November 09, 2007

The 28 qubit adiabatic quantum computer chip [PIC]

This is what the 28 qubit adiabatic quantum computer chip looks like

The chip used D-Wave compound Josephson junction couplers.

Note: The picture is from the Dwave Systems CTO blog. It is a shiny chip. I do not believe it to be in any way a fake photo.

Proposal for widespread monitoring and tracking of biomarkers and environmental factors for medical understanding

Andy Grove has criticized how the pharmaceutical industry operates and performs research.

What I would really like to do is to contact Andy Grove and suggest that he use his semiconductor knowledge to help a company release a lot of inexpensive and capable lab on a chip testing systems to track biomarkers.

Labs on a chip that could track biomarkers daily or hourly and eventually in realtime. Initially they could be used for large clinical trials and other studies. Like how TV ratings boxes are used to track television viewing. The biomarker trackers could also be part of his healthplan by getting them to all pharmacies and clinics and doctors offices. We should have blood testing for cancer detection as well as for disease detection and tracking and monitoring effects of medication.

this is a variation on tracking one's entire life experiences on a hard drive. It would be using sensors to track lifetimes of health related activity as it happens. Diabetics already track calories consumed and take blood tests of sugar levels. I am proposing going beyond that to thousands of biomarkers and monitoring of all intake into the body and activity. This would allow vastly superior data mining and advance the effort towards truly personalized medicine.

Eventually everyone would have real time tracking of health and environmental factors that they encounter.

the semiconductor focused approach that I am suggesting would transform both the research of disease and health and the monitoring and detection of disease.

Currently doctors and researchers do not get a constant close look at what is happening with individuals.

the monitoring of biomarkers would need to be combined with some basic environmental monitoring (cigarretes, air pollution etc...) and monitoring of substances (food, alcohol, drugs etc...)

Currently the monitoring of health greatly lags the monitoring of TV, shopping habits and online activity.

For online activity, companies perform studies with "heat maps" of words and where people are looking in an ad. Near real time.

For health, blood and other testing is inconsistent even when someone is at high risk for a disease.

For drugs, the prescription is based on statistical samples. It is like : I recommend the TV show Golden Girls because a study that we performed of people in your age group suggests that it would be beneficial. We can do a check up after a few months and see how that is going. Let us know if you have an adverse reaction, such as vomiting but otherwise stick to the prescription. If it does not work we will switch in a few months to 60 minutes and then the Tonight Show.

If we are able to have large scale tracking of kidney function, heart function, lung function, arterial health, blood levels, other biomarkers etc... then we can start making the connections to overall wear on the system and when something is deteriorating.

We are able to identify abnormal wear on parts in car. But well before some one is about to become diabetic there are things going on that are leading up to that point. We need to trace back to the health equivalent of - you have misalignment and the tires still look great but the alignment problem will cause abnormal wear.

If we have all of the data then when something starts falling out for a population then the doctor/researcher can start making the correlation earlier. Appliance and car companies data mine and analyze customer service call transcripts and make the correlations. 20 calls talked about shorting or smoke. This means there was an electrical issue. If we track the factory dates we determine that they all were coming from a particular production line 8 years ago on Mondays in the second quarter. We will need to check all other appliances with that profile for a common assembly line and production issue.

There are weingard statistical operations management tracking rules to identify developing bad trends earlier.

We have pro-active methods for identifying problems with appliances and cars but we do not have shared information for medicine and health.

Another look at Military Nanotechnology

I had written in 2006 about the Military Nanotechnology book by Altmann

The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology has reviewed the book.

Some consideration should be given to

1. What are the non-nanotech ways that production could greatly increase ?

Breakthroughs that allow expanded reel to reel production. ECD Ovonics quantum control devices made from polymers able to produced without or with limited performance degradation relative to silicon. Allowing for MEMS and computers to be produced far more quickly. MEMS can be used to create UAVs.

