September 25, 2010

ARM Cortex A15 MPCore for quadcore smartphones up to 2.5 GHz in 2013

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The ARM Cortex™-A15 MPCore™ processor is highest-performance licensable processor the industry has ever seen. The 32nm and 28nm parts should ship in 2013.

The Cortex-A15 MPCore processor has an out-of-order superscalar pipeline with a tightly-coupled low-latency level-2 cache which can be up to 4MB in size. Additional improvements in floating point and NEON™ media performance result in devices that deliver the next-generation user experience for consumers as well as high-performance computation for web infrastructure applications.

It is expected that mobile configurations of the Cortex-A15 MPCore processor will deliver over five times the performance of today’s advanced smartphones. In advanced infrastructure applications, the Cortex-A15 running at up to 2.5GHz will enable highly scalable solutions within constantly shrinking energy, thermal and cost budgets

The Cortex-A15 MPCore processor will be supported by specifically optimized ARM Physical IP that was developed jointly with the processor. These optimizations enable rapid development of leadership physical implementations, initially targeting 32nm and 28nm technologies with a roadmap extending to 20nm.

When pairing the Cortex-A15 MPCore processor with TI’s SmartReflex™ 3 technology, future OMAP applications processors will yield a 60 percent reduction in power, enabling TI to continue delivering the industry’s most energy-efficient, high performing solutions.

HTC Windows 7 phone, HTC LTE phone, HTC Desire HD and Triple core chip for smartphones

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1. The specs for the HTC HD7 Windows 7 have been revealed.

It has a 4.3-inch display, packing 800 x 480 pixels. It is a capacitive LCD, and supports multi-touch. It is powered by a 1GHz Qualcomm processor, has 512MB of ROM and 8GB of built-in storage space for media and other content. On the radio side of the equation, this spec sheet notes quad-band GSM/EDGE and tri-band 900/1700/2100 UMTS support. That means it can work on most 3G networks in Asia, on T-Mobile USA, and the 3G networks of Europe. Of course, it also carriers 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, GPS, FM radio, and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR. As for media, the HD7 sports a 5 megapixel camera with dual LED flash and autofocus. It has a 3.5mm headset jack for normal stereo headphones and the new set of keys that are required of Windows Phone 7 device

Classification of Exoskeletons and Orthoses

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Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation (JNER) - Exoskeletons and orthoses: classification, design challenges and future directions by Hugh Herr

Hugh Herr was involved in making a motorless exoskeleton that was quasi-passive yet able to bear 80 pounds of weight

For over a century, technologists and scientists have actively sought the development of exoskeletons and orthoses designed to augment human economy, strength, and endurance. While there are still many challenges associated with exoskeletal and orthotic design that have yet to be perfected, the advances in the field have been truly impressive. In this commentary, I first classify exoskeletons and orthoses into devices that act in series and in parallel to a human limb, providing a few examples within each category. This classification is then followed by a discussion of major design challenges and future research directions critical to the field of exoskeletons and orthoses.

I classify exoskeletons and orthoses into four categories and provide design examples within each of these. I discuss devices that act in series with a human limb to increase limb length and displacement, and devices that act in parallel with a human limb to increase human locomotory economy, augment joint strength, and increase endurance or strength.

Exoskeletons and orthoses are defined as mechanical devices that are essentially anthropomorphic in nature, are 'worn' by an operator and fit closely to the body, and work in concert with the operator's movements. In general, the term 'exoskeleton' is used to describe a device that augments the performance of an able-bodied wearer, whereas the term 'orthosis' is typically used to describe a device that is used to assist a person with a limb pathology.

1. Series-limb exoskeletons - like Springwalker and Powerskip

with an in-series leg exoskeleton device, the ground reaction forces are still borne by the human leg. In contrast, with a parallel mechanism, body weight could be transferred through the exoskeleton directly to the ground, decreasing the loads borne by the biological limbs and lowering the metabolic demands to walk, run, and hop. Furthermore, such a parallel exoskeleton would not increase limb length, thereby not increasing the overall energetic demand to stabilize movement.

2. Parallel-limb exoskeletons for load transfer

Examples are Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton (BLEEX) and HULC.

BLEEX can reportedly support a load of up to 75 kg while walking at 0.9 m/s, and can walk at speeds of up to 1.3 m/s without the load. A second generation of the Berkeley exoskeleton is currently in testing. The new device is approximately half the weight of the original exoskeleton (~14 kg), in part due to the implementation of electric actuation with a hydraulic transmission system.

Machine coprocessors for the brain

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We are entering a neurotechnology renaissance, in which the toolbox for understanding the brain and engineering its functions is expanding in both scope and power at an unprecedented rate. According to Ed Boyden, an Assistant Professor, Biological Engineering, and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the MIT Media Lab talk at emTech 2010.

This toolbox has grown to the point where the strategic utilization of multiple neurotechnologies in conjunction with one another, as a system, may yield fundamental new capabilities, both scientific and clinical, beyond what they can offer alone. For example, consider a system that reads out activity from a brain circuit, computes a strategy for controlling the circuit so it enters a desired state or performs a specific computation, and then delivers information into the brain to achieve this control strategy. Such a system would enable brain computations to be guided by predefined goals set by the patient or clinician, or adaptively steered in response to the circumstances of the patient's environment or the instantaneous state of the patient's brain.

