Thursday, February 27, 2014

Rolls-Royce Drone Ships Challenge $375 Billion Industry: Freight

My thought is that this is hopefully a brilliant way to thwart piracy.

Source: Rolls-Royce Holdings
Drone ships would be safer, cheaper and less polluting for the $375 billion shipping... 
In an age of aerial drones and driver-less cars, Rolls-Royce (RR/) Holdings Plc is designing unmanned cargo ships.

Rolls-Royce’s Blue Ocean development team has set up a virtual-reality prototype at its office in Alesund, Norway, that simulates 360-degree views from a vessel’s bridge. Eventually, the London-based manufacturer of engines and turbines says, captains on dry land will use similar control centers to command hundreds of crewless ships.

Drone ships would be safer, cheaper and less polluting for the $375 billion shipping industry that carries 90 percent of world trade, Rolls-Royce says. They might be deployed in regions such as the Baltic Sea within a decade, while regulatory hurdles and industry and union skepticism about cost and safety will slow global adoption, said Oskar Levander, the company’s vice president of innovation in marine engineering and technology.

“Now the technology is at the level where we can make this happen, and society is moving in this direction,” Levander said by phone last month. “If we want marine to do this, now is the time to move.”

The European Union is funding a 3.5 million-euro ($4.8 million) study called the Maritime Unmanned Navigation through Intelligence in Networks project. The researchers are preparing the prototype for simulated sea trials to assess the costs and benefits, which will finish next year, said Hans-Christoph Burmeister at the Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics and Services CML in Hamburg.
Source: Rolls-Royce Holdings

Developing Designs

Even so, maritime companies, insurers, engineers, labor unions and regulators doubt unmanned ships could be safe and cost-effective any time soon.

While the idea of automated ships was first considered decades ago, Rolls-Royce started developing designs last year. Marine accounts for 16 percent of the company’s revenue, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Descended from the luxury car brand now operated by Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, Rolls-Royce also makes plane engines and turbines.

The company’s schematics show vessels loaded with containers from front to back, without the bridge structure where the crew lives. By replacing the bridge -- along with the other systems that support the crew, such as electricity, air conditioning, water and sewage -- with more cargo, ships can cut costs and boost revenue, Levander said. The ships would be 5 percent lighter before loading cargo and would burn 12 percent to 15 percent less fuel, he said.

Safety Standards

Crew costs of $3,299 a day account for about 44 percent of total operating expenses for a large container ship, according to Moore Stephens LLP, an industry accountant and consultant.
The potential savings don’t justify the investments that would be needed to make unmanned ships safe, said Tor Svensen, chief executive officer of maritime for DNV GL, the largest company certifying vessels for safety standards.

“I don’t think personally that there’s a huge cost-benefit in unmanned ships today, but technologically it’s possible,” Svensen said Feb. 4 at a conference in New York. “My prediction is that it’s not coming in the foreseeable future.”

While each company can develop its own standards, the 12-member International Association of Classification Societies in London hasn’t developed unified guidelines for unmanned ships, Secretary Derek Hodgson said.

“Can you imagine what it would be like with an unmanned vessel with cargo on board trading on the open seas? You get in enough trouble with crew on board,” Hodgson said by phone Jan. 7. “There are an enormous number of hoops for it to go through before it even got onto the drawing board.”

Regulating Ships

Unmanned ships are currently illegal under international conventions that set minimum crew requirements, said Simon Bennett, a spokesman for the London-based International Chamber of Shipping, an industry association representing more than 80 percent of the global fleet. The organization isn’t seriously considering the issue, he said by phone Feb. 6.

The country where a ship is registered is responsible for regulating vessels within its own waters and for enforcing international rules, said Natasha Brown, a spokeswoman for the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency in London that has overseen global shipping for almost 70 years.

The IMO hasn’t received any proposals on unmanned, remote-controlled ships, she said in a Feb. 6 e-mail. IMO regulations apply to seagoing vessels trading internationally and exceeding 500 gross tons, except warships and fishing boats.

