Event Calendar
March 2017

In 2015, Lockheed Martin took the wraps off a 30-kW mobile laser weapon that was powerful enough to take out a truck. Now the company will deliver a new 60-kW weapon to the US Army that earlier this month set a new record by generating a single 58-kW beam. With all phases from demonstration to development completed, Lockheed will ship the combined fiber laser to the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command in Huntsville, Alabama.

Similar to the previous laser, the new 60-kW design uses spectrum beam combining technology to produce a weapon-grade laser that is destructive as well as portable and accurate. The fiber laser modules are made of an active gain medium consisting of an optical fiber doped with a rare-earth element, including erbium, ytterbium, neodymium, or others.

The optical fibers are flexible, so the laser can be thousands of meters long for greater gain, while taking up very little space because it can be coiled like a rope. The large surface-to-volume ratio means that it's easy to cool. In addition, fiber lasers are very durable and project a high-quality beam using 50 percent less electricity than an equivalent solid-state laser.

Lockheed says that the individual lasers produced by the fibers are combined into a single beam that is intense and scalable through the addition of more fiber bundles. The present laser is close to the diffraction limit. That is, it's close to the physical limit for focusing a laser on a single spot without interfering with itself, but it's still highly efficient – translating over 43 percent of the electricity fed into it into laser light.

"The inherent scalability of this beam combined laser system has allowed us to build the first 60 kW-class fiber laser for the U.S. Army," says Robert Afzal, senior fellow for Laser and Sensor Systems. "We have shown that a powerful directed energy laser is now sufficiently light-weight, low volume and reliable enough to be deployed on tactical vehicles for defensive applications on land, at sea and in the air."

Lockheed sees the new lasers as eventually leading to new systems to provide protection against swarms of drones, rockets, and mortars that would overwhelm conventional defenses.

Lockheed Martin
[GWS] obamaphoneeric AdminGWS P.O. Some do.......http://newatlas.com/boeing-laser-directed-energy-weapon-fog/33672/
[GWS] RedSpartacus Does a laser work in rain or fog ?

A new phase of matter, called a time crystal, has been created and observed for the first time. In a regular crystal, the atoms are arranged in a pattern that repeats itself across physical space, but in a time crystal, that pattern repeats through time instead. The possibility of their existence was first proposed in 2012, but they were deemed "forbidden" according to the laws of thermal equilibrium. The creation of time crystals marks one of the first steps into a new class of non-equilibrium phases.

MIT's Frank Wilczek first put forward the idea of a time crystal in 2012, inspired by the consideration that the repeating atomic structure of a crystal could be applied to time as well as space. Over the next few years, papers were published on both sides of the argument: some giving evidence for why they were impossible, while others suggested potential methods for making them. In 2016, a team from the University of California, Berkeley outlined how to create time crystals in a lab environment, and it's this technique that's finally borne fruit.

To illustrate the weirdness of time crystals, Norman Yao of the UC Berkeley team and this current study, used the example of tapping on a bowl of Jell-O. You'd expect it to respond instantly with a jiggle that slowly settles back down until it becomes still again, and the jiggling would only restart if you tap it again. Time crystals, on the other hand, react in ways that seem impossible to the casual observer: their atoms might "jiggle" after a delay, and then repeat the movement at regular intervals independent of the driving force.

"Wouldn't it be super weird if you jiggled the Jell-O and found that somehow it responded at a different period?" Yao explains, in a statement back in January. "But that is the essence of the time crystal. You have some periodic driver that has a period 'T', but the system somehow synchronizes so that you observe the system oscillating with a period that is larger than 'T'."

In most matter, hotter atoms will pass heat to adjacent cooler ones, until they all reach the same temperature. When that happens, the atoms settle into a state known as thermal equilibrium. But time crystals never reach that state, repeating the pattern of movement over time in an apparent display of perpetual motion. That makes them one of the first examples (if not the first) of non-equilibrium phases, a new type of matter.

