April 14, 2007

3D solar cells boost efficiency and a separate quantum understanding of photosynthesis

Unique three-dimensional solar cells that capture nearly all of the light that strikes them could boost the efficiency of photovoltaic (PV) systems while reducing their size, weight and mechanical complexity.

the blades of grass like design has resulted in a big jump in current generated. Ready said the three-dimensional panels produce about 60 times more current than traditional solar cells. But current is only half the equation. To generate electricity, a cell has to churn out voltage as well. And so far, that's where Ready's invention has fallen short. There's still too much resistance within the cell to produce the type of electricity that's needed. But he said he'll now focus on reworking the interface to smooth out the kinks.

In a separate development, In a paper entitled, Evidence for wavelike energy transfer through quantum coherence in photosynthetic systems, researchers report the detection of “quantum beating” signals, coherent electronic oscillations in both donor and acceptor molecules, generated by light-induced energy excitations, like the ripples formed when stones are tossed into a pond.

Sunlight absorbed by bacteriochlorophyll (green) within the FMO protein (gray) generates a wavelike motion of excitation energy whose quantum mechanical properties can be mapped through the use of two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy. Credit: Image courtesy of Greg Engel, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Physical Biosciences Division

Electronic spectroscopy measurements made on a femtosecond (millionths of a billionth of a second) time-scale showed these oscillations meeting and interfering constructively, forming wavelike motions of energy (superposition states) that can explore all potential energy pathways simultaneously and reversibly, meaning they can retreat from wrong pathways with no penalty. This finding contradicts the classical description of the photosynthetic energy transfer process as one in which excitation energy hops from light-capturing pigment molecules to reaction center molecules step-by-step down the molecular energy ladder.

"The classical hopping description of the energy transfer process is both inadequate and inaccurate," said Fleming. "It gives the wrong picture of how the process actually works, and misses a crucial aspect of the reason for the wonderful efficiency."

April 13, 2007

Fullerene Nanotechnology Revisited

10 years ago in 1997, Al Globus and a team at NASA looked at the concept of Machine phase Fullerene Nanotechnology Fullerene nanotechnology is where atomically precise programmable machines are composed largely of functionalized fullerenes (and carbon nanotubes).

Recently C70 has been found to combine with carbon nanotubes creating nanobuds. Could the new nanobud material (C70 fullerenes fused to carbon nanotubes) be further functionalized into machine phase fullerene ?

The nanobudding process might be controllable or biasable and combined with other processes.

There is the ability to cut carbon nanotubes using voltage.

Rice University chemists are able to cut carbon nanotubes into "seeds" and using those seeds to sprout new nanotubes. The findings offer hope that seeded growth may one day produce the large quantities of pure nanotubes needed for dozens of materials applications. If the seed process could be combined with site specific nanobud creation then we could create complex nanotube based network and tree structures.

If you could guide the C70 where you want and then initiate a fusing with the carbon nanotube (using voltage or ion beam or metamaterial focused laser) , we would start to have all carbon nanostructures.

Fuse a nanobudded nanotube with another nanotube to form a ladder like structure.

Plus we have the one atom thick sheets of graphene, which we also might be able to induce into reactions and fused structures.

There are also alkalai doped C70

C60 are electron acceptors

If they accepted a lot of electrons could the charged C60 or C70 be magnetically controlled and positioned ?

Could the trapped ion quantum chips be adapted to move around charged C70 ?

Multiplexed trapped ion chips are able to move ion with a fair degree of precision.

Some detailed reading on multiplex trapped ions and trapped ion quantum computer components.

Trapped ion quantum computer tutorial.

2006 trapped ion quantum computer workshop

Quantum charged couple device (QCCD)

Higher Body Fat Linked to Gene

British gene hunters said they have found the strongest DNA marker yet for obesity, and one that is very common among most Europeans. The investigators first identified the gene, FTO, in the DNA of people with type 2, or late-onset diabetes, a condition that is lifestyle-related.

Individuals with one copy of the FTO variant had a 30 percent higher risk of being obese than people without it. In people with two copies of the "fat" gene, the risk rose to 67 percent, and they packed an additional 6.6 pounds in fat on average compared to people without any copies of the allele.

