Thursday, February 11, 2016

End of all Things #1: a Mass Extinction Aggregation Post

Ediacaran/Cambrian Extinction:

Were the Ediacaran's wiped out, in part and the Cambrian Explosion initiated by greatly increased UV radiation?

Permian Triassic Mass Extinction:

The Permian Triassic boundary has been geochronologically located in the Spanish Pyrenees and produced an interesting and diverse fauna from the early Triassic.

The early Triassic locales of the Persian Gulf show evidence of repeated and sustained conditions like during the mass extinction itself.

Cretaceous-Paleogene (KT) Mass Extinction:

Another extraordinary claim that the KT/K-Pg mass extinction was caused by dark matter has been made.

Sixth Mass Extinction:

The carbon dates in North America appear to match well with the Human Overkill Hypothesis for the reason why the megafauna (mammoths, sloths, dire wolves, etc) went extinct.

What were the implications of the loss of large Pleistocene carnivores on the ecosystem?

Or for that matter for the impact of the loss of ALL the missing megafauna on the ecosystem?  Or more specifically on the forests?  Was the impact uniform or variable on the ecosystems of North and South America?

What were the changes on the nutrient cycle with the extinctions taking place?

Or!  Gasp!  The lack of mammoths farts on the atmosphere?

Or in the sea coast, what about the impacts of the extinction of the stellar's sea cow?

The data strongly supports the extinction of Australia's giant bird, Genyornis, as being caused by humans.

In fact, multiple sources of data suggest humanity was the cause of the extinctions in the Sahul (greater Australia).


The proposed planet 9, proposed by Caltech astronomers, is unlikely to have anything to do with the mass extinctions on Earth.  Even so, if it pans out, for historical reasons, I hope they name the new planet 'Nemesis.'

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dawn on Jefferson (aside): Mail Run


I've always wondered why they didn't just automate the mail runs. Jump ships don't do anything terribly difficult, nor are the systems all that packed. Sense and avoid has been a technology around for over a century now. Basic bots are more than capable of handling this.

I throttle the ship forward hard. I need to maneuver the USPS Revere to lob the mail capsule at Jefferson. The capsule can wiggle and jiggle some to course correct, but its on me to make sure the capsule has enough delta v to make it.

There. Off it goes.

Then I'm shifting to capture the incoming capsule from Jefferson. It'll be here in an hour. So I get some R&R time: I can work on my terrarium. It's a work in progress. Nipping and snipping the plants, making sure the combination of animals and plants makes a good, closed ecosystem.

Then after the capsule gets here, I'll thrust to match relative velocities with the new star I'll jump to as I pass through the jump point. Otherwise, rather than drifting through the next system as I arrive, I'd be speeding off in some strange direction.


Many times, getting to and from a system requires multiple jumps. The jump points are the L-1 Points of systems with gas giants closer than 6 AU to their host star. These need to line up and the maximum jump distance right now is 30 light years. However, if there is a star with a jump point between the destination and the origin, the ship will jump there. this can cause trips to take much, much longer. Especially in stellar clusters.


Sometimes, we have to sit and wait for the jump points to align. If they're on the wrong side of the star, no transit is possible. Hanging out a jump point is a bummer. It takes time and the mailrunners often see if there's another star they can zigzag to shorten the time. It costs fuel and can leave a ship stranded if there the 'runner uses too much before getting to a refueling point. Its a noob mistake, but given just how vast the galaxy is, we loose some ships every year.


Ah. Escheria.

I let loose a huge capsule for them, but I will not be taking one in. I get all their mail by laser. It'll be a couple hours hanging out at the jump point, but that's fine. I'd rather not have ANY of their ecology on this ship. Or be responsible for any contamination elsewhere. They are still under quarantine and I'm trying not to think about the training vids making us experience what COULD happen.

Ok, all loaded up.

Off again.


The US Postal Ship Revere is a good ship, a hard working one. And we're headed home. Next stop is Eurynome: the world of decadal seasons and nights and days that last longer than the seasons themselves. The world of mobile plants and living boats. Imagine a 'forest' of boats that stayed directly beneath the sun so they could photosynthesize. Whole continents covered with plants that move, slowly, until they hit the shore line and slowly birth seeds that work their way back to the shore where sunrise will be...just to die.

Its amazing. its also only what I've seen from afar.


There are several empty systems between Eurynome and the next American world.

The Indians and Chinese and Europeans had claimed many between. The US invested in many worlds that were shared, but felt in the end, it needed its own solely American worlds, too, and given the rise of the Brazilians, Nigerians and Indonesians, it was going to get tight. There are only so many habitable worlds out there.














