Monday, August 31, 2015

Robopocalypse Report #18: Paper Drones Act as Cheerleaders as the 3d Printed Self Driving Cars Drive to the First Robopocalyptical Football Game


Drones and data could significantly help oil fields in the US with the lower oil prices these days.

In the interim, there is a new market hunting for for pilots...flying drones.

Drones are becoming a problem for those seeking quiet on their vacations.

The University of Arkansas has restricted drone use over campus.

In the WTF category, motorized paper airplanes are, according to the FAA, drones and need to be licensed.

The FAA is beta testing a smart phone app that would inform drone pilots if they can fly in an area or not.

In the world of self driving cars, here is a Roadmap to a World Without Drivers.

Self driving cars may actually be really good for cyclists and pedestrians.

In the oh-noes category, will self driving cars be a terrorist's best friend?

Multiple automakers are starting to bridge the gap between todays manually driven cars and the self driving cars through safety features.

Self driving cars are now expected to be common in 5 to 10 years according to a study.  Just in time for my daughter to get her driver's license!!!  Wee!

(Some) insurance companies are welcoming their new self driving car overlords.

In manufacturing, it seems in Tesla's factories, the Robopocalypse has been realized.  That's amusingly ironic, I think.

In 3d printing, an Israeli designer had her 3d printed fashion designs hit the catwalk.

There are questions about how fast 3d printing or additive manufacturing will grow between now and the end of the decade.  Some give it a high number.  Others are more skeptical.  

In Boca Raton, Florida, a 3d Printer has been added to the library.

In general robotics, like the Japanese, a University of Illinois professor is working on robots to assist the elderly.

Is the Robopocalypse coming for FOOTBALL!?!

Another opinion piece wonders if Terminators are not a bad thing, really, if you use them to hunt terrorists.

In the software side, IBM has come up with an AI to help predict air pollution, in a project dubbed 'Green Horizion,' in Beijing 72 hours before hand.

In the economics of the Robopocalypse, robots might take your job, but first they will be your annoying coworker.

Another opinion piece states the Robopocalypse is being badly overhyped.

Could robots be part of the problem for India's PM Modi not being able to create jobs faster?  If so, then what happens when the Robopocalypse is fully realized and there are not factories to place in foreign countries?  

China releases its market projections for robotics.

Moving onto the general thoughts and philosophy of the Robopocalypse, in an interview, the DARPA head of the Robotics Challenge discusses his thoughts on the coming Robopocalypse.

Ukraine War Update: Бум идет лягушачий

video of the grenade blast outside of the Rada

The only place that suffered through fighting today appears to have been Avdeevka and that was restricted to RPGs and infantry weapons, no mortars, tanks or artillery support.

There has been LOTS of movement in the occupied Donbas.  Artillery being shuffled around and fuel trucks, lots and lots of fuel trucks going to Makeevka. 

The US deployed Predator drones to Latvia.  This is hardly threatening, really, but might make everyone a bit more nervous.  After all, look what an Iraqi MiG-25 did to a Predator, even when it fought back.

Another Explosion in Shandong, Felt 50 km Away

An explosion shook a chemical plant in an industrial zone in China's Dongying, in Shandong province, shortly before midnight on Monday, according to state media.

There were no immediate reports of casualties. One person died last month after a blast hit a chemical plant in a different part of Shandong last month.

A private message indicates this happens on a regular basis.

SASC Hammers US Air Force Over Long Range Strike Bomber, Tanker Problems

In a sign that this town is slowly coming back to life after a laconic August, the Senate Armed Services Committee has written Defense Secretary Ash Carter about mistakes made about the price of the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRSB) in two reports to Congress and raised questions about the latest delays to Boeing’s problem-plagued KC-46 tanker.

The Chinese Dragon Awakens

This week will be a big one for China watchers as the People’s Liberation Army holds a massive parade on Thursday in Beijing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender during World War II.

The parade comes the same week Taiwan released its a report warning that China will declare an Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, in the South China Sea after it finishes building military facilities on the Spratly Islands, according to the aviation blog Alert 5.

The PLA plans to showcase its increasingly capable weaponry, from guns and missiles to tanks and fighter jets. An estimated 12,000 troops, between 100 and 200 aircraft, and some 500 pieces of equipment are expected to participate in the event, according to CNN.

Shigir Idol Found in Russia Dates From the Twilight of the Pleistocene/Dawn of the Holocene


Ukraine War Update: о нет! лягушачий, нет!

As the Rada was voting on a law allowing for the special status of the Donbas, a protest broke out in front.  The protest turned violent: a grenade was thrown into the police by a member of the Sich Battalion and also a member of Svoboda.  A national guard member died and ~50 others were wounded.  Several seriously.  30 people have been arrested and more grenades recovered.

This is the tight rope Poroshenko must walk.  If he stops fighting in the east, he risks another revolution led by the extreme pro Ukraine elements.  Right Sector, Svoboda, etc all are a major risk of attempting a revolution.  I do not think they will necessarily win.  On the contrary, they probably would not unless Poroshenko totally bumbles it like Yanukovich did.  

However, Ukraine shredding itself from the inside is one of Putin's win scenarios. 

Let's hope that does not happen.

Ironically, if the ceasefire fails, Poroshenko's seat is more secure, at least as far as Kiev is concerned.  There is a hotspot where it seems the DNR's foot soldiers are refusing to accept the ceasefire and started attacking with automatic weapons, but (so far) no artillery or mortars.

Oh and, VP Commissioner Timmermans, based on Europe's actions with respect to Ukraine, you are so full of shit (re soundbite: Europe "will never turn away those who need protection."

