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Sat, 19 Jan 2019
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Science & Technology


US missile defense systems are no match for hypersonic weapons

Hypersonic missile model
© militaryrussia.ru
Russian Hypersonic Missile model
A Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies paper makes a complete and compelling case for why the United States should aggressively pursue hypersonic weapons, systems that travel faster than five or six times the speed of sound.

Hypersonics, the authors conclude, would afford the U.S. with unprecedented rapid reach, global target access, a "fourth dimension effect" by effectively shrinking a foe's decision-making window and a complete rendering of existing air defenses to be obsolete.

What may not be obvious to U.S. policymakers is the corollary: Hypersonic weapons can provide these very same advantages to our adversaries. In fact, given the state of hypersonic weapons development in Russia and China, they already do.

Russian and Chinese research, test and development of hypersonic weapons have far outpaced that of the United States. A Russian hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), known as the Avangard, completed a successful flight test in December in which the weapon purportedly reached 27 times the speed of sound. The Russians also claim this system is now in production and ready to be fielded.

Comment: See also:


Russian space chief says FSB overcautious about OneWeb global internet project

model OneWeb satellite
© Global Look Press via ZUMA Press / Kim Shiflett
Model of a OneWeb satellite.
The Russian Security Service (FSB) is overcautious about OneWeb, a global satellite internet provider, the Russian space chief believes. Russia's space industry will be launching some of the satellites for the project.

OneWeb intends to provide global access to broadband internet via a constellation of hundreds of satellites in low-Earth orbit. Its access to the Russian market, however, has been difficult, as Russian security officials have expressed concern that the satellites may endanger national security.

According to Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos), the FSB leadership is overcautious and their position would result in Russia's exclusion from the project, which will go online with or without Russia's help.

"I understand why our colleagues from the FSB are skeptical. It's their job to be skeptical. But we have to realize that this constellation will be created whether we want it or not," he told RBC news website.


Hubble Space Telescope's main camera out of operation

Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope has been orbiting Earth since 1990.
A hardware problem has put the main camera onboard the Hubble Space Telescope out of operation, according to a brief statement released by NASA today (Jan. 9).

The issue with the Wide Field Camera 3 occured on Jan. 8 at 12:23 p.m. EST (1723 GMT), according to the statement. NASA did not provide any details about the glitch itself beyond saying that it was caused by a hardware problem and that the camera carries redundant electronics that could be used to get the instrument running again.

It's not clear how long it will take to address the malfunction. It comes as NASA, like other agencies of the federal government, is partially shut down, and has been since Dec. 22, because Congress and President Donald Trump have failed to agree on a budget.

Evil Rays

'Internet of Roads': Colorado leaps into increased surveillance of roads and a jump in potential radiation

Internet of Roads
Evidently, a test run for smart pavement in Colorado that I reported on back in May 2018 was successful enough to give it the all systems go.
A plan to turn a portion of Interstate 70 into a roadway where cars communicate with street lights, signs and other internet-connected things just tripled to more than 500 miles.

Colorado's "internet of roads" project will now extend to highways that reach from Pueblo to Wyoming, and Sterling to Utah, after the state Department of Transportation was awarded a $20 million federal grant earlier this month.

(Source: The Colorado Sun)
The article's author goes on to tout the many potential benefits to driver safety, although there were no definitive studies revealed to support those claims.

Comment: At this rate there will soon be few public spaces that aren't surveilled, policed, wired and irradiated in order to keep us 'safe', 'happy' and dumbed down to vegetative states of existence - and the companies and agencies behind this firmly in control and rolling in revenue.

Arrow Down

DARPA proposes KAIROS, an AI that can monitor the entire world for threats

© Pixabay composite
DARPA already has a reputation as the mad scientist lab of the defense industry (even if they try to deny their work on metahumans or cyborgs), but their previous projects pale in comparison to the sheer scope of their newest artificial intelligence proposal: KAIROS, short for "Knowledge-directed Artificial Intelligence Reasoning Over Schemas." Its purpose? To gaze at the reams of information coming in from all corners of the world to identify patterns and trends that could lead to terrorist attacks, fiscal crises, or other large-scale cataclysmic phenomena.

Many companies (and state intelligence agencies) have dealt with the rise of "Big Data" by utilizing artificial intelligence to sift through all the noise to find useful information.

Unfortunately, AI still has trouble seeing the big picture, especially when it comes to patterns that are obvious to humans. As DARPA program manager Dr. Boyan Onyshkevych describes it: "The process of uncovering relevant connections across mountains of information and the static elements that they underlie requires temporal information and event patterns, which can be difficult to capture at scale with currently available tools and systems."


Space microbes aren't so alien after all - they're just trying to survive

ISS international Space Station
© NASA/Roscosmos
The International Space Station photographed by Expedition 56 crew members from a Soyuz spacecraft after undocking.
Genetic evidence shows bacteria on the International Space Station are adapting to survive, not to harm

Microbes stranded in the International Space Station (ISS) are just trying to survive, man.

