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Jan 25, 2020

Japan Is Launching Its Own Space Defense Unit

Posted by in categories: military, space

The U.S. isn’t the only nation preparing for space warfare.

Jan 23, 2020

Trinitite: Trinitite

Posted by in categories: materials, military

, also known as atomsite or Alamogordo glass,[2] is the glassy residue left on the desert floor after the plutonium-based Trinity nuclear bomb test on July 16, 1945, near Alamogordo, New Mexico. The glass is primarily composed of arkosic sand composed of quartz grains and feldspar (both microcline and smaller amount of plagioclase with small amount of calcite, hornblende and augite in a matrix of sandy clay)[3] that was melted by the atomic blast. It is usually a light green, although color can vary. It is mildly radioactive but safe to handle.[4][5][6]

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, samples were gathered and sold to mineral collectors as a novelty. Traces of the material may still be found at the Trinity Site as of 2019, although most of it was bulldozed and buried by the United States Atomic Energy Commission in 1953.[7] It is now illegal to take the remaining material from the site; however, material that was taken prior to this prohibition is still in the hands of collectors.

Jan 23, 2020

Students calculate how to build Star Trek photon torpedoes

Posted by in categories: military, physics

Circa 2016


Physics students at the University of Leicester have boldly gone where no student has gone before – by calculating one way to potentially build photon torpedoes seen in the Star Trek universe.

Announced to coincide with the release of Star Trek: Beyond, which opens in UK and US cinemas on 22 July, the students’ findings suggest that in order to function correctly, a photon torpedo could be made out of heavy metals such as lead or uranium, as metals with fewer protons would not have the necessary cascade length.

The students presented their findings in a short article for the Journal of Physics Special Topics, a peer-reviewed student journal run by the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. The student-run journal is designed to give students practical experience of writing, editing, publishing and reviewing scientific papers.

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Jan 22, 2020

Pentagon Racks Up $35 Trillion in Accounting Changes in One Year

Posted by in categories: economics, military

The Pentagon made $35 trillion in accounting adjustments last year alone — a total that’s larger than the entire U.S. economy and underscores the Defense Department’s continuing difficulty in balancing its books.

The latest estimate is up from $30.7 trillion in 2018 and $29 trillion in 2017, the first year adjustments were tracked in a concerted way, according to Pentagon figures and a lawmaker who’s pursued the accounting morass.

The figure dwarfs the $738 billion of defense-related funding in the latest U.S. budget, a spending plan that includes the most expensive weapons systems in the world including the F-35 jet as well as new aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines.

Jan 22, 2020

Profile: Christian Wanamaker Teaches Robots to Learn How to Help Students

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, food, military, robotics/AI

“The thing I find rewarding about coding: You’re literally creating something out of nothing. You’re kind of like a wizard.”


When the smiley-faced robot tells two boys to pick out the drawing of an ear from three choices, one of the boys, about 5, touches his nose. “No. Ear,” his teacher says, a note of frustration in her voice. The child picks up the drawing of an ear and hands it to the other boy, who shows it to the robot. “Yes, that is the ear,” the ever-patient robot says. “Good job.” The boys smile as the teacher pats the first boy in congratulations.

The robot is powered by technology created by Movia Robotics, founded by Tim Gifford in 2010 and headquartered in Bristol, Connecticut. Unlike other companies that have made robots intended to work with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), such Beatbots, Movia focuses on building and integrating software that can work with a number of humanoid robots, such as the Nao. Movia has robots in three school districts in Connecticut. Through a U.S. Department of Defense contract, they’re being added to 60 schools for the children of military personnel worldwide.

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Jan 22, 2020

North Korea’s Nuclear Bomb Is Much Bigger than Previously Thought

Posted by in categories: existential risks, military, nuclear weapons

A new look at 2017 test data reveals an explosion 16 times as powerful than the one that leveled Hiroshima.

Scientists looking anew at a 2017 North Korean nuclear test discovered that the explosion was likely about two-thirds more powerful than U.S. officials previously thought.

Earlier data put the yield somewhere between 30 and 300 kilotons; the U.S. intelligence community said 140 kilotons. That was already the most powerful device tested by North Korea, topping a 2016 test by about an order of magnitude. But a new look at seismological data suggests that the blast was between 148 and 328 kilotons, and probably around 250 kilotons.

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Jan 22, 2020

New Army Laser Could Kill Cruise Missiles

Posted by in category: military

Instead of building a 100-kilowatt weapon, the Army now plans to leap straight to 250 or even 300 kW — which could shoot down much tougher targets.

Jan 22, 2020

Nuclear Pumped Lasers and the Strategic Defense Initiative

Posted by in categories: energy, military

Circa 2018


In 1963, L. Herwig proposed the nuclear pumped laser, based on the idea that the ions produced from nuclear reactions can be used as a driver for the laser medium. Since high power and high efficiency lasers with short wavelengths require high pumping power densities, nuclear pumping is an extremely appealing method. Nuclear pumped lasers could therefore direct significant amounts of energy emitted in a nuclear explosion into a very narrowly collimated beam. This beam would not only be able to destroy or damage targets from very long ranges, but also preclude subsequent use due to its own self-damaging mechanism to the initial weapon. [1] This system would ultimately constitute “a ‘third generation’ of nuclear weapons, the first two generations being the atomic (fission) and the hydrogen (fusion) bombs,” according to Edward Teller, also known as “the father of the hydrogen bomb”. [2] In this sense, it would be able to target energy toward specific targets instead of spreading energy into all directions.

Strategic Defense Initiative

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Jan 22, 2020

The Air Force Is Developing An ‘EMP Missile’ To Fry North Korea’s Nukes

Posted by in categories: existential risks, military

Circa 2017


One of the options that the United States is looking at to counter North Korea’s nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles is an experimental weapon called CHAMP.

Jan 21, 2020

We Might Actually Be Able To Make Star Trek’s Photon Torpedoes

Posted by in categories: materials, military

Circa 2016


A team from the University of Leicester have examined the likely materials that would go into building Star Trek’s photon torpedoes, and they find that it might just be possible to create the tech.

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