NASA wants to commercialize the International Space Station, and make heaps of cash doing it

NASA has big plans for its immediate future, including missions to Mars and of course the Moon 2024 effort that was completely unaccounted for in the most recent federal budget. When it comes to science, funding can be hard to come by, and many of NASA’s projects are pricey.

So, in the hopes of generating additional revenue that it can then use for its own scientific research efforts, NASA just announced a new effort to embrace commercial interests and open up the International Space Station to private business. New opportunities for commercial visits to the ISS are expected to come swiftly, with pricing already being hashed out.

At present, NASA doesn’t have the cash it needs to make it to the Moon in 2024. The agency was recently given a mandate from the current administration to return humans to the lunar surface within five years, and despite how shortsighted that request was, NASA has been doing its best to generate support for the cause. Lawmakers have yet to allocate the additional funds NASA requested to make the mission a reality, and it’s unclear when (or if) that might occur.

So, with its wallet lighter than ever, NASA will now sell access to the ISS, an orbiting laboratory where companies can conduct their own research without needing NASA astronauts to do it for them.

Here’s NASA’s own description of its decision to commercialize the space station:

This effort is intended to broaden the scope of commercial activity on the space station beyond the ISS National Lab mandate, which is limited to research and development. A new NASA directive will enable commercial manufacturing and production and allow both NASA and private astronauts to conduct new commercial activities aboard the orbiting laboratory. The directive also sets prices for industry use of U.S. government resources on the space station for commercial and marketing activities.

NASA says it’s limiting its own “allocation of crew resources and cargo capability” in order to make room for private companies. This includes “90 hours of crew time and 175 kg of cargo launch capability” that it will now sell to whoever is willing to pay.

At present, NASA envisions at least two “short-duration private astronaut missions” to the ISS each year. Everything about the missions will be privately funded and will follow NASA’s guidelines for its Commercial Crew Program.

A 10-Year Odyssey: What Space Stations Will Look Like in 2030

Neptune looks beautifully blue in sharp new telescope image


This image of Neptune was obtained during the testing of the Narrow-Field adaptive optics mode of the MUSE/GALACSI instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope.ESO/P. Weilbacher (AIP)

At its farthest, Neptune is nearly several billion miles (4.7 billion kilometers) away from Earth. Some of our best ever images came from NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft back in 1989, but we now have a fresh view of the azure planet to enjoy.

The European Southern Observatory’s ground-based Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile got an upgrade that lets it rival and even exceed the imaging efforts of NASA’s orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. The VLT turned its eyes to Neptune and some star clusters to test out its new capabilities.

The VLT’s new adaptive optics technique uses lasers projected into the sky to help the telescope “correct for turbulence at different altitudes in the atmosphere.” That turbulence can make distant objects in space appear blurred.

The new method delivers sharper and more detailed images, as seen in a comparison showing Neptune with the use of the adaptive optics and then the gas giant without, which makes the planet look like a vague and fuzzy blue ball.

The Neptune image on the right is without the adaptive optics system in operation and the one on the left after the adaptive optics are switched on.ESO/P. Weilbacher (AIP)

There’s a good reason scientists are excited about the VLT’s new skills.

“It will enable astronomers to study in unprecedented detail fascinating objects such as supermassive black holes at the centers of distant galaxies, jets from young stars, globular clusters, supernovae, planets and their satellites in the solar system and much more,” says the ESO.

Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Affects of diabetes infographics, health care and prevention concept . Medical information about risk factors, disease symptoms, treatment of diabetes. Vector illustration. Layout template. Icons set

Ruben Castaneda
,U.S.News & World Report
How much do you know about diabetes? It’s one condition, but there are several distinct types of the disease. Each has its own causes and risk factors. Diabetes is one of the more common diseases in the U.S. — more than 30 million in the country have it as of 2015, according to the 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s more than 9 percent of the U.S. population.

