HELIOS is the US Navy’s New Laser Weapon

Lockheed Martin was awarded with a contract for something called Helios — the US Navy’s new ray gun device that’s starting out with a $150 million dollar contract and another $942.8 million in contract options.  Helios, as the project stands, stands for High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler with Surveillance — a solid state laser weapon that is going to be powerful enough to knock drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles out of the sky, along with having the ability to disable the intelligence-gathering capabilities of anybody’s drones that are performing ISR, while performing our OWN bit of ISR — Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.  Basically, a laser system that can not only kill a drone, but disable the ability for anyone using drones to collect information, while we are using the laser to collect information.  How’s THAT for some Star Wars shit?

What’s super cool about this is that Lockheed Martin delivered a 60kW solid-state laser to the US Army a while ago, in a program called RELI — which was twice as powerful as the laser called ATHENA, at 30kW, that disabled a truck at over a mile away.

Disabled a truck.  At over a mile away.  A laser.  We are in some amazing photonics territory, kids.

The “laser dazzler” part of HELIOS is ostensibly using the laser to disable equipment that collects data, from long distances away.  Ruining the ability for the “enemy” to gather information.

These lasers are solid-state lasers, which means they don’t have any gas components (like dye lasers), chemicals, or gasses, in gas lasers.  This is a solid material, usually a rare earth doped glass or crystal that is lased with absolutely incredible results with respect to output.  I mean, come on — 60 kilowatts of a laser?!  That’s some amazing progress in photonics.  Your average pen laser is milliwatts of power, this is kilowatts of laser power.  This Helios system is slated to be delivered some time in 2020 — Lockheed Martin’s going to deliver one for mounting on an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer, and another to the White Sands Missile Range.

“This is a very big deal,” said Mark Gunzinger of the Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments, a longtime advocate of lasers.  [From the blog Breaking Defense] “It is clear evidence of the progress that has been made over the last several years on maturing solid state lasers.  We are talking about lasers that now have the power and beam quality needed to defend against UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), small boat threats, and possibly some weapons (e.g. incoming missiles) over short ranges.  It also highlights how serious the Navy is about fielding non-kinetic defenses with deep ‘electric’ magazines,” Gunzinger said. Unlike guns and missiles, a laser doesn’t run out of ammunition as long as it has electrical power.”

What’s cool about these solid state laser weapons is that they are like our solid-state laser illuminators that companies like X-Laser are making — as long as they have electricity, they will work, given all the components are kept cool inside, like any LED product or lighting system.  As long as they have power, they will work and work and work.  This is in direct opposition to chemical laser systems that will work once as they lase all of their chemical or gas and have to be refilled or refueled.  About nine years ago I wrote about the YAL-1, which was the Air Force’s anti-ballistic missile jet plane-mounted laser — a chemical laser that could fire for a few seconds before having to refuel its chemicals, which consisted of dozens of thousands of pounds of really nasty stuff.  That limits your laser’s effective lasing time, doesn’t it.  That, tied with the fact that this laser system was on a big jet, meant that after a few minutes of using the weapon, it would have to land, rearm, and refuel.  The project was obviously scrapped in place of the solid state laser program, which has grown like mold — rapidly and without pause.

For those of you out there decrying the development of lasers as weapons instead of something more peaceful, let me say this — it is quite often in our world that military development translates into civilian development, and in our case, entertainment development.  We have socapex, for example, because we stole it from military usage.  The way we coil cables came from NASA.  These developments will lead to amazing developments in our own industry, if they haven’t done so already — high energy solid state fiber lasers are used in manufacturing, which will lead to developments of amazing new lighting technologies.  I’ll bet my metal heart valve on it.

Here’s a pretty awesome press release from Lockheed Martin:

BOTHELL, Wash.March 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) a $150 million contract, with options worth up to $942.8 million, for the development, manufacture and delivery of two high power laser weapon systems, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and counter-Unmanned Aerial System (counter-UAS) capabilities, by fiscal year 2020. With the High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler with Surveillance (HELIOS) system, Lockheed Martin will help the Navy take a major step forward in its goal to field laser weapon systems aboard surface ships. 

“The HELIOS program is the first of its kind, and brings together laser weapon, long-range ISR and counter-UAS capabilities, dramatically increasing the situational awareness and layered defense options available to the U.S. Navy,” said Michele Evans, vice president and general manager of Integrated Warfare Systems and Sensors. “This is a true system of capabilities, and we’re honored the Navy trusted Lockheed Martin to be a part of fielding these robust systems to the fleet.”

HELIOS combines three key capabilities, brought together for the first time in one weapon system:

  • A high-energy laser system: The high-energy fiber laser will be designed to counter unmanned aerial systems and small boats. The energy and thermal management system will leverage Lockheed Martin experience on Department of Defense programs, and the cooling system will be designed for maximum adaptability onboard ships. In addition, Lockheed Martin will bring decades of shipboard integration experience, reducing risk and increasing reliability.
  • A long-range ISR capability: HELIOS sensors will be part of an integrated weapon system, designed to provide decision-makers with maximum access to information. HELIOS data will be available on the Lockheed Martin-led Aegis Combat System.
  • A counter-UAS dazzler capability: The HELIOS dazzler will be designed to obscure adversarial UAS-based ISR capabilities.

In this first increment of the U.S. Navy’s Surface Navy Laser Weapon System program, Lockheed Martin will deliver two units for test by fiscal year 2020. One unit will be delivered for shipboard integration on an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and one unit will be used for land testing at White Sands Missile Range.

