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Company unveils airplane design with seats on top of aircraft

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Sit high above it all in a transparent canopy that sits on top of the airplane. (Windspeed Technologies)

We’ve seen some pretty scary airplane seat designs.

From unwieldy bicycle-seat triangles to split level stackers, most design firms are just looking for new ways to cram more and more passengers into the cabin.

But a new design from Washington-based firm Windspeed Technologies is really a breath of fresh air.

Introducing the SkyDeck— a patent-pending seat design that aims to give a few lucky passengers a 360 degree view of the surrounding clouds by sitting them on top of the plane in a fully transparent bubble.

Unlike other seat design models, the SkyDeck is designed to be incorporated into existing types of aircraft and would cost between $8 million to $25 million to install depending on the type of plane.

Experience 360 views in Windspeed’s latest video animation.

“Current in-flight entertainment offerings have not changed much over the decades. We wanted to come up with a product that would provide a higher level of entertainment to reduce the boredom of long flights,” says Windspeed of the new design.

The canopy itself will be comprised of “the same high strength proprietary material as those used on supersonic fighter jets” and will be able to withstand a variety of hits including bird strikes. An aerodynamic “teardrop” shape of the canopy will help reduce the drag factor while anti-condensation film will be applied to stop it fogging up and a UV-protection coating will passengers from burning up inside the transparent vestibule.

Guests can access the SkyDeck via a Jetsons-era looking elevator chute or take stairs from the main level galley.

Though an airline has yes to put in an order for a SkyDeck, the company says it would take just 18 months from order date until the plane is up and running with its seats in the clouds.

 

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F-35A Lightning II fighter gets new gun

Ultra advanced stealth, fighter jet speed … and now the military’s F-35 has a new weapon.

The F-35 Lightning II is a truly fifth-generation fighter jet. This advanced powerful single-seat and single-engine fighter is designed to be capable of a range of missions with just one aircraft.

Test pilot Maj. Charles “Flak” Trickey recently fired the F35A’s internal Gun Airborne Unit -22/A 25mm Gatling gun system in three airborne gunfire bursts. A success, this first aerial gun test was conducted out at the China Lake, Calif., test range on Oct. 30 2015.

Raw video of first aerial gun test above the China Lake, California, test range

Related: 11 stunning F-22 fighter jet images

This is a key step in certifying the gun for use in the F-35A and the aircraft is on track to enter initial operational capability with the U.S. Air Force next year.

The F-35 is the result of collaboration between prime contractor Lockheed Martin and principal partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.

Next-Gen Air Dominance

Stealth was built into this aircraft from the very start. The F-35 also possesses other fifth-generation features like integrated avionics, sensor fusion and incredibly powerful sensor packages.

The Pratt & Whitney F135 propulsion system gives the aircraft phenomenal power – it is able to reach speeds of over 1199 mph.

With this new gun, pilots will have the ability to engage air-to-ground and air-to-air targets. The 25mm gun is embedded into the F-35A’s left wing in a way that keeps the aircraft stealthy.

Over the next year, testing will continue with the gun integrated into the fighter’s sensor fusion software. The software will provide targeting data to the pilot through the pilot’s state of the art helmet-mounted display.

Related: 11 amazing A-10 Warthog images

Even the helmets on this aircraft are next generation. Pilots wearing them can see through the aircraft and the heads up display provides unprecedented data. Each pilot gets a personalized version.

Rather than deploy different aircraft specializing in different things, the F-35 can tackle a range of tasks by itself. Highly versatile, the F-35 can handle missions like air-to-air combat, electronic attack, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and air-to-ground strikes.

Stealth

The F-35 gives pilots the ability to penetrate deep into enemy areas without being detected. The advanced materials and airframe design mean that F-35s can evade radars that other fighters cannot. The plane can get through highly defended air spaces without ever being detected and then clear the way for U.S. forces.

Using weapons like precision-guided munitions and air-to-air radar-guided missiles, the pilots can engage long-range ground targets without being detected and tracked by the enemy.