Something Fluffy This Way Came

Evidence of Rock Weathering From the EoArchean

3806 Ma Isua rhyolites and dacites affected by low temperature Eoarchaean surficial alteration: Earth's earliest weathering


Nutman et al


This paper reports evidence for Earth's oldest-recognised low temperature alteration, at ∼3800 Ma. Potassic felsic schists with a protolith age of 3806 ± 2 Ma form a ∼30 km long unit in the amphibolite facies, deformed, Isua supracrustal belt (West Greenland). At a single locality, boudinaged layers (nodules) within the schists are low strain zones: they are fine-grained, weakly feldspar-phyric, contain quartz amygdules and have fiamme-like structures, all supporting a volcanic protolith.

The nodules and surrounding schistose matrix contain abundant, 100–50 μm, euhedral, oscillatory zoned 3806 Ma zircons. The rare earth patterns of the zircons indicate crystallisation was magmatic. Some zircons contain axial lobate voids indicating that they grew at low pressure as the magma exsolved a fluid. Ti-in-zircon thermometry indicates crystallisation temperatures of 750–650 °C. Taken together, these zircon features indicates growth at eutectic temperatures in a hypabyssal chamber as the magma was exsolving a fluid phase. The magmatic zircons have ɛHf initial values of ∼0 and δ18OVSMOW of +5.0‰ ( Hiess et al., 2009), showing that the source of the volcanic rocks was devoid of assimilated markedly older or weathered crustal material, and probably essentially juvenile. In contrast, the whole rock δ18OVSMOW values are elevated at +14.7 to +16.2‰, indicative of superimposed low-temperature alteration processes.

The nodules and matrix schists have non-igneous bulk compositions, exemplified by strong enrichment in K2O and depletion in Na2O. They are depleted in Sr, have no negative Eu anomalies, but have high Rb/Sr, with an Rb–Sr age of 3760 ± 140 Ma (Jacobsen and Dymek, 1988). This indicates that the alteration involving strong degradation of plagioclase occurred in the Eoarchaean. Trace element compositions and establishment of alteration vectors suggest the protoliths were likely rhyolitic and dacitic in composition.

The strongest-modified matrix schist compositions contain biotite ± calcite ± dolomite with increase in MgO relative to the nodules, which indicates early magnesian carbonate growth. The whole-rock chemistry, decoupling of the igneous zircon and whole-rock oxygen isotope signatures and the Rb–Sr dating indicate that after eruption, the 3806 Ma felsic volcanic rocks underwent Eoarchaean low-temperature potassic alteration with weathering and groundwater circulation the most likely process. The geochemistry of the Isua felsic schists is compared with that of better-preserved volcanic rocks where the alteration conditions are known. This suggests a subaerial environment. The carbonatisation of the Isua felsic schists demonstrates drawdown of atmospheric CO2 into rocks made porous by the weathering.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Ukraine War Update: Кто хрипит сегодня, лягушачий?

Today was Miner's Day in Ukraine.  It was the single most quiet day in the Donbass War since it began.  Tomorrow is the start of the ceasefire, the so-called Minsk III.  

It has been so quiet, people are starting to get their hopes up this might be the end of the fighting.  That worries me.  Little hurts more than rekindled hope thoroughly crushed.

There was another sentiment I heard today.   Its one that is so Ukrainian its hard to convey its bitterness and relief all at once to an American reading it.  There is hope that there is peace, but all hope for recovering the Donbass is lost.

I'd not get anyone's hopes up.  Zakharchenko has resurfaced and he's stated there will be no peace until all of the Donbass has been "liberated" from Ukraine. 

And a 5 month old child, a little girl, wounded in the shelling in Maryinka, died today.  Rest in peace, devichka.  

Let's see what happens.

That's not a Chinese Predator! That's a Reaper!


China's Z-10 Attack Helicopter


Tread Carefully Around the Hype: Leptons Behaving Badly at the LHC

Subatomic particles have been found that appear to defy the Standard Model of particle physics. The team working at Cern's Large Hadron Collider have found evidence of leptons decaying at different rates, which could possibly point to some undiscovered forces.

Publishing their findings in the journal Physical Review Letters, the team from the University of Maryland had been searching for conditions and behaviours that do not fit with the Standard Model. The model explains most known behaviours and interactions of fundamental subatomic particles, but it is incomplete – for example it does not adequately explain gravity, dark matter and neutrino masses.

Researchers say the discovery of the non-conforming leptons could provide a big lead in the search for non-standard phenomenon. The Standard Model concept of lepton universality assumes leptons are treated equally by fundamental forces.

They looked at B meson decays including two types of leptons – the tau lepton and the muon, both of which are highly unstable and decay within just a fraction of a second. The tau lepton and muon should decay at the same rate after mass differences are corrected. But the researchers found small but important differences in the predicted rates of decay.

This suggests there are undiscovered forces or particles interfering in the process. Study co-author Hassan Jawahery said: "The Standard Model says the world interacts with all leptons in the same way. There is a democracy there. But there is no guarantee that this will hold true if we discover new particles or new forces. Lepton universality is truly enshrined in the Standard Model. If this universality is broken, we can say that we've found evidence for non-standard physics."

Check your instruments.  Last tim something like this happened, it turned out to be dirty fiber optics.  

The Morel of the Story

ok.  just a mushroom.  dried and hard.

Cancer Cells Turned Benign by Doctors

Cancer cells have been programmed back to normal by scientists in a breakthrough which could lead to new treatments and even reverse tumour growth.

For the first time, aggressive breast, lung and bladder cancer cells have been turned back into harmless benign cells by restoring the function which prevents them from multiplying excessively and forming dangerous growths.

Scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Florida in the U.S. said it was like applying the brakes to a speeding car.

So far it has only been tested on human cells in the lab, but the researchers are hopeful that the technique could one day be used to target tumours so that cancer could be “switched off” without the need for harsh chemotherapy or surgery.