Caltech Atwater proposes laying thin flexible sheets of solar over farm land

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Caltech professor Atwater proposes to reduce solar power installation costs: he suggests using farm equipment fitted with laser levels to quickly install large fields of flexible solar panels, laying them out the way plastic sheeting is laid out in some farming today.

The thing that's held back flexible solar cells so far is that they typically are not very efficient compared to conventional crystalline silicon solar cells. That means you need more of them, which, of course, increases costs. At the conference, Atwater showed off a couple of ways to use high-efficiency solar cell materials in flexible cells. One involved depositing gallium arsenide on a rigid surface, then peeling it off to make a flexible solar cell. The other involves growing crystalline silicon in the form of arrays of wires embedded in polymers. He dropped a sample of the latter material on the stage to demonstrate its resilience. The best of these solar cells made in the lab have achieved over 17% efficiency, he says--that's competitive with today's solar cells. (When he makes them over a large area, the efficiency is less than half that, but he thinks this can be improved).

September 24, 2010

Turning Waste Heat Into Power

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A "forest" of molecules holds the promise of turning waste heat into electricity. UA physicists discovered that because of quantum effects, electron waves traveling along the backbone of each molecule interfere with each other, leading to the buildup of a voltage between the hot and cold electrodes (the golden structures on the bottom and top). (Rendering by Justin Bergfield)

University of Arizona physicists have discovered a new way of harvesting waste heat and turning it into electrical power. Taking advantage of quantum effects, the technology holds great promise for making cars, power plants, factories and solar panels more efficient.

"We anticipate the thermoelectric voltage using our design to be about 100 times larger than what others have achieved in the lab," Stafford added.

Molecular thermoelectric devices could help solve an issue currently plaguing photovoltaic cells harvesting energy from sunlight.

"Solar panels get very hot and their efficiency goes down," Stafford said. "You could harvest some of that heat and use it to generate additional electricity while simultaneously cooling the panel and making its own photovoltaic process more efficient."

"With a very efficient thermoelectric device based on our design, you could power about 200 100-Watt light bulbs using the waste heat of an automobile," he said. "Put another way, one could increase the car's efficiency by well over 25 percent, which would be ideal for a hybrid since it already uses an electrical motor."

IBM has real time measurement of individual atoms

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Scanning tunneling microscope topograph of nitride patches (blue) on a copper substrate (green) that serve as nano-workbenches for the assembly of atomic-scale prototype structures from magnetic atoms (green bumps).

Journal Science - Measurement of Fast Electron Spin Relaxation Times with Atomic Resolution

Single spins in solid-state systems are often considered prime candidates for the storage of quantum information, and their interaction with the environment the main limiting factor for the realization of such schemes. The lifetime of an excited spin state is a sensitive measure of this interaction, but extending the spatial resolution of spin relaxation measurements to the atomic scale has been a challenge. We show how a scanning tunneling microscope can measure electron spin relaxation times of individual atoms adsorbed on a surface using an all-electronic pump-probe measurement scheme. The spin relaxation times of individual Fe-Cu dimers were found to vary between 50 and 250 nanoseconds. Our method can in principle be generalized to monitor the temporal evolution of other dynamical systems.

Scientists at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose are using the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) like a high-speed camera to record the behavior of individual atoms at a speed about one million times faster than previously possible.
This breakthrough could be used to study areas such as:

Quantum computing. Quantum computers are a radically different type of computer – not bound to the binary nature of traditional computers – with the potential to perform advanced computations that are not possible today. With today's breakthrough, scientists will have a powerful new way to explore the feasibility of a novel approach to quantum computing through atomic spins on surfaces.

Information storage technologies. As technology approaches the atomic scale, scientists have been exploring the limits of magnetic storage. This breakthrough allows scientists to “see” an atom’s electronic and magnetic properties and explore whether or not information can be reliably stored on a single atom

Human proteome fully mapped

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A research team from ETH Zurich, led by Professor Ruedi Aebersold, and from the Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle, has used mass spectroscopy methods to fully map the human proteome for the first time. The data is being made available to all researchers.

Researchers at the Institute for Systems Biology (IBS) in Seattle and at ETH Zurich from the group led by Professor Ruedi Aebersold have recorded and identified using various mass spectrometry methods, and whose data they have entered into a database as a reference. The researchers describe this as the “Gold Standard Reference for the human proteome”.

The spectra for every protein coded and expressed by the 20,300 human genes has been identified and recorded.

