Friday, August 26, 2016

Do Kimberlites Indicate the Start of Plate Tectonics?


Stern et al


We want to know when plate tectonics began and will consider any important Earth feature that shows significant temporal evolution. Kimberlites, the primary source of diamonds, are rare igneous features. We analyze their distribution throughout Earth history; most are young (∼95% are younger than 0.75 Ga), but rare examples are found as far back as the Archean (older than 2.5 Ga). Although there are differing explanations for this age asymmetry (lack of preservation, lack of exposure, fewer mantle plumes, or lack of old thick lithosphere in the Archean and Proterozoic), we suggest that kimberlite eruptions are a consequence of modern-style plate tectonics, in particular subduction of hydrated oceanic crust and sediments deep into the mantle. This recycling since the onset of modern-style plate tectonics ca. 1 Ga has massively increased mantle CO2 and H2O contents, leading to the rapid and explosive ascent of diamond-bearing kimberlite magmas. The age distribution of kimberlites, combined with other large-scale tectonic indicators that are prevalent only in the past ∼1 Ga (blueschists, glaucophane-bearing eclogites; coesite- or diamond-bearing ultrahigh-pressure metamorphic rocks; lawsonite-bearing metamorphic rocks; and jadeitites), indicates that plate tectonics, as observed today, has only operated for

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Is There a 5th Nuclear Force?

In a new paper, University of California, Riverside theoretical physicist Flip Tanedo and his collaborators have made new progress towards unravelling a mystery in the beryllium nucleus that may be evidence for a fifth force of nature.

Earlier this year, an experiment in Hungary reported very unusual behavior in the decays of beryllium-8 nuclei. The experimental collaboration suggested that their results may come from the effects of a new force of nature.

If confirmed, this would have far-reaching consequences on fundamental physics including grand unification, dark matter and the experimental strategy for pushing the frontier of human knowledge.

Intrigued, Tanedo, an assistant professor at UC Riverside, and his collaborators - all theoretical physicists - decided to investigate further.

In an paper posted earlier this year, the team did the first theoretical analysis of the Hungarian team's interpretation, and showed how usual assumptions of how a fifth force would behave don't seem to work in this case because of the high energy physics experiments that would otherwise rule it out. This represented the first steps to finding wiggle room for what it would take for the fifth force interpretation to work.

A Classification of Martian Gullies


Auld et al


Due to the large and varied population of gullies observed in Mars High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) imagery that exhibit diverse characteristics, this paper develops a classification of martian gullies based on their morphological characteristics. This provides a firmer foundation for future investigation of the genesis of different gully morphologies. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) image catalog on the HiRISE website was examined and 869 images, chosen from the first 25,000 orbits, show a wide variety of gully morphologies. The images were analyzed using ENVI 4.4 and ENVI Zoom and the gullies were cataloged and divided into groups based on the presence and character of the dominant morphological components of alcove, channel, and apron associated with each gully. 7519 gullies were identified in the images and the length and width of the components were measured in ENVI to facilitate classification. Seven classes were developed based on morphology.

Russia Reducing its Crew on the International Space Station From 3 to 2

Roscosmos is looking to reduce the size of Russian crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) from three to two, Izvestiya reports.
“We sent a letter to the participants of the ISS program – we want to hear their views on how we reduce the crew and when, there are nuances,” Sergei Krikalev, director of manned programs of the state corporation Roscosmos told Izvestia. “We are interested in the opinion of the Mission Control Center, the Institute of Biomedical Problems (RAS lead agency on the subject of Human Spaceflight — Izvestiya), our ISS partners. The intention to reduce the crew due to the fact that we have reduced the number of cargo ships sent to the ISS, as well as awareness of the need to increase the effectiveness of the program.”

The story says Roscosmos’ budget for space station operations was reduced as part of a severe cut in the space program’s funding. Russia’s national budget has been under severe pressure due to a reduction in oil revenues and Western sanctions over its annexation of Crimea.

Another factor is that the three cosmonauts aboard the station apparently don’t have enough to do. This problem is a result of the severe quality control problems that have bedeviled the Russian space program in recent years.

The US Navy Wants a Very Long Range Torpedo

The attack submarine is one of the dangerous naval combatants in the world owing to its stealth and ship-killing torpedoes. But limited range has long been the torpedo’s major drawback. Unlike a missile which travels through the thin atmosphere, a torpedo must fight harder to reach its target.

As a result, navies spend billions of dollars finding ways to prevent hunter-killers from getting close to their valuable surface ships. And to give their own submarines a better shot, they find ways to add range.

Now the U.S. Navy is researching how to significantly boost the range of its torpedoes starting with the Mark 48, according to an August request for information from the Office of Naval Research. If successful, America’s subs could get a lot more lethal.

