Sunday, October 15, 2017

Russian Experimental Nuclear Warheads Were Deployed in Parallel

It appears that we have an answer to the question of what kind of "experimental warheads" were tested in the September 12 Yars launch. And a confirmation of a guess made on Twitter by @artjomh shortly after the test. The image above is from that post - it's from a textbook they use at the Bauman University. According to The Diplomat's Ankit Panda, Russia tested "an independent post-boost vehicle (IPBV) configuration for a three-warhead version [of the Yars ICBM]." The Bauman textbook calls it "an RV with independent (parallel) deployment." As can be seen from the image, each RV is sitting on top of its own mini-bus, which is different from a more common configuration, when one bus deploys RVs one after another.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pondering the Precambrian #6

Proterozoic:

NeoProterozoic:

There is evidence of a potential blacksmoker vent from the NeoProterozoic.

Ocean subduction evidence has been found in China.

Comb Jellies appear to have be the oldest divergent, yet still living, branch of animals.

Ediacaran:

An Ediacaran protist fossil seems to show how those organisms' reproduction in action.

Evidence of the opening of the Iapetus Sea in Russia during the Ediacaran has been uncovered.

The submerged Batavian Knoll is a microcontinent with evidence of the assembly of Gondwana.

Biostratigraphical evidence is coming together for the Ediacaran from China.

The nuclei and nucleoli in the embryos found in Ediacaran China's Weng'an Biota.

Understanding the Ediacaran paleoecologies.

Should the extinction of Cloudina lucianoi mark the Ediacaran/Cambrian boundary?

Could Ediacaran rangeomorphs actually burrow?

Cryogenian:

It appears the Sturtian Snowball Earth episode began circa 717 million years ago.

Tonian:

The Tonian/Cryogenian boundary has been proposed for specific spots in Scotland.

A vase shaped microfossil has been found in the Tonian deposits around the world.

There appears to have been a mass extinction during the Tonian prior to the Snowball Earth episodes.

Mesoproterozoic:

There is evidence Archean granites were reworked and uranium deposited during the Calymmian in the Olympic Dam Breccia in Australia.

Eukaryote fossils were found in Calymmian deposits in China.

Are some fossils that are normally thought to be NeoProterozoic (Tonian/Cryogenian) found in the MesoProterozoic deposits of Russia?

At the dawn of the Mesoproterozoic, at the Statherian/Calymmian boundary, Australia made contact with northwestern Laurentia and began a long slide along its margin.

Paleoproterozoic:

Evidence of an island arc from the Paleoproterozoic came from West Africa.

There may have been two island arcs in Finland during the PaleoProterozoic.

How the Francevillian formation formed in the Rhyacian.

The microfossils of the Francevillian Biota get examined.

Evidence from India for proto continents in the Rhyacian.

Archean:

Findings from the NeoArchean from the North American Craton support local evidence of plate tectonics.

Did the development of carbonate platforms in the NeoArchean pave the way for the Great Oxygenation Event?

Is there evidence of biogenic atmospheric oxygen during the MesoArchean?

The emergence of the continents may have happened over multiple differentiation events.

Evidence of life was found in EoArchean sediments from Labrador, Canada.

Hadean:

Caution should be taken when examining Hadean zircons.

Did life form in warm little pools?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Commercial Crew Launches Schedule Slip

The next generation of American spacecraft and rockets that will launch astronauts to the International Space Station are nearing the final stages of development and evaluation. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program will return human spaceflight launches to U.S. soil, providing reliable and cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit on systems that meet our safety and mission requirements.


[...]

Targeted Test Flight Dates:

Boeing Orbital Flight Test: August 2018
Boeing Crew Flight Test: November 2018

SpaceX Demonstration Mission 1: April 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 (crewed): August 2018

Editor’s Note: Note the careful wording of this latest press release: “most recent publicly releasable dates.” So, how far are the latest slips? Here is where they were in July.

Previous Targeted Test Flight & Milestone Dates (July 20, 2017):

Boeing Orbital Flight Test: June 2018
Boeing Crew Flight Test: August 2018
Boeing Operational Readiness Review: September 2018
Certification Review: October 2018

SpaceX Demonstration Mission 1: February 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 (crewed): June 2018
SpaceX Operational Readiness Review: August 2018
Certification Review: September 2018


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Russia's Central Bank Will Block Websites Using Cryptocurrencies

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday crypto-currencies were risky and used for crime, as Russia’s central bank said it would block websites selling bitcoin and its rivals - a change of tone from a month-old promise to legalize the market.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

China's Land Based Carrier Mockup is Changing

A recently published image of modifications made to China’s land-based aircraft carrier development facility at Wuhan reflects the ongoing work supporting the development of the country’s third aircraft carrier, commonly known as the Type 002.

