August 24, 2016

Google Fiber is operational in Salt Lake City

Google Fiber has lit up a fiber-optic network in and around downtown Salt Lake City and began seeking business and residential customers

This first phase of Google Fiber's rollout of web access with speeds of up to one gigabit per second — with optional television and phone services — covers roughly 112 blocks from 100 South to 800 South between 400 West and 1300 East.

Nearly 200 government and business officials gathered Wednesday morning to celebrate the occasion at Google Fiber's newly opened facility, Fiber Space, a trendy customer-service center and internet cafe at Trolley Square mall.

"As of 9 a.m., Google Fiber is live in Salt Lake City," Scott Tenney, head of Google Fiber business operations in Utah, told the crowd.

The company simultaneously emailed thousands of prospective customers, saying access to its broadband capacity had arrived.

Tenney said in an interview that other parts of the city would be turned on "in a matter of months and not years." He declined to provide specifics.



Upcoming Telescopes that will provide a better look at the Proxima Earth Like Exoplanet and find more of earthlike exoplanets

Astronomers have found clear evidence of a planet orbiting the closest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri. Proxima is a red dwarf. The planet is 1.3 Earth masses. It orbits at 0.05 AU. It lies squarely in the center of the classical habitable zone for Proxima.

What big telescopes are being built or are funded which will provide a better look a this and other earthlike exoplanets ?

* James Webb Space Telescope (2018)
* 24 meter ground based telescope, Giant Megallan (2022-2025)
* 39 meter ground based Extremely Large Telescope (2024-2027)
* 30 Meter Telescope (permit delays, around 2022-2025 if resolved)
* Proposed 12 meter High definition space telescope (could spot earth sized planets out to 45 light years and directly image Proxima B). If funded could get built by 2030 or so.

The James Webb space telescope should be deployed in 2018

JWST will have the capability to detect key markers that could indicate the presence of a climate like our own when looking at Earth-sized planets around stars that are smaller and redder than our sun (like Proxima b). A study shows that the James Webb Space Telescope – Hubble’s successor could distinguish between an Earth and a Venus orbiting a cool, red star not too far away. But making that observation wouldn’t be easy.




The 24 meter Giant Magellan Telescope should also be operating around 2022-2025. The GMT will have absolute magnitude capability of 29.




Targets for direct imaging exoplanets fall into a few distinct classes:
• Planets still embedded in their parent disks (age = 1 - 10Myr, at 30 - 150pc).
• Young (0.1 - 1Gyr), nearby (3 - 50pc) gas-giant planets, which are intrinsically bright in the near-infrared due to their on-going gravitational contraction and,
• Older (over 1Gyr) planets detectable via their thermal infrared emission or reflected light.

The GMT will provide high contrast, high resolution imaging capabilities in the near and mid-infrared enabling the detection of exoplanets in each of these categories.

One of the technical goals of the GMT is to detect objects more than one million times fainter than the host star at angular separations corresponding to 1.5 λ/D to 20 λ/D




Earth-mass world in habitable zone orbit around Proxima Centauri

Astronomers using ESO telescopes and other facilities have found clear evidence of a planet orbiting the closest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri. The long-sought world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool red parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. This rocky world is a little more massive than the Earth and is the closest exoplanet to us — and it may also be the closest possible abode for life outside the Solar System.

Proxima is a red dwarf. The planet is 1.3 Earth masses. It orbits at 0.05 AU. It lies squarely in the center of the classical habitable zone for Proxima. As mentioned earlier, the presence of another super-Earth mass planet cannot yet be ruled out at longer orbital periods and Doppler semi-amplitudes less than 3 ms −1 . By numerical integration of some putative orbits, we verified that the presence of such an additional planet would not compromise the orbital stability of Proxima b.

We have detected a earth sized exoplanet at our nearest neighboring star. It seems likely that many more earth sized planets exist and are common and lack of detections has been because our telescopes and observation capabilities have been inadequate

The paper is Anglada-Escudé et al., “A terrestrial planet candidate in a temperate orbit around Proxima Centauri,” published online by Nature. Paper will be out tomorrow.





Just over four light-years from the Solar System lies a red dwarf star that has been named Proxima Centauri as it is the closest star to Earth apart from the Sun. This cool star in the constellation of Centaurus is too faint to be seen with the unaided eye and lies near to the much brighter pair of stars known as Alpha Centauri AB.