Pleistocene Giant Sloths Found in Brazil


De Iuliisa et al


The Pleistocene fossil sloth Australonyx aquae De Iuliis, Cartelle, and Pujos, 2009 (Mammalia, Xenarthra, Megalonychidae) was described from the intertropical region of Brazil. However, its mandible was not known and only cursory descriptions of the ear ossicles were included. The mandible was subsequently recognized among the remains originally collected from the type locality, and belongs to the holotype individual. As a particularly important skeletal element for specific recognition, it requires description to complement our understanding of this species. The ossicles, usually poorly represented in the fossil record, require further description to allow differentiation from those of other sloths. Comparisons of the mandible and ossicles are conducted with homologous elements of the contemporaneous and sympatric Ahytherium aureum Cartelle, De Iuliis, and Pujos, 2008, the only other megalonychid sloth known from intertropical Brazil, and reinforce the distinction between these two species detailed in their initial descriptions. Comparisons with other sloths (e.g., Acratocnus, Megalonyx, Neocnus) also reveal differences with Au. aquae in such features as form and size of the caniniform tooth, angular process, and mandibular condyle. Differences among the malleus and incus of Au. aquae and several species of other sloth clades reveal clade level distinctions among Megatheriidae, Nothrotheriidae, and Megalonychidae. A well-preserved skull from the Brazilian state of Rondônia is noted as probably belonging to Au. aquae. This skull cannot be assigned formally to this species because it is not deposited in a recognized institution, but it does extend considerably the known range of the species.

Were There two Species of Agujaceratops in Cretaceous West Texas?


Lehman et al


Most horned dinosaur remains recovered from the Aguja Formation in West Texas are referable to the endemic chasmosaurine Agujaceratops mariscalensis. One specimen, however, differs sufficiently to justify its designation as the holotype of a new species, Agujaceratops mavericus sp. nov. This specimen and an isolated postorbital horncore from the same vicinity are stratigraphically the highest found in the Aguja Formation. A well-preserved juvenile specimen exhibits some unique features, and others compatible with A. mavericus, but due to its immature condition cannot be identified with certainty. A parietal referred to A. mariscalensis is the most complete thus far known, and shows that the frill of this taxon is more elaborately ornamented than previously believed, bearing a set of large horn-like spikes at the posterolateral corners. These two species share features of the premaxilla and squamosal, which warrant their inclusion in the same genus. However, characters thought to distinguish the two species vary in a manner similar to that found in other chasmosaurines, where debate persists as to their taxonomic significance. A consensus species concept has yet to be adopted for ceratopsid genera, of which most are monotypic. As a result, the two Agujaceratops species could be interpreted as arbitrary anagenetic stages in a single lineage, end-members in a spectrum of ontogenetic and sex-associated variation in that lineage, or two sympatric lineages that occupied separate niches in the same range.

Evidence of Glacial Meltwater/Volcanic Interaction From Rifting of Supercontinent Rodinia During Tonian/Crogenian NeoProterozoic


He et al


To seek the occurrence of negative δ18O magmas in the Neoproterozoic, we conducted in-situ zircon O isotope analysis and U-Pb dating for granitic gneisses from the northeastern Sulu orogen, east-central China. Zircon U-Pb dating yields protolith ages of 753±15 Ma to 780±13 Ma and metamorphic ages of 209±3 to 244±7 Ma. The Neoproterozoic cores with concordant U-Pb ages exhibit a wide δ18O range from -11.0 to 5.8‰, which is nearly the same as those for cores with discordant U-Pb ages. The Triassic rims of some samples have homogeneous δ18O values of around -10‰ whereas the rims of the other samples show a wider range from -9.8 to 5.0‰. The δ18O values as negative as -11.0‰ for zircons with concordant Neoproterozoic U-Pb ages are reported for the first time, representing the primary record of negative δ18O magma in the Neoproterozoic. The continental subduction-zone metamorphism in the Triassic did not erase the abnormal δ18O record in the protolith cores despite metamorphic dehydration and partial melting under high-pressure to ultrahigh-pressure conditions. A conservative estimate suggests that the hydrothermal fluid reacted with the rocks should have δ18O values lower than -9.2‰, corresponding to the meteoric water in cold paleoclimate or the meltwater of local continental glaciation. The spatial variation in the O isotope compositions of Neoproterozoic zircons is a manifestation of the O isotope heterogeneity in the extinct hydrothermal-magmatic system. The hydrothermal alteration during the Neoproterozoic was incongruent, which was lately recorded by the wide range of δ18O values in the metamorphic zircons of Triassic age. The extensive O isotope exchange between the surface water and the deep rock requires high temperature and high water-rock ratios in continental rifting zones. This is ascribed to Neoproterozoic splitting of the South China Block from the Rodinia supercontinent.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ukraine War Update: Большая ложь перед бурей

Putin hints at war with Ukraine.

Putin visited Crimea. 

Putin blamed Ukraine for the peace plan failing.

Kiev is struggling with fighting the Donnie Rebs propaganda war.

If the fighting continues to worsen in the Donbas, Kiev is threatening martial law.

The fighting is increasing in the Donbas

Russia is building up an army on the Ukrainian border.

Trump's campaign manager, Manafort, has been named as accepting bribes from the Donnie Rebs to move money into the US.  He has since resigned.

Here's a look at the Crimean Crisis.

Europa Mission may Have Budget Squeeze in FY 2017

While NASA says its support for a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa is now aligned with Congress, project officials are preparing for a possible “squeeze” on mission funding in the next fiscal year.

In presentations at an Aug. 11 meeting of NASA’s Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG) in Flagstaff, Arizona, officials involved with what’s widely known as the Europa Clipper mission said they are looking for ways to cut costs in 2017 while keeping the mission on track for a 2022 launch.

“There is this squeeze in FY17 that we have,” said Bob Pappalardo, the mission’s project scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said. “We’re asking the instrument teams and various other aspects of the project, given that squeeze, what will it take in the out years to maintain that ’22 launch. We’re actively pursuing that question as we speak.”

