Keeping Up With The Jetsons

You want a flying car? We got your flying car right here, almost, maybe in a few years.

‘Flying Humvee’ moves ahead

A flying car that’s rugged enough for hardcore off-road driving, able to survive small-arms fire and can quickly take off and land is potentially just a few years shy of reality, according to reports sourced from DARPA, the U.S. military’s future-oriented research arm.

Aerospace companies Lockheed Martin and AAI Corporation have presented “feasible designs” to the military’s Transformer program, reports Aviation Week’s Ares blog, and have advanced to the next phase, which is to begin work on prototypes of the contraptions.




See also:
Is Darpa’s Fly-Drive Transformer on the Right Road?
The ‘flying Humvee’ gets off the ground as U.S. military plans first all-terrain, bullet-proof warcraft by next year
Flying humvee inches closer to reality
DARPA sets target date for testing ‘flying Humvee’
Coming soon: US army four-seater vehicle that can take off and land vertically
Progress to the Flying Humvee and enabling a revolution if door to door air travel up to 400 mile ranges
What’s The Point of Darpa’s ‘Flying Humvee,’ Exactly?
Military Developing Transformer To Solve Problems That Don’t Exist
Pentagon Wants Flying Humvee, For Some Reason
Transformer (TX)
Transformer (flying car)

I’m all for flying cars, but do we really need them for combat? The concept drawings of the Transformer TX makes it look like a huge ordnance magnet that, if it wasn’t blown up transitioning from ground to sky or vice versa, it would have so many complex moving parts that it would be undergoing maintenance for many more hours than it would be available for field use. Look at the trouble we already have keeping the V-22 Osprey in service.

/at a time when budget cutting and deficit reduction is the new national pastime, the Transformer TX would seem to be, in my opinion, a military toy too far

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Two Up, Two Down

This is the second failed flight for the HTV-2, at $160 million per splash.

DARPA issues statement on failed flight of hypersonic aircraft

The Falcon launched at 7:45 a.m. from Vandenberg Air Force Base, northwest of Santa Barbara, into the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere aboard an eight-story Minotaur IV rocket, made by Orbital Sciences Corp.

After reaching an undisclosed sub-orbital altitude, the aircraft jettisoned from its protective cover atop the rocket, then nose-dived back toward Earth, leveled out and began to glide above the Pacific at 20 times the speed of sound, or Mach 20.

Then the trouble began.

“Here’s what we know,” said Air Force Maj. Chris Schulz, DARPA’s program manager. “We know how to boost the aircraft to near space. We know how to insert the aircraft into atmospheric hypersonic flight. We do not yet know how to achieve the desired control during the aerodynamic phase of flight. It’s vexing; I’m confident there is a solution. We have to find it.”

See also:
Pentagon’s hypersonic flight test cut short by anomaly
Pentagon’s Mach 20 Missile Lost Over Pacific — Again
DARPA drops another HTV-2
Second Flop: DARPA Loses Contact With HTV-2
DARPA Launches and Loses Hypersonic Aircraft: Update
The Air Force Loses a Second Superfast Spaceplane
Falcon HTV-2 is lost during bid to become fastest ever plane
Falcon hypersonic vehicle test flight fails
Review Board Sets Up to Probe HTV-2 L
DARPA loses contact with hypersonic aircraft
Lost at sea. Military loses contact with hypersonic test plane
Misdirection, Always Watch What The Left Hand Is Doing

So, in order to find out what went wrong, the Air Force needs to find this tiny HTV-2 drone, that they lost contact with, somewhere in the vast Pacific ocean. Good luck with that, they never lost the first one the dunked.

/why do I get the feeling there’s not going to be a third time?

It’s A Bird, It’s Not A Plane, It’s A Spy Drone!

This would make an awesome cat toy!

Hummingbird spy drone developed for DARPA

Under a contract from DARPA, AeroVironment Unmanned Aircraft Systems has created a hummingbird spy drone, the first two-wing, flapping-wing aircraft that carries its own energy source and can hover as well as move forwards.