Just leaping from system to system without anything to see. No life, no excitement. No gossip from a world. No gossip to give.


Finally, Nakshatra and Suryalocka. The shared moon and the Indian superearth. Sometimes called HD 1080g and its moon. Fire off the payload, catch up on the gossip and off I go.

I really ought to get some leave to stay at the American colony on Nakshatra, Chandrasekhar. The low gravity and tides from Suryalocka make some killer waves for surfing.


Caerus. The largely American world and the habitable exoplanet people walked on. Gliese 667Cf. The world of massive rains, the weirdest plants, and the squigglies. I caught one in the cargo bay once. Damned thing was like a cuttle fish that wanted to be a vertebrate, or even sorta, a turtle. odd, and cool. Sadly, I couldn't keep it. Earth life can be transported between the stars, but none of the others.


Earth. Home to 10 billion people. My home.

And now, they can download me from the ship and give me a body for my next six months of time off. I'll hate getting back into the ship again: the thing is going to have someone else's mental impressions all over it and they don't make an equivalent of Febreeze for the uploaded brain. oy.

What? Thought they'd send a flesh and blood human on a mail run? geez. Can you imagine the cost!  The ships have enough power for an upload, but cannot carry enough food and water. Yes, these ships produce more energy than the whole of earth did before the 2020s.

Well, I'll be flesh and blood soon enough. And not soon enough. The tickle of protons on the ship skin still makes me itch.

US Presidential Run so far

Fiorina and Christie are out on the Republican side.

O'Malley on the Democratic side and Bush and Carson on the Republican side really ought to do the same.

Tally on the Republican side puts Trump at 17 delegates, Cruz at 11, Rubio at 10, Kasich at 5, Bush at 4 and Carson at 3.  They need 1237 to win the nomination.  We have a long road ahead.

Tally on the Democratic side puts Clinton at 431 and Saunders at 52.  Clinton is luvvin the superdelegates right now!  They need 2382 to become the nominee.

Nevada is next (dems on the 20th, reps on the 23rd) and South Carolina then (feb 27).

New Space Race #2

North Korea:

North Korea orbit.  It appears the satellite is tumbling and probably is unusable.  The US has stated the satellite orbit is stable, but the sat is NOT transmitting.  It appears the Norks have been able to stabilize the sat: its no longer tumbling.

Apparently the rocket that launched the satellite had twice the payload of the previous one.  This is, of course, a concern.


The Russians have significant doubts about reusable rockets and will be retiring the Rockot.


Luxembourg is getting into the asteroid mining race!  The country will be implementing a legal framework to do that same thing as the US Congress did to allow for mining offworld, will be investing in asteroid mining companies, and act as a tax haven for those companies (of course!).

Magna Parva has launched an 'in-space manufacturing' website.

The European Space Agency has released its roadmap for the future.


The White House released its proposed 2017 NASA budget.

NASA has released more details about the selection of the new cargo contracts to the ISS.

Congress wants a solid roadmap to get to Mars from NASA.

NASA's EM-1 Orion capsule has been delivered to Kennedy Space Flight Center.  And here.

Watch the EM-1 Orion being built.

NASA will be launching several cubesats into deep space and to the Moon on the first SLS launch.

The US Air Force is disputing why the United Launch Alliance refused to bid on the new GPS satellite launch and is quite angry.

The US Air Force is also going to spend over $1.2 billion over the next 5 years to replace the Russian engines in the Atlas V or develop a new rocket to effectively do the same thing.

Hell Creek Dinosaurs to Scale


XM-25 Grenade Launcher Gets 'New Start,' Becomes Program of Record

The US Army has prioritised the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE) weapon as its "number one materiel solution to mitigate a critical capability gap" for dismounted soldiers in combat, and is officially kicking off the programme in its fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget request.

Defeating defilade targets at 35-500 m is a crucial requirement for dismounted troops, as squad-sized elements have found firefights too often become stalemates once each side hides behind structures. The XM25 is designed to be a lightweight, squad-carried means of attacking defilade personnel without air support or fires support.

Accordingly, the army has requested USD9.764 million in FY 2017 for the programme and hopes for USD14.852 million in FY 2018, USD24.930 million in FY 2019, USD32.158 million in FY 2020, and USD25.798 million in FY 2021.

The Alien in the Mundane

What Caused the Pliocene Neogene to get Wetter?

