U.S. Army Unveils ‘Revolutionary’ XM25 Rifle in Afghanistan

Since the dawn of modern warfare, the best way to stay alive in the face of incoming fire has been to take cover behind a wall. But thanks to a game-changing “revolutionary” rifle, the U.S. Army has made that tactic dead on arrival. Now the enemy can run, but he can’t hide.

After years of development, the U.S. Army has unleashed a new weapon in Afghanistan — the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System, a high-tech rifle that can be programmed so that its 25-mm. ammunition detonates either in front of or behind a target, meaning it can be fired just above a wall before it explodes and kills the enemy.

It also has a range of roughly 2,300 feet — nearly the length of eight football fields — making it possible to fire at targets well past the range of the rifles and carbines that most soldiers carry today.

Lt. Col. Christopher Lehner, project manager for the semi-automatic, shoulder-fired weapon system for the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office Soldier, said that the XM25’s capability alone is such a “game-changer” that it’ll lead to new ways of fighting on the battlefield, beginning this month in Afghanistan.

“With this weapon system, we take away cover from [enemy targets] forever,” Lehner told FoxNews.com on Wednesday. “Tactics are going to have to be rewritten. The only thing we can see [enemies] being able to do is run away.”

via U.S. Army Unveils ‘Revolutionary’ XM25 Rifle in Afghanistan – FoxNews.com.

The Recent Future / November 29, 2010 / SciFi, Tech / 0 Comments

Fermilab Experiment Hints At Existence of Brand-New Elementary Particle

A fourth neutrino could help explain dark matter

Physicists working with a Fermilab neutrino experiment may have found a new elementary particle whose behavior breaks the known laws of physics. If correct, their results poke holes in the accepted Standard Model of particles and forces, and raise some interesting questions for the Large Hadron Collider and Tevatron experiments. The new particle could even explain the existence of dark matter.

Working with Fermilab’s MiniBooNE experiment — the first part of the larger planned Booster Neutrino Experiment — physicists found evidence for a fourth flavor of neutrino, according to a new paper published in Physical Review Letters. This means there could be another particle we didn’t know about, and that it behaves in a way physicists didn’t expect.

Neutrinos have been mystifying physicists since they were first theorized decades ago. They are one of the building blocks of matter, and to the best of our knowledge, they come in three varieties, called flavors: electron neutrinos, muon neutrinos and tau neutrinos. Oscillation is what happens when neutrinos turn from one flavor to another; an electron neutrino might turn into a muon neutrino, and then turn back again. How often they do this tells physicists about the infinitesimally small differences in their masses. Neutrino mass is important because it may lead us to physics beyond the Standard Model. And that is exactly what seems to have happened.

via Fermilab Experiment Hints At Existence of Brand-New Elementary Particle | Popular Science.

The Recent Future / November 22, 2010 / SciFi, Tech / 0 Comments

Cell Phones Powered by Conversation?

Chatty teenagers could be the world’s next renewable energy source.

Scientists from Korea have turned the main ingredient of calamine lotion into a tiny material that converts sound waves into electricity. The research could lead to panels that can charge a cell phone from a conversation or provide a boost of energy to the nation’s electrical grid generated by the noise during rush hour traffic.

“Just as speakers transform electric signals into sound, the opposite process — of turning sound into a source of electrical power — is possible,” said Young Jun Park and Sang-Woo Kim, the two corresponding authors of a new article in the journal Advanced Materials.

“Sound power can be used for various novel applications including mobile phones that can be charged during conversations and sound-insulating walls near highways that generate electricity from the sound of passing vehicles,” the co-authors added.

Harvesting energy from phone calls and passing cars is based on materials known as piezoelectrics. When bent, a piezoelectric material turns that mechanical energy into electricity.

via Cell Phones Powered by Conversation? : Discovery News.

The Recent Future / September 14, 2010 / SciFi, Tech / 0 Comments

‘Beam me up, Scotty!’ Breakthrough as scientists move objects 5ft using tractor beams

Scientists have invented a tractor beam which is able to move large objects longer distances than ever before by using a laser light.

A team of researchers at the Australian National University in Canberra have brought the art of molecular transportation, made famous by the catchphrase ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ from the TV series Star Trek, a fraction closer.

Using what they call tractor beams – rays of energy that can move objects – they have managed to move tiny particles up to 59 inches from one place to another.

via ‘Beam me up, Scotty!’ Breakthrough as scientists move objects 5ft using tractor lasers | Mail Online.

The Recent Future / September 9, 2010 / SciFi, Star Trek Did It! / 0 Comments

Electricity collected from the air could become the newest alternative energy source

Imagine devices that capture electricity from the air ― much like solar cells capture sunlight ― and using them to light a house or recharge an electric car. Imagine using similar panels on the rooftops of buildings to prevent lightning before it forms. Strange as it may sound, scientists already are in the early stages of developing such devices, according to a report presented today at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

“Our research could pave the way for turning electricity from the atmosphere into an alternative energy source for the future,” said study leader Fernando Galembeck, Ph.D. His research may help explain a 200-year-old scientific riddle about how electricity is produced and discharged in the atmosphere. “Just as solar energy could free some households from paying electric bills, this promising new energy source could have a similar effect,” he maintained.