Pappalardo didn’t elaborate on the budget details, but the administration’s request for the mission in its 2017 budget proposal, $49.6 million, is far less than the $175 million it received from Congress in 2016. There is uncertainty in Congress as well: a House appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017 offers $260 million for the Europa mission, yet a Senate bill, while “supportive” of the mission, does not explicitly allocate any funds for it. Neither bill has been passed by either chamber.

Could Cirrus Clouds Have Warmed Early Mars?

Could Cirrus Clouds Have Warmed Early Mars?


Rameriz et al


The presence of the ancient valley networks on Mars indicates that the climate at 3.8 Ga was warm enough to allow substantial liquid water to flow on the martian surface for extended periods of time. However, the mechanism for producing this warming continues to be debated. One hypothesis is that Mars could have been kept warm by global cirrus cloud decks in a CO2-H2O atmosphere containing at least 0.25 bar of CO2 (Urata and Toon, 2013). Initial warming from some other process, e.g., impacts, would be required to make this model work. Those results were generated using the CAM 3-D global climate model. Here, we use a single-column radiative-convective climate model to further investigate the cirrus cloud warming hypothesis. Our calculations indicate that cirrus cloud decks could have produced global mean surface temperatures above freezing, but only if cirrus cloud cover approaches ~75 - 100% and if other cloud properties (e.g., height, optical depth, particle size) are chosen favorably. However, at more realistic cirrus cloud fractions, or if cloud parameters are not optimal, cirrus clouds do not provide the necessary warming, suggesting that other greenhouse mechanisms are needed.

The Coming Cyber War #15

Cyber Warfare:

The Chinese Info Warfare branch gets profiled.

A hacker group is claiming to have hacked the NSA's Equation Group and is offering to auction off the cyber weapons they discovered.

Snowden is speculating the leak of the cyber weapons is a threat by Russia against the US retaliating for the DNC hack.

There is a lot of panic at the NSA with the leak of the weapons.

Some unreleased Snowden documents confirm the reality of the NSA hack.

Cyber Surveillance:

The broad hacking powers of the British government are being challenged in a European court.

An unusually advanced malware has been detected and apparently has been resident for 5 years on numerous computers, even air gapped ones.

The Russians are being blamed by Pelosi for the DNC hack.

The hack was a lot worse than what people realize, too.  Even more data is being released.

The hacker got his twitter account reinstated.  It had been suspended.

Australia hacked TOR users' computers in the US.

Cyber Security:

A new malware has been devised to transmit data between air gapped using the sounds of their hard drives.

What are the threats to satellite operations?

NIST is seeking feedback on cryptography.

WADA is under attack by hackers.

Business groups are appealing China's new cyber security law.

Most people ignore 90% of cyber security warnings.

Russia claims to have developed a new, secure communications method that does NOT use satellites.

Cyber Crime:

Airlines are getting spoofed with fake boarding passes in their lounges.

Cisco has patched the ExtraBacon exploit.

Clinton Foundation hired a cyber security firm after the hack.

One cyber security expert turned the tables on some scammers and infected their computers with ransomware.

DDoSCoin is a cryptocurrency designed to reward someone for participating in DDoS attacks.

All of the Eddie Bauer stores in the US were infected by malware.

A fake login malware is spreading via google ads.

Hackers are aggressively attacking the Rio Olympics.

The Houston area hackers who were stealing Jeeps (30 of them!) using a computer were caught.

It should be called the Internet of Infected Things: ransomware for IOT thermostats has been discovered.

Kenya has acquitted accused hackers from China & Taiwan.

linkedin is under attack by bots stealing members' info.  

Nigerian scammers infected themselves with their own malware. 

Oracle's credit card readers have been infected.

The Russian hacker,  Roman Seleznev who is son of a member of the Russian Duma, is being prosecuted for cyber crimes.

Starwood Hotels had a malware breach in 20 US hotels.

Ukrainian nationalist hackers leaked personal info on journalists.

Serious or joking?  Julian Assange stated wikileaks is after Trump's tax returns.

Terminator Times #18


DARPA is working on a anti drone defense system.

A US drone drike killed the head of Islamic state in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Micro UAVs play a big part in Britain's military plans for the future.

The USAF is buying another 30 Reaper drones.  

The Reaper has been modified to track ballistic missiles.

Lockheed plans on offering a U-2 for a laser weapon test.

The US Army is training for fighting against small drones.

The US Navy's MQ-25 tanker drone will NOT be stealthy.

Australia used its Heron UAV in an exercise.

The British Watchkeeper drone that crashed had already thought it had landed.

The British are buying a third Zephyr drone.

Israel's Elbit is placing its drones on small boats.

Japan wants to develop an indigenous surveillance drone and later a unmanned fighter.

Russia's Korsar drone will begin certification.


China wants to incorporate AI into its cruise missiles.


Was the 1980s comedy Short Circuit really a horror film?

Should the US unleash autonomous weapons?

Is it our ethics that prevent us?

Scientists one Step Closer to Replicating the Primordial RNA World

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have taken a big step toward the laboratory re-creation of the "RNA world," which is generally believed to have preceded modern life forms based on DNA and proteins.

"This is probably the first time some of these complex RNA molecules have been synthesized with a ribozyme [a special RNA enzyme] since the end of the RNA world four billion years ago," said TSRI Professor Gerald F. Joyce, the senior author of the study.

The results from the study, reported this week in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show the scientists have succeeded in creating a ribozyme that can basically serve both to amplify genetic information and to generate functional molecules.

The new ribozyme can replicate short lengths of RNA efficiently and perform transcription on even longer RNAs to make functional RNA molecules with complex structures--coming close to what scientists imagine in terms of an RNA replicator that could have supported life before modern biology, where protein enzymes now handle gene replication and transcription.

