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An intriguing new habitat project “inspired” by NASA

An intriguing new habitat project “inspired” by NASA

The AI SpaceFactory team won half a million dollars from NASA for its Mars habitat prototype, MARSHA. They are now taking the research, learnings, and technologies they developed for their winning proposal and building an earth habitat (house) using the same concepts.

TERA interjects into the building industry’s massive waste of materials and creates a proof-of-concept for a new type of building – one that is durable and twice as strong as concrete, yet recyclable and compostable.

TERA habitat

Considering how polluting the manufacturing of concrete is, their material certainly sounds interesting:

Biopolymer basalt composite -a material developed from crops like corn and sugar cane – tested and validated by NASA to be (at minimum) 50% stronger and more durable than concrete. This material has the potential to be leaps and bounds more sustainable than traditional concrete and steel, leading to a future in which we can eliminate the building industry’s massive waste of unrecyclable materials. It could transform the way we build on Earth – and save our planet.

In many countries, the production of ethanol with corn is creating problems with the provenance and availability of that grain to feed livestock and humans. I would love to know more about how the use here differs.

Since this is a prototype which they will make available for leasing by the night, they will also be using it as a lab to evolve the concept:

TERA is a living laboratory where feedback and operational data will be used to improve future designs for our future Earth and Space habitats. Each TERA will build on the last until we achieve highly autonomous structurally performing human-rated habitats.

TERA habitat

The link at top is to the firm’s project page but they are also running an Indiegogo and that page has lots more details and pictures.




If you are intrigued by the impact of concrete and cement, and why we don’t yet have widely commercially available real alternatives, Rose Eveleth did a fantastic episode of her Flash Forward podcast on that topic: EARTH: The Cement Ban.

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NEW GUIDE: Best Beginner Microcontroller Boards for Teachers #AdafruitLearningSystem #Adafruit #Education #Making #BackToSchool @Adafruit @KathyCeceri

NEW GUIDE: Best Beginner Microcontroller Boards for Teachers #AdafruitLearningSystem #Adafruit #Education #Making #BackToSchool @Adafruit @KathyCeceri

Best Beginner Boards for Teachers

A new guide in the Adafruit Learning System today: Best Beginner Boards for Teachers by Kathy Ceceri

Microcontrollers a great way to introduce kids to coding and building. Just add a few components and everyday crafts or recycled material and you can build everything from a simple circuit to a fully-functional robot!

Luckily, getting students started with microcontrollers is easier than ever before! Here’s a look at three boards — the Circuit Playground Express, the Gemma M0, and the PyBadge — that are great for teachers who are ready to learn coding and electronics themselves, and/or working with students who have little or no coding background.

See this new guide now > > >

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Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

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U9 Apartments / Nicolás Vázquez

U9 Apartments / Nicolás Vázquez

U9 Apartments / Nicolás Vázquez

U9 Apartments / Nicolás Vázquez, © Moritz Bernoully

© Moritz Bernoully

  • Architects

  • Location

    Mixcoac, Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

  • Category

  • Design Team

    Emilio Rubio, Elizabeth León, Andrés Solíz, Luis Villanueva

  • Area

    2452.0 m2

  • Project Year

    2018

  • Photography

    Moritz Bernoully, Dante Busquets, Mauricio Salas, Paulino Ramírez

  • Manufacturers

    Loading…

  • Clients

    Rodrigo de la Garza

  • Engineering

    Enrique Ávalos, Jose Antonio Lino

  • Construction

    Métrico Arquitectos 

  • Manufacturers

    Loading…


© Moritz Bernoully

© Moritz Bernoully

Text description provided by the architects. Divided into three basic typologies, the building contains fifteen apartments between approximately 60 and 120 square meters. The apartments are ordered successively following the structural module that gives rhythm to the building. This system also gives total privacy to the living spaces. Within this structure – which is separated from the medians – three levels of housing and parking are allowed.


© Moritz Bernoully

© Moritz Bernoully


Floor Plan Level Two

Floor Plan Level Two


© Moritz Bernoully

© Moritz Bernoully

On the first two floors, two-level units are arranged (with some double-height spaces) and the single-floor apartments are located on the third level. Towards the street, four apartments share the main facade defined by four balconies that take advantage of the life and view of the street. This street – a closed small-scale street with low traffic – is located in a neighbourhood in Mixcoac with its intricate and compact urban fabric, which is clearly perceived to this date.


© Dante Busquets, Mauricio Salas, Paulino Ramírez

© Dante Busquets, Mauricio Salas, Paulino Ramírez


Section

Section


© Dante Busquets, Mauricio Salas, Paulino Ramírez

© Dante Busquets, Mauricio Salas, Paulino Ramírez

The project and its predecessors (we built two other buildings on the same street before) seek to emphasize a type of urban unity. From the material expression of each building, we aim to highlight the repeated use of bricks historically produced in the area. In this way, the new building establishes a resonance with the place and with the previous projects.