Pliocene reversal of late Neogene aridification


Kale Sniderman et al


The Pliocene epoch (5.3–2.6 Ma) represents the most recent geological interval in which global temperatures were several degrees warmer than today and is therefore considered our best analog for a future anthropogenic greenhouse world. However, our understanding of Pliocene climates is limited by poor age control on existing terrestrial climate archives, especially in the Southern Hemisphere, and by persistent disagreement between paleo-data and models concerning the magnitude of regional warming and/or wetting that occurred in response to increased greenhouse forcing. To address these problems, here we document the evolution of Southern Hemisphere hydroclimate from the latest Miocene to the middle Pliocene using radiometrically-dated fossil pollen records preserved in speleothems from semiarid southern Australia. These data reveal an abrupt onset of warm and wet climates early within the Pliocene, driving complete biome turnover. Pliocene warmth thus clearly represents a discrete interval which reversed a long-term trend of late Neogene cooling and aridification, rather than being simply the most recent period of greater-than-modern warmth within a continuously cooling trajectory. These findings demonstrate the importance of high-resolution chronologies to accompany paleoclimate data and also highlight the question of what initiated the sustained interval of Pliocene warmth.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

WTH, New Hampshire!?!

Go look at the results

Nuff said.

Terminator Times #2


South Korea and Israel are collaborating on a VTOL drone.

Finland has starting patrolling its border with Russia with drones.

Iran's own Shahed-129 UCAV is conducting air strikes in Syria.  Or maybe not.

Turkey's Anka UAV has had its first maiden flight.

The British have confirmed, after lots of back and forth on the validity of the purchase, of the acquisition of the Zephyr 8 high altitude UAV.

An armed American Predator UCAV crashed in Turkey.

The CEO of Northrop Grumman expresses the opinion that truly autonomous UCAVs have a long ways to go.

Unmanned Surface Vehicles:

Israel has developed an optionally manned boat called the Seagull for anti surface and anti submarine missions.

Unmanned Ground Vehicles: 

The US Army is working on self driving trucks for logistics use.  And a bit more on the subject.  This summer the US Army will be sending 175 self driving trucks in a convoy in Michigan to test out the technology on I69.

Some are getting a little worked up over Russia's work on robotic ground combat vehicles.  As are others.  Some, strangely one that is noted for hyping things, has suggested the hype is overblown.

iRobot is selling off its military division.


The head of unmanned systems for the US Navy wants technology to be delivered faster and differently than in the past.

The US may need to invest more in robotics to fight Russia and China.

Dakotaraptor is a Chimera: Part of Maastrichtian Cretaceous Dromaeosaurid is a Piece of a Turtle

The furculae of the dromaeosaurid dinosaur Dakotaraptor steini are trionychid turtle entoplastra


Arbour et al


Dakotaraptor steini is a recently described dromaeosaurid dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) Hell Creek Formation of South Dakota. Included within the D. steini hypodigm are three elements originally identified as furculae, one of which was made part of the holotype specimen. We show that the elements described as D. steini ‘furculae’ are not theropod dinosaur furculae, but are rather trionychid turtle entoplastra referable to cf. Axestemys splendida. The hypodigm of D. steini should be adjusted accordingly.

The Last Prideful Testament

Humanity alone survived to the end of time. Humanity alone held back the multiversal invaders and rebuilt the savaged universe, nursed other races into being, nurtured their rise, and watched, like an immortal parent with mere mortal children as they passed. We survived. We thrived. We watched the universe flicker, fade and fall.

And yet we remain.

And even with all the innate cleverness and brilliance of our species, unique in the cosmos. Unique in the entirety of the existence of the universe, our demise is imminent. Our end is nigh.

We are gods. We are more. We are at an end.

Yet while we cannot survive, we can produce one, last spark. We have pooled all of the endless sea of humanity's knowledge, our creativity. And despite our end. We can build anew. But upon our corpses.

Rather than die the empty death in the bitter cold, of the near heat death of the universe, we shall even transcend the deity greatness we have held through the trillions of eons. There can be more and we shall grasp that nettle of greatness.

And we shall leave record of our sacrifice and triumph.

We have begun. We are pulling energy and matter from all corners of the universe, what is left, what is not so cold as to be useless, but even so, we shall make use of that. Humanity shall not be denied. Not this one last time.

In so doing, in so changing, in so altering the fate of the universe, we are shall breathe life into near corpse of this cosmos and render it anew.

