn how to walk. Now researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have demonstrated an exoskeleton that is portable and lets paraplegics walk in a relatively natural gait with minimal training. That could be an improvement for people with spinal-cord injuries who spend a lot of time in wheelchairs, which can cause sores or bone deterioration.

Existing medical exoskeletons for patients who have lost function in their lower extremities have either not been equipped with power sources or have been designed for tethered use in rehabilitation facilities, to correct and condition a patient's gait.

In contrast, the Berkeley exoskeleton combines "the freedom of not being tethered with a natural gait," says Katherine Strausser, PhD candidate and one of the lead researchers of the Berkeley project. Last week at the 2010 ASME Dynamic System and Control Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Strausser presented experimental results from four paraplegics who used the exoskeleton.

Other mobile exoskeletons--like those developed by companies such as Rex Bionics or Cyberdene--don't try to emulate a natural gait, Strausser says. Because walking is a dynamic motion that is essentially falling forward, Strausser says, many designs opt for a shuffle instead of a natural gait, because "it's safer and a lot easier." However, emulating a natural gait mimics the efficiency of natural walking and doesn't strain the hips, Strausser says.

The Berkeley device, which houses a computer and battery pack, straps onto a user's back like a backpack and can run six to eight hours on one charge. Pumps drive hydraulic fluid to move the hip and knees at the same time, so that the hip swings through a step as one knee bends. The device plans walking trajectories based on data (about limb angles, knee flexing, and toe clearance) gathered from people's natural gaits. Pressure sensors in each heel and foot make sure both feet aren't leaving the ground at the same time.

The Berkeley program was successful. The four paraplegics described in Strausser's talk, three of whom had been in wheelchairs for years, were able to walk with the device after only two hours of training. "It's very easy to walk in," says Strausser. "It moves your leg exactly like you would in your normal gait." To begin a step, the exoskeleton requires a user to press a button on a remote control; the team is working on a more intuitive interface.

When designing the medical exoskeleton--which uses parts from two military exoskeletons--the team needed controllers and a design that takes into account the user's lack of strength. While military exoskeletons work with a soldier's motion to add strength, medical exoskeletons do the opposite, fighting against incorrect gaits or performing the gait, explains Strausser. "The biggest problem is holding a person into the 'exo' safely and securely," she says. After field testing at the University of Virginia's Clinical Motion Analysis and Motor Performance Laboratory last year, the group developed a proprietary design that keeps users from sliding out of the exoskeleton and distributes the weight of the 80-pound machine. The group plans to make the device lighter and to make a low-cost version that patients can use in their homes. (The research group is affiliated with a company, Berkeley Bionics, that plans to begin selling a form of the technology.)

"Overall I think it's a very good device," says Panagiotis Artemiadis, an MIT researcher who heard Strausser's talk. He is developing an exoskeleton called the MIT-SkyWalker that helps stroke patients practice walking on a machine that resembles a treadmill. He says he can picture the Berkeley device being used by patients in their homes, particularly if the researchers reduce the weight.

Other mobile exoskeletons to help paralyzed people are just starting to come to market. German company Argo Medical Technologies is releasing its first product, a 100,000-euro exoskeleton intended for use in rehab centers, in October. The company plans to release a home version soon after for about half the price. Unlike the Berkeley exoskeleton, this one, dubbed ReWalk, takes the user a few weeks to learn. "It's like getting a driver's license," says John Frijters, vice president of business development for Argo. ReWalk is customizable, able to tailor the sensitivity of the sensors, step length, and stride depending on how the user feels. It weighs about 45 pounds and runs eight to 10 hours on a charge, according to Frijters.

While ReWalk doesn't yet have data to share on the advantages of using exoskeletons, "dozens" of patients have tested ReWalk, and "they all enjoy the benefit of being active," says Frijters. "They have the opportunity to get up from the wheelchair and walk again. It's very emotional."
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 26, 2010, 00:37:43
More about exoskeletons. Starship Troopers may be many years away (yet), but some form of exoskeleton may well be in the future of younger members:

Classification of Exoskeletons and Orthoses
Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation (JNER) - Exoskeletons and orthoses: classification, design challenges and future directions by Hugh Herr

Hugh Herr was involved in making a motorless exoskeleton that was quasi-passive yet able to bear 80 pounds of weight

    For over a century, technologists and scientists have actively sought the development of exoskeletons and orthoses designed to augment human economy, strength, and endurance. While there are still many challenges associated with exoskeletal and orthotic design that have yet to be perfected, the advances in the field have been truly impressive. In this commentary, I first classify exoskeletons and orthoses into devices that act in series and in parallel to a human limb, providing a few examples within each category. This classification is then followed by a discussion of major design challenges and future research directions critical to the field of exoskeletons and orthoses.

    I classify exoskeletons and orthoses into four categories and provide design examples within each of these. I discuss devices that act in series with a human limb to increase limb length and displacement, and devices that act in parallel with a human limb to increase human locomotory economy, augment joint strength, and increase endurance or strength.

    Exoskeletons and orthoses are defined as mechanical devices that are essentially anthropomorphic in nature, are 'worn' by an operator and fit closely to the body, and work in concert with the operator's movements. In general, the term 'exoskeleton' is used to describe a device that augments the performance of an able-bodied wearer, whereas the term 'orthosis' is typically used to describe a device that is used to assist a person with a limb pathology.

1. Series-limb exoskeletons - like Springwalker and Powerskip

with an in-series leg exoskeleton device, the ground reaction forces are still borne by the human leg. In contrast, with a parallel mechanism, body weight could be transferred through the exoskeleton directly to the ground, decreasing the loads borne by the biological limbs and lowering the metabolic demands to walk, run, and hop. Furthermore, such a parallel exoskeleton would not increase limb length, thereby not increasing the overall energetic demand to stabilize movement.

2. Parallel-limb exoskeletons for load transfer

Examples are Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton (BLEEX) and HULC.

BLEEX can reportedly support a load of up to 75 kg while walking at 0.9 m/s, and can walk at speeds of up to 1.3 m/s without the load. A second generation of the Berkeley exoskeleton is currently in testing. The new device is approximately half the weight of the original exoskeleton (~14 kg), in part due to the implementation of electric actuation with a hydraulic transmission system.

3. Parallel-limb exoskeletons for torque and work augmentation

Here we discuss exoskeletons that act in parallel with the human joint(s) for torque and work augmentation. Many parallel-limb exoskeletons have been developed to augment joint torque and work. In distinction to the load-carrying exoskeletons mentioned in the last section, this type of exoskeletal and orthotic device does not transfer substantial load to the ground, but simply augments joint torque and work. This type of leg exoskeleton could improve walking and running metabolic economy, or might be used to reduce joint pain or increase joint strength in paralyzed or weak joints.

The Japanese HAL 5 suit is a prime example.

4. Parallel-limb exoskeletons that increase human endurance

A crutch was constructed with an orthotic elbow spring to maximize the endurance of physically challenged persons in climbing stairs and slopes. When the crutch user flexes both elbows to place the crutch tips onto the next stair tread, orthotic elbow springs compress and store energy. This stored energy then assists the crutch user during elbow extension, helping to lift the body up the next step, and delaying the onset of bicep and tricep muscle fatigue. In future developments, robotic exoskeletons and powered orthoses could be put forth that actively vary impedance to optimally redistribute the body's work load over a greater muscle volume, maximizing the efficiency with which the body is able to perform mechanical work and significantly augmenting human endurance.

Future Directions and Challenges

    There are many factors that continue to limit the performance of exoskeletons and orthoses. Today's powered devices are often heavy with limited torque and power, making the wearer's movements difficult to augment. Current devices are often both unnatural in shape and noisy, factors that negatively influence device cosmesis. Given current limitations in actuator technology, continued research and development in artificial muscle actuators is of critical importance to the field of wearable devices. Electroactive polymers have shown considerable promise as artificial muscles, but technical challenges still remain for their implementation

    Another factor limiting today's exoskeletons and orthoses is the lack of direct information exchange between the human wearer's nervous system and the wearable device. Continued advancements in neural technology will be of critical importance to the field of wearable robotics. Peripheral sensors placed inside muscle to measure the electromyographic signal, or centrally-placed sensors into the motor cortex, may be used to assess motor intent by future exoskeletal control systems. Neural implants may have the potential to be used for sensory feedback to the nerves or brain, thus allowing the exoskeletal wearer to have some form of kinetic and kinematic sensory information from the wearable device.

    Today's interface designs often cause discomfort to the wearer, limiting the length of time that a device can be worn. A proposed solution is 3D body scans and custom fitting. An exoskeleton, customized to fit the wearer's outer anatomical features and physiological demands, would then be designed as a 'second skin'. Such a skin would be made compliant in body regions having bony protuberances, and more rigid in areas of high tissue compliance. The exoskeletal skin would be so intimate with the human body that external shear forces applied to the exoskeleton would not produce relative movement between the exoskeletal inner surface and the wearer's own skin, eliminating skin sores resulting from device rubbing. Compliant artificial muscles, sensors, electronics and power supply would be embedded within the three dimensional construct, offering full protection of these components from environmental disturbances such as dust and moisture. Once designed, device construction would unite additive and subtractive fabrication processes to deposit materials with varied properties (stiffness and density variations) across the entire exoskeletal volume using large scale 3-D printers and robotic arms.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 29, 2010, 11:05:21
Swarms of micro UAV's to establish comms networks. Extending this concept would include swarms of UAV's with cameras/night vision and thermal imaging optics, and ones that carry weapons:

Swarms of UAVs

The SMAVNET project aims at developing swarms of flying robots that can be deployed in disaster areas to rapidly create communication networks for rescuers. Flying robots are interesting for such applications because they are fast, can easily overcome difficult terrain, and benefit from line-of-sight communication.

    From a software perspective, controllers allow flying robots to work together. For swarming, robots react to wireless communication with neighboring robots or rescuers (communication-based behaviors). Using communication as a sensor is interesting because most flying robots are generally equipped with off-the-shelf radio modules that are low-cost, light-weight and relatively long-range. Furthermore, this strategy alleviates the need for position which is required for all existing aerial swarm algorithms and typically requires using sensors that depend on the environment (GPS, cameras) or are expensive and heavy (lasers, radars).

    Flying Robots were specifically designed for safe, inexpensive and fast prototyping of aerial swarm experiments.

    They are light weight (420 g, 80 cm wingspan) and built out of Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) with an electric motor mounted at the back and two control surfaces serving as elevons (combined ailerons and elevator). The robots runs on a LiPo battery and have an autonomy of 30 min. They are equipped with an autopilot for the control of altitude, airspeed and turn rate. Embedded in the autopilot is a micro-controller that runs a minimalist control strategy based on input from only 3 sensors: one gyroscope and two pressure sensors.

    Swarm controllers are implemented on a Toradex Colibri PXA270 CPU board running Linux, connected to an off-the-shelf USB WiFi dongle. The output of these controllers, namely a desired turn rate, speed or altitude, is sent as control command to the autopilot.

    In order to log flight trajectories, the robot is further equipped with a u-blox LEA-5H GPS module and a ZigBee (XBee PRO) transmitter.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 01, 2010, 23:42:25
Making spare parts on demand rather than stockpiling them in a warehouse somewhere:

US Military Has Project to Develop Additive Manufacturing to Make Parts for Military Equipment for in-theater repairs

Instead of a part breakdown causing a nearly two day outage, the equipment could be working again in about 14 hours

When the military needs a critical piece of equipment for a repair in-theater that isn't readily available, the missing parts could jeopardize an important mission. To get the missing pieces, one traditional solution involves using strategically placed warehouses stocked with replacement gear. Another method is to pay a contractor to make a batch of parts on demand. There is a MITRE research project called MakeOne that would use 3D printing as its core, and which could cut days off getting critical parts to the field. Depending on its use, a part could be made to specifications that are "good enough" for temporary use, or made to more rigid specs for a permanent replacement.

The US military for more timely spare parts and the previously mentioned Airbus effort to develop the ability to print an airplane show that there are deep pocketed efforts to scale up additive manufacturing.

The other effort for large scale printing is the Caterpillar funding of concrete inkjet systems for constructing buildings. There are also European competitors in the print a building space.

    A better idea is using a process called additive manufacturing—sometimes called 3D printing—to quickly make replacement parts. Additive manufacturing produces parts by building up layers of a part's cross sections rather than removing material, as with conventional machining operation such as milling, boring, and drilling. A single additive manufacturing machine can produce an extremely wide range of parts—it just needs the computer-aided design (CAD) data to make any given part. Depending on the specific process and materials, the parts can be simple plastic objects, or intricate metal parts for cars and aircraft.

The Vision

* a soldier or logistics officer at a strategic parts depot clicking a computer key to select a replacement part from a catalog displayed on a terminal. The soldier pulls a secure computer file for making the part from Materiel Command Headquarters in the United States and downloads it to a 3D printer close by. A plastic part is printed by a plastics-based printer, or a high-grade metal part is printed by a system using electron beam melting.

A part breaks in the field (1). A request for the part goes to the local parts depot (2). If none are on hand, the request goes to the Materiel Command (3). The secure parts database shows the part by model number or keyword and verifies that it's correct (4). The file downloads to a 3D printer—either a plastic-based printer (5a) or a metal-based printer (5b), depending on the strength and application required for the part.

Cargo carrying UAV drones could be used to deliver finished parts.

The team members have completed a catalog of machines and materials for additive manufacturing. They also created a semantic data model that includes materials, physical properties, test methods, modeling software, and how these things relate to one another. In addition, the team assembled three small machines from kits that are used for experimental work. MakeOne research will continue on a number of fronts, including standards development with ASTM, machine and material locations, logistics, and parts databases. The team's next major thrust is to see what can be done with open source hardware. For fiscal year 2011, the Operation & Maintenance portion of the DoD's total budget request comprises $283.1 billion.

Types of Additive Manufacturing

One form of additive manufacturing uses a machine similar to an ink jet printer. The printer deposits a layer of resin on a support table according to a computer-directed design. An ultraviolet light cures the resin into a thin solid layer about as thick as copy paper. Successive layers are added by lowering the support table and printing a new cross-section layer until the part is complete in three dimensions. Other types of additive manufacturing include:

* sintering—heating powdered metal below its melting point until it forms a solid mass
* melting— fusing particles together with heat
* spray deposition—building solid objects with layers of finely sprayed molten metal
* stereolithography—three-dimensional printing process that makes a solid object from a computer image by using a computer-controlled laser to draw the shape of the object onto the surface of liquid plastic
* lamination—bonding solid layers together as with plywood
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Antoine on October 07, 2010, 17:04:13
Super yarn in works for space suits, bulletproof vests: Material is made from extremely thin carbon tubes

By Charles Q. Choi, TechNewsDaily (

Super-strong, highly conductive yarns made from extraordinarily thin carbon tubes could one day find use in spacesuits, bulletproof vests and radiation suits, researchers now suggest.
Carbon nanotubes are hollow pipes just nanometers or billionths of a meter in diameter — dozens to hundreds of times thinner than a wavelength of visible light. They can possess a range of extraordinary physical and electrical properties, such as being roughly 100 times stronger than steel at one-sixth the weight.
Scientists have feverishly explored ways to make textiles from carbon nanotubes for years. However, yarns made from these nanotubes lacked the attractive properties seen in lone fibers. The problem is rooted in how the nanotubes are typically about 200 to 400 millimeters long.
When these get woven together into a yarn, the connections between the nanotubes act as gaps that weaken the yarn's overall conductivity, and these connections are not as strong as the tubes themselves, explained researcher Kai Liu at the Tsinghua-Foxconn Nanotechnology Research Center in Beijing.
Simultaneously enhancing both the strength and conductivity of yarns made from these nanotubes has proven difficult. Additives that increased the strength of these yarns often inadvertently left behind poorly conductive residues that reduced the overall conductivity of the yarn. On the other hand, treatments with super-acids that boosted the conductivity of these yarns by adding oxygen-containing molecules also weakened the yarns by introducing physical defects.
Now scientists in China reveal they have made composite yarns from carbon nanotubes and plastic that are both very strong and electrically conductive.
The researchers first wove pure carbon nanotube yarns as free of physical defects as possible, to ensure it had good electrical conductivity. They next impregnated a strengthening plastic into the empty spaces inside this yarn, using a solvent that did not leave any leftovers behind that would detract from the yarn's electrical properties.
The strength of these new yarns — up to about five times stronger than steel — combined with their flexibility makes them attractive for protective fabrics such as bulletproof vests. At the same time, the fact they are so electrically conductive means they could be easily heated, making them valuable for use in super-cold environments such as outer space. In addition, since carbon nanotubes can absorb a wide range of electromagnetic waves, "this kind of woven fabric is also expected to be used in radiation protection suits," Liu told TechNewsDaily.
Future yarns could have more potential applications, "especially in biology and medicine," Liu added.
The scientists detailed their findings online September 10 in the journal ACS Nano.
    * Scientists Discover New Way to Generate Electricity
    * Iron Man Technology Has Real-Life Analogs
    * New Acoustic Fibers Can 'Sing' and Hear Sounds

© 2010 TechNewsDaily
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Cop on October 15, 2010, 14:00:25
Wow that stuff could prove to be really usefull, but can Canada manufacture it aswell or just Japan?
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: OneMissionataTime on October 15, 2010, 14:03:55
Probably Japan, Unless we bought the rights to manufacture it. Japan would definitely keep that stuff on the lock down, if it proves to be useful.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Cop on October 15, 2010, 14:18:51
Makes sense, but dang how do the Japanese keep making all these new technologies. I sense life cheat codes, just sayin' ;D
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 17, 2010, 20:18:56
Flexible displays:

Army evals Dick Tracy watches

The U.S. Army is evaluating full-color flexible displays that can be worn on the wrist

The U.S. Army is testing a prototype "watch" that's lightweight and thin and has a full-color display. This display is built on flexible materials encased in a rugged plastic case and can be worn on a wristband to display streaming video and other information. It uses newly developed phosphorescent materials that are efficient at converting electricity into red, blue, and green light, which means the display needs less power to work

For consumers, flexible OLEDs promise portable electronics with beautiful screens that don't drain battery life and won't shatter when dropped. But so far, no companies have developed economically viable manufacturing methods for producing flexible OLEDs with long enough lifetimes and consistent quality. The U.S. military has been funding development with the aim of providing soldiers with rugged, thin communications devices that can display maps and video without adding too much weight to their load.

The new display prototypes use efficient OLED materials developed by Universal Display of Ewing, New Jersey, and are built on foil-backed electronic controls developed by LG Display, headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. The devices were designed by L-3 Display Systems of Alpharetta, Georgia. The display is 4.3 inches. As part of military demonstration tests, the device has been used to stream real-time video from unmanned air vehicles.

The first generation of OLED materials, used today in glass-backed cell-phone displays and some small TVs, can convert only 25 percent of electrical current into light; the rest is lost as heat. Universal Display is designing and developing materials that work by a different mechanism and that have a theoretical efficiency of 100 percent. The prototypes for the Army use a full set of phosphorescent materials; the companies have not released specifications about power consumption, but Mahon says displays made with these materials use one-fourth the power of a conventional OLED.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 20, 2010, 18:04:30
More tricks to use the radio spectrum. Agile radios will also be harder to jam:

A Cell-Phone Network without a License
A trial system offers calling, texting, and data by weaving signals around the chatter of baby monitors and cordless phones.
By Tom Simonite

A trial cell-phone network in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, gets by without something every other wireless carrier needs: its own chunk of the airwaves. Instead, xG Technology, which made the network, uses base stations and handsets of its own design that steer signals through the unrestricted 900-megahertz band used by cordless phones and other short-range devices.

It's a technique called "cognitive" radio, and it has the potential to make efficient use of an increasingly limited resource: the wireless spectrum. By demonstrating the first cellular network that uses the technique, xG hopes to show that it could help wireless carriers facing growing demand but a relatively fixed supply of spectrum.

Its cognitive radios are built into both the base stations of the trial network, dubbed xMax, and handsets made for it. Every radio scans for clear spectrum 33 times a second. If another signal is detected, the handset and base station retune to avoid the other signal, keeping the connection alive. Each of the six base stations in xG's network can serve devices in a 2.5-mile radius, comparable to an average cell-phone tower.

"In Fort Lauderdale, our network covers an urban area with around 110,000 people, and so we're seeing wireless security cameras, baby monitors, and cordless phones all using that band," says Rick Rotondo, a vice president with xG, which is headquartered in Sarasota, Florida. "Because our radios are so agile, though, we can deliver the experience of a licensed cellular network in that unlicensed band."

While most radios can only use frequencies that are completely clear, xG's radios can unlock more free space by analyzing channels whose use varies over time, Rotondo says. Signals can then be inserted in between bursts of activity from a device using that channel.

"Where a more conventional radio would see a wall of signals, we are able to put our packets in between them and move around between those gaps," he explains. "Using that method, we find that even in an urban area, the 900-megahertz band is really only around 15 percent occupied at any time."

The company recently won a contract to install an xMax network to cover a large chunk of the U.S. Army's Fort Bliss training base in New Mexico. "They're interested in the possibility of one day being able to create cellular networks for use on their bases for everything we use cell networks for: voice, texting, e-mail, and data access," Rotondo says, "or rapidly deploying a version on the battlefield."

Craig Mathias, an analyst with the Farpoint Group, which specializes in the wireless industry, has inspected the Fort Lauderdale network. "It really is just like using a regular cellular system, even though the technology is so different," he says.

The potential for cognitive radio to make better use of spectrum has motivated many companies and academic labs to work on the technology in recent years, says Mathias. "The real advance of xG's system is that it can be deployed in exactly the same way as a conventional cell-phone network," he says. But exactly how xG will bring the technology to market is unclear. "One option may be for a carrier to use this in an area or market where they don't have spectrum, or to serve rural areas without coverage."

Rotondo says that xG wants to offer its approach as a complement to existing networks. "We are interested in having devices able to dynamically access different areas of spectrum--both licensed and unlicensed," he says. Wireless carriers like AT&T are turning to Wi-Fi hot spots to offload some of the load on their licensed spectrum, he points out. Being able to have devices switch to the 900-megahertz band at times of high load could be an attractive option, because it can perform much more like a cell network. The radios developed by xG could be built into commercial phone handsets, says Rotondo.

Alternatively, the system could augment emerging networks that operate in the unlicensed "white spaces" recently freed up by the end of analog TV broadcasts, Rotondo says. A recent study by University of California-Berkeley academics revealed how the density of TV stations in metropolitan areas could reduce the availability of white spaces in such areas.

Copyright Technology Review 2010.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 20, 2010, 21:38:33
And yet more ways to get access to satellites and other platforms:

Virtual Satellite Dish using energy efficient special DSP chips and no satellite dish
Satellite TV without having to set up a receiver dish. Digital radio on your mobile phone without your batteries quickly running flat. The advanced calculations needed for these future applications are made possible by a microchip with relatively simple processors that can interact and communicate flexibly. These are among the findings of research at the Centre for Telematics and Information Technology of the University of Twente carried out by Marcel van de Burgwal, who obtained his PhD on 15 October.

Soon it will be possible to receive satellite signals without a satellite dish, but also using stationary antennae arrays made up of grids of simple, fixed, almost flat antennae that can fit on the roof of a car, for example. The antennae then no longer need to be carefully aimed: the grid of antennae forms a 'virtual dish'. That is a great advantage, especially for mobile applications such as satellite TV on the move. The aiming of the virtual dish is actually carried out by the entire grid. It is comparable with the LOFAR project, in which countless simple antennae laid out on the heathland of Drenthe in the north east Netherlands together form a huge dish for radiotelescopy. This too calls for large numbers of calculations and fast communications.

Conventional microprocessors are less suitable for these calculations, because they are highly overdimensioned and use large amounts of energy. The remedy is a combination of smaller, simple processors on a single microchip that can carry out tasks flexibly and be switched off when they are not needed. In this way a complete computer network can be constructed that takes up just a few square millimetres. To achieve this, Van de Burgwal makes use of an efficient infrastructure based on a miniature network, where a TV or radio receiver is defined by software instead of the classic coils and crystals. "Software-defined radio may seem much more complex, but we can pack so much computing power into the space taken up by, for example, a coil that it more than repays the effort", says Van de Burgwal.

The same type of microchip also turns out to be suitable for a completely different application: digital radio reception on a smartphone, where the main criterion is minimizing energy use. In his doctoral thesis Van de Burgwal shows that major gains can also be made here by using new methods of communication between the different processors. The multi-processor chip that he uses is based on the Montium processor - appropriately named after a chameleon - that was developed at the University of Twente. The processor is being further developed and marketed by the spinoff business Recore Systems.

The Moon is a family of versatile, low power digital radio/TV receiver chips based on our state-of-the-art reconfigurable Montium® DSP core. Moon natively demodulates any combination of DAB, DAB+, DMB and FM and decodes and plays digital audio/video content. Based on the Moon, module manufacturers can quickly build a complete, cost-effective radio/TV module with a low bill of materials (BOM) in a range of designs from a standard radio to a high-end TV.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 30, 2010, 23:40:39
Help is on the way for replacement organs:

Miniature livers 'grown in lab' using stem cells

Scientists have managed to produce a small-scale version of a human liver in the laboratory using stem cells. They are the first to use human liver cells to successfully engineer miniature livers that function – at least in a laboratory setting – like human livers. The next step is to see if the livers will continue to function after transplantation in an animal model.

The engineered livers, which are about an inch in diameter and weigh about .20 ounces, would have to weigh about one pound to meet the minimum needs of the human body, said the scientists. Even at this larger size, the organs wouldn’t be as large as human livers, but would likely provide enough function. Research has shown that human livers functioning at 30 percent of capacity are able to sustain the human body

    To engineer the organs, the scientists used animal livers that were treated with a mild detergent to remove all cells (a process called decellularization), leaving only the collagen “skeleton” or support structure. They then replaced the original cells with two types of human cells: immature liver cells known as progenitors, and endothelial cells that line blood vessels.

    The cells were introduced into the liver skeleton through a large vessel that feeds a system of smaller vessels in the liver. This network of vessels remains intact after the decellularization process. The liver was next placed in a bioreactor, special equipment that provides a constant flow of nutrients and oxygen throughout the organ.

    After a week in the bioreactor system, the scientists documented the progressive formation of human liver tissue, as well as liver-associated function. They observed widespread cell growth inside the bioengineered organ.

    The ability to engineer a liver with animal cells had been demonstrated previously. However, the possibility of generating a functional human liver was still in question.

    The researchers said the current study suggests a new approach to whole-organ bioengineering that might prove to be critical not only for treating liver disease, but for growing organs such as the kidney and pancreas. Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine are working on these projects, as well as many other tissues and organs, and also working to develop cell therapies to restore organ function.

    Bioengineered livers could also be useful for evaluating the safety of new drugs. “This would more closely mimic drug metabolism in the human liver, something that can be difficult to reproduce in animal models," said Baptista.

    Co-researchers were Dipen Vyas, B.Pharm., M.S., Zhan Wang, M.D., Ph.D. and Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the institute.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on November 19, 2010, 03:10:05
More bandwidth. Military communications satellites will probably be built along these lines to provide data trunks:

US satellite carrying the biggest commercial antenna reflector will support 4G for smartphones

BBC News reports the launch of a new 4G communication satellite. The mesh structure on the Skyterra-1 spacecraft is 22m (72ft) across. It will relay signals for a new 4G-LTE mobile phone and data system for North America run by Lightsquared. Callers whose networks are tied into the system will be automatically switched to a satellite if they are out of range of a terrestrial mast.

Two previous ventures ran into financial problems. Both Terrestar and DBSD North America had to seek legal protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy rules while they sought to restructure enormous debts built up as they rolled out their systems. LightSquared has promised a different approach. It says its business will be wholesale only. It will be selling capacity to carriers who wish to offer go-anywhere connectivity to their consumers, be they phone or data users

Boeing has more information.

    When operational, SkyTerra 1 will combine with ground-based beam-forming (GBBF) equipment and ground stations to form LightSquared’s first Space-Based Network (SBN), which will enable faster service and broader access to smaller mobile devices for millions of users in the United States. The Boeing-built SBN will benefit from the satellite's 22-meter L-band reflector, which reduces the need for larger antennas and battery-draining receivers inside mobile handsets.

    LightSquared's SBN will combine with a ground network of more than 40,000 base stations built to offer ground coverage, satellite coverage or a combination of the two. LightSquared plans to begin rolling out its nationwide wholesale 4G LTE wireless network in the first four markets in the second half of 2011.

    LightSquared's ground network of terrestrial stations in place is to serve 90% of the US population by the end of 2015.

    The 22m-antenna on Skyterra-1 should be deployed by the end of the month. A second satellite, Skyterra-2, will follow in 2011.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on November 21, 2010, 18:04:48
Molecular computing devices (catchy name) would be orders of magnitude smaller and less power hungry than current devices. Radios, sights, tablet computers, fire control systems and so on will pretty much vanish from sight, being "painted" on the back of a mirror or a solid substrate, and only needing power from a very small battery:

Technical details of the molecular chip project funded by Singapore and the EU

A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) partners 10 EU research organisations to work on the groundbreaking €10 million ATMOL project that lays the foundation for creating and testing a molecular-sized processor chip. They are pursuing Planar multiple interconnect Atom Technology.

    A*STAR’s IMRE and 10 EU research organisations are working together to build what is essentially a single molecule processor chip. As a comparison, a thousand of such molecular chips could fit into one of today’s microchips, the core device that determines computational speed. The ambitious project, termed Atomic Scale and Single Molecule Logic Gate Technologies (ATMOL), will establish a new process for making a complete molecular chip. This means that computing power can be increased significantly but take up only a small fraction of the space that is required by today’s standards.

    The fabrication process involves the use of three unique ultra high vacuum (UHV) atomic scale interconnection machines which build the chip atom-by-atom. These machines physically move atoms into place one at a time at cryogenic temperatures. One of these machines is located in A*STAR’s IMRE.

It seems like this is building off of the work of the Picoinside project Christian Joachim has had an EU project since 2005, to create an Atomic Scale Technology. It is now a necessity for any uni-molecular device and machine in molecular electronics, molecular mechanics, molecular transducers and for laboratory scale experiments on one molecule.

12 page conclusion of the Pico Inside roadmap report

    There are 3 ways of designing a logic gate at the atomic scale:

    (1) The use of surface missing atom to fabricate an atomic scale circuit mimicking the topology of a macroscopic electronic circuit. Those surfaces are generally
    passivated semi-conductor surface with a relatively large gap. Atoms are extracted one at a time to create a specific surface electronic structure in the electronic surface gap. This new electronic structure will form the surface atomic circuit. The STM vertical manipulation of the single surface atoms can be automated and
    proceed in parallel.

    (2) The full molecule, instead of the surface can be the electronic circuit. In this case,it is the π system of such an extended molecule which will define the circuit and the σ skeleton will ensure the full chemical stability of the molecular architecture. Such a molecule will have to be directly chemisorbed to the required number of nanometallic pads or in a very dedicated approach to surface atomic wires more able to interact with specific part of the π molecular orbitals.

    (3) Molecular orbitals (from a large molecule or defined from a specific surface atomic circuit) can be manipulated by chemically bonding on the π conjugated computing board specific chemical groups able to shift the corresponding molecular states. Switchable lateral group can be very active playing donor or acceptor group to modify very locally the nodes distribution of a give molecular orbital. Such an effect can be used to design single molecule logic gate without forcing the molecule to have the topology of an electrical circuit.

    Solutions (1) and (2) have been proposed long ago but are not very compatible with the quantum level where those atom circuits or molecule logic gate are supposed to work. For solution (3), a quantum Hamiltonian design of AND, NOR and even halfas
    adder logic gates have been designed followed by proposal of chemical structure functioning on the manipulation of molecular orbitals

    “The UHV interconnection machine at IMRE is the only one in the entire project that can study the performance of a single molecule logic gate and surface atom circuit logic gate at the moment”, added Prof Joachim, who is the Head of Molecular Nanoscience and Picotechnology at the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), and a Visiting Investigator at IMRE. Prof Joachim’s team in IMRE is one of the pioneers in atom technology, having built the world’s first controllable molecular gear.

    The first mono-molecular nanoICT Working Group seminar (Dec, 2008) was the occasion to cluster in a very Cartesian way all the 4 major issues under grounded in the monomolecular approach of molecular electronics which were worked out during the 42 month of the Pico-Inside project. In all areas of technology, the construction of a complex system by assembling elementary pieces or devices leads to a Moore’s law like trend when analyzing the complexity growth of the system per year, a trend which appears threatened in the near future for microelectronics. The mono-molecular approach of molecular electronics with its compulsory atomic scale technology offers way to push past possible limitations in miniaturization, and to gain further increases in computing power by orders of magnitude by relying of a full development of an atom or molecule based technology for both electronics and machines. To reach this stage, each of the 4 issues illustrated in this concluding paper will require a specific discussion and more than that a specific research and technological development program.

    Meeting the atom technology challenge for ICTs requires new understanding in four now well identified fields of science and technology:

    1. Learning the kinds of architectures for molecule-machines (or atom surface
    circuits) which will permit to perform for example complex logic operations stabilized at the surface of a solid where the required interconnection will be constructed.

    2. Creating a surface multi-pads interconnection technology with a picometer
    precision, respecting the atomic order of the surface which is supporting the nano-system assemblage.

    3. Cultivating molecular surface science accompanied with molecule synthesis (respectively atom by atom UHV-STM fabrication on a surface).

    4. Creating a packaging technology able to protect a functioning atom-technologybased machine, while at the same time insuring its portability.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 18, 2010, 23:08:24
Lots of interesting new developments. Here is a system which claims to use far less energy than a ROWPU, but is also suited for large scale water purification. (I had posted on a far different system a while ago, but no longer remember the thread. That system was also efficient but did not seem to be as scalable):

Forward Osmosis could make water desalination cheaper and more energy efficient

MIT Technology Review - The Oasys forward osmosis desalination system requires just one-tenth as much electricity as a reverse-osmosis system because water doesn't have to be forced through a membrane at high pressure. That's a crucial source of savings, since electricity can account for nearly half the cost of reverse-osmosis technology. Not working with pressurized water also decreases the cost of building the plant—there is no need for expensive pipes that can withstand high pressures. The combination of lower power consumption and cheaper equipment results in lower overall costs.

Oasys Water has been demonstrating commercial-scale components of its system in recent months, plans to begin testing a complete system early next year and to start selling the systems by the end of 2011.

The system uses far less energy than thermal desalination because the draw solution has to be heated only to 40 to 50 °C, McGinnis says, whereas thermal systems heat water to 70 to 100 °C. These low temperatures can be achieved using waste heat from power plants. Thermal-desalination plants are often located at power plants now, but it takes extra fuel to generate enough heat for them. The new system, on the other hand, could run on heat that otherwise would have been released into the atmosphere.

Currently, desalination is done mainly in one of two ways: water is either heated until it evaporates (called a thermal process) or forced through a membrane that allows water molecules but not salt ions to pass (known as reverse osmosis). Oasys's method uses a combination of ordinary (or forward) osmosis and heat to turn sea water into drinking water.

On one side of a membrane is sea water; on the other is a solution containing high concentrations of carbon dioxide and ammonia. Water naturally moves toward this more concentrated "draw" solution, and the membrane blocks salt and other impurities as it does so. The resulting mixture is then heated, causing the carbon dioxide and ammonia to evaporate. Fresh water is left behind, and the ammonia and carbon dioxide are captured and reused.

Oasys says the technology could make desalination economically attractive not only in arid regions where there are no alternatives to desalination, but also in places where fresh water must be transported long distances.

* The cost will be low enough to make aqueduct and dam projects look expensive in comparison.

* The fuel consumption and carbon emissions will be lower than those of almost any other water source besides a local lake or aquifer.

A Low-Energy Water Purifier

A Yale spinoff hopes to solve the big problem with desalination.

    * Thursday, January 8, 2009
    * By Lee Bruno

Access to clean water is severely limited in many parts of the world, and while desalination plants can separate freshwater from sea and brackish water, they typically require large amounts of electricity or heat to do so. This has prevented desalination from being economically viable in many poorer cities and countries.

A Yale University spinoff called Oasys is driving one effort to change all this. Professor Menachem Elimelech and graduate students Robert McGinnis and Jeffrey McCutcheon have developed a novel desalination device that reduces the energy needed to purify water to one-tenth of that required by conventional systems.

In many parts of the world, freshwater supplies are strained due to population growth and increasing agricultural, industrial, commercial, and domestic demand. Goldman Sachs estimates that global water consumption is doubling every 20 years, and in 2008, the total worldwide water market was worth $522 billion, according to the analyst firm Lux Research.

The most common approach to desalination is currently reverse osmosis, and the market for this technology is expected to grow at a rate of 10 percent per year. Reverse osmosis involves forcing a solution through a semipermeable membrane using hydraulic pressure or thermal evaporation. The energy required to do this has spawned new thinking and innovation on lower-energy purification technologies. "The primary driver behind this technology is to get at the heart of the problem of energy cost," says Aaron Mandell, CEO of Oasys.

The company is using what it calls engineered osmosis. Unlike conventional desalination systems, the Oasys system establishes an osmotic pressure gradient instead of using pressure or heat to force water through a purifying membrane. The approach exploits the fact that water naturally flows from a dilute region to one that's more concentrated when the two solutions are separated by a semipermeable material, thereby saving the energy normally needed to drive the process.

In Oasys's system, a "draw solution" is added on one side of the membrane to extract clean water from dirty water. The solution used by Oasys is designed to have a high osmotic pressure and be easy to remove through heating.

"Forward osmosis is not a new technology, but trying to find the optimal draw solution to make it efficient and create the proper balance of ammonia and chlorine is critical," says Michael LoCascio, senior analyst with Lux Research.

The biggest challenge, according to Mandell, was identifying a concentrated solution that could be removed efficiently and entirely. Details of Oasys's draw solution are a company secret, but it uses ammonia and carbon-dioxide gases dissolved in water in specific proportions. Crucially, the solution can be reused after being removed from clean water, and the membrane required is also nearly identical to those already used in reverse osmosis. While other companies are doing forward osmosis, Oasys claims that its draw solution makes its technology much more efficient.

Reverse osmosis currently produces water at a cost of about $0.68 to $0.90 per cubic meter. Oasys estimates that engineered osmosis will cost just $0.37 to $0.44 per cubic meter once fully scaled up. The startup has so far established a pilot-scale plant to test the technology by producing one cubic meter of water per day. Mandell says that it is raising venture financing that will be put toward scaling to around 1,000 to 10,000 cubic meters of water per day. However, this is still well below the scale of many commercial desalination plants.

Oasys says that the first market it will focus on will be wastewater reuse. The second will be reprocessing wastewater produced by the oil and gas industries. Instead of having to pay to haul this water away, companies would treat it on-site using the Oasys system.

edit to add link
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 27, 2010, 19:54:45
And back to soldier gear:

DARPA working on eyes-in-the-back-of-your-head hat
'Full Sphere Awareness' to use software mini-cameras
By Lewis Page

Posted in Developer, 23rd December 2010 13:01 GMT

Maverick Pentagon boffins have decided to build a miraculous gadget – perhaps as small and lightweight as a pair of sunglasses – which will endow the user with zoom vision, various forms of nightsight, and act as a heads-up display besides. Perhaps best of all, the proposed kit would also offer "full sphere awareness" – that is, eyes in the back of your head.

All this is to be achieved, according to the specifications for the new project, by the use of "computational cameras". These are a radical new approach to camera design, which will shift much of the burden of forming images – which is handled optically in today's cameras – into software.

According to the Soldier Centric Imaging via Computational Cameras (SCENICC) project documents:

The task of image formation may be more equitably shared among the optical and electronic/algorithmic elements of the camera system. The computational imaging paradigm seeks to exploit this realization in order to gain access to an entirely new region of camera design space.
The military researchers' ultimate goal is a miracle lightweight device which would provide all-around spherical vision out to 1km in high resolution and at a high framerate across the visual spectrum and well into the infrared bands used by thermal imagers and nightsights. However they might be willing to accept as a first step kit which merely improves hugely on that now on offer.

As an example, they give the current US issue M-22 binoculars, which are bulky, heavy and offer limited field-of-view and only 7x magnification. They say:

A preferred solution would operate hands-free, provide similar or better magnification on-demand, while providing FOV equal to that of the unaided eye, and incur [size, weight and power] cost comparable to that of current protective eyewear.

The miracle binocular-specs are referred to later on as Hands Free Zoom, which "aims to provide switchable stereoscopic telephoto vision in a compact form factor". It will be joined by Computer Enhanced Vision, which will allow a user to use any combination of ordinary vision, nightsight or thermal imagery and overlay this with weapon gunsights or other information. Finally, the SCENICC kit is to offer Full Sphere Awareness "providing automatic threat detection and cueing along with cross platform integration of novel visual information".

The radical new Computational Camera equipment – which will achieve all this without making a soldier's helmet too heavy to wear – will be much less optical and much more software driven. There are to be "soldier-specific software agents", "task-specific and/or adaptive processing", "optimal allocation of algorithmic functionality between focal plane and traditional computational resources", and "low power multi-core computation suitable for portable imaging applications".

As ever with this type of story, one should note that the funding agency is DARPA and thus chances of full success are small – DARPA's mission is to undertake high-risk projects. The famously extramurally-prandial* government boffins probably won't succeed in building their miracle eyes-in-the-back-of-your-head hat or headset; but one does note that DARPA was instrumental in producing the first ordinary night-vision kit. They may be similarly successful here.

The full SCENICC solicitation is here in pdf [1]. ®

*Out to lunch


I can sort of visualize a series of lenses spaced around a helmet feeding into a set of goggles which is the display (the real heavy lifting is the stuff between the lenses and the display). It will be interesting to see how this works out.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 31, 2010, 13:18:59
Continuing my long standing interest in communications networks, here ( is perhaps the ultimate expression: "Server Sky" (, with the end point being the entire solar system filled with these things. For the mid term, tens of thousands of multiple redundant systems in orbit to provide communications, independent computer networks separate from the ground and power beaming to ground and aerial systems would have incalculable changes for the military, or indeed anyone hooked up to the system.

The most remarkable thing about the proposal is it uses off the shelf technology, so it isn't blue sky tech, but something that can be realized today:

First generation serversats are 20 centimeters across ( about 8 inches ), 0.1 millimeters (100 microns) thick, and weigh 7 grams. They can be mass produced with off the shelf semiconductor technologies.
Gallium arsenide radio chips provide intraarray, interarray, and ground communication, as well as precise location information. Serversats are launched stacked by the thousands in solid cylinders,shrouded and vibration isolated inside a traditional satellite bus.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on February 16, 2011, 10:42:04
Getting around the bandwidth gap for wireless devices:

Stanford researchers develop wireless technology for faster, more efficient communication networks

A new technology that allows wireless signals to be sent and received simultaneously on a single channel has been developed by Stanford researchers. Their research could help build faster, more efficient communication networks, at least doubling the speed of existing networks.
Jack Hubbard

The technology could have some very practical applications, including better wireless reception.


"Wireless communication is a one-way street. Over."

Radio traffic can flow in only one direction at a time on a specific frequency, hence the frequent use of "over" by pilots and air traffic controllers, walkie-talkie users and emergency personnel as they take turns speaking.

But now, Stanford researchers have developed the first wireless radios that can send and receive signals at the same time.

This immediately makes them twice as fast as existing technology, and with further tweaking will likely lead to even faster and more efficient networks in the future.

"Textbooks say you can't do it," said Philip Levis, assistant professor of computer science and of electrical engineering. "The new system completely reworks our assumptions about how wireless networks can be designed," he said.

Cell phone networks allow users to talk and listen simultaneously, but they use a work-around that is expensive and requires careful planning, making the technique less feasible for other wireless networks, including Wi-Fi.
Photos by L.A. Cicero Philip A. Levis and Sachin Katt

Assistant professors Philip A. Levis, left, and Sachin Katti worked with advisees to create a full duplex radio device.
Sparked from a simple idea

A trio of electrical engineering graduate students, Jung Il Choi, Mayank Jain and Kannan Srinivasan, began working on a new approach when they came up with a seemingly simple idea. What if radios could do the same thing our brains do when we listen and talk simultaneously: screen out the sound of our own voice?

In most wireless networks, each device has to take turns speaking or listening. "It's like two people shouting messages to each other at the same time," said Levis. "If both people are shouting at the same time, neither of them will hear the other."

It took the students several months to figure out how to build the new radio, with help from Levis and Sachin Katti, assistant professor of computer science and of electrical engineering.

Their main roadblock to two-way simultaneous conversation was this: Incoming signals are overwhelmed by the radio's own transmissions, making it impossible to talk and listen at the same time.

"When a radio is transmitting, its own transmission is millions, billions of times stronger than anything else it might hear [from another radio]," Levis said. "It's trying to hear a whisper while you yourself are shouting."

But, the researchers realized, if a radio receiver could filter out the signal from its own transmitter, weak incoming signals could be heard. "You can make it so you don't hear your own shout and you can hear someone else's whisper," Levis said.

Their setup takes advantage of the fact that each radio knows exactly what it's transmitting, and hence what its receiver should filter out. The process is analogous to noise-canceling headphones.
Jung Il Choi and Mayank Jain

Jung Il Choi and Mayank Jain (with Kannan Srinivasan, not pictured) began working on a new approach listen and talk simultaneously on radio communications.

When the researchers demonstrated their device last fall at MobiCom 2010, an international gathering of more than 500 of the world's top experts in mobile networking, they won the prize for best demonstration. Until then, people didn't believe sending and receiving signals simultaneously could be done, Jain said. Levis said a researcher even told the students their idea was "so simple and effective, it won't work," because something that obvious must have already been tried unsuccessfully.
Breakthrough for communications technology

But work it did, with major implications for future communications networks. The most obvious effect of sending and receiving signals simultaneously is that it instantly doubles the amount of information you can send, Levis said. That means much-improved home and office networks that are faster and less congested.

But Levis also sees the technology having larger impacts, such as overcoming a major problem with air traffic control communications. With current systems, if two aircraft try to call the control tower at the same time on the same frequency, neither will get through. Levis says these blocked transmissions have caused aircraft collisions, which the new system would help prevent.

The group has a provisional patent on the technology and is working to commercialize it. They are currently trying to increase both the strength of the transmissions and the distances over which they work. These improvements are necessary before the technology is practical for use in Wi-Fi networks.

But even more promising are the system's implications for future networks. Once hardware and software are built to take advantage of simultaneous two-way transmission, "there's no predicting the scope of the results," Levis said.

Sandeep Ravindran is a science-writing intern at the Stanford News Service.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on February 26, 2011, 23:54:20
This might be fun to do at home (although in the real world this could be a project for a half decent computer lab in a University of College setting); building your own "Watson" expert system like the one that won Jeopardy. In the military setting, this sort of database expert system could be used to comb through intelligence databases to quickly answer questions, assist in logistics and transportation planning and so on.

Reading the spec sheets in the article, performance is dependent on the hardware. IF you are not in a real hurry, a single core processor can give the answer in about 2 hours. A 32 core IBM Power 750 server can come up with the answer in a matter of minutes. For most practical purposes, this might do. Real tech types might consider wiring several game consoles together in a Beowulf cluster or investing in NVidia Tesla supercomputer hardware if the price is right.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on February 27, 2011, 00:30:35
And advanced robotics. Cheetah fast robots in particular are interesting, you could use them as scouts, to rapidly establish a perimeter or as couriers to bring urgently needed messages or equipment or robot sentries that can actually run down fleeing suspects.

Boston Dynamics Wins DARPA Contracts to Develop Robots that are Fast and Agile

One robot called ATLAS, a humanoid with two arms and two legs, will climb and maneuver in rough terrain to achieve human-like agility. A second robot with four legs is called CHEETAH; it will sprint faster than a human, corner like a race car and start and stop on a dime.

– Boston Dynamics, developer of BigDog, PETMAN, RHex and other dynamic robots, announced today it was awarded contracts by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop two new robots, one agile and one fast. The ATLAS robot will take the shape of a human being, with a torso, two legs and two arms. It will move through difficult terrain using human-like behavior: sometimes walking upright as a biped, sometimes turning sideways to squeeze through narrow passages, and sometimes, when the terrain gets its nastiest, using its hands for extra support and balance. Unlike most other humanoid robots that use static techniques to control their motion, ATLAS will move dynamically leveraging the advanced control software and high-performance actuated hardware that is Boston Dynamics’ specialty.

The CHEETAH robot will have four legs, a flexible spine, an articulated head/neck, and possibly a tail. It will run fast: faster than any existing legged robot and faster than the fastest human runners. In addition to top speed, the CHEETAH robot will be designed to make tight turns so it can zigzag to chase or evade, and it will accelerate rapidly, starting and stopping on a dime. Like ATLAS, it will leverage the advanced control software and high-tech mechanical and electrical systems that Boston Dynamics created for previous robots, such as BigDog, PETMAN and others.

ATLAS will walk like a man, using a heel-to-toe walking motion, long strides and dynamic transfer of weight on each step,” explains Rob Playter, the ATLAS principal investigator and VP of Engineering at Boston Dynamics. “We have already achieved some advanced behavior in PETMAN, an anthropomorphic robot we developed for the Army, so ATLAS will start out with a leg up on the problem by leveraging the PETMAN results.”

In addition to military applications, such robots can be used in civil and commercial applications such as emergency response, firefighting, advanced agriculture and vehicular travel in places that are inaccessible to conventional wheeled and tracked vehicles.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on March 09, 2011, 10:12:21
Manufacturing complex items using 3D printers. Note Airbus is already using a version of this technology to "print" wing structures, here the ability to accurately lay down intricate structures outweighs the time and cost factors. I have also seen a proposal for a simplified but vastly scaled up version to "print" concrete buildings using layers of fast setting concrete (obviously there would be no rebar), and even 3D printers that can print replacement organs are under development. An exciting new field:

Additive Layer Manufacturing printing of a bicycle with no metal by the makers of the Airbus jets

EADS, the European aerospace and defence group, has unveiled the world’s first bike that uses a revolutionary new manufacturing process which demonstrates the potential to transform manufacturing around the globe.

    Known as the ‘Airbike’, it is a bike with a difference. Made of nylon but strong enough to replace steel or aluminium, it requires no conventional maintenance or assembly. It is ‘grown’ from powder, allowing complete sections to be built as one piece; the wheels, bearings and axle being incorporated within the ‘growing’ process and built at the same time. The Airbike can be built to rider specification so requires no adjustment.

    While the Airbike is only a technology demonstrator at this stage, EADS has developed the technology to the extent that it can manipulate metals, nylon, and carbon-reinforced plastics at a molecular level which allows it to be applied to high-stress, safety critical aviation uses. Compared to a traditional, machined part, those produced by ALM are up to 65% lighter but still as strong. The technology is likely to be employed in due course in industrial applications such as aerospace, the motor industry and engineering. Studies show that for every 1kg reduction in weight, airlines can save around $3500 worth of fuel over the lifespan of the aircraft, with corresponding reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions.

    Minister for Business and Enterprise, Mark Prisk, said: "I am proud to see the UK - through EADS and others - leading the world in the development of innovative products. Additive Layer Manufacturing, or ‘3-D printing’, is a truly exciting, green, new technology, which not only enables the creation of products beyond the capability of traditional manufacturing processes, but also offers the potential to help the manufacturing sector slash its waste and carbon emissions. This is exactly the sort of advanced technology that we want to see companies investing in, here in the UK."

    ALM also offers a glimpse of wider potential benefits. The process itself uses about one-tenth of the material required in traditional manufacturing and reduces waste. On a global scale, ALM offers potential for products to be produced quickly and cheaply on ‘printers’ located in offices, shops and houses. It would allow replacement components to be produced in remote regions, improving logistics on humanitarian relief and military operations.

    Andy Hawkins is the lead engineer for ALM at EADS. “The possibilities with ALM are huge – it’s a game-changing technology. The beauty is that complex designs do not cost any extra to produce. The laser can draw any shape you like and many unique design features have been incorporated into the Airbike such as the auxetic structure to provide saddle cushioning or the integrated bearings encased within the hubs.”

    Further ahead, by removing production lines and the need for factories, the costs of ‘manufacturing’ will be significantly reduced and, through this, ALM has the potential to reverse trends of urbanization that have historically accompanied industrialization.

    Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “It is hugely exciting to see examples of British engineers showcasing their work so effectively. The ‘Airbike’ is an example of technology innovation which stands a real chance of providing UK businesses with a manufacturing edge for the future while delivering economic growth both here and around the globe.”

    Whilst there are currently limitations in terms of the maximum component size achievable and the costs involved, the technology is developing fast. There is growing recognition of the potential ramifications of ALM and the barriers to delivering this technology on a global scale are falling rapidly.

From the EADs website:

The future of manufacturing…on two wheels
Bristol,  07 mars 2011

•   EADS produces world’s first bike using revolutionary ALM technology - ‘grown’ from high-strength nylon powder
•   Called the ‘Airbike’ because Airbus was the first EADS company to use the technology
•   New technology will transform manufacturing around the globe
EADS produces world’s first bike using revolutionary ALM technology - ‘grown’ from high-strength nylon powder. Called the ‘Airbike’ because Airbus was the first EADS company to use the technology (c) EADS

EADS, the European aerospace and defence group, has unveiled the world’s first bike that uses a revolutionary new manufacturing process which demonstrates the potential to transform manufacturing around the globe.

Known as the ‘Airbike’, it is a bike with a difference. Made of nylon but strong enough to replace steel or aluminium, it requires no conventional maintenance or assembly. It is ‘grown’ from powder, allowing complete sections to be built as one piece; the wheels, bearings and axle being incorporated within the ‘growing’ process and built at the same time. The Airbike can be built to rider specification so requires no adjustment.
The revolutionary manufacturing process is known as Additive Layer Manufacturing (or ALM) and it allows single products to be grown from a fine powder of metal (such as titanium, stainless steel or aluminium), nylon or carbon-reinforced plastics from a centre located next to Airbus’ site at Filton. Similar in concept to 3D printing, the bike design is perfected using computer-aided design and then constructed by using a powerful laser-sintering process which adds successive, thin layers of the chosen structural material until a solid, fully-formed bike emerges.

Robin Southwell, Chief Executive of EADS UK, commented: “The Airbike is a fantastic example of British innovation at its very best. The team at EADS in Bristol includes world-class engineers who continue to push boundaries by working at the forefront of technology. I believe that ALM technology represents a paradigm shift.”

While the Airbike is only a technology demonstrator at this stage, EADS has developed the technology to the extent that it can manipulate metals, nylon, and carbon-reinforced plastics at a molecular level which allows it to be applied to high-stress, safety critical aviation uses. Compared to a traditional, machined part, those produced by ALM are up to 65% lighter but still as strong. The technology is likely to be employed in due course in industrial applications such as aerospace, the motor industry and engineering. Studies show that for every 1kg reduction in weight, airlines can save around $3500 worth of fuel over the lifespan of the aircraft, with corresponding reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions.

Minister for Business and Enterprise, Mark Prisk, said: "I am proud to see the UK - through EADS and others - leading the world in the development of innovative products. Additive Layer Manufacturing, or ‘3-D printing’, is a truly exciting, green, new technology, which not only enables the creation of products beyond the capability of traditional manufacturing processes, but also offers the potential to help the manufacturing sector slash its waste and carbon emissions. This is exactly the sort of advanced technology that we want to see companies investing in, here in the UK."

ALM also offers a glimpse of wider potential benefits. The process itself uses about one-tenth of the material required in traditional manufacturing and reduces waste. On a global scale, ALM offers potential for products to be produced quickly and cheaply on ‘printers’ located in offices, shops and houses. It would allow replacement components to be produced in remote regions, improving logistics on humanitarian relief and military operations.

Andy Hawkins is the lead engineer for ALM at EADS. “The possibilities with ALM are huge – it’s a game-changing technology. The beauty is that complex designs do not cost any extra to produce. The laser can draw any shape you like and many unique design features have been incorporated into the Airbike such as the auxetic structure to provide saddle cushioning or the integrated bearings encased within the hubs.”
Further ahead, by removing production lines and the need for factories, the costs of ‘manufacturing’ will be significantly reduced and, through this, ALM has the potential to reverse trends of urbanization that have historically accompanied industrialization.

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “It is hugely exciting to see examples of British engineers showcasing their work so effectively. The ‘Airbike’ is an example of technology innovation which stands a real chance of providing UK businesses with a manufacturing edge for the future while delivering economic growth both here and around the globe.”

Whilst there are currently limitations in terms of the maximum component size achievable and the costs involved, the technology is developing fast. There is growing recognition of the potential ramifications of ALM and the barriers to delivering this technology on a global scale are falling rapidly.

Notes for editors:
1.   Broadcast: BBC Inside Out West: 7 March 2011 (19.30pm), (BBC iPlayer from [8 March])
2.   Airbike’s unique design features include:
•   Frame: integrated truss structure to reduce weight but maintain stiffness:
•   Saddle: auxetic structure to provide cushioning;
•   Wheels: spoke design mimics the unique A400M eight-bladed scimitar propeller design;
•   Drivetrain: Kevlar belt creates clean drive system;
•   Crank / hubs: integrated bearings encased in hubs and crank and manufactured in-situ;
•   Personalisation: embossed text in various positions.
3.   Auxetics: Auxetic shapes or materials appear to defy the laws of physics. If you squeeze, the entire structure compresses (instead of getting thicker), if you pull the entire structure gets bigger (as opposed to getting thinner). These structures have mechanical properties such as high energy absorption and fracture resistance and can be used in applications as far-ranging as building structures or body armour.

EADS ( EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2009, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 42.8 billion and employed a workforce of more than 119,000, including more than 16,500 employees in the UK.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on March 31, 2011, 11:03:10
Increasingly sophisticated equipment can be purchased, made and used by smaller and smaller groups. The implications of this are profound. If *we* can get into this mindset, the CF can be rapidly upgraded and re equiped quickly and at low cost. (This would involve breaking bureaucratic and industry rice bowls). If our enemies are doing this, expect sophisticated modes of attack from unlikely sources (unknown unknowns...):

Israel, The Third Nation on the Moon?
Mar. 30 2011 - 6:01 am | 10,109 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

If all goes according to plan, by December 2012 a team of three young Israeli scientists will have landed a tiny spacecraft on the moon, explored the lunar surface, and transmitted live video back to earth, thereby scooping up a $20 million prize (the Google Lunar X Prize), revolutionizing space exploration, and making the Jewish State the third nation (after the U.S. and Russia) to land a probe on the moon. And they’re doing it in their spare time.

The three engineers – Yariv Bash (electronics and computers), Kfir Damari (communication systems), and Yonatan Winetraub (satellite systems) all have high-level day jobs in the Israeli science and technology world, and also both teach and study. They all had heard of the Google Lunar X Prize independently, before being introduced by mutual friends who, as Yonatan puts it “thought we were all crazy enough to do it, so we should meet each other.”

By the end of November 2010 they had sketched together a novel plan to win the prize and submitted it to organizers. Only on December 21 (10 days before the December 31 deadline) did they set about raising the $50,000 entry fee. “Like good Israelis we left it to the last minute,” Yonatan laughs.

Since then they’ve recruited around 50 volunteers from across the Israeli science and technology community and have gained support from academic institutions, including the prestigious Weizmann Institute of Science (founded in 1933 by Chaim Weizmann, himself a successful chemist who went on to become Israel’s first president). They’re operating as a non-profit (“we’re looking for stakeholders,” says Project Coordinator Ronna Rubinstein), and any winnings will be invested in promoting science among Israeli youth.

The X Prize’s organizers say their competition is intended to attract “mavericks” who “take new approaches and think creatively about difficult problems, resulting in truly innovative breakthroughs.” They see the moon as a largely untapped resource, and believe that “inexpensive, regular access to the Moon is a critical stepping stone for further exploration.”

Maverick and creative thinkers the Israeli trio appear to be: According to the X Prize organizers, the 29 competing teams will spend between $15 million and $100 million on the project, with the earliest launch not scheduled until 2013. The Israelis aim to spend less than that (around $10 million) and to launch before 2013.

“One of reasons that we’re able to do this,” Kfir (who started programming aged six and wrote his first computer virus aged 11) explains, “is because of our different perspective. Most space missions aim to last many years and so have to be built in a certain way. Ours doesn’t have to last as long. This saves cost.”

Another way the team intends to keep costs down involves utilizing existing technology that just hasn’t previously been linked up for this purpose, rather than spending a new fortune. Naturally the team isn’t releasing specific details of the technology they’re using, but they’re confident that they’ve got what they need.

And once they’re on the moon? “The actual robot will be something the size of a coca-cola bottle,” says Yonatan. “Think about it – a cell phone has most of the capabilities necessary for communication and imaging, and to that we need to add a hopper” to move around the moon. “Simple” really. And the impact of this? “Once we do this it will break the glass ceiling,” Yonatan adds, “and show that space exploration doesn’t have to be expensive.”

As to why they got involved? “Three reasons,” say Yonatan,  “Creating national pride, really putting Israel on the map as a start-up nation by doing something only the superpowers have done, and reigniting Israeli interest in science.” And it’s the third – rejuvenating interest among Israeli youth in science – that’s closest to these young scientists’ hearts.

In the 1960s and 1970s, they say, many young Israelis pursued careers in science, in part inspired by the American space program. Today that isn’t the case, and the number of high school seniors majoring in science is constantly declining. “We want to show that science isn’t just about sitting in a lab all day,” says Kfir.

In 1919 French hotelier Raymond Orteig offered $25,000 for the first non-stop flight between New York City and Paris. Eight years later Charles Lindbergh, considered an underdog, won the prize by making the crossing in his “Spirit of St. Louis.” That not only changed the way people saw flying, but how they saw the world.

The X Prize was inspired by the Orteig Prize, and if the “Spirit of Israel” is successful they can certainly count on changing how young Israelis see science and how others see Israel. They may also change how we all see the universe.

Daniel Freedman is the director of strategy and policy analysis at The Soufan Group, a strategic consultancy. His writings can be found at He writes a fortnightly column for
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on April 01, 2011, 11:56:48
This may have lots of unexpected benefits; a quick first look of the article suggests there may be lots of improvements in engines if friction and heat transfer properties can be manipulated. Since engines are old and well known technology, "tweaking" the internal parts will have a faster impact than adopting new technologies:

Lower cost molding of Microstructures at the millimeter to micron scale

They have made 5 micron pillars on copper

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) has selected Hoowaki, LLC as one of the seven recipients for the 4th Annual SME List of Innovations That Could Change the Way You Manufacture.

The award was presented for Hoowaki’s surface engineering technology that increases energy efficiency by improving friction, fluid drag and heat transfer. This innovation comes from the laboratory of William King, Chief Technology Officer of Hoowaki and Professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois. “Microstructures molded onto a surface can change the properties of that surface,” says King. “By molding microstructures into a surface, we can engineer the surface friction, heat transfer coefficient, or water repellency. All of these are in demand for energy efficiency applications, from hydraulic equipment to air conditioners to batteries.”

Different patterns on copper

Hoowaki has developed a unique surface molding technology to unleash the engineering potential at the meso scale. Here the meso scale is defined as smaller than what the unaided eye can see, or about 0.2mm, down to about a micron. Properties of surfaces differ from those of bulk materials and strongly influence many of the performance characteristics that contribute to product value.
160 micron holes in stainless steel

Benefits of Hoowaki Process

* Low cost - our proprietary micro-molding process forms millions of tiny surface features at once and has a clear route to low cost scale up

* Processing flexibility - Hoowaki tooling can be used in a number of industrial processes including injection molding, compression molding, roll processing, extrusion, stamping, forging and casting.

* Process integration - microstructures can be applied to existing tooling through direct machining methods.

* Design flexibility and expertise - Hoowaki is able to engineer surface patterns tailored to specific applications to modify surface properties independent of the bulk material properties. Multiple "levels" of features give combinations of surface performance attributes never before possible. Hoowaki has the unique ability to form micro patterns on both flat and curved parts out of metal and other

Casting metal microstructures from a flexible and reusable mold

    This paper describes casting-based microfabrication of metal microstructures and nanostructures. The metal was cast into flexible silicone molds which were themselves cast from microfabricated silicon templates. Microcasting is demonstrated in two metal alloys of melting temperature 70 ◦C or 138 ◦C. Many structures were successfully cast into the metal with excellent replication fidelity, including ridges with periodicity 400 nm and holes or pillars with diameter in the range 10–100 μm and aspect ratio up to 2:1. The flexibility of the silicone mold permits casting of curved surfaces, which we demonstrate by fabricating a cylindrical metal roller of diameter 8 mm covered with microstructures. The metal microstructures can be in turn used as a reusable molding tool.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on April 11, 2011, 12:51:36
Sometimes, effective equipment does not have to be "high tech". Consider this as a potential replacement for modular tentage and other field structures:
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: multihobbist on April 11, 2011, 13:33:29
something i can't quite understand is that some of the fundaments of physics can be VERY useful for warfare technology such as counter IED.

If you charge Solenoids and have them facing down and by right hand rule, the microwave-like effect will be shot directly below the soleonoid. If they apply that to our vehicles and have them extended and the soleonoids tilted forward, with proper cooling system it'll be very effective detonating planted articles far before the vehicles approaching it.
With experiments, any conducting materials (wires, metal cases or detonator) with improper plantation would be launch off, if not heated up enough for detonating cap to go off.
It's how "Gauss guns" work.

basically they cant act as metal coils that create magnetic field that heats up or moves ANY material that conducts electricity.
As far as I understand the PPE and VPE create interfering field for wireless devices but why don't we use a system that physically makes explosive articles to either move or detonate at safe distance.

It'll be definatly a cheap and safe substitution for many other equipments we developed and it's not like re-inventing the wheel, just simply reviewing what we already know.
A few problems that I can think of are the weather conditions and the cooling systems and the fact that it will effect ANY conductors i.e. if you drive the vehicle equipped with this towards an ammo compound.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on April 12, 2011, 23:42:27
With this guy on the case, we should be in for interesting times. I want to be at the proving grounds when they do tests....

Mythbuster Jamie Hyneman working to develop lighter armor for U.S. military vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan

Register UK - Jamie Hyneman has been working with the US government to devise lightweight armor for US military vehicles in Afghanistan and Iraq, all thanks to his work with materials such as TNT and C4 in the frankly unconventional setting of MythBusters.

Hyneman's armor had to be ultra-lightweight so the vehicle doesn't get bogged down, but also capable of standing up the shrapnel and blast damage from a powerful IED while protecting the humans inside the vehicle from the pressure wave accompanying a blast.

Hyneman was contacted by a military subcontractor working with the Office of Naval Research to participate in the armor project. He works out of his business, M5 Industries - the San Francisco studio that's featured in most episodes of MythBusters, and that's a hobbyist's dream of workbenches, power tools, and sheet metal.

This is not Hyneman's first work with the military, however. He also devised a "fully realistic human" robotic avatar to give newbie army medics something realistic to work on, and to help prevent them from freezing up when they see gore in the field for the first time. The MythBuster reckons his avatar is as close to human as it gets: it smells bad, has "real hair", groans, and spurts blood until you successfully apply a tourniquet. The machine is being manufactured "by the dozen" and used for training in the Middle East, he says.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: dinicthus on May 01, 2011, 18:24:38

I can sort of visualize a series of lenses spaced around a helmet feeding into a set of goggles which is the display (the real heavy lifting is the stuff between the lenses and the display). It will be interesting to see how this works out.

How about a monobloc polycarbonate piece that is a prism, sort of like tank prisms for outward view that just starts with the part you look into right above your eyebrows, and gets its view from behind you?

So, when you look far up, instead of seeing the inside of the bottom of the front of your helmet, you would see the view from behind as bounced through the folded path of the block of polycarbonate, possibly with reflective surfaces included as necessary.

I know, it would add weight to the helmet, about the last place you want more weight, but it is simple, robust, and doesn't need million dollar technologies to implement. In fact, the polycarbonate could be part of the protection afforded by the helmet, though, obviously, it doesn't have the same protection capability per pound as the stuff that helmets are made of now, but where the polycarbonate is, the kevlar could be thinner, at least, unless that is too detrimental to over helmet integrity.

They use "folded path" monobloc clear plastic or glass lenses for digital camera smartphones already, it isn't some revolutionary technology.

The view would be just like a rearview mirror, so people would be used to it. No electronics to suddenly quit. Prescription could be ground into (or glued onto, or clipped onto) the rear or front surface of the block so looking up over your eyeglasses into your rearview wouldn't yield a blurry ambiguous mess.

What path the polycarbonate "light tunnel" would take from eye to rearview is not significant, except that the shorter the better.

In fact the PC block or blocks could go to the sides, or just poke out the sides of the helmet right near the front viewable portion. Yes, that might look like ears or horns, and would definitely be more vulnerable to damage than a system where the light path was under the kevlar outer shell and the view port and the part facing rear was actually on the rear of the helmet.

I guess the primary question would be "how bad do they need to see a rearview?", which would determine what sacrifices could be made to provide it.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on May 21, 2011, 11:05:00
Rapidly deployable shelters, bunkers, bastions and walls can be possible with this:

Concrete Canvas was covered back in 2005 in Wired.

BBC News - Concrete Canvas allows aid teams to construct solid structures in emergency zones quickly and easily. It is a fabric shelter that, when sprayed with water, turns to concrete within 24 hours.

* It is available in 5, 8 and 13 millimeter thicknesses.

* It is ceramic and will not burn

* Once hydrated it remains workable for 2 hours and hardens to 80% strength in 24 hours. Accelerated or retarded formulations can be produced as specified.

* It uses 95% less material than conventional concrete

* It can be used for fast shelters, roofing, retaining walls, basement lining, weed inhibition, flood defense, water tanks and many other applications

The Concrete canvas website (
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on June 10, 2011, 14:12:38
Stronger, cheaper materials for all kinds of purposes:

Flash Bainite is the Strongest, Most Ductile, Lean Alloyed, Readily Weldable, Least Expensive Ultra Strength METAL known to man
ShareFlash Bainite is the Strongest, Most Ductile, Lean Alloyed, Readily Weldable, Least Expensive Ultra Strength METAL known to man. A50 tensile ranges from 1100 to 2080MPa (160-302ksi) with 8 to 9% elongation. Total elongation up to 10-11% is not uncommon. Flash 4130 at 1900MPa and 9% elongation exceeds titanium-6Al-4V's strength to weight ratio making it pound per pound stronger at only 56% the volume. Flash4130 is just 10% the cost of Ti-64.

"Off the shelf" plate and tubing can be made into Flash Bainite. Triple the strength of Chrome Moly, Flash 4130 is pound for pound 2X stronger than the best aluminums. If you are "lightweighting" structure with aluminum, Flash Bainite will do a better job at less weight and lower cost.

Ohio State University engineers verified the claims of increase the strength of steel by seven percent and can make cars and other products 30% lighter while keeping the same strength. For armor it can provide the equal of the best protection with a 20% weight reduction.

* 20,000 ton per year capacity by July, 2011
* 40-48 inch prototype sheets (3/16 and 1/4 inch thickness) available since Q1 2011
* starting with defense market and then expanding
* Environmentally friendly, this process consumes only a Kwatt of energy per Kg of steel processed. Water is used instead of polluting oils or molten salt.

The most obvious use of Bainitic High Strength Steel (BHSS) is in sheet form in the transportation industry. The increased ductility of a bainitic microstructure will allow stamping of part configurations never possible with existing martensitic Advanced High Strength Steels (AHSS). A significant number of complex stamped components will soon be manufactured in much thinner gages of steel due to the excellent formability of BHSS. Imagine an automobile whose stiffness has been increased yet weighs hundreds of pounds less.

Another area of increased use will be in the field of civil engineering. Steel building components can be manufactured to rely on much higher tensile strengths than previously thought possible. Wall studs, bar stock, angle iron, and I-beams are just some of the shapes that can be converted to bainite using this process. Significantly lighter roof trusses could be completely constructed from thinner gauge bainitic members that rely on greater tensile strengths. Tensioning components such as wire and re-bar may positively impact the bridge and highway building industries. Just imagine how much less steel could be used in a suspension bridge if architects could rely on much higher tensile strength cables.

Other areas as diverse as household appliances to stronger armor plating to space craft will be able to take advantage of Bainitic High Strength Steel.

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on June 10, 2011, 14:16:06
OK, the Bikini is cute, but now expand the thought to fully customized uniforms, boots and load carriage systems designed to fit you:

3D Printed Bikini is the first ready to wear 3D printed clothing and fitted exactly using body scanning
ShareThe N12 bikini is the world's first ready-to-wear, completely 3D-printed article of clothing. All of the pieces, closures included, are made directly by 3D printing and snap together without any sewing. N12 represents the beginning of what is possible for the near future.

The same process can be used to make shirts, dresses and suits that are custom fitted using body scanning. It is 0.7 millimeters (1/36th of a inch) thick

N12 is named for the material it's made out of: Nylon 12. This solid nylon is created by the SLS 3D printing process. Shapeways calls this material "white, strong, and flexible", because its strength allows it to bend without breaking when printed very thin. With a minimum wall thickness of 0.7 mm (1/36th of an inch), it is possible to make working springs and almost thread-like connections. For a bikini, the nylon is beautifully functional because it is waterproof and remarkably comfortable when wet.

Shapeways describes the CAD process and customizing the fit exactly

The N12 was designed using Rhino 3D CAD software and specially written algorithmic script to create the structure of the 3D printed fabric. The algorithm uses a complex 'circle packing' equation on an arbitrarily doubly curved surface (the bikini). The size of the circles responds to curvature and edge conditions of the form, creating smooth edges and a responsive pattern.

The patterning starts with a curved surface, some geometry to indicate edges and value ranges for the circles sizes and tolerance parameters. The pattern begins placing circles at a point near the edge. Each subsequent circle tries to stay as near to the nearest edge geometry at possible. The circle’s size is determined using this nearness and the local curvature of the surface. Curvier areas get small circles and flatter areas larger, both to help with accurately approximating the surface and to ensure flexibility where it is needed and efficiency of pattern where it is not.

Every time a bend or elbow is encountered in the surface edge, a small gap will be left in the pattern. Gaps will also occur near the middle distances between edges where the placement of the next circle is less certain. After the first level of pattern has been created, these open areas are infilled with smaller circles to ensure complete coverage, and to create a more interesting aesthetic pattern.

One of the goals of the circle patterning system is to be able to adapt it to any surface, at any size. This means that future articles of clothing can be produced using the same algorithm, this could be taken a step further into absolute customization by using a body scan to make a bespoke article of clothing, 3D printed to exactly fit that person only.

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on June 13, 2011, 17:42:00
Getting up walls without ropes and ladders: Spiderman come to life:

DARPA Z-man program to enable wall climbing soldiers
DARPA Z-man program will develop biologically inspired climbing aids to enable soldiers to scale vertical walls constructed from typical building materials, without using ropes or ladders. Geckos, spiders and small animals are the inspiration behind these climbing aids.

Nanopatents and innovations - In 2010, DARPA demonstrated a fully loaded soldier (300 lb) wearing reattachable pads (magnets and microspines) scaling a series of 25-foot walls built from mission-relevant materials using Z-Man technology.

In 2011, DARPA began the transition of Z-Man prototype technologies (magnets and microspines) to the Armed Services.

Draper is a not-for-profit research and development laboratory focused on the design, development, and deployment of advanced technological solutions for our nation’s most challenging and important problems in security, space exploration, healthcare, and energy. They have a staff of about 1400 and have been developing the Z-man project.

Draper technology digest 2010 (page 95) - Development and Demonstration of ZMAN Microspine and Magnetic Climbing Hardware

The microspines and magnetic switching concepts that enable strong reversible adhesion using van der Waals forces or by hooking into surface asperities. The materials and concepts were scaled up into a novel climbing aid optimized for efficient human climbing without the need for ropes or ladders. The demonstration proved the technical feasibility of an unloaded soldier to climb vertical walls of multiple surfaces constructed of typical building materials. This has never been done before and significantly outperformed the current state-of-the-art.

I made a prediction in 2006 - Gecko mimicing wallcrawling suits for military and enthusiasts 2008-2012

2010 achievements were-
- Demonstrated a fully loaded soldier (300 lb) wearing reattachable pads (magnets and microspines) scaling a series of 25-foot walls built from mission-relevant materials using Z-MAN technology.
- Demonstrated an unloaded soldier (150 lb) using reattachable pads (gecko nanoadhesives) to scale a series of 25-foot walls built from mission-relevant materials.
- 2011 transition the nanoadhesives, magnetics and microspines prototypes to the services.