A new Northwestern University study has found that -- despite its seemingly harsh conditions -- the ISS is not causing bacteria to mutate into dangerous, antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

While the team found that the bacteria isolated from the ISS did contain different genes than their Earthling counterparts, those genes did not make the bacteria more detrimental to human health. The bacteria are instead simply responding, and perhaps evolving, to survive in a stressful environment.

Blue Planet

Newly discovered K2-288Bb planet lies within habitable zone and may have liquid water on its surface

© Francis Reddy | NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
K2-288Bb lies within the star's habitable zone, suggesting it may have liquid water on the surface. The exoplanet lies in the stellar system K2-288, which has two dim, cool stars.
NASA's Kepler space telescope ran out of fuel in October last year. Data gathered during the course of its scientific mission, however, paved way to the discovery of a new exoplanet.

Planet K2-288Bb

The newly identified planet dubbed K2-288Bb is twice the size of the Earth. It lies within its host star's habitable zone, which means the planet may have liquid water on its surface.

It could either be rocky like our home planet or gas-rich like Neptune.

The new world is located 226 light-years away in the constellation Taurus and lies in a stellar system called K2-288.

Comment: With life being found in even the most extreme conditions on our planet, deep underground, underwater and high up in the atmosphere, as well as a number of planets expected to have some form of water and in habitable zones, it's likely there is life of some kind on other planets.


First commercial Quantum computer revealed by IBM

Quantum Computer
© IBM/AFP/File
This undated file photo courtesy of IBM shows Watson, powered by IBM POWER7
A major announcement was made at the 2019 CES in Las Vegas, from IBM. This was the presentation of the computer firm's first commercial quantum computer. This is a 20-qubit 'hybrid' system, capable of quantum and conventional computing operations.

By hybrid, this is an indication that the new offering from IBM combines into a single platform a quantum computer together with a classical computer. The new computer is aimed at academic and business applications (particularity financial services, pharmaceuticals and for developers of artificial intelligence), and it is the first quantum computer from IBM for use outside of its own facility (where people can access quantum computers via cloud services).

IBM's development is called the the IBM Q system. The system boasts state-of-the-art superconducting qubits that can operate rapidly, performing operations within 100 microseconds. The main computer is housed within a nine-foot-tall, nine-foot-wide case of half-inch thick borosilicate glass forming a sealed, airtight enclosure, which has been designed by leading design firms, including Milan-based Goppion.

The housing is not only about design. The casing is vital to the quantum operation, where cryogenic engineering is required to deliver a continuous cold and isolated quantum environment. Within the device, high precision electronics, in compact form, work to tightly control large numbers of qubits.


Gigantic jets and upper atmospheric phenomena

Gigantic Jet
We're all well acquainted with lightning. The bright, brief flashes of electrical energy puncture the general monotony of Earth's sky. Their luminous dance, however, is restricted to within and below the planet's billowing thunderclouds. Often shielded from our view above is a light show of a more magnificent nature. Here can be seen transient bursts of luminous plasma, the most common of which is a sprite, resembling a red mushroom cloud between 50 and 100 kilometers above the surface. Lucky onlookers can also see blue jets, bold, yet wispy blue bolts extending upwards from the tops of clouds to as high as 40 to 50 kilometers.

Rarest of all the "lightning above the clouds" is the gigantic jet, which is like a supersized blue jet that transitions to the color red at the highest altitudes. Scientists at the Arecibo Observatory once observed a blue jet extending from a thundercloud up to 70 kilometers, blazing at speeds of roughly 2,000,000 meters per second, more than forty times faster than ground lightning!

What sparks these bright behemoths? This was the topic of a recent study published to Scientific Reports. Researchers from the Florida Institute of Technology and the University of New Hampshire made use of different radar variables, lightning data, and lightning simulations to theorize what exactly goes on within a thundercloud.


New study reveals dinosaur killing Chicxulub asteroid caused a global mile high tsunami

Tsunami Chicxulub asteroid
© Alamu
The nine mile wide asteroid believed to have killed off the dinosaurs caused a tsunami wave a mile high, a new study led by Michigan researchers has found.
The nine mile wide asteroid believed to have killed off the dinosaurs caused a tsunami wave a mile high, a new study has found.

The tsunami through the Gulf of Mexico caused chaos throughout the world's oceans.

Experts have now simulated the effects for the first time - and say it was far worse than they thought.

The Chicxulub asteroid resulted in a huge global tsunami, the likes of which have not been seen in modern history,' Molly Range, who did the research while getting her master's degree in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan, told Livescience.

Range and her colleagues presented the research, which has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting on Dec. 14 in Washington, D.C.

Comment: See also: