Time travel is possible – but only if you have an object with infinite mass

The concept of time travel has always captured the imagination of physicists and laypersons alike. But is it really possible? Of course it is. We’re doing it right now, aren’t we? We are all traveling into the future one second at a time. But that was not what you were thinking. Can we travel much … Continue reading “Time travel is possible – but only if you have an object with infinite mass”

The concept of time travel has always captured the imagination of physicists and laypersons alike. But is it really possible? Of course it is. We’re doing it right now, aren’t we? We are all traveling into the future one second at a time.

But that was not what you were thinking. Can we travel much further into the future? Absolutely. If we could travel close to the speed of light, or in the proximity of a black hole, time would slow down enabling us to travel arbitrarily far into the future. The really interesting question is whether we can travel back into the past.

I am a physics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and first heard about the notion of time travel when I was 7, from a 1980 episode of Carl Sagan’s classic TV series, “Cosmos.” I decided right then that someday, I was going to pursue a deep study of the theory that underlies such creative and remarkable ideas: Einstein’s relativity. Twenty years later, I emerged with a Ph.D. in the field and have been an active researcher in the theory ever since.

Now, one of my doctoral students has just published a paper in the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity that describes how to build a time machine using a very simple construction.

Closed time-like curves

Einstein’s general theory of relativity allows for the possibility of warping time to such a high degree that it actually folds upon itself, resulting in a time loop. Imagine you’re traveling along this loop; that means that at some point, you’d end up at a moment in the past and begin experiencing the same moments since, all over again – a bit like deja vu, except you wouldn’t realize it. Such constructs are often referred to as “closed time-like curves” or CTCs in the research literature, and popularly referred to as “time machines.” Time machines are a byproduct of effective faster-than-light travel schemes and understanding them can improve our understanding of how the universe works.

Over the past few decades well-known physicists like Kip Thorne and Stephen Hawking produced seminal work on models related to time machines.

The general conclusion that has emerged from previous research, including Thorne’s and Hawking’s, is that nature forbids time loops. This is perhaps best explained in Hawking’s “Chronology Protection Conjecture,” which essentially says that nature doesn’t allow for changes to its past history, thus sparing us from the paradoxes that can emerge if time travel were possible.

Perhaps the most well-known amongst these paradoxes that emerge due to time travel into the past is the so-called “grandfather paradox” in which a traveler goes back into the past and murders his own grandfather. This alters the course of history in a way that a contradiction emerges: The traveler was never born and therefore cannot exist. There have been many movie and novel plots based on the paradoxes that result from time travel – perhaps some of the most popular ones being the “Back to the Future” movies and “Groundhog Day.”

Exotic matter

Depending on the details, different physical phenomena may intervene to prevent closed time-like curves from developing in physical systems. The most common is the requirement for a particular type of “exotic” matter that must be present in order for a time loop to exist. Loosely speaking, exotic matter is matter that has negative mass. The problem is negative mass is not known to exist in nature.

Caroline Mallary, a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has published a new model for a time machine in the journal Classical & Quantum Gravity. This new model does not require any negative mass exotic material and offers a very simple design.

Mallary’s model consists of two super long cars – built of material that is not exotic, and have positive mass – parked in parallel. One car moves forward rapidly, leaving the other parked. Mallary was able to show that in such a setup, a time loop can be found in the space between the cars.

So can you build this in your backyard?

If you suspect there is a catch, you are correct. Mallary’s model requires that the center of each car has infinite density. That means they contain objects – called singularities – with an infinite density, temperature and pressure. Moreover, unlike singularities that are present in the interior of black holes, which makes them totally inaccessible from the outside, the singularities in Mallary’s model are completely bare and observable, and therefore have true physical effects.

Physicists don’t expect such peculiar objects to exist in nature either. So, unfortunately a time machine is not going to be available anytime soon. However, this work shows that physicists may have to refine their ideas about why closed time-like curves are forbidden.

This story originally appeared in The Conversation.

MIT develops incredible system to ‘shrink’ objects

Researchers at MIT have developed a system to “shrink” objects down to a nanoscale level.

While this may conjure up images of “Ant-Man” or “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids,” it’s actually a 3-D printing technique that could prove useful in fields such as medicine, robotics and optics.

"It's a way of putting nearly any kind of material into a 3-D pattern with nanoscale precision," said Edward Boyden, an associate professor of biological engineering and of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT, in a statement.


The researchers used a technique they describe as “implosion fabrication” to 3-D print objects at a nanoscale. Their work builds on an existing technique developed at Boyden’s lab for high-resolution imaging of brain tissue.

This image shows a complex structure prior to shrinking. (Daniel Oran)

“This technique, known as expansion microscopy, involves embedding tissue into a hydrogel and then expanding it, allowing for high-resolution imaging with a regular microscope,” explained MIT in the statement. “By reversing this process, the researchers found that they could create large-scale objects embedded in expanded hydrogels and then shrink them to the nanoscale.”

Similar to their research on expansion microscopy, the researchers used a highly absorbent material made of polyacrylate, which is commonly found in diapers, as the “scaffold” for their nanofabrication process. This was bathed in a solution that contained molecules of fluorescein, a compound widely used as a coloring agent. When activated by a laser light, the molecules attached to the “scaffold.”


Using two-photon-microscopy, the fluorescein molecules were attached to specific locations within the gel. "You attach the anchors where you want with light, and later you can attach whatever you want to the anchors," said Boyden. "It could be a quantum dot, it could be a piece of DNA, it could be a gold nanoparticle."

A paper on the research was published in the journal Science.

"It's a bit like film photography — a latent image is formed by exposing a sensitive material in a gel to light," said Daniel Oran, an MIT graduate student, and one of the paper's lead authors, in a statement. "Then, you can develop that latent image into a real image by attaching another material, silver, afterwards. In this way implosion fabrication can create all sorts of structures, including gradients, unconnected structures, and multimaterial patterns,"


Scientists say they can then shrink objects 10-fold in each dimension, making an overall 1,000-fold reduction in volume.

“Once the desired molecules are attached in the right locations, the researchers shrink the entire structure by adding an acid,” explained MIT in its statement.

Using the technique, researchers say that they can create objects that are around 1 cubic millimeter, patterned with a resolution of 50 nanometers. “There is a tradeoff between size and resolution: If the researchers want to make larger objects, about 1 cubic centimeter, they can achieve a resolution of about 500 nanometers,” they explained. However, improvements to the process could eventually boost resolution.


The system could be particularly useful for creating specialized lenses for the likes of cell phones, microscopes and endoscopes, according to the scientists involved in the project.

"There are all kinds of things you can do with this," explained Boyden, noting that the technology needed is already in many research labs. "With a laser you can already find in many biology labs, you can scan a pattern, then deposit metals, semiconductors, or DNA, and then shrink it down," he added.

The system is just the latest innovation to come out of MIT. In a separate MIT project, researchers have been developing sophisticated technology that uses drones to find lost hikers by searching under dense forest canopies.

In August, scientists at MIT announced the discovery of a galaxy cluster that they say is “hiding in plain sight.”

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

New littoral combat ship weapons take aim at attacking small boat swarms

The Navy plans to launch two small boat attack craft raids against its Littoral Combat Ship to prepare the ship for major warfare by testing a new suite of integrated weapons systems and sensors – including missiles, guns, drones and inflatable boats.

The upcoming “fast inshore attack craft raid” events are intended as part of a formal Initial Operational Test & Evaluation plan for an-LCS mounted Surface-to-Surface Missile Module designed, among other things, to “counter potential swarms of attacked armed small craft,” a Navy statement from Naval Sea Systems Command, Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants said.

The Missile Module is comprised of 24 ship-fired Longbow Hellfire Missiles, 30-and-57mm guns, 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boats, helicopters and vertical-take-off-and-landing ship-launched drones. Ship launched Hellfires, for instance, can utilize all-weather millimeter wave radar, inertial guidance or semi-active laser targeting to fire upon enemy ships, helicopters, fixed-wing assets or drones attacking the LCS. The concept with the overall module is to enable each platform to function as a “node” on a larger network.

Forward-operating drones, for instance, can send real-time images to helicopters and ship-based fire control radar, enabling faster response time. Armed helicopters can more quickly find and attack targets if they are identified and transmitted from other assets such as drones, submarines or ship-based sensors. By extension, all of these systems could cue deck-mounted small arms for the closer in threats, such as 30mm and 57mm guns. These warfare tactics, mirrored by larger platforms such as Carrier Strike Groups, is to create an integrated, layered defense system designed to provide defenses at different ranges and against a wide sphere of potential attack systems.

Small, fast-transport 11-meter inflatable boats are also regarded as an indispensable element of the Surface Warfare Mission Packages the Missile Module is engineered to support. Often used as rapid entry or small attack vehicles for Navy SEALs and other Special Operations Forces, these boats can provide ship crews with an ability to leave the ship and “engage” approaching small-boat attackers, providing yet another element of defense.

Swarming small boat attacks are regarded as extremely serious combat concerns for Navy war-planners, who operate with a decided recognition that this kind of threat is quite substantial when it comes to both counterterrorism and major warfare on the open ocean. The strategy with small boat attacks against larger platforms is multi-faceted; multiple, fast-moving points of small missile and gunfire attack are naturally much more difficult to recognize and target. The intention with these tactics is to overwhelm, confuse or simply outnumber ship-defense weapons systems such as sensors, interceptors and deck-mounted guns.

This phenomenon can be explained in terms of what’s called “dis-aggregated” operations, if on a smaller scale than is typically thought of. Not only are a more dispersed group of small boats more difficult to target, but emerging networking technology can enable them to coordinate, share target information and stage integrated missions while farther away from one another. Navy and Marine Corps strategists, now planning for future amphibious warfare, are employing these concepts regarding ship-to-shore amphibious attacks. Dis-aggregated, yet closely networked attack nodes provide attacking commanders with a wider range of options and increase possibilities to defend against incoming shore attacks by avoiding a more condensed or linear ocean assault.

The proliferation of longer-range mobile guns, to include possible emergence of lasers, electronic warfare or boat-launched drone attacks, all make the prospect of facing swarms of armed, fast-moving small boats even more dangerous for surface ships. Furthermore, there is no reason small boats with manned crews could not carry and fire portable land weapons such as RPGs, Anti-Tank Guided Missiles aimed at ship structures or hand-launched attack drones filled with explosives.

Of potentially even greater concern, quite possibly, is the advent of unmanned small attack vessels unconstrained by any need to protect a manned crew. They could approach much closer, without having to avoid incoming fire from ship defense weapons. The U.S. Navy is already testing and developing a “ghost fleet” of unmanned small ships to perform a range of missions to include, reconnaissance, mine and submarine detection and of course forward-operating attack missions – firing weapons while manned crews remain at safer distances. The U.S. Navy, however, is of course no longer the only nation with the technological sophistication to develop and operate unmanned small boats. The current global threat circumstance is such that the U.S. Navy recognizes it needs to know how to defend against these kinds of attacks.