Published in Chinese online forums in early September, the image shows that the height of the island's forward upper superstructure on the carrier mock-up has been increased to facilitate faring in the array panels of the phased array radar.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Stealth Saga #66

AMCA:

The Indians have a lot of work before they have their own stealth fighters.

J-20:

The J-20 is now officially in military service for China (here, too).

The J-20 outclasses its regional rivals.

A J-20 has been spotted with the WS-10 engine (G variant?  maybe?).

Su-57 (PAK-FA):

Some are calling the Su-57 underpowered.

The 9th Su-57 was delivered to the Russian air force and it shows progress with the design.

Some are still saying the Su-57 is underpowered.

PAK-DA:

KRET is designing new electronic warfare equipment for the PAK-DA.

KF-X:

The fraud probe into KAI has cast a pall on the KF-X program and found circumstantial evidence of corruption in the program.  The former head of KAI has been arrested.  A VP has committed suicide.

6th Generation Fighters:

Lockheed teased a concept again for its 6th gen fighter that reminds everyone of the F-23.

The US sixth gen fighter could be revolutionary.

BAe is optimistic on the use of lasers by fighters.

BAe has a stealthy UAV concept.

Will China outfit its own sixth generation fighter with a new type of radar?

B-21:

The USAF is keeping costs in check for the developing B-21.

How many bombers the US needs vs what the budget realities are.

F-117:

The F-117 might be officially retired, but its still flying.

F-22:

The F-22 appears to still be the best air superiority fighter out there so far.

The F-22 is being used as an aerial scout in Syria.

The first F-22 flew 20 years ago.

F-35:

Some are complaining that Congress is giving the F-35 a pass for its problems.  Those problems are claimed to be being worked on.

The USAF expects OBOGS testing on the F-35 through the end of 2017.

F-35 ejection seats are still problematic.

The F-35 was to join the F-22 in South Korea's ADEX.

Silicon Valley style software development might be coming for the F-35 (and F-22).

Some F-35As may not be combat coded and stick with the 2b software.

USMC F-35Bs (with radar reflectors) participated in exercises with South Korea and Japan.

The F-35B might be placed in rotational deployment to South Korea (along with the F-22).

USMC's VMFA-121 practiced hot loading the AIM-120s onto F-35Bs.

USAF airmen are helping with the F-35C aviator carrier quals.

The USS Abraham Lincoln is testing the F-35C at sea.

Australia has ordered the Small Diameter Bomb II for its F-35As and the US approved the order.

The British have outlined their plans for the F-35 IOC.

The Brits consider both their CVs necessary for the F-35 trials.

Two more F-35s were delivered to the Israelis.

The Japanese assembled F-35As are falling behind schedule.

Japan wants to start integrating locally made parts into their F-35s starting in 2018.

Pratt & Whitney finished testing the adaptive fan for the F135 engine and is offering depot upgrades for the F-35 (but not with the new engine yet).

META:

A crash by a classified plane and death of its pilot (Lt Col Eric Schultzhas people wondering what aircraft had been flying.  

Friday, October 06, 2017

Musk's Grand Plans for Space


Musk unveiled the BFR architecture to get people to the Moon, Mars, etc.

Some criticism and skepticism is coming over the architecture.

Some are already calling the BFR the 'son of the shuttle.'

Thursday, October 05, 2017

South Korea has Banned Initial Coin Offerings

South Korea’s financial regulator on Friday said it will ban raising money through all forms of virtual currencies, a move that follows similar restrictions in China on initial coin offerings.

The Financial Services Commission said all kinds of initial coin offerings (ICO) will be banned as trading of virtual currencies needs to be tightly controlled and monitored.

