Interplanetary Travel – Coming Soon

Awesome presentation on Interplanetary Travel by Charlie Kuehmann, VP Materials Engineering at SpaceX and Tesla. 


Interplanetary travel and colonization is one of the most exciting possibilities for mankind.  

 

It’s all just beginning (we’ve only been in orbit for about 50 years). 


One of the keys Charlie mentioned at SpaceX and Telsa is how quickly we learn. 


It’s okay to fail, as long as we learn quickly and progress from it.  


The progress with reusable rockets at SpaceX is impressive. 


Can’t wait for more to come soon.  😉


(Credit Video: Andy Blumenthal)

Rubik’s Cube On Speed

A regular, traditional Rubik’s Cube is 3×3 by 6 sides. 


That’s a total of 54 moving squares to order by color on each side. 


This Rubik’s Cube On Speed is 7×7 by 6 sides.


 So this cube has 294 squares to figure out. 


(I did find another cube on eBay that was even larger, 15×15, called “Professional Level” selling for $384.40)


I’m sure there are some real whiz kids out there that can do these puzzles. 


And probably in under 3 minutes…


For me, I admire the dexterity and spatial skills. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Isn’t The U.S. Keeping Up Militarily?

The United States is ranked as the most powerful country in the world:


But the U.S. spends more than the next 7-8 countries COMBINED!(See below chart from Forbes 2016)


In fact, military spending is more than half of all U.S. federal discretionary spending. 


So the question is why are we spending so much more than everybody else, is the United States getting its money’s worth, and most importantly are we able to defend ourselves? 


The U.S. defense budget is going up and has been approved at $717B for 2019. 


All the other 28 NATO countries together spend less than half ($296B) as much as the U.S. alone. 


If you add NATO spending as a complement to the U.S. then the total spend on our mutual defense approaches $1 trillion!


Russia ($69B) China ($146B), North Korea ($6B), and Iran’s ($16B) military spending in total pales in comparison at just $237B.


NATO as a whole is outspending Russia + China + North Korea + Iran by a factor of 4 times yet these countries are still considered major threats to us!
Despite all the truly incredible brave, hard working, and excellent men and women that serve with distinction in our military, 


Therefore, again why is it that the U.S. is spending more on what others seem to get for cheaper?  Is there significant fraud, waste, and abuse in the system?  Are we as a rich capitalistic nation simply getting fat, lazy, and stupid?  


Notwithstanding the outsized spending by the United States, incredibly from today’s Wall Street Journal, there is another article about our inability to defend ourselves:

“These are admissions that the U.S. cannot proportionally and equally defend itself in space, cyber, and response to tactical and nuclear weapons except through the threat of escalation and intrusion into other domains.”

Some poignant examples given:

– Our stationary land-based nuclear missiles are no match for Russia and China’s mobile-based ICBMs.

– Our ten busiest U.S. ports do not have an adequate defense against an underwater nuclear missile launch.


China and Russia variously are beating us out in:

  • Quantum Communications
  • Anti-Satellite Weapons
  • Directed Energy 
  • Hypersonics 

In fact, it was just reported that China conducted its 8th hypersonic test of a plane–with this one said to capable of Mach 10–and that it is capable of carrying nukes! 

Further, our carrier group fleet and land forces are at risk with respect to Russia and China’s hypersonic weapons.


Of course, EMP weapons can fry our electrical grid and a large cyber attack could disable our critical infrastructure.


Let’s not even talk bioweapons–think Black Plague from the Middle Ages that wiped out 30-60% of Europe. 


Yes, some of these are asymmetric warfare, but why are we still thinking and fighting so kinetic and conventionally. 


If we are fighting the wars of yesteryear instead of the battles of today and the threats of tomorrow then what good is our military investments and assets.