During the first half of 2016 Proxima Centauri was regularly observed with the HARPS spectrograph on the ESO 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla in Chile and simultaneously monitored by other telescopes around the world [1]. This was the Pale Red Dot campaign, in which a team of astronomers led by Guillem Anglada-Escudé, from Queen Mary University of London, was looking for the tiny back and forth wobble of the star that would be caused by the gravitational pull of a possible orbiting planet.

As this was a topic with very wide public interest, the progress of the campaign between mid-January and April 2016 was shared publicly as it happened on the Pale Red Dot website and via social media. The reports were accompanied by numerous outreach articles written by specialists around the world.

Russia's sodium lead cooled fast nuclear reactors

Russia has reached two more milestones in its endeavour to close the nuclear fuel cycle. Mashinostroitelny Zavod (MSZ) - part of Russian nuclear fuel manufacturer TVEL - has completed acceptance tests of components for its ETVS-14 and ETVS-15 experimental fuel assemblies with mixed nitride fuel for the BREST and BN fast neutron reactors. MSZ has also announced the start of research and development work on the technical design of the "absorbent element" of the core of the BREST-OD-300 reactor.

Russia plans to construct 11 new nuclear power reactors (not including 5 under construction) by 2030 - including two BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast neutron reactors. The BN-1200 units are to be built at the Beloyarsk and South Urals nuclear power plants.

The decree also approves building a facility to produce high-density U-Pu nitride fuel and the construction by 2025 of the BREST-OD-300

The planned Beloyarsk 5 BN-1200 will use larger fuel elements than the BN-600 and BN-800 and have a simplified refuelling procedure. Russian nuclear engineering company OKBM Afrikantov is developing the BN-1200 as a next step towards future reactor designs, commonly known as Generation IV.



NASA seeks Small spacecraft Tipping Point technologies

NASA announces opportunities for public-private partnerships to achieve the agency’s goals of expanding capabilities and opportunities in space. NASA seeks to enable industry to develop and qualify selected technologies for market through the solicitation titled "Utilizing Public-Private Partnerships to Advance Tipping Point Technologies” released on August 10.

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is seeking industry-developed space technologies that can foster the development of commercial space capabilities and benefit future NASA missions. A technology is considered at a ‘tipping point’ if an investment in a demonstration of its capabilities will result in a significant advancement of the technology's maturation, high likelihood of infusion into a commercial space application, and significant improvement in the ability to successfully bring the technology to market.

"The Tipping Point solicitation represents a continued focus on collaborations with the commercial space sector that leverage emerging markets and capabilities to meet NASA's strategic goals," said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for STMD at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "These technologies should bring substantial benefit to both the commercial and government sectors on completion, and could enable NASA's next generation of science and human exploration missions."



22000 pages of documents on French Scorpene stealth submarine secrets hacked

The Indian government is investigating the leak of more than 22,000 pages of documents that reveal secret data about its new high-tech fleet of submarines.

The leak, first reported by The Australian, includes sensitive information about the Scorpene submarines designed by French defense contractor DCNS for the Indian Navy. The documents detail the stealth submarines' sensors, torpedo launch systems, as well as communications and navigation capabilities.

The Indian Navy ordered six Scorpene submarines from DCNS. The first boat, called Kalvari, was built in a Mumbai shipyard, and should enter service this year. The program has suffered years of delays, but the remaining five submarines are scheduled to be delivered by 2020.

The Australian posted redacted versions of the leaked documents on its website. They are marked "Restricted Scorpene India," and include volumes of technical drawings and operations manuals. The documents also include highly sensitive information on noise levels produced by the submarine

Chile, Malaysia, Brazil have all ordered versions of the Scorpene. DCNS is also under contract to build 12 new submarines for Australia at a cost of $39 billion.




Google's Antiaging company Calico will use Computational Biology and Machine Learning

Calico, a company focused on aging research and therapeutics, today announced that Daphne Koller, Ph.D., is joining the company as Chief Computing Officer. In this newly created position, Dr. Koller will lead the company’s computational biology efforts. She will build a team focused on developing powerful computational and machine learning tools for analyzing biological and medical data sets. She and her team will work closely with the biological scientists at Calico to design experiments and construct data sets that could provide a deeper understanding into the science of longevity and support the development of new interventions to extend healthy lifespan.

