May 10, 2008

You say inVitro meat, yuck. But eat deep fried meat slurry, corn and chemicals. Called chicken nuggets

I had previously covered the PETA $1 million prize for invitro (test tube / factory meat from stem cells) meat. PETA prize for chicken meat that can pass a fried chicken taste test and be sold in ten states commercially

Many people have an initial reaction that invitro meat would be yucky and they do not want it. However, people already eat meat slurry in fairly large quantities.

Meat slurry is mechanically separated meat (MSM), also known as mechanically recovered/reclaimed meat (MRM), is a paste-like meat product produced by forcing beef, pork or chicken bones, with attached edible meat, under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue. Then this is mixed with water to make it more easily fed through tubes.

From Wikipedia: Meat slurry is part of chicken nuggets (like at McDonalds) The meat part is mainly reconstituted meat slurry. Then there is chicken skin. Most of a chicken nugget (56%) is corn.

From Wikipedia:
A meat slurry, reconstituted meat, or emulsified meat, is a liquefied meat product that contains fewer fats, pigments and less myoglobin than unprocessed dark meats. Meat slurry also eases the process of meat distribution and is more malleable than dark meats.

UPDATE: Why would invitro meat not be so bad ? I would eat both invitro meat or chicken nuggets in spite of how their production could be viewed negatively. Invitro meat will be the same as regular meat at the cellular level. Producing stem cells and differentiating them is leading to transplantable livers and other organs. Therefore, the meat that it produces for us to eat will be like the real thing. It should be 4-20 times more energy efficient to produce than beef from a cow. It will not be sold until it is more cost efficient to produce for a particular type of meat.
NOTE: I had fairly quickly put this article together and was sloppy in my cut and paste although I had links to all of my multiple references. So the parts with the specific descriptions of meat slurry is not and was not claimed to be original. What was original was pointing out the meat slurry, chicken nugget, and invitro meat yuck factor connection.

Meat slurry is not designed to sell for general consumption; rather, it is used as a meat supplement in food products for humans, such as chicken nuggets, and food for domestic animals. Poultry is the most common meat slurry; however, beef and pork are also used.

Some other Poultry science, turning dark meat into white meat

So people can say yuck - invitro meat.
But deep fry it and call them improved McNuggets and they eat billions.

4.8 Billion Chicken McNuggets are sold annually.

What is in a McDonald's chicken Nugget ?

McDonald’s Chicken McNugget is 56% corn.

NOTE: It was a yahoo answer below that I was particularly sloppy with which had the citation issues as the yahoo anwer was pieced together from .

From Yahoo answers:
Chicken nuggets are often made using a high proportion of chicken skin. This is because without the skin the consistency would not be sticky enough for the nuggets to hold together. Food labeling law dictates that skin used to make the nugget need not be distinguished from the muscle consumers normally think of when they hear the word "meat". The remainder of the nugget is most likely to be made up of mechanically separated meat, with some processing additives such as anti-foaming agents (usually polydimethylsiloxane). The meat of the nugget may also be composed of reconstituted meat slurry.

Other coverage on work towards invitro meat

Test tube meat work


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May 09, 2008

Tracking progress to controlling light, life and matter

About two years ago, I was speculating about the never ending but rapidly progressing process of humanity gaining control (mastery) of information, light, energy, magnetism, and matter. (ILEMM control) I would also add another L for life referring to synthetic life, genomic, protenomics, epigenomics and control of stem cells and other cells. So ILLEMM control. Although life could be considered a mix of information, matter and energy. I believe that the advance in knowledge and the way that these gains are interacting is profound. It is the accelerating technology discussed by Kurzweil. However, I think it is possible to make projections as to where this progress will lead in a more detailed way.

I believe that superconductors and progress to room temperature superconductors is moving faster than I had believed. Having whole new families of superconducting material edges and having the tools to analyze effects at the nanoscale in size and at smaller slices of time [more powerful femtosecond lasers and optical clocks with accuracy to 10**-16 and 10*-17 seconds.. More on the improving accuracy of clocks.]

The improving tools for analysis and the increasing number of examples to be studied appears to be leading to an actual understanding of the true nature of the superconducting effect. There has also been the uncovering of an entirely new effect "superinsulation" which is the opposite of superconductance

There has been the resist confirmation and physical realization of a new basic circuit element, the memristor. This new element is added to the other three the resistor, capacitor and inductor as the fourth fundamental circuit element.

New states of matter are being discovered as frequently as when the periodic table of chemicals was being expanded a few decades ago.

Radically new things are being done with sound to create hypersound and acoustic lasers.

I will be adding other highlights major highlights to this article.