Breakthroughs with arrays of MEMS/NEMS to speed up 3D printing from the nanoscale up.

Mere force multiplier effects or the enabling of a more antiseptic war does not really alter the geopolitical situation. Especially if the US and China are near the lead in new production increases.

Also, there is no motivation for global governance if it is primarily the existing major powers that get more production and maintain a lead and dominance over others.

I think the existing national powers and the existing political structure could adapt to the most common and likely scenarios without ceding sovereignty.

2. How important is production relative to strategy and tactics or radically new systems capabilities ?

More clever usage of relatively mundane conventional weapons and non-weapons technology could be used to far greater effect. Air superiority and ruthlessness (similar to the Romans over Carthage or using the WW2 russian tactics of scorched earth but on enemy terrain) could be used to genocide a country in weeks.

Merely the production of a lot more robotic weapons does not overcome nuclear deterrent.

Look there is a swarm of UAV's crossing the Ocean... launch ... launch.

How is that different from look there are ICBMs launching and crossing the Ocean..launch...launch?

Oil from shale progress

Fortune magazine has a feature on the progress of Shell to get oil from shale. Hat tip to futurepundit.

Shell declines to get too specific about how much oil it thinks it can pump at peak production levels, but one DOE study contends that the region can sustain two million barrels a day by 2020 and three million by 2040. Other government estimates have posited an upper range of five million. At that level, Western oil shale would rival the largest oilfields in the world.

Oil shale has one other big appeal: It's not vulnerable to the steep depletion rates that have afflicted other big oilfields.

Oil shale would help make any transition from oil easier in the event of peak oil.

Harold Vinegar has developed a cutting-edge technology that, according to Shell, will produce large quantities of high-quality oil without ravaging the local environment - and be profitable with prices around $30 a barrel.

In Situ Conversion Process, or ICP - that could vindicate Shell's 28-year, $200 million (at least) bet on oil shale research.

Shell drills 1,800-foot wells and into them inserts heating rods that raise the temperature of the oil shale to 650 degrees Fahrenheit. To keep the oil from escaping into the ground water, the heater wells are ringed by freeze walls created by coolant piped deep into the ground; this freezes the rock and water on the perimeter of the drill site. Eventually the heat begins to transform the kerogen (the fossil fuel embedded in the shale) into oil and natural gas. After the natural gas is separated, the oil is piped to a refinery to be converted into gasoline and other products

In essence, ICP simply accelerates Mother Nature's handiwork. Fifty million years ago, large swaths of what is now northwest Colorado, northeast Utah, and southwest Wyoming were covered by two great lakes. Algae, leaves and other prehistoric life forms sank to the bottom, leaving behind a thick layer of organic muck. Starved of oxygen, these sediments could not decay, and periodically they would be covered and compacted by sand and other rock deposits. Over millions of years, the pressure exerted by the weight of the rock layers transformed the organic layers into kerogen.

November 08, 2007

Next Week Dwave will be demoing a new 28 qubit quantum computer

At the supercomputer 2007 conference (Nov 13-15, 2007) Dwave Systems will be demo-ing an image matching application co-developed with Dr. Hartmut Neven of Google, a world-leading authority on image matching algorithms. The hardware they are using to run the application is a 28-qubit superconducting adiabatic quantum computer. In February, 2007, Dwave had indicated that they would have a 32 qubit system at this time. However, this would still be the largest quantum computing system. One of the main aspects was that the quality of the qubits and the Input/output system. The system was going to be revised and improved to set the stage for a large scale up in qubits for 2008. Two systems are planned for next year. One with 512 qubits and another with 1024 qubits.

28 qubits can handle 256 million states, which is 4096 times more than the February system.

SGI Builds World's Largest FPGA Supercomputer

New 70 FPGA supercomputer is 900 times faster than opteron cluster it replaces. FPGAs are reconfigurable hardware. Hardware that customizes itself to run an application or algorithm can be hundreds of times faster than software running on general purpose hardware. FPGAs entering the mainstream will greatly accelerate the solution of scientific problems and some business problems.