As long as drone ships don’t comply with IMO rules, they would be considered unseaworthy and ineligible for insurance, according to Andrew Bardot, secretary and executive officer of the London-based International Group of P&I Clubs, whose 13 members cover 90 percent of the global fleet.

Union Opposition

The International Transport Workers’ Federation, the union representing about 600,000 of the world’s more than 1 million seafarers, is opposed.

“It cannot and will never replace the eyes, ears and thought processes of professional seafarers,” Dave Heindel, chairman of the ITF’s seafarers’ section in London, said in an e-mailed statement.

“The human element is one of the first lines of defense in the event of machinery failure and the kind of unexpected and sudden changes of conditions in which the world’s seas specialize. The dangers posed to the environment by unmanned vessels are too easily imagined.”

Levander of Rolls-Royce said the transition will happen gradually as computers increase their role in navigation and operations. Container ships and dry-bulk carriers will probably be the first to forgo crews, he said. Tankers hauling hazardous materials such as oil and liquefied natural gas will probably remain manned longer because of the perception that having people on board is safer, he said.

Redundant Systems

Crews will offer no safety advantage after ships evolve equipment for remote control, preventive maintenance and emergency back-ups, Levander said. Unmanned ships will need constant and comprehensive computer monitoring to anticipate failures in advance and “redundant” systems to kick in, similar to those on airplanes, he said.

The computers would also be constantly analyzing operations data to improve efficiency and save money, he said. Cameras and sensors can already detect obstacles in the water better than the human eye.

“It’s a given that the remote-controlled ship must be as safe as today,” Levander said. “But we actually think it can be even much safer than today.”

Human error causes most maritime accidents, often relating to fatigue, according to Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty AG. Total losses are declining, with 106 in 2012, 24 percent below the 10-year average, according to the most recent data from the unit of the Munich-based insurer.

Repatriating Sailors

Unmanned ships would also reduce risks such as piracy, since there would be no hostages to capture, Levander said. It would also eliminate liability for repatriating sailors when owners run out of money or abandon crews, which has stranded at least 2,379 people in the past decade.

Drone ships would become vulnerable to a different kind of hijacking: from computer hackers. While the technology may never be fully secure, it needs to be so difficult to break that it’s not worth the effort, according to Levander.

Unmanned ships would still require captains to operate them remotely and people to repair and unload them in port. These workers would have better quality of life compared with working at sea, Levander said.

Academic Debate

Currently the debate is more academic than operational, said Peter Sand, an analyst at the Bagsvaerd, Denmark-based Baltic and International Maritime Council, whose members control about 65 percent of the global fleet. None of them have raised the question of drone ships with the trade group, he said.
Levander is accustomed to chilly receptions. When he broached the subject at an industry conference in London last May, the audience audibly scoffed, and other speakers on Levander’s panel dismissed the idea.

“If everybody in the industry would say, ‘Yes, this is the way to go,’ then we are too late,” Levander said. “I expect ship owners to be conservative, but it will change.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Isaac Arnsdorf in New York at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Millie Munshi at

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cuban windsurfer rescued after four days at sea by U.S. Coast Guard

WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miam Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

More complete article:

Cuban windsurfer rescued after four days at sea by U.S. Coast Guard;_ylt=AwrBJSDw0AhTgXUAMcDQtDMD

By David Adams

MIAMI (Reuters) - A Cuban man who attempted to windsurf across the Florida Straits to the United States was rescued on Friday after four days at sea, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The man was one of three who left the communist-ruled Caribbean island on Tuesday, only one of whom reached Florida unassisted.

Under the "wet foot/dry foot" policy of the Cuban Adjustment Act, Cuban migrants who make it onto United States soil are allowed to remain while those intercepted at sea are returned to their home or a third country.

On Friday afternoon, the man was spotted by a boater on the Marquesas Keys, an outcrop of small, uninhabited islands about 20 miles west of Key West, according to U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Peter Bermont.