Evidence of a Suducting Crustal Slab From EoArchean Sulfur Isotopes


Siedenberg et al


The Archean sulfur cycle was different from the present-day cycle, as the emission of volcanogenic sulfurous gases was the dominant process in the anoxic environment of the early Earth.This emitted sulfur exhibits mass-independently fractionated sulfur isotopes (MIF-S), resulting from photochemical reactions in the atmosphere, and it differs substantially from unfractionated sulfur in the mantle. So far, the main focus of multiple sulfur analyses (32S32S, 33S33S, 34S34S and 36S36S) was placed on the sedimentary part of the Archean sulfur cycle. In order to constrain the magmatic part of the sulfur cycle, we analyzed the sulfur isotopic composition of oceanic crustal rocks from the ca. 3.7–3.8 Ga Isua Supracrustal Belt (ISB). Differently altered samples were taken from two units:(1) the Undifferentiated Amphibolites (UA) and (2) the younger Amphibolites with Boninitic affinity (AB). The mean values are:δ34SCRS=+0.01±0.65‰δ34SCRS=+0.01±0.65‰ (values range from −0.87 to 1.37‰; CRS = chromium-reducible sulfur),Δ33SCRS=+0.02±0.12‰Δ33SCRS=+0.02±0.12‰ (values range from −0.17 to 0.26‰), Δ36SCRS=-0.47±0.06‰Δ36SCRS=-0.47±0.06‰ (values range from −0.56 to −0.38‰). Thus, the mean isotope values support the assumption that the sulfur isotopic signature reflects the expected near-zero signature of their mantle origin. However, differences in Δ33SCRSΔ33SCRS values are discernible and non-zero suggesting that different sources are contributing to the isotopic signature. An influence of alteration is excluded for all samples as different alteration-sensitive geochemical parameters do not show any correlation with the multiple sulfur isotope signatures. Further, it is unlikely that the small magnitudes in Δ33SCRSΔ33SCRS are generated by microbial mass-dependent processes because of the narrow range of δ34SCRSδ34SCRS values. Possible sources contributing an atmospheric MIF-S signature include seawater sulfate (negative Δ33SCRSΔ33SCRS values) through hydrothermal circulation, the assimilation of ocean floor sediments during the ascent of the melt and/or a mantle source contamination by subducted oceanic slab.

T-14 Armata Tank Manufacturer Uralvagonzavod on the Cusp of Bankruptcy?

Maybe Russia’s economy is muddling through its downturn. But for some major enterprises, the situation seems somewhat worse. Tank and railcar maker Uralvagonzavod (UVZ) is a case in point.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Could Primordial Black Holes be Dark Matter


Carr et al


The possibility that the dark matter comprises primordial black holes (PBHs) is considered, with particular emphasis on the currently allowed mass windows at 1016 -- 1017g, 1020 -- 1024g and 1 -- 103M⊙. The Planck mass relics of smaller evaporating PBHs are also considered. All relevant constraints (lensing, dynamical, large-scale structure and accretion) are reviewed and various effects necessary for a precise calculation of the PBH abundance (non-Gaussianity, non-sphericity, critical collapse and merging) are accounted for. It is difficult to put all the dark matter in PBHs if their mass function is monochromatic but this is still possible if the mass function is extended, as expected in many scenarios. A novel procedure for confronting observational constraints with an extended PBH mass spectrum is therefore introduced. This applies for arbitrary constraints and a wide range of PBH formation models, and allows us to identify which model-independent conclusions can be drawn from constraints over all mass ranges. We focus particularly on PBHs generated by inflation, pointing out which effects in the formation process influence the mapping from the inflationary power spectrum to the PBH mass function. We then apply our scheme to two specific inflationary models in which PBHs provide the dark matter. The possibility that the dark matter is in intermediate-mass PBHs of 1 -- 103M⊙ is of special interest in view of the recent detection of black-hole mergers by LIGO. The possibility of Planck relics is also intriguing but virtually untestable.

Just what IS Going on at Titan's Polar Regions

Geomorphologic Mapping of Titan's Polar Terrains: Constraining Surface Processes and Landscape Evolution


Birch et al


We present a geomorphologic map of Titan's polar terrains. The map was generated from a combination of Cassini Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Imaging Science Subsystem imaging products, as well as altimetry, SARTopo and radargrammetry topographic datasets. In combining imagery with topographic data, our geomorphologic map reveals a stratigraphic sequence from which we infer process interactions between units. In mapping both polar regions with the same geomorphologic units, we conclude that processes that formed the terrains of the north polar region also acted to form the landscape we observe at the south. Uniform, SAR-dark plains are interpreted as sedimentary deposits, and are bounded by moderately dissected uplands. These plains contain the highest density of filled and empty lake depressions, and canyons. These units unconformably overlay a basement rock that outcrops as mountains and SAR-bright dissected terrains at various elevations across both poles. All these units are then superposed by surficial units that slope towards the seas, suggestive of subsequent overland transport of sediment. From estimates of the depths of the embedded empty depressions and canyons that drain into the seas, the SAR-dark plains must be >600 m thick in places, though the thickness may vary across the poles. At the lowest elevations of each polar region, there are large seas, which are currently liquid methane/ethane filled at the north and empty at the south. The large plains deposits and the surrounding hillslopes may represent remnant landforms that are a result of previously vast polar oceans, where larger liquid bodies may have allowed for a sustained accumulation of soluble and insoluble sediments, potentially forming layered sedimentary deposits. Coupled with vertical crustal movements, the resulting layers would be of varying solubilities and erosional resistances.