Solar Wind Power (SWP) Satellites could provide 100 billion times current world energy needs

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The Dyson Harrop satellite (DHS), however, draws energy from the solar wind’s electrons, using the Sun’s high energy photons only to eject the electrons once their useful electronic energy has been collected.
the DHS can provide power at a rate that increases proportionally to the square of current through the Main Wire. A current of 0.444 A would produce ~1.7 MW of power, while tripling the current produces about 10 times more power. A 1-kilometre-long wire and a sail 8400 kilometres wide could generate roughly 1 billion billion gigawatts (10^27 watts) of power, which is 100 billion times the power humanity currently requires. Dyson-Harrop satellites rely on the constant solar wind found high above the ecliptic – the plane defined by the Earth's orbit around the sun. Consequently, the satellite would lie tens of millions of kilometres from the Earth. To beam power from a Dyson-Harrop satellite to Earth, one "would require stupendously huge optics, such as a virtually perfect lens between maybe 10 to 100 kilometres across. A smaller version of this satellite could help power some space missions. It could generate power for something like the Ulysses spacecraft, which went around the poles of the sun.

DARPA is trying to make lasers in the 150 KW range and trying to get to power density of < 5 kg/kw. So besides the focusing problem is the challenge of making lasers or microwave transmitters of the needed size and in volume.

It should be relatively cheap to construct, given that the system is composed almost entirely of copper and doesn’t require circuitry. Later versions could use carbon nanotubes (when they are cheaper and made in higher quantity) for lighter wires that can handle more current. Our Sun emits a solar wind of only ~10^-14 MS/yr, and the 0.444 A model of the DHS merely diverts ~10-14 of the Sun’s solar wind (~10-28 MS/yr).

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 20 - Zeroing out coal is achievable and necessary

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The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 20 is up at Idaho Samizdat

At the bottom of this article is a review of a Peabody coal presentation which promoted coal energy use. I point out it is very feasible to zero out coal and review urgency for zeroing out coal because of the environmental, health and economic damage from coal power.

This site contributed these two articles:

The Iranian nuclear reactor may have been the target of the Stuxnet computer virus.

Roundup of news on nuclear reactors in China, India, Pakistan and uranium in Kazakhstan, Australia and Kyrgyzstan.

September 23, 2010

Paris Basin Shale Oil Could have more recoverable oil than the Bakken oil field

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The Paris Basin has an area of ~170,000 km2, encompasses most of the northern half of France and extends into Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany.

IHS has identified three possible unconventional hydrocarbon plays in the Paris Basin, France:
the Lias Shale oil play, the Permo-Carboniferous Shale gas play, and the Upper Carboniferous coalbed methane play. Analysis based on IHS proprietary data and public sources indicates the presence of a thick sequence of Palaeozoic sediments. We have constructed a preliminary stratigraphic succession of the Palaeozoic sediments and mapped their distribution, which could help in exploration of the Palaeozoic reservoirs as an extension of known conventional petroleum systems. Our analysis of the Paris Basin indicates that the basin still holds good hydrocarbon potential, both for conventional and unconventional plays, and merits a new phase of exploration, especially considering its excellent infrastructure and recent advances in technology.

Estimates range from just a few to many tens of billions of barrels of oil in the Paris Basin. Much like the North American shale plays, these formations have been drilled through many times – there are over 1,000 wells drilled into the Basin – so exploration risk is low. It’s completion risk – how to best unlock the oil from the rock – that is the main risk.

Usain Bolt is targeting 9.4 second in 100 meters

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Bolt believes the world record in the 100 meters could be lowered to 9.4 seconds.

This site has looked at the technological possibilities for faster human speed.

He ran 100m final race in 9.58s, that gives average speed 10.4384 m/s (23.35mph). If he can go 100m in 9.4seconds that would give an average speed of 23.79 mph.

Silicon Nanomesh provides breakthrough in affordable thermoelectric performance

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A scanning electron microscope image shows the grid of tiny holes in the nanomesh material. Bottom: In this drawing, each sphere represents a silicon atom in the nanomesh. The colorful bands show the temperature differences on the material, with red being hotter and blue being cooler. [Credit: Heath group/Caltech]

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed a new type of material—made out of silicon, the second most abundant element in Earth's crust—that could lead to more efficient thermoelectric devices. The material—a type of nanomesh—is composed of a thin film with a grid-like arrangement of tiny holes. This unique design makes it difficult for heat to travel through the material, lowering its thermal conductivity to near silicon's theoretical limit. At the same time, the design allows electricity to flow as well as it does in unmodified silicon.

A major strategy for making thermoelectric materials energy efficient is to lower the thermal conductivity without affecting the electrical conductivity, which is how well electricity can travel through the substance. Heath and his colleagues had previously accomplished this using silicon nanowires—wires of silicon that are 10 to 100 times narrower than those currently used in computer microchips. The nanowires work by impeding heat while allowing electrons to flow freely

Nature Nanotechnology - Reduction of thermal conductivity in phononic nanomesh structures.

Convert carbon-dioxide emissions to useful building materials, using genetically altered yeast

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MIT engineer Angela Belcher is now taking a new approach that would not only remove carbon dioxide from the environment, but also turn it into something useful: solid carbonates that could be used for building construction.

By genetically engineering ordinary baker’s yeast, Belcher and two of her graduate students, Roberto Barbero and Elizabeth Wood, have created a process that can convert carbon dioxide into carbonates that could be used as building materials. Their process, which has been tested in the lab, can produce about two pounds of carbonate for every pound of carbon dioxide captured. Next, they hope to scale up the process so it could be used in a power plant or industrial factory.

