November 14, 2009

Nextbigfuture Highlights Week 39-45

This is the sixth set of highlights for Next Big Future for 2009. more will be added later this weekend.

Here is the link to the highlights for weeks 33-38

Here is the link to the highlights for weeks 20-32

Here is the link to the highlights for weeks 13-19

Here is the link to the highlights for weeks 7-12.

Here is the link to the highlights for weeks 1-6


1. Part 4 on understanding the mach effect for space propulsion

Where does the kinetic energy of a Mach-drive vehicle come from?"

Simple, it's the cosmological gravity/inertia or gravinertial field created by the rest of the mass/energy in the universe. This idea is at the heart of Mach's principle as stated by Ernst mach in the late 1800s. In other words when an M-E drive accelerates itself and anything attached to it, the momentum and energy books for this acceleration step are balanced by subtracting the equivalent energy from this cosmological gravinertial field, which IMO, simultaneously lowers the overall temperature of the causally connected universe. So the Mach drive is just an electric motor that has replaced the driving electric and magnetic fields with the gravinertial field as the intermediating agent.

2. Speculation on combining mach effect propulsion and IEC fusion

3. Winterberg's advanced deuterium fusion rocket design

Winterberg's design to obtain a high thrust with a high specific impulse, uses propulsion by deuterium micro-bombs, and it is shown that the ignition of deuterium micro-bombs is possible by intense GeV proton beams, generated in space by using the entire spacecraft as a magnetically insulated billion volt capacitor. The design could have exhaust that is 6.3% of the speed of light. A multi-stage fusion rocket could achieve 20% of the speed of light with exhaust at that speed.

4. 60 Tesla superconducting magnets could allow tests of gravitational field propulsion

5. 32 Tesla YCBO superconducting magnet project targets 2012

6. Blackhole starships

A non-rotating blackhole with a radius of 0.9 attometers has a mass of about 606,000 tonnes and a power output of about 160 petawatts. Over a period of only 20 days a 160 petawatt power source emits enough energy to accelerate 606,000 tonnes up to about 10% the speed of light. Of course, it is unrealistic to suppose that the emitted energy can be converted into kinetic energy with 100% efficiency, but even if the conversion occurs with an efficiency of only 10%, it only takes 10 times longer to deliver the requisite kinetic energy.

7. Achieving the maximum speed with antimatter space propulsion.

8. Water all over the moon in a thin layer, which is probably from the solar wind hitting the lunar soil.

9. EMdrive controversy and work continue

10. EMdrive based flying car could have a demo in 2012 and a design for a hybrid emdrive spaceplane

11. Confirmation of over 100 kilograms of water ice in a lunar crater

12. Two separate billionaire funded companies are working towards space hotels in 2012

13. Megawatt class Vasimr plasma rocket project targets 2013


14. Interview of Geoffrey Fox by Sander Olson. Dr. Fox is an Indiana University Professor of informatics who is the head of Indiana University's Pervasive Technology Institute and Director of the Community Grids Laboratory at Indiana University. He is also the director of the FutureGrid Program. The FutureGrid project is a four year, $15 million project funded primarily by the National Science Foundation to ascertain optimal ways to link supercomputers together

15. Interview with Dr. Itamar Arel interview by Sander Olson. Dr. Arel runs the Machine Intelligence Lab at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Arel believes that "baby" AIs are possible within 3 years and computers with human-level intelligence are feasible within ten. Dr. Arel is further convinced that the individual components necessary for AI have largely been developed, and that building an Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) should cost only $10-15 million

16. Interview with Dr. Steven Armentrout, the CEO of Parabon Computation. Parabon has a unique approach to cloud computing - they do not own or operate any data centers. Rather, they contract out with Universities and other organizations to utilize unused compute cycles from large groups of idle computers. Parabon then leases most of this unused compute power to its customers. A portion of the unused compute power is allocated to Parabon Nanolabs, which designs drugs.

17. Interview, by Sander Olson, with Richard Varvill, the Technical Director and Chief Designer at Reaction Engines Limited. Reaction Engines Limited is a UK company that is developing a fully reusable launch system called Skylon. Skylon is an unpiloted reusable spaceplane that will have a hybrid jet/rocket engine and take off from an airport to achieve orbit. Mr. Varvill believes that Skylon could begin flight testing by 2020, and may eventually reduce launch costs to as low as $5 million per flight

18. David Calkins Interview by Sander Olson

David Calkins is a roboticist who is the President of the Robotics Society of America. He has taught robotics at San Fransisco State University, designed and built hundreds of robots and has worked with NASA on the robotics education project. He recently created a company to produce robots for the home.

There are two embedded videos. The videos are about
* David Calkins on Humanoid Robots
* David Calkins reveals the basics of putting together and programming your very own android

19. Richard Walker interview. Richard Walker is the technical director of Shadow Robotics, which is a British robotics company. Shadow Robotics has developed a dexterous human hand which has capabilities and a range of motion similar to a human hand. The company is also developing other robotic limbs such as arms and legs. The company is now researching embedding intelligence into their hand, as well as putting skin on the limbs. As the cost of robots decreases and the cost of human labor increases, robots will start to become ubiquitous in society.


20. Japan is still working on muon catalyzed fusion and the researchers there have several intersting ideas on how to improve the effectiveness by the 8-25 times needed to achieve commercializable levels. Laser compression of the fuel could improve the effficiency by 4 times and stripping muons from muonic helium atoms could provide another double.

21. Winterberg's metastable superexplosives could help make fusion energy and could also make fusion bombs without a fission trigger.

22. Winterberg compares his Super Marx generator pure deuterium micro-detonation ignition concept to the Lawrence Livermore National Ignition Facility (NIF) Laser DT fusion-fission hybrid concept (LiFE)

Winterberg's super Marx generator would be one hundred ten megavolt marx generators connected in series for gigavolt charge.

23. 3 megavolt marx generator exists at the University of Missouri Columbia and 10+ megavolt marx generators have been built

An 18 megavolt marx generator was built in 1969 and operated to at least 11 megavolts

An l8 megavolt, 1 megajoule Marx generator has been constructed and tested to 11 MV as the primary energy store of the Hermes II flash x-ray machine. It had over 50,000 firings.

24. Liquid nuclear battery can have one million times the energy density of chemical batteries

25. Dense plasma focus fusion introduction video

26. Eight objectives of the focus fusion experiments in 2009 and 2010

27. GE is working on 65% efficient pulse detonation turbine for natural gas power plants


28. Near term prospects for increased longevity from calorie restriction mimicking drugs

29. Long telomeres and rebuilding telomeres linked to living to 100 or more

30. Advances on many fronts to repair spinal cords

31. Modified HIV more effectively deliver gene therapy treatment

32. Biodegradable circuits could enable better neural interfaces and LED tattoos

Computers and Communication

33. 7500 lines of Bug Free Code, A Mathematically Verified Crash Proof Operating System Kernel

Computer researchers at UNSW (University of New South Wales) and NICTA (NICTA is Australia’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Centre of Excellence) have achieved a breakthrough in software which will deliver significant increases in security and reliability and has the potential to be a major commercialisation success.

35. Scientists in Bell Labs, the Alcatel’s research arm, have set a new optical transmission record of more than 100 Petabits per second.kilometer (equivalent to 100 million Gigabits per second.kilometer). This transmission experiment involved sending the equivalent of 400 DVDs per second over 7,000 kilometers, roughly the distance between Paris and Chicago. This is the highest capacity ever achieved over a transoceanic distance and represents an increase that exceeds that of today’s most advanced commercial undersea cables by a factor of ten.