Pentagon threat assessment analysts have long expressed concern that small boat attacks could, for instance, be used by Iranian forces to stop the flow of naval traffic through the dangerous and narrow Strait of Hormuz – the only passage from the Persian Gulf into the open ocean. Concurrently, small attack craft could just as easily be launched on the open ocean by host ships launching offensive operations from safer distances. Not only could the boats perform sensing and reconnaissance missions, but they could of course also themselves become explosives or seek to jam a ship’s radar by flooding it with dispersed attack nodes.

These are the reasons the Navy is moving quickly to prepare its ship-based offensive and defensive weapons from these kinds of very serious threats. The formal test and evaluation phase is slated to finish up by early next year, as a key step toward operational status.

The service is also arming its LCS fleet with a long-range, over-the-horizon Naval Strike Missile to extend the ship’s offensive attack reach. The Navy is also now advancing plans to arm the Littoral Combat Ship with an emerging ship defense soft-kill countermeasure able to identify, track and destroy incoming enemy torpedo fire, Navy officials said. The Navy plans to outfit its entire LCS fleet with the AN/SLQ-61 Lightweight Tow Torpedo Defense Mission Module (TDMM) as a way to fortify the ship’s ability to succeed in both shallow water and open or “blue” water warfare, Navy officials told Warrior Maven.

The new TDMM completed two days of at-sea testing several months ago in order to prepare for operational service on LCS ships. The technology uses an underwater acoustic projector, attached to a cable dropped from the ship’s stern to identify acoustic homing and wire-guided enemy torpedoes, service information describes.

The digitally-controlled system, traveling underwater beneath the ship, uses acoustic technology. In a manner quite similar to radar above the ground, the return signal, or ping, is then analyzed to determine the distance, shape and speed of an approaching enemy threat. In the case of the Navy, the “ping” is, of course, acoustic sound waves and not the electronic pings known to surface radar.

"The torpedo defense capability the TDMM provides is envisioned for eventual deployment on all LCS ships, and potentially other small combatants," a Navy statement from earlier this year said.

Offered as a lighter-weight alternative to the currently-operational AN/SLQ-25 “Nixie,” the new TDMM is specifically engineered for smaller warships, such as the LCS, Navy statements said.

LCS Mission Evolution

The addition of this combat technology to the LCS is consistent with the Navy’s evolving strategy for the ship, which seeks to broaden its mission scope to incorporate a wider range of surface combat possibilities.

While the ship was conceived and developed as a multi-mission countermine anti-submarine surface warfare platform for littoral operations, the Navy is trying to move quickly to further arm the ship for major maritime combat as well.

The LCS’s shallow draft enables it to approach island and coastal areas inaccessible to larger, deeper draft ships, adding offensive and defensive weaponry to give commanders more options.

For instance, as an LCS approaches shallow waters, it may operate in a more autonomous, or disaggregated fashion and, therefore, be unable to rely upon combat protections from nearby larger ships.

Accordingly, equipping the ship with improved defenses would better enable the platform to defend itself while operating more independently. This brings the added advantage of reducing the risk for other surface combatants, in part because the LCS is designed for high-risk countermine missions in littoral areas, allowing larger ships can remain at safer distances without being exposed to mines.

The previously published Navy’s Distributed Maritime Operations Concept builds upon the Navy’s much-discussed “distributed lethality” strategy. This strategic approach, in development for several years now, emphasizes the need to more fully arm the fleet with offensive and defensive weapons and disperse forces as needed to respond to fast-emerging near-peer threats.

Part of the rationale is to move back toward open or “blue water” combat capability against near-peer competitors emphasized during the Cold War. While the strategic and tactical capability never disappeared, it was emphasized less during the last 10-plus years of ground wars wherein the Navy focused on counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and things like Visit Board Search and Seizure. These missions are, of course, still important, however, the Navy seeks to substantially increase its offensive “lethality” in order to deter or be effective against emerging high-tech adversaries.

More Weapons and Technology – WARRIOR MAVEN (CLICK HERE) –

F-35 ‘tech refresh’ enables new attack technology, AI

The Pentagon and Lockheed are pursuing a "Tech Refresh" effort with the F-35 intended to improve the stealth fighter's targeting attack technology, weapons delivery and on-board computing — all as part of an effort to try to keep the F-35's combat effectiveness ahead of great power rival nations.

The refresh, intended to be built into new planes and retrofitted onto older ones, improves memory, storage, processing speed, display video and aircraft parametric data, Vice Adm. Mat Winter, Program Executive Officer for the F-35 program, told reporters earlier this year.

"These are hardware and software modifications to bring an integrated core processor, memory system and display screen," Winter said.

As part of this ongoing effort, Lockheed Martin has been working with Harris Corporation to provide the computing infrastructure for new panoramic cockpit displays, advanced memory systems and navigation technology.

The new hardware and software, to be operational on the F-35 by 2021, includes seven racks per aircraft consisting of 1,500 module components, including new antennas and weapons release systems. Other components include an Advanced Memory System (AMS) engineered to improve data storage and generate higher resolution imagery to help pilots with navigational and targeting information.

Faster processors will improve F-35 delivery of weapons enabled by the latest 3F software drop, such as the AIM-9X air-to-air missile. Improved radar warning receiver technology will more quickly identify enemy aircraft and integrate with the aircraft’s mission data files, or threat library.

The data processing increase is exponential, developers explain, as it enables measurements to take place in terabytes instead of megabits or megabytes. The upgrades include a portable memory device which can quickly be transferred from a ground station to the F-35 cockpit.

