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International lawyers draft plan to criminalise ecosystem destruction

Monitoring Desk

International lawyers are drafting plans for a legally enforceable crime of ecocide – criminalising destruction of the world’s ecosystems – that is already attracting support from European countries and island nations at risk from rising sea levels.

The panel coordinating the initiative is chaired by Prof Philippe Sands QC, of University College London, and Florence Mumba, a former judge at the international criminal court (ICC).

The aim is to draw up a legal definition of “ecocide” that would complement other existing international offences such as crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.

The project, convened by the Stop Ecocide Foundation at the request of Swedish parliamentarians, has been launched this month to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Nuremberg war crimes trials of Nazi leaders in 1945.

Several small island nations, including Vanuatu, in the Pacific and the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean, called for “serious consideration” of a crime of ecocide at the ICC’s annual assembly of states parties in December last year.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has also championed the idea and the Belgian government has pledged support. The shadow justice secretary, David Lammy, has also called for ecocide to be incorporated into law.

The international criminal court, which is based in The Hague, has previously promised to prioritise crimes that result in the “destruction of the environment”, “exploitation of natural resources” and the “illegal dispossession” of land.

An ICC policy paper in 2016 said it was not formally extending its jurisdiction but would assess existing offences, such as crimes against humanity, in a broader context. There have been no formal investigations or charges of this type so far.

Sands said: “The time is right to harness the power of international criminal law to protect our global environment … My hope is that this group will be able to … forge a definition that is practical, effective and sustainable, and that might attract support to allow an amendment to the ICC statute to be made.”

Mumba, a judge at the Khmer Rouge tribunal and former supreme court judge in Zambia, said: “An international crime of ecocide may be important in that individual/state responsibility may be regulated to achieve balance for the survival of both humanity and nature.”

Jojo Mehta, the chair of the Stop Ecocide Foundation, told the Guardian: “In most cases ecocide is likely to be a corporate crime. Criminalising something at the ICC means that nations that have ratified it have to incorporate it into their own national legislation.

“That means there would be lots of options for prosecuting [offending corporations] around the world.”

Mehta said one challenge for the drafting panel would be to define at what point an ecocide offence would come into force. Chopping down a single tree on a village green would not be sufficient, she explained.

“It would have to involve mass, systematic or widespread destruction,” she added. “We are probably talking about Amazon deforestation on a huge scale, deep sea bottom trawling or oil spills. We want to place it at the same level as atrocities investigated by the ICC.”

The 13-strong legal panel of experts from around the world include Tuiloma Neroni Slade of Samoa, who is also a former ICC judge. They are planning to complete their work early next year.

Courtesy: The Guardian

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Nurturing climate tech to avoid “valleys of death”

A group aimed at helping startups bring climate-friendly tech to market announced this morning its first funding recipients and partnership with VC firms and corporate giants including Microsoft and BP.

Why it matters: Third Derivative, an accelerator from New Energy Nexus and Rocky Mountain Institute unveiled months ago, aims to speed the timeline from lab innovation to real commercial deployment — and avoid problems that thwart many researchers, especially in hardware.

Driving the news: Third Derivative divulged a whole bunch of specifics, including news of…

1. Funding commitments from a global network of VC firms, such as U.S.-based Imperative Ventures, China’s Tsing Capital, and Factor[e] Ventures, which focuses on Africa and India.

2. A suite of big corporate partners including Microsoft, BP, Wells Fargo, power giant Engie, FedEx, Shell, and AT&T.

3. Nearly 50 startups spanning about a dozen nations and four continents that receiving funding have been unveiled, such as…

Lithium company Summit Nanotech.

Gricd, which focuses on cold-chain logistics.

Cooling company M2 Thermal Solutions.

Iris Light Technologies, which has tech for creating efficient data centers.

Sustainable packaging company LimeLoop.

Power electronics company Switched Source.

One level deeper: The goal is to shepherd startups across the various “valleys of death” — meaning the perilous terrain between startup formation and product development or between tech validation and commercial scale.

“The traditional Silicon Valley VC model is not well suited towards hard climate tech. The capex is too high, the development and sales cycles too long, and the markets too complicated,” Cyril Yee, co-founder and head of research and investments, said in a press release.