36. Magnetcentricity - charge and current of monopoles in spin ice

37. A new digital "electronics" concept is introduced. The concept, called nano-electron-fluidic logic (NFL), is based on the generation, propagation and manipulation of plasmons in a two-dimensional electron gas behaving as an electron fluid. NFL gates are projected to exhibit femtojoule power dissipations and femtosecond switching speeds at finite temperatures. NFL represents a paradigm shift in digital technology, and is poised as a strong candidate for "beyond- CMOS" digital logic.

* Operates with far less heat and more efficient energies (femtojoules)
* Faster switching speeds (femtosecond)
* higher density potential for devices
* Terahertz operating speeds for chips
* Propogation velocity of electron fluid is hundreds of times faster than electrons in current CMOS
* Device construction is compatible with current lithography

38. Xerox paves the way for low cost printable electronics

39. Quantum computer algorithms for speeding solution of linear and differential equations.

40. Eric Drexler comments on the quantum computer algorithm for linear equations and J Storrs Hall talks Artificial Intelligence.

41. Dwave Systems continues to work on commercializing 128 qubit adiabatic quantum computer and should be progressing to larger numbers of qubits in 2010 and beyond

42. Fundamental quantum limits of computing speed

43. Living yeast cells have been coated with silica and should allow control of cells and integration with electronics.

44. First hyperlens for sound waves boost resolution eight times


45. Atomtronic Circuits of Diodes and Transistors

Atomtronics has the goal of developing a one-to-one analogy of electronic systems, components and devices with ultracold atoms trapped in optical lattices It is being researched at the University of Colorado. The Atomtronic Anderson Group of Optical Physics

Their atom-optical analogy to electronic circuits begins with the definition of the `atomtronic battery', which is composed of two reservoirs of ultracold atoms having different chemical potentials (corresponding to different electric potentials at the terminals of a conventional battery). The `wires' and atomtronic components are composed of optical lattices, and current refers to the number of atoms that pass a specific point in a given amount of time.

Atomtronic Diode
The atomtronic diode is a device that allows an atomic flux to flow across it in essentially only one direction. It is made by adding a potential step, which emulates a semiconductor junction (the boundary between p-type and n-type solid-state materials), to an energetically-flat optical lattice

46. Roadmap for additive manufacturing

47. Nanoantennas could enable future multi terabit wireless optical quantum communication

48. DNA origami self assembly of carbon nanotubes into transistors

49. Carbon nanotube fibers hundreds of meters long that if they could be provided with pure metallic carbon nanotubes would enable very low energy loss energy grid

50. Electron spin controlled with electric fields

51. Human genome sequencing cost of materials down to about $1500


52. A list of nextbigfuture ways to mitigate a lot of CO2 and black carbon (soot)


53. Mostly automated driving road trains and modular vehicles


54. singularity summit 2009 videos

Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk

calcium and vitamin D nutritional status substantially reduces all-cancer risk in postmenopausal women.

This suggests and provides reinforcement for nutrigenomics.

Imagine a physician or dietitian handing you a set of individualized nutritional guidelines based on your unique genetic makeup – one that could help you ward off such diseases as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

That’s the ultimate goal of the Nebraska Gateway for Nutrigenomics, a new research initiative at UNL (University of Nebraska Lincoln). It aims to use genome-based technologies to figure out what makes individuals and some ethnic groups susceptible to certain diseases and develop nutritional strategies to overcome those susceptibilities.

Proper nutrition is obviously a vital part of good health and achieving optimal health with sensors and tests that are monitoring each individual could provide gains for getting each person to have optimal health.

International society of nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics.

Micronutrient deficiencies effect the developed world as well as the poor countries.

Magnesium is a must. The diets of all Americans are likely to be deficient. Even a mild deficiency causes sensitiveness to noise, nervousness, irritability, mental depression, confusion, twitching, trembling, apprehension, insomnia, muscle weakness and cramps in the toes, feet, legs, or fingers.

Folic acid deficiency can lead to neural tube closure defects (NTDs) and anemia.

Zinc deficiency affects immune function, contributing to as many as 800,000 child deaths per year.

Iodine deficiency is the leading preventable cause of brain damage and it can significantly lower the IQ of whole populations.

The Journal of Integrative Biology has had issues on the emerging field of nutrigenomics

A previous article on nutrigenomics and life extension

DARPA projects for 2010

DARPA project solicitations for 2010

SB101-001 Development of Robust, Effective, Inexpensive, Flexible Water and Oxygen Barriers for Flexible Organic Light-Emitting Diodes (FOLEDs)
SB101-002 Enabling Effective Intelligent Tutoring Systems by Sensing Affect
SB101-003 Therapeutic Hypothermia for Treating Traumatic Brain Injury
SB101-004 High Performance Imaging for Small UAV Applications
SB101-005 Tools for the Analysis of Social and Group Dynamics
SB101-006 Adaptive Data Visualization Under Cognitive and Communications Bandwidth Limitations
SB101-007 Experience-Based Advisory Systems for Ground Operations
SB101-008 High-Power High-Linearity High-Speed Photodetection Modules
SB101-009 Miniature UV Sources for Imaging Applications
SB101-010 Non-Condensing Anti-Fog Hydrophobic Optical Coating
SB101-011 Simplified Interface for Navigation Devices for Addition of Aiding Sensors
SB101-012 Revolutionary Electric Propulsion
SB101-013 High Density Power Converter Electronics
SB101-014 Passivation of Laser Diode Micro Channel Coolers

1. Darpa is looking for research projects that would create a “therapeutic hypothermia device” to prevent traumatic brain injuries from causing permanent molecular damage to the brain. The idea is based on successful studies that used cortical cooling to treat survivors of strokes and cardiac arrest. According to Darpa’s solicitation, cooling down the brain after trauma can offer “dramatic neuroprotection” that will prevent long-term harm to cognition and motor skills.

2. Develop a system that assesses and uses a student’s affective state to improve the effectiveness of Intelligent Tutoring Systems.

One way to improve the overall effectiveness of Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs) is to enable them to characterize student affect and craft instructional content and delivery based on this assessment. Significant research has been done linking facial expressions to different affective states and to exploit these relationships to guide machine responses accordingly. The goal of this SBIR is to develop a system that significantly expands these findings to characterize student affective state using a much wider range of such behaviors (eg facial expressions, gestures, tonal inflections), to guide an ITS in crafting appropriate instruction based on this assessment. The resulting technology must be platform independent, calibratable to different individuals and transparent to the user.

It is estimated that within the DoD, if these and similar training technologies could reduce the time to deliver specialized skill training to just half of all personnel by 30%, the resulting cost savings would approach $500M/yr. One key to ensuring this reduction in training time is to enable these systems to more effectively tailor instructional content to individual student needs by assessing student affect. Commercially, there is a large training and education sector currently working to provide computer based training tools to the K-12 student demographic

3. Revolutionary Electric Propulsion

Accomplish a Phase I feasibility study for design, manufacture and/or test of highly efficient, light weight and long life electric propulsion (EP) thrusters with high thrust to power while at high specific impulse.

