April 24, 2010

Dense Plasma Focus Fusion Status and Targets

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Eric Lerner is the driving personality behind Lawrenceville Plasma Physics who are trying to achieve commercial nuclear fusion using dense plasma focus fusion. Here are 19 pages of slides from a 2005 presentation which list the calculated energies needed for commercial net energy.

Microsupercapacitor and Thin Film ultracapacitors

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1. By etching electrodes made of monolithic carbon film into a conducting substrate of titanium carbide, Chmiola and Gogotsi of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab were able to create micro-supercapacitors featuring an energy storage density that was at least double that of the best supercapacitors now available. When used in combination with microbatteries, the power densities and rapid-fire cycle times of these micro-supercapacitors should substantially boost the performance and longevity of portable electric energy storage devices.

Continued Future Energy Discussion and Trying To Help Weird Science Understand

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Weird Science posted a response in our back in forth on future energy. Bruce at Weird Science has some fundamental inconsistencies in how he views the future which are problematic.

Contradictions and Inconsistencies and Unjustified Criteria
Weird Science talks about accepting fossil fuels for 70 years and wanting a future energy source to last for 700 years. These are just numbers that are pulled out of the air or are guesses based on simplified assumptions. Plus the timeframes are so long and sweeping that any analysis requires a laundry list of assumptions and predictions about that the many different 70-700 year scenarios are. I occasionally write about the far future but the farther out you go then the upside scenario becomes trying to get the right century or millenia when humanity might move into a new kardashev classification. The variance can become billions of times different depending upon how things play out. The downside scenario becomes we are all dead.

Fossil fuels could last 200 years or an aggressive program and good technology could cause a major shift from fossil fuels within 50 years.

Displacing coal and a lot of Oil over 50 years
Deeper burn could allow uranium to be used 50 times more efficiently (use all uranium isotopes and use most of the 65% of heat that is not utilized). Instead of using 68,000 tons of uranium to provide 17% of world electricity or 7% of total power needs (including transportation and industrial uses.) you could use the same annual amount of mined uranium to provide triple the worlds electricity and double the industrial heat. This would mean getting up to around 60% conversion of heat to electricity and utilizing the rest of the heat for industrial. Electrification of transportation would allow a lot of the oil to not be used.

Factory built deep burn nuclear fission could be a part of displacing coal. Hyperion Power Generation making thousands of uranium nitride and then uranium hydride reactors could have a major impact from 2013-2030+. China pebble bed reactors starting with HTR-PM will be continuously improving major system. Liquid flouride thorium and accelerator based nuclear reactors could be developed 2025-2035.

Basically consistency for a 70 year forward scenario would say that the future energy source has 20-50 years or so to perfect itself and then 20-30 years to be deployed and be ready for the handoff. China is planning to have nuclear breeders fully ready and deployed in 2050. My scenario about ffactory built deep burn reactors has several active projects actually succeeeding. However, the Weird Science analysis assumes that nuclear fission technology and their economics stays static for 70-700 years.

April 23, 2010

Overview of Advanced Concepts for Space Access Part 1

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Air Force Research Laboratory has a 2008 report that provides an overview of advanced concepts for space access.

* attempt to understand whether chemical systems can ever be replaced
* assess the technology’s potential of providing a cost-effective means of placing objects in orbit around the Earth within the next 15 to 50 year timeframe.
* Two Air Force relevant missions have been used in this study to assess potential launch concepts. The first mission involves placing a large communications satellite in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) which is complicated by the requirement of a relatively large Delta V. For the GEO mission, an analysis based on the availability of a notional space tug, a LEO to GEO transfer vehicle, has been performed to assess the usefulness of the space tug concept from the perspective of launch vehicle design. The second mission involves placing a micro-satellite, with a mass of about 100 kg, in a low-Earth orbit (LEO) which is complicated by the requirements of low-cost and rapid response.

