February 21, 2009

Are We Getting Enough Capabilities with Self Assembly, Directed Assembly and Pick And Place to Kluge together Molecular Manufacturing ?

We are looking at faster computing developments based on recent breakthroughs. There are now several ways that we can get computing down to 1-2 nanometer feature or element size. These manufacturing methods could be scaled up and delivering computer hardware products within 4-10 years. Many thought that computer hardware might permanently stall at 10-20 nanometer feature sizes. Now it seems that 1-2 nanometers is certain within 10 years. 100-400 times smaller in area and 1000-16,000 smaller in volume.

1. The self assembly of 10-100 terabit per square inch magnetic memory. They have self assembled several square centimeters and the process appears to be compatible with current computer chip fabrication processes. They seem confident in adapting the self assembling process to produce photonic and computing elements.

2. The room temperature quantum dots based on dangling silicon bonds.

3. More durable and higher density nano-imprinting is working at 13 nanometer features and they seem confident about going to 1-2 nanometers.

4. Oxide Nanoelectronics on Demand (University of Pittsburgh)

Electronic confinement at nanoscale dimensions remains a central means of science and technology. We demonstrate nanoscale lateral confinement of a quasi–two-dimensional electron gas at a lanthanum aluminate–strontium titanate interface. Control of this confinement using an atomic force microscope lithography technique enabled us to create tunnel junctions and field-effect transistors with characteristic dimensions as small as 2 nanometers. These electronic devices can be modified or erased without the need for complex lithographic procedures. Our on-demand nanoelectronics fabrication platform has the potential for widespread technological application.

Rather than building them from silicon, the team used two different forms of the common mineral perovskite. When two of the insulating crystals of the right thickness are held together, the place where they meet can conduct electricity. But if one of the pieces is too thin, then current will not flow.

Working with wafers that were just too thin to conduct, Levy's team found that they could "draw" conducting patches onto the crystal using a microscopic needle. A positive voltage from the needle rearranges the crystal's atoms to create lines 2 nm across that conduct like electrical wire.

Write and erase

The process has been used to make transistors roughly 1000 times smaller in area than those fashioned from silicon. The "wires" can also be easily erased and recreated up to 100 times.

Being able to erase parts of a design and write over them again also offers more exotic possibilities, says Levy. It could be possible to use the phenomenon to could create hardware that rewires itself as it handles data, he says.

A nanometer scale etch a sketch.

Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh say they have found a way to draw and erase tiny nanometer-wide dots and lines that can conduct electricity. The researchers showed how they could write conducting lines, or wires, less than 4 nm wide using the technique. They were also able to make an array of 2-nm-wide dots. These areas remained conductive for more than 24 hours.

5. Chemists at New York University and China's Nanjing University have developed a two-armed nanorobotic device that can manipulate molecules within a device built from DNA.

Nadrian Seeman, co-author: "This is a programmable unit that allows researchers to capture and maneuver patterns on a scale that is unprecedented."

The device is approximately 150 x 50 x 8 nanometers. In the two-armed nanorobotic device, the arms face each other, ready to capture molecules that make up a DNA sequence. Using set strands that bind to its molecules, the arms are then able to change the structure of the device. This changes the sticky ends available to capture a new pattern component.

The researchers note that the device performs with 100 percent accuracy. Earlier trials revealed that it captured targeted molecules only 60 to 80 percent of the time. But by heating the device in the presence of the correct species, they found that the arms captured the targeted molecules 100 percent of the time.

I think things are coming together for near term surge in computing capability and for various methods of manipulation and control and manufacturing at the 1 to 10 nanometer scale. Industrial scale self assembly and DNA production and control combined will lessen the requirements on atomically precise pick, place and react.

If we are sitting at the molecular fabrication doorstep with multiple substantial 1-2 nanometer capabilities, and with some slower but molecularly precise pick and place capabilities then we get within a series of doable kluges to getting onto a bootstrap path to full-blown no limit molecular manufacturing.

The "combination of substantial self-assembly and directed assembly" could be substantially in hand this year or within 3 years. We just have to creatively work the combinations and plug some gaps.

Room Temperature Single Atom Quantum Dot in Depth


Four atomic quantum dots are coupled to form a "cell" for containing electrons. The cell is filled with just two electrons. Control charges are placed along a diagonal to direct the two electrons to reside at just two of the four quantum dots comprising the cell. This new level of control of electrons points to new computation schemes that require extremely low power to operate. Such a device is expected to require about 1,000 times less power and will be about 1,000 times smaller than today's transistors. Credit: Robert A. Wolkow

Often referred to as artificial atoms, quantum dots have previously ranged in size from 2-10 nanometers in diameter. While typically composed of several thousand atoms, all the atoms pool their electrons to "sing with one voice", that is, the electrons are shared and coordinated as if there is only one atomic nucleus at the centre. That property enables numerous revolutionary schemes for electronic devices.

The silicon atom dangling bond (DB) state serves as a quantum dot. Coulomb repulsion causes DBs separated by < » 2 nm to exhibit reduced localized charge enabling electron tunnel-coupling of DBs. Scanning tunneling microscopy measurements and theoretical modeling reveal that fabrication geometry of multi-DB assemblies determines net occupation and tunnel-coupling strength among dots. Electron occupation of DB assemblies can be controlled at room temperature. Electrostatic control over charge distribution within assemblies is demonstrated. QDs (Quantum Dots) have been pursued in the context of nanoelectronics applications (transistors, logic gates, spin devices, etc.), light emitting diodes and lasers, solar cells, ultra-dense memories, among other areas. Moreover, controlled coupling of the electronic states of QDs have been investigated as a basis for alternative computing approaches, such as quantum computing, and quantum cellular automata (QCA) schemes. However, current miniaturization of QD is far from reaching its limit.
Present QD fabrication techniques render QD assemblies of a scale that requires cryogenic conditions to attain energy level spacings greater than kBT - a key condition for enabling controlled electronic properties.

Four dangling bonds that trap two electrons.