“We should be able to re-establish the brakes and restore normal cell function,” said Prof Panos Anastasiadis, of the Department for Cancer Biology.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Stealth Saga #3: China and Russia and Drones! Oh My!

A satellite image of China's "Divine Eagle" drone.  This is generally thought to be a Global Hawk equivalent, but reports have been arising that its a stealth aircraft hunter.

More information is coming out about the stealth aircraft hunting drones being developed by China (Divine Eagle) and Russia.

Beijing A-Star Science and Technology has new sensors for the J-20 and J-31.

There is a claim the J-20 will enter service in 2017.

The PAK-FA's radar is supposed to be close to ready for mass manufacture.

The Russians  showed off the PAK-FA at the MAKS 2015 airshow (video at the link).

In fact, there's LOTS of buzz about the PAK-FA.  That's not a great sign.  IMO, when Russia starts pushing something hard like that in the buzzosphere, it means there are issues. 

There's more news from MAKS, but especially note the Zond Project.  Three notes: the Russians seem to have run out of original names like the Americans have.  The AWACS radar on a drone is something we Americans ought to be doing.  Finally, this is, as far as I can tell, just another model.  When we see something flying is to stand up and take interest.

The first F-22s have arrived in Europe to reassure the Europeans and defend against the Russians.

B-2 bombers are back in Guam.

The F-35 will face off in tests against the A-10.  The US Air Force is against it, but the Pentagon on high has ordered it.

A Taiwanese site discusses the B-3/Long Range Strike Bomber in the context of a conflict with China.

Popular Mechanics speculates what the  6th generation fighters the US Air Force and US Navy are working on will be like.

Japan is trying to tune its stealth fighter project to take into account China's advances in their own stealth designs.

Europe is said to be playing catch-up in drone technology according to the Financial Times as they discuss the Neuron and Tarranis drones.

New Horizons Team Proposes 2014 MU69 as Kuiper Belt Object for January 1, 2019 Encounter

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits nearly a billion miles beyond Pluto.

This remote KBO was one of two identified as potential destinations and the one recommended to NASA by the New Horizons team. Although NASA has selected 2014 MU69 as the target, as part of its normal review process the agency will conduct a detailed assessment before officially approving the mission extension to conduct additional science.

Lessons From Venus: Impact Origin of Archean Cratons

Impact origin of Archean cratons




Archean cratons consist of crustal granite-greenstone terrains (GGTs) coupled to roots of strong, buoyant cratonic lithospheric mantle (CLM). Although this association is unique to the Archean and formed from ca. 4.0 to 2.5 Ga, the origins of terrestrial cratons are debated. I propose that crustal plateaus, quasi-circular craton-like features (∼1400−2400 km diameter, 0.5−4 km high), on Earth’s sister planet Venus might serve as analogs for Archean cratons. Crustal plateaus, which are isostatically supported by a compositionally controlled low-density root, host a distinctive surface called ribbon-tessera terrain. Ribbon-tessera also occurs as arcuate-shaped inliers in the Venus lowlands, widely interpreted as remnants of rootless crustal plateaus. Within each crustal plateau, surface ribbon-tessera terrain comprises a vast igneous province analogous to terrestrial GGTs, and the plateau root is analogous to CLM. Crustal plateaus and ribbon-tessera terrain collectively represent Venus’ oldest preserved features and surfaces, and they formed during an ancient period of globally thin lithosphere. To explain the linked features of crustal plateaus, a bolide impact hypothesis has been proposed in which a large bolide pierces ancient thin lithosphere, leading to massive partial melting in the sublithospheric mantle. In this model, melt escapes to the surface, forming an enormous lava pond, which evolves to form ribbon-tessera terrain; mantle melt residue forms a strong, resilient buoyant root, leading to plateau support and long-term stability of an individual crustal plateau. Building on the similarity of GGT−CLM and Venus crustal plateaus, I propose an exogenic hypothesis for Archean craton formation in which a large bolide pierces thin Archean lithosphere, causing localized high-temperature, high-fraction partial melting in the sublithospheric mantle; melt rises, forming an igneous province that evolves as a GGT, and melt residue develops a complementary CLM. By this mechanism, Archean cratons may have formed in a spatially and temporally punctuated fashion at a time when large bolides showered Archean Earth.

Short PR.


From when I finally got to take my lunch.  It was hot and hungry, too.

Tasting the Proto Pita Bread of the Pleistocene

A group of intrepid Israeli researchers recently went back to the dawn of the Stone Age to make lunch.

Using 12,500-year-old conical mortars carved into bedrock, they reconstructed how their ancient ancestors processed wild barley to produce groat meals, as well as a delicacy that might be termed "proto-pita" - small loaves of coal-baked, unleavened bread. In so doing, they re-enacted a critical moment in the rise of civilization: the emergence of wild-grain-based nutrition, some 2,000 to 3,000 years before our hunter-gatherer forebears would establish the sedentary farming communities which were the hallmark of the "Neolithic Revolution".

Friday, August 28, 2015

Ukraine War Update: лягушачий дает стрижка

The Bild (in german, sorry) demonstrates the DNR is shelling itself with 120mm mortars on the schools of Gorlovka. 

Ukraine got a nice debt restructuring.  Noel Maurer digs into the deal and finds it was a good one in his posted entitled "The Barber of Kiev."  We've heard this from ancedotal sources for some time.  Its really nice to see this backed up with someone do the analysis.

Artillery duels have increased up and down the line ahead of the supposed truce.  However, about midnight everything got quiet.  That sort of thing makes most in the Donbas rather nervous.

Russia has closed it border to men under 50 from Ukraine.  This is to prevent draft dodgers in the DNR & LNR.

