Navy pilots ufo encounters

 

Close Encounters

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!”

“Strange Stuff”

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.”

Unidentified Aircraft

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]

More on UFOs: The U.S. Navy Will Start Taking UFO Sightings Much More Seriously

Hydrogen Fuel Cell

 

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.

Hot Air?

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

Soldiers to control Dron with thoughts

 

Game Of Drones

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.

Read/Write

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”

Martian Pioneers

 

Human life — and genetics — will never be the same for Mars’ future inhabitants.

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.”

Genetic Jumble

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.”

Pop Cap

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.

CRISPR Drawer

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: Near-Sighted Kids of Martian Colonists Could Find Sex With Earth-Humans Deadly

Read more about getting humans to Mars:Buzz Aldrin Calls for “Great Migration of Humankind to Mars”

Space Brain

 


Futurism

BAD NEWS, NASA:
ASTRONAUTS’ BRAINS ARE FILLING WITH LIQUID

Zero gravity can become a nuisance. Astronauts will Velcro themselves in place while they sleep so they don’t drift away, but there are fewer ways to keep things inside their body in place.

For instance, it turns out fluids float upward into astronauts’ brains during long spaceflights, causing their brains to expand. Even months after they’ve returned to Earth, the astronauts’ ventricles — the sacs in the brain that contain cerebrospinal fluids — remain enlarged, causing vision problems and other medical issues, according to research published Monday in the journal PNAS.

Water Balloons

The study, conducted by a large team of European neuroscientists, found that the ventricles of 11 Russian cosmonauts who returned to Earth had expanded by more than 11 percent, stretched out by the fluid buildup in their brains.

Seven months after they returned, the ventricles were still six percent larger than normal, according to the study, which connected the swollen ventricles to existing reports of worsening astronaut eyesight.

Brain Trust

But because this is an emerging field of medicine, doctors don’t know whether the effect increases during longer spaceflights.

“We need to really check the brain, check the visual system, check cognition because we do not know if this has any effect on that, and check people who spent different durations in space to tell if the effect keeps increasing,” University of Antwerp neuroscientist Angelique Van Ombergen told New Scientist. “Currently, nobody knows.”

READ MORE: Astronauts may have vision problems because of liquid in their brains [New Scientist]

More on space medicine: Alarming Research: Zero Gravity Makes Astronauts’ Brains Age Faster

Sustainable Energy Now

 

futurism

2.6 Billion People Lack Access to Electricity. The World Needs Sustainable Energy Now.

Communities lacking electricity are forced to rely on dangerous fuels that can result in pollution and even cause premature death. The Global Maker Challenge received over a thousand submissions from innovators with potential solutions to help these communities.

3D-Printed Mars Habitats

 


futurism

Here’s a closer look at what it’ll be like to live on Mars one day.

Space Habitat

NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge that kicked off in 2015 has challenged teams around the U.S. to render, prove the structural integrity, and construct a model of a habitat that could one day shelter humans on the surface of the Moon or even Mars.

And yesterday, NASA crowned the top three winners of the Challenge’s latest round, challenging the participating teams to “complete a virtual construction level.” The top three teams, which split a prize of $100,000, hail from New York, Arkansas, and New Haven — and their designs are bold visions of off-world habitation.

First Place

The winner of this round of the Challenge is team SEArch+/Apis Cor for a vertical habitat design that can be continuously reinforced with additional 3D printing. Light enters through circular ports around the outside and the top.

Second Place

Second place goes to Team Zopherus for a design that would be constructed by a roving 3D printer.

Third Place

Team Mars Incubator was awarded third place. Its pods are made out of hexagonal pieces of 3D printed plates consisting of polyethylene, fibers, and locally sourced regolith, could one day house a team of astronauts.

It’s a fascinating competition that paints an incredibly detailed picture of what the future of Moon or even Mars exploration could look like one day — and we’ve never been closer to that future.

READ MORE: Top Three Teams Share $100,000 Prize in Complete Virtual Construction Level of 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge [NASA]

More on the Challenge: Here Are The Finalists For NASA’s Mars Habitat Design Competition

Test Hopper

 


In a series of tweets yesterday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed that the space company is about to start testing an early prototype of its Starship spacecraft.

The so-called “hopper” test vehicle will feature only a single Raptor engine, as opposed to three for the final version. The test vehicle won’t enter orbit, but its low altitude test flights help prepare for future journeys as lengthy as a trip to Mars.