How it works: They aim to be a “global, vertically integrated engine for climate innovation.”

The Third Derivative structure provides startups with access to tech and policy experts, VC money, and corporate giants interested in using the startups’ tech, helping them build it, or even buying the companies outright.

They’re especially interested in startups creating technologies for sectors where it’s difficult to cut emissions, such as steel production and other heavy industry, cooling and more.

The bottom line: Massively cutting emissions in coming decades will require new and evolving technologies for power, fuels, buildings, agriculture and more — even as much wider deployment of existing solutions is vital.

Courtesy: (Axios)

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Milky Way’s supermassive black hole, now 2,000 light-years closer to Earth

Monitoring Desk

At the center of the our galaxy, with a mass roughly 4 millions times that of our sun, is a supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A*. 

And great news! It turns out scientists have discovered that we’re 2,000 light-years closer to this gigantic black hole than we thought.

This doesn’t mean we’re currently on a collision course with a black hole. No, it’s simply the result of a more accurate model of the Milky Way based on new data.

Over the last 15 years, a Japanese radio astronomy project, VERA, has been gathering data. Using a technique called interferometry, VERA gathered data from telescopes across Japan and combined them with data from other existing projects to create what is essentially the most accurate map of the Milky Way yet. 

By pinpointing the location and velocity of around 99 specific points in our galaxy, VERA has concluded that the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A, at the center of our galaxy, is actually 25,800 light-years from Earth — almost 2,000 light-years closer than what we previously believed. 

In addition, the new model calculates Earth is moving faster than we believed. Older models clocked Earth’s speed at 220 kilometers (136 miles) per second, orbiting around the galaxy’s centre. VERA’s new model has us moving at 227 kilometers (141 miles) per second.

Not bad!

VERA is now hoping to increase the accuracy of its model by increasing the amount of points it’s gathering data from by expanding into EAVN (East Asian VLBI Network) and gathering data from a larger suite of radio telescopes located throughout Japan, Korea and China. 


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Solar power stations in space: An answer to our increasing energy needs

Monitoring Desk

It sounds like science fiction: giant solar power stations floating in space that beam down enormous amounts of energy to Earth. And for a long time, the concept – first developed by the Russian scientist, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, in the 1920s – was mainly an inspiration for writers.

A century later, however, scientists are making huge strides in turning the concept into reality. The European Space Agency has realised the potential of these efforts and is now looking to fund such projects, predicting that the first industrial resource we will get from space is “beamed power”.

Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, so there’s a lot at stake. From rising global temperatures to shifting weather patterns, the impacts of climate change are already being felt around the globe. Overcoming this challenge will require radical changes to how we generate and consume energy.

Renewable energy technologies have developed drastically in recent years, with improved efficiency and lower cost. But one major barrier to their uptake is the fact that they don’t provide a constant supply of energy. Wind and solar farms only produce energy when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining – but we need electricity around the clock, every day. Ultimately, we need a way to store energy on a large scale before we can make the switch to renewable sources.

Benefits of space

A possible way around this would be to generate solar energy in space. There are many advantages to this. A space-based solar power station could orbit to face the Sun 24 hours a day. The Earth’s atmosphere also absorbs and reflects some of the Sun’s light, so solar cells above the atmosphere will receive more sunlight and produce more energy.

But one of the key challenges to overcome is how to assemble, launch and deploy such large structures. A single solar power station may have to be as much as 10 kilometres squared in area – equivalent to 1,400 football pitches. Using lightweight materials will also be critical, as the biggest expense will be the cost of launching the station into space on a rocket.

One proposed solution is to develop a swarm of thousands of smaller satellites that will come together and configure to form a single, large solar generator. In 2017, researchers at the California Institute of Technology outlined designs for a modular power station, consisting of thousands of ultralight solar cell tiles. They also demonstrated a prototype tile weighing just 280 grams per square metre, similar to the weight of card.

Recently, developments in manufacturing, such as 3D printing, are also being looked at for this application. At the University of Liverpool, we are exploring new manufacturing techniques for printing ultralight solar cells on to solar sails. A solar sail is a foldable, lightweight and highly reflective membrane capable of harnessing the effect of the Sun’s radiation pressure to propel a spacecraft forward without fuel. We are exploring how to embed solar cells on solar sail structures to create large, fuel-free solar power stations.