“Lockheed Martin’s spectral beam combined fiber lasers bring flexibility and adaptability to defensive and offensive missions,” said Dr. Rob Afzal, senior fellow of laser weapon systems. “Our design is scalable, and we can optimize it to meet requirements for future increments.”

Lockheed Martin has more than 40 years of experience developing laser weapon systems. The HELIOS award leverages technology building blocks from internal research and development projects, including the ATHENA system and ALADIN laser, as well as contract experience gained from programs such as the U.S. Army / Directed Energy Joint Technology Office RELI program, the U.S. Air Force LANCE program and the U.S. Navy HEFL program.

For more information, visit: www.lockheedmartin.com/laserweaponsystems.

Artist’s concept photo of the HELIOS system

You have to give the Marketing team at Lockheed major props for this one too, as the name HELIOS, even though it is an acronym, is the personification of the sun. At 60-150kW, that’s exactly what they’ve been tasked to make, a laser personification of the sun:

Helios (/ˈhiːli.ɒs/; Ancient Greek: Ἥλιος Hēlios; Latinized as Helius; Ἠέλιος in Homeric Greek) is the god and personification of the Sun in Greek mythology. He is the son of the Titan Hyperion and the Titaness Theia(according to Hesiod), also known as Euryphaessa (in Homeric Hymn 31) and brother of the goddesses Selene, the moon, and Eos, the dawn.

Helios was described as a handsome young man crowned with the shining aureole of the Sun, who drove the chariot of the sun across the sky each day to earth-circling Oceanus and through the world-ocean returned to the East at night. In the Homeric Hymn to Helios, Helios is said to drive a golden chariot drawn by steeds (HH 31.14–15); and Pindar speaks of Helios’s “fire-darting steeds” (Olympian Ode 7.71). Still later, the horses were given fire related names: Pyrois, Aeos, Aethon, and Phlegon.

Pretty cool.

Hat tips:











Wires Above Cities, Then and Now

I wrote an article a few weeks ago about horrendous wire rat nests of death across the world — and almost a week later, I found an article with photos of turn of the century wire rat nests of death, wires above cities, but with a beauty about them — progress photographed and frozen in time.  It’s a shame that in many parts of the world the technology and safety aspects of giving everyone modernity haven’t quite met on the timeline yet.

You have to see these photos, it’s like looking at luck being doled out to the masses.  Remember old knob and tube wiring from underneath so many of our homes and buildings?  We had this stuff under our house, and it sits there still — disconnected of course and replaced by some modern distribution (Romex), but it was the source of electricity in millions of homes across America for decades.

Knob and Tube wiring

Check this out:

Holy shit.  This particular image below reminds me of another image…

Nightmare of wiring in Phuket

These two guys above here are just having a good old time with some wire.  You know, wire brothers.

70-foot telephone grids.  70 feet.  Made of wire and wood from the turn of the century.

Elegant, no?  There is a grandness about images like this, systems like this that were built not only to serve, but to serve as something aesthetically pleasing while being practical.

Hat tips:



An awesome gallery here:



Event Horizon Telescope – Capture the Edge of Light

Remember that awesome movie with Laurence Fishburne back in the 90’s called Event Horizon?  The one with the awesome ship and the crazy astrophysical spacetime drive reactor that made everyone basically kill themselves once they had seen what it had to show?

Yeah, there is nothing about that movie that really relates to this post, but damn, that was a great movie…

Now there is a project going on that is trying to capture the event horizon of a black hole — for those non-nerds out there, an event horizon is basically that “point of no return” where something as massive as a black hole has such gravitational pull that not even light can escape its gravitational force.  Watch the movie Interstellar, it does a pretty good job at explaining what this “event” really is and how it relates to spacetime.  Spacetime itself is a mathematical model — take all three of the dimensions that we know, and mix in the dimension of time (which is a single dimension as we know it), and you have spacetime.  Geometry, relative physics, spacetime, event horizons, black holes — all things that are far beyond my paygrade and relativistic understanding, and I think I’m pretty good at math.

What we do know, however, is that we don’t know about what an event horizon looks like, because there is no way to directly observe one — or a black hole.  Light inside of a black hole can’t escape, and light emitted from inside a black hole is thought to experience an elongation of the wavelength itself, causing constant red shift as it gets longer and longer…  remember that red wavelengths are the longest in our spectrum.  The gravity of a black hole literally stretches the wave apart.

This artist’s impression depicts a rapidly spinning supermassive black hole surrounded by an accretion disc. This thin disc of rotating material consists of the leftovers of a Sun-like star which was ripped apart by the tidal forces of the black hole. Shocks in the colliding debris as well as heat generated in accretion led to a burst of light, resembling a supernova explosion.

What’s awesome about all of this is that we really have no idea what the hell it is — it’s all completely mathematical.  We’ve not observed an event horizon, we can’t as of now even do so — but there is a project called the Event Horizon Telescope that is attempting through world scale technology (as in tech all over the globe) to analyze and interpret several data points to increase our understanding of this phenomena of the event horizon.  Way cooler than a movie, but scientifically very difficult.  From the Event Horizon Telescope page:

A long standing goal in astrophysics is to directly observe the immediate environment of a black hole with angular resolution comparable to the event horizon.  Such observations could lead to images of strong gravity effects that are expected near a black hole, and to the direct detection of dynamics near the black hole as matter orbits at near light speeds.  This capability would open a new window on the study of general relativity in the strong field regime, accretion and outflow processes at the edge of a black hole, the existence of event horizons, and fundamental black hole physics.

