September 17, 2010

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 19 - Hyperion Power Generation on track for 2018

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1. IDaho Samizdat reports that the Nuclear Fabrication Consortium (NFC) will be holding a two-day meeting in Cleveland Sept 20-21.

Dan Yurman will be covering the conference for Fuel Cycle Week. On his blog is an edited version of his coverage in last week’s issue of the Consortium's work on welding, nuclear fuel bundle cladding and more information about the conference. The American Nuclear Society listed over 900 firms that manufacture components for nuclear reactors

Nuclear supply chain trade group works fabrication issues Getting stuff out the door to build new reactors takes innovation as well as hard work

Nate Ames, Technical Director of the organization based in Columbus, OH, told FCW in a telephone interview NFC was established to independently develop fabrication approaches and data that support the establishment of a vibrant US nuclear industry.

"Our goal is for the American nuclear supply chain to compete successfully on the global stage by enabling more cost-effective and reliable nuclear power in a carbon constrained environment."

"Our members include the most influential OEMs, suppliers, and innovators in the nuclear industry." According to the NFC's web site, members include Areva, B&W, Nucor, and Westinghouse; as well as 16 others.

SGI readies first Project Mojo supercomputers and gets closer to petaflop in one rack systems

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From ChannelRegister: Supercomputer maker Silicon Graphics is just about finished with the initial designs of the "Project Mojo" dense-packed HPC machines. The systems will begin their initial shipments in December, 2010.

SGI will be introducing new class of racks for the consolidated SGI and Rackable Systems server product lines. SGI will not quite be able to cram a petaflops into a rack after all, but will have a more compact design than traditional rack and blade servers offer.

Newly merged supercomputer maker Silicon Graphics and hyperscale server maker Rackable Systems, were kicking around the idea of how they might cram a petaflops into a server rack. SGI was measuring those petaflops in single precision mode. Project Mojo would still require a different approach from just plunking GPU or other kinds of co-processors onto existing SGI rack and blade servers.

The stick of the Project Mojo system is a computing element that is nearly as long as the rack is deep - three feet - with the width and a little more than the height of a double-wide PCI-Express peripheral card. Mannel wouldn't say what processor is implemented on the stick, but it is possible that SGI has variants with both Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron processors. Considering that Project Mojo is an experimental system with limited sales on the front end, it is reasonable to conjecture that SGI will start with Xeons and expand into Opterons if there is customer demand.

Deleting gene RGS14 removes a limit to learning and memory

Deleting a gene removes a limit to learning and memory in mice. RGS14 appears to hold mice back mentally, John Hepler, PhD, professor of pharmacology at Emory University School of Medicine, says he and his colleagues have been jokingly calling it the "Homer Simpson gene." RGS14 is also found in humans.

Relative Economic Performance of Iran, Iraq, and Other Selected Countries 1970 to today

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Asia Times notes that Iran has vastly underperformed South Korea since 1970 in terms of GDP performance.

Here is compilation of information from wikipedia and nationmaster and CIA world fact books for GDP information for the end of each decade

Here is a list of nominal GDP mostly for 2006.

Country      GDP 1970   1980   1990    2000    2005   2010
USA              1025   2769   5757    9765    12417  14800
China              91.5  188.2  354.6  1198     2244   5365
India              60.4  181.8  316.9   460      806   1367
South Korea         8.9   63.8  263.8   512      791    991
Saudi Arabia        5.0  164.3  116.8   188      310    438
Iran               10.6   90.0  116.0   101      190    360
Egypt               7.7   22.9   43.1   100       90    216
Israel              5.4   21.8   52.5   115      123    199
Pakistan           10.0   23.7   40.0    73      111    178
Vietnam              ?     ?     14.2    31       53    103
Iraq                3.6   47.6   35.0    26       54     80
North Korea          ?     ?     28      22.6     29.6    ?

EEStor Invited Air Force Research Lab and Sandia National Labs To Technology Demonstration

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The Barium Titanate blog reports that according to emails obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), on July 8 of this year, a long time researcher working within the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, NM got a call from EEStor's CEO Dick Weir. According to the email, Weir was calling to invite him to a demonstration of EEStor technology to take place at EEStor's facilities in Cedar Park, TX.

The skeptic, who will remain unnamed as an unearned courtesy from yours truly, asked Weir if he had completed fabrication of a device. No, but Weir felt they were close enough to make the invitation. Around the same time frame, another group of government skeptics at Sandia National Labs were receiving a similar invitation from Dick Weir. According to three separate Department of Energy sources, Weir was looking for Sandia to perform an independent validation of EEStor technology via testing performed inside EEStor facilities.