"This opens the door to a whole new world of non-equilibrium phases," says Andrew Potter, one of the researchers on the study. "We've taken these theoretical ideas that we've been poking around for the last couple of years and actually built it in the laboratory. Hopefully, this is just the first example of these, with many more to come."

To create the time crystal, the researchers used ions of the element ytterbium. First, they levitated the ions electrically, then hit them with laser pulses that flipped them upside down. By blasting them regularly with lasers, the ions fell into a repeating pattern of flips.

That sounds pretty basic, but here's the kicker: the ions were only flipping once for every two laser pulses, meaning the pattern was operating on a time scale larger than the driving force. Strange as that sounds, it was the behavior the team expected, and helped to confirm that they had created a time crystal.

While it's hard to visualize a day-to-day application for this kind of discovery at this early stage, the researchers say that future non-equilibrium phases could be used in quantum computing, for storing or transmitting information.

Hydrogels have shown significant potential in everything from wound dressings to soft robots, but their applications have been limited from their lack of toughness – until now. A team of scientists at Hokkaido University have developed a new set of hydrogel composites or "fiber-reinforced soft composites" that combine hydrogels with woven fiber fabric to create a material that is five times stronger than carbon steel.

Composite materials have been around for millennia and the principle is very simple. A very soft substance like mud can be made strong enough to make bricks by adding straw as a tempering material. The same applies to adding crushed pottery to brick, seashells fragments to ceramic, or glass fiber to plastic.

The latter is very similar to the fiber-reinforced hydrogel. Hydrogels are made of hydrophilic polymer chains that absorb up to 90 percent water. They aren't very strong or durable, but by adding glass tiny fibers the researchers created a tough, bendable, stretchable material.

According to the team, the composite hydrogel is remarkably strong, probably due to dynamic ionic bonds between the fiber and hydrogels, and within the hydrogels. In tests using polyampholyte gels and a single glass fiber measuring 10μm in diameter, the material turned out to be 25 times tougher than glass fiber fabric, 100 times tougher than hydrogels, and five times as strong as carbon steel, based on the amount of energy needed to destroy them.

"The fiber-reinforced hydrogels, with a 40 percent water level, are environmentally friendly," says Dr Jian Ping Gong, "The material has multiple potential applications because of its reliability, durability and flexibility. For example, in addition to fashion and manufacturing uses, it could be used as artificial ligaments and tendons, which are subject to strong load-bearing tensions."

Hokkaido University

With its jet-propelled firefighters, million-dollar drone races and plans for its very own Hyperloop, Dubai ain't a bad place to see advanced technologies in action. In the latest example of the city's early-adoption mindset, the local transport authority has revealed that it has been testing Ehang's personal taxi drone, with plans to launch real operations this July.We first laid eyes on the Ehang 184 passenger drone at CES last year. As far as drones go, it's actually much less drone and more automated helicopter, using onboard navigation systems to carry passengers to their desired location without the need for a pilot. It can be ordered via a smartphone application, fly for 30 minutes at a time and take passengers as far as 40 to 50 km (25 to 31 mi) away with a payload capacity of up to 100 kg (220 lb).

This might all sound pretty out-there, but the Chinese company has already signed an agreement with the State of Nevada to conduct flight testing and also teamed up with a biotechnology firm to use its pilotless choppers to deliver artificial organs.

But it looks like both efforts might be beaten to the punch by the UAE, with Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority announcing the plans at the World Government Summit today. It revealed that it has already carried out a test run and has earmarked July 2017 as the launch date for full operations. If anyone seems capable of pulling it off ...

You can check out the RTA's promo video below.

[GWG] LuckyOtter You me both, Red! It might get a bit chilly!
[GWS] RedSpartacus With the payload of 220 lb I could ride on it without clothing only. So the only valid destination would be a nudist res...

This is a "leaked video" from a recent Boston Dynamics convention. The robot in this video is certinally the stuff of nightmares.

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