Millions of people don’t know they have diabetes. More than 7 million people — 24 percent of the total number of people with the disease — weren’t aware or didn’t report having diabetes, according to the report. Meanwhile, the number of people in the U.S. who are overweight or obese — which are risk factors for diabetes — continues to increase. Therefore, the number of people with diabetes is expected to grow, experts say. “Millions of people have diabetes and don’t know it,” says Dr. Garth Graham, a practicing cardiologist and president of the Aetna Foundation in Hartford, Connecticut. “According to the report, nearly a quarter of the total number of people with diabetes either weren’t aware or didn’t report having the disease.”

Diabetes can lead to a raft of health problems, including heart attacks, blindness, strokes and kidney failure. Many diabetics experience peripheral neuropathy. That means poor blood sugar control over time that can lead to pain, tingling or a lack of feeling in your hands and feet. If you don’t have feeling in your feet, you could suffer an injury and not feel it, which in turn can lead to an infection that, if not treated, could require amputation.

Given its prevalence, being educated on diabetes, including how to manage it, is important. Here are the basic differences among prediabetes, Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes:

Types of Diabetes

1. Prediabetes is a precursor to Type 2 diabetes, says Judith Wylie-Rosett, co-director of the New York Regional Center for Diabetes Translational Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. She’s a co-author of “101 Weight Loss Tips for Preventing and Controlling Diabetes” and an associate editor of the journal Diabetes Care. An estimated 34 percent of adults in the U.S. — more than 84 million people — had prediabetes in 2015, according to the 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report. If not treated, prediabetes often leads to Type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC.

2. Type 1 diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t produce sufficient insulin, a hormone secreted by beta cells in the pancreas. Insulin allows your body to use sugar from carbohydrates for energy. It also helps your body store glucose for future use and keeps your blood sugar level from getting too high or too low, says Dr. Mary Vouyiouklis Kellis, an endocrinologist at the Cleveland Clinic. Type 1 diabetes is often inherited. It’s commonly diagnosed in children and young adults who were born with it, which is why it was once called juvenile diabetes, Kellis says. Doctors can, however, diagnose it in adults.

3. Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common kind of diabetes, says Dr. Jay Skyler, deputy director for clinical research and academic programs in the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami in Florida. About 95 percent of people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes, also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes, Skyler says. Unlike insulin-dependent diabetes, people with non-insulin dependent diabetes are able to produce some of their own insulin, but their bodies are unable to use this insulin to completely control blood sugar levels, he says. This is known as insulin resistance. Unhealthy life choices, like not exercising, eating too many unhealthy goods and carrying too much weight, can contribute to a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. It usually develops after age 35, although it can occur in younger people as well, especially if they are overweight and have a sedentary lifestyle, Skyler says. Commonly referred to as “adult onset” diabetes, 80 percent of those with this form of diabetes are overweight and have a family history of Type 2 diabetes. Certain ethnic groups have a higher risk of developing this form of the disease, including African-Americans, Hispanics and American Indians, he says. In addition, women who had diabetes during pregnancy are at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

4. Gestational diabetes. This kind of diabetes only affects pregnant women. Specifically, pregnant women who have never had diabetes but who have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy are considered to have gestational diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. The prevalence of gestational diabetes is as high as 9 percent among all pregnant women, according to a 2014 analysis by the CDC. Gestational diabetes starts when your body can’t make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Lacking sufficient insulin, glucose can’t leave the blood and be converted to energy, according to the ADA. Therefore, glucose reaches high levels in the blood, causing hyperglycemia. Untreated or poorly controlled gestational diabetes can give your baby high blood glucose levels. This causes the baby’s pancreas to produce extra insulin to get rid of the blood glucose. Babies with excess insulin become children who are risk for obesity or adults who are at risk for Type 2 diabetes.

[See: 10 Myths About Diabetes.]