There is a long discussion at the theeestory forum

Electromechanical Computing with Silicon Carbide NEMS switches

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Journal Science -Electromechanical Computing at 500°C with Silicon Carbide the nanoelectromechanical system (NEMS) could be used in microcontrollers embedded in hot machinery such as jet engines or oil-drilling rigs.

Logic circuits capable of operating at high temperatures can alleviate expensive heat-sinking and thermal-management requirements of modern electronics and are enabling for advanced propulsion systems. Replacing existing complementary metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors with silicon carbide (SiC) nanoelectromechanical system (NEMS) switches is a promising approach for low-power, high-performance logic operation at temperatures higher than 300°C, beyond the capability of conventional silicon technology. These switches are capable of achieving virtually zero off-state current, microwave operating frequencies, radiation hardness, and nanoscale dimensions. Here, we report a microfabricated electromechanical inverter with SiC complementary NEMS switches capable of operating at 500°C with ultralow leakage current.

At 550 °C Lee's team managed to get the inverter to switch on and off 500,000 times a second – performing a computation with each cycle. The faster the switching speed, the zippier the computing. Lee predicts that switching speeds of a billion times a second (1 gigahertz) are possible.

IEA OECD Electricity Generation for the first half of 2010

FCC vote on September 23 could finally open old TV White Space Spectrum for Communication

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There will a Federal Communications Commission vote on September 23, 2010 to finally open up the TV White Spaces spectrum for unlicensed usage.

TV White Spaces Second MO&O: A Second Memorandum Opinion and Order that will create opportunities for investment and innovation in advanced Wi-Fi technologies and a variety of broadband services by finalizing provisions for unlicensed wireless devices to operate in unused parts of TV spectrum.

The White space spectrum would enable communication with about wifi speed (15-100 Mbps) but with longer transmission range and are better able to penetrate walls. It would enable more competition for old telecom and cable broadband companies from companies like Google and Microsoft and new entrants. Increased competition could lower prices.

Google, Spectrum Bridge, and the Hocking Valley Community Hospital have teamed up to deploy a broadband network using the TV white spaces.

Fourteen new Transneptunian Objects found

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Astronomers reviwed the data archives of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have added 14 new Trans-neptunian object (TNOs). The newfound TNOs range from 25 to 60 miles (40-100 km) across. This would make them around the sizes of the 8th to tenth largest moons of Jupiter and larger than Phobos (moon of Mars).

This initial study examined only one-third of a square degree of the sky, meaning that there is much more area to survey. Hundreds of additional TNOs may lurk in the Hubble archives at higher ecliptic latitudes. Fuentes and his colleagues intend to continue their search.

Robotic Hydroponic Greenhouse for vegetables for the Moon or Mars

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Researchers at the University of Arizona Controlled Environment Agriculture Center, known as CEAC, are demonstrating that plants from Earth could be grown hydroponically (without soil) on the moon or Mars, setting the table for astronauts who would find potatoes, peanuts, tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables awaiting their arrival.

The research team has built a prototype lunar greenhouse in the CEAC Extreme Climate Lab at UA's Campus Agricultural Center. It represents the last 18 feet of one of several tubular structures that would be part of a proposed lunar base. The tubes would be buried beneath the moon's surface to protect the plants and astronauts from deadly solar flares, micrometeorites and cosmic rays.

The membrane-covered module can be collapsed to a 4-foot-wide disk for interplanetary travel. It contains water-cooled sodium vapor lamps and long envelopes that would be loaded with seeds, ready to sprout hydroponically. Standing beside the growth chamber, which was overflowing with greenery despite the windowless CEAC lab, principal investigator and CEAC Director Gene Giacomelli said, "You can think of this as a robotic mechanism that is providing food, oxygen and fresh drinking water."

"We want the system to operate itself," Kacira said. "However, we're also trying to devise a remote decision-support system that would allow an operator on Earth to intervene. The system can build its own analysis and predictions, but we want to have access to the data and the control system."

Doubling Lithium-Ion Battery Storage

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Battery startup Amprius says it has developed batteries capable of storing twice as much energy as anything on the market today, thanks to nanostructured silicon electrodes. The company says it is partnering with several as-yet unnamed major consumer electronics manufacturers to bring the batteries to market by early 2012. The batteries will allow portable electronics to run 40 percent longer without a recharge.

Optical chip enables new approach to quantum computing

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An optical quantum computer could, in less than ten years, be performing calculations that are outside the capabilities of conventional computers.

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bristol has developed a new approach to quantum computing that could soon be used to perform complex calculations that cannot be done by today’s computers.

Scientists from Bristol’s Centre for Quantum Photonics have developed a silicon chip that could be used to perform complex calculations and simulations using quantum particles in the near future. The researchers believe that their device represents a new route to a quantum computer – a powerful type of computer that uses quantum bits (qubits) rather than the conventional bits used in today’s computers.

