November 01, 2008

Whole Body Muscle Gene Therapy Progress

Researchers have successfully found not only a delivery method for gene therapy that can reach every muscle of the body in a large animal model, but a therapy that will work on both skeletal muscle, the type found in arms and legs, and cardiac muscle, such as the heart. Dongsheng Duan's team of University of Missouri researchers has now proven that this delivery system will reach every
muscle in larger animals, such as dogs. In 2004, successful gene therapy delivery was developed for mice. There are still some years to go for humans.

Besides curing diseases like muscular dystrophy which effects hundreds of thousands of people, this is a step towards whole body transgenic muscle gene therapy for humans. A transgenic animal is one that carries a foreign gene that has been deliberately inserted into its genome. (Usually from another animal.)

Cheetah speed, Gorilla Strength, Sled Dog Endurance
DARPA is also spending 3 billion to enhance strength and endurance. So endurance enhancements combined with the muscle speed enhancements could allow sprinting for an entire mile run. This would mean 80 seconds to run one mile. 1 minute and 20 seconds. It could also mean about 40 minutes to run a marathon.

Chimpanzees have been estimated to possess five times human strength and gorillas supposedly have 10 times human strength.

Some gorilla's are believed to be able to lift 2 tons and can tear up trees.

Whole body muscle gene therapy could create the ultimate in human running speed and strength.

A muscular dystrophy patient should be able to maintain a normal lifestyle if only 50 percent of the cells of the heart are healthy.

Type rest of the post here

Interview with Faysal Sohail, Managing Director of CMEA Ventures on Robotics

Faysal Sohail of CMEA Ventures believes recent technological breakthroughs have made service robotics viable for domestic application, especially in the areas of home security, vision and sensory robotics, elder care, and lawn care.

CEMA Ventures has funded robotics and is looking for more robotics related investments:
* Funding companies like Evolution Robotics and WowWee who are providing technologies and services that literally bring products to life and to market

WowWee is most famous for its toy Robosapien. They have many more toys and devices. (flying robots, mobile webcam, robopets and much more)

* Rovio, by WowWee, has a WiFi enabled mobile webcam that can see, speak and hear from anywhere in the world

Interview with Faysal Sohail

This site had a phone interview with Faysal Sohail, managing director of CMEA Ventures. This conversion with Faysal Sohail concentrated upon his view of the current opportunities in robotics and the future of robotics.

Faysal Sohail joined CMEA Ventures in 2002 as a Managing Director. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Applied Wave Research, Catalytic, Inovys Corporation, Pyxis Technology, Symwave, and Telsima; and Faysal previously served on the board of Alien Technology. Mr. Sohail brings with him more than a decade of senior executive experience in engineering, marketing and business development. He was CEO of Cadabra Design Automation and managed its acquisition by Numerical Technologies (NMTC) where he served as Sr. Vice President of Worldwide Field Operations. Prior to Numerical Technologies, Faysal was Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy for Synopsys Inc. (SNPS). In 1990, he co-founded Silicon Architects, which was acquired by Synopsys in 1995. Earlier in his career, Faysal spent several years in IC design engineering and marketing positions with Actel Corporation (ACTL) and LSI Logic Corporation (LSI).

- Robots have finally reached the critical level for mass consumer and industrial commercialization
- Robots are not a large market yet, but fundamental technology is approaching vital price points with necessary functionality
- Robotics is enabled by lower cost of computing, wireless networks, autonomous navigation, local sensors and components that are cheap and reliable
- The key price points are $50-500 per unit with a sweet spot of $100-300 per unit
- Rovio is combining 3G cellphone control, wifi and Northstar navigation

- Rovio may open up its API for third parties to develop applications
- Hospital delivery is an opportunity. Nurses walk 5-6 kilometers a day to deliver medication. This is a repetitive task done in a controlled multi-room environment.
- Other tasks need to be identified that are highly repetitive, in controlled environments which can enable savings in time and money
- Target areas are offices, warehouses, elderly care, toys, home care and education

Evolution Robotics has Visual Pattern Recognition and Navigation Technology
Evolution Robotics develops superior visual pattern recognition and autonomous navigation technologies that can be easily integrated into robotic and intelligent devices. Evolution Robotics main product ERSP® is a software development platform designed to provide core infrastructure for robotic application development projects.

ER Search is a mobile search engine operated by Bandai Networks and powered by Evolution Robotics' ViPR visual pattern recognition system.

Some WowWee Products

WowWee has a range of flying robots from Tinker Bell to Dragonflies.

October 31, 2008

What Could be High Impact Radical World Changing Technology? It takes a lot to rock your world.

Many futurists and marketers have predicted that new technology ABC or some new process XYZ will radically change the world.

There are several reasons why change does not get created, change is incremental instead of radical, change is developed but turns out not to be low impact and people can often be poor judges of what really matters.

Functional High Impact
Impact also needs to consider what is being displaced. In communication, if I am replacing a land line telephone with a cellphone, this change is functional less than if I am using a personal land line to displace a telegraph service. This is less impact than a telegraph service enabling light speed communication over longer distances than smoke signals, naval flag signals or light signals.

Airplane package deliveries are high impact displacement of pony express and some clipper ship deliveries.

Incremental versus Radical
Most change is incremental. The functional improvement is actually not functionally that high over what was done before. The adoption of the new technology is low and takes decades to reach high market penetration.

Example: There is rapid manufacturing and prototyping now as a billion dollar industry. This is only a small niche part of the manufacturing industry.

People Try to Keep Everyday Life the Same
Even when radical change is possible and available people will use it in a way that keeps every day life the same

The internet could and is sometimes used to make people's life different. However, most people want to do what they have always functionally done but slightly better where it really makes an improvement.