Diagnosing Diabetes

Prediabetes diagnosis. Fasting blood sugar is a measure of the glucose (a type of sugar) in your blood after you haven’t eaten for at least 12 hours. A fasting blood level between 100 and 125 indicates prediabetes. The higher a person’s number, the closer he or she is to developing Type 2 diabetes. However, diet and exercise can prevent prediabetes from progressing. “If somebody has a fasting glucose of 124, (he or she) is probably more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes,” Wylie-Rosett says. “But research has shown that in people who lose weight, if they lose weight (7 percent of their body weight) their odds (of developing Type 2 diabetes) drops by 58 percent.” Prediabetes can be diagnosed with another blood test, which measures your hemoglobin A1C number. This figure measures your average blood sugar over a three-month span.

Type 1 diabetes diagnosis. The diagnosis for Type 1 diabetes is typically done with an A1C blood test, which measures your average blood sugar levels for the past two or three months, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your doctor can also use other blood screenings to test for the condition. A random blood sugar test involves a blood sample taken at random to measure blood sugar values. Regardless of when you last ate, a random blood sugar level of 200 milligrams per deciliter or higher suggests diabetes, particularly when coupled with symptoms like frequent urination and extreme thirst. A fasting blood sugar blood test can be taken after an overnight fast. With this test, a fasting blood sugar level of 126 or higher on two separate tests shows diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed using the A1C blood test, according to the Mayo Clinic. An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests means you have diabetes. A random blood sugar test, a fasting blood sugar test and an oral glucose tolerance test can also be used to diagnose Type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes diagnosis. If you’re pregnant, your doctor will probably evaluate your risk factors early in your pregnancy. If your body mass index before pregnancy was 30 or higher or you have a close relative with diabetes, you’re at risk of gestational diabetes. In that case, your doctor may test you for gestational diabetes during your initial prenatal visit. If you’re at average risk, your physician will probably have a screening test during your second trimester. A blood test measuring your blood sugar level is used to screen for gestational diabetes. You’ll drink a syrupy glucose solution before the test. Your doctor may order a follow-up blood test. If your blood sugar readings are higher than normal in the follow-up test, you’ll be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Diabetes Symptoms

— Prediabetes symptoms. There are typically no symptoms for prediabetes. One possible sign that you may be at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes is darkened skin, particularly on your neck, armpits, elbows, knees and knuckles, Wylie-Rosett says.

— Type 1 diabetes symptoms. Signs and symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, blurry vision, extreme hunger, unintentional weight loss, fatigue, weakness and mood swings, Kellis says.

— Type 2 diabetes symptoms. The array of Type 2 diabetes symptoms includes increased thirst, frequent urination, unintended weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, slow-healing sores, frequent infections, areas of darkened skin and increased hunger, according to the Mayo Clinic.

— Gestational diabetes symptoms. For most women, gestational diabetes doesn’t cause noticeable signs or symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.


Prediabetes treatment. The treatment for prediabetes involves adopting healthy habits, according to the Mayo Clinic. These include eating healthy foods low in fat and calories and high in fiber; becoming more physically active and exercising moderately for 30 to 60 minutes daily; and losing excess weight. If you smoke, stop. Your doctor may prescribe medications to control your cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Type 1 diabetes treatment. There’s an array of treatments for Type 1 diabetes, Graham says. These include taking insulin, which could be short-, rapid-, intermediate- or long-acting. Insulin can be administered though injections or by a pump that you wear throughout the day. In addition, your doctor will likely prescribe lifestyle changes like eating foods low in fat and calories and high in nutrients, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight.

Type 2 diabetes treatment. The treatment for Type 2 diabetes is similar to the way Type 1 is treated. Treatments include weight loss, healthy eating, regular exercise, blood sugar and, if needed, diabetes medication or insulin. Blood sugar monitoring is typically part of the treatment for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes treatment. To treat gestational diabetes, you’ll typically start by monitoring your blood sugar. Eating a healthy diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, exercising regularly and taking insulin if necessary are also part of the treatment regimen. You should closely observe your baby’s growth and development with ultrasounds and other tests. If you don ‘ t go into labor by your due date or sometimes earlier , your doctor may induce labor. Giving birth after your due date may increase the risk of complications for you and your baby.

