Friday, January 31, 2014

Ukraine Update: Fuse Lit?

The risk map returns!  Except is not Euromaidan which has put it out.  Its Reuters.  If anything this is not good.

Yanukovich supposedly signed the law granting amnesty if the protestors vacate the buildings in 15 days.  This went up on the presdient's website but there has not been an accompanying presidential decree.

Dmitri Bulatov.  A protestor tortured and crucified.  And now turned loose. Words fail.  Outrage is totally inadequate. Sadly, this is just the most extreme version.  Others are worse.

Two protestors in Dnipropetrovsk were arrested for "planning a terrorist act."

Police have been trying to arrest an unconscious protestor "for questioning" in Kyiv.

Most ominously, the army is calling on the president to restore order.  That can only end well.  Most are taking it as a sign the army will support Yanukovich.  That's bad.  No matter what the army getting involved is bad.

Support PennState's Lunar Lions!

Someone Else Also not Surprised the NSA is Pursuing Quantum Computers in Project "Penetrating Hard Targets"

In this month's issue of Physics World, Jon Cartwright explains how the revelation that the US National Security Agency (NSA) is developing quantum computers has renewed interest and sparked debate on just how far ahead they are of the world's major labs looking to develop the same technology.

In 2006 the NSA openly announced a partnership with two US institutions to develop quantum computers. However, according to documents leaked by whistle-blower Edward Snowden, and published last month by the Washington Post, the NSA also wishes to develop the technology so that it is capable of breaking modern Internet security.

The $79.7m project, dubbed "Penetrating Hard Targets", could be made possible by the extraordinary potential of quantum computers to factorize large numbers in a short space of time, quickly deciphering encryption keys that are used to protect sensitive information.

For the NSA, this could mean deciphering banking transactions, private messages and government files; however, many physicists are not surprised and believe this is exactly the type of technology that the NSA is expected to develop.

Speaking to Physics World, Raymond Laflamme, a leading quantum information theorist at the University of Waterloo in Canada, said "If you put my level of surprise on a scale from zero to 10, where 10 is very, very surprised, my answer would be zero."

Lockheed, US Army Demo Driverless Convoy Technologies

U.S. Army convoys will soon be able to roll into even the roughest of unfriendly foreign urban areas and combat zones without the worry of loss of life, thanks to new technology that will make large vehicles fully autonomous.

In demonstrations earlier this month at Fort Hood, Texas, the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and Lockheed Martin demonstrated the ability of the Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS), which gives full autonomy to convoys to operate in urban environments. In tests, driverless tactical vehicles were able to navigate hazards and obstacles including pedestrians, oncoming traffic, road intersections, traffic circles and stalled and passing vehicles.

Under an initial $11 million contract in 2012, Lockheed Martin developed the multiplatform kit which integrates low-cost sensors and control systems with Army and Marine tactical vehicles to enable autonomous operation in convoys. According to Lockheed, AMAS also gives drivers an automated option to alert, stop and adjust, or take full control under user supervision.

“The AMAS CAD hardware and software performed exactly as designed, and dealt successfully with all of the real-world obstacles that a real-world convoy would encounter,” said David Simon, AMAS program manager for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, in a statement.

Integration of High Energy Laser with USNS Ponce Approaching

A laser gun that looks like a telescope will go to sea later this year aboard a Navy warship.

Over a 12-month trial deployment in potentially hostile waters, sailors will attempt to prove whether laser beams can serve as legitimate weapons against approaching small aircraft or high-speed boats.

For Navy officials and military contractors, much is at stake in the success of the demonstration. The performance of the fiber solid-state laser — to be installed aboard the USNS Ponce amphibious transport ship — will be seen as a litmus test for the wider use of energy-based weapons.

The Navy has spent about $40 million over the past six years on research, development and testing of laser weapons, although it has been pursuing the technology in various forms for much longer, with modest results. After decades of experimentation, so-called directed-energy weapons have yet to graduate from science projects to big-ticket procurements.

Officials and outside experts believe the Navy now has a real motivation to adopt speed-of-light weapons even though it has an ample arsenal of proven kinetic missiles and warheads. The reason is simple economics. A high-power solid-state laser, if installed on a ship that can generate hundreds of kilowatts of electricity, can provide firepower for as little as a dollar per shot, according to some estimates. By comparison, conventional naval gun rounds and missiles cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a piece.

The installation of the laser on the Ponce will begin this summer, said Chris Johnson, spokesman for the Naval Sea Systems Command. No firm dates have yet been set. “We are using this deployment as an opportunity to test a weaponized laser in an operationally relevant environment, similar to where future systems would likely be used,” he said. If the Navy decides to move forward with the project, the first operational weapons could enter the fleet sometime between 2017 and 2021.

Since being designated as the test bed for a laser weapon, the USNS Ponce has moved into the spotlight. The ship was taken off commission in 2011 but was resurrected in 2012 as an “afloat forward staging base” and transferred to the Military Sealift Command. Navy officials saw it as a fitting platform to experiment with lasers at sea.

The exact power level of the laser gun that will go on the Ponce is classified. Outside experts speculate that it is probably somewhere between 15 and 50 kilowatts.


Asteroids Show Solar System More Like a Snow Globe on Elvis (all Shook up)

Our solar system seems like a neat and orderly place, with small, rocky worlds near the Sun and big, gaseous worlds farther out, all eight planets following orbital paths unchanged since they formed.

However, the true history of the solar system is more riotous. Giant planets migrated in and out, tossing interplanetary flotsam and jetsam far and wide. New clues to this tumultuous past come from the asteroid belt.

"We found that the giant planets shook up the asteroids like flakes in a snow globe," says lead author Francesca DeMeo, a Hubble postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Millions of asteroids circle the Sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, in a region known as the main asteroid belt. Traditionally, they were viewed as the pieces of a failed planet that was prevented from forming by the influence of Jupiter's powerful gravity. Their compositions seemed to vary methodically from drier to wetter, due to the drop in temperature as you move away from the Sun.

That traditional view changed as astronomers recognized that the current residents of the main asteroid belt weren't all there from the start. In the early history of our solar system the giant planets ran amok, migrating inward and outward substantially. Jupiter may have moved as close to the Sun as Mars is now. In the process, it swept the asteroid belt nearly clean, leaving only a tenth of one percent of its original population.

As the planets migrated, they stirred the contents of the solar system. Objects from as close to the Sun as Mercury, and as far out as Neptune, all collected in the main asteroid belt.

"The asteroid belt is a melting pot of objects arriving from diverse locations and backgrounds," explains DeMeo.

Using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, DeMeo and co-author Benoit Carry (Paris Observatory) examined the compositions of thousands of asteroids within the main belt. They found that the asteroid belt is more diverse than previously realized, especially when you look at the smaller asteroids.

Near IR Spectroscopy of Kuiper Belt Object Varuna

Rotationally resolved spectroscopy of (20000) Varuna in the near-infrared


Lorenzi et al


Models of the escape and retention of volatiles by minor icy objects exclude any presence of volatile ices on the surface of TNOs smaller than ~1000km in diameter at the typical temperature in this region of the solar system, whereas the same models show that water ice is stable on the surface of objects over a wide range of diameters. Collisions and cometary activity have been used to explain the process of surface refreshing of TNOs and Centaurs. These processes can produce surface heterogeneity that can be studied by collecting information at different rotational phases. The aims of this work are to study the surface composition of (20000)Varuna, a TNO with a diameter ~650km and to search for indications of rotational variability. We observed Varuna during two consecutive nights in January 2011 with NICS@TNG obtaining a set of spectra covering the whole rotation period of Varuna. After studying the spectra corresponding to different rotational phases, we did not find any indication of surface variability. In all the spectra, we detect an absorption at 2{\mu}m, suggesting the presence of water ice on the surface. We do not detect any other volatiles on the surface, although the S/N is not high enough to discard their presence. Based on scattering models, we present two possible compositions compatible with our set of data and discuss their implications in the frame of the collisional history of the Kuiper Belt. We find that the most probable composition for the surface of Varuna is a mixture of amorphous silicates, complex organics, and water ice. This composition is compatible with all the materials being primordial. However, our data can also be fitted by models containing up to a 10% of methane ice. For an object with the characteristics of Varuna, this volatile could not be primordial, so an event, such as an energetic impact, would be needed to explain its presence on the surface.