Best of Times and Worst of Times in India and China, More Billionaires and More Poverty

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India's economy is booming, with the number of millionaires and billionaires rising by the day. According to a research by Bain and Co, there are over 115,000 high-net worth individuals in India Today, more than 400 million people live below the poverty line in India (using the World Bank poverty definition of living on less than $1.25 a day). The global meltdown has pushed an additional 25 million to 40 million citizens below the poverty line. India's wealthiest are the less generous than India's high class and middle class. The wealthy of China and Brazil are more stingy than India.

Australian CSIRO Analysis of the Megatrends and Megashocks of Our Future World

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CSIRO has a new report describes the outcomes from a global foresight project. It presents five megatrends and eight megashocks (global risks) that will redefine how the world’s people live.

Kitegen Funding is Not Simple and Somewhat Shrouded in Mystery

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Kitegen situation statement from Carlo Perassi, board of wind Operations which has a stake in Kitegen - the public news that is available is on http://www.kitegen.com/ and http://www.windoperationsworldwide.eu/en/ I can only say, once again, that the well known 15 Million Euros was not funded. The UE funded naval research for 3 Million Euro but just a part of them were related to KiteGen. I couldn't say more during these days. [NOTE: For those unfamiliar with fund raising. If you cannot talk about your funding situation it means that you are in the middle of trying to close a funding deal. If nothing is happening then you can talk about it and if it is a done deal you can talk about after some quiet period]

Kitegen holds all of the patents. Kitves is using the wind sail technology on commercial ships. So Kitves is presumably paying some patent licenses and consulting fees to the Kitegen company. WOW has some level of participation in Kitegen. WOW has about 883,000 euros.

Vietnam Plans to Build Eight 1000 MW Nuclear Reactors by 2030 and UAE Makes Progress to Four Nuclear Reactors

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1. The Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade, stated that the government of Vietnam had adopted a policy to construct eight 1,000 MW class nuclear power reactors at two sites by 2030.
It is anticipated that the contract for the feasibility study would be signed in August followed by work to select the contractor for the second construction phase feasibility study.

April 22, 2010

New ORNL carbon composite Close to Synthetic Human Nervous System

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Mimicking the human nervous system for bionic applications could become a reality with the help of a method developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to process carbon nanotubes Ultimately, the goal is to duplicate the function of a living system by combining the existing technology of glass fiber drawing with the multi-functionality of sub-micron (0.4 micron) scale carbon nanotubes, according to Ivanov, who described the process.

Memristor Extends Moore's Law by Decades and Will Enable Exascale Computers by 2020

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Zdnet visited Stan Williams at HP Labs to discuss memristors
* It will take us about 3 years before we have commercial memristors. The good news is that they are easy to make and completely compatible with standard CMOS chip manufacturing techniques. They also scale to small features very well. And standard chip design tools work very well for memristors. * with memristors, we can easily lay down multiple layers of memristors, effectively extending Moore’s Law by decades.

IBM Uses 3D Nanotip Based Patterning That Made 5 billion Times Smaller Scale Model of the Matterhorn

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Image courtesy of Science/AAAS

Summary - This is huge. IBM is using nanotip fabrication at 15nm resolution now. The nanotip fabrication is faster than ebeam lithography, higher resolution than ebeam and cheaper. They can go to higher resolution. Sounds like 1 nanometer resolution is possible as that is the scanning accuracy. they etched a 25 nm high Matterhorn to 5 billion times smaller scale in 3 minutes. They can do 3D work. IBM is the developer so this will not languish for lack of resources.

Using a novel nanotip-based patterning technique, IBM scientists have created a 25 nanometer-high replica of the Matterhorn peak, a famous Swiss mountain that soars 4,478 m (14,692 ft) high on a piece of molecular glass, representing a scale of 1:5 billion (1 nanometer corresponds to 57 altitude meters). To create the 3D replica 120 individual layers of materials were removed. IBM Research web page for Nanometer-scale direct-write 3D patterning using probes

Published in Science and Advanced Materials.

A nanoscale tip with a sharp apex - 1 million times smaller than an ant - is used to create 2D and 3D patterns and structures as small as 15 nanometers at greatly reduced cost and complexity. This patterning technique opens new prospects for fabricating nanosized electronics and objects in fields ranging from future chip technology to opto-electronics to medicine and life sciences. EETimes reports that the 3D nanoprobe fabrication at the atomic scale outperforms e-beam lithography in speed and resolution at lower cost.