April 12, 2007

Proof that new space telescopes could directly see other earths

Improved mirrors and light masks have been demonstrated in the lab which would enable telescopes to directly image earth sized planets with a space telescope. This accomplishment marks a dramatic step forward for missions like the proposed Terrestrial Planet Finder, designed to hunt for an Earth twin that might harbor life. They have shown that a fairly simple coronagraph - an instrument used to "mask" a star's glare - paired with an adjustable mirror, could enable a space telescope to image a distant planet 10 billion times fainter than its central star. For their next steps, Trauger and Traub plan to improve the suppression of speckles by a factor of 10, and extend the method to accommodate many wavelengths of light simultaneously.

Three simulated planets -- one as bright as Jupiter, one half as bright as Jupiter and one as faint as Earth -- stand out plainly in this image created from a sequence of 480 images captured by the High Contrast Imaging Testbed at JPL. A roll-subtraction technique, borrowed from space astronomy, was used to distinguish planets from background light. The asterisk marks the location of the system's simulated star. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

IBM Extends Moore's Law to the Third Dimension

It has been technically possible and commercially sales of 3 dimensional computer RAM memory for some time and with various approaches. There have been problems with heat and higher costs.

An IBM scientist holds a thinned wafer of silicon computer circuits, which is ready for bonding to another circuit wafer, where IBM's advanced "through-silicon via" process will connect the wafers together by etching thousands of holes through each layer and filling them with metal to create 3-D integrated stacked chips

IBM is claiming a breakthrough chip-stacking technology in a manufacturing environment that paves the way for three-dimensional chips that will extend Moore’s Law beyond its expected limits. The technology – called “through-silicon vias” -- allows different chip components to be packaged much closer together for faster, smaller, and lower-power systems.

The difference this time is that IBM is getting a lot more advantages out of their chip stacking approach. Higher performance and not just higher density. They are also getting lower power.

The new IBM method eliminates the need for long-metal wires that connect today’s 2-D chips together, instead relying on through-silicon vias, which are essentially vertical connections etched through the silicon wafer and filled with metal. These vias allow multiple chips to be stacked together, allowing greater amounts of information to be passed between the chips.

The technique shortens the distance information on a chip needs to travel by 1000 times, and allows for the addition of up to 100 times more channels, or pathways, for that information to flow compared to 2-D chips.

IBM is already running chips using the through-silicon via technology in its manufacturing line and will begin making sample chips using this method available to customers in the second half of 2007, with production in 2008. The first application of this through-silicon via technology will be in wireless communications chips that will go into power amplifiers for wireless LAN and cellular applications. 3-D technology will also be applied to a wide range of chips, including those running now in IBM’s high-performance servers and supercomputers that power the world’s business, government and scientific efforts.

In particular, IBM is applying the new through-silicon-via technique in wireless communications chips, Power processors, Blue Gene supercomputer chips, and in high-bandwidth memory applications:

-- 3-D FOR WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY: IBM is using through-silicon via technology to improve power efficiency in silicon-germanium based wireless products up to 40 percent, which leads to longer battery life. The through-silicon via technology replaces the wire bonds that are less efficient at transferring signals off of the chip.

April 11, 2007

Global Nuclear power plans

Canada's oilsands

This graph from a 2006 oilsand report from the National energy board has an all projects case of 4.4 million bpd by 2015.

Appendix 4 that same report has a long list of the specific projects with dates and bpd for each project. Project names and companies.

Alberta may increase output from the oil sands to 6 million barrels a day in 2030 from about 1 million barrels a day at present, said Claude Drzymala, a senior energy adviser at the Canadian Department of Industry.

Canadian oil output should climb to about 2.89 million barrels a day, 9.1 percent more than the 2.61 million barrel a day average in 2006. (About 167,000 bpd from the oilsands) so about 1.35 million bpd at the end of 2007.

Major producing or planned developments in the Athabasca Oil Sands include the following projects:

Syncrude 356,000 bpd March 2007 average

Suncor Energy Inc. reported March 2007 oil sands facility during averaged approximately 258,000 barrels per day.

Shell Canada currently operated its Muskeg River mine producing 155,000 bpd and the Scotford Upgrader at Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. Shell intends to open its new Jackpine mine and expand total production to 500,000 bpd over the next few years.

Nexen's in-situ Long Lake SAGD project is on schedule to produce 70,000 bpd by late 2007, with plans to expand it to 240,000 bpd over the next 10 years.