[See: The Best Foods to Prevent and Manage Diabetes]

What Is the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are chronic diseases that affect the way your body regulates glucose, says Dr. Naunihal Virdi, medical director for the U.S. and Canada at Abbott Diabetes Care. Type 1 diabetes is often inherited, and it commonly develops in childhood. About 5 percent of the more than 30 million people in the U.S. with diabetes have Type 1 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, develops over time, and is much more common than Type 1, Virdi says. Among people with diabetes, 90 to 95 percent have Type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC. With Type 2 diabetes, your body’s cells aren’t as sensitive to insulin, so your pancreas has to make more insulin to produce the same effect. This is called insulin resistance. Over time, elevated glucose levels result in damage to the body’s tissues, which can lead to diabetic neuropathy, kidney failure and vision loss.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Causes

Family history, genetics and age are risk factors for Type 1 diabetes. While Type 1 diabetes can appear at any age, it occurs at two noticeable peaks, in children ages 4 to 7 and kids ages 10 to 14, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Type 2 diabetes usually develops after age 35, though it can occur in younger people as well, especially if they are overweight and have a sedentary lifestyle, Skyler says. In addition, women who had diabetes during pregnancy are also at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

How to Diagnose Type 1 Diabetes Versus Type 2

Type 1 diabetes can develop quickly, often in childhood, Virdi says. Many patients with Type 1 diabetes are diagnosed because they have symptoms associated with elevated glucose levels, such as needing to urinate frequently. On the other hand, because Type 2 diabetes develops over time, many patients don’t have symptoms and aren’t immediately aware they have diabetes, Virdi says.

While there are differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, both are diagnosed with blood tests. The diagnosis for Type 1 diabetes is typically done with an A1C blood test; an A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests means you have diabetes. Your physician can also use other bloods tests to screen for Type 1 diabetes.

How Are Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes Treated?

There’s an array of treatments for Type 1 diabetes, Graham says. These include taking insulin, which could be short-acting, rapid-acting, intermediate or long-acting. In addition, your doctor will likely prescribe lifestyle changes such as carbohydrate, fat and protein counting, frequent blood sugar monitoring, eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight. Insulin can be administered through injections or through a pump that you wear throughout the day.

Managing Type 2 diabetes can be challenging, but it’s something you need to do in order to decrease potential for complications and keep your blood sugar at appropriate levels, Graham says. Treatment of Type 2 diabetes includes weight loss, healthy eating, regular physical exercise of at least 150 minutes per week, possible diabetes medication, insulin therapy and blood sugar monitoring. A healthy diet involves decreasing your intake of calories, saturated fats and refined carbohydrates while eating more fruits, vegetables and offerings high in fiber. Because individuals with diabetes also have many of the same risk factors for heart disease, your doctor will also advise you to closely monitor your intake of sodium. Most salt that we consume comes from packaged and processed foods, not from adding salt. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day and to try to lower your intake to 1,500 milligrams per day.

There are a number of medications that can help manage Type 2 diabetes, Graham says. These include metformin, sulfonylureas, meglitinides, DPP-4 inhibitors, GLP-1 receptor agonists, SGLT-2 inhibitors and insulin. In addition to medications, your doctor might prescribe low-dose aspirin therapy to prevent heart and blood vessel disease.

[See: Got Diabetes? 7 Ways to Improve Your Sex Life]

If you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you’ll need to monitor and control your blood sugar to keep your baby healthy and avoid complications during your pregnancy or delivery, according to the Mayo Clinic. To monitor your blood sugar, you draw a drop of blood from your finger using a small needle and place it on a test strip. You’ll then insert the strip into a blood glucose meter, a device that measures and displays your blood sugar level. Eating a healthy diet focusing on foods high in nutrients and low in fat and calories, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, is part of the treatment regimen. Regular exercise also helps protect against gestational diabetes. If diet and exercise aren’t enough, you may need insulin injections to lower your blood sugar.

95-year-old billionaire Charlie Munger: The secret to a long and happy life is ‘so simple’

Catherine Clifford,CNBC

At 95, Charlie Munger is best known for his steady role as the right-hand man of investing legend Warren Buffett .