“If we know how electricity builds up and spreads in the atmosphere, we can also prevent death and damage caused by lightning strikes,” Galembeck said, noting that lightning causes thousands of deaths and injuries worldwide and millions of dollars in property damage.

The notion of harnessing the power of electricity formed naturally has tantalized scientists for centuries. They noticed that sparks of static electricity formed as steam escaped from boilers. Workers who touched the steam even got painful electrical shocks. Famed inventor Nikola Tesla, for example, was among those who dreamed of capturing and using electricity from the air. It’s the electricity formed, for instance, when water vapor collects on microscopic particles of dust and other material in the air. But until now, scientists lacked adequate knowledge about the processes involved in formation and release of electricity from water in the atmosphere, Galembeck said. He is with the University of Campinas in Campinas, SP, Brazil.

via Electricity collected from the air could become the newest alternative energy source.

The Recent Future / August 27, 2010 / Nature, SciFi, Tech / 0 Comments

Flywheel power grid storage project gets DOE loan

Beacon Power on Monday said it has closed a $43 million loan guarantee with the Department of Energy for a project to use flywheels to buffer 20 megawatts of power on the grid.

The loan covers 62.5 percent of the estimated $69 million needed to construct the flywheel storage plant in Stephentown, N.Y. The New York Energy Research and Development Authority is also providing $2 million in funding for the plant which is now under construction.

Once done, Beacon Power said that the plant will be the only one of its kind in the world. Rather than use a large battery, it will use a network of 200 flywheels to store electricity from the grid as kinetic energy and disperse it in quick bursts of up to 15 minutes.

Right now, grid operators typically use natural gas power plants to maintain a balance between supply and demand and keep a steady frequency of 60 cycles per second. The Stephentown project, expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter next year, will be able to provide 10 percent of the frequency regulation services in New York needed on a typical day.

The project is significant step up for the technology, which so far has been used in smaller-scale installation of about one megawatt of power.

via Flywheel power grid storage project gets DOE loan | Green Tech – CNET News.

The Recent Future / August 18, 2010 / SciFi, Tech / 0 Comments

The Recent Future / June 24, 2010 / SciFi, Star Trek Did It! / 0 Comments

Star Trek-style force-field armour being developed by military scientists

The new type of armour will use pulses of electrical energy to repel rockets, shrapnel and other ammunition that might damage a vehicle.

Researchers at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), which is the research and development arm of the Ministry of Defence, claim it is possible to incorporate material known as supercapacitors into armour of a vehicle to turn it into a kind of giant battery.

When a threat from incoming fire is detected by the vehicle, the energy stored in the supercapacitor can be rapidly dumped onto the metal plating on the outside of the vehicle, producing a strong electromagnetic field.

Scientists behind the project claim this would produce a momentary “force field” capable of repelling the incoming rounds and projectiles.

via Star Trek-style force-field armour being developed by military scientists – Telegraph.

The Recent Future / March 26, 2010 / SciFi, Star Trek Did It!, Tech / 0 Comments

Mark Roth Has Key to Suspended Animation, Closer To Immortality

As anyone who reads science fiction will tell you, suspended animation is where your body is put into a state of preservation, not really living, but not dead either. It’s like a chemically induced version of hibernation, and it could help you stay alive on the way to a hospital after getting seriously hurt. Mark Roth was part of a larger DARPA initiative to extend soldier survivability after injury on the battlefield. From that research, Roth discovered that hydrogen sulfide (H2S), in small quantities, would put mammals in what was essentially a state of suspended animation. Hydrogen sulfide is toxic (it was used in chemical warfare in WWI) but in the right doses it can actively bond to oxygen receptors in your body. Replacing the need for oxygen allows mammals to lower their metabolic rates to absurdly low levels, but once the H2S is removed animals recover without any nasty side effects. Roth has found then what seems to be the perfect formula for keeping people alive after trauma. His newly formed company, Ikaria, is currently in phase II clinical trials for a liquid hydrogen sulfide product. In just a few years, suspended animation may be a common tool in hospitals and trauma centers all over the world. It almost sounds too incredible to believe. Watch Roth give an enthusiastic and really enjoyable talk at TED 2010 in the video below that explains his work and its amazing potential.

via Mark Roth Has Key to Suspended Animation, Closer To Immortality | Singularity Hub.

The Recent Future / March 24, 2010 / Health, SciFi / 0 Comments

This Is the Future of the Fight Against Cancer

Look close. You may be staring at the end of cancer. Those tiny black dots are nanobots delivering a lethal blow to a cancerous cell, effectively killing it. The first trial on humans have been a success, with no side-effects:

It sneaks in, evades the immune system, delivers the siRNA, and the disassembled components exit out.

Those are the words of Mark Davis, head of the research team that created the nanobot anti-cancer army at the California Institute of Technology. According to a study to be published in Nature, Davis’ team has discovered a clean, safe way to deliver RNAi sequences to cancerous cells. RNAi (Ribonucleic acid interference) is a technique that attacks specific genes in malign cells, disabling functions inside and killing them.

via This Is the Future of the Fight Against Cancer – Nanobots – Gizmodo.

The Recent Future / March 24, 2010 / Health, SciFi / 0 Comments