SETI Talks: Kepler's K2 Mission

Evidence of Wildfire From Aptian/Albian Cretaceous Brazil

Evidence of palaeo-wildfire from the upper Lower Cretaceous (Serra do Tucano Formation, Aptian–Albian) of Roraima (North Brazil)


Scaramuzza dos Santos et al


Wood fossil charcoal is identified from the upper Lower Cretaceous (Serra do Tucano Formation, Aptian–Albian) of Roraima (North Brazil). The presence of charcoal demonstrates the occurrence of Early Cretaceous palaeo-wildfires for the first time in this region and only the third time for the entirety of South America. A gymnospermous taxonomic affinity can be established for the charred woods and a relationship with conifers is likely, thus providing additional evidence for the taxonomic composition of Early Cretaceous floras in this region.

Climate Models Must Incorporate Biological Interactions for Accuracy

When a plant dies, its leaves and branches fall to the ground. Decomposition of soil organic matter is then mainly carried out by fungi and bacteria, which convert dead plant materials into carbon dioxide and mineral nutrients.

Until now, scientists have thought that high quality organic materials, such as leaves that are rich in soluble sugars, are mainly decomposed by bacteria. Lower quality materials, such as cellulose and lignin that are found in wood, are mainly broken down by fungi.

Previous research has also shown that organic material that is broken down by fungi results in a reduced leakage of carbon dioxide and nutrients compared to material decomposed by bacteria.

This has consequences for climate models, since more loss of carbon dioxide and mineral nitrogen would have a direct bearing on the soil's contribution to greenhouse gases and eutrophication.

First the Hulk, now...Xenomorphs With Money?!

Looks like a $1.50 in quarters superglued.

The strange things I see on the way to the office in the morning these days.

Robopocalypse #17: Droning on about the economics of the Robopocalypse

Drone maker Yuneec got a $60M investment from Intel.

Big brother is a drone!  Construction workers are now being monitored by drone.

Iowa State University is pitching drones to local farmers.

Farm drones are not in Virginia yet, but they are coming.

A team of burglars raided a store in Los Angeles for GoPro cameras and drones!  I wonder if they are going to use them to scout for houses and stores to burglarize.  Good thing Thoren didn't have a drone.  That'd have made Smaug's life a nightmare.

The question is becoming whether or not local communities ought to (or even can legally) ban drones.

Kansas state officials are going to have their first summit about drones.

Drones are currently banned in Boulder County, Colorado's parks and open areas.  They are considering changing that rule for scientific work and "operation monitoring."

Four universities received a grant from the National Science Foundation to create weather drones.

Yup, there's an online "university" offering an advanced degree in drones.

Intel and Qualcom are attempting to bring advanced computer vision to drones.

The Russians claim they have started work on an unmanned tilt rotor drone.

In the self driving car arena, who will benefit from their existence asks the Business Insider.  The answer: everyone.   And who will profit?  Go read.

Should self driving cars risk driving into the uncanny valley?  Would they with a 'Siri' virtual assistant?

In general robotics, the University of Twente developed a steerable robotic needle.

Agri bots are the future, not just drones.

In the economics of the Robopocalypse, Tim O'Reilly talks about the WTF economy in two videos.

Business leaders (ahem) think robotics offer jobs for the future in the Robopocalypse.

Medical robotics are seen growing to a $7.6 billion market over the next five years.

On the philosophical, these are the nightmares the Robopocalypse brings to the Turing Award Winners awake at night.

For the conference on the Robopocalypse, Robobusiness, what are the must sees?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ukraine War Update: Война против амфибии

On the heels of announcing the ceasefire/Minks III yesterday, the sound and fury of Donnie Reb's assaults has increased.  Officially 7 Ukrainian soldiers died last night outside of Mariupol.  According to other sources that will be revised 21.  The Ukrainian soldiers were instructed rather than fire back to contact the OSCE.  They did.  They died.

I can almost guarantee you this will not happen again.

Fighting is very intense around Mariupol, Starohnativka, Volnovakha and Maryinka.

On the plus side, Ukraine successfully renegotiated its debt.  This is a big deal.  I suspect part of this was because there were signals IMF was willing to let Ukraine default against its other creditors without repercussions. 20% of the debt is being just outright written off.

If irony were a material, then you could get Stalin toed boots from Putin's actions.  One of the worries the Russians have stated from the beginning was NATO pushing right up to its borders.  Informally, NATO agreed no major bases in the newer ex Warsaw Pact nations.  However, first with the Baltics getting war stocks and now Poland is getting American heavy forces, I'd say Putin needs to understand the term 'self fulfilling prophecy.'

Another So True

MERS is *FAR* From Gone: 19 Dead in Saudi Arabia This Week

Deaths from the MERS coronavirus have surged in Saudi Arabia ahead of the hajj pilgrimage, with 19 fatalities recorded in a week, according to health ministry statistics.

A total of 502 people have died in the kingdom since the virus first appeared in 2012, according to updated figures posted on the ministry's website, including 19, all Saudis, since last Thursday.

The number of MERS infections has also surged to 1,171 cases, the website said.

A surge in infections forced health authorities to shut the emergency ward at a main hospital in Riyadh last week, after at least 46 people, including medical staff, contracted the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

John Connor: Say Hi to Boeing's 2 Kilowatt Anti Drone Laser

Hang on to your drone. Boeing’s developed a laser cannon specifically designed to turn unmanned aircraft into flaming wreckage.

The aerospace company’s new weapon system, which it publicly tested this week in a New Mexico industrial park, isn’t quite as cool as what you see in Star Wars—there’s no flying beams of light, no “pew! pew!” sound effects. But it is nonetheless a working laser cannon, and it will take your drone down.

You could mount that about anywhere.  You just need 2 kw (plus) of power for it.