Peizoresistance effect that is ten times larger than in the past at room temperature for better motion detectors.

Quantum dot based quantum logic gate proven possible

engineers and physicists from Stanford and the University of California at Santa Barbara demonstrate a potential progenitor of an essential component of quantum computers, "a logic gate" that enables interaction between just two particles of light.

"We have demonstrated a system composed of a single quantum dot in a cavity that can be used to realize such a gate, and we demonstrated that two photons can be made to interact with each other via this system," says Stanford applied physics doctoral student Ilya Fushman, a lead author on the paper along with two other doctoral students from the Vuckovic group, Dirk Englund and Andrei Faraon. "So we showed that such a gate is possible and demonstrated the first necessary steps in that direction."

The team has demonstrated that when the two photons are identical, a phase shift of 12.6 degrees is achieved. This is only a fraction of the 180-degree rotation required to make a full logic gate, Vuckovic says, but by combining several of the devices in a row, her team expects to attain the needed effect. Also, when the signal and control photons are allowed to differ, the phase shifts can be up to 45 degrees.

Other challenges include eliminating manufacturing imperfections and reliably placing the quantum dots right where they need to be within the crystals, but the team is optimistic.

"We are hopeful that these engineering challenges can be overcome to open the path to chip-based high-fidelity quantum logic with photons," Vuckovic says

Carnival of Space Week 53

May 08, 2008

Berkeley Labs and Tensilica working on energy efficient supercomputers

Berkeley Lab has signed a collaboration agreement with Tensilica®, Inc. to explore the use of Tensilica’s Xtensa processor cores as the basic building blocks in a massively parallel system design. Tensilica’s Xtensa processor is about 400 times more efficient in floating point operations per watt than the conventional server processor chip shown here and is far smaller than a regular chip as shown above.

Here is an update on Berkeley Lab's Computational research division development of Tensilica configurable processor based supercomputers

Nextbigfuture had previously covered a plan and research paper analysis to use Tensilica configurable processors to make petaflop and exaflop supercomputers that were far more affordable and energy efficient.

Wehner, Oliker and Shalf, along with researchers from UC Berkeley, are working with scientists from Colorado State University to build a prototype system in order to run a new global atmospheric model developed at Colorado State.

They conclude that a supercomputer using about 20 million embedded microprocessors would deliver the results and cost $75 million to construct. This “climate computer” would consume less than 4 megawatts of power and achieve a peak performance of 200 petaflops. They have shown for the exascale computing regime, it makes more sense to target machine design for specific applications [at this time]. It is currently impractical from a cost and power perspective to build general-purpose machines like today’s supercomputers.

Under the agreement with Tensilica, the team will use Tensilica’s Xtensa LX extensible processor cores as the basic building blocks in a massively parallel system design. Each processor will dissipate a few hundred milliwatts of power, yet deliver billions of floating point operations per second and be programmable using standard programming languages and tools. This equates to an order-of-magnitude improvement in floating point operations per watt, compared to conventional desktop and server processor chips. The small size and low power of these processors allows tight integration at the chip, board and rack level and scaling to millions of processors within a power budget of a few megawatts.

May 07, 2008

Iron and arsenic superconductors could be path to room temperature superconductors

Previously nextbigfuture has discussed the new family of superconducting materials based on iron and arsenic compounds

The Christian Science Monitor indicates some experts say they've seen hints suggesting that these new materials should post impressive magnetic-field numbers soon. The iron in these new superconductors could allow some applications such as wires and electronics and more efficient engines to be developed more easily if they can carry higher current, have stronger magnetic fields or if the material is tougher and more robust than the cuprate superconductors.

New experiments at Cornell have verified a theory that variations in the distance between atoms in cuprate superconductors account for differences in the temperature at which the material begins to superconduct. A better understanding of the process could lead to superconductors that work at higher temperatures. Within most cuprate crystals, the copper and oxygen atoms are arranged in pyramids, with an oxygen atom at the apex. Theorists have proposed that superconductivity can be modified when dopants alter the crystal structure and push this apex-atom down or sideways, changing the way its electrons interact with those in the atoms in the pyramid base. The researchers also verified that electron pairing is more likely in the vicinity of dopant atoms, at completely random locations in the crystal. Both effects are taking place at the same time, Davis said, and both result from the squeezing of the copper-oxide pyramid.

Cuprate crystals consist of layers of copper oxide interleaved with layers of other atoms. Copper and oxygen atoms usually form a pyramid with the oxygen atom at the apex located in an adjacent layer. Cornell research now shows that other atoms pushing that oxygen out of position creates superconductivity.