Specific objectives are a thruster specific mass of less than 3 Kg/kW while either demonstrating a thrust to power ratio of over 100:1 at a specific impulse of over 1,000 sec, or over 40:1 at 4,000 sec. For all approaches, the ability to throttle the thruster is highly desirable with performance interpolated between these extremes. The minimum lifetime of the proposed electric thruster shall be at least 20,000 hours with a goal of exceeding 50,000 hours at nominal operating conditions. It bears emphasizing that these are minimum goals and special consideration will be given to revolutionary concepts able to significantly exceed these goals

4. Development of Robust, Effective, Inexpensive, Flexible Water and Oxygen Barriers for Flexible Organic Light-Emitting Diodes (FOLEDs)

The ultimate target for barrier performance is a water transmission rate of 1 x 10^-6 g/m2/day which can survive a 5% film strain.

Potential Commercial Applications: flexible displays, packaging for meals ready to eat and medical supplies.

One of the primary considerations in developing this technology will be the cost to produce the barrier. A target cost of less than $1/ft^2 for barrier fabrication has been set by the display industry .This goal is not feasible with conventional ALD batch processing. Higher throughput – for example roll-to-roll – ALD deposition technology needs to be developed to significantly reduce the cost of barrier fabrication

Other Department of Defence solicitations

Britain Planning to Have Ten New Nuclear reactors by 2018 and China Prepares to Independently Build Six AP1000 Reactors

1. The British government wants to have 10 nuclear power plants online by 2018. They want the reactors to generate a quarter of Britain's power, compared with 13 percent today.

2. China is building another six AP1000 reactors. These new units are to be the first built independently after the technology transfer that was part of Westinghouse's contract.

The sites are Xian'ning, Hubei province, Tauhuajing in Hunan, and Pengze in Jiangxi. All have been given the go-ahead for final design and initial construction work, such as site clearance, for the first two reactors at each site. Main construction is set to start on all three sites around this time next year, with commercial operation following around 2015.

The AP1000 features modular construction and China has quickly set up specialised nuclear facilities to produce the very large modules - effectively creating a production line for nuclear power plants.

J Storrs Hall Foresight on AI and Drexler on Quantum computing and DNA Nanotechnology

1. Drexler comments on the Caltech work "Self-assembly of carbon nanotubes into two-dimensional geometries using DNA origami templates"

This achievement is a milestone in framework-directed self assembly of composite nanosystems, a line of development that I’ve argued is a strategic direction in atomically precise fabrication — useful in itself, and as part of a technology platform for further progress. In self-assembling molecular machine systems, carbon nanotubes could serve as structural components that are orders of magnitude stiffer than biomolecules, and can also serve as moving parts, including low-friction linear and rotary bearings.

The work is scalable to billions of units self assembled in parallel.

2. J Storrs Hall discusses the AI takeover

There are at least 4 stages of intelligence levels that AI will have to get through to get to the take-over-the-world level. In Beyond AI I refered to them as hypohuman, diahuman, epihuman, and hyperhuman; but just for fun let’s use fake species names:

Robo insectis: rote, mechanical gadgets (or thinkers) with hand-coded skills, such as Roomba or industrial robots or automated call-center systems or dictation programs.

Robo habilis: Rosie the housemaid robot level intelligence, able to handle service level jobs in the real world but not a rocket scientist.

Robo sapiens: up to and including rocket scientists, AI researchers, corporate executives, any human capability.

Robo googolis: a collection of top R. sapiens wired together in a box running at accelerated speed, equivalent to, say, Google (the company and the search engine together).

First point: One R. googolis can’t take over the world, any more than Google could. You’d have to get to the next stage (R. unclesammus).

3. J Storrs Hall asks do we need Friendly AI?

We should be spending our time on is figuring out how to build competent AI.

First principle of competent AI design: Build a machine that understands what you want. The paperclip maximizer is a study in amazing contrasts — presumably an intelligence powerful enough to take over the world would be capable of understanding human motivations even better than we do, so as to manipulate us effectively. Yet it’s built with a complete cognitive deficit of appropriate motivations, goals, and values for itself. Incompetent.

Second principle: build machines that know their limitations. This basically means that it should confine its activities to those areas where it does understand the effects of its actions.

But in order to do that, we first have to be able to build a machine that can actually understand something — anything — in the full human-level meaning of understanding.

4.J Storrs Hall proposes a Robo Habilis Tests

One of the goals of the AGI Roadmap is to chart paths to full human intelligence, and one of the paths might follow the one that evolution took. The Wozniak Test, i.e. being able to make coffee in any randomly-chosen home, is a case of tool use competence. It is a special case of what we might call the Nilsson Test, as outlined in a paper in 2005 by Nils Nilsson, one of the leading figures in AI:

I suggest we replace the Turing test by something I will call the “employment test.” To pass the employment test, AI programs must be able to perform the jobs ordinarily performed by humans. Progress toward human-level AI could then be measured by the fraction of these jobs that can be acceptably performed by machines.

J Storrs Hall defends the Robo Habilis test by indicating that it is necessary to test intelligence and also test what we think are the "simple things" AI researchers made the mistake decades ago of mistaking what was easy and what was hard.

5. Drexler notes how press releases and articles overstate the capabilities of a recent MIT quantum algorithm. the algorithm does not provide solutions to systems of linear equations: It outputs scalars, not vectors, and this is not at all the same thing.

The algorithm delivers a scalar measurement on a solution vector, which can be a function of the entire vector or, as a special case, any one of the trillion vector components

Dwave Systems Quantum Computer Processor Control Circuitry

Dwave systems has a 48 page presentation that describes more technical details and specifics of the operation of their adiabatic quantum computers.

the steps to run the dwave adiabatic quantum computer (currently 128 qubits)

1. Load 100 microseconds
2. Wait to cool 1 milliseconds (loading heats ot 400 millikelvin)
3. Anneal system 10 microseconds
4. Read qubit state 100 microseconds

No programming errors in 15,300,000 operations.

The hardware returns low energy solutions with very high probability. This
is the expected behaviour of a AQO processor operated at finite T.

* Thermally distributed results, consistent with complete system being quantum! More analysis needed, but it looks that it would behave differently if it were purely classical.
* Three C4 (128 qubit) processor chips are currently being calibrated.

November 13, 2009

World Nuclear Power in 2009

World Nuclear power generation for 2007 and 2008

The IEA nations currently generate about 80% of the worlds nuclear power and for the first seven months of the year are down 0.7% from 2008.

The IEA total for Jan-July,2009 is 1246.2 TWHe. For 2008 the IEA total was 2160 TWHe. The world total was 2601 TWhe in 2008.

Through September 2009, year-to-date nuclear generation in the USA was 610.9 billion kilowatt-hours compared to 607.0 bkWh for the same period in 2008 and 607.8 bkWh in 2007 (the record year for nuclear generation).

During Q4 2009, and in particular since the end of October, the nuclear fleet in France experienced several unplanned outages, linked in particular to some equipments (steam generators, alternators), whose replacement was necessary and already planned in part as soon as in 2010. These outages, which affect the objective of the improvement of the nuclear fleet this year, are now leading to expect a nuclear output of around 390 TWh in 2009.

British Energy nine-month nuclear generation amounting to 42 TWh (+40% compared with the same period in 2008).

China's nuclear power output increased 4.3% year on year to 6.65 billion kWh in October 2009.

In the first half of 2009 in Japan, the capacity factor was up from 2008, resulting in a 3.2% increase in nuclear power generation to 125.57 billion kWh.

Japan's nuclear capacity factor was up from the last year, resulting in a year-on-year 10.2% increase in nuclear power generation to 21.78 billion kWh. Capacity factors in October 2009 and October 2008 were 64.5% and 56.9%, respectively (Japan Atomic Power Company figures excluded).