The research paper "Controlled Coupling and Occupation of Silicon Atomic Quantum Dots at Room Temperature"

We report for the first time an experimentally observable tunnel coupling between zero-dimensional entities of atomic size: Si atom dangling bonds (DB) on an otherwise hydrogen terminated silicon crystal surface. Such DBs can serve as quantum dots and due to their strong charge localization, circumvent key problems associated with QD charging. Indeed, we show here that the charging and the tunnel coupling behavior within DB assemblies can be controlled even at room temperature. In addition, due to the fundamental similarities with semiconductor QDs and to the common Si-based fabrication platform, our approach can bring important advances to many of the above applications.

The robustness of the atomic system described here results from the relatively great energy level spacing of bound states. For this same reason, the coupling and controlled electron filling of assemblies of coupled DBs is achieved at room temperature rather than requiring cryogenic conditions. We assert that such DB states hold the prospect of a novel route to advancement in nano-electronics and computing devices, offering extreme miniaturization and a well-understood route to fabrication.

Robert Wolkow page

Quantum dot cellular automaton at wikipedia

A proposal for implementing classical cellular automata by systems designed with quantum dots has been proposed under the name "quantum cellular automata" by Paul Tougaw and Craig Lent, as a replacement for classical computation using CMOS technology. In order to better differentiate between this proposal and models of cellular automata which perform quantum computation, many authors working on this subject now refer to this as a quantum dot cellular automaton.

Complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology has been the industry standard for implementing Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) devices for the last two decades, and for very good reasons – mainly due to the consequences of miniaturization of such devices (i.e. increasing switching speeds, increasing complexity and decreasing power consumption). Quantum Cellular Automata (QCA) is only one of the many alternative technologies proposed as a replacement solution to the fundamental limits CMOS technology will impose in the years to come.

Although QCA solves most of the limitations CMOS technology, it also brings its own. Optimistic assumptions suggest that intrinsic switching time of a QCA cell is in the order of terahertz, however, as mentioned earlier, switching speed is not limited by a cell’s intrinsic switching speed but by the proper quasi-adiabatic clock switching frequency setting. "Comparative analysis of circuit performance of QCA and CMOS against a representative computer task, suggests that realistic circuits of solid state QCA will have the maximum operating frequency of several megahertz. Small circuits of hypothetical molecular QCA might have the maximum operating frequency of several GHz, however, as the circuit size increases, capacitive loading effects will reduce the speed." Moreover, solid-state QCA devices cannot operate at room temperature [until this new work]. The only alternative to this temperature limitation is the recently proposed “Molecular QCA” which theoretically has an inter-dot distance of 2 nm and an inter-cell distance of 6 nm. Molecular QCA is also considered to be the only feasible implementation method for mass production of QCA devices. QCA technology resolves, in principle, the problems of current CMOS technology, and it is only limited by the availability of its practical fabrication methods.

February 20, 2009

Details on the Self Assembled Memory, Refinement can Boost Density to 100 terabits per Square Inch

An overhead view (bottom) shows cylindrical block-coploymer structures, consisting of a central polymer (blue) linked to a surrounding polymer (red). An atomic-force microscope image (center), shows the densely packed cylinders, dark in the center, with the varying height of the surface beneath them visible as alternating lighter and darker stripes. The side view diagram (top) shows how the cylinders arrange themselves along the ridges of the crystalline facets.

More details on the self assembled memory breakthrough

From the Register, all this technogoodness, of course, is useless if it remains cooped up a university lab. Xu's not worried. "The beauty of the method we developed is that it takes from processes already in use in the industry, so it will be very easy to incorporate into the production line with little cost."

Significant hurdles remain before this technique will hit the market, of course - not the least being the development of magnetic or optical heads with the capability of reading a three-nanometer domain.

Self-assembling block copolymers, formed by two chemically different polymers linked together, have the potential to vastly improve the properties and manufacturing processes of nanostructured materials. Using crystals as a template, researchers have formed perfect arrays of nanoscopic block-copolymer structures extending over several square centimeters.

The achievement of a 10-terabit array of block copolymers formed in a single step on oriented crystal facets offers immediate practical promise. By treating the film of polymer structures with a solvent, the core polymer at the center of each cylinder is easily removed. The resulting thin film is a nanometer-sized sieve of a kind that could be used as a template for data storage or nanowires or other ordered nanoscopic structures for use in electronics or other devices.

Says Xu, “All the elements came together in this method – a good idea, a leader like Tom Russell with 20 years of experience in the field, a really good postdoc like Soojin Park to direct the experiment – and it worked. This one is going to make it to the market.”

Xu’s group is working with synthetic peptides and artificial proteins, as well as with block copolymers and nanoparticles, to build new functional materials based on molecules designed with novel electronic, photonic, and biological properties.

Macroscopic 10-Terabit–per–Square-Inch Arrays from Block Copolymers with Lateral Order

Generating laterally ordered, ultradense, macroscopic arrays of nanoscopic elements will revolutionize the microelectronic and storage industries. We used faceted surfaces of commercially available sapphire wafers to guide the self-assembly of block copolymer microdomains into oriented arrays with quasi–long-range crystalline order over arbitrarily large wafer surfaces. Ordered arrays of cylindrical microdomains 3 nanometers in diameter, with areal densities in excess of 10 terabits per square inch, were produced. The sawtoothed substrate topography provides directional guidance to the self-assembly of the block copolymer, which is tolerant of surface defects, such as dislocations. The lateral ordering and lattice orientation of the single-grain arrays of microdomains are maintained over the entire surface. The approach described is parallel, applicable to different substrates and block copolymers, and opens a versatile route toward ultrahigh-density systems.

Hillary Clinton Says the Obvious Truth About the USA and China, Truth Shocks Human Rights Activists

Clinton said the United States would continue to press China on long-standing US concerns over human rights such as its rule over Tibet.

"But our pressing on those issues can't interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis," Clinton told reporters in Seoul just before leaving for Beijing.

* Money/Global Economy is more important than human rights [Tibet]
* Climate Crisis is more important than human rights [Tibet]
* National Security/War on Terrorism is more important than human rights [Tibet]

These truths are and were obvious.

Amnesty International USA said the global rights lobby was "shocked and extremely disappointed" by Clinton's remarks.

That the obvious shocks them shows that they either that they are out of touch or that they are just saying anything in regards to their agenda.