“Raising funds through ICOs seem to be on the rise globally, and our assessment is that ICOs are increasing in South Korea as well,” the regulator said in a statement after a meeting with the finance ministry, the Bank of Korea and the National Tax Service.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Russia is Apparently Testing 'Experimental' Nuclear Warheads

On September 12, 2017 the Strategic Rocket Forces performed a successful launch of a silo-based Yars ICBM from Plesetsk to the Kura test site in Kamchatka. According to the official release by the Ministry of Defense, quoted in the media, the goal of the launch was to "confirm reliability of a party of missiles of this class." The statement also said that "experimental warheads successfully reached their targets."


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Terminator Times #33

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones):

An American drone appears to have crashed in Turkey.

The US ARFL has funded an extended range desert hawk demonstration.

The USAF showed off its Reaper control center at Holloman AFB.

USAF Reapers are increasingly becoming the workhorses of the drone strikes.

The USAF is planning drone strikes in the Philippines.

The USAF is working with SOCOM on ThunderDrone, a rapid prototyping event for swarming drones.

The USAF has new simulator software for its USAFA cadets to learn to fly drones.

The USAF pilot that shot down an Iranian drone has been IDed by Reuters.

A US Army Blackhawk on security patrol in support of the UN General Assembly was hit by a commercial drone and suffered damage.

The US Army has deployed its Grey Eagle UAVs to the Philippines.

The USMC's 'Ripper Lab' has 3d printed a quadcopter.

The USMC has started equipping its infantry squads with quadcopters.

The US Navy's X-47B has been rolled out with refueling tanks attached.

The US Navy has tightened its requirements for the MQ-25 Stingray tanker, 15,000 lbs of fuel at 500 nm, which could double the strike range of the carrier airwing.

The US Navy Research Lab is attempting to fly a drone for three days in its Hybrid Tiger Program.

A US Navy LCS (USS Coronado) used a UAV to observe and target over the horizon for a missile strike.

General Atomics' competitor to the upgraded X-47B is supposed to be optimized for the Navy's tanker role.

Did a drone interfere with the USN Blue Angels?

Military bases in the US would be are allowed to shoot down civilian drones that cross into the base.

DARPA is looking into air launched drones that can carry and fire air to air missiles. with its Flying Missile Rail project.

US Reaper drones were flown to monitor the impact of the recent hurricanes in the US.

Argentina has unveiled its own MALE UAV design.

Australia has retired its Heron 1 UAVs and is sending personnel to learn how to operate the US MQ-9.

Australia is planning on equipping its army with mini and micro drones.

Belgium presented its new Raven UAVs (these are quite similar to the ones the Ukrainians apparently hate from the US).

Britain has the right to upgrade its Protector drones independent of US approval.

A British RAF Reaper stopped a public execution by ISIS.

British Watchkeepers are flying again and now have a comint mission.

Canada tried and failed to buy second hand drones.

China's CH-4  UCAV has been getting upgrades.

China's CASC is building an app to control UAVs.

China's CH-5 UCAV has been live fire testing new precision weaponry.

China's Tengoen unveiled multiple concepts for UCAVs.

Colombia has decided to shelve its indigenous IRIS drone, relegating it to a test asset, to work with AirBus on a new effort.

The European competitor for the MQ-9 Reaper will be a twin turboprop.

France is arming its Reapers.

Iran has stated its drones will continue patrolling the Persian Gulf.

On multiple occasions, Iran's drones have harassed US Navy fighters as the F/A-18Es have attempted to land on their carrier.

Iran has a weird drone war movie.

Iran has unveiled a drone base.

Israel is about the declare full operational capability of its Hermes 900 fleet.

Did an Israeli drone maker conduct an attempted strike on Armenian troops?  Israel has pulled the export license for the company to Azerbaijan.

Israel's Elbit Skylark 3 got operational approval.

IAI is still waiting on Germany's approval of the Heron TP procurement.

IAI is pitching its Harop loitering munition for maritime warfare.

Israel shot down a drone that entered the Syrian DMZ.

Israel's APG unveiled a new version of its Peres VTOL UAV.

Israeli Defense Forces will continue to use DJI drones despite some security concerns.

A multinational UAV competition was held in Kazakhstan.

Macedonia is building a UAV base in cooperation with the American 2nd Cavalry Regiment.

Philippines will receive six ScaEagle UAVs.

Poland unveiled its DragonFly loitering munition.

Russia will demonstrate new VTOL and fixed wing UAVs soon.

Russia has flown a demonstrator for its UAV intended for frigate sized ships.

