Archive for Odd or Cool?

Drones, drones, drones. Our new overlords?

NASA is pursuing a program that integrates unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System, or UAS-NAS. This involves identifying, developing, and testing the technologies and procedures that will make it possible for UAS to have routine access to airspace occupied by human-piloted aircraft.

Four NASA centers support the UAS-NAS project: NASA’s Ames Research Center and Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, Langley Research Center in Virginia, and Glenn Research Center in Ohio.

The UAS-NAS project is within the Integrated Aviation Systems Research Program, managed by NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The project uses modeling, simulations, and flight tests to develop and test technologies that provide safe, effective, secure capabilities including detect and avoid (DAA) and command and control (C2).

Read further here.

ADELPHI, Md. – U.S. Army unmanned weapons experts are negotiating with Lockheed Martin Corp. to develop high-power microwave (HPM) weapons payloads to enable new generations of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to destroy or disable enemy drones.

Officials of the Adelphi contracting division of the Army Contracting Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., announced plans Friday to negotiate sole-source with the Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control division in Grand Prairie, Texas, on an HPM UAV weapons project.

Lockheed Martin engineers will develop high-powered-microwave airborne counter unmanned aircraft systems (CUAS), including the necessary development, integration, and support necessary to field HPM weapons-equipped UAVs.

Specifically, Army leaders want Lockheed Martin to develop HPM weapons and other kinds of UAV payloads able to disable or destroy adversary UAVs. Weapons payloads for UAVs that are under consideration include explosives, nets, entanglers, streamers, and high-powered-microwave systems.

High-power microwaves represent a class of non-lethal weapons designed to destroy or disable enemy electronic systems with jolts of powerful electrical energy. It can fry electronics in much the same way as the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from a nuclear detonation can disrupt electronics.

Full article here.

WASHINGTON – Some of the most iconic weapons of the past 17 years of war are quickly becoming a relic of the past, top Air Force officials say. Breaking Defense reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

6 Aug. 2018 — The Air Force is rushing toward a mix of almost-ready and yet-to-be-developed technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, hypersonics, drone swarms, and clouds of tiny cubesats capable of sucking up data and beaming it back down to operators the ground in real time.

After running red team exercises looking at what some of the biggest future challenges might be for the Air Force, leaders concluded that the Predator and Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of today are not far away from becoming mere museum pieces.

Not only does the Air Force want to get its people away from staring at computer screens to recognize, interpret, and identify what they’re seeing, but also seeks to develop processing and exploitation at the sensor. [from M&AE]

Caves, drugs, and art

 

pattern

An abstract pattern engraved in a piece of ochre found at Blombos Cave in South Africa. Image: Chris S. Henshilwood.

 

Abstract art goes back a long way. The earliest examples are around 73,000 old and consist of abstract patterns engraved into pieces of ochre by natives of what is now South Africa. During the last ice age, around 40,000 year ago, European artists also left abstract designs, this time on the walls of caves.

What is striking about these early manifestations of abstract expression is that the patterns drawn were the same across cultures and locations: there are dots, cross-hatchings, circles, wavy lines and, in particular, spirals. These geometric patterns resemble what people report seeing when they are in altered states of consciousness, causing researchers to suggest that much of early abstract art was inspired by drugs.

Apart from scandalising the Daily Mail this idea also poses a question: why would people across continents and ages all favour patterns seen during drug induced hallucinations over the many others they could have chosen to paint? What makes drug induced visions so compelling? A recent paper by computer scientists from Japan suggests that the answer might hinge on an interesting interplay between the mathematics of pattern formation and a mechanism that generates a sense of value and meaning.

The geometric patterns seen in visual hallucinations were first studied scientifically in the 1920s by the German-American psychologist Heinrich Klüver. Klüver experimented with peyote, a cactus whose psychoactive ingredient mescaline played an important role in the shamanistic rituals of many central American tribes. Popping peyote buttons in the lab Klüver noticed the repeating geometric shapes and classified them into four types, which he called form constants: tunnels and funnels, spirals, lattices including honeycombs and triangles, and cobwebs.

vis-hallu

Computer generated representations of Klüver’s form constants. The top two images represent a funnel and a spiral as seen after taking LSD, the bottom left image is a honeycomb generated by marijuana, and the bottom right image is a cobweb. Image from What Geometric Visual Hallucinations Tell Us about the Visual Cortex by Paul C. Bressloff.