Evidence of Heavy Metal Poisoning From Ordovician Mass Extinction in Marine Plankton

Several Palaeozoic mass extinction events during the Ordovician and Silurian periods (ca. 485 to 420 to million years ago) shaped the evolution of life on our planet. Although some of these short-lived, periodic events were responsible for eradication of up to 85% of marine species, the exact kill-mechanism responsible for these crises remains poorly understood.

An international team led by Thijs Vandenbroucke (researcher at the French CNRS and invited professor at UGent) and Poul Emsbo (US Geological Survey) initiated a study to investigate a little known association between 'teratological' or 'malformed' fossil plankton assemblages coincident with the initial stages of these extinction events.

In a paper just published in Nature Communications, they present evidence that malformed fossil remains of marine plankton from the late Silurian (415 million years ago) contain highly elevated concentrations of heavy metals, such as iron, lead, and arsenic. These are well-known toxins that cause morphologic abnormalities in modern aquatic organisms; which led the authors to conclude that metal poisoning caused the malformation observed in these ancient organisms and may have contributed to their extinction and that of many other species.

Theia Wasn't Alone: Uranus Formed From Two Protoplanets Colliding

Stimulated Radiative Molecular Association in the Early Solar System. II. Orbital Radii of the Planets and Other Satellites of the Sun




In a previous investigation, the orbital radii of regular satellites of Uranus, Jupiter, Neptune, and Saturn are shown to be directly related to photon energies in the spectra of atomic and molecular hydrogen. To explain these observations a model was developed involving stimulated radiative molecular association (SRMA) reactions among photons and atoms in the protosatellite disks of the planets. In the present investigation, the previously developed model is applied to the planets and important satellites of the Sun. A key component of the model involves resonance associated with SRMA. Through this resonance, thermal energy is extracted from the protosun's protoplanetary disk at specific distances from the protosun wherever there is a match between the local thermal energy of the disk and the energy of photons impinging on the disk. Orbital radii of the planets and satellites are related to photon energies (EP values) in the spectrum of atomic hydrogen. An expression determined previously is used to relate EP values to temperatures in the disk. Results indicate the surface temperature of the protosun at the time when the evolution of the planets begins is higher than the surface temperature of a typical T Tauri star. The present investigation offers an explanation for the existence of the asteroid and classical Kuiper belts and predicts that a primordial belt once existed in the vicinity of Neptune. It also indicates that Uranus is formed from two protoplanets and is thus consistent with the theory that the large tilt of Uranus's axis of rotation was created by the collision of two bodies.

Xenopermian Biota of the Ural Sea: Brontopator chapsia, a hippodont dicynodont

The Xenopermian is a collaborative effort between Scott, Raven, Zach and myself to outline a very different, speculative world. In some ways this is not all that different than the exercises of Dougal Dixon, After Man and The New Dinosaurs. Rather than speculating on what the dinosaurs would be like if they had not gone extinct, much like his New Dinosaurs or the Spec World Project, or project into the future with After Man or The Future is Wild, our team asked the question of ‘what if the Permian Extinction did not happen?

This is the next post about the fauna of the Xenopermian in the Ural Sea region. We have talked about a ‘fossil’ and a faux controversy associated it with. We have talked about the geological staging differences in the XenoPermian timeline, and have even talked about the differences in the world in general under such a different period. We have generalized about the fauna, but now we want to get into specifics. In our first post, we talked about the first faunal member of the Xenopermian, Graviloricanasus roma, a pseudochelonid and very derived pareiasaur. Then we talked about Elyardia hensonii, a very derived anomodont. Then we talked about the alternate pterosaur, Maralae whittoni.  Another time we talked about the trematosaurine temnospondyl Chronoperifronius thassalicus.  Post before last, we looked at the walrodont, Psittacops makradens.   The last post we looked at the desmodont dicynodont, Palonatator beccus.

Today we are sticking with the dicynodonts.  It will be the last dicynodont post for some time.  However, we are looking today at another branch that has been nicknamed the 'hippodonts' since they have developed in parallel in form (somewhat) and function (more so) to the hippopotamuses of our timeline.  The parallel evolutionary example we will work with today is Brontopator chapsia.

Brontopator chapsia is an example of another fictional and derived member of the clade Thassalothere which are a clade of the dicynodonts, an important group within the anomodonts.  These are in turn therapsids like the gorgons, therocephalians and cynodonts.  That last is inclusive of the mammals like you, you darned dirty ape, you!

During the great Evolutionary Churn of the XenoPermian, when the Siberian Traps did a 10 million year long sustained eruption instead of the bursty nastiness causing the Permian Triassic mass Extinction, the dicynodonts branched out into different clades.  The dicynodonts were already very successful herbivores and as the innovation took place within the clade, the dicynodonts started to exploit new resources.  One of these was the waterways.  The dicynodonts took to the water, despite not really being semi aquatic in OTL, and found a very unexploited set of niches with the lack of aquatic herbivores at the time.  The basal most thassalothere took to the swampy regions.  From there, they branched out into what would be informally called the hippodonts (river dwellers), walrodonts (sea residents) and desmodonts (swamp dwellers).