Could Planet Nine be Causing Solar Obliquity Changes?


Lai et al


Bailey et al.~(2016) and Gomes et al.~(2016) recently suggested that the 6 degree misalignment between the Sun's rotational equator and the orbital plane of the major planets may be produced by the forcing from the hypothetical Planet Nine on an inclined orbit. Here we present a simple but accurate calculation of the effect, which provides a clear description of how the Sun's spin orientation depends on the property of Planet Nine in this scenario.

Was Venus Habitable Until the the Start of Earth's Sturtian Glaciations (Snowball Earth)

Was Venus the First Habitable World of our Solar System?


Way et al


Present-day Venus is an inhospitable place with surface temperatures approaching 750K and an atmosphere over 90 times as thick as present day Earth's. Billions of years ago the picture may have been very different. We have created a suite of 3D climate simulations using topographic data from the Magellan mission, solar spectral irradiance estimates for 2.9 and 0.715 billion years ago, present day Venus orbital parameters, an ocean volume consistent with current theory and measurements, and an atmospheric composition estimated for early Venus. Using these parameters we find that such a world could have had moderate temperatures if Venus had a rotation period slower than about 16 Earth days, despite an incident solar flux 46-70% higher than modern Earth receives. At its current rotation period of 243 days, Venus's climate could have remained habitable until at least 715 million years ago if it hosted a shallow primordial ocean. These results demonstrate the vital role that rotation and topography play in understanding the climatic history of exoplanetary Venus-like worlds being discovered in the present epoch.

Did Mercury's Volcanic Activity End 3.5 Billion Years ago?

New research from North Carolina State University finds that major volcanic activity on the planet Mercury most likely ended about 3.5 billion years ago. These findings add insight into the geological evolution of Mercury in particular, and what happens when rocky planets cool and contract in general.

There are two types of volcanic activity: effusive and explosive. Explosive volcanism is often a violent event that results in large ash and debris eruptions, such as the Mount Saint Helens eruption in 1980. Effusive volcanism refers to widespread lava flows that slowly pour out over the landscape -- believed to be a key process by which planets form their crusts.

Determining the ages of effusive volcanic deposits can give researchers a handle on a planet's geological history. For example, effusive volcanism was active a few hundred million years ago on Venus, a few million years ago on Mars, and it still takes place on Earth today. Until now, the duration of effusive volcanic activity on Mercury, made of the same materials as these other planets, had not been known.

NC State assistant professor and planetary geologist Paul Byrne and colleagues determined when the bulk of Mercury's crust-forming volcanism ended by using photographs of the surface imaged by NASA's MESSENGER mission. Because there are no physical samples from the planet that could be used for radiometric dating, the researchers used crater size-frequency analysis, in which the number and size of craters on the planet's surface are placed into established mathematical models, to calculate absolute ages for effusive volcanic deposits on Mercury.

According to their results, major volcanism on Mercury stopped at around 3.5 billion years ago, in stark contrast to the volcanic ages found for Venus, Mars and Earth.

Shenzhou-11 Spacecraft Arrived at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center for October Launch

The Shenzhou-11 spacecraft that will carry Chinese astronauts to the nation’s new space station has arrived at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, the Xinhua news agency reports.

Shenzhou-11 is scheduled for launch in mid-October. Two unidentified male astronauts will fly to the Tiangong-2 space station, which is scheduled for launch in mid-September. The mission will last up to 30 days, Xinhua reported.

Robopocalypse Report #89


Alphabet (Google) got permission to test its delivery drones in the US.

Drone racing really wants to go main stream.

DJI opened a racing arena for drones.

The US Army showed off tech it has been working on, including a quad copter capable of carrying 300 lbs of supplies.

Mexico is trying to use drones to help save the Vaquita. 

It seems drone art is a thing.

Medical supplies are being delivered in Madagascar via drone.

The Russians are using drones to monitor wild fires.

You can now take a 3 year course to become a drone pilot.

Intel announced its Aero developer drone.

This octocopter is the Omnidrone.

Self Driving Cars:

Uber will deploy self driving cars to Pittsburgh this next few weeks in a pilot program: they will pick up and drop off people like normal, but will have someone in the driver's seat 'just in case.'

Google's self driving cars did very well this last month.

The CTO of Google's self driving car projects is leaving the company.

Tesla had its first crunch in China.  Apparently, Tesla WAS calling it a self driving car in Chinese on its website there.  Oops.

It appears Otto is moving into Pier 38 in San Francisco.

Roborace is showing off what's under the hood for its self driving race cars.

Toyota donated $22M to U Michigan to work on AI for self driving cars.

How humans can pave the way for self driving taxis.

GM tried to buy Lyft.  Lyft said no.

Self driving buses have hit the roads of Helsinki.

Ford plans to have a ride sharing service and self driving cars on the road for the consumer by 2021.

3d Printing:

The TSA found a 3d printed gun with live ammo in carry-on luggage at the Reno airport.

India is making progress on 3d printing for concrete.

The 3d printed village in Italy is making progress.

Dubai's 3d printed building is now open to the public.

Russia's 3dQuality continues to improve and expand their 3d printer line.

DARPA has produced new materials.

Electroloom , the 3d clothing printer company, is going out of business.


Pepper the robot is coming to the US.