SGI's reconfigurable supercomputer featured 70 FPGAs, more than any single system built to date. SGI's FPGA supercomputer accelerated the performance of a complex BLAST-n query by more than 900 times, completing in less than 33 minutes what took a 68-node Opteron-based cluster approximately three weeks to finish. The application matched 20 nucleotide base pairs against 600,000 queries.

SGI configured the system using only off-the-shelf components, including its SGI(R) RASC(TM) (Reconfigurable Application Specific Computing) appliance for bioinformatics -- Featuring Mitrion(TM)-Accelerated BLAST-n. No hardware or software was modified for the test

The Walmart of solar power: First Solar

First Solar is the Google of solar companies. The Phoenix, Ariz.-based maker of cadmium telluride solar cells and panels has soared past the $200 a share mark. It was up to $230 today and is currently trading at about $219. They IPOd at $20 back in Nov 2006.

Analysts expected revenues of $120 million and earnings per share of 19 cents this quarter. The financial results were announced yesterday. There is some speculation fever built into the stock price. The price-to-earnings ratio currently hovers around 287, fairly high, even by 1998 Internet bubble standards.

Unlike silicon solar-cell makers or the armies of CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide) manufacturers, First Solar extracts electricity from thin films of cadmium telluride (a semiconductor made from cadmium and tellurium) on glass.

Although they are not as efficient as silicon cells, cadmium tellurium cells are comparatively cheap to make and are fairly robust. They operate in a wide temperature range and in a variety of light conditions, including dawn and dusk. In other words, cadmium telluride is the Honda Civic of solar-panel material.

The company isn't facing a material shortage, like silicon manufacturers, and it is producing product, unlike the vast majority of CIGS companies.

First Solar said this week that it has signed a deal to supply investment firm Babcock & Brown with solar modules in a deal that will bring it $1 billion in revenue between 2008 and 2009. Overall, First Solar has contracts to install more than 3 gigawatts of power through 2012.

When up and running, each plant will be capable of turning out 120 megawatts worth of solar panels a year, or 480 megawatts in total

The Walton family of the Wal-Mart fame funded the company from the beginning and still owns a large chunk of the stock.

At 480 MW per year, it would take 10 years to equal the energy production of a single 1GW nuclear power plant because of the lower operating efficiency of solar.

AMD FireStream 9170 is double precision CPU/GPU hybrid with 500 Gigaflops

AMD's FireStream 9170 chipset includes 660 million transistors and 320 processing units and will be made by chipmaker TSMC. The FireStream 9170 is a step on the way to AMD's Fusion project, which the company says will combine a graphics processor and general processor on the same piece of silicon. AMD hopes to release Fusion in 2009. It is similar to the Nvidia Tesla, which is currently single precision by will likely have a double precision version in 2008.

The 500 gigaflops is about 100 times the performance of one of its dual core Opterons.

When it becomes available during the first quarter of 2008, the AMD FireStream 9170 will be the world's first stream GPU with double-precision floating point technology created specifically for scientific and engineering calculations, the chipmaker said.

A single card solution, the 9170 offers 2 GB of memory and as much as 500 gigaflops of computing power. That, according to AMD, rivals the power of many supercomputers today and also provides dramatic acceleration for critical algorithms.

Unlike AMD's other processors, including the Opteron, the FireStream 9170 is built with a 55 nanometer process technology and uses less than 150 watts of power. Consuming less power equals reduced heat dissipation, which allows the 9170 to function in dense design configurations.

the chip is expensive, priced at $1,999, it boasts 500 gigaflops of computing power for critical algorithms.

Together with the FireStream product launch is the release of its SDK. This software development kit introduces the Compute Abstraction Layer API, which builds on the Close to the Metal (CTM) driver interface introduced in 2006. For high-level development, AMD is announcing Brook+, a tool providing C extensions for stream computing based on the Brook project from Stanford University. In addition, AMD also plans to support the AMD Core Math Library (ACML) to provide GPU-accelerated math functions, and the COBRA video library accelerates video transcode.

