Archive for the ‘Aliens’ Category

By EDWARD WONG

The Chinese government is relocating thousands of villagers to complete construction by September of the world’s biggest radio telescope, whose intended purpose is to detect signs of extraterrestrial life.

The telescope would be 500 meters, or 1,640 feet, in diameter, by far the largest of its kind in the world. It is called FAST, for Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, and costs an estimated 1.2 billion renminbi, or $184 million.

The mass relocation was announced on Tuesday in a report by Xinhua, the state news agency. The report said officials were relocating 2,029 families, a total of 9,110 people, living within a three-mile radius of the telescope in the area of Pingtang and Luodian Counties in the southwestern province of Guizhou.

Officials plan to give each person the equivalent of $1,800 for housing compensation, the report said. Guizhou is one of China’s poorest provinces.

Forced relocations for infrastructure projects are common across China, and the people being moved by officials often complain both of the eviction from their homes and inadequate compensation. The Three Gorges Dam displaced more than one million people along the Yangtze River, and the middle route of the gargantuan South-North Water Diversion Project has resulted in the relocation of 350,000 people to make way for a series of canals.

The Chinese government has announced ambitious plans for its space program, at a time when the American one is in retreat. China aims to put an astronaut on the moon and a space station in orbit. The FAST project is another important element in the larger plan.

The telescope is being built in a wide depression among karst hills. The depression is far from cities and ideal for picking up radio transmissions, the Xinhua report said. Scientists began looking for a site in 1994 and finally settled on the Dawodang depression.

If the truth is out there, then some Chinese scientists are confident that the giant telescope will find it. The current largest operational radio telescope is the 300-meter-diameter Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, but FAST in Guizhou will far surpass that.

Li Di, a chief scientist with the National Astronomical Observatories under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told China Daily last year that “with a larger signal receiving area and more flexibility, FAST will be able to scan two times more sky area than Arecibo, with three to five times higher sensitivity.”

Last November, scientists successfully tested the telescope’s “retina,” which weighs 33 tons and is suspended 460 to 525 feet above the reflector dish, which was half-finished at the time, China Daily reported.

The telescope has 4,500 panels that are mostly triangular and whose sides measure 36 feet, the report said. Those create a parabolic shape. The panels move and, by doing so, alter the shape of the antenna, which is supposed to pick up radio signals from distant corners of the universe. Those signals would then be reflected to a focal point.

Mr. Li told China Daily that engineers were aiming to install all the panels by this June and complete debugging by September.

“Ultimately, exploring the unknown is the nature of mankind,” he said, adding that it was “as visceral as feeding and clothing ourselves.”

“It drives us to a greater future,” he said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/18/world/asia/china-fast-telescope-guizhou-relocation.html

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iron-man

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) and other groups from business and academia are joining forces to create a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, that “promises to provide superhuman strength with greater ballistic protection,” according to a statement released by the U.S. Army.

The most amazing features of the suit include integrated 360-degree cameras not unlike Google Glass (but with night vision capabilities), sensors that can detect injuries and apply a wound-sealing foam, and — get ready for this — a bulletproof exoskeleton made of magnetorheological fluids that can change from liquid to solid in milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied.

If it all reminds you of the liquid-metal shapeshifter T-1000 from “Terminator” or some other sci-fi character, you’re not alone. “It sounds exactly like ‘Iron Man,'” Gareth McKinley, a professor at MIT, told NPR. “The other kind of things that you see in the movies I think that would be more realistic at the moment would be the kind of external suit that Sigourney Weaver wears in ‘Aliens,’ where it’s a large robot that amplifies the motions and lifting capability of a human.”

The developers from RDECOM, MIT and elsewhere are researching “every aspect making up this combat armor suit,” Lt. Col. Karl Borjes, a RDECOM science adviser, said in the U.S. Army statement. “It’s advanced armor. It’s communications, antennas. It’s cognitive performance. It’s sensors, miniature-type circuits. That’s all going to fit in here, too.”

Not everyone, however, is enamored with the super-advanced gizmos being proposed for the soldiers of tomorrow. “My sense is it is an up-armored Pinocchio,” Scott Neil, a retired special forces master sergeant and Silver Star recipient, told the Tampa Tribune. “Now the commander can shove a monkey in a suit and ask us to survive a machine gun, IED [improvised explosive device] and poor intelligence all on the same objective. And when you die in it, as it melds to your body, you can bury them in it.”

Even believers in the TALOS suit acknowledge its limitations. “The acronym TALOS was chosen deliberately,” McKinley said. “It’s the name of the bronze armored giant from ‘Jason and the Argonauts.’ Like all good superheroes, Talos has one weakness. For the Army’s TALOS, the weak spot is either the need to carry around a heavy pump for a hydraulic system, or lots of heavy batteries. We don’t have Iron Man’s power source yet.”

For would-be sci-fi superheroes who are ready for their very own TALOS, the wait may prove excruciating: Though various components of the suit are currently in development, the Army hopes to have a prototype ready next year, and an advanced model won’t be developed until at least two years after that.

http://www.livescience.com/40325-army-iron-man-suit-talos.html