Calico will try to use machine learning to understand the complex biological processes involved in aging.

Large scale mouse aging genetics study

Jackson Laboratory (JAX), a nonprofit biomedical research institution, and Calico, a company focused on aging research and therapeutics, today announced a multi-year collaboration focused on applying mouse genetics to the study of aging.

Millions of public family trees and over one million genetic samples

AncestryDNA and Calico will work together to analyze and investigate the role of genetics and its influences in families experiencing unusual longevity using Ancestry’s proprietary databases, tools and algorithms. Calico will then focus its efforts to develop and commercialize any potential therapeutics that emerge from the analysis.

Together, they will evaluate anonymized data from millions of public family trees and a growing database of over one million genetic samples.


Elysium Health offers a combination sirtuin and resveratrol like antiaging product and it has six noble prize winners on its board

Elysium Health's co-founder is Leonard Guarente, who heads MIT’s aging center and is one of the pioneers of aging science.

Elysium's antiaging product is Basis, which can ordered online without a prescription. It costs $50 for a month’s supply. Basis is designed to optimize NAD+ levels and sirtuin function in our cells to support our most critical metabolic processes like cellular detoxification, DNA repair and energy production. NAD+ is a critical coenzyme.



People who have taken Basis had described effects including fingernail growth, hair growth, skin smoothness, crazy dreams, increased stamina, better sleep, and more energy.

Elysium Health is using only compounds supported by hundreds of peer-reviewed papers, that it enforces high manufacturing standards, and that it is conducting a human trial (currently 120 people between the ages of 60 and 80 are participating)

The theory behind Basis is in part an evolution of the theory behind drinking red wine: One of its main ingredients, pterostilbene, is considered a more powerful version of resveratrol, with a more convincing track record in the lab.

US still leads hypersonic weapon development

The United States remains top dog in developing hypersonic weapons and is pouring money into a series of multimillion dollar projects despite apparently huge recent strides made by China and Russia.

Hypersonic research with the goal of building hypersonic missiles that travel between Mach 5 (6,000 km/h) to Mach 20 (25,000 km/h). Funding for hypersonic research jumped 50 percent in the Department of Defense budget request for 2017. The U.S. Air Force plans to test a hypersonic missile by 2020.

The Pentagon is funding the Lockheed Martin Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) program; the Raytheon Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) and the Raytheon/Lockheed Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) program.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) gave Raytheon $20 million and Lockheed $24 million for TBG. Raytheon is also investing tens of millions of its own dollars into hypersonic research.

Raytheon is working on two kinds of hypersonic missiles. One is a boost glide system that rides a rocket into space, then reenters the atmosphere and glides to its target at up to Mach 18 (22,500 km/h). The other is an air breathing missile that zooms forward at Mach 10 path (12,000 km/h).

These programs are part of the overarching Prompt Global Strike (PGS) program to develop a system that can deliver a precision-guided conventional weapon airstrike anywhere in the world within one hour.




US will have a test of a hypersonic glide weapon in 2017

The U.S. Army and Navy are teaming up to test a hypersonic glide vehicle next year, according to an Army official. The “offensive weapon technology” is part of the Department of Defense’s Conventional Prompt Global Strike demonstration.

Conventional prompt global strike (CPGS) weapons would allow the United States to strike targets anywhere on Earth in as little as an hour. This capability may bolster U.S. efforts to deter and defeat adversaries by allowing the United States to attack high-value targets or “fleeting targets” at the start of or during a conflict. Congress has generally supported the PGS mission, but it has restricted funding and suggested some changes in funding for specific programs.

The Air Force and Navy have both considered deploying conventional warheads on their long range ballistic missiles. The Navy sought to deploy conventional warheads on a small number of Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

While most analysts expected the Air Force to take the lead in deploying a hypersonic delivery system on a modified ballistic missile—a concept known as the conventional strike missile (CSM)—tests of the hypersonic vehicle known as the HTV-2 have not succeeded. An alternative glider, known as the AHW [Advanced Hypersonic Weapon], may be deployed on missiles based at sea. Congress may review other weapons options for the CPGS mission, including bombers, cruise missiles, and possibly scramjets or other advanced technologies.