For people to adopt something radically different, the change has to be worth the effort to change their daily routine. Where it is possible to do something close to what they have always done then they will. ie. If there is a choice where the Technology is integrated into the same old ways, instead of the old ways adjusted to the technology then integration with the old ways is what usually is chosen.

There was an article last year on "Why nothing really happens most of the time", which mostly focused on why change is often not created or takes far longer than expected.

1. A lot of money gets spent on an inferior plan that has no chance at really making a true difference.

Example: the space program versus commercial airplanes. If 3-20 people go to the moon or Mars over the course of decades, this could at most be an accomplishment for "humanity". The benefit or difference does not truly impact most people. Commercial airplanes are thirty thousand planes moving over two hundred million people each year. Over six million passengers every day.

2. No effort is really spent to develop something which could be radically world changing.

Those two relate to molecular nanotechnology. This technology was proposed decades ago and could enable radical technological change. In theory, billions of dollars a year are spent by governments on nanotechnology. However, most of the money went to buildings/facilities for nanotechnology and not on projects that could develop the technology. Plus what was called nanotechnology was often incremental chemistry that had no chance of creating radical change or enabling anything like the envisioned potentially radical technology.

High risk and truly high payoff research is not often funded.

Incremental Change is No Slouch
Life expectancy has been increasing at about 0.2 to 0.3 years every year in many countries (Japan, United States, most of Europe - the developed world). There has been some progress against certain types of cancer and 50+ years ago infectious diseases like polio and the measles were bigger killers.

In the early 1970s, Deng Xiaoping initiated economic reform in China which basically stopped over two hundred years of massive screw ups in China. This has enabled China to begin a return to world economic and technological leadership, which is a position that China had until not getting on board the industrial, economic and technological revolutions. People in China are experiencing fairly radical change.

The impact of China's rise is indirect to the lives of people in the developed world. There is technology which could significantly improve the lives of people in poor countries who have trouble getting clean water, have more trouble with some diseases and have deaths from pollution caused by burning coal indoors.

Discover magazine list of world change technology. A lot of it is for impacting poor people, which is very worthwhile but would not have high impact for people in the developed world. Like giving clean water for 1.2 billion people and saving a few million lives each year. If the people of Africa and parts of Asia had enough water and clean water and food and were healthier they could have more GDP growth over decades. It would be a key factor in enabling a "rise of the rest" and setting the stage for a possible repeat of China's rise over 50-150 years. However, corruption and other social problems can prevent and delay that from happening in those places even if basic needs could be better addressed.

Based on these Standards: Quick Technology Rundown

Really nice but not radical change to fabric of World civilization
Cure for cancer - not radically world changing
Before cancer was the leading cause of death, it was Polio or measles or something else. Curing cancer, life expectancy increases by about five years in the developed world. Cancer is many diseases. Lung cancer is made up diseases effective many metabolic pathways and dozens of genetically different diseases. Possibility for getting to almost zero deaths from cancer. Cheap biomarker and imaging tests for detecting cancers at an early stage which has very high survival rates. Secondarily to boost the immune system with a form of blood transfusion so that people can fight off cancer. This change would be radical for those who would have gotten fatal cancer or if a loved one would have died from cancer. By 2020, the expectation is 15 million new cases of cancer per year. 7 million people die of cancer each year.

In the USA in 2008 there will be 1,437,180 new cancer cases and 565,650 cancer deaths. Death rates from cancer in the United States have decreased by 18.4 percent among men and by 10.5 percent among women since mortality rates began to decline in the early 1990s. So if the next twelve years were to get the same improvement, it would be continued incremental improvement.

Electric Cars
Not world changing to your life - They are cars. One part of eventually making a clean environment over decades.

Solar cars
Not personally world changing, you just skip the fillup

You mean, I have a very large world map in my pocket?

Automatic cars
You mean like a taxi without the driver?

Nanofactories might not be world changing. They could be a super boost to the rapid prototyping and rapid manufacturing niche. Walmart and Costco could have machines for reducing the inventory that they need to stock.

There would likely still be economies of scale and mass production. Currently we have laser printers which allow short run quality productions of documents. However, there are still larger machines for printing newspapers, magazines and any long production runs. Economies of scale come not just from longer production runs but from the need for knowledge and operating a business model to justify mass production. Even if people had equivalent production technology there would still be only a few who had the high volume market. A large section of the masses can in theory make access the technology to make a high quality and popular movie (ala the Blair Witch Project). However, this is rare because of a shortage of talent. Also, those who succeed turn "professional". There becomes a farm system for amateurs to prove themselves and turn professional. More industries become like "American Idol". This is similar to the situation for bloggers.

Nuclear Fusion success would likely slowly reduce the cost of power. It would eventually eliminate the danger of global warming. Restrictions on growth over the long term would be eliminated. Space travel would be revolutionized over decades. Even if Bussard IEC Fusion was demonstrated as commercially net energy positive tomorrow, it would take decades to get space travel near the current state of commercial air travel, where it is impacting a lot of every day lives. Economic impact would be sooner with cheap energy and with access to space material resources.

Radical Life Extension from SENS or some other means. The potential exists for life extension by many decades and rejuvenation of older people. It would take decades to move successful treatments from the labs and mice to people and then to distribute the treatments on a large scale. Very promising success of this and other technologies would change the psychology and expectations that people have.

Artificial General Intelligence would need to have a successful breakthrough and the nature of high impact solutions that AGI could enable would need to also turn out to be radically accelerated. Solutions are being developed now and would continue to be developed. How generally applicable and how successfully it is applied is not known since it is not known how it could succeed. Current AI is successful with financial trading, but that only shifts around the dollars around different financial winners. Plus if AI was not available, other tricks would be used to gain advantage.

This site has posited a mundane singularity. However, many pieces and large segments of civilization have to come together to achieve it and the increase in economic growth could take many decades to bring about. Significant and broadly noticeable divergence from the status quo would take a long time. Getting started also takes time and effort and the right choices.