CNRL's $8 billion Horizon in-situ project is planned to produce 110,000 bpd on startup in 2008 and grow to 300,000 bpd by 2010.

Total S.A.'s subsidiary Deer Creek Energy is operating a SAGD project on its Joslyn lease, producing 10,000 bpd. It intends on constructing its mine by 2010 to expand its production by 100,000 bpd.

Imperial Oil's $5 to $8 billion Kearl Oil Sands Project is projected to start construction in 2008 and produce 100,000 bpd by 2010. Imperial also operates a 160,000 bpd in-situ operation in the Cold Lake oil sands region.

Synenco Energy and SinoCanada Petroleum Corp., a subsidiary of Sinopec, China's largest oil refiner, have agreed to create the $3.5 billion Northern Lights mine, projected to produce 100,000 bpd by 2009.

New Production for 2007:
Great Divide 1 (Connacher) 10,000
Jackfish 1 (Devon) 35,000
Orion 1 (BP) 10,000
Foster Creek expansion (Encana) 60,000
Tucker (Husky) 30,000
Seal (BP) 18,000
Peace River (Penn West) 4,000

IMF says global economy can sustain 5% growth

United States and California Population Forecasts

The Census Bureau released population estimates Thursday that say California remains the nation's most populous state with 36.5 million residents, but figures
from the state Department of Finance say there are 987,000 (37.5 million total) more people in July, 2006 than estimated by the Census Bureau. The difference is based on the federal government using IRS tax records to count who is a californian and the state using driver license records. Many people who are in california from another state would likely choose to claim out of state residency because california has a high tax rate.

California has an estimated population growth rate of 1.2 to 1.4% for 2007-2010.

This is detailed analysis of california population forecasts It discusses the undercounting in the 1990 and 2000 census. About 4.2% of children under the age of 4 were not counted. It also discusses the main issue that will greatly effect the forecasted population of california. How quickly will the birth rate of recent hispanic arrivals to California fall ? If it falls slowly then the birthrate in California would rise to 2.7 from about 2.26 now. The undercounts also underestimate the birthrate from 2.26 from 2.12. The other big issue is if California can continue over the long term to attract people from other states.

Undercounting illegal immigrants and children means that the current US census population clock could be undercounting by 2-3% for the entire United States. Plus the census forecasts would be using birthrates that are too low.

Lifespan estimates could also be overly pessimistic with breakthroughs against diseases like diabetes and aging in general. Also, more widespread use of fertility treatments could increase the number of births for older women.

California's population is probably
38 million (April 2007) instead of 36.9 million
by Dec 2010 the population will be 40 million.
I think the estimates for california are
2020 45 million +- 1 million
2030 50 million +- 1.5 million
2040 55 million +- 2 million (US census projects 46 million)

The US population is probably
307 million now (April 2007) instead of 301.5 million.
Dec 2010 318 million (census projects 310.7 million for July 2010
The high series estimate for the census bureau is in table C of this PDF from 1996 on page 5. It projects 295 million in 2005, 314 million in 2010, 357 million in 2020, 405 million in 2030, 458 million in 2040 and 519 million in 2050.

2020 352 million Census middle projection is 336.8 million or 335.8 million
2030 398 million (Census projects 363 million)
2040 450 million Census projects 392 million

2035 would have about 420 million, which is 113 million more than now with 5.5 million in missing undercount. The developed world would thus have far more than a total 40 million population increase.

April 10, 2007

Stem cell treatment of diabetics looks promising

A combination of stem cells derived from patients' blood and immunosuppression to eliminate a faulty immune system can help keep newly diagnosed diabetics off insulin, according to a preliminary study.

In the study, carried out by researchers at the University of Sao Paulo, in Brazil, and Northwestern University, in Chicago, patients newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (3% of all new diabetes cases) had stem cells harvested from their blood. They then underwent a form of chemotherapy to get rid of islet-killing immune cells. Following an injection of their own purified stem cells, they were monitored for insulin dependence and beta-cell function.

Thirteen of the fifteen patients given the treatment were able to stop taking insulin for a period ranging from nine months to three years. "These patients have been free of any medication after the procedure," says Richard Burt, an immunologist at Northwestern University and an author of the study. It seems to be able to be done without side effects.