Canada Bruce Power was about level with 2008 generation so far in 2009

Russia generated 104 billion kWh from its nuclear power plants in January - August 2009 Russia is on track to match 2008 nuclear power generation. Russia has a damaged hydroelectric dam so there will be no reduction in nuclear electricity generation due to lack of demand in the later part of 2009.

The nuclear power plants of Ukraine's national energy generating company Energoatom generated 68.08 billion kWh of electricity in January-October 2009, which is 101.3% of the target. On track for 81.6 billion kwh for the year with the same performance in November and December as the rest of the year. 7.558 billion kWh in October. 15.1 billion kWh where November and December match October would be 83 billion kWh.

Japan's nuclear power - ten electric utilities

Links to all of the worlds utilities that are generating nuclear power

Confirmation of Water ice in Lunar Crater

Results of NASA 's satellite impact on the moon have revealed water ice at lunar pole

The 1.6km-high plume (one mile high) of debris was kicked up by the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) last month when it crashed into a crater near the Moon's south pole.

Based on the measurements, the team estimated that there was about 220 pounds (100 kilograms) of water in the view of their instruments, which took in the area of the impact crater (about 80 feet or 20 meters across) and the ejecta blanket (about 200 to 260 feet across, or 60 to 80 meters), Colaprete said. The amount of water in the plume was "a dozen two-gallon buckets" of water.

The identification of water-ice in the impact plume is important for purely scientific reasons, but also because a supply of water on the Moon would be a vital resource for future human exploration.

The impact into Cabeus crater threw up a large plume composed of water vapour and debris.

Dense Plasma Focus Fusion Video Background

Here is a new video (1 minute 44 seconds long) that summarizes dense plasma focus fusion. It shows the equipment being used in the latest validation of viability project ($1.2 million from 2009 through 2010). It shows animation of what is happening and has narration.

Forty-Three Qualified Teams Automotive Xprize

Qualified Teams have passed the second judging stage of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. After acceptance of their Registration Application, these teams went on to pass a rigorous review of their Business Plan and initial Technical Specifications.

68 pages of guidelines describe the requirements of the judging process.

The PIAXP will encourage production-capable vehicles and vehicle modifications (not concept cars and experimental products) through tough entrance requirements, judging criteria, performance tests, and a stage race that together evaluate manufacturability, marketability, safety, durability and performance.

For the Business plan qualifying teams had to describe how they planned to go to market. Including high-level insight into their intended production and manufacturing plans, your market demographics, manufacturing cost and challenges, pricing, key assumptions, etc. They also had to describe how they anticipate meeting the servicing requirements of this vehicle. The Xprize people want to know that a few thousand of the car that wins will be made.

There is also a long list of required safety and performance and emissions standards.

[May]-August, 2010 PIAXP vehicle competition events (shakedown stages, knockout qualifier, vehicle tests, race stages)
Locations: TBD;

Mid-August, 2010: Final Race Stage, location TBD

September, 2010: Demonstration stage and awards ceremony
Location: Washington, DC

Xprize Car Market realities:

The automotive industry accounts for 10% of the GDP in developed nations. It uses 15% of the world's steel, 40% of the world's rubber, 25% of the world's glass, and 40% of the world's annual oil output.

Putting super-efficient cars into the hands of consumers requires much more than a technical performance achievement - winners must deal with the realities of manufacturability and post-delivery service. They must also deal with federal and state regulations on emissions and safety.

Although biofuel, fuel-cell, and plug-in technologies are all promising, current consumer attitudes and transportation infrastructure all but require continued use of gasoline and diesel fuels.

Because automotive emissions significantly contribute to global warming and climate change (U.S. cars and light trucks are responsible for 45% of the CO2 emitted by automobiles globally

November 12, 2009

Photorealistic Images of Carpet Cloaks

Photorealistic images of carpet cloaks (9 page pdf)

Using home-built dedicated ray-tracing software, we simulate photorealistic images of sceneries in three dimensions including dielectric carpet cloaks – i.e., continuously varying refractive-index distributions that allow for invisibility cloaking of a bump in a metallic carpet. Results for the ideal and for a simplified cloak are shown. The presented material gives a visual and intuitive impression of the performance of different arrangements and might be ideally suited for communicating the concepts of transformation optics to the general public.

Even an ideal carpet cloak suffers from the “ostrich effect”, i.e., the cloak does make any object under the carpet invisible indeed, but the cloaking structure itself remains visible to some extent. (The ostrich is a large flightless bird native to Africa that sometimes sticks its head into the sand, leaving the rest of its body visible.) We will encounter the visual influence of the ostrich effect in our photorealistic images.

Long Telomeres and Rebuilding Telomeres Clearly Linked to Living to 100

A team led by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University has found a clear link between living to 100 and inheriting a hyperactive version of an enzyme that rebuilds telomeres — the tip ends of chromosomes. The findings appear in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

The researchers found that participants who have lived to a very old age have inherited mutant genes that make their telomerase-making system extra active and able to maintain telomere length more effectively. For the most part, these people were spared age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which cause most deaths among elderly people.

Genetic Variation in Human Telomerase is Associated with Telomere Length in Ashkenazi Centenarians Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 9, 2009

Gil Atzmon web page

Nuclear Roundup - New Plant Costs are Coming Down and Why Amory Lovins is Wrong in Three Parts

1. The official price tag for Georgia Power's share of two new reactors at Plant Vogtle is $1.5 billion lower than when the company requested permission to build them, according to testimony Tuesday in front of the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Projected construction costs dropped, Mr. Burleson said, because the company is avoiding some interest by charging its customers for the reactors before they begin operation.

Customers are paying about $1.30 per month for the reactors; the charge will rise by that amount each year until it tops out at $9.00 per month. When the plants open in six years, the surcharge should stop.

2. Amory Lovins is wrong when he says that nuclear power will increase the cost of building clean energy to reduce CO2

EPRI study shows the cost of implementing major CO2 emissions reductions is significant, development and deployment of a full portfolio of technologies will reduce the cost to the U.S. economy by more than $1 trillion. Less than half of these savings would be achievable if the future electricity sector generation portfolio does not include advanced coal with CO2 capture and storage or advanced light water nuclear reactors.

Stewart Brand indicated:

It turns out that [Lovins’] arguments against the economics of nuclear power work only within the narrow commercial boundaries he defines, which increasingly no longer apply, and he focuses mainly on the US. His reasoning has no traction in relatively dirigiste economies like France, Japan, and most developing countries, especially China and India; if those governments want nukes, they build nukes. More important, the loom of climate change has altered everybody’s perspective on costs and risks.

3. Amory Lovins fails to rebut - "solar and wind power are not baseload". Solar and wind can be connected to the grid and no one said differently. Solar and wind are not baseload power.

“’Baseload,’” she [Gwyneth Cravens] explains in the book, “refers to the minimum amount of proven, consistent, around-the-clock, rain-or-shine power that utilities must supply to meet the demands of their millions of customers.”

Wind and solar, desirable as they are, aren’t part of baseload because they are intermittent—productive only when the wind blows or the sun shines. If some sort of massive energy storage is devised, then they can participate in baseload; without it, they remain supplemental, usually to gas-fired plants.