As the most recently implemented software upgrade, Block 3f increases the weapons delivery capacity of the JSF, giving it the ability to drop a Small Diameter Bomb, 500-pound JDAM and AIM 9X short-range air-to-air missile, service officials explained.

The Air Force is already working on a 4th drop to be ready by 2020 or 2021. Following this initial drop, the aircraft will incorporate new software drops as quickly as possible. Block IV will include some new partner weapons including British weapons, Turkish weapons and some of the other European country weapons that they want to get on their own plane, service officials explained.

Block IV will also increase the weapons envelope for the U.S. variant of the fighter jet. A big part of the developmental calculus for Block 4 is to work on the kinds of enemy air defense systems and weaponry the aircraft may face from the 2020’s through the 2040’s and beyond.

In terms of weapons, Block IV will eventually enable the F-35 to fire cutting edge weapons systems such as the Small Diameter Bomb II and GBU-54 – both air dropped bombs able to destroy targets on the move.

The Small Diameter Bomb II uses a technology called a “tri-mode” seeker, drawing from infrared, millimeter wave and laser-guidance. The combination of these sensors allows the weapon to track and eliminate moving targets in all kinds of weather conditions.

The emerging 4th software drop will build upon prior iterations of the software for the aircraft.

Block 2B builds upon the enhanced simulated weapons, data link capabilities and early fused sensor integration of the earlier Block 2A software drop. Block 2B will enable the JSF to provide basic close air support and fire an AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile), JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or GBU-12 (laser-guided aerial bomb) JSF program officials said.

Following Block 2B, Block 3i increases the combat capability even further and the now operational 3F brings a vastly increased ability to suppress enemy air defenses.

Mission Data Files

The F-35 is now conducting attacks, surveillance operations and combat missions with an updated on-board “threat library” of Mission Data Files engineered to identify enemy threats in key regions around the globe.

“The AORs (Areas of Responsibility) for current operations where our forces are — currently have adequate Mission Data Files,” Winter said.

Described as the brains of the airplane, the "mission data files" are extensive on-board data systems compiling information on geography, air space and potential threats– such as enemy fighter jets — in areas where the F-35 might be expected to perform combat operations, Air Force officials explained.

Despite some delays with development, involving software engineering and technical development at Eglin AFB, Fla., the process is now fully on track to finish by 2019, Winter said.

Naturally, Air Force senior weapons developers do not comment on specific threats in specific areas around the globe, developers do acknowledge the threat library will include all known and future threat aircraft — which of course includes advanced Chinese and Russian 5th-generation fighters. For security reasons, Air Force officials do not wish to confirm this or specify any kind of time frame for their inclusion.

Overall, there are 12 geographical regions being identified to comprise the library, service developers say.

“We have not fully verified all Mission Data Files for all of the regions where we will operate, but we are slated to be ready by 2019,” Winter said.

The mission data files are designed to work with the aircraft's Radar Warning Receiver engineered to find and identify approaching enemy threats and incoming hostile fire. The concept is to use the F-35s long range sensors to detect threats – and then compare the information against the existing library of enemy threats in real time while in flight. If this can happen at a favorable standoff range for the F-35, it will be able to identify and destroy enemy air-to-air targets before being vulnerable itself to enemy fire. For example, the mission data system may be able to quickly identify a Russian MiG-29 if it were detected by the F-35’s sensors.

“There is continued collaboration between intelligence and acquisition teams,” Winter said.

The Mission Data Files are intended to support the F-35’s sensor fusion so that information from disparate sensor systems can be combined on a single screen for pilots to lower the cognitive burden and quicken the decision-making process. New modules for mission systems will integrate into the F-35s Distributed Aperture System sensors and Electro-optical Targeting System.

The Pentagon is improving Mission Data File technology, in part, through computer algorithms increasingly supported by AI, Winter said.

“Our fusion engine gets advanced sensors technology to rapidly identify and track targets without the pilot having to do all the work. This fusion is enabled by Mission Data Files,” Winter explained.

This concept regarding integrated threat warnings and the Missile Data Files is further reinforced in a Lockheed Martin engineering paper from early this year called “F-35 Mission Systems Design, Development and Verification.”

The paper provides technical detail on a number of F-35 technologies, including analysis of a system called AN/ASQ-242 Communications, Navigation and Identification system, or CNI. CNI provides beyond-visual-range target identification, anti-jam technology, radio navigation and, of great significance to Mission Data Files — “warning messaging” and “pilot audio alerts.” Part of its function includes “connectivity with off-board sources of information,” a function which bears great relevance to identifying specific enemy aircraft at great distances.

While many developers cite significant challenges when it comes to software development and integration for the F-35, the fighter is regarded by developers as a “flying computer.” The “fusion” or technical integration on board the aircraft is engineered to access and leverage a wide range of data points and condense them for the pilot. In essence, surveillance, computer processing and targeting data are fused, as opposed to being stovepiped or separate sources. As a result, the technology also incorporates Identification Friend Foe (IFF) surveillance systems designed to quickly distinguish friendly from enemy aircraft.

Mission Data Files technology is now supporting the latest F-35 software configuration – called 3f.

"Mission data has been fielded in support of version 2B, 3i, and 3f," Air Force spokeswoman Emily Grabowski told Warrior earlier this year.

More Weapons and Technology – WARRIORMAVEN (CLICK HERE)

Fox on Tech: Google driverless taxis

It seems like these days, the market is flooded with ride-hailing apps, each promising better service and lower rates than the next. From Uber to Lyft to Gett, there's no shortage of taxi-alternatives for tech-savvy Americans. Now a new company throws its hat into the ring, and it's one that most people are familiar with. Alphabet – Google's parent company – has launched its own service, Waymo. The app could save you lots of time, but don't expect any witty banter with your driver – the Waymo fleet is almost entirely self-driving cars.