"He was unable to move himself and the officers had to use his surfboard to carry him," Bermont said.

Many Cubans have died trying to cross the Florida Straits separating the southeast coast of Florida from Cuba and known for its sharks, difficult currents and sudden squalls.

The windsurfer who completed the crossing, identified as Henry Vergara Negrin, 24, said he left Jibacoa, Cuba, near Havana at 9 a.m. Tuesday with two companions on separate boards, according to a report by the Key West, Florida, police.

Negrin is the first reported Cuban windsurfer to make the treacherous crossing in two decades. Half a dozen windsurfer attempts were documented during the 1990s, including Lester Moreno Perez who in March 1990 attempted the crossing aged only 17, and was rescued by a freighter 30 miles from Key West.

Negrin took 9-1/2 hours to make it ashore at Key West's luxury Reach Resort. A hotel spokeswoman said guests and a bartender helped him.

Negrin told police his companions' sails went down and he lost sight of them four hours into the journey. He said he knew his companions only as Amando, 28, and Dwarta, 23. Dwarta was found disoriented and drifting Thursday morning about seven miles south of the Florida Keys, the Coast Guard said.

(Editing by Grant McCool).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Company plans to beam free Wi-fi to every person on Earth from space

Forget the Internet - soon there will be the OUTERNET: Company plans to beam free Wi-fi to every person on Earth from space

  • An ambitious project known as Outernet is aiming to launch hundreds of miniature satellites into low Earth orbit by June 2015
  • Each satellite will broadcast the Internet to phones and computers giving billions of people across the globe free online access
  • Citizens of countries like China and North Korea that have censored online activity could be given free and unrestricted cyberspace
  • 'There's really nothing that is technically impossible to this'
You might think you have to pay through the nose at the moment to access the Internet.

But one ambitious organisation called the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) is planning to turn the age of online computing on its head by giving free web access to every person on Earth.

Known as Outernet, MDIF plans to launch hundreds of satellites into orbit by 2015.
And they say the project could provide unrestricted Internet access to countries where their web access is censored, including China and North Korea.

Using something known as datacasting technology, which involves sending data over wide radio waves, the New York-based company says they'll be able to broadcast the Internet around the world.

The group is hoping to raise tens of millions of dollars in donations to get the project on the road.

The Outernet team claim that only 60% of the world's population currently have access to the wealth of knowledge that can be found on the Internet.

This is because, despite a wide spread of Wi-FI devices across the globe, many countries are unable or unwilling to provide people with the infrastructure needed to access the web.

The company's plan is to launch hundreds of low-cost miniature satellites, known as cubesats, into low Earth orbit.

Here, each satellite will receive data from a network of ground stations across the globe.

Using a technique known as User Datagram Protocol (UDP) multitasking, which is the sharing of data between users on a network, Outernet will beam information to users.

Much like how you receive a signal on your television and flick through channels, Outernet will broadcast the Internet to you and allow you to flick through certain websites.


By June of this year the Outernet project aims to begin deploying prototype satellites to test their technology.

In September 2014 they will make a request to NASA to test their technology on the International Space Station.

By early 2015 they intend to begin manufacturing and launching their satellites
And in June 2015 the company says they will begin broadcasting the Outernet from space.
'We have a very solid understand of the costs involved, as well as experience working on numerous spacecraft,' said Project Lead of Outernet Syed Karim, who fielded some questions on Reddit

'There isn't a lot of raw research that is being done here; much of what is being described has already been proven by other small satellite programs and experiments.

There's really nothing that is technically impossible to this'
But at the prospect of telecoms operators trying to shut the project down before it gets off the ground, Karim said: 'We will fight... and win.'

If everything goes to plan, the Outernet project aims to ask NASA for permission to test the technology on the International Space Station.