4. Amory Lovins cherry picked his data on the land footprint of different energy sources.

Three sources cited in the Lovins study concluded that nuclear uses much less land than solar and wind. Clearly, the authors of those studies consider the open areas between wind turbines and the large arrays for solar plants a requirement to function. Yet the Lovins study clearly manipulated the numbers from those sources to fit its own beliefs. Thus, it’s not Brand and Cravens who believe in a land footprint “myth”, it’s Mr. Lovins.

H1N1 Swine Flu Deaths and Vaccination

CNN reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new H1N1 statistics. Nearly 3,900 people, including about 540 children, are believed to have died from the H1N1 flu in the first six months of the epidemic.

In a normal flu season the number of deaths for children is about 100.

Average US flu deaths in a year are about 30,000-40,000 and the numbers could be similar for H1N1. However, 90% of the deaths from H1N1 are for people younger than 65 while normal flu has 90% of deaths for people older than 65.

If there were 39,000 deaths from H1N1 in the USA then the expectation would be 5,400 deaths for children from H1N1. The death rate from H1N1 for children would be 20-40 times higher than regular flu for children. So getting a vaccination against H1N1 is the right choice. If you are under 65 then not getting a vaccination against H1N1 is taking 20-40 times the risk as not getting vaccinated against regular flu. Plus H1N1 could get more virulent (deadly in 2010-2011) so if you do not get it this time and get it next time it could be even worse. H1N1 could also become less deadly in 2010-2011, but that seems like a foolish gamble for something that is 20-40 times more deadly than regular flu.

41.6 million doses of H1N1 vaccine are now available, up from 38 million last week, but "not as much as we'd hoped to have by today." CDC told reporters last week that about 8 million new doses were expected this week. The Department of Health and Human Services has ordered 75 million doses of swine flu vaccine for delivery by year's end.

It takes 2 weeks after a vaccination injection for a body to develop immunity, so in early December the significant number of November vaccinations should significantly reduce the spread and deaths from H1N1.

22 million have gotten sick in the USA with swine flu. If they knew they had swine flu they would not need vaccination. It seems likely that 60 million people will be vaccinated and 35 million people will have gotten swine flu in the USA by the end of 2009. 66 million vaccinations would save about 12,000 lives from those directly vaccinated and also reduce the spread of the disease. 132 million vaccinations would save about 24,000 lives. Combined with those getting immunity from getting and surviving H1N1 would be approximately complete coverage of the USA.

The most likely to die are those who are obese (BMI 35 or higher are five times more likely to die), pregnant women, and those with asthma or other lung diseases. As already noted is the young are more likely to die from H1N1. Those 65 and older seem to have likely contracted something similar to H1N1 prior to 1950 and developed some greater level of resistance.

President Obama has declared H1N1 swine flu a national emergency, clearing the way for his health chief to give hospitals wider leeway in how they handle a possible surge of new patients.

The president granted Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the power to lift some federal regulations for medical providers, including allowing hospitals to set up off-site facilities to increase the number of available beds and protect patients who are not infected.

This was a prudent action to reduce deaths from infectious disease. Although more people will die from heart disease and cancer, those are not infectious diseases.

India Working with France on Extracting Uranium from Seawater

Scientists from the Desalination Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) recovered uranium at milligram levels from sea water using electron beam grafted amidoxime. BARC and the Commissariat a’ Energie Atomique (CEA), France, are collaborating to develop three innovative and efficient methods of uranium extraction. The first method uses resin-grafted with calixarene (a synthetic material, indecently expensive.); magnetic separation is the second method and the third uses a canal system using absorbents.

They developed a semi pilot scale facility to produce radiation grafted sheets of 1 metre X 1 metre size. They collected about 800 microgrammes of uranium in five campaigns from CIRUS Jettyhead; about 1.8 milligrammes from the seawater intake and outfall canals at the Tarapur Atomic Power Station and around 200 microgrammes from Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Though these amounts are trivial, it gives confidence in the technology

Reviewing the Work in Japan

Dr Masao Tanada of the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency hopes to get funding to construct an under-water uranium farm covering nearly 400 square miles that would meet one-sixth of Japan’s annual uranium requirements.

Tanada asserts that Japan’s nuclear power industry can harvest the 8,000 tons it needs annually from the Kuroshio Current that flows along Japan’s eastern seaboard.

Japanese researchers found out that they can harvest uranium from sea by cultivating genetically engineered gulfweed which will grow in sea at an unbelievable rate of two metres an year. The weed selectively soaks up heavy metals including uranium.

What will you do with possibly the millions of tons of grass left over after recovering uranium? Convert it to bioethanol. Gulfweed is an ideal non-food source of bio-ethanol. Gulfweed traps carbondioxide from sea.

The japanese work has been covered before on this site

The Mitsubishi Research Institute (MRI) has recently recommended Japan mass-culture seaweed to collect natural resources such as bio-ethanol and uranium. In the “Apollo and Poseidon Initiative 2025,” MRI suggests that Japan cultures gulfweed, which can grow more than 2 metres high a year in the sea. The plants could also absorb carbon dioxide and purify the seawater, and can be used as non-food alternative energy sources for bio-ethanol. In April, MRI plans to inaugurate a consortium comprising public research institutes and manufacturers to move the plan forward. Using advanced molecular and gene-engineering technologies, MRI estimates that Japan would be capable of producing 65 million metric tons of gulfweed a year, and recovering a resource of 195 million tons of uranium. The annual rate of recovery is 40% of Japan’s total consumption. (19 February 2008, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun)

Using polymers, the total amount of uranium recovered from three collection boxes containing 350 kg of fabric was >1 kg of yellowcake after 240 days of submersion in the ocean. So 65 million tons of seaweed might get 195,000 tons/year of uranium based on a comparable efficiency.

Large scale uranium from seawater plans

Dr Masao Tamada, of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, has developed a fabric made primarily of irradiated polyethylene that is able to soak up the minute amounts of uranium – around 3.3 parts per billion – in the seawater.

Dr Tamada hopes to secure funding to construct an underwater uranium farm covering nearly 400 square miles that would meet one-sixth of Japan's annual uranium requirements.

"Other countries are conducting similar research but none are as advanced as we are," he said. "We need to conduct more development research and be able to produce the adsorbent material on a large scale, but we could achieve this within five years."

The Cost of Recovering Uranium from Seawater at nucleargreen

Confirming Cost Estimations of Uranium Collection from Seawater

Contemplation of a uranium mining ship

November 11, 2009

AMD has an Ambitous Roadmap for 2010 and 2011

AMD laid out an ambitious roadmap for 2010 and 2011, involving its much-hyped Fusion products as well as a slew of new processor technologies.

* Fusion is the combination of a GPU and CPU on one die. The graphics processor is now referred to as an Accelerated Processing Unit (APU). AMD expects to make the first silicon next year and ship by 2011.
* AMD will have new APUs every year
* The first product from AMD will be the "Maranello" server platform in the first half of 2010. It will consist of the new "Magny-Cours" Opteron 6100 processor, which will be a 12-core processor, and a new chipset.
* For low-end solutions, there will be "San Marino," which consists of a four- and six-core "Lisbon" Opteron 4100 processor with a new chipset and single- or dual-socket designs. These will be for low-end servers, some running at just six watts.

