3D printing with Sun and Sand

solar-sintervia Solar-Sinter 3D printer creates glass objects from sun and sand

We’ve seen a growing number 3D printers that use additive manufacturing technology to form objects one layer at a time, usually from resin or ABS plastic. But Markus Kayser, an MA student at the Royal College of Art in London, has created a 3D printer that creates 3D objects using two things found in abundance in the desert – sun and sand. As well as being powered by the sun via two photovoltaic panels, the Solar-Sinter also focuses the sun’s rays to heat sand to its melting point so it then solidifies as glass when it cools, allowing the computer controlled device to produce glass objects from 3D computer designs.

Markus Kayser – Solar Sinter Project from Markus Kayser on Vimeo.

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Asteroid Mining

Looking to space as an asteroid miner | Science | AAAS:

There are many valuable resources in the hundreds of millions of rocks floating around our corner of the galaxy. Asteroids, in particular, contain cobalt and a lot of platinum, which is rare on Earth and yet is used in a wide range of goods, including catalytic converters, electronics, and medical devices. At least in principle, “you can do anything you want with the metals off of an asteroid: build structures, solar collectors, habitats, machines, starship Enterprises, you name it,” Lewicki says. “The universe is your factory.” Asteroids also contain an abundance of water, which, aside from serving as hydration during space travel, could be used as a shield to protect spaceships from the sun’s radiation or to produce hydrogen- and oxygen-based rocket fuels…

…Lewicki’s team has been working on developing a fleet of low-cost spacecraft named Arkyd equipped with advanced spectral sensors and new technologies for onboard computing. Planetary Resources—which last year deployed a demonstration vehicle into low-Earth orbit to test core avionics, navigation, and computing systems—is soon to deploy another vehicle to test remote sensing capacities. A first prospective mission is planned to take place in a couple of years. The company has also been working on getting its transformative technologies into more immediate markets on Earth through the deployment of Ceres, an orbiting infrared and hyperspectral sensor system that aims to provide information to the oil, gas, and agriculture industries to better manage the natural resources on this planet.

Planetary Resources’s staff of 60 includes 50 engineers recruited from companies such as NASA, Intel, Google, and SpaceX; a few astrophysicists; and even economists. Lewicki looks for people who can demonstrate that they have “practiced [their] education” in experiences such as capstone projects in engineering or scientific research. Whatever their background, “we look for tinkerers, people who are insatiably curious and who aren’t afraid to make a mistake, and people who are passionate about this journey,” Lewicki says. He is interested in people who are able to learn new skills, adapt quickly, and work across different fields. “Expose yourself to as many different subjects and challenges as you can,” he advises. He also looks for candidates who are good matches for the team, so it is important to understand the culture of the organization and demonstrate aptitude for team-based problem-solving, he adds.

Lewicki’s responsibilities don’t stop at leading the team working out the technical aspects of mining asteroids. As CEO, he is in charge of devising and implementing a strategy for his company to fulfil its vision, and he oversees its day-to-day operations. Fundraising and striking partnerships with NASA, governments, or other mining and software companies are another big part of his job, with Lewicki sometimes getting involved in science communication and policy. “I work with our own government in the U.S. and other countries around the world to develop a policy framework which starts to anticipate the development of this industry,” Lewicki says. During the debates around a new U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act aiming to foster the commercial exploration and utilization of resources from asteroids, for example, Lewicki met with members of Congress to encourage them to pass the act, which became law in November 2015.

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Space Is Once Again the New Frontier

With space becoming more congested, Poponak expects asset protection will contribute at least $5.5bn to the US Defense budget over the next five years. This amount is likely to be allocated within the classified budget, and will create new opportunity for defense names. US Space Command has already grown to roughly the same size as the Coast Guard with about 2.5 times the budget. Because space spending is closely linked to national security threats from near-peer countries, we see the resurgence of Russia and rise of China as important tailwinds to Pentagon spending in space. Both countries have successfully tested anti-satellite weapons, exposing the risk to US space assets. Part of the US defensive strategy in space is the distribution of its architecture across numerous satellites, including commercial platforms.

Privatization

Privatization of space creates near-Earth commercial opportunity and enables NASA to venture further out. As NASA pushes deeper into space, private firms are filling in, taking over responsibility for transport and services to low Earth orbit, seen clearly in the commercial resupply and commercial crew awards. The last US-launched human spaceflight was the final shuttle mission in 2011. But that is set to change with imminent commercially-operated flights to the International Space Station and the development of the Space Launch System, the next-gen exploration class rocket, which will bring Americans to asteroids by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s.