Quicklaunch, Cubesats and Open Source Satellite Initiative

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The basic idea of Quicklaunch is that you launch a projectile from a cannon at 6 kilometers per second using compressed hydrogen gas. On a conventional rocket, the payload fraction is about 3%, whereas with our concept the payload is more than 20%. For just $12 million in funding they could be launching cube satellites into orbit by 2013. It currently costs about $100,000 to launch a cubesat. A working cannon launcher could bring the cost down to a few thousand dollars.

Phase 1 - 1 year and 2 million

They use the original 240 foot long SHARP pump tube run in single stage mode. This delivers inert 40 lb vehicles to an apogee in excess of 200 km and breaks the existing record of 180 km

Phase 2: 2 years and $10M

We use a 400 foot long Quicklauncher launching a single stage rocket motor to deliver a 1 kg Cubesat to orbit. We will then collaborate with universities on a large number of Cubesat launches. These launches will allow us to fully break in the launcher prior to Phase 3.

Phase 3: 2 years and $50M

We build and operate 400 meter long Quicklaunchers called QL-100 to deliver 100 lb payloads to orbit. These $50M launchers can deliver supplies and certain classes of satellites on demand. This dovetails with a DARPA project called Orbital Express which recently demonstrated satellite docking and transfer of propellant and batteries. The customers will range from commercial satellite providers to NASA and The European Space Agency

Phase 4: 3 years and $500M

We build and operate 1,100 meter long Quicklaunchers called QL-1000 to deliver 1,000 lb propellant payloads to orbit. The customers will range from NASA and other space consortiums to Space Entrepreneurs such as Bigelow Aerospace and Virgin Galactic. Phase 4 will supply 2,000 tons (4 million lbs) yearly. Supplying affordable propellant to depots in orbit will enable manned exploration of Mars and the Moon.

Reversible adhesion stamp can vary adhesive strength by 1000 times

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Reversible adhesion stamp can vary its adhesion strength by 1,000 times. Researchers were also successful at printing layers of electronics, that may lead to the development of complex devices in the future. Four pyramids on the stamp press firmly against the surface of an electronic device, the soft tips expand and thus increase the surface-to-surface contact. The stamp can pick up the device and then by returning to its original pyramid shape (removing the adhesive force) the electronic device can be easily transferred to another surface.
Microstructured elastomeric surfaces with reversible adhesion and examples of their use in deterministic assembly by transfer printing

Reversible control of adhesion is an important feature of many desired, existing, and potential systems, including climbing robots, medical tapes, and stamps for transfer printing. We present experimental and theoretical studies of pressure modulated adhesion between flat, stiff objects and elastomeric surfaces with sharp features of surface relief in optimized geometries. Here, the strength of nonspecific adhesion can be switched by more than three orders of magnitude, from strong to weak, in a reversible fashion. Implementing these concepts in advanced stamps for transfer printing enables versatile modes for deterministic assembly of solid materials in micro/nanostructured forms. Demonstrations in printed two- and three-dimensional collections of silicon platelets and membranes illustrate some capabilities. An unusual type of transistor that incorporates a printed gate electrode, an air gap dielectric, and an aligned array of single walled carbon nanotubes provides a device example.

Magnetic energy recovery switch saves 39% of peak power

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Tokyo Institute of Technology, MERSTech and the Office of Naval Research Global’s office in Tokyo have developed the Magnetic Energy Recovery Switch (MERS) harnesses and recycles residual magnetic power that is produced by electrical current. By using a device that controls the flow of electricity, light bulbs can now maximize their potential.

MERS technology significantly reduced lighting energy consumption. The Magnetic Energy Recovery Switch provided peak power saving of 39 percent. The device not only conserves electricity, but produces far less heat and produces less electromagnetic interference than conventional technologies.

Harnessing the potential of a single molecule at the nanoscale

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Chemical structure of Mn12(acetate)16.
A University of Nottingham team of physicists and chemists have demonstrated for the first time the way in which an irregularly shaped molecule is adsorbed on a surface. It gives important information to scientists on how these molecules could be arranged to form structures, potentially to build tiny new data storage devices which are many times smaller than their existing silicon-based counterparts. Many of the more irregularly-shaped molecules have extremely useful properties — if we can store information on a single molecule which is normally around one nanometre, as opposed to the silicon-based equivalent of 40 to 50 nanometres, we could potentially build devices which are much smaller in size but have a much denser storage capacity.

The work has involved computer modelling a manganese-based molecule — shaped like a concave ‘jam doughnut’ — and predicting how it would be adsorbed on a gold surface before observing its actual behaviour in the lab. Due to the fragile nature of the molecules, the team had to use a novel electrospray deposition technique to get the molecules onto the surface without destroying their functionality.