© Moritz Bernoully

© Moritz Bernoully

Built by means of a punctual structure of rigid frames, posters and concrete segments, the building-bay is oriented to the south. We also combine partition walls to play with the scale, proportions and neighboring buildings. We use lattices and vegetation that filter the views towards the boundaries but allow the passage of air. It is through transitional spaces, succession of empty-masses and through compact, but diverse, volumes that the three buildings respond to the scale and vocation of the street: we seek to “make city” from the habitable unit.


© Dante Busquets, Mauricio Salas, Paulino Ramírez

© Dante Busquets, Mauricio Salas, Paulino Ramírez

View the complete gallery

Project location

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.

Cite: “U9 Apartments / Nicolás Vázquez” [Departamentos U9 / Nicolás Vázquez] 14 Aug 2019. ArchDaily. (Trans. Johansson, Emma) Accessed .

世界上最受欢迎的建筑网站现已推出你的母语版本!

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The Morning Watch: Building a Working ‘Fifth Element’ Gun, ‘The Lion King’ Scene Breakdown & More

The Morning Watch: Building a Working ‘Fifth Element’ Gun, ‘The Lion King’ Scene Breakdown & More

Working Fifth Element Gun

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, watch as Adam Savage reveals his build of a fully functional version of Zorg’s gun from The Fifth Element. Plus, pay attention as Jon Favreau breaks down what went into a scene in Disney’s remake of The Lion King, and The Today Show has an extensive chat with Quentin Tarantino and the cast of his new movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

First up, after building a prop replica of the multi-functional weapon sold by Zorg Industries from The Fifth Element, master builder Adam Savage created a real, working version of the weapon that does everything shown in the movie. You’ll see exactly what kind of changes had to be made in order to accommodate all the artillery inside, which makes the gun weigh 40 pounds.

Next, in this scene breakdown for The Lion King at Vanity Fair, director Jon Favreau talks about how they determined what moments from the first movie they needed to hit hard and accurately for those who remember the movie very well. But they also talk about the scenes that they knew allowed them a little more freedom because they aren’t ingrained in the audience’s memory.

Finally, watch a 22-minute interview with director Quentin Tarantino and his Once Upon a Time in Hollywood cast members Margot Robbie, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. The stars discuss their relationship with the material, working with a director like Tarantino, and much more.

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

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Studio Visit: Artist Refik Anadol

Studio Visit: Artist Refik Anadol

Refik Anadol is in the future—not from the future or thinking about it, but working within a space that many have yet to approach. The Turkey-born, LA-based artist creates immersive works that use light to explore architecture. He employs developing technologies and complex algorithms to create what he feels are an interactive evolution of film. Take “WDCH Dreams,” a 2018 work that uses the exterior of Downtown LA’s Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall as a canvas for projecting the building’s “dreams” onto. These are colorful visuals created by Anadol and his team through machine learning algorithms that make use of the LA Phil’s 45-terabyte archive. Works like this speak to the Anadol’s approach and interests, these giant projects that employ technology to do the seemingly impossible.

by Kyle Raymond Fitzpatrick

As Anadol and team prepare for the opening of Machine Hallucination, a new mixed-reality piece at New York’s Artechouse (opening 6 September), we visit the artist’s studio to learn about his approach and the obstacles that pop up when working with tech that very few in the world have access to.

by Kyle Raymond Fitzpatrick

Tell us a little about your workspace.

We’re in an early 1960s warehouse in Frogtown, next to the LA River. It was used until the late ’90s and, in the early 2000s, there was a quick push to make this a lively new environment. That didn’t work. So, we took over almost seven months ago and renovated because, as a studio, we’re using complex hardwares, softwares, always looking for experiential negative space where we can explore light as a material. It’s a perfect place.

by Kyle Raymond Fitzpatrick

How did you get to this point?

I started using light as a material almost 10 years ago. I’ve been using architecture as a canvas, light as a material, data as a material, but having a studio has been a dream. Being alone is limiting because you have bigger dreams than your capacity. I was heavily inspired by cinema as a medium— which is an exciting medium because you can make a reality that people can become a part of. It’s very existential.

What we do is not just focused on art but is something that is universal, for everyone

After my studies at UCLA, things went very well. The idea of opening a studio applied to my thesis project. Now? We are 12 people, wonderful minds collaborating every single day. Plus me and people around the world using custom software development, complex computations, and our collaboration with tech giants like Microsoft and Google—these all collide at this place in Frogtown.

What we do is not just focused art but is something that is universal, for everyone. The idea is to reach anyone of any age of any background. That’s the dream: to make something that really changes the world, which has to be bigger, to hug everyone.

Courtesy of Refik Anadol

What can you tell us about your upcoming project, Mission Hallucination?

Three years ago, Google’s Artists and Mission Intelligence group was looking for artists who need help to use AI. This was a very beautiful problem because we have been using data as completely as possible. We were into algorithms, into complex computations, but using AI is not something that you can do easily. It’s not something as simple. But, three years ago, this collaboration allowed me and the entire team to learn how to use AI. That was a turning point. We did our first project which was the world’s first AI installation using public data for a public space called Archive Dreaming. Then we did Melting Memories, focused on remembering our most precious moments and emotions, which is going to the Pompidou. The third one, which is the WDCH Dreams is about architecture and if architecture can dream and learn. Can it remember? Giving cognitive capacity to a building, basically. But Mission Hallucination is a kind of an endpoint, our peak level. This time it’s about the cities.