And their ultimate goal will be to beginning deploying the Outernet satellites into Earth orbit, which they say can begin in June 2015.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Jesus of Nazareth VS Sammy Hagar

Just watching some clips of Jesus of Nazareth ('77) on YouTube. What an incredible portrayal of Christ by Robert Powell, truly. Check out this scene where Jesus rebukes the Scribes and Pharisees. And here's a playlist that begins with a scene of Laurence Olivier playing Nicodemus. Incredible all-star cast also includes Ernest Borgnine and Anthony Quinn among others.

At the end of the scene where Jesus heals a blind man, my video choices appeared:

Hmm. Eleven more scenes featuring Jesus - OR - 'Does Sammy miss his relationship with Eddie?'

Without hesitation, I went with the raising of Lazarus and moved away the stoned. Yesterday, however, I'll admit I was only briefly diverted by a clip about a naked tribe of the Amazon, and it was amazing.

Is this Google's idea of cognitive dissonance? I'll admit, it reflects my viewing history, but I'd love to know how my choices impact my target profile. WWAD?

Apparently most of these tribal people only live to be thirty-five years old because they euthanize themselves with poison berries in order to be with those they miss in the afterlife. Any children born with defects are either buried alive or sent into the jungle to be eaten alive by jaguars. The one tribesman said he will never marry because the women talk too much and constantly complain.

Very interesting. I was grateful that the clip validated my viewing behavior. I did return to watching Jesus of Nazareth.

Of particular interest regarding controversy surrounding the film, Jesus of Nazareth, this blurb from wiki:

Before its initial broadcast, Jesus of Nazareth came under ideological fire from some American Protestant fundamentalists, led by Bob Jones III, president of Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Zeffirelli had told an interviewer from Modern Screen that the film would portray Jesus as "an ordinary man—gentle, fragile, simple". Jones interpreted this as meaning that the portrayal would deny Christ's divine nature. Having never seen the film, Jones denounced it as "blasphemy." Others picked up the cry and 18,000 letters were sent to General Motors, which had provided $3 million of the film's cost. Sacrificing its investment, GM backed out of its sponsorship.[7] Procter and Gamble eventually took it over, buying the U.S. rights for a relatively low price of some $1 million, and their financial support allowed the miniseries to be screened.[38]

In making his film, Zeffirelli explicitly wished to deemphasize the traditional accusation of deicide against the Jews. Some 26 years later, Zeffirelli criticized The Passion of the Christ (2004), which was produced and directed by Mel Gibson, for its portrayal of who "...was to blame for all the bloodshed".[39] Zeffirelli had directed Gibson in Hamlet (1990).

Personal Note

How did I end up watching this? I saw an article showcasing the 'devlishly-handsome actors' who've played the Son of God, a gallery of maybe 11 guys. With the recent slew of religious films and tv series running amok, I'm a little cynical about what I perceive as opportunism, or at least I find the 'hunky' portrayal very annoying. It just doesn't work, it's distracting and disrespectful, which was a main reason I didn't want to see the Passion, and particularly why I thought the controversy blurb was worth adding in for perspective. Of the eleven actors, I found Robert Powell to be the most compelling.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Letters by B. Kliban

I was looking for information about B. Kliban's drawing process and I found this page:

The page features Kliban's advisory letters written to a cartoonist.

I also found this article with more info.

Victim's Family, band from California since 1984


Found this band, Victims Family, on YouTube searching for B. Kliban info. They named their band after one of his cartoons.

According to the Wiki:

"Victims Family is a hardcore punk band formed in 1984 in Santa Rosa, California by bassist Larry Boothroyd and guitarist and vocalist Ralph Spight. Drummer Devon VrMeer completed the trio. Their sound blended punk, heavy metal and jazz, making them difficult to categorize into a single genre."

Reminds me a little of Time Toy from Athens. More live on YouTube.

Worth listening to the samples from the albums on Amazon - lots of songs, roughly $10 per album, seven albums available.

Many more albums on their website.

Playlist at the bottom. It's worth skipping through this compilation if one song doesn't resonate - much variety in tempo and texture.