To become a more capable fighting force that is less vulnerable, more capable of defending this country, and making better use of our large investment dollars here are 10-steps we need to take to transform our military; we need to transition as follows:

  1. From static land-based nuclear missiles to a fully mobile platform.
  2. From vulnerable fleets of large ships and planes to “unstoppable” swarms of miniaturized lethal drones. 
  3. From a preponderance of earth-based kinetic weapons to space-based energy directed weapons. 
  4. From having to generally choose between speed or power to using the power of speed as an “unstoppable” force of nature. 
  5. From projecting a time and space bound visible presence to a persistent invisible existence.
  6. From attempting to defend limited points of presence to establishing a “impenetrable” umbrella shield of multi-layered defenses.
  7. From reactively identifying and stopping cyber threats to proactively hunting and destroying them. 
  8. From knee-jerk instinctive putting of human lives in harm’s way to matter-of-factly sending milbots (military robots) to the front lines. 
  9. From relying on the heroics and genius of individual human brainpower to harnessing in realtime “the collective” augmented by artificial intelligence into a hive.
  10. From relying on escalation of a “bigger, badder gun” to being able to fight capably in every battle arena, win in each and dominate holistically. 

Over $700B per year should buy us a lot of defense, hopefully in the future we can really use it to defend ourselves. 😉

Super Cool Military Wheels

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has come up with a Reconfigurable Wheel Track (RWT). 


The tires can switch shape from round tires for flat terrain to triangular tracks for soft or rugged terrain in just 2-seconds!


You can see in the screenshot the rear wheels in tire formation and the front wheels changed to tracks. 


The agility of this technology makes for better maneuverability and survivability for our troops and their transports and combat vehicles. 


I wonder if someday soon, they will commercialize this technology so rather than all season/year tires or snow tires on our cars, we have these gorgeous ruggedized military grade babies.


I for one would gladly pay extra! 😉


(Source Screenshot: Andy Blumenthal from here)

NATO Is Asleep At The Wheel

So this is the dumbest military strategy I have ever heard. 


NATO is planning a “rapid deployment force” of at least 30,000 troops, 30 naval ships, and 360 planes to fight off a Russian invasion.


Sounds good?


The only problem is that this rapid reaction is planned to occur “within 30 days” of being put on an alert. 


Gee, a lot can happen in 30 days. 


It took only a little over two weeks for Russia to invade and annex Crimea in 2014 in a blitzkrieg that completely took the West by surprise. 


NATO continues to be shockingly unprepared for a Russian land grab.


Further, the 4,600 troops stationed on “forward deployment” and the 5,000 additional “spearhead force” to come to their aid “within 10 days” is again completely inadequate and ridiculous. 


Israel won the 1967 War in just 6 days against invading armies from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, and Israel again halted the advancing Egyptian army in the 1973 Yom Kippur War in just 3 days. 


With modern weaponry, Wars are fought and won in days–not months and years anymore. 


The long deployments we’ve had in Iraq and Afghanistan are not traditional wars, but wars of attrition again terrorism and dictatorships. 


If and when there is a war with the “Great Bear,” it will be fought and won–OR lost in days–as well. Russia will act with stealth and speed and a ferocity that we remain blind to. 


And I fear that when we are ready to fight back, it will be way too little too late–like in Crimea–and all that will be left–after the European lands are gone–is more meaningless sanctions that Russia will retaliate against, tit-for-tat, anyway. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

QC + AI = S

Quantum Computing (QC) + Artificial Intelligence (AI) = Singularity (S)


Quantum Computing – Computers using subatomic particles to superprocess atincredible speeds and with less energy–it’s similar to massive parallel processing, but in the case of Qubits, they can store more than just 1s and 0s (bits–a binary state), but rather can be both o and 1 at the same time (a “superposition”).  So for very large problems (“exponential scaling”), instead of processing (computing one step at a time), you can process all options simultaneously to find the very best (“optimized”) solution by eliminating all options that don’t fit the algorithm.


Artificial Intelligence – Computers simulate intelligence, using language, perceiving their environment, reasoning to draw conclusions, solving problems usually done by humans, being creative, and where they can actually learn and self-improve!


Singularity – A state of runaway hypergrowth from the attainment of computing superintelligence, where computers are able to autonomously build ever smarter and more powerful machines that surpass human understanding and control leading to unfathomable changes to human civilization. 


The Information Age is giving way to the Intelligence Age, and it is all ready to explode. 


We are getting to the point of no return…


(Source Photo: Screenshot from YouTube with attribution to the move, Lucy“)