Amazing, if True
Highly controversial technologies that most people think are impossible.

Blacklight Power could have a big impact on the cost of energy and provide clean energy.

What if Blacklight power works in 2009?

EMdrive if successful would transform transportation and open up space travel and enable cloud cities.

Potentials but probably still take many years for Adoption
Enable Regeneration and synthetic organs, spinal and nerve damage repairs, along with improved medical assistance for better wound closure and treatment.

For US solder in Iraq: There is powder for near instant wound closure. There is thin "saran wrap like" film that holds in guts of the disemboweled, so that they live if they get to field hospital. Darpa has funded some promising work to enable humans to regenerate limbs and organs like salamanders (regrowth would be over a few months).

Change: Basically when those were widely available, if some accident or violence does not kill you instantly, the situation can be such that you survive and fully recover without impairment within 6-12 months.

Difference with new cancer treatment: Lives saved could be higher with cancer treatment but incremental on cancer treatment is 1-6% fewer deaths per year. Enabling human regeneration would replace no regeneration (other than wound closure and tips of fingers). We are already in a world of progress against cancer.

Obesity cure, safe steroids and Myostatin inhibitor - Rev up or switch metabolism where you do not eat for many days or months and just burn fat. This would enable no fat people and safe steroids and myostatin inhibitors would enable people to safely become very muscular (30-80% more lean muscle mass). These would improve health and change the appearance of yourself and people you meet every day. Truly effective, fool-proof obesity cures would in some ways be similar to China getting back on track. It would be a reversal of a series of screw ups. In China's case reversing bad economic and social policy and for obesity correcting societies collective increase in weight from widespread bad eating habits like fast food and corn syrup processed food.

Molecular nanotechnology enabled nanomedicine for genetic and cell repair.
This would change the world. It would take likely take 15-40 years to make it work properly (need to have work out the science of repair and the regulatory issues). It would be a slow process.

If anyone has other possibilities or disagrees with these assessments then please provide comments.

October 30, 2008

Singularity Summit: Human Brain Emulation and Brain Emulation Roadmap

Dharmendra S Modha's, IBM Almaden, talk on his brain emulation project was one of the highlights of the 2008 Singularity Summit. The Brain Emulation Roadmap was not presented at the Singularity Summit but was recently published online and relates to the brain emulation work.

IBM's brain emulation project is able to carry out rat-scale simulations with 55 million neurons and 440 billion synapses in near real-time on 32,768 processor BlueGene/L machine.

The rat-scale model (55 million neurons, 442 billion synapses) is about 3.5 times bigger than our previous work on mouse-scale model (16 million neurons, 128 billion synapses) and eight times bigger than (almost) half-mouse-scale models (8 million neurons, 50 million synapses).

The essence of an efficient cortical simulator, C2, is as follows:

1. For every neuron:
a. For every clock step (say 1 ms):
i. Update the state of each neuron
ii. If the neuron fires, generate an event for each synapse that
the neuron is post-synaptic to and pre-synaptic to.
2. For every synapse:
When it receives a pre- or post-synaptic event,
update its state and, if necessary, the state of the post-synaptic neuron.

Our focus is on simulating only those details that lead us towards insights into brain's high-level computational principles. Elucidation of such high-level principles will lead, we hope, to novel cognitive systems, computing architectures, programming paradigms, and numerous practical applications.

The human cortex has about 22 billion neurons which is roughly a factor of 400 larger than our rat-scale model which has 55 million neurons. We used a BlueGene/L with 92 TF and 8 TB to carry out rat-scale simulations in near real-time [one tenth speed]. So, by naïve extrapolation, one would require at least a machine with a computation capacity of 36.8 PF and a memory capacity of 3.2 PB. Furthermore, assuming that there are 8,000 synapses per neuron, that neurons fire at an average rate of 1 Hz, and that each spike message can be communicated in, say, 66 Bytes. One would need an aggregate communication bandwidth of ~ 2 PBps.

Scaling the synapses from rat brain to human brain is main driver in the computer power needed for brain emulation. There are petaflop supercomputers now so if such a system were dedicated to brain emulation a system ten times larger than the rat brain could be simulated.

Anders Sandberg and Nick Bostrom have released a 130 page human brain emulation technology development roadmap.

There are levels of brain emulation and it appears that the IBM work is a level 4 brain emulation.

An informal poll among workshop attendees produced a range of estimates where the required resolution for Whole Brain Emulation (WBE) is. The consensus appeared to be level 4‐6. Two participants were more optimistic about high level models, while two suggested that elements on level 8‐9 may be necessary at least initially (but that the bulk of mature emulation, once the basics were understood, could occur on level 4‐5). To achieve emulation on this level, the consensus was that 5×5×50 nm scanning resolution would be needed. This roadmap will hence focus on level 4‐6 models, while being open for that deeper levels may turn out to be needed.

IEC Fusion has minimal Funding, Major funding decision still pending

The Navy is soliciting bids for follow up experiments with Bussard inertial electrostatic fusion. [H/T IEC fusion tech

The Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division, China Lake, CA intends to procure on an other than full and open competition basis a service to provide: 1) Research of Electrostatic "Wiffle Ball" Fusion Device. The contractor is to specifically investigate the required instrumentation to achieve spatially resolved plasma densities and spatially resolved particle energies. This requirement is sole sourced to Energy Matter Conversion Corporation, 1202 Parkway Drive, Suite A, Santa Fe, NM 87501, as the only company in the world investigating and developing this type of device. Any firms believing that they can provide this service may submit a written response to be received at the Contracting Office no later than 5 days after the date of publication of this notice. It must clearly show the firm's ability to be responsive without compromising the quality, accuracy or reliability of the service without causing programmatic hardship. All responsible sources may submit a quotation which shall be considered by the agency.