The Nano Hummingbird can climb and descend vertically and fly sideways, forwards and backwards, as well as rotating clockwise and counter-clockwise, under remote control and carrying a video camera payload.

During a demonstration, the Nano Hummingbird flew in and out of a building through a normal-size doorway.

The hand-made prototype has a wingspan of 6.5 inches tip-to-tip and weighs less than an AA battery. It can be fitted with a removable body fairing, shaped like a real hummingbird and about the same size.

See also:
It’s a bird! It’s a spy! It’s both
Robot Hummingbird Spy Drone Flies for Eight Minutes, Spies on Bad Guys
US robot ornithopter spy-hummingbird in flight test triumph
Spy tech: DARPA demonstrates Nano Hummingbird spy drone
DARPA Backs Hummingbird Like Spy Robot
Small hummingbird aircraft flaps like a bird, weighs less than a Duracell
Next post Video: Hummingbird Drone Does Loop-de-Loop
Tiny ‘Hummingbird’ May Someday Fly Spy Missions For The Military
Robotic hummingbird is right out of a James Bond film
Technology: James Bond’s hummingbird
Bird Bond: ‘Nano Hummingbird’ Drone Takes Spying to the Sky
Tiny robotic bird is latest in gov’t spy gear
AV’s ‘hummingbird’ aircraft displays maneuverability
Watch a hummingbird-shaped spy drone flutter around, steal your secrets
AeroVironment, Inc.: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Although this is a prodigious display of technological achievement, there’s a major drawback to developing a hummingbird spy drone, hummingbirds are only found in North, South, and Central America. So, besides Venezuela, it’s pretty much worthless for covert spying against almost all the global enemies of the United States.

/now, if they could reduce it down to insect size . . .

Misdirection, Always Watch What The Left Hand Is Doing

While everyone was busy watching the classified launch of the X-37B in Florida, the Air Force was up to even more classified hijinxs in Califiornia.

New Minotaur rocket launches on suborbital flight

A new Minotaur launch vehicle derived from retired missile parts successfully blasted off from the California coast Thursday, but officials lost contact with a hypersonic glider testbed for a U.S. military quick-response global strike system.

The Minotaur 4 booster, flying in a downsized three-stage configuration, launched on a suborbital mission at 4 p.m. local time (7 p.m. EDT; 2300 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 8 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

The three-stage version of the launcher uses retired Peacekeeper missile motors. The configuration is called the Minotaur 4 Lite.

A small winged glider designed by Pentagon researchers was the payload for Thursday’s launch. The craft, called the Hypersonic Test Vehicle 2a, apparently did not complete all of its planned maneuvers to demonstrate new hypersonic flight systems.

“Preliminary review of technical data indicates the Minotaur Lite launch system successfully delivered the Falcon HTV 2 glide vehicle to the desired separation conditions,” the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said in a statement. “The launch vehicle executed first of its kind energy management maneuvers, clamshell payload fairing release and HTV 2 deployment.”

See also:
Air Force launches hypersonic glider over Pacific
DARPA confirms mission’s failure
U.S. Air Force launches back-to-back secret missions – coincidence?
Unmanned military space planes usher in new weaponry era
Hyperfast missile to hit anywhere in an hour
A weapon that can strike anywhere on Earth in 30 minutes
5 Ways to Kill Osama Bin Laden in 2 Hours or Less
DARPA’s Mach 20 Hypersonic Glider and Air Force’s X-37B Space Plane Make Their Debuts
First Minotaur IV launches with Hypersonic Test Vehicle
Obama administration spending billions on new global strike weapons
US moving towards ‘high-altitude’ weaponry era with Falcon, X-37B launches
DARPA Falcon HTV-2: Frequently Asked Questions

Taking the high ground with space weapons.

/hmmm, a Mach 20 glider, payloads anywhere on earth within an hour and there’s nothing you can do about it

Al Gore Wasn’t Even There 40 Years Ago

Internet Turns 40 Today: First Message Crashed System

Everyone surfing for last-minute Halloween costumes and pictures of black Lolcats today—what you might call the 40th anniversary of the Internet—can give thanks to the simple network message that started it all: “lo.”

