Sunday, June 16, 2019

US House of Rep Armed Services Committee Voted to Create US Space Corps Within the USAF

The House Armed Services Committee voted to establish a United States Space Corps within the Department of the Air Force. The vote came in the overnight hours Thursday. The committee began its markup of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act Wednesday morning. After a nearly 21-hour session, the committee passed the NDAA 33-24.

The Space Corps amendment was offered by the HASC Strategic Forces subcommittee leaders Chairman Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R-Ala.). The proposal is similar to what the committee proposed in the 2018 NDAA, including the name of the new space service, U.S. Space Corps, rather than the Trump administration’s preferred name, U.S. Space Force.

Like the Marine Corps, the Space Corps would be led by a four-star Commandant who would be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Paleolithic Papers #30

Genus Homo:

Using archaeomegnetism to investigate Late Paleolithic cave occupation in Israel.

Residents of the Qesem Cave in Israel from 400,000 years ago recycled stone tools.

The characteristics of the Manot Cave in Israel gets examined.

H. sapiens:

Ancient alcohol was found in Israel from before the end of the Pleistocene.

How diverse were the cultures of the Upper Paleolithic in the Zagros Mountains of Iran?

There appears to have been an unknown population in modern day Oman during the Pleistocene.

What was the environment like in southern Levant during the last glacial cycle?

Modern humans may have dispersed through Asia in the Late Pleistocene through multiple routes.

A new population of ancient siberians from 31kya has been found.

H. neanderthalensis:

Neandertals seem to have split from modern humans further back in time than the genes suggest.

The ancestors of Neandertals and Denisovans interbred with yet another ancient hominin population before they mixed it up with modern humans.

A jaw from a Neandertal from Regourdou, France shows the individual ate what appears to be typical foods for human hunter gatherers in a temperate forest based on the microwear analysis.

An odd preprint paper questions whether or not the introgression of Neandertals into modern humans was as much as previously thought.

H. erectus:

A new site at Madigou in China dates from 1.2 million years ago and contains stone tools.

Genus Australopithecus:

A. anamensis:

The verbatral morphology of A. anamensis appears to be more derived than A. afarensis.

A. afarensis:

The comparison of diets of pigs from Africa and australopithecines is examined and conclusions hominin diet diversification had not happened by the end of A. afarensis.


The first metacarpal gets compared between different hominins and Great Apes.

Did our ancestor's ability to ingest alcohol lead to the evolution of people?  So wonders the Drunken Monkey Hypothesis.

A gene has been found that helps humans deal with high sugar diets.

Modern humans might be unique in our hearing capabilities.

Western Galilee's environment from the Late Middle and Upper Pleistocene gets examined.

Friday, June 14, 2019

NASA Gives an Update on its Gateway Station Habitat Module Prototyping

Even as NASA’s plans for the Lunar Gateway evolve, the space agency is continuing work on developing a habitat for the crew that will use the facility as an orbiting base for the study of the Moon.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Does India Need its own Space Force?

India is setting up a military space agency called the Defence Space agency (DSA) that’s expected to command of all the space assets of India’s army, navy and air force.

For nearly the last decade, a debate has taken place in India highlighting the need to establish a Space Command to address military needs. For all these years, India has had a Military Space Cell, a tri-service organization under the aegis of the Integrated Defence Services, or IDS. Formation of this organization was announced on June 10 2008, by the then-defense minister.

The idea of DSA was mooted a few years back, possibly with a view to make an incremental increase in the space-related defense infrastructure. Hence, instead of having a Space Command headed by a three-star general, it was thought suitable to create a DSA headed by a two-star general. All these structures had a relevance when India was not a military power with anti-satellite (ASAT) capability. However, now that India successfully conducted its March 27 ASAT, can DSA take India’s military space agenda further, or there is a need to establish a separate ecosystem for this?

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Pondering the Precambrian #28




A cyanobacteria normally associated with the Phanerozoic has been found in Ediacaran deposits in China.

There was a significant shift in what the limiting nutrients were across the Ediacaran/Cambrian boundary.

How did the black shales form across the Ediacaran/Cambrian boundary?

Was the Sao Francisco Basin a restricted basin during the Ediacaran?

A section in China appears to be a record of the late Ediacaran glaciations, showing a cold, dry climate.

The Cathayasian block was attached to Gondwana since 630 million years ago.

