China’s mysterious “Dark Sword” combat drone could become the world’s first supersonic unmanned aviation vehicle, reports the website of the country’s national broadcaster CCTV.
The Dark Sword — known in Chinese as “Anjian” — made quite a stir in 2006 when a conceptual model of the unusually shaped triangular aircraft made its debut at the Zhuhai Airshow in southern China’s Guangdong province.
The model was subsequently exhibited at the Paris Air Show but has disappeared from future airshows, with no official word on the development of the UAV. Some claim the project has already been scrapped due to insufficient funding or other reasons, while others believe the development of the drone is now being kept secret as it is undergoing further research and testing.
Chinese aviation expert Fu Qianshao told CCTV that while he does not know the status of the Dark Sword project, the drone could become the world’s first supersonic UAV if it proves a success. He said he would not be surprised if the project is still ongoing in secret as a lack of transparency is nothing new for the aviation industry and is an approach commonly taken by the Americans.
Fu believes even conceptual models of aircraft can reveal something about a country’s technology and the quality of its research and development, adding that analyzing models at Zhuhai can allow experts to gauge the pulse of China’s aviation industry and pick up data that may be more valuable than what the developers are leaking out to the public. Read the rest of this entry »
The International Space Station is getting a fresh jolt with the first coffee machine aboard the station. The world of instant powdered coffee is giving way in low earth orbit to freshly brewed Italian espresso.
Apple’s newest designer reimagines the shotgun http://t.co/DnCr6ihd8b
— WIRED (@WIRED) November 22, 2014
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) November 20, 2014
COLLEGE PARK, MD—Saying the money would help further researchers’ understanding of the awesome scientific phenomenon, representatives for the American Institute of Physics announced Tuesday that they had received a $10 million grant to melt stuff. “This funding will provide our researchers with the resources they need to put some junk over a really hot flame until it starts liquefying and gets all stretched out and stuff,” said AIP director James Griffith, adding that a portion of the grant would be allocated to making sure the flames were “real big” so that the research team could melt large items, such as desk chairs and lamps. Read the rest of this entry »
The Saturn V at the US Space & Rocket Center
According to Aviation Week, the Chinese space launch industry appears to believe that its next generation of launchers will cost more to purchase than those already being provided by SpaceX.
In other words, a product designed and manufactured entirely in the USA can beat the Chinese, who have far lower labor costs. Way to go Elon — we love you!
“A study of the comet’s organic materials ‘will help us to understand whether organic molecules were brought by comets to the early earth,’ which could have kick-started life here.”
“We are very confident that in coming months we’ll get more sun and power and Philae can be reactivated.”
– Stephan Ulamec, Philae lander manager and scientist at the German Aerospace Center
Scientists are analyzing the data to see whether the organic compounds detected by Philae are simple ones—such as methane and methanol—or a more complex species such as amino acids, the building blocks for proteins. A drill on Philae also obtained some material from the comet’s hard surface, but data about organic molecules from that experiment have yet to be fully analyzed. Read the rest of this entry »
James Kakalios writes: These are exciting days for physics, with several recent experimental observations providing important information on some of the most important mysteries of nature. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN has found the Higgs boson, the last missing particle in the Standard Model, advancing our understanding of the origin of the mass of fundamental particles. The discovery by astrophysicists that the expansion of the universe is accelerating implies that 75% of the universe is composed of “dark energy.” And a recent trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron suggests an explanation for the long-standing open question: can the Hulk lift Thor’s hammer?
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The scene in question aired Oct. 28 during an episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC. In this clip, the Avengers are relaxing in their street clothes in Tony Stark’s penthouse apartment, and are discussing the “enchantment” on Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, which stipulates that it can only be lifted by those “deemed worthy,” and whoever does so will “possess the power of Thor.” Thor places his hammer on a coffee table (actually, as shown below, it is resting partially on some books on the table), and various heroes attempt to pick up the hammer, to no avail. Thor then hefts the hammer and casually flips it into the air.
And thus one proposal for why the hammer is unliftable is put to rest. Astrophysicist and Director of the Hayden Planetarium, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, has speculated that, if Mjolnir is composed of neutron star matter, the densest material in the universe outside of a black hole, then it would weigh as much as three hundred billion elephants.
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Water has a density of one gram per cubic centimeter, and lead has a density of eleven grams per cubic centimeter, but they pale compared to neutron star matter, which has a density of one hundred million million grams per cubic centimeter. In this case Mjolnir would weigh roughly twelve thousand trillion pounds. I know Tony Stark is rich, but even if he could buy a coffee table that could support such a weight, I can’t imagine any book, even an impenetrable physics text, that could bear up under this force. No, we must look elsewhere for an explanation as to why only Thor (and a few select others—more on this in a moment) can raise Mjolnir. Read the rest of this entry »
Fake Cellphone Towers on Planes Used to Target Criminals, but Also Sift Through Thousands of Other Phones
WASHINGTON—Devlin Barrett reports: The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of cellphones through fake communications towers deployed on airplanes, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.
“The program cuts out phone companies as an intermediary in searching for suspects. Rather than asking a company for cell-tower information to help locate a suspect, which law enforcement has criticized as slow and inaccurate, the government can now get that information itself.”
The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.
“Similar devices are used by U.S. military and intelligence officials operating in other countries, including in war zones, where they are sometimes used to locate terrorist suspects, according to people familiar with the work. In the U.S., these people said, the technology has been effective in catching suspected drug dealers and killers. They wouldn’t say which suspects were caught through this method.”
Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirtboxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the Boeing Co. unit that produces them—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON (CBS TAMPA/AP) – Following the first successful touchdown on a comet by the European Space Agency’s Philae probe, a NASA director expressed his own excitement by declaring it a big step toward “moving off this planet” and “taking” the entire solar system.
“How audacious! How exciting! The solar system is mankind’s — this mission is the first step to take it. It’s ours… It’s these steps that will lead us beyond this planet and on to Mars and out into the solar system.”
The U.S. space agency’s planetary science head, Jim Green, said the successful touchdown on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday is evidence that the solar system is now in the grasp of wider human exploration, CNET reports. NASA has plans to send humans to Mars in the 2030s, although Elon Musk and Mars One hope to achieve that years earlier. Read the rest of this entry »