August 27, 2016

Giant micrometer sized atoms that are thousands of times larger than regular atoms

Experiments confirm the existence of 1-micrometer-sized molecules made of two cesium atoms by showing that their binding energies agree with predictions.

Strongly bound diatomic molecules such as H2H2or O2O2 are less than a nanometer across. Surprisingly, scientists have been able to create two-atom molecules more than a thousand times larger by using exotic atoms that attract one another only very weakly. Now, a pair of physicists have calculated what makes these “macrodimers” stable, and they have verified their predictions by creating micrometer-sized molecules containing two cesium atoms. The macrodimers could have applications in quantum computing.

Interest in these macromolecules stems from the challenges they pose to conventional understanding of molecules and bonds. More than a decade ago, physicists predicted that molecules with interatomic distances as large as 1 micrometer might be created by using a pair of atoms in so-called Rydberg states. These are atoms in which a single outer-shell electron has been excited to a high quantum state so that it orbits far away from the nucleus. Although Rydberg atoms are unstable, they can live as long as tens of microseconds, and experimenters have succeeded in creating macrodimers from them, confirming their existence indirectly by destroying them and detecting specific spectroscopic signatures

Distant partners. In this sketch, two cesium atoms in high Rydberg states form a weakly bound molecule about 1 micrometer across, comparable to the size of typical bacteria.

However, physicists Heiner Saßmannshausen and Johannes Deiglmayr of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, say that the earlier theoretical argument for the existence of macrodimers included some significant assumptions. To examine the argument more rigorously, they developed a sophisticated model of the interaction of Rydberg atoms and used it to predict in more detail the properties of stable macrodimers, such as the amount of energy binding them together. They then tested their model by creating the predicted molecules.

The physicists performed detailed quantum calculations of the force between two cesium atoms in specified Rydberg states. The interatomic force could be attractive or repulsive, they found, depending on the distance between the atoms. For some pairings of Rydberg atoms, the force vanished at certain distances, meaning that the two atoms could remain at rest in the form of a macrodimer with an expected lifetime of some tens of microseconds.

Physical Review Letters - Observation of Rydberg-Atom Macrodimers: Micrometer-Sized Diatomic Molecules

Global Skin in a successful economic transition in China - a 1% drop in China output growth would reduce G20 growth by one quarter percentage point

China is still enjoying strong growth – 6.6 percent in 2016- as it shifts from investment to consumption and industry to services, but the country needs faster progress on structural reforms to boost medium-term growth and reduce risks, the IMF said in its latest annual assessment of the economy.

China continues its transition to sustainable growth, with progress on many fronts yet also many challenges. Growth slowed to 6.9 percent in 2015 and is projected to moderate to 6.6 percent this year owing to slower private investment and weak external demand.

Inflation dipped below 1.5 percent in 2015 and is expected to pick up to around 2 percent this year, reflecting the rebound in commodity prices and the exchange rate depreciation since mid-2015.

Infrastructure spending picked up and credit growth accelerated in the second half of 2015. Accommodative macro policies are projected to continue supporting activity over the remainder of 2016.

China adopted a new five-year plan (2016-20), centered on rebalancing the economy. It aims to boost consumption, expand the service sector, protect the environment, further open up the economy, expand public services, and reduce poverty. The government has also announced elements of a reform plan for SOEs and capacity reduction targets in the coal and steel sectors (10–15 percent of existing capacity over the next 3‒5 years), together with a RMB 100 billion restructuring fund to re-employ and resettle an expected 1.8 million affected workers. However, in many areas, especially SOE reform, more details and guidelines are awaited.

China's economic growth will continue to slow for the next five years and will fall below 6 percent in 2020, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasted. The IMF has a 98 page report on China's economy

Economists have long disputed the accuracy of China's official economic data, but agree its economy has steadily slowed since growth above 10 percent was reported in 2010.

Despite the slowdown, China's growth outlook remains far higher than for advanced economies and many emerging ones. The IMF sees the world averaging economic growth of just 3.1 percent in 2016 and 3.4 percent in 2017.

Stackable microcrystal rods could laser design

New large crystals from stack of smaller microcrystals could sidestep longstanding difficulties with making the crystals that are a crucial part of laser technology. But the science behind their discovery has experts scratching their heads.

Relatively large crystals used to change several properties of light in lasers – changes that are crucial for making lasers into practical tools – might be created by stacking up far smaller, rod-shaped microcrystals that can be grown easily and cheaply.

