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Predator drones are already scary enough, but what if you couldn't see them at all? This is the next step for the US government, with UC San Deigo developing a new camouflage technology that they will submit to the Department of Defense later this month.
The new camouflage material is called "dielectric metasurface cloak", which continues the work from Duke University in 2006. The new material is a thin layer of Teflon studded with ceramic particles and capable of modulating wavelengths of energy along the electromagnetic scale (including both visible light and radar). The study's lead author, Li-Yi Hsu, said in a statement: "Previous cloaking studies needed many layers of materials to hide an object, the cloak ended up being much thicker than the size of the object being covered. In this study, we show that we can use a thin single-layer sheet for cloaking".
This new material isn't there yet, as its thickness is a determining factor into which wavelength it's capable of blocking as the material can only block a single wavelength at one time. Even with the right wavelength, "the system only works if the incoming signal hits it at a 45 degree angle (within 6 degrees or so)," reports Engadget.
Why haven't aliens contacted us? Encryption. That's at least the reason NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has given, which is his explanation to the Fermi paradox.
Snowden had a chat with Neil deGrasse Tyson on his StarTalk podcast (where we're hoping Snowden used encryption, pun intended), where he said that our need for highly encrypted information could be the reason aliens haven't contacted Earth. He said that their communications could be so encrypted that they would be nearly impossible to distinguish from the surrounding noise.
Snowden said: "When you look at encrypted communications, if they are properly encrypted, there is no real way to tell that they are encrypted. You can't distinguish a properly encrypted communication, at least in the theoretical sense, from random noise. So if you have an alien civilization trying to listen for other civilizations, or our civilization trying to listen for aliens, there's only one small period in the development of their society where all of their communications will be sent via the most primitive and most unprotected means"
Within the next five years, there will be fricken' laser beams on US fighter jets, according to the US Air Force. The Air Force expects to have laser weapons, something it calls directed-energy weapon pods, on its jets by the end of the decade.
These directed-energy weapons will be capable of taking out missiles, UAVs and other enemy aircraft out of the sky. Air Force General Hawk Carlisle said at a Fifth-Generation Warfare lecture during the Air Force Association Air & Space conference: "I believe we'll have a directed energy pod we can put on a fighter plane very soon. That day is a lot closer than I think a lot of people think it is".
Which system will the US Air Force deploy on its fighter jets? Right now, it seems like the 150kW HELLADS system courtesy of General Atomics will be the one the USAF will deploy. The system has just kicked off tests on the ground, with HELLADS standing for "High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System". The third-generation prototype is quite small, measuring in at just 1.3 x 0.4 x 0.5 meters, small enough to be fitted onto a Predator C UAV.
Robot ethicist Dr. Kathleen Richardson doesn't want to see robots developed for a primary function of sexual interaction with humans. In her public campaign, Dr. Richardson said developing robots for this use is unnecessary and undesirable, as more advancements progress.
"Sex robots seem to be a growing focus in the robotics industry and the models that they draw on - how they will look, what roles they would play - are very disturbing indeed," Dr. Richardson told the BBC. "We think that the creation of such robots will contribute to detrimental relationships between men and women, adults and children, men and men and women and women."
Some "adult entertainment" companies are implementing robots and electronics into their products, and True Companion is preparing Roxxxy - the first "sex robot" - which is expected to launch sometime in 2015.
Boeing has quite the exclusive on its hands, announcing the world's first satellite that uses an all-electric propulsion system. The new Boeing ABS-3A is a 4,300 pound telecommunications satellite will provide both C- and Ku-band service to South America, the Middle East and Africa.
What makes Boeing's ABS-3A different than other satellites in orbit, is that the ABS-3A doesn't use tanks of inert gas for propulsion and orbit maintenance. This is where the all-electric technology comes into play, with Boeing using the Xenon Ion Propulsion System (XIPS) which blasts out a magnetic field to push ions around, generating thrust.