It seems the robopocalypse is coming for tattoo artists!

Meet Alter...a very robotic robot. Sorta.

How pirates will adapt to robotic cargo ships. 

Swagbot is a new agriculture bot from Australia.

Pizza vending machines are coming.

Adidas is bringing its robo factory tech to the US.

Not even Foosball is safe from the Robopocalypse!

There's an underwater bot tied to a VR system.

Canadian researchers developed nanobots for delivering cancer fighting drugs.

How cost effective is a robo lawn mower?

There is some crap a roomba just can't handle yet.

Software Bots:

Amazon's Alexa got a lot of press.

How DOES Amazon's Alexa work?

Amazon is releasing an API to allow for game developers to use Alexa.

Alexa can check how much gas you have in your BMW...if you have one.

Alexa can also access your cars in other ways, too.

Can a software bot write a Hollywood film?  I'm pretty sure it could write a Michael Bay film at least! 

Software bots are being used now in material science.

Did the NSF just automate computer programming with project ExCape?

The  JPL just produced a software bot to help fire fighters.


Neural dust takes the sensors inside you as implants.

A bionic hand was made from...a Keurig Coffee maker?!

Brain machine interfaces have allowed paraplegics to regain some feeling in the paralyzing limbs.

And now smart tattoos.

A startup wants to commercialize a brain implant to improve memory.


South Korea needs to better prepare for the robopocalypse.

Stealth Saga #52


 South Korea has set a timeline for developing a AESA radar for its indigenous fighter.

Indonesia has reiterated its interest in the KF-X fighter.


The USAF is not impressed with comparing the J-20 and F-35: calling them really different. 

Oh, Hollywood!  You so silly!  In the new movie coming out, The Arrival, Hollywood put Chinese fighters, including the J-20, on the USS Wasp.


Appearances of the PAK-FA in a video.

Also a nice picture of the PAK-FA.

Sixth Generation Fighters:

Russia claims to be working on UAV and manned versions of their supposed Sixth Generation Fighter. 


The costs for new weapon systems, such as the B-21, are likely to grow.


The B-2 (and other American bombers) made an unannounced deployment to Guam.


F-22s conducted anti IS missions.

An F-22 was grounded by a bee swarm (and an ex navy guy helped clean it up).

An F-22 had an emergency landing. 

F-16 pilots can now virtually dog fight F-22s in combat simulators.


Here's what an F-35 looks like through a thermal imager.

Tests on the F-35 ejection seat modifications will wrap up next month.

Pilots are testing a helmet fix for the F-35.

The USAF may not be able to afford buying F-35 fighters at a faster rate.

The F-35A test fired a AIM-9X.

F-35 pilots are happy with their plane.

The Pentagon granted Lockheed $1 billion to stem costs in F-35 manufacture.

Here's another article on the F-35B gun pod.

USMC pilots were happy with the performance of the F-35B at Red Flag.

The US Navy is completing ship board certification for the F-35C.

Britain has ordered the ASRAAM for its F-35s.

The F-35 team is out to impress Canadians at an air show.

Japan has released the first images of its first F-35.

Singapore, reportedly, will not be buying the F-35B for now.

Counter Stealth:

Lessons From Mayan Astronomy




The Mayan culture collected exquisite astronomical data for over a millennium. However, it failed to come up with the breakthrough ideas of modern astronomy because the data was analyzed within a mythological culture of astrology that rested upon false but mathematically sophisticated theories about the Universe. Have we learned the necessary lessons to prevent our current scientific culture from resembling Mayan Astronomy? Clearly, data collection by itself is not a guarantee for good science as commonly assumed by funding agencies. A vibrant scientific culture should cultivate multiple approaches to analyzing existing data and to collecting new data.

New Euprimate Fossils From Eocene Paleogene India


Dunn et al


The oldest primates of modern aspect (euprimates) appear abruptly on the Holarctic continents during a brief episode of global warming known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, at the beginning of the Eocene (∼56 Ma). When they first appear in the fossil record, they are already divided into two distinct clades, Adapoidea (basal members of Strepsirrhini, which includes extant lemurs, lorises, and bushbabies) and Omomyidae (basal Haplorhini, which comprises living tarsiers, monkeys, and apes). Both groups have recently been discovered in the early Eocene Cambay Shale Formation of Vastan lignite mine, Gujarat, India, where they are known mainly from teeth and jaws. The Vastan fossils are dated at ∼54.5 Myr based on associated dinoflagellates and isotope stratigraphy. Here, we describe new, exquisitely preserved limb bones of these Indian primates that reveal more primitive postcranial characteristics than have been previously documented for either clade, and differences between them are so minor that in many cases we cannot be certain to which group they belong. Nevertheless, the small distinctions observed in some elements foreshadow postcranial traits that distinguish the groups by the middle Eocene, suggesting that the Vastan primates—though slightly younger than the oldest known euprimates—may represent the most primitive known remnants of the divergence between the two great primate clades.