Solvent-Mediated End-to-End Assembly of Gold Nanorods

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Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters - Solvent-Mediated End-to-End Assembly of Gold Nanorods

We demonstrate a new method for the bottom-up assembly of anisotropic nanoparticles, showing that alkanethiol molecules can induce controlled end-to-end assembly of gold nanorods in mixed water/acetonitrile solutions. The assembly is driven by solvent-mediated interactions among hydrophobic alkanethiol ligands selectively bound to the ends of the nanorods and among hydrophilic cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) surfactants on the sides of the rods. It occurs only when the gold-nanorod samples have been aged for approximately two weeks. We compare the kinetics of solvent-mediated assembly using undecanethiol ligands to assembly processes driven by covalent bonding using α,ω-undecanedithiol ligands and processes driven by hydrogen bonding using 11-mercaptoundecanoic acid ligands. Our experiments demonstrate the different assembly mechanisms involved as well as the conditions needed to obtain selective end-to-end assembly.

September 22, 2010

Researchers Engineer Adult Stem Cells That Do Not Age, Overcoming a Major Barrier to Progress in Regenerative Medicine

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Biomedical researchers at the University at Buffalo have engineered adult stem cells that scientists can grow continuously in culture, a discovery that could speed development of cost-effective treatments for diseases including heart disease, diabetes, immune disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

UB scientists created the new cell lines – named "MSC Universal" – by genetically altering mesenchymal stem cells, which are found in bone marrow and can differentiate into cell types including bone, cartilage, muscle, fat, and beta-pancreatic islet cells.

Lee says his research team has generated two lines of MSC-Universal cells: a human line and a porcine line. Using the engineering technique he and colleagues developed, scientists can generate an MSC-Universal line from any donor sample of mesenchymal stem cells, he says.

"I imagine that if these cells become routinely used in the future, one can generate a line from each ethnic group for each gender for people to choose from," Lee says.

Nuclear power in China, India and Pakistan and uranium in Australia and Kazakhstan

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1. China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) plans to invest 800 billion yuan ($120 billion) into nuclear energy projects by 2020.

Total investment in nuclear power plants, in which CNNC will hold controlling stakes, will reach 500 billion yuan ($75 billion) by 2015.

2. The project to build the world's first AP1000, China's Sanmen 1, reached a construction milestone when the third steel ring of the plant's containment vessel was hoisted into place. Work on the Westinghouse reactor is now back on schedule, despite falling six months behind at the end of last year.

China's growth may slow to 8% per year through 2020

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Two Morgan Stanley Economists predict that China's economy could be set to slow to 8% per year growth

Wang and Ho believe China is currently at an inflection point, based on research and data gathered by British economist Angus Maddison. Therefore, they expect Chinese GDP growth to slow to 8 percent a year over the next decade, which is about 2 percentage points lower than the average growth rate achieved in the previous decade.

But at even at this slower rate, China's nominal GDP would triple in size (assuming 3.5 percent annual CPI inflation) and would also be on track to surpass that of the U.S. soon after 2020.

China, of course, is a very unique economy and its growth may decelerate rather modestly compared to other countries that have passed the inflection point.

The longevity, pace, and especially size of China's economic expansion is unprecedented, so it may not conform to the tendencies of other countries. In addition, the deregulation of the household registration system, strong national savings, and reforms to improve its capital markets are three factors that could also mitigate China's growth deceleration, added Wang and Ho.

Excess power from offgrid cellphone towers could cool vaccines and save 5 million lives per year by 2015

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Excess power from off-grid cellphone towers could be used to chill vaccines and water purification and save 5 million lives a year by 2015 This would be saving about 9% of the 54 million deaths that happen worldwide each year.

According to the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union, approximately 75 per cent of the world's rural inhabitants are now covered by a cellular signal and close to 100 per cent will have coverage by 2015.

The industry trade association, GSMA, estimates that by 2012 there will be 639,000 off-grid cell towers in the developing world.

Cold-chain refrigerators require a minimum of 8 hours of electricity a day, and even the most energy-hungry models require no more than 2 kilowatts of power. Off-grid cell towers produce about 5 kilowatts of excess power on average, so this should be achievable with no negative impact on the cellphone network.

Titanium foams replace injured bones

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Flexible yet rigid like a human bone, and immediately capable of bearing loads: A new kind of implant, made of titanium foam, resembles the inside of a bone in terms of its structural configuration. Not only does this make it less stiff than conventional massive implants. It also promotes ingrowth into surrounding bones.

Among implants, the titanium alloy Ti6Al4V is the material of choice. It is durable, stable, resilient, and well tolerated by the body. But it is somewhat difficult to manufacture: titanium reacts with oxygen, nitrogen and carbon at high temperatures, for example. This makes it brittle and breakable. The range of production processes is equally limited.

Titanium foam has a complex internal structure that allows blood vessels and existing bone cells to grow into the foam, integrating them into its own matrix (and vice versa). This makes the foam particularly useful to repair damaged bones that are still partially intact

For constructing bone replacements or prosthetics, the Titanium foam serves a slightly different function; it become more or less dense as the weight-bearing requirements of the substitute bone demand — meaning, for instance, that a fingertip bone doesn’t need to be as heavy per cubic inch as a femur.