The last several years, I’ve been very inspired by cities themselves and how we use them as living entities. Memory concepts, after technology, have completely changed. Social networks and machines (like iPhones) are our new memory recorders, they’re in the Cloud and checked by billions of people. It’s a very interesting concept. This has never happened in humanity’s history. What we are trying to do is ask: can we use Mission Intelligence, which is AI, to reconstruct memories and create a story—a narrative of what has been leftover? To make this happen, we’ve downloaded more than a 100 million images of New York. There are some records, of course, but we’re not Google, we’re not Intel; we’re a group of artists. This is an artistic approach, with this large dataset to “hallucinate” New York. What if we let the machine dream?

The experience uses 18 channel projections and sound to create an epic audio/visual installation that reinvents the cinema, basically. It’s a big topic but I think we are doing it. That’s the stress level in the studio!

by Kyle Raymond Fitzpatrick

What are your philosophies on light and space? How do you approach this in your work?

Artists like Dan Flavin, Robert Irwin and James Turrell are my heroes. But what would happen if they had the same body of work and philosophy, but with today’s tools? They’re thinking of light as a material but they were also a part of their technology. They were clearly thinking about light in an environment, which is very fundamental thinking. Yet it’s not just light itself that’s inspirational: I’m also thinking about the future of architecture. Why are walls empty? How can we bring a cognitive capacity? What would happen if this building remembers? What if it has dream processes?

Light is a divine material that is as existential as water

Light and space is doing that. Light and space connects. But data was missing in that. Light is the best material in the world, that can project imagination into a built environment because, clearly, concrete, glass, and steel are biased materials because of gravity. Light? It can travel infinitely if there is no barrier. Light is a divine material that is as existential as water. All these purposeful reasons make it very easy for me to focus on this material.

by Kyle Raymond Fitzpatrick

Your work has gotten more textural and tactile. How is texture data?

In 2009, I was researching on the topic of computational graphics. Ken Perlin, a professor at NYU, created a fantastic algorithm called Perlin Noise. It’s a 46-line of code that has gotten an Oscar award. The reason is interesting: with this code, you can visually create landscapes, sky, clouds and even ocean. It’s an algorithm that can create kind-of-reality. I was fascinated with that. Again, the cinema is one of my greatest inspirations: if this algorithm is used for that, what else can we use for this algorithm?

The texture is coming from this algorithm. But to go deeper, we dive into the computational design process to develop our own library, our own softwares, where we can take data from wind, from human memory, from body motion, from a breath, from water, and apply this invisible pattern of data into an invisible layer of noise algorithm. It was a very fresh approach, I think, that pioneered something in this field. I even coined a term called “data painting,” where you really give a pigment a life, to move in a dynamic context.

The second inspiring algorithm is fluid simulations. I was heavily inspired by water. That’s my second favorite material in texture. We heavily research fluid algorithms where you can simulate water.

by Kyle Raymond Fitzpatrick

What are the challenges in your work?

It’s a very multi-layer process. You have a layer of hardware and a layer of software, which is where complications lie. We’re on the edge of complications. We’re not doing things that anyone can do. We’re working with tech giants, standing on the shoulders of the people inventing the future. We are using tools from the near-future for now. To solve these problems, we have to use tools from now, materials from now, dialogues from now to invent near-future experiences. This is a time machine problem: you go somewhere, come back and—shit—the time is too far behind.

That’s one thing. Second, the ideas can’t be too fresh. When ideas are too fresh, it cannot be used immediately. It needs to be digested, sit for a while, to really understand what it can mean. Why use this algorithm? Why that canvas? These technical questions are the real problems. Sometimes we are quick, sometimes we are slow. We don’t want to make a gimmicky experience.

The true challenge, the most intimate challenge for me, is once we are in the public realm, that means a specific experience will be touched by people and it may touch their soul, their mind, their memories. This is a very big responsibility. That’s one of the reasons I take my time. Every pixel needs to be done with this same purpose to make sure that these aren’t cold ideas. These are intimate responsibilities beyond algorithms, beyond machines. It’s very human. This is my inner, biggest challenge.

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Nuclear weapons are spreading. This plutonium scientist is trying to stop that – CNET

Nuclear weapons are spreading. This plutonium scientist is trying to stop that – CNET

This story is part of Road Trip 2019, profiles of the troublemakers and trailblazers who are designing our future.

When you think of efforts to pare down the world’s nuclear weapons stockpiles, maybe you imagine heads of state and uniformed generals sternly staring down their military rivals across a huge table. 

Reality, though, looks very different. 

Picture instead a white-haired, US weapons scientist sidestepping the summit meetings and heading directly to research labs in Russia, China, Pakistan and even North Korea to chat about physics and build the direct ties that may be more effective at establishing trust than edicts from the top brass.