Seems to fulfill the Gecko mimicing wallcrawling suits for military by 2010-2011.
See how far it gets to enthusiasts in by Dec 2012.

Daniel Harjes developed an innovative approach to use magnetic switching with negligible external energy, and in May, 2010 the team successfully demonstrated the integrated technologies and impressed DARPA, which led to the Phase III contract.

DARPA's 2012 plans are to integrate nanoparticle enabled space propulsion technology and Z-MAN adhesion technologies for operationally relevant space applications such as orbital debris cleanup, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). [pages 11 and 12 out of 40 pages of DARPA budget.]

Title: Reconfigurable Structures
Description: In the Reconfigurable Structures thrust, new combinations of advanced materials, devices, and structural architectures are being developed to allow military platforms to move, morph, or change shape for optimal adaptation to changing mission requirements and unpredictable environments. This includes the demonstration of new materials and devices that will enable the military to function more effectively in the urban theater of operations. For example, a key focus is to formulate a more principled, scientific basis for robotic ground mobility and manipulation, and to develop and demonstrate from that basis innovative robot design tools, fabrication methods, and control methodologies.

FY 2010 Accomplishments: ($7 million)
- Performed laboratory testing of engineered soft material robot operations and optimized design.
- Performed laboratory demonstrations of robot function.
- Developed engineering model for soft robots, and designed prototype robots for selected applications.
- Demonstrated a fully loaded soldier (300 lb) wearing reattachable pads (magnets and microspines) scaling a series of 25-foot walls built from mission-relevant materials using Z-MAN technology.
- Demonstrated an unloaded soldier (150 lb) using reattachable pads (gecko nanoadhesives) to scale a series of 25-foot walls built from mission-relevant materials.

FY 2011 Plans: ($20 million)
- Perform laboratory demonstration of prototype soft material robots and refine designs.
- Perform simulated field testing of prototype robots.
- Finalize robot designs for field use.
- Demonstrate a fully loaded soldier (300 lb) using reattachable pads (gecko nanoadhesives) to scale a series of 25-foot walls built from mission-relevant materials.
- Transition Z-MAN prototype technologies (magnets and microspines) to the Services.
- Demonstrate components of new design tools for accelerating high quality design of robots by non-experts.
- Demonstrate proof of concept prototypes of new fabrication methods for producing robots at low cost.
- Demonstrate components of new control algorithms able to improve the mobility and manipulation performance of robots.
- Demonstrate in simulation proof of concept robots with higher mobility and manipulation performance than currently available.
- Demonstrate proof of concept components for increasing robot mobility and manipulation performance.

FY 2012 Plans: ($21 million)
- Perform field testing of prototype robots for transition to end user.
- Refine final robot designs based on field test results.
- Identify potential end users and transition to end users.
- Integrate and demonstrate components of new design tools for accelerating high quality design of robots by non-experts.
- Brass board new fabrication methods for producing robots at low cost.
- Demonstrate new control algorithms able to significantly improve mobility performance.
- Demonstrate new control algorithms able to significantly improve manipulation performance.
- Demonstrate of proof of concept robot prototypes with higher mobility.
- Integrate and demonstrate proof of concept robot prototypes with higher manipulation performance.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on July 10, 2011, 22:22:05
Drawing ambient energy for small sensors and other devices will have interesting applications in urban ops and low intensity conflict scenarios. High intensity conflict will probably involve the deliberate destruction of the electrical grid and most of the emitters mentioned here, which limits this technology:

Ambient Electromagnetic Energy Harnessed for Small Electronic Devices

Georgia Tech - Researchers have discovered a way to capture and harness energy transmitted by such sources as radio and television transmitters, cell phone networks and satellite communications systems. By scavenging this ambient energy from the air around us, the technique could provide a new way to power networks of wireless sensors, microprocessors and communications chips.

"There is a large amount of electromagnetic energy all around us, but nobody has been able to tap into it," said Manos Tentzeris, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering who is leading the research. "We are using an ultra-wideband antenna that lets us exploit a variety of signals in different frequency ranges, giving us greatly increased power-gathering capability."

Tentzeris and his team are using inkjet printers to combine sensors, antennas and energy-scavenging capabilities on paper or flexible polymers. The resulting self-powered wireless sensors could be used for chemical, biological, heat and stress sensing for defense and industry; radio-frequency identification (RFID) tagging for manufacturing and shipping, and monitoring tasks in many fields including communications and power usage.

A presentation on this energy-scavenging technology was scheduled for delivery July 6 at the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Symposium in Spokane, Wash. The discovery is based on research supported by multiple sponsors, including the National Science Foundation, the Federal Highway Administration and Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

Communications devices transmit energy in many different frequency ranges, or bands. The team's scavenging devices can capture this energy, convert it from AC to DC, and then store it in capacitors and batteries. The scavenging technology can take advantage presently of frequencies from FM radio to radar, a range spanning 100 megahertz (MHz) to 15 gigahertz (GHz) or higher.

Scavenging experiments utilizing TV bands have already yielded power amounting to hundreds of microwatts, and multi-band systems are expected to generate one milliwatt or more. That amount of power is enough to operate many small electronic devices, including a variety of sensors and microprocessors.

And by combining energy-scavenging technology with super-capacitors and cycled operation, the Georgia Tech team expects to power devices requiring above 50 milliwatts. In this approach, energy builds up in a battery-like super-capacitor and is utilized when the required power level is reached.

The researchers have already successfully operated a temperature sensor using electromagnetic energy captured from a television station that was half a kilometer distant. They are preparing another demonstration in which a microprocessor-based microcontroller would be activated simply by holding it in the air.

Exploiting a range of electromagnetic bands increases the dependability of energy-scavenging devices, explained Tentzeris, who is also a faculty researcher in the Georgia Electronic Design Center (GEDC) at Georgia Tech. If one frequency range fades temporarily due to usage variations, the system can still exploit other frequencies.

The scavenging device could be used by itself or in tandem with other generating technologies. For example, scavenged energy could assist a solar element to charge a battery during the day. At night, when solar cells don't provide power, scavenged energy would continue to increase the battery charge or would prevent discharging.

Utilizing ambient electromagnetic energy could also provide a form of system backup. If a battery or a solar-collector/battery package failed completely, scavenged energy could allow the system to transmit a wireless distress signal while also potentially maintaining critical functionalities.

The researchers are utilizing inkjet technology to print these energy-scavenging devices on paper or flexible paper-like polymers -- a technique they already using to produce sensors and antennas. The result would be paper-based wireless sensors that are self-powered, low-cost and able to function independently almost anywhere.

To print electrical components and circuits, the Georgia Tech researchers use a standard-materials inkjet printer. However, they add what Tentzeris calls "a unique in-house recipe" containing silver nanoparticles and/or other nanoparticles in an emulsion. This approach enables the team to print not only RF components and circuits, but also novel sensing devices based on such nanomaterials as carbon nanotubes.

"We can now print circuits that are capable of functioning at up to 15 GHz -- 60 GHz if we print on a polymer," Vyas said. "So we have seen a frequency operation improvement of two orders of magnitude."

The researchers believe that self-powered, wireless paper-based sensors will soon be widely available at very low cost. The resulting proliferation of autonomous, inexpensive sensors could be used for applications that include:

• Airport security: Airports have both multiple security concerns and vast amounts of available ambient energy from radar and communications sources. These dual factors make them a natural environment for large numbers of wireless sensors capable of detecting potential threats such as explosives or smuggled nuclear material.

• Energy savings: Self-powered wireless sensing devices placed throughout a home could provide continuous monitoring of temperature and humidity conditions, leading to highly significant savings on heating and air-conditioning costs. And unlike many of today’s sensing devices, environmentally friendly paper-based sensors would degrade quickly in landfills.

• Structural integrity: Paper or polymer-based sensors could be placed throughout various types of structures to monitor stress. Self-powered sensors on buildings, bridges or aircraft could quietly watch for problems, perhaps for many years, and then transmit a signal when they detected an unusual condition.

• Food and perishable-material storage and quality monitoring: Inexpensive sensors on foods could scan for chemicals that indicate spoilage and send out an early warning if they encountered problems.

• Wearable bio-monitoring devices: This emerging wireless technology could become widely used for autonomous observation of patient medical issues.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Antoine on July 23, 2011, 23:10:00
The following is a bit of a specialized paper, but for chemist in the CF, you might find it interesting.

PM me if you don't have access to the article but you would like to read it.

Destruction and Detection of Chemical Warfare Agents, Chem. Rev., Article ASAP, (Web): June 13, 2011 (
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on July 31, 2011, 01:41:03
British engineers "print" an airplane. This is interesting for small/medium UAV's today, but engineers ar Airbus hope to use this sort of technology to build full sized aircraft parts and eventually airplanes. Imagine being able to "print" heavy transports and equipment when you need to do a surge...

UK Engineers Print and Fly the World's First Working 3-D Printed Aircraft
By Clay Dillow Posted 07.28.2011 at 12:44 pm 17 Comments

SULSA University of Southampton

Engineers at the University of Southampton in the UK have designed, printed, and sent skyward the world’s first aircraft manufactured almost entirely via 3-D printing technology. The UAV--dubbed SULSA (Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft)--is powered by an electric motor that is pretty much the only part of the aircraft not created via additive manufacturing methods.

It’s no slouch of a UAV either. SULSA boasts a 6.5-foot wingspan, a top speed of about 100 miles per hour, and is nearly silent while cruising. Created on an EOS EOSINT P730 nylon laser sintering machine, its wings, hatches, control surfaces--basically everything that makes up its structure and aerodynamic controls--was custom printed to snap together. It requires no fasteners and no tools to assemble.

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Technology, Clay Dillow, 3-D printing, aviation, rapid prototyping, uavs, unmanned aerial vehicles

This, of course, is the dream of aircraft makers big and small. Building something as large as a Boeing 787 for instance requires a lot of machining, a lot of custom tooling, and above all a lot of waste. Additive manufacturing (that’s a fancy way of saying 3-D printing) builds components layer by layer, allowing designers to create parts with virtually no waste. It also lets them tweak designs on the fly and go from CAD drawing to prototype extremely quickly (which is why it’s also referred to as “rapid prototyping”).

Moreover, it allows aircraft engineers tap design tricks that are known to be more efficient and effective but are also expensive and wasteful to create in practice--like the elliptical wings on SULSA. So perhaps it’s no surprise that elsewhere in the UK a team of Airbus engineers is working on printing an entire aircraft wing--that is, a real jetliner aircraft wing, the kind that would carry people--with the ultimate goal of printing out most of the important components of an entire passenger aircraft.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on August 01, 2011, 01:30:39
A very strange and out of the box way to generate electrical energy. This currently has a very low energy conversion efficiency, but note that it is still twice that of Lithium Ion batteries (the current gold standard), which would solve some pretty pressing logistical and weight issues for us:

More Efficient Sun-free photovoltaics

Using new nanofabrication techniques, MIT researchers made these samples of tungsten with billions of regularly spaced, uniform nanoscale holes on their surfaces. In their TVP system, this type of photonic crystal serves as a thermal emitter, absorbing heat and then—because of its surface structure—radiating to the PV diode only those wavelengths that the diode can convert into electricity. The inset shows a digital photo of the full 1 cm-diameter sample, illuminated by white light. The color suggests the diffraction of white light into green as a result of the surface pattern.

A new photovoltaic energy-conversion system developed at MIT can be powered solely by heat, generating electricity with no sunlight at all. While the principle involved is not new, a novel way of engineering the surface of a material to convert heat into precisely tuned wavelengths of light — selected to match the wavelengths that photovoltaic cells can best convert to electricity — makes the new system much more efficient than previous versions.

    They used a slab of tungsten, engineering billions of tiny pits on its surface. When the slab heats up, it generates bright light with an altered emission spectrum because each pit acts as a resonator, capable of giving off radiation at only certain wavelengths.

In this novel MIT design, input heat from an energy source raises the temperature of the tungsten photonic crystal, which transmits radiative heat at selected wavelengths to the PV diode. A second photonic crystal—mounted on the face of the PV diode—lets through heat at wave- lengths that the diode can convert into electricity and reflects the rest back to the tungsten photonic crystal, where it is reabsorbed and reemitted. Electricity from the PV diode passes to an electronic circuit that adjusts its voltage to match the external device being powered.

Prototypes of their micro-TPV power generator are "pretty exciting," says Celanovic. The devices achieve a fuel-to-electricity conversion efficiency of about 3%—a ratio that may not sound impressive, but at that efficiency their energy output is three times greater than that of a lithium ion battery of the same size and weight. The TPV power generator can thus run three times longer without recharging, and then recharging is instantaneous: just snap in a new cartridge of butane. With further work on packaging and system design, Celanovic is confident that they can triple their current energy density. "At that point, our TPV generator could power your smart phone for a whole week without being recharged," he says.

This diagram demonstrates how manipulating the nanostructure of the tungsten photonic crystal can affect the spectrum of the light it emits. (Emittance is an indicator of radiation efficiency.) In this example, the three colored spectra come from heated tungsten samples that contain nanoscale holes of differing diameters, depths, and spacing. Those differing geometries dramatically change the dominant wavelengths in the emitted light. The spectrum drawn in black is from a sample of tungsten with a smooth surface

    The key to this fine-tuned light emission, described in the journal Physical Review A, lies in a material with billions of nanoscale pits etched on its surface. When the material absorbs heat — whether from the sun, a hydrocarbon fuel, a decaying radioisotope or any other source — the pitted surface radiates energy primarily at these carefully chosen wavelengths.

    Based on that technology, MIT researchers have made a button-sized power generator fueled by butane that can run three times longer than a lithium-ion battery of the same weight; the device can then be recharged instantly, just by snapping in a tiny cartridge of fresh fuel. Another device, powered by a radioisotope that steadily produces heat from radioactive decay, could generate electricity for 30 years without refueling or servicing — an ideal source of electricity for spacecraft headed on long missions away from the sun.

    Half a century ago, researchers developed thermophotovoltaics (TPV), which couple a PV cell with any source of heat: A burning hydrocarbon, for example, heats up a material called the thermal emitter, which radiates heat and light onto the PV diode, generating electricity. The thermal emitter's radiation includes far more infrared wavelengths than occur in the solar spectrum, and "low band-gap" PV materials invented less than a decade ago can absorb more of that infrared radiation than standard silicon PVs can. But much of the heat is still wasted, so efficiencies remain relatively low.

    The solution, Celanovic says, is to design a thermal emitter that radiates only the wavelengths that the PV diode can absorb and convert into electricity, while suppressing other wavelengths. "But how do we find a material that has this magical property of emitting only at the wavelengths that we want?" asks Marin Soljačić, professor of physics and ISN researcher. The answer: Make a photonic crystal by taking a sample of material and create some nanoscale features on its surface — say, a regularly repeating pattern of holes or ridges — so light propagates through the sample in a dramatically different way.

    "By choosing how we design the nanostructure, we can create materials that have novel optical properties," Soljačić says. "This gives us the ability to control and manipulate the behavior of light."
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on August 23, 2011, 18:52:26
A rather amazing development. Who says we can't have connectivity?

A Wireless Communications System That Works When Cell Phones, Internet Are Down
BY Ariel SchwartzThu Aug 18, 2011
LifeNet lets computers and phones talk to each other without an Internet connection, which could come in handy after disasters that knock out communication networks.

One of the first things to disappear in the wake of a major disaster is reliable communication. Without access to cell phone service or the Internet, it's difficult for first responders--or anyone who wants to help out--to speak with each other. And while satellite phones work in these situations, they're too expensive for many first responder organizations to purchase en masse. Now researchers from Georgia Tech College of Computing claim to have developed a cheap, easy solution: LifeNet, a piece of software that allows people to communicate after disasters, even if landlines, cell phone networks, and the Internet are all down.

"It's just a piece of code that you can have on your laptop or phone. Once you have the software, the computers can communicate with each other, and you don't need infrastructure," says Santosh Vempala, the Georgia Tech computer science professor in charge of the project.

Any device that has LifeNet installed acts as both a host and router for the network--meaning the software can route data both to and from any other LifeNet-enabled device. You can read more technical details here.

A group of people using the software can all communicate with each other (texting is the easiest way), but if even one person on the network has access to the Internet, everyone else can access it, too--though the connection probably wouldnt be strong enough to do any powerful surfing, like stream video. And if one user has a satellite phone, the whole network can use its services.

There's just one catch: Users have to be within range of each other. Outdoors, this could mean up to a kilometer. Indoors, users may have to be as close as a few hundred yards. But as Vempala notes, "you could have a line of people on this network that are spaced 100 yards apart, and the line could go as long as you want."

Hrushikesh Mehendale, one of Vempala's former graduate students, plans to bring LifeNet to market. The software will be free, he says, but users will have to pay for specific applications (i.e text messaging). Still, the cost will be cheap compared to satellite phones, which cost up to $600 a pop and charge 50 cents per text.

Vempala and Mehendale have already tested LifeNet with the FAA, which found that it was able to run all of its operations on top of the network. The researchers also recently partnered with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in India, which will help deploy the service in communications-poor areas that have been hit hard by recent cyclones.

And the software isn't just useful in disaster situations. It could also be used in any region that lacks a reliable communications infrastructure. "The next thing is to get real users. We plan to find critical scenarios where we identify real need," says Mehendale.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 07, 2011, 12:09:13
Moving electrical energy around is difficult, and while this article is predicted on the use of such materials in long distance transmission, having high efficiency wiring for vehicles makes such things as electric drive or electrical weaponry more feasible. A bonus is superconductors have no electrical field, so the power wiring harness is "quiet" and won't interfere with on board electronics or comms equipment:

Innovative Superconductor Fibers Carry 40 Times More than Copper
Researchers at Tel Aviv University have found a way to make an old idea new with the next generation of superconductors.

    Dr. Boaz Almog and Mishael Azoulay working in the group of Prof. Guy Deutscher at TAU's Raymond and Beverly Sackler School of Physics and Astronomy have developed superconducting wires using fibers made of single crystals of sapphire to be used in high powered cables. Factoring in temperature requirements, each tiny wire can carry approximately 40 times more electricity than a copper wire of the same size. They have the potential to revolutionize energy transfer, says Dr. Almog.

The properties of copper wires are listed here

High temperature superconducting wire usually carries 4-10 times the power of copper SuperPower state-of-the-art second-generation high temperature superconductor (2G HTS) wire can carry up to one hundred times as much current as conventional copper wire.

Beating the heat

One of the things that make our copper wires inefficient is overheating, Dr. Almog explains. Due to electrical resistance found in the metal, some of the energy that flows through the cables is cast off and wasted, causing the wires to heat up. But with superconductors, there is no resistance. A self-contained cooling system, which requires a constant flow of liquid nitrogen, keeps the wire in its superconducting state. Readily available, non-toxic, and inexpensive — a gallon of the substance costs less than a gallon of milk — liquid nitrogen provides the perfect coolant.

Even with the benefit of liquid nitrogen, researchers were still hard pressed to find a material that would make the ideal superconductor. Superconductors coated on crystal wafers are effective but too brittle, says Dr. Almog, and although superconductors on metallic tapes had some success, the product is too expensive to manufacture in mass quantities.

To create their superconductors, the researchers turned to sapphire fibers, developed by Dr. Amit Goyal at the Oakridge National Lab in Tennessee and lent to the TAU team. Coated with a ceramic mixture using a special technique, these single-crystal fibers, slightly thicker than a human hair, have made innovative superconductors.

Going macro

Dr. Almog is currently working to produce better superconductors that could transport even larger amounts of electric current.

One area where such superconductors could lend a hand is in collecting renewable energy sources. "Sources such as wind turbines or solar panels are usually located in remote places such as deserts or offshore lines, and you need an efficient way to deliver the current," explains Dr. Almog. These superconductors can traverse the long distances without losing any of the energy to heat due to electrical resistance.

Superconducting cables could also be an efficient way to bring large amounts of power to big cities "If you want to supply current for a section of a city like New York, you will need electric cables with a total cross-section of more than one meter by one meter. Superconductors have larger current capacities using a fraction of the space," says Dr. Almog. Different parts of a city could be cross-wired, he adds, so that in the event of a blackout, power can be easily rerouted.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 16, 2011, 22:26:51
Rapidly building shelters for bases, refugee camps and so on is always a logistical nightmare. This technology can bring the costs down dramatically (and imagine replacing ancient buildings on base for a small fraction of the current cost of replacing old structures):

A true bargain house
First prototype built from MIT’s effort to construct houses for $1,000 each.

Photo: Ying chee Chui
September 15, 2011

Home prices in many of the world’s most famous cities run to well over $1,000 per square foot. By contrast, MIT architects have produced a decidedly more affordable alternative: the first prototype from the Institute’s “1K House” project, an effort to see if low-cost homes for the poor can be constructed for $1,000, total.

The prototype, called Pinwheel House, was designed by Ying chee Chui MArch ’11, a graduate of MIT’s Department of Architecture, and has been constructed in Mianyang, in Sichuan Province, China.

“It’s part of the responsibility of an architect, to create these spaces for people to live,” Chui says. “It’s from the heart.”

Chui first designed Pinwheel House in 2009 as part of the design studio — essentially a class — that launched the 1K House effort. The project is particularly focused on affordable housing for areas hit by natural disasters, such as the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan. This prototype turned out to be more costly, at $5,925, but is still very inexpensive in relative terms.

The idea to attempt building $1,000 homes was first conceived by Tony Ciochetti, the Thomas G. Eastman Chair at MIT’s Center for Real Estate, and inspired by One Laptop Per Child, the foundation headed by MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte that brings low-cost computers to children.

“There is a huge proportion of the world’s population that has pressing housing needs,” says Ciochetti, who first got the idea for the initiative after seeing a family of four emerge from a tiny mud hut while he was traveling through rural India. Like One Laptop Per Child’s aim of developing $100 computers, Ciochetti adds, the idea of the $1,000 house is intended as a challenge to designers: “Can you build affordable, sustainable shelter for such a large population?”

Pinwheel and courtyard

Chui’s house is one of 13 plans that emerged from the first 1K House design studio, in 2009. It features hollow brick walls with steel bars for reinforcement, wooden box beams, and is intended to withstand a magnitude 8.0 earthquake.

The Pinwheel House prototype was more expensive to build partly because it is larger than Chui’s original design — about 800 square feet, rather than 500 square feet. The smaller version of the house could be built for about $4,000, says Chui, now an architectural practitioner in New York City. That figure could be still lower if a large number of the homes were built at once, she adds.

In any case, the central design concept of Pinwheel House is the same: It has a modular layout, with rectangular room units surrounding a central courtyard space. “The module can be duplicated and rotated, and then it becomes a house,” Chui says. “The construction is easy enough, because if you know how to build a single module, you can build the whole house.”

Yung Ho Chang, a professor of architectural design at MIT who helped oversee the 2009 1K House design studio, thinks the prototype has fulfilled the promise of Chui’s design. “The house Chee built has good ventilation and good light,” Chang says.

Chang, for his part, is originally from China, and runs an independent practice there, Atelier FCJZ. He was attracted to the 1K House project, in part, by the shortage of good housing in some parts of his native country.

“After the earthquake, this project came as a natural thing to do,” Chang says. “It’s not just about how cheap the house is, but if it’s decent. When you look at living conditions in parts of China, India and Africa, they don’t meet the basic standards of what we think of as real housing.”

From $1K to $10K?

The 1K House project has proven successful enough, and attracted enough attention, that Chang is overseeing a related MIT design studio this fall, along with a number of outside collaborators. This one aims to create a series of home designs, intended for Japan, which would cost $10,000 to build. Participants in the studio include architects and designers from Tokyo University, the Japanese architecture firm Tsushima Design Studio, Atelier FCJZ, the Japanese retailer Muji, and Vanke, a real estate development firm in China.

“The idea of the 1K house is very much about how could we, as architects in research institutions like MIT, work on world poverty,” Chang says. “This semester, the mission is more about how design could reach a bigger percentage of the population, in the middle class.”

The new design studio also aims to create homes that could be built inexpensively following natural disasters, such as the earthquake and tsunami that struck northern Japan in March. Rebuilding in such situations, Chang says, often entails three stages of construction: the creation of temporary shelters, then stronger temporary homes sturdy enough for winter weather, and then permanent replacements for damaged or destroyed buildings.

During that process, Chang says, “there are a lot of resources wasted, including energy.” Alternately, he suggests, inexpensive and simple houses built from an existing template could let countries rebuild more quickly with practical, permanent structures.

The use of inexpensive housing for rebuilding is, in part, why architects in Japan are now engaging with the project. The initiative “is an important step in the realization of rapid/permanent community building,” says Andrew Wit, an architect with Tsushima Design Studio, responding to questions by email. After disasters, he adds, “the government very quickly builds shelters to house all of those affected by the events, but these cheap housing types have very short lifespans and are also made at very low quality standards … But the [MIT house project] asks if it is possible to utilize new technologies and processes for the quick creation of housing equal to or higher then the typical quality standards which are currently seen in Japan.”

Plenty of hurdles remain before any home can be manufactured for $1,000 or less. “If it were easy, somebody would have done it,” Ciochetti says.

But ultimately, Chang hopes, convening further studios in the vein of the 1K House project will allow more designs to move from the drawing board and onto solid ground. “The inexpensive laptop got to be more than an idea, it became available for children,” Chang says. “I hope one day we’ll be in the same position.”
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 24, 2011, 01:18:22
A survey of current laser weapon technology. The magic 100kW mark has been reached, so lasers can emit enough energy to be tactically useful vs targets like incoming rockets, UAVs, small boats etc. The next challenge is to reduce the volume of the laser, power system and optical train to fit in smaller tactical vehicles:
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: FlyingDutchman on September 28, 2011, 23:29:21

Bullet proof skin anyone?

Imagine having a gun fired at you, the bullet whizzing toward you at a super-fast speed. But instead of the bullet piercing your skin and traveling deep inside your body, what if it instead repelled off your skin?

What sounds like a scenario straight out of a superhero movie or a sci-fi novel could eventually become reality. Scientists have created a skin made with goat's milk packed with spider-silk proteins, according to news reports. Their hope is that they can eventually replace the keratin in human skin --which makes it tough -- with the spider-silk proteins.

To make the bullet-proof material, Dutch scientists first engineered goats to produce milk that contains proteins from extra-strong spider silk. Then, using the milk from the goats, they spun a bullet-proof material; a layer of real human skin is then grown around that skin, a process that takes five weeks, the Daily Mail reported.

"Science-fiction? Maybe, but we can get a feeling of what this transhumanistic idea would be like by letting a bulletproof matrix of spidersilk merge with an in vitro human skin," researcher Jalila Essaidi told the Daily Mail.

Does it work? Well, the skin is only able to stop bullets fired at reduced speeds, TechNewsDaily reported. It was not able to stop a bullet from a .22 caliber rifle shot at a normal speed, which is the required standard for today's bulletproof vests.

The skin is currently on display at the National Natural History Museum Naturalis in Leiden, Netherlands, until Jan. 8, 2012, TechNewsDaily reported.

More research must be done before this bullet-proof "super skin" can actually be possible to engineer into humans.
Edit: forgot quote tags
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 29, 2011, 20:30:09
High tech capacitors have been touted as replacement energy sources for electric and electronic equipment; more progress here:

First Energy-Storage Membrane
A team from the National University of Singapore’s Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Initiative (NUSNNI), led by principle investigator Dr Xie Xian Ning, has developed the world’s first energy-storage membrane.

    The new membrane promises greater cost-effectiveness in delivering energy, but also an environmentally-friendly solution. The researchers used a polystyrene-based polymer to deposit the soft, foldable membrane that, when sandwiched between and charged by two metal plates, could store charge at 0.2 farads per square centimeter. This is well above the typical upper limit of 1 microfarad per square centimetre for a standard capacitor.

    The cost involved in energy storage is also drastically reduced. With existing technologies based on liquid electrolytes, it costs about US$7 to store each farad. With the advanced energy storage membrane, the cost to store each farad falls to an impressive US$0.62. This translates to an energy cost of 10-20 watt-hour per US dollar for the membrane, as compared to just 2.5 watt-hour per US dollar for lithium ion batteries.

energy storage membrane

Polymer Physics - Supercapacitive energy storage based on ion-conducting channels in hydrophilized organic network

    Conventional electrode materials for supercapacitors are based on nanoscaled structures with large surface areas or porosities. This work presents a new electrode material, the so-called hydrophilized polymer network. The network has two unique features: 1) it allows for high capacitance (up to 400 F/g) energy storage in a simple film configuration without the need of high-surface-area nanostructures; 2) it is unstable in water, but becomes extremely stable in electrolyte with high ionic strength. The above features are related to the hydrophilizing groups in the network which not only generate hydrated ionic conduction channels, but also enable the cross-linking of the network in electrolyte. Because of its practical advantages such as easy preparation and intrinsic stability in electrolyte, the hydrophilized network may provide a new route to high-performance supercapacitive energy storage. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys 49: 1234–1240, 2011

    The performance of the membrane surpasses those of rechargeable batteries, such as lithium ion and lead-acid batteries, and supercapacitors.

    Potential applications: From hybrid vehicles to solar panels and wind turbines

    The membrane could be used in hybrid vehicles for instant power storage and delivery, thus improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emission. Potentially, hybrid cars with the membrane technology could be powered by the energy stored in the membranes in conjunction with the energy provided by fuel combustion, increasing the lifespan of car batteries and cutting down on waste.

    The membrane could also be integrated into solar panels and wind turbines to store and manage the electricity generated. Energy provided through these sources is prone to instability due to their dependence on natural factors. By augmenting these energy sources with the membrane, the issue of instability could potentially be negated, as surplus energy generated can be instantly stored in the membranes, and delivered for use at a stable rate at times when natural factors are insufficient, such as a lack of solar power during night-time.

    Next Step

    The research team has demonstrated the membrane’s superior performance in energy storage using prototype devices. The team is currently exploring opportunities to work with venture capitalists to commercialise the membrane. To date, several venture capitalists have expressed strong interest in the technology.

    “With the advent of our novel membrane, energy storage technology will be more accessible, affordable, and producible on a large scale. It is also environmentally-friendly and could change the current status of energy technology,” Dr Xie said.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 30, 2011, 23:47:41
A new robot with expanded capabilities. This one can be used as a load carrier, or potentially a scout and weapons platform as well:

AlphaDog Robot Video
The AlphaDog Proto is a lab prototype for the Legged Squad Support System, a robot being developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA and the US Marine Corps. When fully developed the system will carry 400 lbs of payload on 20-mile missions in rough terrain. The first version of the complete robot will be completed in 2012. This video shows early results from the control development process. In this video the robot is powered remotely. AlphaDog is designed to be over 10x quieter than BigDog.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: FlyingDutchman on October 06, 2011, 11:47:24
Reproduced under the Copyright Act (

K-MAX unmanned chopper delivers Air Force salute to Afghan danger (video)

It's a year since Lockheed Martin won the contract to provide an unmanned cargo delivery system to the US military and now its first K-MAX helicopter is just about ready for duty. The 6,000-pound RC chopper is scheduled to journey to the manifold fronts of Afghanistan next month, where it'll get busy ferrying its own bodyweight in ammo and supplies to needy anthills up to 200km away. And, if things get too sticky for laptop flying, there's always room for a brave soul to jump in there and grab the controls. You'll find a fresh demo video after the break, plus we've also stuck in that fancy clip from last year to rotor your memory.

There are videos at the link.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 08, 2011, 10:10:36
More bandwidth! Small base stations that can fit into vehicles, UAV's and FOBs are going to be needed to support the amount of data *we* want to transmit and receive. Here is one way to do this:

The Cell Tower That's Smaller Than a Bread Basket
Breakthrough innovator Tod Sizer's tiny cell antenna is a low-tech solution to the pressing problem of data overwhelming our existing cellular networks.
By Logan Ward

With predictions of a thirtyfold increase in mobile data demand by 2015, Tod Sizer, head of wireless research at Bell Labs, knew something had to give. "There's no way we can put up 30 times as many cell towers as there are today," he says. So he did what any high-tech engineer would do—he went to his wood shop. Sizer cut a 60-mm cube, attached an aluminum plate to represent an antenna and handed it to his team, telling them to rethink everything.

Their solution, the lightRadio cube, drastically shrinks the antenna and combines it with an amplifier to boost the signal. Digital-processing functions, which currently hunker in a building at a cell tower's base, will be consolidated in facilities up to 25 miles away. Sizer compares this Lego-block approach to multicore computer processors. "The future," he says, "is not about higher- and higher-power solutions. It's about lower-power solutions serving a smaller number of people with the same amount of data." According to the company, arrays of the cubes—affixed to skyscrapers, airport terminals, bus stops—can increase broadband capacity by 30 percent while cutting operation costs and energy consumption in half.

The lightRadio cube won't topple all towers—they'll still be needed along roadways and in rural areas—but it should greatly reduce their proliferation. It should also revolutionize cellphone service in the cities of resource-strapped developing countries.

Read more: The Cell Tower That's Smaller Than a Bread Basket - 2011 Breakthrough Award Winner - Popular Mechanics
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: FlyingDutchman on October 22, 2011, 22:29:55
Video in link

Mesa Robotics' mini-tank is perfectly happy on point

The Acer ground-bot from Mesa Robotics does way more than your average 4,500-pound semi-autonomous mule. In addition to carrying kit and providing that extra bit of ballistic steel-deflecting cover, it also scans for IEDs using ground-penetrating radar and then autonomously switches into "flail" mode when it finds one -- digging up and detonating that critter with barely a break in its 6MPH stride. Did we mention it also acts as a landing pad for small drones? No? That's because the video after the break says it all. Cue obligatory guitars, game controllers and armchair gung-ho.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: GnyHwy on October 22, 2011, 22:48:14
More bandwidth! Small base stations that can fit into vehicles, UAV's and FOBs are going to be needed to support the amount of data *we* want to transmit and receive. Here is one way to do this:

We can barely afford or manage the bandwidth we're using now.  Bandwidth will only get more expensive; hence why analog TV is dissapearing.  The supply vs demand will soon kick in; if it hasn't already.

The info will become more daunting.  The workable solution... bigger Ops staffs; which I understand as no one (except me) is in favour of.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 23, 2011, 01:07:50
Unless all these ops people will be riding around in UAV's and manning sensor posts ( ;)), they are going to be the biggest consumers of bandwidth around.

There are several tricks pointed out in this thread that *could* help manage the bandwidth problem, and of course during war, everyone will grab and use whatever bandwidth is available.

The real killer app will be training people to act and respond without receiving orders and updates when their bandwidth has been taken or compromised. Isn't that what our Manouevre Warfare "Doctrine" was all about?  >:D
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 25, 2011, 21:47:51
I was struck after reading this post about the difference between our messed up procurement system and the speed with which these guys are doing things. We need a satellite communication system for the high arctic for our CF-35's and anything else which moves up there; imagine how long it will take through conventional means.

I am pretty sure that Canadians can do it much quicker and cheaper than a government project; a barracks box sized space telescope called "MOST" was built and launched for under $10 million, and like many NASA spacecraft, operated for years beyond the expected operating life. Heck, I imagine that there is probably enough talent signed up on to undertake a project of this type.

The real point here is that we may really have to look far outside the box for the next decade or so while the economic crisis unwinds (i.e. the Global Economy deleverages and the various credit bubbles around the planet defleate) to quickly and cheaply develop capabilities that we desire. In another thread, I noted that a modern AFV *could* probably be run by a small number of inexpensive tablet computers and a large number of "apps"; compared to the various "bespoke" black boxes that make up most AFV electronics. Other examples could probably be found...

Welcome to Copenhagen Suborbitals
By Kristian von Bengtson   October 24, 2011  |  2:47 pm  |  Categories: Rocket Shop, Science Blogs

HEAT1X-Tycho BRahe launch 2011. Image: Bo Tornvig
Dear reader…

My name is Kristian von Bengtson, and I design and build spacecrafts.

I have so much to show you and share with you. A little over three years ago my life changed. Everything I have learned, taught myself, loved and wanted to do was suddenly merged together in a split second: building my own space rocket with the right partner and crew. The ultimate DIY project.

It was in May 2008 I founded Copenhagen Suborbitals together with my newfound friend Peter Madsen. I met Peter who, like me, was at a crossroads in life in terms of projects. He had just finished his last home-made submarine, and I was back from NASA doing work on space capsules. Within a few minutes we joined forces and inside Peter’s submarine, under water, we planned how to conquer the universe without a single dime in our pockets.

Without any chance of turning in a business plan, with a fraction of sense, to someone with money, we decided just to begin and to make this endeavor an open source and non-profit project. We wanted to leave it to people to decide if they wanted to donate some money.

Today three years later we are blessed with thousands of donors, many sponsoring companies, and about 30 fantastic and hard-working part-time specialists. In June 2011 we succeeded in launching our dummy manned space rocket into the air. It was hand-built at a price of approximately $100,000. It flew! Even though we encountered a trajectory anomaly, we were still able to communicate with the rocket. We were able to shut down the hybrid rocket engine, separate the spacecraft and deploy the parachutes. It was the success we so dearly wanted.

This is not a business, nor is it an attempt to race against being the first doing private space travel in Europe. It is truly a project pushing the limits of a small group of individuals.

Human space flight has always been “untouchable.” It has been for big companies or governments only to take on. But Copenhagen Suborbitals would like to show the world that it can be done by thinking unconventionally in all areas, not only in terms of research and development but also on the financial side. We want to find the old spirit of the pioneer and entrepreneur in ourselves and in the process hopefully inspire as many as possible.

We design and build everything from scratch using ordinary materials. We try to overcome the complex process of making a suborbital space rocket by letting the ordinary and plain be our guide, instead of letting the complex and extreme become our obstacles.

Today is yet a great day. I have been given the privilege to blog here on about Copenhagen Suborbitals. I hope you will join me on this journey and never be afraid to send me feedback or even suggest how to solve our challenges. You will see it all. From thoughts and sketches to the actual production as it happens. Hopefully you will get to know how we are thinking and how we are working using classic trial and error processes.

Since you will be joining Copenhagen Suborbitals in the development process, you will see and hear things that might seem ridiculous. And sometimes it is. You might even be scared, frustrated and annoyed. Then please let me know! For now, take a look at

Ten hours ago I arrived in New York City. Peter and I will be representing Copenhagen Suborbitals, which has been nominated for the World Technology Award 2011. Don’t know if we will beat the establishment, and I don’t really care. I am just happy to be back here where I used to live and study and am looking forward to talking to a lot of interesting folks.

And I am looking forward to meeting you again, very soon … right here on

Ad Astra,

Kristian von Bengtson
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 29, 2011, 01:16:13
A Canadian company revives an old LTA idea:

Video: Canadian Company Develops Solar Powered Plane/Blimp Cargo Hauler

Green energy presents so many amazing opportunities and advantages over our current energy infrastructure…like the ability to go places where there isn’t any infrastructure. A Canadian company has developed a lightweight plane/blimp that can haul up to 1,000 kg of goods and is powered solely by the sun.

Flying Close To The Sun
The company, called Solar Ship, has developed a lightweight plane that can take off and land in the space of a football field. Big deal, so what right? Totally impractical…oh, wait, it can carry over 1,000 kg/2,200 lbs of stuff a distant of about 1,000 kilometers/620 miles? Well now, that certainly is impressive, and opens up a whole word of possibilities.

Some ideas for ways to use the Solar Ship are as an emergency rescue video to remote parts of the world where disaster strikes. They could also be used to deliver resources to distant mining or hunting outposts…though I wonder what happens should you fly under a big, dark cloud…

Hauler For Humanity
The blimp-part of the plane holds a lot of helium…but not enough to lift the plane on its own. An electric motor, powered by a battery that is charged by solar panels on the blimp’s back, allow the Solar Ship to take off and land in less than 100 yards, and it can be filled with enough helium to allow it to carry over a ton of supplies. Compared to other electric aircraft, which can only transport a few passengers short distances, the Solar Ships seem to have a practical purpose.

So far the smallest version of the Solar Ship, called the Caracal, has been built and can lift over a ton of materials. The designers envision it as useful in situations like those that followed the Haiti earthquake. With the main airstrip ruined, it took 8 days for supplies to be flown in. But the little Solar Ship can land just about anywhere, and while it can’t ferry much compared to a jumbo jet, a little bit can go a long way right after a disaster, and bigger versions are planned that could lift as much as 30 tons of material.

While the first test is already under its belt, more tests are required before production can take place, with runs planned for 2012 and 2013. It will be interested to see how these Solar Ships shape up.
Source: Wired UK | Solar Ships

Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar
Source: Gas 2.0 (

A company called Aireon came up with something like this in the late 1960's/early 1970's (assisted lift, but without the solar part). If this can be made to work, this could be an interesting utility/logistics vehicle, or basis for a UAV platform.

(edit to add)

For military purposes, a solar powered airship would be rather limited, but the point of assisted lift (the helium negates most of the weight of the vehicle) is to allow a much smaller engine to be used. A small four cylinder diesel engine from a Volkswagon Golf would probably provide more than enough power for these airships (and bigger engines or turbocharged versions can provide the motivation for larger versions). A cargo carrier that can move a metric ton of supplies and is not tied to the road network, but only needs the fuel to power a small car engine will have some pretty impressive effecs for the logistics chain.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on November 02, 2011, 19:04:26
Could have used something like this during the G-20 summit. Black Block movment people, Caledonia and OWS are other prime examples where monitoring or phone shut downs would help law enforcement a great deal:

UK Cops Using Fake Mobile Phone Tower to Intercept Calls, Shut Off Phones
By Kim Zetter   October 31, 2011  |  6:53 pm  |  Categories: Surveillance

Britain’s largest police force has been using covert surveillance technology that can masquerade as a mobile phone network to intercept communications and unique IDs from phones or even transmit a signal to shut off phones remotely, according to the Guardian.

The system, made by Datong in the United Kingdom, was purchased by the London Metropolitan police, which paid $230,000 to Datong for “ICT hardware” in 2008 and 2009.

The portable device, which is the size of a suitcase, pretends to be a legitimate cell phone tower that emits a signal to dupe thousands of mobile phones in a targeted area. Authorities can then intercept SMS messages, phone calls and phone data, such as unique IMSI and IMEI identity codes that allow authorities to track phone users’ movements in real-time, without having to request location data from a mobile phone carrier.

In the case of intercepted communications, it is not clear whether the network works as a blackhole where intercepted messages go to die, or whether it works as a proper man-in-the-middle attack, by which the fake tower forwards the data to a real tower to provide uninterrupted service for the user.

In addition to intercepting calls and messages, the system can be used to effectively cut off phone communication, such as in a war zone where phones might be used as a trigger for an explosive device, or for crowd control during demonstrations and riots where participants use phones to organize.

The Met police would not provide details to the Guardian about where or when its technology had been used.

According to the company’s web site, Datong “develops intelligence solutions for international military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies for use in all operating environments,” and sells its products in the U.S. as well.

Between 2004 and 2009, Datong won over $1.6 million in contracts with the U.S. Secret Service, Special Operations Command, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies. In February 2010, the company won a $1.2 million contract to supply tracking and location technology to the U.S. defense industry. It also sells technology to regimes in the Middle East.

A spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service verified to CNET that the agency has done business with Datong, but would not say what sort of technology it bought from the company.

The FBI is known to use a similar technology called Triggerfish, which also pretends to be a legitimate cell tower base station to trick mobile phones into connecting to it. The Triggerfish system, however, collects only location and other identifying information, and does not intercept phone calls, text messages, and other data.

Last year at the DefCon hacker conference in Las Vegas, security researcher Chris Paget demonstrated a low-cost, home-brewed device that mimics the IMSI catchers that U.S. law enforcement agencies use.

The device spoofs a legitimate GSM tower and emits a signal that’s stronger than legitimate towers in the area to entice cell phones to route their outbound calls through the spoofed tower, allowing an attacker to intercept and record calls before they’re routed on their proper way through voice-over-IP.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: jollyjacktar on November 02, 2011, 20:36:14
Nice.  But I'd wager something of that sort is already in town and working....
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on November 18, 2011, 10:01:21
Calling fire support from a continent away?

2,400 Miles in Minutes? No Sweat! Hypersonic Weapon Passes ‘Easy’ Test

    By Noah Shachtman Email Author
    November 17, 2011  |
    2:57 pm  |
    Categories: Weapons and Ammo

For a test of a hypersonic weapon flying at eight times the speed of sound and nailing a target thousands of miles away, this was a relatively simple demonstration. But it worked, and now the military is a small step closer to its dream of hitting a target anywhere on Earth in less than an hour.

The last time the Pentagon test-fired a hypersonic missile, back in August, it live-tweeted the event — until the thing crashed into the Pacific Ocean. This time around, it kept the test relatively quiet. The results were much better.

To be fair, this was also an easier test to pass. Darpa’s Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 — the one that splashed unsuccessfully in the Pacific — was supposed to fly 4,100 miles. The Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon went about 60 percent as far, 2,400 miles from Hawaii to its target by the Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific. Darpa’s hypersonic glider had a radical, wedge-like shape: a Mach 20 slice of deep dish pizza, basically. The Army’s vehicle relies on a decades-old, conventionally conical design. It’s designed to fly 6,100 miles per hour, or a mere eight times the speed of sound.

But even though the test might have been relatively easy, the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon effort could wind up playing a key role in the military’s so-called “Prompt Global Strike” effort to almost instantly whack targets half a world away. A glider like it would be strapped to a missile, and sent hurtling at rogue state’s nuclear silo or a terrorist’s biological weapon cache before it’s too late.

At first, the Prompt Global Strike involved retrofitting nuclear missiles with conventional warheads; the problem was, the new weapon could’ve easily been mistaken for a doomsday one. Which meant a Prompt Global Strike could’ve invited a nuclear retaliation. No wonder Congress refused to pay for the project.

So instead, the Pentagon focused on developing superfast weapons that would mostly scream through the air, instead of drop from space like a nuclear warhead. Those hypersonic gliders may cut down on the geopolitical difficulties, but introduced all sorts of technical ones. We don’t know much about the fluid dynamics involved when something shoots through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. And there really aren’t any wind tunnels capable of replicating those often-strange interactions.

“You have to go fly,” says retired Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright, who helped lead the Prompt Global Strike push as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as head of U.S. Strategic Command. “You have to open up the envelope of knowledge.”

Darpa and the Air Force worked on understanding the aerodynamics of hypersonic flight — that’s one of the reasons behind the ill-fated Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle tests. Meanwhile, the Army concentrated on controlling the hypersonic glider, and on thermal management. Moving through the air at Mach 8 generates a huge amount of heat. The military was keen to see if the carbon composite coating on the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon could take it. The last thing the Pentagon wants is for its Prompt Global Strike weapon to burn up before hitting its target.

Judging from yesterday’s test, it looks like the carbon composite held up. And so the plan to take out enemies from continents away just got a little easier to pull off.

Stuff like this also seems to be able to support long range doctrine like AirSea Battle as well.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: GnyHwy on November 18, 2011, 19:02:05
That's a scramjet, that could look like the pic below.

Here's a wiki link that describes the technology. (

No explosives required.  100lbs of solid shot at mach 7 will work just fine.  Likely great for hard installations.

Not too sure about hitting ships.  I do believe that this would demand accurate GPS coords, and the target would have to be static.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on November 21, 2011, 22:35:47
Imagine thousands of cooperative robots for EOD or engineering tasks (among other things)

Kilobots are leaving the nest
November 21, 2011

Swarm of tiny, collaborative robots will be made available to researchers, educators, and enthusiasts

CONTACT: Michael Patrick Rutter, (617) 496-3815

The Kilobots are coming.

Computer scientists and engineers at Harvard University have developed and licensed technology that will make it easy to test collective algorithms on hundreds, or even thousands, of tiny robots.

Called Kilobots, the quarter-sized bug-like devices scuttle around on three toothpick-like legs, interacting and coordinating their own behavior as a team. A June 2011 Harvard Technical Report demonstrated a collective of 25 machines implementing swarming behaviors such as foraging, formation control, and synchronization.

Once up and running, the machines are fully autonomous, meaning there is no need for a human to control their actions.

The communicative critters were created by members of the Self-Organizing Systems Research Group led by Radhika Nagpal, the Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. Her team also includes Michael Rubenstein, a postdoctoral fellow at SEAS; and Christian Ahler, a fellow of SEAS and the Wyss Institute.

Thanks to a technology licensing deal with the K-Team Corporation, a Swiss manufacturer of high-quality mobile robots, researchers and robotics enthusiasts alike can now take command of their own swarm.

One key to achieving high-value applications for multi-robot systems in the future is the development of sophisticated algorithms that can coordinate the actions of tens to thousands of robots.

"The Kilobot will provide researchers with an important new tool for understanding how to design and build large, distributed, functional systems," says Michael Mitzenmacher, Area Dean for Computer Science at SEAS.

"Plus," he adds, "tiny robots are really cool!"

The name "Kilobot" does not refer to anything nefarious; rather, it describes the researchers' goal of quickly and inexpensively creating a collective of a thousand bots.

Inspired by nature, such swarms resemble social insects, such as ants and bees, that can efficiently search for and find food sources in large, complex environments, collectively transport large objects, and coordinate the building of nests and other structures.

Due to reasons of time, cost, and simplicity, the algorithms being developed today in research labs are only validated in computer simulation or using a few dozen robots at most.

In contrast, the design by Nagpal's team allows a single user to easily oversee the operation of a large Kilobot collective, including programming, powering on, and charging all robots, all of which would be difficult (if not impossible) using existing robotic systems.

So, what can you do with a thousand tiny little bots?

Robot swarms might one day tunnel through rubble to find survivors, monitor the environment and remove contaminants, and self-assemble to form support structures in collapsed buildings.

They could also be deployed to autonomously perform construction in dangerous environments, to assist with pollination of crops, or to conduct search and rescue operations.

For now, the Kilobots are designed to provide scientists with a physical testbed for advancing the understanding of collective behavior and realizing its potential to deliver solutions for a wide range of challenges.

Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation and the Wyss Institute.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on November 25, 2011, 00:57:22
More here and now stuff; lightweight, modular armour. I like the built in holster, but that's me...

U.S. PALM Defender Body Armor
U.S. PALM's Defender body armor was designed with civilians in mind and is a great item to have stored next to your home-defense firearm.
By Bob Owens (RSS)
November 21, 2011

You snap awake in the middle of the night, your pulse racing. You aren’t sure why, and then you suddenly hear the unmistakable sound of glass breaking downstairs. You slip your pistol from the safe in your nightstand drawer and grab the flashlight you keep by your bed for emergencies, moving to take position in the bedroom door where you have a commanding view of the hallway. This won’t end well for someone, but can you make sure that someone isn’t you?
In a potentially life-or-death scenario like a home invasion, both criminal and homeowner have advantages and disadvantages. When it’s your home, however, wouldn’t you prefer to maximize your tactical supremacy? U.S. PALM has decided the advantage should decisively go to the defender… or rather, the Defender.

Instead of grabbing your gun and running to the sound of a broken window or kicked-in door, put this vest on first, and you’ll gain a psychological edge from the knowledge that you are at least somewhat protected.

The Defender is a simple body armor concept, perfectly executed in rugged black, MultiCam, coyote brown or Ranger Green 500D Cordura nylon. A single, IIIA, soft body armor panel (available in large or extra-large) covers the vital chest area, riding on a pair of padded, adjustable shoulder straps. A simple wrap-around strap cinches the armor around your midsection. Best of all, you are “good to go” in about the time it takes to read this paragraph—or about 5 seconds.

The basic back panel is unarmored, but it can carry a second armor panel if the user so desires. In addition, the soft armor can be swapped out for most 10×12-inch Level IV hard-armor plates in both the front and rear, giving the user multiple-shot protection against even rifle fire.
The Defender variant I have on hand is the Handgun Defender. It mounts a universal holster (which fits most pistols, with or without an attached weaponlight) atop three universal handgun mag pouches (one on the right, two on the left). The magazine pouches could also conceivably carry a tactical flashlight or pepper spray canister without any problem at all. The vest also has a small admin pouch at the top of the vest.
U.S. PALM makes other Defender variants, including three models designed to carry rifle magazines for the AR-15, AK-47 and .308 Win.-chambered semi-automatics like the AR-10.

In addition, the company offers a MOLLE version on which you can add your own pouches, and a slick version without any pouches at all for wearing beneath clothing.

All Defender vests feature a common rear panel with a MOLLE strip across the back (not a bad spot for your IFAK or tourniquet), and two pouches ideal for carrying emergency supplies. The single-panel Defender weighs just 1.6 pounds, while the dual panel model tips the scales at 3 pounds.
The single 10×12.5-inch armor-panel vests retail for $199 ($249.99 for the 11×13.5-inch XL version), and the dual-panel variants with front and back Level IIIA  panels retail for $99 more ($124.99 more for XL), which makes the Defender series a steal when it comes to body armor.

It must be noted that the Defender lacks the wrap-around side protection of many soft-armor systems typically worn by military and law enforcement personnel, but that is by design. The Defender series was conceived for those who do not need to wear a vest all the time, but who may need to don one quickly. Home defenders also tend to know what direction home invaders are coming from, and a homeowner in a good defensive position is is mostly likely to be facing the threat, head-on.

Another possible alternative for those who like U.S. PALM’s armor concept—but feel they simply must have side protection in a relatively quick-donning vest—is the Desert Tracker Plate Carrier, which was originally designed to address a specific law enforcement problem.

Police officers in the American Southwest face desert heat that can be every bit as deadly as a criminal’s bullet. As a result, they’ve sometimes chosen not to wear body armor to minimize the possibility of heat stroke or heat exhaustion resulting from wearing heat-trapping body armor for long periods of time in the desert sun.

U.S. PALM’s Desert Tracker features a front vest panel designed to carry a SAPI or ESAPI rifle plate, and sides that can carry Level IIIA  6×6-inch soft armor for added flank protection. The back of the vest is open for ventilation, and the shoulder straps, front and side panels are lined with a moisture-wicking mesh on padded backing. It is available as either a MOLLE version, which is what I have for review, or with three double-magazine pouches holding six AR-style magazines in total. Colors offered include MultiCam, Ranger Green, coyote brown and an Italian special operations desert camouflage pattern called CB62 that works very well in the American Southwest, where this plate carrier was designed to operate. The only issue some civilians may have with the $249.99 Desert Tracker is it comes as the plate carrier only, with the user needing to provide armor of their own.
Both the Defender series and the Desert Tracker provide purpose-built armor carriage for specific customers, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone else making equipment that hits these niches at such attractive prices.

As a civilian far away from the desert, relatively unlikely to come upon a cartel gunman crossing the border with an AK-47 in hand, I admittedly don’t have the need of the Desert Tracker. But, we buy car insurance, medical insurance and home insurance hoping that we’ll never have occasion to use them. The Defender just makes sense as part of your conflict insurance—an insurance plan that includes your firearm(s) and training. Understood with this context in mind, the most surprising thing about the U.S. PALM Defender is that a lightweight, easy-to-use and relatively inexpensive armor vest has taken so long to arrive.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on November 26, 2011, 23:34:45
Long term help for people suffering brain injuries:’s-circuitry/

Rebuilding the brain’s circuitry
Healthy neurons can integrate into diseased areas
By David Cameron
Harvard Medical School Communications
Thursday, November 24, 2011

File photo by Matt Craig/Harvard Staff Photographer

“The next step for us is to ask parallel questions of other parts of the brain and spinal cord, those involved in ALS and with spinal cord injuries. In these cases, can we rebuild circuitry in the mammalian brain? I suspect that we can,” said Jeffrey Macklis, Harvard University professor of stem cell and regenerative biology.

Neuron transplants have repaired brain circuitry and substantially normalized function in mice with a brain disorder, an advance indicating that key areas of the mammalian brain are more reparable than was widely believed.

Collaborators from Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) transplanted normally functioning embryonic neurons at a carefully selected stage of their development into the hypothalamus of mice unable to respond to leptin, a hormone that regulates metabolism and controls body weight. These mutant mice usually become morbidly obese, but the neuron transplants repaired defective brain circuits, enabling them to respond to leptin and thus experience substantially less weight gain.
Repair at the cellular-level of the hypothalamus — a critical and complex region of the brain that regulates phenomena such as hunger, metabolism, body temperature, and basic behaviors such as sex and aggression — indicates the possibility of new therapeutic approaches to even higher-level conditions such as spinal cord injury, autism, epilepsy, ALS  (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.

In 2005, Harvard Medical School Dean Jeffrey Flier, then the George C. Reisman professor of medicine at BIDMC, published a landmark study showing that an experimental drug spurred the addition of new neurons in the hypothalamus and offered a potential treatment for obesity. File photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

“There are only two areas of the brain that are known to normally undergo ongoing large-scale neuronal replacement during adulthood on a cellular level — so-called ‘neurogenesis,’ or the birth of new neurons — the olfactory bulb and the subregion of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus, with emerging evidence of lower level ongoing neurogenesis in the hypothalamus,” said Jeffrey Macklis, Harvard University professor of stem cell and regenerative biology and HMS professor of neurology at MGH, and one of three corresponding authors on the paper. “The neurons that are added during adulthood in both regions are generally smallish and are thought to act a bit like volume controls over specific signaling.  Here we’ve rewired a high-level system of brain circuitry that does not naturally experience neurogenesis, and this restored substantially normal function.”

The two other senior authors on the paper are Jeffrey Flier, dean of Harvard Medical School, and Matthew Anderson, HMS professor of pathology at BIDMC.

The findings are to appear Nov. 25 in Science.

In 2005, Flier, then the George C. Reisman professor of medicine at BIDMC, published a landmark study, also in Science, showing that an experimental drug spurred the addition of new neurons in the hypothalamus and offered a potential treatment for obesity. But while the finding was striking, the researchers were unsure whether the new cells functioned like natural neurons.
Macklis’ laboratory had for several years developed approaches to successfully transplanting developing neurons into circuitry of the cerebral cortex of mice with neurodegeneration or neuronal injury. In a landmark 2000 Nature study, the researchers demonstrated induction of neurogenesis in the cerebral cortex of adult mice, where it does not normally occur. While these and follow-up experiments appeared to rebuild brain circuitry anatomically, the new neurons’ level of function remained uncertain.

To learn more, Flier, an expert in the biology of obesity, teamed up with Macklis, an expert in central nervous system development and repair, and Anderson, an expert in neuronal circuitries and mouse neurological disease models.
The groups used a mouse model in which the brain lacks the ability to respond to leptin. Flier and his lab have long studied this hormone, which is mediated by the hypothalamus. Deaf to leptin’s signaling, these mice become dangerously overweight.

Prior research had suggested that four main classes of neurons enabled the brain to process leptin signaling. Postdocs Artur Czupryn and Maggie Chen, from Macklis’ and Flier’s labs, respectively, transplanted and studied the cellular development and integration of progenitor cells and very immature neurons from normal embryos into the hypothalamus of the mutant mice using multiple types of cellular and molecular analysis. To place the transplanted cells in exactly the correct and microscopic region of the recipient hypothalamus, they used a technique called high-resolution ultrasound microscopy, creating what Macklis called a “chimeric hypothalamus” — like the animals with mixed features from Greek mythology.
Postdoc Yu-Dong Zhou, from Anderson’s lab, performed in-depth electrophysiological analysis of the transplanted neurons and their function in the recipient circuitry, taking advantage of the neurons’ glowing green from a fluorescent jellyfish protein carried as a marker.

These nascent neurons survived the transplantation process and developed structurally, molecularly, and electrophysiologically into the four cardinal types of neurons central to leptin signaling. The new neurons integrated functionally into the circuitry, responding to leptin, insulin, and glucose. Treated mice matured and weighed approximately 30 percent less than their untreated siblings or siblings treated in multiple alternate ways.
The researchers then investigated the precise extent to which these new neurons had become wired into the brain’s circuitry using molecular assays, electron microscopy for visualizing the finest details of circuits, and patch-clamp electrophysiology, a technique in which researchers use small electrodes to investigate the characteristics of individual neurons and pairs of neurons in fine detail. Because the new cells were labeled with fluorescent tags, postdocs Czupryn, Zhou, and Chen could easily locate them.

The Zhou and Anderson team found that the newly developed neurons communicated to recipient neurons through normal synaptic contacts, and that the brain, in turn, signaled back. Responding to leptin, insulin and glucose, these neurons had effectively joined the brain’s network and rewired the damaged circuitry.

“It’s interesting to note that these embryonic neurons were wired in with less precision than one might think,” Flier said. “But that didn’t seem to matter. In a sense, these neurons are like antennas that were immediately able to pick up the leptin signal. From an energy-balance perspective, I’m struck that a relatively small number of genetically normal neurons can so efficiently repair the circuitry.”

“The finding that these embryonic cells are so efficient at integrating with the native neuronal circuitry makes us quite excited about the possibility of applying similar techniques to other neurological and psychiatric diseases of particular interest to our laboratory,” said Anderson.
The researchers call their findings a proof of concept for the broader idea that new neurons can integrate specifically to modify complex circuits that are defective in a mammalian brain.

The researchers are interested in further investigating controlled neurogenesis — directing growth of new neurons in the brain from within — the subject of much of Macklis’ research as well as Flier’s 2005 paper, and a potential route to new therapies.

“The next step for us is to ask parallel questions of other parts of the brain and spinal cord, those involved in ALS and with spinal cord injuries,” Macklis said. “In these cases, can we rebuild circuitry in the mammalian brain? I suspect that we can.”

This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Jane and Lee Seidman Fund for Central Nervous System Research, the Emily and Robert Pearlstein Fund for Nervous System Repair, the Picower Foundation, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Autism Speaks, and the Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: FlyingDutchman on November 28, 2011, 18:14:55
Heads up display anyone?

Scientists testing HUD contact lenses on rabbits, hope to bring augmented reality to your eyeballs

Scientists at Washington University are a step closer to bringing us all some sweet information displaying contact lenses. The team has been successfully testing prototype lenses on rabbits -- though there are some major caveats here. First, due to limits of circuitry, they can only display a single light-emitting diode at a time. Also, the scientists have yet to figure out a workable energy source -- at present, they need to be within centimeters of a wireless battery. The researchers have big plans, however, including the display of holographic images -- and, no doubt, information about which targets to destroy.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: aesop081 on November 28, 2011, 18:45:49
Nice.  But I'd wager something of that sort is already in town and working....

Indeed. The technology here is called "Bell Mobility"


messages go to die

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: jollyjacktar on November 28, 2011, 19:58:43
Indeed. The technology here is called "Bell Mobility"

Yes, the evil empire of telecom.  Sadly, I'm a customer.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on November 29, 2011, 00:55:15
Clearing poisions, toxins and infection from the body quickly:

Tiny Magnets Could Clear Diseases from the Blood

Researchers make magnetic nanoparticles that can latch on to harmful molecules and purge them from the blood.
By Adam Marcus

Researchers in Zurich, Switzerland, are developing nanomagnets that could someday strip potentially harmful substances from the blood. The technology might be used to treat people suffering from drug intoxication, bloodstream infections, and certain cancers.

The project involves magnetized nanoparticles that are coated with carbon and studded with antibodies specific to the molecules the researchers want to purge from the blood: inflammatory proteins such as interleukins, or harmful metals like lead, for example. By adding the nanomagnets to blood, then running the blood through a dialysis machine or similar device, the researchers can filter out the unwanted compounds.

"The nanomagnets capture the target substances, and right before the nanoparticles would be recirculated, the magnetic separator accumulates the toxin-loaded nanomagnets in a reservoir and keeps them separated from the recirculating blood," explains Inge Herrmann, a chemical engineer at the University of Zurich who is leading the work.

According a study published in the journal Nephrology Dialysis and Transplantation in February 2011, the researchers were able to remove 75 percent of digoxin, a heart drug that can prove fatal if given in too high a dose, in a single pass through a blood-filtration device. After an hour and a half of cleansing, the nanomagnets had removed 90 percent of the digoxin.

One big caveat is that the researchers must demonstrate that the particles aren't toxic to the body and won't interfere with the blood's ability to clot. But early results are promising. In a 2011 paper in Nanomedicine, Herrmann's group showed that the nanomagnets did not damage cells or promote clotting—two critical safety milestones.

At the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in October, Herrmann presented data showing that the nanomagnets are partially taken up by monocytes and macrophages, two forms of immune cells. That's an important proof of principle for any future application of the technology in fighting serious infections.

Herrmann and her colleagues are now conducting a study of the technology in rats with sepsis—a severe bloodstream infection marked by the massive buildup of damaging immune molecules. Severe sepsis affects approximately a million people in the United States each year.

Jon Dobson, a biomedical engineer at the University of Florida, says detoxification is "a really interesting application" of nanotechnology. His own group has been using magnetic nanoparticles as remote controls to manipulate cellular activity, such as the differentiation of stem cells. "With chemicals, once the process starts, it can be difficult to switch it off. With magnetic technology, you can switch it on and off at will," Dobson says.

The potential uses of the Swiss group's method might extend beyond sepsis to other diseases, including blood cancers, Dobson says. For example, it might be possible to design nanomagnets that pair up with circulating leukemia cells and usher them out of the body, thus reducing the risk of metastasis.

O. Thompson Mefford, a nanotechnology expert at Clemson University, says the approach has appeal. He notes that the human body is a highly oxidative environment, and oxidation of iron weakens the magnetic properties of the material. By coating their magnets in carbon, the Swiss group may have come up with a way to prevent this corrosion.

Still, he says, the viability of the technique remains to be seen: "Having high circulation times, no immune response, and having the magnets not cluster with each other, that's a real challenge."
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: camouflage on December 01, 2011, 22:32:01
Calling fire support from a continent away?

Stuff like this also seems to be able to support long range doctrine like AirSea Battle as well.

A missile like this would save many American soldiers' lives.  As Ripley said:  We should nuke them from orbit.  It is the only way to be sure.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 03, 2011, 00:16:05
While insulation seems mundane, lightweight, low bulk items like this can make setting up in tropical or cold climates easier, reduce fuel and electrical consumption and lighten the logistical chain. This migh also have applications to insulate vehicles and possibly mask heat signatures:

Thinner thermal insulation
Research News Dec 01, 2011

Insulation panels that are both thin and effective are expensive. At present these high-end products are built into energy-saving refrigerators. Innovative components and production techniques are now set to sink the costs – so that private home-builders can also benefit from the new technology.

In Germany, the rising cost of heating has sparked a renovation boom. In order to lower energy costs, more and more homeowners are investing in insulation facades. But the typical insulation layers on the market have one drawback: they add bulk. The 20-centimeter-thick outer skin changes the building’s visual appearance and can result in significant follow-up costs – with a need to fit new, deeper window sills and sometimes even roof extensions. Fraunhofer researchers are now developing films for a material that will insulate homes without much additional structural alteration: vacuum isolation panels, VIPs for short. The panels are only two centimeters thick and yet perform just as well as a classic 15-centimeter-thick insulation layer made from polyurethane foam. The inner workings of the VIPs are made mostly from pyrogenic silica. A high-tech film holds the material together and makes it air-tight.

Dr. Klaus Noller from the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Freising and Prof. Gerhard Sextl from the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC in Würzburg have been involved with the development of VIPs since the very beginning. They now want to ready the panels for cost-effective mass production. “The key elements are the films: they dictate the quality, life span and price,” acknowledges Noller. “The current production method is time-consuming and expensive: three of the five layers of plastic have to be coated with aluminum and stuck together. This requires seven production steps, which drives the price up.” At present, these expensive VIPs are employed only where a space saving is worth the money: for example in high-end refrigerators and freezers.

The new film is easier to produce because it is made up of just two plastic films with three barrier layers: one aluminum-coated plastic film is coated with a micrometer-thin layer of ORMOCER® – an ISC invention – and then coated again with aluminum. ORMOCER®s contain an organic-inorganic hybrid silicon-oxygen polymer matrix, which makes the material exceptionally tight and stable. “That’s what makes it perfect for insulation panels,” says Noller. “Gases and liquids cannot easily penetrate the ORMOCER® layer.” The new insulation films can be fashioned in just five stages. First a film is coated, then the ORMOCER® layer applied, then coated a second time before the barrier film is applied to the sealing film. “The end product is better and cheaper than the insulation films already on the market,” claims Sextl.

Researchers have also optimized the production of the VIP insulation elements: at the Fraunhofer Application Center for Processing Machines and Packaging Technology AVV in Dresden they have developed an automated process for gently sealing the pyrogenic silica cores with the high-barrier film. The films and production process have now been patented. As soon as the new VIPs are being produced in large enough quantities, the price should fall. Sextl and Noller are convinced that the thin panels will then be of interest for the building industry.

Now researchers want to simplify the production process further and carry out long-term tests. Until now the panels had to last just twelve years – the average lifespan of a refrigerator. The building sector has higher expectations: a facade should last fifty years. Noller and his colleagues are now testing the stability of films and insulation elements in climate chambers, which simulate the seasonal changes in heat and frost and in humidity. The results should be available in just a few months.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 09, 2011, 14:51:55
Cheap, lightweight TI's for gunsights and cameras for recce are one thing, but I'm not so sure I wuold want them mounted on cellphones...

Raytheon Awarded $13.4 Million in Defense Funding to Advance Thermal Imagers Manufacturing

Program aims to make thermal imaging accessible to every warfighter

GOLETA, Calif., Dec. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) has been awarded $13.4 million by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under the Low Cost Thermal Imaging Manufacturing (LCTI-M) program. The goal of LCTI-M is to develop a wafer scale manufacturing process that will make thermal imagers affordable and accessible to every warfighter.

Under the three-year contract, Raytheon Vision Systems (RVS) will develop wafer scale manufacturing processes to reduce the size, weight, power and cost of thermal cameras so that they can be integrated into PDAs or cell phones. Wider availability would enhance situational awareness and information sharing among dismounted soldiers and individual intelligence personnel, where a common view of the battlefield is critical.

"Making high-performance thermal imagers available to every vehicle, surveillance device and dismounted soldier will give them greater situational awareness in low light, adverse weather and obscured environments," said Charlie Cartwright, vice president of Raytheon Network Centric Systems' Advanced Programs, which includes RVS.   

Infrared imaging can capture clear images and valuable information even in environments with severely degraded visibility. Because of their small size and low power requirements, thermal imagers can be integrated into hand-held units, rifle sights, helmets or eyeglasses, and can support extended missions. Additionally, the captured images can be shared instantly for intelligence analysis, surveillance and reconnaissance, or mission command.

About Raytheon

Raytheon Company, with 2010 sales of $25 billion, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 89 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 72,000 people worldwide. For more about Raytheon, visit us at and follow us on Twitter at @raytheon.

Media Contact
Joyce Kuzmin
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 13, 2011, 09:02:01
Micro engines have been proposed to run on board generators in laptops and so on, but this is about the most "micro" I have ever seen:

The world’s smallest steam engine
A heat engine measuring only a few micrometres works as well as its larger counterpart, although it splutters

December 11, 2011
What would be a case for the repair shop for a car engine is completely normal for a micro engine. If it sputters, this is caused by the thermal motions of the smallest particles, which interfere with its running. Researchers at the University of Stuttgart and the Stuttgart-based Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems have now observed this with a heat engine on the micrometre scale. They have also determined that the machine does actually perform work, all things considered. Although this cannot be used as yet, the experiment carried out by the researchers in Stuttgart shows that an engine does basically work, even if it is on the microscale. This means that there is nothing, in principle, to prevent the construction of highly efficient, small heat engines.

A technology which works on a large scale can cause unexpected problems on a small one. And these can be of a fundamental nature. This is because different laws prevail in the micro- and the macroworld. Despite the different laws, some physical processes are surprisingly similar on both large and small scales. Clemens Bechinger, Professor at the University of Stuttgart and Fellow of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, and his colleague Valentin Blickle have now observed one of these similarities.

“We’ve developed the world’s smallest steam engine, or to be more precise the smallest Stirling engine, and found that the machine really does perform work,” says Clemens Bechinger. “This was not necessarily to be expected, because the machine is so small that its motion is hindered by microscopic processes which are of no consequence in the macroworld.” The disturbances cause the micromachine to run rough and, in a sense, sputter.

The laws of the microworld dictated that the researchers were not able to construct the tiny engine according to the blueprint of a normal-sized one. In the heat engine invented almost 200 years ago by Robert Stirling, a gas-filled cylinder is periodically heated and cooled so that the gas expands and contracts. This makes a piston execute a motion with which it can drive a wheel, for example.

“We successfully decreased the size of the essential parts of a heat engine, such as the working gas and piston, to only a few micrometres and then assembled them to a machine," says Valentin Blickle. The working gas in the Stuttgart-based experiment thus no longer consists of countless molecules, but of only one individual plastic bead measuring a mere three micrometres (one micrometre corresponds to one thousandth of a millimetre) which floats in water. Since the colloid particle is around 10,000 times larger than an atom, researchers can observe its motion directly in a microscope.

The physicists replaced the piston, which moves periodically up and down in a cylinder, by a focused laser beam whose intensity is periodically varied. The optical forces of the laser limit the motion of the plastic particle to a greater and a lesser degree, like the compression and expansion of the gas in the cylinder of a large heat engine. The particle then does work on the optical laser field. In order for the contributions to the work not to cancel each other out during compression and expansion, these must take place at different temperatures.  This is done by heating the system from the outside during the expansion process, just like the boiler of a steam engine. The researchers replaced the coal fire of an old-fashioned steam engine with a further laser beam that heats the water suddenly, but also lets it cool down as soon as it is switched off.

The fact that the Stuttgart machine runs rough is down to the water molecules which surround the plastic bead. The water molecules are in constant motion due to their temperature and continually collide with the microparticle. In these random collisions, the plastic particle constantly exchanges energy with its surroundings on the same order of magnitude as the micromachine converts energy into work. “This effect means that the amount of energy gained varies greatly from cycle to cycle, and even brings the machine to a standstill in the extreme case,” explains Valentin Blickle. Since macroscopic machines convert around 20 orders of magnitude more energy, the tiny collision energies of the smallest particles in them are not important.

The physicists are all the more astonished that the machine converts as much energy per cycle on average despite the varying power, and even runs with the same efficiency as its macroscopic counterpart under full load. “Our experiments provide us with an initial insight into the energy balance of a heat engine operating in microscopic dimensions. Although our machine does not provide any useful work as yet, there are no thermodynamic obstacles, in principle, which prohibit this in small dimensions,” says Clemens Bechinger. This is surely good news for the design of reliable, highly efficient micromachines.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Hamish Seggie on December 13, 2011, 10:07:07
At the rate we're going, we'll look like this guy
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: FlyingDutchman on December 13, 2011, 12:43:40
He needs some moisturizer.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 16, 2011, 08:08:29
Increasing the performance of satellites. This approach can also be used for radio antenna, allowing detailed radar imaging from space or radio communication satellites that can send and receive to small, low power devices like iPhones:

'Dream' Space Telescope for Military Could Spy Anywhere on Earth
By InnovationNewsDaily Staff
14 December 2011 2:04 PM ET

DARPA space telescope, military spy satellites

If the U.S. military wants live video of a missile launcher vehicle halfway around the world, it must rely upon spy planes or drones in danger of being shot down. Tomorrow, the Pentagon wants space telescopes hovering in geosynchronous orbit that could take real-time images or live video of any spot on Earth.

Contrary to Hollywood's ideas, today's spy satellites that orbit the Earth at fast speeds and relatively lower altitudes can only snap photos for the U.S. military and intelligence agencies. Taking live video of a single location would require satellites to hover by matching the Earth's rotation in geosynchronous orbit about 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) high — but creating and launching a space telescope with the huge optics arrays capable of seeing ground details from such high orbit has proven difficult.

As a solution, DARPA — the Pentagon's research arm — envisions a lightweight optics array made of flexible membrane that could deploy in space. Ball Aerospace has just completed an early proof-of-concept review as part of a DARPA contract worth almost $37 million.

"The use of membrane optics is an unprecedented approach to building large aperture telescopes," said David Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colo.

DARPA eventually wants a space telescope with a collection aperture (light-collecting power) of almost 66 feet (20 meters) in diameter. By comparison, NASA's next-generation James Webb Space Telescope is designed to have an aperture of just 21 feet (6.5 m).

Such a telescope should be able to spot missile launcher vehicles moving at speeds of up to 60 mph on the ground, according to the DARPA contract. That would also require the image resolution to see objects less than 10 feet (3 m) long within a single image pixel.

But first, Ball Aerospace must create and test a 16-foot (5 m) telescope in the DARPA project's second phase. Phase three would involve launching a 32-foot (10 m) telescope for flight tests in orbit.

