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Air Force Retracts Gps Claim


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Colorado Springs Gazette

May 3, 2006

Pg. 1

 

Air Force Retracts GPS Claim

 

Net-based version not possible after all

 

By Tom Roeder, The Gazette

 

Never mind.

 

The Air Force is throwing cold water on its claims of a scientific breakthrough in satellite navigation made at Schriever Air Force Base.

 

An Internet-based version of the Global Positioning System is not possible, it says, contradicting a news release on April 5. And what Air Force mathematicians claimed was a discovery that could have sweeping implications for the space-based GPS was an incremental improvement in the navigation accuracy, officers say.

 

The news release from Schriever proclaimed, “War fighters have a new way to receive Global Positioning System navigation and timing data: They can get it online.”

 

“That’s not possible,” Lt. Col. Steve Hamilton said last week. Hamilton is the head of GPS operations at the base east of Colorado Springs.

 

Instead, Hamilton said, the sixmonth effort by a 12-member team of Air Force experts and civilian contractors made it easier for military GPS users to obtain computer files that adjust for inaccuracies in the satellite signal. It was part of an effort to make a new type of guided bomb more accurate.

 

“I would say it is evolutionary,” not revolutionary, he said.

 

No one at Schriever is explaining why the story on GPS changed, except to say there was a misunderstanding.

 

What’s being misunderstood, they said, are earlier statements by the man who led the research team, Maj. Chuck Daniels.

 

Daniels is now in Iraq and can’t be reached for comment, a Schriever spokesman said.

 

Daniels said last month that the scientific work at Schriever could make the satellite navigation system go places it never has, from grocery store aisles to underground coal mines. It might allow manufacturers to greatly simplify and miniaturize the receivers used to determine location, he said.

 

Daniels’ statements baffled scientists and academics who specialize in satellite navigation. It would essentially be the cold fusion breakthrough of the GPS world, because it defies the laws of physics, one researcher said.

 

In the news release, Daniels left details of the accomplishment, now denied by Hamilton, clouded by the government secrecy and half-veiled in mindbending science.

 

“It’s an extremely technical process that involves Einsteintype theory stuff,” Daniels said at the time. “It’s a bit difficult to explain to the casual observer.”

 

The breakthrough had only been accomplished in a laboratory using the military’s highsecurity Internet network, he said.

 

“This is a prototype capability, but we have technically done it,” Daniels said.

 

He said his team from the 50th Space Wing and the Space Innovation and Development Center took the signals from the nation’s 27 GPS satellites and sent them over a computer network March 25. Using only those signals, a receiving computer was able to determine precise location, without drawing any information directly from the satellites, he said.

 

“You send the signal downrange, and the receiver thinks it is getting its data from the satellite,” Daniels said.

 

The scientific community was more than skeptical.

 

“That’s impossible,” said Alfred Leick, a scientist at the University of Maine who has studied GPS since 1982.

 

Leick said that if the Air Force had accomplished what it was claiming, how people used GPS would be forever changed. “It would be wonderful,” Leick said.

 

GPS receivers work by comparing information transmitted directly from at least three of the satellites to determine where the device is on the globe.

 

The navigation system has grown into a multibillion-dollar civilian industry, with the lone disadvantage that satellites aren’t convenient to use.

 

“GPS doesn’t go indoors,” Leick said.

 

The signals from space are relatively weak and can be blocked by buildings or hills.

 

By retransmitting information from the satellites over another network, such as the Net or radio towers used for cellular telephones, GPS receiving devices could be smaller, simpler and could be used in areas satellite signals can’t reach.

 

Leick, while still a nonbeliever in what Daniels said was the breakthrough, envisioned radio-receiving chips small enough to be discreetly placed on items at a department store to track their location.

 

But the Air Force now says what Daniels and his team built won’t make any of that possible.

 

Hamilton said GPS navigation still requires signals from space. He said Daniels’ development does nothing to resolve the problems of receiving GPS signals indoors or in difficult terrain.

 

Instead, he said, signals sent over the Internet just make existing military systems more accurate.

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Wouldn't surprise me at all if, in 10 years or so, we receive location signal's through cell towers to triangulate our positions. It'd probably be a lot more precise that way given that cell towers (for the most part) don't move. Applications of the technology might include grocery stores with devices, or calling a special phone number to receive a list to help you find the location of your favorite brand of cookies, or a book in the library...

 

Uh... well, maybe a book in the library will be obsolete by then! ;)

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Already happening. I'm a supervisor of a county jail and 911 center. When somone calls 911 from their cell, we get the location of the caller in Lat/Lon. We can take that info, transfer it to a digital map, and pinpoint within 80 feet their location. We can also refresh the data and get updated info as the caller moves. Once the caller disconnects, the location is no longer transmitted by the phone. It’s an extremely technical process that involves Einsteintype theory stuff. It’s a bit difficult to explain to the casual observer.

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What I think is so funny about this:

 

"It’s an extremely technical process that involves Einsteintype theory stuff. It’s a bit difficult to explain to the casual observer."

 

is the fact that Einstein himself said:

 

"It should be possible to explain the laws of physics to a barmaid."

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No one at Schriever is explaining why the story on GPS changed, except to say there was a misunderstanding.

 

What’s being misunderstood, they said, are earlier statements by the man who led the research team, Maj. Chuck Daniels.

 

Daniels is now in Iraq and can’t be reached for comment, a Schriever spokesman said.

Yeah, right. In Iraq. Can't be reached for comment. Like how the Germans would send their undesirables to the Siberian front!

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and then they realized hmmm we can send a smart bomb right to the guy who's using the pc - did we make this info public?????

 

tell them it doesn't work...! tell them it doesn't work...!

 

(things that make you go HMMMMM)

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Wouldn't surprise me at all if, in 10 years or so, we receive location signal's through cell towers to triangulate our positions. It'd probably be a lot more precise that way given that cell towers (for the most part) don't move. Applications of the technology might include grocery stores with devices, or calling a special phone number to receive a list to help you find the location of your favorite brand of cookies, or a book in the library...

 

Uh... well, maybe a book in the library will be obsolete by then! :ph34r:

 

This is sort of being done now. A few weeks ago a woman was ejected from a bar in Manhattan, and the bouncer "kindly" offered her a ride. It was her last ride. I won't go into the very gory details, it was all over the New York area local news. However one thing that led the police to the bouncer was his cell phone was located at a location within a few hundred feet of where the body was discovered. They didn't say whether or not a call was made, however one person from a cell company stated that as long as the phone was turned on, it could be tracked through the use of cell sites. A search of company records put the phone, and therefore the bouncer, at the scene of the crime.

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"It should be possible to explain the laws of physics to a barmaid."

 

Have you ever seen a barmaid in action...they already KNOW physics! The whole thing sounds very much like another "Roswell" to me...we won't ever REALLY know, so what's the point?

 

Doc

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