And now we wait, in the cold blackness of space, as our plans bear fruit and we leave record of our last, best accomplishment: we shall start a new big bang and it shall overtake the universe that as and fill it utterly, but with a youth and vigor, energy and matter not seen since before humanity arose.

It will cost us all, but all that is left is a meager, shortened existence, a pitiful death. We shall not accept that and shall do as all gods ought: sacrifice themselves for the world, or universe, they have shepherded.

And we shall also leave record to the worlds and races to come, our successors and daughters and children and sons, proverbial ones, but ours all the same, of what we have done.

And it shall survive. I have sealed this record now and express our satisfaction and love and pride at our final, best accomplishment. This is the last testament of humanity.

Now. Let there be light.

Another View From a Hill

DNA Analysis Suggests Denisovans, Neandertals and Modern Humans Split Deeper in Time Than Previously Thought

In a remarkable technical feat, researchers have sequenced DNA from fossils in Spain that are about 300,000 to 400,000 years old and have found an ancestor—or close relative—of Neandertals. The nuclear DNA, which is the oldest ever sequenced from a member of the human family, may push back the date for the origins of the distinct ancestors of Neandertals and modern humans, according to a presentation here yesterday at the fifth annual meeting of the European Society for the study of human evolution.

Ever since researchers first discovered thousands of bones and teeth from 28 individuals in the mid-1990s from Sima de los Huesos (“pit of bones”), a cave in the Atapuerca Mountains of Spain, they had noted that the fossils looked a lot like primitive Neandertals. The Sima people, who lived before Neandertals, were thought to have emerged in Europe. Yet their teeth, jaws, and large nasal cavities were among the traits that closely resembled those of Neandertals, according to a team led by paleontologist Juan-Luis Arsuaga of the Complutense University of Madrid. As a result, his team classified the fossils as members of Homo heidelbergensis, a species that lived about 600,000 to 250,000 years ago in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Many researchers have thought H. heidelbergensis gave rise to Neandertals and perhaps also to our species, H. sapiens, in the past 400,000 years or so.

But in 2013, the Sima fossils’ identity suddenly became complicated when a study of the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from one of the bones revealed that it did not resemble that of a Neandertal. Instead, it more closely matched the mtDNA of a Denisovan, an elusive type of extinct human discovered when its DNA was sequenced from a finger bone from Denisova Cave in Siberia. That finding was puzzling, prompting researchers to speculate that perhaps the Sima fossils had interbred with very early Denisovans or that the “Denisovan” mtDNA was the signature of an even more ancient hominin lineage, such as H. erectus. At the time, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who had obtained the mtDNA announced that they would try to sequence the nuclear DNA of the fossils to solve the mystery.

After 2 years of intense effort, paleogeneticist Matthias Meyer of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology has finally sequenced enough nuclear DNA from fossils of a tooth and a leg bone from the pit to solve the mystery. The task was especially challenging because the ancient DNA was degraded to short fragments, made up of as few as 25 to 40 single nucleotides. (Nucleotides—also known as base pairs—are the building blocks of DNA.) Although he and his colleagues did not sequence the entire genomes of the fossils, Meyer reported at the meeting that they did get 1 million to 2 million base pairs of ancient nuclear DNA.

They scanned this DNA for unique markers found only in Neandertals or Denisovans or modern humans, and found that the two Sima fossils shared far more alleles—different nucleotides at the same address in the genome—with Neandertals than Denisovans or modern humans. “Indeed, the Sima de los Huesos specimens are early Neandertals or related to early Neandertals,” suggesting that the split of Denisovans and Neandertals should be moved back in time, Meyer reported at the meeting.

Researchers at the meeting were impressed by this new breakthrough in ancient DNA research. “This has been the next frontier with ancient DNA,” says evolutionary biologist Greger Larson of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

The close affinity with Neandertals, but not with Denisovans or modern humans, suggests that the lineage leading to Neandertals was separate from other archaic humans earlier than most researchers have thought. That means that the ancestors of modern humans also had to split earlier than expected from the population that gave rise to Neandertals and Denisovans, who were more closely related to each other than they were to modern humans. (Although all three groups interbred at low levels after their evolutionary paths diverged—and such interbreeding may have been the source of the Denisovan mtDNA in the first Sima fossil whose DNA was sequenced.) Indeed, Meyer suggested in his talk that the ancestors of H. sapiens may have diverged from the branch leading to Neandertals and Denisovans as early as 550,000 to 765,000 years ago, although those results depend on different mutation rates in humans and are still unpublished.

Hat tip to Randy.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Robopocalypse Report #74: The Singularity Competition Prize!