Unlike conventional bits or transistors, which can be in one of only two states at any one time (1 or 0), a qubit can be in several states at the same time and can therefore be used to hold and process a much larger amount of information at a greater rate.

September 16, 2010

Dataflow computer for better computer vision and robotic driving

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Yale researchers are developing developing synthetic models of the mammal visual system using custom hardware. Their most recent model uses convolutional neural networks to model the ventral pathway of the mammalian visual system. The goal is to design custom hardware that can implement these models and perform in real-time on megapixel-size cameras as well as state-of-the-art neuromorphic image sensors. The single chip vision system could be used to improve robot navigation into dangerous or difficult-to-reach locations, to provide 360-degree synthetic vision for soldiers in combat situations, or in assisted living situations where it could be used to monitor motion and call for help should an elderly person fall.

September 15, 2010

Molten Salt Fast Reactor proposal for Mars Vasimr Mission and Other Power Alternatives

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Recently the Space Review had an article by Jeff Foust which indicated that Zubrin believes it is quite optimistic to get an alpha of 20 kg/kW for a power source for a VASIMR plasma rocket. The VASIMR mission architectures with the 39-day travel times had assumed an overall mission mass of approximately 600 tons. The VASIMR-based Mars mission concepts, he said, assume an alpha of 1 kg/kW.

Here we will review ways to approach or exceed 1 kg/kw power sources, which would enable VASIMR rocket to get to Mars in 39 days.

Molten Salt Fast Reactor would take about 50 kg of plutonium and get to about 3 kg/kw.

Uranium nitride reactors are funded and being commercially developed for 2013-2018 and could get to 2-3 kg/kw.

Vapor Core Reactors have a bunch of academic study and are expected to achieve 0.3-1 kg/kw.

Stretched lens solar arrays could go from 3kg/kw to 1kg/kw.

A proposed strontium 90 beta decay thermophotovoltaic system could achieve 10kg/kw and better photovoltaics and other improvements might enable about 5kg/kw

There was a 2003 MIT study for using a small Molten Salt Fast Reactor to power a VASIMR plasma rocket to Mars.

VASIMR is assuming the development of Vapor Core reactors that could achieve 0.3 to 1 kg per kilowatt. This would be three to ten times better than a proposed molten salt fast reactor.

There are small 25 MWe fast reactors being developed by Hyperion Power Generation that would be could be in the 2kg/KWe range and should be ready around 2013-2018. The reactor would weigh 15 tons (another five tons for a cask.) It could also use a proposed thermophotovoltaic system to convert the heat to electricity (in an MIT study which this article will cover). Hyperion Power Generation is not building molten salt reactors, but uranium nitride reactors that are lead-bismuth cooled. There are older studies of uranium nitride reactors for space applications.

MIT was projecting less than 3 kg/KWe for a molten salt fast reactor with 4 MWe.

It would use 50 kilograms of Plutonium. The NASA Cassini probe to Saturn used 28.8 kilograms of plutonium.
Power 11 MWth
Dimensions 20X20X20cm
Total mass 185 kg - (50 kg Pu)
Reflector thickness 6 cm (Zr3Si2)
Coolant - molten salt (NaF-ZrF4) 
       - High Boiling Temp
Fuel - Reactor Grade Pu carbide,
           honeycomb plates 
keff BOL = 1.1
Core lifetime 540 FPD 

UCLA Anderson Forecasts Predicts High Unemployment and Low Economic growth until 2012

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In its third quarterly report of 2010, the UCLA Anderson Forecast predicts "very sluggish growth" for the foreseeable future as the U.S. economy continues to recover from the recession. As for the California economy, the state is looking at a difficult period ahead as it attempts to regenerate not only the 1.3 million jobs lost during the recession but also create additional jobs needed for new entrants into the job market over the past two-and-a-half years.

In a report titled "The Uncertain Economy," UCLA Anderson Forecast senior economist David Shulman offers two explanations for the ailing national economy.
* balance-sheet hypothesis - recoveries from the bursting of debt-fueled financial bubbles are invariably slow and are associated with high unemployment rates and rising government debt
* Policy uncertainty - businesses are unsure of the implications of their investments — whether new hires or new computers — given the uncertainty surrounding tax, environmental, energy, financial, labor and health care policies.

Alexander the Great May have had an Ancient Approximation of Kevlar

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This mosaic of Alexander the Great shows the king wearing linothorax -- an armor made from laminated linen.
Alexander the Great and his soldiers protected themselves with linothorax, a type of body armor made by laminating together layers of linen.

Modern tests using the materials available at the time suggest that the laminated linen would have been effective in protecting against arrows and swords and other ancient weapons.