As the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway BRK.A , Munger is worth $1.7 billion, according to Forbes .

In addition to the his role alongside Buffett, Munger is chairman of the publisher the Daily Journal Corp. and is on the board of the big-box retailer Costco COST .

Munger has had, by almost any standard, a wildly successful life — and a long one, at that. He’s nearly a centenarian.

Last week, at The Daily Journal annual meeting in Los Angeles, California, Munger was asked to reflect on that journey.

“There were a lot of questions today — people trying to figure out what the secret to life is, to a long and happy life,” CNBC’s Becky Quick said to Munger when they talked at the end of February.

The secret is “easy, because it’s so simple,” Munger told Quick.

Munger went on to rattle off a list of his best advice, each lesson succinctly delivered in bite-size form.

“You don’t have a lot of envy.

“You don’t have a lot of resentment.

“You don’t overspend your income.

“You stay cheerful in spite of your troubles.

“You deal with reliable people.

“And you do what you’re supposed to do.

“And all these simple rules work so well to make your life better. And they’re so trite.”

His prescription is logical, he says.

“Staying cheerful” is “a wise thing to do,” Munger told Quick, adding that in order to do so, you have to let go of negative feelings.

“And can you be cheerful when you’re absolutely mired in deep hatred and resentment? Of course you can’t. So why would you take it on?” Munger said.

Munger grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, as did his investing partner (Buffett’s birthplace explains his nickname, the “Oracle of Omaha”), and worked in Buffett’s grandfather’s grocery store, as did Buffett himself.

“Nevertheless, it was 1959 before I met Charlie, long after he had left Omaha to make Los Angeles his home. I was then 28 and he was 35. The Omaha doctor who introduced us predicted that we would hit it off — and we did,” Buffett wrote of his long-time partner in his 2014 annual letter to shareholders .

Prior to joining Berkshire Hathaway, Munger first worked as a lawyer — “with his time billed at $15 per hour,” Buffett notes in the shareholder letter — and also as an architect.

Buffett gives Munger credit for much of the success of Berkshire Hathaway. “Consequently, Berkshire has been built to Charlie’s blueprint. My role has been that of general contractor, with the CEOs of Berkshire’s subsidiaries doing the real work as sub-contractors,” Buffett says.

Science Researchers discover a dozen new moons of Jupiter

Swapna Krishna,Engadget

Mars may have enough oxygen underneath its surface for life

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

The possibility of life on Mars has been a tantalizing possibility for years, and recent discoveries have only increased excitement about whether we’ll find life on the red planet. Now, a new study in Nature Geoscience posits that it’s possible that Mars may have enough oxygen to harbor life under its surface.

The team was led by Vlada Stamenković from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and their findings stemmed from two different discoveries. We know there’s a possibility that there are subsurface lakes of briny water on Mars; one in particular may be located under the Martian polar ice cap. This means there’s a lot of potential for oxygen within these lakes, if they exist.

Back in 2016, the Mars Curiosity rover discovered that Mars may once have had an oxygen-rich atmosphere, but the loss of its magnetic field meant that the bulk of its surface oxygen escaped. However, there is still oxygen within the planet’s rocks which means that it may be present underneath the surface of the planet.

Given both these discoveries, the JPL-led team took a look at how much oxygen could exist in these subsurface briny lakes, and whether it would be enough to support life. The team found that it was indeed possible, especially in the polar regions because the lower temperatures in these regions means that it’s easier for oxygen to enter these briny lakes.

There are a lot of caveats and unknowns with this research — after all, the existence of these briny subsurface lakes hasn’t yet been proven. But it’s the next step forward in showing how life could exist on the red planet, given what we think we know about Mars. What’s more, it also shows us how life could exists on other planets without photosynthesis.

Swapna Krishna@skrishna

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World Mountain Goats Are Being Airlifted Out of a National Park Because They Crave Human Pee

Photo credit: Education Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Education Images – Getty Images

Olympic National Park, located in Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula, is faced with a daunting challenge: removing a ballooning mountain goat population that’s developed a strong appetite for human pee.

