Drones Made Easy

OMG, this is awesome.


This Lily Camera Drone is “throw and go” and simply lands in your hand. 


You can set it to follow you–almost like a guardian angel– or to lead you where you need to go. 


Records video, sound, can do slow motion, and takes photos.


It has a tracking device.


It’s waterproof.


Awesome for extreme sports or personal surveillance.


Would like to be able to communicate with it by voice command, and also see what it sees and hear what it hears with augmented reality glasses or on a smartphone or wearable.


Finally, if only it would come with a laser to zap anybody or anything bad that may come at us–that could be reassuring. 


Costs = $619 and ships in May 2016.


That was easy.  😉

Laser Defense Offense


Similar to the U.S.’s new laser defense being deployed aboard the USS Ponce in the Gulf, there is a promising new missile defense technology–“Iron Beam”–using lasers from Rafael in Israel. 



This augments Israel’s “Iron Dome” anti-missile defense system using intercept missiles. 



Iron Beam functions with air defense radars and thermal camera tracking that identifies incoming targets and uses 2 lasers with 100’s of kilowatts of directed energy to destroy the attacking projectiles with 90% success rate. 



For a more surgical, faster, and economically capable military–next up laser defense goes offense. 



It’s got to, we’ve all seen the movie. 😉

Antimissile Systems For Airlines


Elbit Systems has an antimissile system that can protect commercial airlines from short range, shoulder fired missiles (MANPADs).



The military air fleet of the U.S., U.K., and Australia already have installed such devices to protect them.



Another system by Northrop Grumman is installed for heads of state like on Air Force One and Germany has ordered it for their Chancellor’s plane. 



But the Elbit C-Music is being used already on Israel’s commercial airlines, El AL and Israir. 



The thermal targeting device of C-Music uses a precise laser to deflect the incoming heat seeking ground to air missiles and save the passengers and plane. 



According to the Wall Street Journal, a bill to mandate such devices for American commercial airlines would cost approximately $43 billion over 20 years. 



While this system would not work against the type of sophisticated multiple launch rocket systems that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, it would go along way to enhance our anti-terrorism measures and protect Americans and other travelers coming to/from the U.S. 



Please don’t shoot down this idea…  😉

We’re Dead And We Don’t Even Know It

We're Dead And We Don't Even Know It

We all know the frightening threat of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) heading over the ice caps–from Russia, China, and even North Korea someday) and landing in our “backyards” destroying life as we know it.

But what The Washington Beacon reports about the arms race to new ultra-high speed missiles means we are probably dead already and don’t even know it.

These new missiles being developed by China, Russia, India, and the U.S. are designed to be so fast, so small, go so low (“ground-hugging), and be so maneuverable with precision guided systems that they may completely evade all our missile defenses (long-range interceptors, medium-range sea and land-based interceptors, and short-range, near target interceptors).

China tested one of these on Jan. 9–it would sit atop an ICBM and “then glide and maneuver at speeds of up to 10 times the speed of sound from near space en route to its target.”

It “takes off towards its target from near space, or less than 62 miles from earth.”

Traveling at Mach 10 or 7,680 miles per hour, the warhead would hit accordingly to my calculation in under 30 seconds!

These hypersonic weapons can be loaded on the last stages of ICBMS, submarine missiles, aboard strategic bombers, on cruise missiles, and even on surveillance drones.

This is the “hypersonic arms race” and the winner has asymmetric warfare advantage and can take out their opponent before the other guy even knows what hit them.

The good news is that the U.S. is testing the Lockheed HTV-2, Hypersonic Technology Vehicle, capable of Mach 20 (13,000 mph), and within the next 10-15 years we expect “rapid kill” to be able to “attack any location on earth within an hour.”

Note: the diameter of the earth is only 7,926 miles so if we can achieve Mach 20, it will actually only take us about 36 minutes!

So conventional missile defense is a bust, which leaves kinetic weapons and lasers (high-speed hit-to-kill capabilities) as our last defensive hope, as Ian Easton of the Project 2049 Institute said, “If there is a great power war in this century, it will not begin with the sound of explosions on the ground and in the sky, but rather with the bursting of kinetic energy and the flashing of laser light in the silence of outer space.”

What follows though is anything that gets through these defenses rings will destroy everything down here before you would even have enough time to read this post.

In a sense, we’re all dead already, and this is a very small foreshadowing testament.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jonathan McIntosh)

Uh-Oh Trouble

Uh-Oh Trouble

So I’m “middle age”…and all of a sudden the last few months I am having trouble reading.

I haven’t worn glasses for over 14 years–since I had the Lasik procedure done.

Now, at the optometrist, he tells me, “Oh everyone ends up getting glasses whether you had Lasik or not.”

He says: “Usually, people need reading glasses starting between the ages of 42-45.”

Crud…back to those darn things again.

I remember in 1999 when I had Lasik, it was still a pretty new procedure, but my best friend and his wife had just gotten it and convinced me to go for it too.

Well, it wasn’t what I expected and when they clamped my eye open and the doctor tells me to stare at a the little red light as the laser comes up to my eye…I was thinking to myself…this is NUTS!

But it actually went from bad to worse.