Earliest land plants created modern levels of atmospheric oxygen


Lenton et al


The progressive oxygenation of the Earth’s atmosphere was pivotal to the evolution of life, but the puzzle of when and how atmospheric oxygen (O2) first approached modern levels (∼21%) remains unresolved. Redox proxy data indicate the deep oceans were oxygenated during 435–392 Ma, and the appearance of fossil charcoal indicates O2 >15–17% by 420–400 Ma. However, existing models have failed to predict oxygenation at this time. Here we show that the earliest plants, which colonized the land surface from ∼470 Ma onward, were responsible for this mid-Paleozoic oxygenation event, through greatly increasing global organic carbon burial—the net long-term source of O2. We use a trait-based ecophysiological model to predict that cryptogamic vegetation cover could have achieved ∼30% of today’s global terrestrial net primary productivity by ∼445 Ma. Data from modern bryophytes suggests this plentiful early plant material had a much higher molar C:P ratio (∼2,000) than marine biomass (∼100), such that a given weathering flux of phosphorus could support more organic carbon burial. Furthermore, recent experiments suggest that early plants selectively increased the flux of phosphorus (relative to alkalinity) weathered from rocks. Combining these effects in a model of long-term biogeochemical cycling, we reproduce a sustained +2‰ increase in the carbonate carbon isotope (δ13C) record by ∼445 Ma, and predict a corresponding rise in O2 to present levels by 420–400 Ma, consistent with geochemical data. This oxygen rise represents a permanent shift in regulatory regime to one where fire-mediated negative feedbacks stabilize high O2 levels.

pop sci write up.

Subduction or sagduction in Scotland's Archean ultramafic–mafic bodies


Johnson et al


The Lewisian Complex of NW Scotland is a fragment of the North Atlantic Craton. It comprises mostly Archean tonalite–trondhjemite–granodiorite (TTG) orthogneisses that were variably metamorphosed and reworked in the late Neoarchean to Palaeoproterozoic. Within the granulite facies central region of the mainland Lewisian Complex, discontinuous belts composed of ultramafic–mafic rocks and structurally overlying garnet–biotite gneiss (brown gneiss) are spatially associated with steeply-inclined amphibolite facies shear zones that have been interpreted as terrane boundaries. Interpretation of the primary chemical composition of these rocks is complicated by partial melting and melt loss during granulite facies metamorphism, and contamination with melts derived from the adjacent migmatitic TTG host rocks. Notwithstanding, the composition of the layered ultramafic–mafic rocks is suggestive of a protolith formed by differentiation of tholeiitic magma, where the ultramafic portions of these bodies represent the metamorphosed cumulates and the mafic portions the metamorphosed fractionated liquids. Although the composition of the brown gneiss does not clearly discriminate the protolith, it most likely represents a metamorphosed sedimentary or volcano-sedimentary sequence. For Archean rocks, particularly those metamorphosed to granulite facies, the geochemical characteristics typically used for discrimination of paleotectonic environments are neither strictly appropriate nor clearly diagnostic. Many of the rocks in the Lewisian Complex have ‘arc-like’ trace element signatures. These signatures are interpreted to reflect derivation from hydrated enriched mantle and, in the case of the TTG gneisses, partial melting of amphibolite source rocks containing garnet and a Ti-rich phase, probably rutile. However, it is becoming increasingly recognized that in Archean rocks such signatures may not be unique to a subduction environment but may relate to processes such as delamination and dripping. Consequently, it is unclear whether the Lewisian ultramafic–mafic rocks and brown gneisses represent products of plate margin or intraplate magmatism. Although a subduction-related origin is possible, we propose that an intraplate origin is equally plausible. If the second alternative is correct, the ultramafic–mafic rocks and brown gneisses may represent the remnants of intracratonic greenstone belts that sank into the deep crust due to their density contrast with the underlying partially molten low viscosity TTG orthogneisses.

Russia Claims Nuclear Armed Hypersonic Boost Glide Weapon Almost Ready

The lethal hypersonic nuclear glider that looks to revolutionize defense aviation could travel the distance from Moscow to London within 13 minutes and could penetrate NATOs missile defense system.

After launching initial tests on Russia’s first futuristic glider last year as part of Russia’s Project 4202, the aircraft believed to be the Yu-74 is “ready for action” reports Britain’s Daily Star.

The glider can travel at a speed of Mach 10 (7,680MPH or 12,3560kmh) and will reportedly be fit with RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles although details about the glider’s specifications remain top secret. In April, US military officials confirmed the existence of Russia’s deadly hypersonic glider.

Scuffle in the South China Sea #63

Here's a general update.

The Chinese Shenzhen destroyer has rejoined the South China Sea fleet after a major upgrade.

Some wonder if China is preparing to fight a 'people's war' over the South China Sea.

China is opposing the South China Sea be brought up at the G20 summit.

The US & South Korea had meetings over the South China Sea.

The first US destroyer to visit China since the South China Sea ruling by The Hague has docked.

The US has called for military transparency.

Canada is being called on by some to speak up on the South China Sea dispute.

Philippines has called on China to respect international law.  Japan joined that call.

Philippines seeks to negotiate with China.

Vietnam has supposedly shipped rocket launchers to its garrisons in the South China Sea.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ukraine War Update: взять меня вниз к крымском городе, где девушки довольно

The strange case of the supposed terrorist attack on Crimea continued.

The tensions escalated.

Putin increased security in Crimea and moved combat troops to the Crimean 'border.'  

Russia immediately announced military exercises in Crimea.  This has been a cover for military actions in the past. 

Russia made threats if any of its soldiers are harmed and Ukraine flipped them the bird.

Poroshenko placed Ukraine's military on combat alert.  He also sought talks with Russia and the West.  Ukaine claimed Russia was getting ready to cause more trouble.

Medvedev threatened to break off diplomatic ties with Ukraine.

The Russians then called for calm.  The US called for calm.  Biden called on Ukraine to not escalate the situation.

Ukraine was the focus for German-Russian talks.