“Overall, it’s a really fascinating time in space,” Poponak said. “There’s a lot going on, a lot of investment, a lot of innovation so it’s really looking like space is, again, reigniting.”

via What if I Told You… Space Is Once Again the New Frontier | Sponsored | Smithsonian

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The Usual Suspects

Predicting that Wahhabi money and Deobandi ideology are involved in Sunni terrorism attack is like guessing that the sun will rise tomorrow. You might be wrong, but the probability is fairly low.

Asad Shah was a well-loved shopkeeper in the Shawlands area of Glasgow. After he was brutally murdered in March of this year, hundreds turned out for a vigil in his honor.

Who would have murdered this man and why? According to this BBC report, a member of a formerly moderate Muslim sect is to blame.

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When it initially emerged that Asad Shah’s attacker was another Muslim, newspaper reports speculated that he had been killed by an extremist for posting the message “a very happy Easter to my beloved Christian nation” on Facebook just hours before his death.

The real story is perhaps just as shocking.

It links this murder on British streets to the murder of a Pakistani politician five years ago. Both were accused by some Muslims of having committed blasphemy.

The killer of Asad Shah idolised and was in close contact with extremists in Pakistan, and was seemingly inspired by their example to kill Asad Shah – even calling them after the murder to tell them about what he had done…

…Clad in distinctive green turbans, Dawat e Islami describe themselves as a peaceful and non political organisation.

They were founded in Pakistan but are active across countries in the Muslim world – dedicated to spreading their version of Islam.

They’re from a Pakistani sect known as Barelwis – normally associated with a peaceful, spiritual interpretation of Islam.

Barelwis have been attacked by jihadi groups like the Taliban who see them as too liberal.

But some hardline Barelwi groups and preachers have acted violently themselves – particularly when it comes to perceived insults to the Prophet Muhammad.

They pride themselves on being “aashiq-e-rasool” or lovers of the Prophet – who are obliged to defend his honour…

What prompted this formerly peaceful group to turn violent? Apparently Barelwi mosques in Britain are being taken over by the Deobandis and Wahhabis. (The Taliban are mostly Deobandi. Saudi Arabia is Wahhabi)

The older Barelwi leadership may be giving way to dominance by Deobandi adherents. In a most notable instance, the Central Mosque in the northwest London Borough of Harrow has been taken over by a pro-Deobandi/Wahhabi group, Living Masjid. This outcome came after an election to its Executive Committee that was challenged by some mosque attendees for alleged fraudulent voting procedure. A complaint has been lodged with the UK Charity Commission by the dissidents. Members of Living Masjid had disrupted mosque services by shouting, a common Deobandi/Wahhabi practice.

But the incumbent Executive Committee has twice blocked an investigation of the situation, according to the local Harrow Times of 2 February 2015. Several years ago, Harrow Central Mosque adopted a revised constitutional structure. Under its current rules, controversies among members will be resolved by placing control of the Harrow Central Mosque under the notoriously radical Regents Park Mosque in London.

Muslims in Western Europe face great challenges. Concern over radicalisation and terrorist recruitment is growing. The Barelwis in UK mosque leadership should take the initiative in opposing infiltration by Deobandis. But the Barelwis appear paralysed and incapable of effecting measures necessary to protect the moderate majority…

…Money going abroad often seems to play a role in this process. That should reinforce the will of the Charity Commission to investigate conditions in the contested mosques. Well-known Barelwi Sufis are often labelled contemptuously as ‘pir sahibs’, or teachers who conduct themselves in a lordly manner. They have been assailed by the Deobandis on fundamentalist grounds. But ‘pir sahibs’ are also accused by some of their own sect of unregulated fund raising. In the Barelwi mosques commonly money is thrown at Naat Khawans (persons who recite poetry in praise of the Prophet) in a manner similar to throwing money at an entertainer.

They are alleged further to transfer authority dynastically, from pirs to their offspring. Such claims stir discontent in the Barelwi Mosques.

Mainstream Sunni mosques should not be run as family businesses. Their financial accounts should be audited by the UK authorities. Much money is sent in an unmonitored way to Pakistan and India.

How many other mosques have gone from moderate and slightly corrupt to hardline and homicidal after being infiltrated by these tactics?

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ISIS : Losers

ISIS loses 45 percent of territory in Iraq, 20 percent in Syria

WASHINGTON — The Islamic State has lost 45 percent of the territory it once held in Iraq and 20 percent of areas it controlled in Syria, according to new estimates by a U.S.-led coalition combating the extremist group.