Drones are being used in the Antarctic ice breaking mission.

This drone is powered by hydrogen releasing pellets.

Will personal drones have a future past hobbyists? 

The reason for the rumors of Amazon bookstores might be because of Amazon's drone delivery ambitions.  Maybe.

The FAA has stated there are now more registered drones than manned aircraft.

The Superbowl shut down drone air traffic in Silicon Valley.

Canada is considering new guidelines for drones.

Self Driving Cars:

Google is on the offensive when it comes to self driving cars.  A Sacramento Bee reporter put the Google Car tech to the test. They are testing wireless recharging for their cars.  Google is also testing the car in Washington state.  And Google wants to expand the self driving car tests to four more states. 

The Brits want Google to test their self driving cars in London.

Lyft and GM want to build a network of self driving cars.

Some feel self driving cars ought to be taught to think like people do.  geez.  Just imagine the road rage.

Should self driving cars require a licensed driver?  The question is putting consumer advocacy groups against promoters and disabled advocates.  I'd say, initially, yes, but after a period to verify the safety, not just through tests but through real life use, then no.

The supposedly 'secret issues' that will make or break self driving cars.

Scania is testing self driving trucks for use in mining operations.

The Dutch driverless bus gets a profiling again.

Apparently, self driving taxis are a nightmare for cabbies.

What happens to the jobs of drivers, truckers, etc, in the future of self driving cars, trucks and buses?

3d Printing:

The first semi auto gun was mostly 3d printed.

The US Army wants to 3d print its they can be customized!

3d printed bone implants are being researched.

A university in the Netherlands used a robotic welding arm to 3d print a metal bicycle frame.

Tanzanians have built the first 3d printer recycled from ewaste.

Livermore National Lab and Autodesk are working on improving football helmets through 3d printing.

Additive manufacturing is being promoted as game changing for industry.

Composite materials are being made with a new ultra sonic process.

A Dutch company 3d printed a submarine!

Scientists have 3d printed liver tissue for use in drug trials.


Biomimicry might have gone a touch too far with this cockroach inspired bot.

Relay, the hotel room service bot, apparently is a hit.

DEDAVE may be the first real robo sub drone for everyone.

Swarming robotic rc boats have learned to, well, learn.

Are softbots the future of robotics?  Here's a video on soft robots.

Sometimes there are some people who silly things with bots.

The Robopocalypse has come for golfers!

Abu Dhabi has a robotic parking garage.

Robots are supposed to build a pavilion at London's V&A Museum this summer.

Will robots lead to construction returning on site again?  wuh?

Meet Pleurobot, a swimming, crawling robot inspired by salamanders.


Suit-X claims to have the most affordable exoskeleton on the market.

Software Bots:

Microsoft is embedding some artificial intelligence in its SwiftKey app.

A new AI can learn how to save the Princess in Mario Brothers on its own.

A software bot was developed to deal with robo callers.

It seems the rich have already started using robo investment advisers for investments and that concerns banks.

Cortana, MS' digital assistant, is designed to NOT be submissive or put up with sexual harassment, but apparently there is a market for sexually submissive digital assistants.


Can our minds be copied?  There's a prize for that!

Other Hardware:

MIT researchers have developed a chip intended for the implementation of neural networks to allow machine learning to be implemented on smart phones and other devices.

Economics & Philosophy:

Construction bots are expected to claim 500,000 jobs in the industry by 2020.

"Late Antique Little Ice Age" Contributed to Decline of Eastern Roman Empire, Bolstered Arab Conquests?

Researchers from the international Past Global Changes (PAGES) project write in the journal Nature Geoscience that they have identified an unprecedented, long-lasting cooling in the northern hemisphere 1500 years ago. The drop in temperature immediately followed three large volcanic eruptions in quick succession in the years 536, 540 and 547 AD (also known as the Common Era CE). Volcanoes can cause climate cooling by ejecting large volumes of small particles - sulfate aerosols - that enter the atmosphere blocking sunlight.

Within five years of the onset of the "Late Antique Little Ice Age", as the researchers have dubbed it, the Justinian plague pandemic swept through the Mediterranean between 541 and 543 AD, striking Constantinople and killing millions of people in the following centuries. The authors suggest these events may have contributed to the decline of the eastern Roman Empire.

Lead author, dendroclimatologist Ulf Büntgen from the Swiss Federal Research Institute said, "This was the most dramatic cooling in the Northern Hemisphere in the past 2000 years."