That man is Siegfried Hecker, former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory and now a professor emeritus at Stanford University. He’s one of the few people in the world who can appreciate exactly what it meant when a member of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program handed him a glass jar warmed by the radioactive decay of the plutonium inside. Or the dramatic unveiling in 2010 of thousands of centrifuges at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear site to make weapons-grade uranium.

Hecker — Sig for short — has been working on nuclear weapons diplomacy for decades. In the 1990s, after the Soviet Union dissolved and the Russian economy faltered, he was central to a program that led to the dismantlement of thousands of nuclear warheads while ensuring jobs for his Russian counterparts. That work led to similar cooperation with other countries: Hecker has traveled to Russia 56 times, China 38 times, North Korea seven times, India six times and Pakistan once.

“Everywhere I go in the nuclear world, Los Alamos is considered the mecca of all places nuclear. The doors open up,” Hecker says. “I feel this special responsibility — when they open the doors, I need to walk through.”

That peer-to-peer contact arguably is more important than ever. The US withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty this month after alleged Russian noncompliance. Russia is talking about deploying hypersonic nuclear missiles that some say the US military can’t stop. And the 2011 New START treaty reining in US and Russian nuclear stockpiles likely will expire in 2021.

But even with the frosty US-Russia relationship these days, Hecker will make his 57th trip there in November.

Hecker is comfortable enough donning a suit and tie when giving congressional testimony or speaking to Energy Department officials, but when I meet him in his office at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, his red polo shirt, tan slacks and brown leather shoes reflect the more casual look typical of Los Alamos or Silicon Valley. He’s soft-spoken but intense, his passion showing when he’s excited about scientific breakthroughs or frustrated by what he sees as political regression.

“I don’t think the Trump administration is going to be interested in renewing,” Hecker says of New START. “We’ve already cut back so much contact between nuclear scientists and the nuclear military. If you now go ahead and chop off the treaties, that’s very dangerous.”

An optimist despite it all

Today’s geopolitical climate is grim in Hecker’s view. He speaks regretfully of the demise of the US-Russian collaboration. He enthusiastically endorsed the US-Iran nuclear accord that President Donald Trump withdrew from last year and that Iran now is taking steps to defy. He worries about the dangers of Trump’s 2017 threat of unleashing “fire and fury” on North Korea.

Yet he calls himself an optimist. “Fundamentally, I’m a believer in international cooperation.” 

That might sound surprising given the strident nationalism on display across the world stage, but Hecker has been pushing his agenda for decades with both Republican and Democratic administrations. 

And he’s made a difference. 

“We can only guess how many catastrophes have been avoided because of Sig’s work on nuclear safety and security,” says former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, now co-chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, an organization dedicated to reducing the dangers of weapons of mass destruction. “We do know that global risks have been significantly reduced because of his cooperative efforts with scientists from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s.”

sig-hecker-north-korea-nuclear-disablement-2srcsrc8

Siegfried Hecker examines evidence in 2008 that the North Koreans had disabled some of their nuclear weapons manufacturing equipment. 


Courtesy of Siegfried Hecker

A global view

Even before mastering plutonium chemistry and leading a premier nuclear weapons lab, he knew there was a world beyond the US border. Hecker was born in Poland in 1943, but his father disappeared fighting for the Germans on the Eastern Front of World War II. After the war, he lived in converted Army barracks in Austria, having a good time skiing and playing soccer despite the lack of running water or central heating.

In 1956, at age 13, he moved to the United States. Four years later, he was named valedictorian of Cleveland’s East High School and won a scholarship to Case Western Reserve University.

He measures his milestones from his arrival in the US: five years to obtain US citizenship, nine years to get a security clearance for a summer job at Los Alamos, 30 years to become director of LANL. Although he spent the early 1970s as a metallurgist at General Motors, he returned to Los Alamos in 1973 and rose through the ranks of materials science.

He’s still an avid skier — he served as president of the Los Alamos Ski Club that once ran the local Pajarito Mountain Ski Area — and he wears a Fitbit activity tracker on his wrist today. But even after so long in the US, he remembers his experience as an immigrant.

“I have a soft spot for refugees and immigrants. I will never forget how this country welcomed me with open arms,” he says. The US granted similar opportunities to the refugees and immigrants who escaped Hitler’s Germany before the war and helped to build the first atomic bomb at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project, he adds.

Hecker stepped down as LANL director in 1997 — he spent his last day on the job at Tomsk-7 (or Seversk), a Russian nuclear weapons production site in Siberia. But he still returns often to an office in Los Alamos where he keeps mementos like the diploma marking him a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

At LANL, he became an expert in the weird ways of plutonium, the radioactive metal made in nuclear reactors to fuel modern nuclear weapons. “Plutonium is without question the most complex and interesting of all metals,” Hecker and two colleagues wrote in a 1983 publication. For one thing, as a solid, plutonium can take six different forms called allotropes, each with different properties (a seventh allotrope occurs when plutonium is under pressure). For comparison, iron has only four allotropes. Another tricky factor is that solid plutonium expands dramatically when it gets warmer — except sometimes it contracts.