Combat

When faced with enemy fighter aircraft, the F-35s have a number of advantages. For starters, the F-35 pilots will be able to detect the enemy aircraft long before they are detected themselves. In aerial combat, this means the F-35 can take lethal action first. The fighter’s weapons systems will also give it a big advantage over enemy aircraft.

Related: What you need to know about the new U.S. Air Force stealth bomber

Pilots can leverage the aircraft’s advanced electronic warfare abilities to

locate and track enemy forces. To reach highly protected targets, pilots can jam enemy radars and disrupt attacks on their aircraft using the advanced avionics system.

In an F-35, pilots have 360-degree real time battlespace data. The sensor package is state-of-the-art and any data the sensors collect can be securely shared with commanders all over the world, giving them a more complete picture of operations as they unfold.

The aircraft has a core processor that can perform a mind-blowing 400 billion operations per second.

This helps enable next-gen electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, but also helps to recommend the next target to attack and the best weapon to use.

Replacing Classic Fighters

Over the years, U.S. fighter fleets have been aging and becoming smaller.

There are three variants of the F-35, all of which will be replacing military aircraft. F-35A takes off and lands conventionally. The F-35B is capable of short-take off and vertical-landing and the F-35C is carrier-based.

For the U.S. Air Force, the F-35 variants will replace the A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon. For the U.S. Navy, they will replace the F/A-18 Hornet. The U.S. Marine Corps will be replacing the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier with F-35s.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at wargames@foxnews.com or follow her on Twitter@Allison_Barrie.

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Futuristic warship design takes shape

What will warships look like in three decades? Meet the next-generation HMS Dreadnought.

The British Ministry of Defence and Royal Navy challenged young scientists and engineers to design a future warship and the results may surprise you. Defense procurement specialist Startpoint has released stunning images of what the futuristic ship could look like.

This cutting-edge ship concept has been dubbed Dreadnought 2050 in honor of the 1906 HMS Dreadnought, a Royal Naval battleship that eclipsed all other warships at the time.

Dreadnought 2050, made of futuristic material, features state of the art weapons, command center and more. The ship’s structure is made of ultra-strong acrylic composites that can be turned translucent so that crew can see through it.

This means that from the Ops Room, commanders could see through the hull and watch close-in battles play out.

Weapons

The new Dreadnought would be equipped with a range of state-of-the art weapons like high-velocity torpedoes, speed-of-light weapons and drones constructed on the ship using 3D printers.

The graphene coated acrylic hull would be super strong.

At the bow, Dreadnought 2050 has an electromagnetic railgun that can fire projectiles as far as long-range cruise missiles can go today.

Along the sides of the ship there are missile tubes. These tubes can launch missiles faster than Mach 5 – a hypersonic speed. The futuristic vessel is also equipped with directed energy weapons to thwart incoming threats.

Related: CTruk taps THOR for new military workboats

In the outrigger hulls, there are torpedo tubes that fire supercavitating torpedoes that travel at more than 300 knots.  Supercavitating torpedoes can travel at such whopping speeds because they move through water in a sort of air bubble that reduces drag and friction.

Instead of a standard mast, Dreadnought 2050 has a tethered quadcopter that flies above the ship.

The quadcopter is equipped with multi-spectral sensors that provide critical data. But it is also armed with a laser to take out threats like enemy aircraft, missiles and more.

To provide the significant power these capabilities require, the quadcopter’s tether is made of carbon nanotubes that are cryogenically cooled.

Assault

A floodable dock, or “moon pool,” is incorporated into the design so that amphibious teams like SEALs or Royal Marines can rapidly deploy. The moon pool could also be used to deploy unmanned underwater vehicles on missions such as searching for explosive devices.

Above the dock there is an extendable flight deck and hangar that can be used for a fleet of weaponized drones.

