Saturday, February 22, 2020

Paleolithic Papers #34

Genus Homo:

Modern human and Neandertal relics are washing up on shore in the North Sea.

Neandertal DNA might be more common in modern humans than previously thought.

What cave art reveals about human nature.

Scientists have uncovered a ghost lineage of ancient hominins in West African genomes.

Was there evidence of a technological break or gap or evolution at a cave in Israel?

Modern Humans (H. sapiens):

Mesolithic site  remains show cooking tubers took place.

Pottery from the Amur River region from the late Pleistocene has been found.

Settling of the Americas remains complex with outliers in cranial morphology being found.

How old is the oldest H. sapiens skull?  The one from Florisbad.

A skeleton of a 30 year old woman from Mexico dating from the end Pleistocene/dawn Holocene has interesting insights to the early native American populations.

What was the climate variability like during the early expansions of modern humans out of Africa?

Neandertals (H. neanderthalensis):

The last Neandertals might have lived at Byzovaya, above the Arctic Circle in Russia.

Neandertals made an epic trek 60k years ago to the Altai Mountains.

There is evidence of two separate migrations into Asia by Neandertals.

Inbreeding might have been the doom of Neandertals.


Mitochondrial DNA from Densovans has been found in modern human nuclear DNA.

Denisovans were more complex than we originally thought.

Meet the Denisovans.

H. antecessor:

Two juvenile scapula from Spain are examined.

H. erectus:

H. erectus arrived in Java 200,000 years later than originally thought.

H. erectus might have engaged in long range trade for obsidian.

Genus Australopithecus:

A. anamensis:

What ecology did A. anamensis live in?


Nasty recessives aren't an obstacle to introgression between hominins.

What we have learned about human evolution and what remains to be understood?

African climate forcing simulation for the last 140,000 years and its implication for human evolution.

There's a new method for figuring out where ancient humans came from.

Human language probably evolved gradually.

When did hominins begin to understand death.

How to estimate the contamination of ancient DNA by modern.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Stealth Saga #57

6th Generation Fighters:

Rolls Royce will develop a new engine for the British led Tempest fighter.


Turkey has invited Malaysia to join its program.


Another article on the first production Su-57 crash.


Supposedly (in russian), a contract was signed in 2017.  Testing of three prototypes is supposed to happen starting this fall (2020).  Development is supposed to continue through 2026.  State testing is supposed to take place between 2026 to 2028.

Chinese Stealth Aircraft:

Chinese aviation watchers are expecting to see new aircraft this year.


The USAFA and Sierra Nevada designed and built the 5GAT 5th gen target drone.  It might be useable as a Loyal Wingman.


DARPA's Valkyrie has had a successful 4th flight and expanded its flight envelope.


Details of the RQ-170's first trip to South Korea get shown.


The USAF has released renderings of the B-21.  One of which I am very late to post.


A B-2 overflew the Rose Bowl.


An F-22 at Langley AFB had a landing gear failure.

The new Demo pilot for the F-22 does an interview.


2019 was a very good year for the F-35 program.  134 F-35s were delivered.

OTOH, the F-35 has 873 deficiencies.  Including issues with its gun.

The F-35 program will be ditching ALIS for a new software called ODIN.

The F-35 now has a multi aircraft infrared search and track capability.

F-35 can now feed ground interceptors targeting info.

The Pentagon and Lockheed have signed a new sustainment contract.

A new rotor design is being tested for the F-35's engine.

Congress will only allow the USAF to use early F-35As as aggressors once there is some sort of plan.

The USAF released an RFI for the Stand in Attack Weapon for the F-35A.

The monster F-35A elephant walk by the USAF at Hill AFB gets another profile.

The USAF's 158th is training in Florida.

USMC F-35Cs will leave NAS Lemoore for MCAS Miramar.

Lt Col Bann is the first pilot to reach 1,000 hours in the F-35.