Finally, titanium foam allows for stress to be replaced on the repaired bone immediately. In fact, it requires it: only load-bearing stress can trigger the proper density formation of the graft and integration of the existing bone with the foam, fostering faster and more substantive healing

Has Cyber War with Iran Already Started ? Is Kim Jong Il Already Dead ?

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July, 2010 saw the discovery of a worm known as Stuxnet, which sought out a particular version of the Siemens’ SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems that control power grids and industrial plants. Stuxnet was capable of taking over SCADA controls in order to deliver a kinetic attack by causing critical systems to physically malfunction. The systems infected weren’t randomly targeted: a majority are in Iran.

A highly sophisticated computer worm that has spread through Iran, Indonesia and India was built to destroy operations at one target: possibly Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor. That's the emerging consensus of security experts who have examined the Stuxnet worm.

There was also coverage at the Christian Science Monitorand at Cnet and at Symantec

Stuxnet infects Windows systems in its search for industrial control systems, often generically (but incorrectly) known as SCADA systems. Industrial control systems consist of Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), which can be thought of as mini-computers that can be programmed from a Windows system. These PLCs contain special code that controls the automation of industrial processes—for instance, to control machinery in a plant or a factory. Programmers use software (e.g., on a Windows PC) to create code and then upload their code to the PLCs.

Previously, we reported that Stuxnet can steal code and design projects and also hide itself using a classic Windows rootkit, but unfortunately it can also do much more. Stuxnet has the ability to take advantage of the programming software to also upload its own code to the PLC in an industrial control system that is typically monitored by SCADA systems. In addition, Stuxnet then hides these code blocks, so when a programmer using an infected machine tries to view all of the code blocks on a PLC, they will not see the code injected by Stuxnet. Thus, Stuxnet isn’t just a rootkit that hides itself on Windows, but is the first publicly known rootkit that is able to hide injected code located on a PLC

Symantec blogs have a series of posts on W32.Stuxnet (several posts are not in english)

The Stuxnet infection process is discussed in detail at Symantec

52 years after DARPA was formed Russia talks about its own military technology research agency

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52 years after DARPA was formed as ARPA in 1958 Russia is now talking about creating a DARPA like agency for military research.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has called for his country to adopt a United States-style defence research agency to innovate new arms technology

Medvedev warned that Russia was falling behind other country's defence industries due to the lack of high-tech production.

'We need a research think-tank such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the United States,' Medvedev told a meeting of the Commission for Modernisation and Technological Development

SGI will deliver ASICs by the end of this year for connecting 512 cabinets and progresses to 2 petaflops cabinets could enable peak exascale systems by 2018 or earlier

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SGI announced in June its Altix UV system that supports up to 256 Intel Nehalem-EX processors and up to 16 terabytes of main memory all housed in four cabinets. It uses 32 four-port node controller ASICs designed by SGI.

By December 2010, SGI will ship versions of the system using a 16-port router ASIC to allow users to connect 128 of the four-cabinet nodes into a loosely coupled system supporting eight petabytes of total aggregate memory. The design is the first implementation of what SGI calls a global memory architecture that could scale to support an exascale-class system by 2018.

Nvidia should have Maxwell GPUs by 2013 that will have 12 times the performance of the Fermi chip.

Nvidia reveals GPU roadmap to Kepler chip in 2011 and Maxwell in 2013

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Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia’s chief executive, disclosed during an annual conference that it will deliver a chip, code named Kepler, in late 2011 that will be three to four times the performance of Fermi with little increase in power consumption.

In 2013, Nvidia will make an even greater leap, Huang said, predicting the arrival of a chip called Maxwell will be ten to 12 times the power of Fermi.

Kepler will be made off the 28nm process, and will be focused far more heavily on performance per watt than Fermi is. Nvidia estimates that Kepler will be three to four times the performance per watt over Fermi, giving us a ballpark of five gigaflops of per watt. In 2013, the Maxwell chip should bring 16 times the performance in parallel graphics-based computing, as well as the ability to work independent of a CPU. Performance per watt will triple over the previous generation, hopefully hitting 15 gigaflops per watt. If Nvidia has the new chips top at a 300 watt thermal envelope, then the Kepler Teslas will deliver around 1.5 teraflops and the Maxwell Teslas will top out at around 4.5 teraflops.

The future Nvidia chips can go into the new SGI project mojo systems to deliver a petaflop in a single rack and then with Maxwell 2-3 petaflops in a single rack.

320 Maxwell chips would get about 1.44 petaflops.

September 21, 2010

Optical antennas can amplify signals by a million times or more

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Optical antennas can amplify signals by a million times or more using lasers to induce quantum tunneling between sub-nanometer gaps between metal electrodes, according to researchers at Rice University who say they have accurately characterized optical antennas, which promise to enable single-molecule sensors and other advanced non-linear optical applications.

Condensed matter physicist Doug Natelson and graduate student Dan Ward have found a way to make an optical antenna from two gold tips separated by a nanoscale gap that gathers light from a laser. The tips "grab the light and concentrate it down into a tiny space," Natelson said, leading to a thousand-fold increase in light intensity in the gap.