Russia claims its 6th gen fighters will be unmanned.

Russia is claiming it has 50 requests for its UAVs.

Russia has claimed to have developed specialized weapons for its drones.

In Syria, a drone flown by al'Nusra was shot down by a Russian MANPADS.

Taiwan is making progress on its MALE UAV.

Take a look at Taiwan's UAV control stations.

Taiwan has also unveiled its own antiradiation drone.

A Florida company staffed by ex Israeli soldiers has equipped with a sniper rifle and grenade launcher.

General Atomics has test flown its extended range Gray Eagle drone for 42 hours.

General Atomics is pursuing a very large order for its Avenger UCAV to an international customer.

General Atomics drone pilots got shown up by video gamers.

Leonardo is confident on the start of a clean sheet VTOL UAV program by the British.


Lockheed UK developed the Outrider sub launched UAV.

Unmanned Ground Vehicles (Ogres and Bolos):

The US Army is looking into autonomous capabilities, including UGVs, for its field commanders.

The US Army is experimenting with integrating robotic systems into its hunter killer teams.

The USMC is getting serious about buying robotic vehicles for its infantry.

BAe Systems has developed its Ironclad UGV.

Germany's Rheinmetall outlined multiple missions for its UGVs.

MILREM is considering its 4th and 5th gen versions of its TheMIS UGV.

Northrop has entered the UGV fray with its new Nomad.

Roboteam secured orders from the US and Israel for its mini UGVs.

Ukraine's Fantom UGV is undergoing more weapons tests.

Unmanned Surface Vehicles (Robo Ships):

The US Navy is poised to order at least one more ACTUV (SeaHunter) USV.

China is readying the SeaFly USV for production.

China's CASC unveiled its concepts for combat USVs.

Indra of Spain demonstrated its USV off of Galicia.

Israel's Elbit has demoed some anti sub capabilities of its USV.

Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (Robo Subs):

The Proteus UUV has been demonstrated.

SRS discussed its Fusion hybrid UUV.

META:

The US Navy is testing multiple unmanned compliments to future warships.

The US Navy is also looking into how to power its unmanned systems.

The Brits are planning lots of unmanned systems in their navy while the USN urged some caution.

Will the world restrict autonomous weapon systems?

Friday, September 29, 2017

No, Russia Isn't Helping to Build the Deep Space Gateway

At least not yet. Possibly never.

Russia's media outlets released claims Roscosmos and NASA had signed an agreement where Russia would help the US build the new Deep Space Gateway space station. 

The actual truth of the matter is that Russia and NASA signed an agreement to study how Russia might participate in the DSG.

The difference is pretty big.  

One claims the Russians are full participants.  The other, more truthful one, is along the lines of "let's talk about it."

The Russians might have aspirations for participating in deep space exploration, but to be, frank, they have slipped the delivery of their science lab for the ISS yet again.  Now it will be in 2019.  The ISS is now going on 20 years old, the Russians haven't finished their part...and they want to go into deep space?

hmmm.

To be fair, NASA keeps slipping their own missions, too. (also looking at you, JWST) However, the DSG is slated to start construction now in June 2022 with the second SLS launch.

However, given Russia's bad behavior on Earth and the lack of a need to make sure their scientists don't go off to sell their services to other countries (the pitch for why ISS instead of the SSC to Clinton), why bother with them?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Stealth Saga: And the Dragon Quietly Roared


China's latest J-20 stealth fighter has been officially commissioned into military service, according to Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense on Thursday.




Saturday, August 12, 2017

Stealth Saga #65

6th Gen Fighters:

Russia claims it will incorporate lasers to shoot down missiles in its 6th gen fighter.

PAK-FA:


The PAK-FA engaged in mock combat at MAKS-2017.

The developmental stage of the PAK-FA is set too end by the end of 2017 with the flight testing of the new engine.  However, there may be a translation error as that the development is now stated to be finishing in 2019.  Or was it?

New flight controls were to be demoed on the PAK-FA at MAKS 2017.

The Russians are considering an LRIP of 12 PAK-FAs.

The KH-38ME missile has been modified for a better fit for the PAK-FA.

PAK-DP:

The Russians have revised what they said about when the PAK-DP will start.  2019 is the earliest.

PAK-DA:

In the same article above, the PAK-DA has been postponed for first flight until 2025 to 2026 and production later.