So far, the team’s microcrystals outperform conventional crystals in some ways, suggesting that harnessing them could signal the end of a long search for a fast, economical way to develop large crystals that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to create. But the microcrystals also challenge conventional scientific theory as to why they perform as they do.

These potassium diphosphate (KDP) crystals, which self-assemble in solution as hollow hexagonal rods, could find use in laser technology, particularly for fiber-optic communications. The scanning-electron image at right shows a crystal at higher resolution with scale added.

Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology
Credit: L. Deng / NIST

Science Advances - Ambient-condition growth of high-pressure phase centrosymmetric crystalline KDP microstructures for optical second harmonic generation

DARPA tests 100 Networked, Nuclear-Radiation Detectors that cost $400 each and provide 100 fold increase in detection ability

A DARPA program aimed at preventing attacks involving radiological “dirty bombs” and other nuclear threats has successfully developed and demonstrated a network of smartphone-sized mobile devices that can detect the tiniest traces of radioactive materials. Combined with larger detectors along major roadways, bridges, other fixed infrastructure, and in vehicles, the new networked devices promise significantly enhanced awareness of radiation sources and greater advance warning of possible threats.

The demonstration of efficacy earlier this year was part of DARPA’s SIGMA program, launched in 2014 with the goal of creating a cost-effective, continuous radiation-monitoring network able to cover a large city or region. Although radiation detectors have in recent years been installed in a number of key locations in the United States and around the world, the SIGMA program has sought to increase capabilities while lowering their costs, in order to network an unprecedented number of advanced detectors and provide a comprehensive, dynamic, and automated overview of the radiological environment.

The demonstration was conducted at one of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s major transportation hubs where DARPA tested more than 100 networked SIGMA sensors. During the month-long test, the system provided more than a 100-fold increase in ability to locate and identify sources of radiation as compared to currently installed systems. All sources of radiation that SIGMA sensors identified were non-threatening, but the system proved how it could pinpoint the location and intensity of a source and specify, in each case, the type of radiation to which it was alerting authorities.

Fulfilling the SIGMA program’s initial goals, the pocket-sized radiation “pager” sensors developed by DARPA and used in the exercise can be easily worn on a person’s belt, are one-tenth the cost of conventional sensors, and are up to 10 times faster in detecting gamma and neutron radiation. Moreover, the program achieved its price goal of 10,000 pocket-sized detectors for $400 per unit.

A large-scale test deployment of more than 1,000 detectors is being planned for Washington, D.C., later this year.

August 26, 2016

Answers to some of the issues raised about the Elevated Bus

The Economist and Bloomberg are slamming China's Straddle bus as a scam.

In early August, a prototype of the Transit Elevated Bus -- or TEB -- was tested in northern China.

It is claimed that speeds would eventually reach 40 miles per hour and use rails running either side of the road. Its 300 passengers (1,200, once a few buses were linked together like train carriages) would travel in comfort, in something akin to an airport lounge.

There are claims of investor fraud

According to China's state media organs, previously big boosters of the project, the TEB was little more than a publicity stunt -- one of the dozens of peer-to-peer lending scams that have duped retail Chinese investors in recent years by promising unreal annual returns.

Maybe it is a financial scam. However the claim that important technical questions have been unanswered does not seem to be difficult for me to answer.

How would such a bus pass beneath low bridges?

It could not go under low bridges. There would have to be routes where low bridges and power lines were moved or raised.

There are routes through cities where large objects like houses can be moved.

When Molecular Nanofactory is realized then a desktop Whiskey Machine will produce spirits at less than 36 cents per bottle

While a lot has been written on the application of molecular nanotechnology to medicine ( ), computing (, the environment (, and so forth, very little has been written on the manufacturing of atomically precise food.

But which kind of food? When analyzing or developing a new technology, you start with the simplest case. Unadorned beverages will be technically easier to manufacture than solid foods (e.g., steaks) because they require no specific three-dimensional structure and are essentially just solutions of chemicals dissolved in water. The trick is to know what and how much of each chemical, and to be able to manufacture them quickly, accurately, and cheaply enough to represent a significant advance over current methods. Nanofactories will enable this.

Alcohol is always a fun topic of general public interest, and whiskey is perhaps the most challenging of the fine spirits to analyze and synthesize, so this seemed like a good representative exemplar on which to focus a preliminary study. Robert Freitas has completed this preliminary study. The proposed Whiskey Machine would make a low-cost beverage that tastes as good as it is physically possible for that type of beverage to taste, down to the last atom!