The fate of an inland sea from during the Neoproterozoic gets discussed.

Evidence of the Milkanovich cycles is preserved in Ediacaran deposits.

Tubular fossils from the Weng'an Biota are algae, not metazoans.

Weng'an Biota also provides examples of preserved encysting of eukaryotes.


Could the banded iron formations of the Cryogenian be related to ocean acidification?

There is evidence of a less than complete snowball earth from China during the Marinoan Glaciation.

Cryogenian Period deposits of Datangpo Formation of China from the interglacial period between the Sturtian and Marinoan glaciations show a very stratified ocean.

The majority of the time, the NeoProterozoic oceans were anoxic and were supersaturated with dolomite.


Fungus fossils appear to have been found in Tonian (neoproterozoic) or Stenian (mesoproterozoic) deposits in Canada.

There appears to have been a paleorifting event during the Tonian of the Sao Francisco-Congo continent.

The Sognefjel complex appears to have formed in the Asgardian Sea during the early Tonian.

Did the Paleo-South China Ocean close during the Tonian?


The Eastern European Craton has a Mesoproterozoic signal.

The southern Grenville formation dates from Mesoproterozoic and is from purely Laurentian sources.

Reported stromatolites from a Stenian lake cannot be proven to be biogenic.


600 million years of sedimentation is examined from the Paleoproterozoic of Lapland.

Statherian Period evolution of the Oolongbuluke terraine is explained.

In Brazil, the Sobreiro Formation appears to be from the Orosirian/Statherian boundary.


There is evidence of retreating oceanic slab subduction from the NeoArchean of China.

Evidence from India suggests there was significant local variation in Archean ocean conditions.

The Caozhuang basin appears to be a case of sagduction.

Fossils from paleoarchean South Africa show bacteria dividing and they appear to be very similar to cyanobacteria Pleurocapsales.

Eoarchean stromatolites get examined.


Was the Earth covered in a lava ocean before Theia impacted and created the moon?


What are the implications of a hotter mantle, but colder subduction during the Precambrian?

Sunday, June 02, 2019

China Remains on Course for 2020 Launch of Mars Missions

China remains on schedule to ready its first independent mission to Mars in time for a short launch window in mid-2020, according to a leading space official.

“Mars 2020 mission spacecraft is undergoing integration,” Wang Chi, director of the National Space Science Center (NSSC) in Beijing, told SpaceNews in a rare update on the mission.

Ambitiously, the mission consists of both an orbiter and a rover, with a total of 13 science payloads. The NSSC will be involved in integration of the instruments with the spacecraft.

The orbiter will be equipped with a high-resolution camera comparable to HiRise on board NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a medium-resolution camera, subsurface radar, minearology spectrometer, neutral and energetic particle analyzers and a magnetometer.

The 240-kilogram solar-powered rover, nearly twice the mass of China’s Yutu lunar rovers, will carry a ground-penetrating radar, multispectral camera, a Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy instrument and payloads for detecting the climate and magnetic environment.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Robopocalypse Report #116


The US government went after Huwei and is now going after drone maker DJI warning the Chinese gov may have the data from the drones.

Alphabet (*cough*Google*cough*) will start offering drone deliveries in Helsinki starting next month.

Students at Ben-Gurion University in Israel have developed a drone that can land and drive like a car.

Caltech's Neural Lander can smoothly land quadcopters.

DJI drones will detect aircraft soon.

Drones are being sent into tornadoes to study them.

Japan is about to make drunk droning, flying a drone while intoxicated, illegal.

Purdue developing a hovering hummingbird drone.

USC has created Bee+, a four winged nano UAV.

This is the Volgi VTOL UAV.

Self Driving Cars:

Self driving cars will do more than drive you around.

In a bad sign for traffic improvements with self driving cars, Uber and Lyft are making traffic worse in San Francisco.  A study by Cambridge disputes my assertion though.

There is a robot race car club in northern California.

Aurora, the self driving car startup, bought lidar sensor company Blackmore.

Einride has started doing deliveries in Sweden with its self driving truck.

GM's Cruise division just got a $1 billion investment.

An MIT paper calls into question some of the assumptions of self driving car economics.

MIT is teaching self driving cars to navigate using just maps and signs, just like people do.

Nissan has a different opinion of lidar than does Musk.

Self driving wheel chairs are being tested.