The biggest spurt in work on the new superconductors has come from China. Among other things, it has the laboratory labor force that can systematically look at ingredients with properties similar to those in the original recipe and try them out. China and Japan both place high priority on such work because they realize that new materials tend to translate into new technologies, says George Crabtree, a researcher at the Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago.

A research paper: Multiband magnetism and superconductivity in Fe-based compounds by
Vladimir Cvetkovic and Zlatko Tesanovic, Department of Physics & Astronomy, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
have constructed a simplified tightbinding
model which they believe qualitatively describes the physics of FeAs layers in Fe-based superconductors. The researchers indicate that the recent discovery of high Tc superconductivity in Fe-based compounds has reignited interest in different pathways to the room temperature superconductivity. The iron arsenic superconductors could be showing exciton-assisted superconductivity, long-anticipated but never unambiguously observed.

They evaluate analytically the elementary particle-hole response in charge, spin and multiband channels and use the results to discuss various features of the SDW/AF
order and superconductivity. They stress the importance of puckering of As atoms in promoting d-electron itinerancy and argue that high Tc of Fe-based superconductors
might be essentially tied to the multiband character of their Fermi surface. It is tempting to speculate that different Tc’s obtained for different rare-earth substitutions might be related to the different degree of puckering in FeAs layers.

Nanoworms for finding and treating cancer tumors

Segmented "nanoworms" composed of magnetic iron oxide and coated with a polymer are able to find and attach to tumors. Scientists at UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and MIT have developed nanometer-sized “nanoworms” that can cruise through the bloodstream without significant interference from the body’s immune defense system and—like tiny anti-cancer missiles—home in on tumors. They are superparamagnetic and show up very well on MRIs and can circulate in the body for hours since they do not trigger the immune system. Researchers are developing chemical attachments that will help to reach specific targets in the body and adding drugs that would be released when targets are reached.

Using nanoworms, doctors should eventually be able to target and reveal the location of developing tumors that are too small to detect by conventional methods. Carrying payloads targeted to specific features on tumors, these microscopic vehicles could also one day provide the means to more effectively deliver toxic anti-cancer drugs to these tumors in high concentrations without negatively impacting other parts of the body.

“Most nanoparticles are recognized by the body's protective mechanisms, which capture and remove them from the bloodstream within a few minutes,” said Michael Sailor, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UC San Diego who headed the research team. “The reason these worms work so well is due to a combination of their shape and to a polymer coating on their surfaces that allows the nanoworms to evade these natural elimination processes. As a result, our nanoworms can circulate in the body of a mouse for many hours.”

The scientists constructed their nanoworms from spherical iron oxide nanoparticles that join together, like segments of an earthworm, to produce tiny gummy worm-like structures about 30 nanometers long—or about 3 million times smaller than an earthworm. Their iron-oxide composition allows the nanoworms to show up brightly in diagnostic devices, specifically the MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, machines that are used to find tumors.

“The iron oxide used in the nanoworms has a property of superparamagnetism, which makes them show up very brightly in MRI,” said Sailor. “The magnetism of the individual iron oxide segments, typically eight per nanoworm, combine to provide a much larger signal than can be observed if the segments are separated. This translates to a better ability to see smaller tumors, hopefully enabling physicians to make their diagnosis of cancer at earlier stages of development.”

The researchers are now working on developing ways to attach drugs to the nanoworms and chemically treating their exteriors with specific chemical “zip codes,” that will allow them to be delivered to specific tumors, organs and other sites in the body.

“We are now using nanoworms to construct the next generation of smart tumor-targeting nanodevices,” said Ruoslahti. We hope that these devices will improve the diagnostic imaging of cancer and allow pinpoint targeting of treatments into cancerous tumors.”

New Laser increases sensitivity of Earthlike planet search up to 100 times

Scientists at the University of Konstanz in Germany and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated an ultrafast laser that offers a record combination of high speed, short pulses and high average power. [about 100 times faster and more powerful] The same NIST group also has shown that this type of laser, when used as a frequency comb—an ultraprecise technique for measuring different colors of light—could boost the sensitivity of astronomical tools searching for other Earthlike planets as much as 100 fold.

Among its applications, the new laser can be used in searches for planets orbiting distant stars. Other possible applications of the new laser include remote sensing of gases for medical or atmospheric studies, and on-the-fly precision control of high-speed optical communications to provide greater versatility in data and time transmissions.