Officially called "Waymo One," the autonomous taxis are now on the roads of Phoenix for a beta test. So far users are reporting good service with no major mistakes or accidents. But for now, not everyone is able to get on board, only Phoenix residents who have already been using Waymo can request a self-driving car. And for the first few months of the program, there will still be a driver behind the wheel to ensure passenger safety.


The broader Waymo program launched last year in Phoenix and has around 400 users. The new Waymo One service will be available around the clock and works in a similar way to other ride-sharing apps: you input your destination, the app tells you the fare, and contacts nearby cars for availability. While the beta test continues, Waymo is encouraging customers to bring their friends along for the ride, to help expose more of the general public to self-driving cars.

The program should also be expanding soon as well. Back in October, Waymo was given permission to begin testing driverless cars in California. So if you live in the Golden State, the next cab you hail may not have a driver!

F-35C stealth fighter undertakes first operational tests at sea

The Navy’s first-of-its-kind carrier-launched F-35C has been conducting aerial maneuvers, weapons integration, “cyclical” flight take-off missions and other war operations from the flight deck of a Nimitz-Class carrier recently, marking the first operational tests of the stealth fighter slated to deploy in 2021.

“This was the first-ever operational F-35C integration,” Rear Adm. Matt Winter, F-35 Joint Program Executive Officer told reporters a few months ago when referring to the exercises.

The combat exercises, which have involved F-35C joint missions with F-18 Super Hornets, E-2D Hawkeye surveillance planes and EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft, were designed to help the Navy prepare for how the introduction of the F-35C will change combat, impact war strategy and drive new concepts of operation.

Missions have included “defensive counter air” and “anti-submarine” warfare, among others, Capt. Matt Norris, from the Joint Strike Fighter Operational Test Team said in a Navy statement earlier this year during Carrier Air Wing assessments on board the USS Abraham Lincoln. Formal Operational Testing has continued into the Fall to ensure the emerging aircraft can fully perform the full range of war operations.

The emergence of a carrier-launched stealth fighter is intended to give the Navy more combat attack flexibility and an improved ability to fight sophisticated enemy air defenses from a sea-based carrier. Such an ability can allow a maneuvering carrier to hold targets at risk from closer proximity if land-bases are far from the combat vicinity. Perhaps of greatest significance, the F-35C brings stealth attack technology to the carrier flight deck for the first time, a circumstance which further enables sea-based attack operations to attack advanced enemy air defenses and function in extremely high-threat environments.

The combat ops, some of which took place off the Eastern shore of the US, heavily emphasized weapons exercises with the F-35C arsenal, which include GBU-32 and GBU-12 air-dropped bombs, AIM-120 and AIM-9x air-to-air missiles and a 25mm cannon. Several tests and assessments have also ensured pilots could properly use night-combat enabled Helmet Mounted Displays designed to provide more fidelity in “low-light” conditions such as those with little or no moonlight.

Assessments of the F-35C have also included efforts to refine a precision-landing technology called Joint Precision Approach & Landing Systems, or JPALs.

JPALS, slated to be operational by 2019, works with the GPS satellite navigation system to provide accurate, reliable and high-integrity guidance for fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, Navy statements said.

Navy information has described JPALS as a system featuring anti-jam protection to ensure mission continuity in hostile environments.

“JPALS is a differential GPS that will provide an adverse weather precision approach and landing capability,” a Navy statement said.

With a broad wingspan, reinforced landing gear, ruggedized structures and durable coatings, the Navy's F-35C is engineered for harsh shipboard conditions. Its avionics equip the pilot with real-time, spherical access to battlespace information.

Being engineered for a carrier, the F-35C's 51-foot wingspan is larger than the Air Force's F-35A and Marine Corps' F-35B short-take-off-and-landing variants. It can fire two AIM-120 air-to-air missiles and two 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The F-35C can reach speeds up to Mach 1.6 and travel more than 1,200 nautical miles, according to Navy information.

In the future, the F-35C will have an ability to drop a Small Diameter Bomb II – a high-tech weapon now in development able to track and destroy moving targets from great distances using a tri-mode seeker.

The SDB II uses millimeter wave, laser and infrared guidance technology and has now been tested on an F-35, Raytheon developers have explained.

Over the next five years, the Navy plans to acquire as many as 60 or more of the new fighters, Navy officials have told Warrior Maven.

The F-35C is engineered with a new technology called Delta Flight Path which helps pilot land on a carrier deck more easily, Pentagon F-35 developers say.

Test pilots and engineers credited the F-35C's Delta Flight Path technology with significantly reducing pilot workload during the approach to the carrier, increasing safety margins during carrier approaches and reducing touchdown dispersion.

Carrier landing is never easy as pilots must account for the wind-speed, atmospheric conditions and speed of the ship. Navy pilots have explained to Warrior Maven in previous interviews that pilots follow a yellow light on the flight deck of the ship called the Fresnel Lens to help the trajectory of the approach, called their glide slope.

In a previously released document described as the "Naval Aviation Vision," the F-35C is described as being engineered with reinforced landing gear and durable coatings to allow the F-35C to withstand harsh shipboard conditions while delivering a lethal combination of fighter capabilities to the fleet.

Prior to this Operational Testing, the aircraft has gone through several rounds of testing to advance what’s called carrier integration and carrier qualification – an effort to seamlessly integrate the new aircraft into the carrier platform and carrier air wing, service officials have explained.