Its properties are crucial for the challenge of maintaining the US nuclear weapons stockpile as it ages decades beyond its original expected lifespan. But if you read Hecker’s 46-page assessment of plutonium, written after stepping down as LANL director, you’ll see he appreciates plutonium’s weird physics, not just its military and political importance.

Life after the lab

Over a dozen years, Hecker has taught about 3,000 students at Stanford about the intersection of technology and national security. Accolades and mementos adorn his office; there’s a Chinese print of flowers, a pair of gold-rimmed engraved plates from Russia’s nuclear weapons lab in Sarov. A copy of his book about the US-Russian nuclear collaboration, Doomed to Cooperate, is jammed into a bookshelf covering two walls of his office. A window overlooks Stanford’s green lawns, towering oaks and sandstone arches.

“He’s got a ton of credibility,” says Miles Pomper, a senior fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). “The hardliners are not going to just be able to dismiss someone like Hecker. He can physically eyeball things in a way very few people can.”

North Korea says it's developed a hydrogen bomb -- a powerful thermonuclear weapon -- and indicated it's small enough to fit on a missile. In this Korean Central News Agency photo from September 3, 2src17, leader Kim Jong-Un inspects the design.

North Korea says it’s developed a hydrogen bomb — a powerful thermonuclear weapon — and indicated it’s small enough to fit on a missile. In this Korean Central News Agency photo from September 2017, leader Kim Jong-Un inspects the design.


AFP photo/KCNA via KNS/Getty

His worldview is grounded in the idea of looking at the world from others’ perspectives — something he says he learned in Austria but still applies when he visits scientists across the world. “In the United States, we tend to be so incredibly America-centric. We’re only 300 million out of 7 billion people, for heaven’s sake.”

Seeing other weapons researchers on their own turf has been crucial, he adds: “You can only understand them by being there.”

It’s why he believes that the North Korean regime isn’t suicidal — so belligerent it would provoke the US into a nuclear war. And he’s learned from visiting many Russians in their homes. “They’re so much like us — it’s a civil society, one that’s into the traditions of music and art and family culture.”

Grounded in physics

Hecker knows exactly how nuclear weapons work, which is handy when it comes to verifying treaties or figuring out North Korea really has a hydrogen bomb.

Take that moment in 2004 when he scrutinized that jar of North Korean plutonium. The funnel-shaped sample looked like oxidized plutonium, but Hecker asked to hold it, too. That let him check if it was heavy enough to match plutonium’s high density and warm enough to indicate radioactive decay.

“It was both — heavy and warm,” Hecker says. (Glass stops the relatively slow, heavy alpha particles of plutonium’s radioactive decay, though Hecker wore gloves in case the jar’s outside was contaminated.)

“It was Sig’s firsthand experience in some of North Korea’s nuclear facilities that really first affirmed that North Korea’s nuclear capabilities were the real deal,” says Grace Liu, a CNS analyst.

Siegfried Hecker, center, visits the plutonium facility at North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear research center in 2srcsrc7.

Siegfried Hecker (center) visits the plutonium facility at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear research center in 2007.


Courtesy of Siegfried Hecker

Hecker also got a good look at North Korea’s single working nuclear reactor on that trip, scrutinizing its control room, tracking the spent fuel rods crucial to making plutonium, and getting a measure of its plutonium production ability. And he confirmed the country’s reprocessing plant, for extracting uranium and plutonium from spent fuel rods, operated at industrial scale.

To assess a country’s nuclear weapons capability, Hecker uses a three-point evaluation: its knowledge of how to build a nuclear weapon; its supply of weapons-grade materials like plutonium and enriched uranium; and its missile technology to deliver a bomb. 

Right now, North Korea has all three — though with limitations, Hecker believes. Iran has the know-how and the missiles, but is a bit short on ingredients.

Types of nuclear weapons

There are two basic types of nuclear weapons: fission and fusion bombs. Fission bombs use the release of energy that accompanies the splitting of heavy uranium or plutonium atoms. Fusion bombs use the energy released by the merging of lighter atoms such as hydrogen and lithium.

The most basic fission bomb is the gun type, which the US set off over Hiroshima in 1945. In it, a detonation of conventional explosives slams two pieces of highly-enriched uranium together. The uranium reaches critical mass — atoms split and release energy and neutrons that trigger more splitting — and explodes. You can’t make a gun type bomb with plutonium — it releases more neutrons than uranium, causing a premature, feeble detonation, Hecker says.

Because gun-type weapons are easy to design, the most effective way to limit the spread of nuclear weapons is to control the nuclear materials needed to build them, says Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, a high-energy physicist at CNS.

“With modern weapons-grade uranium, terrorists would have a good chance of setting off a high-yield explosion simply by dropping one half of the material onto the other half,” he says.

A more sophisticated fission bomb uses implosion. A carefully constructed shell of conventional high explosives detonates on the outside of a sphere of plutonium or highly enriched uranium, compressing the core and causing the explosion. The US used plutonium-based fission bombs in both its Trinity test in New Mexico in July 1945 and the Nagasaki attack a month later. Adding tritium — a variety of hydrogen with two neutrons instead of the more common zero — can boost the power of implosion weapons.