The EHT is an international collaboration that has formed to continue the steady long-term progress on improving the capability of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) at short wavelengths in pursuit of this goal.  This technique of linking radio dishes across the globe to create an Earth-sized interferometer, has been used to measure the size of the emission regions of the two supermassive black holes with the largest apparent event horizons: SgrA* at the center of the Milky Way and M87 in the center of the Virgo A galaxy.  In both cases, the sizes match that of the predicted silhouette caused by the extreme lensing of light by the black hole.  Addition of key millimeter and submillimeter wavelength facilities at high altitude sites has now opened the possibility of imaging such features and sensing the dynamic evolution of black hole accretion.  The EHT project includes theoretical and simulation studies that are framing questions rooted at the black hole boundary that may soon be answered through observations.

By linking together existing telescopes using novel systems, the EHT leverages considerable global investment to create a fundamentally new instrument with angular resolving power that is the highest possible from the surface of the Earth.  Over the coming years, the international EHT team will mount observing campaigns of increasing resolving power and sensitivity, aiming to bring black holes into focus.

You can follow the Event Horizon Telescope on Facebook and Twitter at @ehtelescope.

Think about it — a black hole is so powerful that nothing can escape its gravitational pull, not even photons.

Here’s Matt to talk about just what happens at the event horizon — worth the watch, especially if you’re feeling mathematically nerdy:

Amazing concepts.  I always wonder in our lives what we will get to discover.

Some heavy brain lifting:


Argentinian Dude Photographs Exploding Star

Talk about lucky!  An exploding star.  A guy from Argentina was testing out his 16″ telescope last month, and he just happened to capture images of a supernova exploding in the barred spiral galaxy NGC 613:

From Quartz:

The burst of light from a supernova, called a “shock breakout,” occurs when a supersonic pressure wave from the star’s exploding core hits the gas at the star’s surface. The impact causes the gas to heat to an extremely high temperature and rapidly emit light for a fleeting moment. Until Buso’s photo, no one had captured such an image because stars explode seemingly at random.

“Professional astronomers have long been searching for such an event,” said UC Berkeley astronomer Alex Filippenko, who was among the international research team that conducted follow-up observations.

Buso quickly noticed the unusual burst of light in his photos and contacted an international group of astronomers. Over the next two months, both amateur and professionals jointly collected data on the explosion, called SN 2016gkg, in the spiral galaxy NGC 613. The new data provides rare insight into a star’s catastrophic demise, which was published today (Feb. 22) in Nature.

This is an amazing discovery — cosmic photons captured by accident — let’s hope that the amateur astronomer Victor Buso buys a lottery ticket!

Total nerdout side link:  The Transcient Name Server — information on NGC 613

Check out the shock wave on this thing, it is like a solar horror film:

Look at the smiler on this guy! Ladies and gentlemen, meet amateur supernerd Victor Buso:

hat tips:


Also check out some amazing photographs of galaxy NGC 613:


Ten Minutes of Fireworks Intentionally Fired at Once

I had to post this, it makes me giggle like a dumbass every time I see it.  These guys built a ten minute fireworks display and fired that sucker off in one big gulp – an entire fireworks display at once.

I love fireworks…  almost as much as I love lighting…  fireworks are explosive one-use-only lighting fixtures with one hell of an effect wheel!

This was an intentional use of a whole ton of fireworks all launched at once — there are some other times where at a public display, the fireworks display accidentally shot off at once, which sucks for the company who was contracted, but sure made for some hilarious Youtube video.

Here’s some examples of accidental “all at once” displays — this was San Diego 2012:

And here’s another accidental premature explosulation… Oban Scotland fireworks went off all in a minute:

Here’s one from Italy, 2014 — the whole position went up at once:

Last but not least… a video of some, uh, bros, firing off 300 big bottle rockets at once.


VER Merges With PRG

Whoa.  VER (Video Equipment Rentals, for those who don’t know what a VER is) just started the process of merging with PRG (Production Resource Group).

This is sure to be a huge story!  Here’s the details from the press release launched not that long ago today:

LOS ANGELES, April 5, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — VER today announced that, as part of a comprehensive transaction supported by its second lien lenders, including funds managed by GSO Capital Partners, it has entered into an agreement to merge with an entity controlled by Production Resource Group LLC (“PRG”). To facilitate the implementation of this pre-negotiated transaction, VER today filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. These filings only affect the Company’s North American operations.

By uniting, PRG and VER will meet evolving client needs and offer solutions, resources and expertise in ways neither company could achieve independently. Clients will have access to an extraordinary array of equipment and services, and the most talented team in the industry.

VER will continue operating in the normal course during the Chapter 11 process. Clients who have on-going productions as well as new clients who sign on with the company during the process, can be confident that their project will not be interrupted. All employees will receive their usual wages and benefits, and VER expects to work constructively with its suppliers as usual. Additionally, because VER has already reached agreements with certain key stakeholders on the framework of its restructuring plan, VER expects to emerge from Chapter 11 quickly.

“Entering into this agreement and undertaking the court-supervised restructuring process will greatly reduce VER’s outstanding debt and position the company for the merger with PRG,” said Digby Davies, CEO of VER. “VER remains a strong business with more customers than ever before, and a customer satisfaction rating that is highest in the industry. The actions announced today will provide a stronger capital structure and sufficient cash to fund operations.”

Davies continued, “During the process we will continue to provide our clients with the largest inventory of equipment and unmatched reliability and expertise. Clients will work with their trusted VER representative and their projects will not be interrupted.”