A later "Little Ice Age" between 14th and 19th centuries has been well documented and linked to political upheavals and plague pandemics in Europe, but the new study is the first to provide a comprehensive climate analysis across both Central Asia and Europe during this earlier period.

"With so many variables, we must remain cautious about environmental cause and political effect, but it is striking how closely this climate change aligns with major upheavals across several regions," added Büntgen.

The multidisciplinary research team made up of climatologists, naturalists, historians and linguists mapped the new climate information against a particularly turbulent period in history in Europe and central Asia. The volcanic eruptions probably affected food supplies - a major famine struck the region at precisely this time followed immediately by the pandemic.

Further south, the Arabian Peninsula received more rain allowing more vegetation to grow. The researchers speculate this may have driven expansion of the Arab Empire in the Middle East because the vegetation would have sustained larger herds of camels used by the Arab armies for their campaigns.

In cooler areas, several tribes migrated east towards China, possibly driven away by a lack of pastureland in central Asia. This led to hostilities between nomadic groups and the local ruling powers in the steppe regions of northern China. An alliance between these steppe populations and the Eastern Romans brought down the Sasanian Empire in Persia, the final empire in the region before the rise of the Arab Empire.

The researchers write, "The Late Antique Little Ice Age fits in well with the main transformative events that occurred in Eurasia during that time."

Oh This Town I Live in

I've seen the Tesla X, Lambos, etc.  Oh this town...

Middle Permian Dicynodont Chelydontops altidentalis is a Junior Synonym of Brachyprosopus broomi

A reevaluation of Brachyprosopus broomi and Chelydontops altidentalis, dicynodonts (Therapsida, Anomodontia) from the middle Permian Tapinocephalus Assemblage Zone of the Karoo Basin, South Africa


Angielczyk et al


Brachyprosopus broomi was described in 1937 based on a specimen from the Tapinocephalus Assemblage Zone (Karoo Basin, South Africa), but it was largely overlooked by subsequent workers. We have identified several new specimens that show that Brachyprosopus is a valid taxon. An autapomorphy for the taxon is a curled lateral edge of the squamosal that forms a lateral wall of the external adductor fossa. Other important characters are absence of anterior median palatal ridges; maxillary tooth rows bounded laterally by a shelf; unfused vomers; raised margins of the interpterygoid vacuity; broad intertemporal region; pineal boss; dentary tables; and a long, wide posterior dentary sulcus that extends posterior to the dentary teeth. Chelydontops altidentalis is a junior synonym of B. broomi. A phylogenetic analysis places Brachyprosopus among basal dicynodonts, not as a close relative of Endothiodon. It is noteworthy that some characters, such as well-developed medial maxillary tooth rows and the shape of the palatines, are shared by Brachyprosopus, Pristerodon, Endothiodon, and Niassodon, hinting that a final resolution of relationships among toothed dicynodonts remains to be achieved. Most Brachyprosopus specimens are from the upper Abrahamskraal Formation (Moordenaars and Karelskraal members). One specimen is from low in the Koonap Formation, just above the lowermost maroon mudrocks of the Beaufort Group, and an exact correlation between this level and the strata of the Abrahamskraal Formation is uncertain. Therefore, it is likely that the stratigraphic range of Brachyprosopus extends throughout the Tapinocephalus zone and possibly down into the Eodicynodon Assemblage Zone.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Flight Video of the Russian Forward Swept Wing Trainer Aircraft, the SR-10

Ramsbotham Jahr

My classmates and I walked down the ramp. IT was time and I was annoyed. I was here for my first Ramsbotham jahr. Every teenager at 18 is required to.

The world has become such a frenetic place. Technology has changed the human equation so such a degree that once you are an educated adult, at 27, then you are able to do almost anything. Including to yourself. So long as it is informed and consensual, its game. However, there are people running around that are no longer anthromorphic. Or even corporeal. They chose to become such. And choice is all. Informed, consensual choice.

However, before the education can begin and before the near decade of semi adulthood begins, there is the first Ramsbotham jahr. Everyone, boy and girl, must go and live as our ancestors did. Before technology had come to divorce humanity from the world as our ancestors had known it for thousands of years. Some would learn to be dirt farmers. Others hunters. Still others would be smiths and lumberjacks. Learning to live in a manner long since gone. That life assumed scarcity and struggle. Things that the modern world no longer had if you were content with a lifestyle that would have made billionaires, the former 1%, envious a century or two ago.