Nature Nanotechnology - Optical rectification and field enhancement in a plasmonic nanogap

Metal nanostructures act as powerful optical antennas because collective modes of the electron fluid in the metal are excited when light strikes the surface of the nanostructure. These excitations, known as plasmons, can have evanescent electromagnetic fields that are orders of magnitude larger than the incident electromagnetic field. The largest field enhancements often occur in nanogaps between plasmonically active nanostructures but it is extremely challenging to measure the fields in such gaps directly. These enhanced fields have applications in surface-enhanced spectroscopies nonlinear optics and nanophotonics. Here we show that nonlinear tunnelling conduction between gold electrodes separated by a subnanometre gap leads to optical rectification, producing a d.c. photocurrent when the gap is illuminated. Comparing this photocurrent with low-frequency conduction measurements, we determine the optical frequency voltage across the tunnelling region of the nanogap, and also the enhancement of the electric field in the tunnelling region, as a function of gap size. The measured field enhancements exceed 1,000, consistent with estimates from surface-enhanced Raman measurements. Our results highlight the need for more realistic theoretical approaches that are able to model the electromagnetic response of metal nanostructures on scales ranging from the free-space wavelength, λ, down to ~λ/1,000, and for experiments with new materials, different wavelengths and different incident polarizations.

Antioxidants that can enter mitochondria are showing effectiveness in anti-aging with mice

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Vladimir Skulachev has shown that SKQ1 could penetrate into mitochondria and affect oxidants (most antioxidants, including the ones in your health supplements, do not enter mitochondria in dose amounts). He and his colleagues then demonstrated that SKQ1 could extend the lives of fungus, crustaceans, insects, and mice. The latter is the most exciting, and Skulachev’s team claims to have extended median lifespan by 100%

Vladamir Skulachev’s group synthesized an antioxidant attached to a positively charged ion, which they call SkQ1. This compound can readily pass through the cell membrane and travel to the mitochondrial intermembrane space, the only negatively charged region in the cell. There, SkQ1 will soak up any ROS formed by the electron transport chain. SkQ1 works similarly to the popular MitoQ, but does not have the pro-oxidant properties MitoQ is known to have at higher concentrations. SkQ1 is also better than MitoQ at inhibiting apoptosis induced by hydrogen peroxide. Studies by the group also showed that SkQ1 proved beneficial for heart and cardiovascular disease , tumor growth, and cataracts.

Fighting aging indicates that the science is valid.

Mitochondrially targeted antioxidants do seem to have broad application: sepsis, wound healing, and so forth. A quick check of PubMed, searching for "mitochondria glaucoma" would show plenty of research on the topic of mitochondrial damage and its role in the pathology of glaucoma. The broad potential use of SkQ1 and other mitochondrial antioxidants only underscores the importance of mitochondria to our biology

FightingAging is not expecting SkQ1 and other mitochondrially targeted antioxidants to greatly extend life span in humans. This is for much the same reasons that other methods of extending mouse life span - such as calorie restriction - that are known to cause changes in mitochondrial metabolism are also not expected to do much for humans. As a general rule, if a way to alter metabolism extends life by 30% in mice, we shouldn't expect it to extend human life span more than a decade in the best case. This, at least, seems to be the present consensus - ever ready to be overturned, as are all consensuses in science.

The SKQ1 research is far more impressive than anything to come out of calorie restriction mimetics to date.

They are about to start human trials.

Fighting Aging also talks about paths to the development of mitochondrailly targeted antioxidants

Antioxidant compounds can extend life in mice provided they are localized to the mitochondria - which doesn't happen for anything you can presently buy in a bottle. Near all antioxidants that can be ingested, injected, or otherwise introduced into the body do nothing of any great significance to healthy life span, and may even be detrimental by interfering in the processes of hormesis that help to maintain and improve health.

A group in Russia has been quite active in working on SkQ1, an ingested compound that targets mitochondria, and Australian researchers have a similar chemical under development.

Since the FDA does not allow aging to be the target of treatment-
For the targeted antioxidant development, two potential lines of within-the-system development spring to mind. Firstly, as a therapy for sepsis and secondly, it appears that wound healing, and especially in the old, may benefit from mitochondrially targeted antioxidants.

Eric Drexler also discusses mitochondria and autophagy and the substance Trehalose.

Quadcopters for Personal Remote Telepresence

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Valkyrie Ice wrote an interesting article on Quadcopters for eventual usage as personal remote telepresence over at hplusmagazine.

Advances being made in battery and fuel cell and solar power technology could enable a cell-powered drone to run for days. Advances with noise-canceling “stealth” technology should enable the elimination of the “buzz” from the fans on a drone. Inside of five years, a small, silent, RTU could be feasible. Properly constructed, it could be rugged, cheap, and safe enough to use in any human environment. Drones have already been enabled can with grippers, or other robotic limbs.

The University of Pennsylvania grasp lab is where some of the most impressive UAV quadcopter performance is being developed.

UPenn’s GRASP lab released a video of their quadrotor performing its own autonomous flight using onboard sensors and the PixHawk at ETH can also perform autonomous flight.

IEEE Spectrum covers quadcopters, hexacopter and octocopter UAVs.