* In 2011 comes "Bulldozer," an entirely new processor core for AMD. These will be 32nm processors using high-k metal gate technology, which runs much cooler than existing technologies. On the high end, they will be the Opteron 6200 line, codenamed "Interlagos," with 12 or 16 cores. The 4200 series will have six or eight cores.
* There will also be a low-end "Bulldozer" line, called "Bobcat." It will be used in ultrathin and netbook form factors and is designed to be extremely small, highly flexible and single-threaded. It will run on as little as one watt of power.
*There will be two new desktop platforms in the first half of 2010, "Leo" and "Dorado." Leo will introduce the six-core Athlon, likely the "Thuban," although AMD did not say it by name, while Dorado is a dual-, triple- and quad-core line with integrated graphics.
* AMD is raising its performance claims for the notebook market. It launched "Puma," AMD's answer to Intel's popular Centrino mobile platform last year. Puma launched with four hours of battery life under regular use. When "Tigris" came out earlier this year, it was raised to five hours.
*In 2011, the first Fusion notebooks hit. "Sabine" is the mainstream notebook platform with a quad-core CPU and the "Llano" APU. "Brazos" is AMD's ultra-thin notebook platform slated for 2011 using a dual-core Bobcat processor.
* On the GPU side, AMD will launch three new graphics cards codenamed "Cedar," "Hemlock," and "Redwood" in the first half of 2010, offering high definition, high performance graphics for both desktops and notebooks.

Superconducting Station for Connecting Three Energy Grids to be Ready 2014

MIT Technology Review covers a proposed hub for connecting the three independent electricity grids that span the continental United States could make it easier to ramp up production of renewable electricity.

Only a fraction of 1 percent of the electricity generated in the United States can currently be transferred between the grids, and there is no direct connection between Texas and the Western grid. The Tres Amigas station, which will connect all three grids together in one place for the first time, will initially more than double the ability to transfer power between them, providing five gigawatts of capacity. Eventually, the station is expected to transfer as much as 30 gigawatts of power.

Wall Street Journal blog coverage

Popular Mechanics believes Texas will resist the superstation

A recent proposal to link the eastern, western and Texas grids together to create a national, alt-energy-friendly supergrid has sparked the interest of utilities and energy insiders, such as former energy secretary Bill Richardson. Can a high-tech substation in New Mexico create a smarter, unified grid? Not if Texas doesn't cooperate.

Carnival of Space 128

Over 4000 H1N1 Swine Flu deaths in the USA

The New York Times reports that new CDC H1N1 death statistics that will be released Nov 12-19, 2009 will be about 4000 deaths This is up from prior estimates of 1200 H1N1 deaths in the USA. The actual release date of the updated estimates depends upon the completion of further review.

The larger number of deaths does not mean the virus is more dangerous. Rather, it is a new estimate made by combining deaths from laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu and deaths that appear to be brought on by flu, even though the patient may have ultimately died of bacterial pneumonia, other infections or organ failure.

A much higher death rate would mean more drastic measures to keep people apart and could mean, for example, adding immune-boosting adjuvants to the vaccine so more people could get it.

Secretive Nuclear Fusion Company May Reveal Details in 2010

Tri-alpha energy may reveal some results or technical details in 2010

H/T Talk Polywell

Patents related to the Tri-alpha energy work

Back in 2007, Tri Alpha raised $40 million

Unlike many government-sponsored efforts, however, Tri Alpha is working with fusion reactions that produce fewer neutrons and, thus, less radiation, Mr. Rothrock says. The company also uses a different method for containing and controlling fusion reactions, which happen at million-degree temperatures. “It’s a long way from reality, but the trend line is going in the right direction,” he says. “The science is rock-solid; the calculations continue to bear out the results.”

Mr. Prouty estimates it will take his company “not 15 to 20 [years], but not 3 to 5 either” to go from the research stage to power generation.

TriAlpha is the brainchild of Norman Rostoker, a senior fusion researcher. He had previously collaborated with another researcher, Maglitch, on the MIGMA approach to advanced fuels. This approach involved shooting two counter-circulating beams of ions at each other in a confining magnetic field. It was not very workable, as the ion densities would always be very low. Rostoker combined this idea with another device, the Field Reversed Configuration, sending the beams into the FRC.

The FRC is essentially a large-scale plasmoid centimeters rather microns across, with much lower densities and magnetic fields than with the DPF. It does not benefit from the magnetic field effect as its field are far too low. Scientifically, TriAlpha’s results so far are very modest compared with focus fusion’s. The average ion energy, a measure of plasma temperature is a few 10’s of eV. This is a factor of 10,000 short of what is required for pB11 fusion. Of course, we have already achieved the needed ion energies (100keV) with focus fusion, so in this sense are way ahead. In addition, it is by no means guaranteed that their confinement will remain stable if they can reach higher temperatures.

Dr. Hendrik Monkhorst of the Quantum Theory Project and his collaborator, Dr. Norman Rostoker of UC Irvine, designed a novel type of fusion reactor called the Colliding Beam Fusion Reactor (CBFR).

CBFR in Field Reversed configuration has a cylindrical shape, rotates at a high rate about its axis inside a solenoidal magnet, and thus produces a magnetic field that closes upon itself: a kind of self-confinement of fuel nuclei was established, with all confined particles flowing in the same direction. Protons rotate at a high rate, with an energy of about 1 MeV, and Boron 11 are slower, which causes the protons to literally ‘rear-end’ the Boron 11 with an energy at which fusion cross-section is highest. The collaborators found that plasma parameters could be set such that essentially all injected protons and Boron 11 undergo fusion to 4-Helium which were guided into Direct Energy Converter (DEC) devices. These devices turned their kinetic energy directly into electricity, unlike previous techniques where water was boiled, producing steam which drove turbines to eventually produce electricity. Resulting advantages included abundant fuel supply, nearly no radioactivity, no danger of runaway reactions or explosions, scalability of size and output power, easier engineering and maintainability. They have begun a multi-faceted study which is currently underway to establish the full feasibility of the design. Many calculations, theory development and nuclear polarization (to enhance the fusion reactivity), is centered in the UF Physics Department.

SARTRE Project for Autonomous driving Video and Survey of Attitudes to Road Safety Technology

Project on Social Attitudes to Road Traffic Risk in Europe (SARTRE)

New technologies to enhance road safety

Surveyed atttitudes to three different types of road safety systems. These were those that:
• Helped the driver (aid systems),
• Imposed certain behaviour (alert and intervention systems),
• Could be used by the police to enforce the law (regulatory systems

Below are videos: an animation of the SARTRE lead car following system and an existing real robot car automatically driving and parking in a parking lot.

The SARTRE project launched in EU testing autonomous driving technology.