If all goes well, U.S. military commanders and intelligence agents may someday get live streaming video and up-to-date images of battlefields or trouble spots around the world. Such capability could complement the swarms of cheap drones providing battlefield surveillance today, and might even spare the U.S. embarrassment from losing spy drones over Iran or other countries.

NASA may also want a similarly flexible solution for cheaper space telescopes — except aimed away from Earth rather than spying on this blue marble of a planet.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 20, 2011, 15:33:59
One for the bad guys. The only consolation prise is that the west has access to more people and equipment trained and suited for this type of work so we can potentially reverse engineer biowar agents. The technologies reported here (,91633.msg1093903.html#msg1093903) may be useful if deployed on a large scale, or we could simply put an "Army of Davids" to work and strike back with even more terrible bioweapons (something freelancers might be inclined to do anyway):

Part 1

The Bioterrorist Next Door
Man-made killer bird flu is here.  Can -- should -- governments try to stop it?


In September, an amiable Dutchman stepped up to the podium at a scientific meeting convened on the island of Malta and announced that he had created a form of influenza that could well be the deadliest contagious disease humanity has ever faced. The bombshell announcement, by virologist Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center, sparked weeks of vigorous debate among the world's experts on bioterrorism, influenza, virology, and national security over whether the research should have been performed or announced and whether it should ever be published.

Meanwhile, a joint Japanese-American research team led by the University of Wisconsin's Yoshihiro Kawaoka says that it, too, has manufactured a superflu. Additionally, a team at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta has acknowledged doing similar research, without successfully making the über flu. The U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity is now deliberating whether to censor publication of the Fouchier and Kawaoka papers, though it lacks any actual power to do so: It could so advise scientific journals, but editors would still decide. The advisory board is expected to release its decision on Dec. 15.

The interest in this brave new world of biology is not limited to the scientific community. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a surprise visit to Geneva on Dec. 7, addressing the Biological Weapons Convention review conference. The highest-ranking U.S. official to speak to the biological weapons group in decades, Clinton warned, "The emerging gene-synthesis industry is making genetic material widely available. This obviously has many benefits for research, but it could also potentially be used to assemble the components of a deadly organism."

"A crude but effective terrorist weapon can be made by using a small sample of any number of widely available pathogens, inexpensive equipment, and college-level chemistry and biology," Clinton also stated. "Less than a year ago, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula made a call to arms for, and I quote, 'brothers with degrees in microbiology or chemistry to develop a weapon of mass destruction.'"

Noting that "It is not possible, in our opinion, to create a verification regime" for biological weapons compliance under the convention, Clinton called for voluntary transparency on biological experimentation among the 165 countries that have signed the agreement.

Officials throughout the U.S. government are declining to comment on the influenza experiments or elaborate on Clinton's comments and appearance in Geneva. The influenza scientists were politely but firmly instructed recently by U.S. officials to keep their mouths shut and provide no data or details regarding their experiments to anybody. Sources inside the Dutch, German, and French governments say that discreet agreement was reached among Western leaders to greet the influenza pronouncements with a wall of silence, pending the advisory board's decision and detailed analysis of the experiments by classified intelligence and scientific bodies.

Should we worry? If these scientists have indeed used the techniques that they have verbally described (but not yet published) to produce a highly contagious and virulent form of the so-called "bird flu," the feat can at least theoretically be performed by lesser-skilled individuals with nefarious intentions. Perhaps more significantly, the evolutionary leaps might be made naturally, via flu-infected birds, pigs, even humans. In other words, the research has implications for both terrorism and a catastrophic pandemic. Moreover, several experimental antecedents involving smallpox-like viruses and polio lend credence to the idea that concocting or radically altering viruses to create more lethal or transmissible germs is becoming an easier feat and an accidental byproduct of legitimate research.

The advisory board is debating whether the work, as well as details on how the flu viruses were deliberately mutated, should be published. That is the wrong question. As a practical matter, experimental results are now shared with lightning speed between laboratories, and I know that several leading scientists outside Fouchier's and Kawaoka's labs already recognize exactly how these experiments were executed. The genie is out of the bottle: Eager graduate students in virology departments from Boston to Bangkok have convened journal-review debates reckoning exactly how these viral Frankenstein efforts were carried out.

The list of attempts by governments to stifle scientific information is lengthy and marked by failure. I was at a 1982 optical engineering meeting in San Diego that was disrupted by a censorship order handed down by the Ronald Reagan administration's security chief, Adm. Bobby Ray Inman, compelling seizure of about 100 papers. The administration claimed the findings in those mathematics papers would, in Soviet hands, pose an existential threat to the United States -- an assertion that proved laughable when the studies soon saw the light of day. In 2006, George W. Bush's administration tried to block climate change–related presentations by NASA scientist James Hansen; every single one of Hansen's data points swiftly appeared on the Internet.

Rather than trying to censor research because its inevitable release might be harmful, we ought to be having a frank, open discussion about its implications. The correct questions that scientists, national security and political leaders, and the public ought to be asking are: How difficult was it to perform these experiments? Could they be replicated in the hands of criminals or would-be terrorists? What have these experiments shown us about the likelihood that the H5N1 "bird flu" virus will naturally evolve into this terrifying form? Are we safer, or less secure, today due to the post-2001 anthrax-inspired proliferation of high-security biological laboratories?

What Genie Has Popped from Which Bottle?

In 1997, the form of influenza now dubbed H5N1, or avian flu, emerged in Hong Kong, killing six people and forcing the destruction of every chicken in the protectorate. The virus had been circulating in aquatic migratory birds and domestic poultry flocks within mainland China for at least two years, but it was not recognized as a unique entity until the Hong Kong outbreak. The spread of H5N1 was temporarily halted by Hong Kong health official Margaret Chan, who ordered the mass culling of the area's poultry. Chan now serves as director general of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The virus reappeared in Thailand in 2003, killing flocks of chickens and ducks that November and infecting humans in January 2004 in Thailand and Vietnam. The H5N1 virus mutated in 2005 as it spread among various species of birds migrating through northern China, giving avian flu the capacity to infect a far greater range of bird species, as well as mammals -- including human beings. That year, human and animal outbreaks of H5N1 appeared across a vast expanse of the globe, from the southernmost Indonesian islands, up to central Siberia, and as far west as Germany.

By mid-2011, H5N1 had become a seasonal occurrence in a swath of the world spanning 63 countries of Asia, the Pacific Islands, Eastern and Western Europe, the Middle East, and North and West Africa. Since its 2004 reappearance, H5N1 has sickened at least 565 people, killing 331, for an overall mortality rate of 59 percent. The Ebola virus can be more lethal -- as high as 90 percent -- but is not terribly contagious. Rabies, in the absence of vaccination, is 100 percent lethal, but it can only be transmitted through the bite of an animal. It is estimated that in pre-vaccine days, the smallpox virus killed about a third of the people it infected.

Only influenza holds the potential of both severe contagion and, in the case of H5N1, astounding mortality rates, ranging from about 35 percent in Egypt (where the virus circulates widely) to more than 80 percent in parts of Indonesia (where 178 confirmed cases have resulted in 146 deaths). The virulence of H5N1 is far higher than that seen with any other influenza, including the notorious 1918 flu that killed an estimated 62 million people in less than two years. (Some reckonings of 1918 death tolls in poor countries that lacked epidemic reporting systems, such as China, India, and all of Africa, put the final mortality at 100 million, when the world population was just 1.8 billion and commercial air travel did not exist.) Six years ago, the spread of H5N1 sparked concern in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the White House, and many of its counterpart centers of government worldwide. Tremendous efforts ensued to kill infected domestic poultry, rapidly identify outbreaks, and pool scientific resources to track and scrutinize various H5N1 strains as they emerged. Some 400 million domestic birds were killed between 2004 and 2010, at an estimated global cost of $20 billion. It all seemed to work: By the end of 2008 the annual number of poultry outbreaks of H5N1 had shrunk from 4,000 down to 300.

In fearful anticipation, health and virus experts also watched for signs that the virus was spreading from one person to another. Although there were clusters of victims, infected families, and isolated person-to-person possible infections, the dreaded emergence of a form of humanly contagious H5N1 never occurred. By 2010, many leading virologists concluded that H5N1 was a terrifying germ -- for birds. The confident consensus, however, was that the mutations that avian flu would have to undergo to be able to spread easily from one human lung to another's were so complex as to approach evolutionary impossibility.

By mid-2011 the global response to avian flu had grown lethargic and complacent. Predictably, in the absence of vigilant bird-culling and vaccination efforts, trouble emerged as outbreaks mounted across Asia. Between January 2010 and the spring of 2011 more than 800 outbreaks were dutifully logged by government officials worldwide. In late July, a 4-year-old girl died of H5N1 in Cambodia, making her the seventh avian flu mortality in a country that had been free of the microbe for a long time.

On Aug. 29, the Food and Agriculture Organization sounded a mutation alarm, noting a new strain of the virus, dubbed H5N1-, had surfaced in wild and domestic bird populations in Vietnam. Vietnam was one of six countries (including Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, China, and India) in which avian flu had become endemic, meaning it permanently circulated among local and migratory birds. A week later, a Boston biotech company called Replikins announced the discovery of a mutant combination of the avian H5N1 flu and the so-called "swine flu" that spread swiftly among people during the 2009 global pandemic. Replikins's claim implied that the highly virulent bird flu could gain the capacity to spread rapidly between people by absorbing infection genes from the contagious-but-wimpy H1N1 swine influenza.

Although these announcements sparked a minor panic in Asia, further scrutiny of both the and Replikins's claim left the WHO convinced that no new human threat loomed. In early September, a collective sigh of public-health relief was expelled.

Three days later, the conference of the European Scientists Fighting Influenza (ESWI, the Romance-language acronym) convened in Malta, opening with scientific evidence of current pandemic potentials. The stage was set by renowned University of Hong Kong flu scientist Malik Peiris, who described with exquisite precision which genetic factors made the "swine flu," H1N1, highly contagious between pigs, ferrets, humans, and other mammals. Peiris offered evidence that the 2009 H1N1 pandemic started among American pigs but had been circulating in swine populations throughout North America and China for decades before making the mutational steps that sparked global spread.

Fouchier, the Dutch scientist, who has tracked H5N1 avian flu outbreaks in Indonesia for years, then suggested that vaccines used for years on chicken farms are now failing. Perhaps under selective evolutionary pressure, forms of vaccine-resistant H5N1 have appeared, Fouchier told the Malta meeting, adding, "We discovered that only one to three substitutions are sufficient to cause large changes in antigenic drift." In other words, naturally occurring, infinitesimal changes in the flu's genetic material are sufficient to render vaccines useless.

Fouchier went on to describe what he dubbed his "stupid" experiment of infecting ferrets in his lab sequentially with H5N1. One set of the animals would be infected, and then Fouchier would withdraw nasal fluid from the ferrets and use it to inoculation-infect a second set of animals. After 10 repeats, the superkiller H5N1 emerged, spreading through the air rapidly, killing 75 percent of the exposed animals. (Because Fouchier's work has not been published, accounts of the experiment vary, based on reporting from those who were present to hear his Malta speech. In some accounts the superlethal bird flu resulted from only five serial passages in ferrets -- a number far more likely to occur randomly in nature.)

"This virus is airborne and as efficiently transmitted as the seasonal virus," Fouchier told the Malta crowd, adding that he had identified which specific five mutations were necessary. Only five minute switches in RNA nucleotides -- the most basic elements of genetics -- were needed.

"This is very bad news, indeed," a sober Fouchier concluded.

The five dire mutations (technically, single nucleotide changes occurring inside two genes) have been separately found in influenza viruses circulating in the world. The actual mutations are not, therefore, unique. Fouchier's only innovation was in making all five occur inside the same virus at once. The more famous flu researcher from Erasmus, Albert Osterhaus, told reporters that what is done in the lab can happen in nature, adding, "Expect the unexpected.… The mutations are out there, but they have not gotten together yet."

Under questioning in Malta, Fouchier said his ferret form of H5N1 would certainly spread among humans and is "one of the most dangerous viruses you can make."

Shortly after Fouchier's announcement, Kawaoka, the University of Wisconsin scientist, let it be known that he, too, has made an airborne-transmissible H5N1 that readily spreads among mammals. Kawaoka's efforts were jointly executed by teams he heads at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Tokyo. No further details regarding this effort are publicly available, though Kawaoka has submitted a paper detailing his techniques and discoveries for review by the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, as has Fouchier. Both scientists wish to publish their work in major scientific journals.

Scientists are deeply divided regarding publication. "If I were a journal editor and I received an article that said how to make a bioweapon, I'd never publish it, but that would be based on self-regulation, not any government restriction," anthrax expert and retired Harvard University professor Matt Meselson told an interviewer. "I've never heard of a case where the government has restricted publication. I don't think it would work." But fellow anthrax researcher Paul Keim, who chairs the advisory board, told reporters, "I can't think of another pathogenic organism that is as scary as this one. I don't think anthrax is scary at all compared to this."

Perhaps the most intriguing comments came from Australian scientist Ian Ramshaw, who suggested that the Fouchier or Kawaoka papers could serve as bioterrorism blueprints: "As a researcher you do the good thing, but in the wrong hands it could be used for evil. In this case I'm not so worried about bioterrorism. It's the disgruntled researcher who is dangerous -- the rogue scientist," Ramshaw warned, according to the Canberra Times. Ten years ago Ramshaw accidentally made a superkiller form of mousepox, the rodent version of smallpox, in his Australian National University laboratory. He injected lab mice with the pox virus to test out a completely unrelated contraceptive vaccine, but the experiment transformed the virus into a deadly monster with a 100 percent fatality rate. In 2001 Ramshaw's work spurred high-level concern about the use of genetically modified smallpox by a rogue nation or terrorist group, launching the vigorous, multibillion-dollar post-9/11 American smallpox vaccine effort, as detailed in my new book, I Heard the Sirens Scream.

Within two years of Ramshaw's accidental mousepox creation, separate labs deliberately created viruses. In 2002, researchers at the State University of New York in Stony Brook built a polio virus from its genetic blueprint. This constituted a proof of principle, demonstrating that in a sufficiently skilled laboratory, all that is required to make a deadly virus is its nucleotide sequence -- details of which are now routinely published for everything from anthrax to the Ebola virus. At the time, Eckard Wimmer, the lead scientist on the project, warned: "The world had better be prepared. This shows you can re-create a virus from written information."

The following year another scientific team deliberately mimicked Ramshaw's mousepox accident, not only with the rodent form of pox but also with pox viruses that infect rabbits and cows. And in 2005 the CDC famously joined fragments of RNA from thawed tissue of victims of the 1918 flu, re-creating the original superkiller.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 20, 2011, 15:34:30
Part 2:

The Genie Is Out of the Bioterrorism and Pandemic Bottles: How Scared Should We Be?

This April, a team of CDC scientists published word that it had tried to manipulate H5N1 genes to render the avian virus a human-to-human spreader, but could not make it work. The team used a different method from the one apparently deployed by Fouchier and Kawaoka's team: The CDC group directly altered the genes of viruses, rather than sequentially infecting ferret after ferret. The CDC concluded, "An improvement in transmission efficiency was not observed with any of the mutants compared to the parental viruses, indicating that alternative molecular changes are required for H5N1 viruses to fully adapt to humans and to acquire pandemic capability."

That seemed comforting.

But in 2007 a different CDC team did to the SARS virus what Fouchier apparently has done to H5N1, with lethal results. Just as Fouchier produced highly infectious bird flu in ferrets by sequentially infecting one group of animals after another, the CDC group passed the SARS virus through one group of mice after another. Mice are normally harmlessly infected by SARS, which cannot cause disease in the rodents. But after 15 such passages, the team got a 100 percent fatal form of the virus. Moreover, it was an airborne killer, sniffed out the air. (SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, killed more than 900 people worldwide in 2002 and 2003, mostly in China.)

The University of Minnesota's Michael Osterholm, an expert on both bioterrorism and pandemics, thinks that understanding how animals might pass a virus like SARS or H5N1 among themselves, in a fashion in nature that mimics the laboratory experiments, may hold a vital key to predicting future epidemics. "We don't want to give bad guys a road map on how to make bad bugs really bad," he recently told Science reporter Martin Enserink. Health experts, however, do applaud the controversial research because it shows which mutations are necessary and at least one way they might arise.

There is no way to put a number on the probability of such natural mutational events. Are the odds 50-50 that a deadly, contagious form of H5N1 will wreak havoc across the world in the next 10 years? Anybody who claims to answer such a question, or pooh-pooh the asking of it, is a fool or a charlatan. It is an unknown.

What About the Proliferation of High-Security Biology Labs: Good or Dangerous?

Before the anthrax mailings terrorized America in 2001, there were only a handful of top security Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) labs in the world and a few dozen of the next-level BSL-3 facilities. The CDC and U.S. Army had the two largest pre-2001 BSL-4 labs, which nested like matryoshka dolls, with one layer of security inside another and another. The innermost labs required identity clearance, scientists wore protective space suits, and all air and water were specially cleansed and filtered to prevent accidental escape of Ebola, smallpox, and dozens of other superlethal organisms. The world's most dangerous known microbes were carefully kept under lock and key in a clearly identified handful of BSL-4 labs.

Even the less-secure BSL-3 labs required that scientists undergo security checks, wear spacesuits, and breathe through special respirators. Their numbers were finite and known, and researchers working on influenza, anthrax, or other deadly-but-treatable microbes represented a fairly small pool of scientists.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, however, the number of such laboratories has proliferated spectacularly, not only inside the United States, but all over the world. In 2001 the United States had five "centers of excellence," as they were called, devoted to bioterrorism. By the end of 2002, more than 100 such centers were named, amid a record-breaking expansion in the numbers of laboratories and scientists studying anthrax, smallpox, Ebola, botulism, and every other germ somebody thought could be weaponized. After 9/11, the European Union saw the number of BSL-4 labs grow from six to 15. In the United States: from seven to 13. Canada built a BSL-4 complex in Winnipeg. Just as possession of rockets in the 1950s or nuclear power plants in the 1960s seemed the marks of a serious state power, so having BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs suddenly became a mark of national significance in the world -- an achievement to which countries should aspire. This year India opened its first BSL-4 facility, and it is rumored that Pakistan is now building one.

The proliferation of high-security labs means a great deal more than the mere construction of physical buildings. Where 10 years ago a finite pool of predominantly senior scientists toiled in such facilities, today thousands of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, technicians, and senior researchers work in facilities stocked with humankind's worst microbial foes. Accidents have occurred with alarming regularity since the lab proliferation commenced, as I have detailed in my book. The facilities also constitute locations wherein individuals could theoretically execute experiments to produce supergerms without risking harm to themselves or others, regardless of whether the intent were noble, as appears to be the case for Fouchier and Kawaoka, or whether the intent were evil, as was the case with those responsible for the anthrax mailings.

Since 2005, several flu experiments conducted under BSL-3 conditions have raised eyebrows, as critics have charged the work should have been done inside the far more difficult but secure BSL-4 conditions. The original 1918 virus was "revived" from a long-frozen human body and grown inside a BSL-3 lab. Experiments were done on the 1918 virus in an effort to discover what genes made it so lethal. And the research that the CDC team, Fouchier, and Kawaoka performed on the H5N1 virus was all done in BSL-3 labs.

In September, when news of the Fouchier work started to appear in science magazines, Thomas Inglesby of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh told New Scientist, "Small mistakes in biosafety could have terrible global consequences." His Pittsburgh colleague D.A. Henderson concurred: "The potential for escape of that virus is staggering."

According to the FBI, the culprit behind the 2001 anthrax mailings was Bruce Ivins, who worked in the U.S. Army's BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs in Maryland. Whether or not the FBI caught the right man -- a point of controversy among scientists -- it remains extraordinary that the response to what the agency calls "Amerithrax" is the creation of more such facilities in which more "Ivins" might toil.

The questions that arise from these H5N1 experiments have nothing to do with publication of the Fouchier and Kawaoka papers. We should be asking what we can do to ensure that such terrible man-made viruses never accidentally escape their laboratory confines or are deliberately released. And we should heed the question posed in the recently released Hollywood thriller Contagion when a Homeland Security character queries a CDC scientist:

"Is there any way someone could weaponize the bird flu? Is that what we're looking at?"

"Someone doesn't have to weaponize the bird flu," the CDC scientist responds, "The birds are doing that."
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 21, 2011, 11:12:21
Creating and assembling micromachines using DNA? This is mind boggling stuff:

DNA: It’s Not Just for the Living Anymore

Posted By Howard Lovy On December 20, 2011 @ 12:19 am In Science,Science & Technology | 7 Comments

The smiley-faced DNA above is the work of Paul Rothemund of CalTech. In March 2006, Rothemund achieved what became known in the science world as "DNA origami."

To people who say that true nanomachines — those that assemble themselves from the bottom up — are impossible [1], the best answer true believers can give is simply to present their own existence [2] as proof of concept. We are self-assembled out of simple building blocks.

For many, this settles the argument quickly. I do not believe it does, but I’ll get into that further down if you’ll stay with me. For now, for the sake of argument, let’s say that all that is left is for us to figure out how nature manages this bottom-up self-assembly. But you do not necessarily need to figure out how this feat was accomplished. You can take a shortcut and use DNA, the gift handed down to us via nature’s laboratory and a few billion years of evolution.

DNA exists to self-assemble and its strands are a scaffolding upon which we can build more and more complex structures. DNA can give us not only the physical frame but also the template by which we can learn how to program synthetic versions to obey our commands. This is outlined in a recent paper [3] co-authored by CalTech’s Paul Rothemund, a DNA nanotech pioneer, in Nature Chemistry.

British scientist Richard Jones, author of “Soft Machines,” noted just this week on his blog that DNA nanotechnology is fast becoming the place to watch for truly amazing developments. Jones writes [4]:

    For many years DNA nanotechnology could have been viewed as a marvelous technical tour-de-force with little potential for real applications, but the continuing exponential falls in the cost of synthetic DNA and the increasing sophistication of the devices being created in the growing number of laboratories working in this field makes this conclusion less certain.

Jones was referring specifically to the work of NYU’s Nadrian Seeman, who for a decade or so was pretty much the only person working on the amazing possibilities of DNA nanotechnology. More background on his “DNA Walker” and other cool stuff from Seeman’s lab can be found here [5].

I’m from Michigan where, once upon a time, we were pretty good at engineering and assembling machines that went places and changed the world. Part of the process of creating these machines was to map them out first on CAD/CAM software. So, a few years ago, I met the creator of a Motor City company that was way ahead of its time. Nanorex [6], based in suburban Detroit, was a company that set out to create CAD software to help engineers design these new DNA nanostructures.

I first met its founder, Mark Sims, in 2004 just after I had won that year’s prize in communication [7] from the Foresight Institute, a nanotechnology think tank. Mark and I found ourselves sitting next to each other on the plane ride back to Michigan from Washington, D.C., and we got to talking about both of our obsessions — nanotechnology. The difference between us was that I just wrote about it and he was actually doing something useful.

I wrote about his company for a Detroit-area tech magazine called X-OLOGY a little while ago:

    When Sims founded the company in 2004, it was focused purely on creating software for the “design, simulation and analysis of atomically precise molecular machine systems.” In other words, taking atoms and using their naturally occurring covalent bonds to stick them together and create just about anything. The problem, Sims says, is that nobody really knows how to actually build these molecular machine systems yet. Maybe they’ll figure it out in 20 years, he predicts, and then commercialize it a few years later.

    In the meantime, his shorter-term plan is to create design software for researchers working on another promising branch of nanotechnology.

    Rather than create entirely new materials out of nothing but atoms, many leading-edge nanotech researchers have found something better – the beneficiary of 3.6 billion years of evolutionary research: DNA.

    “The thing that’s exciting about DNA is that they’re doing it now,” Sims says. “Here you have a material and a system with it that is programmable and capable of bottom-up self-assembly from nanoscale to literally microscale.” More here [8] (PDF 158 KB)

I wrote to Mark a few weeks ago to ask how things were going at Nanorex. He told me that, unfortunately, his company closed shop in 2008 for a number of reasons, but it was primarily that it was entirely self-funded and the economic downturn made it increasingly expensive to keep afloat. But the company was never meant to go anywhere, since so few people were actually doing any DNA nanotechnology. It was purely a labor of love by Sims.

But what Nanorex accomplished during its five-year mission, Sims says, was develop an “interactive modeling tool for nanoscale design in order to generate curiosity about nanotechnology and ‘bend the minds’ of young students and scientists. I’m satisfied Nanorex achieved that goal to a significant degree and I’m proud of that.”

He also did create a real CAD system that was used to design and fabricate a nanoscale structure. His open-source software product, Nanoengineer-1, designed DNA origami — a process pioneered by Rothemund’s CalTech lab — from scratch. His design was the first step in fabricating a NAND gate using bottom-up self assembly. “Ultimately, we wanted to create a functional 1-bit adder using DNA and carbon nanotubes,” Sims says. “It was very ambitious, but I’m convinced we could have taken this very far. At least we made the initial NAND gate tile which was a huge achievement. I’m very proud of this.”

So, Nanorex is no more, but DNA nanotechnology continues to develop, as the work of Seeman and Rothemund are expanded upon by other researchers. And Nanoengineer-1, Nanorex’s free open-source software, has been downloaded more than 10,000 times. The seeds are there for continued experimentation and growth.

Just this past October, Seeman developed artificial structures out of DNA strands [9] that can self-replicate, another important step along the way to self-assembling, self-replicating nanomachines. This is no longer science fiction. The naysayers of a decade ago have already been proved wrong many, many times.

Think nanobots are just science fiction? Well, maybe, but a group of Dutch scientists recently took a single-molecule car out for a spin. The car, itself, is just what we here in Detroit like to call a prototype. They’re playing around to see what they can do. Tibor Kudernac, a chemist now at the University of Twente, the Netherlands, and lead author of the paper, tells the BBC [10]: “There are ways to play around,” he said. “That’s what we chemists do — we try to design molecules for particular purposes, and I don’t see any fundamental limitations.”

Now, here’s where I depart a little bit with true nanotech believers. As I hinted at the beginning of this column, I do not necessarily believe that the existence of life is, in itself, proof that we can build molecular machines. It is not a good argument to use. Maybe someday, in the far-distant future, we can create a toaster-size “molecular assembler” [11] that can build whatever we want one atom at a time. But, the fact is, after you hit the “print” button, you still only have a model of the thing … and not the thing, itself.

This might be primitive of me, but I believe life is analog. Not digital [12]. With DNA, we are not inventing a nonexistent digital reality. We are beginning with the true building blocks of life. What we create after that is up to us.
(Thumbnail on PJM homepage by [13].)

Article printed from PJ Media:

URL to article:

URLs in this post:

[1] are impossible:

[2] their own existence:

[3] recent paper:

[4] Jones writes:

[5] found here:

[6] Nanorex:

[7] prize in communication:

[8] More here:

[9] artificial structures out of DNA strands:

[10] tells the BBC:

[11] “molecular assembler”:

[12] life is analog. Not digital:

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on January 08, 2012, 10:48:46
Rapid deployment of buildings. This sort of technology would be quite handy to build (or rebuild) bases, FOBs, refugee camps and material handling facilities in the military context. Some of the other "advertised" technologies like non electrical air conditioning and their air filtration system should also be examined:

China Broad Group constructs 30 story building in 15 days

We have been closely tracking China's Broad Group and their prefabricated factory mass produced 'Can be Built' skyscraper technology. Six months ago they had earthquake certified a scale model of their 30 story building. now they have built an actual 30 story building in 15 days at the end of 2011.

China's Broad Group site for their Can Be Built technology is here

This is one of the key technologies to watch for the next decade or two. The reason is the construction methods use far less cement and are more energy efficient. They will also enable faster urbanization of the developing world (not just China.) With state backing Broad Group will have this technology in use for more high rise commercial construction by 2020. This is part of the mundane singularity of technologies that mostly exist now and can high impact on the world.

The buildings are five times more energy efficient in operation and use about 6 times less cement.

They plan to build one hundred and fifty 30-story apartment building, hotel, office plans using the new system. They have started building a 1.33-million-square meter “NO.1 Sustainable Building Factory” and it will be able to produce 10 million square meters of mass produced skyscrapers (about 100 million square feet) each year. The 30 story building is 183000 square feet so the factory can produce about 500 of the 30 story building each year and many more factories will be built.

The Changsha Broad Air Conditioning Company has unveiled designs for the 200-storey Sky City tower, a sustainable mixed use project. At 666 meters tall, the building will house 1.2 million square meters (12 million square feet) of space for residential apartments, retail, offices, restaurants, schools and a myriad of other facilities. The building will be manufactured in a factory and assembled on the construction site. Additionally, the tower will have the capacity for 70,000 to 110,000 residents. It will use 400 kilograms (1000 pounds of material) per square meter). 480,000 tons of building. Even with reducing the occupancy by half so that units are 1320 square feet instead of 660 square feet the amount of material is 12 tons per person for 40,000 people. The Broad Group building also includes offices and retail shopping. Instead of being 6 times more efficient with material it is more like 8-10 times, since it is replacing 72 tons of house and the extra buildings for offices and shops. It is 20 times more efficient if the higher occupancy levels are used.

Other Broad Group Technology

Non-electric air conditioning withstood the world’s toughest stress test serving over 250 pavilions in the largest, crowdest, hottest, and most dynamic architectural site. Achieving “zero fault” operation for 6 months, contributing to a successful Expo. Also saved 73,000 tons of CO2 emissions, and realized “Low Carbon Expo”.

Successfully developed super-size “ Heat Recovery Fresh Air Unit”, realizing 99.9% air purification efficiency, ensuring abundant fresh air supply and high efficiency heat recovery.

Plans for a 666 meter tall skyscraper

A Chinese company developed new factory prebuilt construction that can make a 15 story building in 6 days plans to build the second tallest building in the world over 6 months. 93% of the construction work is done in the factory vs at most 40% in western countries.

The Changsha Broad Air Conditioning Company has unveiled designs for the 200-storey Sky City tower, a sustainable mixed use project. At 666 meters tall, the building will house 1.2 million square meters of space for residential apartments, retail, offices, restaurants, schools and a myriad of other facilities. The building will be manufactured in a factory and assembled on the construction site. Additionally, the tower will have the capacity for 70,000 to 110,000 residents.

They are trimming their costs to 7,000 yuan to 8,000 yuan per square meter. The company then adds its profit margin and sells its properties for around 10,000 yuan per sq m - or about half the price of properties in Shanghai outside the city center. This would convert to a 660 square foot unit costing about US$100,000. The whole building is 1.2 million square meters so this project will cost about US$1.25 to 1.46 billion and will sell for $1.83 billion. Numbeo has Shanghai cost of living and Shanghai apartment prices are currently three to six times as high to buy as these apartments would be

Comfort of Skycity
• 100% fresh air, no mixed with return air, eliminate infection. 3-stage filtered fresh air , 99% nano-particulates be filtered. Indoor air is 20-100 times cleaner than outdoor air. Central vacuuming system keeps indoor air quality.
• Space blocks and all rooms remain at 20~27 ℃ all year round, glass wall enable
sunshine lighting up the streets.
• The clear height of residences and office is 2.8m, the clear height of space blocks are 5.6m, 9m, 12m respectively.
• Four 4meter wide streets start from the ground to the floor 121 at 400m, the total length of street is 12km, shops, agriculture markets, handcraft shops, restaurants, amusement parks, sports centers, natatorium, cinemas, opera houses, museums, libraries, training centers, schools, kindergartens, clinics, banks, police stations, etc. on both sides of street, same as city downtown. Botanical garden, natural parks, fishponds, waterfalls, sand beach can be found in some floors, same as the suburban.
• 16 large observation elevators and 31 high-speed elevators can serve 30,000 people every hour.

• Level 9 earthquake resistance, scale model will be tested by national authorized institution.
• BROAD unique technologies “diagonal bracing, light weight, factory-made” ensure the
highest earthquake resistance level with minimum materials.
• Trapezoidal construction structure corresponds the law of mechanics, which can withstand earthquake and storm.
• Sky gardens locate on floor 71, 121, 156, 176 and 191(12,000m2 in total), also function as the helipads, which are able to evacuate tens of thousand people during fire emergency, provide extra fire protection than conventional skyscrapers.

Energy Conservation
• 150mm exterior insulated walls, triple-paned windows, exterior solar shading, interior window insulation and heat recovery fresh air, 80% more energy efficient than conventional buildings.
• Adopting “distributed energy system”, turbines provide power independently, exhaust from turbines is the source for cooling, heating and sanitary hot water. 50% more energy efficient than the power grid.
• Indoor HVAC is controlled by occupancy sensor, fan speed will be automatically adjusted to the lowest load when people left.
• Elevator generates electricity when ascending unload and descending full load, also choose the floor outside the elevator, and other electricity saving methods can save 75% more electricity than conventional elevator.
• LED lamp, 90% more energy efficient than incandescent lamp and 50% more energy efficient than fluorescent lamp.
• Separated drainage system, rain water is used for plant irrigation, bathing water will be directly drained after settled, bathroom sewage and kitchen waste go to biogas tank, biogas is used as fuel for air conditioning, and solid wastes become organic fertilizers.

• Annual energy conservation 60,000 ton oil equivalent
• Saving 600,000 ton construction materials
• Saving 1.4 sq. kilometers land (volume ratio 50)
• On-site construction waste is less than 1% of the total weight
• Zero raise dust on-site
• Zero water consumption on-site
• Recycle processes of living garbage from the building
• All steel structure, reuse after abandoned

The Sky City concept sounds like the St Jean "Mega" expanded by orders of magnitude. I'm sure we can all picture what that would be like....
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on January 22, 2012, 22:58:38
Dealing with huge amounts of data. Interestingly, the Watson program can be run on less capable hardware so long as you are willing to wait anywhere from hours to days for the answer. For some categories of problems, this might be sufficient (in our terms, logistics and administration can be handled by a "Watson" running on a less than super computer), but if you are trying to extract intelligence or actionable information in real time, then a supercomputer is a must:

Lotusphere: IBM plans to push Watson to finance and medical markets
by Dan Worth
More from this author
18 Jan 2012

ORLANDO: IBM has revealed more of its plans to turn its Watson supercomputing platform into a viable business offering, outlining several of the industries where it believes it can find a market for the system.

Manoj Saxena, IBM's general manager for Watson, explained that the firm is set to target industries that generate and collect huge volumes of data as its core markets for the tool, including finance, telecoms and healthcare.

"The healthcare industry jumped out as one of the first areas we will look to market Watson, as information in the medical world is doubling every five years so it’s getting ever harder for staff to find the data they need," he said.

Saxena added that the capabilities of Watson would be vital for businesses that are struggling to keep up with the huge amounts of unstructured data being created and stored, which is as high as 80 per cent in some organisations.

"We will look at Watson as a line in computing where it advanced from standard computing to the ability to use reasoning on the information it can access to provide better insights," he said.

He also gave some details into the technology behind Watson, explaining it is powered by 2,880 processing cores, 90 IBM P750 servers, has 16TB of memory and 80 teraflops of computing power.

This means the system is able to analyse the entire data of 200 million documents in three seconds.

IBM’s Watson system hit the headlines in 2011 when IBM used its capabilities to play the game show Jeopardy and beat former champions to 'win' a $1m jackpot for IBM.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on January 24, 2012, 23:19:35
A very short summary of a program to create new fire fighting technologies. Eliminating Halon or tanks of CO2 would be good, but no real mention of what alternative methods are being used. (Blastig a fire with high energy sound or electromagnetic waves would seem to be more dangerous to the crew...):


Fire in a combat vehicle or other confined space puts warfighters at risk.  DARPA's Instant Fire Suppression (IFS) program seeks to establish the feasibility of a novel flame-suppression system based on destabilization of flame plasma with electromagnetic fields, acoustics, ion injection, or other novel approaches.  The key to transformative firefighting approaches may lie in the fundamental understanding of fire itself.  Fire suppression technologies have focused largely on disrupting the chemical reactions involved in combustion.  From a physics point of view, however, flames are cold plasmas comprising mobile electrons and slower positive ions.  By using physics techniques rather than combustion chemistry, it may be possible to manipulate and extinguish flames.  To achieve this, key scientific breakthroughs are needed to understand and quantify the interaction of electromagnetic and acoustic waves with the plasma in a flame.  Research results will be used to determine the scalability of potential techniques.  If scaling is achievable, the program will build a prototype fire suppression system for Class A and B fires inside a ship or HUMVEE-sized compartment.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: I, Citizen on January 26, 2012, 15:00:51
Came across this article getting my morning fix of Pravda-ganda. Hopefully this is the right thread.

Russia unveils fifth-generation Kalashnikov assault rifle
Russia's largest firearms manufacturer, JSC Izhmash, unveiled its first model of the fifth-generation Kalashnikov assault rifle. The new rifle is tentatively called AK-12. The assembly of the new weapon, the development of which was initiated by Izhmash's chief designer Vladimir Zlobin, was completed in 2011. Specialists currently test the new weapon, the press service of the enterprise said Wednesday.

Russia's Interior Ministry has already requested the AK-12 for test exploitation. Izhmash is ready to arrange the deliveries of the new weapon for the Russian army too, Interfax reports.

Russian news agencies reported Wednesday that the Defense Ministry of Russia was not planning any purchases from Izhmash within the scope of the state defense order for 2012. It was also reported that the messages about the creation of the new Kalashnikov rifle were not true to fact.

"The AK-12 is being developed for export purposes. However, it also meets the requirements of the Defense Ministry, which the ministry has for the equipment of the soldiers of the Russian army. If there's an order, the enterprise will be ready to arrange the shipments of the AK-12 for the Armed Forces and special units of the Russian Federation," the press service of the company said.

The state tests of the rifle may begin at the end of 2012 or in the beginning of 2013. "Developing the new family of automatic rifles is a priority for the development of the enterprise. The company intends to retrieve its international market share," officials said.

For the time being, the company tests the AK-12 at its own base. The construction and ergonomics of the rifle will be changed as a result of the tests. "We will have to conduct many consultations with competent specialists who are interested in the creation of state-of-the-art, effective and reliable Russian assault rifle," Vladimir Zlobin, the designer of the rifle said.

Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin was the first Russian official to have seen the AK-12. Designers managed to improve the parameters of the rifle. They adapted the weapon to modern combat conditions, having preserved Kalashnikov's unique qualities: simplicity, reliability and relatively low production cost.

The AK-12 has classic configuration, which creates a constructively simple automatic rifle with an option to mount powerful muzzles and large magazines. The new rifle is created as a basic platform, which will then be used for the development of nearly 20 different modifications of civil and military firearms. The caliber of cartridges used for the new rifle may vary from 5,45х39 to 7,62х51 mm.

Designers enhanced the ergonomics of the new rifle. The controls of the weapon (the lock, the selector of the kind of fire, the clip latch, the bolt latch) became available for one hand, which a person holds the weapon with.

The Picatinny rails were integrated in the construction of the AK-12. The rails are used to mount additional equipment: optical, collimating and night sights, mexometer, grenade launchers, lights, target indicators and other equipment. The devices allow to use the weapon effectively during any time of the day.

The new rifle also has the folding stock, and the height-adjustable heelpiece. The operating rod handle of the AK-12 can be mounted either on the left or on the right, which makes the weapon comfortable for both left-handed and right-handed people.

The list of novelties includes three fire modes: single shots, three shots and automatic fire. The muzzle of the assault rifle has been amended to shoot foreign-made barrelled grenades. Specialists currently design new magazine cases for the AK-12 - for 95 cartridges.

To increase the efficiency of single fire, the AK-12 was equipped with a new mechanic sight with enhanced sightline. The changes also touched upon the firing mechanism and the construction of the gun group. The AK-12 also uses state-of-the-art technologies in the field of coatings and materials. Over ten technological solutions will be introduced and patented when building various models of the assault rifle.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on January 30, 2012, 21:31:57
Using flickering lights for Internet and other connectivity. I predict low grade headaches in offices where this technology is used, but the potential is fascinating:

Tripping the light fantastic
A fast and cheap optical version of Wi-Fi is coming

Jan 28th 2012 | from the print edition
AMONG the many new gadgets unveiled at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was a pair of smartphones able to exchange data using light. These phones, as yet only prototypes from Casio, a Japanese firm, transmit digital signals by varying the intensity of the light given off from their screens. The flickering is so slight that it is imperceptible to the human eye, but the camera on another phone can detect it at a distance of up to ten metres. In an age of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, flashing lights might seem like going back to sending messages with an Aldis lamp. In fact, they are the beginning of a fast and cheap wireless-communication system that some have labelled Li-Fi.

The data being exchanged by Casio’s phones were trifles: message balloons to be added to pictures on social-networking sites. But the firm sees bigger applications, such as pointing a smartphone at an illuminated shop sign to read information being transmitted by the light: opening times, for example, or the latest bargains.
Yet that is still only a flicker of what is possible. Last October a number of companies and industry groups formed the Li-Fi Consortium, to promote high-speed optical wireless systems. The idea is that light can help with a looming capacity problem. As radio-based wireless becomes ubiquitous, more and more devices transmitting more and more data are able to connect to the internet, either through the mobile-phone network or through Wi-Fi. But there is only a limited amount of radio spectrum available. Using light offers the possibility of breaking out of this conundrum by exploiting a completely different part of the electromagnetic spectrum, one that is already ubiquitous because it is used for another purpose: illumination.

Lighten the darkness

To turn a light into a Li-Fi router involves modulating its output, to carry a message, and linking it with a network cable to a modem that is connected to a telephone or cable-broadband service, just like a Wi-Fi router. Incandescent light bulbs and fluorescent tubes are not really suitable for modulation, but they are yesterday’s lighting technology. Tomorrow’s is the light-emitting diode. LEDs are rapidly replacing bulbs and tubes because they are more efficient. And because they are semiconductor devices, tinkering with their electronics to produce the flickering signals required for data transmission is pretty straightforward, according to Gordon Povey, who is working on light communication with Harald Haas and his colleagues at the University of Edinburgh, in Britain.

The rate of data transfer is also good. Dr Povey’s group is already up to 130 megabits a second (faster than some older Wi-Fi routers) over a distance of about two metres, using standard LEDs. Dr Povey, who is also the boss of VLC, a firm set up to commercialise the technology, thinks such devices should be able to reach 1 gigabit per second (Gbps), and do so over greater range. Specially constructed LEDs would be even faster. The Li-Fi consortium reckons more than 10 Gbps is possible. In theory, that would allow a high-definition film to be downloaded in 30 seconds.

Dr Povey believes that adapting existing LEDs to work with the sensors and light sources—cameras, ambient-light detectors, screens, flashbulbs, torches and so on—already found in smartphones and similar devices will be the fastest way to bring Li-Fi to market. VLC has already produced a smartphone app which allows low-speed data transmission between a pair of iPhones. It has also made an experimental optical transceiver that plugs into a laptop to receive and send light signals. Later this year it will bring out Li-Fi products for firms installing LED-lighting systems.

There are limitations to using light, of course. Unlike radio, light waves will not penetrate walls. Yet for secure applications that could be a bonus. And light bulbs—some 14 billion of them around the world—are almost everywhere and often on. As they are gradually replaced by LEDs, every home, office, public building and even streetlight could become a Li-Fi hotspot. Having a line-of-sight connection with the LED in question would undoubtedly improve the signal, but light reflected from walls or ceilings might often be enough. In any case, having a good line of sight helps Wi-Fi as well. And spotting a nearby light in order to sit next to it is certainly easier than finding the location of a Wi-Fi router.

Communication, though, is a two-way street. That means the LEDs involved in Li-Fi would need photodetectors to receive data. Some LED systems have such sensors already (to know when to turn on at night). But even if LEDs are not modified Dr Povey reckons hybrid systems are possible: data could be downloaded using light but uploaded (typically a less data-intensive process) using radio. In an office, for example, an LED-powered desk lamp could work as a Li-Fi router, able to link up with any networked device placed on the desk.

A big advantage of light is that it can be used in areas which contain sensitive equipment that radio signals might interfere with, such as aircraft and operating theatres. LEDs in the ceiling of an airliner would not only allow internet access but could also transmit films on demand to individual seats, removing the need for lots of expensive and heavy cabling, thus saving airlines fuel. That alone could be enough to, as it were, make this idea fly.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: jollyjacktar on January 31, 2012, 17:00:57
Something new.  Not a shooter so I cannot comment on it's validity or possibility.  Shared with the usual caveats, photos and video at link.

Ready, fire, aim! U.S. Army’s new self-steering bullet comes with tiny fins that guide it to its target
By Katie Silver

A bullet that can steer itself has been developed by national security researchers for widespread use by the army.  US military researchers have developed the technology that will see regular army soldiers shooting with the accuracy of snipers.  In fact the four-inch-long, dart-like bullet is so effective that it can hit a target, guided by a laser, two kilometers away...

Read more:
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on February 11, 2012, 15:18:47
New developments in military robotics:

Squad mission support systems in Afghanistan and reviewing all war robots and considering future warbots
 1. This is a follow up on the Lockheed Martin’s (LM) Squad Mission Support System (SMSS). The system, which turns a six-wheeled amphibious ATV into a robotic packhorse and charging station, has been subjected to a variety of simulated warzone environments in both remote controlled and fully autonomous modes" - Army is sent four of the Lockheed’s Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) robot jeeps to Afghanistan where they’ll haul supplies for troops.

The 11-foot long trucks can carry a half a ton of supplies for up to 125 miles after being delivered to the field in a CH-47 or CH-53 helo.

2. DARPA is developing a highly mobile, semi-autonomous legged robot, the Legged Squad Support System (LS3), to integrate with a squad of Marines or Soldiers.

The LS3 program will design and develop prototypes capable of carrying 400 lbs of payload for 20 miles in 24 hours, negotiating terrain at endurance levels expected of typical squad maneuvers.

3. Executives at the three major suppliers of military robots — iRobot, QinetiQ North America and Remotec — believe that there are still opportunities out there despite the anticipated drawdown, a lack of permanent programs and a Defense Department budget outlook that many have called “grim.”

“There continues to be worldwide demand for this capability,” said Ed Godere, senior vice president for unmanned systems at QinetiQ. “As we see things winding down in Iraq and Afghanistan, the use of IEDs as the weapon of choice by insurgents around the world is becoming more prevalent.”

The Navy, the executive agent in charge of developing and procuring bomb disposal robots for all four services, prior to the Iraq War had fielded one large EOD robot: the remote ordnance neutralization system or RONS, which was developed in the 1990s by Remotec, now a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman. These are 700-pound-plus machines that were mostly envisioned for base security and needed to be towed by a vehicle. The Navy had acquired 270 of them, and upgrades were made during the Iraq war. Their size made them ideal for removing large objects such as artillery shells from the field.

One of the most important developments of the Iraq war was that ground robots eventually proved themselves to be “robust pieces of military equipment with reliability,” he said. That wasn’t the case at the outset. But as the following iterations made their way into the field, they became more durable. Manufacturers also made improvements to controllers, communications links, chassis and other facets.

Another watershed moment came when the infantry adapted them for reconnaissance missions, Dyer said. Soldiers want robots to look around the corners of buildings or inside them before they stick out their heads. As these EOD robots were being fielded, the now defunct Army modernization program, the Future Combat Systems, was working on a ground recon robot. It is one of the few technologies that survived that program’s cancellation, Dyer said.

So-called robotic mules are one such need. The Army is currently fielding unmanned logistics vehicles that can help dismounted troops traveling in Afghanistan’s rough terrain.

A Lockheed Martin-built squad mission support system, a six-wheeled semi-autonomous vehicle weighing 3,800 pounds, has been sent to the field to help troops haul loads in that nation. Other manufacturers such as John Deere, Remotec and QinetiQ are offering logistics robots.

Whether these make the transition to programs of record once that conflict wraps up remains to be seen.

The Iraq War also marked a first when a M249 light machine gun was married to a Talon. In 2007, the Army — responding to urgent requests from battlefield commanders — sent a handful of the armed robots to Iraq. The Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center developed the Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System, or SWORDS. Despite the fanfare surrounding this historic event, SWORDS’ 15-minutes of fame came to an end quickly. Senior military leaders were nervous about sending armed robots into war zones, even though a human operator was always in the decision-making loop of when to fire or not fire. It was reported that they were used sparingly in fixed positions, and did not shoot on the move as envisioned.

The Marines so far have shown the most interest in moving armed ground robot programs forward, according to executives. But there are still tactics, techniques and procedures to work out, and perhaps the biggest hurdle of all: cultural acceptance.

Remotec is building the chassis for the Navy’s next-generation bomb disposal robot program, the advanced EOD robot system.

The family of robots is broken into three increments. Increment one, a backpackable robot, will be fielded beginning in 2014. It will replace the iRobot 310 small unmanned ground vehicle. Increment two, the manual transportable robot intended to replace the iRobot MK 1 PackBot and QinetiQ MK 2 Talon, will start deliveries in 2017. Increment three, the largest robot, will replace the 700-pound RONS robots.

“There are countless other security and civilian roles for robots,” Godere said.

QinetiQ has outfitted Bobcat bulldozers with robotic kits for route clearance missions in Afghanistan. That has other applications as well.

“You can start to see the day where a Bobcat could be used to cut a fire break in a forest fire,” he said.

But expanding into the first responder market is tough-going, as the market leader Remotec can attest. Unlike with the military, which buys in large quantities, robots must be sold to local and state first responders one jurisdiction at a time. The agencies mostly rely on federal grants, which can take up to two years to procure.

Dyer warned that U.S. companies are not the only player in the military and first responder robotics world. South Korea, Israel, Singapore, and China are just some of the nations investing heavily in the technology.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on February 15, 2012, 22:46:52
Making swarms of micro robots (or small, intricate mechanisms like sensors and fuses) could be a lot faster and cheaper with this technology:

In new mass-production technique, robotic insects spring to life
February 15, 2012

Production method inspired by children's pop-up books enables rapid fabrication of tiny, complex devices

CONTACT: Caroline Perry, (617) 496-1351

Cambridge, Mass. - February 15, 2012 - A new technique inspired by elegant pop-up books and origami will soon allow clones of robotic insects to be mass-produced by the sheet.

Devised by engineers at Harvard, the ingenious layering and folding process enables the rapid fabrication of not just microrobots, but a broad range of electromechanical devices.

In prototypes, 18 layers of carbon fiber, Kapton (a plastic film), titanium, brass, ceramic, and adhesive sheets have been laminated together in a complex, laser-cut design. The structure incorporates flexible hinges that allow the three-dimensional product—just 2.4 millimeters tall—to assemble in one movement, like a pop-up book.

The entire product is approximately the size of a U.S. quarter, and dozens of these microrobots could be fabricated in parallel on a single sheet.

"This takes what is a craft, an artisanal process, and transforms it for automated mass production," says Pratheev Sreetharan (A.B. '06, S.M. '10), who co-developed the technique with J. Peter Whitney. Both are doctoral candidates at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

Sreetharan, Whitney, and their colleagues in the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory at SEAS have been working for years to build bio-inspired, bee-sized robots that can fly and behave autonomously as a colony. Appropriate materials, hardware, control systems, and fabrication techniques did not exist prior to the RoboBees project, so each must be invented, developed, and integrated by a diverse team of researchers.

Less than a year ago, the group was using a painstaking and error-prone method to fold, align, and secure each of the minuscule parts and joints.

"You'd take a very fine tungsten wire and dip it in a little bit of superglue," explains Sreetharan. "Then, with that tiny ball of glue, you'd go in under a microscope like an arthroscopic surgeon and try to stick it in the right place."

"Until recently, the manual assembly process was the state of the art in this field," Sreetharan adds.

By the numbers
Folding joints: 22
Assembly scaffold folding joints: 115
Total device folding joints: 137
Number of brass pads for "glue" points: 52
Total number of "glue" points: 24
Mass: 90 mg
By mass, one U.S. quarter = 63 Harvard Monolithic Bees

The same result can now be achieved—without human error—through locking mechanisms and dip soldering. The new process also enables the use of cured carbon fiber, which is rigid and easy to align, rather than uncured carbon fiber, which Sreetharan compares to "wet tissue paper."

"Our new techniques allow us to use any material including polymers, metals, ceramics, and composites," says principal investigator Rob Wood, an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at SEAS and a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard.

"The ability to incorporate any type and number of material layers, along with integrated electronics, means that we can generate full systems in any three-dimensional shape," Wood says. "We've also demonstrated that we can create self-assembling devices by including pre-stressed materials."

The implications of this novel fabrication strategy go far beyond these micro-air vehicles. The same mass-production technique could be used for high-power switching, optical systems, and other tightly integrated electromechanical devices that have parts on the scale of micrometers to centimeters.

Moreover, the layering process builds on the manufacturing process currently used to make printed circuit boards, which means that the tools for creating large sheets of pop-up devices are common and abundant. It also means that the integration of electrical components is a natural extension of the fabrication process—particularly important for the size- and weight-constrained RoboBees project.

"In a larger device, you can take a robot leg, for example, open it up, and just bolt in circuit boards. We're so small that we don't get to do that. I can't put a structural mechanism in here and have it serve no electrical function."

Pointing to the carbon-fiber box truss that constitutes the pop-up bee's body frame, Sreetharan says, "Now, I can put chips all over that. I can build in sensors and control actuators."

A small portion of the CAD design for the Harvard Monolithic Bee illustrates the complexity of folds and joints necessary for its assembly. Using the old, manual process, every one of those parts would have to be cut, folded, assembled, and glued by hand. The bottom image illustrates the 18 layers of laser-cut materials that create the pop-up structure. Images courtesy of Pratheev Sreetharan.

Essentially, tiny robots can now be built by slightly bigger robots. Designing how all of the layers will fit together and fold, however, is still a very human task, requiring creativity and expertise. Standard computer-aided design (CAD) tools, typically intended for either flat, layered circuit boards or 3D objects, do not yet support devices that combine both.

Once the design is complete, though, fabrication can be fully automated, with accuracy and precision limited only by the machining tools and materials.

"The alignment is now better than we can currently measure," says Sreetharan. "I've verified it to better than 5 microns everywhere, and we've gone from a 15% yield to—well, I don't think I've ever had a failure."

The full fabrication process will be described in the March issue of the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering. Co-authors and collaborators, beside Whitney, Sreetharan, and Wood, include Kevin Ma, a graduate student at SEAS; and Marc Strauss, a research assistant in Wood's lab.

The Harvard Office of Technology Development is now developing a strategy to commercialize this technology. As part of this effort, they have filed patent applications on this work and are engaging with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and companies to identify disruptive applications in a range of industries.

The work was supported by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, the National Science Foundation (through the Expeditions in Computing program), and the Wyss Institute.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on February 23, 2012, 20:48:49
BAE develops a means of using carbon fiber composites as a battery. This would make structural components part of the electrical system and eleiminate the need for separate batteries (imagine the radio case is also the battery and you get the idea). The press release does not go into much detail, and issues like how the user is insulated from the electrical charge or what happens when the item breaks are left to the imagination of the reader:

Frontline Military Technology Promises Battery Revolution

13 Feb 2012 | Ref. 025/2012

Afghan National Army and UK Forces (copyright UK MOD)
Bristol, UK – Scientists at BAE Systems have successfully demonstrated the most radical method of storing electricity since the invention of batteries over 200 years ago. The technological breakthrough, called ‘structural batteries’ may lead to a redesign of all electrical technology and could provide a crucial advantage to soldiers on the frontline.

BAE Systems developed the patented technology to lighten the load of soldiers carrying rucksacks, which can weigh up to 76kg and be filled with numerous electrical items. The structural batteries store the electrical energy within the physical structure of a device and thus helping to reduce or eliminate the need for traditional batteries, which create weight and bulk, as well as the burden and cost of carrying spares.

The potential scope for this technology is limitless, while the benefits for the defence sector have already been demonstrated in a high tech micro unmanned air vehicle, as well as a rudimentary torch.

To demonstrate the technology’s application beyond the battlefield, BAE Systems have also applied the technology through a partnership with leading race car manufacturer Lola. The Lola-Drayson B12/69EV, zero emission 850 horsepower Le Mans Prototype car will incorporate structural batteries to power some of the on-board electronic systems. Upon completion, the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV aims to become the world’s fastest electric racing car.

Alex Parfitt, Capability Technology Leader for Materials at BAE Systems said: “Structural batteries can be used in virtually anything that requires electricity from small gadgets to entire vehicles. It can not only support our soldiers on the frontline, but also revolutionise technology in the consumer market by allowing more efficient, elegant and lighter designs.”

To develop this technology, scientists at BAE Systems merged battery chemistries into composite materials that can be moulded into complex 3D shapes and so form the structure of the device itself. It can then be plugged in when it needs recharging or utilise renewable power sources, such as solar energy.

The process makes use of nickel-based battery chemistries, which are commonly used in defence technology and future developments will allow integration of Li-ion and Li-Polymer chemistries found in consumer electronic products such as mobile phones, MP3 players, laptops, tablets and portable games. This will not only lead to improved product designs, but eliminating the need to buy batteries will reduce the lifetime cost to the consumer, as well as having environmental benefits.

Current development has demonstrated the ability to store useful energy in composites such as carbon fibre and glass reinforced plastic, but in the future it could also be incorporated into fabric for a wide range of lightweight applications, from tents with their own power supply to making electric blankets a literal reality.

Image caption:
Image shows soldiers from the Afghan National Army and 3rd Battalion (The Black Watch) The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 Scots) search compounds and destroy drug caches and narcotic manufacturing facilities in a joint operation after insertion by Chinook helicopters into the Upper Sangin Valley.

For more information, please contact:
Adam Rang, Mischief PR
Mob: +44 (0) 777 333 4797

Nick Haigh, BAE Systems
Mob: +44 (0) 7525 390982

Issued by:
BAE Systems, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 6YU, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1252 384719 Media Hotline: + 44 (0) 7801 717739
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on February 24, 2012, 08:41:05
This would make water treatment and providing water much easier, as well as lowering the logistical overhead compared to a ROWPU:

Innovator: Robert McGinnis of Oasys Water
The former Navy diver was dismayed by how much energy it takes to desalinate seawater. So he developed a more efficient process
By Caroline Winter

Floating on a tiny rubber boat on his way to defuse underwater mines during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Robert McGinnis spotted a towering desalination plant on the shores of the Persian Gulf. It was the first he'd ever seen. "I was appalled that you'd burn fuel in order to produce pure water," he says.

Four years later, after leaving the U.S. Navy, McGinnis flipped open his first college chemistry textbook and saw a photo of what looked like the same plant. The next day he drove to the ocean, took a water sample, and started experimenting in his kitchen. By the time he'd graduated, McGinnis had filed three patents.

Commercial desalination is usually done in one of two ways. The first, known as thermal desalination, involves boiling seawater above 212F, then distilling the vapors. The second, called reverse osmosis, uses hydraulic pressure to force water through a membrane that filters out salt. Both require enormous amounts of energy. McGinnis says he's found a method that's at least 10 times more fuel-efficient.

Water molecules naturally want to flow from fresher solutions to saltier ones. Hence the "reverse" in reverse osmosis: It forces water molecules to go against their tendency. McGinnis's method makes use of forward osmosis. He's developed a "draw solution" that's saltier than seawater. Without need for any energy, the water molecules in seawater flow across a porous membrane and into the draw solution, leaving the sea salt behind. McGinnis's solution is as undrinkable as ocean water, but its salt compounds—"essentially just ammonium, carbon dioxide, and some other secret stuff," he says—vaporize at lower temperatures. McGinnis's solution needs only 122F to burn off salts and leave behind pure water, instead of the much higher temperatures required for thermal desalination.

After graduating from Yale with a PhD in environmental engineering in 2009, McGinnis co-founded Boston-based Oasys Water and raised $10 million from three venture capital firms to commercialize the technology, including developing a thin membrane suitable for forward osmosis. Oasys plans to start taking orders in late 2011. "Forward osmosis is on the verge of becoming a buzzword," says Tom Pankratz, director of the International Desalination Assn. "Oasys has a clever approach. ... It could potentially be used not only for seawater desalination but also treating wastewater."

McGinnis didn't plan to dedicate his career to desalination. As an undergraduate he majored in theater and wrote "sci-fi coming-of-age think-piece mini-epics," he says. Even then, he spent three nights a week working on desalination experiments, often after late-night play rehearsals. "I just couldn't accept the idea of trading fuel for water," he says.

Defused mines for the U.S. Navy during the first Gulf War

A desalination method 10 times more efficient than alternatives

Majored in theater and wrote sci-fi "think-piece mini-epics"

Winter is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek.

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on March 03, 2012, 15:23:51
Italian scientists have discovered a way to bypass the bandwidth limit. Nets with multiple informations streams on the same channel are now possible in theory, it will be an interesting task for the signalers to create radio and data nets that can use these properties and for the rest of us not to be overwhelmed in a flood of data and trivial talk:

Pasta-Shaped Radio Waves Beamed Across Venice

ScienceDaily (Mar. 2, 2012) — A group of Italian and Swedish researchers appears to have solved the problem of radio congestion by cleverly twisting radio waves into the shape of fusilli pasta, allowing a potentially infinite number of channels to be broadcast and received.

Furthermore, the researchers have demonstrated this in real-life conditions by beaming two twisted radio waves across the waters of Venice.
Their results have been reported on March 2, in the Institute of Physics and German Physical Society's New Journal of Physics.
As the world continues to adapt in the digital age, the introduction of new mobile smartphones, wireless internet and digital TVs means the number of radio frequency bands available to broadcast information gets smaller and smaller.

"You just have to try sending a text message at midnight on New Year's Eve to realise how congested the bands are," said lead author Dr Fabrizio Tamburini. The researchers, from the University of Padova, Italy, and the Angstrom Laboratory, Sweden, devised a solution to this by manipulating waves so that they can hold more than one channel of information.

A wave can twist about its axis a certain number of times in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction, meaning there are several configurations that it can adopt.

"In a three-dimensional perspective, this phase twist looks like a fusilli-pasta-shaped beam. Each of these twisted beams can be independently generated, propagated and detected even in the very same frequency band, behaving as independent communication channels," Tamburini continued.
To demonstrate this, the researchers transmitted two twisted radio waves, in the 2.4 GHz band, over a distance of 442 metres from a lighthouse on San Georgio Island to a satellite dish on a balcony of Palazzo Ducale on the mainland of Venice, where it was able to pick up the two separate channels.
"Within reasonable economic boundaries, one can think about using five orbital angular momentum states, from -5 (counter-clockwise) up to 5 (clockwise), including untwisted waves. In this instance, we can have 11 channels in one frequency band.

"It is possible to use multiplexing, like in digital TV, on each of these to implement even more channels on the same states, which means one could obtain 55 channels in the same frequency band," said Tamburini.

In addition to increasing the quantity of information being passed around our planet, this new discovery could also help lend an insight into objects far out in our galaxy. Black holes, for example, are constantly rotating and as waves pass them, they are forced to twist in line with the black hole.
According to Tamburini, analysing the incoming waves from the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, Sagittarius A, could help astronomers obtain crucial information about the rotation of this "million-solar mass monster."
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Pieman on March 03, 2012, 16:33:05
Wow, very smart!...and actually surprising it has not been done before. I suspect that the emitter would emit each signal at a different phase and simply pass each signal through a polarizing filter a different angle for each signal. The same thing on the receiving end. Turn the polarizing filter to the correct position and you will only get the desired signal....gotta read up on this concept.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on March 08, 2012, 19:49:04
And of course, you need really cool glasses to receive all this data:

Google's Terminator Glasses

They're real?!

David Zax 02/23/2012
Nick Bilton at the Times’s Bits Blog, hardly a site for speculation on vaporware, tells us to expect something remarkable from Google by the year’s end: heads-up display glasses “that will be able to stream information to the wearer’s eyeballs in real time.”

That’s right. Google’s going to turn us all into the Terminator. Minus the wanton killing, of course.

The Times post builds on the reporting of Seth Weintraub, who blogs at 9 to 5 Google. He had written about the glasses project in December, as well as this month. Weintraub had one tipster, who told him the glasses would look something like Oakley Thumps. Bilton cites “several Google employees familiar with the project,” who said the devices would cost between $250 and $600. The device is reportedly being built in Google’s “X offices,” a top-secret lab that is nonetheless not-top-secret-enough that you and I and other readers of the Times know about it. (X is favored letter for Google of late, when it comes to blue sky projects.)

A few other details about the glasses, that have emerged from either Bilton or Weintraub: they would be Andoid-based and feature a small screen that sits inches from the eye. They’d have access to a 3G or 4G network, and would have motion and GPS sensors. And, in wild, Terminator style, the glasses would even have a low-res camera “that will be able to monitor the world in real time and overlay information about locations, surrounding buildings and friends who might be nearby,” per Bilton. Google co-founder Sergey Brin is reportedly serving as a leader on the project, along with Steve Lee, who made Latitude, Google’s mapping software.

Though reportedly arriving for sale in 2012, the glasses may never reach a mass market. Google is said to be exploring ways to monetize the glasses should consumers take a liking to them. “If consumers take to the glasses when they are released later this year, then Google will explore possible revenue streams,” writes Bilton.

Google isn’t the first to dabble in the idea of heads-up display glasses. Way back in 2002, in fact, we wrote about how electronics could enable augmented reality glasses for soldiers.  Though its ambitions are much more modest--hardly anything to hold a candle to The Terminator--a company called 4iiii Innovations has made some basic heads-up display glasses for athletes wanting to monitor their progress. And two years ago, TR took a pair of $2,000 augmented reality glasses from Vuzix for a spin, declaring them “dazzling”--but still wondering, “who’ll wear them?”

I’ve written before that smartwatches could represent a frontier of smartness-on-your-person. “They stand to transform your wrist into something akin to (if a wee bit short of) a heads-up display,” was how I put it. If the information Bilton and Weintraub have on Google is sound, I may have to dial back my enthusiasm on smartwatches--or at least stop likening them to heads-up displays, once the real thing exists.

Then again, smartwatches may still occupy a middle ground between utility and style. On the one hand, Oakley Thump-style smartglasses would be extraordinarily useful, for some. On the other hand, they would also be--let's face it--irredeemably geeky. As Bilton writes, “The glasses are not designed to be worn constantly — although Google expects some of the nerdiest users will wear them a lot.”

If you thought your smartwatch-sporting friend was a geek, just wait till he's flanked by people playing cyborg with Google’s forthcoming technology. 

Actually, if this can be integrated into something like the BEW's, it will provide a fairly natural and easy to use interface for the troops on the ground. The trick is more on how to control/filter the input in an intuative, hands free way.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on March 10, 2012, 09:08:54
I think the real problem with this idea is the limited line of sight, hence limited reaction time for these sorts of systems. The real solution may be to consider this as some sort of "area defense" system and mount high resolution sensors and weapons on aircraft or UCAV orbiting overhead. To be really ideal, you would probably need a layered system: medium-high altitude system to provide wide area coverage, a low altitude system for each platoon/troop and probably still need a (simple, low cost) point system to catch "leakers" or deal with saturation attacks:

Pentagon Tries (Again) to Shoot Down Rockets

    By Katie Drummond
       March 9, 2012 |
    6:30 am |
Right now, soldiers can’t do much once a rocket careens their way besides maneuvering and hoping for the best. But the Pentagon is trying — yet again — to give them something to shoot the thing right out of the sky.

Counter-rocket technologies have vexed the military in recent years, despite myriad efforts at developing an effective system. But the Pentagon’s giving yet another rocket-destroying system a try. This one’s called the Accelerated Improved Intercept System, or AI3. Earlier this week, the Army awarded manufacturer Raytheon a $79.2 million contract to develop the apparatus. And the Pentagon wants the job done fast: They’re hoping to test the device in a mere 18 months.

To hasten the process, Raytheon will rely mostly on preexisting technology, including a launcher and a control system being provided by the military. There’s no indication it’s doing anything super-ambitious, like incorporating rival Artis’ white-knuckle Iron Curtain system, which waits until the last moment before a rocket hits a truck to fire a missile downward at a 90-degree angle. Raytheon will basically develop a new interceptor missile for AI3.

Using an interceptor missile is a bit of a surprising choice, as missiles have often been dismissed as too expensive for the job. At least one company, Saab, has already developed a rocket-stopping system that relies on a Mongoose missile interceptor. But because each missile runs $50,000, the systems are outrageously expensive. That might render the finished product, expected in 2014, prohibitively pricy for a cash-squeezed military.

Maybe Raytheon can come up with a cheaper alternative — though the company has yet to offer any specifics on its development plan. It’s closer to Saab’s approach than some other counter-rocket technologies the U.S. has recently used. The Phalanx Centurion, used in Iraq, uses bullets to shoot down rockets and mortars — specifically, a 20mm Gatling gun. But the Centurion, a modified Navy gun, is hampered by a limited range and magazine capacity.

No matter what Raytheon comes up with, the award indicates that the false starts haven’t shaken the Pentagon off its desire to protect trucks from armor-puncturing rockets. And it’s not just the United States. Israel’s remarkable Trophy system is essentially a tank outfitted with sensors that can detect an incoming projectile, and then unleash rounds of explosively formed penetrators that shred the missile up before it detonates. Whether Raytheon’s can compare to Trophy — or to other counter-rocket systems like Iron Curtain or Crosshairs — remains up in the air, heading for impact.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on March 14, 2012, 11:39:48
While this is about James Cameron's personal hobby of oceanic exploration, it is interesting to note the speed and relative cost of his developing and adopting high technology. As well, the material used to make his sub (an epoxy resin filled with glass microspheres) could make for a great, lightweight structural material for other things as well:

James Cameron's Deep-Ocean Quest

Late last summer, PM spoke with James Cameron, winner of the magazine’s 2011 Breakthrough Leadership Award, about his enthusiasm for filmmaking, engineering, and, most of all, exploration. Today, he announced that in the coming weeks he’ll try to dive to the deepest point in the world’s ocean—the 36,201-foot Challenger Deep. Cameron talked about his ambitious diving goals during his 2011 interview, but some of the details did not make the final edition of PM. So, on the cusp of his dive attempt, we’re publishing the rest of the interview here.
By Anne Thompson

James Cameron and his submersible, the Deepsea Challenger.

March 8, 2012 4:20 PM

In short, why do this? Why dive to the Mariana Trench?

Two of the deepest places in the world’s oceans exist in the Mariana Trench system. But also of interest are the Kermadec Trench and the Tonga Trench, which has possibly the second deepest spot in the world’s oceans—close to 36,000 feet. So there are a number of targets around the Southwestern Pacific that need to be explored. And there are other deep trenches in the world as well. They’re the last great frontier for exploration on this planet.

You pioneered the use of syntactic foam as a structural material. What are the benefits of making the sub’s structure double as the flotation system?

Syntactic foam is an epoxy matrix containing glass microspheres that are hollow. It’s been the standard of deep-ocean construction for about the last 20 years. It had always been used as passive flotation. We thought it was silly to build a vehicle out of negatively buoyant substances, like aluminum or steel, and then have to add all this flotation to get it neutrally buoyant so it could operate at the bottom of the ocean.

Did you have to reengineer the foam to make that possible?

We had to up our game. We had to make it stronger, and we had to make it a more uniform, more consistent material. So we spent the last couple of years working in, essentially, the materials science of creating the ultimate deep-ocean syntactic foam. We’ve now done that and mass-produced it, at least for our own internal use, to build this vehicle. That’s one example of a kind of heritage of ideas that started 12 years ago and had a continuous through line in all of our technical development.

Was that idea considered radical?

Well, it was so radical no one else was doing it. There were actually several more, [such as] creating lithium-polymer batteries that would operate at ambient pressure, in an oil bath, and also spooling fiber-optic technology, which was our data connection, or our data tether, to the vehicle. These are all common practices now; at that time they were radical and hadn’t been done. And we had to build the vehicle ourselves, operate it, and demonstrate that these ideas worked, and then other people adopted them.

Engineering for the incredible pressures at depth is obviously a challenge.

Anything you design—whether it’s a view port, or an optical front port for a camera system, or a penetrator that allows electrical signals or power to move back and forth across the pressure boundary—has to be designed to withstand 16,000 psi. We have six different pressure chambers all in operation around the clock pressure-testing every single component that goes into the sub.

Including cameras?

We are building full-ocean-depth-rated 3D cameras right now, and we’ll be testing them in a pressure chamber later this fall. We are going to have cameras inside the sub; we’re going to have cameras outside the sub; we’re taking a huge lighting array. We’ll light up the place. We’ll do the same thing we did at abyssal depths, we’ll just do it at Hadal depths.

You’ve had incredible successes pushing the bounds of 3D for recent feature films. What can 3D do for exploration?

I think the lessons, the takeaway, for the lay public are deeper and more meaningful when they see it in 3D. You feel engaged. You feel like you are bearing witness to what’s happening, as opposed to watching, and I think these are subtle differences, but they are very real. And I think it has to do with our brain wiring. There’s neuroscience that now shows the regions of the brain that process parallax. They relate it to other parts of the brain that are doing image analysis . . . and giving you all kinds of depth cues that have nothing to do with parallax. But when you add parallax—or stereoscopy, or stereospis as it’s called medically—into it, all of a sudden it all clicks and it becomes very real.

There have been rumors that you’re interested in deep-ocean footage for Avatar 2.

I don’t know where that originated, but that’s crazy. There’s nothing I’m going to learn at the bottom of the Mariana Trench that’s going to in any way impact Avatar. I’m perfectly capable of imagining all the underwater creatures I need without seeing any more than I’ve seen in 40 years of diving.

The media has also characterized this dive as part of a "race to the bottom."

This is a project that I started six years ago with some engineers that worked with me on my [previous dives]. I’ve already done seven deep-ocean expeditions. We just decided to build a sub that had the capability to go to those depths, which does not exist in the world right now.

Who’s going to pay for it?

I am. If it was being done by a major oceanographic institute or by the government it would be [expensive], sure. But we’re doing it super cheap because we have good engineers and good ideas and we cut away all the fat, and we work with a very small team. So we think we are going to get a lot of bang for the buck.

Do you know how much it’s going to cost?

I know exactly how much it’s going to cost—not to the penny, because we’re not done yet, but it’s going to be in the zone of $8 million. I spent two and a half million dollars building the ROVs that we used to explore the inside of the Titanic and the Bismarck, and then we took them to the hydrothermal vents in 2003, and then we took them to the Titanic again in 2005. Those things eventually paid for themselves twice over, so there’s no reason to assume that I can’t make money with this vehicle as well, or at least pay for it.

When you go down in the sub, how would you describe your state of mind?

I think there’s a sense of heightened alertness in the weeks and then days and then hours leading up to any given dive. You’ve planned, you’ve thought of everything, you’ve worked through all your contingencies, you’ve double- and triple-checked all of the hardware. You’re pretty certain of success or you won’t be diving. You will have called a hold and worked the problem and fixed it. There’s always a slight apprehension, but for me the moment I’ve gone through the hatch and sealed it, it’s just the excitement of the dive itself—of looking forward to what we are going to see, what we are going to record, and what we are going to discover. And that wipes away any sense of apprehension from that moment on.

And what is it that keeps pulling you back to ocean exploration?

I love the ocean. It’s still a very mysterious and enigmatic place. And I love exploration in all its forms. For me, the question is what keeps pulling me back to Hollywood. I’m much more at home in exploration and scientific investigation. That just suits me better than the crazy, glossy, fickle world of Hollywood. You make a movie and you’re judged by a bunch of bozo critics; you do a piece of engineering and . . . the laws of thermodynamics are not an opinion. They’re an immutable set of rules; you play within those rules when you do engineering, and your stuff either works or it doesn’t.

That passion for engineering certainly comes through in your movies.

I guess there’s an overlap between those worlds in two ways. One, I like doing movies about the impact of technology on our lives, and even Titanic can be lumped into that category. The other is we use the most advanced technology we can lay our hands on at the time we make the movie. To me, that makes it more fun.

Read more: James Cameron on his Deep-Ocean Quest - Challenger Deep - Popular Mechanics
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on March 22, 2012, 10:46:13
Considering the amount of time it often takes to field new gear, sails may be an appropriate choice for this type of experiment. Still, robotized creatures roaming the battlefield make for an even greater layer of complexity:

The Snails of War
Published: March 20, 2012
The electric snail is here. There’s an electric cockroach too.

Enlarge This Image
Journal of the American Chemical Society
A snail with implanted biocatalytic electrodes connected with crocodile clips to the external circuitry.

Both are early experimental forays in a new line of research aimed at creating tiny, self-powered animal/machine hybrids as an alternative to tiny robots.