First Observation of Dirac Monopoles (some papers ought to come with !!!s on the title)

Observation of Dirac monopoles in a synthetic magnetic field


Ray et al


Magnetic monopoles—particles that behave as isolated north or south magnetic poles—have been the subject of speculation since the first detailed observations of magnetism several hundred years ago. Numerous theoretical investigations and hitherto unsuccessful experimental searches have followed Dirac’s 1931 development of a theory of monopoles consistent with both quantum mechanics and the gauge invariance of the electromagnetic field3. The existence of even a single Dirac magnetic monopole would have far-reaching physical consequences, most famously explaining the quantization of electric charge. Although analogues of magnetic monopoles have been found in exotic spin ices and other systems there has been no direct experimental observation of Dirac monopoles within a medium described by a quantum field, such as superfluid helium-3. Here we demonstrate the controlled creation of Dirac monopoles in the synthetic magnetic field produced by a spinor Bose–Einstein condensate. Monopoles are identified, in both experiments and matching numerical simulations, at the termini of vortex lines within the condensate. By directly imaging such a vortex line, the presence of a monopole may be discerned from the experimental data alone. These real-space images provide conclusive and long-awaited experimental evidence of the existence of Dirac monopoles. Our result provides an unprecedented opportunity to observe and manipulate these quantum mechanical entities in a controlled environment.

A New Specimen of Aptian Cretaceous Enantiornithine Bohaiornis guoi Suggests Raptorial Lifestyle

A New Specimen of Large-Bodied Basal Enantiornithine Bohaiornis from the Early Cretaceous of China and the Inference of Feeding Ecology in Mesozoic Birds


Li et al


A new specimen of Bohaiornis guoi from the Jiufotang Formation, comprising a nearly complete skeleton, sheds light on enantiornithine morphological variation and ecological specialization. The new specimen was collected from near Lamadong Village in Liaoning Province, which is the same area where the sub-adult holotype specimen was reported. It provides new information on the cranial and pectoral girdle anatomy of the species, e.g., broad nasal, strikingly robust acromion, medially curved acrocoracoid process. In contrast to the holotype, the newly referred specimen has small rounded stones in the thoracic region that in other extinct taxa has been interpreted as direct evidence of diet. Direct evidence of diet is so far unknown in other Enantiornithes. Specifically the lack of “stomach stones” or gastroliths in enantiornithines despite their excellent fossil record has been proposed to be related to their insectivorous diet as well as to their arboreal ecology. We hypothesize that cranial morphology as well as the number and shape of the preserved stones in Bohaiornis may be most consistent with a raptorial ecology previously unknown for Enantiornithes and considered rare for Avialae. While rostrum shape has a strong relationship to feeding ecology in living birds, in basal avialan birds most diversity is in dental morphology, number, and distribution of the teeth.

Ladinian Through Rhaetian Triassic Carbon and Oxygen Isotope Record From the Tethyan Ocean

A Middle–Late Triassic (Ladinian–Rhaetian) Carbon and Oxygen isotope record from the Tethyan Ocean


Muttoni et al


We obtained bulk-sediment δ18O and δ13C data from biostratigraphically-constrained Tethyan marine sections at Aghia Marina (Greece), Guri Zi (Albania), Brumano and Italcementi Quarry (Italy), and revise the published chemostratigraphy of the Pizzo Mondello section (Italy). We migrated these records from the depth to the time domain using available chronostratigraphic tie points, generating Ladinian–Rhaetian δ13C and δ18O records spanning from ~ 242 to ~ 201 Ma. The δ18O record seems to be affected by diagenesis, whereas the δ13C record appears to preserve a primary signal and shows values increasing by ~ 1‰ in the Ladinian followed by a ~ 0.6‰ decrease across the Ladinian–Carnian boundary, followed by relatively constant (but oscillatory) Carnian values punctuated by a negative excursion at ~ 233 Ma in the early Carnian, a second negative excursion at ~ 229.5 Ma across the early–late Carnian boundary, and a positive excursion at ~ 227 Ma across the Carnian–Norian boundary. The Norian record is characterized by a long-term decreasing trend and a negative excursion at ~ 216 Ma. Rapid increases and decreases in δ13C have been observed in the Rhaetian, but these may be at least in part due to mixing of different sources of carbonate carbon with different δ13C values. Our Triassic δ13C record has been compared to data from the literature, and a composite δ13C record spanning the last ~ 242 Myr of Earth’s history has been generated. This composite record shows a sequence of dated δ13C trends and events that can be used for stratigraphic correlation as well as for a better understanding of the global carbon cycle in the Mesozoic–Cenozoic.

Possible Algal Origin and Life Cycle of Ediacaran Doushantuo Microfossils

Possible Algal Origin and Life Cycle of Ediacaran Doushantuo Microfossils with Dextral Spiral Structure


Zhang et al


In Ediacaran shallow-water dolomites of the Doushantuo Formation (ca. 570 Ma) of southern China, scarce phosphatized microfossils consisting of clusters of coil-like spheroids called Spiralicellula bulbifera and co-occurring spherical forms with helically arranged holes named Helicoforamina wenganica are interpreted to belong to the same taxon because both have a similar relative abundance and both, uniquely in the assemblage, exhibit a consistent dextral spiral feature—the oldest known fossil examples of fixed asymmetry. Thus, we interpret them as different stages of sexual and asexual life cycles in which the spiral structure was maintained throughout most of the developmental phases. While they can be placed with the acritarchs, we suggest they are a chlorophycean green alga, and like many Ediacaran macrofossils, may represent an extinct clade. This is compatible with the shoal-water marine depositional environment in which they lived, as it would have favored photosynthetic organisms over others kinds of encysting non-metazoan protists. This setting militates against their interpretation as putative embryos which has been put forward for a variety of forms co-occurring in the microfossil assemblage. The multiple affinities of the strikingly diverse biota remain far from resolved, but algal origins warrant further consideration.

Report: Saudi Arabia has Procured Chinese DF-21 Ballistic Missiles With Help From the CIA

Saudi Arabia has long been a backroom player in the Middle East's nuclear game of thrones, apparently content to bankroll the ambitions of Pakistan and Iraq (under Saddam Hussein) to counter the rise of its mortal enemy, Iran.

But as the West and Iran have moved closer to a nuclear accommodation, signs are emerging that the monarchy is ready to give the world a peek at a new missile strike force of its own - which has been upgraded with Washington's careful connivance.

According to a well-placed intelligence source, Saudi Arabia bought ballistic missiles from China in 2007 in a hitherto unreported deal that won Washington's quiet approval on the condition that CIA technical experts could verify they were not designed to carry nuclear warheads.

The solid-fueled, medium-range DF-21 East Wind missiles are an improvement over the DF-3s the Saudis clandestinely acquired from China in 1988, experts say, although they differ on how much of an upgrade they were.

The newer missiles, known as CSS-5s in NATO parlance, have a shorter range but greater accuracy, making them more useful against "high-value targets in Tehran, like presidential palaces or supreme-leader palaces," Jeffrey Lewis, director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, tells Newsweek. They can also be fired much more quickly.

The Plans and Dreams of the African Union

High-speed railways, a common language, diplomatic clout, cutting-edge fashion and leadership in space exploration: this was the vision of a transformed Africa laid out before a continental summit on Thursday.