3D printing the human body

Bioprinting, or the process of creating human tissues through 3D printers, is a highly contested area of technological innovation. Theoretically it could save the economy billions on a global scale, whilst boosting weak or war-torn countries' access to more affordable health care and provision, whether producing prosthetic limbs or highly customised fully-working human organs.
From a technological perspective, the rise and development of 3D printing and its capabilities will play an undeniable part in our future lives. But how does the process work?
UK-based company PrinterInks has teamed up with US startup Organovo, a company specialised in designing and printing functional human tissue for medical research and therapeutic applications, to create a visual guide to the subject.
3D printed human tissue is created by using modified printer cartridges and extracted cells, sourced from patient biopsies with respect to examining cancer cells, or stem cells. They're grown using standard techniques and cultured in a growth medium in dishes, allowing them to multiply.
Once enough cells have grown, they're collected and formed into spheroids or other shapes and loaded into a cartridge to create BioInk.
The BioInk is loaded into a NovoGen MMX bioprinter along with a cartridge of Hydrogel, a kind of synthetic matrix effectively used as a kind of scaffolding for building 3D layers of cells. The printer prints a layer of the water-based gel, followed by a layer of BioInk cells, and so on. The layered calls naturally fuse together as the layers and built upon.
The printer with its BioInk and Hydrogel cartridges
Once the desired amount of layers is printed, the printed tissue is left to mature and grow as a structure, during which time the hydrogel is removed. Other researchers experimenting with bioprinting have used a sugar and water solution as a form of support for the vascular structures to great success.

Currently printed tissues are generally used for medical research; introducing disease to monitor how the tissue reacts and how future treatments may be developed. In the future, it's very likely 3D printers will be used to create simple tissues for implanting into current organs and partial organs. The printing of whole organs, if approved, could be a reality within the next decade.
Organovo recently bioprinted its first 3D liver tissue for testing purposes, and can create 24 strips of liver tissues within a single plate. In 2010 the company also printed the first human blood vessel without the use of scaffolds.

They estimate it would currently take 10 days to print an average sized liver and lobe, but estimate the speed and efficiency with which they could create such tissue structures will greatly advance in the future. After all, it would currently take 1,690,912,929,600 hours to print a liver for every member of the human race using the process in its current form.
In the mean time, Organovo plans to market and launch its 3D liver tissue to pharmaceutical companies and research labs by the end of December, and is currently developing bioprinted breast cancer tissues alongside lung and muscle tissues. With the technology advancing at such a rate, entire organs and bodies produced by 3D printers is becoming a concrete reality, rather than a freaky sci-fi concept.
The bionic ear in all its glory
In August last year the Hangzhou Dianzi University in China announced it had created biomaterial 3D printer Regenovo, which printed a small working kidney that lasted four months. Earlier in 2013, a two-year-old child in the US received a windpipe built with her own stem cells, and Princeton University printed a 'bionic ear' using a modified ink-jet printer onto a petri dish.

Ethically and morally, concerns have been raised over ensuring the quality of the organs, and who controls the right to produce them. Others claim 3D printing human components further blurs the line between man and machine, giving us the right to 'play God' on an unprecedented scale. But there is no denying that bioprinting has the potential to revolutionise medicine and healthcare beyond what seemed possible even 20 years ago.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Regeneration of limbs

Could we soon REGROW our limbs? Scientists manage to get a non-regenerative worm to grow a new head

  • Planarian flatworms can regenerate their heads if they are cut off
  • Yet, its cousin the Dendrocoelum lacteum doesn't have this ability
  • Researchers wanted to find the genetic differences between these worms 
  • By closing a specific gene pathway, the D. lacteum began to regenerate
  • This means regenerative abilities could be similarly activated in other species, including as humans
By Victoria Woollaston
Humans could one day regrow lost limbs after scientists managed to get a non-regenerative species of worm to regrow its head.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden discovered a molecular switch that controls the passing of information between cells.

