SPAWAR continues C4ISR, cold fusion, MEMS advancement for national security

SAN DIEGO, 1 June 2009. The 2009 Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum kicked off today with a keynote address by Dr. Frank Gordon, head of the Research and Applied Sciences Department at the U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) in San Diego. In his presentation, titled "Challenges and Strategies for Integrating Next-generation Avionics and ATM Technology," Gordon discussed novel technologies upon which his group is focused, including innovation to suppress IEDs.

By Courtney E. Howard
SAN DIEGO, 1 June 2009. The 2009 Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum kicked off today with a keynote address by Dr. Frank Gordon, head of the Research and Applied Sciences Department at the U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) in San Diego. In his presentation, titled "Challenges and Strategies for Integrating Next-generation Avionics and ATM Technology," Gordon discussed novel technologies upon which he and his SPAWAR colleagues are focused, including innovation to suppress improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

"We have one of the strongest missions you can have, and that's C4ISR," Gordon says. SPAWAR Systems Center (SSC) Pacific is the Department of Defense (DOD) Center of Excellence and the nation's only full-spectrum C4ISR Lab. The total SPAWAR presence is roughly 7,500 people—of which 4,200 are based at SSC Pacific--and $9.869 billion, he says.

During his technology talk, Gordon explained that SSC Pacific researchers are working on more than 800 projects at any given time. The thrust of the projects—which range from nonlinear dynamics to sensors, MEMS (microelectromechanical systems), and cold fusion—is to bring about quantum improvements in current systems, including computers, communications, and sensors. "Can we mimic the brain with analog neural net architectures based on arrays of nonlinear coupled oscillators," Gordon proposes as one example. This research is likely to lend to speech, voice, and vision recognition breakthroughs, as well as potential autonomy in unmanned vehicles.

"Things we as humans do routinely are difficult for computers to do," Gordon says. He raised eyebrows with evidence of research in the area of leech computers and path finding. SSC Pacific scientists take neurons out of leeches, put them on a silicon substrate, and inject a solution to keep the neurons alive; they start to communicate and process things collectively, he describes. Hybrid living/silicon systems are just one area of study for SSC Pacific researchers, with the goal of improving U.S. national security.

SPAWAR also boasts 20 years of SSC Pacific Low-Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) Research. He described the organizations work in "cold fusion," says SPAWAR has "survived 20 years in this controversial field. The next step is conducting experiments and understanding the underlying physics."

Of the organizations' $2.5 billion budget, roughly 65 percent "goes out to industry." Gordon and his colleagues encourage industry to reach out to SPAWAR, and specifically SSC Pacific, as the researchers are "always scanning the horizon for new ideas.

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