Friday, December 02, 2016

Asimov's Nuclear Batteries?

New technology has been developed that uses nuclear waste to generate electricity in a nuclear-powered battery. A team of physicists and chemists from the University of Bristol have grown a man-made diamond that, when placed in a radioactive field, is able to generate a small electrical current. The development could solve some of the problems of nuclear waste, clean electricity generation and battery life.

Scale Model of Titan Maritime Explorer (TiME) Tested in Chile




A scale model of the proposed Titan Mare Explorer capsule was deployed at the Planetary Lake Lander field site at Laguna Negra, Chile. The tests served to calibrate models of wind-driven drift of the capsule and to understand its attitude motion in the wave field, as well as to identify dynamic and acoustic signatures of shoreline approach. This information enables formulation of onboard trigger criteria for near-shore science data acquisition.

Hunting for Planet Nine With Wise & NEOWise

Searching for Planet Nine with Coadded WISE and NEOWISE-Reactivation Images


Meisner et al

A distant, as yet unseen ninth planet has been invoked to explain various observations of the outer solar system. While such a 'Planet Nine', if it exists, is most likely to be discovered via reflected light in the optical, it may emit much more strongly at 35μm than simple blackbody predictions would suggest, depending on its atmospheric properties (Fortney et al. 2016). As a result, Planet Nine may be detectable at 3.4μm with WISE, but single exposures are too shallow except at relatively small distances (d9430 AU). We develop a method to search for Planet Nine far beyond the W1 single-exposure sensitivity, to distances as large as 800 AU, using inertial coadds of W1 exposures binned into 1 day intervals. We apply our methodology to 2000 square degrees of sky identified by Holman & Payne (2016) as a potentially likely Planet Nine location, based on the Fienga et al. (2016) Cassini ranging analysis. We do not detect a plausible Planet Nine candidate, but are able to derive a detailed completeness curve, ruling out its presence within the parameter space searched at W1<16.66 (90% completeness). Our method uses all publicly available W1 imaging, spanning 2010 January to 2015 December, and will become more sensitive with future NEOWISE-Reactivation releases of additional W1 exposures. We anticipate that our method will be applicable to the entire high Galactic latitude sky, and we will extend our search to that full footprint in the near future.

Martian Lakes Forming Climates Were Caused by Methane Outbursts and Short Term


Kite et al


Build-up of relatively young (<∼3.6 Ga) deltas and alluvial fans on Mars required lakes to persist for >3 Kyr (assuming dilute flow), but the watersheds' little-weathered soils indicate a climate history that was >99% dry. The lake-forming climates' trigger mechanism remains unknown. Here we show that these intermittency constraints, while inconsistent with many previously-proposed triggers for lake-forming climates, are consistent with a novel CH4-burst mechanism. Chaotic transitions in mean obliquity drive latitudinal shifts in temperature and ice loading that destabilize CH4 clathrate. For past clathrate hydrate stability zone occupancy fractions >∼0.2, we show that CH4(±C2H6) builds up to levels whose radiative forcing (>15 W/m2, plus feedbacks) is sufficient to modulate lake-forming climates. Such occupancy fractions are consistent with CH4+C2H6 production by >3 Ga water-rock reactions. Sub-lake CH4 destabilization provides positive feedback. UV-limited CH4 photolysis curtails individual lake-forming climates to

NASA Seeking Long Term Stability and Sustainability of the SLS & Orion

The early missions of Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft will be the first of several missions that travel more than 40,000 miles beyond the moon to demonstrate capabilities in deep space farther than humans have ever traveled, but close enough to return home in days or weeks if needed. With the SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems programs now past their respective critical design reviews and flight hardware in production for the first integrated mission, NASA is transitioning from design and development to long-term affordability and sustainability in support of the Journey to Mars.

The agency issued a request for information (RFI) inviting industry and NASA centers to provide input that will maximize the long term efficiency and sustainability of production, operations, and maintenance for SLS, Orion, and the supporting ground systems, thereby freeing resources to invest in additional capabilities needed to extend a permanent human presence into deep space. Other required deep space exploration capabilities include habitation, spacewalk activity and docking systems, in-space propulsion, and Mars surface exploration systems, as well as continuous safety improvements.