CD8+ regulatory T Cells prevent the immune system from attacking its own cells in mice

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Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists to identify cells (CF8+ T regulatory cells) in mice that prevent the immune system from attacking the animals' own cells, protecting them from autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and lupus. The significance of this work is that CD8+ Treg cells represent a new lever for raising or lowering the strength of the immune response.

Scientist Analyze Exoplanet Discovery History and Predict Discovert of Habitable Earth Sized World in May 2011

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Arxiv - Scientometric Prediction of the Discovery of the First Potentially Habitable Planet with a Mass Similar to Earth

The search for a habitable extrasolar planet has long interested scientists, but only recently have the tools become available to search for such planets. In the past decades, the number of known extrasolar planets has ballooned into the hundreds, and with it the expectation that the discovery of the first Earth-like extrasolar planet is not far off. Here we develop a novel metric of habitability for discovered planets, and use this to arrive at a prediction for when the first habitable planet will be discovered. Using a bootstrap analysis of currently discovered exoplanets, we predict the discovery of the first Earth-like planet to be announced in the first half of 2011, with the likeliest date being early May 2011. Our predictions, using only the properties of previously discovered exoplanets, accord well with external estimates for the discovery of the first potentially habitable extrasolar planet, and highlights the the usefulness of predictive scientometric techniques to understand the pace of scientific discovery in many fields.

Adult-onset, short-term dietary restriction reduces cell aging in mice

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The first study to show that short-term Dietary Restriction (DR) reduced frequencies of senescent (aged) cells in solid tissues. It is important to note that the magnitude of the reductions, amounting to between 3.3 and 6.5% depending on the tissue compartment, is very substantial given the short duration of the treatment (Male C57/BL mice were subjected to three months of DR by average 26% of food restriction starting at 14 months of age.) Frequencies of senescent cells increase with age in intestinal crypts and liver at rates below 0.5% per month, indicating that 3 months DR probably reduced levels of senescent cells beyond that at the start of the treatment. Available data indicate that senescent hepatocytes are turned over slowly in liver. Turnover rates of senescent enterocytes in intestinal crypts are unknown. DR could block the induction of senescent cells, increase the rate of their turnover, or both

Bile Acid Extends the life of Yeast

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Researchers at Concordia University in Montreal have found that bile extends the life of Yeast. (22 page pdf)
The average life expectancy increased from about 20 days to 30 days.

Journal Aging - Chemical genetic screen identifies lithocholic acid as an anti‐aging compound that extends yeast chronological life span in a TORindependent manner, by modulating housekeeping longevity assurance processes

Ultimate Breaking Strain of Carbon Nanotubes is at least 117 times Steel - Double Previous Strength Estimate

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ACS Nano - A New Lower Limit for the Ultimate Breaking Strain of Carbon Nanotubes

We apply immense strain to ultralong, suspended, single-walled carbon nanotubes while monitoring their Raman spectra. We can achieve strains up to 13.7 ± 0.3% without slippage, breakage, or defect formation based on the observation of reversible change in Raman spectra. This is more than twice that of previous observations. The rate of G band downshift with strain is found to span a wide range from −6.2 to −23.6 cm−1/% strain. Under these immense strains, the G band is observed to downshift by up to 157 cm−1 (from 1592 to 1435 cm−1). Interestingly, under these significant lattice distortions, we observe no detectable D band Raman intensity. Also, we do not observe any broadening of the G band line width until a threshold downshift of ΔωG > 75 cm−1 is achieved at high strains, beyond which the fwhm of the G band increases sharply and reversibly. On the basis of a theoretical nonlinear stress−strain response, we estimate the maximum applied stress of the nanotubes in this study to be 99 GPa with a strength-to-weight ratio of almost 74000 kN·m/kg, which is 30 times that of Kevlar and 117 times that of steel.

Google Begins Ramping up Social Media Features for Renewed Competition With Facebook

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Google will begin the introduction of "layers" of social-networking features later this year, the company's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, has said.

Speaking at the Zeitgeist conference yesterday evening, Schmidt suggested that plans for a social network to rival the likes of Facebook – and now Apple's Ping – are further away than previously thought.

A wave of summer acquisitions has shown Google to have big ambitions for the future of its social services.

In August, e-commerce engine was added to Google's expanding portfolio in a $100m deal enveloping the four-year-old company's "visual search technology". Jambool, the virtual currency company allowing developers to integrate payment systems into their games, was next on the list for Google in a rumored $70m buy.

Schmidt announced a future partnership with social gaming platform Zynga in June, leading many to speculate about a forthcoming release of Google Games. Earlier that month, Schmidt said Google aims to "improve the way flight information is organised", announcing a $700m bid to buy airline ticketing firm ITA software.