The USN is weighing what it takes to get the F-35C on the USS Kennedy.

The Australians have transferred their F-35 pilot training to Australia from the US.

British F-35s will get a DAS upgrade.

British F-35Bs went to Nellis AFB for Red Flag and diverted on the way.

British F-35Bs are conducting sea trials on the USS Queen Elizabeth.

Lockheed has started building Denmark's first F-35.

The Israelis have inaugurated their second F-35I squadron.

An Israeli F-35I appeared on a tracking website again.

Norway is deploying its F-35s to Iceland.

Poland should sign a deal for 32 F-35s shortly.  And they did.  32 birds for $4.6B.

Singapore has requested the F-35B.  The US State Department approved buying 12.

The majority of the parts made in Turkey for the F-35 will be moved to other locations by March.

Lockheed expects F-35 production to rise to 180 annually.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Wuhan Virus Update

Officially, China says 28k are infected and 563 dead.  Personal projection for tomorrow is 33k and 660 dead.  By Monday, it will be 50k and 1k, imo.

A recent post on Tencent that went back down really fast claimed the infections and deaths are way, way higher than the official numbers.  The Wuhan coronavirus would have a 1:6 kill rate (over 16%) if accurate.

Another report says the infection rate is undercounted and makes it seem the deaths are at a higher percentage than they are.

Singapore has at least 28 infected and business people are getting infected when visiting.

The 12th US case has been detected in Wisconsin.

Two cruise ships are quarantined.  More than 10 tested positive on the cruise ship off Japan.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Despite Russia's Bluster, There are no "Plans" to Send Cosmonauts to Mars

Manned flights to Mars are not stipulated in the guidelines of state policy in the space sphere, Chief Designer and First Deputy CEO of Energia Space Rocket Corporation Yevgeny Mikrin said on Tuesday.

"Such flights are not planned so far and they are absent in the guidelines of the state policy," Mikrin said, replying to a question about whether Russia planned crewed flights to Mars.


Monday, February 03, 2020

Russia Tested its Already Existing Iskander IRBM...and it Broke the INF Limits "accidentally"

During a planned live-firing exercise by Russia, one of its Iskander-M ballistic missile flew beyond 600km and landed outside its designated target area. The missile is said to have been fired from Kapustin Yar for the Makat firing range in Kazakhstan. However, the missile ended up in the Bayganinsky district. The SS-26 Stone or “Iskander” is a road-mobile short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) with a range of up to 500 km. Using a common transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) and support vehicles, the system can also fire the 9M728 (R-500, SSC-7) and 9M729 cruise missiles. Russia began development of the SS-26 in the late 1980s to replace the OTR-23 “Oka” SRBM.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

A Russian Satellite Appears to be Stalking an American KH-11 Spysat

Publicly available data suggests that a Russian inspector satellite has shifted its position in orbit to bring it relatively close to a U.S. KH-11 spy satellite. Russia has a number of what it calls "space apparatus inspectors" in orbit, which the U.S. government and others warn the Kremlin could use to gather intelligence on other satellites or function as "killer satellites," using various means to damage, disable, or destroy those targets.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Wuhan Virus Update

By the time this gets published, China will probably have over 3,000 confirmed cases and over 80 deaths.  15 cities are in quarantine.  China has started suspending at least some of intercity travel services.  Hong Kong has started selectively blocking mainlanders from entering the territory.

China has started testing an HIV drug to see if it will work to combat the disease.

5 million people left Wuhan before the lockdown.

The US has 5 cases.  One of them is in Maricopa County, AZ.  Arizona is a noted location for the elderly to move to and the virus preferentially kills the elderly.  This could get exciting.

Several countries the world over now infections.  France and Africa (Gabon) appear to have their first cases.  It does not, yet, seem to be spreading within those countries.

The US and France are evacuating their citizens from Wuhan.  The Americans are being shipped to San Francisco.