In a speech to the African Union, the 54-member bloc's chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma provided a foresight of what Africa could be like in just 50 years' time, providing some welcome distraction to an agenda dominated by conflict.

Written as a message to a hypothetical friend in 2063, Dlamini-Zuma spoke of a "grand reality" where a new Confederation of African States has replaced the AU.

"At the beginning of the 21st century, we used to get irritated with foreigners when they treated Africa as one country: as if we were not a continent of over a billion people and 55 sovereign states! But, the advancing global trend towards regional blocks, reminded us that integration and unity is the only way for Africa to leverage its competitive advantage," she said.

"We did not realise our power, but instead relied on donors, that we euphemistically called partners," she said.

She spoke of a future Africa with "regional manufacturing hubs" in Congo, Angola and Zambia, as well as "Silicon valleys" in Rwanda, Egypt, Nigeria and Kenya, and of equal access for women to education and business ownership.

Russia may Have Violated Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

The Obama administration is concerned that Russia may have violated a key arms control treaty by testing a ground-launched cruise missile.

The State Department said Thursday the concerns have been raised with Russian authorities and shared with NATO allies. However, department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said it has not yet been determined whether the Russian activity, which dates back to 2008, is an actual violation of a 1987 treaty banning medium range missiles.

Psaki said the U.S. takes treaty compliance "very seriously" and that an intensive interagency review is now underway to decide how to proceed. The New York Times reported on Friday that the Russians have told the U.S. they have looked into the matter and believe the case to be closed.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ukraine: The Breath Before the Plunge?

First off, the daily risk map from Euromaidan has not been put out.  I am not sure what to think of it.  Either nothing has changed since the last one.  Or they have had setbacks which they do not wish to publicize.  Either way, no banner for today's post.

On the whole things seem relatively quiet.  Hence, the name of the post.  In some ways, I hope it stays quiet.  Otherwise this might get to be damned scary fast.

What Putin and Medvedev did have taken a different turn.  Their threats have been portrayed attempts at bullying.  Possibly.  Today's auction of bonds went tumbling though.

The talks between the government and the opposition seem to have stalled.  The government doesn't seem to want to give more concessions.  The opposition is demanding more.  There is no progress and no compromise.  

Yanukovich, related to the previous compromise has not signed the repeal of the anti protestor law, despite its passage by the Rada.  That's a bit odd.  

What's even more odd is that he has taken sick leave now.  Its made everyone guessing as to what's going on.  He may be really sick.  He may be in the process of stepping down (dreams of the Euromaidan).  He may be stepping away to buy time for his side to organize things better.  Or he may be stepping out of the way for the iron fist to be swung while he's out of town (Euromaidan's nightmare).  Timing aside, Yanukovich is not a young man and given my own magic ability to get sick when I am exhausted, I can see him falling victim to something nasty at this time.

Otherwise, relatively quiet.  We'll see what's coming tomorrow.

Climate Change in China

Changes in the Frequencies of Record-breaking Temperature Events in China and Its Association with East Asian Winter Monsoon Variability


Kuang et al


The daily maximum and minimum temperatures observed at the 1897 meteorological stations of China over the past 60 years (1951-2010) are analyzed in this study to examine the interdecadal variation of frequency for record-breaking event (RBE) of temperature in the context of global warming. The results indicate that the frequency of record-breaking high temperature in the first decade of the 21th century is the highest in the three decades from the 1980s to the 2000s, implying a distinct warming trend. Meanwhile, frequencies of record-breaking low temperature in the 1990s and the beginning of the 21th century are also significant. In particular, the RBEs of low temperature occurred over most of China in the 1990s but concentrated in northern China during the 2000s. To understand why the record-low temperatures in northern China are repeatedly broken in the 2000s, the related East Asian Winter Monsoon (EAWM) variability is investigated. The EOF analysis of surface air temperature reveals that the northern mode of the EAWM variability, which is highly associated with the Arctic Oscillation (AO) activities at both interdecadal and interannual timescales, has been intensifying since late 1990s. Corresponding to the intensification of the northern mode of the EAWM variability and the negative phase of AO in the 2000s, the Siberian High and East Asian trough intensify while the polar-front jet stream strengthens and the subtropical westerly jet stream abnormally shifts northward. As a result, anomalously strong cold air masses, originated from Siberia, intrude into East Asia, but are blocked by the enhanced northward subtropical westerly jet and cannot reach low latitudes area. Therefore the extremely strong cold air masses are amassed in mid-high latitudes of East Asia, resulting in RBEs of low temperature in this area.

Complexity in Animal Behavior

SOCOM Develops Dry Ops Submersible for US Navy SEALS

U.S. Special Operations Command and sub-maker Electric Boat have partnered up to develop a dry submersible mini-submarine designed to deliver Navy SEALs into hostile, high-threat areas beneath the surface of the ocean.

The 31-foot long underwater vehicle, called the User Operational Evaluation System 3, can carry as many as six people. It is currently being tested and developed through a three-year, $44 million contract with General Dynamics Electric Boat.

The idea with the dry submersible is to minimize risk and fatigue for special operations forces, such as SEALs, who are adept at quietly swimming into hostile areas to complete high-risk missions.

“Combat submersibles are used for shallow water infiltration and exfiltration of special operations forces, reconnaissance, resupply, and other missions in high threat, non-permissive environments,” Capt. Kevin Aandahl, SOCOM spokesman told Military​.com.

The pressure hull and motor of the UOES 3 have already been built and are slated for key tests this coming June, Electric Boat officials said. Engineering plans call for the inclusion of a standard suite of submersible navigation systems, gyroscopes, sonar and obstacle avoidance technology, said Franz Edson, director, mission systems and business development, General Dynamics Electric Boat.

F-35 Cracks up a Little too Nicely: F-35 has Hardware Problems as Well as Software

The U.S. Defense Department’s newest and most advanced fighter jet has cracked during testing and isn’t yet reliable for combat operations, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester said in new report.

The entire F-35 fleet was grounded last February after a crack was discovered in a turbine blade of an F-35A. While the order was subsequently lifted, more cracks have been discovered in other areas and variants of the Lockheed Martin Corp.-made plane, according to the latest annual report by J. Michael Gilmore, director of Operational Test and Evaluation.

Durability testing of the F-35A, the Air Force’s version of the plane designed to take off and land on conventional runways, and the F-35B, the Marine Corps’ model that can take off like a plane and land like a helicopter, revealed “significant findings” of cracking in engine mounts, fuselage stiffeners, and bulkhead and wing flanges, according to the document. A bulkhead actually severed at one point, it states.

“All of these discoveries will require mitigation plans and may include redesigning parts and additional weight,” Gilmore wrote in the report.

The F-35C, the Navy’s version of the plane designed to take off and land on aircraft carriers, has also had cracks in the floor of the avionics bay and power distribution center and, like the F-35B, in the so-called jack point stiffener, according to the document.

Oxford University Uses MRIs of Humans and Monkeys to Identify Unique Human Brain Areas

Oxford University researchers have identified an area of the human brain that appears unlike anything in the brains of some of our closest relatives.

The brain area pinpointed is known to be intimately involved in some of the most advanced planning and decision-making processes that we think of as being especially human.

'We tend to think that being able to plan into the future, be flexible in our approach and learn from others are things that are particularly impressive about humans. We've identified an area of the brain that appears to be uniquely human and is likely to have something to do with these cognitive powers,' says senior researcher Professor Matthew Rushworth of Oxford University's Department of Experimental Psychology.

MRI imaging of 25 adult volunteers was used to identify key components in the ventrolateral frontal cortex area of the human brain, and how these components were connected up with other brain areas. The results were then compared to equivalent MRI data from 25 macaque monkeys.