The Nano Mattahron was created in less than 3 minutes with a silicon tip similar those used in atomic-force microscopes, but measuring just 500 nanometers in length and only a few nanometers wide at its apex. The tip was attached to a flexible cantilever that IBM says can scan the surface of any substrate with 1-nm accuracy.

IBM's setup operates like a nanoscale milling machine; by applying heat and force to the tip, any nanoscale pattern can be etched into substrate materials. The researchers modulated the force and heat to create the images by removing unwanted layers the way a sculptor removes stone from a statue; the Matterhorn rendering.

Science Express - Nanoscale 3D patterning of molecular resists by scanning probes by D. Pires, J. L. Hedrick, A. De Silva, J. Frommer, B. Gotsmann, H. Wolf, M. Despont, U. Duerig and A. W. Knoll. (April 22,2010)

Abstract - For patterning organic resists, optical and electron beam lithography are the most established methods, but at resolutions below 30 nanometers, inherent problems result from unwanted exposure of the resist in nearby areas. We present a scanning probe lithography method based on the local desorption of a glassy organic resist by a heatable probe. We demonstrate patterning at a half pitch down to 15 nanometers without proximity corrections and with throughputs approaching those of Gaussian electron beam lithography at similar resolution. These patterns can be transferred to other substrates, and material can be removed in successive steps in order to fabricate complex three-dimensional structures

Made to Order Diamonds for Super Efficient Lasers

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Associate Professor Richard Mildren and his colleagues at the Macquarie University Photonics Research Centre (Australia) have demonstrated diamond lasers with efficiency higher than almost all other materials

"The major achievement is that we are able to use synthetic diamond to create high performing laser devices," Mildren said. "We are now in good position to explore the highly exotic laser properties of diamond, many of which are not so widely appreciated.

High Volume Production of Quantum Dots for Solar Cells and Other Applications

Solterra Renewable Technologies will be producing and distributing a Thin Film Quantum Dot PV Solar Cell, which is differentiated from other traditional PV cells by a unique technology that can result in lower cost, higher efficiency, and broader spectral performance. Solterra's Quantum Dot Solar Cell can achieve a dramatically lower manufacturing cost per watt in part, because we can manufacture our own quantum dots using a patent pending, revolutionary process that results in the production of extremely desirable, high quality tetrapod quantum dots at a cost savings in excess of 95%.

Quantum Materials Corporation (Stock: QTMM) (formerly Hague Corporation) announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Solterra Renewable Technologies entered into a process development agreement with a consortium of advanced chemistry companies in the Netherlands to validate high volume production methods for its proprietary low cost, high quality tetrapod quantum dots. Solterra's vision to significantly increase available solar energy generation and to bring low cost quantum dots to the LED, display, broader optoelectronic and biomedical research markets.

China Economics Quarterly Predicts China to Be Largest Economy Around 2025

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Arthur Kroeber, the Beijing-based managing director of GaveKal Dragonomics, an economic research firm, and editor of the China Economic Quarterly says that China will be the world's largest economy by 2025

If we assume that China's economy continues to grow at 12 per cent a year in nominal US dollar terms (8 per cent average real growth plus 4 per cent combination of inflation and currency appreciation), and the US grows at 5 per cent nominal (3 per cent real plus 2 per cent inflation), then China's economy will surpass the United States in 2025 to become the world's biggest economy, with a GDP of around $31 trillion. It might happen a bit earlier or a bit later

I think the currency appreciation or inflation will be faster and the China's GDP growth will be stronger. Therefore my prediction of China becoming number one around 2017.

IEA Summaries the Energy Efficiency Plans of 18 Countries

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The International Energy Agency summarizes the energy efficiency plans of 18 countries who submitted energy efficiency plans. (12 page pdf, Jan 2010)

In all of the country reports received, there is evidence of significant energy efficiency policy action. The most significant observations from these country reports cover three areas. The first is that the spending focus on energy efficiency seen in the previous two country reports (31 March and 15 September 2009) appears largely unchanged, and is still concentrated in the building sector. Second, countries are actively undertaking analysis and public consultation to plan for future projects. Third, many countries reported activity taking place in the area of fiscal policy, from amendments to new fiscal measures.