Mountain goats aren’t a native species in the park. Since their introduction in the 1920s, their numbers have blossomed into a staggering 700 ungulates. Now, with humans flooding the area and routinely relieving themselves on various hiking trails, the goats have developed an insatiable thirst for urine, which serves as a strong source of salt and minerals.

Acting in concert with the National Park Services (NPS) and the USDA Forest Service, park authorities have begun tagging, blindfolding and airlifting the goats to the nearby forests in the North Cascades via helicopter. Fitted with GPS collars, the goats are ferried in pairs to nine sites in the Mt.Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, per Motherboard report. The sites should provide a more hospitable environment for the surging goat tribe where they can roam free of human interlopers.

The NPS aims to reduce the goats’ numbers dramatically, to the tune of “approximately 90 percent of the projected 2018 mountain goat population, or approximately 625 to 675 mountain goats,” per a an Environmental Impact Statement. The remaining 10 percent would be dealt with via “opportunistic ground and helicopter-based lethal removal of mountain goats” when the terrain is too challenging to corral the goats with a helicopter. Last year, it was suggested that shotguns or high-powered rifles would do the trick, although the park insists its first priority is relocation.

With minerals necessary for their diet scant, the goats have developed a strong predilection for human pee and sweat, which they can find in abundance while foraging through the park’s 1,442 square mile domain. The NPS maintains, however, that urine has an adverse effect on the goat’s behavior:

Mountain goats can be a nuisance along trails and around wilderness campsites where they persistently seek salt and minerals from human urine, packs, and sweat on clothing. They often paw and dig areas on the ground where hikers have urinated or disposed of cooking wastewater.

Goats that “paw and dig” at the earth have posed a detriment to the environment, according to the NPS. Unrelated to lapping up urine are the general safety concerns of interacting with a swelling goat herd: a hiker was gored to death at the park in 2010, for instance.

“The nature of mountain goat-human interactions can vary widely, such as humans observing mountain goats from several hundred meters away across a ridge, mountain goats approaching visitors, hazing events and hazardous interactions such as the October 2010 fatality,” the report states.

Authorities cannot implement fertility control, largely because the animals are so hard to corral. There’s also no approved contraceptive available to quell their birthrates.

Popular Mechanics
Sam Blum

The Pentagon is working on a secret project to let soldiers control weapons with their minds

The Pentagon’s research unit is working on a project that one day would let people control machines with their minds.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is beginning the process of selecting teams of people for a project that would allow for the development of a neural interface in conjunction with its Next-Generation Non-Surgical Neurotechnology (N3) program. The hope is that it would let troops send and receive information using only their brain waves.

“DARPA seeks proposals to design, build, demonstrate, and validate a nonsurgical neural interface system to broaden the applicability of neural interfaces to the able-bodied warfighter,” a synopsis of the proposal reads. “The final technology aims to enable neural recording and stimulation with sub-millimeter spatial resolution.”


A paper on the proposal, with funding details, eligibility requirements and the application review process was written on March 23, 2018.

News of the proposal was first reported by Nextgov.

Though the technology will not be present on battlefields tomorrow, the Pentagon hopes that one day soldiers could control technology such as drones, cyber defense systems via brain waves.

“From the first time a human carved a rock into a blade or formed a spear, humans have been creating tools to help them interact with the world around them,” Al Emondi, the program manager at DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office told NextGov.

Emondi added that, as tools have grown more complex over time, they have still required some kind of physical interaction with them. “What neural interfaces promise is a richer, more powerful and more natural experience in which our brains effectively become the tool.”


Components of the project

The paper notes that DARPA has previously developed “neural interfaces intended to restore function to the wounded warrior,” but the N3 program “will broaden the applicability of neural interfaces to the able-bodied warfighter.”

N3 will have two areas of focus: a non-invasive approach that will include sensors and stimulators integrated into a device; and a minutely invasive approach that will record brain activity.