Astronomers look for slight variations in the colors of starlight over time as clues to the presence of a planet orbiting the star. The variations are due to the small wobbles induced in the star’s motion as the orbiting planet tugs it back and forth, producing minute shifts in the apparent color (frequency) of the starlight. Currently, astronomers’ instruments are calibrated with frequency standards that are limited in spectral coverage and stability. Frequency combs could be more accurate calibration tools, helping to pinpoint even smaller variations in starlight caused by tiny Earthlike planets. Such small planets would cause color shifts equivalent to a star wobble of just a few centimeters per second. Current instruments can detect, at best, a wobble of about 1 meter per second.

Standard frequency combs have “teeth” that are too finely spaced for astronomical instruments to read. The faster laser is one approach to solving this problem. In a separate paper,** the NIST group and astronomer Steve Osterman at the University of Colorado at Boulder describe how, by bouncing the light between sets of mirrors a particular distance apart, they can eliminate periodic blocks of teeth to create a gap-toothed comb. This leaves only every 10th or 20th tooth, making an ideal ruler for astronomy.

Both approaches have advantages for astronomical planet finding and related applications. The dime-sized laser is very simple in construction and produces powerful and extremely well-defined comb teeth. On the other hand, the filtering approach can cover a broader range of wavelengths. Four or five filtering cavities in parallel would provide a high-precision comb of about 25,000 evenly spaced teeth that spans the visible to near-infrared wavelengths (400 to 1100 nanometers), NIST physicist Scott Diddams says.

Osterman says he is pursuing the possibility of testing such a frequency comb at a ground-based telescope or launching a comb on a satellite or other space mission.

May 06, 2008

United States and Russia moving forward on a civilian nuclear agreement

Russia and the United States have signed a civilian nuclear agreement which still has to pass the US House, Senate and the Russian parliament. In other nuclear news, there is progress on unblocking supply chain bottlenecks for building more nuclear reactors.

The U.S. is especially interested in developments in areas including fast-neutron reactors and recycling nuclear fuel. The Russians have one operating fast-neutron reactor (BN-600, since the 1980's) and are completing a second BN-800.

The deal could also help Russia in its efforts to establish an international nuclear fuel storage facility by importing and storing spent fuel. It cannot achieve that goal without signing the deal, since the U.S. controls the vast majority of the world's nuclear fuel.

The fuel storage plans have caused outrage among environmentalists and ordinary Russians, who fear that such a project would turn the country into the world's nuclear dump. Russian officials would have to overcome those objections to go ahead with the plans.

Kiriyenko, meanwhile, insisted that the deal does not mean Russia would be importing nuclear fuel: "Russia is not importing and will not import nuclear fuel," he said.

Background on nuclear issues in regards to Russia

National Academy of Sciences (300+ page 2005 report) An International Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility -- Exploring a Russian Site as a Prototype: Proceedings of an International Workshop

Toronto Star discusses the steel forgings needed for nuclear reactors: France's Areva NP and U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC are closely monitoring the forgings bottleneck and working quickly to ease the crunch.

Armand Laferrere, president of Areva Canada Ltd., said its parent company purchased France's Sfarsteel in 2006 to give it more control.

"This gave us in-house capacity for forgings manufacturing," said Laferrere. "We are still dependent on Japan Steel for one forging per reactor but can manufacture all others."

Westinghouse appears most dependent on Japan Steel. It needs 23 forgings in total for each of its next-generation reactors.

"Of these, we believe 10 to 15 could be purchased from suppliers other than JSW," said spokesperson Gilbert Vaughn. "We are currently evaluating potential suppliers for these forgings."

There's also hope that market forces will ease the supply-demand crunch.

Other makers of large forgings, including South Korean's Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co. and Japan Casting & Forgings Corp., are spending big to expand their capacity.

"Doosan will have the capability to make all of (our required) 23 forgings in late 2009 or 2010," said Vaughn.

China First Heavy Industries Company Ltd. recently said it is investing $2.3 billion to increase its capacity to supply 600 tonne ingots for ultra-large forgings.

Even the British are getting into the game. Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd. said last month it will seeking financing to build a massive press for ultra-large forging – by 2011 it is hoped.

Peter Birtles, group director of Sheffield, told industry publication Nucleonics Week that the potential ultra-large forgings shortfall is "so enormous" that many are rushing to bridge the gap.

But it won't happen overnight. The question is whether the provincial government will put its faith in the market by choosing Areva or Westinghouse.

Or, alternatively, will it give AECL another shot in Ontario and avoid a bottleneck that could cause major delays on a project in which being on time is perhaps more critical than being on budget.

Bloomberg news also has coverage of the steel forging market.