The hippodonts look like the strange cousins of Placerias.   They are big and portly and spend most of their time in the water.  They munch on the aquatic plants and come on land to graze at night.  While there is no grass in the XenoPermian, there are plenty of low herbaceous conifers and fast growing ferns.  They live in small herds and birth live young.
Brontopator chapsia is pretty generic for a hippodont.  They have a semi sprawled front leg stance and can and do charge predators.  Their thick skulls and semi forward facing tusks make them a serious hazard for predators.  They do protect their young and do not have large litters, rather one or two at a time.  Their young are more developed than the desmodont and walrodonts'.  However, they are still birthed on land.
One species of hippodont, not B. chapsia, actually seems to do some minor intentional environmental engineering and digs side pools to the rivers which they live.  In there, they raise their young, defended from even the reptilomorph and temnospondyls lurking in the rivers. This cousin does have a problem with reptilomorphs though.  The communally nesting variety can and will take over unoccupied hippodont ponds.  The repitlomorphs are not a match one on one, but when they have taken over a pond, they will enmass defend it.    That many reptilomorphs get rather hungry when they are sitting in the defense for so long.  They'll eschew eating the eats, but they can take down baby hippodonts in the area.
Brontopator chapsia is common in the short rivers running into the Ural Sea.  Cousins of their's are present in most rivers draining into the Tethys and in some draining into the Panthalassa.  Two species even migrate from the Transpangaea Mountains down into the Megavongo.

Their biggest predators are the gorgonopsids.  They are large enough to take down an adult B. chapsia.  However, the gorgons prefer munching on the young or sick.  The second most deadly are the venomous felid-like therocephalians that will ambush a herd, take a bite and run, letting its poison kill whatever it bit.  The large adult B. chapsia will pull through.  However, the young or old will not.  Temnospondyls are a problem as well when the herd takes to the water: they can wait crocodile like in the water to attack and pull young under the water for a kill.  This is rather risky given the strength of a stab by the hippodont tusks.

The hippodonts will last to the XenoPermian Jurassic Mass Extinction.  However, an Elvis Taxon would arise in the Cretaceous from a NeoDicynodont clade.  This mimicing lineage would die out in the Cretaceous-Eocene Extinction at the Mesozoic/Allozoic boundary.  Examples of competing parallel evolution would take place during the Allozoic, with dicynodonts, therocephalians and mammals duking it out up until the Pleistocene for the ecological niche.  However, the true hippodonts were gone 200 million years earlier.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ukraine War Update: Обмани меня трижды, лягушачий

There are claims of Minsk III and a new ceasefire on September 1st.  I am sure there war in Ukraine will stop completely.  The only will be exception will be for the Donbas like there was for Debaltseve.  All the rest of Ukraine will be under the rules of the ceasefire.

The outskirts of Mariupol are being hit again.  Pulling out of Shirokyne was an utter mistake.  The artillery fire was concentrated there where there were few to no civvies.  Now the Ukrainian side is getting hit and repeatedly.

Mariupol is hardly the only place getting slammed with artillery. Its pretty much up and down the line of contact.

(a check point under fire from tanks)

Likewise, Maryinka and Starohnativka had infantry battles. Tanks clashed in multiple places as well. Again these are not tank battles like what we'd think of, but rather shelling at each other.

Ukraine's conscription has fallen short by half: they wanted 25k conscripts.  They got half.

Noel Maurer has a post up wondering about the casualties reported by the Russian magazine Business Life.  The magazine post has since been censored but not before Forbes got wind of it.

Apparently, Zakharchenko is still MIA.  In fact, his residence is abandoned (largely emptied out) and his entire family and all his entourage are gone as well.  If he's gone on vacation is a very big vacation.  Comments are being made this is like what happened to the DNR leaders after MH17 was shot down.  So!  The mystery deepens!

D Wave Claims to Have Built 1000 Quibit Quantum Annealing Processor

Benchmarking a quantum annealing processor with the time-to-target metric.


King et al


In the evaluation of quantum annealers, metrics based on ground state success rates have two major drawbacks. First, evaluation requires computation time for both quantum and classical processors that grows exponentially with problem size. This makes evaluation itself computationally prohibitive. Second, results are heavily dependent on the effects of analog noise on the quantum processors, which is an engineering issue that complicates the study of the underlying quantum annealing algorithm. We introduce a novel \time-to-target" metric which avoids these two issues by challenging software solvers to match the results obtained by a quantum annealer in a short amount of time. We evaluate D-Wave's latest quantum annealer, the D-Wave 2X system, on an array of problem classes and and that it performs well on several input classes relative to state of the art software solvers running single-threaded on a CPU.

Scott Aaronson sorta replies, 'meh.'

Mini Crazy Thought: US Navy Ought to Rejigger its Hangar Deck With Robot Plane Parking Structures

After looking at pictures like the above,  I immediately thought of these:

You could double stack the aircraft easily.

You could add another 40 aircraft that way easily.  However, you still need the maintainers and pilots.  Probably a better idea for the coming drones. 

Robopocalypse Report #16: Drones, Cars, and the Hype-opocalypse!

The Chinese Predator equivalent(*), the Wing Loong, tests different weapon systems.

Two men were arrested for the attempt to smuggle contraband into a prison via drone.

Australians are using drones to track wild life.

The joint Sony-ZMP company Aerosense's drones have taken flight.

California's State Assembly is considering a bill that would ban drones over private property below 350 feet.  The only way to do drone delivery, the bill's author states, would be for drones to follow public roads.

Gizmodo speculates on a future where we will all have a personal drone.

North Dakota has legalized cops using taser armed drones.

Switching to the self driving car, Uber is rolling out its own mapping cars in Arizona.  First in Tuscon, but its making everyone speculate Uber will be using the data gained for their own self driving cars. 

Supposedly, self driving cars have hit their hype peak and theory is they will go down through the floor and then to around 5 years.  

Careful with the hype! yells another article.  That one argues self driving cars are not coming any time soon.

The RAND Corp speculates whether or not cops ought to be allowed to take control of self driving cars.  Given all the problems with hacking with pre self driving cars, putting a backdoor in for the cops cannot be a good thing.

Apparently, Google's self driving cars can be confused by fix-gear bicycles.

Moving onto the 3D printing arena!  I am going to make sure this is a regular part of the Robopocalypse Report.

MIT has come up with a 3d printer able to print ten different materials simultaneously.