This ventrolateral frontal cortex area of the brain is involved in many of the highest aspects of cognition and language, and is only present in humans and other primates. Some parts are implicated in psychiatric conditions like ADHD, drug addiction or compulsive behaviour disorders. Language is affected when other parts are damaged after stroke or neurodegenerative disease. A better understanding of the neural connections and networks involved should help the understanding of changes in the brain that go along with these conditions.


(genetic) Results of Getting it on With Neandertals

There was a veritable storm yesterday of posts on online for the implications of the latest implications of what bits of our genome are Neandertalic.

At D-brief, the implication is the genes helped us tolerate cold better. Amongst other, ahem, ball games.

In a press release, it turns out that Asians are more Neandertal than Europeans! it also claims that Neandertals were barely able to interbreed with Homo sapiens: there are no X chromosomes which have genes from Neandertals and implies male hybrids were sterile. This would strongly support the idea Neandertals were a separate species.

A related press release, it is also suggested that diabetes, Crohn's Disease and lupus might be related to the intermixing and that we didn't just get

In another press release also associated with a paper, one which seems on the extraordinary claim side of things, there is a claim that 20% of the Neandertal genome survives in modern populations. This contrasts wildly with the above paper and previous results placing the total modern genome being less than 5%.  

Considering how complicated things are and how we are still sorting this out, expect radical wind changes in the future.

Weirdness of Singularities: Hawking's Attempt at Trying to Avoid the Firewall

Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes




It has been suggested [1] that the resolution of the information paradox for evaporating black holes is that the holes are surrounded by firewalls, bolts of outgoing radiation that would destroy any infalling observer. Such firewalls would break the CPT invariance of quantum gravity and seem to be ruled out on other grounds. A different resolution of the paradox is proposed, namely that gravitational collapse produces apparent horizons but no event horizons behind which information is lost. This proposal is supported by ADS-CFT and is the only resolution of the paradox compatible with CPT. The collapse to form a black hole will in general be chaotic and the dual CFT on the boundary of ADS will be turbulent. Thus, like weather forecasting on Earth, information will effectively be lost, although there would be no loss of unitarity.

Yongjinglong datangi: a new, Very Derived Titanosaur Sauropod From Albian/Cenomanian Cretaceous China

A team led by University of Pennsylvania paleontologists has characterized a new dinosaur based on fossil remains found in northwestern China. The species, a plant-eating sauropod named Yongjinglong datangi, roamed during the Early Cretaceous period, more than 100 million years ago. This sauropod belonged to a group known as Titanosauria, members of which were among the largest living creatures to ever walk the earth.

At roughly 50-60 feet long, the Yongjinglong individual discovered was a medium-sized Titanosaur. Anatomical evidence, however, points to it being a juvenile; adults may have been larger.

The find, reported in the journal PLOS ONE, helps clarify relationships among several sauropod species that have been found in the last few decades in China and elsewhere. Its features suggest that Yongjinglong is among the most derived, or evolutionarily advanced, of the Titanosaurs yet discovered from Asia.

RMDRC Paleo Lab Finishes Avaceratops Skull Reconstruction


Nilpenia rossi: A Weird, Sessile Intrasediment Dweller From Ediacaran Australia

A New Ediacaran Fossil with a Novel Sediment Displacive Life Habit


Droser et al


Nilpenia rossi new genus new species, described here from the Ediacara Member (Rawnsley Quartzite, South Australia), provides evidence of a Precambrian macroscopic sessile sediment-dweller. Nilpenia, ranging up to 30 cm in diameter, consists of two zones, a complex central area surrounded by radiating, dichotomously branching structures that decrease in diameter from the center to the outer edges. Other elements of the Ediacara Biota are interpreted to have been mat-encrusters but Nilpenia uniquely grew within the upper millimeters of the actual sediment displacing sediment with growth. This sediment surface was rippled and cohesive and may well have included an endobenthic mat. The branching network on the upper surface of the organisms would have been in contact with the water. The phylogenetic relationships of the Ediacara biota are not well constrained and Nilpenia is no exception. However, the morphology and ecology of Nilpenia represent a novel growth strategy present in the Ediacaran and not common today.

Russian Armata Tank has Entered Tested

Russia began trials of the first prototype/pre-production models of the new Armata (Armada) main battle tank (MBT) in late 2013, potentially leading to a limited service entry with the Russian Army in 2016.

Prime contractor for the Armata is the UralVagonZavod Research and Production Corporation - which comprises more than 20 of the major Russian facilities engaged in the design, development, and production of tracked combat vehicles.

The Armata MBT will be armed with an externally mounted 125 mm smoothbore gun with 32 rounds of ammunition, latest information indicates. In addition to conventional ammunition, the 125 mm smoothbore gun will be able to fire a laser-guided projectile with a tandem high-explosive anti-tank warhead out to a range of at least 5,000 m. Secondary armament will consist of a 30 mm cannon and a 12.7 mm machine gun (MG).

The commander, gunner, and driver are all seated at the front of the well-protected hull, with the 125 mm gun and ammunition handling system in the middle and the high-performance diesel power pack at the rear of the vehicle.

The Armata is also being referred to as the Universal Combat Platform (BMP-T-15), with the hull to form the basis for a complete family of tracked combat vehicles.

A heavy infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) variant, called Obyekt 148, is planned to be fitted with the KBP Instrument Design Bureau Epoch Almaty remote control turret (RCT) armed with a 30 mm 2A42 cannon, 7.62 mm co-axial MG, and a bank of two Kornet-EM laser-guided missiles on either side of the RCT. This RCT will also be fitted to the new Kurganets IFV, the replacement for BMP-3 IFV, and the Bumerang 8x8 IFV, which will replace the BTR-80/BTR-80A armoured personnel carrier (APC).

Bank of England Warning to Little Scotlanders

The governor of the Bank of England on Wednesday waded into the delicate question of whether Scotland would be able to use the pound should it become independent, saying a successful currency union would require giving up some sovereignty.

Independence advocates say they want to continue to use the pound as the country's currency if the Scottish people vote for separation this year.

Mark Carney warned that successful currency unions still require some level of common fiscal policy and bank supervision. The recent debt crisis in the countries sharing the euro shows the risks of what can happen if those measures aren't put into place, he said.

"In short, a durable, successful currency union requires some ceding of national sovereignty," Carney said at a meeting in Edinburgh of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry.

Carney stressed it was up to the parliaments of Britain and Scotland to decide whether Scotland continues to use the pound in the case of independence. The Bank of England would implement whatever policy they chose.

"Decisions that cede sovereignty and limit autonomy are rightly choices for elected governments and involve considerations beyond mere economics," he said.

Carney's remarks are important because independence leader Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister, has repeatedly stressed that the pound would remain the country's currency — a selling point to his movement. While Scotland is part of the U.K., it has had its own Parliament since 1999 and makes its own laws in many areas — but it is considering a full break.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ukraine: Drama for the People!

In that, the country has definitely delivered for the Ukrainian people!

First off, at least as far as our Risk Map, it seems the opposition is losing ground again.  Poltava appears to be back in the hands of the PoR.  The edge of Euromaidan's strength seems to be the Dnieper River.  That makes it more an West vs East game, which is a loser, in a way, for Euromaidan.  They need the East to buy in.

Secondly, the amnesty law passed by Ukraine's Rada states it only applies to those that leave the buildings in the next 15 days.  If they do not,

Third, Kravchuk, like the ghost of meltdowns past, warns Ukraine is on the cusp of Civil War.

As though echoing that sentiment, the opposition leaders have stated Yanukovich must step down, snap Presidential elections called and the Constitution returned to the 2004 version (how many are there?!).  There are threats the opposition will 'attack.'  Whatever that may mean.

There have been some odd rumblings with respect to the ukrainian army.  One I saw claimed any officer which had a problem with restoring order ought to resign.  Not a good sign that.