Stealth Saga #57



Japan's X-2 proof of concept stealth fighter is being readied for MoD tests.

Some are suggesting Japan step up defense cooperation with Taiwan, including in the X-2 aircraft.


Spain wants a family of systems to replace the F/A-18s it has. 


Some are claiming China will have a dozen J-20s declared having reached IOC by the end of the year.  Perhaps next year, I'd think, but I doubt in 2016.


South Korea is seeking to procure more technologies from the US for its KF-X 5th gen aircraft.


Russia claims to be developing a new anti radiation (radar killer) missile for the PAK-FA. 

A new engine is being designed for the PAK-FA.   

The Indian variant of the PAK-FA, the FGFA, is claimed to be superior to the Chinese J-20 and Russia thinks it will have the FGFA deal signed by January first.

Sixth Generation Fighters:

The next gen US 'fighter' aircraft are the programs to watch in 2017.


F-22s had a weapon systems problem that impacted its stealthiness that has been fixed.


McCain has stated the unilateral contract for the F-35 is demonstrating how broken the defense procurement establishment is.

The F-35 program is probably too big for even Trump to kill if he wanted to.

Is the F-35 program's development being cut short?

The developmental F-35s built early in the program are going to need a service life extension due to heavy testing and use.

The F-35 MRO work overseas has been outlined.  RUAG Australia made the list.

Repairs to F-35 insulation have been completed and the affected aircraft returned to flight.

The USMC conducted trials of the F-35B on the USS America, one of its jeep carriers.   12 F-35Bs were aboard during the tests.

The USMC will deploy the USS Wasp as a Sea Control Ship with F-35Bs to relieve pressure on the USN's supercarriers in 2017.

Congress' final budget is leaving out the extra 11 F-35s asked for by the Pentagon.

Canada canceled its procurement of F-35s and ordered F/A-18Es.  However, it will remain in the F-35 program and remaining a part of the program is being questioned.  Is it really flipping off the Lightning?

Responses to Finland's RFI for the replacement of their F/A-18s including the F-35.

Israel has ordered 17 more F-35Is.  This brings the total on order for Israel to 50.

The first F-35Is will be arriving in Israel on December 12.

Japan has had its first F-35 delivered.

Poland is postponing it procurement of a 5th gen fighter (probably F-35) to replace its old MiGs and Sukhois.  

Turkey is expecting its first two F-35s in 2018.

Terminator Times #23


DARPA has ordered a second TERN prototype and Northrop passed two milestones in the program.

The USAF has begun training enlisted personnel to be Global Hawk pilots.

Hundreds of US air force enlisted signed p to become drone pilots.

The US has drone hunting aircraft in the Middle East.

Aeronautics outlines its plans that include marketing the Orbiter 4 to Europe.

Aeronautics also wants to sell its Dominator XP UAV.

Aurora is working on an unmanned Huey.

British purchase of up to 26 Certifiable Predator B (aka Protector) has been approved.

China unveiled a lot of UCAVs at the Zhuhai airshow.  First off, the Wing Loong II UCAV, the heavily armed CH-5 UCAV and the Cloud Shadow.

The Chinese also showed off its mini UAV that can be deployed from aircraft.

The Cormorant, formerly AirMule, has flown autonomously and is aimed at 2021 production.

 Elbit is pursuing the Indian UAV market.

Elbit also unveiled its ReDrone counter drone system.

Elbit & Scheibel are adding a comint payload to the CamCopter.

FLIR Systems just bought Prox Dynamics.

General Atomics' ER Avenger took flight recently.

General Atomics' Certifiable Predator B also took flight.

Germany has begun Heron 1 UAV operations in Mali.

India's Rustom-II UAV had its maiden flight.

Israel unveiled a new drone that uses laser spectroscopy to detect explosives.

The Israeli air force is going to replace its SeaScan fleet with Heron 1s.

The Israeli navy is considering a new type of UAV to deploy on its corvettes.

K-MAX & SARA have teamed up to demo an unmanned fire fighting capability.

Kratos is making a strategic investment into UAVs.

The Poles are working on UAVs.