Discussion at Talk Polywell

From Tall Dave:
-- 1 contract from Sep for general Polywell research
-- 1 contract for ion guns
-- 1 contract for "instrumentation to achieve spatially resolved plasma densities and spatially resolved particle energies"

From Dr Nebel (Project Lead):
This is small, interim funding. It's called staying alive until they make a decision.

The Navy is also funding research on the ion gun for the IEC fusion device.

Successful development of IEC fusion would transform space travel and energy

There was speculation that the next IEC fusion experiments would be 100MW versions. This is not clear based on the procurement request.

Here is an introduction to the inertial electrostatic fusion concept.

Some controversy:

According to Todd Rider in his general critique of inertial-electrostatic confinement fusion systems, net energy production is not viable in IEC fusion for fuels other than D-T, D-D, and D-He3, and breakeven operation with any fuel except D-T is unlikely. The primary problem that he discusses is the thermalization of ions, allowing them to escape over the top of the electrostatic well more rapidly than they fuse. He considers his paper optimistic because he assumes that core degradation can be countered.

Nevins makes an argument similar to Rider's in [W.M. Nevins, Phys. Plasmas <2> (10), 3804 (October, 1995)], where he shows that the fusion gain (ratio of fusion power produced to the power required to maintain the non-equilibrium ion distribution function) is limited to 0.1 assuming that the device is fueled with a mixture of deuterium and tritium. A fusion gain of about 10 is required for net energy production.

From M. Simon:

Rider's chief criticism is related to the recirculating power required in a colliding beam machine: "In virtually all cases, this minimum recirculating power is substantially larger than the fusion power, so barring the discovery of methods of recirculating the power at exceedingly high efficiencies, reactors employing plasmas not in thermodynamic equilibrium will not be able to produce net power". This is a very valid criticism and is acknowledged by Robert Bussard. However, Bussard claims that the discovery of what he terms the Wiffle Ball effect and by circulating electrons escaping from the Wiffle ball at high efficiencies he can get the total electron circulation efficiency into the 99.999% to 99.9999% range, making machines of his proposed design viable for power production.

So Rider in his Masters thesis theoretically indicated that he did not believe the electrons could be contained in the IEC fusion designs. Robert Bussard believed and claimed experimental proof that he could and built a test machine which had results indicating success. The device shorted out. The recent work by Dr Nebel and his team replicated Robert Bussards work and their device runs like a clock and does not short out. Robert Bussard also had a PHD in physics. Bussard served as the Atomic Energy Commission assistant director of its controlled thermonuclear reaction division in the early 1970s, helping found the United States fusion program [basically one of key people in starting the US fusion program]. Bussard's worked on actual Tokomak and Riggatron and then for 17 years inertial electrostatic fusion experiments.

Other fusion researchers such as Rostoker and Monkhorst have disagreed with Rider and Nevins analyses. They claiming Rider and Nevins assumptions do not always apply, and proposing nonthermal schemes that they calculate can produce net power, and theorists at LANL have proposed [R.A. Nebel and D.C. Barnes, “The periodically oscillating plasma sphere,” Fusion Technology 38, 28 (1998).] a new electrostatic plasma equilibrium that should mitigate this problem. This concept, called Periodically Oscillating Plasma Sphere (POPS), has been confirmed experimentally[J. Park et al., “First experimental confirmation of periodically oscillating plasma sphere (POPS) oscillation,” submitted to Physical Review Letters]. POPS oscillation maintains equilibrium distribution of the ions at all times, which would eliminate any power loss due to Coulomb collisions, resulting in a net energy gain for fusion-power generation.

IEC fusion type devices currently work to generate fusion and generate billions of neutrons. The results of Dr Nebel's recently completed experiments are currently being studied for the last several months. A clearly negative result taht confirmed what Rider and other critics have said would seem likely to have been released right away and the matter dropped.

October 29, 2008

Avogadro Scale Computing : digging into Gernshenfeld's Presentation from the Singularity Summit

One of the major highlights of the Oct 25, 2008 Singularity summit was the presentation by Neil Gershenfeld, Director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms

One of the other highlights was on human brain emulation, which I have researched further here. The article below is on the work at MIT and other places for massively improved computers and computers elements that enable programmable matter.

The powerpoint that Gershenfeld used at the Singularity Summit was mostly the same as the one he used at the 2008 Avogadro-Scale Computing conference

The presentations made at the April Avagadro Scale Computing conference were the ones where Conformal Computing, Asynchronous and Analog Logic Automata, Fab-in-a-Box: Direct-Write Nanocircuits, and Scale-Free Architectures: Programming the Cloud-in-a-Can are presented in some of the best detail of any online sources.

Avagadro's number is 6 X 10**23 [6 billion trillion, 600 zetta-elements; 600 thousand exa-elements, 600 million peta-elements], which is the number of carbon 12 atoms in 12 grams of carbon 12.

Gershenfeld indicated that he is working towards a new paradigm where physical science is equal to computer science [programmable matter].

-low-level language: cellular microcode
programs represent physical resources

-high-level language: mathematical programming
equivalence of local and global dynamics

-operating system: coded construction
assembly of spatial computing structures

Conformal Computing


Rafe Furst has a quick rundown on the Singularity Summit. Here is his comment on Neil Gershenfeld.