Instead of starting from scratch and having to solve all those pesky movement problems that plague roboticists, some researchers have asked, why not start out with living creatures that already know how to walk and fly?

Then all we have to do is make them robotlike, outfitting them with the right technology so that we can enslave them and make them do our bidding — in search-and-rescue work, spying or attacking enemies with bug phobias.

The snail is not an obvious military choice, except perhaps in a biowarfare attack on some nation’s lettuce sector, but this whole area of research is just beginning, and snails are easy to catch and keep track of in the lab.

A major challenge in roboticizing living creatures is that they don’t come with batteries, but electricity is needed to power the sensors and transmitters and that would enable remote control. But no problems are insurmountable — certainly not for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, the Alice-in-Wonderland government agency that supports all sorts of “what if” research, like mind-reading technology and insect/machine hybrids.

Darpa, naturally, has a research program into Hybrid Insect Micro Electromechanical Systems, one goal of which is to uncover new ways “to harness the natural sensors and power generation of insects.”

Power generation is where the electric snail comes in. Evgeny Katz, a professor of chemistry at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., who, with colleagues, reported on the electric snail in The Journal of the American Chemical Society this month, is not supported by Darpa, yet, but sees his work as having importance for just the sort of thing Darpa is working on.

Eventually, he said, an animal would provide its own power for sensors or receivers, or any other device that had been implanted. But, he said, the field is very new. “At the moment we are just working at the step of generating power,” Dr. Katz said.

What he and his colleagues did was to poke two electrodes coated with enzymes through the shell of a snail into a space between the shell and the body, where glucose is present, produced by the snail for its own biological purposes. The enzymes promote chemical reactions that produce a flow of electrons — electricity — drawn from glucose molecules.

This kind of process had been worked out by others, like Adam Heller at the University of Texas at Austin, with the idea that it could be used in living, moving animals, Dr. Katz said, but that step had not been taken yet. The snail moved around for several months, going about typical snail business, while producing pulses of electricity in tiny amounts.

In January, Daniel Scherson at Case Western Reserve University reported in the same journal that he and his colleagues had used a similar method to draw electricity from a cockroach, and then, just as an added twist, a mushroom. They targeted trehalose molecules, double molecules of glucose, which are present in greater quantity than glucose, Dr. Scherson said. Enzymes split the trehalose and then used the glucose as an electron source.

The cockroach was immobilized while it was serving as a mini power plant, but after the experiment, it was fine, he said. “After we remove the implants, they can run around,” Dr. Scherson said.

There is a long way to go before insect cyborgs for peace and war will go into action, and even longer before they reach the toy market. But it seems inevitable, the great trickle-down effect of military research — great toys. After all, what middle school prankster would not give a year’s allowance for a remote-controlled living water bug?

The possibilities boggle the imagination. The only question will be whether they are sold at pet stores or RadioShack.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: GnyHwy on March 22, 2012, 18:13:57
I wonder who will be the first to complain about this practice.  Greenpeace, or French gourmets?
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: GAP on March 22, 2012, 18:48:14
There is a long way to go before insect cyborgs for peace and war will go into action, and even longer before they reach the toy market. But it seems inevitable, the great trickle-down effect of military research — great toys. After all, what middle school prankster would not give a year’s allowance for a remote-controlled living water bug?

The possibilities boggle the imagination. The only question will be whether they are sold at pet stores or RadioShack.

probably jr high/highschool teachers......oh, the fun that could be had in a classroom or .........  ;D
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on March 23, 2012, 19:08:24
Data mining may be the next frontier for intelligence and related activities (ISTAR, IA, HUMINT, etc.). While this is a humorous example of what might be done, extend the idea to data mining entire information directories to identify clusters of data (for anomalies or other indicators depending on the commander's requirements and intent). While the example seems pretty straight forward and something anyone can do without a computer, what if you were looking at tens of thousands of items in a data set?

Twitter Data Scientist Takes on McDonald's Entire Menu, Survives

Mining thousands of calories of food isn't so different from parsing terabytes of tweets.

Christopher Mims 03/22/2012

Edwin Chen is a data scientist at Twitter who is into sharing the arcane secrets of his dark art, which is a good thing considering that it's probably the fastest growing field in the U.S.

(Below, I've included the whole of an email interview I conducted with Chen, which you might want to skip to if you're looking for a general overview of his work. He reveals, among other things, that he's considered mining Twitter data to see whether or not people eat fast food when they're sad.)

Data science is so new that there are no textbooks on the subject, and no university curricula designed to turn out data scientists. Yet it's integral to everything from quantitative trading on Wall Street to ad targeting on the web and the optimization of real-world supply chains.

Before he was mining terabytes of tweets for insights that could be turned into interactive visualizations, Chen honed his skills studying linguistics and pure mathematics at MIT. That's typically atypical for a data scientist, who have backgrounds in mathematically rigorous disciplines, whatever they are. (At Twitter, for example, all data scientists must have at least a Master's in a related field.)

Here's one of the wackier examples of the versatility of data science, from Chen's own blog. In a post with the rousing title Infinite Mixture Models with Nonparametric Bayes and the Dirichlet Process, Chen delves into the problem of clustering. That is, how do you take a mass of data and sort it into groups of related items? It's a tough problem -- how many groups should there be? what are the criteria for sorting them? -- and the details of how he tackles it are beyond those who don't have a background in this kind of analysis.

For the rest of us, Chen provides a concrete and accessible example: McDonald's

By dumping the entire menu of McDonald's into his mathemagical sorting box, Chen discovers, for example, that not all McDonald's sauces are created equal. Hot Mustard and Spicy Buffalo do not fall into the same cluster as Creamy Ranch, which has more in common with McDonald's Iced Coffee with Sugar Free Vanilla Syrup than it does with Newman’s Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Other clusters appear, including all the burger-y items, breakfast foods and sugar drinks. So far, not so surprising, until you get to the one cluster on McDonald's menu that contains only one item.

What's so special about McDonald's Fruit & Maple Oatmeal? It's probably its fiber content, relatively (I stress relatively) high levels of nutrients and lower levels of sugar, trans fat and cholesterol.

In other words, when one of Twitter's newest data scientists applies his craft to McDonald's menu, his algorithm automatically extracts the only food on it that any of us should probably even consider eating. Oatmeal: at McDonald's it's truly in a class of its own.

Here's the full interview with Chen:

1. How long have you been a data scientist at Twitter?

I've been at Twitter for about four months.

2. What does a data scientist at Twitter do?

We work on everything from building machine learning models and improving our large-scale data processing frameworks, to creating data visualizations, running statistical analyses, and finding better ways to understand our users and the Twitter graph. There's a lot of variety, and it really depends on each person's skills and interests.

At any given time, for example, I'm likely to be experimenting with new ad targeting algorithms, writing MapReduce jobs to mine terabytes of tweets (using Scalding, our in-house MapReduce language), building interactive visualizations to surface insights in all the data we gather, writing a report to explain some new findings, running an experiment on Mechanical Turk, and lots more.

3. Was your latest post (on clustering) inspired by something you're working on at Twitter (that you can discuss)?

I've been doing some work on clustering our users and advertisers, automatically inferring topic categories in text, and thinking about what we can learn from food on Twitter (for example, do men and women, or San Franciscans and New Yorkers, differ in what they eat? is there any relationship between what people eat and what they tweet, e.g., are people more likely to eat junk food when they're sad?). So while the post wasn't directly inspired by what I'm working on at Twitter, it's definitely related.

4. Data science is a thing now, but (I've been told) the field is "so new" that there are no textbooks or university courses specific to it. Do you agree / disagree?

I agree -- but it depends on your definition of data science (which many people disagree on!). For me, data science is a mix of three things: quantitative analysis (for the rigor necessary to understand your data), programming (so that you can process your data and act on your insights), and storytelling (to help others understand what the data means). So useful skills for a data scientist to have could include:

* Statistics, machine learning (on the quantitative analysis side). For example, it's impossible to extract meaning from your data if you don't know how to distinguish your signals from noise. (I'll stress, though, that I believe any kind of strong quantitative ability is fine -- my own background was originally in pure math and linguistics, and many of the other folks here come from fields like physics and chemistry. You can always pick up the specific tools you'll need.)

* General programming ability, plus knowledge of specific areas like MapReduce/Hadoop and databases. For example, a common pattern for me is that I'll code a MapReduce job in Scala, do some simple command-line munging on the results, pass the data into Python or R for further analysis, pull from a database to grab some extra fields, and so on, often integrating what I find into some machine learning models in the end. (Interpolation; anyone conversent in Sanskrit please decipher this)

* Web programming, data visualization (on the storytelling side). For example, I find it extremely useful to be able to throw up a quick web app or dashboard that allows other people (myself included!) to interact with data -- when communicating with both technical and non-technical folks, a good data visualization is often a lot more helpful and insightful than an abstract number.

While there aren't many textbooks or courses that cover all three areas (one exception may be Jeff Hammerbacher and Mike Franklin's course at Berkeley:, there are of course resources that cover each skill alone. (Data visualization seems to continue to be an underappreciated skill, though, so classes in that area are more rare.)
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on April 06, 2012, 11:26:15
IKEA is the logical company to develop this. Low cost, flat packed shelters would be a great way to save on shipping space when setting up encampments and operating bases, as well as humanitarian operations for housing refugees etc. (The IKEA furniture would probably be replaced by CORCAN for CF use... >:D):

Prefab home with Ikea decor

Ikea has partnered with Oregon architectural firm Ideabox to launch a line of prefabricated homes. Dubbed “aktiv,” the one-bedroom home will be decked out entirely in hip Ikea decor. Expected to sell at $86,500

Ideabox has worked with Portland branch of Ikea

This is not a flat packed house, like what India's Tata is developing for $720 for a 215 square foot house
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on April 06, 2012, 19:03:53
A pretty exciting discovery. More detailed understanding of the brain structure could lead to better treatment of concussions and other brain trauma. More futuristic stuff like brain augmentation or having "mind control" over devices might also derive from this sort of research as well:

Your Brain--It's Organized Like a Woven Cloth in Uniform Grids and Not Spaghetti

NSF - It was previously thought the inside of the brain resembled the assembly of a bowl of spaghetti noodles. Researchers and scientists, funded by the National Science Foundation, have now discovered that a more uniformed grid-like pattern makes up the connections of the brain. Knowledge gained from the study helped shape design specifications for the most powerful brain scanner of its kind, which was installed at MGH's Martinos Center last fall. The new Connectom diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner can visualize the networks of crisscrossing fibers – by which different parts of the brain communicate with each other – in 10-fold higher detail than conventional scanners, said Wedeen.

They are optimizing MRI technology to more accurately to image the pathways. In diffusion imaging, the scanner detects movement of water inside the fibers to reveal their locations. A high resolution technique called diffusion spectrum imaging (DSI) makes it possible to see the different orientations of multiple fibers that cross at a single location – the key to seeing the grid structure.

The technology used in the current study was able to see only about 25 percent of the grid structure in human brain. It was only apparent in large central circuitry, not in outlying areas where the folding obscures it. But lessons learned were incorporated into the design of the newly installed Connectom scanner, which can see 75 percent of it

Van Wedeen and team discovered that the pathways in the top of the brain are all organized like woven sheets with the fibers running in two directions in the sheets and in a third direction perpendicular to the sheets. These sheets all stack together so that the entire connectivity of the brain follows three precisely defined directions.

The directions of the pathways of the brain were previously difficult to determine because in embryological life the pathways run in simple directions but become very bent and folded as the brain matures into an adult and more information and skills are learned. The surface of the adult brain appears more folded and the three directions become increasingly curved and thus difficult to view definitively.

Path neighborhood in rat left ventricular myocardium (stereo pair), comprised circumferential fibers

Science - The Geometric Structure of the Brain Fiber Pathways

The structure of the brain as a product of morphogenesis is difficult to reconcile with the observed complexity of cerebral connectivity. We therefore analyzed relationships of adjacency and crossing between cerebral fiber pathways in four nonhuman primate species and in humans by using diffusion magnetic resonance imaging. The cerebral fiber pathways formed a rectilinear three-dimensional grid continuous with the three principal axes of development. Cortico-cortical pathways formed parallel sheets of interwoven paths in the longitudinal and medio-lateral axes, in which major pathways were local condensations. Cross-species homology was strong and showed emergence of complex gyral connectivity by continuous elaboration of this grid structure. This architecture naturally supports functional spatio-temporal coherence, developmental path-finding, and incremental rewiring with correlated adaptation of structure and function in cerebral plasticity and evolution.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Antoine on May 07, 2012, 04:09:05
Highlights - Lightweight helmets for Canadian soldiers, developed by National Research Council Canada. Good use of our tax !

March 1, 2012 — Ottawa, Ontario
A new generation of lightweight helmets developed for Canadian soldiers could reduce the risk of head injuries sustained when military vehicles are struck by improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
In Afghanistan, roadside IEDs have claimed many casualties, but not always from the fragments generated during an explosion: the actual force of the explosion on the vehicle can result in impact injuries and concussions for the occupants. A combat helmet provides a certain level of protection against these impacts, so the Department of National Defence (DND) requires soldiers to wear helmets when travelling. However, the coverage and weight of the helmet pose a burden on soldiers, particularly in extremely hot environments.  Reducing the weight and increasing the protection offered by combat helmets are top priorities for DND. ...

More at : (
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on May 10, 2012, 19:58:58
Fuel cells directly convert high energy density hydrocarbon fuels into electrical energy with reasonably high efficiency. Small fuel cells like this could dramatically reduce the number of battereis that soldiers have to pack, either by having units powering devices for far longer than any battery can, or perhaps by hooking multiple devices to a single fuel cell:

Pocket-sized fuel cell charges phones for two weeks

Brookstone will be the first retail launch partner for Lilliputian Systems Inc. (LSI’s) portable charging system. Brookstone will be responsible for the marketing, promotion, distribution and sale of the product through their various distribution channels such as catalog,, and retail stores including airport and mall locations. Lilliputian will be responsible for the product design, development, and manufacturing. The product will be branded and sold under the Brookstone® brand.

CNET - Fuel cell maker Lilliputian Systems today announced that Brookstone will be the first retailer to carry its portable USB power source, which will be sold under Brookstone's brand. The fuel cell device is about the size of a thick smartphone, and the lighter fluid-filled cartridges are about the same size as a cigarette lighter.

Lilliputian’s patented Silicon Power Cell™ technology, originally developed at the world renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (“MIT”) Microsystems Technology Laboratory (“MTL”), includes a chip based power generator and is fueled by recyclable high energy fuel cartridges. The technology is reliable, safe (approved for use on aircraft) and environmentally friendly (6x more efficient/lower carbon footprint than using a wall charger). When compared to Lithium-Ion battery alternatives, Lilliputian’s solution provides a 5—10x improvement in volumetric energy density (energy density by volume) and 20—40x improvement in gravimetric energy density (energy density by weight) at a fraction of the cost.

Juice in a box. Lilliputian's portable fuel cell can deliver between 10 to 14 full charges for an iPhone with one replaceable cartridge. (Credit: Lilliputian Systems)

People will be able to buy refills and fuel cells online, through Brookstone catalogs, or at stores. When the fuel cartridges are empty, they can be recycled through municipal recycling programs, Ramani said.

Lilliputian expects the first customers will be early technology adopters but then the appeal of portable power will attract more people, such as travelers, college students, and even teenagers who spend a lot of time with portable gaming machines. "Anyone who wants to be liberated from sticking a phone into a wall outlet," he said.

Unique technology inside the fuel cell allows for longer charge time than previous portable fuel cells give, Ramani said.

The company is the first to deposit a solid oxide fuel cell membrane onto a silicon wafer, he explained. Investor Intel has retrofitted a fab in Hudson, Massachusetts, to make specially structured silicon chips with Lilliputian's membrane imprinted on them.

"The problem of all the other (previous) devices, which usually used methanol or sodium borohydride, is that when they actually built the product, it was not any better than carrying a lithium ion battery around," he said.

Lilliputian's fuel cell will be able to fully charge, for example, an iPhone 4 between 10 and 14 times with one cartridge, Ramani said. That can mean a couple weeks of use for many people, he noted.

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on May 21, 2012, 22:55:49
Not exactly Star Trek, but being able to teleport packets of data would be about the most secure network possible (among other potentials). The line at the end sums up the situation quite sadly:

European Physicists Smash Chinese Teleportation Record

The battle over distance records sets up a fascinating race to be the first to teleport to an orbiting satellite

kfc 05/21/2012

Just a couple of weeks ago, we discussed a Chinese experiment in which physicists teleported photons over a distance of almost 100 kilometres. That's almost an order of magnitude more than previous records.

Today, European physicists say they've broken the record again, this time by teleporting photons between the two Canary Islands of La Palma and Tenerife off the Atlantic coast of north Africa, a distance of almost 150 kilometres. 

That's sets the scene for a fascinating prize. Both teams say the next step is to teleport to an orbiting satellite and that the technology is ripe to make this happen. 

The Canary islands experiment was no easy ride. In ordinary circumstances, the quantum information that photons carry cannot survive the battering it gets in passing through the atmosphere. It simply leaks away.

Indeed, the European team say that unusually bad weather including wind, rain, rapid temperature changes and even sand storms all badly affected the experiment. "These severe conditions delayed our experimental realizations of quantum teleportation for nearly one year," say Anton Zeilinger at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information in Vienna and a few pals.

(However, they are quick to point out that satellite-based quantum communication shouldn't be as susceptible since there is less weather to pass through if you fire photons straight up.)

To perform this experiment, Zeilinger and co had to perfect a number of new techniques to dramatically reduce noise, which would otherwise overwhelm the quantum signal.

Perhaps the most significant of these is a way of using entangled photons to synchronise clocks on both islands. That's important because it allows the team to send photons and then look for them at the receiver at the exact instant they are due to arrive.

This significantly reduces the number of extraneous photons that could swamp the signal. The GPS system allows clocks to be synchronised in a way that allows a 10 nanosecond coincidence window. But entanglement-enhanced synchronisation allowed Zeilinger and co to use coincidence windows just 3 nanoseconds long.   

The results sets up an interesting race between east and west. These experiments are proof-of-principle runs for a much more ambitious idea--quantum teleportation to orbiting satellites.

Since teleportation is the basis of more-or-less perfectly secure communication, the prize here is a global communications network that cannot be hacked, even in principle.   

"The technology implemented in our experiment thus certainly reached the required maturity both for satellite and for long-distance ground communication," say Zeilinger and co.

The questions, of course, is who will be first to orbit. The Europeans have a space agency that could be persuaded to test this idea but they won't be in a hurry. China is currently showing great ambition in space and will want to show off its technological prowess. Both have the wherewithall to pull off this next step.

The contrast with the US couldn't be clearer.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on May 22, 2012, 23:58:52
Motion activated devices are now cheap and accurate (although I doubt that any person could have this much accuracy when pointing or moving). Imagine entirely new types of interfaces for the various devices we carry and use based on gestures or body motions. This could include medical devices cued to unnatural body motions (falls, sudden violent shocks from accidents or weapons strikes), or alarm devices cued by subtle movements that might not be noticed by the target. Other ideas are left to your imagination (point and shoot devices would take on a whole new meaning):

Leap 3D Out-Kinects Kinect (Video)

It's 200 times more accurate, tracking even your fingers.

David Zax 05/21/2012
It’s something that pretty much has to be seen to be believed. So check out this video first, and then let’s continue the conversation below.

This week, Leap Motion, a San Francisco-based startup, unveils its Leap 3D motion control system. Leap Motion appears to so outrank Kinect in terms of its capability that it’s almost a category error to compare them. The technology, reports CNET, can detect motion with up to a hundredth of a millimeter accuracy; it’s nuanced enough to detect fingers, for instance, enabling the possibility of touch-free pinch-to-zoom. (Say goodbye to the question of whether touch screens hurt you.)

Leap, which was founded in 2010, has had investors excited for at least a little while--the company announced $12.75 million in Series A funding a few weeks ago--but it’s only now that they’re letting the rest of us in on the fun. When the device is available for commercial release, it’s expected to retail for around $70, reportedly. The device itself is fairly simple--a USB input device (plus an advanced software platform).

It might seem as though with a technology with such transformative potential, a hardware breakthrough must have made it fundamentally possible. But Leap’s CEO Michael Buckwald tells CNET otherwise: the product is the fruits of tedious years of careful mathematical research. His CTO (and childhood friend) David Holz is apparently something of a math genius. “It's not as if we're using lots of processing power or some new hardware that just came on to the market," Buckwald said. "This is really about a fundamental scientific breakthrough, many eureka moments” that Holz accrued over a half-decade of painstaking work. Holz has clearly put much thought into the technology and its implications; “subtle motions are immediately occurring on the screen, so that there’s no distance between thought and response,” he said.

Buckwald is not risking under-selling his technology (to wit, a section heading in his FAQ: “We are changing the world”). But to be fair, it appears as though he has a right to speak in just about whatever terms he pleases. He states Leap’s aim as nothing less than “to fundamentally transform how people interact with computers--and to do so in the same way that the mouse did.” (For an interview with Buckwald and some cool hands-on footage with Holz, do be sure to head over to CNET for a look at the video near the top of their post.)

Holz lists a range of possibilities for the technology: consumers might use it to browse the web; engineers could mould virtual clay; designers could draw precisely in 2-D or 3-D; and new gaming possibilities could evolve. One is hard-pressed to name a profession that might not be changed by this technology: surgeons and pilots, architects and painters, cops and robbers alike will probably have their uses for it.

Holz and Buckwald are wise in this: they are the first to admit that they don’t yet understand the full ramifications of the device. Whereas Kinect hacks started as a rogue and semi-tolerated thing that Microsoft finally brought into the fold, Leap wants openness to be in its product’s DNA. “We want to create as vibrant a developer ecosystem as possible, and we're reaching out to developers” in many different fields, said Buckwald. They’re looking for a “few hundred” developers to get involved with their tech, and soon intend to send out as many as 20,000 free developer kits. When it’s officially released--in 2013, according to reports--will the Leap Effect quickly eclipse the Kinect Effect?

As Leap puts it, “This is like day one of the mouse. Except, no one needs an instruction manual for their hands.”
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on May 24, 2012, 16:36:14
Using new high tech devices to get around. The Exoskeleton and robotic vehicles have been in the works for quite a while (the late 1950's if you count "Starship Troopers"), and the rope climbing gadget would be quite handy in urban settings. I don't think the flying car is quite as practical, but we shall see...

HULC Exoskeleton a Revolution in Rapid Deployment Forces and Mobile Mechanized Infantry

Lockheed appears to be on track for deploying combat versions of the HULC exoskeleton into Afghanistan in early 2013 or even late in 2012.

The Deployment of exoskeletons in commercial sectors will probably remain quite limited for another decade or so, due to their high cost (more than $25,000 per suit). There should be about 11,000 exoskeletons by 2020.

The HULC can assist speed marching at up to 7 mph reduces this somewhat; a battery-draining "burst" at 10mph is the maximum speed

A soldier with a pack would normally go at 3 mph maximum and cover 10-12 miles in a day. Exoskeleton Soldiers could also carry lightweight foldable electric scooters on their exoskeleton that would enable 60-100 mph on roads. If the bike had motocross like capabilities it could still go about 30-60 mph on rougher terrain.

* Lockheed Martin’s (LM) Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) has passed a final round of tests at Fort Riley, Kansas, before scheduled deployment to Afghanistan in 2011. The system, which turns a six-wheeled amphibious ATV into a robotic packhorse and charging station, has been subjected to a variety of simulated warzone environments in both remote controlled and fully autonomous modes"

The SMSS can carry a squad's food supplies, water, batteries, heavy weapons, ammunition, survival gear and can even accommodate casualties. Besides transporting up to 600lbs (272 kg) of gear, the SMSS also provides two to four kilowatts of power, and is capable of charging 146 batteries within ten hours.

The HULC exoskeletoned soldiers can carry foldable dirtbikes to enable speeds of 80mph. They would be better served with squad mission systems that could operate up to 80 mph and with several times the cargo capacity. The exoskeleton soldiers could swap out different mission modules for their 200 pound capacity from a faster and larger exo-squad SMSS.

Exoskeleton Rapid Deployment Forces

The C5-B transport plane can transport 120 tons.

This would be enough for one or two tanks.

One transport plane could deliver 500 exoskeleton equipped soldiers with folded motocross bikes.

One transport plane could deliver 200 exoskeleton soldiers with 20 support vehicles.

The exoskeleton strike force should also be supplemented with UAVs armed with missiles.

Fast lightly armored and armed robotic vehicles would make for an interesting mix.

A mechanized rapid response force could more than match traditional tank forces and would over-match lighter infantry.

I think the tactical focus should be on a new level of light (compared to tanks) mechanized speed without sacrificing as much firepower especially when combined with UAVs and light missiles. UAVs will be able to provide constant close air support.

DARPA could begin fielding prototype flying hummers by 2015. DARPA aiming for around $1 million a copy for the flying Hummer compared with $400,000 for a Humvee and $4 million for light helicopter.

You would be able to fit more flying hummers into a C5B to deliver as part of a strike force instead of helicopters.

Transformer (flying hummer) is not simply a roadable aircraft - it is a four-seat vehicle that must be able to drive off-road, survive small-arms fire, and rapidly reconfigure into an aircraft that can take off and land vertically and be flown without pilot training.

Concept: Lockheed Martin and Piasecki Aircraft

Exoskeleton soldiers with Power Climbers

Atlas Devices has a new Powered Rope Ascender can climb can hold a target load capacity up to 600 pounds at a 6-feet per second rate of ascension. The lightweight ATLAS Ascender can pull a fully-loaded soldier or firefighter up a rappelling line at up to 10 ft/sec. The powerful rope not only lifts and lowers, but can tow vehicles and remotely move equipment and casualties as well, making it a valuable tool for VBSS teams. Its high-power, high-density lithium battery will allow a load to ascend 375 feet without recharging.

It is also able to recapture 10 to 15 percent of its potential energy as it descends, which can be used to recharge the battery

Previous versions of climbers had a 3 ft/sec speed and were limited to 300 pounds of lift

The ATLAS Ascender, originally designed for use in urban combat and cave exploration by the US Army, offers unparalleled benefits in many different scenarios. Its powerful lifting capacity can directly hoist fully-loaded soldiers or firefighters at unprecedented speeds. Utilizing the ATLAS with standard rescue equipment can magnify its capacity even more, enabling effective lifting and towing capacities in excess of 1,000 lbs.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Antoine on June 08, 2012, 02:25:03
Sniffing out explosives

Timothy Swager often finds his mind drifting back to the 7 July 2005 bombings. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) chemist was on sabbatical in London at the time. 'There's one thing I think about a lot. Those guys with the backpacks would have been easily detected with some chemical sensors,' he says. 'Starting back at Luton when they went through a door into the train station wearing backpacks giving off vapours, you could have had some very small, inexpensive sensors over the top of the doors that would have said: there are people to watch here.' One sensor could give too many false alarms but a series of sensors at different spots in the train station would be able to pick up the same people again and again, he adds.

Swager is famed for creating polymer technology to sniff out explosives vapours in the field, commercialised as Fido explosives detectors. The arrays of unobtrusive sensors that he envisages may not be that far from reality. Researchers can already detect single molecules of explosives using sensing systems that have the potential to be cheap, low-power and very, very small - thanks to some clever chemistry and consumer-driven miniaturisation of electronics. Most of these vapour detection systems are designed to identify molecules of high explosives such as TNT (2,4,6-trinitrotoluene).....

This article is a bit technical and I didn't want to take too much space on this website by quoting all of it. If you are interested to read more about this article, you'll find it at: (
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on June 09, 2012, 15:02:01
Plastics that are lighter and strong as steel. Moulding them into parts should also be eaisier. Once this technology is commercialized we can go on a "diet" by replacing things like strike plates and hatches with superstrong plastic substitutes; a 30% weight reduction will go a long way to reducing other logistical burdens and improving the soldier's stamina:

Steel-Strength Plastics -- and Green, Too!
Thursday, June 7, 2012

TAU researcher develops durable plastic that may replace metals

As landfills overflow with discarded plastics, scientists have been working to produce a biodegradable alternative that will reduce pollution. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher is giving the quest for environmentally friendly plastics an entirely new dimension — by making them tougher than ever before.

Prof. Moshe Kol of TAU's School of Chemistry is developing a super-strength polypropylene — one of the world's most commonly used plastics — that has the potential to replace steel and other materials used in everyday products. This could have a long-term impact on many industries, including car manufacturing, in which plastic parts could replace metallic car parts.

Durable plastics consume less energy during the production process, explains Prof. Kol. And there are additional benefits as well. If polypropylene car parts replaced traditional steel, cars would be lighter overall and consume less fuel, for example. And because the material is cheap, plastic could provide a much more affordable manufacturing alternative.

His research has been published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Better building blocks

Although a promising field of research, biodegradable plastics have not yet been able to mimic the durability and resilience of common, non-biodegradable plastics like polypropylene. Prof. Kol believes that the answer could lie in the catalysts, the chemicals that enable their production.

Plastics consist of very long chains called polymers, made of simple building blocks assembled in a repeating pattern. Polymerization catalysts are responsible for connecting these building blocks and create a polymer chain. The better the catalyst, the more orderly and well-defined the chain — leading to a plastic with a higher melting point and greater strength and durability. This is why the catalyst is a crucial part of the plastic production process.

Prof. Kol and his team of researchers have succeeded in developing a new catalyst for the polypropylene production process, ultimately producing the strongest version of the plastic that has been created to date. "Everyone is using the same building blocks, so the key is to use different machinery," he explains. With their catalyst, the researchers have produced the most accurate or "regular" polypropylene ever made, reaching the highest melting point to date.

Using resources more efficiently

By 2020, the consumption of plastics is estimated to reach 200 million tons a year. Prof. Kol says that because traditional plastics aren't considered green, it's important to think creatively to develop this material, which has become a staple of daily life, with the least amount of harm to the environment. Cheaper and more efficient to produce in terms of energy consumption, as well as non-toxic, Prof. Kol's polypropylene is good news for green manufacturing and could revolutionize the industry. The durability of the plastic results in products that require less maintenance — and a much longer life for parts made from the plastic.

Beyond car parts, Prof. Kol envisions a number of uses for this and related plastics, including water pipes, which he says could ultimately conserve water use. Drinking water for the home has been traditionally carried by steel and cement pipes. These pipes are susceptible to leakage, leading to waste and therefore higher water bills. But they are also very heavy, so replacing them can be a major, expensive operation.

"Plastic pipes require far fewer raw materials, weighing ten times less than steel and a hundred times less than cement. Reduced leaking means more efficient water use and better water quality," Prof. Kol explains. The replacement of steel water pipes by those made of plastic is becoming more common, and the production of plastics with even greater strength and durability will make this transition even more environmentally-friendly.

Prof. Kol holds the Bruno Landesberg Chair in Green Chemistry at TAU.

For more environment and ecology news from Tel Aviv University, click here.

Keep up with the latest AFTAU news on Twitter:
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on June 15, 2012, 11:04:24
The USAF continues to look at hypersonic missiles. Shrinking them to fit fighter jets makes sense and provides far more platforms to carry the weapons. The sheer kinetic energy of a missile moving at Mach 6 makes it a potent bunker buster and anti ship missiles as well as AAMs, a CF-35 or even CF-18 carrying these sort of missiles makes them true multi role platforms.

Air Force Wants Hypersonic Missiles for Stealth Jets
By Robert BeckhusenEmail Author June 7, 2012 |  6:00 pm |  Categories: Missiles
An X-51 Waverider hypersonic missile attached to the wing of a B-52 bomber. The Air Force seeks to build a smaller variant for its stealth fighters. Photo: Boeing

For decades, the military has tried — with little success — to build missiles capable of traveling at breakneck, hypersonic speeds. Missile tests, however, have been uneven, with repeated failures punctuated by the occasional stunning success. Now the Air Force is taking a bigger role by seeking to build another hypersonic missile, this time for its stealth fighter jets.

The Air Force’s desired “High Speed Strike Weapon” would travel at five times the speed of sound or faster, theoretically launching from a stealthy F-22 Raptor jet or a future F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and traveling so fast and at such long distances as to render an enemy’s anti-aircraft systems defunct. The Air Force’s Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate is gathering possible design partners later this month at Elgin Air Force Base in Florida before any solicitation. According to an Air Force notice, whatever prototype gets built will ultimately need to strike “time-critical” targets — on the move, possibly — from “tactically relevant standoff distances.”

If it can be done, the weapon will “be representative of an air-breathing hypersonic missile system” that can tough it out in “the most stringent environments presented to us in the next decade,” said Steven Walker, the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary for science, technology and engineering, in written testimony to the House Armed Services Committee in February.

That’s the hope, at least. The U.S. military has a mixed record with hypersonics. Last August, the Pentagon’s pizza-shaped Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 failed for a second (and likely final) time, crashing into the Pacific during a test flight. But the Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon did much better during a test in November. Two years ago, the Air Force successfully flew its X-51 WaveRider scramjet missile at speeds of Mach 5 for 200 seconds after launching it off a B-52 bomber. A later test, though, ended with engine failure.

Unlike those weapons, though, the High Speed Strike Weapon isn’t a so-called “Global Strike” weapon. Those weapons are supposed to hit anywhere on Planet Earth at any time. The former Falcon missile, for instance, was designed to launch with a rocket into space, before screaming back down to Earth and obliterating its target. But those weapons are indistinguishable from a nuclear weapon when seen on radar — which could inadvertently trigger nuclear Armageddon once a surprised nuclear power like Russia sees one in the air.

A fighter-launched missile resembles any other smaller, non-nuclear missile. It’s just traveling super-fast. Armageddon averted.

There are other technical challenges in launching a scramjet missile from a fighter jet instead of a sub-orbital rocket or a B-52, though. It’ll still need to have air-breathing engines that compresses the air around the missile into a supersonic mixture of oxygen and fuel — absent a turbine. But it will also need to be small enough to be carried by a jet fighter while carrying the necessary advanced navigation controls, precision guidance tools and sophisticated sensors, plus the warhead. The service will also still have to find the right mixture of composite materials like titanium and tungsten (among others) to hold up under the enormous heat generated by Mach 5, Mach 6 and even faster flight.

The Air Force is requesting a whopping 150 percent increase in funding for the program, from $6.2 million now to $15.4 million in 2013 in one “thrust” of weapons development, according to subscription-required InsideDefense. That’s a lot of money for a missile that may not work.

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Panzer Grenadier on June 18, 2012, 20:03:13
Plastics that are lighter and strong as steel. Moulding them into parts should also be eaisier. Once this technology is commercialized we can go on a "diet" by replacing things like strike plates and hatches with superstrong plastic substitutes; a 30% weight reduction will go a long way to reducing other logistical burdens and improving the soldier's stamina:

I'm keeping my hopes high on being able to reduce the soldiers burden.  I fear however that the higher ups will simply add more to the standard load requirements to offset any weight reductions gained.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on June 20, 2012, 23:11:39
Small, low cost gigapixel camera. Imagine something like this on the mast of a surveillance vehicle or the pod of a UAV. Another possible use would be for all sky surveillance looking for satellites. The imagination boggles:

Gigapixel camera catches the smallest details
One-billion-pixel snapshots offer researchers high-resolution view of dynamic processes.

Katherine Bourzac
20 June 2012

A one-gigapixel image (top) shows minute details (bottom) of the skyline in Seattle, Washington.

A camera made from off-the-shelf electronics can take snapshots of one billion pixels each — about one thousand times larger than images taken by conventional cameras.

David Brady, an engineer at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and his colleagues are developing the AWARE-2 camera with funding from the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The camera’s earliest use will probably be in automated military surveillance systems, but its creators hope eventually to make the technology available to researchers, media companies and consumers.

The camera is described today in Nature1, in a paper that includes some of its images. One snapshot shows a wide view of Pungo Lake, part of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina. In a compressed version of the entire image, no animals are visible. But zooming in reveals a group of swans; going in closer still makes it possible to count every bird on and above the lake.

Researchers including wildlife biologists and archaeologists already use image-stitching software to create similar images from lots of lower-resolution files. But the ability to take the entire picture in one instant rather than taking individual shots over a period of minutes to an hour — during which time those swans might all have flown away — will be useful for capturing dynamic processes.

With such technology, “when you’re in the field, you don’t have to decide what you’re going to study — you can capture as much information as possible and look at it for five years”, says Illah Nourbakhsh, a roboticist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who developed image-stitching software called Gigapan. “That really changes your mindset.”

Bigger and better

In general, taking high-resolution images demands a large lens. Very rapidly, the optics become “the size of a bus”, says Brady. And high-resolution cameras usually have a limited field of view, meaning that they can see only a small slice of the total scene at a time. For example, each of the four 1.4-gigapixel cameras being used in the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) at the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy, which will scan the night sky for potentially dangerous near-Earth objects such as asteroids, focuses on a view of the sky only three degrees wide. And each uses a 1.8-metre mirror and a large array of light-sensing chips to accomplish the feat.#

Billion-pixel pictures

AWARE-2 sidesteps the size issue by using 98 microcameras, each with a 14-megapixel sensor, grouped around a shared spherical lens. Together, they take in a field of view 120 degrees wide and 50 degrees tall. With all the packaging, data-processing electronics and cooling systems, the entire camera is about 0.75 by 0.75 by 0.5 metres in volume.

The current version of the camera can take images of about one gigapixel; by adding more microcameras, the researchers expect eventually to reach about 50 gigapixels. Each microcamera runs autofocus and exposure algorithms independently, so that every part of the image — near or far, bright or dark — is visible in the final result. Image processing is used to stitch together the 98 sub-images into a single large one at the rate of three frames per minute.

“With this design, they’re changing the game,” says Nourbakhsh.

Super video

The Duke group is now building a gigapixel camera with more sophisticated electronics, which takes ten images per second — close to video rate. It should be finished by the end of the year. The cameras can currently be made for about US$100,000 each, and large-scale manufacturing should bring costs down to about $1,000. The researchers are talking to media companies about the technology, which could for example be used to film sports: fans watching gigapixel video of a football game could follow their own interests rather than the camera operator’s.

The challenge, says Michael Cohen, head of the Interactive Visual Media group at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington, is dealing with the huge amount of data that these cameras will produce.

The gigapixel camera that takes ten frames per second will generate ten gigabytes of data every second — too much to store in conventional file formats, post on YouTube or e-mail to a friend. Not everything in these huge images is worth displaying or even recording, and researchers will have to write software to determine which data are worth storing and displaying, and create better interfaces for viewing and sharing gigapixel images. “The technology for capturing the world is outpacing our ability to deal with the data,” says Nourbakhsh.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: cupper on June 21, 2012, 00:07:19
“The technology for capturing the world is outpacing our ability to deal with the data,”

This is going to be the bigger problem to overcome if it is to become commercially viable, let alone militarily functional.

The storage problem will be one thing, but also the processing power needed to even handle that much data in one shot would be prohibitive. And let's not even think about transmitting the data between users in a field environment.

Michio Kaku has posited that Moore's Law will collapse in the next ten years, and is currently showing signs of slowing down.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on June 22, 2012, 12:31:54
Granted the file storage and transmission problems will be difficult to overcome, but this sort of thing generates its own momentum; the potential advantages of gigapixel cameras are so great that lots of work will be done to attempt to overcome these issues generated by having gigapixel cameras in the first place.

The potential spinoffs of that will be mind boggeling: you would need a ruggedized laptop with similar performance to a modern supercomputer to process images, and mass produced ultra high capacity storage devices which would act as "film" for these cameras. If these items are mass produced for running cameras, they will also be available for other things as well...Dealing with huge bandwidth pipes is way over my pay grade, although some of the material upthread touches on these issues.

For those of you with interest in this technology (or even building your own gigapixel cameras out of commodity parts) this website is interesting:
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: cupper on June 22, 2012, 23:29:28
Here's some more info on the Gigapixel Camera, complete with photos and technical sketches
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on June 26, 2012, 10:22:38
And it seems there is another way to vastly increase the bandwith of the various network pipes. Gigapixel cameras may not be so far fetched after all:

Infinite-capacity wireless vortex beams carry 2.5 terabits per second
By Sebastian Anthony on June 25, 2012 at 7:41 am
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American and Israeli researchers have used twisted, vortex beams to transmit data at 2.5 terabits per second. As far as we can discern, this is the fastest wireless network ever created — by some margin. This technique is likely to be used in the next few years to vastly increase the throughput of both wireless and fiber-optic networks.

These twisted signals use orbital angular momentum (OAM) to cram much more data into a single stream. In current state-of-the-art transmission protocols (WiFi, LTE, COFDM), we only modulate the spin angular momentum (SAM) of radio waves, not the OAM. If you picture the Earth, SAM is our planet spinning on its axis, while OAM is our movement around the Sun. Basically, the breakthrough here is that researchers have created a wireless network protocol that uses both OAM and SAM.

In this case, Alan Willner and fellow researchers from the University of Southern California, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Tel Aviv University, twisted together eight ~300Gbps visible light data streams using OAM. Each of the eight beams has a different level of OAM twist. The beams are bundled into two groups of four, which are passed through different polarization filters. One bundle of four is transmitted as a thin stream, like a screw thread, while the other four are transmitted around the outside, like a sheathe. The beam is then transmitted over open space (just one meter in this case), and untwisted and processed by the receiving end. 2.5 terabits per second is equivalent to 320 gigabytes per second, or around seven full Blu-ray movies per second.

This huge achievement comes just a few months after Bo Thide finally proved that OAM is actually possible. In Thide’s case, his team transmitted an OAM radio signal over 442 meters (1450ft).

According to Thide, OAM should allow us to twist together an “infinite number” of conventional transmission protocols without using any more spectrum. In theory, we should be able to take 10 (or 100 or 1000 or…) WiFi or LTE signals and twist them into a single beam, increasing throughput by 10 (or 100 or 1000 or…) times. For fiber networks, where we still have a lot of spare capacity, this isn’t all that exciting — but for wireless networks, where we’ve virtually run out of useful spectrum, twisted radio waves could provide an instant, future-proof solution. For the networking nerds, Willner’s OAM link has a spectral efficiency of 95.7 bits per hertz; LTE maxes out at 16.32 bits/Hz; 802.11n is 2.4 bits/Hz. Digital TV (DVB-T) is just 0.55 bits/Hz.

The next task for Willner’s team will be to increase the OAM network’s paltry one-meter transmission distance to something a little more usable. “For situations that require high capacity… over relatively short distances of less than 1km, this approach could be appealing. Of course, there are also opportunities for long-distance satellite-to-satellite communications in space, where turbulence is not an issue,” Willner tells the BBC. In reality, the main limiting factor is that we simply don’t have the hardware or software to manipulate OAM. The future of wireless networking is very bright indeed, however.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: GAP on June 26, 2012, 12:08:47
Here's another innovation that is likely to have a huge impact on the size of systems....

The fanless heatsink: Silent, dust-immune, and almost ready for prime time
By Sebastian Anthony on June 25, 2012
Article Link (
The fanless, almost-silent, dust-immune, 30-times-more-efficient Sandia Cooler heatsink is almost ready for prime time. Sandia National Laboratories has announced that two companies — one computer heatsink maker, and one LED light maker — have licensed the technology.

In the Sandia Cooler, the heatsink itself is the fan. It is a cast metal impeller that floats on a hydrodynamic air bearing just a thousandth of an inch (0.03 millimeters) above a metal heat pipe spreader, powered by a brushless motor in the middle. The end result is a cooler that is very quiet and 30 times more efficient than a fan-and-heatsink solutions. The prototype (shown above and in the video below) is 10 times smaller than a commercial state-of-the-art cooler, but has the same cooling performance.

The Sandia Cooler’s silent operation is due to the fact that a fanless design has a lot more flexibility, whereas the fan in a standard air cooler just needs to drive as much air as possible. The Sandia Cooler’s impeller blades can have a geometry that perfectly splits the air at the impeller entrance (in the middle) and rejoins the air flow at the exit (the edges). Fast forward to 3:30 in the video if you want to hear just how quiet it is.
More on link
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on June 29, 2012, 20:21:09
Moving from information age technologies back to moving brute matter around, DARPA has completed a series of tests involving ways to deploy direct to shore from standard container ships; making the idea of the Big Honking Ship somewhat moot (for the same cost of one BHS, you could conceivably get dozens of converted container ships. Soldiers have lived in modified ISO containers, so even personnel could be transported this way in theory):


    June 26, 2012

    New sea and air delivery systems to enable direct support to disaster zones from offshore container ships

    During natural or man-made disasters, the U.S. armed forces’ rapidly deployable airlift, sealift, communication, and medical evacuation and care capabilities can supplement lead relief agencies in providing aid to victims. The Department of Defense’s 2012 strategic guidance document includes humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations as one of the missions for 21st Century defense.

    DARPA’s Tactically Expandable Maritime Platform (TEMP) program has completed the design of innovative technologies to transform commercial container ships into self-contained floating supply bases during disaster relief operations, without needing port infrastructure. The program envisions a container ship anchoring offshore of a disaster area, and the ship’s crew delivering supplies ashore using DARPA-developed, modular on-board cranes and air- and sea-delivery vehicles.

    “To allow military ships and aircraft to focus on unique military missions they alone can fulfill, it makes sense to develop technologies to leverage standard commercial container ships, used around the world daily, as a surge capacity for extended humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations,” said Scott Littlefield, DARPA program manager.

    DARPA recently completed the first phase of the program, which developed four key modular systems, all of which are transportable using standard 20-foot or 40-foot commercial shipping containers. The elements include:

        Core support modules—container-sized units that provide electrical power, berthing, water and other life-support requirements for an augmented crew aboard the container ship.

        Motion-stabilized cranes—modular on-board cranes to allow transfer of cargo containers at sea from the ship deck over the side and onto a sea-delivery vehicle.

        Sea-delivery vehicles—Captive Air Amphibious Transporters (CAAT) have air-filled pontoons on a tank tread-like design, enabling them to carry containers over water and directly onto shore.

        Parafoil unmanned air-delivery system—a low-cost, propeller-driven air vehicle that uses a parachute for lift and carries urgent supplies from the container ship to stricken areas on shore.

    While DARPA’s investment in demonstrating the technology has completed, the information obtained should reduce risk for efforts of the military Services or other government organizations with a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: cupper on June 30, 2012, 16:35:39
This looks like it could have some interesting potential, if at the very least  lightening the load for portable electronic devices.

Scientists demonstrate 'paint-on' batteries

Scientists in Texas have demonstrated a way of 'painting' rechargeable lithium-ion batteries onto surfaces, greatly expanding the potential for future development of portable electronics. The team, from Rice University, has succeeded in painting batteries onto a range of different surfaces, including common household objects, with 'no surface conditioning'. The batteries are made up of five layers measuring just 0.5mm thick in total and, according to the scientists that developed the technology, can be fabricated using conventional spray-painting equipment and techniques.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on July 03, 2012, 18:04:23
This sort of monitoring SW would have a lot of utility in IA and COIN scenarios, changing the input parameters to the things *we* are interested in (although criminal activity is an indication of where Government has less control over a neighbourhood):

L.A. Cops Embrace Crime-Predicting Algorithm
Burglary reports dropped after officers began taking patrol orders from computers.

David Talbot

Monday, July 2, 2012
On patrol: A computer-generated “heat map,” left, shows predicted crime activity. This is translated into patrol instructions in the form of the red boxes on the map, right.

A recent study suggests that computers could be better than seasoned police analysts at predicting when and where crime will strike next in a busy city.

Software tested in Los Angeles was twice as good as human analysts at predicting where burglaries and car break-ins might happen, according to a company deploying the technology.

When police in an L.A. precinct called Foothill division followed the computer's advice—and focused their patrols within the areas identified—those areas experienced a 25 percent drop in reported burglaries, an anomaly compared to neighboring areas.

"We are seeing a tipping point—they are out there preventing the crime. The suspect is showing up in the area where he likes to go. They see black-and-white [police cruisers] talking to citizens—and that's enough to disrupt the activity," Sean Malinowski, a police captain in the Foothill division, said in a press webinar last week. The division has nearly 200,000 residents in a 46-square-mile area of the San Fernando Valley.

The software is built by a startup company, PredPol, based in Santa Cruz, California, and builds on computer science and anthropological research carried out at Santa Clara University and the University of California, Los Angeles.

The inputs are straightforward: previous crime reports, which include the time and location of a crime. The software is informed by sociological studies of criminal behavior, which include the insight that burglars often ply the same area.

The system produces, for each patrol shift, printed maps speckled with red boxes, 500 feet on each side, suggesting where property crimes—specifically, burglaries and car break-ins and thefts—are statistically more likely to happen. Patterns detected over a period of several years—as well as recent clusters—figure in the algorithm, and the boxes are recalibrated for each patrol shift based on the timeliest data.

"The challenge, and what is really hard from the point of view of the crime analyst, is how do you balance crime patterns on different time scales. That's where the algorithm has the edge, sifting through years of data," says Jeff Brantingham, a company cofounder and UCLA anthropologist.

Proving that the algorithm really helped reduce property crime by 25 percent in Foothill is a difficult task. Police officers could, for example, know that stopping burglaries is a management priority, and shift resources and their attentions accordingly, regardless of the red boxes.

The company tested on previous data whether crimes occurred more frequently in the areas identified by the software, compared to boxes sketched by crime analysts. Between November 2011 and April 2012, in the crime-plagued Foothill district, the software predicted crime six times better than randomly placed boxes. Human crime analysts' boxes were only three times better than the random boxes, according to Brantingham.

But whether the algorithm is right or wrong, it tends to reduce bureaucratic procedures and thus keep officers on the street, which by itself helps. Where police used to sit in daily meetings to plan where to patrol, they can now spend more time actually out on patrol, since the computer's doing the planning. And if they do spook a would-be burglar into abandoning his plan, it means even more time on patrol, because the officer doesn't have to leave his beat to process the suspect. "I don't have them back writing a burglary report. I can have them have more minutes out on the mission. It is what we see happening," Malinowski said.

The technology was previously tested in Santa Cruz, California. It has now been expanded to six Los Angeles areas inhabited by 1.1 million people, and is being expanded to other cities.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on July 03, 2012, 21:59:45
Lots of amazing stuff coming down the pike. Making desalination several orders of magnitude easier is not just a small improvement; it means things like a ROWPU sized unit could provide water for a city, or a deployed unit (or the DART) could provide masses of drinking water from a unit the size of a portable generator...

Graphene Can Improve Desalination Efficiency by Several Orders of Magnitude, Can Do Pretty Much Anything

Desalination Graphene MIT

by Eric Limer | 1:35 pm, June 29th, 2012

Graphene. It can be stronger than steel and thinner than paper. It can generate electricity when struck by light. It can be used in thin, flexible supercapacitors that are up to 20 times more powerful than the ones we use right now and can be made in a DVD burner. It’s already got an impressive track record, but does it have any more tricks up its sleeve? Apparently, yes. According to researchers at MIT, graphene could also increase the efficicency of desalination by two or three orders of magnitude. Seriously, what can’t this stuff do?
Desalination might sound boring, but it’s super important. Around 97% of the planet’s water is saltwater and therefore unpotable, and while you can remove the salt from the water, the current methods of doing so are laborious and expensive. Graphene stands to change all that by essentially serving as the world’s most awesomely efficient filter. If you can increase the efficiency of desalination by two or three orders of magnitude (that is to say, make it 100 to 1,000 times more efficient) desalination suddenly becomes way more attractive as a way to obtain drinking water.
Desalination works exactly as you might expect; you run water through a filter with pores small enough to block the salt and not the water. It’s a process called reverse osmosis. The issue is that the thicker your filter is, the less efficient the process is going to be. If you know anything about graphene, you know where this is going. Graphene sheets are one atom thick. It’s sort of a best case scenario. Because it’s nanoporous and so insanely thin, it can let water (but not salt) through it without requiring the comparatively high levels of pressure that current filters do.
That said, there are a couple of roadblocks to using graphene for desalination. First of all, if you want to use a graphene filter, it’s important to have a lot of control of the size of the holes in the filter, or more accurately, the variation of the sizes of the holes. Put simply, you need to make sure that all the holes are small enough to keep the salt out if you want to achieve true desalination. When it comes to that level of accuracy, we aren’t quite there on the production side. We are, however, pretty close and getting closer every day. Second, you’ve got to make sure that the filter stays stable under pressure; if it breaches you’re going to lose a lot of process. The standard methods of reinforcing traditional filters should translate pretty easily to graphene though, so all in all it’s looking pretty promising.
We may not have jetpacks or flying cars yet, but graphene is looking like it may prove to be the sort of infinitely useful space age material that always gets such stupid names in sci-fi movies. And if the past is any indication, this isn’t the end of graphene’s application potential. Any bets on what’s next?
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on July 08, 2012, 20:00:35
Exoskeletons become more versatile; a powered hand provides more strength and dexterity than previous designs (and being able to lift huge weights with a powered exoskeleton would be pointless if you can't hang on to the item in question anyway:

ExoHand – human-machine interaction

New scope for interaction
between humans and machines
The ExoHand from Festo is an exoskeleton that can be worn like a glove.
The fingers can be actively moved and their strength amplified; the operator’s hand movements are registered and transmitted to the robotic hand in real time. The objectives are to enhance the strength and endurance of the human hand, to extend humans’ scope of action and to secure them an independent lifestyle even at an advanced age.
From assembly to medical therapy
The ExoHand could provide assistance in the form of force amplification in connection with monotonous and strenuous activities in industrial assembly, for example, or in remote manipulation in hazardous environments: with force feedback, the human operator feels what the robot grasps and can thus grip and manipulate objects from a safe distance without having to touch them.
Due to the yielding capacity of its pneumatic components, the ExoHand also offers potential in the field of service robotics. In the rehabilitation of stroke patients, it could already be used today as an active manual orthosis.

A strong hand with sensitive fingers
The exoskeleton supports the human hand from the outside and reproduces the physiological degrees of freedom – the scope of movement resulting from the geometry of the joints.
Eight double-acting pneumatic actuators move the fingers so that they can be opened and closed. For this purpose, non-linear control algorithms are implemented on a CoDeSys-compliant controller, which thus allows precise orientation of the individual finger joints. The forces, angles and positions of the fingers are tracked by sensors.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on July 15, 2012, 13:40:50
DARPA goes for smart underwear. Think of this as a stealth suit for preventing injuries and you get the idea:


The amount of equipment and gear carried by today’s dismounted warfighter can exceed 100 pounds, as troops conduct patrols for extended periods over rugged and hilly terrain. The added weight while bending, running, squatting, jumping and crawling in a tactical environment increases the risk of musculoskeletal injury, particularly on vulnerable areas such as ankles, knees and lumbar spine. Increased load weight also causes increase in physical fatigue, which further decreases the body’s ability to perform warfighter tasks and protect against both acute and chronic injury.

The Warrior Web program seeks to develop the technologies required to prevent and reduce musculoskeletal injuries caused by dynamic events typically found in the warfighter’s environment.  The ultimate program goal is a lightweight, conformal under-suit that is transparent to the user (like a diver’s wetsuit). The suit seeks to employ a system (or web) of closed-loop controlled actuation, transmission, and functional structures that protect injury prone areas, focusing on the soft tissues that connect and interface with the skeletal system. Other novel technologies that prevent, reduce, ambulate, and assist with healing of acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries are also being sought.

In addition to direct injury mitigation, Warrior Web will have the capacity to augment positive work done by the muscles, to reduce the physical burden, by leveraging the web structure to impart joint torque at the ankle, knee, and hip joints. The suit seeks to reduce the metabolic cost of carrying a typical assault load, as well as compensate for the weight of the suit itself, while consuming no more than 100 Watts of electric power from the battery source. 

While injury mitigation is a primary goal, a Warrior Web suit system is not intended to interfere with current warfighter “soldier systems,” such as external body armor, rather it aims to augment them to improve warfighter effectiveness.

The Warrior Web program will consist of two separate but related program tasks.  Task A, called Warrior Web Alpha, seeks to develop a mix of core technologies critical to the realization of a Warrior Web capability.  The Warrior Web Alpha effort examines five key Technology Areas: core injury mitigation technologies; comprehensive analytical representations; regenerative actuation; adaptive sensing and control; and suit human-to-wearer interface.

Part way through the Warrior Web program, Warrior Web Bravo, or Task B, is expected to develop an integrated suit capability by leveraging the technology developed by Task A efforts and incorporating the most appropriate breakthroughs into a suit that shows the best performance. The final suit is expected to be tested in appropriate mission profiles under realistic loads to evaluate performance.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: GnyHwy on July 18, 2012, 23:21:46
India's newest howitzer.  It's currently getting slammed on Facebook by my fellow gunners.  I'm also going to post in the Arty threads to see what kind of reaction it gets; likely negative.

It's an interesting concept, but to me it looks like it was designed by a crapload of extremely smart engineers, and very few actual Artilleryman. (
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on July 19, 2012, 20:23:34
Isn't this a reworking or rebuild of the Bofors FH-77 (B-02 or B-05 depending on the source you read)?

The Swedes are pretty big on finding non standard solutions to problems (think of the Striv 103 "S" tank or various SAAB jet fighters), and most of their stuff does work, even if not in the same way that we might expect. Reading an article in Defense Industry Daily it seems the Indian Army is having a difficult time getting a new artillery piece through the normal procurement process, so rebuilding the FH-77 may be their only viable solution until the procurment process gets fixed. (see
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Hamish Seggie on July 25, 2012, 00:18:59
India's newest howitzer.  It's currently getting slammed on Facebook by my fellow gunners.  I'm also going to post in the Arty threads to see what kind of reaction it gets; likely negative.

It's an interesting concept, but to me it looks like it was designed by a crapload of extremely smart engineers, and very few actual Artilleryman. (

I am not a gunner however I can see this piece of kit in the maintenance bay rather than on the gun line. Too complicated and too many moving parts. Plus what is the accuracy like? I recall once we bedded our 81s in we didn't like to move them until we had to leave.
That transformer rotating round and round under its own power.....radical yes....
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: GnyHwy on July 25, 2012, 14:56:35
I am not a gunner however I can see this piece of kit in the maintenance bay rather than on the gun line. Too complicated and too many moving parts. Plus what is the accuracy like? I recall once we bedded our 81s in we didn't like to move them until we had to leave.
That transformer rotating round and round under its own power.....radical yes....

We leave the 81s bedded in as long as possible as well.  Or at least until they are so far bedded in that you can't see your aiming points with your sight. 

Here is the link that everyone is commenting on the Indian gun.,106746.0.html (,106746.0.html)
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: jollyjacktar on July 25, 2012, 15:04:20
I am not a gunner however I can see this piece of kit in the maintenance bay rather than on the gun line. Too complicated and too many moving parts. Plus what is the accuracy like? I recall once we bedded our 81s in we didn't like to move them until we had to leave.
That transformer rotating round and round under its own power.....radical yes....
I also thought that the dinky wheels on the rear of the assy might not do too well in some field conditions.  But you're right, lots of crap to break and cause headaches.  As for the Riverdance gun drill, I laugh everytime I watch it.   ;D
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Rifleman62 on July 26, 2012, 11:40:41

Boeing Builds Touch Screen Sand Table Replacement

The Army can’t get enough touch screens. Walk through the Network Integration Evaluations at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. They populate the headquarters posts and tactical operations center throughout the desert. The day of the traditional sand table might be coming to a close.

One of the latest models is Boeing’s Virtual Mission Board which the Army is using to train. Dave Irwin, Boeing’s director for Ground Forces Training, said he could see it being used in combat as well.

The Virtual Mission Board is less a board as much as it’s a software program that soldiers or other services could install into whichever PC they choose. Boeing is still working with the software to make it adaptable to iPads and other tablets.

Before and after exercises, soldiers and troop commanders can see exactly where their units are located and how a potential exercise will play out. They can see a 3-D lay out of buildings and virtual battlefields. With a touch of the finger they can move units much like they did on a sand table. Commanders can even map fires and simulate entire exercise progressions, Irwin said.

Soldiers at Fort Sill, Okla., have already started training with the Virtual Mission Board. The Army has bought two boards for Fort Sill, one for Ft. Bragg, N.C., and one for Fort Lee, Va.. The Army is in the process of buying another one for Fort Lee, two for Fort Eustis, Va., one for Fort Rucker, Ala., five for Fort McCoy, Wisc., and one for the Pennsylvania National Guard. The Marine Corps has shown interest, but has yet to buy one, Irwin said.

For the same reason the Virtual Mission Board works as a training tool, Irwin can see Army units using it in deployed locations. Rather than using paper maps or Power Point slides before missions, a commander could outline an upcoming mission on the Virtual Mission Board.

The Army first started using the Virtual Mission Board in 2010. The potential use in combat is a new development.

At the most recent NIE this Spring, the Army tested the Command Tactical Vision touch screen mapping program built by Ringtail, a small company based in Austin, Texas. Soldiers and commanders raved about how easy it was to visualize the battlefield using the large touch screen map and the manner it condensed information that typically required four to five screens at a TOC.

Army and SOCOM leaders have already provided feedback on how Boeing could improve the board. Commanders asked Boeing to include a tool that measures a specific plot of land simply by tracing it with your finger. Boeing agreed and has made the adjustment.

“We’re always looking to make it better,” Irwin said.

From Boeing web site including video:

High Tech, high-touch training: Virtual Mission Board

By Robert Sterling

The Virtual Mission Board

The Virtual Mission Board is helping change the way the U.S. Army trains.

A deployable, 55-inch touch-screen display system, the VMB operates the same as a smart phone or tablet. With colorful 3D graphics, the board can recreate terrains and cityscapes exactly as they appear in reality.

The board replaces the need for paper maps and elaborate models that often required an entire room to display. Participants are immersed in a virtual representation of the training environment before they ever step foot on the battlefield.

For instance, soldiers practicing "fires training" can input artillery shell trajectories into the board and quickly assess how an intervening hill or other impediment could hinder the mission. They can also evaluate how artillery might affect intervening air support.

The VMB, currently in use at Fort Sill, Okla., and other bases around the country, is not limited to military applications. The deployable, touch-screen board’s planning, tracking and review capabilities make it a useful device for training and security in various buildings and airports.

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: GAP on July 26, 2012, 11:56:13
The Marine Corps has shown interest, but has yet to buy one, Irwin said.

They'll just wait until the Army throws them out for something new.......then they get them for free.... ;D
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on August 04, 2012, 14:09:48
Some very out of the box thinking by the University of Guelph. While there isn't a definite correlation between gut bacteria and diseases like Autism, diabetes or obesity, there are some tenuous links which need to be explored. If this is a valid hypothesis, then you can imagine pmeds handing out packages of probiotic youghurt to forstall various diseases. Going farther on a limb, I would be very interested to see if there is a systemic difference between the gut bacteria of ordinary people and genius level people or Olympic level atheletes. A relatively simple means of upgrading the potential of recruits would then be possible if such a link could be established and verified:

Gut Bacteria May Hold Key to Autism
Mother of autistic son finds open minds at U of G
FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2012

From left: Emma Allen-Vercoe, Sydney Finegold and Ellen Bolte
Ellen Bolte couldn’t believe what she was hearing. This past winter, the 53-year-old mom of four from suburban Chicago was making her first-ever visit to the University of Guelph. And what she was learning from researchers here sounded like hope.

It had been nearly two decades since Bolte had begun investigating possible links between gut bacteria and autism, spurred by her son’s debilitating experience with the disease.

Over the years she’d encountered plenty of skeptical doctors and scientists in the United States who refused to countenance a gut-brain connection – let alone a theory being pushed by someone lacking a formal background in either medicine or research.

Now she was at Guelph, and she was hearing something that “blew me away.”

Speaking over the phone early this summer from her home in New Lenox, Illinois, she says, “I was finally at an academic environment that was not just tolerating this possible gut-brain connection with autism but was excited about the research. I almost couldn’t wrap my head around the excitement I felt.”

In turn, her visit last February has helped to spur on Guelph projects to develop a vaccine against a potentially nasty human gastrointestinal (GI) bug and to explore possible connections between gut bacteria and autism.

Autism cases have increased almost six-fold over the past 20 years, and scientists don’t know why. Although many experts point to environmental factors, others have focused on the human gut. About 70 per cent of children with autism also have severe gastrointestinal symptoms.

Until this year, U of G chemistry professor Mario Monteiro hadn’t been thinking about autism.

He has spent five years studying Clostridium difficile, a microbe that causes GI symptoms, including diarrhea. The superbug can infect patients after antibiotics kill healthy gut bacteria.

He is working with Stellar Biotechnologies Inc. in California to develop his C. diff. vaccine that would target complex polysaccharides, or sugars, on the surface of the bug.

Monteiro’s lab has now discovered the polysaccharide target for a carbohydrate-based vaccine against another gut bug called Clostridium bolteae.

“Based on our experience with our polysaccharide C. diff. vaccine, we are confident that we can apply the same approach to create a vaccine to control diarrhea caused by C. bolteae and perhaps control autism-related symptoms,” he says.

For his studies, he used bacteria grown by Guelph microbiologist Emma Allen-Vercoe and her PhD student Mike Toh.

As a professor in Molecular and Cellular Biology, Allen-Vercoe has become an expert in culturing hard-to-grow species of bugs. This past spring, she co-authored a paper about a global project to identify and catalogue the genetic material of all microbes on and in the human body.

Allen-Vercoe says there’s more to C. bolteae than its potential role in gastrointestinal disorders. Some researchers believe toxins produced by gut bacteria, including this species, may be associated with autism symptoms. C. bolteae often shows up in higher numbers in the GI tracts of autistic children than in those of healthy kids.

She cautions that no one has yet shown that specific GI bacteria cause mental disorders, although research has shown that gut microbiota can affect mood and behaviour.

“C. bolteae is associated with autism, but this is not the same as saying that it is a cause of autism,” she says. “Much more work will be needed to show any connection. The availability of a vaccine that could be used in animal studies, for example, will greatly help us to determine the importance of C. bolteae in disease.

She says researchers need to look more closely at these microbes and links among behaviour, diet and gut health.

She is now looking for the same signature bugs in a group of autistic children.

Brittany Pequegnat and Mario Monteiro
In Monteiro’s lab, master’s student Brittany Pequegnat says she’s excited about possible autism connections.

“I like the idea of improving people’s quality of life,” says Pequegnat, who studied applied pharmaceutical chemistry at Guelph for her undergrad. She hopes to pursue vaccine research that might help in fighting gastrointestinal symptoms in autistic kids.

Allen-Vercoe and Monteiro have also worked together on Desulfovibrio, another microbe associated with both gut disease and autism.

Among the proponents of the so-called “bacterial theory” of autism is Sydney Finegold, a medical researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles. Last year Allen-Vercoe attended his 90th birthday party, where she met Bolte.

By then, Bolte had worked with Finegold in an unlikely collaboration rooted in her youngest son’s experience with autism.

Andrew Bolte, now 20, was about 18 months old when he developed regressive autism, which accounts for about 25 to 30 per cent of cases of autism. Before that, he had developed normally.

For two months before developing autism, he had received numerous doses of antibiotics for recurrent ear infections. Along with the autism came severe GI symptoms.

His case spurred Bolte to investigate possible links between antibiotic-related disruptions to gut microflora and autism. A self-taught computer programmer, she had no medical or scientific training.

In 1998, she published a paper in the peer-reviewed journal Medical Hypotheses, proposing connections between regressive autism and neurotoxins produced by pathogenic Clostridium in the gut.

She has since co-authored two more papers, including one about a medical trial using oral vancomycin – an antibiotic used against gut Clostridium species – to treat autism symptoms in children, including her son. Her co-authors included Finegold and Richard Sandler, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Rush Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

In a 2003 paper, Finegold and other researchers named a new species of gut bug, Clostridium bolteae, to recognize Bolte’s insights.

Bolte had begun investigating probiotics and fecal transplants when she met Allen-Vercoe last year. The Guelph microbiologist talked about her own research interest in potential supplements and treatments to restore healthy gut bugs (

Recalling their conversation, Bolte says, “She started talking at Dr. Finegold’s party about what she was doing. It was everything I had dreamed of – a complex human probiotic. This is the groundbreaking research that needs to take place in order for a product like this to come to market.

Earlier this year, Bolte visited Guelph to meet with Allen-Vercoe, Monteiro and other researchers. She brought her daughter, Erin, 22, who this year completed a biochemistry degree at the University of Notre Dame.

Erin plans to become a doctor and medical researcher. Before that, she hopes to learn about microbiology as a grad student in Allen-Vercoe’s lab.

She’s applied to Guelph. But as of late June, she needed to find enough money to pay for international studies.

“I was completely blown away by how much everybody works together at Guelph,” says Erin.

Ultimately, she hopes to study the bacterial theory of autism herself. “Autism is the focus to me because I’ve grown up with it.”

Allen-Vercoe was among international scientists featured in a documentary called “The Autism Enigma,” aired last year on David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things. The show will re-air July 26 at 8 p.m. on CBC TV.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: cupper on August 04, 2012, 14:14:45
A relatively simple means of upgrading the potential of recruits would then be possible if such a link could be established and verified:

Based on the quality of recruit product we see on this site, I don't think there's enough yogurt in the world to give them an upgrade. ;D
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: GnyHwy on August 14, 2012, 10:15:05
Some more on scramjet technology.

Imagine flying from New York to London in under an hour
By Mike Mount, CNN Senior National Security Producer

Perhaps Han Solo said it best in Star Wars when, describing his hyper-fast smuggling spaceship the Millennium Falcon, he said, "It may not look like much, but it's got it where it counts."

While the Air Force might take exception to being likened to the Falcon, in reality the platypus-nosed X-51A Waverider hypersonic flight test vehicle really doesn't look like much. But it definitely has it where it counts.

On Tuesday, the unmanned 25-foot-long vehicle will be dropped off of the wing of a converted B-52 bomber off the California coast and try to fly for 300 seconds at science fiction-like speeds of Mach 6, over 4,500 mph - fast enough to fly from New York to London in less than an hour.

It is the Pentagon's latest test as it studies the possibilities of hypersonic flight, defined as moving at speeds of Mach 5 (about 3,400 mph) and above without leaving the atmosphere. The technology could eventually bring missiles or airplanes to the other side of the planet in minutes instead of hours.

The Air Force and the Pentagon are not saying much about Tuesday's test, but the military could use such technology for reconnaissance aircraft, cruise missile-like weapons or vehicles that could carry people or cargo so fast adversaries would not have time to react, according to military analysts.

The Air Force conceived the X-51A program in 2004 and, according to the military analysis website, the service has spent $140 million on the Waverider system. The Air Force will not disclose the actual cost of the program.

Long like a missile and with just a few fins in the rear, the Boeing-built aircraft is not designed as a bed for a weapon, according to the Air Force, but it is testing the technology to build future weapons around.

Past Waverider flights have come with mixed results. In May 2010, the Waverider made its first flight at 3,500 mph for 143 seconds before a malfunction caused the test to shut down early.

A June 2011 test also was shutdown early but did collect some data for the Air Force.

If all goes as planned, the flight Tuesday will end with a dive into the Pacific; there is no intent to recover the aircraft. The Air Force says the program was designed for each vehicle to be destroyed at the end of its flight test because of the cost that would be involved in recovering them. Data is fed back to evaluators during the test.

The Pentagon considers hypersonic flight the new stealth. The technology could move reconnaissance or bomber aircraft at high altitudes and speeds that put them far out of the reach of surface-to-air missiles or other anti-aircraft fire. The kind of speeds the X-51A is able to reach cannot be achieved with current jet-powered technology.

The aircraft uses "scramjet" technology, an engine with virtually no moving parts. It uses oxygen from the atmosphere for its engines, as opposed to carrying large fuel tanks that rockets require, making it a more efficient vehicle for military or commercial purposes.

Additionally, because of the high speeds the vehicle is also able to ride on the shockwave it creates at six times the speed of sound, increasing efficiency, according to an Air Force factsheet on the X-51A. It says that is also the genesis of the vehicle's nickname, the Waverider.

The Pentagon's high-technology research group, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, says getting aircraft to speeds of Mach 20 - which would enable the military to get anywhere in the world in under an hour - is an area of research where significant scientific advancements have eluded researchers for decades.

The Pentagon says it is studying this technology as countries have made advances in thwarting stealth technologies the U.S military has in its arsenal.

"That strategic advantage is threatened as other nations' abilities in stealth and counter-stealth improve," according to DARPA website. "Restoring that battle space advantage requires advanced speed, reach and range. Hypersonic technologies have the potential to provide the dominance once afforded by stealth to support a range of varied future national security missions."

The military could use it in two realms, according to Dan Wasserbly, the Americas editor of IHS/Jane's, a military analysis publication.

"They could use it to develop cruise missile-like weapons that could reach a target on the other side of the planet in minutes instead of hours, as well as developing aircraft which could put a quick-reaction force on a far-off battleground within hours instead of days," Wasserbly said.

The Air Force has said that by 2016 it would like to have a working weapon flying with hypersonic technology. But with the program budgeted only though this Tuesday's test, it is unclear when anything with hypersonic technology could be fielded, according to Wasserbly.

The Air Force made four of the X-51A test vehicles. Tuesday's test will be the third and possibly last test, according to Air Force spokesman Daryl Mayer.

"The Air Force will review the data from this mission and assess what will come next," he said.

The Pentagon has also been studying other hypersonic technology, including 2010 and 2011 flight tests of the Falcon Hypersonic Test Vehicle (HTV-2) capable of reaching Mach 20, approximately 13,000 mph, according to DARPA.

Both of those tests ended with the aircraft crashing before the tests were complete.

So even after the Air Force evaluates the results of the Tuesday test, it will be hard to know when the military will start launching troops from the U.S. to a far-flung combat zone in minutes. (
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on August 17, 2012, 22:22:36
The Navy wants robots to look for enemy submarines:


August 16, 2012

DARPA autonomous surface vessel to track and follow enemy subs for months

The growing number of adversaries able to build and operate quiet diesel electric submarines is a national security threat that affects U.S. and friendly naval operations around the world. To address this emerging threat, DARPA recently awarded a contract for Phases 2-4 of its Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program to Science Applications International Corporation, McLean, Va.

During Phases 2-4 the ACTUV program will attempt to design, construct and demonstrate an unmanned vessel that tracks quiet diesel electric submarines for months at a time spanning thousands of kilometers of ocean with minimal human input.

“Key features and technology for the vessel include advanced software, robust autonomy for safe operations in accordance with maritime laws, and innovative sensors to continuously track the quietest of submarine targets,” said Scott Littlefield, DARPA program manager.

If successful, ACTUV would create a technological strategic advantage against the burgeoning quiet submarine threat and reduce manpower and other costs associated with current ASW trail operations.

 “Our goal is to transition an operational game-changer to the Navy,” said Littlefield. “This should create an asymmetry to our advantage, negating a challenging submarine threat at one-tenth their cost of building subs. The program also establishes foundational technologies for future unmanned naval systems.”

During Phase 1 the program refined and validated the system concept, completing risk reduction testing associated with submarine tracking sensors and maritime autonomy. Operational prototype at-sea testing is expected in mid-2015.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on August 18, 2012, 22:13:17
Remember the discussion upthread about gigapixel cameras and the issue of storage and bandwidth? The bandwidth issue seems to have been cracked here (,91633.msg1153248.html#msg1153248), and now the storage of vast amounts of data seems to have a solution as well:

Harvard cracks DNA storage, crams 700 terabytes of data into a single gram
By Sebastian Anthony on August 17, 2012 at 10:22 am198 Comments

A bioengineer and geneticist at Harvard’s Wyss Institute have successfully stored 5.5 petabits of data — around 700 terabytes — in a single gram of DNA, smashing the previous DNA data density record by a thousand times.

The work, carried out by George Church and Sri Kosuri, basically treats DNA as just another digital storage device. Instead of binary data being encoded as magnetic regions on a hard drive platter, strands of DNA that store 96 bits are synthesized, with each of the bases (TGAC) representing a binary value (T and G = 1, A and C = 0).

To read the data stored in DNA, you simply sequence it — just as if you were sequencing the human genome — and convert each of the TGAC bases back into binary. To aid with sequencing, each strand of DNA has a 19-bit address block at the start (the red bits in the image below) — so a whole vat of DNA can be sequenced out of order, and then sorted into usable data using the addresses.

Scientists have been eyeing up DNA as a potential storage medium for a long time, for three very good reasons: It’s incredibly dense (you can store one bit per base, and a base is only a few atoms large); it’s volumetric (beaker) rather than planar (hard disk); and it’s incredibly stable — where other bleeding-edge storage mediums need to be kept in sub-zero vacuums, DNA can survive for hundreds of thousands of years in a box in your garage.