Results of Survey on Attitudes to Road Safety Technology

Support for these various systems was very varied between countries. For example, less than half (41%) of Swiss drivers supported a system designed to prevent drivers exceeding the speed limit, while in Ireland, 81% support the introduction of such a system. However, this high level of support by the Irish drivers can be partly explained by recent publicity campaigns targeting speed behaviour. It appears that some countries do not like the idea that their behaviour is being controlled, e.g. Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands, although this is less the case in other countries, e.g. Ireland, France and the United Kingdom. In addition to automatic speed cameras, some countries already use cameras to detect drivers not stopping at red lights (‘red runners’) and some use camera technology to monitor ‘tail-gating’ - where drivers of vehicles fail to keep an adequate distance between their vehicle and the one in front of them.
The rapid progress being made in new technologies means that in the future a wide variety of behaviour will be monitored, and perhaps enforced. At present, drivers are more likely to support new technologies designed to enforce red light violations than to detect speeding. As with other new technologies, Swiss drivers are the least favourably disposed to speed radars (at 42%) while the Irish (at 87%) are among the most supportive.
In many countries, drivers declare themselves as being in favour of both types of system (e.g. Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Poland and the United Kingdom) or opposed to both (e.g. Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). These results are probably influenced by the current situation in each country and the drivers’ use of and experience with such devices.
While existing vehicle identification devices
make it possible to have access to some services (e.g. automatic payment of tolls) they may become increasingly useful to the police to, for example, identify those who exceed speed limits, or who infringe other laws. Overall, 61% of European drivers would be ready to install such an identification system in their cars, with the highest level of support being found in Italy and Slovenia; however, only 51% would support such systems being used by the police. There are significant differences between countries. The Irish were very supportive of such a system, while the German speaking countries, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, were typically against them.
Drivers are more in favour of the use of ‘black boxes’, which could record vehicle speeds, steering, braking behaviours, etc., which could help to explain how an accident happened, than they are towards such devices which could be used by the police to enforce traffic laws.Three elements appeared to determine the drivers' attitude such towards new technologies:
- What the system was to be used for;
- Their familiarity with the systems; in some countries, drivers may feel that the use of speed cameras have reached saturation levels, while drivers unfamiliar with a given technological device can tend to overestimate both its advantages and drawbacks;
- The drivers' attitudes towards enforcement and the importance they give to their freedom to behave as they wish

Given the current sophistication of these devices, and the potential uses to which they could be put in the future, it seems surprising that so many drivers support their introduction. It may be that we are already resigned to their introduction, as our society is becoming increasingly advanced technologically. Perhaps it is that automation is fair in that it works the same for everyone

Autonomous Driving and Parking Now

Google Flu Shot Tracker

Gioogle launches a flu shot tracker service.

This project is just beginning and they have not yet received information about flu shot clinics for many locations

Road Trains and Dynamically Reconfigurable Modular Vehicles

The EU is working on road trains, where cars have electronics to allow them to automatically follow lead vehicles driven by professional drivers.

A new EU project SARTRE is being launched to develop and test technology for vehicles that can drive themselves in long road trains on motorways. This technology has the potential to improve traffic flow and journey times, offer greater comfort to drivers, reduce accidents, and improve fuel consumption and hence lower CO2 emissions.

The first test cars equipped with this technology will roll on test tracks as early as 2011. The vehicles will be equipped with a navigation system and a transmitter/receiver unit that communicates with a lead vehicle. Since the system is built into the cars, there is no need to extend the infrastructure along the existing road network.

Lead vehicle

The idea is that each road train or platoon will have a lead vehicle that drives exactly as normal, with full control of all the various functions. This lead vehicle is driven by an experienced driver who is thoroughly familiar with the route. For instance, the lead may be taken by a taxi, a bus or a truck. Each such road train will consist of six to eight vehicles.

A driver approaching his destination takes over control of his own vehicle, leaves the convoy by exiting off to the side and then continues on his own to his destination. The other vehicles in the road train close the gap and continue on their way until the convoy splits up.

Many advantages

The advantage of such road trains is that all the other drivers in the convoy have time to get on with other business while on the road, for instance when driving to or from work. The road trains increase safety and reduce environmental impact thanks to lower fuel consumption compared with cars being driven individually. The reason is that the cars in the train are close to each other, exploiting the resultant lower air drag. The energy saving is expected to be in the region of 20 percent. Road capacity will also be able to be utilised more efficiently.

Dynamic Configuration of Light Car Modules
Another advantage is that it would enable smaller single person modular cars, that still allow more non-driver passengers or empty follow cars with cargo. Why would this be an advantage ? Couldn't we just have a trailer hitch or a sidecar between your car and modules with another person or cargo ? There would be easier dynamic reconfiguration convenience and a module or pod could be dynamically handed off to follow a different vehicle with known destinations (such as buses or delivery trucks). You could start out from your home leading a car with driving controls disabled with a child and you can rendezvous with a school bus or a someone in your trusted network of friends who is communicating a path that will pass the child's destination.

A dynamically configurable set of car modules allows easier usage of only the amount of vehicle that is needed for a trip. You do not have to drive a seven passenger SUV that only has one passenger and no cargo 90% of the time.

The car modules can be cheaper and lighter and more easily fully electrified.

You could also dynamically lend public charging modules, that can be paged for a rendezvous and docked to provide a charging boost.


I noticed that some people are concerned about safety if the people do not take back control of the vehicle. The robotic driving cars that exist now have:

1. Automated parking
2. Developing dynamic cruise control to automatically adjust speed based on location
3. Have been able to navigate urban traffic and rural courses for dozens of miles of driving (DARPA challenge vehicles)

A road train enabled vehicle that does not get the proper alert response from a person who is ready to take over driving again would be able to safely drive the vehicle to the nearest place for a safe park to wait until the person is ready. This capability would be less challenging than the tasks already performed by the DARPA grand challenge vehicles. The sensors and systems for the DARPA grand challenge vehicles are getting cheaper and more capable.

November 10, 2009

Main vessel for India's fast breeder reactor to be lowered mid-November 2009

India's first indigenously designed breeder reactor - which breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes - is being built by Bhavini at the Kalpakkam nuclear enclave.

Lowering of the huge stainless steel main vessel -- 12.9 metres in diameter and 12.94 metres in height, weighing 206 tonnes -- is considered a major step in completing the 500 MW power project by the September 2011 deadline.

The sodium-cooled fast reactor designed by the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) has three vessels - a safety vessel, a main vessel and an inner vessel.

Outermost is the stainless steel safety vessel, which was lowered into the reactor vault last June - the first milestone.

The third and smallest of the three vessels is the inner vessel -- 11 metres tall. It houses pumps, heat exchangers and other equipment. Together, they all go inside the main vessel.

Kumar said the 11-metre-tall cone-shaped inner vessel, thermal baffle, grid plate and primary pipe were ready. The reactor control rods were being tested.

'By March next year the roof slab of the nuclear reactor vault will be erected,' Kumar said.

The other major project activities completed are the erection of four 12.5-metre-tall argon buffer tanks and the transfer of around 825 tonnes of sodium to the sodium storage tanks.

Last word on Japan's Monju fast breeder reactor is for a Feb 2010 restart

Progress Making Large Batches of Graphene Suitable for Computers and Electronics


Nanoletters: Transfer-Free Batch Fabrication of Single Layer Graphene Transistors

Full integration of graphene into conventional device circuitry would require a reproducible large scale graphene synthesis that is compatible with conventional thin film technology. We report the synthesis of large scale single layer graphene directly onto an evaporated copper film. A novel fabrication method was used to directly pattern these graphene sheets into devices by simply removing the underlying copper film. Raman and conductance measurements show that the mechanical and electrical properties of our single layer graphene are uniform over a large area, (Ferrari, A. C. et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 2006, 97, 187401.) which leads to a high device yield and successful fabrication of ultra long (>0.5 mm) graphene channels. Our graphene based devices present excellent electrical properties including a promising carrier mobility of 700 cm^2/V·s and current saturation characteristics similar to devices based on exfoliated graphene (Meric, I.. et al. Nat Nanotechnol. 2008, 3, 654−659).