Russia is working on a VR helmet for its UAV pilots.

Russia used its Tachyon drones during airborne exercises in Serbia.

The Russian National Guard is testing out a new UAV.

Unmanned Ground Vehicles:

The USMC tested out the MUTT robot during recent exercises.

The Canadians are working on a large, modular UGV.

Elbit's Segev UGV will become fully autonomous.

The future of bomb disposal looks rather robotic.

The MilRem TheMIS was tested in the Baltics during exercises in the combat support role.

Roboteam unveiled its Probot UGV v2.

Unmanned Surface Vehicles:

The US Navy's LCS program office will be taking over the DARPA Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel.

Unmanned Underwater Vehicles:

There are concerns about the US Navy's mine hunting Knifefish UUV

The US Navy will be deploying long range underwater gliders from its destroyers.


Russia is claiming its 3rd gen combat gear will sport an exoskeleton.


Banning killing by robots may be impossible.

The Unmanned Warrior gets a review

The US Navy is promoting the LCS classes of ship as being ready for the next generation of automated warfare.

Germany's new Laser Weapon Demonstrator Makes Progress

MBDA Germany has edged closer to fielding a new deployable laser weapon system (LWS) following a series of day/night all-weather trials.

Conducted at the Bundeswehr's military training ground at Putlos on the Baltic Sea from 4-14 October, the trials were specifically designed to test the beam guidance and tracking system of the new LWS demonstrator in a sequence of simulated engagements of airborne targets. Firing of the high-energy laser was not scheduled for these tests, nor was an acquisition sensor deployed.

Quadcopters fitted with GPS transmitters served as airborne targets for the trials, performing a variety of dynamic manoeuvres at different ranges to prove the functionality of the overall system and the performance capability of the LWS's improved tracking system. The targets were preset, scanned with the laser target illuminator, and an aim point was held on the target for an extended period to simulate destruction of the threat.

No Apparent Spike of Carbon dioxide Across Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary


Steinthorsdottir et al


Reliable reconstructions of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations (pCO2) are required at higher resolution than currently available to help resolve the relationship between mass extinctions and changes in palaeo-pCO2 levels. Such reconstructions are needed: 1, at a high temporal resolution for constraining the pre- and post-extinction atmospheres; and 2, at a sufficient spatial resolution to constrain potential inter-hemispheric differences. Here we estimate pCO2 based on fossil Lauraceae leaf cuticle specimens derived from three localities with strata spanning the latest Cretaceous to the mid-Paleocene, including a new Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary (K–Pg) locality, in New Zealand. We use two independent methods of stomatal density-based pCO2 reconstructions; a transfer function calibrated using herbarium material and the stomatal ratio method, producing three calibration sets. Our results based on the mean values of each of the three calibration methods indicate pCO2 ranging between ca. 460 and 650 ppm during the latest Cretaceous, falling precipitously to average values between ca. 360 and 430 ppm across the K–Pg boundary, and further to ca. 305–320 ppm in the mid-Paleocene. A ‘spike’ of extremely high pCO2 at the K–Pg could not be confirmed, but our results are, nonetheless, consistent with previously published pCO2 records from the Northern Hemisphere, and show that stomatal density worldwide was responding to significant changes in pCO2 across the K–Pg.

Coprolites Give Evidence of Early Triassic Polar Predators

An Early Triassic polar predator ecosystem revealed by vertebrate coprolites from the Bulgo Sandstone (Sydney Basin) of southeastern Australia