“We are pleased to enter into this agreement with VER and partner with GSO,” said Jere Harris, Chairman and CEO of PRG. “VER’s terrific client base and vast product and service offerings are a natural complement to our business. Upon completion of the transaction, we look forward to working closely with the talented VER team to strengthen our business and deliver even greater value and service to our clients.”

In conjunction with the proposed transaction, VER has received commitments from existing lenders, including funds managed by GSO Capital Partners, for up to $364.7 million in debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing to support its continued operations during the Chapter 11 process. VER has filed a number of customary first day motions with the Bankruptcy Court seeking authorization to continue to support its business operations during the transaction process, including authority to continue to pay wages and provide health and other employee benefits without interruption and to continue programs which support VER’s service to its customers.

VER intends to pay suppliers in full under normal terms for goods and services provided after the filing date of April 5, 2018. Additional information is available on VER’s website at VER.com/restructure. Court documents and additional information can be found at a dedicated website administrated by VER’s claims agent, KCC, at www.kccllc.net/VER, or by calling KCC at 877-634-7163 (toll free) or 424-236-7219 (if outside of the United States or Canada).

Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg LLP are serving as VER’s legal counsel, AlixPartners LLP is serving as its restructuring advisor and PJT Partners is serving as its financial advisor. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, and Perella Weinberg Partners are serving as advisors to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. FTI Consulting and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP are serving as advisors to GSO Capital Partners.

About VER

VER is a leading, global provider of production equipment and engineering support. With the world’s largest inventory of rental equipment, VER supplies the most advanced technology to a broad array of clients in the TV, cinema, live events, broadcast and corporate markets. Clients rely on VER’s depth of experience in Broadcast, Audio, Video, Lighting, LED, Cameras, Rigging, Media Servers, Fiber and more. With 35 offices across North America and Europe, 24/7 support, and unparalleled expertise, VER can support any live or taped production anywhere in the world.

About Production Resource Group

PRG is the world’s leading provider of entertainment and event technology solutions. PRG provides comprehensive and discreet services to an array of clients in the live music, TV/Film, Broadway, sports, gaming, corporate experiential and live events markets. Clients and partners depend on PRG’s innovation, experience and depth of experience in audio, video, lighting, rigging, staging, and scenery and automation systems to bring their stories to life. With 44 offices across North America, South America, Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Australia, PRG has capabilities to provide services worldwide. PRG is owned by The Jordan Company and Management. For more information, please visit www.prg.com


Incredible Sustainable Power News Among Energy Stories that are Liquid Poop

There is so much bad news going on lately with regards to the plight of sustainable energy in the United States — Scott Pruitt is the head of the EPA, US states now have the ability to just dump their coal ash wherever the hell they want (which is going to lead to our water being poisoned, believe me, I’ll bet you a nickel), and wind energy companies are actually pulling out of states with the most powerful wind energy. There is a political climate right now of pay-for-play, and the energy companies with the largest lobbies (Coal, Oil, Natural Gas) are getting all kinds of favor from those who are supposed to have all of our best interests at heart.

It’s like watching a car crash from the driver’s seat, right before impact, right before slamming your foot onto the brake pedal to save your life — there’s a 50/50 chance that sustainable energy growth in the United States is going to make headway right now, and that figure is leading more towards 70/30 against while those who are leading the EPA are leading it how they are leading it.  You cannot dismantle an organization that is supposed to maintain an atmosphere of safety and sustainability in a country that has energy needs in the HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS of kilowatt hours per month…

In January 2018, for example, JUST in January 2018, electric generating plants put out a net generation (which means fuel consumed to make that energy is calculated) of 373,213,094,000 kilowatt hours of electricity.  That is three hundred seventy three BILLION two hundred thirteen MILLION ninety four THOUSAND kilowatt hours of electricity.

That’s just the amount of electricity created from using coal, petroleum, petroleum coke, waste coal, natural gas, and wood.  That’s also just the United States.

Can you imagine how amazing even our industry would become if we could truck in enough solar collection potential to power our productions and not rely on the venue power at all?

I have heard figures in the last few years saying that if we could dedicate between 30-35 miles of land and fill it with solar panels and solar reflector collectors, we could meet the power needs for all of the United States.  Panel efficacy is getting better and better by the month.  I know for a fact there are stretches of unused land JUST on Interstate 35 between Dallas and Oklahoma City that are useless, unused land.  It wouldn’t even have to be 30 miles of contiguous land, and out in the southwest where the sun bakes the ground into worthless parking lots of scrub shrubs and sand there are hundreds of miles of land.  I will not hold my breath though that this is ever going to happen; the Fossil Fuel lobbies are much too powerful, so as long as you and I are alive, there will always be a majority of our electricity being generated by coal, oil, and natural gas.  At some point, we will run out of explorable sites for these fuels, and some scientists say that we have reached Peak Oil already — where global production has reached its maximum production potential because there is only so much, and production will decrease as consumption increases, causing a global catastrophe as we run out.  It’s called the Hibbert Curve.

Let’s not talk anymore bad news.  Let’s focus in on some solar power stories that are positive, showing growth in the world that could actually make a difference.  Some of this news benefits companies, and some benefits people, but growth is growth, and at this point in America, growth is good.

Mitsubishi Electric is installing 300kW to 600kW on the roof of their Vacuum Valve plant, eliminating about 280 tons of CO2 emissions

Mitsubishi Electric Corp announced Feb 20, 2018, that it has completed a “vacuum valve/breaker plant” on the premises of the Power Reception/Distribution System Factory (Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture), which is a manufacturing base for power reception/distribution facilities.