By 2025, the Navy's aircraft carrier-based air wings will consist of a mix of F-35C, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, MH-60R/S helicopters and Carrier Onboard Delivery logistics aircraft such as the Navy Osprey tiltrotor aircraft variant.

More Weapons and Technology –WARRIORMAVEN 

Air Force sets sights on high-tech laser weapons

The Air Force will one day fire high-tech laser weapons from drones and fighter jets to destroy high-value targets, conduct precision strikes and incinerate enemy locations from the sky.

The first airborne tests are expected to take place by 2021, Air Force officials have said. The developmental efforts are focused on increasing the power, precision and guidance of existing laser weapon applications with the hope of moving from 10-kilowatts up to 100 kilowatts. Air Force weapons developers are also working on the guidance mechanisms to enable laser weapons to stay on-track on a particular target.

Air Force leaders have said that the service plans to begin firing laser weapons from larger platforms such as C-17s and C-130s until technological miniaturization efforts can configure the weapon to fire from fighter jets such as an F-15, F-16 or F-35. Given the state of current technology, cargo planes are better equipped in the short term to transport the requisite amount of mobile on-board power needed for airborne lasers.

The Air Force Research Laboratory is already working on a program to develop laser weapons for drones and manned aircraft to arm air platforms by the mid-2020s. When it comes to drone-fired lasers, there does not yet appear to be a timetable for when they would be operational weapons – however weapons technology of this kind is moving quickly.

Future laser weapons could substantially complement existing ordnance or drone-fired weapons such as a Hellfire missile. Laser weapons allow for an alternative method of destroying targets, rapid succession of fire, reduced expenditure of dollars and, quite possibly, increased precision, service officials have explained. For instance, a key advantage of using laser weapons would include an ability to melt or incinerate an incoming missile or enemy target without necessarily causing an explosion.

A 2016 Air Force Research Laboratory report, called "Speed of Light to the Fight by 2020," details how laser weapons can be used to deliver "scalable" effects. These include ways a 30kW laser can create "denial, degradation, disruption and destruction from UAS (drones) to small boats at a range of several kilometers," the report states.

"More powerful lasers have counter-air, counter-ground, and counter-sea applications against a host of hardened military equipment and vehicles at significant range," the AFRL report writes.

A Congressional Research Service report from earlier this year on Directed Energy Programs, also details some of the key advantages and limitations of fast-evolving laser weapons.

“DE (directed energy) could be used as both a sensor and a weapon, thereby shortening the sensor-to-shooter timeline to seconds. This means that U.S. weapon systems could conduct multiple engagements against a target before an adversary could respond,” the Congressional report states.

Lasers also bring the substantial advantage of staying ahead of the “cost curve,” making them easier to use repeatedly. In many instances, low-cost lasers could destroy targets instead of expensive interceptor missiles. Furthermore, mobile-power technology, targeting algorithms, beam control and thermal management technologies are all progressing quickly, a scenario which increases prospects for successful laser applications.

At the same time, the Congressional report also points out some basic constraints or challenges associated with laser weapons. Laser weapons can suffer from “beam attenuation, limited range and an ability to be employed against non-line-of-sight targets,” the report says.

The AFRL report reinforces this, explaining that laser weapons need to enable precise timing, tracking and pointing amidst the aero-mechanical jitter induced by vibrations during flight.

The essay also mentions the importance of engineering light-weight exportable electrical power sufficient to support a fighter-jet mounted weapon. Temperature, the report says, is also of great significance.

"System temperature much be controlled via the dissipation of waste heat and high-speed aerodynamic flow must be mitigated to avoid aero-optical disturbances," the AFRL document writes.

Ground testing of a laser weapon called the High Energy Laser, or HEL, has been underway at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., service officials said. The High Energy Laser tests are being conducted by the Air Force Directed Energy Directorate, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico.

The service is now pursuing two concurrent laser-weapons programs; the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) is designed to prepare airborne lasers and the Demonstrator Laser Weapon System (DLWS) is geared toward ground-fired weapons.

Given the complexity of laser weapons integration, the AFRL report details a three-pronged approach to development; the phased approach begins with subsystems engineering, then moves toward low-power laser testing and them conduct extensive air and ground tests.

Another advantage of lasers is an ability to use a much more extended magazine for weapons. Instead of flying with six or seven missiles on or in an aircraft, a directed energy weapons system could fire thousands of shots using a single gallon of jet fuel, Air Force experts explained.

"The total number of shots they can fire is limited only by the fuel available to drive the electrical power source," the AFRL report says.

-More Weapons and Technology –WARRIOR MAVEN (CLICK HERE)

New Apple AirPods design expected in 2020, report says

Well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has some new predictions for what's next for Apple's AirPods wireless earphones, but there's not much to get excited about until 2020 if he's right.

As AppleInsider reports, we should expect a minor refresh of the AirPods in the first quarter of 2019. Kuo believes AirPods are going to receive a Bluetooth upgrade, which would mean the adoption of Bluetooth 5.0. That would bring them in line with the latest iPhone models and the HomePod. The main advantage of Bluetooth 5.0 for earphones being a higher broadcasting capacity.

Other expected improvements include a new W-series chip and the introduction of support for wireless charging. That sounds like Apple is going to switch out the existing AirPods charging case (which requires a Lightning cable for recharging) for a wireless version. So rather than plugging it into to charge you can simply place it on a wireless charging pad such as the Belkin Boost Up.