The disease is infectious during the incubation period.  The incubation period is averaging 10 days, some as long as 14 days, some as short as 1.  The interesting case is the woman from Chicago: she was in Wuhan a month ago and came down with the symptoms only this last few days.  She may be an outlier or was in contact with someone with the virus more recently than her trip and has not been identified.  There are reports some people never seem to develop symptoms, but are carriers.

NY Times has fairly good updates.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Terminator Times #68

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones):

The US government has banned the procurement and use of Chinese made UAVs.

DARPA's X-61A Gremlins made a first flight.  However, the prototype crashed when the recovery parachute failed to deploy.  DARPA is moving onto aerial recovery.

A USAF MQ-9 Reaper was ferried itself to Holloman AFB instead of being shipped and assembled.

A drone strike by the USAF killed an Iranian QUDS Force commander.  Israel claims the strike happened  due to an intercepted communication.   That has been cast in doubt.

The USAFA and Sierra Nevada designed and built the 5GAT 5th gen target drone.  It might be useable as a Loyal Wingman.

The USAF's X-58A Valkyrie flew its 4th test.  It expanded its flight envelope.

The US Coast Guard will outfit all its national security cutters with ScanEagles by end of year.

Brazil will operate ScanEagles from its naval ships.

British efforts to deploy its first swarming drone squadron have been delayed.

In Cambodia, a Chinese made drone crashed.  It's a bit of a mystery as to who owns it.

China is expanding its use of small UAVs.

China's CASC is expanding its UAV production.

China's army may be using the Harwar’s Zhanfu H16-V12 UAV.

China flew the world's first 3 engine large fixed wing drone.

A Houthi attack using missiles and drones killed more than 100.

Indonesia unveiled its Black Eagle MALE UAV.

The Philippines air force has its first Hermes 900 enter service.

Russia is pursuing a quad tilt-rotor drone for its navy.

The Russian Altius - U UAV will have sat communications.

A Turkish made Karayel UAV was shot down over Yemen.

Turkey TEI is delivering indigenous UAV engines.

Bell's V-280 being tested for the US Army's Blackhawk replacement program can now fly autonomously.

Boeing has partnered with Tactical Robotics.

General Atomics will demo the Gray Eagle UAV as a ballistic missile spotter.

Leonardo's Falco Xplorer has taken flight.

Robotic Research unveiled a UAV/UGV hybrid.

Telephonics claims to have won the competition for the MUX UAV's AEW sensor.

Unmanned Ground Vehicles (Bolos and Ogres and Terminators, oh my!):

The US Army selected Qinitiq for the RCV-L and Textron (Howe & Howe) for the RCV-M.

The French army has received its first NERVA LG UGVs.

Unmanned Surface Vehicles (Ro-boats):

The US Navy thinks getting USVs into the line is more important than whether they count as part of the battle force.  However, the USVs won't count towards the 355 ship fleet.

There is a debate suggesting the robo ships are really years away.

The US Navy is working to teach USVs to talk to one another.

A Sea Hunter USV will exercise with a carrier battle group.

Northrop tested the AQS-24B on the CUSV outfitted for MCM.

Textron thinks the CUSV will be great for USMC logistics.

Textron's CUSV is ready for production.

Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (robo subs):

The US Navy will start searching for a new medium class UUV.

L3Harris has providing IVER4 UUVs for the US Navy.


China and America talking past each other on "AI" breeds distrust.

Could killer robots reduce collateral damage?

The US Army is looking at welding automation for its next gen combat vehicles.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

55% of the World's Population Live in Cities

That proportion has continued to rise steadily, reaching 55% as of 2018. It's climbed faster in China, up from 48% to 59% — meaning an additional 180 million people are living in Chinese cities. 
China now has 130 cities of at least 1 million people, more than the U.S. (45), European Union (36) and South America (46) combined.


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

One Quarter of all Pigs in the World Died of Swine China

Swine fever devastated China’s stock because with unsound governance, even sound regulations have perverse effects.