However!  There are reports of folks resigning from the government. 

Europe is starting to weigh in and rumors have it that banker problems in the West might have helped turn down the heat in Kyiv.

On the other hand, Medvedev and Putin are starting to growl: a delay in the next tranche of the bailout and the gas price cut are on hold until the next government of Ukraine is sworn in.  Is Putin throwing Yanukovich under the bus?

OTGH, I think Obama's mention of Ukraine in the State of the Union address produced the SQUEE heard 'round the world.

Some ROFLMAO Moments

3D Printing Comes to Carbon Fiber Composites

Gregory Mark co-owns Aeromotions, which builds computer-controlled racecar wings. To make those wings both strong and lightweight, they use carbon fiber. No surprise there—it's the material of choice for many advanced motorsports parts. The problem is that making custom racecar parts out of carbon fiber is daunting. The only real method available is CNC machining, an expensive and difficult process that requires laying pieces by hand.

To improve the process, Mark looked to 3D printing. But nothing on the market could print the material, and no available materials could print pieces strong enough for his purposes. So Mark devised his own solution: the MarkForged Mark One, the world's first carbon fiber 3D printer.

Mark debuted his Boston area-based startup MarkForged at SolidWorks World 2014 in San Diego with a working prototype. The Mark One can print in carbon fiber, fiberglass, nylon and PLA (a thermoplastic).

"We took the idea of 3D printing, that process of laying things down strand by strand, and we used it as a manufacturing process to make composite parts," he told PopMech. "We say it's like regular 3D printers do the form. We do form and function."

What you notice first about MarkForged's printer is its amazing simplicity. With an anodized aluminum unibody and a translucent printing bed, it looks like the Mac of 3D printing. The Mark One employs kinematic coupling for consistent bed leveling, meaning you won't need to worry about making sure the bed is leveled correctly after each print. It's also compact, measuring 22.6 inches wide, 14.2 inches tall, and 12.7 inches deep—a good desktop size.

Marines Giving up on High Speed to Shore Capability for new Amphibious Combat Vehicle

For years the Marines have argued they need a new amphibious combat vehicle that can cut through water at high speeds so Marines can get to the beach safely and then fight their way inland. But Marine Commandant James Amos signaled yesterday there just isn’t enough money to buy a vehicle capable of planing in the water. Instead, the Marines will buy something much more modest.

“I envision the ACV as kind of a phased approach,” Gen. James Amos said when I asked about the program’s status in a Q&A at the RAND Corp.. “Phase one being, ‘okay what can we get now that makes sense, that’s affordable in this budget,” he explained, “and then [see] what is it that science and technology can give us in the future for perhaps a phase two, which might be a high-water-speed vehicle.”

Note that “perhaps” and “might be.” Amos’s second phase sounds more like an aspiration than a plan.

“My sense is the S&T [science and technology], the R&D [research and development] is not quite there yet” for high speed movement through the water, Amos said, “but I still have the need for an amphibious vehicle” now.

“Right now,” he said, “we have a 40-plus-year-old amphibious tractor,” the Amphibious Assault Vehicle-7 (AAV-7), aka the LVTP-7, which was first built in the 1970s. “We need the Amphibious Combat Vehicle [soon] to replace these 40-year-old vehicles.”

But what kind of replacement? What kind of ACV is actually going to be in the 2015 budget request — due out in weeks — and in the Pentagon’s accompanying 2016-2019 budget plan, the notorious and powerful POM (Program Objective Memorandum)? It sounds like a new, improved, evolved, but hardly revolutionary version of the existing AAV-7. The “Phase 1″ Amphibious Combat Vehicle will plow through the water the old-fashioned way, much like the AAV-7 and indeed its ancestors all the way back to the famous “amtracs” (amphibious tractors) of World War II.

The ACV will not be able to skim over the water like a speedboat (planing), a capability the Corps has pursued at great expense and with great frustration since at least 1988. That’s when the Marines began developing an Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), a “water-skiing tank” that became so costly, complex, and mechanically unreliable that then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates cancelled it in 2011. Ever since then the Marines have wrestled with what their new amphibious troop carrier needs to be.

“We’ve done the homework now. It’s taken three years of a lot of rigorous analysis to figure out the high water speed business,” Amos said at the RAND event. (RAND is closely linked to the Army and the Air Force, and Amos is the first Marine Commandant to visit that anyone can remember). “You can build a high-water-speed vehicle and you can make it affordable — yes, I’m convinced of it — but the issue is the trade-offs in the capabilities inside that vehicle.”

Within the limits of current technology and budgets, it seems, making an affordable troop transport that can skim across the water at high speeds requires too many compromises to its capabilities as a combat vehicle once on land. And while Marines come from the sea, they fight on the land.

“This vehicle will live predominantly, probably 99 percent of its time, ashore,” Amos said. “In Iraq we had our amphibious tractors ashore; we had hundreds of them ashore,” for years.

Lockheed Demonstrates 30 Kilowatt Fiber Laser

Lockheed Martin has demonstrated a 30-kilowatt electric fiber laser, the highest power ever documented while retaining beam quality and electrical efficiency.

The internally funded research and development program culminated in this demonstration, which was achieved by combining many fiber lasers into a single, near-perfect quality beam of light—all while using approximately 50 percent less electricity than alternative solid-state laser technologies. The unique process, called Spectral Beam Combining, sends beams from multiple fiber laser modules, each with a unique wavelength, into a combiner that forms a single, powerful, high quality beam.

"Lockheed Martin has opened the aperture for high power, electrically driven laser systems suitable for military applications," said Dr. Ray O. Johnson, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Lockheed Martin. "Advancements in available laser components, along with the maturity and quality of our innovative beam-combining technology, support our goal of providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for use on military platforms such as aircraft, helicopters, ships and trucks."

The successful demonstration marks a significant milestone on the path to deploying a mission-relevant laser weapon system for a wide range of air, land and sea military platforms.

Accurate are Rivers as Gauges of Chemical Weathering of the Continents?

How accurate are rivers as gauges of chemical denudation of the Earth surface?


Bouchez et al


Examination of the behavior of oxygen and hydrogen during weathering reactions shows that river dissolved load, although widely used, is an imperfect tracer of chemical denudation. At the current state of knowledge, none of the metrics for river total dissolved loads (such as the silicate-derived total dissolved solids, TDSsil = Ca2+ + Mg2+ + Na+ + K+ + SiO2, converted or not to equivalent oxides) account, in a mechanistic manner, for the transfer of oxygen and hydrogen between the solid and fluid phase during weathering reactions. We assess that chemical denudation derived from TDSsil will significantly overestimate the true chemical denudation for weathering of Ca-feldspar to kaolinite, whereas weathering of water-rich sedimentary rocks will be characterized by an underestimation of chemical denudation by TDSsil. For a handful of field sites, we estimate that the bias is lower than ±10%. The sign and extent of the bias depends on the nature of bedrock and on weathering conditions. Altogether, our analysis questions the broadly accepted concept of chemical denudation rate.

Report: Axolotl Extinct in the Wild

Mexico's salamander-like axolotl (ACK-suh-LAH-tuhl) may have disappeared from its only known natural habitat in Mexico City's few remaining lakes.


The axolotl is known as the "water monster" and the "Mexican walking fish," and its only natural habitat is Lake Xochimilco (zo-chee-MILL-co), which is suffering from pollution and urban sprawl.

Biologist Luis Zambrano of Mexico's National Autonomous University says the most recent three-month attempt to net axolotls found not one of the creatures. He says researchers are planning a second three-month hunt for the creatures, which still survive in labs and breeding tanks.

Cloud Map of Brown Dwarf Luhman 16B on The Dragon's Gaze

Reminder.  The Dragon's Gaze is where I have all my exoplanet posts.  Luhman 16B has had its clouds(!!!) mapped.  Go see the paper!