A Tesla that was involved in a fatal crash had its autopilot engaged.  The safety of Tesla's Autopilot is being challenged.

Problems are mounting for Tesla.  Apple tried to buy Tesla is 2013 and with things looking grim at Tesla, may try again.

Betting on Uber is a bet on self driving cars.  It is the only way for them to be profitable.

USPS is experimenting with using self driving trucks.

Waymo's self driving cars are now available to pick you up in Phoenix via the Lyft app and hundreds have already used them.

3d Printing:

An Australian man has a 3d printed titanium replacement sternum.

The world's first 3d printed village is coming to Central America courtesy of Icon.

Bioprinting for bone regeneration with nanofibers.

3d printed guns are back and on the darkweb.

3d printed a day.


The Aqua2 robot is a amphibious spin off of a joint university development.

Brown University taught a robot to copy art and hand writing.

Columbia came up with a material so robots can use water?

Meet Eve r3.

Inside Facebook's new robotics lab.

Ford is using a self driving robot in its factories to free up workers' time.

Ford also wants to use a robot in conjunction with self driving vehicles to make deliveries.

Introducing the Heron USV.

Watch the HyQReal robot tow a passenger plane.

Meet Laikago.

MIT's Roboraise learns to lift objects by watching a persn.

NASA Langley is working on soft robots.

Watch the leech bot climb a wall.  Yeech.

A new micro robot has been developed that changes shape while swimming in a patient's circulatory system.

Put googly eyes on robots to make them less scary.

Soft robots can be made of warm, nice materials to make homes...cozy.

Stanford students built a robo dog and shared the code.

Software Bots:

The US gov is backing international standards on AI principles.

China ramped up the censor bots with the anniversary of Tiananmen Square.

CMU is trying to make AI seem less intrusive, even if it is really powerful.

Facebook's AI is being accused of generating terrorist content by a whistleblower.  It makes you wonder how instrumental they were in influencing things.

Facebook is categorizing your private posts using a software bot.

Facebook is using software bots to build disease prevention maps.

Google's Geoff Hinton explains the evolution of neural networks.

Google is training its speech recognition bots to be able to work with people with speech impediments.  

Google trained its software bot to predict lung cancer.

Many Google Duplex calls are really people.  This is starting to sound like a scam.

Microsoft's Cortana will eventually sound like a person.

Microsoft is also using software bots to improve your writing in Word.

Microsoft wants to use software bots to improve the application development cycle.

Microsoft trains bots to have realistic speech with minimal training.

MIT has a new software bot that is significantly better at IDing breast cancer from mammograms.

Nvidia's software bots are set to start chewing on UK medical scans.

Can all optical networks be used for neural networks?

ObEN is a company working on AI avatars.

Samsung's software bot can make Deep Fakes from single pictures, including the Mona Lisa.

A new software bot generates people from scratch, clothes, bodies, faces and all.

Software bots may be the entertainers of the future.

Software bots attempted to name race horses...

Software bot mistakes for imagine recognition might be due to human error than the bots making mistakes.

A software bot driven Salvador Dali is now live at a Florida museum.

Software bots are selecting scientific paper reviewers in China.

A new software bot can hack and take over wayward drones.

Software bots can predict the properties of porous materials.

Software bots used for psychiatry raise ethical questions.

Using software bots to study proteins.

Software bots vastly upscale Alzheimer's studies.

Software bots are being used in cyber defense.

Who is liable when a software bot loses a fortune?

Software bots meet Citizen Science.

Software bot translations helped Ebay boost sales by 10%.

A software bot may be "deciding" who gets suicide prevention...yikes.

Software bots can be used to customize training for people.

Software bots have found mutations in noncoding DNA apparently tied to autism.


San Francisco has banned cashless stores like Amazon Go.

In the $2 trillion infrastructure bill in Congress, some are recommending investing in robots.

Amazon is using robots to replace workers in its warehouses.  They are not laying off workers, but replacing them through attrition.

Boeing is going to replace human inspectors with technology.

As factories are automated, the workers become coders.

The quest to develop sensors that can smell.


Does universal basic income not work?

Tech companies are trying to shape the rules associated with "AI."

True AI may be rooted in the technologies of today.

Sensors inspired by spiders might help drones, self driving vehicles and robots in the future.

Can Inspector Gadget help us resist the temptation of transhumanism.