When it comes to understanding pattern formation in nature scientists often look to the work of Alan Turing, better known as WWII code-breaker and father of modern computer science. To explain the formation of the stripes and spots we see on animal coats Turing considered a system of two chemical agents (loosely speaking, one for each colour in a two-coloured animal coat) which diffuse through a medium (the cells making up an animal embryo) but also interact with each other in a specific way. Writing down the equations describing this process Turing found that once the system is nudged out of equilibrium it polarises. Rather than forming a uniform mixture the agents arrange themselves in a variety of possible patterns (see How the leopard got its spots for more detail).

 

Read further: https://plus.maths.org/content/caves-drugs-and-art

Exoskeletal Body Armor

Hamilton Spectator – From bears to bullets

Using the hard-learned lessons of his Project Grizzly experience — a 20-year odyssey that included a National Film Board documentary, an appearance on CNN and personal bankruptcy — he’s ready to start selling his newest idea.

Already, he says, the suit has stood up to bullets from high-powered weapons, including an elephant gun. The suit was empty during the ballistics tests, but he’s more than ready to put it on and face live fire.

“I would do it in an instant,” he said. “Bring it on.”

Yesterday, he returned to Hamilton to show off the suit, hoping to generate some publicity that will get him the meetings he wants with military and police outfitters. [More]

Japanese robot suit just about production ready

SCI FI Tech – Japanese robot suit just about production ready

The day when you can buy your own robot exoskeleton (for whatever devious use you have in mind) is getting closer. Tsukuba University engineering professor Yoshiyuki Sankai’s HAL robot suit is pretty close to production — up to 20 of the suits should ship next year, and 400 to 500 in 2008.

The suits, designed for when your puny human muscles can’t get the job done, will cost $42,000 to $59,000 each. But for you apartment movers, the suits are expected to rent for $592 a month. I can’t wait until Wal-Mart is stocking these things, and the Exoskeleton Ultimate Fighting League is finally formed. — Adam Frucci

Twas A Rare Friday the 13th

From Slashdot – Juha-Matti Laurio writes to point out a Washington Times story about
how special this particular Friday the 13th is. The digits in the
numerical notation for the date add up to 13 — whether you write it in
the US or the European form. From the article: “The phenomenon hasn’t
happened in 476 years, said Heinrich Hemme, a physicist at Germany’s
University of Aachen who crunched the numbers to find that the
double-whammy last occurred Jan. 13, 1520.”
/. Article

Link: The Washington Times article.

Wikipedia: Friday the 13th

Irish Worker Finds Ancient Book of Psalms

AOL News – Irish Worker Finds Ancient Book of Psalms

The approximately 20-page book has been dated to the years 800-1000. Trinity College manuscripts expert Bernard Meehan said it was the first discovery of an Irish early medieval document in two centuries.

“This is really a miracle find,” said Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum of Ireland, which has the book stored in refrigeration and facing years of painstaking analysis before being put on public display.

The book was found open to a page describing, in Latin script, Psalm 83, in which God hears complaints of other nations’ attempts to wipe out the name of Israel.

Wallace said several experts spent Tuesday analyzing only that page — the number of letters on each line, lines on each page, size of page — and the book’s binding and cover, which he described as “leather velum, very thick wallet in appearance.”

It could take months of study, he said, just to identify the safest way to pry open the pages without damaging or destroying them. He ruled out the use of X-rays to investigate without moving the pages. [Full article]

Both cool and odd, that it happened to be open at that particular page with the current Israel situation going on. eye

Alien abductions & capabilities

aliensandchildren.org::Alien Drawings by Children

Some things are just strange and funny. Everyone break out your “thought screen hats!”

Father of LSD nears the century mark

Father of LSD nears the century mark

The creator of lysergic acid diethylamide will turn 100 this Wednesday, and as many times as he tripped his mind is still sharp. See Ma? Some drugs aren’t all bad! :-p

Anyways, sounds like a cool dude, he’s quoted in the article, check it out.