“These designs are more sophisticated, and you really need to test it to get it to work,” Dalnoki-Veress says.

But it’s fusion bombs — the thermonuclear or hydrogen weapons that make up all modern nuclear arsenals — that are most explosive. They begin with a smaller fission bomb “primary” that releases enough energy to trigger the fusion “secondary.” This two-stage reaction is more complicated, but it delivers more explosive power, which makes it more efficient for weight-constrained missiles.

Thermonuclear bombs are the world’s most powerful weapons. Warheads like the United States’ B83 have an explosive yield the same as 1.2 million tons of TNT, about 80 times the explosive power of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs and 600,000 times more powerful than the 1995 fertilizer bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The Soviet Union holds the record in explosive power with the 50-megaton Tsar Bomba, a thermonuclear bomb that swept ground zero as smooth as a skating rink in 1961 with a detonation more powerful than all bombs dropped in World War II.

Newer nuclear weapons emphasize accuracy over explosive power, but you wouldn’t want to be near an explosion. A 1.2 megaton bomb can flatten homes more than 4 miles away and cause third-degree burns 8 miles away.

No matter what design is used, weapons designers want plutonium when launching missiles. “Plutonium is so much more potent than uranium,” Hecker says. Although you can make a uranium-triggered hydrogen bomb, “plutonium is much preferred for nuclear warheads for ICBMs.”

Visiting North Korea

Fifteen years ago, when North Korea had a much younger nuclear weapons program, the US was fixated on the early days of the war on terror. In Hecker’s view, North Korean leaders believed at the time their country wasn’t getting the attention and respect it deserved.

Hecker’s Stanford colleague John Lewis, an expert in Asian political science, made several trips to North Korea, and in 2004, the country invited him to Yongbyon. Lewis persuaded Hecker to come along to offer technical expertise, Hecker recounts. North Korea, eager for recognition, was amenable.

In fact, it was harder to sell the US government on the idea of sending one of its senior weapons experts, Hecker said. As he put it, then Vice President Dick Cheney’s attitude was, “We don’t talk to evil. We destroy it.” But Hecker’s allies in Washington, D.C., prevailed.

Skeptics didn’t believe North Korea’s claims that it could make nuclear weapons, but Hecker became convinced they could during his visit to the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, a site about 60 miles north of the capital, Pyongyang. It’s also home to a nuclear reactor along with nuclear weapons research and manufacturing facilities.

“When you spend time with the scientists, discussing the density of plutonium in the delta phase [a metallic, workable form], you get insights you can’t possibly have from the outside or get around a negotiating table,” he says.

His 2007 and 2008 visits confirmed some disablement of North Korea’s weapons program. But then came a difficult period after President Barack Obama took office. He’d told dictators, “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” But  then North Korea announced a satellite launch that Western powers saw as a threatening display of nuclear missile expertise.

Surprise — 2,000 centrifuges

Hecker’s last visit to Yongbyon came in 2010, when the North Koreans had a final message to send: They’d built a full-scale uranium enrichment facility.

The facility uses centrifuges to rapidly spin a gaseous form of uranium. Natural uranium is 99.3% Uranium 238 — a particular variety of the element with 238 protons and neutrons. But weapons require a concentration of at least 90% U-235, a lighter version with three fewer neutrons. Spun fast enough, the lighter U-235 collects toward the center of the centrifuge, where it can be skimmed off and sent to the next centrifuge. This cascading arrangement gradually produces the weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium.

North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear weapons center includes the blue-roofed site for enriching uranium so it's useful in bombs.

North Korea’s Nyongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center includes the blue-roofed building for enriching uranium so it’s useful in bombs. This satellite photo is from April 2019.


Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies

Although spy satellites can monitor plutonium manufacturing in a nuclear reactor, they can’t easily track uranium enrichment in centrifuges. So the North Koreans built the facility right under the US’s nose, so to speak.

“They showed me these 2,000 centrifuges. Quite frankly, my jaw dropped,” Hecker says. “I knew they had centrifuges. I knew they were doing enrichment. But I had no idea they had this many in that modern a facility and in a building I had been in a couple of years before.”

Just as in 2004, when showing Hecker they could make plutonium, the North Koreans were using Hecker’s expertise to tell the rest of the world they had serious nuclear weapons capability. In effect, North Korea used the centrifuge display to tell Hecker, “Now we have the second path to the bomb,” he said. 

Hecker is willing to go back, but currently there’s no need. He says North Korea now communicates its nuclear capabilities with weapons tests detectable across the globe, missile launches visible from space and government photos of Kim Jong Un inspecting nuclear weapons designs.

North Korea’s first five nuclear tests from 2006 to 2016 ranged in power up to the equivalent of about 7 to 14 kilotons of TNT, roughly the same size as the two US atomic bombs exploded over Japan during World War II. Scientists infer the magnitudes from the way the explosions cause shock waves to traverse Earth, in effect ringing it like a bell. But the sixth test, in 2017, now looks to have been about 250 kilotons.