September 14, 2010

Fujitsu Develops Technology for Design of Compact, High-Efficiency Wireless Charging Systems

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Fujitsu Laboratories Limited today announced the development of wireless recharging technology that enables the design of magnetic resonance-based wireless charging systems that can simultaneously recharge various types of portable electronic devices.

This technology not only promises more compact and more efficient power transmitters and receivers, it also offers the ability to design charging systems in 1/150th the time currently required. In addition to dramatically shortening development times, this technology paves the way to integrating compact wireless charging functions into mobile phones and enabling multiple portable devices to be charged simultaneously without any restrictions on their position with respect to the charger.

North Dakota Has Another Record Month for Oil Production with 321,042 Barrels of Oil per Day

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North Dakota set a production record for the each of the first six our of seven months of the year. They are up over one hundred thousand barrels of per day from 13 months ago. Production for July, 2010 averaged 321,042 barrels of oil per day.

John Dorr of Nanocomp Technologies Interviewed by Sander Olson

Here is the John Dorr interview by Sander Olson. Mr. Dorr is the Vice-President of Business Development at Nanocomp Technologies. Nanocomp Technologies is a technology development that is capable of mass-producing nanotubes in the millimeter size range. The company is producing large nanotube sheets and wires which have superior properties to conventional materials. The military is heavily investing in nanotube technology, and as a result the cost of nanotubes is steadily falling while the performance and capabilities of nanotubes continues to rise. Nanocomp is scaling up its production facilities, which should further reduce the cost of nanotube products

Question: Many companies are offering nanotubes. What makes Nanocomp's offerings special?
Answer: Nanocomp is based out of Concord, New Hampshire, and has been producing nanotube-based products for six years. At present, we are the leading American manufacturer of material from pure carbon nanotubes – both in terms of product performance and production output. Unlike most companies that deliver nanotubes in powder form, like black talcum powder, we produce longer nanotubes that can be manufactured into deliverable “macrostructures” that not only carry forward the attractive properties of each individual nanotube, but can also be inserted easily into existing applications and manufacturing processes.

Previously Brian Wang had interviewed Peter Antoinette, CEO of nanocomp technologies
Nextbigfuture has been tracking the progress at the company for some time.

Researchers build ‘artificial ovary’ to develop oocytes into mature human eggs

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An artificial ovary - An engineered honeycomb of cultured theca cells (top row) envelopes spheres of granulosa cells (GC). The bottom row shows the tissue after 48 hours (left) and after five days. Credit: Carson Lab / Brown University

Researchers at Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island have built an artificial human ovary that can grow oocytes into mature human eggs in the laboratory. That development, reported in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics - In vitro maturation of oocytes via the pre-fabricated self-assembled artificial human ovary , could help preserve fertility for women facing chemotherapy or other treatments.

“An ovary is composed of three main cell types, and this is the first time that anyone has created a 3-D tissue structure with triple cell line,” said Sandra Carson, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Women & Infants Hospital. Carson is a senior author of a recent article in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics that describes the innovation.

Singularity University 2010 Food, Water, Energy, Space and Upcycling

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This year's Singularity University graduate students produced about a dozen ideas, aimed at providing more abundant food, cleaner energy, cleaner water, improved access to space and more sustainable use of technology (a concept dubbed "upcycling"). Here's the full lineup:

Food: A venture called Agropolis aims to put hydroponics and vertical farming to work on a local scale. "This particular project ... deals with producing little modules that can be decentralized," Kurzweil said. One potential application would be to grow produce as well as farm-bred tilapia fish and bioengineered meat inside a multistory building, and sell the foodstuffs at a market located in the same building. "They're off at this point to start up a company," Diamandis said.

"We have a schedule for research, and we're talking with partners to build a prototype," team member Maggie Jack told me. She said the first prototype facilities would be set up in California and India

Energy: Another potential startup is Amunda, which would seek to set up small-scale markets in energy for the developing world.

Water: One team project, dubbed Naishio, would enlist converging technologies (bio plus nano plus solar) to desalinate seawater more efficiently. Other ventures include Sensoria, which focuses on biology-based sensor technologies to test water purity; and H2020, which would set up an online destination about water resources.

Space: Made in Space would enlist 3-D printers to make spare parts for spacecraft such as the International Space Station, rather than having to ship up tons of parts just in case something breaks.

Another venture is working with NASA's Ames Research Center and the California Institute of Technology to develop a beamed-energy system that would send up laser light or microwaves to power spacecraft. "That system has the potential to be on the order of 50 to 100 times more efficient than traditional launch vehicles," Diamandis said. Still other teams came up with ideas to bioengineer organisms for extraterrestrial environments, or to do low-cost biological research in space.