Are people more concerned about their jobs, mortgages, home values and the economic recession and whether China still buys US Treasuries or do people care more about Tibet and other issues within China ?

Are people more concerned about the various economic bailout plans and international cooperation to jumpstart the global economy and China helping to lower US interest rates (which is what happens when they buy US debt) or do people want to put that aside to address Tibet and other issues within China ?

Has the US ever put Tibet before any major economic effort on trade or financial discussions with China ?

Who is making the prediction that the US will start putting Tibet and social issues within China ahead of trade and economic negotiations ?

Iran has enough uranium 'to build a nuclear bomb'

The International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran now has amassed a stockpile totaling one ton of uranium which could easily be made into weapons-grade material with further purification.

In their first assessment of the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme since Barack Obama became US president, atomic inspectors disclosed that Tehran's leaders understated by a third how much uranium they had at their disposal.

In total Iran has stockpiled 2,227 pounds of low-enriched uranium at its Natanz nuclear plant but that was 460 pounds more than the Iranian government had previously disclosed.

The news is likely to cause a new flurry of concern in Israel, where politicians have expressed determination to prevent Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has vowed to wipe their nation off the face of the earth, from getting his finger on the nuclear trigger.

Carnival of Space 91

Music of the Spheres has Europa Visitor

FlyingSinger brushes up his space navigation skills and prepares for his April IYA podcast with a flight from Europa to Callisto, simulated in Orbiter.

2. On February 16 we celebrated Galileo's 445th birthday: "Yet It Moves" from A Babe in the Universe.

During this International Year of Astronomy we celebrate Galileo's telescope observations 400 years ago. He did not start his career believing Earth circles the Sun, but his telescope revealed phases of Venus and moons circling Jupiter. 445 years after his birth Galileo is still an example for today's scientist.

3. Astroblog also reflects on the anniversary of Galileo in Blogging the Starry Messenger

In honour of International year of Astronomy, and the 400th anniversary of Galileo peering through a telescope at the heavens, I'm blogging Galileo's "Sidereal Messenger", Galileo's first report of his telescopic observations. Each week I'm going to blog one "chapter" of the Starry Messenger (actually, it doesn't really have chapters, but it has self contained sections I'll talk about. This week I start with the Introduction.

4. Scouting Life (Canada) published articles in their winter issue to help youth leaders conduct stargazing sessions. Reprints can be found at Explore the Night Sky and Make Your Stargazing Events Shine

5. Bad Astronomy looks at what is known so far about the Texas Fireball.

A tremendous fireball — also called a bolide, or a very bright meteor — was seen in southern Texas on Sunday, February 15th, just before 11:00 a.m. local time. Many people have described it as very bright, small, and moving rapidly.

6. Centauri Dreams writes about "361 Civilizations in the Galaxy?"

This follows up an earlier post on recent statistical treatments of the Drake Equation, trying to figure out to a greater degree of accuracy how many technological civilizations may be out there. Nobody knows, of course, but it's intriguing to watch the different methods being used to juggle the inputs!

7. Astroengine looks at what could be liquid water on Mars

8. The Meridiani Journal, a chronicle of planetary exploration, also looks at liquid water brines on Mars.

9. Spacewriter looks at a garden in Hawaii that is in the shape of the Milky Way

10. Out of the Cradle has an interview that looks at the details of business, law and economics for the new Space Age

11. Starts with a Bang asks "Can you slow time down?"

12. OrbitalHub looks at the Dawn spacecraft and the Flyby of Mars.

The Dawn spacecraft is currently performing the Mars flyby phase of its mission. The purpose of the Mars flyby is to alter the trajectory of the spacecraft in order to rendezvous with its first scientific target in the main asteroid belt. The scientific objective of the Dawn mission is to answer important questions about the origin and the evolution of our solar system.

13. Beyond Apollo: looks back at the early Shuttle manipulator demo plans, which ultimately flew on the Shuttle in 1981.

14. Robot Explorers: looks at a proposed Saturn Ring Observer mission.

15. Martian Chronicles looks at the sand dunes of Mars.
It's part of an ongoing series of posts based on a huge 2001 paper that summarizes the results of the Mars Orbital Camera (MOC): the first high-res camera in orbit around Mars.

16. Dave Mosher of Discovery Space provides: String theory -- a proposed "theory of everything" -- is criticized for its lack of experiments, but scientists are could be building a case to tear that wall down.

17. A story about imaging the atmosphere of, what else?... a variable star; from your variable star astronomer blogger, Simostronomy.

18. LPI has tables of information on the recently announced Lunar Instruments.

19. A neato photo of a "diamond ring" image of a lunar eclipse from the Moon from the Planetary Society.

20. Robert Simpson of orbiting frog looks at tracking the debris from last week's satellite collision using Google Earth.

21. 21st Century Waves looks at "North Korea's New Space Program?"

22. Galaxy Zoo, by Bob Nichol, reflects on his
reflects on the launch of Zoo 2 in his first ever blog entry.

23. Universe Today looks at a new company that is looking to produce Space Based Solar Power Within a Decade.

24. This site looked at detailed studies of cement jet printing buildings on thd moon.

25. As well a collection of photos and vidoes of the Nuclear propulsion that has been technically doable for decades, project Orion and Super-Orion.

Super-Orion whose 400 meter diameter footprint covers about 30 foot ball fields and has the internal volume of about 10 great pyramids at Giza. The hundreds of nuclear explosive above ground tests from the 1960s could be repeated from a launch in the Pacific so that the true space age could begin with a kickstart of 120,000 Space Shuttle loads not just to low earth orbit but anywhere in the solar system. What was done for geopolitical and military posturing could be done again for the future of mankind. Becoming a true space faring civilization if we could only understand that it would actually be safer and provide huge economic and technical benefits.

26. Cheap Astronomy has published a new podcast called Gravity Wells - and how to get out of them. It's not as easy as you might think.

27. Cumbrian Sky looks at NASA's plan to go back to Jupiter

in 2020 - about the same time NASA is planning to send astronauts Back To The Moon - two rockets will blast off, from different sites, each one carrying a spaceproeb bound for Jupiter. Six years later the probes would enter the Jovian system and go into orbit around its Galilean satellites, Io, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto, paying particular attention to two of those moons, namely Europa and Ganymede.