Amusing Picture that is Spreading Around the Net

LTE mobile gateways break 100 Gb/s speeds

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EETimes reports Ixia together with with Alcatel-Lucent announced the results of an LTE Evolved Packet Core (EPC) test that broke the 100 Gb/s barrier for mobile gateways. This means that mobile nodes with LTE will be able to handle higher density of heavy bandwidth mobile users. 80 people could be downloading 1 Gb/s or 800 people could be downloading 100 Mb/s in one cell.

Alcatel-Lucent routers were stressed using Ixia's IxLoad application and Acceleron load modules and successfully passed multimedia traffic over simultaneous 80 Gb/s downstream and 20 Gb/s upstream links. The scenario roughly equated to 1.5 million voice LTE channels or, inversely, more than 65,000 high-definition html-based H.264 video sessions running concurrently at aggregate speeds over 100 Gb/s.

Japan Plans 9 more Nuclear Reactors by 2020 and 14 by 2030 and Finland Plans 2 More Reactors by 2020

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1. Japan is planning to build nine new nuclear power plants by 2020, and 14 by 2030, according to a draft strategy document by METI, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Nuclear power's security of supply and low-carbon output have made it a strategic priority for the country, the report said. The report said that the 2020 plants should have a load factor of 85%; Japan's reactors had a load factor of 84% in 1998, prior to the 2007 earthquake that shut down all seven units of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, among others. The 2030 plants would have an even higher load factor of 90%.

The Japanese energy plan also the goal of halving carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from homes and passenger cars by 2030.

April 21, 2010

DSL Prototype Achieves 300 Megabits per second

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DSL can be made 3 to 10 times faster than today.

Alcatel Lucent have combined three existing techniques, known as bonding, vectoring, and DSL phantom mode. It can reach speeds of 300 megabits per second at a distance of 400 meters from a communications hub, and 100 megabits per second at one kilometer. Alcatel-Lucent doesn't believe it will roll out the combination technology until after 2011. 100 Mbps DSL in 5-10 years.

Particle with one-quarter electron charge also has a quantum registry and Could Enable fault Tolerant Quantum Computers

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Rice university physicists found that ultracold mixes of electrons caught in magnetic traps could have the necessary properties for constructing fault-tolerant quantum computers -- future computers that could be far more powerful than today's computers. The mixes of electrons are dubbed "5/2 quantum Hall liquids" in reference to the unusual quantum properties that describe their makeup.

China Property Bubble and Economic Future

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The property price numbers from NBS (China's National Bureau of Statistics_ are becoming surreal.

In February the bureau announced that housing prices in 70 medium- and large-sized cities increased about 1.5% last year. The increase, we were told, was a five-year low. This was too much for even China Daily, Beijing's official English-language publication, which reported that people were saying the number "was obviously opposite to the reality."

Reality in China is that urban property prices last year could have gone up as much as 80% in some cities and by double digits in others. Moreover, they are rising this year, perhaps at the rate of 20% a month in some regions. NBS, however, has continued to understate prices increases.

The IMF is now forecasting 9.9% GDP growth in 2011 in China and 10% growth in 2010.

Plastic chips monitor body functions and Implantible Sensors

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A small blood lab that fits into the pocket of a jacket can quickly analyze the risk of blood clots in legs prior to a long distance flight; a sensor wristband for measuring electric smog can warn pacemaker patients of life-threatening exposure: "Smart plastics" can turn such tools into reality. The scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM in Munich are intensely working on these topics.