Each year the Tokyo-based company can turn out just four of the steel forgings that contain the radioactivity in a nuclear reactor. Even after it doubles capacity in the next two years, there won't be enough production to meet building plans. Japan Steel caters to all nuclear reactor makers except in Russia, which makes its own heavy forgings. Plus Canada's CANDU reactor do not need these forgings. Areva, the world's biggest reactor builder, is considering modifying its newest design to be able to make the central reactor-vessel part from a 350-ton ingot instead of more than 500 tons as required today. Another alternative is to turn back the technological clock and weld together two smaller forgings, said John Fees, CEO of McDermott International Inc.'s Babcock & Wilcox Co., which built the Three Mile Island reactor. That technique was used over the past 40 years in the U.S. and France and is still applied in China.

Canada's Atomic Energy company couldn't find a Canadian manufacturer that could produce such large forgings, so they came up with an entirely different design that uses hundreds of six-metre long pressure tubes, each holding 13 fuel bundles that run horizontally through the reactor core.

Not only are the pressure tubes easier to make, they already come from more than one supplier, said Coffin. Candu reactors do need large forgings for steam generators, but they don't have to be as thick and there are other steel makers that can supply them. Japan Steel, for example, is currently equipped to supply only five reactor forging sets each year, with each set including an ultra-large forging. These forged parts, made from steel ingots weighing up to 600 tonnes, – equivalent to 100 African elephants – have 30-centimetre-thick steel walls able to withstand the immense pressures inside a nuclear reactor's core. Adding more uncertainty is the fact Japan Steel also makes large forgings for industrial components in petrochemical plants and fossil-fuelled power plants, so its attention is divided.

May 05, 2008

Inertial Confinement Fusion update

At the end of this lengthy MSNBC article is some information about the Bussard fusion process where researchers are building a new demonstration system WB7

One interesting point is that the University of Wisconsin has 100 people and about 10 million in budget per year that is devoted inertial confinement fusion. They are obviously aware of the Bussard approach. It would seem obvious that they would try to adjust their own setups to try to achieve the potentially greater efficiency. Also, if the EMC2 fusion [bussard team] achieves success than the university of Wisconsin fusion department should be immediately trying to replicate and build on the work.

H/T Power and control

Currently, the most promising path toward electrostatic fusion runs through Santa Fe, N.M., where a team at EMC2 Fusion Development Corp. is currently trying to validate Bussard's results. The team's leader, Richard Nebel, told me this week that it's still too early to gauge how promising the Bussard fusion device could be.

"We're getting high-power plasma," he said. "We don't have answers ... [but] we're far enough along that we know we're going to get answers."

"We're losing our lead to other countries in the world," Gerald Kulcinski, director of the Fusion Technology Institute at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

ITER's path to fusion isn't the only one [and EMC2 is not the only one working on inertial confinement fusion]: For more than three decades, the University of Wisconsin's institute has focused its research not only on magnetic containment, but also on the other two "legs" of fusion research: laser-powered inertial confinement, which is to be developed in the United States at the National Ignition Facility; and inertial electrostatic fusion, which has been in the news recently due to the work of the late physicist/engineer Robert Bussard.

The institute is funded to the tune of about $15 million a year, with 150 people working on fusion, Kulcinski said. Inertial confinement fusion currently accounts for about two-thirds of the technology development work being done at the institute.

If Kulcinski had to pick a favorite in the decades-long fusion marathon, it might well be the dark horse in the race: electrostatic fusion, which involves packing ions densely within a negatively charged grid or a cloud of electrons. He and his colleagues have been experimenting with electrostatic grid reactors for years.

"We're not even close to break-even," Kulcinski said. But the devices do produce enough high-energy protons to create short-lived radioisotopes for medical applications.

Kulcinski foresees a day when every hospital could have its own little fusion reactor churning out oxygen-15 and other isotopes for diagnostic purposes. (Right now they're created in cyclotrons.)

He said fusion devices could also be used to detect hidden nuclear weapons and buried explosive devices. They could even disable nuclear weapons. "We probably shouldn't discuss that, but there are ways," he said.

The real promise of the electrostatic devices, at least the way Kulcinski sees it, is that the electrostatic devices can be used for fusion reactions using helium-3. His group has been experimenting with a deuterium-helium-3 combination as well as with pure helium-3.

About 40 tons of helium-3 would produce all the electricity we use in the United States in 2008.

He sees electrostatic fusion reactors using helium-3 as the best long-term option. "We could put the thing right downtown," he said.

There is a new writeup[H/T again to Power and Control and IECfusiontech] by Tom Ligon which discusses the inertial confinement fusion work and theory of the Bussard fusion team.

Another online writeup is at Dailykos.

I have covered the Bussard IEC fusions potential before

And I have been following its development closely

This has the potential to be a huge game changer for energy and technology in general.

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