On October 29, 1969, that message became the first ever to travel between two computers connected via the ARPANET, the computer network that would become the Internet.

The electronic dispatch was supposed to be the word “login,” but only the first two letters were successfully sent before the system crashed.

Still, that humble greeting marked the start of a phenomenon that has become such an important part of modern life that many experts argue access to it should be a right rather than a privilege.

ARPANET — The First Internet

The ARPANET was the first wide area packet switching network, the “Eve” network of what has evolved into the Internet we know and love today.

The ARPANET was developed by the IPTO under the sponsorship of DARPA, and conceived and planned by Lick Licklider, Lawrence Roberts, and others as described earlier in this section.

The ARPANET went into labor on August 30, 1969, when BBN delivered the first Interface Message Processor (IMP) to Leonard Kleinrock’s Network Measurements Center at UCLA. The IMP was built from a Honeywell DDP 516 computer with 12K of memory, designed to handle the ARPANET network interface. In a famous piece of Internet lore, on the side of the crate, a hardware designer at BBN named Ben Barker had written “Do it to it, Truett”, in tribute to the BBN engineer Truett Thach who traveled with the computer to UCLA on the plane.

The UCLA team responsible for installing the IMP and creating the first ARPANET node included graduate students Vinton Cerf, Steve Crocker, Bill Naylor, Jon Postel, and Mike Wingfield. Wingfield had built the hardware interface between the UCLA computer and the IMP, the machines were connected, and within a couple of days of delivery the IMP was communicating with the local NMC host, an SDS Sigma 7 computer running the SEX operating system. Messages were successfully exchanged, and the one computer ARPANET was born.

. . .

The first full ARPANET network connection was next, planned to be with Douglas Engelbart’s NLS system at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), running an SDS-940 computer with the Genie operating system and connected to another IMP. At about 10:30 PM on October 29’th, 1969, the connection was established over a 50 kbps line provided by the AT&T telephone company, and a two node ARPANET was born. As is often the case, the first test didn’t work flawlessly, as Kleinrock describes below:

At the UCLA end, they typed in the ‘l’ and asked SRI if they received it; ‘got the l’ came the voice reply. UCLA typed in the ‘o’, asked if they got it, and received ‘got the o’. UCLA then typed in the ‘g’ and the darned system CRASHED! Quite a beginning. On the second attempt, it worked fine!

– Leonard Kleinrock, The Birth of the Internet.

Below is a record of the first message ever sent over the ARPANET.

internet

See also:
Internet’s 40th anniversary marked in U.S.
Internet turns 40 with birthday party
How 40 years of the Internet changed the world
Internet Pioneer Celebrates 40th Birthday Of Brainchild
Internet Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary
DARPA Celebrates Internet’s 40th Anniversary With Balloon Hunt
DARPA Celebrates Internet Anniversary with Bizarre Balloon Challenge
DARPA issues balloon-hunting $40k ‘Network Challenge’
ARPANET
History of ARPANET
DARPA
DARPA

Thank God for military research, it not only keeps us safe, it improves our lives, money well spent.

/we’ve come a long way from 50 kbps phone lines baby!

Skin Game

Skin to Stem Cell Breakthrough Promises Health Care Revolution

Jason Burnett and his 10-year-old son Andrew, both born with a genetic defect, have been recruited into an experiment designed to transform bits of their skin into stem cells that may someday hold the key to a cure.

The Burnetts inherited a heart disease that leaves the father exhausted after a short walk. The two are among the first patients working with scientists who are using a new stem-cell technique that may someday revolutionize care for disorders as diverse as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and muscular dystrophy.

Discovered by the Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka, the method creates stem cells without using and destroying human embryos. By studying cells created from people with inherited disorders, scientists are observing, in ways never before possible, how diseases progress and react to treatments, said Doug Melton, a Harvard University researcher.