These methods would enable us to construct the power stations in space. Indeed, it could one day be possible to manufacture and deploy units in space from the International Space Station or the future lunar gateway station that will orbit the Moon. Such devices could in fact help provide power on the Moon.

The possibilities don’t end there. While we are currently reliant on materials from Earth to build power stations, scientists are also considering using resources from space for manufacturing, such as materials found on the Moon.

Another major challenge will be getting the power transmitted back to Earth. The plan is to convert electricity from the solar cells into energy waves and use electromagnetic fields to transfer them down to an antenna on the Earth’s surface. The antenna would then convert the waves back into electricity. Researchers led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency have already developed designs and demonstrated an orbiter system which should be able to do this.

There is still a lot of work to be done in this field, but the aim is that solar power stations in space will become a reality in the coming decades. Researchers in China have designed a system called Omega, which they aim to have operational by 2050. This system should be capable of supplying 2GW of power into Earth’s grid at peak performance, which is a huge amount. To produce that much power with solar panels on Earth, you would need more than six million of them.

Smaller solar power satellites, like those designed to power lunar rovers, could be operational even sooner.

Across the globe, the scientific community is committing time and effort to the development of solar power stations in space. Our hope is that they could one day be a vital tool in our fight against climate change.


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Chang’e 5 enters lunar orbit to return moon samples

Montioring Desk

China’s Chang’e 5 spacecraft has entered orbit around the moon ahead of an historic attempt to collect samples from the moon and return to Earth.

The 18,100-lb. (8,200 kilograms) Chang’e 5 launched on a Long March 5 rocket on Monday (Nov. 23) from the country’s Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on Hainan Island and reached the moon today (Nov. 28) after an 112-hour journey. 

The Chang’e 5 orbiter module fired its main engine at 7:58 a.m. EST (1258 UTC; 8:58 p.m. Beijing time) when 249 miles (400 kilometers) away from the moon, the China Lunar Exploration Program announced just under an hour later. 

The spacecraft fired its 3,000-Newton engine for around 17 minutes. This slowed the spacecraft down enough to allow it to be captured by the moon’s gravity. 

The maneuver is a major step in the 23-day Chang’e mission that aims to deliver fresh lunar samples to Earth in mid-December. No such mission has been attempted since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission in 1976.

During its journey to the moon radio enthusiasts have been tracking the spacecraft, and even managed to decode data sent back to Earth, revealing footage showing sunlight shining on a solar panel.

In the near future the mission lander will separate from Chang’e 5 orbiter and attempt to land near Mons Rümker in the western hemisphere of the moon. China has not released a time and date for the landing attempt, but lighting from the sun over the designated landing would allow an attempt as early as Sunday.

Mons Rümker is a peak with the huge volcanic plain of Oceanus Procellarum (“Ocean of Storms”). Some areas around the site are believed by scientists to be made of rock that is just over 1 billion years old. It is thought these areas were created by geologically recent volcanism and thus show fewer craters than older regions. By contrast the samples collected by the U.S. Apollo and Soviet Luna missions are all over 3 billion years old. 

The lander is equipped with both a drill and a scoop. Together they will collect around 4.4 lbs (2 kilograms) of lunar material which will be placed in a container aboard an ascent vehicle atop the lander. Around two days after the landing the ascent vehicle will take off and attempt to rendezvous and dock with the orbiter module waiting in lunar orbit. 

Once docked, the ascent vehicle will transfer the sample container to a reentry capsule attached to the orbiter. The orbiter will subsequently begin the roughly 4.5-day trip back to Earth and release the reentry capsule just before arrival.

If all goes according to plan the Chang’e 5 reentry capsule will perform a ‘skip reentry’ bouncing off the atmosphere once before finally reentering the atmosphere. It will then parachute to the ground within a designated area in Inner Mongolia between Dec.15-17.

Getting hold of samples would allow scientists to confirm the age of the rocks using radiometric dating methods. This would also allow scientists to compare similarly cratered areas on major rocky bodies in the solar system to get more accurate estimates of their ages and histories.