By switching this off, the flatworm was able to then regenerate its own head when it had previously been unable to.
Researchers in Dresden discovered a molecular switch in the Dendrocoelum lacteum flatworm, pictured, that controls the passing of information between cells. By switching this off, the non-regenerative worms were able to regenerate their own heads when they had previously been unable to
Researchers in Dresden discovered a molecular switch in the Dendrocoelum lacteum flatworm, pictured, that controls the passing of information between cells. By switching this off, the non-regenerative worms were able to regenerate their own heads when they had previously been unable to


Scientists recently discovered that not only can the planarian worm regrow its head if it's cut off, the regenerated brain contains the same memories that were stored in the decapitated one.

Researchers from Tufts University in Boston tested the memory of the planarian worms by measuring how long it took them to reach food in a lab environment.
The small yellow worms had been trained to ignore the bright lights in the lab so they could find their meals without being distracted and the scientists found that even after decapitation worms remembered this training.  
Research group leader Dr Jochen Rink, said: 'The rabbit can't do it, neither can a frog, but zebrafish and axolotls can and flatworms are true masters of the craft.
'Why some animals can re-grow lost body parts or organs while others cannot remains a big mystery.'

By understanding how to activate this ability in worms, scientists could one day use a similar switch to activate it in species that can't traditionally regenerate - such as humans. 

'We are now one step further in understanding the factors that regulate regeneration after discovering a crucial molecular switch in the flatworm Dendrocoelum lacteum that decides whether a lost head can be regenerated or not. 'continued Dr Rink.
'And what is even more spectacular is that we manipulated the genetic circuitry of the worm in such a way as to fully restore its regeneration potential.'
Scientists usually study the flatworm species Schmidtea mediterranea, also known as the planarian worm, pictured, because of its excellent regenerative abilities. Dresden researchers wanted to see why this worm is capable of regenerating its head, yet its cousin isn't
Scientists usually study the flatworm species Schmidtea mediterranea, also known as the planarian worm, pictured, because of its excellent regenerative abilities. Dresden researchers wanted to see why this worm is capable of regenerating its head, yet its cousin isn't

Scientists usually study the flatworm species Schmidtea mediterranea, also known as the planarian worm, because of its excellent regenerative abilities.
If this species of worm is cut into 200 pieces, 200 new worms will regenerate, for example. 

So Dr Rink and colleagues chose a different flatworm called the Dendrocoelum lacteum, which is a close cousin of the planarian but is reported to be incapable of regenerating heads from its posterior body half. 
Together with researchers from the Centre for Regenerative Therapies in Dresden, Dr Rink's team asked the question 'What's the salient difference between the two cousins?'

They studied the genes of the two species, particularly focussing on the so-called Wnt-signaling pathway which transmits information between cells. 
The Dresden researchers inhibited the signal transducer of the Wnt pathway and were therefore able to make the cells of the worm believe that the signalling pathway had been switched 'off'.
Researchers recently discovered a cell in the genes of salamanders that was integral to its ability to regrow damaged limbs. This research, combined with the flatworm research from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, could one day lead to human regeneration therapies
Researchers recently discovered a cell in the genes of salamanders that was integral to its ability to regrow damaged limbs. This research, combined with the flatworm research from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, could one day lead to human regeneration therapies

Consequently, Dendrocoelum lacteum were able to grow a fully functional head everywhere, even when cut at the very tail.

Dr Rink added: 'Rebuilding a head complete with brain, eyes and all the wiring in between is evidently complicated business. However, as the study showed, regeneration defects are not necessarily irreversible. 

'We thought we would have to manipulate hundreds of different switches to repair a regeneration defect; now we learned that sometimes only a few nodes may do. 
'Will this knowledge soon be applicable to more complex organisms - like humans, for example? 

'We showed that by comparisons amongst related species we can obtain insights into why some animals regenerate while others don't - that's an important first step.'
The research was published in the journal Nature.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014