“This is the breakthrough the stem-cell field has been waiting for,” said Beth Seidenberg, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the Menlo Park, California-based venture-capital firm that helped start Google Inc.

Unlike embryonic cells, the cells created using the Yamanaka method opened a path to test drugs for genetic diseases, Seidenberg said.

The approach used in the Burnett family study, being conducted by researchers at the Gladstone Institute in San Francisco, also is being adopted by labs in the U.S., Europe and Asia and helped persuade GlaxoSmithKline Plc to invest $25 million in a joint venture with the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

Since human embryonic stem cells were first isolated in a laboratory in 1998, they have fired the imagination of doctors, scientists and patients, who envision a day when new tissues or body parts might be grown to replace diseased ones. The cells are pluripotent, meaning they can be turned into any other type of cell, such as those that make up skin, nerves or neurons.

Novel way to turn skin cells into stem cells

American scientists have made a significant advance in finding a way to endow human skin cells with embryonic stem cell-like properties without inserting potentially problematic new genes into their DNA.

Dr James A Thomson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, whose team was supported in part by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, claims that this is the first time that any research group has endowed skin cells with the capacity to develop into any of the roughly 220 types of cells in the body – a process known as induced pluripotency – without using viruses.

He says that this work attains significance considering the fact that viruses can insert potentially harmful genes into the cells’ genetic material and trigger cancer. Thomson’s new method imports the necessary genes on a small circle of DNA known as a plasmid.

Over time, the plasmid disappears naturally from the cell population, avoiding the danger posed by using viruses. Pluripotent cells are viewed as invaluable to studies of normal and disease processes and to understanding the effects of certain drugs.

Thomson says that such cells may come to be used therapeutically in future, and replace the cells affected by diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s or lost to traumatic injuries.

Pentagon Plans to Regrow Human Body Parts

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has just given Massachusetts’ Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) a $570,000, one-year contract to get a mammal, preferably a human, to regenerate a large body part such as a finger or even a limb.

That’s Phase II of DARPA’s “Restorative Injury Repair” project, which according to the DARPA Web page “will culminate in the restoration of a functional multi-tissue structure in a mammal.”

WPI’s CellThera for-profit unit has already achieved Phase I, which according to the school’s press release “succeeded in reprogramming mouse and human skin cells to act more like stem cells, able to form the early structures needed to begin the process of re-growing lost tissues.”

“The goal is to genuinely replace a muscle that’s lost,” WPI bioengineering researcher Raymond Page told Wired News. “I appreciate that’s a very aggressive goal.”

Some salamanders can regrow lost limbs, and some lizards lost tails. But humans can generally regrow only their livers, and have to have at least one-quarter of the previous one still intact for it to happen.

See also:
Scientists find safer way to make human stem cells
Breakthrough in ‘stem cells from skin’ study
Skin Cells Converted to Stem Cells
Turning Skin Cells to Stem Cells, Without Cancer
Stem Cells: Skin Deep
DARPA funds Phase 2 of human limb regeneration study
DARPA grant supports research toward realizing tissue regeneration
DARPA Funds Bold Research on Limb Regeneration
USA: PENTAGON MAKES PROGRESS IN LIMB REGENERATION RESEARCH
DARPA project to regrow human tissue enters next phase
Shinya Yamanaka, M.D., Ph.D
Shinya Yamanaka
Douglas A. Melton, Ph.D.
Douglas A. Melton
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
J. David Gladstone Institutes
GlaxoSmithKline plc
Harvard Stem Cell Institute
James Thomson (cell biologist)
University of Wisconsin Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
DARPA
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Stem Cell Basics
Stem cell
Induced pluripotent stem cell
Stem Cells: A new path to pluripotency
NIH Fact Sheet on Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research Guidelines

So, here we have a type of stem cells that, unlike embryonic stem cells, is safe, doesn’t cause cancer, and is actually producing real world results. Also, unlike harvesting embryonic stem cells, producing stem cells from skin is completely ethical and doesn’t require the destruction of a human embryo.

/who needs embryonic stem cells anyway?