The analysis in the paper demonstrates that, as in most applications involving advanced molecular manufacturing and atomically precise machinery, gains of 10-1000 fold in speed, purity, cost, etc. are readily anticipated. So for consumers, the prospects are delightful.

Of course, alcoholic beverages typically have a high enough retail price, and the cost of replication using specialized nanofactories such as the Whiskey Machine is low enough, that most existing business models employed by manufacturing and retail organizations in this sector (e.g., distillers of fine spirits, wineries, beer breweries) will be seriously disrupted – possibly even bankrupted – as soon as nanofactories come into general use. The paper thus may serve as a wake-up call to these organizations that enormous change may be coming to their industry in the not terribly distant future, so it might be rational for them to begin now to think about preparing for this event.

The Whiskey Machine: Nanofactory-Based Replication of Fine Spirits and Other Alcohol-Based Beverages [139 pages]

As usual, Robert Freitas performs a thorough analysis. He starts from the roughly 100 chemical components and particulates in Whisky, the different types of Whisky and then performs a detailed cost and production analysis.

Robert Freitas

Russia to Deploy Hypersonic Mach 6-7 Missiles by 2020

Boris Obnosov, director of the state-run Tactical Missiles Corp, told the Russian Rambler news Service that the new hypersonic missile will be capable of penetrating advanced missile defenses and represents a revolutionary advance in military technology.

“It’s obvious that with such speeds—when missiles will be capable of flying through the atmosphere at speeds of seven to 12 times the speed of sound, all [air] defense systems will be weakened considerably,” Obnosov told the Rambler News Service this week.

The missile will be developed in Russia and fly at a speed of 6-7 times the speed of sound.

In 2014, Boris Obnosova also made the same claim.

"In my estimation, the first hypersonic products [Russian hypersonic missile] should appear … in this decade — before 2020. He said the russian hypersonic missile would have speeds of up to six to eight Mach. Achieving higher speeds is a long term perspective," Obnosov told journalists at the Airshow China-2014 space exhibition.

The hypersonic missiles will be air-launched at first, using the carrier aircraft’s initial velocity to reach the speeds necessary to run a ramjet engine.

Russia’s 3M22 Zircon hypersonic cruise missile is expected to enter into production in 2018. The new weapon—which is capable of speeds of around Mach 5.0-Mach 6.0—is currently in testing.

The Mach 6-8 hypersonic missile version sounds like it would be an upgrade of the short range 3M22 Zircon missile.

Zircon missile mockup

Kilocore processor with 1000 cores

A microchip containing 1,000 independent programmable processors has been designed by a team at the University of California, Davis, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The energy-efficient “KiloCore” chip has a maximum computation rate of 1.78 trillion instructions per second and contains 621 million transistors.

A Japanese startup Exascaler built the first 1000+ core chip PEZY-SC. It is a 28nm MIMD processor with 1024 cores and has rankings on the Green 500.

Nvidia had 240 cores in a GPGPU chip back in 2006 and 512 core shortly thereafter.

In 2006, Intel built the 80 core the Tera-Scale Teraflop Prototype.

The UC Davis Kilocore chip is the most energy-efficient “many-core” processor ever reported. The 1,000 processors can execute 115 billion instructions per second while dissipating only 0.7 Watts, low enough to be powered by a single AA battery. The KiloCore chip executes instructions more than 100 times more efficiently than a modern laptop processor.

There is a 3 page technical paper on Kilocore - A 5.8 pJ / Op 115 Billion Ops / sec, to 1.78 Trillion Ops / sec 32nm 1000-Processor Array

1000 programmable processors and 12 independent memory modules capable of simultaneously servicing both data and instruction requests are integrated onto a 32nm PD-SOI CMOS device. At 1.1 V, processors operate up to an average of 1.78 GHz yielding a maximum total chip computation rate of 1.78 trillion instructions/sec. At 0.84 V, 1000 cores execute 1 trillion instructions/sec while dissipating 13.1 W.

Thought-Controlled Nanoscale DNA Robots in a Living Host

Ido Bachelet and his team have made a new type of brain-machine interface enabling a human operator to control nanometer-size robots inside a living animal by brain activity. Recorded EEG patterns are recognized online by an algorithm, which in turn controls the state of an electromagnetic field. The field induces the local heating of billions of mechanically-actuating DNA origami robots tethered to metal nanoparticles, leading to their reversible activation and subsequent exposure of a bioactive payload. As a proof of principle we demonstrate activation of DNA robots to cause a cellular effect inside the insect Blaberus discoidalis, by a cognitively straining task. This technology enables the online switching of a bioactive molecule on and off in response to a subject’s cognitive state, with potential implications to therapeutic control in disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, and attention deficits, which are among the most challenging conditions to diagnose and treat.