MiG-29 Replacement:

The Russians are talking about a light fighter, Mig-29, replacement by 2025.  Maybe.

FGFA:

The Russians have reiterated the FGFA contract with India will be signed momentarily.  Maybe.

Hunter-B:

A supposed Russian stealthy UAV has surfaced in slides at least: meet the Hunter-B.

H-20:

Status of the H-20 project is discussed at James Town.  Tech demonstrators for the H-20 have likely flown and the first prototype is likely to fly around 2020.

Franco-German Next Gen Fighter:

The French and Germans have signed an agreement to develop a next gen fighter.

Is it a good idea?

The new Franco-German fighter is not a threat to the Franco-British UCAV effort.

B-2:

A cool video of the B-2.

The B-2 is getting a massive upgrade and some sources are starting to call the upgraded B-2s the B-2B.  Unofficially.

F-35:

The F-35 has passed 100,000 flight hours.

The F-35 might get nuclear capabilities faster than previously planned.

The F-35 helmet had a significant glitch with the night vision camera during shipboard testing for the F-35B.

The F-35B has started ski jump testing.

The Gripen withdrew from the Belgian fighter competition, leaving the Eurofighter, Rafale and F-35.

Lockheed is still optimistic about the purchase rate for the F-35.

Lockheed has stated it is on track to finish the SDD flight trials by the end of the year.

META:

The scandals at KAI have brought scrutiny to the F-35 and KF-X programs in South Korea.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Terminator Times #32

Drones (UAVs):

The Army Research Lab has developed a tiny 300g tilt rotor drone it intends to fly autonomously for ISR missions.

The US Army awarded Leonardo a contract to develop a vehicle mounted CUAS system.

A drone buzzed an F-22 parked at an airport and as a result the USAF is calling for defenses against drones (and permission to shoot them down).

A USAF Global Hawk's route when observing the Black Sea and Ukraine.

The USMC is also looking for good drone defenses.

The US Navy has released its latest version of the draft RFP for the MQ-25A Stingray tanker.  The results are rather...disappointing.

Should Lockheed compete an unmanned S-3 for the MQ-25A contract?

A US Navy Research Lab drone can transition from moving through water to the air and back.

The US Navy's Triton drone program costs have risen 17%.

Australia will sign an MOU for seven MQ-4C in March 2018.

Australia also signed a contract with AeroVironment for their WASP-AEs.


China's CH-5 drone had its maiden flight and here are some pictures.

China is also offering its CH-5 for export.

China is supposedly ready to mass produce the CH-5.

Estonia's Threod has a new Stream C UAV.

Estonia's Marduk is to begin testing its Shark counter drone system, a laser.

Estonia's Eli Airborn Solutions is about to start testing its Drone Nest.

The French and Germans have agreed to develop their own MALE UAV.

Germany has ordered more of the LUNA UAVs.

Guardion has entered the CUAS arena.

IAI is boosting its Heron TP offer to India.

Thales has proposed the Watchkeeper UAV to Indonesia.

However, Indonesia is considering Chinese drones.

Iran is now marketing its Hamaseh UAV internationally.

Israel's Aeronautics is reportedly buying an unnamed US drone company.

The Italian air force's Predators have appeared with new markings for a new squadron's activation.

Logos tested its light weight Wide Area Motion Imagery pod on a US Navy drone.

Nigeria has reactivated its UAV training units.

A Hermes 900 was spotted flying over Luzon (Philippines) recently.  This was part of a demonstration for their Air Force.

Russia has modified an unmanned helicopter for Arctic use.

The Chinese may be interested in the new Russian Arctic capable VTOL UAV.

Russia has also unveiled a Predator equivalent, the Orion-Eh.

The Russians are going to start developing a radar equipped VTOL drone for artillery recon.

Russia's Radar MMS details its VTOL effort.

Russia may have a stealthy UCAV called the Hunter-B under development.

Russia's SAT design bureau, the one developing the SR-10 forward swept trainer, has conceived a derivative called the AR-10, a air-to-air and strike UCAV.

The Russians are working on AI-like avionics for their new drones.

South Korea has started production of new radars to detect North Korea's drones.

South Korea's tilt rotor TR-60 UAV has conducted flights from ships.

Turkey's Anka UCAV has made its first airstrikes.

The Anka also had a forced landing.