A blogger at Intel Research, Anwar Ghuloum, attacks the designs of GPGPUs and claims that the performance can only be used for some applications. A lot of science applications (molecular modelling) can use it so that is plenty important for driving the pace of technological progress.

China's accelerating nuclear power build

China is looking at increasing the number of nuclear plants built by 2020.

Cao Shudong, director of system engineering with the China Atomic Energy Agency, said that although the country's 40,000-MW nuclear capacity target only covers projects located on the eastern and southern coast, 'from the point of view of economic development, interior provinces and regions should also get opportunities to launch nuclear projects.'

A number of sites in China's central and western regions have made applications to the central government to build nuclear power plants, including Chongqing and Sichuan province in the southwest, and the central provinces of Hubei, Henan and Jiangxi.

One additional reactor in each of the five provinces would add about 8,000 MW to the current plan.

China has indicated the 40 GW nuclear target will be met and probably exceeded. At least another 18,000 megawatts will be under construction by that time.

Myostatin inhibitor trials on humans

As noted by the facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) society, myostatin inhibitor clinical trials have begun on humans. The first trials on humans actually started in Feb, 2005.

UPDATE: MYO-029 development has been dropped as it is safe but not effective. Boosting follistatin seems to be the better pathway to proceed for more effective results ith myostatin inhibition.

This is related to my article which indicated that testing on mice indicated that myostatin drugs had four times the muscle growth effect as high doses of steroids but with less side effects.

these are pictures of a German boy that naturally has the genes for inhibiting myostatin

There was also the discovery of a superstrong american boy who also has the natural genes for hypermuscles.

"He could do the iron cross when he was 5 months old," said his adoptive mother, Dana Hoekstra of Roosevelt Park. She was referring to a difficult gymnastics move in which a male athlete suspends himself by his arms between two hanging rings, forming the shape of a cross.

Liam has the kind of physical attributes that bodybuilders and other athletes dream about: 40 percent more muscle mass than normal, jaw-dropping strength, breathtaking quickness, a speedy metabolism and almost no body fat.

Liam can run like the wind, has the agility of a cat, lifts pieces of furniture that most children his age couldn't push across a slick floor and eats like there is no tomorrow -- without gaining weight.

Liam Hoekstra was hanging upside down by his feet when he performed an inverted sit-up, his shirt falling away to expose rippled abdominal muscles. It was a display of raw power one might expect to see from an Olympic gymnast. Liam is 19 months old.

The so-called myostatin blockade has generated tremendous interest in the bodybuilding community. Some nutritional supplements claim to block myostatin, but researchers have said the claims are not scientifically valid.

"If the myostatin protein is knocked out, muscles grow and rejuvenate much more quickly," Dr. Larson said. "It has potential for great abuse in the future as the new steroid."

[Despite being born to a troubled mother who gave him up for adoption at birth and Liam being born with a suite of medical problems not related to the muscle genes.] Liam being born four weeks early and had a small hole in his heart. He also had eczema, enlarged kidneys, was lactose intolerant and had severe stomach reflux that made him vomit several times each day, his mother said. Two days after he was born, Liam could stand up and support his weight if someone held his hands to provide balance.

His is one of roughly 100 known cases in the world, according to experts and medical literature.

The clinical study details
Each site will enroll 12 patients. 4 FSHD, 4 LGMD, 4 Becker MD.

Initial toxicity studies are done. There some side effects that are consistent with monoclonal antibody therapy.

This next stage of the trial is to determine dosing at three different levels and clinical efficacy.

Patients must be genetically confirmed.

The MSTN-inhibitor drug is administered via intravenous infusion.

Initial patient visit/transfusion may or may nor require an overnight stay. New infusion every other week for six months and three more months follow-up. Two muscle biopsies are optional.