August 23, 2016

New discovery in genetic research could lead to treatments for mitochondrial diseases

new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) from the University of Missouri has succeeded in creating embryos with "heteroplasmy," or the presence of both maternal and paternal mitochondrial DNA. This new innovation will allow scientists to study treatments for mitochondrial diseases in humans as well as the significance of mitochondrial inheritance for livestock.

When parents pass along their genes to their children, most of the DNA from the mother and father is evenly divided. However, children only receive one type of DNA, called mitochondrial DNA, from their mothers, while the fathers' mitochondrial DNA is naturally removed from the embryos. Peter Sutovsky, a professor of reproductive physiology at Mizzou and lead author Won-Hee Song, a doctoral candidate in the Mizzou College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, have found a way to prevent this paternal mitochondrial DNA removal process in pig embryos, thus creating embryos with "heteroplasmy."

"As many as 4,000 children are born in the U.S. every year with some form of mitochondrial disease, which can include poor growth, loss of muscle coordination, learning disabilities and heart disease," Sutovsky said. "Some scientists believe some of these diseases may be caused by heteroplasmy, or cells possessing both maternal and paternal mitochondrial DNA. We have succeeded in creating this condition of heteroplasmy within pig embryos, which will allow scientists to further study whether paternal heteroplasmy could cause mitochondrial diseases in humans."

This embryo was treated to delay the degradation of sperm, or male mitochondria. Sperm mitochondria are in red, paternal and maternal chromosomal DNA in blue, and the ubiquitin protein in green. CREDIT MU News Bureau

Deep Space Industries announces Prospector-1- First Commercial Interplanetary Mining Mission with target date by 2020

Deep Space Industries announced its plans to fly the world’s first commercial interplanetary mining mission. Prospector-1™ will fly to and rendezvous with a near-Earth asteroid, and investigate the object to determine its value as a source of space resources.

This mission is an important step in the company’s overall plans to harvest and supply in-space resources to support the growing space economy.
“Deep Space Industries has worked diligently to get to this point, and now they can say with confidence that we have the right technology, the right team and the right plan to execute this historic mission,” said Rick Tumlinson, chairman of the board and co-founder of Deep Space Industries. “Building on our Prospector-X mission, Prospector-1 will be the next step on our way to harvesting asteroid resources.”

Deep Space Industries and its partner, the government of Luxembourg, plans to build and fly Prospector-X™, an experimental mission to low-Earth orbit that will test key technologies needed for low-cost exploration spacecraft. This precursor mission is scheduled to launch in 2017. Then, before the end of this decade, Prospector-1 will travel beyond Earth’s orbit to begin the first space mining exploration mission.





Uber CEO talked about his for self driving cars and trucks

Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, talked about his vision for self driving cars in his press release for the purchase of Otto the self driving truck company

Uber has acquired Otto, a 90-plus person technology startup whose mission is to rethink transportation, starting with self-driving trucks. Anthony Levandowski, Otto’s co-founder, will now lead our combined self-driving efforts reporting directly to me—across personal transportation, delivery and trucking—in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Pittsburgh.

...

Together, we [Uber] now have one of the strongest autonomous engineering groups in the world; self-driving trucks and cars that are already on the road thanks to Otto and Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh; the practical experience that comes from running ridesharing and delivery services in hundreds of cities; with the data and intelligence that comes from doing 1.2 billion miles on the road every month.

...

Ridesharing helps cut drunk driving. It complements public transit, getting people to places that other means of transportation don’t reach, replacing the need to own a car over time. Most important of all, the smartphone has made mass carpooling a reality. By getting more people into fewer cars, we can reduce congestion and pollution in our cities.

Of course, this is just the start, especially when it comes to safety. Over one million people die on the world’s roads every year and 90 percent of these accidents are due to human error. In the US, traffic accidents are a leading cause of death for people under 25. This is a tragedy that self-driving technology can help solve. That’s why our partnership with Swedish car maker Volvo, which we’re also announcing today, is so important. Volvo has consistently been a leader when it comes to safety. And partnership is crucial to our self-driving strategy because Uber has no experience making cars. To do it well is incredibly hard, as I realized on my first visit to a car manufacturing plant several years ago. By combining Uber’s self-driving technology with Volvo’s state-of-the art vehicles and safety technology, we’ll get to the future faster than going it alone.


90 person team in the self driving truck company, Otto, which was bought by Uber

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