The most mind blowing presentation was by Neil Gershenfeld. I already thought the Fab Lab was pretty cool. But the long term stuff he's working on is breathtaking. There's a duality between computing and physics. For example, we use physics to build computers that we then use to model physics. The duality is much more fundamental than that (e.g., the equivalence of thermodynamic entropy and Shannon entropy). They have discovered/created a programming paradigm called asynchronous logic automata (ALA: so new there's not a good reference on the Web; see also Conformal Computing: no good references on that either) that he says is based on fundamental phsycial properties. They can use ALA to PROGRAM MATTER. Such matter is made of identical cells that assemble themselves like proteins, based on the ALA instructions. He had some animations and it's unclear from my notes whether these were merely simulations or visualizations of something they'd actually built. My memory is that they were actual, but at a large scale. Neil said they should be able to get exponential scaling and they don't really rely on quantum effects. The bottom line was: 20 years to the Star Trek replicator. This is the number one thing on my list to keep track of now.

David Wood also has a summary of the Singularity Summit

There is no Zero Energy Future

The zero energy future does not exist. This kind of future is often seriously discussed at peak oil sites, where they say that after say one hundred years there will be no more oil and civilization will revert to a pre-oil status.

Biofuels are already here and can be scaled up. There is already over 1 million barrel per day of oil equivalent in ethanol and biodiesel. The world uses 86-88 million barrels per day of oil or oil equivalent liquids in 2008. [42 gallons in a barrel. 365 days. 15330 gallons/year is one barrel per day.]

The projection shown does not include miscanthus [elephant grass], algae, seaweed or other new biosources.

Unmodified miscanthus has been found to be 2.5 times more efficient than corn and switchgrass. 9.3% of cropland equivalent to grow Miscanthus to offset 20% of fuel. 23.25% to offset 50% of fuel. Genetic modifications can boost Miscanthus efficiency by 300%. Modified Miscanthus 8% of land to offset 50% of fuel.

The first algae biodiesel plant was started in April, 2008

The facility, located in Rio Hondo Texas, will produce an estimated 4.4 million gallons of algal oil and 110 million lbs. of biomass per year off a series of saltwater ponds spanning 1,100 acres.

There are dozens of companies pursuing the goal of large scale biodiesel from algae.

Bill Gates is one of the investors in Sapphire Energy, which will turn algae into biofuel.

Sapphire is working towards a 10,000-barrel-a-day algae-based oil facility [three-five years], and can now concentrate on production and engineering problems. Sapphire Energy, which is working on oil-producing algae, has now raised a total of $100 million.

Algae, fuel from waste, jatropha, seaweed and modified miscanthus should be pushed for biofuels.

National Renewable Energy lab discusses potential of algae biofuel
60 billion gallons per year [4 million barrels per day] of algae biofuel could be grown on 6 million acres.
Therefore, 30 million acres of land would produce 20 million barrels per day and displace current oil usage in the United states. About 3% of current farmland or less than 1.5% of total US land.

The USA has 2.264 billion acres of land and 930 million acres is farmland.

Large amounts of biofuel will also be produced from waste

Coskata is currently developing a 40,000-gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol demonstration facility in Madison, Pa. China could produce 50 billion gallons [over 3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day] of biofuel from forest and agricultural waste alone, enough to displace its current oil imports. Together with Colwich, Kan.-based ICM Inc., the company plans to have a United States-based commercial-scale plant producing between 50 MMgy to 100 MMgy of cellulosic ethanol by 2011.

Jatropha is a weed that can be turned in to biofuel and can be grown on wasteland.

Japan is pursuing genetically modified seaweed for large scale biofuel.

Uranium and deep burn nuclear power can extend nuclear supplies to tens of thousands of years [using one hundred times more than we use now] and up to 5 billion years at a higher usage rate than we currently have

India's plan for jatropha biofuel.

India's jatropha fuel plans

Biofuel at wikipedia

Biodiesel around the world at wikipedia

Biodiesel in Canada
Biofuel in western canada is currently wheat and corn. But Canola and other sources are scaling up.

Canada could also grow camelina (a weed similar to Jatropha)

Camelina has the ability to grow on marginal land, utilizing very little moisture, in cold states as far north as Montana and Canada. Camelina is also an excellent rotational crop and has been shown to enhance the yield of subsequent crops such as wheat by up to 15 percent.

Great Plains has contracted with several crushing partners in North America to produce over 10 million road miles of camelina biodiesel to date, and plans to boost production to 100 million gallons by the year 2012.

Productivity 100 gallons of camelina oil per acre. Canola yields 100 to 200 gallons per acre. Compared to about 30 gallons per acre from corn; 50 gallons from soybeans

Dominion Energy Services, LLC has broken ground for a $400-million integrated biodiesel and ethanol refinery in Innisfail, Alberta, Canada, it will consist of a combined 300 million gallon per year production facility (100 million gallon ethanol, a 100 million gallon canola crush facility and a 100 million gallon biodiesel) on commencement in the third quarter of 2008, and will use about 1 million tonnes of wheat and 900,000 tonnes of canola a year for raw residue.

Canadian Green Fuels Inc. last week announced plans to put up a new plant and upgrade its existing plant in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Proposed production capacity: 63.4 million gallons of biofuel products a year, and will run on energy it creates and is expected to produce biodiesel, biofuels, bio-oil, and bio-additives.

Canola biodiesel

October 28, 2008

EmDrive Research

The EmDrive is highly controversial research in propulsion, which is being performed by a british inventor. It is now being funded by China, who have performed computer simulations which verify the experimental and theoretical work of the british inventor. Experiments and demonstration systems will be built over the next year which may provide more solid proof that the concept and systems will work. Critics claim that the work violates physical laws and is impossible.

An EmDrive research paper was presented at the 59th International Astronautical Congress which was held in Glasgow, Scotland, between 29 September and 3 October 2008.

A dynamic demonstrator EM drive engine was built to operate at 2.45 GHz, with a design factor of 0.844 and has a measured Q of 45,000 for an overall diameter of 280 mm. The microwave source is a water cooled magnetron with a variable output power up to a maximum of 1.2 kW. A maximum velocity of 2cm/s was achieved and a total distance of 185cm was “flown”. The direction of acceleration was opposite to the direction of thrust, thus conclusively proving that the engine obeys Newton’s laws, and that although no reaction mass is ejected, the engine is not a reactionless machine. An electrical reaction occurs between the EM wave and the reflector surfaces of the resonator, resulting in an input impedance change with acceleration. This is seen in the power curve in the figure above.

