“You cannot run away from a weakness, you must sometimes fight it out or perish.
And if that be so, why not now and where you stand?”
In an astonishing new story by The New York Times, Navy pilots detail their encounters with UFOs — “strange objects” that have “no visible engine or infrared exhaust plumes,” but could reach “30,000 feet and hypersonic speeds.”
“Wow, what is that, man?” an unnamed pilot said in a video recorded in early 2015 of what appears to be an object flying above the ocean. “Look at it fly!”
Two pilots spoke on the record to the Times, while three more gave details about their UFO encounters under condition of anonymity. The UFOs aren’t necessarily aliens — and are likely just unidentified terrestrial phenomena — but military officials aren’t sure what they are.
“People have seen strange stuff in military aircraft for decades,” Ryan Graves, a lieutenant and Navy pilot, told The Times. “We’re doing this very complex mission, to go from 30,000 feet, diving down. It would be a pretty big deal to have something up there.”
The news comes after the U.S. Navy was found to be working on new guidelines for its personnel to report sightings and other encounters with “unidentified aircraft,” according to Politico — a sign that the Navy is taking UFO encounters more seriously.
The New York Times also uncovered a $22 million program in 2017 called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program — or “Black Money” — that investigated reports of UFOs from 2007 until 2012.
READ MORE: ‘Wow, What Is That?’ Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying Objects [The New York Times]
Massachusetts startup Alaka’i has designed a flying car that the company touts as the “first air mobility vehicle powered by hydrogen fuel cells” in a flashy announcement video. The big promise: ten times the power of conventional lithium batteries without compromising on carbon emissions.
The hydrogen fuel cells give the five-passenger Skai a maximum range of 400 miles (640 km) with a flight time of up to four hours.
The company has been working on the design for four years, and is hoping to receive Federal Aviation Administration certification before the end of 2020.
Six rotors enable vertical take-off and landing, enabling the vehicle to essentially fly like a massive drone. An “Airframe Parachute” ensures that the Skai doesn’t simply drop out of the air in the case of a propeller failure.
But Skai remains an ambitious dream until Alaka’i receives all the relevant government and regulatory approvals. And then there’s the fact that hydrogen fuel is pretty hard to come by in most parts of the world.
CEO Stephan Hanvey admitted that it could take another ten years until flying cars become practical to ferry passengers from city to city in an interview with the Associated Press.
But it’s an exciting prospect, and a potential alternative to the limitations of current-state lithium batteries that could enable flying cars to cover a lot more ground — if hydrogen as a fuel source ever takes off.
READ MORE: Skai could be the first fuel cell-powered flying taxi [Engadget]
More on flying taxis: Study: Flying Cars Could End Up Being Greener Than Electric Cars
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has officially funded a program to come up with a brain-machine interface — in the form of a headset designed to let military personnel control anything from “active cyber defense systems” to “swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles” through brain activity alone, according to a press release.
The agency is hoping such an interface could make it easier for service members to carry out complex tasks and help them multitask as well.
“Just as service members put on protective and tactical gear in preparation for a mission, in the future they might put on a headset containing a neural interface, use the technology however it’s needed, then put the tool aside when the mission is complete,” said program manager Al Emondi in the press release.
DARPA has an ambitious timeline for the headset. First on the agenda: figure out a way to record electrical signals in the brain and how to relay information back to the brain tissue.
Once that’s settled, DARPA is hoping to turn that ability into a brain-machine interface that’s useful in a military context, such as controlling drone swarms. Let’s just hope it turns out to be more accurate at controlling drones in active combat than the $150 mind-controlled drone that hit Kickstarter in March.
READ MORE:DARPA Funds Ambitious Brain-Machine Interface Program [IEEE Spectrum]
More on brain-machine interfaces: Elon Musk: Brain-Computer Interface Update “Coming Soon”
“Truth is the offspring of silence and meditation. I keep the subject constantly before me and wait ‘til the first dawnings open slowly, by little and little, into a full and clear light.”
💫 Isaac Newton ✨
Natalie Coleman May 20th 2019
Scientists have set their sights on getting humans to Mars — and maybe even terraforming the Red Planet. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s goal is to send humans to Mars by 2024, and NASA plans to launch astronauts there after the Moon.
But despite the resources being funneled into technology to transport us to the Red Planet, we don’t yet understand the evolutionary implications the move will have on the human body. In a new interview with Inverse, evolutionary biologist and Rice University professor Scott Solomon thinks it’s worth asking what will happen to Mars colonists in the long term — as mutations start to cascade through the gene pool.
“What’s interesting to me as an evolutionary biologist is thinking about, what if we’re actually successful?” he asked the site. “I don’t think there has been nearly as much discussion about what would become of the people that are living in these colonies generations later.”
In January 2018, Solomon gave a TEDx talk in Houston that outlined the evolutionary changes the first Martian settlers will likely experience. After about two generations, he thinks their bones will strengthen, they’ll need glasses for nearsightedness, their immune systems will be null, pregnancy and childbirth will be significantly more perilous, and the exposure to radiation—more than 5,000 times the amount we’re exposed to on Earth during a normal lifetime, Solomon says—could lead to an influx of cancer.
Most importantly, though? Solomon argues that Martians should stop reproducing with Earth-humans.
“Evolution is faster or slower depending on how much of an advantage there is to having a certain mutation,” Solomon says in the video. So, if humans on Mars gain a mutation that raises their survival advantage, that’s a good thing — but Solomon says they’ll be “passing those genes on at a much higher rate than they otherwise would have.”
Contact with Earthlings could even be deadly for Martians — and vice versa. Mars doesn’t have any microorganisms to carry disease, and so if cross contamination between Earth and Mars is controlled, Solomon explains that all infectious disease could be eliminated — meaning there should be no intimate connection between the two groups.
But all mutation isn’t bad. Every new baby on Earth is born with 60 new mutations, a number which Solomon says will jump to the thousands on Mars. By mutating, humans on Mars would gain critical, life-saving benefits to cope with the brutal planet: a different skin tone to protect from radiation, less reliance on oxygen to adapt to the thin atmosphere, denser bones to counteract calcium loss during pregnancy.
Solomon even suggests that we could use CRISPR to more purposefully design these helpful mutations.
Maybe it’s sadly ironic. If Earth becomes uninhabitable and we look to other planets for a new home, the only way to ensure the long term survival of the human species might be to become a completely different species.
“If we eventually come to inhabit multiple worlds scattered across the gallery, over time, we may see the evolution of a plethora of new human species,” Solomon said. “We should recognize that here could be unintended consequences for who our decedents become many generations from now.”
Read more about getting humans to Mars:Buzz Aldrin Calls for “Great Migration of Humankind to Mars”