Upcycling: The Fre3dom team is working on a 3-D printing process that would allow local communities in the developing world to make their own spare parts for broken-down equipment. "They've identified a new bioplastic that would work well with the existing cutting-edge generation of 3-D printers," Kurzweil said. Other teams are trying to come up with better methods to extract valuable metals from electronic waste (BioMine) and create more efficient markets for products that one company might see as industrial waste (i2cycle).

Californias high speed rail getting loan offers and bids from Japan, South Korea and China

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Japan's transport minister offered loans to support California’s more than $40 billion high-speed rail project.

Schwarzenegger visited Tokyo as part of an Asian tour as he looks for contractors and funds to help with a high-speed rail network that will include a route between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Japan is offering a loan to California, which faces a $19.1 billion deficit, to help companies including East Japan Railway compete with Chinese, South Korean and European rivals.

California’s planned network would whisk travelers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2 hours and 38 minutes. The journey takes six to eight hours by car or one hour by plane. California expects bids from about 10 trainmakers for the project, and construction may start as early as the first half of 2012, the California High Speed Rail Authority said earlier this year. The railroad would eventually be extended to San Diego.

China’s Ministry of Rail yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding with the Bay Area Council, an advocacy group for businesses in the San Francisco region, to help it find partners in California for a bid on high-speed rail work, John Grubb, the council’s vice president for external affairs, said in an e-mail today. While the agreement isn’t exclusive, China is the only country and potential bidder that has asked, Grubb said.

September 13, 2010

Canada forecast to have more immigration and possibly 47 million people in 2036

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Canada is projecting faster population growth because of more immigration than they have projected in the past. Previously Canada was projecting 39.4 million people in 2035 but now they are projecting a medium assumption forecast of 43.5 million in 2035. There will be many updated national population counts and new population forecasts starting from the end of 2010 and through 2011 and 2012 as the census results from 2010 are tabulated for different countries.

Canada's fastest growing province in British Columbia (BC) which could top 7 million people in 2036.

Canada would be in the range of 33 to 38th most populous country. I am expecting that over the next couple of decades that the current estimate will be revised upwards again. Canada is doing very well with oil in Alberta and Saskatchwan and natural gas in BC.

If Canada's population growth trends go towards the high-growth scenario then the 2050 population could be 60-75 million. This would put Canada around 25th in World population and possibly exceeding the expected population of France or the UK.

Stephen Hawking Repeats Assertion that Time Travel and negative energy density are possible and Dr. Richard Mallet Plans a Light Enabled Time Machine

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Stephen Hawking repeated his assertion that time travel should be possible.

Quantum Theory allows the energy density to be negative in some places, provided it is positive in others. The reason Quantum Theory can allow the energy density to be negative, is that it is based on the Uncertainty Principle.

Wikipedia on time travel

Hawking has a lecture online about space and tie warps

Dr. Ron Mallett, professor of physics at University of Connecticut, has been obsessed with building a time travel machine.

After reading H.G. Wells’ novel The Time Machine, Mr. Mallett became focused on one goal: to build a time machine so he could go back in time to see his father again and warn him about his impending heart attack. From that point on, Mr. Mallett embarked on an education and career in physics that would hopefully bring him closer to reaching his goal. Mr. Mallett has developed a time travel theory using light. In layman’s terms — if light can create gravity, and gravity can affect time, then light can affect time. He hopes to prove this theory in the lab by using laser lights and reflective mirrors. The Penn State Electro Optic Center located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is collaborating with Mr. Mallett to test the first part of his theory — the gravitational affect of light.

Gravitational Faraday Effect Produced by a Ring Laser (11 page pdf)

Using the linearized Einstein gravitational field equations and the Maxwell field equations it is shown that the plane of polarization of an electromagnetic wave is rotated by the gravitational field created by the electromagnetic radiation of a ring laser. It is further shown that this gravitational Faraday effect shares many of the properties of the standard electromagnetic Faraday effect. An experimental arrangement is then suggested for the observation of this gravitational Faraday effect induced by the ring laser.

Spike Lee is developing a movie (Time Traveler) based on Richard Mallet which is currently planned be released in 2013

Orthokeratology uses rigid contact lenses at night to correct farsightedness during the day without daytime eyewear and a Myopia Gene Discovered

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Orthokeratology (also referred to as Ortho-K, Overnight Vision Correction and Corneal Refractive Therapy), marketed under brand names like "DreamLens", "i-GO OVC", "GOV", "Wake and See", "CRT" and "Emerald", is the use of rigid gas-permeable contact lenses, normally worn only at night, to improve vision through the reshaping of the cornea. This method can be used as an alternative to eyeglasses, refractive surgery, or for those who prefer not to wear contact lenses during the day.