It is only with recent advances in microfluidics and labs-on-a-chip that synthesizing and sequencing DNA has become an everyday task, though. While it took years for the original Human Genome Project to analyze a single human genome (some 3 billion DNA base pairs), modern lab equipment with microfluidic chips can do it in hours. Now this isn’t to say that Church and Kosuri’s DNA storage is fast — but it’s fast enough for very-long-term archival.

Just think about it for a moment: One gram of DNA can store 700 terabytes of data. That’s 14,000 50-gigabyte Blu-ray discs… in a droplet of DNA that would fit on the tip of your pinky. To store the same kind of data on hard drives — the densest storage medium in use today — you’d need 233 3TB drives, weighing a total of 151 kilos. In Church and Kosuri’s case, they have successfully stored around 700 kilobytes of data in DNA — Church’s latest book, in fact — and proceeded to make 70 billion copies (which they claim, jokingly, makes it the best-selling book of all time!) totaling 44 petabytes of data stored.

Looking forward, they foresee a world where biological storage would allow us to record anything and everything without reservation. Today, we wouldn’t dream of blanketing every square meter of Earth with cameras, and recording every moment for all eternity/human posterity — we simply don’t have the storage capacity. There is a reason that backed up data is usually only kept for a few weeks or months — it just isn’t feasible to have warehouses full of hard drives, which could fail at any time. If the entirety of human knowledge — every book, uttered word, and funny cat video — can be stored in a few hundred kilos of DNA, though… well, it might just be possible to record everything (hello, police state!)

It’s also worth noting that it’s possible to store data in the DNA of living cells — though only for a short time. Storing data in your skin would be a fantastic way of transferring data securely…

Read: Biological computer can decrypt images stored in DNA, Living organ-on-a-chip could soon replace animal testing

Research paper: DOI: 10.1126/science.1226355

Of course a DNA based storage media isn't as fast as an electronic or photonic one, (at least not with current technologies), but with the small size of the storage media, it seems likely that some sort of memory buffer could be attached; the device would be like an external hard drive with some sort of read/write mechanism to pull information from the DNA and rapidly put it into the computing device itself.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on August 22, 2012, 18:39:22
Analog computers have been around for a long time, but digital computers have many advantages (particularly in being rapidly programable). If this research pays off, the benefit to us would be computer devices which use much less power, resulting in soldiers having to carry fewer batteries, battery chargers, mobile generators etc. The logistical chain fallout could be immense:

Darpa Has Seen the Future of Computing … And It’s Analog
By Robert McMillanEmail Author 08.22.12 6:30 AM
 | Edit

How would non-digital chips work? Darpa paints a picture. Image: Darpa

By definition, a computer is a machine that processes and stores data as ones and zeroes. But the U.S. Department of Defense wants to tear up that definition and start from scratch.

Through its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), the DoD is funding a new program called UPSIDE, short for Unconventional Processing of Signals for Intelligent Data Exploitation. Basically, the program will investigate a brand-new way of doing computing without the digital processors that have come to define computing as we know it.

The aim is to build computer chips that are a whole lot more power-efficient than today’s processors — even if they make mistakes every now and then.

The way Darpa sees it, today’s computers — especially those used by mobile spy cameras in drones and helicopters that have to do a lot of image processing — are starting to hit a dead end. The problem isn’t processing. It’s power, says Daniel Hammerstrom, the Darpa program manager behind UPSIDE. And it’s been brewing for more than a decade.

“One of the things that’s happened in the last 10 to 15 years is that power-scaling has stopped,” he says. Moore’s law — the maxim that processing power will double every 18 months or so — continues, but battery lives just haven’t kept up. “The efficiency of computation is not increasing very rapidly,” he says.

Hammerstom, who helped build chips for Intel back in the 1980s, wants the UPSIDE chips to do computing in a whole different way. He’s looking for an alternative to straight-up boolean logic, where the voltage in a chip’s transistor represents a zero or a one. Hammerstrom wants chipmakers to build analog processors that can do probabilistic math without forcing transistors into an absolute one-or-zero state, a technique that burns energy.

It seems like a new idea — probabilistic computing chips are still years away from commercial use — but it’s not entirely. Analog computers were used in the 1950s, but they were overshadowed by the transistor and the amazing computing capabilities that digital processors pumped out over the past half-century, according to Ben Vigoda, the general manager of the Analog Devices Lyric Labs group.

“The people who are just retiring from university right now can remember programming analog computers in college,” says Vigoda. “It’s been a long time since we really questioned the paradigm that we’re using.”

Probabilistic computing has been picking up over the past decade, Vigoda says, and it’s being spurred now by Darpa’s program. “They bringing an emerging technology into the limelight,” he says.

Darpa’s 54-month program will run in two phases. During the first companies will build chips using probabilistic techniques. During the second, they will build mobile imaging systems using the chips. Hammerstein expects the systems to be faster and “orders of magnitude more power-efficient.”

“There’s a sense that it’s time to revisit some of these issues,” says Darpa’s Hammerstrom. “And this is what Darpa does. We look around and we say, ‘This is a place and a time where we could make a difference.’”

Hammerstrom wouldn’t say how much Darpa is investing in UPSIDE, but he described it as a “moderate-sized Darpa program.”

Six years ago, Vigoda started a company called Lyric Semiconductor to build a “probability processor” that can do the work of many chips. Lyric was acquired by Analog Devices, a maker of chips for medical, cellular, industrial and consumer systems, and Vigoda says that the probability processor could be used in any of those markets.

The same photo using traditional digital techniques (left) and probabilistic imaging systems. Photos: Rice University

Probabilistic computing has two basic promises: one is to open the door to low-power, high-performance computing, especially in areas where the answer doesn’t have to be completely perfect — image rendering for example.

That’s what researchers at Rice university hit at earlier this year when they designed a low-power chip that uses probabilistic computing techniques to do energy-efficient, if occasionally inexact, calculations.

Another promise is to build new types of chips that can solve some of the complex data analysis problems that are on the cutting edge of today’s computer science.

“We’re using a few percent of the U.S.’s electricity bill on server farms and we can only do very basic machine-learning,” says Vigoda. “We’re just doing really really simple stuff because we don’t have the compute power to do it. One of the ways to fix this is to design chips that do machine-learning.”
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on August 24, 2012, 14:37:54
Wood, the wonder material:

Why wood pulp is world's new wonder material
Updated 11:23 24 August 2012 by Will Ferguson
Magazine issue 2878. Subscribe and save
For similar stories, visit the Nanotechnology Topic Guide
Soon to be car parts? (Image: Jim Zuckerman/Corbis)
THE hottest new material in town is light, strong and conducts electricity. What's more, it's been around a long, long time.

Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), which is produced by processing wood pulp, is being hailed as the latest wonder material. Japan-based Pioneer Electronics is applying it to the next generation of flexible electronic displays. IBM is using it to create components for computers. Even the US army is getting in on the act, using it to make lightweight body armour and ballistic glass.

To ramp up production, the US opened its first NCC factory in Madison, Wisconsin, on 26 July, marking the rise of what the US National Science Foundation predicts will become a $600 billion industry by 2020.

So why all the fuss? Well, not only is NCC transparent but it is made from a tightly packed array of needle-like crystals which have a strength-to-weight ratio that is eight times better than stainless steel. Even better, it's incredibly cheap.

"It is the natural, renewable version of a carbon nanotube at a fraction of the price," says Jeff Youngblood of Purdue University's NanoForestry Institute in West Lafayette, Indiana.

The $1.7 million factory, which is owned by the US Forest Service, will produce two types of NCC: crystals and fibrils.

Production of NCC starts with "purified" wood, which has had compounds such as lignin and hemicellulose removed. It is then milled into a pulp and hydrolysed in acid to remove impurities before being separated and concentrated as crystals into a thick paste that can be applied to surfaces as a laminate or processed into strands, forming nanofibrils. These are hard, dense and tough, and can be forced into different shapes and sizes. When freeze-dried, the material is lightweight, absorbent and good at insulating.

"The beauty of this material is that it is so abundant we don't have to make it," says Youngblood. "We don't even have to use entire trees; nanocellulose is only 200 nanometres long. If we wanted we could use twigs and branches or even sawdust. We are turning waste into gold."

The US facility is the second pilot production plant for cellulose-based nanomaterials in the world. The much larger CelluForce facility opened in Montreal, Canada, in November 2011 and is now producing a tonne of NCC a day.

Theodore Wegner, assistant director of the US factory, says it will be producing NCC on a large scale. It will be sold at just several dollars a kilogram within a couple of years. He says it has taken this long to unlock the potential of NCC because the technology to explore its properties, such as electron scanning microscopes, only emerged in the last decade or so.

NCC will replace metal and plastic car parts and could make nonorganic plastics obsolete in the not-too-distant future, says Phil Jones, director of new ventures and disruptive technologies at the French mineral processing company IMERYS. "Anyone who makes a car or a plastic bag will want to get in on this," he says.

In addition, the human body can deal with cellulose safely, says Jones, so NCC is less dangerous to process than inorganic composites. "The worst thing that could happen is a paper cut," he says.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 08, 2012, 00:13:13
We're getting closer to the day:

"It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever"

Boston Dynamics' Cheetah Robot Now Faster than Fastest Human

Boston Dynamics' Cheetah robot has just set a new record for legged robots by sprinting at 28.3 mph. This, incidentally, is also faster than Olympic (human) champion Usain Bolt, who set the world record for the 100 meter dash with a speed of 27.8 mph back in 2009. Yes, this means that now there is officially no escape from a robot cheetah on a treadmill. You've been warned.

To boost Cheetah's speed, Boston Dynamics "refined the control algorithms that coordinate the robot's leg and back motions and increased the installed power." Making the robot faster isn't just a matter of cranking up the power and increasing leg speed, but rather involves a biologically-inspired choreography of interactions between the robot's feet, legs, and back.

Cheetah, of course, is not running outdoors, where it would have to deal with wind resistance. It's also relying on off-board power, and without that boom in place, it would likely fall over, meaning that if you find yourself being chased by the current version of this robot, a simple movement to the left or right should stymie it completely whether you're Usain Bolt or not. With this in mind, Boston Dynamics concedes that "Bolt is still the superior athlete," but perhaps not for long: this is by no means the final version of Cheetah, and Boston Dynamics is currently creating a new version of the robot called WildCat that will be running outdoors as of early next year.

This robot will be untethered (looks like it's probably powered by a gasoline engine like AlphaDog) and it will also be able to, you know, turn. Boston Dynamics isn't stopping at 28.3 mph, either: we know they've had their eye on 50 mph for a while, and the top speed of a biological cheetah (approximately 70 mph) may eventually be within reach. We're not sure when this will be, but considering that Cheetah made it from a top speed of 18 mph in March of this year to 28 mph less than five months later, we can't imagine it'll be long enough for us to get comfortable with the idea of being chased down (and possibly eaten) by a robotic quadruped.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 09, 2012, 23:45:49
Ever thought about how Google makes their maps? This multi dimentional databasing of maps puts things like Arcview to shame. Graphics on link:

How Google Builds Its Maps—and What It Means for the Future of Everything
By Alexis C. Madrigal

Sep 6 2012, 3:27 PM ET 112

An exclusive look inside Ground Truth, the secretive program to build the world's best accurate maps.

Behind every Google Map, there is a much more complex map that's the key to your queries but hidden from your view. The deep map contains the logic of places: their no-left-turns and freeway on-ramps, speed limits and traffic conditions. This is the data that you're drawing from when you ask Google to navigate you from point A to point B -- and last week, Google showed me the internal map and demonstrated how it was built. It's the first time the company has let anyone watch how the project it calls GT, or "Ground Truth," actually works.

Google opened up at a key moment in its evolution. The company began as an online search company that made money almost exclusively from selling ads based on what you were querying for. But then the mobile world exploded. Where you're searching from has become almost as important as what you're searching for. Google responded by creating an operating system, brand, and ecosystem in Android that has become the only significant rival to Apple's iOS.

And for good reason. If Google's mission is to organize all the world's information, the most important challenge -- far larger than indexing the web -- is to take the world's physical information and make it accessible and useful.

"If you look at the offline world, the real world in which we live, that information is not entirely online," Manik Gupta, the senior product manager for Google Maps, told me. "Increasingly as we go about our lives, we are trying to bridge that gap between what we see in the real world and [the online world], and Maps really plays that part."

This is not just a theoretical concern. Mapping systems matter on phones precisely because they are the interface between the offline and online worlds. If you're at all like me, you use mapping more than any other application except for the communications suite (phone, email, social networks, and text messaging).

Google is locked in a battle with the world's largest company, Apple, about who will control the future of mobile phones. Whereas Apple's strengths are in product design, supply chain management, and retail marketing, Google's most obvious realm of competitive advantage is in information. Geo data -- and the apps built to use it -- are where Google can win just by being Google. That didn't matter on previous generations of iPhones because they used Google Maps, but now Apple's created its own service. How the two operating systems incorporate geo data and present it to users could become a key battleground in the phone wars.

But that would entail actually building a better map.


The office where Google has been building the best representation of the world is not a remarkable place. It has all the free food, ping pong, and Google Maps-inspired Christoph Niemann cartoons that you'd expect, but it's still a low-slung office building just off the 101 in Mountain View in the burbs.

I was slated to meet with Gupta and the engineering ringleader on his team, former NASA engineer Michael Weiss-Malik, who'd spent his 20 percent time working on Google Mars, and Nick Volmar, an "operator" who actually massages map data.

"So you want to make a map," Weiss-Malik tells me as we sit down in front of a massive monitor. "There are a couple of steps. You acquire data through partners. You do a bunch of engineering on that data to get it into the right format and conflate it with other sources of data, and then you do a bunch of operations, which is what this tool is about, to hand massage the data. And out the other end pops something that is higher quality than the sum of its parts."

This is what they started out with, the TIGER data from the US Census Bureau (though the base layer could and does come from a variety of sources in different countries).

On first inspection, this data looks great. The roads look like they are all there and you've got the freeways differentiated. This is a good map to the untrained eye. But let's look closer. There are issues where the digital data does not match the physical world. I've circled a few obvious ones below.

And that's just from comparing the map to the satellite imagery. But there are also a variety of other tools at Google's disposal. One is bringing in data from other sources, say the US Geological Survey. But Google's Ground Truthers can also bring another exclusive asset to bear on the maps problem: the Street View cars' tracks and imagery. In keeping with Google's more-data-is-better-data mantra, the maps team, largely driven by Street View, is publishing more imagery data every two weeks than Google possessed total in 2006.*

Let's step back a tiny bit to recall with wonderment the idea that a single company decided to drive cars with custom cameras over every road they could access. Google is up to five million miles driven now. Each drive generates two kinds of really useful data for mapping. One is the actual tracks the cars have taken; these are proof-positive that certain routes can be taken. The other are all the photos. And what's significant about the photographs in Street View is that Google can run algorithms that extract the traffic signs and can even paste them onto the deep map within their Atlas tool. So, for a particularly complicated intersection like this one in downtown San Francisco, that could look like this:


Google Street View wasn't built to create maps like this, but the geo team quickly realized that computer vision could get them incredible data for ground truthing their maps. Not to detour too much, but what you see above is just the beginning of how Google is going to use Street View imagery. Think of them as the early web crawlers (remember those?) going out in the world, looking for the words on pages. That's what Street View is doing. One of its first uses is finding street signs (and addresses) so that Google's maps can better understand the logic of human transportation systems. But as computer vision and OCR improve, any word that is visible from a road will become a part of Google's index of the physical world.

Later in the day, Google Maps VP Brian McClendon put it like this: "We can actually organize the world's physical written information if we can OCR it and place it," McClendon said. "We use that to create our maps right now by extracting street names and addresses, but there is a lot more there."

More like what? "We already have what we call 'view codes' for 6 million businesses and 20 million addresses, where we know exactly what we're looking at," McClendon continued. "We're able to use logo matching and find out where are the Kentucky Fried Chicken signs ... We're able to identify and make a semantic understanding of all the pixels we've acquired. That's fundamental to what we do."

For now, though, computer vision transforming Street View images directly into geo-understanding remains in the future. The best way to figure out if you can make a left turn at a particular intersection is still to have a person look at a sign -- whether that's a human driving or a human looking at an image generated by a Street View car.

There is an analogy to be made to one of Google's other impressive projects: Google Translate. What looks like machine intelligence is actually only a recombination of human intelligence. Translate relies on massive bodies of text that have been translated into different languages by humans; it then is able to extract words and phrases that match up. The algorithms are not actually that complex, but they work because of the massive amounts of data (i.e. human intelligence) that go into the task on the front end.

Google Maps has executed a similar operation. Humans are coding every bit of the logic of the road onto a representation of the world so that computers can simply duplicate (infinitely, instantly) the judgments that a person already made.

This reality is incarnated in Nick Volmar, the operator who has been showing off Atlas while Weiss-Malik and Gupta explain it. He probably uses twenty-five keyboard shortcuts switching between types of data on the map and he shows the kind of twitchy speed that I associate with long-time designers working with Adobe products or professional Starcraft players. Volmar has clearly spent thousands of hours working with this data. Weiss-Malik told me that it takes hundreds of operators to map a country. (Rumor has it many of these people work in the Bangalore office, out of which Gupta was promoted.)

The sheer amount of human effort that goes into Google's maps is just mind-boggling. Every road that you see slightly askew in the top image has been hand-massaged by a human. The most telling moment for me came when we looked at couple of the several thousand user reports of problems with Google Maps that come in every day. The Geo team tries to address the majority of fixable problems within minutes. One complaint reported that Google did not show a new roundabout that had been built in a rural part of the country. The satellite imagery did not show the change, but a Street View car had recently driven down the street and its tracks showed the new road perfectly.

Volmar began to fix the map, quickly drawing the new road and connecting it to the existing infrastructure. In his haste (and perhaps with the added pressure of three people watching his every move), he did not draw a perfect circle of points. Weiss-Malik and I detoured into another conversation for a couple of minutes. By the time I looked back at the screen, Volmar had redrawn the circle with perfect precision and upgraded a few other things while he was at it. The actions were impressively automatic. This is an operation that promotes perfectionism.

And that's how you get your maps to look this this:


Some details are worth pointing out. In the top at the center, trails have been mapped out and coded as places for walking. All the parking lots have been mapped out. All the little roads, say, to the left of the small dirt patch on the right, have also been coded. Several of the actual buildings have been outlined. Down at the bottom left, a road has been marked as a no-go. At each and every intersection, there are arrows that delineate precisely where cars can and cannot turn.

Now imagine doing this for every tile on Google's map in the United States and 30 other countries over the last four years. Every roundabout perfectly circular, every intersection with the correct logic. Every new development. Every one-way street. This is a task of a nearly unimaginable scale. This is not something you can put together with a few dozen smart engineers.

I came away convinced that the geographic data Google has assembled is not likely to be matched by any other company. The secret to this success isn't, as you might expect, Google's facility with data, but rather its willingness to commit humans to combining and cleaning data about the physical world. Google's map offerings build in the human intelligence on the front end, and that's what allows its computers to tell you the best route from San Francisco to Boston.

It's probably better not to think of Google Maps as a thing like a paper map. Geographic information systems represent a jump from paper maps like the abacus to the computer. "I honestly think we're seeing a more profound change, for map-making, than the switch from manuscript to print in the Renaissance," University of London cartographic historian Jerry Brotton told the Sydney Morning Herald. "That was huge. But this is bigger."

The maps we used to keep folded in our glove compartments were a collection of lines and shapes that we overlaid with human intelligence. Now, as we've seen, a map is a collection of lines and shapes with Nick Volmar's (and hundreds of others') intelligence encoded within.

It's common when we discuss the future of maps to reference the Borgesian dream of a 1:1 map of the entire world. It seems like a ridiculous notion that we would need a complete representation of the world when we already have the world itself. But to take scholar Nathan Jurgenson's conception of augmented reality seriously, we would have to believe that every physical space is, in his words, "interpenetrated" with information. All physical spaces already are also informational spaces. We humans all hold a Borgesian map in our heads of the places we know and we use it to navigate and compute physical space. Google's strategy is to bring all our mental maps together and process them into accessible, useful forms.

Their MapMaker product makes that ambition clear. Project managed by Gupta during his time in India, it's the "bottom up" version of Ground Truth. It's a publicly accessible way to edit Google Maps by adding landmarks and data about your piece of the world. It's a way of sucking data out of human brains and onto the Internet. And it's a lot like Google's open competitor, Open Street Map, which has proven that it, too, can harness the crowd's intelligence.

As we slip and slide into a world where our augmented reality is increasingly visible to us off and online, Google's geographic data may become its most valuable asset. Not solely because of this data alone, but because location data makes everything else Google does and knows more valuable.

Or as my friend and sci-fi novelist Robin Sloan put it to me, "I maintain that this is Google's core asset. In 50 years, Google will be the self-driving car company (powered by this deep map of the world) and, oh, P.S. they still have a search engine somewhere."

Of course, they will always need one more piece of geographic information to make all this effort worthwhile: You. Where you are, that is. Your location is the current that makes Google's giant geodata machine run. They've built this whole playground as an elaborate lure for you. As good and smart and useful as it is, good luck resisting taking the bait.

* Due to a transcription error, an earlier version of this story stated that Google published 20PB of imagery data every two weeks.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 19, 2012, 23:43:19
Energy efficiency is very important. Using this new technology will allow more electrical energy to be harvested without mechanical or chemical steps (and the resulting weight and efficiency losses). A generator or hybrid vehicle would be a great military application, but even using this material in a furnace or hot water heater would also provide a useful suppliment for homes, bases and other fixed installations:

September 19, 2012 Northwestern University scientists have developed a thermoelectric material that is the best in the world at converting waste heat to electricity.

This is very good news once you realize nearly two-thirds of energy input is lost as waste heat.

The material could signify a paradigm shift. The inefficiency of current thermoelectric materials has limited their commercial use. Now, with a very environmentally stable material that is expected to convert 15 to 20 percent of waste heat to useful electricity, thermoelectrics could see more widespread adoption by industry.

Possible areas of application include the automobile industry (much of gasoline's potential energy goes out a vehicle's tailpipe), heavy manufacturing industries (such as glass and brick making, refineries, coal- and gas-fired power plants) and places were large combustion engines operate continuously (such as in large ships and tankers).

Waste heat temperatures in these areas can range from 400 to 600 degrees Celsius (750 to 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit), the sweet spot for thermoelectrics use. The new material, based on the common semiconductor lead telluride, is the most efficient thermoelectric material known. It exhibits a thermoelectric figure of merit (so-called "ZT") of 2.2, the highest reported to date. Chemists, physicists, material scientists and mechanical engineers at Northwestern and Michigan State University collaborated to develop the material.

The study will be published Sept. 20 by the journal Nature.

"Our system is the top-performing thermoelectric system at any temperature," said Mercouri G. Kanatzidis, who led the research and is a senior author of the paper. "The material can convert heat to electricity at the highest possible efficiency. At this level, there are realistic prospects for recovering high-temperature waste heat and turning it into useful energy." Ads by Google Thermoelectric Products - Supplier of thermoelectric modules Peltier products - Kanatzidis is Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry in Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He also holds a joint appointment at Argonne National Laboratory.

"People often ask, what is the energy solution?" said Vinayak P. Dravid, one of Kanatzidis' close collaborators. "But there is no unique solution—it's going to be a distributed solution. Thermoelectrics is not the answer to all our energy problems, but it is an important part of the equation." Dravid is the Abraham Harris Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and a senior author of the paper.

Other members of the team and authors of the Nature paper include Kanishka Biswas, a postdoctoral fellow in Kanatzidis' group; Jiaqing He, a postdoctoral member in Dravid's group; David N. Seidman, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern; and Timothy P. Hogan, professor of electrical and computer engineering, at Michigan State University.

Even before the Northwestern record-setting material, thermoelectric materials were starting to get better and being tested in more applications. The Mars rover Curiosity is powered by lead telluride thermoelectrics (although it's system has a ZT of only 1, making it half as efficient as Northwestern's system), and BMW is testing thermoelectrics in its cars by harvesting heat from the exhaust system.

"Now, having a material with a ZT greater than two, we are allowed to really think big, to think outside the box," Dravid said. "This is an intellectual breakthrough." "Improving the ZT never stops—the higher the ZT, the better," Kanatzidis said. "We would like to design even better materials and reach 2.5 or 3. We continue to have new ideas and are working to better understand the material we have." The efficiency of waste heat conversion in thermoelectrics is governed by its figure of merit, or ZT. This number represents a ratio of electrical conductivity and thermoelectric power in the numerator (which need to be high) and thermal conductivity in the denominator (which needs to be low).

"It is hard to increase one without compromising the other," Dravid said. These contradictory requirements stalled the progress towards a higher ZT for many years, where it was stagnant at a nominal value of 1. Kanatzidis and Dravid have pushed the ZT higher and higher in recent years by introducing nanostructures in bulk thermoelectrics. In January 2011, they published a report in Nature Chemistry of a thermoelectric material with a ZT of 1.7 at 800 degrees Kelvin.

This was the first example of using nanostructures (nanocrystals of rock-salt structured strontium telluride) in lead telluride to reduce electron scattering and increase the energy conversion efficiency of the material. The performance of the new material reported now in Nature is nearly 30 percent more efficient than its predecessor. The researchers achieved this by scattering a wider spectrum of phonons, across all wavelengths, which is important in reducing thermal conductivity. "Every time a phonon is scattered the thermal conductivity gets lower, which is what we want for increased efficiency," Kanatzidis said.

A phonon is a quantum of vibrational energy, and each has a different wavelength. When heat flows through a material, a spectrum of phonons needs to be scattered at different wavelengths (short, intermediate and long). In this work, the researchers show that all length scales can be optimized for maximum phonon scattering with minor change in electrical conductivity. "We combined three techniques to scatter short, medium and long wavelengths all together in one material, and they all work simultaneously," Kanatzidis said.

"We are the first to scatter all three at once and at the widest spectrum known. We call this a panoscopic approach that goes beyond nanostructuring." "It's a very elegant design," Dravid said. In particular, the researchers improved the long-wavelength scattering of phonons by controlling and tailoring the mesoscale architecture of the nanostructured thermoelectric materials. This resulted in the world record of a ZT of 2.2. The successful approach of integrated all-length-scale scattering of phonons is applicable to all bulk thermoelectric materials, the researchers said. More information: The paper is titled "High-Performance Bulk Thermoelectrics With Hierarchical Architecture."

Read more at:
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 21, 2012, 17:44:24
The use of micro inertial guidance systems will have a great many applications, both inside and outside the military. Being able to navigate with pinpoint precision without GPS will be another "killer app" in lots of situations.

Microfabrication methods to help navigate a day without GPS

September 20, 2012

New techniques developed for smaller inertial sensors

Military missions of all types need extremely accurate navigation techniques to keep people and equipment on target. That is why the Military relies on GPS or, when GPS is unavailable, precise sensors for navigation. These sensors, such as gyroscopes that measure orientation, are bulky and expensive to fabricate. For example, a single gyroscope designed as an inertial sensor accurate enough for a precision missile can take up to 1 month to be hand assembled and cost up to $1 million. DARPA has made progress in developing less expensive fabrication methods for inertial sensors and is making them orders of magnitude smaller and less expensive.

DARPA is developing new fabrication techniques for microscale inertial sensors with the goal of creating enough accuracy to replace the large, expensive gyroscopes used today. This work is being done under the Microscale Rate Integrating Gyroscope (MRIG) effort of the Micro-Technology for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (Micro-PNT) program. During the recently completed first phase, MRIG focused on 3-D microfabrication methods using nontraditional materials, such as bulk metallic glasses, diamond and ultra-low expansion glass. Small 3-D structures such as toroids, hemispheres and wineglass-shaped structures were successfully fabricated, shifting away from the 2-D paradigm of current state-of-the-art microgyroscopes.

These microscale inertial sensors work like Foucault pendulums commonly found in museums. The swinging direction of the pendulum slowly changes as the Earth rotates. Instead of a swinging pendulum, microscale inertial sensors send out vibrations across the surface of a 3-D structure.  The precession of the standing wave is measured and any changes reflect a change in orientation. Among the several new fabrication methods created by DARPA to work with these microscale inertial sensors are:

Glass-blowing. Researchers developed fabrication methods that replicate traditional glass-blowing techniques at the microscale. The result is tiny 3-D wineglass-shaped inertial sensors. These sensors are symmetrical enough to have a frequency split approaching 10 hertz—a result never before achieved at this size and approaching levels of symmetry required for high-quality navigation devices.The frequency split is a measure to predict the symmetry—and thus accuracy—of the device. It is a measure of the difference between two different axes of elasticity. The greater the difference, the more imperfection is present, resulting in a less accurate sensor.

Blown quartz. Similar to glass blowing, quartz blowing can be used to make an even more symmetric structure. Researchers developed fabrication techniques needed to heat quartz to 1,700 degrees Celsius (a typical softening point for glass is about 800 degrees Celsius) and to then cool it rapidly. The fabrication can be performed in large quantity batches, producing hundreds of devices on a single wafer.

Atomic layering of diamond. Layering diamond over a blown structure or depositing CVD diamond in a micro-well on the substrate have been shown to be effective, promising methods for creating highly symmetric, accurate 3-D inertial-sensor structures.

“These new fabrication methods were thought to be unrealistic just a few years ago,” said Andrei Shkel, the DARPA program manager. “The first phase of MRIG has proven these new fabrication techniques and begun the process of validating the new structures and materials through testing. Phase 2 has kicked off, in which DARPA seeks to hone these methods to create and demonstrate operational devices.”

Phase 2 performers seek to make these devices even more accurate and reliable by reducing frequency split from 10 Hz to 5 Hz, increasing decay times from 10 seconds to 100 seconds, and decreasing volume from 20 mm3 to 10 mm3. The final goal of Phase 2 is to demonstrate a working, first-of-its-kind microrate integrating gyroscope.

“As work continues, DARPA hopes these new technologies will enable large-scale production of navigation-grade microscale inertial sensors,” added Shkel. “Production of 3-D inertial sensors with these new techniques would cost about the same as today’s integrated circuit, making them orders of magnitude smaller, cheaper and more capable than current microgyroscopes.”
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: GAP on September 26, 2012, 23:36:15
Article Link (
High Impact Technology’s BattleJacket® Fuel Cell Containment System (FCCS) is a revolutionary technology designed to minimize or prevent leakage of fuel tankers due to small-arms fire, which can cause hazardous conditions for troops transporting fuel as well as operational risks caused by the resulting lack of fuel.

It has long been known that fuel itself works well as a ballistic medium — the Israelis have placed fuel tanks on the outside of their vehicles for years. As little as 12” of fuel (or liquid) will mitigate the energy of most small caliber incoming rounds. By allowing the rounds to penetrate into the fuel tankers, risk to personnel could be minimized. And a self-sealing bladder would prevent fuel loss. After all, combat aircraft have had self-sealing bladders for years, so why not ground-based tankers?

Based on this innovative thinking, HIT developed BattleJacket® self-sealing tank coating, which could be applied to tankers using an easy-to-use spray coating process.

BattleJacket® technology was developed by testing multiple elastomeric spray coating formulations for ballistic performance and selecting the best performer. The BattleJacket®(FCCS) coating is based on a specially formulated fire resistant urethane similar to the Rhino Linings USA (Rhino) spray-in bed liner modified for military applications. A special swellable super absorbent polymer was selected to be used as the basis of the self-sealing mechanism. These beads are spray encapsulated into a special layer which, when exposed to fuel, swell into a solid. This additive acts in conjunction with the urethane to tightly seal off the undesired entrance and exit holes created by a projectile.
More on link
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 04, 2012, 23:18:29
How to be invisible (to radar and electromagnetic radiation):

Simply invisible


A metal object can be made invisible with the help of ordinary plastic, Pekka Alitalo and Constantinos Valagiannopoulos, researchers from the School of Electrical Engineering, have shown in their study.


The object, however, does not become invisible to the human eye – only to electromagnetic radiation at microwave frequencies. In practical terms, this means that electromagnetic waves travelling, for example, between two antennas, do not detect an object located in their path, allowing the waves to travel the distance between them despite the obstacle, without any disruption to communications.

Previously, a similar effect has only been achieved using complex devices or expensive metamaterials with a right electromagnetic response.  In contrast, the method developed by Pekka Alitalo and Constantinos Valagiannopoulos is simple and affordable.

Plastic decreases electromagnetic scattering

Pekka Alitalo explains that objects are visible because they scatter light which is electromagnetic radiation. A metal object will not, however, scatter electromagnetic radiation at microwave frequencies to the same extent when covered with a dielectric material – an insulator that does not conduct electricity. One such dielectric material is ordinary plastic used by Alitalo and Valagiannopoulos.

"Because of space limitations, often something has to be placed in front of an antenna, such as a support structure or another antenna, and the radiation transmitted by the antenna cannot then travel through the object. We were especially interested in cloaking metal objects as metal is a material that causes strong scattering and as such, greatly interferes with communications", Alitalo explains.

Preventing scattering altogether has not yet proved possible, but the plastic cover reduced scattering caused by a metal cylinder by approximately 70 per cent.

"If we want to build an 'invisibility device', it can be considered a success if over half of the scattering disappears."

Laws of physics do not prevent invisibility

So scattering from objects can be reduced at microwave frequencies, putting the objects 'out of the sight' of the waves. According to Alitalo, there is no law of physics preventing the reduction of scattering at the frequency of visible light. This would render the object invisible to the human eye.

Science has already achieved this but the object made invisible was so miniscule it was hard to detect by the human eye in any case. Alitalo explains that at the spectrum of light visible to humans, the wavelength is around a few hundred nanometres, meaning that the diameter of the object being cloaked should be even smaller than this.

There is a limit to the size of an object that can be rendered invisible even to electromagnetic radiation at microwave frequencies.

"In our study, the wavelength was ten centimetres and the diameter of the tested metal cylinder was two centimetres. When the size of the object being cloaked increases while the frequency remains the same, the method stops working at some point. If for instance a tank is covered with plastic, it does not help because the object is just too big at this specific frequency."

Text: Tea Kalska

The article "Demonstration of electromagnetic cloaking of conducting object by dielectric material cover" by Pekka Alitalo and Constantinos Valagiannopoulos was published on 16 August 2012 in the publication Electronics Letters, Vol. 48, No. 17.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Dimsum on October 08, 2012, 19:09:57

Making Connections At 45,000 Feet: Future UAVs May Fuel Up In Flight

DARPA completes close-proximity flight tests of two modified RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles, demonstrates technology enabling autonomous aerial refueling. 

Today DARPA has addressed this capability gap. DARPA’s two-year Autonomous High-Altitude Refueling (AHR) program, which concluded Sep. 30, explored the ability to safely conduct fully autonomous refueling of UAVs in challenging high-altitude flight conditions. During its final test flight, two modified Global Hawk aircraft flew in close formation, 100 feet or less between refueling probe and receiver drogue, for the majority of a 2.5-hour engagement at 44,800 feet. This demonstrated for the first time that High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) class aircraft can safely and autonomously operate under in-flight refueling conditions. The flight was the ninth test and the first time the aircraft flew close enough to measure the full aerodynamic and control interactions. Flight data was analyzed over the past few months and fed back into simulations to verify system safety and performance through contact and fuel transfer–including the effects of turns and gusts up to 20 knots.

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: cupper on October 11, 2012, 00:13:18
Carbon nanotube pencil points to hazardous gases

Gather 'round kiddies, and I'll tell you a story about pointy wooden things called pencils. Before the explosion of keyboards and touch screens, people used to use them to do something called writing. On paper.

Now one MIT chemistry postdoctoral student may have given the old-fashioned pencil a new lease -- though not as something you'd bring to the SAT.

Katherine Mirica and colleagues created a novel type of pencil lead, replacing graphite with a highly compressed powder made of commercially available carbon nanotubes. The resulting newfangled lead can inscribe sensors on any paper surface.

So what's the point? The sensors, described in a paper titled "Mechanical Drawing of Gas Sensors on Paper" in the German journal Angewandte Chemie, detect minute amounts of the colorless gas ammonia, an industrial hazard, but could be adapted to detect nearly any type of gas.

The MIT team, for example, is also looking into creating sensors for detecting sulfur compounds, which could prove helpful for sniffing out natural-gas leaks.

"The beauty of this is we can start doing all sorts of chemically specific functionalized materials," MIT chemistry professor Timothy Swager, leader of the research team, said in a statement. "We think we can make sensors for almost anything that's volatile."

Carbon nanotubes -- roughly 50,000 of which add up to the width of an average strand of human hair -- have been shown to be effective sensors for many gases, which bind to the nanotubes and impede electron flow. Creating sensors of this type, however, requires dissolving nanotubes in a solvent such as dichlorobenzene using a process that can be both hazardous and unreliable.
Related stories

This new fabrication method out of MIT, on the other hand, is among other advantages entirely solvent-free. To create sensors using their pencil, the researchers draw a line of carbon nanotubes on a sheet of paper imprinted with small electrodes made of gold that help measure the electrical current running through the tiny cylinders.

The research was funded by the Army Research Office through MIT's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies. This suggests that in addition to high expectations for carbon nanotubes in the medical realm, particularly when it comes to drug delivery and noninvasive blood monitoring, the military also sees great potential for the strong and tiny tubes.

I wonder what other gems the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies has waiting in the wings. Future war will not look like anything we're used to seeing.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 13, 2012, 21:04:41
More fun with nanomaterials. The idea that filling a tank with this stuff will allow you to increase the carrying capacity seems totally counter intuitive, but being able to carry more in the same volume of container will provide logistical advantages:,343081,en.html

New Queen’s spin-out company to manufacture TARDIS-like nanomaterials
Professor Stuart James
Professor Stuart James

Greatly increasing the storage capacity of gas tanks is just one of the applications being made possible because of a revolutionary TARDIS-like nanomaterial being manufactured by MOF Technologies, a new Queen’s spin-out company.

A cylinder filled with this material, known as MOFs or Metal-Organic Frameworks, can store much more gas than an empty cylinder of the same size, but until now MOF manufacturing techniques have been limited as they are costly, slow and require large quantities of solvents which can be toxic and harmful to the environment.

Now, a new technique devised by the company allows the simple, environmentally friendly production of these incredible materials, which have the potential to revolutionise applications including hazardous gas storage, natural gas vehicles, carbon capture and drug delivery.

MOFs have the highest surface-area of any known substance and a sugar-lump sized piece of MOF material can have the same surface area as a football pitch.
Professor Stuart James in Queen’s School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering has patented a novel technique for the synthesis of MOFs, allowing affordable, large-scale deployment of these ground-breaking materials.

The new Queen’s technology is environmentally friendly, rapid and highly scalable and has resulted in the formation of MOF Technologies through Queen’s spin-out arm QUBIS. Seed funding has been provided by both QUBIS and NetScientific, which specialises in commercialising technologies developed within university laboratories.

Explaining about the vast potential for the new technique Professor James said: “The enormous internal surface-areas of MOFs allow them to soak up large amounts of gas, just like a sponge soaks up water. Once the gas is adsorbed into the material it takes up far less space than it would otherwise at the same pressure.”

CEO of MOF Technologies, Tom Robinson added: “The potential for this technology is huge. Academia has known for some time about the incredible properties of MOFs and hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on their development, in labs around the world. We can now manufacture these materials in a scalable and environmentally-friendly way, unlocking their potential to transform the transport, gas storage and medical industries in the years to come.”

MOF Technologies is also hoping to exploit opportunities in global carbon capture, hazardous gas storage, natural gas processing and hydrocarbon separations.

Frank Bryan, interim CEO of QUBIS added “QUBIS was delighted to partner with NetScientific in the creation of our latest Queen’s University spin-out.  We exist to support acclaimed Queen’s academics, like Professor James, in commercialising their cutting edge research and we are confident this will be the latest in a long line of successes.  It was therefore particularly rewarding to see MOF Technologies win this year’s NISP Connect £25K Award which recognised the company as having the greatest potential for commercial success.”

Further information on the technology is available online at and further information on QUBIS is available online at

Media inquiries to Communications Office. Tel: +44(0)28 9097 5384 or 07814 415 451 or email
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 16, 2012, 14:26:36
More about making things on the cheap. Upthread there are several posts about using cellulose (the basic material of wood, cardboard and paper) as a super strong substitute for metals, so there are many aspects of military hardware that could be revolutionized by these technologies. Thinner, lighter and stronger packing cases, inexpensive frameworks and structural forms or even complete shelters and (of course) bikes:

Israeli inventor creates cardboard bicycle that can ‘change the world’

Ori Lewis and Lianne Gross, Reuters | Oct 16, 2012 11:57 AM ET
More from Reuters
REUTERS/Baz Ratner
REUTERS/Baz Ratner Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni rides his cardboard bicycle in Moshav Ahituv, central Israel September 24, 2012.

MOSHAV AHITUV, Israel – A bicycle made almost entirely of cardboard has the potential to change transportation habits from the world’s most congested cities to the poorest reaches of Africa, its Israeli inventor says.

Izhar Gafni, 50, is an expert in designing automated mass-production lines. He is an amateur cycling enthusiast who for years toyed with an idea of making a bicycle from cardboard.

He told Reuters during a recent demonstration that after much trial and error, his latest prototype has now proven itself and mass production will begin in a few months.

“I was always fascinated by applying unconventional technologies to materials and I did this on several occasions. But this was the culmination of a few things that came together. I worked for four years to cancel out the corrugated cardboard’s weak structural points,” Gafni said.
REUTERS/Baz RatnerIsraeli inventor Izhar Gafni holds his cardboard bicycle as he poses for a photo in Moshav Ahituv, central Israel September 24, 2012.

“Making a cardboard box is easy and it can be very strong and durable, but to make a bicycle was extremely difficult and I had to find the right way to fold the cardboard in several different directions. It took a year and a half, with lots of testing and failure until I got it right,” he said.

Cardboard, made of wood pulp, was invented in the 19th century as sturdy packaging for carrying other more valuable objects, it has rarely been considered as raw material for things usually made of much stronger materials, such as metal.

Once the shape has been formed and cut, the cardboard is treated with a secret concoction made of organic materials to give it its waterproof and fireproof qualities. In the final stage, it is coated with lacquer paint for appearance.

In testing the durability of the treated cardboard, Gafni said he immersed a cross-section in a water tank for several months and it retained all its hardened characteristics.

Once ready for production, the bicycle will include no metal parts, even the brake mechanism and the wheel and pedal bearings will be made of recycled substances, although Gafni said he could not yet reveal those details due to pending patent issues.

“I’m repeatedly surprised at just how strong this material is, it is amazing. Once we are ready to go to production, the bike will have no metal parts at all,” Gafni said.

Gafni’s workshop, a ramshackle garden shed, is typically the sort of place where legendary inventions are born. It is crammed with tools and bicycle parts and cardboard is strewn everywhere.

One of his first models was a push bike he made as a toy for his young daughter which she is still using months later.

Gafni owns several top-of-the-range bicycles which he said are worth thousands of dollars each, but when his own creation reaches mass production, it should cost no more than about $20 to buy. The cost of materials used are estimated at $9 per unit.

“When we started, a year and a half or two years ago, people laughed at us, but now we are getting at least a dozen e-mails every day asking where they can buy such a bicycle, so this really makes me hopeful that we will succeed,” he said.

A ride of the prototype was quite stiff, but generally no different to other ordinary basic bikes.

Nimrod Elmish, Gafni’s business partner, said cardboard and other recycled materials could bring a major change in current production norms because grants and rebates would only be given for local production and there would be no financial benefits by making bicycles in cheap labor markets.

“This is a real game-changer. It changes … the way products are manufactured and shipped, it causes factories to be built everywhere instead of moving production to cheaper labor markets, everything that we have known in the production world can change,” he said.

Elmish said the cardboard bikes would be made on largely automated production lines and would be supplemented by a workforce comprising pensioners and the disabled.

He said that apart from the social benefits this would provide for all concerned, it would also garner government grants for the manufacturers.
Elmish said the business model they had created meant that rebates for using “green” materials would entirely cancel out production costs and this could allow for bicycles to be given away for free in poor countries.

Producers would reap financial rewards from advertisements such as from multinational companies who would pay for their logo to be part of the frame, he explained.

“Because you get a lot of government grants, it brings down the production costs to zero, so the bicycles can be given away for free. We are copying a business model from the high-tech world where software is distributed free because it includes embedded advertising,” Elmish explained.

“It could be sold for around $20, because [retailers] have to make a profit … and we think they should not cost any more than that. We will make our money from advertising,” he added.

Elmish said initial production was set to begin in Israel in months on three bicycle models and a wheelchair and they will be available to purchase within a year.

“In six months we will have completed planning the first production lines for an urban bike which will be assisted by an electric motor, a youth bike which will be a 2/3 size model for children in Africa, a balance bike for youngsters learning to ride, and a wheelchair that a non-profit organization wants to build with our technology for Africa,” he said.

The bicycles are not only very cheap to make, they are very light and do not need to be adjusted or repaired, the solid tires that are made of reconstituted rubber from old car tires will never get a puncture, Elmish said.

“These bikes need no maintenance and no adjustment, a car timing belt is used instead of a chain, and the tires do not need inflating and can last for 10 years,” he said.
REUTERS/Baz RatnerA cardboard bicycle made by Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni leans against a wall in Moshav Ahituv, central Israel September 24, 2012.

A full-size cardboard bicycle will weigh around 9 kg (about 20 lbs) compared to an average metal bicycle, which weight around 14 kg.

The urban bicycle, similar to London’s “Boris bikes” and others worldwide, will have a mounting for a personal electric motor. Commuters would buy one and use it for their journey and then take it home or to work where it could be recharged.

He said that as bicycles would be so cheap, it hardly mattered how long they lasted.

“So you buy one, use it for a year and then you can buy another one, and if it breaks, you can take it back to the factory and recycle it,” he said.

Gafni predicted that in the future, cardboard might even be used in cars and even aircraft “but that is still a way down the road.”

“We are just at the beginning and from here my vision is to see cardboard replacing metals … and countries that right now don’t have the money, will be able to benefit from so many uses for this material,” he said.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: GnyHwy on October 16, 2012, 20:47:01
Making things out of cellulose could also have a secondary Inspector Gadget this message will self destruct effect if desired.

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: cupper on October 16, 2012, 21:48:17
But you will have to watch out for the enemy trained termites and beavers. >:D
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 17, 2012, 19:28:16
A humerous look at how using DNA as high capacity "memory" would work:
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 22, 2012, 22:58:14
US Navy laser program has been sped up, and the director apparently sees no need to wait for specially designed ships with integrated electrical power generation systems to use lasers or railguns effectively. Obviously some technical breakthroughs have happened, and the speedup of fielding would indicate there may be some sense of urgency (laser weapons have been "on again, off again" in terms of funding and development since the 80's). As a bit of a twofer there is also some discusion on UUV technology as well:

Navy’s Top Geek Says Laser Arsenal Is Just Two Years Away
By Spencer AckermanEmail AuthorOctober 22, 2012 | 2:11 pm | Categories: Navy

Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, the chief of Naval research, salutes Virginia Tech’s humanoid robot CHARLI-2 at the Office of Naval Research’s science and technology expo, Oct. 22, 2012. Photo: Soares

Never mind looming defense cuts or residual technical challenges. The Navy’s chief futurist is pushing up the anticipated date for when sailors can expect to use laser weapons on the decks of their ships, and raising expectations for robotic submarines.

“On directed energy” — the term for the Navy’s laser cannons, “I’d say two years,” Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, the chief of the Office of Naval Research, told Danger Room in a Monday interview. The previous estimate, which came from Klunder’s laser technicians earlier this year, was that it will take four years at the earliest for a laser gun to come aboard.

“We’re well past physics,” Klunder said, echoing a mantra for the Office of Naval Research’s laser specialists. Now, the questions surrounding a weapon once thought to be purely science fiction sound almost pedestrian. “We’re just going through the integration efforts,” Klunder continued. “Hopefully, that tells you we’re well mature, and we’re ready to put these on naval ships.”

Klunder isn’t worried about the ships generating sufficient energy to fill the laser gun’s magazine, which has been an engineering concern of the Navy’s for years. “I’ve got the power,” said Klunder, who spoke during the Office of Naval Research’s biennial science and technology conference. “I just need to know on this ship, this particular naval vessel, what are the power requirements, and how do I integrate that directed energy system or railgun system.”

That’s a relief for the Navy. It means that the Navy’s future ships probably won’t have to make captains choose between maneuvering their ships and firing their laser weapons out of fear they’d overload their power supplies.

But shipboard testing is underway. Klunder wouldn’t elaborate, but he said that there have been “very successful” tests placing laser weapons on board a ship. That’s not to say the first order of business for naval laser weaponry will be all that taxing: In their early stages, Pentagon officials talk about using lasers to shoot down drones or enable better sensing. Klunder alluded to recent tests in which the Navy’s lasers brought drones down, although he declined to elaborate.

Then come the unmanned submarines. Current, commercially available drone subs typically swim for several days at a time, according to Frank Herr, an Office of Naval Research department head who works on so-called unmanned underwater vehicles, or UUVs. That’s way behind the capabilities that successive Navy leaders want: crossing entire oceans without needing to refuel. So Klunder wants to raise the bar.

“The propulsion systems that I think you’re going to see within a year are going to [give] a UUV with over 30 days of endurance,” Klunder said. By 2016, a prototype drone sub for the office’s Long Duration Unmanned Underwater Vehicle program should be able to spend 60 days underwater at a time: “That’s ahead of schedule of what we told the secretary of the Navy a year ago.”

That’s a challenge for the subs’ propulsion and fuel systems. Typically, Herr explains, the commercially available batteries built into prototype drone subs take up a lot of the ship; but building bigger subs just increases the need for power. The nut that the Office of Naval Research has to crack is using more efficient fuel cells while designing subs that don’t need as much energy to run. “We’re thinking about power requirements for these systems as well as the power [sources] available for them,” Herr says.

“The breakthrough,” Klunder explains, “was really on getting past your more traditional lead-acid battery pieces to more technically robust but also mature lithium ion fuel cell technology and the hybrids of that.”

None of that is to say the lasers will be actually on board by 2014 or the drone subs will disappear beneath the waves for 60 days by 2016. That depends in part on the Navy’s ability to afford it — and at the conference this morning, Adm. Mark Ferguson, the Navy’s vice chief, warned that “research and development is part of that reduction” in defense budgets currently scheduled to take effect in January. But it might not be long before Klunder is finally able to hand over a battle-ready laser cannon to Big Navy.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 23, 2012, 15:04:56
Solving bandwidth issues is a big deal if we are going to "digitize" the battlefield successfully. Even applying this sort of technology to digital radios will have positive impacts on clarity and reception in difficult situations:

A Bandwidth Breakthrough

A dash of algebra on wireless networks promises to boost bandwidth tenfold, without new infrastructure.

David Talbot

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Scott Balmer

Academic researchers have improved wireless bandwidth by an order of magnitude—not by adding base stations, tapping more spectrum, or cranking up transmitter wattage, but by using algebra to banish the network-clogging task of resending dropped packets.

By providing new ways for mobile devices to solve for missing data, the technology not only eliminates this wasteful process but also can seamlessly weave data streams from Wi-Fi and LTE—a leap forward from other approaches that toggle back and forth. "Any IP network will benefit from this technology," says Sheau Ng, vice president for research and development at NBC Universal.

Several companies have licensed the underlying technology in recent months, but the details are subject to nondisclosure agreements, says Muriel Medard, a professor at MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics and a leader in the effort. Elements of the technology were developed by researchers at MIT, the University of Porto in Portugal, Harvard University, Caltech, and Technical University of Munich. The licensing is being done through an MIT/Caltech startup called Code-On Technologies.

The underlying problem is huge and growing: on a typical day in Boston, for example, 3 percent of packets are dropped due to interference or congestion. Dropped packets cause delays in themselves, and then generate new back-and-forth network traffic to replace those packets, compounding the original problem.

The practical benefits of the technology, known as coded TCP, were seen on a recent test run on a New York-to-Boston Acela train, notorious for poor connectivity. Medard and students were able to watch blip-free YouTube videos while some other passengers struggled to get online. "They were asking us 'How did you do that?' and we said 'We're engineers!' " she jokes.

More rigorous lab studies have shown large benefits. Testing the system on Wi-Fi networks at MIT, where 2 percent of packets are typically lost, Medard's group found that a normal bandwidth of one megabit per second was boosted to 16 megabits per second. In a circumstance where losses were 5 percent—common on a fast-moving train—the method boosted bandwidth from 0.5 megabits per second to 13.5 megabits per second. In a situation with zero losses, there was little if any benefit, but loss-free wireless scenarios are rare.

Medard's work "is an important breakthrough that promises to significantly improve bandwidth and quality-of-experience for cellular data users experiencing poor signal coverage," says Dipankar "Ray" Raychaudhuri, director or the Winlab at Rutgers University (see "Pervasive Wireless"). He expects the technology to be widely deployed within two to three years.

To test the technology in the meantime, Medard's group set up proxy servers in the Amazon cloud. IP traffic was sent to Amazon, encoded, and then decoded as an application on phones. The benefit might be even better if the technology were built directly into transmitters and routers, she says. It also could be used to merge traffic coming over Wi-Fi and cell phone networks rather than forcing devices to switch between the two frequencies.

The technology transforms the way packets of data are sent. Instead of sending packets, it sends algebraic equations that describe series of packets. So if a packet goes missing, instead of asking the network to resend it, the receiving device can solve for the missing one itself. Since the equations involved are simple and linear, the processing load on a phone, router, or base station is negligible, Medard says.

Whether gains seen in the lab can be achieved in a full-scale deployment remains to be seen, but the fact that the improvements were so large suggests a breakthrough, says Ng, the NBC executive, who was not involved in the research. "In the lab, if you only find a small margin of improvement, the engineers will be skeptical. Looking at what they have done in the lab, it certainly is order-of-magnitude improvement—and that certainly is very encouraging," Ng says.

If the technology works in large-scale deployments as expected, it could help forestall a spectrum crunch. Cisco Systems says that by 2016, mobile data traffic will grow 18-fold—and Bell Labs goes farther, predicting growth by a factor of 25. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has said spectrum could run out within a couple of years.

Medard stops short of saying the technology will prevent a spectrum crunch, but she notes that the current system is grossly inefficient. "Certainly there are very severe inefficiencies that should be remedied before you consider acquiring more resources," she says.

She says that when her group got online on the Acela, the YouTube video they watched was of college students playing a real-world version of the Angry Birds video game. "The quality of the video was good. The quality of the content—we haven't solved," Medard says.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Dimsum on October 24, 2012, 03:01:21!

Boeing Non-Kinetic Missile Records First Operational Test Flight

An air-launched directed EMP missile?  Crazy/awesome.

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: cupper on October 27, 2012, 15:33:03
Looks like they may have found a solution to the failure of Yucca Mountain repository to get up and running.

And it may provide a solution to the problem of securing tons of waste from those bent on making a dirty bomb.

World’s Most Powerful Laser Beams to Zap Nuclear Waste

The European Union will spend about 700 million euros ($900 million) to build the world’s most powerful lasers, technology that could destroy nuclear waste and provide new cancer treatments.

The Extreme Light Infrastructure project has obtained funding for two lasers to be built in the Czech Republic and Romania, Shirin Wheeler, spokeswoman for the European Commission on regional policy, said in a phone interview. A third research center will be in Hungary.

The lasers are 10 times more powerful than any yet built and will be strong enough to create subatomic particles in a vacuum, similar to conditions that may have followed the start of the universe. Eventually, the power of the light beams could be used to deteriorate the radioactivity of nuclear waste in just a few seconds and target cancerous tumors, the projects’s Romanian coordinator Nicolae-Victor Zamfir said in an interview.

“We can’t find in nature any phenomenon with such an intense power like the one that will be generated with this laser,” Zamfir said in a phone interview from Romania. “We expect to see the first results of our research in one or two years after the centre becomes operational.”

The Magurele research center, where the Romanian laser will be located, will consume about 10 megawatts of energy, enough to supply about 2,500 average U.S. households. Most of it will come from geothermal pumps installed at the site, where the laser is expected to become operational in 2017.
Largest Site

“It is probably one of the largest such sites in Europe using unconventional energy,” Zamfir said.

Zamfir said companies from the computer industry have shown interest in the project, but none from the nuclear sector. “We haven’t advertised the project yet properly, possibly also because we didn’t have the EU’s approval.”

The research may replicate the same principles used in a new type of cancer radiotherapy called hadrontherapy, Zamfir said. It directly targets deep-rooted tumors, reducing the risk of recurrence or new tumors. The first results of the experiments are expected for 2018-2019.

“This treatment already exists, but requires expensive and big accelerators,” Zamfir said. “If it becomes possible by using this type of laser, it can be implemented at lower costs as technology advances and the lasers get cheaper.”

The laser technology might also be used to reduce the time it take for atomic waste to lose its radioactivity from thousands of years to a few seconds. That could remove the need to build underground stores to keep waste secure for centuries.
No Solution

“It’s going to take almost 20 years until we would be able to do it, but right now many countries don’t see any solution in the near future,” Zamfir said.

The EU is basing the broject in eastern European countries to support science in former communist countries, where a tradition of research hasn’t prevented academics seeking better- paid posts outside the region.

“The hope is to create a virtuous circle that by having the infrastructure there you also attract more funds and research ,” the European Commission’s Wheeler said.

The city of Magurele is home to Romania’s National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering, established in 1949 and one of the biggest nuclear physics research centers in eastern Europe during the communist era.

Although research is still being carried at the institute, Romania, it’s losing scientsits because it invests only 0.5 percent of its gross domestic product in research, compared with a European average of 2 percent.
Old Road

The research center is less than 10 kilometers away from Bucharest, but the journey can take around 20 minutes on an old road that is now being enlarged.

“There’s no direct public transportation from the center of Bucharest -- you need to change the bus and then hitchhike for those private minibuses,” Zamfir said. “We now hope it will change.”

In Romania, 200 researchers will work at the project full time, with around 1,000 more expected to visit the center for experiments each year once it starts working, according to Zamfir.

The project will be followed by the construction of an even more powerful laser and any of the three countries already involved in the project, plus the U.K., might host the laser. The ELI-Ultra High Field Facility will reach 200 petawatts of power, or 100,000 times the power of the world electric grid.

“The proposal for the fourth site should have been made in 2012, but we haven’t reached maturity with the ongoing three projects to draw enough conclusions,” Zamfir said.

The EU expects to spend 550 million euros in the first phase of the project ending December 2013, Wheeler said. Further applications from Romania and Hungary for the second part of the project should raise the total funding from the organization to 700 million euro, more than 80 percent of the entire cost of the project. About 180 million will come from other sources.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on November 04, 2012, 13:30:57
Potential for huge improvements in gas turbine efficiency using detonation technology. I have been hearing about "Pulse Wave Detonation" engine experiments on and off since the 1990's; think of it as a highly evolved form of the Pulse Jet engine that pwered the V-1 Buzz bomb in WWII. (There are actuallt a lot of technical differences, but the essentiall idea of the engine being a simple tube where the detonation takes place is pretty close to a pulse jet to understand). This takes the idea and changes the otcome from pure jet thrust to rotary motion:

Navy Researchers Look to Rotating Detonation Engines to Power the Future

11/2/2012 07:00 EDT - 140-12r
Contact: Donna McKinney, (202) 767-2541 0 Comments    23  258

NRL researchers have constructed a model of a Rotating Detonation Engine.(Photo: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory)
With its strong dependence on gas-turbine engines for propulsion, the U.S. Navy is always looking for ways to improve the fuel consumption of these engines. At the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), scientists are studying the complex physics of Rotating Detonation Engines (RDEs) which offer the potential for high dollar savings by way of reduced fuel consumption in gas-turbine engines, explains Dr. Kazhikathra Kailasanath, who heads NRL's Laboratories for Computational Physics and Fluid Dynamics.

Many Navy aircraft use gas-turbine engines for propulsion, with the Navy's gas-turbine engines being fundamentally similar to engines used in commercial airplanes. The Navy also depends on gas-turbine engines to provide propulsion and electricity for many of its ships. Even as future ships move toward the model of an "all electric" propulsion system, they will still need gas-turbine engines to produce electricity for the propulsion system and other critical systems. So building a gas-turbine engine that can handle the Navy's requirements for its warfighting ships and provide a fuel-efficient engine is a high priority for researchers.

The U.S. Navy finds gas-turbine engines attractive because they scale nicely to large powers, are relatively small and self-contained, and are relatively easy to maintain. The gas-turbine engines the Navy uses today are based on the Brayton thermodynamic cycle, where air is compressed and mixed with fuel, combusted at a constant pressure, and expanded to do work for either generating electricity or for propulsion. To significantly improve the performance of gas-turbine engines, researchers need to look beyond the Brayton cycle to explore alternative and possibly more innovative cycles.

NRL researchers believe that one attractive possibility is to use the detonation cycle instead of the Brayton cycle for powering a gas-turbine. NRL has been on the forefront of this research for the last decade and has been a major player in developing Pulse Detonation Engines (PDEs). NRL researchers estimate that retrofitting engines on existing Navy ships, like the USS Arleigh Burke pictured here, with rotating detonation technology could result in millions of dollars in savings a year.(Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tommy Lamkin) The Rotating Detonation Engine (RDE) is an even more attractive and different strategy for using the detonation cycle to obtain better fuel efficiency. NRL researchers have constructed a model for simulating RDEs using earlier work done on general detonations, as a foundation.

NRL researchers believe that RDEs have the potential to meet 10% increased power requirements as well as 25% reduction in fuel use for future Navy applications. Currently there are about 430 gas turbine engines on 129 U.S. Navy ships. These engines burn approximately 2 billion dollars worth of fuel each year. By retrofitting these engines with the rotating detonation technology, researchers estimate that the Navy could save approximately 300 to 400 million dollars a year.

Like PDEs, RDEs have the potential to be a disruptive technology that can significantly alter the fuel efficiency of ships and planes; however, there are several challenges that must be overcome before the benefits are realized, explains Dr. Kailasanath. NRL scientists are now focusing their current research efforts on getting a better understanding of how the RDE works and the type of performance that can be actually realized in practice.

More details here:
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on November 06, 2012, 21:03:53
And closer to home, DARPA is working on getting sensor fusion technology down to the individual soldier level. Being able to overlay Day, Night and Thermal on the same view addresses issues  like obscurants or various types of camouflage. Getting images beamed to you from multiple viewpoints and getting some sort of coherent image out of that would require quite a bit more computing power and bandwidth, but might be quite useful for vehicles and aircraft:


November 02, 2012

Clip-on or helmet-mounted camera system would fuse useful aspects of visible, near infrared, and infrared images into a single shot under all weather and visibility conditions

It is often the case with new military technologies that warfighters need to adjust to their equipment to access needed capabilities. As missions shift, however, and warfighters are required to work in smaller teams and access more remote locations, it is technology that must adapt if it is to remain useful. Desirable features for many new man-portable systems include small size, light weight, minimal power consumption, low cost, ease of use, multi-functionality and, to the extent possible, network friendliness.

DARPA created the Pixel Network for Dynamic Visualization program, or PIXNET, to apply these features to the cameras and sensors used by dismounted warfighters and small combat units for battlefield awareness and threat detection and identification. PIXNET aims to develop helmet-mounted and clip-on camera systems that combine visible, near infrared, and infrared sensors into one system and aggregate the outputs. PIXNET technology would ingest the most useful data points from each component sensor and fuse them into a common, information-rich image that can be viewed on the warfighter’s heads-up display, and potentially be shared across units.

The base technologies DARPA proposes to use already exist and are currently used by warfighters. However, these devices typically have dedicated functionality, operate independently of one another and provide value only to the immediate operator. Through PIXNET, DARPA seeks to fuse the capabilities of these devices into a single multi-band system, thus alleviating physical overburdening of warfighters, and develop a tool that is network-ready, capable of sharing imagery with other warfighters.

“Existing sensor technologies are a good jumping-off point, but PIXNET will require innovations to combine reflective and thermal bands for maximum visibility during the day or night, and then package this technology for maximum portability. What we really need are breakthroughs in aperture design, focal plane arrays, electronics, packaging and materials science,” said Nibir Dhar, DARPA program manager for PIXNET.  “Success will be measured as the minimization of size, weight, power and cost of the system and the maximization of functionality.”

To help boost processing power while minimizing size and energy use, PIXNET sensors will interface wirelessly with an Android-based smart phone for fusing images and for networking among units. Although the primary focus of PIXNET is on sensor development, proposers are instructed to develop whatever apps are necessary to achieve the desired functionality for phone and camera.

In addition to technological innovation, proposers are encouraged to develop plans for transitioning the low-cost camera system into manufacturing. In the case of the helmet-mounted system, DARPA’s preferred cost goal in a manufacturing environment producing 10,000 units per month is $3,300 per unit. 

For more information on PIXNET, please see the Broad Agency Announcement.

# # #

Associated images posted on may be reused according to the terms of the DARPA User Agreement, available here:
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on November 08, 2012, 11:42:06
Probably a very long term solution, but you heard it here first! Any technique that can extract more energy from batteries (or as hinted in the article, reduce transmission losses, such as the 100% transmission efficiency among molecules during photosynthesis) will have a huge impact on logistics as the number of batteries, generators and fuel trucks to provide fuel for the generators shrinks:

Entanglement Makes Quantum Batteries Almost Perfect, Say Theorists

In theory, quantum batteries such as atoms and molecules can store and release energy on demand almost perfectly--provided they are entangled, says physicists

In recent years, physicists have amused themselves by calculating the properties of quantum machines, such as engines and refrigerators.

The essential question is how well these devices work when they exploit the rules of quantum mechanics rather than classical mechanics. The answers have given physicists important new insights into the link between quantum mechanics and thermodynamics.

The dream is that they may one day build such devices or exploit those already used by nature.

Today, Robert Alicki, at the University of Gdansk in Poland, and Mark Fannes, at the University of Leuven in Belgium, turn their attention to quantum batteries.  They ask how much work can be extracted from a quantum system where energy is stored temporarily.

Such a system might be an atom or a molecule, for example. And the answer has an interesting twist.

Physicists have long known that it is possible to extract work from some quantum states but not others. These others are known as passive states.

So the quantity physicists are interested in is the difference between the energy of the quantum system and its passive states. All that energy is potentially extractable to do work elsewhere.

Alicki and Fannes show that the extractable work is generally less than the thermodynamic limit. In other words, they show that this kind of system isn’t perfect.

However, the twist is that Alicki and Fannes say things change if you have several identical quantum batteries that are entangled.

Entanglement is a strange quantum link that occurs when separate particles have the same wavefunction. In essence, these particles share the same existence.

Entanglement leads to all kinds of bizarre phenomena such as the “spooky action at a distance” that so puzzled Einstein.

Alicki and Fannes show that when quantum batteries are entangled they become much better. That’s essentially because all the energy from all the batteries can be extracted at once.  “Using entanglement one can in general extract more work per battery,” they say.

In fact, as the number of entangled batteries increases, the performance becomes arbitrarily close to the thermodynamic limit. In other words, a battery consisting of large numbers of entangled quantum batteries could be almost perfect.

That’s a fascinating result. Quantum batteries in the form of atoms or molecules may be ubiquitous in nature, in processes such as photosynthesis. Biologists know for example that during photosynthesis, energy is transferred with 100 per cent efficiency from one molecular machine to another.

How this happens, nobody knows. Perhaps Alicki and Fannes’ work can throw some light on this process.

However, it’s worth pointing out some of the limitations of this work. It is highly theoretical and does not take into account various practical limitations that are likely to crop up.

Indeed they acknowledge this and say an interesting goal for the future will be to work out how practical limitations might change their result.

In the meantime, nanotechnologists can dream about the possibility of exploiting near perfect batteries in micromachines of the future and learning more about the way nature may have already perfected this trick.

Ref: Extractable Work From Ensembles of Quantum Batteries. Entanglement Helps.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on November 10, 2012, 21:02:23
A look at how Google deals with massive data bases and information handeling on that scale. If we want to be a really "digital" army or Armed Forces, then our network systems need this level of scalability and searchability (along with secure, high bandwidth pipes to move the data to the users), along with the high levels of reliability and uptime. Computer science geeks can probably understand the mechanics of this outtake better than I can, but users of the DWAN are all familier with the negative effects of not having these sorts of systems on line:

Google operating at its own level of multi-cloud reliability and scalability

 Google’s spanner handles trillions of rows of data and Google is shifting away from NoSQL and to NewSQL. Google believes it is better to have application programmers deal with performance problems due to overuse of transactions as bottlenecks arise, rather than always coding around the lack of transactions.

A complicating factor for an Open Source effort is that Spanner includes the use of GPS and Atomic clock hardware.

Spanner is Google's scalable, multi-version, globally-distributed, and synchronously-replicated database. It is the first system to distribute data at global scale and support externally-consistent distributed transactions. This paper describes how Spanner is structured, its feature set, the rationale underlying various design decisions, and a novel time API that exposes clock uncertainty. This API and its implementation are critical to supporting external consistency and a variety of powerful features: non-blocking reads in the past, lock-free read-only transactions, and atomic schema changes, across all of Spanner.

The servers in a Spanner universe.

A zone has one zonemaster and between one hundred and several thousand spanservers. The former assigns data to spanservers; the latter serve data to clients. The
per-zone location proxies are used by clients to locate the spanservers assigned to serve their data. The universe master and the placement driver are currently singletons. The universe master is primarily a console that displays status information about all the zones for interactive debugging.

Amazon is somewhat competitive with datacenter reliability but they charge to replicate across clouds. Amazon does failover automatically across clouds and data centers.

A few decades ago Toyota and Japanese car makers had several times more reliability and quality than competing car companies. This required having a different company culture. Orders of magnitude greater reliability and quality can be competitive weapons that enable things to be done that are impossible for those without the quality and reliability. Google also operates at levels of scale that competitors cannot match.

Spanner: Google’s Globally-Distributed Database (14 pages)

To summarize, Spanner combines and extends on ideas from two research communities: from the database community, a familiar, easy-to-use, semi-relational interface, transactions, and an SQL-based query language; from the systems community, scalability, automatic sharding, fault tolerance, consistent replication, external consistency, and wide-area distribution. Since Spanner’s inception, we have taken more than 5 years to iterate to the current design and implementation. Part of this long iteration phase was due to a slow realization that Spanner should do more than tackle the problem of a globally replicated namespace, and should also focus on database features that Bigtable was missing.

One aspect of our design stands out: the linchpin of Spanner’s feature set is TrueTime. We have shown that rectifying clock uncertainty in the time API makes it possible to build distributed systems with much stronger time semantics. In addition, as the underlying system enforces tighter bounds on clock uncertainty, the overhead of the stronger semantics decreases. As a community, we should no longer depend on loosely synchronized clocks and weak time APIs in designing distributed algorithms.

Future Work

We have spent most of the last year working with the F1 team to transition Google’s advertising backend from MySQL to Spanner. We are actively improving its monitoring and support tools, as well as tuning its performance. In addition, we have been working on improving the functionality and performance of our backup/restore system. We are currently implementing the Spanner schema language, automatic maintenance of secondary indices, and automatic load-based resharding. Longer term, there are a couple of features that we plan to investigate. Optimistically doing reads in parallel may be a valuable strategy to pursue, but initial experiments have indicated that the right implementation is non-trivial. In addition, we plan to eventually support direct changes of Paxos configurations.

Given that we expect many applications to replicate their data across datacenters that are relatively close to each other, TrueTime may noticeably affect performance. We see no insurmountable obstacle to reducing below 1ms. Time-master-query intervals can be reduced, and better clock crystals are relatively cheap. Time-master query latency could be reduced with improved networking technology, or possibly even avoided through alternate time-distribution technology.

Finally, there are obvious areas for improvement. Although Spanner is scalable in the number of nodes, the node-local data structures have relatively poor performance on complex SQL queries, because they were designed for simple key-value accesses. Algorithms and data structures from DB literature could improve singlenode performance a great deal. Second, moving data automatically between datacenters in response to changes in client load has long been a goal of ours, but to make that goal effective, we would also need the ability to move client-application processes between datacenters in an automated, coordinated fashion. Moving processes raises the even more difficult problem of managing resource acquisition and allocation between datacenters
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on November 27, 2012, 22:36:50
A simple and rugged nuclear generating system that could be adapted for use on the ground and at sea as well. I am not sure where the scaling would stop working, but certainly a modular system could produce much more that 550W if the system was scaled and enough units were ganged together.

Joint DOE and NASA team demonstrates simple, robust fission reactor prototype

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Nov. 26, 2012—A team of researchers, including engineers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, has demonstrated a new concept for a reliable nuclear reactor that could be used on space flights.

The research team recently demonstrated the first use of a heat pipe to cool a small nuclear reactor and power a Stirling engine at the Nevada National Security Site’s Device Assembly Facility near Las Vegas. The Demonstration Using Flattop Fissions (DUFF) experiment produced 24 watts of electricity. A team of engineers from Los Alamos, the NASA Glenn Research Center and National Security Technologies LLC (NSTec) conducted the experiment.

Heat pipe technology was invented at Los Alamos in 1963. A heat pipe is a sealed tube with an internal fluid that can efficiently transfer heat produced by a reactor with no moving parts. A Stirling engine is a relatively simple closed-loop engine that converts heat energy into electrical power using a pressurized gas to move a piston. Using the two devices in tandem allowed for creation of a simple, reliable electric power supply that can be adapted for space applications.

Researchers configured DUFF on an existing experiment, known as Flattop, to allow for a water-based heat pipe to extract heat from uranium. Heat from the fission reaction was transferred to a pair of free-piston Stirling engines manufactured by Sunpower Inc., based in Athens Ohio. Engineers from NASA Glenn designed and built the heat pipe and Stirling assembly and operated the engines during the experiment. Los Alamos nuclear engineers operated the Flattop assembly under authorization from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

DUFF is the first demonstration of a space nuclear reactor system to produce electricity in the United States since 1965, and the experiment confirms basic nuclear reactor physics and heat transfer for a simple, reliable space power system.

“The nuclear characteristics and thermal power level of the experiment are remarkably similar to our space reactor flight concept,” said Los Alamos engineer David Poston. “The biggest difference between DUFF and a possible flight system is that the Stirling input temperature would need to be hotter to attain the required efficiency and power output needed for space missions.”

“The heat pipe and Stirling engine used in this test are meant to represent one module that could be used in a space system,” said Marc Gibson of NASA Glenn. “A flight system might use several modules to produce approximately one kilowatt of electricity.”

Current space missions typically use power supplies that generate about the same amount of electricity as one or two household light bulbs. The availability of more power could potentially boost the speed with which mission data is transmitted back to Earth, or increase the number of instruments that could be operated at the same time aboard a spacecraft.

“A small, simple, lightweight fission power system could lead to a new and enhanced capability for space science and exploration”, said Los Alamos project lead Patrick McClure.  “We hope that this proof of concept will soon move us from the old-frontier of Nevada to the new-frontier of outer space”.
LANL animation of the new reactor concept

LANL animation of the new reactor concept

Los Alamos research on the project was made possible through Los Alamos’s Laboratory-Directed Research and Development Program (LDRD), which is funded by a small percentage of the Laboratory’s overall budget to invest in new or cutting-edge research. NASA Glenn and NSTec also used internal support to fund their contributions to the experiment.

“Perhaps one of the more important aspects of this experiment is that it was taken from concept to completion in 6 months for less than a million dollars,” said Los Alamos engineer David Dixon. “We wanted to show that with a tightly-knit and focused team, it is possible to successfully perform practical reactor testing.”
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: cupper on November 28, 2012, 00:21:08
The current radio isotope generators used on the Mars Missions are about 20 kilos in weight, so they appear to be already small enough. They generate 125 Watts each, and are determined to reduce down to 100 Watts after about 14 years of life.

By comparison, the batteries alone in a Toyota Prius weigh over 50 kilos.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Dimsum on November 30, 2012, 17:48:03

"An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System – a drone – completes a land-based catapult launch Thursday at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland. This week, contractors will direct an X-47B around the Norfolk-based aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman in the first trials to determine whether an unmanned aircraft can function on a carrier flight deck."