Bolos and Ogres (Unmanned Ground Vehicles):

China appears to be developing a prototype unmanned logistics truck.

Ukraine's Infocom has developed another armed unmanned ground combat vehicle.

Robo Subs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles):

DARPA has awarded BAe a phase one contract for small UUVs to hunt enemy subs.

META:

Robots should not be programmed to autonomously kill.

Robots might one day refuel US Army helicopters.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

China's Other Base in Africa

The construction of the campsite of China's first peacekeeping helicopter detachment to Sudan was completed in Al Fashir, Sudan on the morning of July 20, local time.

The project has passed the acceptance inspection by the engineering department of the African Union/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and is now ready to accommodate the Chinese peacekeepers.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Pondering the Precambrian #5

Proterozoic:

Evidence of anoxic and alkaline oceanic conditions in the Vempalle and Tadpatri formations in India from stromatolites.


NeoProterozoic:

The evolution of sponges is reviewed.

Ediacaran:

There was a very negative and unexplained carbon-13 shift during the aftermath of the Snowball Earth episode.

At the dawn of the Ediacaran, during the retreat of the Ghaub Glaciation, the Ediacaran oceans' oxygen levels fluctuated.

Relatives of Cloudina from China are helping our understanding of the Ediacaran biomineralized metazoan.

Using x-ray tomography, attempts are made to interpret trace fossils made by metazoans during the Ediacaran.

Why did metazoans start growing in size during the Ediacaran?

Could the discovery of certain acanthomorphic acritarchs allow for better correlation of different Ediacaran fossils localities?

A unique fossil of Rangea has been found in ironstone and demonstrates a semi rigid skeleton for the Ediacaran critter.

There was an anoxic ocean volume in Brazil during the Ediacaran.

A transitional fauna from the end Ediacaran was found in Nevada.

Cryogenian:

A very thick layer of sediment from the Cryogenian has been found in Death Valley.  Evidence of glacial activity and rifting is present.

Tonian:

Did animals diverge into different lineages in the Tonian prior to the Snowball Earth episode?

The chemical weathering and Rodinia's continental drift in the Tonian contributed to the lead up to the Cryogenian Snowball Earth episode.  It also had a lot of parallels with the lead up to the Huronian Snowball Earth episode.

The evidence of evolutionary radiation of eukaryotes in Africa at the time of the MesoProterozoic/NeoProterozoic boundary.

Vase shaped microfossils have been found in Arizona, USA from the Tonian.

MesoProterozoic:

Was there an oceanic oxygenation spike during the Ectasian 1.36 billion years ago?

Evidence from Mauritania suggests what the paleoecology of the MesoProterozoic might have been like.

PaleoProterozoic:

Examining a paleoproterozoic gold deposit suggests there were two different sources for its carbon content and some caution about inferring the deposition temperatures from Raman spectroscopy.

Examining a paleosol from the Statherian shows atmospheric carbon dioxide was 4.8x preindustrial levels.

Evidence of continental assembly prior to the supercontinent Columbia from Brazil during the Orosirian.

There is evidence of significant geological turmoil during the Orosirian and is interpreted as a true polar wander.

The iron deposits of the Dongshan in China from the Orosirian show evidence of two different sources for the iron.

Siderian fossils from Western Australia seem to show benthic microbial mats seem to have continued to thrive during the Great Oxidation Event.

The evidence from the first known Snowball Earth episode during the Siderian appears to support the Jormungund scenario (slushball earth).

Archean:

Microbial dissimilatory iron reduction was common across the Archean/Proterozoic Boundary.

Plankton-like micro fossils from Australia have been found in South Africa.

Evidence of anaerobic photosynthetic microbes has been found from the PaleoArchean of Australia.

Did life really start on land?

META:

How did the Earth stay warm enough for life despite the Faint Young Star Paradox?

The importance of methane to prebiotic chemistry.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Is Musk (and SpaceX) Steering Away From Mars?

During an appearance at the International Space Station Research & Development Conference on Wednesday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said plans for propulsive crew Dragon landings and Red Dragon missions to Mars had been scrapped, downplayed the probability that the first Falcon Heavy launch will succeed, and even had a good word to say about the moon.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The US Navy is Getting Much Closer to an Operational Railgun


The Navy’s futuristic electromagnetic railgun is set to take a major developmental step forward this summer as developers work to increase the number of shots it can fire per minute and the power behind the system.