The US FDA overnight orthokeratology approval for Paragon CRT is for procedures up to −6.00 dioptres of myopia and up to −1.75 dioptres of astigmatism whilst the approvals for Euclid (and thus for the other five lens designs offered under the Bausch and Lomb 'Vision Shaping Treatment' portfolio) cover procedures up to −5.00 dioptres of myopia and up to −1.50 dioptres of astigmatism.

In the United Kingdom the procedure is offered primarily for myopic correction up to −5.00 dioptres and up to −1.50 dioptres of astigmatism. Fitting evidence for the leading lens designs indicates that procedures undertaken within these parameters have the highest probability of success. Some patients with higher degrees of myopia are successfully treated by specialist practitioners with "off-label" uses of these same lenses.

In countries like South Africa, Australia and Taiwan, practitioners using the GOV orthokeratology system have achieved successful fits as high as −10.00D of myopia and +5.00D of hyperopia. Not every patient within these parameters will be suitable for the procedure and, for example, conditions such as flat or steep corneas may result in the procedure being less successful.

There is continuing research in Australia and other countries.

Natural Gas Infrastructure

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The American Society of Civil Engineers provides a report card for the infrastructure in the United States.

The United States has over 2.5 million miles of fuel pipelines.

The recent natural gas pipeline failure shows the need for increased inspection and maintenance for those lines.

Congested transmission paths, or "bottlenecks," now affect many parts of the grid across the country. One recent estimate concludes that power outages and power quality disturbances cost the economy between $25 billion and $180 billion annually. These costs could soar if outages or disturbances become more frequent or longer in duration. Substantial investment in generation, transmission, and distribution are expected over the next two decades and it has been projected that electric utility investment needs could be as much as $1.5 to $2 trillion by 2030. The US should be spending $75 billion per year on energy infrastructure but is underspending by almost $30 billion per year.

EDF on track for 2018 start of new UK Nuclear Reactor and China may achieve 80-100 Gigawatts of nuclear power by 2020

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1. Electricite de France SA, the world’s biggest operator of nuclear reactors, remains “on track” to start output at its first new atomic plant in the U.K. in 2018, according to Vincent de Rivaz, the head of its U.K. operations.

The utility, based in Paris, plans to build four reactors at the sites of existing nuclear stations at Hinkley Point in southwest England and at Sizewell in the southeast.

Intel Sandy Bridge Processor Specs

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Anandtech has specifications for different versions of the Sandy Bridge chips
Intel unveiled the Sandy Bridge processor at the Intel Developer Forum. It is Intel's second-generation Core processor and will feature integration of all the critical capabilities for computing, Otellini said, including, CPU, graphics, as well as power management.

* The Sandy Bridge goes beyond the thermal limit which allows "turbo boost" (overclocking) capability to be extended to more than one core. The CPU and GPU can be "turboed" separately.

* Intel will deliver 25 times faster graphics than in 2007

* Sandy Bridge will be available in 35-watt and 45-watt desktop versions and will enter the entry-level server market in 2011.

* Sandy Bridge chips will be built using Intel's 32-nanometer process

Controlled Power Technologies has a mild Hybrid electric Vehicle design that affordably improves efficiency by 20%

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A series of affordable modifications are made to allow a 1.4 Litre engine to perform about as well as a 2 Litre engine

Controlled Power Technologies (CPT), in conjunction with AVL Graz, has been working for the past 18 months on addressing the currently uneconomic mild hybrid ‘gap’ with a value driven ’micro/mild‘ HEV solution, utilising CPT’s production ready VTES electric supercharger (19 page pdf). CPT and AVL’s most recent work assesses the potential of a VTES equipped downsized ELC‐Hybrid vehicle in combination with the CPT SpeedStart® Integrated Starter Generator and a cost effective and robust low voltage battery technology.

It will cost an additional 1500 to 4000 euros per car using this system in the 2015-2020 timeframe to meet new European CO2 emission standards (130 grams per kilometer) instead of an added 6000 to 18000 euros for a full hybrid or electric vehicle.

The paper builds on AVL’s ELC‐Hybrid concept and proposes that the combination of CPT’s VTES electric supercharger and SpeedStart® B‐ISG, within a cost effective ‘micro/mild’ hybrid system, enables significantly improved functionality, built upon intrinsically low cost micro‐hybrid sub systems. The use of a ‘carbon enhanced’ advanced VRLA ‘UltraBattery’ addresses the remaining challenge of robustly maximising energy recuperation during deceleration, and hence fully realising SpeedStart®’s potential for high power generation. The complementary use of VTES as a highly electrical energy efficient ‘torque enhancer’ dramatically reduces the electrical energy deficit created during typical transient acceleration events. This further enhances the viability of the low cost energy storage system. Such a synergistic approach enables existing technology engine and transmission combinations to be aggressively downsized and downspeeded to support very significant (>25%) vehicle CO2 reduction, whilst maintaining acceptable levels of driver enjoyment.