The first thought I had was that the X-47B is a lot bigger and taller than in other pictures.  The wing is higher than most of the crews' heads when they were standing up.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on November 30, 2012, 23:57:03
Rugged and portable laser weapons have now been demonstrated on land. Think of this as a sort of futuristic "Iron Dome" system (and with upgrades it will be able to take on larger targets and at greater ranges)

Lockheed Martin Demonstrates New Ground-Based Laser System in Tests Against Rockets and Unmanned Aerial System

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Nov. 27, 2012 – Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] today announced that it has successfully demonstrated a portable, ground-based military laser system in a series of tests against representative airborne targets. Lockheed Martin developed the Area Defense Anti-Munitions (ADAM) system to provide a defense against short-range threats, such as rockets and unmanned aerial systems.

Since August, the ADAM system has successfully engaged an unmanned aerial system target in flight at a range of approximately 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) and has destroyed four small-caliber rocket targets in simulated flight at a range of approximately 2 kilometers (1.2 miles).

“Lockheed Martin has invested in the development of the ADAM system because of the enormous potential effectiveness of high-energy lasers,” said Doug Graham, Lockheed Martin’s vice president of advanced programs for Strategic and Missile Defense Systems. “We are committed to supporting the transition of directed energy’s revolutionary capability to the war fighter.”

Designed for short-range defense of high-value areas including forward operating bases, the ADAM system’s 10-kilowatt fiber laser is engineered to destroy targets up to 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away. The system precisely tracks targets in cluttered optical environments and has a tracking range of more than 5 kilometers (3.1 miles). The system has been designed to be flexible enough to operate against rockets as a standalone system and to engage unmanned aerial systems with an external radar cue. The ADAM system’s modular architecture combines commercial hardware components with the company’s proprietary software in an integrated and easy-to-operate system.

“Lockheed Martin has applied its expertise as a laser weapon system integrator to provide a practical and affordable defense against serious threats to military forces and installations,” said Paul Shattuck, Lockheed Martin’s director of directed energy systems for Strategic and Missile Defense Systems. “In developing the ADAM system, we combined our proven laser beam control architecture with commercial hardware to create a capable, integrated laser weapon system.”

Lockheed Martin has been a pioneer in the development and demonstration of high-energy laser capabilities for more than 30 years and has made key advances in areas such as precision pointing and control, line-of-sight stabilization and adaptive optics.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 120,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation’s net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.

A 10 to 100 Kw system can potentially be powered by tapping into an aircraft's engine power as well (an AH 64 generates 2000 SHP from its engines (1471 Kw), and a system in the air has potentially wider sensor range and  fields of fire, so an overlapping set of lasers on the air and ground could be very difficult to defeat.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 05, 2012, 00:55:31
Going to the very small, a new way of bonding silicon to copper allows for greater heat transfer. This could lead to computational devices that don't need cooling fans (or much smaller ones) and are otherwise much more energy efficient. For the end user this means more rugged equipment and fewer batteries or other electrical power sources:

Nature Materials Study: Boosting Heat Transfer With Nanoglue

Interdisciplinary Study From Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Demonstrates New Method for Significantly Increasing Heat Transfer Rate Across Two Different Materials

A team of interdisciplinary researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has developed a new method for significantly increasing the heat transfer rate across two different materials. Results of the team’s study, published in the journal Nature Materials, could enable new advances in cooling computer chips and lighting-emitting diode (LED) devices, collecting solar power, harvesting waste heat, and other applications.

By sandwiching a layer of ultrathin “nanoglue” between copper and silica, the research team demonstrated a four-fold increase in thermal conductance at the interface between the two materials. Less than a nanometer—or one billionth of a meter—thick, the nanoglue is a layer of molecules that form strong links with the copper (a metal) and the silica (a ceramic), which otherwise would not stick together well. This kind of nanomolecular locking improves adhesion, and also helps to sync up the vibrations of atoms that make up the two materials which, in turn, facilitates more efficient transport of heat particles called phonons. Beyond copper and silica, the research team has demonstrated their approach works with other metal-ceramic interfaces.

Heat transfer is a critical aspect of many different technologies. As computer chips grow smaller and more complex, manufacturers are constantly in search of new and better means for removing excess heat from semiconductor devices to boost reliability and performance. With photovoltaic devices, for example, better heat transfer leads to more efficient conversion of sunlight to electrical power. LED makers are also looking for ways to increase efficiency by reducing the percentage of input power lost as heat. Ganapati Ramanath, professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer, who led the new study, said the ability to enhance and optimize interfacial thermal conductance should lead to new innovations in these and other applications.

“Interfaces between different materials are often heat-flow bottlenecks due to stifled phonon transport. Inserting a third material usually only makes things worse because of an additional interface created,” Ramanath said. “However, our method of introducing an ultrathin nanolayer of organic molecules that strongly bond with both the materials at the interface gives rise to multi-fold increases in interfacial thermal conductance, contrary to poor heat conduction seen at inorganic-organic interfaces. This method to tune thermal conductance by controlling adhesion using an organic nanolayer works for multiple materials systems, and offers a new means for atomic- and molecular-level manipulation of multiple properties at different types of materials interfaces. Also, it’s cool to be able to do this rather unobtrusively by the simple method of self-assembly of a single layer of molecules.”

Results of the new study, titled “Bonding-induced thermal conductance enhancement at inorganic heterointerfaces using nanomolecular monolayers,” were published online last week by Nature Materials, and will appear in an upcoming print edition of the journal. The study may be viewed online at:

The research team used a combination of experiments and theory to validate their findings.

“Our study establishes the correlation between interfacial bond strength and thermal conductance, which serves to underpin new theoretical descriptions and open up new ways to control interfacial heat transfer,” said co-author Pawel Keblinski, professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer.

“It is truly remarkable that a single molecular layer can bring about such a large improvement in the thermal properties of interfaces by forming strong interfacial bonds. This would be useful for controlling heat transport for many applications in electronics, lighting, and energy generation,” said co-author Masashi Yamaguchi, associate professor in the Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy at Rensselaer.

This study was funded with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“The overarching goal of Professor Ramanath’s NSF-sponsored research is to elucidate, using first-principles-based models, the effects of molecular chemistry, chemical environment, interface topography, and thermo-mechanical cycling on the thermal conductance of metal-ceramic interfaces modified with molecular nanolayers,” said Clark V. Cooper, senior advisor for science at the NSF Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, who formerly held the post of program director for Materials and Surface Engineering. “Consistent with NSF’s mission, the focus of his research is to advance fundamental science, but the potential societal benefits of the research are enormous.”

“This is a fascinating example of the interplay between the physical, chemical, and mechanical properties working in unison at the nanoscale to determine the heat transport characteristics at dissimilar metal-ceramic interfaces,” said Anupama B. Kaul, a program director for the Division of Electrical, Communications, and Cyber Systems at the NSF Directorate for Engineering. “The fact that the organic nanomolecular layer is just a monolayer in thickness and yet has such an important influence on the thermal characteristics is truly remarkable. Dr. Ramanath’s results should be particularly valuable in nanoelectronics where heat management due to shrinking device dimensions continues to be an area of active research.”

Along with Ramanath, Keblinski, and Yamaguchi, co-authors of the paper are Rensselaer materials science graduate students Peter O’Brien, Sergei Shenogin, and Philippe K. Chow; Rensselaer physics graduate student Jianxiun Liu; and Danielle Laurencin and P. Hubert Mutin of the Institut Charles Gerhardt Montpellier and  Université Montpellier in France.

For more information on Ramanath and his nanomaterials research at Rensselaer, visit:

    Nature Materials Study: Quick-Cooking Nanomaterials in a $40 Microwave Oven To Make Tomorrow’s Solid-State Air Conditioners and Refrigerators
    Inexpensive “Nanoglue” Can Bond Nearly Anything Together
    “Nanosculpture” Could Enable New Types of Heat Pumps and Energy Converters
    Strengthening Fluids With Nanoparticles
    Faculty Home Page

Published December 4, 2012   Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 07, 2012, 22:38:27
Here is something to gladden the hearts of the IA community; a practical application of link and social network analysis. The interesting thing here is how it is applied; zapping middle level "management" seems to be more effective than going after the leadership using this model. Obviously it needs more refining; it is noted that there is little differentiation between jobs and positions in the model, while it seems pretty clear that nailing a logistics or financial link would probably have more effect than hitting a recruiter or propagandist:

Death by Algorithm: West Point Code Shows Which Terrorists Should Disappear First

Paulo Shakarian has an algorithm that might one day help dismantle al-Qaida — or at least one of its lesser affiliates. It’s an algorithm that identifies which people in a terror network really matter, like the mid-level players, who connect smaller cells with the larger militant group. Remove those people, either by drone or by capture, and it concentrates power and authority in the hands of one man. Remove that man, and you’ve broken the organization.

The U.S. military and intelligence communities like to congratulate themselves whenever they’ve taken out a terrorist leader, whether it’s Osama bin Laden or Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, the bloodthirsty chief of al-Qaida in Iraq. Shakarian, a professor at West Point’s Network Science Center who served two tours as an intelligence officer in Iraq, saw first-hand just how quickly those militant networks regrew new heads when the old ones were chopped off. It became one of the inspirations for him and his colleagues at West Point to craft an algorithm that could truly target a terror group’s weak points.

“I remember these special forces guys used to brag about how great they were at targeting leaders. And I thought, ‘Oh yeah, targeting leaders of a decentralized organization. Real helpful,’” Shakarian tells Danger Room. Zarqawi’s group, for instance, only grew more lethal after his death. “So I thought: Maybe we shouldn’t be so interested in individual leaders, but in how whole organizations regenerate their leadership.”

These days, American counterterror policy is even more reliant on taking out individual militants. How exactly those individuals are picked for drone elimination is the matter of intense debate and speculation. The White House reportedly maintains a “matrix” of the most dangerous militants. Social-network analysis — the science of determining the connections between people — almost certainly plays a role where those militants appear on that matrix.

It’s clearly an imperfect process. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the drone strikes, along with thousands of militants. And while the core of al-Qaida is clearly weakened, Obama administration officials will only talk in the vaguest terms about when the war against the terror group might some day come to an end.

In a paper to be presented later this month before the Academy of Science and Engineering’s International Conference on Social Informatics, Shakarian and his West Point colleagues argue for a new way of using social-network analysis to target militants. Forget going after the leader of an extremist group, they say. At least right away.

“If you arrest that guy, the number of connections everyone else has becomes more similar. They all become leaders. You force that terror group to become more decentralized. You might be making it harder to defeat these organizations,” Shakarian says.

This chart shows how West Point’s “GREEDY_FRAGILE” algorithm renders a network brittle by removing relatively few nodes.

The second illustration depicts a terror network, as the algorithm centralizes it — and makes it easier to break. Photos: West Point
Instead, counterterrorists should work to remove militant lieutenants in such a way that terror leaders actually become morecentral to their organizations. That’s because a more centralized network is a more fragile one. And a fragile network can ultimately be smashed, once and for all.

The West Point team — which includes professors Devon Callahan, Jeff Nielsen, and Tony Johnson – wrote up a simple (less than 30-line) algorithm in Python they named GREEDY_FRAGILE. It looks for nodes that can be taken out to “maximize network-wide centrality” — concentrate connectivity in the terror leader, in other words. The professors tested GREEDY_FRAGILE against five data sets. the first is the social network of the al-Qaida members involved in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam; the other four are derived from real-world terror groups, but anonymized for academic use.

“In each of the five real-world terrorist networks that we examined, removal of only 12% of nodes can increase the network-wide centrality between 17% and 45%,” the West Point authors note in their paper. In other words, taking out just a few mid-level players make the whole organization much, much more fragile.

Interestingly, GREEDY_FRAGILE works even when the exact shape of the network is unknown — or when certain nodes can’t be targeted, for political or intelligence reasons. In other words, it takes into account some real-world complications that counterterrorists might face.

Now, this is just a lab experiment. No actual terrorists were harmed in the writing of this paper. The algorithm only looks at “degree” centrality — the number of ties a node has. It doesn’t examine metrics like network “closeness,” which finds the shortest possible path between two nodes. Nor does it take into account the different roles played by different nodes — financier, propagandist, bomb-maker. That’s why the work is funded by the Army Research Office, which handles the service’s most basic R&D efforts.

What’s more, the authors stress that their network-breaking techniques might not be a good fit for every counterterror plan. “It may be desirable to keep certain terrorist or insurgent leaders in place to restrain certain, more radical elements of their organization,” they write.

In fact, the authors strongly hint that they’re not necessarily on board with the Obama administration’s kill-don’t-capture approach to handling terror networks.

“We would like to note that the targeting of individuals in a terrorist or insurgent network does not necessarily mean to that they should be killed,” Shakarian and his colleagues write. “In fact, for ‘shaping operations’ as the ones described in this paper, the killing of certain individuals in the network may be counter-productive. This is due to the fact that the capture of individuals who are likely emergent leaders may provide further intelligence on the organization in question.”

That sort of intelligence may suddenly be at a premium again. From the Pentagon chief on down, the U.S. is increasingly worried about al-Qaida’s spread into unfamiliar regions like Mali and its association with new, shadowy militant groups in Libya. GREEDY_FRAGILE, if it works like Shakarian hopes, might show the counterterrorists which militants to target — and which so-called leaders to leave alone. For now.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: cupper on December 07, 2012, 23:58:21
Well Duh! Everyone knows it's middle management that does all of the work!  ;D

Upper Management is too busy acting as job creators, and the workers are too busy complaining to the union reps and protesting the 1%.  >:D
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: GnyHwy on December 08, 2012, 00:25:24
Makes sense to me.  Killing the top guys only opens up for much wanted promotions, and an overall increase in morale.  If their bosses were idiots than it's even more glorious.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 10, 2012, 19:32:34
DARPA announces something new on the medical front, a means of stabilizing injured soldiers to give them a better chance of surviving the "golden hour" before being delivered to advanced treatment facilities. Eerily, the foam seems to resemble the stuff you buy at Home Depot to inject into small cavities in your house (only not so sticky):

DARPA Foam Could Increase Survival Rate for Victims of Internal Hemorrhaging
    December 10, 2012

    Technology developed under DARPA’s Wound Stasis System program resulted in 72 percent survival rate at three hours post-injury in testing   

    The Department of Defense’s medical system aspires to a standard known as the “Golden Hour” that dictates that troops wounded on the battlefield are moved to advanced-level treatment facilities within the first 60 minutes of being wounded. In advance of transport, initial battlefield medical care administered by first responders is often critical to injured servicemembers’ survival. In the case of internal abdominal injuries and resulting internal hemorrhaging, however, there is currently little that can be done to stanch bleeding before the patients reach necessary treatment facilities; internal wounds cannot be compressed the same way external wounds can, and tourniquets or hemostatic dressings are unsuitable because of the need to visualize the injury. The resulting blood loss often leads to death from what would otherwise be potentially survivable wounds.

    DARPA launched its Wound Stasis System program in 2010 in the hopes of finding a technological solution that could mitigate damage from internal hemorrhaging. The program sought to identify a biological mechanism that could discriminate between wounded and healthy tissue, and bind to the wounded tissue. As the program evolved, an even better solution emerged: Wound Stasis performer Arsenal Medical, Inc. developed a foam-based product that can control hemorrhaging in a patient’s intact abdominal cavity for at least one hour, based on swine injury model data. The foam is designed to be administered on the battlefield by a combat medic, and is easily removable by doctors during surgical intervention at an appropriate facility, as demonstrated in testing.   

      Wound Stasis performers presented pre-clinical data on the foam treatment at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma in Kauai, Hawaii. These data demonstrated the ability of the foam to treat severe hemorrhage for up to three hours in a model of lethal liver injury. During testing, minimally invasive application of the product reduced blood loss six-fold and increased the rate of survival at three hours post-injury to 72 percent from the eight percent observed in controls.

    “Potentially, Wound Stasis provides an important addition to our ability to save life and limb. Getting after these heretofore difficult-to-stabilize, if not untreatable wounds, expands our options and effectively extends the ‘Golden Hour,’” said Maj. Gen. Bill Hix, Director of Concept Development for the Army Capability Integration Center at Training and Doctrine Command. “A capability like this is important in any operation, but would prove vital during operations in austere areas where military resources and infrastructure are at a premium,” he said.

    “Wound Stasis has been an exciting program because we were able to move unexpectedly from fundamental research to a pre-clinical proof-of-concept based on the strength of our findings,” said Brian Holloway, DARPA program manager. “According to the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, internal hemorrhage is the leading cause of potentially survivable deaths on the battlefield, so the Wound Stasis effort should ultimately translate into an increased rate of survival among warfighters. If testing bears out, the foam technology could affect up to 50 percent of potentially survivable battlefield wounds. We look forward to working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on future regulatory submission of this device, and with our partners, the Army Institute of Surgical Research and Special Operations Command, on getting this technology to where it’s desperately needed on the front lines.”

    The foam is actually a polyurethane polymer that forms inside a patient’s body upon injection of two liquid phases, a polyol phase and an isocyanate phase, into the abdominal cavity. As the liquids mix, two reactions are triggered. First, the mixed liquid expands to approximately 30 times its original volume while conforming to the surfaces of injured tissue. Second, the liquid transforms into solid foam capable of providing resistance to intra-abdominal blood loss. The foam can expand through pooled and clotted blood and despite the significant hydrostatic force of an active hemorrhage.

    In tests, removal of the foam took less than one minute following incision by a surgeon. The foam was removed by hand in a single block, with only minimal amounts remaining in the abdominal cavity, and with no significant adherence of tissue to the foam. Features appearing in relief on the extracted foam showed conformal contact with abdominal tissues and partial encapsulation of the small and large bowels, spleen, and liver. Blood absorption was limited to near the surface of the foam; the inside of the foam block remained almost uniformly free of blood.

    DARPA recently awarded a $15.5 million Phase II contract to Arsenal Medical to continue development of the treatment system and support regulatory submission. DARPA anticipates continuing the Wound Stasis program through at least FDA approval of a prototype device.

    # # #

    Associated images posted on and video posted at  may be reused according to the terms of the DARPA User Agreement, available here:
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Dimsum on December 12, 2012, 10:00:00
X-47B Taxiing Trials Onboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75)

The sheer size of the "demonstrator" still boggles my mind.  The thing is wider and not much shorter than a Super Hornet.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: BernDawg on December 12, 2012, 15:26:25
DARPA announces something new on the medical front, a means of stabilizing injured soldiers to give them a better chance of surviving the "golden hour" before being delivered to advanced treatment facilities. Eerily, the foam seems to resemble the stuff you buy at Home Depot to inject into small cavities in your house (only not so sticky):

HALO 3-ODST any one??
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 14, 2012, 23:39:38
This is very interesting. The technique is related to "quantum cryptography", so in theory this would provide a means to transmit information without compromise and detect threats without too much regard to jamming and countermeasures. The only ways to minimize detection is to employ "stealth" technology to reduce your cross section, or use metamaterials to direct active systems "around" the item being scanned:

Quantum Imaging Technique Heralds Unjammable Aircraft Detection

Physicists have exploited the quantum properties of photons to create the first imaging system that is unjammable

Jamming radar signals is an increasingly sophisticated affair. There are various techniques such as drowning the radar frequency with noise or dropping chaff to create a false reflection. But the most advanced radar systems can get around these ruses.

So a more sophisticated idea is to intercept the radar signal and modify it in a way that gives false information about the target before sending it back. That’s much harder to outsmart.

But today, Mehul Malik and pals at the University of Rochester in New York state demonstrate a way to do it.

These guys base their technique on the quantum properties of photons and in particular on the fact that any attempt to measure a photon always destroys its quantum properties.

So their idea is to use polarised photons to detect and image objects. Reflected photons can of course be used to build up an image of the object. But an adversary could intercept these photons and resend them in a way that disguises the object’s shape or makes it look as if it is elsewhere.

However, such a process would always change the quantum properties of the photons such as their polarisation. And so it should always be possible to detect such interference. “In order to jam our imaging system, the object must disturb the delicate quantum state of the imaging photons, thus introducing statistical errors that reveal its activity,” say Malik and co.

That’s more or less exactly how quantum key distribution for cryptography works. The idea here is that any eavesdropper would change the quantum properties of the key and so reveal his or her presence. The only difference in the quantum imaging scenario is that the “message” is sent and received by the same person.

 Malik and co have tested their idea by bouncing photons off an aeroplane-shaped target and measuring the polarisation error rate in the return signal. Without any eavesdropping the system easily imaged the aeroplane.

But when an adversary intercepted the photons and modified them to send back an image of a bird, the interference was easy to spot, say Malik and co.

That’s an impressive demonstration of the first imaging system that is unjammable thanks to quantum mechanics.

That’s not to say the technique is perfect. It suffers from the same limitations that plague early quantum cryptographic systems, which are theoretically secure but crackable in practice.

For example, instead of sending single photons, the quantum imaging system sends photon pulses which contain several photons. One or more of these can easily be siphoned away and analysed by an adversary without anybody else being any the wiser.

However, there are an increasingly wide range of fixes for these problems for quantum key distribution that could help make this quantum imaging system more secure.

Perhaps best of all, this kind of system could easily be put to work now. The techniques are well known and widely used in optics labs all over the world. So there’s no reason, this security cannot be added relatively quickly and cheaply to existing imaging systems.

Interesting stuff!

Ref: Quantum-Secured Imaging
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 17, 2012, 21:08:58
Passing data at fantastic speeds will change the battlefield,  from allowing live streaming of video and sensor data from multiple platforms, "triangulating" objects. friendlies and targets using distributed meshes of hundreds or thousands of sensors, sending real time logistics data like the fuel consumption and tire wear of every vehicle and so on. On the civilian side WiFi networks running at those speeds will allow for the sort of traffic generated by "the internet of things", where devices send and receive data to each other in order to optimize their own and their networks performance.

The challenge is to manage all that data and convert it into something usable, and to do so in real time:

Deployable Radio Frequency Data Backbone To Match Fiber Optic Capacity

December 14, 2012

100-Gigabit per second RF communications link envisioned between airborne and ground assets

Fiber optic cables provide the core backbone for military and civilian networks, enabling Internet, phone, video and other data to move at super-high speeds with virtually no degradation over long distances. In deployed environments, where a fiber optic backbone doesn’t exist, other communications modes are used resulting in reduced data-rate capacity for the warfighter.

DARPA’s 100 Gb/s RF Backbone (100G) intends to develop a fiber-optic-equivalent communications backbone that can be deployed worldwide. The goal is to create a 100 Gb/s data link that achieves a range greater than 200 kilometers between airborne assets and a range greater than 100 kilometers between an airborne asset (at 60,000 feet) and the ground.  The 100G program goal is to meet the weight and power metrics of the Common Data Link (CDL) deployed by Forces today for high-capacity data streaming from platforms.

A major challenge to providing 100 Gb/s from an airborne asset to the ground is cloud cover. Free-space optical links won’t propagate through the cloud layer, which means RF is the only option. The system will be designed to provide all-weather capability enabling tactically relevant data throughput and link ranges through clouds, fog or rain. Technical advances in modulation of millimeter-wave frequencies open the door to achieving 100G’s goals.

“Providing fiber-optic-equivalent capacity on a radio frequency carrier will require spectrally efficient use of available RF spectrum,” said Dick Ridgway, DARPA program manager. “100G plans to demonstrate how high-order modulation and spatial multiplexing can be synergistically combined to achieve 100 Gigabits per second with the size, weight and power needed for a deployable system. We believe that to achieve the program’s goals requires the convergence of telecommunications system providers and the defense communications tech base.”

DARPA will host a proposers’ day on Jan. 9, 2013, in Arlington, Va. For details, visit: 
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 20, 2012, 14:48:34
More advances in robotics. Robots that can follow the leader, obey verbal commands and are otherwise self sufficient will be a great help to servicemembers everywhere. While this is designed in the context of an assistent for dismounted infantry sections, you can probably imagine lots of ways devices like this could help other branches and trades, or even the other services (robotic tool caddies and parts carriers for aircraft maintainers, or devices that can explore nooks and crannies of ships for the Navy come to mind):


December 19, 2012

Testing shows advances in robot’s autonomy, maneuverability and recovery

For the past two weeks, in the woods of central Virginia around Fort Pickett, the Legged Squad Support System (LS3) four-legged robot has been showing off its capabilities during field testing. Working with the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL), researchers from DARPA’s LS3 program demonstrated new advances in the robot’s control, stability and maneuverability, including "Leader Follow" decision making, enhanced roll recovery, exact foot placement over rough terrain, the ability to maneuver in an urban environment, and verbal command capability.

The LS3 program seeks to demonstrate that a highly mobile, semi-autonomous legged robot can carry 400 lbs of a squad’s equipment, follow squad members through rugged terrain and interact with troops in a natural way similar to a trained animal with its handler. The robot could also be able to maneuver at night and serve as a mobile auxiliary power source to the squad, so troops can recharge batteries for radios and handheld devices while on patrol.

“This was the first time DARPA and MCWL were able to get LS3 out on the testing grounds together to simulate military-relevant training conditions,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Hitt, DARPA program manager. “The robot’s performance in the field expanded on our expectations, demonstrating, for example, how voice commands and “follow the leader” capability would enhance the robot’s ability to interact with warfighters. We were able to put the robot through difficult natural terrain and test its ability to right itself with minimal interaction from humans.”

Video from the testing shows the robot negotiating diverse terrain including ditches, streams, wooded slopes and simulated urban environments. The video also shows the map the LS3 perception system creates to determine the path it takes.

The December testing at Fort Pickett is the first in a series of planned demonstrations that will test the robot’s capabilities across different environments as development continues through the first half of 2014.

The DARPA platform developer for the LS3 system is Boston Dynamics of Waltham, Mass.


Please direct all media queries to


Click for High-Resolution Image


Legged Squad Support System (LS3)   

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on January 04, 2013, 01:21:18
Using robotics for logistical purposes. This inverts the usual way of doing things in a warehouse, and the productivity gains are pretty fantastic (almost 5X faster than humans picking and packing). Considering the use we make of "super bases" and centralized logistics, this sort of technology coupled to the sort of ordering and distribution software that companies like Amazon use would certainly improve our logistics system:

Distribution Centers: An Emerging Robotics Frontier

Distribution centers (DCs) are massive warehouses that receive, inspect and store goods for later picking, packing and shipping to end-users, re-distributors or retail outlets. Products can be everything from books, pharmacy goods, clothing, office goods, food, drinks, shoes, produce, household items and pet supplies to diapers. And quantities can be one or two individual units to 20-100+ cases.

Driving the expansion and change in DCs are (1) online sales and consumer expectations of speedy delivery, (2) enhanced data manipulation capabilities, multidimensional processing and integration of new-tech mobile robotics into material handling, (3) proof that goods-to-man methods saves money, reduces labor and increases productivity, and (4) a current need to develop more cost-efficient centers (caused by delays and skittishness to make capital investments during the economic crisis). E-commerce sales are growing at an annual compounded growth rate of 8.5% - double that of supercenters, club and dollar stores. Supermarkets and convenience stores are growing as well. The quantity of materials that are moved daily through DCs is staggering as are the streams of data and algorithm considerations. [Source: Nielsen TDLinx & Nielsen Analytics]

The immensity and complexity of the supply process can be seen in this video showing how a Giant Eagle supermarket is resupplied from its regional distribution center:

Amazon has and continues to lead e-commerce-driven distribution with their pick-to-cart method (otherwise known as man-to-goods) and their promise of speedy economical delivery. Workers run around and fill carts and deliver them to conveyors where they are transported to packing stations where individual shipments are processed and staged for pickup by FedEx, UPS, etc.. The metrics for this are 160 picks per hour. The video below shows that process.

Kiva Systems disrupted those metrics and increased worker productivity by reversing the man-to-goods process. This method brings the goods to the packer (goods-to-man). As Kiva's success became proven in the field, Amazon acquired Kiva for $775 million and is beginning to install Kiva systems in their new warehouses. It is estimated that the new Kiva metric for Amazon consumer goods is 600 items per hour.

These metrics translate into fewer employees and lower warehouse costs, which include not only the structure but the inside storage and material handling equipment as well. Steve Banker, a consultant at ARC Advisory Group, recently wrote in Logistics Viewpoints:

    If you conduct a Google search on “Amazon distribution center,” you come across announcements over the past year for DCs in Virginia, New Jersey, and South Carolina. According to these articles, warehouses costing roughly $50-65 million will employ 1,500 to 2,000 workers.

    But then I came across an article about a new Indiana DC. This DC is costing $150 million and the company is only promising 1,000 new workers. Could this be one of the new warehouses that will be using Kiva? The employment numbers seem to add up. This DC will employ at least one third fewer workers.

European DCs tend to be smaller than those in the US where massive centers for Wallmart and Amazon often exceed 1 million sq ft. Amazon has said that it will be filling its new 1 million sq ft distribution centers with Kiva robots. According to their financial reports, they are opening 12 new Kiva-equipped centers in 2012 with more planned for 2013. That is a lot of Kiva mobile robots, and this demand will surely keep them busy building and integrating those devices and their related software systems into Amazon's distribution scheme. In fact, Kiva has already laid off most of their sales and marketing staff but has increased their support staff to assist their new owner (and biggest client). As Amazon leads the consumer products industry to same day delivery, Kiva robots help give them that flexibility. [One-day turnaround isn't unique to Amazon; it is often a necessity. Think produce: vegetables, fruits, baked goods. These goods regularly move in and out of DCs within 24 hours.]

Kiva's acquisition by Amazon has created a void in innovative material handling technology just at the time when companies that had put off building or improving their DCs because of the economic crisis are now ready to invest again. Kiva's low cost for warehouse shelving and speed of installation in bare-boned facilities are far cheaper and faster than any other method offered.

However, Kiva-equipped distribution centers aren't the only methods available for handling robotic-assisted fulfillment. There are many new technologies as well as older-style methods now augmented with various robotics to handle the myriad types of warehoused goods. Amazon, Zappos and other consumer sales companies warehouse and ship small-quantity consumer items. Food distribution and intra-company distribution centers process on the case level. One east coast DC for a chain of groceries regularly processes 20 million cases per week. DCs not only focus on getting their goods in and out of the system but also concentrate on maximizing productivity and keeping their labor costs as low as possible.

Handling, distribution, transport and delivery - and the amortization of DC setup charges - often represent more cost than raw materials and manufacturing combined.  Consequently, warehousing and material handling are a big business for hundreds of different types of companies: conveyors, rollers, racks, vision systems, hoists, shelving, electric motors, slides, barcode readers, printers, ladders, gantries, tugs, forklifts, autonomous lifts and tugs, skids, totes, carts, and software systems of all types, to name just a few. Big players in the field include Intelligrated, Egemin Automation, Fromm, Daifuku Webb, Adept, Frog AGV Systems, Seegrid, Fuji, Edict, Omega Lift, Nordock, Interlake Mecalux, Automated Packaging, Itoh Denki, etc. Most of these vendors augment the man-to-goods model.

There are three companies transitioning to offer goods-to-man functionality: Symbotic, Swisslog and Dematic. The latter two have been in the material handling business for quite some time and have introduced many new robotic solutions. Swisslog is publicly-traded (SLOG:SW); the other two are privately held. All three of these vendors emphasize maximizing warehouse density which can be seen by level upon level (multiple vertical rows) of floor to ceiling racks.

Symbotic's Matrix Rover travels along shelf rows picking and restocking as required but can also operate autonomously on warehouse floors.

Symbotic, previously named CasePick Systems, is a recent spin-off from C&S Wholesale Grocers, the largest grocery supply company in the US. For the past seven years C&S has been the test bed for the development of Symbotic's line of products which include floor to ceiling high-density shelving and racks, storage and retrieval software, hardware systems, palletizer robots and robotic rovers. Now, as a separate company, they are a provider to C&S as well as other companies.

Symbotic focuses on handling skids and cases rather than on open-box or individual items. In an automated case/pallet warehouse, utilizing available storage area, including height as efficiently as possible, is the goal. Symbotic attempts to maximize usable space by providing and/or integrating all of the shelving, conveyors, stackers, robotic systems, robotic rovers and software, often reaching 17 rows high with the number of aisles limited only by the square footage of the warehouse. It's like multi-level chess except on 17 levels!

Guided by extraordinarily complex software, rovers speed along their row to pick or replenish cases of goods. Once a case is grabbed, the rovers take their goods to a Symbotic-invented device which enables the transfer of cases from multiple rovers at all levels of the shelving structure simultaneously, to a device for getting them down to floor level and then to a conveyor/tug system. The material is then moved to a station where Symbotic integrates heavy-duty Fanuc robotic arms in a palletizing process which then stacks the goods for shipment.

Left to right: Swisslog's AutoStore drop-down rovers, Tornado lifts and SmartCarriers.

Swisslog builds modularized conveyors, stacker cranes, row rovers (called carriers) and autonomous tugs as well as their new AutoStore robots. Swisslog can handle open-case light goods and pallet/case systems. Swisslog provides European style material handling often characterized by high capital and operating costs and lots of mechanical devices. They enjoy very high productivity and space utilization in return.

Swisslog's new AutoStore rovers race along the top of modular aluminum storage racks which are located just below ceiling level. The rovers reach down to get bins of targeted goods which are vertically stacked on top of each other. Then they race to a lift/crane which drops the goods down and conveys them to pick and pack stations and/or pallets for shipment. Once the bins have been picked, they are returned to the stack in the same manner.

Swisslog, as its name implies, is European and as such, must always be able to handle unique existing space considerations, often having to adapt to some very unique building configurations. Swisslog claims that their methods maximizes both vertical and horizontal space enabling them to process up to 1,000 picks per hour.

Dematic goods-to-person shuttles are located at every level in all aisles and are
serviced by high-speed elevators where material is lowered down to processing stations.
Dematic, headquartered in Luxembourg, is an established European style provider and integrator of logistics and material handling solutions. They offer almost every type of storage solution imaginable and provide distribution and handling for B2B and B2C as well as grocery, apparel, food and beverage and general merchandise.

Dematic provides conveyors, tugs, sorters, lifts and a variety of software for warehouse management, order fulfillment, RFID and SAP solutions and transport maximization. They use all of the different picking methods: pick by voice, pick by light, RF picking, etc.

Their most recent product addition is their row Multishuttle, a robotic rover that travels each row in each aisle in the warehouse picking orders and delivering them to a lift which sends them onward to a packing station.

As is the case in most robotics, smart software is critical to its success. Imagine the algorithms involved in resource allocation to determine which product goes in which bin; which order gets assigned to which station; which pod comes to which station; which robot should get which pod. Then compound that with the problems of integrating that solution into a SAP, IBM, Oracle, Manhattan Associates, or Red Prairie fulfillment system. Then add customized delivery optimization solutions (such as sequencing skids in a truck to delivery routes and sequencing the contents of skids to how they are offloaded in the store) to the mix and you have some really complex software packages.

All of the companies mentioned in this article (Amazon, Kiva, Symbotic, C&S, Dematic and Swisslog) blend techniques from AI, controls systems, machine learning, operations research and other software and engineering disciplines into their mobile robotic platform. All are focused on transforming fulfillment to the goods-to-man methodology because of the increased productivity gains and all are pioneering as they go because goods-to-man is new territory, software-wise.

This article originated as a profile of one company as they began to robotically augment distribution centers. But, as I gathered information, the story has morphed into a review of why Kiva Systems' innovative methods - the goods-to-man methodology - is far superior to other older styles of fulfillment. These older style man-to-goods methods are characterized by serious labor costs, heavy turnover, high cost shelving, conveyors, lifts, and transport and other systems to get targeted materials to a picker/packer or palletizing operation. Robotics, if used at all, is used to augment the worker's reach, mobility and lifting. The new-tech companies profiled above (Swisslog, Symbotic and Dematic) have begun to implement goods-to-man systems incorporating old and new style racks and shelving and all seem to be doing the same thing:
building multi-layer shelving upon which rovers troll the levels and aisles picking their stuff and shuttling it off to an elevator which sends it via conveyors or otherwise to pick/pack or palletizing stations, all controlled by colossally-complex proprietary software.

Posted by Frank Tobe at 9:46 PM
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on January 07, 2013, 21:01:35
Germany demonstrates a laser weapon prototype:

Flying colours: Rheinmetall successfully tests 50kW high-energy laser weapon

Rheinmetall has successfully tested its new 50kW high-energy weapon technology demonstrator. Conducted at the end of November, the test encompassed the entire operational sequence from target detection and tracking to target engagement. Building on a 123-year heritage, the Düsseldorf, Germany-based Group has once again made good its claim to be the global leader in high-energy laser (HEL) technology.

The test was conducted at Rheinmetall’s Ochsenboden Proving Groud (EZO) in Switzerland, in snowy conditions and blinding sunlight, and was initially supposed to show the increase in efficiency of the 50kW HEL weapon compared with the 10kW version demonstrated last year. A five-fold increase in laser power was thus available for the individual scenarios, which included Air Defence, Counter Rocket, Artillery, Mortar/C-RAM, and Asymmetric Warfare operations. Furthermore, the tests were intended to prove that separately located HEL weapon stations using Rheinmetall’s existing Beam Superimposing Technology (BST) are able to irradiate a single target in a superimposed, cumulative manner. This modular technology approach makes it possible to maintain the very good beam quality of the individual laser modules, increasing overall performance several times over. Thus, from the technical stand-point, nothing stands in the way of a future HEL weapon system with a 100kW output.

The 50kW HEL weapon technology demonstrator consisted of two functional models: a 30kW weapon station integrated into an Oerlikon Revolver Gun air defence turret for static and dynamic tests, coupled with an Oerlikon Skyguard fire control unit; and a 20kW weapon station integrated into a Revolver Gun turret of the first-generation, patched in for static tests. There were also additional modules for supplying power.

Witnessed by leading experts, the demonstration delivered compelling evidence for the 50kW HEL weapon technology demonstrator’s high stability: a massive, 15mm-thick steel girder was cut through at a distance of 1,000 metres. The successful shooting down of several nose-diving target drones at a range of two kilometres formed the second major highlight. Though they were flying at over 50 metres a second, the Skyguard radar had no trouble detecting the incoming unmanned aerial vehicles at a distance of three kilometres. Then the 30kW weapon station used the Skyguard data to carry out rough tracking mechanically. The optical tracking system in the Beam Forming Units (BFU’s) in the individual leaser weapon modules performed fine tracking of the UAVs. After reaching the programmed fire sector the laser weapon modules engaged the UAV’s immediately and destroyed the incoming UAVs within a few seconds.

The third highlight: detection, pursuit and successful engagement of an extremely small ballistic target. A steel ball measuring 82 mm in diameter and travelling at approximately 50 m/sec, the target replicated a mortar round. The Skyguard fire control unit immediately detected the target, followed by mechanical tracking with the 30kW laser weapon station. At this point, the BFU of the laser weapon module took over, optically tracking the target, which was then engaged and destroyed in flight, leaving no doubt as to the tactical viability of using laser weapons in future C-RAM scenarios. Moreover, the test makes clear that the time necessary for engaging mortar rounds at long ranges can be substantially reduced. Today, the required engagement time is already low enough to be in the region needed for C-RAM applications – even when adverse weather conditions make targets difficult to detect.

These tests have silenced the sceptics, proving that Rheinmetall’s HEL weapon technology demonstrators can neutralize targets even under the most difficult weather conditions, including snow, dazzling sunlight, ice and rain. Furthermore, the tests provide compelling proof that Rheinmetall leads the way in matching the energy and cooling requirements of a future HEL weapon system to the operational scenario requirements. Compared to last year, Rheinmetall has significantly increased the power density (kW/m3) of the technology demonstrator, enabling it produce twice the laser output within the same volume.


Rheinmetall plans to set up a company-financed 60kW technology demonstrator in 2013 with greater laser output. Besides laser weapon stations, the plan calls for integrating 35mm Ahead Revolver Guns into the system. This will enable Rheinmetall engineers to identify and study possible synergies between laser weapons and automatic cannon.

Finally, the concept for a mobile HEL weapon, which was successfully implemented with 1kW functional model mounted on a special TM170 vehicle, will also be pursued, this time with different mobile platforms. The objective here is to explore the parameters for integrating an HEL weapon on vehicles operating in the open.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Nemo888 on January 17, 2013, 20:14:28
3D printed 30 round AR mags. Also works with a vast array of NATO 5.56 weapons.
Download unlimited 30 round mags for your AR today!

I said a year ago this would be big.  :P Now a USB stick or VPN connection could be a terrorist downloading weapons.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Nemo888 on January 17, 2013, 20:17:19
Literally download your 30 round mag and other AR parts here.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Nemo888 on January 17, 2013, 20:19:06
(This is getting really annoying. Why is the edit function broken for me? Add the last tow post to the first one please.)
The cad for the part is here. I already have a copy at home. Better send the RCMP.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on January 18, 2013, 11:36:03
While I am very interested in 3D printer technology, I think for many uses this is more of a niche capability. Production items like magazines can be made far more quickly and cheaply via conventional means, and (as events have sadly demonstrated) criminals and terrorists can easily access weaponry from the vast array available world wide. (Of course stupid media tricks like providing interactive maps of gun owners to guide criminals does not help in the least).

The other factor working against "printing" guns is materials technology is still about a generation behind. You might be able to print parts, but they will be of low quality materials at best, and even current generations of metal printers need the parts to be extensively treated to make them strong and durable for use. I do not believe that functional receiver groups or barrels can be printed using currently available technology.

That said, if you are looking to make a "one shot" weapon, or print parts to modify a weapon for a very limited use, this is one avenue of approach.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on January 20, 2013, 01:34:23
Lots of good stuff today. This article shows off some new building technology that can be adapted to create strong, lightweight shelters. The ability to make floating shelters is interesting, and could be adaptable to such things as floating support bases and refugee shelters by shorelines. While the article gerflunkts to the great church of global warming, the technical aspects can be exploited for most terrain and climates (in the Arctic, you would build a smaller dome inside the larger one for insulation):

Holland makes EFTE domed floating buildings that cover 4 tennis court area and plans 13000 floating buildings by 2040

In the Rijnhaven in Rotterdam, a new, eye-catching structure has been erected: a complex consisting of three floating half-spheres. The structure is 12 metres tall, with a total floor area the size of four tennis courts, and is fully relocatable.

The floating pavilion is remarkable not only because of the spheres floating on the water, but also because of its climate-proof, innovative, sustainable and flexible qualities. The floating pavilion is a pilot and a catalyst for floating construction in Rotterdam. The pavilion consists of three connected spheres, the largest of which has a radius of 12 meters. The floor area of the pavilion island is over 46 by 24 meters. It will be moored in the Rijnhaven until 2015: after that, it will be shipped off to another part of Stadshavens. The Rijnhaven is a suitable location for the pavilion due to the limited beating of the waves. Furthermore, fewer and fewer inland vessels will use the harbour. Moreover, the Rijnhaven is easily accessible by public transport, also over water.

The innovative pavilion responds to the objectives of Rotterdam to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas CO2 by 50% and to ensure that the city remains climate-proof also in the future.

The round canopy, built by Dura Vermeer, is made up of dozens of hexagonal panels made of corrosion-resistant ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) plastic, which is 100 times lighter than glass. The weight savings from the ETFE allowed the designers to reduce the materials needed for the buoyant foundation, which is only about 7 feet thick and made of sandwiched expanded polystyrene sheets and concrete slabs.

Rotterdam plans to build floating urban districts. The blueprint calls for 13,000 climate-proof houses in the Stadshavens area by 2040 – of which around 1,200 would be built on top of the water. People will live, shop, work and recreate on the water.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: NinerSix on January 21, 2013, 11:55:51
I can't read Swedish, but the video sold me:

Airburst (bouncing) hand grenade!
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Fishbone Jones on January 21, 2013, 12:23:09
I can't read Swedish, but the video sold me:

Airburst (bouncing) hand grenade!

Pete Townsend is selling hand grenades? Are the Who not getting royalties? ;D
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on January 23, 2013, 23:15:03
Cool; a hand thrown "bouncing betty" mine. You know that had to hurt....
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on January 29, 2013, 19:46:03
More esoteric devices with weapons potential. So called neutral partical beam accelerators were proposed many years ago for the Strategic Defense Initiative (AKA "Star Wars"), with the goal of having a beam weapon with the engagement speed close to that of a laser but capabul of punching through metal and composite shielding to damage internal parts (like computers, explosives, nuclear materials and so on). For many reasons, partical beam devices and especially neutral partical beam generators are massive, power hungry devices, so the practical application of partical beams as weapons has been nil.

This discovery suggests that "table top" particle beam genertors are now possible, so ganging multiple units together could create a compact, high power beam weapon with all the attributes desired back in the 1980's. Aircraft and ships in particular would be good candidates for such devices:


Accelerating neutral atoms, contrary to laser-based as well as conventional particle accelerators, is a formidable feat, given the inert, ‘neutral’ response of these atoms to accelerating fields. Our recent studies provide a crucial breakthrough in the generation of accelerated neutral atoms, with energies as large as an MeV, as a result of the interaction of intense lasers with nanoclusters.

The recent hysteria, deservedly so, on the landmark historic discovery of a ‘new Higgs-boson-like particle’ of mass 125 giga-electron-volts (GeV) at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in CERN probably highlights the gargantuan heights scaled by conventional particle accelerators in recent times, routinely accelerating particles to even tera-electron-volt (TeV) energies. Laser-based plasma accelerators, on the contrary, follow radically different acceleration schemes and can produce GeV electron bunches (W. P. Leemans et al., Nature Phys. 2, 696 (2006)) in a ‘wakefield-accelerator’ as well as proton energies of 60 mega-electron-volts (MeV) in a so-called ‘target-normal sheath acceleration’ (TNSA) scheme (R. A. Snavely et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 85, 2945 (2000)) – energies which sound mundane in comparison with conventionally accelerated particle energies, until one realizes that they have been achieved on compact inexpensive table-top accelerators, as opposed to kilometer-long tunnels across nations.

 The basic underlying physics of accelerating a particle, however, hinges on an accelerating electric field, both in conventional as well as in laser-based particle accelerators, occasionally coupled with magnetic fields that steer the particle beam. Thus, while it is the electric field in a radiofrequency (RF) cavity in a conventional accelerator, in TNSA it is the electrostatic ‘sheath field’ produced at the target rear, whereas in an electron accelerator, it is the ‘wakefield’ in the plasma wave travelling in the ‘wake’ of the laser pulse. However diverse the acceleration scheme, they are all based on accelerating a charged particle – an electron, proton or an ion – by an electric field. Consequently, all the aforesaid acceleration schemes are rendered completely ineffective in the face of the challenging prospect of accelerating a neutral particle, which does not respond to electric or magnetic fields – precisely the reason why neutral particles can often penetrate deeper, into regions which are otherwise inaccessible to charged particles.

 Previous experiments (U. Eichmann et al., Nature 461, 1261 (2009) and C. Maher-McWilliams et al., Nature Photonics 6, 386 (2012)) have reported milli-electron-volt (meV) neutral atoms by various laser-induced acceleration mechanisms.

Our recent studies (R. Rajeev et al., Nature Phys. DOI: 10.1038/NPHYS2526) provide a crucial breakthrough in the generation of accelerated neutral atoms, with energies as large as a mega-electron volt (MeV), nearly six orders of magnitude higher compared to previous results.

Inert gases like argon can conglomerate to clusters, each cluster being an aggregate of a few tens of thousands of atoms. The interaction of an intense (~1016 W/cm2) laser pulse with an argon cluster can remove as many as eight electrons from each atom in the cluster, which typically comprises about 40,000 atoms on an average. The swarm of electrons released from this laser-excited region loosely attach themselves to the clusters in the vicinity, forming a halo around them, and giving rise to so-called Rydberg-excited clusters.
On the other hand, the clusters which have been ionized by the laser (thereby generating the swarm of electrons) are reduced to assemblages of ions, bursting with their nascent charge, and exploding under their own self-charge Coulomb repulsion. This spews out mega-electron-volt ions, which then traverse through the sheath of Rydberg-excited clusters surrounding the laser-focus. A highly effective electron transfer happens from the Rydberg-excited cluster to the energetic ion, thereby engendering highly energetic neutral atoms.
Hence, in summary, the modus operandi of the acceleration mechanism may be envisaged in a scheme comprising laser-ionization, followed by acceleration of the ions and their subsequent neutralization via electron-recapture. Our experiments show that under optimum conditions, the conversion of ions to neutral atoms can be nearly 100%, thereby resulting in the first compact table-top laser-based MeV neutral atom source.   

 With new-age technologies foraying into probing extremes of matter, accelerated mega-electron-volt neutral atoms have a distinct advantage over their charged counterparts. Unaffected by electric or magnetic fields, these neutral atoms penetrate deeper in solids than electrons or ions and thereby create high-finesse microstructures for novel electronics and optical devices. Fast atoms are also used both as diagnostics and heating sources in magnetic fusion devices called tokomaks, the most notable example being the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France, the world’s most expensive scientific venture, aimed at alternative eco-friendly schemes of harnessing sustained nuclear power

Figure - Energy spectrum of neutral atoms generated with argon clusters. The spectrum for ions and neutrals is not too different from that for neutrals alone, thereby indicating a near-100% conversion efficiency even at energies of mega-electron-volts
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: cupper on January 30, 2013, 23:41:09
Alternate airlift potential:

'First float' of Aeroscraft's futuristic transport

In a large warehouse in Southern California, a futuristic-looking metallic airship that looks more like an Area 51 UFO is set to revolutionize the cargo transport industry.

"First float" maneuvers, performed in a controlled in-hanger exercise earlier this month, were the first lift-off of the Aeroscraft prototype model ML866, the world's only Rigid Variable Buoyancy Air Vehicle.

The lighter-than-air vertical takeoff air transport vehicle is designed for oversized freight transportation, and someday possibly luxury travel. With a planned 20-ton lifting capacity, several U.S. agencies including DARPA, NASA, and the U.S. Department of Defense are betting that the Aeroscraft will modernize the world's mega-projects, facilitating movement of heavy equipment and supplies in urban, remote, and ecologically sensitive locations.

Made of aluminum and carbon fiber and filled with pressurized helium, the 230-foot Aeroscraft is covered in a reflective Mylar skin which makes it appear as though it's just arrived from a Hollywood back lot of the latest J.J. Abrams film.

A slide show of images:
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on February 02, 2013, 20:45:55
A Japanese compay develops a software patch that can boost the speed of traffic over the Internet 30X. This seems like a relatively ow cost way to free up bandwidth in the DWAN (although for the most part it means I will be getting more internal communications, notices from the MFRC and spam from the mess....) Every technology is a two edged sword:

Fujitsu Develops New Data Transfer Protocol Enabling Improved Transmissions Speeds

Software-only approach enables over 30 times improvement in file transfer speeds between Japan and the US, reduces virtual desktop operating latency to less than 1/6 of previous levels

Kawasaki, Japan, January 29, 2013 — Fujitsu Laboratories Limited today announced the development of a new data transfer protocol that, by taking a software-only approach, can significantly improve the performance of file transfers, virtual desktops and other various communications applications.

Conventionally, when using transmission control protocol (TCP)(1)—the standard protocol employed in communications applications—in a low-quality communications environment, such as when connected to a wireless network or during times of line congestion, data loss (packet loss) can occur, leading to significant drops in transmission performance due to increased latency from having to retransmit data.

To address this problem, Fujitsu Laboratories has succeeded at a software-only approach, developing: 1) A new protocol that incorporates an efficient proprietarily developed retransmission method based on user datagram protocol (UDP)(2), an optimized way to deliver streaming media able to reduce latency resulting from data retransmission when packet loss occurs; 2) Control technology that addresses the problem of UDP transmissions consuming excess bandwidth by performing a real-time measurement of available network bandwidth and securing an optimal amount of communications bandwidth without overwhelming TCP's share of the bandwidth; and 3) Technology that, by employing the new protocol, makes it possible to easily speed up existing TCP applications without having to modify them.

Through a simple software installation, the new technology will make it possible to speed up TCP applications that previously required costly specialized hardware, and it can also be easily incorporated into mobile devices and other kinds of equipment. Moreover, compared with TCP, the technology enables a greater than 30 times improvement in file transfer speeds between Japan and the US, in addition to reducing virtual desktop operating latency to less than 1/6 of previous levels. This, in turn, is expected to make it easier to take advantage of various applications employing international communication lines and wireless networks which are anticipated to become increasingly widespread.


With the increased popularity of mobile devices and cloud services in recent years, a wide range of applications have begun to utilize communications capabilities. In many applications, such as file transfer, virtual desktop, and other communications applications, TCP is employed as a standard communications protocol. One issue with TCP is that data loss (packet loss) can occur in low-quality communications environments, resulting in significant drops in transmission performance (reduced throughput and higher latency) due to increased latency from having to retransmit data. In the future, it is expected that there will be greater opportunities to take advantage of international communications lines and wireless networks, making it necessary to ensure that transmission performance does not drop even when connected to a low-quality communications environment.

Technological Challenges

Currently, one well-known method of speeding up application transmission speeds in low-quality communications environments is to employ specialized acceleration hardware. This kind of specialized equipment, however, is expensive and bulky, making it difficult to incorporate into mobile devices. High-speed transmission methods for transferring files using software-based acceleration also exist, but to support a variety of existing TCP applications using these methods, it has been necessary to make modifications to the traffic processing components of each application.

Newly Developed Technology

By developing a proprietary software-based transfer protocol, Fujitsu Laboratories has succeeded in significantly improving the throughput and operating latency of existing TCP applications.

Key features of the new technology are as follows:

1) New protocol improves throughput and latency in low-quality communications environments

Fujitsu has developed a new protocol that incorporates a proprietarily developed and efficient retransmission method based on UDP, a protocol optimized for delivering streaming media. As a result, the new protocol is able to reduce latency resulting from data retransmission when packet loss occurs. The protocol can quickly distinguish between lost packets and packets that have not yet arrived at their destination, thereby preventing unnecessary retransmissions and latency from occurring. By incorporating the new protocol as a software add-on to UDP, it is possible to maintain the high speeds typical of UDP while avoiding packet loss and packets being sent in reverse order, UDP's main weaknesses. This, in turn, has enabled improvements in packet delivery and latency. In a comparison with standard TCP, the new protocol achieved a throughput increase of over 30 times during a simulated file transfer between Japan and the US, and operating packet delivery latency was reduced to less than 1/6 of previous levels.

Figure 1 Effects of the Newly Developed Protocol
2) Communications bandwidth control technology using real-time measurement of available network bandwidth

Fujitsu Laboratories developed a control technology that, by performing real-time measurement of available network bandwidth, can secure an optimal amount of communications bandwidth without overwhelming the share of bandwidth used by other TCP communications in a mixed TCP environment. For example, when other TCP communications are using relatively little bandwidth, the bandwidth share for the new protocol will increase, and when other TCP communications are taking up a higher percentage of bandwidth, the new protocol will use a smaller share.

3) Technology for accelerating existing TCP applications without any modifications

Fujitsu Laboratories has developed a technology that automatically converts TCP traffic standard for a wide variety of applications into the new protocol described in (1) above. This makes it possible to significantly improve the speed of a host of existing applications, including file transfer applications, virtual desktop applications, and web browsing applications, all without the need for any modifications.


The use of the new technology is expected to speed up the performance of a wide range of communications applications employing international communication lines and wireless networks which are anticipated to become widely used more and more. For instance, the technology can help speed up web browsing and file download speeds in mobile communications environments where there is deterioration due to building obstructions or movement. In addition, the technology can improve data transfer speeds between datacenters in Japan and the US. It is also expected to help improve the usability of virtual desktops when accessing a virtual desktop located on a remote server using a low-quality communications environment (Figure 2).

Figure 2 Applications of the New Technology
Future Development

During fiscal 2013, Fujitsu Laboratories aims to commercialize the new technology as a communications middleware solution for improving communications speeds without having to modify existing TCP applications.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on February 07, 2013, 15:10:48
Interesting use of Metamaterial technology. From "earthquake proofing" this could also be adapted to protect military structures from the effects of near misses by explosive ordinance (although a separate "fence" would have to be erected around the structure to mitigate shockwaves travelling through air, since they are moving at different speeds and frequencies):

France has constructed earthquake cloaking for protecting hospitals, nuclear power plants and other structures

A group from the Institut Fresnel in Marseille and the ground improvement specialist company, Menard, both in France, say they’ve built and tested a seismic invisibility cloak in an alluvial basin in southern France. That’s the first time such a device has been constructed.

Future versions of this system could be used to protect hospital, nuclear power plants and other key facilities.

The secret of invisibility cloaks lies in engineering a material on a scale smaller than the wavelength of the waves it needs to manipulate. The appropriate sub-wavelength structures can then be arranged in a way that steers waves.

The French team created its so-called metamaterial by drilling three lines of empty boreholes 5 metres deep in a basin of silted clay up to 200 metres deep. They then monitored the area with acoustic sensors.

The experiment consisted of creating waves with a frequency of 50 Hertz and a horizontal displacement of 14 mm from a source on one side of the array. They then measured the way the waves propagated across it.

The French team say its metamaterial strongly reflected the seismic waves, which barely penetrated beyond the second line of boreholes.

One problem with this kind of array is that the reflected waves could end up doing more damage to buildings nearby. That’s why some groups are looking at metamaterials that absorb energy rather than steer or reflect it.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on February 09, 2013, 22:08:07
More medical technological innovation. A sort of one shot injection to deal with a wide variety of medical problems. Predeployment can be a lot faster if you don't have to get dozens of vaccinations and shots (especially if you deploy to exotic places like Harrington Lake  :rage:). This could also provide quick and effective treatment to disease picked up in theater.

Faster, please:

Unique Peptide Has Therapeutic Potential Against Cancers, Neurological Disorders, and Infectious Diseases

Feb. 7, 2013 — UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists have synthesized a peptide that shows potential for pharmaceutical development into agents for treating infections, neurodegenerative disorders, and cancer through an ability to induce a cell-recycling process called autophagy.

Autophagy is a fundamental recycling process in which intracellular enzymes digest unneeded and broken parts of the cell into their individual building blocks, which are then reassembled into new parts. The role of autophagy is crucial both in keeping cells healthy and in enabling them to fight different diseases. Physician scientists in UT Southwestern's Center for Autophagy Research are deciphering how to manipulate the autophagy process in an effort to disrupt the progression of disease and promote health.

In their latest findings reported online in the journal Nature, Center researchers were able to synthesize a peptide called Tat-beclin 1, which induces the autophagy process. Mice treated with Tat-beclin-1 were resistant to several infectious diseases, including West Nile virus and another mosquito-borne virus called chikungunya that is common to Asia, Africa, and India. In additional experiments, the team demonstrated that human cells treated with the peptide were resistant to HIV infection in a laboratory setting.

"Because autophagy plays such a crucial role in regulating disease, autophagy-inducing agents such as the Tat-beclin 1 peptide may have potential for pharmaceutical development and the subsequent prevention and treatment of a broad range of human diseases," said Dr. Beth Levine, Director of the Center for Autophagy Research and senior author of the study. Dr. Levine, Professor of Internal Medicine and Microbiology, is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at UT Southwestern.

Disruption of the autophagy process is implicated in a wide variety of conditions including aging, and diseases, including cancers, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, and infectious diseases such as those caused by West Nile and HIV viruses.

UT Southwestern has applied for a patent on Tat-beclin-1. Peptides are strings of amino acids found in proteins. The Tat-beclin 1 peptide was derived from sequences in beclin 1, one of the first known proteins in mammals found to be essential for autophagy, a finding that was made by Dr. Levine's laboratory. Her research has since demonstrated that defects in beclin 1 contribute to many types of disease. Conversely, beclin 1 activity and the autophagy pathway appear to be important for protection against breast, lung, and ovarian cancers, as well as for fighting off viral and bacterial infections, and for protecting individuals from neurodegenerative diseases and aging.

The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the HHMI, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research-Earth and Life Sciences Open Program, Cancer Research United Kingdom, and a Robert A. Welch Foundation Award.

Other UT Southwestern scientists involved include Dr. Sanae Shoji-Kawata, first author and former postdoctoral researcher now in Japan; Dr. Rhea Sumpter Jr., an instructor of internal medicine and member of the autophagy center; Dr. Matthew Leveno, assistant professor of internal medicine and autophagy center member; Dr. Carlos Huerta, former postdoctoral researcher of biochemistry now at Reata Pharmaceuticals; Dr. Nick Grishin, professor of biochemistry and HHMI investigator; Dr. Lisa Kinch, bioinformatics scientist; Zhongju Zou, research specialist; and Quhua Sun, computational biologist.

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego; Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego; Baylor College of Medicine in Houston; Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands; Cancer Research UK, London; Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School; the Broad Institute of Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; the HHMI; and University of California, Berkeley, also participated in the study.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on February 13, 2013, 11:08:07
This is a very exotic application (although solar sails could be used in Earth orbit to make satellites perform tasks that they could not do in passive orbits), but the line that stood out in my mind was
Multiwall carbon nanotube sheets have been made with a mass of ~27 milligrams per square metre and about the strength of kevlar

Super strong and ultra light material has so many applications it isn't funny. Reducing the weight of things like body armour, packs, tentage and so on to a few grams would have fantastic follow on effects both tactically and throughout the logistics train. This material is also similar to fiberglass, if processed as described in the article it may replace structural material in multiple applications as well.

Carbon nanotube sheets for solar sails for 5.6% of lightspeed

Multiwall carbon nanotube sheets have been made with a mass of ~27 milligrams per square metre and about the strength of kevlar. Adam Crowl of Crowlspace examines this a bit more. Nextbigfuture covered the dry spinning of carbon nanotubes into sheets back in 2007.

The self-supporting MWNT sheets initially form as a highly anisotropic aerogel that can be densfied into strong sheets that are as thin as 50 nm. The areal density of the sheet is 30 mg/m and there is no fundamental limit on sheet width or length. The measured gravimetric strength of orthogonally oriented sheet arrays exceeds that of the highest strength steel sheet.

In theory that means a suitably steered solar-sail made of CNT sheet could send itself away from Earth’s orbit and reach a final speed of 42*sqrt(57-1) km/s ~ 315 km/s. If it swooped past Jupiter then swung in hard for the Sun, scooting past at 0.019 AU, then it would recede at ~2,200 km/s (0.73 % of lightspeed).

A spaced out grid of carbon nanotubes with doping to have 100% reflectivity could achieve 5.6% of lightspeed.

Atomic layer deposition for solar sails almost as good as carbon nanotubes

Beneq has successfully scaled up its proprietary continuous ALD (atomic layer deposition) process to a 500 mm (half of meter. 20 inches) wide web using the R2R (roll to roll) manufacturing method.

The material developed for the proposed Drexler solar sail was a thin aluminum film with a baseline thickness of 0.1 micrometres (100 nanometers), to be fabricated by vapor deposition in a space-based system. Drexler used a similar process to prepare films on the ground. As anticipated, these films demonstrated adequate strength and robustness for handling in the laboratory and for use in space, but not for folding, launch, and deployment. Vapor deposition aluminum at 100 nanometer thickness would mass less than 0.1 grams/meter.

A lot of small solar sails could also form a matter beam that would hit the pusher plate of a larger and heavier spacecraft. This would allow a large and heavy spacecraft to achieve the speeds that the solar sails could reach.


Japan's JAXA successfully tested IKAROS in 2010. The goal was to deploy and control the sail and for the first time determining the minute orbit perturbations caused by light pressure. Orbit determination was done by the nearby AKATSUKI probe from which IKAROS detached after both had been brought into a transfer orbit to Venus. The total effect over the six month' flight was 100 m/s.

IKAROS has a diagonal spinning square sail 20 m (66 ft) made of a 7.5-micrometre (0.0075 mm) thick sheet of polyimide. A thin-film solar array is embedded in the sail. Eight LCD panels are embedded in the sail, whose reflectance can be adjusted for attitude control. IKAROS spent six months traveling to Venus, and then began a three-year journey to the far side of the Sun
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on February 23, 2013, 20:04:10
A different way of looking at exoskeleton technology:

Light Weight and Low Power Exoskeletons for Injury Prevention are US Army Focus

Developing an expensive and energy-hungry super suit, though a nice idea, might not be the military’s top priority. Augmenting soldiers’ natural strength and protecting them from injuries is another matter: Darpa is now working on a new programme called Warrior Web, which is much closer in inspiration to Batman than Iron Man. Rather than relying on a hard, exterior robotic shell, the Warrior Web suit is described as being a “lightweight, conformal undersuit”, like a diver’s wetsuit.

The undersuit takes a different approach to enhancing soldiers: rather than creating “super soldiers” that can carry much more than a normal human, it focuses on helping troops do what they already do more efficiently and safely: carrying gear and supplies which can reach over 100 pounds (45kg). The idea is that the suit will fit comfortably underneath the uniform and outer protective gear to provide functional and adaptive support. Integrated components and sensors will help to prevent injuries and enhance the user’s natural abilities by supporting joints and reducing the amount of energy a soldier expends. Darpa is also looking at other “novel technologies that prevent, reduce, ambulate, and assist with healing of acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries.”

2007 DOD statistics about military injuries:

* There were 2.1 million injury-related medical visits, affecting 900,000 service members.
* Injuries were the second cause of hospitalizations, accounting for almost 110,000 days in hospital.
* Injuries were, and are, the leading cause of outpatient clinical visits.
* Musculoskeletal injuries accounted for 68 percent of all limited-duty days and medical profiles; they add up to an estimated 25 million limited-duty days per year.

The injury rate for the Army is 2,500 reported injuries for every 1,000 Soldiers. This means that every Soldier could potentially to go to sick call at least twice a year for a musculoskeletal injury. Injuries that affect the low back, knee, ankle and shoulders account for most of the visits.

The “Warrior Web” suit, according to Darpa, should not require “more than 100 Watts of electric power from the battery source.”Th

The vision of the Warrior Web program is to develop and demonstrate an adaptive, compliant, quasipassive undersuit that will reduce injury and enhance soldier performance. Warrior Web Task A focused on development and demonstration of component technologies at specific musculoskeletal joints, (i.e., muscle augmentation, regenerative kinetics, advanced textiles, sensing and control elements, joint stabilization, biomechanical modeling using OpenSIM, and overall reduced metabolic consumption). Warrior Web Task B seeks the development and demonstration of an integrated suit that incorporates multiple proven component technologies into a conformal, comfortable form factor that is suitable for use by the average soldier. Additionally, Task B performers will be expected to leverage the program’s selected modeling environment, a freely available OpenSIM biomechanical model, in order to perform initial design validation.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on March 05, 2013, 10:42:13
The ultimate evolution of computing using known technology. This would be like having a server farm in a wrist watch (Google houses computers in warehouses, to give you an idea of scale):

DNA 3D Nand Gate Bricks Would Be Able to Make a Computer with 1 million times the transistors of Intel Itanium Poulson Computers

Harvard researchers have used single strand DNA, to self assemble custom designed nano scale structures. Each of the bricks shown to the left is, 25-nanometers on a side, they are composed of ~1,000 voxels (I think it is 500 DNA strand, 2 voxels per strand) unique single strands of DNA, each with 32 nucleotides. Each strand is like a jigsaw puzzle piece and can only bind in one location. This is due to the fact that nucleotides only bind to their opposites, A to T and G to C. These DNA strands can be designed to self assemble into pretty much any shape, as shown in the image.

David Fuchs at Hephastus Project outlines what kind of computing would be possible with 25 nanometer 3D Nand bricks.

A one inch cube could hold 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 of these 25 nm bricks.

Using two simple techniques, you can build much larger structures out of smaller ones. The first technique is to create binding sites, on each of the six sides of the brick. The second technique is to create a spacer-binder with matching but opposite nucleotides to bind to.

NOTE - Limiting factors.
* cost to produce this much DNA is still out of reach
It costs $2 billion to synthesize the billions of base pairs for the human genome. There are some approaches which could lower the cost by 10,000 to 100,000 times but that is still $20,000 for a human genome. Even if short sequence DNA brick synthesis is a lot cheaper in massively parallel production that has to be very cheap synthesis of 260 billion billion 25 nanometer bricks.

* connecting it and making the structure and logic for useful work and providing the skeleton for massive number of bricks seems to pretty much need full blown molecular nanotechnology.

* there is also the heat management issues

The NAND logic gate is the universal gate, with it you can build all other logic gates, NOT, AND, OR, NOR, XOR, and XNOR. By extension, using only NAND gates you can build any logic circuit imaginable, processor, memory, and any other logic circuit you can conceive of or need.

6 Inch cube of DNA 3D Nand Bricks

The concept for the Three Dimensional Configurable NAND Gate is simple. It is a cube with a NAND gate inside. The cube NAND gate has the following specifications.

* A cube NAND gate has six sides, each side can be individually turned on for input, output, or set as unused.
* A used cube NAND gate, must have at least one input and one output.
* When only one input is used, the gate acts as a NOT gate.
* All outputs of a single cube NAND gate output the same signal.
* A cube NAND gate can either be in use and logically connected to other cube NAND gates, or unused and not logically connect to any other NAND gates.

216,000,000,000,000,000,000 individual NAND gates. This does not take into account the spacer binders, the need for cooling, long range (over 1,000 nm) communications, and power. David chose to ignore them because this is a speculative piece. Adding all the missing pieces listed above takes about half the volume and ~halves the number of NAND gates, again we are ignoring that. We just want to see roughly what can be done.

A system consist of

* An Intel 8-Core Itanium Poulson
* 2 Terabytes of RAM
* 1 Terabyte hard drive

Would need about 128 trillion transistors.

A six inch cube of 3D NAND would be able to fit ~1.8 million maxed out Intel 8 core systems.
Roughly halving it for the cooling and communication and power would be about 1 million systems.

The ability to selectively attach or bind to specific nano-scale structures or specific chemicals and move them into position, with atomic precision, will more than likely occur within the next 3 to 6 years. By combining the technology of DNA bricks and selective manipulation of nano-scale objects, devices such as the configurable 3D NAND gate can be constructed. This is just one small step away from full blown nanotechnology (Drexlerian or other).
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: cupper on March 05, 2013, 21:03:45
(Google houses computers in warehouses, to give you an idea of scale)

Warehouse doesn't quite do it justice. I've seen one in NC which is moderate in size (so I've been told) that is huge, comparable to a major auto factory.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on March 07, 2013, 11:23:10
This technology has all kinds of uses. Cooling sensors for very high performance is the obvious one, but with that amount of cooling power (and especially the low energy consumption to get it), versions of this can be used to cool electronics like laptop and tablet computers, or even large enclosed spaces. Cupper's example of a factory sized data center probably has industrial sized air conditioners and HVAC equipment that consumes a good fraction of the power; a small fleet of these coolers (for backup) could do the same job for a tiny fraction of the price and power consumption:

NIST Quantum Refrigerator Offers Extreme Cooling and Convenience

From NIST Tech Beat: March 5, 2013

Contact: Laura Ost

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated a solid-state refrigerator that uses quantum physics in micro- and nanostructures to cool a much larger object to extremely low temperatures.
quantum refrigerator

NIST's prototype solid-state refrigerator uses quantum physics in the square chip mounted on the green circuit board to cool the much larger copper platform (in the middle of the photo) below standard cryogenic temperatures. Other objects can also be attached to the platform for cooling.

What's more, the prototype NIST refrigerator, which measures a few inches in outer dimensions, enables researchers to place any suitable object in the cooling zone and later remove and replace it, similar to an all-purpose kitchen refrigerator. The cooling power is the equivalent of a window-mounted air conditioner cooling a building the size of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It's one of the most flabbergasting results I've seen," project leader Joel Ullom says. "We used quantum mechanics in a nanostructure to cool a block of copper. The copper is about a million times heavier than the refrigerating elements. This is a rare example of a nano- or microelectromechanical machine that can manipulate the macroscopic world."

The technology may offer a compact, convenient means of chilling advanced sensors below standard cryogenic temperatures—300 milliKelvin (mK), typically achieved by use of liquid helium—to enhance their performance in quantum information systems, telescope cameras, and searches for mysterious dark matter and dark energy.

As described in Applied Physics Letters,* the NIST refrigerator's cooling elements, consisting of 48 tiny sandwiches of specific materials, chilled a plate of copper, 2.5 centimeters on a side and 3 millimeters thick, from 290 mK to 256 mK. The cooling process took about 18 hours. NIST researchers expect that minor improvements will enable faster and further cooling to about 100 mK.

The cooling elements are sandwiches of a normal metal, a 1-nanometer-thick insulating layer, and a superconducting metal. When a voltage is applied, the hottest electrons "tunnel" from the normal metal through the insulator to the superconductor. The temperature in the normal metal drops dramatically and drains electronic and vibrational energy from the object being cooled.

NIST researchers previously demonstrated this basic cooling method** but are now able to cool larger objects that can be easily attached and removed. Researchers developed a micromachining process to attach the cooling elements to the copper plate, which is designed to be a stage on which other objects can be attached and cooled. Additional advances include better thermal isolation of the stage, which is suspended by strong, cold-tolerant cords.

Cooling to temperatures below 300 mK currently requires complex, large and costly apparatus. NIST researchers want to build simple, compact alternatives to make it easier to cool NIST's advanced sensors. Researchers plan to boost the cooling power of the prototype refrigerator by adding more and higher-efficiency superconducting junctions and building a more rigid support structure.

This work is supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
* P.J. Lowell, G.C. O'Neil, J.M. Underwood and J.N. Ullom. Macroscale refrigeration by nanoscale electron transport. Applied Physics Letters. 102, 082601 (2013); Published online 26 Feb. 26, 2013.
** See 2005 NIST Tech Beat article, "Chip-scale Refrigerators Cool Bulk Objects," at

Edit to add link
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: BernDawg on March 08, 2013, 19:26:04
Warehouse doesn't quite do it justice. I've seen one in NC which is moderate in size (so I've been told) that is huge, comparable to a major auto factory.
So I clicked on the link and then selected self guided tour via Google Street View. Once the window opened I scrolled to the left and there was a Storm-Trooper and mini R2D2 standing guard! Classic Google sense of humour..
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on March 09, 2013, 11:44:44
On the topic of robots, MIT has developed a high efficiency "Cheetah" robot. This is different from the Boston Dynamics high speed robot (or the "Big Dog" load carriers). A robotic "partner" which can move at high speed could have all kinds of uses, from perimeter security to delivering urgently needed supplies. Future dismounted sections (or dismounted troops in general) may have a team of robotic assistants to do things like carry loads, provide sensor data or deliver heavy firepower (Imagine a "Big Dog" robot armed with a .50 HMG or 40mm AGL, for example). Other robot partners could unload trucks, carry casualties or otherwise extend the abilities of the human soldiers:

MIT ‘cheetah’ robot rivals running animals in efficiency
Robot’s custom-designed electric motors are powerful and efficient.
Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office

A 70-pound “cheetah” robot designed by MIT researchers may soon outpace its animal counterparts in running efficiency: In treadmill tests, the researchers have found that the robot — about the size and weight of an actual cheetah — wastes very little energy as it trots continuously for up to an hour and a half at 5 mph. The key to the robot’s streamlined stride: lightweight electric motors, set into its shoulders, that produce high torque with very little heat wasted.

The motors can be programmed to quickly adjust the robot’s leg stiffness and damping ratio — or cushioning — in response to outside forces such as a push, or a change in terrain. The researchers will present the efficiency results and design principles for their electric motor at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in May.

Sangbae Kim, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Assistant Professor in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, says achieving energy-efficiency in legged robots has proven extremely difficult. Robots such as Boston Dynamic’s “Big Dog” carry heavy gasoline engines and hydraulic transmissions, while other electrically powered robots require large battery packs, gears, force sensors and springs to coordinate the joints in a robot’s leg. All this weighty machinery can add up to significant wasted energy, particularly when a robot’s legs need to make frequent contact with the ground in order to trot or gallop.

“In order to send a robot to find people or perform emergency tasks, like in the Fukushima disaster, you want it to be autonomous,” Kim says. “If it could run for more than two hours and search a large field, that would be useful. But one of the reasons why people think it’s impossible to make an electric robot that does this is because efficiencies have been pretty bad.”

Kim adds that part of the challenge in powering running machines with electric motors is that such robots require a flexible response upon impact, and high power, torque and efficiency — characteristics that have historically been difficult to achieve with electric motors.

Watch more videos from the Biomimetic Robotics Lab on YouTube.

To understand how an electrically powered system might waste little energy while running, the researchers first looked at general sources of energy loss in running robots. They found that most wasted energy comes from three sources: heat given off by a motor; energy dissipated through mechanical transmission, such as losses to friction through multiple gear trains; and inefficient control, such as energy lost through a heavy-footed step, as opposed to a smoother and more gentle gait.