The mission is China’s sixth and by far most complex lunar mission. The country has launched two lunar orbiters, Chang’e 1 and 2, and two landers and rovers for the Chang’e 3 and Chang’e 4 missions. The ongoing Chang’e 4 mission made the first ever landing on the far side of the moon in January 2019.

The Chang’e 5T1 mission practiced the high-speed return from the moon and skip reentry in 2014. The mission’s orbiter also imaged the landing site for the Chang’e 5 mission proper.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Chang’e 5 mission scientists would use radiocarbon dating on the lunar samples returned. They will actually use radiometric dating methods.


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Our Solar System Is Going to Totally Disintegrate Sooner Than We Thought

Monitoring Desk

Although the ground beneath our feet feels solid and reassuring (most of the time), nothing in this Universe lasts forever.

One day, our Sun will die, ejecting a large proportion of its mass before its core shrinks down into a white dwarf, gradually leaking heat until it’s nothing more than a cold, dark, dead lump of rock, a thousand trillion years later.

But the rest of the Solar System will be long gone by then. According to new simulations, it will take just 100 billion years for any remaining planets to skedaddle off across the galaxy, leaving the dying Sun far behind.

Astronomers and physicists have been trying to puzzle out the ultimate fate of the Solar System for at least hundreds of years.

“Understanding the long-term dynamical stability of the solar system constitutes one of the oldest pursuits of astrophysics, tracing back to Newton himself, who speculated that mutual interactions between planets would eventually drive the system unstable,” wrote astronomers Jon Zink of the University of California, Los Angeles, Konstantin Batygin of Caltech and Fred Adams of the University of Michigan in their new paper.

But that’s a lot trickier than it might seem. The greater the number of bodies that are involved in a dynamical system, interacting with each other, the more complicated that system grows and the harder it is to predict. This is called the N-body problem.

Because of this complexity, it’s impossible to make deterministic predictions of the orbits of Solar System objects past certain timescales. Beyond about five to 10 million years, certainty flies right out the window.

But, if we can figure out what’s going to happen to our Solar System, that will tell us something about how the Universe might evolve, on timescales far longer than its current age of 13.8 billion years.

In 1999, astronomers predicted that the Solar System would slowly fall apart over a period of at least a billion billion – that’s 10^18, or a quintillion – years. That’s how long it would take, they calculated, for orbital resonances from Jupiter and Saturn to decouple Uranus.

According to Zink’s team, though, this calculation left out some important influences that could disrupt the Solar System sooner.

Firstly, there’s the Sun.

In about 5 billion years, as it dies, the Sun will swell up into a red giant, engulfing Mercury, Venus and Earth. Then it will eject nearly half its mass, blown away into space on stellar winds; the remaining white dwarf will be around just 54 percent of the current solar mass.

This mass loss will loosen the Sun’s gravitational grip on the remaining planets, Mars and the outer gas and ice giants, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

Secondly, as the Solar System orbits the galactic centre, other stars ought to come close enough to perturb the planets’ orbits, around once every 23 million years.

“By accounting for stellar mass loss and the inflation of the outer planet orbits, these encounters will become more influential,” the researchers wrote.

“Given enough time, some of these flybys will come close enough to disassociate – or destabilise – the remaining planets.”

With these additional influences accounted for in their calculations, the team ran 10 N-body simulations for the outer planets (leaving out Mars to save on computation costs, since its influence should be negligible), using the powerful Shared Hoffman2 Cluster. These simulations were split into two phases: up to the end of the Sun’s mass loss, and the phase that comes after.

Although 10 simulations isn’t a strong statistical sample, the team found that a similar scenario played out each time.

After the Sun completes its evolution into a white dwarf, the outer planets have a larger orbit, but still remain relatively stable. Jupiter and Saturn, however, become captured in a stable 5:2 resonance – for every five times Jupiter orbits the Sun, Saturn orbits twice (that eventual resonance has been proposed many times, not least by Isaac Newton himself).

These expanded orbits, as well as characteristics of the planetary resonance, makes the system more susceptible to perturbations by passing stars.

After 30 billion years, such stellar perturbations jangle those stable orbits into chaotic ones, resulting in rapid planet loss. All but one planet escape their orbits, fleeing off into the galaxy as rogue planets.