The paper describes the “minutely invasive” approach as having the developed technology “serve as an interface between targeted neurons and the sensor/stimulator.”

There are obstacles with both approaches, including issues with “signal scattering, attenuation, and signal-to-noise ratio typically seen with state of the art noninvasive neural interfaces.”

To date, this type of technology has been difficult to achieve, but recent advances in areas like biomedical engineering, neuroscience, synthetic biology and nanotechnology could make this type of advancement achievable, Emondi said in comments obtained by The Daily Mail.


The program will have three phases for both areas of focus, each lasting 12, 18 and 18 months, respectively. Areas such as efficiency, safety and effectiveness of the systems will be measured in order to determine whether the program is viable on a longer-term basis.

There are also questions of privacy and ethics, ones that Emondi appears hopeful can be answered without concern.

“We don’t think about N3 technology as simply a new way to fly a plane or to talk to a computer, but as tool for actual human-machine teaming,” Emondi said in the interview with NextGov. “As we approach a future in which increasingly autonomous systems will play a greater role in military operations, neural interface technology can help warfighters build a more intuitive interaction with these systems.”

Astronaut says humans could have gone to MARS in the ’60s

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY:Hero astronaut Chris Hadfield says we could’ve sent humans to Mars in the 1960s — but there’s a very good reason we didn’t.

The former International Space Station commander said the risk of death was simply too high.

“We could send people to Mars decades ago,” Hadfield told Business Insider.

“The technology that took us to the moon and back when I was just a kid — that technology can take us to Mars.”

Hadfield was referring to the famous Apollo 11 mission: it was the spaceflight that landed the first two people on the moon.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the moon on July 20, 1969 – and Hadfield is convinced that same spaceship technology could put us on Mars.

The problem, according to Hadfield, is that those classic space shuttles would simply take too long to get to Mars.

This poses loads of risks, particularly illnesses caused by the tough environments in space.

Chris Hadfield.

Chris Hadfield.Getty Images

“The majority of the astronauts that we send on those missions wouldn’t make it,” he explained. “They’d die.”

The astronaut added: “Mars is further away than most people think.”

Hadfield isn’t wrong: there’s an immense distance between Earth and Mars, with the red planet being roughly 600 times further away from us than the moon.

The situation is made more complicated by the fact that the distance is constantly changing as the two planets rotate around the sun.

The closest that Earth and Mars can ever be is a distance of 33.9 million miles — or 9,800 times longer than the trip from London and New York.

A more useful distance is the average gap, which is even bigger at 140 million miles.

Launching shuttles to Mars have, so far, taken huge lengths of time – anywhere from 128 to 333 days.

That’s an incredible length of time to be aboard a cramped shuttle, particularly one so far from Earth — where the opportunity to launch rescue missions is near-impossible.

Astronauts who spend a long time in space face significant risks.

One is the threat from deep-space radiation, which can cause cancer due to prolonged exposure.

And a 2016 study published in the Nature journal found that astronauts who spend a long time in space have a much greater risk of deadly heart disease.

Hadfield compared the feat of putting humans on Mars to Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who famously circumnavigated the world between 1519 and 1522.

“Magellan, when he launched in 1519, they launched with five ships and 250 people to try and just go around the world once and almost everybody died,” Hadfield explained.

“They only came back with like 15 or 18 people and one out of the five ships.”

He said current space travel mechanisms of “burning chemical rockets” is the “equivalent of using a sailboat or a pedal boat to try and travel around the world.”

There are lots of space-faring firms claiming to offer Mars travel in the near future, but Hadfield is skeptical that using them to put people on Mars is a good idea.

They include NASA’s Space Launch System, SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket (masterminded by tech billionaire Elon Musk) and Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket (funded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.)

“My guess is we will never go to Mars with the engines that exist on any of those three rockets unless we truly have to,” he explained.

“I don’t think those are a practical way to send people to Mars because they’re dangerous and it takes too long and it, therefore, exposes us to a risk for a long time.”

“Someone has to invent something we haven’t thought of yet,” Hadfield said.