Starship Hopper in preparations to hop, “Ooh ah, just a little bit”.

📸@BocaChicaGal https://t.co/fk1cdRpyvm pic.twitter.com/VLW5ADBtgP

Moon Water

 


futurism

Moving Water

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) just spotted “moving water molecules” on the near side of the Moon — which could be a big deal for future human missions to the Moon.

Scientists observed water molecules moving around as the lunar surface heated up during the Moon’s day cycle. Researchers had previously assumed that the main source of water — hydrogen ions from solar wind — would be cut off when the Earth travels between the Moon and the Sun. But the new findings didn’t see any decrease when the Earth cut off solar wind to the Moon, suggesting that it could harbor a more sustainable source of water than previously believed.

Hot Topic

The discovery is described in a paper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters by researchers from the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and NASA’s Goddard  Space Flight Center in Maryland. The data was collected by the LRO’s Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP), an ultraviolet spectrograph that was built to map ultralight wavelength reflections on the lunar surface.

“This is an important new result about lunar water, a hot topic as our nation’s space program returns to a focus on lunar exploration,” said Kurt Retherford, principal investigator of the LAMP instrument from Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, said in a statement. “We recently converted the LAMP’s light collection mode to measure reflected signals on the lunar dayside with more precision, allowing us to track more accurately where the water is and how much is present.”

The Shape Of Water

A groundbreaking 2017 study from Brown University suggested that there may be substantial amounts of water inside lunar rocks. At the time, the discovery was a major shift from the consensus view that most water on the Moon is located near its poles.

This year’s results discovered by LAMP seem to underline that the lunar water cycle could make water far more accessible to us during future missions to the Moon than we previously thought — the more water already exists on the Moon, the less time and resources we have to spend in trying to get it there.

READ MORE: LRO sheds light on lunar water movement [NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center]

More on water on the Moon: New Study Challenges Previous Conclusions About Water on the Moon

Most Dire Predictions for the Future

 

futurism

Stephen Hawking was a brilliant astrophysicist who inspired and awed. He pushed our understanding of, curiosity about, and excitement for the universe around us. He made us laugh. He made us curious. He made us imagine.

He also, at times, made us afraid.

Hawking, who died this morning at the age of 76 after 52 years of living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease), will leave behind a deeply important legacy. But his paranoia about the future of humanity, especially in his later years, may prove to be one of the most lasting (and pertinent) aspects of that legacy.

These are a few of his most dire predictions:

AI Takeover

“The genie is out of the bottle. We need to move forward on artificial intelligence development but we also need to be mindful of its very real dangers,” Hawking said last year in a Q&A with WIRED. “I fear that AI may replace humans altogether. If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that replicates itself. This will be a new form of life that will outperform humans.”

As AI permeates more of our daily lives, Hawking isn’t the only one to fear a robot takeover.

But there are other threats.

Self-Destruction

“Our earth is becoming too small for us, global population is increasing at an alarming rate and we are in danger of self-destructing… I would not be optimistic about the long-term outlook for our species.”

Hawking said this in 2016 at an event at Cambridge University, attesting his pessimism in part to the recent referendum for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union. In a 2017 documentary, he said humanity has just a century left on Earth, down from the 1,000 years he predicted the year before.

That’s in part because of climate change and environmental destruction that, he feared, may make the Earth uninhabitable. Since he became president, Donald Trump had become a favorite target of Hawking’s:

“We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible. Trump’s action [pulling out of the Paris Agreement] could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of two hundred and fifty degrees, and raining sulphuric acid,” Hawking told BBC News.

“Climate change is one of the great dangers we face, and it’s one we can prevent if we act now. By denying the evidence for climate change, and pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Donald Trump will cause avoidable environmental damage to our beautiful planet, endangering the natural world, for us and our children.”

Fortunately, though, he sees a solution.

Planetary Colonization

“If humanity is to continue for another million years, our future lies in boldly going where no one else has gone before,” Hawking said at a festival in Norway last year.

“We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems,” he continued. “Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth.”

“I hope it would unite competitive nations in a single goal, to face the common challenge for us all… A new and ambitious space program would excite [young people], and stimulate interest in other areas, such as astrophysics and cosmology.”

He laid out a fairly comprehensive series of benchmarks: nations should send astronauts to the Moon by 2020 (and set up a lunar base in the next 30 years). And we should get to Mars by 2025.

If Hawking is even remotely right, Musk had better hop to it.