The company plans to eliminate 280t of CO2 emissions per year by introducing its power-saving equipment such as solar power generation facilities.

As an environmental/power-saving measure, Mitsubishi Electric will do additional construction work in May 2018 to install a solar power generation system with an output of 300kW on the roof of the plant. The company plans to increase the capacity to 600kW by 2020. Mitsubishi Electric’s solar panels will be installed at the plant.

This is the first time that Mitsubishi Electric has employed the “Smart Middle- and Low-voltage DC Power Distribution Network System (D-SMiree),” which features a lower AC-DC conversion loss. Also, the company introduced high-efficiency devices such as LED lamps and transformers as well as a radiation air conditioning system.

The vacuum valve/breaker plant has a steel structure. The total floor area of the two-story building is 14,194m2. The plant realizes a short delivery time and high-quality, high-efficiency production by using “e-F@ctory Concept,” which uses IoT, etc to improve supply chain management and development/engineering processes, to unify the data of production processes such as order reception, assembly and shipment, Mitsubishi Electric said.

The company aims to increase sales of vacuum valves and breakers to ¥12 billion (approx US$112 million) or more by 2025.

India is about to kick our ass (and China’s ass) with the largest solar farm on the planet, 2,000 Megawatts

That’s right, India is about to spank China (who steals solar patents so frequently that they dominate the market in solar cell production) with a 2 GIGAWATT solar farm, to which they are actually leasing the land from farmers and paying them rent.  Who would have thought that someone would do something nice for farmers in India?!  (That’s a Monsanto crack, btw)

Shakti Sthala, as it’s called, is amazing:

It is an ambitious project that had a budget of 2.530 million dollars and took only two years to complete. But what is really interesting about this new plant, in addition to its impressive capacity to generate energy, is that no land was expropriated, as these still belong to their owners who are now partners.

Because the Shakti Sthala plant is located along five villages, the land belongs to 2,300 farmers in Pavagada. The “normal” here is that the government had claimed ownership of the land and that they would pay something to their owners, but that was not the case.The government decided to lease all the land and pay rent to its owners.

Once Shakti Sthala is operating at 100%, it will surpass the Tengger Desert Solar Park in China by 453 MW, which is considered the largest in the world. Also, this new plant will be positioned as the largest in India to overcome the photovoltaic installation in Kamuthi, which currently has a capacity of 648 MW.

But that is not all, as the Bhadla solar park in Rajasthan, which will be located in the Jodhpur district and will have a capacity of 2,255 MW, is being built in Karnataka.

With this, India continues with its aggressive plan to become the second largest solar market in the world , surpassing the United States and remaining below China. This plan contemplates feeding more than 60 million homes with solar energy only by 2022, as part of a global goal of reaching 2030 with 40% of total renewable energy consumption.

General Electric just developed a 12 MEGAWATT wind turbine, the Haliade-X

This right here is amazing — driving down the highways in Oklahoma you see a lot of 2 and 3MW wind turbines, but GE just created a 12MW turbine that can power an incredible number of homes in Europe — 16,000 to be exact:

“The renewables industry took more than 20 years to install the first 17 GW of offshore wind,” said Jérôme Pécresse, President and CEO of GE Renewable Energy. “Today, the industry forecasts that it will install more than 90 GW over the next 12 years. This is being driven by lower cost of electricity from scale and technology. The Haliade-X shows GE’s commitment to the offshore wind segment and will set a new benchmark for cost of electricity, thus driving more offshore growth.”

thank you, https://cleantechnica.com/2018/03/02/ge-announces-worlds-powerful-offshore-wind-turbine-haliade-x/

Just a few more…

Japan Renewable Energy Corp plans to build 180MW and 240MW offshore wind farms

Japan, always doing amazing things with sustainable energy…  granted the people of Japan said “no more nuclear for us” after Fukushima.

Japan Renewable Energy Corp (JRE), which develops renewable energy, is planning to build two floating wind power plants in Japan.  One is a plant with an output of up to 180MW off the coast of Akita Prefecture, and the other is a plant with an output of up to 240MW off the coast of Nagasaki Prefecture.

In Akita Prefecture, JRE is considering installing up to 45 wind turbines with a rated output of 4-8MW each and starting operation in fiscal 2027.  In Nagasaki Prefecture, JRE is planning to build up to 50 wind turbines with a rated output of 4-8MW each and starting operation in fiscal 2026.

From Solar Power Plant Business

Dubai’s gonna power an additional 270,000 homes with a 700 Megawatt CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) farm

This is absolutely amazing, and beautiful — now can we start doing these kinds of projects in the US?

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park will seek to meet the target of a planned total production capacity of 1,000MW by 2020 and 5,000MW by 2030.  The park, which features the world’s tallest solar tower at 260m, will reduce more than 6.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year and power 800,000 homes by 2030.  With a total investment of Dh50 billion, the project serves to meet UAE’s Clean Energy Strategy to have 7 percent of its total power output from clean energy sources by 2020 and 75 percent by 2050.


Unreal.  Pay attention, Scott Pruitt.  This is the kind of progress we need here at home.

Wasp39B – An Exoplanet with Water, but at 1400 Degrees

There is so much that can be discerned by dissecting light from faraway places.  Right now in our world, we have been on a search of exoplanets in places far, far away because at some point, we here on Earth are going to run out of water.  When that happens, we’ll discover what war is really all about — we can live approximately 3 weeks without food (not that anyone I know wants to take THAT challenge), but experts say that we can live about 100 hours without water, living inside, in controlled conditions.  Way less, for example, if you’re living in the desert.