A similarly-sized warship operating today would require about 200 crew, but the innovative warship would require less than half as many personnel. A current Ops Room, for example, could require 25 sailors to run it. Dreadnought 2050’s Ops Room could be run by as few as five Sailors.

Command Table

Dreadnought 2050 features an Ops Room with a 3-D holographic command table. The holographic image can be rotated and commanders can zoom in on specific parts of the battlefield.

From the Ops Room, five or six people can control all operations from the deepest parts of the ocean through to outer space. From underwater and sea surface through to land and air, all areas of operation can be displayed and reviewed. Crew can use smaller holographic pods to manage specific areas of operation.

Real time data can be transmitted including secure voice, video or data to wherever it is needed.

Power

The Dreadnought 2050 warship is powered by a fusion reactor or highly efficient turbines. The turbines drive silent electric motors to water jets.

The graphene coating on the hull helps reduce drag and enhance speed. And the Dreadnought will have a low profile to ensure it is stealthy and hard to detect.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at wargames@foxnews.com or follow her on Twitter@Allison_Barrie.

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World’s first pocket spectrometer lets you measure the molecular makeup of nearly anything

 

SCiO is a new gadget that instantly measures the molecular fingerprint of just about anything you see, and it fits in your pocket. Want to know the alcohol content of that beer you’re about to slurp down or how many grams of sugar are in your apple? This mini spectrometer will tell you. Equipped with some of the capabilities of large, heavy laboratory spectrometers, but built around the kind of optics used in cell phone cameras, the SCiO measures the light reflected off any given object, breaks down its spectrum, and then sends that information to the cloud. Consumer Physics‘ unique algorithms immediately interpret the resulting data and the results show up on your cell phone within 5 seconds on a 3G connection. Designed to empower you with knowledge of your environment, medicine, food, and a near-infinite number of things, the SCiO will also allow you to participate in building the world’s first database of matter.

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“SCiO is based on the proven near-IR spectroscopy method,” writes Consumer Physics. “The physical basis for this material analysis method is that each type of molecule vibrates in its own unique way, and these vibrations interact with light to create a unique optical signature.”

“With every scan, SCiO learns more about the world around us, so we can all get smarter,” the Israel-based developers continue. “Our development team has taught SCiO some exciting things, like to tell how much fat is in any salad dressing, how much sugar is in a particular piece of fruit, how pure an oil is and lots more.”

In addition to non-invasively harvesting, computing and storing the data about every bit of matter recorded to contribute to the first database of its kind, the SCiO would allow consumers to be more informed about the energetic quantity and quality of everything they consume. This will make it difficult, for example, for big agricultural companies to pass off unhealthy lettuce at the grocery story. By illuminating that lettuce and breaking down its spectrum, the SCiO is able to extract a great deal of information. In other words, light, combined with cutting-edge technology, may expose everything from nefarious ingredients woven into our food, environment and medicine to the calorie content of our favorite chocolate, which we might not want to know.

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Computer Physics is careful to note, however, the device can’t detect the presence or absence of everything.

“SCiO is NOT a medical device and should NOT be relied on to protect you from allergens under any circumstances,” the company explains. “Since SCiO is designed to measure small portions of a sample or food at a time, it cannot guarantee the absence of specific molecules on your plate, or in a serving. SCiO can tell you major components of foods (i.e. with typical concentration of 1% or more), while some allergens can be hazardous even in lower concentrations.”

The product’s genius is (partially) in its built-in perpetuity. As more consumers use it, so does its efficacy grow. The more information stored in the company’s database, the more information it has to share. Compatible with several models of iPhones and Androids and retailing for $249, the SCiO also comes with a developer kit. Which means even a dunce like me can learn how to build a a new molecular sensor model, and that’s nothing short of unreal.

+ SCiO

Images via Consumer Physics

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Physicists Discover New Massless Particle; Could Revolutionize Electronics & Quantum Computing

Hasan massless particle

Physics may have just taken a new leap forward, as three independent groups of physicists have found strong evidence for massless particles called “Weyl fermions,” which exist as quasiparticles – collective excitations of electrons. Ultimately, this discovery is over 80 years in the making, dating back to Paul Dirac.