28. A poem for the Mars Rovers

Accelerating Learning and Surge In Computing Power and Memory

Memory and transistors appears to be in for an accelerated 1000 fold reduction to 2 to 3 nanometer sizes. The previously noted shrinking to 10 terabit/inch**2 self assembled magnetic memory, which should get further enhanced to 100 terabit/inch**2. There is also smaller

The smallest features in current silicon transistors are 45 nanometres in size, but the latest made by Jeremy Levy at the University of Pittsburgh and colleagues have features just 2 nanometers in size, allowing many more transistors to be crammed into the same area.

Rather than building them from silicon, the team used two different forms of the common mineral perovskite. When two of the insulating crystals of the right thickness are held together, the place where they meet can conduct electricity. But if one of the pieces is too thin, then current will not flow.

Working with wafers that were just too thin to conduct, Levy's team found that they could "draw" conducting patches onto the crystal using a microscopic needle. A positive voltage from the needle rearranges the crystal's atoms to create lines 2 nm across that conduct like electrical wire.

The process has been used to make transistors roughly 1000 times smaller in area than those fashioned from silicon. The "wires" can also be easily erased and recreated up to 100 times.

Being able to erase parts of a design and write over them again also offers more exotic possibilities, says Levy. It could be possible to use the phenomenon to could create hardware that rewires itself as it handles data, he says.

"It could blur or dissolve the distinction between software and hardware, for example by integrating memory and logic," he says.

Hardcoded logic circuits are 100-1000 times faster than general computer circuits that run software to provide flexibility.

Jean-Marc Triscone at the University of Geneva has shown that perovskite crystals can also behave as superconductors. "The achievements of Levy and co-workers coupled to [our] superconductivity [work] may allow small electronic circuits to be realised, which would open many interesting possibilities," he says.

This goes along with the prior atom scale room temperature quantum dots. Zyvex has a project and processes for atomic scale precision in manufacturing that was previously targeting millions of quantum dots. The old quantum dots were about 1000 molecules. So the new smaller quantum dots could mean Zyvex work could lead to nearterm billions of precise quantum dots.

Faster Learning, Instant Skills, Reality Augmentation and Memory Integration
There is a bunch of "instant skills and expertise" developing on the iPhone platform. Card counting for blackjack, sniper aid, doctor in a pocket, rubiks cube expert, food advisor etc...

DARPA is working on visualization (a holodeck like -immersive visualization experience using available technology) and other technology and methods for accelerated learning.

Recent discoveries in the field of neuroscience, as well as advances in modeling and analysis techniques, have laid the foundation for neuroscience-based noninvasive strategies with the potential to dramatically accelerate the transition from novice to expert in key military tasks. The Accelerated Learning Program will develop quantitative and integrative neuroscience-based approaches for measuring, tracking, and accelerating skill acquisition and learning while producing a twofold increase in progression in an individual's progress through stages of task learning.

This program will develop reliable and quantitative methods for tracking task progression based on noninvasive measures of brain activity. These may include, but are not limited to, neurophysiologically driven training regimens, neurally optimized stimuli, and stimulatory/modulatory interventions

The iPhone systems willl work even better with the heads up display and wearable workstations.

MIT has the sixth sense augmented reality, where internet information is overlaid a persons visual perception of the environment or projected onto peoples and objects.

More Phones are providing location aware information augmentation.

A new generation of smartphones like the G1, with Android software developed by Google, and a range of Japanese phones now “augment” reality by painting a map over a phone-screen image of the user’s surroundings produced by the phone’s camera.

Computers keep getting better at reading thoughts.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) looks more and more like a window into the mind. In a study published online today in Nature, researchers at Vanderbilt University report that from fMRI data alone, they could distinguish which of two images subjects were holding in their memory--even several seconds after the images were removed. The study also pinpointed, for the first time, where in the brain visual working memory is maintained.

Brain / Machine interfaces continue to improve and DARPA is funding brain implants to substitute for certain memory portions of the human brain.

A drug has been found that eases traumatic memories.

Merel Kindt, a clinical psychologist at the University of Amsterdam, has found that use of a common high blood pressure drug may help disrupt the process that leads to the brain encoding a fearful memory.

Kindt and colleagues showed pictures of spiders to study subjects, and combined that with a mild shock to create a fearful association. Then, half the participants were given propranolol, a beta-blocker often used in heart disease. The other half were given a placebo pill.

At the end of the three days, researchers again presented the pictures of the spiders, but without a shock. Subjects who had taken propranolol at the time of memory recall had a decreased fear response, but the placebo group continued to be startled. "The drug probably blocks the process that restores the fearful memory," says Kindt.

More iPhone Instant Skills for Cheat Codes for All of Real Life Tasks

There is an iPhone application which assists a person at card counting while playing blackjack in a casino. Using devices to assist in playing in a casino is illegal.

It operates in several modes, including a "stealth mode" where the screen is blanked, and can be operated by touching different zones on the screen. It can use up to four separate strategies for card counting.

This is a follow up to an article on this site about applications to assist someone solve a Rubiks cube or as an aid for snipers to adjust for wind and environmental conditions. This is on the path to achieving instant-skill or cheat codes for all of life's tasks. Like the Matrix downloading of skills and expertise.

There is a lot of effort and progress to make mobile phones the 'doctor in your pocket'

The idea of a phone serving as a "doctor in your pocket" has gained traction at the industry's biggest trade show, the Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona.

Among a slew of possible applications in poor countries, insiders stressed the potential for the mobile phone to remind people to get vaccinations, take medicine, or undergo HIV tests.

The Rockefeller Foundation, the UN Foundation and The Vodafone Foundation announced the Mobile Health (mHealth) Alliance this week, a partnership to advance the use of mobile technology in healthcare.

The UN and Vodafone also released a study, "mHealth for Development: The Opportunity of Mobile Technology for Healthcare in the Developing World," detailing 51 programmes in 26 countries.

In Uganda, for example, a multiple choice quiz about HIV/AIDS was sent to 15,000 subscribers on the Celtel network in a rural region, inviting them to answer questions and seek tests. Users who completed the quiz were given free airtime and each time they answered a question wrong they received a message informing them of the correct response.At the end of the quiz, a final SMS was sent to motivate participants to go for voluntary testing and counseling at a local health centre.