Niedźwiedzki et al


Vertebrate trace fossils often provide a measure of cryptic biodiversity, and are especially pertinent when skeletal remnants are exceptionally rare. The Lower Triassic (lower Olenekian) Bulgo Sandstone at Long Reef in the Sydney Basin of southeastern Australia constitutes just such a deposit, having yielded isolated bones of giant capitosaurian temnospondyls and proterosuchid archosauriforms, together with abundant coprolites that are geochemically rich in elemental phosphate and carbon denoting vertebrate predators. Microstructural analysis of these preserved droppings reveals occasional bone fragments, fish scales, insect cuticles, plant material and bacterial traces (pseudomorph voids), as well as silicate mineral particles. REE concentrations indicate that burial and early diagenesis occurred explicitly within fluvial sediments. Furthermore, external morphological characterization permits attribution of spiral coprolites to chondrichthyan or osteichthyan fishes, polygonal, ovoid–spherical and typically flattened feces to temnospondyls, and conspicuously large cylindrical droppings to archosauriforms or other amniote apex predators. Collectively, the Bulgo Sandstone coprolite assemblage thus offers new insights into ecosystem structure and palaeoenvironment in what was an earliest Triassic near polar setting. Such data compliments the documented skeletal record, but indicates a greater range of aquatic and possibly terrestrial carnivores — the latter being enigmatically sparse in the Australian Triassic and yet detected here via the hitherto underexplored trace fossil evidence of their ecological presence.

Ozimek volans: a Carnian Triassic Gliding Protorosaur


Dzik et al


Several partially articulated specimens and numerous isolated bones of Ozimek volans gen. et sp. nov., from the late Carnian lacustrine deposits exposed at Krasiejów in southern Poland, enable a reconstruction of most of the skeleton. The unique character of the animal is its enlarged plate-like coracoids presumably fused with sterna. Other aspects of the skeleton seem to be comparable to those of the only known specimen of Sharovipteryx mirabilis from the latest Middle Triassic of Kyrgyzstan, which supports interpretation of both forms as protorosaurians. One may expect that the pectoral girdle of S. mirabilis, probably covered by the rock matrix in its only specimen, was similar to that of O. volans gen. et sp. nov. The Krasiejów material shows sharp teeth, low crescent scapula, three sacrals in a generalized pelvis (two of the sacrals being in contact with the ilium) and curved robust metatarsal of the fifth digit in the pes, which are unknown in Sharovipteryx. Other traits are plesiomorphic and, except for the pelvic girdle and extreme elongation of appendages, do not allow to identify any close connection of the sharovipterygids within the Triassic protorosaurians.

Evidence of Simple Multicellarity in Tonian NeoProterozoic Fossils From China


Tang et al


Multicellularity arose multiple times in the evolutionary history of eukaryotes, and simple multicellularity may have a deep history tracing back to the Paleoproterozoic. However, complex multicellular organisms with cellular and tissue differentiation did not appear in the fossil record until the Mesoproterozoic, and it is not until the Ediacaran Period (635–541 Ma) when diverse assemblages of complex multicellular eukaryotes evolved. In the intervening Tonian Period (ca. 1000–720 Ma), the fossil record of multicellular organisms is poorly documented. To address this knowledge gap, we investigated Chuaria and associated carbonaceous compression fossils from the Tonian Liulaobei Formation in North China. These fossils have been variously interpreted as unicellular or multicellular organisms. Our analysis using backscattered-electron scanning electron microscopy (BSE-SEM) revealed direct evidence for simple multicellularity in some of these fossils and suggests that Chuaria may have had a multicellular vegetative stage in its life cycle. This study demonstrates that BSE-SEM has the potential to unveil the hidden diversity of multicellular organisms in the Tonian Period, thus enriching our knowledge about the multiple origins of multicellularity in this critical geological period before Cryogenian glaciations.

Russian Naval Aircraft now Operating From Airbase, not Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier

Many of the fast jets that were embarked on the Russia aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov have been flown to the main Russian air base in Syria, Airbus Defence and Space satellite imagery obtained by IHS Jane's shows.

The imagery shows eight Russian Federation Navy Su-33 and one MiG-29KR jets alongside various Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) aircraft at Humaymim Air Base in Latakia province on 20 November.

Kuznetsov can carry around 20 fast jets and is known to have embarked at least eight Su-33s for its current deployment in the Eastern Mediterranean, and at least four of the new MiG-29KR multirole fighters for the first time. One of the new jets crashed on 14 November, an incident that a Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) statement attributed to an unspecified "equipment fault during an approach for deck landing".