The Dynamic test rig.

China is now funding the development of the EMdrive.

The Demonstrator Engine produced a thrust of 10.4 gm against a calibrated friction torque of 7.1 gm. Input power was 421W, giving a specific thrust of 243 mN/kW.

Current Work

Current programmes include an experimental superconducting thruster. This low power, HTS (High Temperature Superconductor) device operates at liquid nitrogen temperature, and is designed for very high Q [Q is the number of reflections of the microwave bea and consequently high specific thrust. The thruster operates at 3.8 GHz, and was designed using an update of the software used for the previous S band designs. Superconducting surfaces are formed from YBCO thin films on sapphire substrates.

Small signal testing at –195 deg C has confirmed the design, with a Q of 6.8x10**6 being measured. A second programme covers the design and development of a 300 Watt C Band flight thruster. This has a specified thrust of 85 mN, and a mass of 2.92Kg. Overall dimensions are 265mm diameter at the baseplate and a height of 164mm.
The initial design of the flight thruster is complete, and a specification has been issued. Phase 1 of the thruster development has started.

Proposed EMDrive Demonstrator Satellite
A Demonstrator Satellite proposal has also been prepared, based on an existing 100 kg microsatellite design, propelled by the flight thruster. Following launch to LEO, the continuous maneuverability important for military and formation flying missions would be demonstrated. This would be followed by a spiral transfer from LEO to GEO to illustrate the large financial savings possible in communication or solar power satellite launches. Finally the spacecraft would escape Earth’s gravity and, after a total of 7 years continuous operation, reach 16.5 km/sec.

Depending on the flight path chosen, a modest science mission could be incorporated in this cruise phase.

The spacecraft would be based on a standard DMC series microsatellite. The imaging payload and propulsion system would be replaced by a C Band EmDrive engine as described in Section 8. A small science payload (<5 kg) could be carried. The total spacecraft mass would be less than 90 kg.

Assuming 100W of DC power is available to the EmDrive engine, a static thrust of 19mN would be achieved. The thrust would be continuously variable from zero to maximum by control of the input power. At the terminal velocity of 16.5 km/sec maximum thrust would be reduced to 3.5mN.

The EmDrive engine would be mounted in the payload section with the thrust vector aligned with the central axis of the spacecraft. The engine would consist of a single thruster, a fully redundant Frequency Generating Unit and two Travelling Wave Tube Amplifiers.

These units, together with isolators, combiner and cables would be mounted on a thermally radiating baseplate designed for simple integration with the spacecraft bus. All power, telemetry and command interfaces would be designed for direct compatibility with the standard spacecraft subsystems.

Superconducting radiofrequency cavities and the EMdrive

High Quality Kilocarat Diamonds

Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C., has improved their diamond making process to enable thousand carat diamonds and larger. The largest cut diamond is 545.67 carats.

The Carnegie team could take these synthetic diamonds and anneal them at temperatures up to 3,632 degrees Fahrenheit (2,000 degrees Celsius) at pressures below atmospheric pressure. The annealing process turns the diamond crystals, which are originally yellow-brown, colorless or light pink.

Yu-fei Meng, Chih-shiue Yan, Joseph Lai, Szczesny Krasnicki, Haiyun Shu, Thomas Yu, Qi Liang, Ho-kwang Mao, and Russell Hemley of the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory used a method called chemical vapor deposition (CVD) to grow synthetic diamonds for their experiments. Unlike other methods, which mimic the high pressures deep within the earth where natural diamonds are formed, the CVD method produces single-crystal diamonds at low pressure. The resulting diamonds, which can be grown very rapidly, have precisely controlled compositions and comparatively few defects.

The most exciting aspect of this new annealing process is the unlimited size of the crystals that can be treated. The breakthrough will allow us to push to kilocarat diamonds of high optical quality” says coauthor Ho-kwang Mao. Because the method does not require a high pressure press, it promises faster processing of diamonds and more types of diamonds to be de-colored than current high-pressure annealing methods. There is also no restriction on the size of crystals or the number of crystals, because the method is not limited by the chamber size of a high pressure press. The microwave unit is also significantly less expensive than a large high-pressure apparatus.

Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat
Synthetic-diamond makers received a boost in January, 2007 when the Gemological Institute of America--the organization that invented the color, cut, clarity and carat diamond standards 50 years ago--began grading the quality of lab-grown diamonds.

It takes Gemesis four days to grow a diamond of an average 2.5 carats. It uses about 20 kilowatt-hours per carat. Most cultivated (synthetic) diamonds come in colors, the natural counterparts of which are rare in nature and pricey in stores. Gemesis specializes in yellow diamonds that get their tint from a boost in nitrogen. Gemesis' Lux estimates the potential market for yellow diamonds alone to be in the tens of millions of dollars. He hopes to create more colorful and larger gems over the next five years. Apollo Diamond produces colorless stones from a quarter carat to a half carat in size.

Mined and synthetic diamonds are chemically identical. Neither the naked eye, nor an ordinary microscope can detect the difference. Jewelers can tell with a loupe [ten times magnification] by reading a laser inscription required by the Federal Trade Commission. [the diamond industry had laws passed that required laser etching of diamonds to label them synthetic or mined.] Otherwise, it takes high-tech equipment that analyzes the crystal structure of diamonds (like a proprietary machine De Beers has) to distinguish the difference.

While a natural, one-carat amber-colored diamond might retail for $20,000 or more, the Florida-based manufacturer Gemesis sells a one-carat stone for about $6,000. But no one, Gemesis included, wants to sell diamonds too cheaply lest the market for them collapse.