Slightly less than one in five responded and the number of people who went for testing at the centre increased from 1,000 to 1,400 during a six-week period, the report said.

The expansion of expertise and skills is related to some theories of natural brain evolution from animals up to humans.

Human Evolution Expanded Brains to Increase Expertise Capacity

Human Evolution Expanded Brains to Increase Expertise Capacity, Not IQ (1999), Dr John Skoyles.

Why do modern humans have larger brains than earlier people such as Homo erectus? As large brains cause problems in childbirth, infancy and locomotion, the advantage they offer must be substantial. This advantage might be associated with increased IQ, but there is a problem: evidence from MRI volumetric surveys, microcephaly and hemispherectomy shows that there exist individuals with psychometrically normal IQ but Homo-erectus-sized brains. Why did evolution increase brain size (with its associated costs) when humans (as these individuals demonstrate) can have normal IQ without bigger brains? I propose that the advantage may be related to increased capacity for an aspect of intelligent behaviour not measured by IQ tests but critical to the survival of our simple hunter-gatherers ancestors: the capacity to develop expertise.

Why Grandmothers need large brains.

how does brain size matter? Critique of the Skoyles theory.

A university lecture on brain size and tool use of different hominids.

Breakthrough Solar Concentrator:low cost with high efficiency

Morgan Solar has the Light-Guide Solar Optic (LSO), a thin optical structure made of acrylic and/or glass that internally concentrates sunlight. They are targeting less than $1 per watt by 2011 and close to 30 percent efficiency at costs competitive with thin film. So two to three times cheaper and 50% more efficient that most competition.

* revolutionary new way to capture, transport and concentrate sunlight
* Up to 1400 suns of concentration, with a clear path to many thousand suns in the future
* Ultra thin optical structures that capture, transport and concentrate sunlight
* Light is redirected onto tiny slivers of PV at the edge of the optic - not underneath
* Eliminates the bulkiness of traditional CPV systems
* Not affected by thermal expansion
* Extremely low cost
* Light-weight and rugged
* Easy to manufacture

Morgan Solar’s high-precision optic--part acrylic and part glass--is molded so that light is trapped and bounces toward its center. A secondary glass optic concentrates the light to 1,000 suns and directs it to a tiny, high-efficiency solar cell. The low-profile design promises to reduce the cost of manufacturing and transportation.

Most concentrators tend to be complex systems that use special lenses, curved mirrors, and other optical components with a "nonzero" focal length. This means that there must be enough distance--an air gap--between the solar cell and the optic to properly focus the light. As a result, concentrator-based systems are usually packaged within bulky enclosures, with enough depth to accommodate the focal length and protect all components during shipping. This means higher material and assembly costs and more expensive shipping.

A couple of years ago, Nicolas's brother John Paul Morgan came up with the idea of a solid-state solar concentrator system: a flat, thin acrylic optic that traps light and guides it toward its center. Embedded in the center of Morgan Solar's concentrator is a secondary, round optic made of glass. With a flat bottom and convex, mirrored top, the optic receives the incoming barrage of light at a concentration of about 50 suns and amplifies it to nearly 1,000 suns before bending the light through a 90-degree angle.

Morgan Solar's technology still requires a tracking system to keep it facing the sun. Researchers at MIT have eliminated the need for trackers by developing special dye coatings that can absorb diffuse light, but Morgan Solar's technology is closer to market. Nicolas Morgan adds that trackers today are precise, reliable, and add "marginal" cost for 44 percent more power. Some business and engineering decisions must still be made, but he expects that the company will be able to build its system for less than $1 per watt by 2011--"and with some vertical integration, considerably less." This would lead to a product close to 30 percent efficient at costs competitive with thin film.

"I think the concept should be pursued," says engineering professor Roland Winston, an expert in nonimaging optics at the University of California, Merced. He does, however, question the use of acrylic as a concentrator material: "Acrylic has not been proven for long-term use, especially under concentrated sunlight."

John Paul Morgan says that's the main reason why the company is using both acrylic and glass in its system. The company has intentionally limited concentrations within the acrylic portion to 50 suns and has the smaller glass optic doing the heavy lifting. "We want this system to last for 25 years, so we're trying to really understress the material," he says. "Once we've proven we can push the acrylic further, we're going to shrink the glass optic."

A number of pilot projects planned for 2009 will test the concentrator in the field. The company expects commercial production to begin sometime in 2010.

Cheap Ground and Flying Robots with Low Recoil Automatic Shotgun

Discovery Channel: Future Weapons. Force Multiplier especially with the frag-12 mini-grenades and high explosive. Accurate out to 175 meters. 120 grenade rounds per minute with 9 foot blast radius.

The gist of the story is that the AA-12s have so little recoil that it makes the perfect gun for small robots.

AA12 shotgun robots at zokuga blog

Wikipedia on the Auto Assault-12 (AA-12) shotgun (originally designed and known as the Atchisson Assault Shotgun).

The weapon can fire in semi-automatic or fully automatic mode at 300 rounds per minute (5 every second) and has a magazine of 32 rounds - either a standard box, or a drum magazine. MPS also teamed up with Action Manufacturing Company, and Special Cartridge Company to combine the gun with FRAG-12 High-Explosive ammunition into a weapon system.

The weapon was shortened to 966 mm but retained same barrel length as the original, and lightened to 4.76 kg. The CQB model has 13-inch barrel length, and is half a pound lighter than the regular model. Uncommon in other automatic shotguns, the AA-12 fires from an open bolt, a feature more commonly found in heavy and squad level machine guns. It uses 8-round box, 20-round drum, or 32-round drum magazines, as opposed to the original 5-round box magazine. It is designed to fire three different types of 3" 12 gauge shells: Buckshot, slug, or Frag-12 rounds. Due to the abundant use of stainless steel, and the loose manufacturing allowed in a shotgun, MPS has claimed that the weapon requires zero cleaning or lubrication.