The special feature of this miniscale lab-on-a-chip: the system is designed in plastic for an inexpensive production, sheets or reel-to-reel. This would facilitate cost-efficient manufacturing of disposable diagnostic systems

Progress Towards a Urine Test for Colon Cancer the Number Three Cancer Killer

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Journal of Proteome Research - Urinary Metabonomic Study on Colorectal Cancer

Colon cancer is a cancer with the third highest amount of deaths. The graph shows that there are urine tests that can clearly differentiate between healthy people and people with colon cancer. If cheap and easy tests could clearly identify people with colon cancer in the earliest stages then many more lives could be saved. Survival rights are far higher for early diagnosis of cancer. Cheaper tests could be performed more often. A great situation would be to have urine, blood and saliva tests that could be performed in minutes every three months in an automated way for $10 or less. The tests would screen for all cancers and diseases. Even better would be cheap but reliable wearable monitors that checked biomarkers in realtime.

Kitegen Making Progress to 3 Megawatt Kite Wind Generator

Sander Olson Interview David Barrett Who Lead a Team that Made a Robotic Fish, Robotic Snakes and Robotic Cars

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Here is the David Barrett interview, which was conducted by Sander Olson. Dr. Barrett is a Professor of mechanical engineering and design at Olin College who teaches robotics. He heads Olin's Senior Capstone Program in Engineering (SCOPE) program, which is designed to introduce students to robotics research. Dr. Barrett received his PhD from MIT, and has worked at the irobot corporation, the Draper Laboratory, and MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Dr. Barrett holds nine patents on robotics and is considered an expert in the field.
Question: Olin College’s Senior Capstone Program in Engineering (SCOPE) seems specifically designed to promote robotics development.

Answer: SCOPE is a very hands-on engineering curriculum for our students. Freshman students are put on teams that are given small tasks to complete. By the time they are seniors, our students are put on major projects that are sponsored by corporations to the tune of $50-75,000. SCOPE is heavily oriented towards robotics applications, and we currently have 5 robotics projects underway.

Computing Beyond Silicon

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MIT Technology Review looks at the materials for computers after silicon.

Researchers are trying to develop alternative materials such as gallium arsenide, graphene, and carbon nanotubes. Silicon will probably be the main material for quite a while but there will be more mixing of materials onto a mostly silicon chip and there will specialized chips with other materials.

One challenge is to make these materials work with the infrastructure built for silicon, which represents billions of dollars in investment for chip makers.
Previously reported here was the fundamental breakthrough to enable previously incompatible semiconductors and nanomaterials to be created. This will enable much wider usage of non-cilicon materials.

April 20, 2010

Natural Gas and Oil Booming in Texas With Revived Granite Wash Field and New Eagle Ford Shale

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1. BusinessWeek - A half-century-old Texas field may become one of the most profitable U.S. natural-gas developments after new horizontal drilling techniques tapped liquid fuel deposits.

Apache Corp. and Forest Oil Corp. are among producers using horizontal drilling in so-called tight-sand formations thousands of feet below conventional oil and gas reservoirs in Granite Wash, a Texas Panhandle field where output began in 1954. Some wells are yielding daily production of more than 1,000 barrels of gas liquids or oil

North Dakota Hits New Daily Production Record 261,088 Barrels Per Day. Double What it Was Just Over Two Years Ago

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North Dakota Oil Production reached a new high of 261,088 barrels of oil per day in Feb, 2010 This is 25,000 barrels per day more than January, 2010 and about double the 130,768 barrels of oil per day from November, 2007 (28 months ago)

Oil is being sent out by rail and a new pipeline expansion.

Experiments to Use Lasers Steam Cleaning of Dirty Bomb Radiation and Chemical Contamination Looks Very Promising

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Idaho National Laboratory chemists are studying the potential of lasers to help clean up chemical and radiological contamination. The goal is to increase the nation's ability to respond to "unconventional" terror attacks such as dirty bombs. Experiments are ongoing, but results thus far are very promising.

Laser technology can also scale up to perform large-scale decontamination jobs. Some cleanup and restoration firms, such as adapt laser system, are already using lasers to scrub soot off building facades. Further, these industrial operations often use automated lasers, demonstrating that laser work can be done remotely. This would minimize risks to remediation personnel responding to a terrorist attack. Fox stresses that laser decontamination is a tool in the proof-of-principle stage.