“At 250, this was thermonuclear, and it was a hydrogen bomb,” Hecker says.

His deep knowledge of bombs and how North Korea makes them is why he’s frustrated by US-North Korea nuclear summits. Even though Trump and Kim are willing to challenge their countries’ hardliners, each side was overconfident in the 2019 summit talks at Hanoi, Vietnam, Hecker says. At the last minute, North Korea offered to give up all its Yongbyon operations, he says, but it was too late. 

“When Trump walked away from Hanoi, he got applause from both sides of the aisle. But he walked away from what could have been a blockbuster deal,” Hecker said.

 “That was a deal that would bring Americans back into Yongbyon,” where the US can see what’s going on. Even if they maintain covert work elsewhere, that’s slower and harder, he says. “They make a lot more progress when we’re not there.”

Back from the brink

It’s not Hecker’s job anymore to keep the aging US stockpile working, but his expertise is still in demand. One ongoing project is to keep a close eye on 16 aspects of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. What is its ability to make plutonium and tritium? To enrich uranium? How active is Yongbyon? He also tracks related factors like US financial aid and the tone of North Korean diplomatic communications for a broader view.

He refers to the research as he discusses his work with North Korea, calling the charts up on a MacBook perched in front of a standing desk with tape covering its webcam. Color codes offer a roadmap toward denuclearization that the US and North Korea both can accept.

It’s all part of Hecker’s approach toward improving relations. You don’t get everything you want at once. The US normalizes some relations while North Korea takes some early steps toward denuclearization. Next comes some sanction relief, maybe a nonaggression pact, and eventually a peace treaty. “We’re talking at least about a 10 year process,” Hecker says.

Small steps worked with Russia. The US-Russian nuclear collaboration grew out of his contacts with Russian nuclear scientists who came to the Nevada Test Site for a 1988 treaty enforcement activity called the Joint Verification Experiment. At its peak, more than 1,000 Russians and Americans were involved in the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. “You get a better sense of where the other side is coming from,” he says. 

And ultimately, personal connections lay a foundation for trust — the kind of relationship that can be deeper than a treaty.

“Trust takes a long time to develop, but can be destroyed quickly. The world is on a terrible trajectory right now,” he says. But during his tenure as LANL director and scientific shuttle diplomat, he’s seen seven presidents come and go.

Give it another decade. Maybe his optimism will be rewarded.

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‘Lost’ statue of Alexander the Great found in museum warehouse

‘Lost’ statue of Alexander the Great found in museum warehouse

Archaeologists have discovered a stunning, albeit noseless, bust of Alexander the Great, but not from an ongoing excavation located in Alexander’s ancient, sprawling empire.

Rather, the marble statue was found sitting, “lost in a dark corner of the warehouse” at the Archaeological Museum of Veroia, in Greece, according to a July 31 Facebook post by Angeliki Kottaridi, a director at the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports. [Top 10 Reasons Alexander the Great Was, Well … Great!]

The bust likely dates to the second century B.C., about 200 years after Alexander the Great died at age 32 in 323 B.C., Kottaridi said.

Curators were taking stock of the warehouse when they spotted the sculpted head resting “between crates with ceramic, half under old mortars and pollutants,” Kottaridi wrote in the post (translated from Greek with Google Translate). “I saw him … despite the wounds left on his beautiful face by the ages and ignorance,” she said, noting the detail to his wild hair and “dream eyes.”

The statue had undergone wear and tear over the years (hence, the broken nose). “It was sprinkled with mortar because it had been used on a wall — sometime in the 18th [to] 19th centuries — as building material,” Kottaridi said, according to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA).

Upon finding the statue in the rubble of a Greek village, archaeologists collected it, put it in storage and promptly forgot about it. “No one recognized that it was Alexander,” Kottaridi said, according to AMNA.

But Kottaridi said she immediately knew the approximately 2,100-year-old statue was the great conqueror, whose vast empire stretched from the Balkans to modern-day Pakistan. She and her colleagues had the statue cleaned and plan to put it on display at the end of 2020 in the Museum of Royal Tombs of Aigai, in Vergina, where Kottaridi is the director.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Transformable Megatron (single print, no support material) #3DThursday #3DPrinting #adafruit

Transformable Megatron (single print, no support material) #3DThursday #3DPrinting #adafruit

DaBombDiggity shares:

This is a transformable Megatron figure that prints in just two pieces. No assembly required! It stands over 120mm tall and transforms from tyrannical conqueror to tank. No support material is required to print. This makes cleaning the final product easy, and means you can transform it right off the build plate! Armed with his classic Fusion Cannon, he has sworn vengeance on all Autobots and their Leader, Optimus Prime.


https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3485752

download the files on: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3651676


649-1


Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!


Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Join 12,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

CircuitPython 2019!

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell with Google Hangouts On-Air is every Wednesday at 7:30pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Follow Adafruit on Instagram for top secret new products, behinds the scenes and more https://www.instagram.com/adafruit/


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All Made by Google Devices to Include Recycled Material

All Made by Google Devices to Include Recycled Material

All Made by Google Devices to Include Recycled Material


This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page. Terms of use.