Patients should have average muscle strength grade of 3. As general rule patient should be able to walk 30 feet unaided except for use of orthotic braces e.g. AFOs.

Phase I and phase II clinical trials are under way.

In Phase I clinical trials, researchers test a new drug or treatment in a small group of people (20-80) for the first time to evaluate its safety, determine a safe dosage range, and identify side effects.

In Phase II clinical trials, the study drug or treatment is given to a larger group of people (100-300) to see if it is effective and to further evaluate its safety.

In Phase III studies, the study drug or treatment is given to large groups of people (1,000-3,000) to confirm its effectiveness, monitor side effects, compare it to commonly used treatments, and collect information that will allow the drug or treatment to be used safely.

One of the pathways to successful weight control will be increasing lean muscle mass myostatin inhibition by boosting follistatin. It could boost lean muscle mass a lot (30-50%). It makes exercise far more effective. Each pound of lean body mass, which includes skeletal muscle, burns a bit over 13 calories a day at rest. 910 calories from body fat in a week for an extra 10 pounds of muscle. It will take about 27 days to lose a pound of body fat (12 pounds per year, IF the person does not increase food/calorie intake). So with some cardio exercise it would be a substantial help for weight control.

It would definitely make the TNT diet more effective. Any health risks like possible increase in tendon injuries needs to be offset against health gains from improved weight control.

Other gene therapy and drugs can enhance endurance and longevity

Darpa is working on a variety of ways to augment soldiers.

A common enhancement that is performed now is the improvement of vision

Gene therapy has been used to enhance resistance to radiation.

The article on the muscle bound boy who naturally has the genes that inhibit myostatin.

Wikipedia on myostatin

MD Sports looks at different ways to enhance sports performance legally. They examine myostatin inhibitors.

A discussion of gene therapy for performance enhancement in sport.

“You can deliver the [gene] to neonatal animals or in utero,” says Dr. Jeffrey Medin, a biochemist who runs a gene-therapy lab at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto. “As the animal ages, that [gene] gets distributed very nicely. If you wanted to provide long-term gene doping, that would be the time to start.”

But despite setbacks, gene therapy has produced far more successes than failures. “Gene therapy really hasn’t had that many negative effects,” notes Medin. “You look at bone-marrow- transplant patients in the 1970s, and until they figured it out everybody died. Here, we’ve had two or three patients out of 1,100 that have had severe consequences. If you’re looking at a new cancer drug, that’s an acceptable risk for a lot of people.”


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Carnival of Space week 28 has the latest carnival of Space.

My contribution is about the overall lessons that should be taken from the recent Technology prize competitions (robotic cars, space elevators and lunar landers).

The carnival had a response to a Guardian op-ed. The carnival article indicated that there is no need to keep the moon pristine. I agree that is the case for the most part. Although parts of the dark side of the moon could be mainly used for large astronomy telescopes. This is no more than is done now on earth for areas around large telescopes.

There is also a report from that Bigelow and Space Florida are exploring the opening of a space related investment fund. Bigelow Aerospace and Space Florida are studying creation of a COTS-like fund called the Florida Space Transportation Initiative that would "support the development of a new, orbital space transportation system located at the Kennedy Space Center". This follows recent statements from Robert Bigelow about plans to award a $760M contract to the first company that can provide 8 flights with crew and passengers to his habitats starting in 2010.

Centauri Dreams looks at the most recent study for using antimatter for space propulsion.

November 07, 2007

Virtual dictation and translation breakthrough claimed

CNN reports on a claimed breakthrough for speech-to-speech applications with Virtual Dictation.

"Virtual Dictation" can process voice dictation in real-time from over 7 languages including: Chinese (simplified and traditional), English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.

In addition, you can have the text generated from your voice, automatically converted into over 25 different languages.