That last, lonely planet sticks around for another 50 billion years, but its fate is sealed. Eventually, it, too, is knocked loose by the gravitational influence of passing stars. Ultimately, by 100 billion years after the Sun turns into a white dwarf, the Solar System is no more.

That’s a significantly shorter timeframe than that proposed in 1999. And, the researchers carefully note, it’s contingent on current observations of the local galactic environment, and stellar flyby estimates, both of which may change. So it’s by no means engraved in stone.

Even if estimates of the timeline of the Solar System’s demise do change, however, it’s still many billions of years away. The likelihood of humanity surviving long enough to see it is slim.

Sleep tight!

Courtesy: Science Alert

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New Huawei Tech will be banned from UK’s 5G Network from next September, report says

LONDON: In July, the UK announced that it would revoke its earlier decision to allow Chinese tech giant Huawei to participate in the country’s 5G roll-out. The Government is now pushing for a new piece of legislation which will make it increasingly difficult for national companies to use Huawei kit.

British telecom companies won’t be able to use Huawei equipment in national 5G networks from September 2021, a government source told The Sunday Telegraph.

This “end of installation” date is expected to be announced by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden on 30 November, the official revealed.

“This new ‘end of installation’ date shows we are serious and sets out an irreversible pathway to Huawei’s removal from Britain’s 5G networks. Now the companies need to get on with it,” the insider explained.

The report comes as the UK Parliament gave a first reading to a new Telecommunications (Security) Bill this week, which will set a broader control towards the UK companies’ application of materials from such tech suppliers as Huawei. According to the proposed legislation, national telecoms could be fined up to 10% of their annual turnover, or £100,000 a day, for continuing to use Huawei equipment and not complying with the new standards.

Scandalous U-Turn

In January this year, Boris Johnson’s Government greenlighted Huawei’s participation in national 5G networks. However, this decision was reversed in July, after the US allies repeatedly warned London about “security threats” associated with the Chinese tech firm, which remains a leading producer and supplier of 5G equipment in the world.

Huawei repeatedly dismissed any such claims and slammed the UK’s move to revoke its early decision.

According to the UK Government, British mobile providers will have to remove all Huawei 5G kit from their network by 2027.

Courtesy: (Sputnik)

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Cyprus rocky surface becomes testing ground for Mars

International and Cypriot experts on Friday discussed a research project to test space equipment on the Mediterranean island before sending it to Mars to measure the age of its rocks, officials said.

Planetologists and geologists arrived in Cyprus earlier this month to test out the equipment in the Troodos mountains, which officials say has geological similarities with the red planet.

The project is funded by the European Commission and on Friday a first meeting involving the Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation (CSEO) and the Geological Surveys Department got underway.

“The meeting discussed the objectives of the international space programme, the geological needs and the most suitable locations for the project,” the government’s Geological Survey Department said.

The rock-measuring project is “very innovative since there are no previous accurate measurements of the age of the rocks of Mars from previous missions”, it added in a statement.

It noted however that “the geology of the Troodos Mountains has a lot in common with the rocks of Mars”.

Acting director of the Geological Survey Department, Christodoulos Hadjigeorgiou, said Friday’s meeting went well with local know-how of the landscape offered to international scientists.

The CSEO is taking part in a major international research project on Mars, in collaboration with three other European countries as well as the United States.

CSEO head George Danos said the space project “highlights once again the uniqueness of our country’s geology, which can help prepare space missions to other celestial bodies”.

“Through this cooperation we will create new jobs for scientists in our country and new research projects in collaboration with international space agencies,” he added.

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Jupiter’s ocean moon Europa may spout water plumes from its icy crust

The Jupiter moon Europa may cough water into space from small pockets in its icy crust, a new study suggests.

Europa, one of Jupiter’s four big Galilean moons, harbors a huge ocean of salty water beneath its ice shell and is widely regarded as one of the solar system’s best bets to host alien life.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and other instruments have spotted evidence of sporadic plumes of water vapor that rise perhaps 120 miles (200 kilometers) above Europa’s frigid surface. This water may be coming from the buried ocean, raising the exciting possibility that a spacecraft could sample this potentially life-supporting environment without even touching down on the moon. 