This month, NASA scientists working with some older data from Hubble along with JPL’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope have discovered a new “hot Saturn” planet that has a whole lot of water onboard

Now what’s crazy about this new exoplanet discovery that maybe has all kinds of water vapor in its atmosphere is that it is indeed a planet with a mass close to that of Saturn, but way, way hotter — around 1400 degrees Fahrenheit, to be exact.  For reference, Mercury is 800 degrees Fahrenheit.  The reason they call these planets “hot Saturns” is because they are obviously WAY sexier than Saturn…  I kid of course, but the real deal is that they are so freaking hot because they are way closer to their “sun” type star and have a quicker orbit around that sun.  This planet, called Wasp39B, is on a 4-day orbit around its Sun.  Four days.  It’s also what we call “tidally locked,” meaning that only one side of it faces the Sun.

Remember:  Mercury is only 800 degrees Fahrenheit.  This place, Wasp39B is 1400 degrees.  AND HAS WATER!

We actually discovered this back in 2011 with Hubble, but like everything else we discover, it must wait in line while science and politics figure out how to give NASA enough budget to explore things before they go completely away.  Using some older data from Hubble, the location was explored, and a great paper was written on the discovery.  See that link below.

Scientists basically used an analysis of the light passing through the exoplanet’s atmosphere to dissect what the composition of that atmosphere was, and in doing so, BOOM!  Water vapor.  Now how this 1400 degree planet has water vapor in it is a mystery, kind of like how a human can survive after chugging down 6 burritos and a large Coke, but I have seen this exact thing go down and that person did not have a heart attack.

(It was me who ate the six burritos, but that was a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away)…  from the Hubble Site:

“WASP-39b shows exoplanets are full of surprises and can have very different compositions than those of our Solar System,” says co-author David Sing from the University of Exeter, UK.

The analysis of the atmospheric composition and the current position of the planet indicate that WASP-39b most likely underwent an interesting inward migration, making an epic journey across its planetary system. “Exoplanets are showing us that planet formation is more complicated and more confusing than we thought it was. And that’s fantastic!”, adds Wakeford.

Having made its incredible inward journey WASP-39b is now eight times closer to its parent star, WASP-39, than Mercury is to the Sun and it takes only four days to complete an orbit. The planet is also tidally locked, meaning it always shows the same side to its star. Wakeford and her team measured the temperature of WASP-39b to be a scorching 750 degrees Celsius. Although only one side of the planet faces its parent star, powerful winds transport heat from the bright side around the planet, keeping the dark side almost as hot.

“Hopefully this diversity we see in exoplanets will help us figure out all the different ways a planet can form and evolve,” explains David Sing.

NASA scientists wrote a great paper on this discovery, it’s a total nerdgasm and I hope you read it:


Here’s a direct PDF link to the paper on Wasp39B

Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescopes as well as data gathered by other telescopes in space and on the ground astronomers have analysed the atmosphere of the exoplanet WASP-39b. It is the most complete spectrum of an exoplanet’s atmosphere possible with present-day technology. By dissecting starlight filtering through the planet’s atmosphere into its component colours, the team found clear evidence for water vapour. Although the researchers predicted they would see water, they were surprised by how much water they found — three times as much as Saturn has. This suggests that the planet formed farther out from the star, where it was bombarded by icy material.

This is a massive discovery.  I don’t think we’re gonna be skinny-dipping any time soon on Wasp39B (it’s also 700 light years away from us, or 6,622,511,330,806,560 kilometers), but a big thumbs up to the NASA team for making such an amazing discovery.  Keep it up, heroes!

From NASA’s press release on Wasp39B:

Although the researchers predicted they’d see water, they were surprised by how much water they found in this “hot Saturn.” Because WASP-39b has so much more water than our famously ringed neighbor, it must have formed differently. The amount of water suggests that the planet actually developed far away from the star, where it was bombarded by a lot of icy material. WASP-39b likely had an interesting evolutionary history as it migrated in, taking an epic journey across its planetary system and perhaps obliterating planetary objects in its path.

“We need to look outward so we can understand our own solar system,” explained lead investigator Hannah Wakeford of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, and the University of Exeter in Devon, United Kingdom. “But exoplanets are showing us that planet formation is more complicated and more confusing than we thought it was. And that’s fantastic!”

Wakeford and her team were able to analyze the atmospheric components of this exoplanet, which is similar in mass to Saturn but profoundly different in many other ways. By dissecting starlight filtering through the planet’s atmosphere into its component colors, the team found clear evidence for water. This water is detected as vapor in the atmosphere.

Using Hubble and Spitzer, the team has captured the most complete spectrum of an exoplanet’s atmosphere possible with present-day technology. “This spectrum is thus far the most beautiful example we have of what a clear exoplanet atmosphere looks like,” said Wakeford.

“WASP-39b shows exoplanets can have much different compositions than those of our solar system,” said co-author David Sing of the University of Exeter in Devon, United Kingdom. “Hopefully this diversity we see in exoplanets will give us clues in figuring out all the different ways a planet can form and evolve.”

Located in the constellation Virgo, WASP-39b whips around a quiet, Sun-like star, called WASP-39, once every four days. The exoplanet is currently positioned more than 20 times closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun. It is tidally locked, meaning it always shows the same face to its star.