Virtual Talking Phrases
The Virtual Talking Phrases contained over 6,000 pre-recorded common phrases. You say a word or phrase in English, and the server recognizes what you said and pronounces the other language translation of the word or phrase. It will also work in the reverse direction. When a foreign language is spoken, you will instantly hear the English translation of it.

What are the overall lessons from the 2007 Technology prize competitions

We have just completed the main technology prize competition season for 2007. The DARPA robotic driving competition had winners for the second year in a row.

The winning Carnegie Mellon robot car, Boss

The lunar lander challenge was close to a winner again, but again it was only one serious competitor Armidillo Aerospace.

Lunar lander competition

For the space elevator, there was almost a winner for the second year in a row for the climber competition. Again it was the same team, the University of Saskatechwan's Space Design team came closest to winning. No one was close to winning the tether competition and weather was a huge factor.

University of Saskatechwan's Space Design team's climber

The lessons that I think should be taken from this are:
1. Robotic technology advances are currently the most consistent and seem to be the most reliable.
2. Materials are improving but the best tether materials (like Superthread) are not going to the competitions, which are mostly small companies and university teams.
3. An actual functioning future Space Elevator will have a massive challenge for climbers to make it through the jet stream winds at higher altitudes.
4. The prizes are successful in motivating progress towards carefully crafted targeted goals.
5. They prizes do stimulate media attention and are good value in terms of many dollars and efforts spent relative to the cost of to the prize organizer.

The reliable progress in robotics should earn it a more central part of more plans for future technology and space projects.

I had described such a robotic centric plan for my proposal for winning the google lunar prize.

My plan has a few central philosophies, which also apply to all space development plans.

1. Do not use overnight International Fedex shipment if you can get away with sending by container boat.

This was my usage of slower low energy orbital transfer to make a five month trip to the moon which used a lot less fuel and did not required a new multi-billion Orion rocket vehicle. (As is NASA's plan).

2. If everything does not need to be sent at the same time, it can be cheaper and work out better to send them separately.

Split up what is more precious and requires faster delivery (like the astronauts) from the cargo and robots. Also, if robots are sent first then they can build things and get the place ready for astronauts who follow later. This is part of the Zubrin Mars Direct plan.

3. If achieving your goals does not involve building the Taj Mahal then it is cheaper to not include that construction as part of the plan.

This goes to whether it is really necessary to spend many billions on the new Orion rocket or whether the 100 billion on the International Space station was needed. Could similar goals have been achieved with robotic Skylab style systems. Could a steady stream of existing rockets be used and combined creatively with low energy orbital transfer to deliver more functional cargo sooner to the moon or other space targets.

Progress towards light trap quantum memory

Two teams have independently succeeded in placing a cloud of chilled rubidium atoms within an optical cavity, which traps light between two opposed mirrors. The combination could one day form a quantum memory element.

Colombe, Jakob Reichel and colleagues have put a BEC between two mirrors, which form an optical cavity trapping photons of a particular wavelength. They have shown that the BEC can be forced to respond to exactly that wavelength, so that it should only emit photons in a controlled direction within the cavity.

A BEC can more easily be cooled to very low temperatures than a single atom, says Tilman Esslinger of the Institute for Quantum Electronics in Zurich, Switzerland, who leads the second team. The cold BEC has no thermal motion and does not drift away, meaning the information held in it could be stored for longer.

Building the cavity was a particularly tricky technical problem for Colombe's team, as their aim was to fit it onto a single chip. They developed a new type of cavity, in which the mirrors are painted onto the ends of two optical fibres just 0.04 millimetres across. They used a laser to evaporate material from each fibre, sculpting an extremely smooth mirror surface.

The new experiments show that a BEC can be plugged into an optical cavity, but Esslinger is keen to point out they cannot yet function as quantum memory elements. For now, he says, the objective is simply to learn how this new combined system behaves.