In 1928, Dirac came up with an equation that described the spin of fermions (fermions are the building blocks that make up all matter). Within his equation, he discovered that, in relation to particles that have charge and mass, there should be a another particle and antiparticle—what we know as the electron and (its antiparticle) the positron.

Yet, there are more than one ways to skin a cat.

Other solutions to this equation hinted at more exotic kinds of particles. Enter Hermann Weyl, a German mathematician who, in 1929, come up with a solution that involved massless particles. These became known as “Weyl fermions.” And, for a number of years, physicists believed that neutrinos (subatomic particles that are produced by the decay of radioactive elements) were actually Weyl particles. Yet, further studies, which were published in 1998, indicated that neutrinos do, in fact, have mass, which means that they cannot be the aforementioned Weyl particles.

But now, we have evidence that Weyl fermions actually exist.

Unlocking the Find

The research comes thanks to Zahid Hasan over at Princeton University, who uncovered these particles in the semimetal tanatalum arsenide (which is referred to as TaAs). Hasan and his team suggested that  TaAs should contain Weyl fermions and (here is the important bit) it should have what is known as a “Fermi arc.” And in 2014, the team found evidence of such an arc.

Artist's rendition via ChutterStock

But that’s not all, another team, led by Hongming Weng at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, found similar evidence in an independent study that used the same methods. And Marin Soljačić and colleagues (hailing from MIT and the Univeristy of China) have seen evidence of Weyl fermions in a different material, specifically, a “double-gyroid” photonic crystal.

In this latter case, the team fired microwaves at the crystal and measured microwave transmission through it, varying the frequency of the microwaves throughout the experiment. Through this process, the team could map the structure of the crystal, allowing them to determine which microwave frequencies can travel through the crystal and which cannot. In the end, this revealed the presence of “Weyl points” in the structure, which is strong evidence for Weyl fermion states existing within the photonic crystal.

The Future of Physics

The significance of this find, quite literally, cannot be overstated. Hasan is clear to point this out, noting in the press release that, “The physics of the Weyl fermion are so strange, there could be many things that arise from this particle that we’re just not capable of imagining now.”

He goes on to note more specific applications: “It’s like they have their own GPS and steer themselves without scattering. They will move and move only in one direction since they are either right-handed or left-handed and never come to an end because they just tunnel through. These are very fast electrons that behave like unidirectional light beams and can be used for new types of quantum computing.” Soljačić, the head of the second study, adds that, “The discovery of Weyl points is not only the smoking gun to a scientific mystery, it paves the way to absolutely new photonic phenomena and applications.”

Ultimately, it is believed Weyl fermions could be very useful, in that, because they are massless, they can conduct electric charge much faster than normal electrons. Admittedly, this same feature is exhibited by electrons in graphene. Yet, graphene is a 2D material, Weyl fermions are thought to exist in more practical 3D materials.

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Glass Invented for Drinking Whiskey in Space – Finally!

A Special Whisky Glass for Special Space Whisky

If Galactic’s first commercial flights are any indication, life in space could use a bit more glamour. Astronauts may be fine drinking recycled pee, but celebrities and wealthy space enthusiasts, who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get beyond Earth’s atmosphere, may want to sip something a little stronger. Enter Scotch-maker Ballantine’s new space glass, designed for drinking in microgravity.

Without Earth’s gravity, a regular snifter would send droplets of fancy Scotch soaring into the air—and away from mouths. The Ballantine’s glass is designed to keep the whisky where it belongs. A metal plate at the bottom of the glass creates surface tension to keep the Scotch—poured into the bottom of the cupcontained. Rivulets running up the side of the glass channel the liquid directly into the mouth via a gold mouthpiece. (The company details the design process here.)