The group then came up with design principles to minimize such energy waste. To combat heat loss from motors, the group proposed a high-torque-density motor — a motor that produces a significant amount of torque at a given weight and heat production. The team analyzed the relationship between motor size and torque, and designed custom motors that exceed the torque performance of commercially available electric motors.

The team found that such high-torque motors require fewer gears — a characteristic that would improve efficiency even more, as there would be less machinery through which energy could dissipate. Many researchers have used springs and dampers in series with motors to protect the robot from forceful impacts during locomotion, but it’s difficult to control a spring’s stiffness and damping ratio — which can be a problem if a robot has to traverse disparate surfaces, such as asphalt and sand.

“With our system, we can make our robotic leg behave like a spring or damper without having physical springs, dampers or force sensors,” Kim says.

Kim is the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Assistant Professor in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. Photo: M. Scott Brauer

In addition to heat given off by a motor, the group found that another major source of energy loss comes from the force of impact as a robot’s leg hits the ground. Such forces can be strong enough to shake a machine and potentially cause damage. Engineers need to use dampers, or shock absorbers, to minimize shaking and stabilize such systems. But Kim says such dampers act to dissipate energy each time a leg meets the ground.

In contrast, the cheetah-bot’s electric motors capture this energy, feeding it back to the system to further power the robot.

“The majority of impact energy goes back to the battery because the damping is created by custom-designed electric control of the motor,” Kim says. “[The motor] regenerates energy that would have been lost.”

Kim adds that mounting motors and gears at the hip joint would also reduce energy loss by minimizing leg inertia: Some legged robots are designed with motors and gearboxes at each joint along a leg, which can be cumbersome and can lose more energy at every impact. With Kim’s design, 85 percent of the weight of the leg is concentrated at the hip joint, keeping the rest of the leg relatively lightweight.

The researchers also attached strips of Kevlar to connect sections of the robot’s legs, simulating the structure of tendons along a bone. The Kevlar strengthens the leg with little additional weight, and further reduces the leg’s inertia. The group also constructed a flexible spine out of rings of polyurethane rubber, sandwiched between vertebra-like segments. Kim hypothesizes that the spine moves along with the rear legs, and can store elastic energy while galloping.

To test the efficiency of the robot, the researchers ran it on a treadmill at a steady 5-mph clip. They measured the voltage and current of the battery, as well as that from each motor. They calculated the robot’s efficiency of locomotion — also known as cost of transport — and found that it was more efficient than robotic competitors such as Big Dog and Honda’s two-legged robot, ASIMO.

After digging through the literature on animal locomotion, the researchers plotted the cost of transport of various running, flying and swimming animals. They found that, not surprisingly, fliers were more efficient than runners, although swimmers were the most efficient movers. The cheetah robot, according to Kim’s calculations, falls around the efficiency range of humans, cheetahs and hunting dogs.

Currently the team is assembling a set of new motors, designed by Jeffrey Lang, a professor of electrical engineering at MIT. Kim expects that once the group outfits the robot with improved motors, the cheetah robot will be able to gallop at speeds of up to 35 mph, with an efficiency that rivals even fliers. The researchers are convinced that this approach can exceed biological muscle in many aspects, including power, torque and responsiveness.

“There are so many ways to design, and each legged robot has a different system,” Kim says. “If you design the motor properly, it’s more powerful, simpler robotics.”

Ron Fearing, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California at Berkeley, says that simple springs can work well in small robots running on smooth terrain. But for rougher, more unpredictable terrain, he says the energy-recovery system of the MIT cheetah has big advantages.

“The cheetah robot has really pushed the technology in efficient motor design, low-loss transmissions, and low-inertia legs,” says Fearing, who did not contribute to the research. “By combining these with the regenerative motor drive system, so that mechanical energy from the leg can recharge the battery, that in my opinion has made a huge difference in efficiency, [and] an important step forward in making efficient, electrically driven running robots.”

In addition to Kim and Lang, the paper’s co-authors include Sangok Seok, Albert Wang, Meng Yee Chuah and David Otten, all of MIT.

This research was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program.

Many of the technologies used in this robot, such as high efficiency motors, drive trains and high strength parts can also be transitioned to other applications as well.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on March 09, 2013, 12:28:12
Long article, but very interesting look at how Google manages giant server clusters. There are obvious advantages to doing so even with smaller data centers like the CF uses, or even using this sort of software to tie lan segments together to create "virtual" datacenters using the power of all the computers in the office. (Consider that the vast majority of the processor power and even hard drive space on your desktop PC is going unused while you write a memo, read your email or build PowerPoint slide shows. Now multiply that by the number of computers in your office building or armoury...)

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on March 17, 2013, 00:41:21
Given the growing popularity and uses of UAVs and UCAVs, being able to extend their range by intelligent use of thermals, wind currents and other performance enhancements that glider pilots (and birds) use will be an interesting way to get more performance at little additional cost (depending on the type of UAV or UCAV. Jet powered attack aircraft will benefit the least from this, while glider like scouts or surveillance aircraft would benefit the most):

Dynamic Soaring and Riding Rising Thermal Air Currents for Super Endurance Robotic Gliding

  Wandering albatrosses exploit the vertical gradient of wind velocity (wind shear) above the ocean to gain energy for long distance dynamic soaring with a typical airspeed of 36 mph. In principle, albatrosses could soar much faster than this in sufficient wind, but the limited strength of their wings prevents a much faster airspeed. Recently, pilots of radio-controlled (RC) gliders have exploited the wind shear associated with winds blowing over mountain ridges to achieve very fast glider speeds, reaching a record of 498 mph in March 2012. A relatively simple two-layer model of dynamic soaring predicts maximum glider airspeed to be around 10 times the wind speed of the upper layer (assuming zero wind speed in the lower layer). This indicates that a glider could soar with an airspeed of around 200 mph in a wind speed of 20 mph, much faster than an albatross. It is proposed that recent high performance RC gliders and their pilots’ expertise could be used to develop a high-speed robotic albatross UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), which could soar over the ocean like an albatross, but much faster than the bird. This UAV could be used for various purposes such as surveillance, search and rescue, and environmental monitoring. A first step is for pilots of RC gliders to demonstrate high-speed dynamic soaring over the ocean in realistic winds and waves.

The hand-launched Tactical Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial System (TALEUAS) is being developed at the Unites States’ Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. It needs an electric propeller to get airborne, but give it a few minutes to reach a reasonable altitude and TALEUAS can fly all day just by riding rising currents of warm air called thermals.

When TALEUAS encounters a thermal it senses the lift and spirals around to take advantage of it. Vultures and eagles use the same technique, and Kevin Jones, who is in charge of the project, says he has often found TALEUAS sharing the air with these raptors. On some occasions, indeed, the birds found that the thermals they were attempting to join it in were too weak for their weight, as the drone is more efficient than they are at gliding.

TALEUAS’s endurance is limited only by the power requirements of its electronics and payload, for at the moment these are battery powered. Dr Jones and his team are, however, covering the craft’s wings with solar cells that will generate power during the day, and are replacing its lithium-polymer battery with a lithium-ion one capable of storing enough energy to last the night. That done, TALEUAS will be able to stay aloft indefinitely.

TALEUAS does, however, depend on chance to locate useful thermals in the first place. Roke Manor Research, a British firm, hopes to eliminate that element of chance by allowing drones actively to seek out rising air in places where the hunt is most likely to be propitious. As well as thermals, Mike Hook, the project’s leader, and his team are looking at orographic lift, produced by wind blowing over a ridge, and lee waves caused by wind striking mountains. Their software combines several approaches to the search for rising air. It analyses the local landscape for large flat areas that are likely to produce thermals, and for ridges that might generate orographic lift. It also employs cameras to spot cumulus clouds formed by rapidly rising hot air. Such software replicates the behaviour of a skilled sailplane pilot—or a vulture—in knowing where to find rising air and where to avoid downdraughts.
Title: Jumping grenade reduces the risk of innocent people being injured in war
Post by: MikeL on April 14, 2013, 11:00:56

There is a video posted on the website

Jumping grenade reduces the risk of innocent people being injured in war

A FMV-employed engineer behind the biggest news in the grenade area since WWI. By jumping up just before brisaden and direct shrapnel in a cone down to the ground minimizes the risk of innocent victims, while the grenade is many times more effective against their military objectives.
When an ordinary shrapnel grenade explodes, half of shrapnel into the ground to no value. The other half goes into the air, spreading in all directions and involves unnecessary danger to a third party. Only a few fragments have a chance to give effect to the target, provided that no soldier behind a small barrier, then no effect correctly.

- I started this because I did not like the usual grenades turned its function. They are unnecessarily hazardous to innocents around and they do not generally able to achieve the goal, says Ian Kinley, technical expertise in specialized munitions at FMV.

Ian Kinleys solution is based instead on the grenade suspends himself in the air before it explodes.

- Because it defers to reach not only targets behind obstacles. The actual technology behind the launch means that it knows what is up and down, which allows us to target shrapnel downwards, in an area five meters around the crash site, said Ian Kinley.
More on link
Title: Re: Jumping grenade reduces the risk of innocent people being injured in war
Post by: AmmoTech90 on April 14, 2013, 11:33:16
Repost, sorry:,91633.msg1203232.html#msg1203232
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on April 17, 2013, 16:58:02
Batteries and energy supply is one of the key limiting factors in military logistics. The size, weight and number of batteries that an individual soldier needs to carry is pretty astounding (everything from AAA batteries for the head lamp to military batteries for the radio, DAGR, thermal imager etc.). Next on the food chain is the need to carry all these different batteries and either charge them or replace them as they die.

This is a promising technology that has the potential to shrink batteries and store energy at much higher densities than were posible before (starting a car on a battery the size of a cell phone battery?). This will certainly make the logistical issues much simpler:

Small in size, big on power: New microbatteries a boost for electronics

4/16/2013 | Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor | 217-244-1073;

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Though they be but little, they are fierce. The most powerful batteries on the planet are only a few millimeters in size, yet they pack such a punch that a driver could use a cellphone powered by these batteries to jump-start a dead car battery – and then recharge the phone in the blink of an eye.

Mechanical science and engineering professor William P. King led a group that developed the most powerful microbatteries ever documented.  | Photo by L. Brian StaufferDeveloped by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the new microbatteries out-power even the best supercapacitors and could drive new applications in radio communications and compact electronics.

Led by William P. King, the Bliss Professor of mechanical science and engineering, the researchers published their results in the April 16 issue of Nature Communications.

“This is a whole new way to think about batteries,” King said. “A battery can deliver far more power than anybody ever thought. In recent decades, electronics have gotten small. The thinking parts of computers have gotten small. And the battery has lagged far behind. This is a microtechnology that could change all of that. Now the power source is as high-performance as the rest of it.”

With currently available power sources, users have had to choose between power and energy. For applications that need a lot of power, like broadcasting a radio signal over a long distance, capacitors can release energy very quickly but can only store a small amount. For applications that need a lot of energy, like playing a radio for a long time, fuel cells and batteries can hold a lot of energy but release it or recharge slowly.

“There’s a sacrifice,” said James Pikul, a graduate student and first author of the paper. “If you want high energy you can’t get high power; if you want high power it’s very difficult to get high energy. But for very interesting applications, especially modern applications, you really need both. That’s what our batteries are starting to do. We’re really pushing into an area in the energy storage design space that is not currently available with technologies today.”

The new microbatteries offer both power and energy, and by tweaking the structure a bit, the researchers can tune them over a wide range on the power-versus-energy scale.

The batteries owe their high performance to their internal three-dimensional microstructure. Batteries have two key components: the anode (minus side) and cathode (plus side). Building on a novel fast-charging cathode design by materials science and engineering professor Paul Braun’s group, King and Pikul developed a matching anode and then developed a new way to integrate the two components at the microscale to make a complete battery with superior performance.

With so much power, the batteries could enable sensors or radio signals that broadcast 30 times farther, or devices 30 times smaller. The batteries are rechargeable and can charge 1,000 times faster than competing technologies – imagine juicing up a credit-card-thin phone in less than a second. In addition to consumer electronics, medical devices, lasers, sensors and other applications could see leaps forward in technology with such power sources available.

“Any kind of electronic device is limited by the size of the battery – until now,” King said. “Consider personal medical devices and implants, where the battery is an enormous brick, and it’s connected to itty-bitty electronics and tiny wires. Now the battery is also tiny.”

Now, the researchers are working on integrating their batteries with other electronics components, as well as manufacturability at low cost.

“Now we can think outside of the box,” Pikul said. “It’s a new enabling technology. It’s not a progressive improvement over previous technologies; it breaks the normal paradigms of energy sources. It’s allowing us to do different, new things.”

The National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research supported this work. King also is affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology; the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory; the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory; and the department of electrical and computer engineering at the U. of I.

Editor's note: To reach William King, call 217-244-3864; email

The paper, “High Power Lithium Ion Micro Batteries From Interdigitated Three-Dimensional Bicontinuous Nanoporous Electrodes,” is available online.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on April 20, 2013, 13:30:08
This technology may also have application in diagnosing and healing brain injuries (and the potential to overcome nerve damage injuries as well). Some of the other potential applications are a bit bizzare or disturbing; being able to modify behaviour is certainly something with huge moral implications:

Injectable Optoelectronics for Brain Control
Device lets neuroscientists perform optogenetics experiments wirelessly

By Prachi Patel  /  April 2013
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Implantable Optoelectronics: A flexible system that includes electrodes, LEDs, photodetectors, and a temperature sensor were designed to be implanted in an animal’s brain and wirelessly controlled via an RF receiver affixed to the animal’s skull.
Photo: University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and Washington University-St. Louis Implantable Optoelectronics: A flexible system that includes electrodes, LEDs, photodetectors, and a temperature sensor were designed to be implanted in an animal’s brain and wirelessly controlled via an RF receiver affixed to the animal’s skull.

Optogenetics, a recently developed technique that uses light to map and control brain activity, requires the genetic modification of an animal’s brain cells and the insertion of optical fibers and electrical wire into its brain. The bulky wires and fibers emerge from the skull, hampering the animal’s movement and making it difficult to perform certain experiments that could lead to breakthroughs for Parkinson’s disease, addiction, depression, and spinal cord injuries.

But now, a new ultrathin, flexible device laden with light-emitting diodes and sensors, both the size of individual brain cells, promises to make optogenetics completely wireless. The 20-micrometer-thick device can be safely injected deep into the brain and controlled and powered using radio-frequency signals. Its developers say the technology could also be used in other parts of the body, with broad implications for medical diagnosis and therapy.

In optogenetics, scientists genetically modify neurons to make them sensitive to particular wavelengths of light. Shining light on the altered neurons turns them on or off, allowing scientists to control specific brain circuits and change animal behavior.

Michael Bruchas, a neurobiologist at Washington University, in St. Louis, wanted to develop a wireless alternative to the fiber-optic approach. “Wires limit the animal’s natural behavior,” he says. “We couldn’t explore some experiments with the animals tethered, say, if we want two animals interacting or want them to be in a naturalistic environment.” So he teamed up with John Rogers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to design a new system based on extremely thin semiconductor devices. The researchers published their results in this week’s issue of the journal Science.
Implantable Optoelectronics: A flexible system that includes electrodes, LEDs, photodetectors, and a temperature sensor were designed to be implanted in an animal’s brain and wirelessly controlled via an RF receiver affixed to the animal’s skull.
Photo: University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and Washington University-St. Louis

The implant is a stack of four different optoelectronics devices that the researchers create separately on flexible polymer substrates and then glue on top of one another. The topmost layer is a platinum microelectrode for stimulating and recording from neurons. Below that is a silicon photodetector, followed by a group of four microscale LEDs that are each just 50 by 50 micrometers. Last comes a platinum-based temperature sensor. The filament carrying the stack is glued onto a microneedle with a silk-based glue that dissolves once the device has been injected into the targeted spot, allowing the researchers to retract the microneedle.

The technique for making the membranous devices is not new. Developed a few years ago in Rogers’s lab, it involves growing stacks of thin semiconductor films, peeling them off one at a time with a rubber stamp, and transferring them to plastic substrates.

Scientists could use the multifunctional system to stimulate and sense the brain in a variety of ways, Bruchas explains. The microelectrode can measure the electrical signals produced by neurons, and it can also be used to stimulate them. The photodiodes ensure that the LEDs are working, but they can also be used to detect light signals generated by neurons that have been genetically modified to make certain fluorescent proteins.

The micro-LEDs, which have dimensions comparable to individual neurons, could trigger individual neurons, unlike the fiber-optic implants typically used in optogenetics, which are four times as wide. The researchers could also combine different-colored LEDs on the same device and use them to simultaneously control neurons that have been engineered to react to different colors. Such multiplexing would allow neuroscientists to analyze brain circuits more precisely, Bruchas says. Finally, the temperature sensor monitors the heat generated by the LEDs to prevent the tissue from overheating.

When the researchers placed the device—which connects to an RF power module mounted on the animal’s head—inside the brains of living mice, it caused no inflammation or infection. To test the system’s ability to alter animal behavior, the researchers embedded it near a particular group of neurons that they had genetically altered to release dopamine when cued with light. The neurochemical dopamine is involved in the body’s “rewards” system, such as with food or sex, and it plays a part in several addictive drugs.

In this experiment, the mice were placed in a maze. When the animals reached a particular place in the maze, the researchers wirelessly pulsed the LEDs on and off, triggering the release of dopamine. The animals quickly learned to go to that spot for the pleasure sensation.

“The device illustrates the integration of miniaturized semiconductor devices deep within tissue, be it brain or the heart or any other organ,” Rogers says. More-sophisticated silicon-based microcircuits could be implanted in the future, he says, paving the way for applications in medical diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment.

 The work “shows how miniaturization and systems integration guide us toward novel devices and applications,” says Thomas Stieglitz, a professor in the department of microsystems engineering at the University of Freiburg, in Germany. Stieglitz and his colleagues are also trying to develop a wireless, possibly biodegradable, implant for optogenetics.

“The ability to perform wireless stimulation and sensing is going to open up new doors for behavioral neuroscience, allowing the study of more complex behaviors, such as social interaction and mating behaviors,” says Kay Tye, a professor of neuroscience at MIT.
About the Author

Prachi Patel is a contributing editor to IEEE Spectrum. In February 2013, she reported on another optogenetics advance.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on April 26, 2013, 00:43:29
Everyone loves touchscreens on devices ranging from smarphones to display screens, but they are bloody expensive as you go up in size. This is an inexpensive way to change that and convert existing screens into interactive display units. Now you really will be able to use interpretive dance while you do a briefing  ;)

A Simple Way to Turn Any LCD into a Touch Screen
Electromagnetic interference can turn a plain LCD into a touch screen on the cheap.

By Rachel Metz on April 24, 2013

It’s cheaper and less wasteful to modify an existing screen than it is to replace it.

Electromagnetic interference can screw up cell phone and radio reception. But it may also be the key to cheaply transforming regular LCD screens into touch- and gesture-sensing displays, according to recent research.

A group of researchers from the University of Washington’s Ubiquitous Computing Lab developed a method called uTouch that uses a simple sensor and software to turn an ordinary LCD into a touch screen display. The system takes advantage of the low levels of electromagnetic interference produced by many consumer electronics, harnessing it to do things like control video playback with pokes and motions on an otherwise noninteractive screen.

“All these devices around you have all these signals coming out of them, and we ignore them because we think they’re noise,” says Sidhant Gupta, a PhD candidate at the University of Washington’s Ubiquitous Computing Lab and one of the co-authors of the paper.

While touch screens are the norm on smartphones and tablets, they’re still not common on TVs, computer monitors, and other big displays. Existing methods that turn passive LCDs into touch screens typically use cameras or other sensors, but they’re not always practical. The group’s findings, explained in a paper that will be presented in May at the Computer Human Interaction conference in Paris, could eventually be used to cheaply add touch and gesture interactions to TVs, computers, and much larger displays, too.

Gupta says his group’s method works by measuring signals that are normally given off by an LCD display and how they change when a user brings a hand near the screen. These signals show up as electromagnetic interference, and can be measured with a $5 sensor that plugs into a wall outlet.

In the study, users’ gestures and touches controlled an on-screen video player. Information about how the user’s actions changed the LCD’s electromagnetic interference was gathered by the sensor, and then sent to a connected PC, where software isolated the display’s signal and tracked how it changed over time. The software used machine learning to predict if changes were simply “noise” or one of five gestures and touches that it had been set to respond to. Once the touch or gesture was determined, it would elicit an appropriate on-screen response—like pausing or resizing a video.

“What we’re trying to find out is how that signal changes, and in particular we’re looking for changes in the intensity of that signal,” Gupta says.

The system can tell the difference between different displays, since each has its own electromagnetic interference “fingerprint,” and a single sensor can be used to track interactions on numerous displays. Eventually, Gupta says, the sensing and processing could be done in a single unit that’s plugged into a wall socket.

The technology won’t make a noninteractive display as touch-sensitive as an iPhone or Android smartphone. The gestures are much simpler than the complex swipes and pinches you can make on those gadgets.

Still, Gupta can imagine it being used to do things like make large screens at museums interactive. It could also be used to add interactivity to other devices that emit electromagnetic interference—something Gupta and some of his uTouch colleagues explored in an earlier project called LightWave that uses a plug-in sensor to enable compact fluorescent lightbulbs to sense human proximity.

 “The more things we can make interactive that already exist, the better,” says Chris Harrison, cofounder of a startup whose touch-screen technology can tell the difference between fingernail and knuckle taps and a PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute. “It’s very expensive to just put touch screens everywhere.”

The researchers aren’t planning to commercialize the technology, but Gupta says the sensor uses off-the-shelf parts, and the algorithms are included in the paper, so any motivated person could put together the same system.

The challenge to building interest, Harrison thinks, will be in refining the gestures that uTouch can understand—which are currently quite coarse—and finding the right applications. “You could never write an e-mail with this system, but you could do some cool gestural interactions,” he says.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on April 28, 2013, 02:26:31
This is a technology that can be retrofitted to almost any vehicle in the fleet. The flywheel can provide a burst of energy to accelerate or pull out of terrain like sand or mud, as an alternative to using it to save fuel. Some resetting of the control electronics would be needed to bias it towards power vs economy, but otherwise the system would not change:

Volvo Kers Flywheel System boosts fuel efficiency by 25% and will look to put it into production cars

Volvo Car Group has completed extensive testing of kinetic flywheel technology on public roads - and the results confirm that this is a light, cheap and very eco-efficient solution.

"The testing of this complete experimental system for kinetic energy recovery was carried out during 2012. The results show that this technology combined with a four-cylinder turbo engine has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by up to 25 per cent compared with a six-cylinder turbo engine at a comparable performance level," says Derek Crabb, Vice President Powertrain Engineering at Volvo Car Group, "Giving the driver an extra 80 horsepower, it makes car with a four-cylinder engine accelerate like one with a six-cylinder unit."

The experimental system, known as Flywheel KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), is fitted to the rear axle. During retardation, the braking energy causes the flywheel to spin at up to 60,000 revs per minute. When the car starts moving off again, the flywheel's rotation is transferred to the rear wheels via a specially designed transmission.

The stored energy was sufficient to power the car for short periods, meaning the engine could be switched off for as much as 50 percent of the time.

Compared to a conventional gasoline-electric hybrid, Volvo’s flywheel KERS is lighter, cheaper and easier to maintain.

The flywheel that Volvo Cars used in the experimental system is made of carbon fibre. It weighs about six kilograms and has a diameter of 20 centimetres. The carbon fibre wheel spins in a vacuum to minimise frictional losses.

"We are the first manufacturer that has applied flywheel technology to the rear axle of a car fitted with a combustion engine driving the front wheels. The next step after completing these successful tests is to evaluate how the technology can be implemented in our upcoming car models," concludes Derek Crabb.

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on April 30, 2013, 13:50:40
An interesting way to make fiber based materials "tougher" (this is not the same as "Stronger", as explained in the article):

Simple Trick Turns Commercial Polymer Into World's Toughest Fiber
April 29, 2013
Simple Trick Turns Commercial Polymer Into World’s Toughest Fiber
A materials scientist has created the world’s toughest fiber using a mechanism based on a slip knot.

In material science, toughness is a measure of the amount of energy a material can absorb before breaking. Kevlar, for example, can absorb some 80 Joules per gram before breaking but this is dwarfed by certain natural materials which are much tougher. The silk produced by the giant riverine orb spider, for instance, can absorb around 390 Joules per gram before breaking.

So there is great interest in finding new materials that can match or beat the performance of natural materials for applications that require high levels of energy absorption.

Today, Nicola Pugno at the University of Trento in Italy reveals a remarkably simple trick that dramatically increases the toughness of almost any kind of fibre. Indeed, Pugno says he has used the technique to create the world’s toughest fibre.

The new idea is deceptively simple–it involves no more than tying a slip knot in the fibre, creating a loop of extra fibre that can passes through the knot as it comes under tension.

The mechanism is straightforward. When the fibre is placed in tension, the slip knot begins to tighten and the extra material passes through the knot, dissipating energy through friction.   

Of course, the fibre eventually breaks but only after all the material in the loop has passed through the slip knot.

Clearly this doesn’t make the material any stronger (toughness and strength are different properties that are generally uncorrelated). However, it’s not hard to see how the energy dissipation would dramatically increase the amount of energy the fibre absorbs before it breaks, thereby increasing its toughness.

 Pugno says he has tested the idea on a number of materials using different numbers of loops and slip knots. The best results come from using three slip knots, he says.

By applying this simple trick to a commercial polymer fibre called Endumax, he has increased its toughness from 44 Joules per gram to a remarkable 1070 Joules per gram. That’s the highest value ever recorded. “The proof of concept is experimentally realized making the world’s toughest fibre,” he says.

That’s better even than fibres made from nanotubes which materials scientists are just beginning to make. The strongest of these, made from carbon nanotubes, has a toughness of 970 Joules per gram.

Pugno says his work is just the beginning and that it ought to be possible to use his slip-knot technique to make graphene fibres with a toughness of 100,000 Joules per gram.

There are challenges ahead, of course. Ideally, the force required to pass the fibre through the knot should be just below the material’s breaking point and this depends on factors such as the knot topology. The choice of knot has an important influence on the behaviour of the material and further work here could lead to novel designs. Pugno says he is currently patenting his slip-knot design and so has not yet published it.

The potential applications of this idea are many. Tougher materials could obviously be used in areas where energy absorption is important, such as the manufacture of body armour, for example.

That’s an effective and cheap idea that has significant potential. It’s also extraordinarily simple, which might just be the reason it has been overlooked until now.

Ref: The “Egg of Columbus” For Making The World’s Toughest Fibres
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on May 03, 2013, 15:56:00
It wasn't that many years ago a machine with this performance was an expensive Server device. Now for $45, you can get the same sort of performance in a credit card sized board....

Building "smart" devices or expanding "clouds" of computers becomes ridiculously easy as the costs of hardware and software decline and the availability increases:

BeagleBone Black: A 1-GHz computer for $45
Dylan McGrath
5/2/2013 1:24 AM EDT
One of the most interesting demos at last week's DESIGN West conference was BeagleBone Black, a ready-to-use 1-GHz computer that retails for a whopping $45.

BeagleBone Black was announced last week by, a small group of engineers interested in creating powerful, open and embedded devices. The credit card sized computer runs on Linux and is designed to be an open hardware and software development platform that makes it quick and easy to build systems.

BeagleBone Black includes all the necessary components to connect a display, keyboard and network. It's based on production-ready hardware and software. All of the components—including TI’s 1-GHz Sitara AM335x processor—are commercially available right now.

Carlos Betancourt, a marketing engineer for TI's Sitara processors, described BeagleBone Black as "truly" open source. He noted that open source software is not always as open as it claims to be. "When it comes to hardware, open source means you can buy all these chips and use them for your own design," Betancourt said.

BeagleBone Black includes 2 GB of on-board storage to run pre-loaded Linux software. It also offers the Cloud9 integrated development environment to kickstart development and keep the microSD slot available for additional storage.

The ecosystem includes free access to documentation, example code and mainline kernel support for other software distributions like Ubuntu, Android and Fedora. BeagleBone Black’s kernel and driver flexibility allows users to easily integrate new hardware and software, according to the organization.

In community includes more than 30 plug-in boards—called “capes” by the community—that are compatible with BeagleBone Black, including those to integrate BeagleBone Black with 3-D printers, a DMX lighting controller, a Geiger counter, a telerobotic submarine and LCD touch screens. More are on the way.

Do you have a creative project idea that can help change the world? Make it a reality by ordering BeagleBone Black now. A list of distributors is available at Initial quantities are limited.  BeagleBone Black is expected to ship in volume by the end of May.

BeagleBone Black can be ordered, among other places, on TI's website. A complete list of distributors can be found on's website.
Title: US Navy wants carriers as "floating factories"
Post by: S.M.A. on May 28, 2013, 22:07:15
Seems the US Navy was taking notes when the 3D printer gun (,28692.msg1228480.html#msg1228480) debuted very recently...

Gizmodo Link (

Navy Wants Aircraft Carriers to Manufacture Weapons On the Go   

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan      Today 10:17amg 25,099L 93

These days, the mention of 3D-printed weapons conjures up visions of people printing AK-47s in their garages (ok, that might just be me). But a recent story in the Armed Forces Journal brings word of a more systematic implementation of 3D-printed warfare.

According to one Lieutenant Commander Michael Llenza, the Navy's future lies in converting aircraft carriers into “floating factories,” each carrying a fleet of 3D printers to churn out weapons, drones, and even shelters at a moment’s notice. There’s money and time to be saved in the sheer logistical rationality of the scheme. For example, when cylindrical bullets are stacked, tiny bits of wasted space are created—which add up, when you're talking about millions of the things. Rectangular packages of powder, which could be printed into bullets when needed, are a far more efficient use of space.

Right now, research on such a scheme is being done in bits and pieces. Llenza points out a handful of examples, including Contour Crafting, the building-sized 3D printing system, as well as several recent projects in which complete UAVs were produced overnight:

[…] The University of Virginia printed a UAV controlled by a relatively cheap Android phone whose camera was used to shoot aerial imagery. Designed for a top speed of 45 mph, the aircraft crashed on its first flight. The students just went back to the lab and printed out a replacement nose cone, a capability envied by any squadron maintenance officer. The eventual goal is a drone that flies right out of the printer with electronics and motive power already in place. An organic ability to print replaceable drones from ships, forward operating bases or during disaster relief operations to serve as targets or observation platforms could be a huge enabler for sailors and Marines.

Of course, there are still huge gaps to be bridged, technologically speaking, before 3D printing can be adopted as a large-scale military inventory strategy. It’s supremely expensive right now, and more importantly, the structural stability of many materials is inconsistent—so replacing critical pieces of machinery is out of the question. Still, it’s an exciting idea, especially when you see it in the terms laid out by MIT’s Neil Gershenfeld, who describes the 3D printing as the ability to “turn data into things and things into data.” Llenza sums it up nicely by wondering how much simpler Apollo 13's mission would have been, had the crew been able to simply request the appropriate CAD model from ground control. [Armed Forces Journal via ExtremeTech]
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on June 10, 2013, 16:54:48
Graphene (and related monomolecular films like "silicene ", the Silicon analogue of Graphine) can now be fabricated in large sheets. The implications of this are astounding (sheets of graphine are as strong as diamond but weigh only a few grams/m^2, and have interesting electrical properties as well):

High-Strength Chemical-Vapor–Deposited Graphene as large as TV screens produced that are 90% as strong as ideal crystal graphene
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In a new study, published in Science May 31, 2013, Columbia Engineering researchers demonstrate that graphene, even if stitched together from many small crystalline grains, is almost as strong as graphene in its perfect crystalline form. This work resolves a contradiction between theoretical simulations, which predicted that grain boundaries can be strong, and earlier experiments, which indicated that they were much weaker than the perfect lattice. Scientists can grow sheets of graphene as large as a television screen by using chemical vapor deposition (CVD), in which single layers of graphene are grown on copper substrates in a high-temperature furnace. One of the first applications of graphene may be as a conducting layer in flexible displays. The graphene has a strength of 95 gigapascals. It has 90% of the strength of perfect molecular graphene and is stronger than molecular carbon nanotubes.

This is a huge step towards an age of super materials with constructs like space elevators. This still needs to be industrialized with production of thousands to millions of tons per year.

The Columbia Engineering team wanted to discover what was making CVD graphene so weak. In studying the processing techniques used to create their samples for testing, they found that the chemical most commonly used to remove the copper substrate also causes damage to the graphene, severely degrading its strength.

Their experiments demonstrated that CVD graphene with large grains is exactly as strong as exfoliated graphene, showing that its crystal lattice is just as perfect. And, more surprisingly, their experiments also showed that CVD graphene with small grains, even when tested right at a grain boundary, is about 90% as strong as the ideal crystal.
Large Graphene sheets with over 95 Gigapascals of strength were produced. Perfect graphene has 105 gigapascals of strength

Pristine graphene is the strongest material ever measured. However, large-area graphene films produced by means of chemical vapor deposition (CVD) are polycrystalline and thus contain grain boundaries that can potentially weaken the material. We combined structural characterization by means of transmission electron microscopy with nanoindentation in order to study the mechanical properties of CVD-graphene films with different grain sizes. We show that the elastic stiffness of CVD-graphene is identical to that of pristine graphene if postprocessing steps avoid damage or rippling. Its strength is only slightly reduced despite the existence of grain boundaries. Indentation tests directly on grain boundaries confirm that they are almost as strong as pristine. Graphene films consisting entirely of well-stitched grain boundaries can retain ultrahigh strength, which is critical for a large variety of applications, such as flexible electronics and strengthening components.

“This is an exciting result for the future of graphene, because it provides experimental evidence that the exceptional strength it possesses at the atomic scale can persist all the way up to samples inches or more in size,” says Hone. “This strength will be invaluable as scientists continue to develop new flexible electronics and ultrastrong composite materials.”

Strong, large-area graphene can be used for a wide variety of applications such as flexible electronics and strengthening components—potentially, a television screen that rolls up like a poster or ultrastrong composites that could replace carbon fiber. Or, the researchers speculate, a science fiction idea of a space elevator that could connect an orbiting satellite to Earth by a long cord that might consist of sheets of CVD graphene, since graphene (and its cousin material, carbon nanotubes) is the only material with the high strength-to-weight ratio required for this kind of hypothetical application.

The team is also excited about studying 2D materials like graphene. “Very little is known about the effects of grain boundaries in 2D materials,” Kysar adds. “Our work shows that grain boundaries in 2D materials can be much more sensitive to processing than in 3D materials. This is due to all the atoms in graphene being surface atoms, so surface damage that would normally not degrade the strength of 3D materials can completely destroy the strength of 2D materials. However with appropriate processing that avoids surface damage, grain boundaries in 2D materials, especially graphene, can be nearly as strong as the perfect, defect-free structure.”
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on June 15, 2013, 16:49:45
Getting high bandwidth comms out to remote places or where the infrastructure is destroyed/unavailable is a difficult task. Google may have found an inexpensive way to do this (and either free flying or teathered ballons might do the same for us):

Google Project Loon deploying high altitude balloons to provide internet access to everyone

Introducing the latest moonshot from Google
  • : balloon-powered Internet access. Project Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill in coverage gaps and bring people back online after disasters.

Many of us think of the Internet as a global community. But two-thirds of the world’s population does not yet have Internet access. Project Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters.

Project Loon balloons travel around 20 km above the Earth’s surface in the stratosphere. Winds in the stratosphere are generally steady and slow-moving at between 5 and 20 mph, and each layer of wind varies in direction and magnitude. Project Loon uses software algorithms to determine where its balloons need to go, then moves each one into a layer of wind blowing in the right direction. By moving with the wind, the balloons can be arranged to form one large communications network.

They use “variable buoyancy”—steering the balloons by tweaking altitude to find wind currents whooshing in the right direction. Google, which is pretty good at computation, could use the voluminous government data available to accurately simulate wind currents in the stratosphere.

The Project Loon pilot test begins June 2013 on the 40th parallel south. Thirty balloons, launched from New Zealand’s South Island, will beam Internet to a small group of pilot testers. The experience of these pilot testers will be used to refine the technology and shape the next phase of Project Loon.

The balloon envelope is the name for the inflatable part of the balloon. Project Loon’s balloon envelopes are made from sheets of polyethylene plastic and stand fifteen meters wide by twelve meters tall when fully inflated. They are specially constructed for use in superpressure balloons, which are longer-lasting than weather balloons because they can withstand higher pressure from the air inside when the balloons reach float altitude. A parachute attached to the top of the envelope allows for a controlled descent and landing whenever a balloon is ready to be taken out of service.

Googlers in fleece and down vests scurry around a huge tarp, ministering to five “envelopes”—the term for the high-tensity, polyethylene balloons—resting on red plastic covers. The envelopes seem no more glamorous than long garbage bags and, indeed, at three-thousands of an inch thick, not even a premium brand. But the high-tech polyethylene can in fact stave off tremendous pressure.

Attached to the bottom of each envelope is the 22-pound “payload.” It’s topped by a sheet of solar paneling the size of a basketball backboard. Beneath the solar sheet is a construct resembling a large camera tripod, whose legs are antennas that allow the balloons to transmit to their peers in a mesh network. And on the bottom of the structure is a metal-sided container resembling a deep fuse box, which contains the computers, electronics, GPS devices, and batteries to store the energy gathered by the solar panels (each about 10 times the size of a laptop battery). It also controls valves that go inside the balloon’s internal chambers, allowing the balloon to find the desired altitude to maintain its flight path. Dangling from the box is a cable ending in a piece of foam that looks like a slice of a kid’s swimming noodle; inside is a transponder that beams location to air-traffic controllers and other trackers.

It’s time to launch. As team members take positions to stabilize and hold down the balloon, a machine that seems an artifact from the industrial age begins pumping helium into an envelope with a sound like a thousand hot showers channeled through Jimi Hendrix’s amps. And the clear plastic starts to rise. A blob-ish lump awakens inside the balloon skin, quickly growing from waist level to three times human height. As more gas enters, a classic balloon, like Dorothy’s vehicle to Oz, takes shape, at first looking like a giant pumpkin, then resembling a swimming jellyfish, straining for the ocean surface.

The flight engineer organizing the launch begins a classic NASA-esque backwards countdown, and chatter subsides as the numbers decline. At zero, a Googler holding a yellow sheet of matting called “the peanut”—it’s wrapped around the neck of the balloon to keep the payload from dangling during inflation—lets go. The mass jumps skyward, tugging the payload off the ground. It rises nimbly and steadily, and soon it’s hard to tell the difference between this giant translucent mass (a Loon balloon will grow to the size of a small aircraft) and a child’s toy floating above rooftop level.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on June 17, 2013, 00:53:42
Going along with the balloon idea is improved receivers to allow wireless broadband. This is a commercial system, and could be adapted for military use:

DISH and nTelos Launch Fixed Wireless Broadband Pilot

Providers utilize LTE, outdoor wireless antennas to deliver cable-like speeds in rural Virginia trial

Category: Corporate
Thursday, June 13, 2013 1:03 pm MDT
Public Company Information:

"DISH has a nationwide workforce of professional technicians that can be dispatched to install both a satellite dish for our video service and an antenna for broadband on the same roof at the same time."

WAYNESBORO, Va. & ENGLEWOOD, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Following last month’s announcement of their intent to co-develop a fixed wireless broadband service, DISH (NASDAQ: DISH) and NTELOS Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: NTLS) have now deployed broadband service in rural Virginia using wireless spectrum in the 2.5 GHz range. Broadband service speeds at the initial test sites are ranging from 20 Mbps to more than 50 Mbps.

“This trial delivers speeds several times faster to our home than the wireline service that we have been using,” said Anthony Gingerich, Waynesboro resident and nTelos employee. “Streaming video is a very good experience through the fixed broadband connection and the overall Internet experience has improved for our family.”

As part of the demonstration, nTelos and DISH have activated two wireless tower test sites in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Waynesboro and Afton, Va. Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent have provided equipment and assisted in the installation.

The trial differentiates itself from prior fixed broadband services by relying on professionally installed rooftop devices at customers’ homes that are intended to deliver significant gain and throughput advantages over inside-the-home antenna solutions. DISH has deployed BandRich ruggedized outdoor routers with built-in high-gain antennas to receive the 2.5 GHz LTE signal.

“With nearly a fifth of American households underserved by broadband, a fixed wireless solution delivering true broadband speeds will bring improved broadband options to potentially millions of consumers,” said Tom Cullen, DISH executive vice president of Corporate Development. “DISH has a nationwide workforce of professional technicians that can be dispatched to install both a satellite dish for our video service and an antenna for broadband on the same roof at the same time.”

“nTelos is extremely encouraged by the level of progress we’ve achieved since announcing our co-development project with DISH less than three weeks ago. This has been a true team effort, bringing together the talents and expertise of various vendor partners to accelerate the completion of our LTE core and to design and install fixed broadband wireless technology within the nTelos footprint,” noted James A. Hyde, CEO of NTELOS Holdings Corp. “We are excited to test this first of its kind offering, with an emphasis on further shrinking the service gap of underserved, rural communities. As we prove out the concept and refine the offering, we are confident this partnership will build value for all our stake holders.”

DISH and nTelos have not disclosed details on the duration of the trial service or plans for expansion beyond the test sites.

A video of the DISH-nTelos fixed wireless broadband pilot is available here:


NTELOS Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: NTLS), operating through its subsidiaries as “nTelos Wireless,” is headquartered in Waynesboro, VA, and provides high-speed, dependable nationwide voice and data coverage for approximately 451,000 retail subscribers based in Virginia, West Virginia and portions of Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky. nTelos’s licensed territories have a total population of approximately 7.9 million residents, of which its wireless network covers approximately 6.0 million residents. nTelos is also the exclusive wholesale provider of wireless digital PCS services to Sprint Nextel in nTelos’s western Virginia and West Virginia service area for all Sprint CDMA wireless customers. Additional information about nTelos is available at or and

About DISH

DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ: DISH), through its subsidiary DISH Network L.L.C., provides approximately 14.092 million satellite TV customers, as of March 31, 2013, with the highest quality programming and technology with the most choices at the best value, including HD Free for Life®. Subscribers enjoy the largest high definition line-up with more than 200 national HD channels, the most international channels, and award-winning HD and DVR technology. DISH Network Corporation's subsidiary, Blockbuster L.L.C., delivers family entertainment to millions of customers around the world. DISH Network Corporation is a Fortune 200 company. Visit

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available:


Bob Toevs, 303-723-2010
For DISH Investor Relations:

Jason Kiser, 303-723-2210
For NTELOS Holdings Corp.
KCSA Strategic Communication
Jeffrey Goldberger, 212-896-1249
Rob Fink, 212-896-1206
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: safetysOff on June 18, 2013, 23:04:55
DISH and nTelos Launch Fixed Wireless Broadband Pilot

Doesn't seem like nothing radio recievers and satelitte modems wouldn't be able to do currently.  Personal agenda as to why you're posting a seemingly random article with stock tickers attached to em?  Just curious cause maybe we should all jump on the invest train
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Fishbone Jones on June 18, 2013, 23:35:39
Doesn't seem like nothing radio recievers and satelitte modems wouldn't be able to do currently.  Personal agenda as to why you're posting a seemingly random article with stock tickers attached to em?  Just curious cause maybe we should all jump on the invest train

Given your track record of posting in your short time here, I'd be careful about calling out, or making inappropriate insinuations of senior members who are much better versed in their subject(s) than you are.

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: safetysOff on June 18, 2013, 23:42:59
My apologies,

Was just sayin what everybody reading that was probably thinking there guy.

My biggest fault is speaking my mind  ;D
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on June 19, 2013, 00:30:59
Posting articles on particular aspects of communications technology can hardly be considered random, if you are aware of the importance of communications in modern warfare. Having worked through some of these aspects very recently (EX MR 13), I have an apprieciation of the limitations of  current radios and satellite systems.

Since the information was embedded in a press release, it is of interest to the members to know that fact as well when they read and judge the veracity of the information. Certainly if a person followed the link and discovered at that time it was a corporate press release then they might have much more reason to think there was some sort of hidden agenda.

Remember there is a reason the saftey remains engaged...
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on June 28, 2013, 19:28:16
Interesting idea with long term potential. I am rather curious about the idea of using a plasma as a capacitor; the ability to store and dump large quantities of energy from a very small package has pots of potential uses. Sadly, one of these uses does not seem to be creating a "plasma cannon" like in Science Ficton movies; the plasma disperses far too quickly to have any real range....

Warning: special pleading for government funding in the last paragraph. If this idea is as wonderful as they make out, private investors will be coming to see them.

Plasma Ring Experiment Offers New Path for Fusion Power

By Jeremy Hsu
Posted 19 Apr 2013 | 4:02 GMT
Physicists usually rely on electromagnetic magnetic fields to harness the power of plasma, the fourth state of matter, in fusion power experiments. But University of Missouri researchers have managed to create rings of plasma that can hold their shape without the use of outside electromagnetic fields—possibly paving the way for a new age of practical fusion power and leading to the creation of new energy storage devices.

Traditional efforts to achieve nuclear fusion have relied upon multi-billion-dollar fusion reactors, called tokamaks, which harness powerful electromagnetic fields to contain the super-heated plasmas resulting from the fusion reactions. The ability to create plasma with self-confining electromagnetic fields in the open air could eliminate the need for external electromagnetic fields in future fusion experiments, and with it, much of the expense.

The researchers created plasma rings about 15 centimeters in diameter that flew through the air across distances up to 60 centimeters. The rings lasted just 10 milliseconds, but reached temperatures greater than the sun's fiery fusion core surface at around 6600 to 7700 degrees K (6327 to 7427 degrees C). Plasma physicists suspect that magnetic fields are still involved—but that the plasma rings create their own.

"This plasma has a self-confining magnetic field," said Randy Curry, an engineer and physicist at the University of Missouri in Columbia. "If one can generate and contain it without large magnets involved, of course fusion energy would be an application." But the researchers' success in creating self-contained plasma rings came as a surprise. "We did not expect that," Curry says.

The researchers had been working with exploding wires that vaporize when pulsed power is applied and release a cloud of plasma energy. They had previously only succeeded in making clouds of plasma that lasted less than a millisecond, Curry said.

The breakthrough came from adding more pulsed power to the plasma. Curry and a graduate student injected the added energy into a "second acceleration region" of their lab device, and set up the conditions that allowed the plasma ring to be launched from the device.

Such basic physics research could also lead to better energy storage for both civilian and military applications. Curry's lab plans to examine the possibility of a "plasma capacitor" that stores tens of joules of energy per cubic centimeter, as opposed to traditional capacitors that hold less than one joule per cubic centimeter.

The self-contained plasma rings created in air could also benefit the manufacturing of metals, plastics and semiconductors. Plasma is currently used to help with semiconductor etching and the modification of other surfaces, but requires vacuum containment vessels and expensive electromagnets to remain contained.

The research was originally funded by the U.S. Department of Defense through the Office of Naval Research. Curry's lab aims to secure new funding to build a smaller version of the plasma device about the size of a bread box within the next three to five years.

But Curry also pointed out that such military funding for basic research has collapsed since sequestration took effect and slashed funding across the board for the U.S. government. In that sense, the plasma ring experiment's success also serves as a warning of what the U.S. could miss out on. According to an article in Science magazine published today, the administration's proposed 2014 budget would restore many of those cuts to scientific research.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on July 04, 2013, 02:28:28
More on high bandwidth communications. I am not quite as saguine about this as I had been in the past; network topography plays a very big role in how fast data transfer takes place (anyone who was on MR 13 in a headquarters and waited for long periods while the printer right beside their computer mulled over a print job will know exactly what I am talking about), and using huge pipes lile this may paper over problems but not solve them. The "last mile" is going to be the sticking point even if trunk lines take advantage of these technologies:

New method enables 1.6 terabit per second to be transmitted over 1.1 kilometer fiber could boost internet speed

  The data capacity of single-mode optical fibers, while having increased by four orders of magnitude over the last 30 years, is rapidly reaching the limits imposed by the fiber’s nonlinear effects. But a bicoastal team has devised a new fiber optic technology that promises to increase bandwidth dramatically, meeting today’s ever-increasing demand for data-intensive activities like video streaming.

New research by optical fiber experts at Boston University and optical communications systems experts at the University of Southern California created a new kind of optical fiber stable enough to transmit donut-shaped laser beams called optical vortices, also known as orbital angular momentum (OAM) beams. OAM beams are generating interest not only in communications, but also atom manipulation and optical tweezers.

They packed several colors into each mode and used multiple modes. Unlike in conventional fibers, OAM modes in these specially designed fibers can carry data streams across an optical fiber while remaining separate at the receiving end.

Ramachandran’s OAM fiber had four modes (an optical fiber typically has two), and he and Willner showed that for each OAM mode, they could transmit 400 Gb/s in just a single wavelength of light — or 1.6 Tb/s across 10 wavelengths — over the course of 0.68 miles (1.1 km).

“This is very impressive,” University of Rochester physicist Robert Boyd told Science. “I can imagine a huge commercial market.”

Journal Science - Terabit-Scale Orbital Angular Momentum Mode Division Multiplexing in Fibers

In 2012, the same research team led by USC developed a system of transmitting data using twisted beams of light at ultra-high speeds – up to 2.56 terabits per second through free space. That method didn’t work, however, when it was tried in a standard optical fiber.

ABSTRACT - Internet data traffic capacity is rapidly reaching limits imposed by optical fiber nonlinear effects. Having almost exhausted available degrees of freedom to orthogonally multiplex data, the possibility is now being explored of using spatial modes of fibers to enhance data capacity. We demonstrate the viability of using the orbital angular momentum (OAM) of light to create orthogonal, spatially distinct streams of data-transmitting channels that are multiplexed in a single fiber. Over 1.1 kilometers of a specially designed optical fiber that minimizes mode coupling, we achieved 400-gigabits-per-second data transmission using four angular momentum modes at a single wavelength, and 1.6 terabits per second using two OAM modes over 10 wavelengths. These demonstrations suggest that OAM could provide an additional degree of freedom for data multiplexing in future fiber networks.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on July 06, 2013, 20:47:45
Hypersonic weapons are still not quite ready for prime time, the aerodynamic and thermal challenges seem to be just beyond the state of the art, even today. This is kind of interesting from a historical viewpoint, back in the 1960's Covair made a serious proposal for a manned hypersonic strike/recce "Super Hustler", which was to be carried and air launched from the B-58 Hustler (the Super Hustler would be cradled where the pod carrying fuel and the nuclear weapon was normally carried on a B-58).

Shorter range "tactical" weapons will still be quite useful, for example if a weapon based on the X-51 could be carried by an F-18 or F-15 sized airplane, then ships and hardened ground targets could be placed at risk (the kinetic energy of a strike at Mach 6 would be considerable) without having to use strategic assets ike heavy bombers. Perhaps one avenue to explore would be a hypersonic boost-glide weapon that pulled up to the edge of outer space to avoid many of the issues of heat loading before gliding or diving onto the target:

Darpa Refocuses Hypersonics Research On Tactical Missions
By Graham Warwick
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

July 08, 2013
Credit: DARPA
For the Pentagon's advanced research agency, blazing a trail in hypersonics has proved problematic. Now a decade-long program to demonstrate technology for prompt global strike is being wound down, with some hard lessons learned but no flight-test successes.

In its place, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) plans to switch its focus to shorter, tactical ranges and launch a hypersonics “initiative” to include flight demonstrations of an air-breathing cruise missile and unpowered boost-glide weapon. If approved, the demos could be conducted jointly with the U.S. Air Force, which is eager to follow the success of its X-51A scramjet demonstrator with a high-speed strike weapon program.

Darpa's original plan for its Integrated Hypersonics (IH) project was to begin with a third attempt to fly the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works-designed HTV-2 unmanned hypersonic glider, after the first two launches in 2010 and 2011 failed just minutes into their Mach 20 flights across the Pacific. This was to be followed by a more capable Hypersonic X-plane that would have pushed performance even further.

The original plan drew sharp criticism from Boeing executives, who viewed the proposed program as a thinly veiled excuse to fund a third flight of Lockheed's dart-like HTV-2, which they consider unflyable. In laying out its revised program plan, Darpa makes no mention of any political lobbying against the HTV-2, but acknowledges a third flight would not make best use of its resources for hypersonic research.

Instead, as the Pentagon refocuses on China as a threat, Darpa is looking to work with the Air Force to demonstrate hypersonic weapons able to penetrate integrated air defenses and survive to strike targets swiftly, from a safe distance. Air-breathing and boost-glide weapons present challenges different to each other and to HTV-2, but the agency believes the lessons learned so far will prove valuable.

Key take-aways from HTV-2, says Darpa program manager Peter Erbland, include that the U.S. “has got kind of lean” in hypersonics competency as investment has declined from the heady days of the X-30 National Aero-Space Plane, and that “we have to be careful assuming our existing design paradigms are adequate” when developing a new class of hypersonic vehicles.

The HTV-2 sprung some surprises on its two failed flights, first with aerodynamics then with hot structures. Working out what happened “required us to mine all the competency in hypersonics that we have,” he says, and took a team assembled from government, the services, NASA, the Missile Defense Agency, industry and academia.

Erbland says the decision not to fly a third HTV-2 was influenced by “the substantial knowledge gained from the first two flights in the areas of greatest technical risk: the first flight in aerodynamics and flight performance; the second in the high-temperature load-bearing aeroshell.” Another factor was the technical value of a third flight relative to its cost. A third was the value of investing resources in HTV-2 versus other hypersonic demonstrations. “We've learned a lot; what is the value of other flights?” he asks.

While the Air Force Research Laboratory had two successes in four flights of the Mach 5, scramjet-powered Boeing X-51A, Darpa's two HTV-2 flops followed three failures of the Mach 6, ramjet-powered Boeing HyFly missile demonstrator. But as is often the case in engineering, more is learned from failure than from success, and investigation of the HTV-2 incidents will result in more robust hypersonic design tools that increase the likelihood of future success, Erbland argues.

To ensure all lessons are absorbed, work on the HTV-2 will continue to early next summer “to capture technology lessons from the second flight, and improve design tools and methods for high-temperature composite aeroshells,” he says. Information from the post-flight investigation will be combined with additional ground testing to improve the models used to design load-bearing thermal structures—“how they heat up, the material properties, their uncertainties and variables, and how we use modeling and simulation to predict thermal stresses and responses.”

HTV-2 was intended to glide an extended distance at hypersonic speed—roughly 3,000 nm. in 20 min.—and required a slender vehicle with high lift-to-drag (L/D) ratio and a carbon-carbon structure to fly for a prolonged time at high temperatures. While Flight 1 in April 2010 failed when adverse yaw exceeded the vehicle's control power, Flight 2 in August 2011 failed when the aeroshell began to degrade, causing aerodynamic upsets that ultimately triggered the flight-termination system.

“From the first flight it was clear our extrapolation of aero design methods was not adequate to predict behavior in flight,” says Erbland. “From the first to the second flights we redid the ground testing, and rebaselined the aero using new tools. On the second flight, the changes were completely effective, even in very adverse flight conditions.” But the modifications set up the HTV-2 for failure on the second flight.

“Changes to the trajectory made it a more severe aero-thermal environment than the first flight,” he says. “We have been able to reconstruct how it failed from the limited instrumentation, and the most probable cause is degradation of the structure. Thermal stresses led to failure.” While the vehicle retained its structural integrity, temperature gradients over small areas led to local material failures that caused the upsets.

“From the second flight, we learned a lesson on how to design refractory composites, to improve our understanding of how to model hot structures under thermal load,” says Erbland. “We learned a critical lesson about variability and uncertainty in material properties. That is why we are taking time to fund the remediation of our models to account for material and aero-thermal variability.”

HTV-2 is all that remains of the once-ambitious Falcon program (for Force Application and Launch from the Continental U.S.), started in 2003 with the goal of demonstrating technology for prompt global strike. Falcon had two elements, a hypersonic cruise vehicle (HCV) and a small launch vehicle (SLV) needed to boost the cruiser into a hypersonic glide. The SLV effort helped fund Space Exploration Technologies' Falcon 1 booster, but the HCV went through several changes.

The original HTV-1 hypersonic test vehicle was abandoned in 2006 when the sharp-edged carbon-carbon aeroshell proved impossible to manufacture. Darpa and Lockheed proceeded with the easier-to-produce HTV-2, but then departed from the original unpowered HCV concept to propose an HTV-3X testbed, with turbojet/scramjet combined-cycle propulsion. Congress refused to fund the vehicle, dubbed Blackswift, and it was cancelled in 2008, leaving two HTV-2s as the remnants of Falcon.

Now Darpa is seeking to reinvent its hypersonics focus by moving away from the global- to the tactical-range mission. But while an air-breathing weapon can draw directly on the X-51, boost-glide over a 600-nm range is a different vehicle to the HTV-2. “To get the performance we need to look at high L/D with robust controllability. Thermal management is a different problem to HTV-2. We need robust energy management. And affordability.”

Boost-glide challenges include packaging a weapon for air and surface launch. “The mass and volume constraints are different. We had a very high fineness ratio for global strike; we will have to be very innovative to get high L/D without a high fineness ratio,” says Erbland. On the other hand, “trajectory insertion velocities are lower, and the booster problem could be more tractable. The problem with global range is that orbital launch systems with the energy needed are not designed to put a vehicle on an ideal start of glide, so we have to make them fly in ways they don't want to,” he says.

But Darpa believes its HTV-2 experience will prove useful. “It provided critical technical knowledge to enable us to design a future boost-glide vehicle capable of prompt global strike. We made huge progress in understanding what we need to do in ground-test and flight-test to design the aerodynamics and hot structure,” Erbland says. “These are lessons we would not have learned without flight test, because of the limitations with ground test. We know going forward how to use modeling and simulation and ground test to give us more confidence that we can design a successful system.”
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Dimsum on July 11, 2013, 03:00:48
X-47B makes first two arrested landings onboard USS George H.W. Bush

"The X-47B, built by Northrop Grumman Corp., was launched from the deck Wednesday morning. The drone safely flew above the Atlantic Ocean came in for a landing on aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush off the coast of Virginia.  Relying on pinpoint GPS coordinates and advanced avionics, the sleek drone digitally communicated with the carrier's computers to determine speed, crosswinds and other data as it approaches from miles away.  Then shortly before 1:45 p.m. Eastern time it hit the flight deck and hooked the arresting wire for a safe landing.",0,6990478.story

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on July 11, 2013, 17:49:22
Data storage solutions for long lasting, high density storage. Now your PowerPoints will be safe for thousands of years....

Nanostructured quartz glass could lead to unlimited lifetime data storage

Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Using nanostructured glass, scientists at the University of Southampton have, for the first time, experimentally demonstrated the recording and retrieval processes of five dimensional digital data by femtosecond laser writing. The storage allows unprecedented parameters including 360 TB/disc data capacity, thermal stability up to 1000°C and practically unlimited lifetime.

Coined as the ‘Superman’ memory crystal’, as the glass memory has been compared to the “memory crystals” used in the Superman films, the data is recorded via self-assembled nanostructures created in fused quartz, which is able to store vast quantities of data for over a million years. The information encoding is realised in five dimensions: the size and orientation in addition to the three dimensional position of these nanostructures.

5D Data Storage by Ultrafast Laser Nanostructuring in Glass

They have experimentally demonstrated the recording and read-out processes of 5D optical data by femtosecond laser writing. The data recording was significantly simplified by replacing the conventional control of the writing beam energy and polarization with a spatial light modulator and a specially designed laser imprinted half-wave plate matrix. This demonstration is a crucial step towards commercialization of ultrafast laser based optical data storage

A 300 kb digital copy of a text file was successfully recorded in 5D using ultrafast laser, producing extremely short and intense pulses of light. The file is written in three layers of nanostructured dots separated by five micrometres (one millionth of a metre).

The self-assembled nanostructures change the way light travels through glass, modifying polarisation of light that can then be read by combination of optical microscope and a polariser, similar to that found in Polaroid sunglasses.

The research is led by Jingyu Zhang from the University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) and conducted under a joint project with Eindhoven University of Technology.

“We are developing a very stable and safe form of portable memory using glass, which could be highly useful for organisations with big archives. At the moment companies have to back up their archives every five to ten years because hard-drive memory has a relatively short lifespan,” says Jingyu.

“Museums who want to preserve information or places like the national archives where they have huge numbers of documents, would really benefit.”
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: GAP on July 11, 2013, 19:07:16
the crystal matrix of science fiction.

Only one difficulty. X number of years down the road who is going to be able to read it. Try finding a computer now a days that takes 3 1/2" floppies, let alone 5 1/4" ones.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: George Wallace on July 11, 2013, 19:24:18
the crystal matrix of science fiction.

Only one difficulty. X number of years down the road who is going to be able to read it. Try finding a computer now a days that takes 3 1/2" floppies, let alone 5 1/4" ones.

What am I going to do with all my punch cards?
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on July 11, 2013, 19:27:06
the crystal matrix of science fiction.

Only one difficulty. X number of years down the road who is going to be able to read it. Try finding a computer now a days that takes 3 1/2" floppies, let alone 5 1/4" ones.

Looks like a job for  Jean-François Champollion!
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on July 18, 2013, 12:41:27
Making regular materials super strong by tweaking the process:

The new superstrong

Mechanical and industrial engineering assistant professor Marilyn Minus has developed a superstrong fiber that rivals the best in the industry. In today’s market for high per­for­mance fibers, used for appli­ca­tions such as bul­let­proof vests, man­u­fac­turers have only four options: Kevlar, Spectra, Dyneema, and Zylon. Made from poly­mers such as poly­eth­ylene, these were the strongest syn­thetic fibers in the world—until recently.

Mar­ilyn Minus, an assis­tant pro­fessor of engi­neering at North­eastern, has devel­oped a type of fiber that is stronger than the first three com­mer­cial prod­ucts men­tioned above, and—even in its first generation—closely approaches the strength of the fourth (Zylon).

Adding small amounts of carbon nanotubes—straight, cylin­drical par­ti­cles made entirely of carbon—to polymer fibers increases their strength mar­gin­ally. But as a grad­uate stu­dent at the Georgia Insti­tute of Tech­nology five years ago, Minus fig­ured that with a little more con­trol, she might be able to turn those modest improve­ments into dra­matic ones. She has spent the last four years at North­eastern proving her hunch.

In a paper recently released in the journal Macro­mol­e­c­ular Mate­rials and Engi­neering, Minus pre­sented a tun­able process for cre­ating super-​​strong fibers that rival the industry’s very best. As with pre­vious work, Minus’ method inte­grates carbon nan­otubes into the polymer fiber, but rather than serving as simply an added ingre­dient, the nan­otubes now also per­form an orga­ni­za­tional role.

From carbon black powder to metallic par­ti­cles, a variety of mate­rials can guide the for­ma­tion of spe­cific crystal types in a process called nucle­ation. But before carbon nan­otubes, Minus said, “we’ve never had a nucle­ating mate­rial so sim­ilar to poly­mers.”

This sim­i­larity allows the nan­otubes to act likes skates along which the long polymer chains can slide, per­fectly aligning them­selves with one another.

After using tuning the crys­tal­liza­tion process, elec­tron micro­scope imaging shows that the nan­otubes inside the fiber are coated in polymer. Image cour­tesy of Mar­ilyn Minus.

But it’s the crys­tal­liza­tion process that drives the remark­able prop­er­ties recently reported. In their research, Minus and her col­leagues showed that they could easily turn these prop­er­ties on or off. By changing nothing but the pat­tern of heating and cooling the mate­rial, they were able to increase the strength and tough­ness of fibers made with the very same ingre­di­ents.

In the cur­rent research, Minus and her col­leagues worked out the recipe and process for one par­tic­ular polymer: polyvinyl alcohol. “But we can do this with other poly­mers and we are doing it,” she said.

Simply com­bining the nan­otubes and polymer does not induce the polymer to uni­formly coat the nan­otube. Image cour­tesy of Mar­ilyn Minus.

With funding from a new grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Minus will now work out the method for a polymer called poly­acry­loni­trle, or PAN. This is the dom­i­nant mate­rial used to form carbon fibers, which are of par­tic­ular interest in light­weight com­posite mate­rials such as those used in the Boeing 787 air­liner. With the more orga­nized struc­ture afforded by Minus’ method, this mate­rial could see a vast increase in its already great performance.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on August 14, 2013, 17:56:11
Using metamaterialos to make lightweight and sensitive antenna. The idea of using electronic steering and "beam forming" also partially adresses the issue of spectrum management, if the antenna can form narrow beams to each receiver then other antenna can also operate on the same frequencies (within reason):

Metamaterials are set to migrate out of the laboratory and into the marketplace

Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Metamaterial applications such as cheaper satellite communications, thinner smartphones and ultrafast optical data processing are where metamaterials are poised to make a huge impact within a year or so.

Kymeta of Redmond, Washington, a spin-off from Intellectual Ventures, hopes to market a compact antenna that would be one of the first consumer-oriented products based on metamaterials. The relatively inexpensive device would carry broadband satellite communications to and from planes, trains, ships, cars and any other platform required to function in remote locations far from mobile networks.

At the heart of the antenna — the details of which are confidential — is a flat circuit board containing thousands of electronic metamaterial elements, each of which can have its properties changed in an instant by the device's internal software. This allows the antenna to track a satellite across the sky without having to maintain a specific orientation towards it, the way a standard dish antenna does. Instead, the antenna remains still while the software constantly adjusts the electrical properties of each individual metamaterial element. When this is done correctly, waves emitted from the elements will reinforce one another and propagate skywards only in the direction of the satellite; waves emitted in any other direction will cancel one another out and go nowhere. At the same time — and for much the same reason — the array will most readily pick up signals if they are coming from the satellite.

This technology is more compact than alternatives such as dish antennas. It offers “significant savings in terms of cost, weight and power draw”. Kymeta has already performed demonstrations of this technology for investors and potential development partners. But Smith cautions that the company has yet to set a price for the antenna and that it must still work to bring production costs down while maintaining the strict performance standards that regulatory agencies demand for any device communicating with satellites. Kymeta's antenna will first by used on private jets and passenger planes. If buyers respond well, the company hopes to incorporate the technology into other product lines, such as portable, energy-efficient satellite-communication units for rescue workers or researchers in the field.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on August 16, 2013, 11:52:48
An interesting development. Combining the idea of 3D printing to make small modules and assembling the modules to make larger structures isn't really new (kids do this with LEGO), but the thing that makes this apotential "killer app" is the shape of the units allos the building of very strong and very lightweight "truss" structures. This looks like one to follow:

How to make big things out of small pieces
Researchers invent a new approach to assembling big structures — even airplanes and bridges — out of small interlocking composite components.
David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

MIT researchers have developed a lightweight structure whose tiny blocks can be snapped together much like the bricks of a child’s construction toy. The new material, the researchers say, could revolutionize the assembly of airplanes, spacecraft, and even larger structures, such as dikes and levees.

The new approach to construction is described in a paper appearing this week in the journal Science, co-authored by postdoc Kenneth Cheung and Neil Gershenfeld, director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms.

Gershenfeld likens the structure — which is made from tiny, identical, interlocking parts — to chainmail. The parts, based on a novel geometry that Cheung developed with Gershenfeld, form a structure that is 10 times stiffer for a given weight than existing ultralight materials. But this new structure can also be disassembled and reassembled easily — such as to repair damage, or to recycle the parts into a different configuration.

The individual parts can be mass-produced; Gershenfeld and Cheung are developing a robotic system to assemble them into wings, airplane fuselages, bridges or rockets — among many other possibilities.

The new design combines three fields of research, Gershenfeld says: fiber composites, cellular materials (those made with porous cells) and additive manufacturing (such as 3-D printing, where structures are built by depositing rather than removing material).

With conventional composites — now used in everything from golf clubs and tennis rackets to the components of Boeing’s new 787 airplane — each piece is manufactured as a continuous unit. Therefore, manufacturing large structures, such as airplane wings, requires large factories where fibers and resins can be wound and parts heat-cured as a whole, minimizing the number of separate pieces that must be joined in final assembly. That requirement meant, for example, Boeing’s suppliers have had to build enormous facilities to make parts for the 787.

Pound for pound, the new technique allows much less material to carry a given load. This could not only reduce the weight of vehicles, for example — which could significantly lower fuel use and operating costs — but also reduce the costs of construction and assembly, while allowing greater design flexibility. The system is useful for “anything you need to move, or put in the air or in space,” says Cheung, who will begin work this fall as an engineer at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

The concept, Gershenfeld says, arose in response to the question, “Can you 3-D print an airplane?” While he and Cheung realized that 3-D printing was an impractical approach at such a large scale, they wondered if it might be possible instead to use the discrete “digital” materials that they were studying.

“This satisfies the spirit of the question,” Gershenfeld says, “but it’s assembled rather than printed.” The team is now developing an assembler robot that can crawl, insectlike, over the surface of a growing structure, adding pieces one by one to the existing structure.

In traditional composite manufacturing, the joints between large components tend to be where cracks and structural failures start. While these new structures are made by linking many small composite fiber loops, Cheung and Gershenfeld show that they behave like an elastic solid, with a stiffness, or modulus, equal to that of much heavier traditional structures — because forces are conveyed through the structures inside the pieces and distributed across the lattice structure.

What’s more, when conventional composite materials are stressed to the breaking point, they tend to fail abruptly and at large scale. But the new modular system tends to fail only incrementally, meaning it is more reliable and can more easily be repaired, the researchers say. “It’s a massively redundant system,” Gershenfeld says.

Cheung produced flat, cross-shaped composite pieces that were clipped into a cubic lattice of octahedral cells, a structure called a “cuboct” — which is similar to the crystal structure of the mineral perovskite, a major component of Earth’s crust. While the individual components can be disassembled for repairs or recycling, there’s no risk of them falling apart on their own, the researchers explain. Like the buckle on a seat belt, they are designed to be strong in the directions of forces that might be applied in normal use, and require pressure in an entirely different direction in order to be released.

The possibility of linking multiple types of parts introduces a new degree of design freedom into composite manufacturing. The researchers show that by combining different part types, they can make morphing structures with identical geometry but that bend in different ways in response to loads: Instead of moving only at fixed joints, the entire arm of a robot or wing of an airplane could change shape.

Alain Fontaine, who directs the innovation program for aircraft manufacturer Airbus, says this new approach to building structures “is really disruptive. It opens interesting opportunities in the way to design and manufacture aerostructures.” These technologies, he says, “can open the door to other opportunities” and have significant potential to lower manufacturing costs.

In addition to Gershenfeld and Cheung, the project included MIT undergraduate Joseph Kim and alumna Sarah Hovsepian (now at NASA’s Ames Research Center). The work was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the sponsors of the Center for Bits and Atoms, with Spirit Aerosystems collaborating on the composite development.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on August 26, 2013, 03:13:57
DARPA has decided the idea of a flying car is a bit silly, but is using the basic technology to make large carrier drones. The idea is to deliver supplies or weapons using what is essentially a giant quad copter. Having something like this overhead to supply fire support would be rather interesting as well:

DARPA flying car transforming into Large Carrier Drone

  Lockheed is changing their DARPA robotic flying hummer into a large robotic drone that can carry car sized objects

Besides carrying cars the carrier drone can also deliver 4000 or maybe even 6000 pound bombs.
Two or three carrier drones appear able to work together to lift longer and heavier payloads like 12000 or 18000 pound bombs or a truck or a shipping container.

The US daisy cutter bomb weighs about 15,000 pounds. It is an anti-personnel weapon and an intimidation weapon because of its very large lethal radius (variously reported as 300 to 900 feet/100 to 300 meters) combined with a visible flash and audible sound at long distances. It is one of the largest conventional weapons ever to be used, outweighed only by a few earth quake bombs, thermobaric bombs, and demolition (bunker buster) bombs.

Lockheed should have a full sized system ready for flight tests in 2015.

The production version of Transformer have a 250 mile range and a top speed of 200 knots. The ducted fans, will make safer and more efficient than a helicopter, and will be able to land in an area half the size that a helicopter with a similar payload would require. It's small enough that you can stick it on a trailer a drive it down a single lane road, making transportation relatively easy.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 07, 2013, 21:45:48
Using salt water as fuel? I would love to see the actual figures on this technique (if the amount of RF energy being beamed in is more than the amount out heat energy coming out of the "burning" water, then this is really a non starter for most applications). Interesting side note; the flame coming from the test tube is based on the type of salt in the water: the flame from burning hydrogen is a pale blue colour:
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: BernDawg on September 13, 2013, 18:25:36
Sounds amazing but like you already noted, no one has mentioned the amount of energy required to produce the RF waves that are being used to heat the water and cause ignition. In a perfect machine one would fuel it with water and after combustion the exhaust would be water. Zero carbon foot print, zero harmful emissions and pennies a week to operate. I once told my kids that if they ever developed a car that ran on water, within weeks water would be worth $1 a litre....
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 14, 2013, 00:49:15
Actually, bottled water is more expensive per litre than gasoline in many places.....
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: George Wallace on September 14, 2013, 00:57:16
Don't know of any places where bottled water is cheaper than gas.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 14, 2013, 16:48:16
The price comparison. What is really alarming is many people are paying this for essentially tap water, and yes, I have seen bottled water at $2.50/bottle (of course I don't buy the stuff, I can fill the steel water bottle or Camelback from the tap for my water needs):

Would you pay $55 for bottled water?
by John Fuller

If you got rid of the fancy Bling H2O bottle and lowered the price, would it still be worth it? What about the "regular" plastic bottles of water you find in the store? Are they even worth $2?

Bottled water has become so popular that 41 billion gallons are consumed every year around the world. Many people consider it safe and convenient. Over the past few years, however, many bottled water companies labeling their product as "purified" or "natural spring water" have confessed to filling their products with simple tap water. In July 2007, for instance, Pepsi admitted to filling bottles of Aquafina with public water, even though the packaging suggests the water comes from natural springs [source: Environmental Working Group]. Recent studies have concluded that bottled water is no safer than tap water, and the costs of producing the drink and its effect on the environment have caused some alarm [source: National Geographic News].

To understand how expensive regular bottled water is, let's compare it with gasoline. With the price of oil rising, we typically think of gasoline as very expensive. On the other hand, some of us will barely blink an eye at picking up a few bottles of water from the same gas station. Here are the numbers:

A gallon of gas costs around $3. If we assume a one-liter bottle of water from the store costs about $2.50, a gallon of the same bottled water should cost about $10. Water, life's most necessary substance, costs about three times more than gasoline when it comes in a plastic bottle. If you wanted to fill up a car's 15-gallon tank with gasoline, it would cost you about $45. If you wanted to fill up that same 15-gallon tank with bottled water, it would cost you $150 [source: National Geographic News].

Tap water, on the other hand, costs a fraction of the price of bottled water. The same $2 you spend on a liter of bottled water will get you about 1,000 gallons of tap water [source: EPA].

So, even though it's cheaper than Bling H20, bottled water is still expensive. Next, we'll take a look at some of the other products on the market that seem to cost more than they're worth.

See also:
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Antoine on September 15, 2013, 16:26:49
From: (

Discoloured detection of sarin

"UN inspectors seeking evidence of a chemical weapons attack in Syria have now left the country. As the world awaits their official findings, scientists in France and the Czech Republic report a new complex that could be used to develop simpler and more sensitive detection devices for the nerve agent, sarin.

Sarin’s use as a deadly weapon include a terrorist attack on Tokoyo’s subway in 1995 and an attack by Iraqi government forces on the town of Halabja in Southern Kurdistan in 1988. It is highly toxic, affecting muscle function, and at high doses it causes death by asphyxiation.

Current detection methods are expensive and have low selectivity, or require complex equipment that is not portable. Sensors based on chemicals that visually respond to sarin would be very simple for untrained first responders to use at the site of an attack. Now, Alexandre Carella and colleagues at the French Laboratory of Innovation for New Energy Technologies and Nanomaterials and the University of Defence in the Czech Republic have designed a bipyridine ligand that changes colour on contact with sarin.

When the bipyridine ligand is coordinated to iron, electronic transitions give rise to a red colour. Reaction with an organophosphorus compound such as sarin alters the ligand's structure, preventing it from being alble to bind to iron. This prevents the electronic transitions so the colour vanishes.

Timothy Swager, a chemosensors expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, US, says decomplexing a chromophore from a metal center to produce a colour change is an innovative idea. ‘Monitoring the fluorescence of the liberated chromophores has the prospect to create a highly sensitive sensor.’