Journal references: Nature (vol.450, p.268 / vol.450, p.272)

Talk from within China about the Appreciation of the Yuan

Controls on the capital account are "virtually ineffective" and speculative funds keep pouring in, betting on the yuan's appreciation, Guo Jianwei, a senior bank official for monetary policy, said in a policy paper. The report urges reform of the current exchange rate regime. The rate, set Wednesday at a record high of 7.4476 to the dollar, has appreciated faster in recent weeks, adding to already entrenched speculation that the yuan is a one-way bet.

"Worries that a narrowing US-China interest rate gap will exacerbate speculative capital inflows have limited the room for raising Chinese interest rates and have curtailed the strength of sterilisation operations," he said.

The process of using interest rates to manage the economy has also become "ineffective" because of the sharp inflow of hot money and because of limitations in the interest rate regime itself, the report said.

One possible avenue for discouraging capital inflows is to further restrict the ability to take money out of the country, he said, a view that runs counter to suggestions that China needs to relax capital controls.

Robert Mundell, Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics, said China should learn lessons from Japan's experience. The yen's value tripled from 1985 to 1995, leading to a deflation that plagued the country for 15 years.

"Five percent a year will not be a great damage to Chinese economy, but be aware of the effect of accelerating it," said Mundell.

A report compiled by the Institute of Urban Finance under the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) predicted the appreciation of the Chinese currency would accelerate.

The report published Wednesday on the China Securities Journal stated that a recent interest rate reduction in the United States had not hindered China's prudent monetary policy for the time being, but over the long run the influx of liquidity into the country would quicken and cause the yuan to further appreciate.

Cheng Siwei, vice chairman of the Standing committee of the National People's Congress, indicated that China should look at diversifying its $1.4 trillion in reserves into other stronger currencies

The Canadian dollar is hitting highs and has appreciated 27% in 2007 versus the US Dollar The Canadian dollar touched US$1.10.

In the middle of 2007, Canada had a GDP of C$1.53 trillion and a GDP growth rate of 2.3% per year Maintaining economic growth would put Canada at C$1.55 trillion at the end of 2007. This would convert to US$1.7 trillion for Canada's GDP.

The United States GDP will at US$14.1 trillion at the end of 2007. (look at the top of table 3 in the long web [page)

China's GDP at the end of 2007 is about 23.5 trillion yuan.

This is on track with my projection of China's economy passing the United States in size on an exchange rated basis.

China's overall is likely to pass the German economy on an exchange rated basis at the end of 2007 or very early in 2008. Any strong revaluation of the yuan with a strong appreciation could leapfrog China's economy past Japan in 2008 or 2009.

Brad Delong mentions that the primary risks to the global economy over the next two to three years is if China does not allow the Yuan to appreciate fast enough, which then results in a sharp unwinding in two to three years.

November 06, 2007

Electronic spin controlled with electric fields instead of magnetic

Researchers at the Delft University of Technology’s Kavli Institute of Nanoscience and the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) have succeeded in controlling the spin of a single electron merely by using electric fields. This clears the way for a much simpler realization of the building blocks of a (future) super-fast quantum computer.

An electron microscope photo of a nanostructure similar to that used in the experiment. The light-grey colors show the metal structure (made of gold) used to create an electric trap (white lines) for the electrons. A voltage (V) that changes with time is applied to the rightmost piece of metal. As a result, the electron, which is locked in the right trap, feels an electric field. This electric field causes the electron to move (white dotted line), so that the position of the electron changes with time. Credit: TU Delft

Spintronics - MRAM advancing to Gigabit capacity

Toshiba Corporation today announced important breakthroughs in key technologies for magnetoresistive random access memory (MRAM), a promising, next-generation semiconductor memory device.

Cell Structure. A material with perpendicular magnetic anisotropy, which is used for recording media and a type of cobalt-iron, is employed in the magnetic layer, with magnesium oxide in the insulating layer and cobalt-iron-boron in the interface layers. Credit: Toshiba

Toshiba applied and proved the spin transfer switching and perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA) technologies in a magnetic tunnel junction, which is a key component in the memory cell.