February 19, 2009

Self-Assembled Memory 10 terabits per inch - 250 DVDs in Disk the Size of a Quarter

The sawtooth ridges formed by cutting and heating a sapphire crystal serves to guide the self-assembly of nanoscale elements into an ordered pattern over arbitrarily large surfaces. Researchers say the new, easy-to-implement technique may transform the data storage industry.
The density achievable with the technology we've developed could potentially enable the contents of 250 DVDs to fit onto a surface the size of a quarter," said Xu, who is also a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "I expect that the new method we developed will transform the microelectronic and storage industries, and open up vistas for entirely new applications," said co-lead investigator Thomas Russell, director of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at UMass Amherst, visiting Miller Professor at UC Berkeley's Department of Chemistry, and one of the world's leading experts on the behavior of polymers. "This work could possibly be translated into the production of more energy-efficient photovoltaic cells."

Xu explained that the molecules in the thin film of block copolymers - two or more chemically dissimilar polymer chains linked together - will self-assemble into an extremely precise, equidistant pattern when spread out on a surface, much like a regiment of disciplined soldiers lining up in formation. For more than a decade, researchers have been trying to exploit this characteristic for use in semiconductor manufacturing, but they have been constrained because the order starts to break down as the size of the area increases.

Once the formation breaks down, the individual domains cannot be read or written to, rendering them useless as a form of data storage.

To overcome this size constraint, Russell and Xu conceived of the elegantly simple solution of layering the film of block copolymers onto the surface of a commercially available sapphire crystal. When the crystal is cut at an angle - a common procedure known as a miscut - and heated to 1,300 to 1,500 degrees Centigrade (2,372 to 2,732 degrees Fahrenheit) for 24 hours, its surface reorganizes into a highly ordered pattern of sawtooth ridges that can then be used to guide the self-assembly of the block polymers.

With this technique, the researchers were able to achieve defect-free arrays of nanoscopic elements with feature sizes as small as 3 nanometers, translating into densities of 10 terabits per square inch. One terabit is equal to 1 trillion bits, or 125 gigabytes.

Because crystals come in a variety of sizes, there are few limitations to how large this block copolymer array can be produced, the researchers said. They also noted that the angle and depth of the sawtooth ridges can be easily varied by changing the temperature at which the crystal is heated to fine tune the desired pattern.
"We can generate nearly perfect arrays over macroscopic surfaces where the density is over 15 times higher than anything achieved before," said Russell. "With that order of density, one could get a high-definition picture on a screen the size of a JumboTron."

"It's one thing to get dozens of soldiers to stand in perfect formation in an area the size of a classroom, each person equidistant from the other, but quite another to get tens of trillions of individuals to do so on the field in a football stadium," Xu added. "Using this crystal surface as a guide is like giving the soldiers a marker so they know where to stand."

Other research teams across the country are engaged in similar efforts to break the size barrier of self-assembled block copolymers, but this new project by the UMass Amherst-UC Berkeley scientists differs in that it does not rely upon advances in lithography to achieve its goals.

In the semiconductor industry, optical lithography is a process in which light passes through a mask with a desired circuit pattern onto a photosensitive material, or photoresist, that undergoes a chemical change. Several steps of chemical treatment are then used to develop the desired pattern for subsequent use.
To keep up with Moore's Law and the demand for increasingly smaller features for semiconductors and microprocessors, industry has turned to nanolithography and the use of ever-shorter wavelengths of light at greater cost.

"The challenge with photolithography is that it is rapidly approaching the resolution limits of light," said Xu. "In our approach, we shifted away from this 'top down' method of producing smaller features and instead utilized advantages of a 'bottom up' approach. The beauty of the method we developed is that it takes from processes already in use in industry, so it will be very easy to incorporate into the production line with little cost."

An added benefit, said Xu, is that "our technique is more environmentally friendly than photolithography, which requires the use of harsh chemicals and acids."

Reading the high density memory could be done with nanopencils. Silicon-oxide sheath around a carbon nanotube electrode.

Millipede memory devices.

Aim High Plan for Factory Mass Produced Liquid Fluoride Reactors

The Aim High program to make factory mass produced Liquid fluoride thorium reactors to replace coal power worldwide. Dr. Robert Hargraves wrote this up. Kirk Sorensen and Charles Barton over at Thoriumenergy and the many others at the Energy from Thorium forum have helped collect and refine information and plans.

Aim High website with pdf and powerpoint and other documents

Energy from thorium website

Technical LFTR Advantages [Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor]

1. LFTR has no refueling outages, with continuous refueling and continuous waste fission product removal.

2. It can change power output to satisfy demand, satisfying today's need for both baseload coal or nuclear power and expensive peakload natural gas power.

3. LFTR operates at high temperature, for 50% thermal/electrical conversion efficiency, thus needing only half the cooling required by today's coal or nuclear plant cooling towers.

4. It is air cooled, critical for arid regions of the Western US and many developing countries where water is scarce.

5. LFTR has low capital costs because it does not need massive pressure vessels or containment domes, because of its compact heat exchanger and Brayton cycle turbine, because of intrinsic safety features, and because cooling requirements are halved.

6. An LFTR will cost $200 million for a moderate size 100 MW unit, allowing incremental capital outlays, affordability to developing nations, and suitability for factory production, truck transport, and site assembly.

7. It will be factory produced, like Boeing airliners, lowering costs and time, enabling continuous improvement.

8. It can make hydrogen to synthesize vehicle fuels from recycled waste CO2, reducing foreign oil dependency.

9. It could convert air and water to ammonia for fertilizer, whose production today absorbs > 1% of all the world's energy.

10. Its molten salt fuel form facilitates handling and chemical processing.

11. LFTR is intrinsically safe because overheating expands the fuel salt past criticality, because LFTR fuel is not pressurized, and because total loss of power or control will allow a freeze-plug to melt, gravitationally draining all fuel salt into a dump tray, where it cools convectively.

12. 100% of LFTR's thorium fuel is burned, compared to 0.7% of uranium burned in today's nuclear reactors.

13. LFTR is proliferation resistant, because LFTR U-233 fuel also contains U-232 decay products that emit strong gamma radiation, hazardous to any bomb builders who might somehow seize control of the power plant for the many months necessary extract uranium.

14. In the LFTR, plutonium and other actinides remain in the salt until fissioned, unlike today's solid fuel reactors, which must refuel long before these long-lived radiotoxic elements are consumed, because of radiation and thermal stress damage to the zirconium-encased solid fuel rods.