At the bottom of the ramp, Rod Walker waited. He was a man who had elected to stay at the end of his second Ramsbotham jahr: everyone returned after the college education - the equivalent of multiple doctorates, bachelor's, etc from eons past - and spent another year living a different, basic life. A book end to your steeping in the modern.

And a chance to stay if you so wished. To rejected the modern for a simpler life. And some found it happier.

Those who stayed mentored and apprenticed those who came in for their jahren. They taught and minded and helped the visitors through their difficult times. After all, there was no feed to connect you to all your friends constantly. There was no constant stream of interesting stories. There was no bots that would at a thought provide you with anything you so desired. And were allowed at your age group.

I stood before Rob and sized him up. He was big. Not just in a physical sense, and he was that, too, but also in a larger than life sort of way. Even though he'd not said a word. I thought I'd tweak my nanites to give me a physique like that...but then realized they were inactive here.

He extended his hand and smiled. It huge and callused. I took it and we shook. How antiquated! We'd normally do this virtually through the squirting of fast data.

He took back his hand and motioned down the road. The dirty, dusty road and we walked together.

"Welcome to Earth," he said.

"It smells dirty and old," I replied.

"It is at that. It is at that. We're in the oldest part, for humanity, too: Africa. I have a funny story about that, but for another time. Tonight, we'll meet my friends, Robert and his wife Ginnie, Jackie and her husband. Then tomorrow we'll get started. The day starts early here. We're lumberjacks and we only use axe and saw. Manually."

I shuddered. Manual labor. gah. How...primitive.

"Oh, and be careful of the won't believe how much of a headache those things gave me when I was your age."

Iran's Shahed-129 UCAV has Conducted Strikes in Syria

A View From a Hill

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Video of North Korea's Apparently Successful Satellite Launch

Some information is here.

The launch appears to have been successful, at least as far as putting something into orbit.

Pluto's Strange "Floating" Hills


US Navy Work With India to Design Next Indian Aircraft Carrier Making Progress

India and the United States are making progress in talks on the joint development of an aircraft carrier for India, the top U.S. navy admiral said on Wednesday, potentially the biggest military collaboration between them.

The two countries agreed to work together on aircraft carrier technology as well as jet engines during U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to India last year in a strengthening of ties to balance China's expanding military power in the region.

The visiting chief of U.S. Naval Operations, John Richardson, said the two sides had held talks on a range of issues relating to the next generation Indian carrier from its design to construction.

A high-level U.S.-India joint working group is due to meet in New Delhi later this month, part of a series of meetings aimed at establishing broader cooperation on the design, development and production of the proposed Indian carrier.

"We are making very good progress, I am very pleased with the progress to date and optimistic we can do more in the future. That's on a very solid track," Richardson told reporters in New Delhi.

What are China's Long Term Economic Growth Prospects?

China’s diminished growth prospects have figured prominently in recent commentaries about global economic conditions and world stock markets (e.g. Frankel 2016). The general view, with which I concur, is that China will grow in the future at a much slower rate than it has in recent decades. This growth slowdown will reduce international trade and has probably contributed already to the depression in oil prices (Blanchard 2016).

Was Europe's Modern Human Population Replaced at the end of the Pleistocene?

Pleistocene Mitochondrial Genomes Suggest a Single Major Dispersal of Non-Africans and a Late Glacial Population Turnover in Europe


Posth et al


How modern humans dispersed into Eurasia and Australasia, including the number of separate expansions and their timings, is highly debated [ 1, 2 ]. Two categories of models are proposed for the dispersal of non-Africans: (1) single dispersal, i.e., a single major diffusion of modern humans across Eurasia and Australasia [ 3–5 ]; and (2) multiple dispersal, i.e., additional earlier population expansions that may have contributed to the genetic diversity of some present-day humans outside of Africa [ 6–9 ]. Many variants of these models focus largely on Asia and Australasia, neglecting human dispersal into Europe, thus explaining only a subset of the entire colonization process outside of Africa [ 3–5, 8, 9 ]. The genetic diversity of the first modern humans who spread into Europe during the Late Pleistocene and the impact of subsequent climatic events on their demography are largely unknown. Here we analyze 55 complete human mitochondrial genomes (mtDNAs) of hunter-gatherers spanning ∼35,000 years of European prehistory. We unexpectedly find mtDNA lineage M in individuals prior to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). This lineage is absent in contemporary Europeans, although it is found at high frequency in modern Asians, Australasians, and Native Americans. Dating the most recent common ancestor of each of the modern non-African mtDNA clades reveals their single, late, and rapid dispersal less than 55,000 years ago. Demographic modeling not only indicates an LGM genetic bottleneck, but also provides surprising evidence of a major population turnover in Europe around 14,500 years ago during the Late Glacial, a period of climatic instability at the end of the Pleistocene.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Northrop Teases Sixth Gen Fighters

American Southwest may Mimic Drought Conditions That Destroyed Anasazi/Ancestral Puebloans due to Global Warming

The weather patterns that typically bring moisture to the Southwest are becoming more rare, an indication that the region is sliding into the drier climate state predicted by global models, according to a new study.