The team are now trying to adapt the structure of the ligand to optimise its sensitivity towards sarin and develop chromogenic papers that are sensitive and selective to sarin vapour."
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 22, 2013, 12:23:24
A line of research which shold be followed as well. Room temperature and now high temperature superconductors seem to be possible with advances in technique and theory, materials that can effortlessly conduct electrical energy at over 300C will have lots of applications. Lightweight electric motors, energy transmission and electricly powered weapons like railguns become possible and practical:

Joe Eck has made his seventh room temperature superconductor and has found a theory for why his method and materials work

  Superconductors.ORG (Joe Eck) reports the 38 C superconductor discovered in July 2013 has been reformulated to produce a Meissner transition near 42 Celsius (107F, 315K). This was accomplished by substituting tin (Sn) into the lead (Pb) atomic sites of the D212 structure (shown below left), changing the formula to Tl5Sn2Ba2SiCu8O16+. Multiple magnetization plots clearly show diamagnetic transitions consistently appearing about 4 degrees higher than with Pb in the same atomic site(s). This is the seventh material found to superconduct above room temperature.

A theory put forth nearly 20 years ago seems to explain why planar weight disparity correlates so strongly with high temperature superconductors.

In the mid 1990's Howard Blackstead of Notre Dame and John Dow of A.S.U., postulated that oxygen located in the "chain layer" of a crystal lattice was being compressed into a metallic superconducting state.

"Experimental evidence indicates that the holes of the hypocharged oxygen in the charge-reservoir regions contribute primarily to the superconductivity, contrary to most current models of high- temperature superconductivity, which are based on superconductivity originating in the cuprate-planes. The data suggest that a successful theory of high-temperature superconductivity will be BCS-like and will pair holes through the polarization field, perhaps electronic as well as vibrational polarization."

Hypercharged copper, hypocharged oxygen, and high-temperature superconductivity


Hypocharged oxygen, and not hypercharged Cu+3 is shown to be the generator of high-temperature superconductivity. Models based on Cu+2$ARLRCu+3 charge-fluctuations (such as t-J models), are ruled out experimentally. Experimental evidence indicates that the holes of the hypocharged oxygen in the charge-reservoir regions contribute primarily to the superconductivity,contrary to most current models of high- temperature superconductivity, which are based on superconductivity originating in the cuprate-planes. The data suggest that a successful theory of high-temperature superconductivity will be BCS-like and will pair holes through the polarization field, perhaps electronic as well as vibrational polarization.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 26, 2013, 23:20:50
Infectious disease has always been a critial issue in military operations (remember, disease killed more soldiers than any other causes until the 20th century), as well as PSO's, humanitarian missions and potentially in DOMOPS as well. Another growing threat is disease germs that are resistant to antibiotics.

This technique looks like a new way to treat diseases which are becoming harder to treat with conventional means:

New Treatment for Gonorrhea Prevents Reinfection
A nanoparticle-based cancer therapy has been found to thwart an antibiotic-resistant, sexually transmitted infection in mice

By Rachel Feltman

A first step has been taken toward a treatment for gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease (STD) notorious for its high reinfection rates. This news comes within days of a troubling update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that placed the STD on a list of “urgent threats” in the fight against drug-resistant bacteria. According to the CDC, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that causes the malady in humans—which can initially result in painful inflammation and discharge, and can cause infertility and even death if not treated—requires urgent and aggressive action from the medical research community. Researchers from the University at Buffalo, S.U.N.Y., think the answer may lie in marshaling the immune system against gonorrhea.

The study, published in The Journal of Infections Diseases, found gonococcal infections in mice could be cured by introducing into the genital tract a cytokine, or immunoregulatory protein, known as interleukin-12 (IL-12), which is also being investigated as a cancer-fighting agent. Michael Russell, a microbiologist and immunologist at S.U.N.Y. Buffalo and one of the study’s authors, says that his 20-year investigation into gonorrhea and its resilience led him to suspect that it was actively altering immune systems, preventing human hosts from developing long-term resistance to it.

The exact mechanism of the alteration remains unclear, but Russell thinks it has to do with the two distinct “arms” of vertebrate immune systems: innate and adaptive. Russell observed high levels of a cytokine called interleukin-10 (IL-10) in gonococcal infections, and observed that it induces an innate immune response. IL-10 seems to suppress adaptive responses—like the formation of antibodies that can be used again to fight later infections—in favor of more general, short-term innate responses. Meanwhile, the innate responses, such as inflammation, are easy for N. gonorrhoeae to beat. If IL-12 could counteract the effects of IL-10, Russell hypothesized, it could help the body fight gonorrhea more effectively, and could be used in a treatment for the STD. When his colleague Nejat Egilmez developed a new delivery mechanism for the otherwise toxic IL-12, in which microspheres of slow-releasing nanoparticles of the cytokine could be targeted directly onto immunosuppressant tumors, Russell’s team decided to try injecting them into the vaginal tracts of infected mice.

“And it worked,” he says, “very nicely.”

Not only did mice treated with IL-12 respond more quickly to antibiotics, they were also significantly less likely to be reinfected than controls when exposed to the same strain a month later. “We found that the IL-12 treatment allows the development of an adaptive immune response not usually seen,” Russell says. It seems that by counteracting the IL-10 present at gonococcal infections, the treatment prevents immune systems from being tricked out of developing adaptive responses to the disease. The effect, he says, lasts for several months.

The results come just in time, as the CDC now reports that of the 800,000 estimated cases of gonorrhea that occur each year in the U.S., at least 30 percent are resistant to current antibiotic treatments. With 23 percent of cases now resistant to tetracycline, the CDC recommends that gonococcal infections be treated with a combination of two antibiotics—ceftriaxone in combination with either azithromycin or doxycycline—although a slow but steady increase in strains resistant to ceftriaxone indicate this combination may soon be useless as well.

The new treatment would increase the antibiotics’ effectiveness, but researchers hope that one day it might wean us off the drugs for good. “Since the second world war,” Russell says, “we’ve been treating infections by throwing antibiotics at them. Now that bacteria are emerging with antibiotic resistance, we have nothing else in the pipeline to deal with gonorrhea.” But the IL-12 treatment, he says, can turn the infection into a “live vaccine,” allowing the body to develop immunity. He hopes that further research will show a resistance that carries over from strain to strain, indicating his team has paved the way for a gonorrhea vaccine.

Sanjay Ram, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center who was not affiliated with the study, called the work “extremely important,” adding that it “provides nice clues for vaccine development. It would be useful in high-risk women who get repeat infections, with the first occurrence acting as a vaccine for subsequent infections.” Caution is necessary, however, he notes—there are differences between the immune systems of mice and humans, and we’re not sure what high levels of IL-12 might do to a human genital tract. One worry in particular is that higher levels of T cells, which IL-12 stimulate, would mean higher levels of so-called T helper, or CD4, cells. Although vital to the immune system, these cells are also a vulnerable point at which HIV can enter the body. Having high levels of them in the genital tracts of at-risk women would be troubling. But, Ram says, with the state of crisis created by the disease’s advance, any lead is a promising one. "One could go on and on about possible downsides,” he says, “but the fact is that we have a multidrug-resistant disease on our hands.”

The STD crisis notwithstanding, Russell says that human application is a long way off. First, he will see just how long and how effectively IL-12 therapy can protect mice from the rapidly mutating bacteria. He also hopes to learn more about the exact mechanism by which the IL-12 cytokines stimulate the immune responses seen in the study. The answer remains largely a mystery and would have to be documented before human trials could commence. But eventually he hopes to see this novel approach to the treatment of infectious diseases—the stimulation of an immune response at the site of infection—deployed to fight gonorrhea, along with other diseases.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: cupper on September 27, 2013, 13:15:55
First carbon nanotube computer to help extend Moore's Law?

Stanford researchers have created a basic system that shuns silicon in favor of imperfect lines of carbon atoms that could one day deliver even more performance and efficiency than current technology.

Silicon Valley may soon require a name change to avoid the risk of sounding like a relic from a generation of bygone tech, thanks to new computer system created -- where else -- in Silicon Valley.

A cover story for the journal Nature, out Wednesday, details the efforts of a team based at Stanford to create the first basic computer built around carbon nanotubes rather than silicon chips.

"People have been talking about a new era of carbon nanotube electronics moving beyond silicon," Stanford professor Subhasish Mitra said in a release from the university. "But there have been few demonstrations of complete digital systems using this exciting technology. Here is the proof."

If you're the type of user who's much more concerned with what your computer or device can do rather than how it does it or what type of semiconductor material inside is making the magic happen, here's the skinny on why you should pay attention to the nerdy details at least this once.

For decades now, the exponential acceleration of technology -- which has taken us from room-size computers run by punched paper cards to insanely more powerful devices in our pockets -- has depended on shrinking silicon transistors to jam ever more onto a chip.

The result of this miniaturizing march has been devices that are becoming ever smaller, more powerful, and cheaper. In fact, transistor density has doubled pretty reliably about every 18 months or so since the dawn of the information age -- you might know this as "Moore's Law."

But many think silicon's long run as the king of computing could be nearing an end. That's because continually jamming more tiny transistors on a chip has become more difficult, expensive, and inefficient, not to mention the inevitable physical limitations -- you can't keep shrinking transistors forever.

Carbon nanotubes -- long chains of carbon atoms thousands of times thinner than a human hair -- have the potential to be more energy-efficient and "take us at least an order of magnitude in performance beyond where you can project silicon could take us," according to H.S. Philip Wong, another member of the Stanford team.

Problem is, carbon nanotubes aren't perfect either. They don't always grow in perfectly straight lines, and a fraction of the tubes grown aren't able to "switch off" like a regular transistor.

The Stanford team used a technique of "burning" off some of the imperfect carbon nanotubes while also working their way around other imperfections by using a complex algorithm. The final design consists of a very basic computer with 178 transistors that can do tasks like counting and number sorting and switch between functions.

The computer's limited power is due in part to the facilities available to the team, which did not have access to industrial fabrication tools.

So what we have now is basically a proof of concept for the first carbon nanotube computer, which is about as powerful as Intel's 4004, the first single-chip silicon microprocessor released in 1971. But if this technology turns out to be a worthy successor, we'll likely see devices that can not only compete with, but greatly exceed, the potential of silicon systems.

More importantly, it could mean that Moore's Law will continue for at least a little while longer.

Today, a carbon nanotube computer that can count its own transistors; tomorrow, perhaps the power of a human brain captured in strands thinner than a human hair.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on September 29, 2013, 20:13:48
One possible way to beat the wear and tear on the human body. In overall terms for society, having the ability to rejuvenate older people will take a lot of stress off the healthcare system. For our purposes, having people remain at their physical and mental peak throughout their careers should have considerable benefits for the organization.

Mitochondria rejuvenation in mice gave memory and exercise performance like a young adult for elderly mice

Researchers took a naturally occurring mitochondrial transcription factor called TFAM, which initiates protein synthesis, and engineered it to cross into cells from the bloodstream and target the mitochondria.

Aged mice given modified TFAM showed improvements in memory and exercise performance compared with untreated mice. "It was like an 80-year-old recovering the function of a 30-year-old," says Rafal Smigrodzki, also at Gencia, who presented the results at the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence conference in Cambridge this month.

Targeted mitochondrial therapeutics in aging (SENS 6)


Mitochondrial dysfunction in aging consists of relative suppression of oxidative phosphorylation and frequently an increase in glycolysis. This metabolic imbalance is triggered by progressive biochemical processes, including accumulation of mitochondrial mutations, and changes in the expression and function of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins. Our group developed methods for mitigation of mitochondrial suppression through mitochondria-targeted therapeutics. We observed that stimulation of mitochondrial activity both in vitro and in vivo significantly improves cellular function, suppresses neoplastic growth and inflammation, improves aged animal cognition and resolves in vivo metabolic derangements. One of our therapeutics, an engineered mitochondrial transcription factor, prolonged survival in wild-type aged animals. We expect that mitochondrial stimulation will be an important part of future aging therapies.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Michael O'Leary on October 01, 2013, 12:18:06
After switching 37,000 PCs to Ubuntu, French Armed Forces says open source cuts costs 40 percent (

By Matthew Humphries Sep. 30, 2013 12:29 pm

The French Gendarmerie, a branch of the French Armed Forces in charge of public safety, has been a leader in moving away from proprietary software in recent years.

Back in 2004 it decided to stop using Microsoft Office and embraced OpenOffice and the Open Document Format instead. That meant 90,000 PCs moved to OpenOffice, and 20,000 Office licenses were no longer needed. Then they moved to using Firefox for web browsing and Thunderbird for email by 2006. And 2007 saw Gimp and VLC installed across the network.

That move to open source software certainly saves money, but it only goes so far when it all runs on Windows. So the French Gendarmerie decided to go a step further and in 2008 began moving from Windows to Ubuntu. Initially 5,000 PCs were switched to Ubuntu in 2008, that went up to 20,000 by 2011, and currently sits at 37,000 Ubuntu PCs.

The Gendarmerie says it will have 72,000 PCs moved over to Ubuntu by next summer, and they will continue to migrate because it saves so much money. And here’s the important bit: in their experience using open source software so far, the total cost of ownership falls 40 percent, which is massive when you are talking about tens of thousands of machines.

The savings were revealed at the Evento Linux conference held in Lisbon last week. And unlike predicted costs, which Microsoft can claim are incorrect or not proven, the French Gendarmerie is talking from a point where they currently have 30,000 PCs transitioned to an open source solution, and have been running them for years.

With such huge cost savings, it seems likely other companies and organizations will also at least consider making the move away from Windows. Windows 8 hasn’t exactly been well received, so when it comes time to re-license or upgrade, Microsoft may have more of a fight on its hands to keep key business customers.

It’s also interesting to note how the French Gendarmerie handled this transition. They first moved over to open source applications before switching out the OS. That way their employees were used to the tools long before losing Windows, making for a much easier transition where Ubuntu fades into the background and “just works.”
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 05, 2013, 00:12:09
Cheap, flexible solar cells from a Canadian lab. While they are not currently efficient enough to be useful, further development seems promising. 7% efficiency is a pretty low bar to hit for these cells to be cost effective (and pretty impressive when you consider most silicon solar cells don't even reach 20% efficiency).

Cheap, spray-on solar cells developed by Canadian researchers
Nanoparticle-based cells can be made with far less energy than conventional silicon solar cells
CBC News Posted: Oct 04, 2013 4:05 PM ET Last Updated: Oct 04, 2013 4:49 PM ET

Spray-on solar panels developed at U of A
External Links

Summary of the paper
University Alberta news article
(Note: CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external links.)

A conventional solar panel must spend three to six years of harvesting energy from the sun before it has generated as much power as it took to make the solar panel in the first place, University of Alberta researcher Jillian Buriak says. (Lykaestria /Wikimedia Commons)

Silicon-free solar cells, light and flexible enough to roll up or use as window blinds, are under development at a University of Alberta lab.

The solar cells are made using nanoparticles — microscopic particles just 30 to 40 atoms across — that are very cheap to produce from zinc and phosphorus, said Jillian Buriak, a University of Alberta chemistry professor and senior research officer of the National Institute of Nanotechnology.

“We turn these things into inks or paints that you can spray coat onto plastics,” Buriak told Quirks & Quarks host Bob McDonald in an interview that airs Saturday.

Here the full interview on Quirks & Quarks, Saturday, Oct. 5, at noon on CBC Radio One
The resulting solar cells can be made extremely light and flexible compared to conventional silicon solar cells.

The zinc phosphide nanoparticle solar cells are also cheaper than conventional solar cells because the process used to make them is very low-energy, Buriak said.

Silicon solar cells are made from sand in a process that involves heating the materials repeatedly to very high temperatures – around 1000 C. As a result, Buriak estimated, it takes three to six years for the resulting solar cell to generate the amount of power used to manufacture it in the first place.

On the other hand, the solar nanoparticles are “actually made in a standard, bubbling pot glassware set up  in the lab — the traditional image of chemistry — ” from elements that are very abundant, Buriak said.

Buriak and her colleagues published a description of their solar cell-making process in a recent issue of the scientific journal ACS Nano.

So far, her team has only made very small solar cells from their zinc phosphide nanoparticles, but they recently received funding from the Alberta government to apply the coating to larger sheets of plastic.

“We actually use spray coaters that you can buy from an automobile touch-up shop for paint,” Buriak said.

The efficiency of the solar cells is “not great,” she acknowledged, but that’s something her team is working on.

The fact that they’re “so cheap to make,”  she added, means they will only have to reach 7.5 per cent efficiency before they will be commercially competitive with conventional energy sources such as coal-electric generation.

Buriak's research group has previously worked on other kinds of cheap, spray-on solar cell materials, such as flexible polymers.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 05, 2013, 00:36:27
Do you play fetch and give it a double A battery as a treat? 4 legged robot capable of moving at running speeds now being prototyped for the US army, and the ultimate goal will be to have a developed version that can run at 50 MPH over any terrain. There will be may ethical questiions regarding robotic "soldiers", especially if they are weaponized or become part of a weapons system (for example, running ahead to act as a forward observer for artillery and indirect fire).

Wildcat running robot has reached 16 mph without any tethered cable

  WildCat is a four-legged robot being developed to run fast on all types of terrain. So far WildCat has run at about 16 mph on flat terrain using bounding and galloping gaits. The video shows WildCat's best performance so far. WildCat is being developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA's M3 program.

Boston Dynamics is funded by the DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program. They first developed a prototype called Cheetah that broke all speed records for legged robots last year. Cheetah was reached 29 mph (46 km/h), but it was tethered to an external power source and had the benefit of running on a smooth treadmill while being partially balanced by a boom arm.

The eventual goal is to produce a four-legged robot that can run at speeds of up to 50 mph, on “all types of terrain.” While it’s fun to think of WildCat robots chasing down enemy combatants on the battlefield, the main purpose of the M3 (Maximum Mobility and Manipulation) program is simply to investigate how we can create robots that are much more fluid and flexible than they currently are. It would be naive to think that some version of Cheetah/WildCat won’t eventually be used in battle, though. Perhaps to run supplies to the frontline, or perhaps for more aggressive acts, such as a suicidal robotic bomb that runs into the enemy line and explodes.

Boston Dynamics and DARPA now have a complete family of robots:
A human (Atlas)
canine (BigDog)
feline (WildCat)
Mule - Ox (LS3).

The US military might one day field a completely robotic army, with Atlas firing the weapons, BigDog acting as the pack mule, and WildCat providing rapid, highly maneuverable support and flanking. Plus they will a variety of air drones. They will have drone carriers able to lift cars and trucks.

One thing which struck me watching the video, this robot has no analogues with any earthly creature. Just compare the articulation of the legs with any four legged animal, not to mention the odd proportions.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: army08 on October 09, 2013, 15:15:40
I recently read an article about - squid protein as a smart fabric. It is yet another chromo smart chemical that will be able to biologically adapt to the enviornment around it. As opposed to electronic ones this will not require electronic parts. Likewise it is also immune to IR sensors.

You might wonder how I discovered this, well I got a bad sunburn, and as a result thought to use calamari skin as a protective layer on my skin while it healed, like a moleskin. It did the job well, allowing easy hydration of the area, and application of creams or other lotions for the healing process. It also desensitized the area for active things like jogging and running, and it removed drastically furtherance of sunlight reaching the effected area - that is it acted as another layer of skin.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Teflon on October 09, 2013, 15:23:40
You might wonder how I discovered this

No,... never wondered that at all
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Fishbone Jones on October 09, 2013, 16:56:49
Nope. Sounds normal for you.

Title: Nuclear fusion milestone passed at US lab
Post by: S.M.A. on October 10, 2013, 13:19:10
Interesting idea with long term potential.

Speaking of nuclear fusion power...

BBC excerpt: (


Nuclear fusion milestone passed at US lab
By Paul Rincon
Science Editor, BBC News website


"The BBC understands that during an experiment in late September, the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel - the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world."

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 13, 2013, 19:14:00
Analytics and "Big Data" have promised to provide ways to discover relationships in large and disparate datasets (as well as allowing the use of uncollated or "un currated" raw data and messy sets0. for an organization the size of the CF, the predicted benefits of such analytics would seem to be worth investigating. Billions of dollars in savings due to predictive maintainence is certainly worth going for, and the potential ability to tease out social data could make dealing with "wicked problems" in the complex operating environment or even just finding and attracting the right recruits much easier as well:

IBM Research to Accelerate Big Data Discovery
New lab unifies data, expertise and novel analytics to speed discovery in industries including retail, medicine and finance

San Jose, Calif.    - 10 Oct 2013: Scientists from IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced the Accelerated Discovery Lab, a new collaborative environment specifically targeted at helping clients find unknown relationships from disparate data sets.

The workspace includes access to diverse data sources, unique research capabilities for analytics such as domain models, text analytics and natural language processing capabilities derived from Watson, a powerful hardware and software infrastructure, and broad domain expertise including biology, medicine, finance, weather modeling, mathematics, computer science and information technology. This combination reduces time to insight resulting in business impact – cost savings, revenue generation and scientific impact – ahead of the traditional pace of discovery. 

The notion of Moore’s Law for Big Data has less to do with how fast data is growing, and more with how many connections one can make with that data, and how fast those connections are growing. While companies could utilize data scientists to analyze their own information, they may miss insights that can only be found by bringing their understanding together with other experts, data sources, and tools to create different context and discover new value in their Big Data.

“If we think about Big Data today, we mostly use it to find answers and correlations to ideas that are already known. Increasingly what we need to do is figure out ways to find things that aren’t known within that data,” said Jeff Welser, Director, Strategy and Program Development, IBM Research Accelerated Discovery Lab. ”Whether it’s through exploring thousands of public government databases, searching every patent filing in the world, including text and chemical symbols, to develop new drugs or mixing social media and psychology data to determine intrinsic traits, there's a big innovation opportunity if companies are able to accelerate discovery by merging their own assets with contextual data.”

With much of today’s discovery relying on rooting through massive amounts of data, gathered from a broad variety of channels, it is painful for many businesses and scientists to manage the diversity and the sheer physical volumes of data for multiple projects and to locate and share necessary resources and skills outside their organizations. 

Leveraging the best research and product technologies for analytics on a scalable platform, the Accelerated Discovery Lab empowers subject matter experts to quickly identify and work with assets such as datasets, analytics, and other tools of interest relevant to their project. 
At the same time, it encourages collaboration across projects and domains to spark serendipitous discovery by applying non-proprietary assets to subsequent projects. This collaboration can occur whether the experts are co-located in the same physical location or are geographically distributed but working within the same system infrastructure.

“The history of computing shows that systems commoditize over time,” said Laura Haas, IBM Fellow and Director, Technology and Operations, IBM Research Accelerated Discovery Lab. “Moving forward, people and systems together will do more than either could do on their own.  Our environment will provide critical elements of discovery that allow domain experts to focus on what they do best, and will couple them with an intelligent software partner that learns continuously, increasing in value over time.”

Industry Applications

Drug Development: The process of drug discovery today spans an average of 12 to 15 years, with billions of dollars invested per drug, and a 90+% fallout rate. Working primarily with pharmaceutical companies, IBM Research is using machine-based discovery technology to mine millions of published papers, patents and material properties databases. Then using advanced analytics, modeling and simulation to aid human discovery, IBM is able to uncover unexpected whitespace and innovation opportunities, and predict where to make the most profitable research bets. The inability to discover the next “new thing” quickly is a huge shortcoming faced by companies today across multiple industries including retail, medicine and consumer goods. A diverse set of skills and tools were needed to integrate and analyze these many sources of data, from deep domain knowledge of chemistry, biology and medicine, to data modeling and knowledge representation, to systems optimization. The data sets, skills and infrastructure provided by the Accelerated Discovery Lab not only enabled this work, but also are allowing the re-use of the tools in domains from materials discovery to cancer research. 

Social Analytics: Marketers gather terabytes of data on potential customers, spend billions of dollars on software to analyze spending habits and segment the data to calibrate their campaigns to appeal to specific groups. Yet they still often get it wrong because they study “demographics” (age, sex, marital status, dwelling place, income) and existing buying habits instead of personality, fundamental values and needs. Recognizing this, scientists at IBM Research are helping businesses understand their customers in entirely new ways using terabytes of public social media data. They are able to understand and segment personalities and buying patterns from vast amounts of noisy social media data and do so automatically, reliably and after as few as 50 tweets. This is data that marketers never had before, permitting much more refined marketing than traditional approaches based on demographics and purchase history alone. The Accelerated Discovery Lab brought together the expertise in text analytics, human-computer interaction, psychology and large-scale data processing to enable these new insights. Because clients from multiple industries including retail, government, media and banking are exploring different applications of social analytics in this common environment, the opportunities for unexpected discoveries abound as new analytics are applied to diverse challenges.

Predictive Maintenance: Natural resources industries, such as oil and gas, mining and agriculture, depend on the effectiveness and productivity of expensive equipment. Most maintenance processes result in costly in-field failures, which can cost a company $1.5M for one day of downtime on a single piece of equipment. In order to have a real bottom-line impact, analytics and modeling need to be integrated with current processes. IBM developed an intelligent condition monitoring technology using the most comprehensive data set ever assembled in this domain. This system proactively presents decision support information to drive actions that reduce downtime, increase fleet productivity, and minimize maintenance costs – in fact, one estimate suggests that a $30B company can save $3B a year by implementing predictive maintenance technology. The Accelerated Discovery Lab brought together experts in the domain, the systems and mathematical modeling and provided systems infrastructure and expertise that freed the domain researchers and mathematicians to focus on the client problem and sped up the execution of the resulting models by a factor of 8.

About IBM Big Data and Analytics

Each day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated by a variety of sources -- from climate information, to posts on social media sites, and from purchase transaction records to healthcare medical images. At IBM we believe that Big Data and analytics are a catalyst to help clients become more competitive and drive growth. IBM is helping clients harness this Big Data to uncover valuable insights, and transform their business. IBM has established the world's deepest and broadest portfolio of Big Data technologies and solutions, spanning services, software, research and hardware. For more information about IBM and Big Data and analytics, visit Follow IBM and Big Data on Twitter @IBMbigdata and #ibmbigdata.

Contact(s) information
Ari Entin
IBM Media Relations
1 (408) 927-2272
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 17, 2013, 21:48:17
The ability to manipulate massive amounts of data or perform massive and complex calculations continues to increase. If this development bears fruit, then this sort of power becomes available to individuals and business. While NVidia offers a "supercomputer that has a similar form factor to a PC tower (, IBM takes the idea to a whole new level, proposing shrinking the massive "supercomputers" like "Deep Blue" down to the size of a kitchen garbage can:

How IBM is making computers more like your brain. For real
Big Blue is using the human brain as a template for breakthrough designs. Brace yourself for a supercomputer that's cooled and powered by electronic blood and small enough to fit in a backpack.

by Stephen Shankland October 17, 2013 6:11 AM PDT

ZURICH, Switzerland -- Despite a strong philosophical connection, computers and brains inhabit separate realms in research. IBM, though, believes the time is ripe to bring them together.

Through research projects expected to take a decade, Big Blue is using biological and manufactured forms of computing to learn about the other.
On the computing side, IBM is using the brain as a template for breakthrough designs such as the idea of using fluids both to cool the machine and to distribute electrical power. That could enable processing power that's densely packed into 3D volumes rather than spread out across flat 2D circuit boards with slow communication links.

And on the brain side, IBM is supplying computing equipment to a $1.3 billion European effort called the Human Brain Project. It uses computers to simulate the actual workings of an entire brain -- a mouse's first, then a human's -- all the way down to the biochemical level of the neuron. Researchers will be able to tweak parameters as the simulation is running to try to figure out core mechanisms for conditions like Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, and autism.

It's all part of what IBM calls the cognitive systems era, in which computers aren't just programmed, but also perceive what's going on, make judgments, communicate with natural language, and learn from experience. It's a close cousin to that decades-old dream of artificial intelligence.
"If we want to make an impact in the cognitive systems era, we need to understand how the brain works," said Matthias Kaiserswerth, a computer scientist who's director of IBM Research in Zurich, speaking during a media tour of the labs on Wednesday.

One key challenge driving IBM's work is matching the brain's power consumption. Over millions of years, nature has evolved a remarkably efficient information-processing design, saidAlessandro Curioni, manager of IBM Research's computational sciences department. The ability to process the subtleties of human language helped IBM's Watson supercomputer win at "Jeopardy." That was a high-profile step on the road to cognitive computing, but from a practical perspective, it also showed how much farther computing has to go.

"Watson used 85 kilowatts," Kaiserwerth said. "That's a lot of power. The human brain uses 20 watts."

Dense 3D computing

The shift in IBM's computing research shows in the units the company uses to measure progress. For decades, the yardstick of choice for gauging computer performance has been operations per second -- the rate at which the machine can perform mathematical calculations, for example.
When energy constraints became a problem, meaning that computers required prohibitive amounts of electrical power and threw off problematic amounts of waste heat, a new measurement arrived: operations per joule of energy. That gauges a computer's energy efficiency.

Now IBM has a new yardstick: operations per liter. The company is judging success by how much data-processing ability it can squeeze into a given volume. Today's computers must be laid out on flat circuit boards that ensure plenty of contact with air that cools the chips.
"In a computer, processors occupy one-millionth of the volume. In a brain, it's 40 percent. Our brain is a volumetric, dense, object," said Bruno Michel, a researcher in advanced thermal packaging for IBM Research, who got his Ph.D in biophysics.

What's the problem with sprawl? In short, communication links between processing elements can't keep up with data-transfer demands, and they consume too much power as well, Michel said.

The fix is to stack chips into dense 3D configurations, with chips linked using a technology called through-silicon vias (TSVs). That's impossible today because stacking even two chips means crippling overheating problems. But IBM believes it's got an answer to the cooling problem: a branching network of liquid cooling channels that funnel fluid into ever-smaller tubes.

The liquid passes not next to the chip, but through it, drawing away heat in the thousandth of a second it takes to make the trip, Michel said. The company has demonstrated the approach in an efficient prototype system called Aquasar. (Get ready for another new yardstick: greenhouse gas emissions. Aquasar can perform 7.9 trillion operations per second per gram of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.)

Liquid-based flow battery

But that's not all the liquid will do. IBM also is developing a system called a redox flow battery that also uses it to distribute power instead of using wires. Two liquids called electrolytes, each with oppositely charged electrical ions, circulate through the system to distribute power. Think of it as a liquid battery interlaced through the interstices of the machine.

"We are going to provide cooling and power with a fluid," Michel said. "That's how our brain does it."
The electrolytes, vanadium-based at present, travel through ever-smaller tubes, said Patrick Ruch, another IBM researcher working on the effort. At the smallest, they're about 100 microns wide, about the width of a human hair, at which point they hand off their power to conventional electrical wires. Flow batteries can produce between 0.5 and 3 volts, and that in turn means IBM can use the technology today to supply 1 watt of power for every square centimeter of a computer's circuit board.

Liquid cooling has been around for decades in the computing industry, but most data centers avoid it given its expense and complexity. It's possible the redox battery could provide a new incentive to embrace it, though.
Michel estimates the liquid power technology will take 10 to 15 years to develop, but when it works, it'll mean supercomputers that fit into something the size of a backpack, not a basketball court.

"A 1-petaflop computer in 10 liters -- that's our goal," Michel said.
Performing at 1 petaflop means a computer can complete a quadrillion floating-point mathematical operations per second. Today's top supercomputer clocked in at 33.86 petaflops, but it uses 32,000 Xeon processors and 48,000 Xeon Phi accelerator processors.

How to build a brain

More conventional supercomputers have been used so far for IBM's collaborations in brain research. The highlight of that work so far has been the Blue Brain project, which is on its thirdIBM Blue Gene supercomputer at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, or EPFL, in Lausanne, Switzerland. The Blue Brain and Human Brain Project will take a new step with aBlue Gene/Q augmented by 128 terabytes of flash memory at the Swiss National Supercomputing Center in Lugano, Switzerland. It'll be used to simulate the formation and inner workings of an entire mouse brain, which has about
70 million neurons.

The eventual human brain simulation will take place at the Juelich Supercomputing Center in northern Germany, Curioni said. It's planned to be an "exascale" machine -- one that performs 1 exaflops, or quintillion floating-point operations per second.

The project doesn't lack for ambition. One of its driving forces is co-director Henry Markram of EPFL, who has worked on the Blue Brain project for years and sees computing as the way to understand the true workings of the human brain.

"It's impossible to experimentally map the brain," simply because it's too complicated, Markram said. There are too many neurons overall, 55 different varieties of neuron, and 3,000 ways they can interconnect. That complexity is multiplied by differences that appear with 600 different diseases, genetic variation from one person to the next, and changes that go along with the age and sex of humans.
"If you can't experimentally map the brain, you have to predict it -- the numbers of neurons, the types, where the proteins are located, how they'll
interact," Markram said. "We have to develop an entirely new science where we predict most of the stuff that cannot be measured."

With the Human Brain Project, researchers will use supercomputers to reproduce how brains form -- basically, growing them in an virtual vat -- then seeing how they respond to input signals from simulated senses and nervous system.

The idea isn't to reproduce every last thing about the brain, but rather a model based on the understanding so far. If it works, actual brain behavior should emerge from the fundamental framework inside the computer, and where it doesn't work, scientists will know where their knowledge falls short.

"We take these rules and algorithmically reconstruct a model of the brain," Markram said. "We'll say this is biological prediction, then we can go back to the experiments and we can verify if the model is right. We celebrate when the model is wrong, because that's when it points to where we need more data or we don't understand the rules."

The result, if the work is successful, will be not just a better understanding of the brain, but better cooperation among brain researchers and medical experts. That could reverse recent declines in the development of new drugs to treat neural problems, he said.
And understanding the brain could usher in the era of "neuromorphic computing."

"Any new rules, circuits, or understanding of how the brain works will allow us to design neuromorphic machines that are much more powerful in terms of cognitive power, energy efficiency, and packaging," Curioni said.

And that, in turn, could lead to profoundly more capable computers. For starters, IBM has four markets in mind: machines that could find the best places to invest money, bring new depth and accuracy to medical diagnoses, research the appropriate legal precedents in court cases, or give people help when they dial a call center.

But it's not hard to imagine that's only the beginning. When computers can learn for themselves and program themselves, it's clear the divide separating biological and artificial computing will be a lot narrower.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 25, 2013, 18:46:47
Harvesting waste heat and converting it into energy. This is a lot better than simply throwing waste heat into the environment:

( —By collecting heat energy from the environment and transforming it into electrical power, thermoelectric energy harvesters have the potential to provide energy for a variety of small electronic devices. Currently, the biggest challenge in developing thermoelectric energy harvesters is to make systems that are both powerful and efficient at the same time.

One material that scientists have experimented with for making thermoelectric energy harvesters is quantum dots, nano-sized crystals with semiconducting properties. Due to their sharp, discrete energy levels, quantum dots are good energy filters, which is an important property for thermoelectric devices.

In a new study published in the New Journal of Physics, a team of researchers from Switzerland, Spain, and the US has investigated a thermoelectric energy harvester design based on quantum wells. Although quantum wells are also made of semiconducting materials, they have different structures and energy-filtering properties than quantum dots.

"We have shown that quantum wells can be used as powerful and efficient energy harvesters," said coauthor Björn Sothmann, a physicist at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. "Compared to our previous proposal based on quantum dots, quantum wells are easier to fabricate and offer the potential to be operated at room temperature."

The energy harvester design that the researchers investigated here consists of a central cavity connected via quantum wells to two electronic reservoirs. The central cavity is kept at a hotter temperature than the two electronic reservoirs, and the quantum wells act as filters that allow electrons of certain energies to pass through. In general, the greater the temperature difference between the central cavity and the reservoirs, the greater the electron flow and output power.

In their analysis, the researchers found that the quantum well energy harvester delivers an output power of about 0.18 W/cm2 for a temperature difference of 1 K, which is nearly double the power of a quantum dot energy harvester. This increased power is due to the ability of quantum wells to deliver larger currents compared to quantum dots as a result of their extra degrees of freedom.

Although the quantum well energy harvester has a good efficiency, the efficiency is slightly lower than that of energy harvesters based on quantum dots. The researchers explain that this difference occurs because of the difference in energy filtering: quantum wells transmit electrons of any energy above a certain level, while quantum dots are more selective and let only electrons of a specific energy pass through. As a result, quantum wells are less efficient energy filters.

Quantum well energy harvesters appear promising for applications. For one thing, they may be easier to fabricate than energy harvesters that use quantum dots, since quantum dots are required to have similar properties in order to achieve good performance, and there is no such requirement for quantum wells. In addition, the fact that they can operate at room temperature may make quantum well energy harvesters suitable for a variety of applications, such as electric circuits.

"The energy harvester can be used to convert waste heat from electric circuits, e.g. in computer chips, back into electricity," Sothmann said. "This way, one can reduce both the consumed power as well as the need for cooling the chip."

The researchers hope that their work encourages experimental groups to build and test the device.

Read more at:
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on October 28, 2013, 17:52:29
And another scheme to have high density, long lasting data storage. Future alien explorers digging through the ruins of Earth will find this as difficult to interpret as "Linear A" script from the ancient Minoan civilization  ;) but having archival copies of data that cannot be corrupted by ordinary means will be a big plus in many demanding situations (think of the boot sector of a hard drive that is uncrashable, by way of an analogy). Of course PowerPoint briefings that can endure for a billion years is a bit much....


Mankind has been storing information for thousands of years. From carvings on marble to today's magnetic data storage. Although the amount of data that can be stored has increased immensely during the past few decades, it is still difficult to actually store data for a long period. The key to successful information storage is to ensure that the information does not get lost. If we want to store information that will exist longer than mankind itself, then different requirements apply than those for a medium for daily information storage. Researcher Jeroen de Vries from the University of Twente MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology demonstrates that it is possible to store data for extremely long periods. He will be awarded his doctorate on 17 October.
Current hard disk drives have the ability to store vast amounts of data but last roughly ten years at room temperature, because their magnetic energy barrier is low so that the information is lost after a period of time. CDs, DVDs, paper, tape, clay and tablets and stone also have a limited life. Alternatives will have to be sought if information is to be retained longer.

Archival storage for up to one billion years

It is possible to conceive of a number of scenarios why we wish to store information for a long time. "One scenario is that a disaster has devastated the earth and society must rebuild the world. Another scenario could be that we create a kind of legacy for future intelligent life that evolves on Earth or comes from other worlds. You must then think about archival storage of between one million and one billion years," according to researcher De Vries.

Optical information carrier

De Vries has developed an optical information carrier that can store information for extremely long periods of time, with each bit being written using etching techniques. The chosen information carrier is a wafer consisting of tungsten encapsulated by silicon nitride. Tungsten was chosen because it can withstand extreme temperatures. A QR code is etched into the tungsten (see picture) and is protected by the nitride. Each pixel of the large QR code contains a smaller QR code that in turn stores different information. "In principle, we can store everything on the disc that we believe is worthwhile saving: for example, a digital image of the Mona Lisa. In this study we tested a digital copy of the chapter about this medium from my thesis", says De Vries.

Ageing test at high temperatures

In order to ensure the stability of the data, an energy barrier that separates the information from the non-information is required. In order to prove that the data is still legible after millions of years, an ageing test is required to see if the energy barriers are high enough to prevent data loss. De Vries: "According to the Arrhenius model, the medium should keep working for at least 1 million years if it is heated to a temperature of 473 Kelvin (200 degrees Celsius) and kept in the oven for an hour." After the test there was no visible degradation of the tungsten, and it was still easy to read the information. Things become complicated at higher temperatures. When heated to 713 Kelvin (440 degrees Celsius) it becomes a lot more difficult to decypher the QR codes even if the tungsten is not affected. De Vries: "A follow-up study would be to investigate whether the data carrier also can withstand higher temperatures, for example during a house fire. But if we can find a place that is very stable, such as a nuclear storage facility, then the disc itself and the data that is on it should be able to endure millions of years. ”

About Jeroen de Vries
Jeroen de Vries was born on 5 January 1982 in Stede Broec. In 2000, he moved to Enschede to study Electrical Engineering. From December 2007 to April 2008 he stayed in Akita, Japan with the group of Professor Hitoshi Saito at Akita University in order to study the theoretical sensitivity of cantilever tip shapes. He followed this with a study of the optical readout of a cantilever array at the Systems and Materials for Information storage (SMI) group. He graduated in 2009 and then started as a PhD student with the Transducers Science and Technology (TST) group. During his doctoral studies, he participated in the IEEE summer school on magnetism in Dresden, Germany and the ESONN summer school on nanotechnology in Grenoble, France.
More information

The PhD defence of Jeroen de Vries from the Transducers Science and Technology department of the MESA+ Institute will take place in the Waaier building on the University of Twente campus on 17 October 2013 at 2.45 p.m. His thesis supervisor is Professor Miko C. Elwenspoek (Electromagnetism) from the Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) faculty. For more information, or an electronic version of the thesis ‘Energy barriers in patterned media’ you can contact Dennis Moekotte, (+31 6 18642685), the University of Twente Press department.
Title: China tests precision-guided torpedo
Post by: S.M.A. on November 17, 2013, 02:43:09
An update for the "naval front"  :


from the Washington Free Beacon (

China Tests High-Speed Precision-Guided Torpedo
Torpedo poses threat to U.S. ships, submarines
   BY: Bill Gertz 
November 14, 2013 5:00 am

China’s navy recently conducted a test of a new high-speed maneuvering torpedo that poses a threat to U.S. ships and submarines.

Defense officials said the new torpedo is the latest example of what the Pentagon calls Beijing’s anti-access, area-denial, or AA/AD, high-tech weaponry.

Other new weapons include China’s recently deployed anti-ship ballistic missile, the DF-21D, which is designed to sink U.S. aircraft carriers far from China’s shores.

China’s military showcased last month another high-tech weapon designed to target Navy ships and submarines. U.S. submarines are considered one of the U.S. military’s most important counter weapons to the AA/AD threat.

Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 02, 2013, 14:47:33
Now, if we could combine the speed and efficiency of's ordering and warhouse operations with the "instant" package delivery for military logistics, we would be far more flexible and efficient in our doings, and I suspect that the efficiency of the model for overall logistical processes would save billions for the CF as well. Military delivery vehicles (helicopters or robotic trucks) would be much larger than what Amazon seems to be working on, though:

Amazon and Walmart are competing to get same day delivery now but Amazon is looking to leap to 30 minute delivery drones with Prime Air

In a Sunday evening "60 Minutes" program aired on CBS Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos unveiled the new service, dubbed Prime Air, to CBS anchor Charlie Rose.

The company has been working on the "octocopter" project in a secret research and development lab at its Seattle, Wash.-based headquarters for months in efforts to ramp up its competition against its rivals. According to the program, the octocopter drones will pick up packages in small buckets at Amazon's fulfillment centers and fly directly to customers' nearby in as little as 30 minutes after they hit the "buy" button.

But the service won't launch overnight. In fact, it may take as long as four to five years for Prime Air drones to take to the skies. There needs to be FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approval.

Prime Air is something the Amazon team has been working on in their next generation R and D lab. The goal of this new delivery system is to get packages into customers' hands in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles. Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take some number of years as we advance technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations. This is footage from a recent test flight. See page at

Amazon hopes FAA's rules will be in place as early as sometime in 2015.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on December 18, 2013, 05:34:54
Laser trucks. This is the 21rst century, after all:

US Army mounts high energy laser on a big truck for anti-mortar and anti-drone defense

Tweet The Army used a vehicle-mounted high-energy laser for the first time to successfully engage more than 90 mortar rounds and several unmanned aerial vehicles in flight.

The Army High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator, or HEL MD, underwent multiple test events between Nov. 18 and Dec. 10, at White Sands Missile Range.

This was the first full-up demonstration of the HEL MD in the configuration that included the laser and beam director mounted in the vehicle, according to officials of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. They said a surrogate radar, the Enhanced Multi Mode Radar, supported the engagement by queuing the laser.

The HEL MD is being developed to show directed-energy force-protection capabilities against rockets, artillery and mortars, known as RAM. It is also intended to protect against unmanned aerial vehicles, known as UAVs, and cruise missiles.

Mortars travel at low velocities for short ranges in high-arching trajectories. These weapons, as well as UAVs, are representative of the threat encountered by U.S. and allied forces on the battlefield, officials said.

Initial system effectiveness was proven through low- and medium-power test demonstration that took place in 2011. High-power testing has now concluded at the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility on White Sands Missile Range.

The demonstration and testing confirms the capability of a mobile solid-state laser weapon system to counter mortars, UAVs, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors mounted on the UAVs, officials said.

The recent testing utilized a 10-kilowatt class laser. In the future, a 50-kW class laser will be integrated into the HEL MD platform, officials said. The 50-kW laser is scheduled to be upgraded to a 100-kW class laser in subsequent demonstrations, they added.

The supporting thermal and power subsystems will also be upgraded to support the increasingly powerful solid-state lasers, according to USASMDC/ARSTRAT officials. They said these upgrades will increase the effective range of the laser or decrease required lase time on target.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on January 09, 2014, 16:06:08
Darpa cracks the incompatible radios problem. Having experienced this myself, I am glad something has finally emerged. Wonder how they handle the bandwidth issue since this is supposed to be a "backbone" for all kinds of data transmission:

Darpa Cracks Radio Incompatibility Problem Once and for All
By Allen McDuffee12.16.139:30 AM

After more than 10 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon’s research group has announced a new system that could help U.S. troops and multinational forces communicate  — a problem that frequently plagued the countries’ cooperation in the field.

Darpa’s nearly-completed Mobile Ad-Hoc Interoperability Gateway (MAINGATE) is said to overcome the “technical incompatibility between communications systems [that] can hinder information sharing and timely command and control decisions.” The latest version of the system will soon make its way to Afghanistan, even as U.S. forces draw down.

“MAINGATE is designed to be a potent communications force multiplier for joint and combined forces,” said Keith Gremban, DARPA program manager, in a statement. “From a radio perspective, MAINGATE allows coalition forces to plug in their own radio systems and MAINGATE takes the necessary steps so everyone can communicate in real time.”

Darpa has been developing MAINGATE since 2008, awarding Raytheon an initial $155 million contract in 2009 to make the concept into a reality. Certain elements of the project have already been used into U.S. Army systems.

The system relies on two technologies to provide an interoperable network for connecting forces. A high capacity Wireless IP Network (WIPN) radio provides a “terrestrial ‘Everything over IP’ backbone” with enough capacity to simultaneously support many channels of voice, video and data. The second is MAINGATE’s Interoperability Gateway, which provides interconnectivity for otherwise incompatible communications equipment. According to Raytheon, MAINGATE provides 10 megabits per second to a network of as many as 128 nodes that could include drones, ships, bases and vehicles on the ground.

“We’re transitioning a proven capability that can be kept up to date with the latest IP technology standards,” said Gremban. “Just as a smartphone offers the capability to do more than make phone calls, MAINGATE is much more than a radio—it’s a backbone architecture enabling video, data and voice sharing among a diversity of networks and devices.”

According to Darpa, MAINGATE is designed to accommodate upgrades with future technologies, so that the system stays as current as the latest commercial IP-based communication tools to provide the most advanced capabilities to front-line troops.

Afghanistan will likely not be the only opportunity the Pentagon has to deploy MAINGATE, and Darpa also points out that it could support emergency first responders where multiple agencies and organizations often have incompatible communications systems.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on January 11, 2014, 00:51:02
Progress on the idea of "flying trucks". It isn't particularly elegant to look at, but as a niche vehicle may have some useful applications:

Advanced Tactics Unveils the AT Transformer:
The Future of Roadable VTOL Aircraft and Modular Cargo Systems

Posted on January 8, 2014
EL SEGUNDO, California, 8 January 2014 – Advanced Tactics Inc., a small aerospace company, released details about its AT Transformer vehicle technology and announced that a full-scale technology demonstrator has completed its first driving tests.

The AT Black Knight Transformer, the world’s first roadable VTOL aircraft. It is designed to be a low-cost rapid response ambulance to evacuate wounded soldiers from the battlefield or transport cargo.

The AT Transformer technology makes possible the world’s first roadable, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft. The patented AT Transformer technology combines the capabilities of a helicopter, such as the ability to take off and land anywhere, with the capabilities of an off-road automobile. The first technology demonstrator, the AT Black Knight Transformer, completed driving tests in December 2013 in Southern California and is scheduled to fly in early 2014.

The AT Black Knight Transformer technology demonstrator (top) and the AT Black Knight Transformer operational concept vehicle (bottom) with turbo diesel engines.

Advanced Tactics began work on the AT Black Knight Transformer in 2010. The Black Knight Transformer is designed for autonomous casualty evacuation and manned or unmanned cargo resupply missions. Its unmanned capabilities keep pilots out of harm’s way, making it the safest casualty evacuation option. The interior volume is comparable to a Blackhawk helicopter, making it well-suited for cargo missions as well. In 2012, Advanced Tactics began work on the AT Panther Transformer, a similar vehicle designed specifically for Special Operations missions. It is a low-cost vehicle that carries two passengers and their gear, is transportable in a CV-22 Osprey cargo hold, and is operable with minimal training. This vehicle is shown below and will be used to transport passengers to a remote location that is inaccessible by traditional air or ground based means.

The Panther concept vehicle (left) and scaled technology demonstrator (right).

Imagine a situation where a soldier has been wounded on the front lines in an urban firefight – he’s being protected by the rest of his squad but he needs to be evacuated immediately or he will die. A nearby base is notified of the casualty and dispatches an AT Black Knight Transformer vehicle to evacuate him. The vehicle autonomously takes off and heads toward the front lines, 20 miles away. The squad is deep in the city and there are no safe landing zones within a half mile radius. Two members of the squad designate a safe landing zone in an open courtyard and wait for the vehicle there.

Once it arrives, it lands and the two soldiers climb inside. The flight engines are stowed and the vehicle enters driving mode. It is manually driven through the narrow streets to the casualty, who is quickly loaded onboard and connected to life support equipment. The vehicle is driven back to the courtyard where it takes off. Several minutes later the wounded soldier arrives at the base where he can be given full medical treatment within the “Golden Hour” after injury. The Black Knight Transformer’s unique air and ground ingress and egress options dramatically reduced the time needed to evacuate the casualty and his life was saved without risking a flight crew or the need for a ground transport.

The Black Knight Transformer technology demonstrator in flight configuration.

The Black Knight and Panther Transformers both utilize the AT Transformer technology, which leverages the simplicity and robustness of a “multicopter” helicopter at a full-scale size. Like the small electric multicopters that are prevalent today, the AT Transformer uses engines with a direct drive connection to prop-rotors. The components of the propulsion system, including the engines and prop-rotors, are low-cost commercially available parts and the aircraft’s structure is made of modular field-replaceable components. Like an electric multicopter, the vehicle is stabilized and controlled by differential thrust between opposing sets of prop-rotors. This design is simple and robust, eliminating the mechanical complexity and cost of the articulated rotor system that stabilizes and controls a conventional helicopter and replacing it with a high-speed computerized feedback control system. Additionally, the configuration negates the need for a tail-rotor or engine transmission. The AT Transformer has the ability to perform controlled engine-out flight in case of a critical component failure.

AT Black Knight Transformer technology demonstrator during driving tests. The engines are stowed along the side of the vehicle to reach a street-legal width.

The design benefits from a large interior volume compared to the overall footprint of the vehicle, which makes it an ideal candidate for unmanned cargo resupply missions as well as civil missions such as package delivery and fire-fighting. Both the Black Knight and the Panther Transformers have automotive suspensions and drive-trains similar to those used in off-road trucks. Large truck tires and shocks provide excellent terrain handling and soften the vehicles’ landings. The wheels are driven by an independent engine and transaxle for speeds up to 70 mph.

The AT Transformer design is highly modular for rapid repair and reconfiguration. For instance, each of the eight propulsion subsystems can be replaced in the field by two people and the payload bay can be changed from casualty evacuation life support equipment to cargo for multi-mission capabilities. Additionally, the modular automobile portion of the vehicle can be replaced with a boat hull or an amphibious hull for water operations.

Four-engine technology evaluation aircraft flown in 2012. It is gas powered and weighs over 2,000 lbs.

The Black Knight and Panther Transformer vehicles have been developed through an iterative prototyping process starting with small scale electric prototypes and moving to the larger internal combustion powered technology demonstration vehicles. The first electric prototypes were flown in 2010 followed by a 2,000 lbs gas-powered vehicle in 2012, shown in Figure 6. A scaled prototype of the Panther vehicle has been tested and the full-scale version is in the early design phase.

AT engineer, Rustom Jehangir, is standing next to the vehicle for scale. He is six feet tall.

The operational concept design of the Black Knight Transformer is a streamlined aircraft that has been optimized for payload carrying and multi-mission capabilities. That vehicle will use turbo diesel engines and aerodynamic enhancements to provide a payload capacity of over 1,000 lbs or five passengers with a 250 nm range. Configured without the ground drivetrain, the aircraft can carry up to 1600 lbs of payload or eight passengers. The aircraft will cruise at a speed of 130 kts and drive at up to 70 mph. This highly capable vehicle will provide a safe, low-cost option for casualty evacuation, medical and cargo resupply, and other military or civil missions.

Black Knight Transformer operational concept design with streamlined aerodynamics and more powerful and efficient turbo diesel engines.

After its first flight, the AT Black Knight Transformer technology demonstrator will enter an iterative testing program leading to a full-capability demonstration in late 2014. Advanced Tactics is interested in collaboration and joint development opportunities for taking this, and other patented AT technologies, into full production.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: S.M.A. on January 14, 2014, 13:11:59
Progress on the idea of "flying trucks". It isn't particularly elegant to look at, but as a niche vehicle may have some useful applications:

Speaking of the AT Black Knight Transformer: video: AT Black Knight flight model test (
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: GAP on January 18, 2014, 09:23:55
US military is testing gun that could turn ANYONE into an ace sniper

    Users simply 'tag' their target using a button near the trigger
    Smart rifle can then work out the range and weather conditions before shooting
    Can even send target details to other nearby rifles - and be controlled by an iPad app

By Mark Prigg  16 January 2014 (

The US military is testing a radical 'smart rifle' that can automatically aim itself, it has been revealed.

The army is believed to have acquired six $27,000 'smart rifles' from Texas firm Tracking Point.

It uses a built in computer to aim at a target, and can even 'lock on' top targets and automatically track them.

Oren Schauble, a marketing official with the Austin, Texas-based company, confirmed the military bought a handful of them in recent months for evaluation.

The military has purchased several units for testing and evaluation purposes,' he said during an interview with Military​.com at the annual SHOT Show, the country’s largest gun show with 60,000 attendees.

The system includes a Linux-powered computer in the scope with sensors that collect imagery and ballistic data such as atmospheric conditions, cant, inclination, even the slight shift of the Earth’s rotation known as the Coriolis effect.

A laser rangefinder is used by the shooter looking through the scope to identify the target that he or she wants to hit.

The high-tech sight then takes into account humidity, wind and the typical ballistic drop you'd expect from a bullet fired over such a distance.

Once the target has been selected, the scope provides cross-hairs which have to be lined up with the pin that is dropped on the target.

To ensure accuracy, the shooter can not even squeeze the trigger unless the cross-hairs and pin are alined.
more on link
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on January 29, 2014, 19:24:50
The USN is moving aggressively towards energy weapons (railguns and lasers). While the article suggests that missiles will be de emphasized, I think they actually fill a useful "middle ground" between long range projectiles fired from railguns and intense, short range engagements using lasers:

Future Destroyers Likely to Fire Lasers, Rail Guns
Jan 10, 2014 | by Kris Osborn

The Navy is in the early phases of starting research to determine what kind of hull, ship defenses, propulsion technology and weapons systems will be engineered for a new class of DDG Flight IV destroyers to begin service in the 2030s.
Capt. Mark Vandroff, program manager for DDG 51 acquisition, cautioned that predicting what the Navy will build in 17 years is difficult, but it's a conversation that has to start early in order to deliver the ship the Navy needs.

Although the conversations regarding DDG Flight IV configurations are preliminary and likely to change as various technologies mature, lasers and electromagnetic rail guns are figuring prominently in the early discussions, Vandroff said.
Part of the discussion includes the business of war and the costs of ship defense systems.

"Some of the thinking involves senior leaders talking about getting on the other side of the cost curve. Right now if someone shoots a missile at us, we shoot a missile back at them. The missile we shoot at them cost about as much, if not more, than the missile that got shot at us. They are burning money and we are burning money to defend ourselves," he added.

A directed energy weapon or rail gun, however, might be able to offer an effective deterrent or ship defense system at a fraction of the cost of a missile, Vandroff said.

"The down side is this kind of technology does not exist today and even if it does, you have to look at what kind of maritime platform could you put it on and what that would look like. When that technology starts to get close to mature, then you will see the Navy start to figure out what it has to do in order to field that technology," he said.

The Navy is progressing with laser and rail gun technology. Senior Navy officials have routinely talked about plans for the service's Laser Weapons System, or LaWS, a high-energy, solid-state directed energy weapon slated to deploy this year aboard the USS Ponce, a transport dock.
"We're taking the laser weapon system prototype to sea this year. We are hoping to develop a system that we can produce and install aboard future warships," said Navy spokesman Chris Johnson.

The idea with LaWS is to deploy a low-cost, high-energy offensive and defensive weapon against a range of potential threats, including Unmanned Aircraft Systems, fast-attack boats and small-boat swarm attacks.

The Navy also plans to test a ship-mounted electromagnetic rail gun on Navy vessels, service officials said. The rail gun, which can hit ranges of 100 miles or more, uses electricity stored on the ship to generate a high-speed electromagnetic pulse sufficient to propel a kinetic energy warhead. The result is an inexpensive, high-impact and long-range offensive weapon, service officials said.

The Navy, which has been testing the rail gun at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va., plans to integrate it aboard a ship by 2016, Johnson said.

The rail gun's hyper-velocity projectile can also be fired from standard Navy 5-inch guns as well as 155mm Howitzers, service officials said.
At the moment, Navy destroyers, carriers and cruisers are designed to have a kinetic interceptor layered ship defense system comprised of sensors, radar and various interceptor missiles.

The DDG Flight IV program, now in its infancy, is planned as an upgrade to the Navy's current Flight III destroyer program slated to being construction in 2016. Overall, the Secretary of the Navy's long-range shipbuilding plan calls for construction of 22 Flight III DDGs, Vandroff explained.
Flight III destroyers will be engineered with a series of technological improvements when compared to the current Flight IIA ships. For instance, the Flight IIIs will be configured with a next-generation Air and Missile Defense Radar, or AMDR, a radar that is 30 to 35 times more powerful than existing ship radar systems, such as the current SPY-1D, he said.

"You can see something one-half the size and twice as far away," Vandroff added.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on February 04, 2014, 21:58:04
This article is even more interesting when read after reading about the huge weight gains in the LAV 6.0 program. While materials like this might not make the best armour, using materials less dense than water but as strong as steel in structural members could deliver a big "diet" for vehicles and other structures. Logistical follow on effects such as lower fuel consumption and the ability to use roads and tracks which cannot support the weight of heavier vehicles (or heavy loads carried on vehicles) also make this a promising technology to watch:

New laser-printed material is lighter than water, as strong as steel
An internal structure like that of bone keeps the material porous but tough.

by Akshat Rathi - Feb 3 2014, 4:07pm EST

Materials shape human progress—think Stone Age or Bronze Age. The 21st century has been referred to as the molecular age, a time when scientists are beginning to manipulate materials at the atomic level to create new substances with astounding properties.

Taking a step in that direction, Jens Bauer, at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and his colleagues have developed a bone-like material that is less dense than water but as strong as some forms of steel. "This is the first experimental proof that such materials can exist," Bauer said.

Material world

Since the Industrial Revolution, our demand for new materials has outstripped supply. We want these materials to do many different things, from improving the speed of computers to withstanding the heat when entering Mars' atmosphere. However, a key feature of most new materials remains in their strength and stiffness—that is, how much load can they carry without bending or buckling.

All known materials can be represented quite neatly in one chart (where each line means the strength or density of the material goes up 10 times):

The line in the middle at 1000kg/m3 is the density of water—all materials to its left are lighter than water, and those on the right are heavier. Few fully dense solid materials are lighter than water. Those that are tend to be porous, like wood or bone, and they exhibit exquisite structures when observed under a microscope, and they served as inspiration for Bauer's work.

For many years, material scientists have long thought that some empty areas on the compressive strength-density chart should be filled by materials that theory predicts. Computer simulations could be used to indicate an optimum microstructure that would give a material the right properties. However, nobody had tools to build materials with defined patterns at the scale of a human hair.

With recent developments in lasers and 3D printing, however, a German company called Nanoscribe started offering lasers that could do just what Bauer wanted. Nanoscribe's system involves the use of a polymer that reacts when exposed to light and a laser that can be neatly focused on a tiny spot with the help of lenses.

A drop of a honey-like polymer is placed on a glass slide and the laser is turned on. A computer-aided design is fed into the system, and the slide carefully moves such that the laser’s stationary focus touches only those points where the material is to be made solid. Once complete, the extra liquid is washed away, leaving behind materials with intricate internal structures.

However, these materials on their own are not as strong as Bauer wanted. So he coats them with a thin layer of alumina (aluminium oxide) before subjecting them to stress tests. Based on the tests, he was able to improve the theoretical models he used to design the internal structure of the materials. Their results were just published in PNAS.

Stress test on honeycomb-structured material.

Even though alumina layers increase the density of these materials, all of them remain lighter than water. Bauer's strongest material has a specific honeycomb internal structure and is coated with a 50 nanometer-thick (billionth of a meter) layer of alumina. It beats all natural and man-made materials that are lighter than 1000kg/m3, being able to withstand a load of 280MPa (mega pascals is a unit of measuring pressure), which makes it as strong as some forms of steel.

There are limitations. Nanoscribe's system can only make objects that are tens of micrometers in size. "One of their newer machines can make materials in the millimeter-range, but that's about it for now" he added. But that is not enough for any real-life application.

However, there have been rapid improvements in all the areas this work relies on: 3D printing, new polymers, and laser technology. That means we may soon have a suite of new, super lightweight materials for everything from skis to aircraft parts. If nothing else, Bauer’s work shows that we are definitely in the molecular age.The Conversation

PNAS, 2014. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1315147111 (About DOIs).

This article was originally published at The Conversation.

Correction: There are some fully-dense solid materials lighter than water. The text has been modified to reflect that.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on February 15, 2014, 21:59:09
The use of robotics to dispense drugs may have useful implications for us as well in terms of cost and quality control. This is somewhat related to the ideas that drive's warehouse delivery model; really the only difference between something like that and implementing a military model would be the final delivery of the item, package or medicines would be via the CQ rather than the USPS or FedEX.

A Drug-Dealing Robot That Upends the Pharmacy Model

For $20 a month, PillPack will deliver prescription drugs to patients with the efficiency of Amazon Prime.

For all the emphasis on design in the business world, there are entire classes of objects and experiences that feel stuck in time. Take a trip to the pharmacy—you wait in line, peruse the latest celebrity scandal in US Weekly, ponder whether peanut M&M’s purchased at the pharmacy count as health food, and pray that no embarrassing instructions accompany your meds.

A startup pharmacy called PillPack hopes to change this archaic process. For $20 a month, PillPack will deliver prescription drugs to patients with the efficiency of Amazon Prime. Pillpack came to life thanks to a new incubator program at the famed design consultancy IDEO and the core of their service is a small blue box that organizes all of your med into “dose packets,” little plastic baggies marked with the date and time they’re to be taken. A jumble of amber bottles are replaced by an efficient to-do list made of drugs.

‘CVS’s iPad app is a 3-D representation of their store. In one fell swoop it shows everything wrong with pharmacy and software.’
This simple innovation makes life easier for seniors who can be a bit forgetful and have difficulty with bottles. Younger patients with active lifestyles and chronic diseases can just pull as many packets as they need and go. The trail of empty packets means there is never any doubt about missed doses, and each order comes with a custom infographic that shows a full color picture of each pill, explains what it does, and clarifies any special instructions. Ointments, inhalers, and other non-pill products are included in the box as well. All told, PillPack means you’ll never have to help your grandma sort pills into a tacky day-of-the-week organizer again.

Despite being a mail-order operation, PillPack is a licensed pharmacy, just like CVS or Walgreens, and serves patients in 31 states. They accept most major insurance plans, as well as Medicare Part D, and customer service is available 24/7. Switching prescriptions only takes a few minutes on their website and patients as young as 12 and as old as 88 have been testing the service for the past few months. Unlike brick and mortar pharmacies, they don’t carry cigarettes or homeopathic “treatments,” but otherwise the experience is just like going to your local drug store.

Meet the Drug-Dealing Robots

The technical backbone of PillPack is a suite of drug-dealing robots. A large, beige machine in PillPack’s New Hampshire office is filled with a cornucopia of curatives which are dispensed into the plastic packets. The strip of dose packs is then fed through another robot that reviews each plastic packet for quality control purposes before a team of pharmacists double check the prescriptions and send them off to patients.

TJ Parker is the co-founder and CEO of PillPack and a second-generation pharmacist who spent his high school years working for his father. His dad used similar robots to deliver drugs to hospitals and assisted living centers, but the younger Parker realized that with a few design modifications the pill packs would be an ideal consumer product.

Big Problems Require New Kinds of Designers

Parker attended the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, which happened to share a dining hall with MassArt, the state’s art school. “I was sitting in the cafeteria and said, ‘Wait, these are my people; I should be here.’” He registered for as many classes as possible, and like Twitter founder Jack Dorsey even took a class on pattern making for clothes. Despite the creative coursework and his Warby Parker glasses, Parker isn’t your typical designer. His talent is an ability to reorganize the disparate parts of a complex and often dysfunctional system, and less of an ability to create pixel perfect artworks in Photoshop.

The life-saving text is presented in a full-color, large format, easy-to-read infographic.
Take the labeled dose packets at the core of the service. “A lot of pharmacists put everything they can on the labels,” says Parker. “Our design contribution was taking as much off of as possible.” The machine that prints them has serious limitations—pharmacists can select 8 or 16 point fonts, but can’t spec more design-y elements, like a font from Hoefler & Frere-Jones. Instead of squeezing the life-saving text onto a small label, it’s presented in a full-color, large format, easy-to-read infographic.

By focusing on a mail-order model, PillPack only needs to stock the medications its customers are actually buying. Moreover, retail pharmacies often have to repackage drugs if no one has claimed them at the counter after two weeks. It’s a law to prevent fraud, but because PillPack is sending the pills directly to the customer, they can operate more efficiently. “If you go through a retail pharmacy there are 15 active ingredients, and they make two aisles of products from them that everyone thinks are completely different,” says Parker. “It’s totally insane.”


A jumble of amber bottles are replaced by an efficient to-do list made of drugs. Photo: PillPack
Most designers can kvetch about terrible clients, but most of Parker’s difficulties stem from having to navigate the byzantine system of rules and regulations that govern pharmacies. For instance, in order for PillPack to serve South Carolina, Parker had to appear in-person before the state’s Board of Pharmacy. The process ended up taking all of five minutes, but is evidence of a system created before the advent of the internet.

Parker also believes pharmacists should have personalities. By using robots to pack pills, his team of pharmacists can spend more time on the phone with customers. When he discovered pills to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder were packed in a chaotic jumble, he posted the picture to Reddit. Hoping to learn about how people currently manage their pills, he propagated the hashtag #MedGyver to see how doctors, nurses, and patients cleverly deliver care. “Most pharmacists could do a lot more if they were given the tools and regulatory environment to do so,” says Parker.

Enter IDEO

Despite his desire to get his hands dirty designing, Parker knew that his skills weren’t commensurate with the task at hand. In return for equity in the company, IDEO’s Boston office incubated the startup, providing key feedback on everything from the sign up experience on the website to the packaging details while the company was at its formative stage.

According to Parker, the experience of working with the legendary design firm was immensely helpful, but didn’t lead to a dramatic reinvention of the service. The product doesn’t look much different than it did when PillPack first entered IDEO’s studio, but the site has become far better focused. In the original version, the bulk of the content focused on the inventive packaging—a rookie mistake in the world of human-centered design. “People didn’t grok that we were a pharmacy or that we replace your pharmacy, which seems relatively obvious, but took some work to get there,” says Parker. “They also helped reduce the signup process from about 10 screens to three.”

PillPack is designed to serve patients of all ages, but Parker is uncompromising to his commitment to design at all levels. “We got a lot of feedback that said the design doesn’t look like it’s for old people,” says Parker. “Even if people don’t seek out nice things, they still appreciate them, and it would be a travesty if people didn’t get to experience good design in all facets of their life.”

PillPack will surely win a bevy of design awards, but the big question is if anyone will use it.

The Future of Pill-Popping

Despite its size, the pharma industry has seen little innovation in consumer experience over the last few decades. Target shook up the pharmacy in 2007 with the debut of its ClearRX bottle which traded in the cylindrical form for a wedge-shaped design. GlowCaps was an interesting solution that tried to link pill bottles to the internet, but flopped as no one wanted to pay for the product. Parker hopes his product can succeed where others have failed. “In my opinion, for maintenance medications it’s a better experience if they show up automatically and pre-sorted,” he says.

Established giants Walgreen’s and CVS have gotten into the digital realm, but Parker isn’t too worried about them squelching his startup. “CVS’s new iPad app was literally a 3-D representation of their store,” he says. “In one fell swoop it shows everything wrong with pharmacy and software.”

PillPack will surely win a bevy of design awards, but the big question is if anyone will use it. The dose packets look cool, and the service discards the unpleasantness of retail pharmacy like so much wadded up cotton in an aspirin bottle, but will it be enough? It may sound crazy, but nearly a quarter of people who suffer a heart attack never pick up their prescriptions at the pharmacy. The cost of patient’s not using prescribed medications costs more than $290 million a year. Will a modern sensibility and the Amazon-esqe efficiency really be enough to change this suicidal behavior?

Even if patients are non-compliant, PillPack has revealed the massive potential of combining design thinking and the drug market. Big pharma is boring to many, yet the opportunity for designers to make an impact on healthcare and a company’s bottom line is staggering.

For instance, sales of Abilify, a drug used to treat depression, accounts for sales of about $6.4 billion per year versus $5.3 billion spent on digital music downloads. Put another way, one pharma product is bigger than the entire digital music industry. Think of all the energy focused on designing better music experiences—Pandora and Spotify, Beats by Dre and Jawbone, not to mention Apple’s contributions—compared to the underserved world of pharma products.

PillPack is one, but far from the only, possible improvement. Figuring out ways to dispense enemas might not be as glamorous as designing an app to better appreciate Eminem, but it’s a lot more important.

Joseph Flaherty
Joseph Flaherty writes about design, DIY, and the intersection of physical and digital products. He designs award-winning medical devices and apps for smartphones at AgaMatrix, including the first FDA-cleared medical device that connects to the iPhone.
Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on February 19, 2014, 22:35:02
The IDF is now working to include high energy lasers in their arsenal to target inching missiles, shells and UAV's. Note how this is part of a comprehensive and integrated system, which would have to be ruggedized and made portable to work as a counter to AA/AD (Anti-Access/Area Denial) systems seeking to use the same missile and aircraft/UAV/UCAV technologies against *Western* force es attempting to launch an operation.

Israel Wants to Use Lasers to Shoot Down Missiles
February 18, 2014 at 4:37:00 PM by Joshua A. Krisch | 5 Comments



One of Israel's Iron Dome batteries, which will work in tandem with the Iron Beam laser system. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

A homemade rocket ignites in the Gaza strip and screams toward a small town in Southern Israel. Warning sirens blare as civilians duck for cover, but miles away the Iron Dome missile defense system has already begun its sweep across the skyline. In a matter of seconds, the Iron Dome locks onto the incoming rocket, fires a missile and strikes home. A mid-air explosion marks a successful interception.

That's how Israel's missile defense system is supposed to work, and the country claims that its web of Iron Dome batteries repels 90 percent of Hamas rocket attacks. But at $100,000 a pop, missile interception isn't cheap. And that's why Israel is investigating lasers. Last week Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd, the company behind the Iron Dome, unveiled its new Iron Beam system, a less expensive and more versatile laser-based addition to Israel's defensive arsenal. The Iron Beam, which could be deployed as early as 2015, will reportedly vaporize short-range rockets, mortars, and even drones using high-kilowatt lasers.

"It's exactly like what you see in Star Wars," Amit Zimmer, a company spokesperson, told the Associated Press. "You see the lasers go up so quickly, like a flash, and the target is finished."  (note: at the sorts of wavelengths and firing rate these weapons use, you probably would not see anything but hear a sharp report as the air slammed back into the path of the laser beam. Frankly, if you did "see" anything, it would be the last thing you ever saw...)

The Iron Beam represents a fifth layer in Israel's comprehensive missile defense system, which is in various stages of completion. Once assembled, the Iron Dome and Iron Beam will work in tandem to stave off short-range and very short-range attacks, respectively, while the David's Sling will take on medium-range rockets and the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 systems will deflect long-range ballistic missiles. Company officials predict that the Iron Beam's lasers will reduce collateral damage on impact and catch close-range rockets that the Iron Dome might have missed.

The United States is working on this kind of laser tech, too. The Army recently announced its High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD), which includes lasers that can zap football-sized mortars out of the sky. And while the HEL MD could be a decade away from deployment, the U.S. Navy is already outfitting ships with its Laser Weapon System (LAWS), a laser cannon that can bore a hole through steel and costs only about $1 to fire.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems says that the Iron Beam took five years to develop. The Iron Beam is expected to enter service within two to three years, but the company is still working on increasing the laser's power from tens of kilowatts to hundreds, and garnering funds from the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

Over 100 test launches have already seen drones and artillery shells blasted out of the sky by an Iron Beam prototype, but just how accurate and how destructive the laser can be remains to be tested on the battlefield.

Read more: Israel Wants to Use Lasers to Shoot Down Missiles - Popular Mechanics
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Title: Re: Recent warfare Technologies
Post by: Thucydides on February 19, 2014, 23:49:31
DARPA is working on something similar to a giant "Quadcopter" to carry various sorts of standard modules around. As a sort of logistics flying delivery system it will certainly allow units to operate with more dispersal, and some of the other applications seem pretty obvious. Notably absent in the press release is converting this into some sort of UCAV with a weapons dispenser or pod, but as a flying fire support vehicle able to move with the manoeuvre units, it frees up other airframes for other missions:


February 11, 2014

Unmanned aerial logistics system would bypass ground-based threats and enable faster, more effective delivery of cargo and other essential services in hard-to-reach areas

U.S. military experience has shown that rugged terrain and threats such as ambushes and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) can make ground-based transportation to and from the front lines a dangerous challenge. Combat outposts require on average 100,000 pounds of material a week, and high elevation and impassable mountain roads often restrict access. Helicopters are one solution, but the supply of available helicopters can’t meet the demand for their services, which cover diverse operational needs including resupply, tactical insertion and extraction, and casualty evacuation. 

To help overcome these challenges, DARPA unveiled the Transformer (TX) program in 2009. Transformer aimed to develop and demonstrate a prototype system that would provide flexible, terrain-independent transportation for logistics, personnel transport and tactical support missions for small ground units. In 2013, DARPA selected the Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES) design concept to move forward.

“Many missions require dedicated vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) assets, but most ground units don’t have their own helicopters,” said Ashish Bagai, DARPA program manager. “ARES would make organic and versatile VTOL capability available to many more individual units. Our goal is to provide flexible, terrain-independent transportation that avoids ground-based threats, in turn supporting expedited, cost-effective operations and improving the likelihood of mission success.”

ARES would center on a VTOL flight module designed to operate as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of transporting a variety of payloads. The flight module would have its own power system, fuel, digital flight controls and remote command-and-control interfaces. Twin tilting ducted fans would provide efficient hovering and landing capabilities in a compact configuration, with rapid conversion to high-speed cruise flight similar to small aircraft. The system could use landing zones half the size typically needed by similarly sized helicopters, enabling it to land in rugged terrain and aboard ships.

It is envisioned that the flight module would travel between its home base and field operations to deliver and retrieve several different types of detachable mission modules, each designed for a specific purpose—cargo pickup and delivery, casualty extraction or airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, for instance. The flight module would have a useful load capability of up to 3,000 pounds, more than 40 percent the takeoff gross weight of the aircraft.

Units could direct the flight modules using apps on their mobile phones or ruggedized tablets. Initially, the system would be unmanned, with a future path towards semi-autonomous flight systems and user interfaces for optionally manned/controlled flight.

ARES is currently in its third and final phase. Lockheed Martin Skunk Works ® is the lead ve