Those slow but steady battlefield losses in Iraq are prompting the Islamic State to strike back against civilians with terrorist bombings, the latest killing dozens in Baghdad on Tuesday.

The territory seized by Iraqi forces, aided by coalition airstrikes and advisers, is up from 40 percent announced earlier this year, according to the latest estimates, which had not been made public before. The percentages are based on areas the militants controlled at their peak strength after they swept into Iraq in 2014.

This is probably why ISIS created a ‘kill list’ of civilian Americans, and it’s probably why their minion struck the gay community in Orlando – they’re losing their war and they’re striking back, in the only way that imperialistic, megalomaniacal assholes with few military skills can fight back – by going after ‘soft targets’.

ISIS are losers and, unfortunately, the US is forgetting how to be a good winner.

A major deficiency in America’s history of involvement with armed conflict overseas has been inattention to whatever would follow defeat of the bête noire of the moment. The outstanding example is, of course, the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, with the promoters of that war being irresponsibly negligent in not seriously considering that the aftermath of deposing the Iraqi regime would be anything other than a stable and democratic polity. A similar deficiency occurred when the United States followed a European lead in deposing Muammar Qadhafi in Libya. When disorder and continued conflict ensue, the wider consequences are invariably bad for U.S. interests and international security. This includes in particular providing fertile ground for extremism and terrorism, as the invasion of Iraq did in giving birth to the group we now know as ISIS.

Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi ambassador and former head of Saudi intelligence said to the head of British Secret Intelligence Service: “The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia’. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.”

Since then, Saudi-sponsored jihadists have been waging a war against the with Shia and against the rest of the world. They target Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Communists, Democrats, Republicans, etc, hitting soft targets to prove that they’re the ‘strong horse’.

The Russians and the United States believe that we’re fighting our trade wars indirectly through proxies like Iran and Saudi Arabia, just like we fought through proxies in Asia and South America. We’ve become so accustomed to our status as ‘superpowers’, so averse to direct confrontation, that our superior intelligence has become no match for their puny weapons.

In this war, we’re the proxies. They’re the puppeteers. We’re the puppets.

Once we learn to face that reality, we can start to move forward.

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Trying to Make Sense of the Wars in Pakistan and Afghanistan

It’s Sunni vs Shia vs commies vs yanks vs. India vs. Brits vs. minorities vs. the government vs. the spy agencies vs drones, etc…

Who’s Killing Pakistan’s Shia and Why? – War on the Rocks

In 1974, under Zulfiqar ali Bhutto, Pakistan set up a cell within Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) to undertake covert operations.  Mohammed Daoud Khan had just ousted King Zahir Shah in Afghanistan and begun a liberalization program under Soviet patronage.  Afghan Islamists opposed this, and Daoud violently repressed them.  Many of these Islamists fled to Pakistan, where the ISI developed them for covert operations in Afghanistan.  Once Zia ul Haq seized the Pakistani government in a coup in 1977, he began to shape Pakistan into a Sunni Islamist state.  Some of his efforts, such as imposing the payment of zakat, were specifically antagonistic to Pakistan’s Shia who do not accept Sunni interpretations of zakat.  As Shia came under pressure, they began to mobilize.

Next door, Iran was convulsing into its Shia Islamic Revolution. Not only did Iran seek to export its revolution, it also saw itself as the key protector of Shia across the world.  Iran began supporting Shia militant groups fighting Zia’s efforts to render Pakistan a Sunni Islamic state.  When Iran and Iraq fell into war, Iraq involved itself in Pakistan’s emerging sectarian conflict.  As rival Sunni militant groups—most of which were Deobandi—began to mobilize against Shia in Pakistan, Iraq began resourcing anti-Shia militant organizations.  Soon the Arab Gulf states joined in to help marginalize Pakistan’s Shia, who were seen as Iran’s pawn in the region.  Thus Pakistan soon became the site of an elaborate sectarian proxy war between Shia Iran and its Sunni strategic competitors…

…The largest cluster of militant groups was Deobandi in orientation. Deobandi groups included the Afghan Taliban, anti-Shia groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)/Sipah-e-Sahaba-e-Pakistan (SSP) (which now go by the name of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ)), and several that were ostensibly fighting the Indians (e.g. Jaish-e-Mohammad). These Deobandi groups share a vast infrastructure of madrassahs and mosques and have overlapping membership with each other and with the Deobandi Islamist political groups, most notably the factions of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-Islam (JUI).