Continued Future Energy Debate with Weird Science

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I am discussing uranium and nuclear power with Weird Science. Weird Science has his second article.
Part 2 summary

Weird Science Future energy source like to haves: * Future energy source should be abundant and must last at least for 700 years.
* It should have least environmental impacts.
* It should meet with increasing needs of energy and should be least pollutant.
* Future energy source should have least harmful wastes and which could easily be disposed.

Weird Science then mentions solar, wind and tidal power. Has Weird Science examined those power sources in detail ? How many deaths per Terawatt ? How much steel and concrete (which have CO2 when we make those materials). How much material in the factories ? How are the energy storage and grid build out issues handled because those are intermittent power sources. How fast can those scale to start displacing coal and oil which kill 3 million per year from air pollution ? Over the course of over on thousand articles on energy, I have examined all of those issues. I will hit some highlights later in this article. But to start here is article where I look at CO2 emissions by energy source based on the work of Per Peterson

Weird Science had his first article here The first article complained about

1. Economics and CO2 from nuclear power and uranium mining
2. Inability to economically extract abundant uranium below 100 ppm ores
3. Lack of technically feasible breeder or deep burn reactors

My first responses were Insitu leach (ISL) mining can economically extract low grade ores. ISL could get at 10 ppm and in article 12 of the 150th carnival of space In the carnival I addressed the economics of nuclear and that breeders exist and operate and will become abundant and have better models soon.

Did Weird Science want to acknowledge whether the first three points from part 1 were addressed in my responses ?

Breeders no good - There were breeders that ran successfully and the Russian Beloyarsk 3 has run for 30 years and there a dozen new reactors that are coming over the next 8 years. Plus Hyperion Power Generation and the Russian SVBR 100 could enable hundreds of fast neutron reactors. The China HTR-PM will have higher burn rate and over the course of hundreds that they will make they will stepwise increase the burn up rate towards 650 GWd/t and increase the thermal conversion to the Brayton cycle.

Flexible electronics from silicon on substrates of biodegradable silk films for High Resolution, Biocompatible Brain Interfaces

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Nature Materials - Dissolvable films of silk fibroin for ultrathin conformal bio-integrated electronics

Electronics that are capable of intimate, non-invasive integration with the soft, curvilinear surfaces of biological tissues offer important opportunities for diagnosing and treating disease and for improving brain/machine interfaces. This article describes a material strategy for a type of bio-interfaced system that relies on ultrathin electronics supported by bioresorbable substrates of silk fibroin. Mounting such devices on tissue and then allowing the silk to dissolve and resorb initiates a spontaneous, conformal wrapping process driven by capillary forces at the biotic/abiotic interface. Specialized mesh designs and ultrathin forms for the electronics ensure minimal stresses on the tissue and highly conformal coverage, even for complex curvilinear surfaces, as confirmed by experimental and theoretical studies. In vivo, neural mapping experiments on feline animal models illustrate one mode of use for this class of technology. These concepts provide new capabilities for implantable and surgical devices.

April 19, 2010

Historical SuperVolcanoes and Archeology Indicate Nuclear Winter Climate Models Exaggerate Effects

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Proper civil defense planning needs to have an accurate and precise picture of the threat and effects. If we overestimate the effect we would misallocate resources or not take proper steps to mitigate impacts. If we properly determine that fire and climate risks of nuclear bombs can be minimized by ten times or more with simple steps, then we should do so.
Recent archaeological and geological work in India seems to support claims, suggesting the environmental impact ofthe Lake Tuba volcanic super-eruption was much less than previously imagined. Firstly, had there been a sudden deforestation event caused by the cooling and drying of the atmosphere, topsoil no longer anchored by trees would be expected to wash down into valleys, where it would quickly accumulate.

"We are not saying that it wasn't difficult for humans after Toba," says Mike Petraglia at the University of Oxford, who has led the investigations. "We are just saying that we don't think it was a catastrophic change."