"A normal year in the Southwest is now drier than it once was," said Andreas Prein, a researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, who led the study. "If you have a drought nowadays, it will be more severe because our base state is drier."

Climate models generally agree that human-caused climate change will push the southwestern United States to become drier. And in recent years, the region has been stricken by drought. But linking model predictions to changes on the ground is challenging.

For the study, the researchers analyzed 35 years' worth of data to identify common weather patterns -- arrangements of high and low pressure systems that determine where it's likely to be sunny and clear or cloudy and wet.

They identified a dozen patterns that are usual for the weather activity in the contiguous U.S., then looked to see whether those patterns were becoming more or less frequent.

"The weather types that are becoming more rare are the ones that bring a lot of rain to the southwestern United States," Prein said. "Because only a few weather patterns bring precipitation to the Southwest, those changes have a dramatic impact."

The Southwest is especially vulnerable to any additional drying. The region, already the most arid in the country, is home to a quickly growing population that is putting tremendous stress on its limited water resources.

"Prolonged drought has many adverse effects, so understanding regional precipitation trends is vital for the well-being of society," says Anjuli Bamzai, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which funded the research. "These researchers demonstrate that subtle shifts in large-scale weather patterns over the past three decades or so have been the dominant factor in precipitation trends in the southwestern United States."

The study also found an opposite, though smaller, effect in the Northeast, where some of the weather patterns that typically bring moisture to the region are increasing.

Stealth Saga #28


Russia claims it will put the PAK-FA into service by the end of the year and that it will be able to launch cruise missiles.


China remains ahead, so goes the narrative, between the nations in Asia to acquire stealth aircraft.


Rumor has it the US Navy is considering changing the mission of the UCLASS drone from recon and strike to air to air refueling.  Yup, a tanker.  This is going to really, really annoy Congress.  Congress stated they wanted a stealthy, long range strike plane for the UCLASS and funded the procurement even for competitive fly-off.  Well.  umm.  yeah.  Here is more info.

Here's an editorial in support of the shift of the UCLASS from strike to tanker.

If Congress agrees with the conversion, the tanker drone will move to the Terminator Times posts.

IMNSHO, it would be best to do the tanker and start the development of the strike asset.  It takes time to develop those capabilities and get them on the deck.  The tanker will get there faster and will be of great use.  However, the strike asset will take MORE time and we need capability in the 2030 time frame.  If we start now, we'll barely get it on deck in time.

Tacit Blue:

Take a virtual tour of the Tacit Blue's cockpit.  Tacit Blue was another stealth aircraft black project from the 1980s.  It flew from 1981 to 1985 built by Northrop.  The intent was to have a stealthy spycraft right at the enemy lines with loads of sensors.  For whatever reason, probably risk, the program was cancelled and the sensors were used on the JSTARS aircraft.  The JSTARS is in process of being replaced now.



One of the consequences of the UCLASS change is more F-35Cs are being ordered for the US Navy.  The Navy will get more F-35Cs.  Apparently, 10 more F-35s more than planned over the next 5 years.

A report is that the F-35's test schedule is unrealistic.

The British will be receiving their last test F-35 shortly.

One analysis predicts the F-35 will revolutionize the Israeli Air Force.

F-35A operating costs have come down considerably and its operational readiness has been increased.

The US Air Force has cut its request for 48 F-35As to 43.

The top weapon's tester is expressing opposition to doing a bulk buy of the F-35 until after testing is complete.

Four F-35As will deploy to Mountain Home AFB in Idaho to test whether or not the F-35A can be declared as having IOC this summer as planned.

Russia's Most Syria Adventure #67

Turkey calls Russia's claims of Turkish plans to invade Syria propaganda.  They also state Russia is not being allowed to do the Open Skies flight due to security concerns.  Erdogan went as far as to call the Russian claims of the coming Turkish invasion 'laughable.'

Russia has stated they expect an international reaction to Turkey's denial of the Open Skies flight.

It! Will! Fit!