Such sampling work might be done by NASA’s Europa Clipper probe, which is scheduled to launch in the mid-2020s. Clipper will orbit Jupiter and study Europa during dozens of close flybys, characterizing the ocean and the ice shell and scouting out possible touchdown sites for a future life-hunting lander. (Clipper team members have stressed that the probe will likely have to get lucky to pull off a sampling run, however, given that Europa’s plume activity isn’t well characterized and appears to be sporadic.)

Those apparent big plumes may have smaller cousins, which are emanating from a source just below the surface, according to the new research.

The scientists, led by Gregor Steinbrügge of Stanford University and Joana Voigt of the University of Arizona, analyzed Europa’s Manannán Crater, an 18-mile-wide (29 km) feature created by an impact tens of millions of years ago.

The heat generated by this impact doubtless melted a considerable portion of the nearby ice, and the researchers modeled what happened next. They found that some pockets of salty liquid brine likely survived for a spell after most of the meltwater had refrozen. In addition, the team determined that such pockets could move laterally through Europa’s shell, by melting some of the adjacent ice.

The modeling work further suggested that such migration happened at Manannán: A pocket probably made its way to the crater’s center and then began to freeze, causing a pressure buildup that eventually blasted out a roughly 1-mile-high (1.6 km) plume.

There is evidence that such a plume did actually exist — a spider-shaped feature at Manannán that was spotted by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft, which studied the Jupiter system while orbiting the giant planet from 1995 to 2003. (The researchers worked this spidery imprint into their model.)

“Even though plumes generated by brine pocket migration would not provide direct insight into Europa’s ocean, our findings suggest that Europa’s ice shell itself is very dynamic,” Voigt said in a statement.

“The work is exciting, because it supports the growing body of research showing there could be multiple kinds of plumes on Europa,” Europa Clipper project scientist Robert Pappalardo, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said in the same statement. “Understanding plumes and their possible sources strongly contributes to Europa Clipper’s goal to investigate Europa’s habitability.”

The new study was published this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.


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US Army is training soldiers to communicate telepathically

WASHINGTON — A breakthrough in decoding brain signals could be the first step toward a future where soldiers silently communicate during operations.

New research funded by the U.S. Army Research Office successfully separated brain signals that influence action or behavior from signals that do not. Using an algorithm and complex mathematics, the team was able to identify which brain signals were directing motion, or behavior-relevant signals, and then remove those signals from the other brain signals — behavior-irrelevant ones.

“Here we’re not only measuring signals, but we’re interpreting them,” said Hamid Krim, a program manager for the Army Research Office.

The service wants to get to the point where the machine can provide feedback to soldier’s brains to allow them to take corrective action before something takes place, a capability that could protect the health of a war fighter.

Krim pointed to stress and fatigue signals that the brain gives out before someone actually realizes they are stressed or tired, thus letting troops know when they should take a break. The only limit to the possibilities is the imagination, he said.

Another potential future use is silent communication, Krim said. Researchers could build on the research to allow the brain and computers to communicate so soldiers can silently talk via a computer in the field.

“In a theater, you can have two people talking to each other without … even whispering a word,” Krim said. “So you and I are out there in the theater and we have to … talk about something that we’re confronting. I basically talked to my computer — your computer can be in your pocket, it can be your mobile phone or whatever — and that computer talks to … your teammate’s computer. And then his or her computer is going to talk to your teammate.”

In the experiment, the researchers monitored the brain signals from a monkey reaching for a ball over and over again in order to separate brain signals.

But more work is to be done, as any sort of battle-ready machine-human interface using brain signals is likely decades away, Krim said.

What’s next? Researchers will now try to identify other signals outside of motion signals.

“You can read anything you want; doesn’t mean that you understand it,” Krim said. “The next step after that is to be able to understand it. The next step after that is to break it down into into words so that … you can synthesize in a sense, like you learn your vocabulary and your alphabet, then you are able to compose.

“At the end of the day, that is the original intent mainly: to have the computer actually being in a full duplex communication mode with the brain.”

The Army Research Office-backed program was led by researchers at the University of Southern California, with additional U.S. partners at the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of California, Berkeley; Duke University; and New York University. The program also involved several universities in the United Kingdom, including Essex, Oxford and Imperial College. The Army is providing up to $6.25 million in funding over five years.