Santonian/Campanian Cretaceous Puskwaskau Formation Shows Diverse Marine Reptile Fauna Near Paleo Arctic Circle

Marine Reptiles (Plesiosauria and Mosasauridae) from the Puskwaskau Formation (Santonian–Campanian), West-Central Alberta


Bell et al


Plesiosaurs and mosasaurs are identified from the Puskwaskau Formation of west-central Alberta, Canada. These deposits record the final stages during which the Western Interior Seaway remained open to the Boreal Sea to the North and therefore are important for determining the ranges of high-latitude marine reptiles. Polycotylid and elasmosaurid plesiosaurs shared these waters with russellosaurine (including plioplatecarpine) mosasaurs suggesting a diverse ecology of large-bodied marine predators occupied these high-latitude waters in the early Campanian. This locality, situated at 65°N paleolatitude, helps link the poorly known faunas from northern Canada with the better-known faunas from central and southern North America. Rare articulated material from the Puskwaskau Formation urges further investigation of this poorly explored unit.

A New Reconstruction of Anomalocaris

Morphology of Anomalocaris canadensis from the Burgess Shale


Daley et al


Recent description of the oral cone of Anomalocaris canadensis from the Burgess Shale (Cambrian Series 3, Stage 5) highlighted significant differences from published accounts of this iconic species, and prompts a new evaluation of its morphology as a whole. All known specimens of A. canadensis, including previously unpublished material, were examined with the aim of providing a cohesive morphological description of this stem lineage arthropod. In contrast to previous descriptions, the dorsal surface of the head is shown to be covered by a small, oval carapace in close association with paired stalked eyes, and the ventral surface bears only the triradial oral cone, with no evidence of a hypostome or an anterior sclerite. The frontal appendages reveal new details of the arthrodial membranes and a narrower cross-section in dorsal view than previously reconstructed. The posterior body region reveals a complex suite of digestive, respiratory, and locomotory characters that include a differentiated foregut and hindgut, a midgut with paired glands, gill-like setal blades, and evidence of muscle bundles and struts that presumably supported the swimming movement of the body flaps. The tail fan includes a central blade in addition to the previously described three pairs of lateral blades. Some of these structures have not been identified in other anomalocaridids, making Anomalocaris critical for understanding the functional morphology of the group as a whole and corroborating its arthropod affinities.

Fluctuating Redox Conditions may Have Helped Ediacaran Lantian Biota Flourish

Fluctuation of shelf basin redox conditions in the early Ediacaran: evidence from Lantian Formation black shales in South China


Guan et al


Finely laminated, pyrite- and organic-rich black shales that bear a euxinic interpretation dominate the Ediacaran Lantian Formation in southern Anhui, South China. However, these black shales preserve benthic sessile algae and possible metazoans in situ, suggesting that the Lantian shelf basin may have had at least episodically oxidized bottom water during the early Ediacaran Period. Redox conditions of the fossiliferous Lantian black shales were examined by petrological analysis, pyrite framboid and δ34S measurements, and redox-sensitive trace element (RSTE) analysis. Lamina-by-lamina pyrite framboid measurements show that Lantian black shales were deposited under fluctuating redox conditions. The δ34S values of pyrites range from −20.5‰ to 2.3‰ for different laminae and display less negative values than the earliest Ediacaran black shales, supporting a return to a relatively low seawater sulfate concentration after the early Ediacaran oxidation event. Similarly, the Lantian black shale RSTE concentrations (e.g., Mo, U, and V) are low compared to previously published results from the early Ediacaran and constant from lamina to lamina, suggesting a drop in ocean wide RSTE concentrations occurring independently of frequent local redox condition changes. These frequent redox condition changes in the Lantian shelf basin may have facilitated the productivity and preservation of macroscopic Lantian biota

Putin Speaks out on Ukraine

The EU and Russia agreed Tuesday to discuss their sharp differences over Ukraine and eastern Europe as President Vladimir Putin again warned against foreign meddling in former Soviet states.

Putin went into a summit with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso billed as a "clear the air session" only for both sides to come out stressing the positives.

Apparently aiming to calm the waters in Ukraine, Putin also promised not to review crucial aid worth $15 billion (11 billion euros) even if the opposition, hostile to closer ties with Russia, takes power there.

"In direct answer to your question as to whether we will review our agreements on loans and energy if the opposition comes to power -- no we will not," Putin told a press conference after the talks.

"This is not important to us," Putin said, noting that Moscow had had "a very constructive dialogue" with Ukraine when it was led by now-jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

At the same time, "we want to be sure that this money comes back," the president added.

(so did Putin just hang Yanukovich out in the wind???)


Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the European Union on Tuesday for sending high-level delegations to Ukraine during its anti-government protests, saying that could be interpreted as political interference.

Speaking at the conclusion of an EU-Russia summit in Brussels, he said: "I can imagine the reaction of our European partners if, in the midst of a crisis in Greece or any other country, our foreign minister would come to an anti-European rally and would urge people to do something."

"The more intermediaries there are, the more problems there are," said Putin. "Considering the specifics of relations between Russia and Ukraine, it is simply unacceptable."

The EU has sent a procession of senior officials, including Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, to meet with government and opposition leaders in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic. Ashton had been scheduled to visit Kiev again later this week, but she decided to fly to Ukraine on Tuesday.

Putin said the EU has been too soft on Ukraine's opposition, claiming some of its members have used racist and xenophobic arguments to win popular support.

China Threatens US Military Superiority

China poses an increasing challenge to the US military's technological edge while budget pressures are hampering Washington's effort to stay ahead, a senior defense official warned on Tuesday.

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer, told lawmakers that when it comes to "technological superiority, the Department of Defense is being challenged in ways that I have not seen for decades, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region."

Citing China's major investments in anti-ship missiles, stealth fighter jets, hypersonic vehicles and other hi-tech weaponry, Kendall said the United States could lose its dominant position if it failed to respond to the altered strategic landscape.

"Technological superiority is not assured and we cannot be complacent about our posture," he told the House Armed Services Committee.

The biggest threat to American hegemony is America.  I do not the cutting of budgets by Congress.   I mean the absolutely disastrous procurements that the Pentagon has run.  Joint Strike Fighter?  Littoral Combat Ship?  Future Combat System?  etc. etc.  etc.

We are our own worst enemy.

Saudi Arabia, Pakistan in Military Hardware, Base Talks

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are discussing a potential military hardware sale agreement that would involve the export to Riyadh of an unspecified number of Al-Khalid main battle tanks (MBTs) and the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft, senior Pakistani officials and Western diplomats in Islamabad have told IHS Jane's .

The deal may form part of a wider defence co-operation agreement that could also involve the future deployment of Pakistan Army troops to Saudi Arabia, according to officials.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ukraine Update: Win Some, Lose Some

What a last 24 hours!

Yanukovich fired his Prime Minister.  Likewise, he had the laws repealed banning the protests. In that respect he's lost ground and made concessions.  The opposition and protestors are stating they are not giving up with even those concessions.  The Carpathian region police resigned rather than go bust heads.

OTOH, even Euromaidan has accepted their attempts at takeover in the Russian speaking regions is faltering as you can see from the above map they put out on twitter.  Furthermore, the leaders are appealing to the protestors not to walk away now that the immediate provocation of the protest laws are gone.  They state they want a snap election for president and for a return to the 2004 constitution/new constitution.

OTGH, the divide is looking increasingly like Ukrainian speaking vs Russian speaking match.  The only way the Euromaidan can win is by convincing the locals in the East.  That will be tough.

Using Analystics for Reworking the Criminal Justice System

Almost Baxter-ian: Is There an Ocean Beneath our Feet?

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have shown that deep sea fault zones could transport much larger amounts of water from the Earth's oceans to the upper mantle than previously thought.