8 page pdf of supplemental information


(6 page pdf) Nanoletters: Free-Standing Epitaxial Graphene

We report on a method to produce free-standing graphene sheets from epitaxial graphene on silicon carbide (SiC) substrate. Doubly clamped nanomechanical resonators with lengths up to 20 μm were patterned using this technique and their resonant motion was actuated and detected optically. Resonance frequencies of the order of tens of megahertz were measured for most devices, indicating that the resonators are much stiffer than expected for beams under no tension. Raman spectroscopy suggests that the graphene is not chemically modified during the release of the devices, demonstrating that the technique is a robust means of fabricating large-area suspended graphene structures

3. Transfer of Large-Area Graphene Films for High-Performance Transparent Conductive Electrodes

Graphene, a two-dimensional monolayer of sp2-bonded carbon atoms, has been attracting great interest due to its unique transport properties. One of the promising applications of graphene is as a transparent conductive electrode owing to its high optical transmittance and conductivity. In this paper, we report on an improved transfer process of large-area graphene grown on Cu foils by chemical vapor deposition. The transferred graphene films have high electrical conductivity and high optical transmittance that make them suitable for transparent conductive electrode applications. The improved transfer processes will also be of great value for the fabrication of electronic devices such as field effect transistor and bilayer pseudospin field effect transistor devices.

Self-assembly of carbon nanotubes into two-dimensional geometries using DNA origami templates

Nature Nanotechnology: Self-assembly of carbon nanotubes into two-dimensional geometries using DNA origami templates

A central challenge in nanotechnology is the parallel fabrication of complex geometries for nanodevices. Here we report a general method for arranging single-walled carbon nanotubes in two dimensions using DNA origami—a technique in which a long single strand of DNA is folded into a predetermined shape. We synthesize rectangular origami templates (75 nm 95 nm) that display two lines of single-stranded DNA 'hooks' in a cross pattern with 6 nm resolution. The perpendicular lines of hooks serve as sequence-specific binding sites for two types of nanotubes, each functionalized non-covalently with a distinct DNA linker molecule. The hook-binding domain of each linker is protected to ensure efficient hybridization. When origami templates and DNA-functionalized nanotubes are mixed, strand displacement-mediated deprotection and binding aligns the nanotubes into cross-junctions. Of several cross-junctions synthesized by this method, one demonstrated stable field-effect transistor-like behaviour. In such organizations of electronic components, DNA origami serves as a programmable nanobreadboard; thus, DNA origami may allow the rapid prototyping of complex nanotube-based structures.

This work someday may lead to the development of novel types of nanoscale electronic devices, an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has combined DNA's talent for self-assembly with the remarkable electronic properties of carbon nanotubes, thereby suggesting a solution to the long-standing problem of organizing carbon nanotubes into nanoscale electronic circuits.

"We expect that our approach can be improved and extended to reliably construct more complex circuits involving carbon nanotubes and perhaps other elements including electrodes and wiring," Goddard says, "which we anticipate will provide new ways to probe the behavior and properties of these remarkable molecules."

The real benefit of the approach, he points out, is that self-assembly doesn't just make one device at a time. "This is a scalable technology. That is, one can design the origami to construct complex logic units, and to do this for thousands or millions or billions of units that self-assemble in parallel."

In (a), single-wall carbon nanotubes labeled with "red" and "blue" DNA sequences attach to anti-red and anti-blue strands on a DNA origami, resulting in a self assembled electronic switch. In (b), an atomic force microscopey image of one such structure. The blue nanotube appear brighter because it is on top of the origami; the red nanotube sits below. Scale bar is 50 nm. In (c), a diagrammatic view of the structure shown in b. The gray rectangle is the DNA origami. A self-assembled DNA ribbon attached to the origami improves structural stability and ease of handling. Credit: Paul W. K. Rothemund, Hareem Maune, and Si-ping Han/Caltech/Nature Nanotechnology

20 page pdf with supplemental information

Open questions

The protocols described in this paper describe sufficient conditions for the creation of SWNT crossjunction devices. However, there remain open questions concerning what the simplest necessary procedure for creating cross-junction devices might be, as well as what parts of the protocol are most important for success:

1.LNA versus DNA toeholds

Five nucleotide LNA toeholds give good results. We have been unable to find conditions under which 7 and 8 nucleotide DNA toeholds give good results.

2.Plain origami versus origami with ribbons.

The use of ribbons with DNA origami appeared to increase the yield of observed. structures. This needs to be rigorously quantified and other options investigated.

3.Hooks with versus hooks without poly-T segments. Yield and alignment as a function of flexibility.

4. Schemes using strand displacement versus other protected schemes without strand displacement.

5.SWNT alignment as a function of NL-SWNT purity.

6.Why are the ends of nanotubes so often flush with the edges of DNA origami?

7. What is the detailed structure of the linkers on the SWNT and how does this affect alignment?

8. What is the nature of the barrier between SWNTs in our system? Can the intervening DNA layer act as a dielectric?

Carbon Nanotube Fibers Hundreds of Meters Long

This is a follow up to a previous report on Rice University using strong acid to process carbon nanotubes on an industrial scale.

MIT Technology Review reports on a new method for assembling carbon nanotubes has been used to create fibers hundreds of meters long. Individual carbon nanotubes are strong, lightweight, and electrically conductive, and could be valuable as, among other things, electrical transmission wires. But aligning masses of the nanotubes into well-ordered materials such as fibers has proven challenging at a scale suitable for manufacturing. By processing carbon nanotubes in a solution called a superacid, researchers at Rice University have made long fibers that might be used as lightweight, efficient wires for the electrical grid or as the basis of structural materials and conductive textiles.

Using the Rice methods, well-aligned nanotube fibers can be made on a large scale, shot out from a nozzle similar to a showerhead. The Rice group has used acid processing methods to assemble carbon nanotubes into fibers 50 micrometers thick and hundreds of meters long. "There are no limitations on the fiber length," says Pasquali. The Rice group demonstrated its assembly method with high-quality, single-walled carbon nanotubes.

Nature Nanotechnology: True solutions of single-walled carbon nanotubes for assembly into macroscopic materials

Translating the unique characteristics of individual single-walled carbon nanotubes into macroscopic materials such as fibres and sheets has been hindered by ineffective assembly. Fluid-phase assembly is particularly attractive, but the ability to dissolve nanotubes in solvents has eluded researchers for over a decade. Here, we show that single-walled nanotubes form true thermodynamic solutions in superacids, and report the full phase diagram, allowing the rational design of fluid-phase assembly processes. Single-walled nanotubes dissolve spontaneously in chlorosulphonic acid at weight concentrations of up to 0.5wt%, 1,000 times higher than previously reported in other acids. At higher concentrations, they form liquid-crystal phases that can be readily processed into fibres and sheets of controlled morphology. These results lay the foundation for bottom-up assembly of nanotubes and nanorods into functional materials.

The group has made fibers that are highly conductive but not as strong as other carbon materials. Pasquali says the strength of the fibers could probably be improved tenfold by using longer carbon nanotubes. "We're now working on a project for making electrical transmission lines," says Pasquali. "Metallic nanotubes conduct electricity better than copper, they're lighter, and they fail less often."

One important hurdle for large-scale manufacturing of carbon nanotubes remains: Today, there aren't any good methods for making the nanotubes themselves in large, pure batches. In order to make nanotube transmission lines, for example, the Rice group would need to start with a large batch of nanotubes containing all metallic nanotubes and no semiconducting ones. Last month, chemists at the Honda Research Institute published a paper in Science describing a method for making large amounts of metallic nanotubes that Pasquali says is promising. "For transmission lines you need to make tons, and there are no methods now to do that," he says. "We are one miracle away."

Supplemental information links

The steps for making the carbon nanotube fibers

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