On a recent visit to my hometown by the Yangtze River in eastern China, relatives welcomed me, as ever, with a feast: steamed perch and hairy crab, deep-fried river shrimp — and braised pork. My 84-year-old father made sure to serve pork, even though it was now twice as expensive as the year before. This time, he didn’t get the meat from my brother, who until this fall had been the village’s largest pork producer: All 150 pigs on my brother’s farm had either died or been culled because of African swine fever.

Gangs are spreading swine flu by drone to attempt to extort farmers into selling their stock for well below market prices.  So there is that, too.

Monday, January 20, 2020

New Chinese Respiratory Virus Outbreak Update

China will step up efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays as a rise in confirmed cases fanned fears the virus could spread to other countries.


Wuhan’s health authority confirmed earlier on Sunday 17 more cases of the virus in the city, bringing the total number of known patients there to 62.

Japan has confirmed its first case of infection from a newly-identified coronavirus that has killed one person and infected at least 40 more in China, as well as prompting a travel alert from the U.S. State Department.


An outbreak of a new coronavirus in China has spread to more cities, Chinese authorities said on Monday, as the number of patients tripled and a third person died, stoking concerns about the containment of the virus.


Nature states the new virus needs China to cooperate internationally.

Science notes folks are alarmed.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Russian Mercenaries in Libya are not Working for the Russian Government says Pinocchio Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin, asked on Saturday whether mercenaries known as the Wagner Group, were fighting in Libya, said that if there are Russians in Libya, they are not representing the Russian state, nor are they paid by the state.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

China has a new Respiratory Virus Outbreak...and it's not SARS

Chinese health authorities have not been able to identify a mysterious strain of pneumonia that has infected dozens of people and put the rest of Asia on alert -- although they have ruled out a return of the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus.

A total of 59 cases of unknown viral pneumonia have been reported in the city of Wuhan, central China, with seven patients in critical condition, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said in a statement on Sunday. All patients are being treated in quarantine and no deaths have been reported.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), symptoms of the pneumonia are mainly fever, with a number of patients having difficulty breathing, and chest radiographs showing invasive lesions of both lungs.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

China Tested its First Solar Sail Demonstrator

The Shenyang Institute of Automation (SIA) announced on Thursday that China's first solar sail, SIASAIL-I, has successfully verified a number of key technologies in orbit, a big breakthrough in China's solar sail development.

The solar sail developed by the institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences based in Northeast China's Liaoning province is a spacecraft powered by the reflected light pressure of the sun on the spacecraft's membrane. Because it does not consume additional chemical fuel, a solar sail is considered to be the one and only spacecraft that may reach outside the solar system. It can be applied to a wide range of fields, including asteroid exploration, geomagnetic storm monitoring, solar polar exploration and space debris removal.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Terminator Times #67

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones):

A USAF Reaper overflew the Aviation Nation gathering.

The USMC's MUX UAV is now a EW asset and is being shaped by integration with naval aviation.

The US Navy needs unmanned ISR, tankers for its carriers to counter Russia and China.

The US Navy needs to replace its ScanEagles to fight China.

The US Navy has bought 3 more MQ-4C Tritons.

The Brazilians detail their ScanEagle acquisition.

France gave Lockheed a contract to support its Reapers.

NATO finally got its Global Hawk.

Russia's Forpost-R will have two Russians sensors on it.

Russia is looking to deploy its UAVs in Kyrgyzstan.  

South Korea's first RQ-4B Global Hawk finally arrived.

The Spanish Air Force received its first Predators.

Tunisia is buying AeroVironment's UAVs.

Turkey's gun toting quad copters get profiled again.

Unmanned Ground Vehicles (Bolos, and Ogres and Terminators, oh my):

Russia unveiled its updated Marker UGV.


The US Navy is looking to slash its total manned ships in favor of pushing its unmanned capabilities.