Boeing's ABS-3A will use just 11 pounds of Xenon annually, which is quite generous considering its 15-year operational lifespan. This is around one-tenth the amount of propellant that a normal satellite would require. The company launched its new ABS-3A abord the Falcon 9 rocket that launched in March, and handed over control to ABS-3A to its new owner, Asia Broadcast Satellite, last month.
Qualcomm has been mostly down and out with its current Snapdragon processor, with Samsung opting for its Exynos 7420 inside of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge handsets, but the company wants to see its Snapdragon processors inside of drones in the future.
Qualcomm has just announced its new Snapdragon Flight, which is their optimized platform for everything drones and robotics. Snapdragon Flight is a tiny 58 x 40cm circuit board, which will be used on drones and other robotics in the future. The new Snapdragon Flight features Qualcomm's Snapdragon 801 processor, clocked at 2.5GHz.
Senior Vice President of Qualcomm, Raj Talluri, explains: "Today, drones are made from multiple component vendors providing separate solutions for photography, navigation and communications, adding to the cost and bulk of consumer drones. The Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight brings together the technologies that have defined the mobile industry onto a single board, enabling OEMs to build drones that are lighter, smaller, easy to use and affordable with long battery life and superior functionalities".
The new Snapdragon Flight supports:
- Real-time flight control on the Qualcomm Hexagon DSP
- Built-in Qualcomm 2×2 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
- Leading global navigation satellite system (GNSS) optimized to support highly accurate location positioning
- 4K Video support
- Robust camera and sensor support
- Qualcomm Quick Charge
NASA is providing you with a reason to use your 4K TV for more than just upscaling content and the occasional series on Netflix that streams at 4K, with the US space agency to soon launch 4K content onto its NASA TV channel on YouTube.
NASA is teaming up with Harmonic, where the first 4K content won't just see the US space agency uploading the latest high-resolution video and images from the ISS and other NASA missions, but they've teased that they'll upload "historical missions" in 4K, too. Harmonic is talking with pay TV providers to broadcast the NASA TV channel through cable, satellite and optical networks.
In order to watch the 4K content on the NASA TV channel, you'll need an Internet connection with 13Mbps downstream.
Each day is another day we move closer to Skynet activating, with NASA saying that it has found a new material that is capable of self-healing from a bullet being shot at it within two seconds. Insanity.
The US space agency has said that the discovery has far-reaching applications, where it could be used on spacecrafts so that they could take a few hits from micro asteroids that would otherwise cause catastrophic damage, or down to 'self-healing' military equipment - you know, Terminators. NASA says that when one or both of the polymer layers were punctured, oxygen entered and mixed with an ingredient inside the gel called tributylborane.
When this reaction takes place, it caused the liquid center to solidify and heal the wound. NASA researchers told IFLScience: "Within seconds of coming into contact with the atmosphere, it goes from a liquid to a solid".
Tech entrepreneur and author Martin Ford has again expressed concern that robots will take over the workforce, stealing much-needed jobs from human workers.
"It's not just about doing manual labor as it was in the past," Ford recently said. "Now we've got robots and machines and algorithms that are taking over brain power and it's much more broad-based, it's ubiquitous. These technologies are everywhere; they're going to invade every industry across the board."
Ford recommends humans create some time of contingency plan, especially if the already competitive workplace faces added pressure from robotic automation. It may be a while before artificial intelligence (AI) - which some experts have showed concern regarding - actually goes mainstream, though robotic automation is already happening.
Space agencies have shown a great interest in manned missions to Mars, even though the technology and resources available will need to greatly advance in coming years. Some critics wonder if we should try to send humans to a planet so far away - especially since Earth and Mars were 34.8 million miles apart at their known closest pass to one another.
However, the European Space Agency (ESA) feels like mankind has the ambition - and evolving technological prowess - to make a manned mission possible. It would take up to 10 months to reach the Red Planet, and a crew could stay up to one year, and then take up to 10 months to make a return trip home again.
"Humans will go to Mars, I'm very sure of this," said Alexander Gerst, an astronaut for the ESA, in a statement published by Euronews. "You just have to look back in human history and you'll know. As soon as we learned to build ships, we took them not only to go to the next island, we took them to sail over the horizon."