The Russians got a confession out of one of the supposed attackers they captured: they had planned to place bombs at the Simferopol airport and bus station.  The US stated there was no corroborating evidence the attack was real.  Ukraine demanded proof the so-called plot was real at the UN>

Russian troops received advanced SAM missiles.

Shyrokyne blew up again while the fighting along the contact line in the Donbas has been very active despite not being in the media. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

NASA Begins Researching Submarine for Icy Moons of the Solar System

One of the most profound and exciting breakthroughs in planetary science in the last two decades has been the discovery of liquid methane lakes on the surface of Saturn’s largest moon Titan, and liquid oceans under the icy surfaces of many of the giant gas planets’ other moons. Thrillingly, these some of these “waters” may actually harbor life.

Unfortunately, we don’t know much about them. Probes such as Juno and Cassini can only get so close. Also, subsurface oceans can only be sensed indirectly. The European Space Agency’s Huygens probe did land on Titan in 2005, but on a solid surface rather than on liquid. So how can we explore these seas?

An exciting idea being explored is developing submarines to send through space to the moons. Over the next two years, NASA is devoting half a million dollars to researching the prospect of sending such a vehicle to Titan. But there are other studies out there, too – with targets including Jupiter’s Europa and Ganymede, and Saturn’s Enceladus. But are such missions actually within our technological reach?

The Upper Limits For Oort Cloud Comets Based on X Ray Astronomy Observations

Upper limits to the number of Oort Cloud Objects based on serendipitous occultation events search in X-rays


Chang et al


Using all the RXTE archival data of Sco X-1 and GX 5-1, which amount to about 1.6 mega seconds in total, we searched for possible occultation events caused by Oort Cloud Objects. The detection efficiency of our searching approach was studied with simulation. Our search is sensitive to object size of about 300 m in the inner Oort Cloud, taking 4000 AU as a representative distance, and of 900 m in the outer Oort Cloud, taking 36000 AU as the representative distance. No occultation events were found in the 1.6 Ms data. We derived upper limits to the number of Oort Cloud Objects, which are about three orders of magnitude higher than the highest theoretical estimates in the literature for the inner Oort Cloud, and about six orders higher for the outer Oort Cloud. Although these upper limits are not constraining enough, they are the first obtained observationally, without making any model assumptions about comet injection. They also provide guidance to such serendipitous occultation event search in the future.

Veins of Minerals in Gale Crater on Mars Probably From Evaporating Lakes

Mineral veins found in Mars's Gale Crater were formed by the evaporation of ancient Martian lakes, a new study has shown.

The research, by Mars Science Laboratory Participating Scientists at The Open University and the University of Leicester, used the Mars Curiosity rover to explore Yellowknife Bay in Gale Crater on Mars, examining the mineralogy of veins that were paths for groundwater in mudstones.

The study suggests that the veins formed as the sediments from the ancient lake were buried, heated to about 50 degrees Celsius and corroded.

Professor John Bridges from the University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy said: "The taste of this Martian groundwater would be rather unpleasant, with about 20 times the content of sulphate and sodium than bottled mineral water for instance!

"However as Dr Schwenzer from The Open University concludes, some microbes on Earth do like sulphur and iron rich fluids, because they can use those two elements to gain energy. Therefore, for the question of habitability at Gale Crater the taste of the water is very exciting news."

NASA has Started Work on the Deep Space Habitation Module

As part of its comprehensive review to the NASA Advisory Council, the US space agency has presented its review of progress on the development of a Deep Space Habitat that will allow astronauts to perform multi-month and multi-year missions in deep space – all while guiding the agency towards its ambitious plan of landing humans on Mars by the end of the 2030s

Terminator Times #17


Two global hawks were diverted to Japan due to bad weather in Guam.

The USAF is adding electronic warfare to its drone pilots' training.

The USMC has started testing UAVs for close air support and artillery calls.

The USMC has started training how to fight against drones and without having coms.

USMC infantry squads may each get a drone operator.

The USN Firescout radar protest has been shot down.

The US Navy is testing the RQ-20A in the Arabian Gulf.

Because an AI was able to defeat a fighter pilot, is this the future of air to air combat?

Hezbollah may have UCAVs.   Video above is reported to be of a UCAV attacking ground targets.

The British will be using Unmanned Warrior to evaluate ScanEagle replacements.

The Chinese are using an ASN-209 UAV for artillery spotting.

The Mexican Navy has started using a new drone.

Iraq wants counter drone tech.

Iraq also will be getting ScanEagle drones.

An Israeli Heron drone was on a test flight and crashed

Israeli Aeronautics is going to deliver its first Orbiter 1k drone on time.

Israeli Aeronautics' counter drone system is undergoing testing.

Russia's drone entered Israeli airspace by accident.  Israel concurs.

Russia plans on using UCAVs in the polar regions.

Spain will be joining the European MALE 2020 project.

Taiwan has unveiled a Reaper clone.

Black Sage Technologies is claiming to be using AI in its counter UAV systems.

Unmanned Ground Vehicles:

A recent exercise gave the US Army a test of different unmanned systems, but left the army feeling the UGVs were wanting still.

Unmanned Surface Vehicles (Robo Boats):

The Anaconda USV is progressing through development.

How pirates will adapt to the coming robotic cargo ships.

Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (Robo subs):

Submerged power transfer may correct one of the problems with robo sub operations.

3d Printing:

The first V-22 is flying with 3d printed parts.


Unmanned is the new normal for naval operations.

Drone or robo warfare ought to be pursued.