Throughout the 1990s, sectarian attacks continued. However, by the 1990s, the Pakistani state crushed the anti-Sunni militias, leaving the anti-Shia Sunni militants intact. During the mid-1990s, groups such as LeJ/SSP also fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan, illustrating their utility to the state…

…Pakistan’s military and civilian leaders have yet to come to any consensus on a political strategy to contend with these militants who have claimed tens of thousands of Pakistani lives since 2001.  The military, for its part, is reluctant to take them on for several reasons. First, parts of the military still see Islamist militants as important tools of foreign policy in India and Afghanistan.  In fact, for some, the loyal Islamist militants will become even more important as the United States withdraws from Afghanistan and as Pakistan needs militants that are loyal to the Pakistani project.  Second, because these Deobandi militant groups share overlapping membership with each other and with the JUI, the JUI provide their militant allies with political cover. Third, the military is unwilling to eliminate them in entirety because it believes that some of them can be rehabilitated and persuaded to aim their guns, suicide vests, and vehicle-born IEDS away from the Pakistani state and towards Afghanistan or India. (Yes. This does mean the Pakistan army—which has received some $27 billion from Washington for being a “partner in the Global War on Terrorism”—is encouraging its militants to kill Americans and their allies in Afghanistan.)  Fourth, the army’s will is no doubt conditioned by its ability.  While the army could certainly do more, its record at combating Pakistan’s domestic enemies is mixed at best and has come at a high human cost in terms of civilian casualties and massive internal displacement.  This is why Pakistan’s security and intelligence agencies rely upon the U.S. drone program to take out the terrorists it cannot.  Finally, for national counter-terrorism efforts, Pakistan’s police should take the lead.  But it is well-known that Pakistan’s police are not up to that task

…Iran and Pakistan share a sensitive border in Balochistan.  In Iran’s Sistan-o-Balochistan province, many residents are Sunni Baloch.  Iran has suffered ethno-sectarian violence there because the residents believe they are second-class citizens owing to their ethnicity and their sectarian beliefs. Iran has often looked apprehensively towards Pakistan, suspecting that it is a source of support for these Sunni Baloch militants. Pakistan, for its part, has problems with its own Baloch, some of whom have waged an ethnic separatist struggle against the Pakistan state.  The Baloch nationalist insurgents have enjoyed support from India and Afghanistan.  This brings to the fore the most vulnerable of all Shia in Pakistan right now: the Hazaras of Quetta.

The Hazaras, who live in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, are easily recognized by their “Mongolian” facial features.  Hazaras of Balochistan are in danger due to a toxic mix of domestic developments, which have resulted in rising ethnic and sectarian intolerance, as well as regional political factors pertaining to fraught Iran-Pakistan relations.  While Pakistanis tend to view Shia generally with suspicion because of their presumed ties with Iran, Hazaras are viewed with even greater dubiety.  Unlike other Shia in Pakistan who speak Urdu and other vernacular languages, Hazaras speak Farsi and its variants.  This fosters suspicion that they are Iranian spies or even that they are trying to fulminate a Shia revolution in Pakistan.  (The Hazaras in Afghanistan receive support from Iran, and they were frequently the victims of violence in Afghanistan when the Taliban ruled uncontested.)  The Hazaras draw the ire of Deobandis and Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies because they oppose the Afghan Taliban, whose allies include the sectarian killers of the SSP/LeJ/ASWJ, and because they refuse to fight the ethnic Baloch separatists in the province.  The Hazaras and ethnic Baloch separatists may indeed be allies of sorts because both reject the multi-pronged efforts of the state and militants to make Pakistan a Sunni Islamist state.

Sadly, at some point it becomes difficult to discern whether persons are killed by the state or by the terrorists, because in some cases the state outsources its domestic violence to terrorists such as LeJ/SSP/ASWJ.

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The Orlando Attacks: Islamic State-Linked? :: Jihad Intel

If we are to be sure of the Islamic State link, then more evidence needs to come out. For example, it would need to be shown conclusively that he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, or an outlet like Amaq News/the Islamic State’s al-Naba’ newsletter/the Islamic State magazine Dabiq would need to claim the attack, which may happen at a much later date. If this is the case, then it is hardly a surprise given that Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani called for more attacks by Islamic State supporters in the West if the opportunity for hijra to the Islamic State territories is closed off to them, as part of a recent speech in which he acknowledged problems of territorial losses for the Islamic State though asserted that losing towns and strongholds would not be the end of the Islamic State.

via The Orlando Attacks: Islamic State-Linked? :: Jihad Intel

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