15. No plutonium or other fissile material is ever isolated or transported to or from the LFTR, except for importing spent nuclear fuel waste used to start the LFTR.

HIV and AIDS could be eliminated with Aggressive use of Existing Drugs and Diagnostics

From the New Scientsit, it would be possible to perform annual tests and give existing drugs to whoever tests positive, the drugs can reduce transmission rates to 1 in 1000.

A program of HIV elimination would cost several billion per year more than current treatment but would start costing less in about 2030.

Better and cheaper treatments and diagnostics could lower the costs and make the program of eliminating HIV and AIDs an easier choice. There are complicating politics and social issues to hinder implementing this program.

February 18, 2009

Updated Project Orion: Nuclear Pulse Propulsion Photos and Videos

The largest container ships can hold about 11,000-15000 shipping containers. The ships weigh 170,000 tons. Each container can hold a maximum of 14 tons. The space shuttle could take less than two full containers into space. The Super-Orion nuclear external pulse propulsion rocket had an 8 million ton size and could have taken 3 million tons of cargo anywhere in the solar system. Click on the photos for larger images.

UPDATE: There over a dozen articles on project Orion at this site. A couple go over how to minimize fallout and EMP and another looks at bomb selection and other big rocket designs.

"This is Rocket Science" has some nice photos.

A more extreme design called for a ship with a pusher plate with a diameter of 400 meters. This ship would have been launched from a site at Jackass Flats on the nuclear testing range in Nevada. The initial explosions would have been made with conventional explosives, to avoid extreme pressures, temperatures and fallout, with the ship sitting on 76 meters high towers. The mass of the ship would have been in the order of millions of tons.

400 meters in diameter means that the area (footprint) is about 30 football fields. 4 football fields long by 8 football fields wide. The height of the super-orion is about the height of skyscraper like Taipei 101 or Petronas Towers. The base of the Great Pyramid forms a nearly perfect square with about 230 m (756 feet) on a side. When newly completed, the Great Pyramid rose 146.7 m (481.4 ft)—nearly 50 stories high. Super-Orion would have had the volume of about 10 Great Pyramids.

The million ton or multi-million ton super-Orions would carry several times the cargo of the largest cargo ships and super-tankers

500,000 ton super oil tanker.

Large loaded aircraft carriers top out at about 100,000 tons

Seldan Ball has an great collection of links and pictures on project Orion

These are comparisons of different sized Project Orion designs. Over the two photos going from the 10-M (10 man) design up to 40,000 ton and then up to super-Orion size.

Rhys Taylor has excellent photos from his videos

The BBC had a piece that showed some of the external pulse propulsion tests and the history of the project. As Arthur Clark says, "Chemicals are feeble compared to atomic bombs...project Orion is only way we are getting large payloads around the solar system even now".

This site has covered project Orion and nuclear pulse propulsion several times.

Seaship sizes

Major ship size groups include:

* Handy and Handymax: Traditionally the workhorses of the dry bulk market, the Handy and more recent Handymax types remain popular ships with less than 60,000 dwt. The Handymax sector operates in a large number of geographically dispersed global trades, mainly carrying grains and minor bulks including steel products, forest products and fertilizers. The vessels are well suited for small ports with length and draft restrictions and also lacking transshipment infrastructure. This category is also used to define small-sized oil tankers.
* Panamax: Represents the largest acceptable size to transit the Panama Canal, which can be applied to both freighters and tankers; lengths are restricted to a maximum of 275 meters, and widths to slightly more than 32 meter. The average size of such a ship is about 65,000 dwt. They mainly carry coal, grain and, to a lesser extent, minor bulks, including steel products, forest products and fertilizers.
* Capesize: Refers to a rather ill-defined standard which have the common characteristic of being incapable of using the Panama or Suez canals, not necessarily because of their tonnage, but because of their size. These ships serve deepwater terminals handling raw materials, such as iron ore and coal. As a result, "Capesize" vessels transit via Cape Horn (South America) or the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa). Their size ranges between 80,000 and 175,000 dwt. Due to their size there are only a comparatively small number of ports around the world with the infrastructure to accommodate such vessel size.
* Aframax: A tanker of standard size between 75,000 and 115,000 dwt. The largest tanker size in the AFRA (Average Freight Rate Assessment) tanker rate system.
* Suezmax: This standard, which represents the limitations of the Suez Canal, has evolved. Before 1967, the Suez Canal could only accommodate tanker ships with a maximum of 80,000 dwt. The canal was closed between 1967 and 1975 because of the Israel - Arab conflict. Once it reopened in 1975, the Suezmax capacity went to 150,000 dwt. An enlargement to enable the canal to accommodate 200,000 dwt tankers is being considered.
* VLCC: Very Large Crude Carriers, 150,000 to 320,00 dwt in size. They offer a good flexibility for using terminals since many can accommodate their draft. They are used in ports that have depth limitations, mainly around the Mediterranean, West Africa and the North Sea. They can be ballasted through the Suez Canal.
* ULCC: Ultra Large Crude Carriers, 300,000 to 550,000 dwt in size. Used for carrying crude oil on long haul routes from the Persian Gulf to Europe, America and East Asia, via the Cape of Good Hope or the Strait of Malacca. The enormous size of these vessels require custom built terminals.

Cement Jet Printed Buildings on the Moon and Mega-scale Fabrication

Contour Crafting, cement-jet printing of buildings, has been studied for use on the moon. Contour Crafting is the only layered fabrication technology which is suitable for large scale fabrication. CC is also capable of using a variety of materials with large aggregates and additives such as reinforcement fibre. Due to its speed and its ability to use in-situ materials, Contour Crafting has the potential for immediate application in low income housing and emergency shelter construction. One of the ultimate goals of humans is building habitats on other planets for long term occupancy. The CC approach has direct application to extraterrestrial construction. A NASA supported project was aimed at studying the applicability of CC for Lunar construction (Khoshnevis et al., 2005). The development path is to first make single household houses, then multi-unit apartments and offices and then whole communities and towns.