September 12, 2010

Artificial skinlike material 1000 times more sensitive than human skin

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Sensitive skin: A new tactile sensor can detect the gentle touch of an alighting insect. Credit: Linda Cicero, Stanford University News Report

Researchers at Stanford University have used organic electronics to make something 1,000 times more sensitive than human skin and different researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have used integrated arrays of nanowire transistors to enable skinlike sensation which requires very little power.
Both devices are flexible and can be printed over large areas; they are described this week in separate papers in the journal Nature Materials.

Highly sensitive surfaces could help robots pick up delicate objects without breaking them, give prosthetics a sense of touch, and give surgeons finer control over tools used for minimally invasive surgery. "Our goal is to mimic the human skin," says Zhenan Bao, professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. Human skin responds quickly to pressure and can detect objects as small as a grain of sand and light as an insect.

The core of Bao's device consists of a clear silicon-containing polymer called PDMS. This material's ability to store charge is directly related to its thickness. A few years ago, researchers led by Takao Someya at the University of Tokyo took advantage of this property, using PDMS as the insulating layer in flexible organic transistors that acted as pressure sensors. But these sensors were limited: when compressed, PDMS molecules change conformation, and it takes time for them to return to their original state.

Advanced Space Launch System would use railgun, scramjet, and rockets

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There is a proposed 10-year plan that would start with launching a drone like those the Air Force uses. More advanced models would follow until they are ready to build one that can launch a small satellite into orbit. A wedge-shaped aircraft with scramjets would be launched horizontally on an electrified track or gas-powered sled. The aircraft would fly up to Mach 10, using the scramjets and wings to lift it to the upper reaches of the atmosphere where a small payload canister or capsule similar to a rocket's second stage would fire off the back of the aircraft and into orbit. The aircraft would come back and land on a runway by the launch site.

* The launcher would reach at least 600 miles per hour over the course of two miles in Stanley Starr's proposal.
Stanley Starr, Kennedy Space Center

MIT makes solar funnels from carbon nanotubes antennas

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This filament containing about 30 million carbon nanotubes absorbs energy from the sun as photons and then re-emits photons of lower energy, creating the fluorescence seen here. The red regions indicate highest energy intensity, and green and blue are lower intensity. Image: Geraldine Paulus

Using carbon nanotubes (hollow tubes of carbon atoms), MIT chemical engineers have found a way to concentrate solar energy 100 times more than a regular photovoltaic cell. Such nanotubes could form antennas that capture and focus light energy, potentially allowing much smaller and more powerful solar arrays. The nanotube bundles described in the Nature Materials paper lose about 13 percent of the energy they absorb, but the team is working on new antennas that would lose only 1 percent.

Instead of having your whole roof be a photovoltaic cell, you could have little spots that were tiny photovoltaic cells, with antennas that would drive photons into them. The new antennas might also be useful for any other application that requires light to be concentrated, such as night-vision goggles or telescopes.

Carnival of Space 169

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1. Urban Astronomer looks at the question Are the universal constants changing?

The two fundamental assumptions about modern cosmology (the study of the origins of the universe) and astrophysics are homogeneity and universality. The first means that matter is evenly spread out through the universe (if you average out over large enough scales), while the second means that the laws of physics are the same throughout the universe. The principle of homogeneity has always seemed arbitrary to me, and unjustified; at the local level we find matter is quite clumpy, from everyday objects to planets and stars, to galaxies and clusters of galaxies. The second assumption, universality, feels much more solid.

Enter John Webb and Julian King from the University of New South Wales, who recently submitted a paper to Physical Review Letters which suggests that the Fine-Structure Constant may not be constant after all.

If you travel in one particular direction, α seems to become smaller, while if you travel in the opposite it seems to increase. This implies that the principal of universality is wrong.

it's unclear which of the various constants making up α are changing. Is it the charge on an electron? Is it the speed of light? Nobody knows. In fact, at this stage only one team has managed to show any variation in the Fine-Structure Constant at all, so it might still turn out to be a false alarm. If it is true, then we have just broken one of our most cherished assumptions: That we can predict and model the universe at extreme distances by the same laws that we use here on Earth.

The Planetary society has several pictures of two natural bridges on the moon. The bridge is about 7 meters wide and 20 long; the pit is about 12 meters deep on the left side and shallows to 6 meters on the right. Credit: NASA / GSFC / ASU / Nathanial Burton-Bradford.

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