Spin transfer switching uses the properties of electron spin to invert magnetization and writes data at very low power levels. It is widely regarded as a major candidate among next-generation principles for new memory devices. PMA aligns magnetization in the magnetic layer perpendicularly, either upward or downward, rather than horizontally as in in-plane shape anisotropy layers.

The technology is being increasingly used to enhance for storage capacity for high-density hard disc drives (HDDs), and Toshiba has successfully applied it to a semiconductor memory device. With PMA data write operation and magnetic switching can be achieved at a low energy level. Toshiba also overcame the hurdle of achieving the required precision in the interface process and significantly cutting write power consumption.

In order to realize a miniature memory cell based on PMA, Toshiba optimized the materials and device structure of the new MRAM.

Submarine acoustic invisibility

Submarines could be made less visible to sonar using metamaterials There are still many challenges to overcome including the variability of the surrounding water and enabling lack of sonar reflection from more than one direction (ie another submarine at the same depth unable to detect but one above or below could)

November 05, 2007

Two proposals for mining the Ocean for $720 trillion worth of Uranium

The Japanese have been refining the processes for extracting Uranium from seawater for decades. The japanese have extracted 1 kg of uranium from seawater.

DIGG This article

If 2g-U/kg-adsorbent is submerged for 60 days at a time and used 6 times, the uranium cost is calculated to be 88,000 yen/kg-U, including the cost of adsorbent production, uranium collection, and uranium purification. When 6g-U/kg-adsorbent and 20 repetitions or more becomes possible, the uranium cost reduces to 15,000 yen. This price level is equivalent to that of the highest cost of the minable uranium. The lowest cost attainable now (2006) is 25,000 yen with 4g-U/kg-adsorbent used in the sea area of Okinawa, with 18 repetitionuses.

This is about $220 per kg (114 yen to 1 US Dollar in 2007) The price of Uranium is currently in the $150-190/kg range.

The japanese process is to use irradiated polymers and stick a braided net of it into the ocean and basically "fish" for 30-90 days for Uranium.

There is 4 to 4.6 billion tons of Uranium in seawater. At the $160/kg price, this would be equal to $720 trillion for 4.5 billion tons.

Here is some more detail on the preparation of the polymer

I would propose two ways that should be investigated to radically reduce the cost of removing metals from the ocean and for increasing to very large volumes.

1. Functionalize an algae bloom to concentrate Uranium
See the work of Matt Francis at Berkeley for functionalizing virus shells and microbes for anti-cancer or for solar power. Many others are trying to engineer microbes using synthetic biology.

The goal would be to increase the concentration of Uranium from 3 parts per billion to 300 parts per million. The higher concentration allows regular methods of Uranium mining to take over. It is an increase of 100,000 times.

Scoop up the algae that concentrated the uranium and process it.

There may be a need to cross the algae with extremophiles to toughen them up or there may be a need to pick another starting microbe.

Algae blooms can be very large. 60 kilometers in size and extend 12-15 meters or more below the surface

2. Nanomembrane Filtering
Nanomembrane filtering is starting to be used for desalinization of water at 100,000 gallons per day using a 6 inch diameter membrane.
If one could filter 1 billion gallons per day then there would be $1.92 million/day worth of Uranium. (3 mg per ton of water. 1 billion gallons is 4 million tons. 12,000 kg of Uranium in 1 billion gallons) Ten thousand of the 6 inch diameter nanomembrane enabled filtration pipes would be needed.

There are other rare metals in seawater. Lithium seems like a valuable target. Its price is in the $80/kg range and there is concern about having enough Lithium for lithium ion batteries. There is 56 times as much Lithium as Uranium in seawater. At $80/kg it would be a $14,000 trillion resource.

Vandium costs about $6-8 per pound

Article in Foresight in 2006 on Gayle Pergamit and the Aqua Via company

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