Hominin life appeared to continue in the same vein immediately after the eruption, with hundreds more stone tools in the layers immediately above the ash fall. The team uncovered a similar story 1000 kilometres further north of Jwalapuram, in the Middle Son river valley. "We see very little change in tool technology across the Toba ash. They may have had to relocate for a short period of time, but within a generation or so they were back where they were before, making the same kinds of stone tools," says Chris Clarkson, a stone-tool specialist from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, who worked at the digs in India.

Progress Using Cancer Genotyping, Biomarkers and Adaptive Clinical Trials against Cancer

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Wall Street Journal - An unusual clinical trial involving four different drugs offered promise that guiding treatment based on the molecular traits of a tumor can improve survival from lung cancer.
Doctors don't know which patients are likely to respond to which treatments, resulting in hit-or-miss use of high-cost medicines.

Researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center mounted the Battle trial to see whether matching tumor characteristics called biomarkers with specific drugs would lead to better results. Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer, accounting for 28% of all cancer deaths in the U.S.

Tumor Biopsies were taken at the start and biomarkers were identified. Patients were placed into five marker groups. A first subset of patients was assigned to one of four drugs without regard to their biomarkers. Then patients in a second wave were assigned to drugs based on their particular tumor biomarkers, taking into consideration how people in the first group with similar biomarkers were faring. 

Eight weeks after the start of therapy, doctors used imaging to assess whether disease in each patient was under control. Researchers said absence of progression at eight weeks is considered a reliable predictor of overall survival benefit. 

After about 40% of the patients were enrolled, researchers looked at the first imaging results to see which combinations of drug and biomarkers were more likely to result in disease control. Then, in a strategy called adaptive trial design, the randomization of the remaining patients was weighted to steer patients toward therapies they were likely to benefit from based on their biomarkers.

The adaptive design is gaining interest among researchers and drug companies because it could help identify drugs that don't work sooner, and identify biomarkers that would be used to enroll patients in late-stage studies required for market approval.

The study is too small to call for immediate new treatment strategies. But researchers believe it sets a path for bringing personalized medicine into the care of lung-cancer patients, just as it is already playing a critical role in breast, colon and other tumors

We need to get to the point where biomarkers can be used to identify cancer just as it is first starting. Before the current phase 1 of the disease, where treatments would be most effective.

Oocyte Cryopreservation - The Other Cryonics

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Oocyte Cryopreservation is the freezing of a woman's eggs for later artificial insemination inpregnation.
A 2009 study showed 936 babies had been born from frozen eggs worldwide, with no increase in birth defects.

It costs about $9,500 to freeze eggs. A private company may have an additional charge of $1,000 to $3,000, said Noyes. The thaw cycle -- when the eggs are taken out of liquid nitrogen and fertilized -- is around $3,500 to $5,000.

Insitu Leach Uranium Mining Energy And More Energy Efficient Enrichment

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Acid is used to mine Uranium in 26% of the worlds uranium mines. It takes 9kWh to 33 kWh/kgU to get 1 kilogram of Uranium. At 45 Gigawatt days per ton of Uranium the amount of power from one kilogram of uranium is 360,000 kWh. The current generation of breeder reactors that have been operating for 30 years in Russia has about a fuel burnup of 60-70 GWd/t The Beloyarsk 4 (880MWe) reactor is expected to have 70-100 GWd/t burnup.

April 18, 2010

Carnival of Space 150 - the new Obama Mars Space vision, asteroids, life on titan, space anniversaries and More

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Here is the Carnival of Space 150. The Carnival of Space is coordinated through the UniverseToday.

Centauri Dreams sends "A Dusty Finish in Glasgow": discussing two papers on the properties of interstellar dust from a conference that itself closed on a dusty note with the closing of European airports because of the Icelandic volcano.


Weird Warp takes an excellent look at asteroids. The Dawn Mission will visit the Asteroid Ceres in 2015 and there is possibility of manned missions to asteroids in the new Obama plan. Here is a taste of the Weird Warp article which has many pictures and a lot of information.