Progress on China's new Cruiser


What Else the Chinese are Doing on Their Artificial Islands in the South China Sea


Friday, November 18, 2016

GeoMapping Titan's Polar Terrain Reveals Potential Sedimentary Deposits


Birch et al


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

Planet Nine may be Especially Faint in the red and Infrared


Mallama et al


Complete sets of reference magnitudes in all 7 Johnson-Cousins bands (U, B, V, R, I, RC and IC) and the 5 principal Sloan bands (u’, g’, r’, i', and z’) are presented for the 8 planets. These data are accompanied by illumination phase functions and other formulas which characterize the instantaneous brightness of the planets. The main source of Johnson-Cousins magnitudes is a series of individualized photometric studies reported in recent years. Gaps in that dataset were filled with magnitudes synthesized in this study from published spectrophotometry. The planetary Sloan magnitudes, which are established here for the first time, are an average of newly recorded Sloan filter photometry, synthetic magnitudes and values transformed from the Johnson-Cousins system. Geometric albedos derived from these two sets of magnitudes are consistent within each photometric system and between the systems for all planets and in all bands. This consistency validates the albedos themselves as well as the magnitudes from which they were derived. In addition, a quantity termed the delta stellar magnitude is introduced to indicate the difference between the magnitude of a planet and that of its parent star. A table of these delta values for exo-planets possessing a range of physical characteristics is presented. The delta magnitudes are for phase angle 90° where a planet is near the greatest apparent separation from its star. This quantity may be useful in exo-planet detection and observation strategies when an estimate of the signal-to-noise ratio is needed. Likewise, the phase curves presented in this paper can be used for characterizing exo-planets. Finally, magnitudes for the proposed Planet Nine are estimated, and we note that P9 may be especially faint at red and near-IR wavelengths.

Meteorites Show Mars Dry, Inhospitable for Billions of Years

he lack of liquid water on the surface of Mars today has been demonstrated by new evidence in the form of meteorites on the Red Planet examined by an international team of planetary scientists.

In a study led by the University of Stirling, an international team of researchers has found the lack of rust on the meteorites indicates that Mars is incredibly dry, and has been that way for millions of years.

The discovery, published in Nature Communications, provides vital insight into the planet's current environment and shows how difficult it would be for life to exist on Mars today.

Mars is a primary target in the search for life outside Earth, and liquid water is the most important pre-requisite for life.

Dr Christian Schröder, Lecturer in Environmental Science and Planetary Exploration at the University of Stirling and Science Team Collaborator for the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity mission, said:

"Evidence shows that more than 3 billion years ago Mars was wet and habitable. However, this latest research reaffirms just how dry the environment is today. For life to exist in the areas we investigated, it would need to find pockets far beneath the surface, located away from the dryness and radiation present on the ground."

A study published last year, which used data from the Curiosity Rover investigating Gale crater on Mars, suggested that very salty liquid water might be able to condense in the top layers of Martian soil overnight.

"But, as our data show, this moisture is much less than the moisture present even in the driest places on Earth," explains Dr Schröder.

China's Long March 5 Placed two Satellites Where One was Declared

Analytical Graphics, Inc.’s (AGI) Commercial Space Operations Center (ComSpOC) is demonstrating unparalleled commercial innovation in the swift and accurate tracking of the inaugural launch of a new, more capable Chinese rocket with two apparent payloads, one of which is the reported Shijian-17 experimental satellite. This display of technological readiness and responsiveness utilizing varied sources of commercial sensor data, bolsters the growing awareness that commercial space situational awareness (SSA) services provide a viable source for monitoring activities in space.

NASA is Considering Scrapping the Orion Capsule

Eric Berger at Ars Technica reports that NASA has begun to consider possible alternatives to the Orion spacecraft beyond the initial crewed flights of the Lockheed Martin-built deep-space vehicle.

Robopocalypse Report #94


Dominoes delivered pizza in New Zealand via a Flirtey drone.  (that's an awfully big target needed...)

The British want prisons to be geoblocked by drone manufacturers.

The Cormorant (formerly airmule) has had its first autonomous flight.

A new drone helps design wireless networks.

The DartDrone is intended to shoot tranqs at animals (for and by pros!  not the kids!)

Disney is employing drones for entertainment purposes (more here).

DJI has unveiled new drones.

And a drone for professional level filming.

Drone photography is becoming impressive.