Its day-side temperature is a scorching 1,430 degrees Fahrenheit (776.7 degrees Celsius). Powerful winds transport heat from the day-side around the planet, keeping the permanent night-side almost as hot. Although it is called a “hot Saturn,” WASP-39b is not known to have rings. Instead, is has a puffy atmosphere that is free of high-altitude clouds, allowing Wakeford and her team to peer down into its depths.

Looking ahead, Wakeford hopes to use the James Webb Space Telescope — scheduled to launch in 2019 — to get an even more complete spectrum of the exoplanet. Webb will be able to give information about the planet’s atmospheric carbon, which absorbs light at longer, infrared wavelengths than Hubble can see. By understanding the amount of carbon and oxygen in the atmosphere, scientists can learn even more about where and how this planet formed.

Places to go visit:

European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope site

NASA’s Spitzer Telescope site

Learn about Hot Jupiters and Hot Saturns

The Hubble Site


Electrical Bird Nests of Death Worldwide

I just recently learned what the actual definition of a clusterfuck was, and I was also writing this gigantic post of these wiring birdnests of death that I just cannot stop researching.  Do you know how many people are estimated to have died just in the USA by OSHA in 2016?  I’m guessing their stats are a year or so behind, but construction and the Trades is a place we in Entertainment can look to take a cue on protecting ourselves and those around us.  Considering that energy-related accidents JUST IN THE UNITED STATES are two of the top ten violations of OSHA code, and with all of the renewed focus on workplace safety, I thought this would be a great time to post some absolutely horrifying images of some rat nest public utilities examples.  Bad wiring?  This doesn’t even begin to touch on bad wiring.

Just to hit on the fact that electrical violations are two of the top ten OSHA’s Most Cited, check this out — if you wanna count the number one citation and the number 6, that’s SIX that occur in our industry — I’ve highlighted those in red that are on the Top Ten that occur in our industry, undoubtedly people will argue that we have more than just these six as violations in Entertainment:

  1. Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501), “Duty to have Fall Protection”
  2. Hazard communication standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200), “Hazard Communication”
  3. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451), “General Requirements
  4. Respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134), “Respiratory Protection”
  5. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147), “The Control of Hazardous Energy”
  6. Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053), “Ladders”
  7. Powered industrial trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178), “Powered Industrial Trucks”
  8. Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements (29 CFR 1910.212), “General Requirements for All Machines”
  9. Fall Protection–Training Requirements (29 CFR 1926.503), “Training Requirements”
  10. Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry (29 CFR 1910.305), “Wiring Methods, Components, and Equipment”

This is mind blowing!

I know we have all seen some crazy wiring in our time, and a lot of the things that we do create some crazy spaghetti of cabling and jumbleness that looks pretty bad, but take a look at these images and see if they give you the same hairs-on-the-arms-straight-up feeling they do for me.  I saw someone post a photo of a Pakistani public work utility pole in an industry related blog, and that began the search for imagery for me.  Check these out, this shit is absolutely incredible.

Click on any photo and it opens up into the attachment page in full size.

I’ve separated these into groups by location, each giving some creedence to some of the looks on these guys’ faces as they dig through these messes.  Let’s start with India…

India Cable Clusters of Catastrophe

Nothing to see here, just a massive mess of death.

This right here is just a nightmare. There is more NOPE in this photo than in most of these other photos!

A quick look into the last few minutes of this poor bastard’s life as he tries to find a place to patch in

Philippine Piles of Power Repose

Holy overhead nightmare!

Nothing to see here, move along, move along

Duterte executes drug traffickers, and Philippine linemen apparently

Pakistani Power Problems

One thing that is a major issue in Pakistan — actually two things — people stealing from the grid, and companies using completely inferior components and outdated transformer gear to keep the infrastructure going.  Some examples:

Who wants to go fishing around for the neutral in here?

An example of inferior infrastructure being used to power a grid in Peshawar. Schnikies!

Load sharing. More like blatant load stealing with a side order of potential death from fire or electrocution.

Oh, no, no no. No.

More load sharing in Pakistan. I can clearly say I don’t have the balls to attempt a patch on something like this like these folks have done.

Indonesian Idiocy and Inherent Death by Electrocution

“Hey Mike, you see that wire nut I dropped?” “What’s a wire nut?”

Nah, they’ll totally all fit. We did it on the last job.

That’s a Nope Cabinet.

Brazil’s Magical Mismanagement of Public Works Cabling and Favela Electrical Flow

I got diarrhea from this photo.

Cable management? Cable Mismanagement

For those days when you just “can’t even,” there’s Sao Paolo.

Y’all Ready for CHINA?

More “normal”

This is NORMAL Beijing public wiring. Nothing to see here, nothing to see…

Oh dear lord in Hebben

Hey, can you find that one cable I need?

Vicious Vietnamese Wiring and Laotian Electrocution

More wiring in Ho Chi Minh City, how shitty

Laos — where you too can accidentally die at work just by sneezing on the wrong wire

Northern Laos — public work in progress

Vietnamese Wiring Violence

Holy crap dude. More Vietnam


The elusive Vietnamese NOPE cluster. Is… is that a fan?!

Here’s a nice fun little cluster in Ho Chi Minh City

Wiring Outside a Mexican Venue

I found a few really bad shots of Mexican wiring, but these two right outside a not-to-be-named venue kinda took the cake for me.

Obviously this is the company tie-in for touring shows

This is seriously from outside of a little venue in Mexico City.

Thailand Takes the Electrical Taco

By far the worst photos I found were some of the ones from Pakistan, but Thailand takes a close second, with India taking third.  I mean, these are purely terrifying.