What are some of the implications of 3d printing for car markers?   There are many.

Related to the 3D printing is that of 3d scanning.  Microsoft has successfully developed a method of making a cell phone camera into a 3d scanner.

Tangential to 3d Printing, these 3d printed micro "fish" could be the precursors of microbots.

In general robotics, it seems robot movements can be made to be up to 40% more energy efficient through smooth rather than sudden acceleration.

In the economics of the Robopocalypse,  in Australia, at least, 60% of students are pursuing careers that will be obsolete in the near future.

The question is which jobs are the robots coming for?  Or is at simple as the bots are going to take our jobs?  Hackaday has their answer.  Wired has their own answer.  Forbes has their's.

The Financial Review has stated bots will savage the financial sector worse than offshoring has.

In the psychology of the Robopocalypse, the US Air Force is working to improve human trust of machines.

As far as the hype machine goes, there's a Silicon Valley conference, RoboBusiness, set for September 23-24.  It has Kurzweil as a keynote speaker, so it's already an epic fail, IMO.

In a retrospective on the Robopocalypse, ten years ago, Toyota claimed it would be selling household robots in 2010.  Careful how much koolaid you drink!

Stealth Saga #2: A Grab bag...if you could see it!

Jane's gives its take on the Long Range Strike Bomber award.  Rumor has it Northrop won.  Other sources are openly disagreeing in no small part because NG has moved a lot of its R&D engineers out of the program and, historically, this means a loss.  OTOH, if the bomber really is being based on an existing aircraft, as some have supposed, then that sorta makes sense to do.

Secretary of the Air Force James responds to the cost projection screw up for the LRS-B.

Despite LOTS of rumors, the Pentagon has stated its not going to be reviewing how many F-35s ought to be procured.

There is more info on what missiles the Russian PAK-FA will be getting.  As an aside, the PAK-FA has some serious gaps there between the wing and the inlet based on pix.  That's another bit which just doesn't make a lot of sense from the low observables POV.

The PAK-FA and MiG 1.44 did appear at MAKS 2015.

A nifty pic of the MiG 1.44 is here.  A kewl plane, but definitely NOT stealthy.

Mikoyan claims it has a new 5th generation light fighter design combining features from the MiG 1.44 and the MiG-35.  Neither is stealthy,  yeah.  Sounds more like a 4+ gen.

Russia's United Aircraft Corporation is claiming to be working on stealthy UCAVs.  They have a model they claim is not just marketing at MAKS 2015, but largely intended to hunt the F-35.

The European NEURON UCAV has completed low observability flight tests  in Italy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ukraine War Update: что скрывается в Луганске? И Макеевка?

In Makeevka, ten new Grad launchers were delivered today.  Likewise, several fuel trucks showed up.  Apparently, lots of tanks, artillery, etc. rolled up to the Auchen Supermarket in Makeevka.  Note the locale vs the highways.

In Krasnodon, mobile phones have been down since 5 PM Ukrainian time.  Again, note the position on the highways.  In fact, we are getting reports of cell phones going down all over the Donbas now.

There are lots of reports of attacks by the Ukrainians on Russian/Donnie Reb positions.  The Ukrainians are looking rather confused since they are only responding right now.  They are claiming the DNR/LNR is doing its usual false information.  

However, the LNR has positioned a lot of equipment near the front line for a "count attack" against the coming Ukrainian assault.

In fact, the Russians & LNR may have set up pontoon bridges across the Seversky Donets River.

Residents in Lutuhyne and  Molodohvardiisk report very large Russian army forces passing through.  Supposedly another force passed through Krasnodon soon after the cell phones went down.

Let's hope these are locals just overreacting to Donnie Reb's normal movements.  However, with the reports of bridges and the no cell service, it might be something scary.  

Then again, we've had several scares and several small offensive attempts too. 

BOOM! Time to Replace the M-1 Tank, Guys!


Nuclear Fusion Startup Tri Alpha Energy Claims Plasma Containment, Sustainment Breakthrough

In a suburban industrial park south of Los Angeles, researchers have taken a significant step toward mastering nuclear fusion—a process that could provide abundant, cheap, and clean energy. A privately funded company called Tri Alpha Energy has built a machine that forms a ball of superheated gas—at about 10 million degrees Celsius—and holds it steady for 5 milliseconds without decaying away. That may seem a mere blink of an eye, but it is far longer than other efforts with the technique and shows for the first time that it is possible to hold the gas in a steady state—the researchers stopped only when their machine ran out of juice.

“They’ve succeeded finally in achieving a lifetime limited only by the power available to the system,” says particle physicist Burton Richter of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who sits on a board of advisers to Tri Alpha. If the company’s scientists can scale the technique up to longer times and higher temperatures, they will reach a stage at which atomic nuclei in the gas collide forcefully enough to fuse together, releasing energy.

“Until you learn to control and tame [the hot gas], it’s never going to work. In that regard, it’s a big deal. They seem to have found a way to tame it,” says Jaeyong Park, head of the rival fusion startup Energy/Matter Conversion Corporation in San Diego. “The next question is how well can you confine [heat in the gas]. I give them the benefit of the doubt. I want to watch them for the next 2 or 3 years.”

First noticed them in June.

Oshkosh Wins JLTV Contract for US Army, Marine Corps

The Army awarded Oshkosh Defense a $6.75 billion contract for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) today, covering 17,000 vehicles for the Army and for the Marine Corps.

AM General, Lockheed Martin and Oshkosh have been competing for the contract for the largest recent ground vehicle program, which replaces the aging Humvee. The three were picked in 2012 to build prototypes for testing, and in February they submitted their bids for the low-rate initial production contract.