Ido Bachelet had previously made 50 nanometer DNA buckets that would open when it encountered certain chemicals or biology.

To establish a direct control interface to DNA robots, they designed robots that can be electronically remote-controlled. This was done by adding metal nanoparticles to the robotic gates, which could heat in response to an electromagnetic field. This concept has been demonstrated previously, and has been recently implemented in controlling gene expression in an animal model of diabetes.

In the paper they integrate all components to allow EEG patterns associated with cognitive states to remotely trigger nanorobot activation in a living animal, and describe the design, construction, and implementation of this brain-nanomachine interface. Our working prototype highlights the potential of such a technology in managing disorders to which no effective treatment exists, and could inspire advanced modes of control over biological molecules in the body even outside therapeutic contexts.

The full experimental setup consisted of five components:
a) a headset used for collecting EEG data from the subject;
b) an algorithm that searches for patterns associated with cognitive load and rest states, running on a computer;
c) a waveform generator, remote controlled by the computer, which produces high-frequency alternate current through the coil; d) the coil itself; and
e) the DNA origami robots, injected into the living animal fitted within the coil.

Data collection was carried out separately from this setup, and included only the headset connected to a computer

They built nanorobots out of DNA, forming shell-like shapes that drugs can be tethered to. Because the drug remains tethered to the DNA parcel, a body’s exposure to the drug can be controlled by closing and opening the gate.

DNA bots to respond to a person’s thoughts. They trained a computer algorithm to identify between a person’s brain activity when resting and when doing mental arithmetic.

They attached a fluorescent drug to the bots and injected them into a cockroach sat inside an electromagnetic coil. A person wearing an EEG cap that measures brain activity was then instructed either to do mental calculations, or rest. The cap was connected to the electromagnetic coil, switching it on when the man was calculating and off when he was resting.

August 25, 2016

25 core chip designed for cloud applications

Princeton University researchers have developed a new computer chip that promises to boost the performance of data centers that lie at the core of numerous online services such as email and social media.

Princeton Piton Processor, is a many-core designed by Prof. Wentzlaff's research group in March, 2015. It was taped-out in IBM's 32nm SOI process. Some of Piton's features are listed below:

25 modified OpenSPARC T1 cores
Directory-based shared memory
3 On-chip networks
Multi-chip shared memory support
1 GHz clock frequency
IBM 32nm SOI process (6mm*6mm)
460 million transistors

It is possible to put together 8,000 Piton CPUs to build a 200,000 core machine.
The hardware design has been made open source

Piton was presented at Hot Chips 2016

Machine Learning is the engine that will drive Google's Future

The latest ABC earnings call had the following highlights Google's report is basically a state of the global internet and ecommerce report.

* total quarterly revenue was $21.5 billion, up 21% year­over­year, and up 6% sequentially [Annual numbers would be about 4.2 times bigger]
* U.S. revenue was up 25% year­over­year to $10 billion. U.K. revenue was up 14% year­over­year to $1.9 billion
* Rest­ of ­world revenue was up 19% versus last year, to $9.6 billion.
* GAAP other cost of revenues were $4.2 billion. Non­GAAP other cost of revenues was $3.9 billion, up 28% year­over­year, primarily driven by Google­related expenses, specifically, costs associated with operating our data centers, including depreciation; content acquisition costs, primarily for YouTube; and hardware costs.
* GAAP operating expenses were $7.4 billion in the quarter. Non­GAAP operating expenses were $6.2 billion or 29% of revenue, up 15% year­over­year, and up 2% versus Q1
* Non­GAAP operating income was $7.5 billion, up 25% versus last year. The operating margin was 35%.
* Headcount at the end of the quarter was 66,575, up 2,460 from last quarter. The vast majority of new hires continue to be engineers and product managers to support growth in priority areas such as Cloud and Apps

Google-ABC continues to invest in making search smarter and more useful.

In the U.S., they recently introduced a voter tool
A new keyboard for iOS called Gboard is off to a great start
At I/O, they shared a vision around the Google Assistant.
Google Assistant will be in products like our new messaging app Allo and our voice­activated device, Google Home

Machine Learning is the key to Google's Future

Machine learning is the engine that will drive Google's future

More than 100 teams are currently using machine learning at Google, from Street View to Gmail to Voice Search and more. For example, in Search, we use a ranking signal called RankBrain, which relies on deep learning to improve results. It's already enhancing the search experience in 40 languages. And based on user testing, RankBrain can accurately guess which results users will favor with about 80% accuracy. Advances like this help us make our search results even more relevant.