Classifications: C-type- carbonaceous types, dark (reflective), primitive
S-type- Stony or Stony metallic, more reflective, more red, fragments
E-type- highly reflective, enstatite (magnesium silicate MgSiO3), fragments
D-type- (dark type) dark, red, primitive
M-type- (metallic type), mostly iron and nickel, fragments>
P-type- (pseudo M type), metallic component

Direct Imaging of Exoplanets Using Optical Vortex Coronagraphs Using Telescopes With Five Times Smaller Diameter

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Universe Today - exoplanets orbit the star HR 8799, and have been imaged directly before, by one of the 10-meter (33-foot) Keck telescopes and the 8.0-meter (26-foot) Gemini North Observatory in 2008 Now they have been imaged by using just a 1.5-meter-diameter (4.9-foot) portion of the famous Palomar 200-inch (5.1 meter) Hale telescope's mirror. They did it by working in the near infrared, and by combining two techniques – adaptive optics and a coronagraph.

The Vector Vortex Coronagraph: Laboratory Results and First Light at Palomar Observatory

High-contrast coronagraphy will be needed to image and characterize faint extra-solar planetary systems. Coronagraphy is a rapidly evolving field, and many enhanced alternatives to the classical Lyot coronagraph have been proposed in the past ten years. Here, we discuss the operation of the vector vortex coronagraph, which is one of the most efficient possible coronagraphs. We first present recent laboratory results, and then first light observations at the Palomar observatory. Our near-infrared H-band (centered at ~ 1.65 microns) and K-band (centered at ~ 2.2 microns) vector vortex devices demonstrated excellent contrast results in the lab, down to ~ 1e-6 at an angular separation of 3 lb/d. On sky, we detected a brown dwarf companion 3000 times fainter than its host star (HR 7672) in the Ks band (centered at ~2.15 microns), at an angular separation of ~ 2.5 lb/d. Current and next-generation high-contrast instruments can directly benefit from the demonstrated capabilities of such a vector vortex: simplicity, small inner working angle, high optical throughput (>90%), and maximal off-axis discovery space.

Drexler Indicates Zinc fingers are Enablers for DNA/protein/special-structure approach to modular Molecular Nanotechnology

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Eric Drexler describes how zinc fingers for gripping DNA have game changing promise in genetic engineering and therapeutics, and can enable potential applications in structural DNA nanotechnology.

A Zinc finger proteins (ZFP) is a sequence of small protein structures (the fingers) that, taken together, bind to a specific DNA sequence. Unlike oligonucleotides, which bind to the Watson-Crick interface of single-stranded DNA, ZFPs bind in the major groove of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA), recognizing DNA base pairs from the side. They’re modular and can be engineered to target sequences chosen by a designer. This is an enabler for the DNA/protein/special-structure approach to modular molecular composite nanosystems.

Self-Alignment of Plasmonic Gold Nanorods Could Enable Optical Metamaterial mass production

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Self-Alignment of Plasmonic Gold Nanorods in Reconfigurable Anisotropic Fluids for Tunable Bulk Metamaterial Applications

We demonstrate the bulk self-alignment of dispersed gold nanorods imposed by the intrinsic cylindrical micelle self-assembly in nematic and hexagonal liquid crystalline phases of anisotropic fluids. External magnetic field and shearing allow for alignment and realignment of the liquid crystal matrix with the ensuing long-range orientational order of well-dispersed plasmonic nanorods. This results in a switchable polarization-sensitive plasmon resonance exhibiting stark differences from that of the same nanorods in isotropic fluids. The device-scale bulk nanoparticle alignment may enable optical metamaterial mass production and control of properties arising from combining the switchable nanoscale structure of anisotropic fluids with the surface plasmon resonance properties of the plasmonic nanorods.

Stanford researchers find electrical current stemming from plants

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Stanford engineers have generated electrical current by tapping into the electron activity in individual algae cells. Photosynthesis excites electrons, which can then be turned into an electrical current using a specially designed gold electrode. This study could be the first step toward carbon-free electricity directly from plants.

The Stanford research team developed a unique, ultra-sharp nanoelectrode made of gold, specially designed for probing inside cells. They gently pushed it through the algal cell membranes, which sealed around it, and the cell stayed alive. From the photosynthesizing cells, the electrode collected electrons that had been energized by light and the researchers generated a tiny electrical current

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