Apollo can create completely colorless and flawless diamonds which are not likely to occur naturally. Colorless or white diamonds are extremely rare and all diamonds have flaws which make them unique. Apollo diamonds will look perfect but they are not likely to be original.

So for color: synthetic diamonds are can be rare color stones which were more rare and expensive based on how rare they were in mines. [Apollo Diamond and Carnegie Institute can make colorless diamonds] Yellow diamonds are cheaper, but amber and other colors can be more expensive.

For cut: this is a factor of the gem cutters skill and the popularity of the style.

For carat: Synthetic diamonds can be bigger than virtually any mined diamonds.
Clarity: From 2006, 2007, the GIA studied 43 Apollo diamond stones. Statistically a 1 carat is one in a million diamonds mined, and a 2 carat is one in five million diamonds mined.

The CVD synthetic diamonds examined for the study weighed between 0.14 and 0.71 cts. The near-colorless goods ranged from E to M on the GIA color scale. Fourteen were fancy colors—11 orange to pink and three dark brown. The samples covered the clarity scale from VVS to I, though the majority were in the VS range.

How much does "color" affect cost?
Let's start with a 1.00 carat diamond of K color and VS1 clarity. If you move up to an H color, you will pay approximately an extra $1,700 per carat. Move up to F color, the increase will be approximately $1,100 per carat. Improve the color to D and the increase will be approximately $900 per carat.

80% of mined diamonds (equal to about 100 million carats or 20,000 kg annually) areunsuitable for use as gemstones and known as bort, are destined for industrial use. In addition to mined diamonds, synthetic diamonds found industrial applications almost immediately after their invention in the 1950s; another 3 billion carats (600 metric tons) of synthetic diamond is produced annually for industrial use.

In 2006, the annual production of gem quality synthetic diamonds was only a few thousand carats, whereas the total production of natural diamonds was around 120 million carats. Although the production of colorless synthetic diamonds is dwarfed by that of natural diamonds, one can only find one fancy colored diamond for every 10.000 colorless ones. Since almost the complete production of synthetic diamonds consists of fancy diamonds, there is a high probability that the larger fancy colored diamonds (over 1.5 carats) will be synthetic.

Since 2005, the same institute has theoretically been able to make 300 carat diamonds using chemical vapor deposition.

The diamonds were grown directly from a gas mixture by the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process at a rate that is up to 100 times faster than other methods used to date.

In 2005, the Carnegie Institute's Geophysical Laboratory could produce 10 carat (2 g) single-crystal diamonds rapidly (28 nm/s) by CVD, as well as colorless single-crystal diamonds. Growth of colorless diamonds up to 60 g (300 carats) was believed achievable using their method.

The Cullinan diamond was the largest gem-quality diamond ever found, at 3,106.75 carats (621.35 g or 1.3698 pounds).

Glass copies of the nine diamonds cut from the Cullinan

The largest polished gem from the stone is named Cullinan I or the Great Star of Africa, and at 530.2 carats (106.04 g) was the largest polished diamond in the world until the 1985 discovery of the Golden Jubilee Diamond, 545.67 carats (109.13 g), also from the Premier Mine. Cullinan I is now mounted in the head of the Sceptre with the Cross. The second largest gem from the Cullinan stone, Cullinan II or the Lesser Star of Africa, at 317.4 carats (63.48 g), is the fourth largest polished diamond in the world and is also part of the British crown jewels, as it forms a part of the Imperial State Crown.

Chemical vapor deposition of diamond at wikipedia

Synthetic diamonds at wikipedia

The largest synthetic diamond crystal grown to date via high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) crystal growth chambers was a 34-carat yellow stone. Apollo Diamond is a company that currently produces gem diamond through chemical vapor deposition and sells clear diamond gemstones.

The 45.5 carat Hope diamond at the Smithsonian Institute has been valued at about $250 million.

Synthetic diamond production volumes.

HTHP (High Temperature High Pressure) Method
In 2007, there were about 300 world fleet of BARSes included about 300 devices in the world. The main owners are 1) Adamas BGU (Minsk) – 150 118 (only 60 in operation36 more are being installed); 2) the USA U.S. company Gemesis – 100 devices; 3) company High Optical Technologies company (Moscow) – 30 devices.
A typical process of one carat diamond synthesis takes about 100 hours, and unique processes take up to 300 hours (sometimes 5-6 carat diamonds can be produced).

Gemesis' carat production [2008] averages about 100,000 carats per year. Five to six times the production levels from two years ago. [Total mined gem production totals nearly 30 million carats (6000 kg) of cut and polished]. And the average size of the Gemesis diamond also has increased; the company is now producing polished stones as large as 2.75 carats. Gemesis will be announcing its pink diamonds soon perhaps by the end of 2008, with blue diamonds slated to follow about six to nine months later.

CVD Method
The most popular companies using this technology are: Element Six (De Beers affiliate), Apollo Diamond (USA), and the geophysical laboratory of the Carnegie Institute. There are an estimated 100 CVD synthesis plants in the world and the majority are technically oriented.
Only Apollo Diamonds is aimed at jewelry; — the USA Today reported that Apollo Diamonds has 5 five synthesis plants, which can produce 5 carats per week. The equipment allows for producing the production of mainly of brown diamonds from bright to dark colors.

NOTE: The new Carnegie Institute process can easily and cheaply upgrade brown CVD diamonds to good quality gems.

October 27, 2008

Intel digital multi-radios needed for Micron Scale Claytronics

Intel's CTO Justin Rattner had several highlights at this weekend's Singularity Summit.

1. Claytronics catom components are now millimeter size in the lab and will be micron size in 5-10 years.
2. Intel will have all digital multi-radios in 2009. Digital components can be miniaturized far better than analog and can have benefits in terms of performance.
3. Intel has a solid roadmap to 11nm lithography in 2015.