This type of treatment would only be effective in newly diagnosed diabetics, who still have some beta-cell function left to preserve. For patients with more-advanced forms of the disease, scientists are working on cell transplants to replace lost islet cells, using cells from donor organs and, eventually, from embryonic stem cells.

150 million people have diabetes worldwide. Diabetes engenders $137 billion in health care costs each year in the US alone and causes 187,000 deaths (in the US).
About 7 million new cases each year (200,000+ type 1).

Freeman Dyson : The Optimistic Scientist interviewed

I think the technology optimistic view is the correct one, but we have to work hard and be careful to make that vision happen.

Freeman Dyson identifies the growing rigidity of scientific organizations as a real and serious problem

Amateurs and small companies will have a growing role in the future of science. This will compensate for the increasing bureaucratization of the big organizations.

Dyson is a global warming heretic.

Dyson also says:
The western academic world is very much like Weimar Germany, finding itself in a situation of losing power and influence. Fortunately, the countries that matter now are China and India, and the Chinese and Indian experts do not share the mood of doom and gloom. It is amusing to see China and India take on today the role that America took in the nineteen-thirties, still believing in technology as the key to a better life for everyone.

In China and India rapidly growing wealth and technological progress create a mood of optimism.

Pessimism versus optimism:
Pessimism: has entrenched techno-scepticism and environmental anxiety and assuming misuse of technology versus with the Club of Rome type proclamations of the "Limits to Growth".
Optimism: has advanced biological, genetic and geo-engineering as industrial trappings of social progress and environmental protection. The vision of endless technological advancement, terrestrial progress and the greening of the galaxy. Dysons has a line famously predicting that "we shall learn to grow trees on comets."

Water Found in Extrasolar Planet's Atmosphere

Astronomers have detected water in the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system for the first time. The finding, to be detailed in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal, confirms previous theories that say water vapor should be present in the atmospheres of nearly all the known extrasolar planets.

HD209458b is a world well-known among planet hunters. In 1999, it became the first planet to be directly observed around a normal star outside our solar system and, a few years later, was the first exoplanet confirmed to have oxygen and carbon in its atmosphere.

HD209458b is separated from its star by only about 4 million miles (7 million kilometers)—about 100 times closer than Jupiter is to our Sun—and is so hot scientists think about it is losing about 10,000 tons of material every second as vented gas.

UK Military think tank report on Futures already passed

Rear Admiral Chris Parry, head of the MoD's Development, Concepts & Doctrine Centre which drew up a 90 page report, which describes the assessments as "probability-based, rather than predictive". Most of the predictions reported in the Guardian are to happen before 2035. True they will be before 2035 because several have already happened and others have wrong facts. The UK paid for an incompentent futurist report. There should be some kind of futurist malpractice for reports that are this badly done.

2035 ? Some of the stuff has been around as a capability since the 1950's. It is just onto refined generations and capabilities and integrated more widely as part of standard tactics.

New weapons
An electromagnetic pulse will probably become operational by 2035 able to destroy all communications systems in a selected area or be used against a "world city" such as an international business service hub. The development of neutron weapons which destroy living organs but not buildings "might make a weapon of choice for extreme ethnic cleansing in an increasingly populated world".

Electromagnetic pulse weapons were already used (although on an
experimental basis) operationally 4 years ago at the start of the Iraq War 2.

The US Navy reportedly used a new class of highly secret, non-nuclear
electromagnetic pulse warheads during the opening hours of the Persian
Gulf War to disrupt and destroy Iraqi electronics systems. The
warheads converted the energy of a conventional explosion into a pulse
of radio energy. The effect of the microwave attacks on Iraqi air
defense and headquarters was difficult to determine because the
effects of the HPM blasts were obscured by continuous jamming, the use
of stealthy F-117 aircraft, and the destruction of Iraq's electrical
grid. The warheads used during the Gulf War were experimental
warheads, not standard weapons deployed with fielded forces.

The capability has been around since the 1950s. They are refining them and making the non-nuclear version a standard part of the arsenal.

However, as we head towards 2035 all photonic and hardened electronics that are resistant to e-bombs could become widespread and negate the e-bombs effectiveness.

unmanned weapons platfoms
The use of unmanned weapons platforms would enable the "application of lethal force without human intervention, raising consequential legal and ethical issues. The "explicit use" of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons and devices delivered by unmanned vehicles or missiles

We are already onto another generation of UAVs.
The MQ-9 Reaper (originally the RQ-9 Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems for use by the United States Air Force and the U.S. Navy. The MQ-9 is the Air Force's first purpose-designed hunter-killer UAV designed for long endurance high altitude surveillance. The increase in power allows the Reaper to carry 15 times more ordnance and cruise at three times the speed of the MQ-1. (seven were deployed in 2006). Adding other kind of ordinance such biological or nuclear is trivial once you can carry larger more payload.