Echodyne has a mini radar designed for drones.

The FAA is testing anti drone tech at the Denver Airport.

FleetLights is the concept of making drones into street lights.  I can see the UFO reports now...

Google's Project Wing delivery drones will NOT be bringing you your latte.

GoPro has recalled its Karma drone.

HyWing is a fuel cell powered drone with a 10 hour flight time.

Local Motor's 3d printed car now has a drone.

An optionally manned helicopter and drones did an exercise to fight a fire and do search and rescue.

Self Driving Cars:

For those of you in San Francisco, go down to Harrison and 4th: there is a garage full of Uber self driving cars there.

Altmotive has developed an all weather self driving car capability.

Hyundai's Ioniq is its latest self driving car concept.

Intel is investing $250 million in self driving car tech.

A Japanese company started passenger testing a self driving shuttle bus.

Self driving cars are now joined by a self driving scooter.

Supposedly, a self driving delivery van can be built in 4 hours.

The Telsa crashes are not going to stop self driving cars.

Tesla has told Germany 98% of drivers understand the limitations of its Autopilot capabilities.

Do the lives saved by Tesla's software balancing out the lives lost?

Uber is arguing not all of its drivers will be replaced by self driving cars.  (ha!)

3d Printing:

Builder 3d has released a giant sized 3d printer.

Cazza Construction is looking at 3d printing housing in the US.

GE tested a turbo prop engine made with 35% 3d printed parts.

Sunconomy is teaming up to 3d print houses with a nonprofit.

A teenager was killed by an explosion in his 3d printer.

There is a new way to 3d print tissue.


Hrönn is a self sailing robo ship.

Take a look at the future of pizza...robot factories?

A new bot can solve the rubik's cube in .637 seconds.


suitX announced its new exoskeleton for work.


A brain implant allows a locked-in woman to play games (and more).

Cyborg cockroaches to the rescue...ick.

DARPA wants to increase the rate the brain learns.

A new wireless brain to spine implant 'cures' paralysis in monkeys.

Software Bots:

Amazon's Alexa is now in Hyundai cars.

Can software bots help save scientists drowning in data?

Google's Deep Mind AI is attempting to play Starcraft II.

Google's AI also needs your cute doodles to play pictionary with..

Google's RAISR is a bot to sharpen low res images.

IBM's Project Intu is bringing Watson's capabilities to any device.

Intel is determined to fuel the AI revolution.  hmm...

A software bot ranked the most influential brain researchers.

Telegram announced the winners of its bot challenge.

A new web crawler is designed to extract data from the net and improve performance.


Musk is predicting the robopocalypse will produce a universal basic income.

The UN says the robopocalypse threatens 2/3s of jobs in developing countries.

Coming Cyber War #21

Cyber Warfare:

The US was mulling a response to any cyber attacks on election day.

The best strategy for the US may not to have a cyber strategy?

US Army wargames have refined the use of cyber warfare teams.

The US Army is rushing to build up its cyber warfare corps.

The US Navy has outlined its cyber defense plans for its warships.  Amongst those plans are the last resort of unplugging the warship from the network in case of compromise.

The US military is looking to tap into its social media forces. 

The US military's attempts to recruit hackers were harmed in a significant way by Snowden.

Massive DDOS attacks are on the rise (*cough*IOT*Cough*)

Russians are accused of conducting massive post election hacks on US based think tanks, NGOs and even some parts of the US government. 

In turn massive DDOS attacks were launched on the top 5 Russian banks on November 10th through 12th.  It seems to be the Mirai software again.

Smaller nations will start employing cyber weapons.

 A DDOS attack took out the heating in two buildings in Lappeenranta, Finland.

Cyber Security:

Adult Friends Finder's websites have been cracked and expose 400 odd million user accounts.

A chess champion reached out to Microsoft to protect him from Russian hackers.

Columbia University has come up with new software to help foil cyber attacks.

China's new tough cyber security law has come into effect.

The cryptsetup bug allows for remote root shell access on linux systems.

The DIRTY COW exploit is still not patched in Android. 

A Google engineer has stated anti virus software is a waste of time and worse than useless.

 Malware detecting CPUs are being developed.