The digital multi-radio will help enable micron catom claytronics
Currently pixels on high resolution two dimensional monitors are 10-20 microns in size. Millimeter size pixels would have a resolution of 200 X 300 for a 20cm X 30 cm monitor. If the pixels were micron size then resolution would be 20,000 X 30,000 or four hundred times better than HDTV.

Claytronics with micron size catoms would make moving and electronically functional three dimensional objects. They could be used for 3D faxing and dynamic three dimensional computer aided design. A layer of claytronics could cover an object like a desk or car and display moving images.

Our current system uses 8 transmitters and 16 emitters staggered equally around the perimeter of the catom.

Cost is Critical
Critical for Intel and claytronic applications is being able to make a lot of catoms at very low cost and the cost has to fall as the size of catoms falls. Displacement of current displays, computers, TVs and cellphones with claytronics will require that the useful amount of Claytronics cost $100-5000. The $5000 figure is for Claytronics displacing high end electronics like big screen televisions.

Millimeter size catoms: To fill a one foot cube (30cm X 30 cm X 30 cm), you would need 27 million catoms.

Hundred Micron size catoms: To fill a one foot cube (30cm X 30 cm X 30 cm), you would need 27 billion catoms.

Ten Micron size catoms: To fill a one foot cube (30cm X 30 cm X 30 cm), you would need 27 trillion catoms.

Micron size catoms: To fill a one foot cube (30cm X 30 cm X 30 cm), you would need 27,000 trillion catoms.

27 billion transistors on one computer chip costs more than $1000 now. This price is falling all the time, but making 27,000 trillion micron catoms for less than $5000 would take a long time with current price progress.

However, one could either have claytronics create more hollow objects or have cheaper larger catoms in the inner part of objects and have a layers of finer grain catoms on the outside. Two to ten layers of higher resolution catoms would surround bigger and cheaper catoms. 90 billion micron catoms for each one foot square layer.

Besides cost, efficient energy usage is also important.

Claytronics - programmable grit.

Justin Rattner on claytronics and the singularity at the Intel Developers Conference.

October 26, 2008

Armadillo Aerospace won the Level 1 Lunar Lander Prize

Armadillo aerospace won the $350,000 lunar lander prize but missed the $1 million prize.

Level 1 ($350,000) contest called for teams to fly their remote-controlled, rocket-powered landers up to a height of 50 meters (yards), hover for at least 90 seconds, land at another pad 100 meters (yards) away, refuel and then retrace the route — all within 150 minutes.

The Level 2 competition required three-minute hover times for each leg of the two-way trip, plus a more difficult landing on terrain that more closely simulates the rocky, uneven lunar surface.

Armadillo fired up the Pixel vehicle's rocket engine to start its Level 2 attempt on Saturday morning, but the craft almost immediately tipped onto its side. Afterward, Carmack told reporters that Pixel fell victim to a fuel-line problem. The rocket plume apparently burned through the side of the engine's nozzle, and the sideways thrust pushed the vehicle over.

Singularity Summit Highlights

1. Intel has made millimeter size 2d and 3d catoms for claytronics

2. Niel Gershenfeld, Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT, showed a programmable matter project. Small 3d objects would use local rules which would result in 100 cube components turning themselves into the shape of a wrench.
3. Intel will be making all digital radios [digital multi-radio] in 2009. The intention is to reinvent radios to make them cheaper, more reliable and able to work together. They want to make 7 trillion of them over the next few years, 1000 radios for every person.

Intel’s vision is a “multi-radio” that can jump from one WLAN or WAN protocol to another quickly. Here, as with the camera example, the idea is to fully exploit radio’s inherent computational nature. “What kind of computational nature does radio have?” you might ask. It so happens that radio designers already think of radio in terms of algorithms. They simply implement these algorithms with analog components at the moment, as they have for the last 100 years. According to Rattner, system implementations that exploit digital computational resources to execute radio algorithms provide increased flexibility, better time to market, lower costs, lower power consumption, higher integration, and digital calibration and compensation.

Intel has already developed various pieces of the digital multi-radio and has described these pieces at various conferences. The company has developed a class-D digital power amplifier in 65nm silicon, a fractional-N synthesizer in 90nm silicon, and a spectrum-sensing sigma-delta A/D converter in 90nm silicon.

4. Peter Diamandis talked about the future of the Xprize. They will be making prizes in the $100 million to 1 billion range. They will be introducing several xprizes each year and get up to 20 prizes covering a variety of areas. The US gave $306 billion in philanthropy in 2007. Diamandis has a target of 10% of philanthropy going to prizes as a more efficient method to achieve results.

5. Brain emulation progress from Dharmendra S. Modha

6. The Open cog project was discussed

Rattner, Intel, reported that Intel and Carnegie Mellon University have made millimeter sized 2d and 3d catoms for claytronics.

The 3d catom is a small glass bead with electronics inside. They can move over surfaces using electrostatic force. The electronics are a stack of 2d electronics with silicon through via interconnects.

By 2012-2017, the catom will be shrunk to micron size. They will be able to create 3d fax machines and shape changing electronics. Catoms can emit light to change color to make the model of a car turn from white to red to blue or to create a display for a computer by spreading over the surface of a wall or table.

Intels micron claytronics needs dozens of the new digital multi-radios

Rat brain emulation and a new brain emulation roadmap.

Investigating the work of Neil Gershenfeld and others into avogadro scale computing and comforming computing and his approach to programmable matter.


What could be high impact radical world changing technology ? It takes a lot to rock your world. You need singularity or near singularity technology change to overcome individual and societal inertia.

Synthesizing diamond advance: kilocarat diamonds [thousand carat]

Форма для связи


Email *

Message *