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Watch the Army test upgraded armor vehicles meant to counter increased Russian firepower

Army Stryker 30 mm cannon gun bullet

Army personnel recently traveled from Germany to the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland for testing and training on new variants of the Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle.

The soldiers tested out Strykers armed with a 30 mm cannon as well as with a common remote-operated weapons station that allows soldiers inside the vehicle to fire Javelin antitank guided missiles.

Twelve of the Stryker variants — six with 30 mm cannons and six with Javelin missiles — will head to Germany in January for more evaluation by US troops before the Army hopes to deploy them to a forward position in Europe next summer.

Troops from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, who took part in the testing in Maryland, spoke highly of the new features on the vehicle, which has been nicknamed “Dragoon” after the 2nd Cavalry Regiment.

“It’s doing a lot more damage and you’re getting better effects,” Staff Sgt. Randall Engler said.

Previous variants of the Stryker have been armed with either an M2 .50-caliber machine gun or a MK19 grenade launcher. The request for more firepower came in response to recent military operations by Russia.

“This capability coming to [2nd Cavalry] is directly attributable to Russian aggression and we are actively working with our foreign partners in how to help shape our formation,” said Lt. Col. Troy Meissel, the regiment’s deputy commanding officer, according to the Army.

The new armaments don’t make the Stryker a fighting vehicle, but Meissel said the search for heaftier weapons stems from the reduction in manpower in Europe from 300,000 during the Cold War to about 30,000 now.

“How do we, as an Army, make 30,000 soldiers feel like 300,000?” Meissel said. “This new ICV-D [Infantry Carrier Vehicle-Dragoon] is one of the ways that can help us do that.”

Army Stryker vehicle

Advancements in Russian armor have been cause for concern among military planners in the West. Moscow’s new Armata tank will reportedly be outfitted with an active-protection system, which uses radar and projectiles to detect and counter antitank and anti-armor weapons.

The US Army is also looking at APS for the Stryker and its Abrams tank, though the latest variant of the RPG is rumored to have an APS countermeasure.

US troops military Germany Poland NATO Russia

Relations between Russia and US allies in Eastern Europe have grown more contentious in recent months, particularly in the run up to Russia-Belarus military exercises in September that will reportedly see 60,000 to 100,000 Russian troops deployed to Belarus and western Russia.

Countries in the Baltics have warned of more ambitious Russian espionage efforts, and NATO aircraft have tangled with their Russian counterparts numerous times in over the last year.

The US has done several military exercises with partners in the region this year and increased deployments, including of Patriot missile air-defense systems, to NATO member-states in Eastern Europe.

Military.com has more footage of the new Stryker variants in action.

SEE ALSO: Watch Air Force A-10s practice takeoffs and landings on a highway in Estonia

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Gorgeous new supercomputer images reveal what the total solar eclipse might look like

solar eclipse totality corona forecast predictive science inc 6

No one knows exactly what the total solar eclipse will look like until it actually happens on August 21.

But that hasn’t stopped computer scientists from guessing.

Nearly anyone in the US can see the moon partially block the sun on Monday, weather permitting. However, those lucky enough to be in the 2,800-mile-long, 70-mile-wide path of totality will see the moon completely block the sun.

Totality will last about two minutes, and during that time, onlookers will not only view the darkest shadow of the moon, but also the sun’s corona — a dim outer atmosphere of high-speed solar particles that’s normally invisible during the day.

The corona is somewhat unpredictable, though, since the sun is a giant, dynamic, white-hot ball of super-heated plasma. The star is constantly feeding the corona with high-speed particles and changing its appearance.

To figure out what the corona will look on Monday, a scientific research company called Predictive Science, Inc., enlisted the help of three supercomputers to simulate a visual forecast of totality.

“This is our final prediction of the solar corona for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse,” Predictive Science wrote on its website Thursday.

The 3D simulations take what is currently known about the sun — its magnetic field, output of particles, rotation rate, and more — and use mathematical models to push the fast forward button, according to a press release posted by the University of Texas at Austin. That university helped power the imagery with its Stampede2 supercomputer, in addition to the San Diego Supercomputer Center’s Comet and NASA’s Pleiades.

Here are a few of the simulations in the forecast and what they show.

SEE ALSO: How to safely watch the solar eclipse — even if you’re not in the path of totality

DON’T MISS: The best live video feeds streaming the 2017 total solar eclipse

This image shows roughly how the corona may appear to people on the ground if they look through a polarized “Newkirk” filter. You can see two lobes on the corona.

Totality’s brightness may resemble this image. “These are two different attempts to approximate what the human eye might see during the solar eclipse,” Predictive Science said.

By applying some filtering, this view highlights the wispy, almost wave-like tendrils of the corona.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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A standalone 'Star Wars' movie about Obi-Wan Kenobi is reportedly in the works

star wars ewan mcgregor obi wan kenobi disney

A standalone “Star Wars” movie focused on Obi-Wan Kenobi is in the very early stages, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Oscar-nominated director Stephen Daldry (“Billy Elliot,” “The Hours”) is in talks to direct. The project currently has no script, according to the report. And it isn’t known if Ewan McGregor will reprise his role as the Jedi master, which he played in the “Star Wars” prequels. Alec Guinness originated the role in the original “Star Wars” trilogy.

Needless to say, it’s hard to imagine a Kenobi project being of any interest to audiences if McGregor wasn’t involved, and the actor has been saying for years he’s up for it.

Last year he told Business Insider that “it would be fun” to play the role again.

“Listen, I have been asked about it a lot, to the point where it looks a bit like I’m sort of touting for work,” McGregor said at the time. “I’ve been very open to say I’d be happy to do it, if they want to do it.”

He added about the “Star Wars” movies under Disney: “I think they are set going into the 2030s with their movies, but it would be fun to do, of course I’d be happy to do it,” he said.

A fun starting point for a screenwriter could be Marvel’s one-off comic book, “Star Wars #7.” The story delves into the journals that Luke Skywalker finds after returning to Tatooine following the events in “A New Hope.” Kenobi’s writings give us a glimpse of what he did for years on the planet while he was in hiding from the Empire.

Business Insider contacted McGregor’s representatives for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

SEE ALSO: Everything we know about Jon Snow’s mysterious true father on “Game of Thrones”

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Making the web smoother with independent rendering

Independent rendering allows the browser to selectively offload graphics processing to an additional CPU thread, so they can be rendered with minimal impact to the user interface thread and the overall visible performance characteristics page, such as silk-smooth scrolling, responsive interactions, and fluid animations. This technique was pioneered in Internet Explorer 11, and is key to providing a fluid experience.

Today, we’re excited to share major improvements to the independent rendering pipeline in Microsoft Edge which will make pages significantly faster in EdgeHTML 16 and the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

Independent rendering is transformative to the user experience — but historically there have been a few elements that could disable it entirely when present on a page.