The OATH2.0 bug has left 1 billion mobile apps exposed.

PoisonTap is a new hacking device that can crack a machine in under a minute.

 Researchers successfully hacked a Phillips Smart bulb via a drone.

A security company showed how to hack a US voting machine.

A security company also showed how to create an untraceable rootkit for industrial equipment.

Trump's election to the US Presidency is adding fuel to the fire in the encryption debate.

 US lawmakers are considering a new agency for IoT security.

What would you give up for cyber security?  Apparently, a lot.  

Yahoo is revealing more details of its massive hack.  Some within Yahoo knew of the breach in 2014!

Z-Wave, an IoT device maker, is announcing new security standards for their devices.

Cyber Espionage:

A new, powerful Android malware is targeting executives at companies.

Assange claims Wikileaks never intended to influence the US Election (ha!).

The British have passed a law stating all data, including browsing histories and domains visited, must be kept for up to one year.

China is collecting information off of smart phones in the US.

The FBI has hired a firm with a real time scan & feed from twitter.

linkedin is now blocked in Russia because linkedin refused to house the data for Russian citizens in Russia physically.

The NSA stated a nation-state (see below) attempted to influence the election.

How Russia attempted to influence the US election.

Will Trump's win of the US Presidency greatly increase surveillance?

Cyber Crime:

10% of cloud based repositories have been compromised by malware.

The Chinese passed a very controversial cyber security law.

The FBI seized 23 child porn sites on torrent and then deployed malware from them.

Tesco Bank stopped online transactions after a massive wave of theft.

University of Calgary banned bittorrents and saw a massive drop in the complaints about online IP theft.

Paleolithic Papers #11

Genus Homo:

Genital Warts are from interactions, ahem, between modern humans and Neandertals.

H. sapiens:

There is evidence of learning in the Magdalenian culture.

Modern humans may have hunted cave lions for their pelts.

Modern humans also recognize snakes far better than other animals when they are partially obscured.

Mesolithic cultures in Ethiopia may have used several methods to create ochre.

How Mesolithic cultures used small mammals.

How early Homo might have used tubers for food.

Evidence of early modern human tools from East Timor from 42,000 years ago?

H. neanderthalensis:

H. erectus:

Researchers looked at the cranial vaults of non human primates to try to explain the hypertrophied skull in H. erectus.

H. naledi:

Based on skull shape, H. naledi may be closely related to Homo erectus.

The upper limb, skull and thigh/leg of H. naledi get described.

Genus Paranthropus:

Paranthropus species may have eaten a softer diet than previously thought.

John Hawks discusses the monkey creation of stone flakes.

Evidence of Extensive Mercury Pollution During Permian Triassic Mass Extinction


Grasby et al


Sedimentary records from the northwest margin of Pangea and the Tethys show anomalously high Hg levels at the latest Permian extinction boundary. Background δ202Hg values are consistent with normal marine conditions but exhibit negative shifts coincident with increased Hg concentrations. Hg isotope mass-independent fractionation (Δ199Hg) trends are consistent with volcanic input in deep-water marine environments. In contrast, nearshore environments have Δ199Hg signatures consistent with enhanced soil and/or biomass input. We hypothesize that the deep-water signature represents an overall global increase in volcanic Hg input and that this isotope signature is overwhelmed in nearshore locations due to Hg from terrestrial sources. High-productivity nearshore regions may have experienced stressed marine ecosystems due to enhanced Hg loading.

Were Gorgonopsid Sabre Teeth for Mating Display Purposes?!

Hollywood celebrities spend large amounts of dollars on it. The hunky stud at the local pub thinks he knows it. But the age-old secret has been carefully kept for millions of years. Yet, it seemed obvious to pre-mammalian reptiles that went so far as to evolve mouths full of beautifully crafted teeth. It's your beautifully bleached smile that makes you sexy!

Mammals, like us, have a set of dentition that are neatly divided into three distinct types of teeth -- the incisors at the front of your mouth, the molars in your cheeks, and the canines, that Dracula-type teeth that separates the molars from the incisors. The origin of this separation can be traced back to 300 million years ago, when our ancestors still looked like sprawling reptiles, the pre-mammalian therapsids.