“Procurement of 5,500 USMC vehicles are front-loaded into the JLTV production plan. Initial USMC operating capability is expected in Fiscal Year 2018 with fielding to Marine Corps complete in FY2022,” read a statement from the U.S. Army.
“The Army anticipates having its first unit equipped in FY2018. Army procurement will last until approximately 2040 and replace a significant portion of the Army’s legacy light tactical vehicle fleet with 49,099 new vehicles.”

The Army anticipates having its first unit equipped in FY2018. Army procurement will last until approximately 2040 and replace a significant portion of the Army’s legacy light tactical vehicle fleet with 49,099 new vehicles.

During three years of low-rate initial production, Oshkosh Defense will build approximately 17,000 JLTVs for the Army and Marine Corps before moving into five years of full-rate production, according to a March Congressional Research Service report on the program.

Yours, Mine and Moscow's: Russian Arctic Claims

On August 4th, the Russian Federation’s Foreign Ministry reported that it had resubmitted its claim to a vast swath (more than 1.2 million square kilometers, including the North Pole) of the rapidly changing and potentially lucrative Arctic to the United Nations. In 2002, Russia put forth a similar claim, but it was rejected based on lack of sufficient support. This latest petition, however, is supported by “ample scientific data collected in years of arctic research,” according to Moscow. Russia’s latest submission for the United Nation’s Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf’s (CLCS) consideration coincides with increased Russian activity in the High North, both of a military and economic nature. Recent years have seen Russia re-open a Soviet-era military base in the remote Novosibirsk Islands (2013), with intentions to restore a collocated airfield as well as emergency services and scientific facilities. According to a 2015 statement by Russian Deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin, the curiously named Academic Lomonsov, a floating nuclear power plant built to provide sustained operating power to Arctic drilling platforms and refineries, will be operational by 2016. Though surely the most prolific in terms of drilling and military activity, Russia is far from the only Arctic actor staking their claim beyond traditional EEZs in the High North. Given the increased activity, overlapping claims, and dynamic nature of Arctic environment as a whole, Russia’s latest claim has tremendous implications, whether or not the United Nations CLCS provides a recommendation in favor of Moscow’s assertions.

Xenopermian Biota of the Ural Sea: Palonatator beccus, a desmodont dicynodont

The Xenopermian is a collaborative effort between Scott, Raven, Zach and myself to outline a very different, speculative world. In some ways this is not all that different than the exercises of Dougal Dixon, After Man and The New Dinosaurs. Rather than speculating on what the dinosaurs would be like if they had not gone extinct, much like his New Dinosaurs or the Spec World Project, or project into the future with After Man or The Future is Wild, our team asked the question of ‘what if the Permian Extinction did not happen?

This is the next post about the fauna of the Xenopermian in the Ural Sea region. We have talked about a ‘fossil’ and a faux controversy associated it with. We have talked about the geological staging differences in the XenoPermian timeline, and have even talked about the differences in the world in general under such a different period. We have generalized about the fauna, but now we want to get into specifics. In our first post, we talked about the first faunal member of the Xenopermian, Graviloricanasus roma, a pseudochelonid and very derived pareiasaur. Then we talked about Elyardia hensonii, a very derived anomodont. Then we talked about the alternate pterosaur, Maralae whittoni.  Last time we talked about the trematosaurine temnospondyl Chronoperifronius thassalicus.  Last week, we looked at the walrodont, Psittacops makradens 

This week we are going continue with the anomodont therapsids with a some of the close relatives of the walrodonts, the desmodonts.  Specifically, we are going to be taking a look at Palonatator beccus.

Palonatator beccus is an example of another fictional and derived member of the clade Thassalothere which are a clade of the dicynodonts, an important group within the anomodonts.  These are in turn therapsids like the gorgons, therocephalians and cynodonts.  That last is inclusive of the mammals like you, you hairless ape, you!

During the great Churn of the XenoPermian, the dicynodonts branched out into different clades.  The dicynodonts were already very successful herbivores and as the innovation took place within the clade, the dicynodonts started to exploit new resources.  One of these was the waterways.  It had long been thought dicynodonts were semiaquatic, but it turns out they were not by and large in our time line.  Approximately 250 million years ago, when the Siberian Traps started erupting, the basal most thassalothere took to the swampy regions.  From there, they branched out into what would be informally called the hippodonts (river dwellers), walrodonts (sea residents) and desmodonts (swamp dwellers).

The desmodonts are in some ways more derived than their cousins.  They developed a parasagittal stance convergent with the neodicynodonts.  They also were rather more gracile than most of the other thassalotheres.  They picked up a number of traits in their adaptation to the water that reminded of the desmostylians.  Hence where they got their informal nickname.  However, they were very much dicynodonts and retained the beak and grinding mill.  One of the most striking differences is that they have lost the canine which the dicynodonts are most famous for.

However, they are nowhere as nearly derived as the walrodonts, of course.

Palonatator beccus is a pretty generic member of the clade.  They, like their relatives, inhabit swampy ground where they can eat both aquatic and waterside flora.  They are relatively quick and can out run many larger predators and those they cannot, they run into deeper water where the predators fear to tread.

They do have problems with the temnospondyls and reptilomorphs inhabiting the waterways of the swamps.  Their young are the most vulnerable.  However, on land the giant derived gorgons are dangerous even tot he adult P. beccus.  However, moving in herds does help with the predator problems.

The desmodonts are confined to the Ural Sea and along the Tethys Sea.  They are not, largely due to being unable to spread along the coastline, resident in the deltas of the Panthalassa.  Speculation is the waters are simply too cold.

The desmodonts will exist for approximately 25 million years.  They originated 10 million years before the current snapshot of the XenoPermian.  They will last until the X-J Extinction which is coming up rather soon, in 15 million years from the time of the snapshot we have here of the XenoPermian.  The Mesozoic will have different animals fill the roles the desmodonts fill.