Bangkok, where wiring takes on another meaning

Don’t mind this guy, he’s just gonna tie in so he can charge his phone…

Have you ever heard of arc blast?

A rare sighting of a Thailand electrician in his natural habitat

Oh, no, no. You go ahead.

Wire bundles so thick they look like human hair

Tangled up electric wires on a street pole in Krabi town, Thailand

Are those merkin curls???

Phuket says “phuket” to electrical regulations

Nightmare of wiring in Phuket

The look on this guy’s face…

Anybody notice the approved bamboo ladders?

I’m exhausted just from looking at these!  Granted there are places in the US that look just like this, but it seems that our government likes to levy fines against really terrible wire clusters and the people who give birth to them, so there’s that.  Here’s a contractor job found in Nashville:

This resulted in a fire!


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Name Change – Philips Lighting Rebrands as SIGNIFY

Philips Lighting is rebranding itself as Signify, which is a pending change, shareholders willing.  News came out of Eindhoven this last week late.  So far, what we do know is that lighting products will be branded with the Philips name, but the company as a whole is going to be called Signify.

Philips Lighting rebrands itself Signify

There are a lot of things I don’t quite understand, more than likely because I don’t have an MBA in Business.  That particular degree seems to be a magic ladder to success in today’s environment, in case you are looking for a degree program to study, by the way.  But, from some of the press releases out there, a lot of changes must be going on at Philips Lighting right now, with a lot of focus in the IoT field of play (Internet of Things — device interconnectivity).  From Electrical Business:

March 18, 2018 – Philips Lighting announced it is changing its name from Philips Lighting to Signify, saying the new name “originates from the fact that light becomes an intelligent language, which connects and conveys meaning”.

That, plus the fact the new company name satisfies the company’s contractual requirements under the Company Name License Agreement with Royal Philips, reports the company, which requires a name-change less than 18 months after Royal Philips no longer has a controlling interest.

“We’re excited to announce our new company name as another step in our transformation journey,” said Eric Rondolat, CEO of Philips Lighting. “Our new company name is a clear expression of our strategic vision and a fabulous opportunity to introduce a new corporate look and feel that is uniquely our own and will serve to further unite our 32,000 employees.”

The company, however, will continue to use the Philips brand, under the existing licensing agreement with Royal Philips.

"Light becomes an intelligent language"

32,000 employees is one hell of a lot of employees.  There must be some interesting changes coming.  What is known is that Philips had a kickass fourth quarter of 2017, and that alone makes companies do things to grow exponentially.  Philips is talking about light being referred to as a language, which many of us embracing this field could agree with, but from many different perspectives.  From LEDs Magazine:

After reporting a fourth quarter and year in which it returned to growth on the strength of services and Internet connectivity, and in which the professional sector took over as the leading profit maker, Philips Lighting today revealed it is soon changing its name, a switch expected to reflect the importance of IT-based lighting and services.

The world’s largest lighting company said that sales for the quarter ending Dec. 31 and for the year were €1.89 billion and €6.97 billion, respectively. A 3% increase in comparable sales for the quarter helped nudge yearly comparable sales growth to 0.5%, reversing a decline that Philips had suffered in 2016, when the quarter fell by 3.2% and the year dropped by 2.4%.

The biggest percentage growth came in the home sector — a young market where Philips sells smart systems based on its Hue line of LED bulbs that change brightness, color, and CCT prompted by many different Internet inputs — followed by the professional sector, in which Philips typically sells Internet-connected lighting to cities and commercial entities. Both considerably outgrew LED electronics — circuitry that Philips sells to lamp and luminaire makers, which was flat for the quarter — as well as conventional lamps, which shrunk.

Notably, the professional sector, by far Philips’ largest with sales in the quarter of €781 million and for the year of €2.76 billion, was the top contributor to profits for the first time ever. The professional sector is one where Philips is striving to move to service business models as opposed to hardware sales. That transition has not been easy for many lighting vendors, who are trying to find the right formula to ensure profits in a service world that is new to them following more than a century of a more straightforward product-based revenue stream.

What else can we do but watch and wait?  Here’s the press release from Philips, which will remain “LIGHT” on the stock tickers:

Eindhoven, the Netherlands – Philips Lighting (Euronext: LIGHT), the world leader in lighting, today announced its intention to change its name from Philips Lighting to Signify. The choice of our new company name originates from the fact that light becomes an intelligent language, which connects and conveys meaning.

The company will continue to use the Philips brand, the most trusted lighting brand in the world, under the existing licensing agreement with Royal Philips.

“We’re excited to announce our new company name as another step in our transformation journey,” said Eric Rondolat, CEO of Philips Lighting. “Our new company name is a clear expression of our strategic vision and a fabulous opportunity to introduce a new corporate look and feel that is uniquely our own and will serve to further unite our 32,000 employees. At the same time, we remain proud to continue to use the Philips brand on our products.”

Philips Lighting’s roots date back more than 125 years to the business founded by Frederik and Gerard Philips in 1891 in the Dutch town of Eindhoven. Throughout its history, the company has been at the forefront of many of the lighting industry’s major advancements. Today, it leads the industry worldwide in conventional, LED and connected lighting, with the largest connected lights network in the world.

The new company name satisfies the company’s contractual requirements under the Company Name License Agreement with Royal Philips, which requires that it changes less than 18 months after Royal Philips no longer has a controlling interest.

In view of the renaming of the company, a proposal to amend the articles of association of Philips Lighting N.V. will be submitted to the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders to be held on May 15. The Philips Lighting stock exchange ticker will remain LIGHT.

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