These creatures, like the gorgonopsians (a group of therapsids), had long, sometimes sabre-like canines that was often interpreted as a deadly hunting device. However, there was a problem. Some herbivorous species that only grazed on plants, like the dicynodonts (herbivorous animals, varying in sizes from a rat to an ox, and like warthogs, had two tusks, that gave them their name, which means "two dog tooth").

So, if not for hunting, what were these impressive sets of pointy teeth for? Defence against predators? Nope! These prehistoric characters used them to seduce the beauties!

The rebuttal to this would be immediately after the gorgons went extinct, a therocephalian genus went through rapid convergent evolution to develop its own sabre teeth implying there was an empty ecological niche.

Ernietta from the late Edicaran NeoProterozoic Namibia was Weirdly Assymetrical




Ernietta plateauensis Pflug, 1966 is the type species of the Erniettomorpha, an extinct clade of Ediacaran life. It was likely a gregarious, partially infaunal organism. Despite its ecological and taxonomic significance, there has not been an in-depth systematic description in the literature since the original description fell out of use. A newly discovered field site on Farm Aar in southern Namibia has yielded dozens of specimens buried in original life position. Mudstone and sandstone features associated with the fossils indicate that organisms were buried while still exposed to the water column rather than deposited in a flow event. Ernietta plateauensis was a sac-shaped erniettomorph with a body wall constructed from a double layer of tubes. It possessed an equatorial seam lying perpendicular to the tubes. The body is asymmetrical on either side of this seam. The tubes change direction along the body length and appear to be constricted together in the dorsal part of the organism.

A MiG-29K From Russian Aircraft Carrier Crashed in the Mediterranean Sea

As reported by Combat Aircraft a Russian Navy Mig-29KUBR embarked aboard Adm. Kuznetsov aircraft carrier has crashed on Nov. 13.

The aircraft is one of the four naval Fulcrums operated by the 100th Independent Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment.

According to our sources, the incident occurred around 14.30Z and involved a two-seater Fulcrum in a formation of three Mig-29s operating from the carrier in the eastern Mediterranean Sea off Syria: whilst one of the remaining aircraft recovered aboard the Kuznetsov the third one diverted for unknown reasons to Syria.

Footage allegedly showing Mig-29s in the skies over Aleppo had happered earlier on the same day.

China's 1st Aircraft Carrier Ready for Combat

China's first aircraft carrier is now ready to engage in combat, marking a milestone for a navy that has invested heavily in its ability to project power far from China's shores.

The Liaoning's political commissar said in an interview with Tuesday's Global Times newspaper that his ship is "constantly prepared to fight against enemies," signaling a change from its past status as a platform for testing and training.

Senior Captain Li Dongyou's comments appear to indicate that the ship has taken on its full aviation complement. Purchased as an incomplete hull from Ukraine more than a decade ago, it was commissioned in 2013.

China hasn't described specifically how it intends to use the Liaoning, but it is seen as helping reinforce China's increasingly assertive claims in the South China Sea in the face of challenges from the U.S. Navy and others.

A Bad Sign for the Russian T-14 Armata

Russia's Ministry of Defense (MoD) is planning to bring back into service some of its mothballed T-80BV main battle tanks (MBTs) and to update them, according to a source in the country's defence industry.

"At present, the preparative works to start the modernisation of the first T-80BV MBTs are at a final stage," the source told IHS Jane's . "In accordance with the programme developed by Omsktransmash and the Special Design Bureau for Transport Machine-Building [SKBTM], the overhaul and modernisation of the MoD's T-80BV tanks will be launched next year. [We will be doing] the relevant works at the Omsktransmash facility," the source said adding that the numbers of the tanks to be updated and the terms of the programme will be defined by the military.

CRISPR has Been Used on People for the First Time

A team of Chinese scientists from Sichuan University in Chengdu have become the first to inject a person with cells modified with the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9. The trial involved modifying a patient's own immune system cells to make them more effective at combating cancer cells and then injecting them back into the patient. The Chinese trial was approved back in July, and United States medical scientists also plan to use CRISPR as an experimental treatment for cancer patients in early 2017.