Scotch whisky companies seem particularly determined to corner the space drinking market. Ardberg whisky, for instance, is already an old pro at intergalactic refreshments, as vials of the Scotch spent several years on the International Space Station before returning last year. (The verdict: space makes smoky Scotch even smokier.) Several breweries also offer beer made from yeast that’s left Earth and returned, in case hard liquor isn’t your cup of astro-tea.

Naturally, those of us who are earthbound can still buy Ballantine’s space glass for an out-of-this-world experience.

[h/t: The New York Times]

All images by Ballantine’s via Medium

September 8, 2015 – 5:00pm

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World’s thinnest light bulb created from graphene

graphene-light-bulb

When a current was run through strips of graphene that were placed across a trench of silicon, the result was light emission. (Young Duck Kim/Columbia Engineering)

Graphene, a form of carbon famous for being stronger than steel and more conductive than copper, can add another wonder to the list: making light.

Researchers have developed a light-emitting graphene transistor that works in the same way as the filament in a light bulb.

“We’ve created what is essentially the world’s thinnest light bulb,” study co-author James Hone, a mechanical engineer at Columbia University in New York, said in a statement.

Scientists have long wanted to create a teensy “light bulb” to place on a chip, enabling what is called photonic circuits, which run on light rather than electric current. The problem has been one of size and temperature — incandescent filaments must get extremely hot before they can produce visible light. This new graphene device, however, is so efficient and tiny, the resulting technology could offer new ways to make displays or study high-temperature phenomena at small scales, the researchers said.

Making light

When electric current is passed through an incandescent light bulb’s filament — usually made of tungsten — the filament heats up and glows. Electrons moving through the material knock against electrons in the filament’s atoms, giving them energy. Those electrons return to their former energy levels and emit photons (light) in the process. Crank up the current and voltage enough and the filament in the light bulb hits temperatures of about 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit for an incandescent. This is one reason light bulbs either have no air in them or are filled with an inert gas like argon: At those temperatures tungsten would react with the oxygen in air and simply burn.

In the new study, the scientists used strips of graphene a few microns across and from 6.5 to 14 microns in length, each spanning a trench of silicon like a bridge. (A micron is one-millionth of a meter, where a hair is about 90 microns thick.) An electrode was attached to the ends of each graphene strip. Just like tungsten, run a current through graphene and the material will light up. But there is an added twist, as graphene conducts heat less efficiently as temperature increases, which means the heat stays in a spot in the center, rather than being relatively evenly distributed as in a tungsten filament.

Myung-Ho Bae, one of the study’s authors, told Live Science trapping the heat in one region makes the lighting more efficient. “The temperature of hot electrons at the center of the graphene is about 3,000 K [4,940 F], while the graphene lattice temperature is still about 2,000 K [3,140 F],” he said. “It results in a hotspot at the center and the light emission region is focused at the center of the graphene, which also makes for better efficiency.” It’s also the reason the electrodes at either end of the graphene don’t melt.

As for why this is the first time light has been made from graphene, study co-leader Yun Daniel Park, a professor of physics at Seoul National University, noted that graphene is usually embedded in or in contact with a substrate.

“Physically suspending graphene essentially eliminates pathways in which heat can escape,” Park said. “If the graphene is on a substrate, much of the heat will be dissipated to the substrate. Before us, other groups had only reported inefficient radiation emission in the infrared from graphene.”

The light emitted from the graphene also reflected off the silicon that each piece was suspended in front of. The reflected light interferes with the emitted light, producing a pattern of emission with peaks at different wavelengths. That opened up another possibility: tuning the light by varying the distance to the silicon.

The principle of the graphene is simple, Park said, but it took a long time to discover.

“It took us nearly five years to figure out the exact mechanism but everything (all the physics) fit. And, the project has turned out to be some kind of a Columbus’ Egg,” he said, referring to a legend in which Christopher Columbus challenged a group of men to make an egg stand on its end; they all failed and Columbus solved the problem by just cracking the shell at one end so that it had a flat bottom.

The research is detailed in the June 15 issue of Nature Nantechnology.

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