Contour crafting (CC) is a method of layered manufacturing (LM) process that uses polymer, ceramic slurry, cement, and a variety of other materials and mixes to build large scale objects with smooth surface finish (Khoshnevis, 1998). Other key advantages of CC are faster fabrication speed and possibility of integration with other robotics methods for installing internal components such as pipes, electrical conductors, and reinforcement modules to enhance mechanical property (Kwon, 2002).

Contour Crafting technology has the potential to build safe, reliable, and affordable lunar and Martian structures, habitats, laboratories, and other facilities before the arrival of human beings. Contour Crafting construction systems are being developed that exploit in situ resources and can utilize lunar regolith as construction material. These structures can include integrated radiation shielding, plumbing, electrical, and sensor networks.

Contour Crafting (CC) is the only fabrication technology capable of building objects with large layer heights while maintaining near-perfect surface quality. CC uses computer control to exploit the superior surface-forming capability of troweling to create smooth and accurate planar and free-form surfaces out of extruded materials. With its relatively large nozzle orifice, CC offers important advantages, including better surface quality, higher fabrication speed, and wider choice of materials/additives.

Lunar Construction
The concept development and trade study of the mobile gantry robot design for CC lunar construction includes the study of mobile platform design, deployable gantry, interface with nozzle and material delivery, leveling using stabilizing legs, passive compliant joints and locking, sensor-based motion and mobility control, and supervisory autonomous control. A lunar mobile gantry robot can be viewed as two rover platforms connected by a crossbeam. Two mobile rovers must be able to move without damaging the rovers and crossbeam. Passive compliant joints and position sensors will be utilized for safe and reliable mobility control. The mobile platforms will most likely to have four wheels with steering and drive motors for each wheel. The mobile platforms will also be equipped with CPU’s as well as various sensors such as inertial measurements units (IMU’s), laser sources, and cameras.

In Situ Lunar Materials
Cementitious materials such as concrete consist of cement, water, and aggregates, and are produced by curing mixed material in molds. Cement can be produced by lunar Anorthite and glass by means of sintering and crushing processes, while water can be made by reducing lunar oxides with hydrogen. Hence, hydrogen would be the only required material to be transported from Earth. Some lunar materials like lunar glass, basalt, and anorthite contain 9 to 19% by weight of CaO and are considered potential raw materials for cement production. By comparison, Portland cement generally consists of CaO content of around 64% by weight and is contained in a relatively small area of the CaO-Al2O3-SiO2 phase diagram. From a mineralogical standpoint, lunar materials are classified as pyroxene, olivine, plagioclase feldspar, ilmenite, and spinel. Among these, pyroxene and plagioclase feldspars are possible sources for calcium oxide. Table 1 shows the mineral compounds of lunar cement compared to that of Portland cement. The most important compounds contributing to the strength of hydrated cement paste are C3S and C2S. However, research shows that this is not a problem in developing the required compressive strength of lunar concrete. In fact, a tested lunar mortar mix has been shown to be capable of developing 3,176 psi compressive strength without gypsum being added to the mix and 5,627 psi with gypsum.

Even though concrete appears to be well suited for lunar structures, the production of concrete on the Moon poses many challenges. The mixing and placing of concrete in a microgravity environment is not well understood and has been the subject of recent research. The mixing and placing of concrete on earth is largely dependant on gravity for uniform consolidation of cement particles and proper hydration. It is seen that traditional wet mix methods are not adequate for a lunar environment especially due to the water constraint. Three methods of producing concrete in a microgravity environment are considered in the research paper. The traditional wet-mix method, the Dry- Mix/Steam Injection (DMSI) method, and the waterless sulfur/regolith mix (WSRM) method.

The dry mix and the sulfur concrete options seem to be more promising.

Fiberglass and glass rods are ideal candidates for use in lunar construction. Fiberglass can be used in a number of applications including weaving cylindrical pressure vessels, electrical insulation, braided cables and reinforcement in structural materials. Glass rods can be utilized as struts, compression members in tensegrity elements and structural reinforcement. Both are prime candidate in-situ materials for use as reinforcement in lunar concrete structures.

Mega-scale Fabrication

Mega-scale fabrication with contour crafting pdf.

Commercial concrete construction processing consists of mixing, transporting, and
placing of the concrete. Truck-mixing is used in most construction fields. Concrete is transported with belt conveyers, buckets, and chutes depending on the construction field site and structure design. After the concrete is placed, it is compacted within the forms to remove lumps or voids. Hand tools or mechanical vibrators are used to guarantee a uniform dense structure.

In the contour crafting process, placing concrete requires different procedures. A batch of concrete is poured to a height of 5 inch (13 cm) and a second batch is poured on top of the first batch after one hour. A one hour delay batch is sufficient to control the lateral pressure of the concrete by allowing it to partially cure and harden. Even using one hour delay, it is possible to erect 10 foot high concrete walls in a day. The time delay needs to be adjusted depending on the concrete hardening rate. Accelerators chemicals may be added when higher concrete placing rates are needed.

Some structures cannot be constructed without sacrificial support. For example,
depending on the material properties (tensile strength and interlayer adhesiveness) and arch geometry (span, rise and thickness), certain arches will collapse during the
contour crafting construction process without external support. However, once completed (with the equivalence of keystone inserted) arches are very stable load-bearing structures. Sacrificial supports contribute to construction waste, and they may need to be manually removed after construction. The goal of this reasoning module is to design sacrificial supports that

• reduce stresses that cause breakages and deformations
• minimise the material and time used to construct the sacrificial supports.

Building on top of off-the-shelf CAD systems, such as ArchiCAD, we can provide tools to allow architects to design complex vaulted structures by composing them from primitive design elements. From a palette of primitive design elements, the architect can select and drag multiple design elements on to canvas. These design elements can be resized and repositioned as needed. Then, these design elements are combined using Boolean operations similar to Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG), such as union, intersection and difference.

There are two advantages in using this CSG-like representation. One advantage is that
it can be used to provide quick feedback on the structural appropriateness of the design. Of course, detailed structural properties of complex compound vaulted structures may be difficult to predict without resorting to finite element analysis. However, we can perform quick calculations and simple checks on the design base on knowledge of the primitive vaulted elements. For example, the common column shared by two adjacent arches has to support twice as much downward force.

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