Starting in 2022, 100 percent of Made by Google products will include recycled materials (via Bence Boros/Unsplash)

Google this week announced a new initiative to integrate sustainability into its consumer hardware products.

The tech titan—set to turn 20 in September—jumped on the smart-device bandwagon just a few years ago.

But every Pixel phone and Home Mini speaker it makes requires a lot of resources and generates even more waste.

So Google is going green.

“It’s an ongoing endeavor that involves designing in sustainability from the start and embedding it into the entire product development process and across our operations, all while creating the products our customers want,” Anna Meegan, head of sustainability for consumer hardware, wrote in a blog post.

The woke company on Monday outlined its efforts to be more environmentally friendly, starting with the short-term goal of making all shipments to and from customers carbon neutral by next year.

(That’s far superior to Amazon’s hope of netting 50 percent zero carbon by 2030.)

And, starting in 2022, 100 percent of Made by Google products will include recycled materials, with a drive to maximize recycled content “wherever possible,” the firm announced.

Just how much of each device will comprise reclaimed parts remains unclear. Though even 1 percent is better than nothing.

“These commitments build on the foundation and progress we’ve already made,” Meegan said, pointing to a 40 percent decrease in Google’s carbon emissions from 2017 to 2018.

Last year, the company began publishing product environment reports, making public details about what products are made of, how they’re built, and how they get shipped.

“We’re always working to do more, faster,” Meegan wrote. “But today we’re laying the foundation for what we believe will be a way of doing business that commits to building better products better.”

More on Geek.com:


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Humans may be able to live on Mars within walls of aerogel – a wonder material that can trap heat and block radiation

Humans may be able to live on Mars within walls of aerogel – a wonder material that can trap heat and block radiation

Just build houses near the ice caps to produce water and grow food. Easy!

aerogel

We may be able to survive and live on Mars in regions protected by thin ceilings of silica aerogel, a strong lightweight material that insulates heat and blocks harmful ultraviolet radiation while weighing almost nothing.

Researchers at Harvard University in the US, NASA, and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland envision areas of Mars enclosed by two to three-centimetre-thick walls of silica aerogel. The strange material is ghost-like in appearance, and although it’s up to 99.98 per cent air, it’s actually a solid.

Aerogels come in various shapes and forms with their own mix of properties. Typically, they are made from sucking out the liquid in a gel using something called a supercritical dryer device. The resulting aerogel consists of pockets of air, and is therefore ultralight and can be capable of trapping heat. It can also be made hydrophobic or semi-porous as needed.

The semitransparent solid, therefore, has odd properties that may just help humans colonize the Red Planet. The solid silica can be manufactured to block out, say, dangerous UV rays while allowing visible light through.

However, it’s the trapping of heat that is most interesting here. When the boffins shone a lamp onto a thin block of silica aerogel, measuring less than 3cm thick, they found that the surface beneath the material warmed up to 65 degrees Celsius (that’s 150 degrees Fahrenheit for you Americans), high enough, of course, to melt ice into water. The results were published in Nature Astronomy on Monday.

Welcome to the Hotel Aerogel

The academics reckon if a region of ice near the higher latitudes of Mars was covered with a layer of aerogel, then the frosty ground would melt to produce liquid water as the environment heats up. It’d also be warm enough for humans to live and farm food in order to survive in the otherwise harsh, acrid conditions elsewhere the planet.

Mars

NASA boffins may just carve your name on a chip and send it to Mars if you ask nicely

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“The ideal place for a Martian outpost would have plentiful water and moderate temperatures,” said Laura Kerber, co-author of the paper and a geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Mars is warmer around the equator, but most of the water ice is located at higher latitudes. Building with silica aerogel would allow us to artificially create warm environments where there is already water ice available.”

The researchers hope to test their idea by conducting more silica aerogel experiments in the Atacama Desert in Chile or McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica. Both environments have subzero-Celsius temperatures and are as unforgiving as Mars.

“Unlike the previous ideas to make Mars habitable, this is something that can be developed and tested systematically with materials and technology we already have,” said Robin Wordsworth, first author of the paper and an assistant professor of environmental Science and engineering at Harvard University.

But there are obviously other challenges to making Mars habitable. The atmospheric pressure there is lower than Earth’s, and the undersides of aerogel walls will need to be pressurized to prevent water vapor seeping out. The dusty nature of the planet might also cut the amount of light that could penetrate such a shelter.

Also, there’s the problem of how to ship large quantities of the material to build settlements – aerogel is insanely light but also very bulky. Oh, and another thing: there’s also very little oxygen on Mars so we’ll have to work out how we can even breathe let alone water crops, unless we can crack Martian water into hydrogen and oxygen safely. ®

PS: Interestingly enough, it is believed a classified type of aerogel codenamed FOGBANK is used in American thermonuclear warheads as a filler between the fission primary and the fusion-stage secondary. The material is so hush-hush, the US military accidentally forgot how to make it at one point.

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