By 2035, an implantable "information chip" could be wired directly to the brain. A growing pervasiveness of information communications technology will enable states, terrorists or criminals, to mobilise "flashmobs", challenging security forces to match this potential agility coupled with an ability to concentrate forces quickly in a small area.

More flashmobs ? How about twitter.com ? (public SMS/IM messages)

Why does it have to be direct to the brain ? yes we are developing that capability but a good mobile device with a rich interface to the retina or just in your hand can do many of the same things (now). You just need a good systems architecture to leverage it.

Marxism reborn

I agree that there is large classes of target=blank>very wealthy and mass affluent emerging.

But what is this romanticism about an old, bad and unproductive idea from the past ?

Some scientific analysis on wealth distribution. It talks about understanding the processes to help the people who are unable to save or figure out how to manage finances.

Population and Resources
The global population is likely to grow to 8.5bn in 2035, with less developed countries accounting for 98% of that. Some 87% of people under the age of 25 live in the developing world. Demographic trends, which will exacerbate economic and social tensions, have serious implications for the environment - including the provision of clean water and other resources - and for international relations. The population of sub-Saharan Africa will increase over the period by 81%, and that of Middle Eastern countries by 132%.

How does 98% of the population growth of 2 billion from less developed countries? 2% of 2 billion is 40 million. This depends on how less developed is classified. If it is classified as those who are in what are currently considered developed countries then yes. But China by 2035 (especially in urban coastal areas I think would be considered developed.) That would add 100-200 million to growth in developed countries.

China has a growing middle class.
By 2025, 60% of the households should have US$17000-40000/year equivalent.

By 2035, China will be full of what has traditionally considered
middle class. India will not be that far behind.

Islamic militancy targeted against China. / Terrorism
That would be a mistake for islamic militancy. China would not have political correctness or media concerns hampering tactics. Islamic militancy are the Crips/Blood getting onto the world stage. Murderous criminal groups with more of a story and a little better armed.

The original PDF from the UK think tank The actual pdf is not as bad as the Guardian summary article.

DNA synthesis and synthetic biology about to Boom

From MIT Technology Review, DNA synthesis is about to have major impact because of price breakthroughs and growing capabilities. "In the next few years, we'll probably see people engineering cells to do drug delivery or creating cellular sensors," says George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard and one of Codon's founders. "Maybe even cells that make inorganic objects of interest, like nanostructures."

While DNA synthesis is still too expensive to replace more-traditional molecular-biology methods on a broad scale, experts say that the DNA-synthesis market is about to boom, much as the DNA-sequencing market has in the past few years. As sequencing costs plummeted, the number of sequencing projects surged, with record numbers of genomes--even entire microbial communities--being sequenced. "As large companies begin to adopt this technology, the volumes of DNA synthesis will explode," says John Danner, president and chief executive officer of Codon.

Last summer, the company created what it believes was the biggest piece of man-made DNA, a 35,000 base-pair strand incorporating several genes needed to synthesize a pharmaceutical compound.

Installing one of those prefab, snap-together wood-flooring kits is a lot easier than shaping and sanding rough planks. Adapting a similar construction strategy, a biotech startup called Codon Devices, based in Cambridge, MA, aims to streamline genetic engineering. It makes made-to-order DNA strands.

The company is planning to open an expanded production facility, which will operate much like any other mass-production facility, except its product will be DNA. Codon intends to build a facility, slated to open this summer, that's much larger than current needs warrant to prepare for the DNA-synthesis boom.

Mass produceable Organic Nanotubes

From Nanowerjs, researchers at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan have newly designed and synthesized amphiphilic molecules, and have developed a technique for the synthesis of various organic nanotubes of 40-200 nm in inner diameter, 70-500 nm in outer diameter, and several to hundreds µm in length by self-assembling them in organic solvents.

This method needs less than one thousandth of the solvent used by conventional methods, enabling mass-production of organic nanotubes.

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