Seismologists at Liverpool have estimated that over the age of the Earth, the Japan subduction zone alone could transport the equivalent of up to three and a half times the water of all the Earth's oceans to its mantle.

Water is carried to the mantle by deep sea fault zones which penetrate the oceanic plate as it bends into the subduction zone. Subduction, where an oceanic tectonic plate is forced beneath another plate, causes large earthquakes such as the recent Tohoku earthquake, as well as many earthquakes that occur hundreds of kilometers below the Earth's surface.

Using seismic modelling techniques the researchers analysed earthquakes which occurred more than 100 km below the Earth's surface in the Wadati-Benioff zone, a plane of Earthquakes that occur in the oceanic plate as it sinks deep into the mantle.

Analysis of the seismic waves from these earthquakes shows that they occurred on 1 - 2 km wide fault zones with low seismic velocities. Seismic waves travel slower in these fault zones than in the rest of the subducting plate because the sea water that percolated through the faults reacted with the oceanic rocks to form serpentinite – a mineral that contains water.

Some of the water carried to the mantle by these hydrated fault zones is released as the tectonic plate heats up. This water causes the mantle material to melt, causing volcanoes above the subduction zone such as those that form the Pacific 'ring of fire'. Some water is transported deeper into the mantle, and is stored in the deep Earth.

"It has been known for a long time that subducting plates carry oceanic water to the mantle," said Tom Garth, a PhD student in the Earthquake Seismology research group led by Professor Rietbrock. "This water causes melting in the mantle, which leads to arc releasing some of the water back into the atmosphere. Part of the subducted water however is carried deeper into the mantle and may be stored there.

"We found that fault zones that form in the deep oceanic trench offshore Northern Japan persist to depths of up to 150 km. These hydrated fault zones can carry large amounts of water, suggesting that subduction zones carry much more water from the ocean down to the mantle than has previously been suggested. This supports the theory that there are large amounts of water stored deep in the Earth.

US Navy Testing UUV Deployer for SSGNs

The Navy and General Dynamics Electric Boat are testing a prototype of an unmanned underwater vehicle engineered to launch from the missile tube of a cruise missile submarine.

Called the Universal Launch and Recovery Module, the system houses, launches and recovers an underwater vehicle, a Lockheed-built 10,000-pound prototype vehicle called Marlin, from the submarine’s missile tube.

The system is showing promise in early testing and is slated to go sea aboard a guided missile, nuclear powered submarine (SSGN) next year, Electric Boat officials said.

“This is real prototyping to actually go and exercise the system before we put it on an SSGN and take it to sea,” Adm. David Johnson, Program Executive Officer, Submarines, said at the 2013 Naval Submarine League Annual Symposium, Va., in October.

The system is designed for a range of potential underwater missions to include counter-mine patrol, sonar or other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

“Submarines have the ability to get really close to something. That is a big advantage,” said Franz Edson, director, mission systems & business development, General Dynamics Electric Boat.

The prototype vehicle is hooked up to temporary hydraulics and engineered to acquire a buoy at the top of the missile tube using a transponder, said Edson.

“It comes out of a tube, rotates, and then deploys. It goes off and does its thing — mine warfare, ISR, etc. –Then it comes back and it mates with that buoy before it is brought back down into the tube,” Edson said.

Once a tactical version of the technology is built, it will fill up the launch tube out to 60-inches in diameter and stretch as long as 23-feet, Edson said. The vehicle could weigh up to 30,000-pounds, he added.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Negotiations for F-35 Workshare

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is in negotiations with Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems over the supply of parts for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft programme, it has been confirmed to IHS Jane's .

Should an agreement be concluded, the deal would represent Japan's first involvement in an international military production programme. Japanese industry has long been banned from undertaking such activity, although the current government in Tokyo has shown a willingness to relax the restriction in a bid to enhance capabilities and industrial efficiency.

Did an Injection of Fresh Water in the Labrador Sea Help Trigger the Little Ice Age?

Surface changes in the Eastern Labrador Sea around the onset of the Little Ice Age


Moffa-Sánchez et al


Despite the relative climate stability of the present interglacial, it has been punctuated by several centennial time scale climatic oscillations, the latest of which are often colloquially referred to as the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (MCA) and the Little Ice Age (LIA). The most favored explanation for the cause of these anomalies is that they were triggered by variability in solar irradiance and/or volcanic activity and amplified by ocean-atmosphere-sea ice feedbacks. As such, changes in the strength of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) are widely believed to have been involved in the amplification of such climatic oscillations. The Labrador Sea is a key area of deep water formation. The waters produced here contribute approximately one-third of the volume transport of the deep limb of the AMOC and drive changes in the North Atlantic surface hydrography and subpolar gyre circulation. In this study, we present multi-proxy reconstructions from a high-resolution marine sediment core located south of Greenland that suggest an increase in the influence of polar waters reaching the Labrador Sea close to MCA-LIA transition. Changes in freshwater forcing may have reduced the formation of Labrador Sea Water and contributed towards the onset of the LIA cooling.

WISE J072003.20−084651.2: A new Red Dwarf Discovered 16 Light Years Away?

Neighbours hiding in the Galactic plane - a new M/L dwarf candidate for the 8pc sample


Scholz et al


AIMS: Using Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) data and previous optical and near-infrared sky surveys, we try to identify still missing stellar and substellar neighbours of the Sun. METHODS: When checking the brightest red WISE sources for proper motions and colours expected for nearby M and L dwarfs we also approached the thin Galactic plane. Astrometry (proper motion and parallax measurements) and the available photometry were used to give first estimates of the distance and type of nearby candidates. RESULTS: We have discovered WISE J072003.20−084651.2, an object with moderately high proper motion (μ≈120 mas/yr) and at low Galactic latitude (b=+2.3$\degr$), with similar brightness (J≈10.6, w2≈8.9) and colours (I−J≈3.2, J−Ks≈1.2, w1−w2≈0.3) as the nearest known M-type brown dwarf LP 944-20. With a photometric classification as an M9±1 dwarf, its photometric distance lies in the range between about 5 and 7 pc, based on comparison with absolute magnitudes of LP 944-20 alone or of a sample of M8-L0 dwarfs.The slightly larger distance derived from our preliminary trigonometric parallax (7.0±1.9 pc) may indicate a close binary nature. The new neighbour is an excellent target for planet search and low-mass star/brown dwarf studies.

Snowmass Results: Planning the Future of U.S. Particle Physics

Snowmass meeting on planning the future of United States efforts in particle physics.


  1. Summary.
  2. Intensity Frontier
  3. Energy Frontier 
  4. Cosmic Frontier
There will be more as I understand it.

Hipparion phlegrae: a new Species of Miocene Neogene Horse From Greece

Hipparion phlegrae, sp. nov. (Mammalia, Perissodactyla): a new species from the Turolian locality of Kryopigi (Kassandra, Chalkidiki, Greece)


Lazaridis et al


A new hipparion species, Hipparion phlegrae, sp. nov., is described on the basis of both morphological characters and metrical data as a member of Hipparion s.s. It is compared with H. dietrichi, H. prostylum, and similar forms of the Greco-Iranian province. The age of the Kryopigi fauna is discussed as Turolian on the basis of the hipparion assemblage, whereas the coexistence of a small Cremohipparion referred here as C. matthewi/nikosi indicates that H. phlegrae, sp. nov., is probably a derived species in respect to H. prostylum. The decreased size of the H. phlegrae and the short and wide muzzle are discussed for Hipparion s.s. during the Turolian period. Phylogenetic relationships of the new species and related taxa are reconstructed and also considered.