As the doctor starts working on the first eye, all of a sudden, he goes, “Uh-oh!”

What type of doctor is this that says oh-uh, and what in G-d’s name did he do to me.

Well, he composes himself after pulling away and finishes, but then stops and says he’ll talk to me afterwards.

As it turns out, as he pulled on the eye, something called the epithelium, a piece suddenly flaked off the eye.

Nothing seriously actually happened–no ill sides effects, but those 2 words while under the laser, “Uh-oh,” really sent the shivers up my spine.

Let’s just say, while I am glad I didn’t have to wear glasses these last 14 years, the experience was a little traumatic.

I remember one other time in my life–when I experienced the Uh-oh moment–this time, I was actually the one uttering the Uh-oh.

It was right after I got married, and we had this cool idea that I would give my wife a haircut.

So, I start cutting and I’m thinking hey, this isn’t so hard…and it’s fun…and we also get to save money (hey, we were just starting out in life).

Then, I keep cutting and cutting not realizing how much I was taking off…at one point, my wife starts getting antsy and she says, “So how’s it going (knowing that something wasn’t right)?”

Then it hits me, I suddenly blurt out the big “Uh-oh!

My wife goes, “What did you do?”

Of course, I started to worry and couldn’t get myself to really say and instead I just start cracking up.

Then she knew I had really messed up…and boy was I in trouble then.

Uh-oh is a phase you never want to hear or say…it means trouble has arrived. 😉

Ready, Aim, Phaser

Ready, Aim, Phaser

LASER stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation and their use in the military is advancing fast.

I am not just talking about things like laser sights mounted on assault rifles, but actual portable high energy laser weapons for taking out ships, planes, drones, rockets, mortars, and surface to air missiles.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense Systems (HELLADS) is looking for smaller and lighter 150 kilowatt laser systems “enabling integration onto tactical aircraft to defend against and defeat ground threats” and is powerful enough to destroy aircraft!

Just about all science fiction weaponry relies on lasers to fight and defeat the future enemy whether the phasers and disrupters from Star Trek, turbolasers and laser cannons on Star Wars, and laser torpedeos and blaster turrets in Battlestar Galactica.

According to Mashable (27 January 2013) “this year liquid-cooled, solid-state laser weapons will be installed on fighter planes” for testing.

Fast Company (8 March 2012) points out the challenges with laser tracking and killing including clouds, haze, and dust that weaken the laser. However, these challenges no longer seem insurmountable.

All the talk on gun control is so 20th century, the real conversation for the new era will be on laser weapons and whether phasers should be set on stun or kill. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to UK Ministry of Defence)

A Trip To The Science Museum

Purple_lobster

We went to the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science—it was quite impressive.

Outside, where you enter, there is a huge clock -tower contraption with overhead slides and rolling balls, and water turning wheels on the side—it’s a “what is it” (exactly) moment and you know you’re there. 

We hit the space exhibits first—I entered a simulator for a jet fighter cockpit, managed to take off with relative ease, but soon crashed, flipping it upside down—oops a little too much thrust.

The NASA exhibits were cool such as the MARS rover and colony mockups. And the Styrofoam wings that you can put on in a wind chamber and see how aerodynamically you are (or are not) was fun. 

Next up was the medical exhibits—we put together a puzzle of full body x-rays (“the shin bones connected to the…”), maneuvered a Da Vinci surgical robot arms, and zapped tumor cells with a mock laser.  

Oddly placed but interesting was the Gecko exhibit—with different colorful species hanging upside down and sideways with their suction cup feet. Couldn’t help thinking, which of them had been selling car insurance on those always-on Geico commercials or maybe this is the place they send them when they don’t perform on cue? 

Going through the exhibit on levers and pulleys, I used between 1-6 pulleys to lift a large stack of cinderblocks—and for the fewer pulleys, I thought good thing I had some Wheaties in the morning for breakfast, so I wouldn’t be embarrassed pulling on the ropes. 

The minerals, gems, fossils, corals, and dinosaur displays were somewhat meager, but were nicely laid out and a decent representation to get the idea.  

There was also an Imax theatre with a 3-D movie and those crazy glasses you have to wear to watch these—but the cartoon playing wasn’t the action and adventure I was looking for. 

One of the exhibits’ I enjoyed the most was the fish—of all types—some favorites were a huge purple-like lobster, the playful otters, the bobbing water turtles and many others.

We also stood inside a mammoth replica of a shark and took turns hanging out of its mouth—and feeling what it was like to be Jonah and the whale.

There was also a weather news station, where you get to playact newscaster, and we used the TV cameras and tele-prompters to give updates of everything from hail storms to wild fires—now, I know how they always seem to know jusst what to say and when–so perfectly. 

Another cool display had to do with sustainability and the environment—with a robot sitting in the middle of piles of trash and recyclables—not sure why he was there though—was he trying to decide what to recycle and reuse?

I don’t believe that I saw anything significant on alternative energy or on general computers and the Internet—and if there wasn’t anything particualr on these, I would definitely like to see them added.

Overall, good job Ft. Lauderdale—worth the trip—and thank you for spreading a love of science with all. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)