The update doesn't sound like enough for existing AirPods owners to make the upgrade, but it would be nice to see battery life extended beyond five hours and wireless charging for the case. Will the price increase because of that? Probably. We heard reports of "Hey Siri" AirPods back in February, so that could also be a feature in next year's refresh.

More From PCmag

  • Android Auto Gets New Media, Search, Messaging Features
  • Pornhub Fights Starbucks Porn Ban With ‘Safe for Work’ Subdomain
  • How to Download Your Facebook Data (and 6 Surprising Things I Found)
  • E Ink JustWrite Is Like ‘Writing on Paper’
  • Looking further ahead, Kuo believes Apple is planning an all-new design for the AirPods in 2020. The focus is apparently on producing AirPods that all existing AirPods owners would desire enough to upgrade immediately. How you do that with something as small and simple as the AirPods is unclear. Better battery life, enhanced sound quality, the introduction of many color options, and some kind of new health and fitness features may put in an appearance come 2020. Noise cancellation has also been mentioned in the past.

    Kuo's sales predictions for AirPods seem overly generous. The figures for 2017 and 2018 are 16 million and 28 million respectively. However, for 2019 Kuo sees that jumping to 55 million, then 80 million for 2020, and 110 million for 2021. Kuo's reasoning seems to be that iPhone owners will be upgrading their AirPods much more regularly than their smartphones. Even so, those sales figures seem very high.

    One thing everyone would like to know, and which relates to wireless AirPods, is what happened to the AirPower wireless charging mat? It was meant to launch back in March, then got delayed until September. It still hasn't appeared and there's no sign it ever will. Triple-device charging seems like a step too far for Apple's engineers right now. Meanwhile, Samsung will happily wirelessly charge two devices for you.

    This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.

    How America can get its slice of the $1 trillion space economy

    NASA announced this week it would return to the Moon and eventually head toward Mars with the help of commercial partners for the first time, adding to the level of excitement about space exploration and its potential socioeconomic benefits.

    Some analysts believe the space economy could be worth $1 trillion in a few decades — and America stands to capture a significant portion of that.

    In a note to investors earlier this week, Morgan Stanley analysts estimated the space economy will be worth more than $1 trillion by the year 2040 and could be worth as much as $1.7 trillion if all goes as planned.

    Much of the benefits will come from satellite broadband, of which California-based SpaceX has already started working on. In February 2018, the Elon Musk-led company received approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to build a satellite broadband network, providing high-speed network to all corners of the Earth. On November 15, the company received approval to make its eventual network even larger, getting the OK to launch more than 7,500 Internet-delivery satellites into low-Earth orbit, on top of the already approved 4,000 satellites, Fox 47 reported.


    "Think of the innovation that has come from the Internet that we would not have been able to model in the 1990s," the analysts wrote in their note, while cautioning that if there is less emphasis on broadband, the space economy could be worth significantly less than $1 trillion.

    The analysts mentioned several areas where the space economy could see booms: consumer services (including TV, radio and broadband connections), satellite services, ground equipment, consumer navigation, consumer and networking equipment, satellite manufacturing and launch and what it calls the "non satellite industry."

    In May, SpaceX successfully launched the first satellite from Bangladesh into orbit, which will allow Internet access in all corners of the country.

    While the $1 trillion figure is eye-opening, it is nothing to say of the potential for mining asteroids, which some analysts could be worth multiple trillions of dollars. In 2017, one analyst from Goldman Sachs theorized that one asteroid could have as much as $50 billion worth of platinum, as well as water and other precious resources.

    Water and platinum group metals that are abundant on asteroids are highly disruptive from a technological and economic standpoint," Poponak wrote in an investor note. "According to a 2012 Reuters interview with Planetary Resources, a single asteroid the size of a football field could contain $25bn- $50bn worth of platinum," the analyst added.

    NASA has said for several years, going back to 2013, that it intends to mine asteroids as well.

    Socioeconomic benefits

    While announcing the nine companies – including Lockheed Martin and New Jersey-based Orbit Beyond – that will help take NASA astronauts to the Moon and beyond, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine stressed that this would not be like past initiatives that have previously failed.

    Bridenstine stated NASA was "spreading the risk" and "lowering the cost with multiple commercial partners." "This is not going to be Lucy and the football again," Bridenstine said. "We're not going to plan to go to the Moon and not go to the Moon. We have more partners than ever before and their level of excitement is higher than it's ever been."

    The NASA administrator likened it to venture capital — "we're taking shots on goal," he said, adding that the space agency would have some risk, but a greater reward because of its commercial partners. "We want medium-class landers, we want large-class landers and we want human-class landers. We also want to get there fast."

    In addition, Bridenstine, also a former congressman from Oklahoma, said NASA would be conducting scientific experiments on the surface of the Moon, taking heed from the scientific community. "We believe there is a lot of amazing science we can do on the surface of the Moon," Bridenstine said during the presentation.

    Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said there is water on the Moon and the upcoming scientific experiments will help humanity learn how to use these resources to further science.

    The Trump administration has cited Moon missions a key element of the 2019 NASA budget. President Trump wants U.S. astronauts to return to the Moon as a foundation for future Mars missions.


    Heady times for the final frontier

    2018 has been a monumental year for space exploration, as it included the February launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket and NASA's return to Mars earlier this week with the Mars InSight Lander.

    Other events include September's announcement that SpaceX will fly Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa around the Moon in 2023, becoming the first private passenger aboard the company's renamed Starship launch vehicle (it was previously known as the Big Falcon Rocket), as well as the Trump administration ordering the establishment of the Space Force as the sixth branch of the military.

    Initially, the idea puzzled many on both sides of the aisle but recently gained the backing of some luminaries, such as Neil deGrasse Tyson and the aforementioned Musk.