Machine learning is also creating an impact in other ways. Just last week, we announced a test that applied DeepMind's machine learning to our own Google data centers, resulting in up to a 40% reduction in the energy we use for cooling.

They introduced two Cloud Machine Learning APIs for speech and natural language to help our enterprise customers convert audio to text and easily understand the structure and sentiment of the text in a variety of languages.

They introduced Tensor Processing Units, or TPUs, which can deliver an order of magnitude better optimized performance per watt for machine learning projects

Google Fiber will cut staff in half to 500

Google Fiber was announced in February 2010, and its first deployment went live in Kansas City in November 2012. Google hoped to get 5 million customers within five years, but by the end of 2014, Google Fiber had just 200,000 Internet subscribers. While an updated number hasn't been revealed, "it’s still well short of initial expectations," The Information report said. The cost of installing fiber in each city has also exceeded Alphabet's expectations, the report said.

During a recent earnings call (transcript), Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said Google still sees Google Fiber as "a huge market opportunity" but that it's "being thoughtful and deliberate in [its] execution path."

Past and Future of Aircraft Carriers

Over the past 20 years naval aviation in the United States has undergone a dramatic change in focus and capabilities, and not for the better. Its historical and traditional focus on long-range capabilities and the deep strike mission has been overtaken by a concentration on lower maintenance costs and higher aircraft sortie generation rates.

The rise of new powers, including China and its pursuit of anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) strategies and capabilities to include the carrier-killing 1,000 nautical mile (nm) range Dong Feng-21 anti-ship ballistic missile, now threatens to push the Navy back beyond the range of its carrier air wings.

Jerry Hendrix is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security. A career naval flight officer, he retired from the Navy with the rank of captain in 2014.

He lays out the past and future of US Aircraft carriers in a 72 page document.

Today's Carriers and their air wings, with their shrinking ability to project mass and power at great distance represent 25 years of actively forgetting critical historical lesson. History, like the enemy, does not forgive.

Recommended specs and mission for unmanned carrier based drones

If the Navy wanted to build on the lessons of naval aviation’s evolution in the post-World War II period and purchase a carrier-based unmanned combat aerial system (UCAS), such an aircraft could provide the long-range, deep strike capability necessary to keep the supercarrier relevant and in the fight, even in a mature anti-access/area-denial environment.
Such an aircraft would possess a wingspan of approximately 60–70 feet, a gross takeoff weight of 60,000–70,000 pounds, and an internal bomb load of 4,000–6,000 pounds.

It would also have an unrefueled combat radius of over 1,500 nm, a refueled mission endurance measured in days, and broadband, all-aspect RCS reduction. With a very low RCS across the threat radar spectrum, a carrier based UCAS could also provide difficult to counter, low power, stand-in jamming support, reducing the vulnerability of manned F-18s and
F-35s to enemy IADS.

These aircraft would bring a new critical characteristic to the carrier air wing that would both complement and strengthen the mass, range, payload capacity, and low observability characteristics identified in the past. The new characteristic would be persistence: the ability to remain present and on-station for days on end.

When combined with additional UCAS manufactured without stealth accruements serving as a mission tanker capable of providing over 25,000 pounds of give fuel to its counterparts within the air wing, the mission aircraft could remain airborne for up to 50 hours at a time during critical periods, landing only to change lubricating fluids. Persistence would allow these aircraft to maintain constant, unblinking surveillance and targeting of key geographic areas, enabling these aircraft to locate mobile platforms that move infrequently and yet quickly. It would also eliminate the need for constant transit to and from the carrier.

To be sure, such an aircraft would not be inexpensive. An unmanned combat air system for the carrier could cost upwards of $175 million to procure. It would, however, have two to three times the unrefueled combat radius of manned fighters, several times the mission endurance, and enhanced survivability.

Moreover, it is important to realize that while a $130 million Joint Strike Fighter might spend 80 percent of its life in the air pattern around the carrier maintaining the day and night carrier landing qualifications of its human pilot, the UCAS could be flown only when needed for combat operations and could be shifted from carrier to carrier as they deploy, allowing for a smaller buy of five or six squadrons’ (90–110 units) worth of aircraft to equip each operational carrier in the fleet with a squadron, rather than the 10 squadrons and training birds that are purchased for manned programs

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