Pre Guadelupean Permian Extinction Lagerstätte Found in Antarctica

A high-latitude Gondwanan lagerstätte: The Permian permineralised peat biota of the Prince Charles Mountains, Antarctica


Slater et al


The Toploje Member chert is a Roadian to Wordian autochthonous–parautochthonous silicified peat preserved within the Lambert Graben, East Antarctica. It preserves a remarkable sample of terrestrial life from high-latitude central Gondwana prior to the Capitanian mass extinction event from both mega- and microfossil evidence that includes cryptic components rarely seen in other fossil assemblages. The peat layer is dominated by glossopterid and cordaitalean gymnosperms and contains moderately common herbaceous lycophytes, together with a broad array of dispersed organs of ferns and other gymnosperms. Rare arthropod-plant and fungal-plant interactions are preserved in detail together with a plethora of fungal morphotypes, Peronosporomycetes, arthropod remains and a diverse coprolite assemblage. Comparisons to other Palaeozoic ecosystems show that the macroflora is of low diversity. The fungal and invertebrate-plant associations demonstrate that a multitude of ecological interactions were well developed by the Middle Permian in high-latitude forest mires that contributed to the dominant coal deposits of the Southern Hemisphere. Quantitative analysis of the constituents of the silicified peat and of macerals within adjacent coal seams reveals that whilst silicified peats provide an unparalleled sample of the organisms forming Permian coals, they do not necessarily reflect the volumetric proportions of constituents within the derived coal. The Toploje Member chert Lagerstätte provides a snapshot of a rapidly entombed mire climax ecosystem in the closing stages of the Palaeozoic, but prior to the onset of the protracted crisis that engulfed and overthrew these ecosystems at the close of the Permian.

Evidence of the Kola Continent From the Meso-NeoArchean

The Meso-Neoarchaean Belomorian eclogite province: Tectonic position and geodynamic evolution


Mints et al


The aim of this paper is to review the main features of the Meso-Neoarchaean Belomorian eclogite province (BEP) in the northeastern Fennoscandian Shield, including regional and local geology, geochemistry, petrology and geochronology and to compare the Belomorian eclogites with Precambrian eclogites elsewhere. Two eclogite associations have been recognized within Belomorian TTG gneisses: (1) the subduction-type Salma association and (2) Gridino eclogitized mafic dykes. Protoliths of the Salma eclogites represent a sequence comprising gabbro, Fe–Ti gabbro and troctolites, formed at ~ 2.9 Ga in a slow-spreading ridge setting (like the Southwest Indian Ridge). The main subduction and eclogite-facies events occurred between ~ 2.87 and ~ 2.82 Ga. Injection of mafic magma into an active continental margin setting, recorded by the Gridino dyke swarm, is attributed to subduction of a mid-ocean ridge, commencing at 2.87 Ga. Crustal delamination of the active margin and subsequent involvement of the lower crust in subduction between 2.87 and 2.82 Ga ago caused high-pressure metamorphism of the Gridino dykes, culminating in eclogite-facies conditions between 2.82 and 2.78 Ga and accompanying amalgamation of the Karelia, Kola and Khetolamba blocks and formation of the Mesoarchaean Belomorian accretionary–collisional orogen. The clockwise P–T paths of the Salma and Gridino associations cross the granulite-facies P–T field. Detailed metamorphic studies indicate a complicated post-eclogite history with thermal events and fluid infiltration, related to plume activity at 2.72–2.70, ~ 2.4 and ~ 1.9 Ga. The eclogite assemblages were exhumed to mid-to-lower crustal depths at ~ 1.7 Ga, while erosion or younger tectonic events were responsible for final exhumation to the surface. Comparison of P–T–t paths and data for peak metamorphic parameters demonstrates the general similarity of the Archaean and Palaeoproterozoic eclogites worldwide and their association with anomalously “hot” environments. The occurrence of high-T conditions during eclogite-facies metamorphism can be attributed to either subduction of a mid-ocean ridge (Archaean, BEP) or to interaction with mantle plumes (Proterozoic).

Are Greenland's Natural Resources Insufficient to Cover the Cost of Independence?

Greenland's mineral wealth will not be enough to pay for independence and the country will remain dependent on Danish subsidies for the forseeable future, a study argued on Friday.

"Even though natural resource exploitation will become important for Greenland, it is not enough," Minik Rosing, a geology professor at the University of Copenhagen and the chairman of the University of Greenland, said in a statement.

"Because of its economy and its demographics, Greenland will need to employ a range of different measures, and that includes a block grant for the foreseeable future," he added.

Denmark's yearly block grant accounts for nearly half the Arctic territory's economy, with the remainder coming mostly from fisheries.

The huge island territory has pinned its hopes on its reserves of mineral resources including uranium, rare earths and oil.

But for Greenland to be able to rely on mining, 12 large-scale mines would have to be operational by 2040, and five of them would have to be in operation at any one time, the report said.

Beijing Think-tank Claims Emigration is a Money, Brain Drain for China

A Beijing-based think tank urged the central government yesterday to upgrade its immigration office to a ministerial-level agency to tackle a "migration deficit" caused by a growing trend of people taking their skills and wealth abroad.

The number of mainland emigrants reached 9.34 million last year, compared with 848,900 immigrants, leaving a migration deficit – or an excess of emigrants over immigrants – of 8.5 million.

The figures were contained in the Annual Report on Chinese International Migration 2014, published by the Centre for China and Globalisation (CCG).

The deficit has increased 129 per cent since 1990, when it was 3.71 million. It makes China the fourth-largest source country for international emigrants after India, Mexico and Russia. The US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are the top four destinations for mainlanders.

The number of emigrants resulted in a brain drain and money outflow, said the report.

"Most of the Chinese emigrants are middle-class people aged 35-55," it said. "Their leaving weakens middle-class support for China’s social transformation and causes a huge loss to society’s reforms and progress."

Their departure also took away a huge amount of wealth.

In 2012, 6,124 Chinese moved to the US through the investment immigration scheme, causing an asset outflow of between US$3 billion and US$6 billion – and that is without taking into account expenditure on things including home purchases.

Meanwhile, the outflow of wealth and talent was not offset by immigration, with relatively high barriers for entry hindering the numbers arriving.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ukraine: Opposition and Yanukovich Continue to Play Risk

There has been some pushback each way.  Two of the regions had their HQs taken over by the opposition.  The regions' police took them back.  From the sounds of things, Yanukovich is bringing police from the Donbass to Kyiv.  If so, this is gonna get messy.

OTOH, he's stated he will repeal the oppressive protest laws which were a total mistake to do in the first place and relit the Euromaidan protests.

OTOOH, the justice ministry is threatening a state of emergency.  While the foreign minister contradicts the threat.  Is this a case of someone jumping the gun and being frustrated or the government starting to fracture?

OTOOOH, yanukovich tried to coopt the opposition by offering them positions in the government.  Effectively bribes.  I'll let you int the family.  Just stop this.  Didn't work.

OTGH, what happens tomorrow will show whether this explodes beyond what we've seen or things stabilize.  Its been crazy.

Additive Manufacturing Revolution Update

Stratasys has a multicolor 3D printer allowing many hues and many colored pieces without assembly.

News from CES has XYZprinting's $499 3D printer and a nifty 3Doodler which allows you to sketch what you want and go straight to printing.

Dell is starting to resell MakerBot 3d Printers.

SOLS raises $1.75 million for 3d printing insoles for shoes: ones customized to your own foot.

DMG Mori has an impressive metal printer attached to a 5 axis head which uses a 2 kilowatt diode laser.

British Aerospace flies a Tornado fighter-bomber with 3d printed parts.

A Forbes article claims Taiwan government's heavy backing of 3d printing startups will bring it dominance.

Business Insider has an article on 3d printing as well, headlining with Victoria Secret's wings at the fashion show were 3d printed.  It also argues 3d printing will produce transition from a macro-manufactured supply chain to a micro-manufactured supply chain and argues a possibility for the future of programmable matter under the name of 4d printing.