    In August, Vice President Pence revealed the Trump administration wants to create the “Space Force” by 2020.

    Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

    Navy tests and refines new attack submarine ‘stealth’ technology

    The U.S. Navy is arming a new fleet of attack submarines with stealthy “quieting” systems, new weapons, next-gen sonar and additional advanced undersea warfare technologies to enable its future boats to execute massive land-attacks, perform “covert insertions” of forces and conduct reconnaissance missions undetected.

    Many of these systems are in the process of being refined on board the recently delivered USS South Dakota Virginia-Class attack submarine. The boat is now poised to begin a vital part of the developmental process known as post-shakedown availability next year – a series of key assessments and final steps necessary to prep the submarine for major ocean combat.

    “Design modifications will be made and then subsequently tested. Some of these design modifications are planned to be included in the fifth block of Virginia-class submarines during new construction,” William Couch, spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command, told Warrior in a statement.

    Many of these innovations, which have been underway and tested as prototypes for many years, are already operational as the USS South Dakota enters service, after being formally delivered to the Navy earlier this year.

    The plan, Navy developers say, is to further refine these technical advances before deploying what many call “the stealthiest submarines ever built” in the early 2020s.

    While many details of these technical advances are not available for security reasons, service technology developers have, in a general way, told Warrior Maven some of the parameters; the innovations include quieting technologies for the engine room to make the submarine harder to detect, a new large vertical array and additional "quieting" coating materials for the hull.

    The USS South Dakota was christened by the Navy Oct. 14 at a General Dynamics Electric Boat facility in Groton, Ct.

    The idea with the so-called “acoustic superiority” plan is to engineer a U.S. submarines able to operate undetected in or near enemy waters or coastline, conduct reconnaissance or attack missions and sense any movement or enemy activities at farther ranges than adversaries can. These advances are consistent with more recent undersea combat strategy which, in part due to technological progress, increasingly sees attack submarines as well suited for clandestine undersea surveillance missions.

    Interestingly, a substantial increased emphasis in undersea reconnaissance for attack submarines, above and beyond the historically associated “attack” missions, was cited in a 1997 National Research Council essay titled “Vision of Submarine Platforms for 2035.”

    “Intelligence collection: the capability for tactical and national intelligence collection over an extended period is needed to provide covert surveillance both prior to and after onset of hostilities,” the paper writes. The research seems to suggest that strategic thinking in this area anticipated and preceded the advent of these modern technologies.

    “Covert Insertion” is another mission emphasis cited by the paper, a technique heavily reliant upon decreased undersea detectability. Submarines, in these instances, are able to more closely approach enemy coastline to conduct surveillance missions, scout or strike targets and “covertly” insert forces in close proximity to a conflict.

    “Deployment of ground forces of various numbers, configurations and capabilities offers the advantage of determining optimum timing by covert and, if necessary, extended on-site observation of the tactical situation,” the essay “Vision of Submarine Platforms for 2035,” writes.

    While the specific technical composition of new coating materials for the USS South Dakota are, naturally, not available – many submarine weapons developers and engineers are known to use specially crafted rubber tiles to absorb sonar “pings.” Also, propellers are typically designed to produce thrust at slow speeds, to minimize cavitation and decrease any underwater signature, a research paper from Livingston Research writes.

    Acoustic sensor technology works by using underwater submarine sensors to detect sound “pings” to determine the contours, speed and range of an enemy ship, submarine or approaching weapon. Much like radar analyzes the return electromagnetic signal bounced off an object, acoustics works by using “sound” in a similar fashion. Most of the undersea acoustic technology is “passive,” meaning it is engineered to receive pings and “listen” without sending out a signal which might reveal their undersea presence or location to an enemy, Navy technology developers explained to Warrior in previous interviews.

    While high-frequency, fast two-way communication is currently difficult to sustain from the undersea domain, submarines are able to use a Very Low Frequency radio to communicate while at various depths beneath the surface, a former senior Navy weapons developer told Warrior in an interview several years ago.

    Massive Weapons Increase for Attack Submarines

    Navy developers tell Warrior the service is already making substantial progress in building a new 84ft section into Block V Virginia-Class attack submarine for the purpose of massively increasing firepower.

    The Virginia Payload Modules, slated to become operational by the 2020s, will increase the Tomahawk missile firepower of the submarines from 12 missiles up to 40, Navy weapons developers explain.

    The VPM submarines will have an additional (approximately 84 feet) section with four additional Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of carrying seven Tomahawk cruise missiles, for a ship total of 40 Tomahawks.

    While designed primarily to hold Tomahawks, the VPM missile tubes are engineered such that they could accommodate a new payload, new missile or even a large unmanned underwater vehicle, Navy officials said.

    The reason for the Virginia Payload Modules is clear; beginning in the 2020s, the Navy will start retiring four large Ohio-class guided-missile submarines able to fire up to 154 Tomahawk missiles each. This will result in the Navy losing a massive amount of undersea fire power capability, Navy officials explained.

    From 2002 to 2008 the U.S. Navy modified four of its oldest nuclear-armed Ohio-class submarines by turning them into ships armed with only conventional missiles — the USS Ohio, USS Michigan, USS Florida and USS Georgia. They are called SSGNs, with the “G” designation for “guided missile.”

    Overall, these advancements for the future submarine fleet are not only designed for new boats being built – but possibly for those already in service.

    “These improvements are evaluated for future ships and potential retro-fitting into older ships,” Couch said.

    More Weapons and Technology -WARRIORMAVEN (CLICK HERE)