The railgun has been a pet project for the Navy for more than a decade since early testing of a prototype for a shipboard system began in 2006. The gun uses electromagnetic force to launch projectiles at high speeds, allowing the system to function without the powder mechanism conventional shipboard guns.

In theory, a railgun would be safer and potentially cheaper to fire than traditional weapons. Navy plans have called for installing the railgun on the Navy’s three DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers, but it’s not clear when that will happen.

For now, officials with the Office of Naval Research are working to build the program up to its target capability envelope.

This summer and into next year, work will focus on increasing the power with which projectiles are fired to the target of 32 megajoules, and increasing what’s known as the rep rate to 10 shots per minute, or one every six seconds, said Dr. Tom Beutner, head of Naval Air Warfare and Weapons for ONR.

link.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Turkey Moved More Troops Into Qatar

The slow build-up of Turkish soldiers in Qatar has continued, despite their withdrawal being one of the demands that Saudi Arabia and its allies have insisted Doha complies with before they lift their blockade of the emirate.

The Qatari ministry of defence (MoD) announced on 11 July that a fifth instalment of Turkish soldiers had arrived in Doha to join their comrades at the Tariq bin Zayid Battalion base, under the provisions of the military co-operation agreement signed by the two countries. The ministry released photographs showing Turkish troops disembarking from a Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) C-130J-30 transport aircraft.

The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) did not confirm the statement, but Turkish newspapers reported on the following day that that a 45-strong commando unit affiliated to the Istanbul-based 1st Army Command had arrived in Doha. The Dogan News Agency (DHA) reported that another contingent of about 25 soldiers from an artillery unit would arrive in Qatar between 16 and 19 July with T-155 Fırtına self-propelled howitzers.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Paleolithic Papers #15

Genus Homo:

Long endurance in modern Humans seems to have arisen in the genus Homo around 1 million years ago.

Humans lost strength relative to chimpanzees due to a need for low energetic cost, repetitive motions.

Different times when people are better awake (night owls, early birds, etc) may have increased the human ancestors' chances of survival.

Did a dog domestication take a wrong turn?

A Mesolithic rock shelter's biomarkers might be useful for studies around the world.

How female chimps differ from male on how they acquire meat may shed light on how humanity evolved gender roles.

Old age insomnia might actually be a survival mechanism.

When did music originate in the human line?

Modern Humans (H. sapiens):

The oldest known fossils of modern humans date from around 300 kya and show the diet of that ancient modern human was very meat heavy.  Additionally, the site is mesolithic, further tying our species to the advent of that level of technology.  The fossil raises interesting questions about how modern humans evolved in Africa.

Examining the Omo-Kibish pelvis, one of the oldest known fossils of modern humans.

In the late Pleistocene, PaleoIndians in Peru had an interestingly advanced culture.

A Mesolithic culture in Ethiopia used ochre for thousands of years at one site.

Mesolithic era human remains have been found in South Africa.

Rice domestication has been pushed back to the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary.

The first use of potatoes in North America has been dated to the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary.

Upper Paleolithic behaviors changed based on evidence from an Armenian cave.

Late Paleolithic beads made from Ostrich shells in northern China show evidence of different craftsmen.

It appear the Aboriginals reached Australia 65,000 years ago based on new archaeological evidencea.

Neandertals (H. neanderthalensis):

A commentary on the recent paper about Neandertal diet.

The Apidima 2 hominin is a Neandertal from 160,000 years ago.

The transition from Neandertals to modern human occupation in the Czech Republic.

The transition from Neandertals to modern human occupation in Iran's Zagros Mountains took place between 45,000 to 40,000 years ago.

Dating the Mousterian in France.

Neandertals apparently used toothpicks based on tooth wear evidence.

Rabbits may have disturbed a Neandertal gravesite bringing into question the dating of the remains there.

Mitochondrial DNA suggests Neandertals interbred with a close relative of modern humans between 220,000 to 470,000 years ago.

H. naledi:

Homo naledi chipped its teeth an awful lot.

H. ergaster:

How Homo ergaster might have organized socially due to predation.

META:

The evolution of the hominin ankle and knee.

Examining the depositional environment in South African hominin fossil sites that are paleokarsts.

Increasing aridity and hominin evolution may not be as tightly coupled as originally thought.

When did hominins start eating large amounts of meat?