According to a recent Robots Podcast interview with Joshua Portlock, manager of the CyberQuad project at Australia's Cyber Technology, what happened is a classical case of an enabling technology being driven by the consumer market. Fast, precise and affordable accelerometers are a key technology for Quadcopters. Their development was initially driven by their use for airbags in cars, and now increasingly by their use in consumer devices such as mobile phones. Accelerometers are key because unlike standard helicopters, which use complex mechanics to allow stable flight, Quadrotors use fast onboard motor control to take care of stability. This mechanical simplicity is also their main attraction: Quadrotors can navigate in three dimensions using only four moving parts. And the high reliability of brushless motors makes them a simpler, more reliable alternative to many traditional flying platforms. Hexacopters pack more rotors into a given size to provide more power.

John Hunter of Quicklaunch is interviewed by Sander Olson

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Here is the John Hunter of Quicklaunch interview by Sander Olson. Mr. Hunter is the Director of the Quicklaunch company, which is hoping to create a method for launching unmanned payloads into orbit for $500 per pound. The Quicklaunch approach shoots payloads into orbit using a large hydrogen powered cannon.

Question: When did you first come up with the concept of the QuickLaunch?
Answer: I initially came up with the concept of launching satellites into orbit using hydrogen gas in the 1980s. I worked on the concept throughout the 1990s when I worked at Lawrence Livermore lab and by 2001 I and some coworkers were ready to found a company. But 9/11 happened and so we worked on defense issues for several years. We picked the concept up again in 2007.

Highly Flexible and All-Solid-State Paperlike Polymer Supercapacitors

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Nanoletters - Highly Flexible and All-Solid-State Paperlike Polymer Supercapacitors with six times higher energy current.
Given its high capacitance and flexibility that surpass current commercial supercapacitors, the new supercapacitor should be attractive for use in wearable electronics. Combined with flexible large-scale integrated circuits, these new supercapacitors could enable a lightweight and flexible notebook computer.

In recent years, much effort have been dedicated to achieve thin, lightweight and even flexible energy-storage devices for wearable electronics. Here we demonstrate a novel kind of ultrathin all-solid-state supercapacitor configuration with an extremely simple process using two slightly separated polyaniline-based electrodes well solidified in the H2SO4-polyvinyl alcohol gel electrolyte. The thickness of the entire device is much comparable to that of a piece of commercial standard A4 print paper. Under its highly flexible (twisting) state, the integrate device shows a high specific capacitance of 350 F/g for the electrode materials, well cycle stability after 1000 cycles and a leakage current of as small as 17.2 μA. Furthermore, due to its polymer-based component structure, it has a specific capacitance of as high as 31.4 F/g for the entire device, which is more than 6 times that of current high-level commercial supercapacitor products. These highly flexible and all-solid-state paperlike polymer supercapacitors may bring new design opportunities of device configuration for energy-storage devices in the future wearable electronic area.

Skylon Spaceplane Project is nearing significant events

Richard Varvill, technical director and one of the founders of Reaction Engines believes the Skylon spaceplane project is now reaching its final stages. After decades of withdrawn government support and huge technical hurdles, the tide has turned in favour of high-tech manufacturing and, more importantly, human space travel. A recent study into the Skylon’s ability to carry passengers suggests that a trip to orbit in an upright seat, for stays of up to 14 days, would cost around $500,000. Compared with the plans of some groups, Skylon’s space tourism ambitions are still relatively modest. However, the team is also looking to include an upper stage that would move out of low Earth orbit and, if successful, the project could have far wider significance.

Reaction Engines has been undergoing internal preparations for significant events, which are to be covered in their September update. UK officials will meet next week at a special two-day workshop next week, which will investigate how it can be developed commercially.

Progress toward terabit-rate high-density recording that can also be thirty times faster than present hard disks

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Research is closing in on the next-generation of ultra-high-density magneto-optical storage devices that could store more than 6,000 Terabits (6 petabits) of data, more than 70 times the contents of the entire U.S. Library of Congress, on a single 5-inch disc. Yet the vast storage amount is limited by the ability to write data quickly enough to the device. In the Journal of Applied Physics, researchers at Sun Yat-Sen University in China have demonstrated a way to record on ferromagnetic films using a laser-assisted ultrafast magnetization reversal dynamics. Journal of Applied Physics - Field-dependent ultrafast dynamics and mechanism of magnetization reversal across ferrimagnetic compensation points in GdFeCo amorphous alloy films

September 20, 2010

Flu shots associated with reduced heart attacks

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Annual flu shots may protect against heart attacks, and the earlier in the season a shot is given the greater the protection, a new British study claims.

"This study did not measure risk of heart attack in vaccinated and non-vaccinated people. It measured rates of vaccination among heart attack patients and those without heart attack," said Garratt, noting it was a useful way to look for a connection between heart attacks and flu shots, but not to draw the conclusion drawn by the author.

Siriwardena stressed, however, that, "I think it is important again to say again that we found an association rather than proving cause-and-effect. We also found a greater association between reduction of heart attack and early vaccination."

Internet users in BRICI countries set to double by 2015

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Internet users in the BRICI countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Indonesia - is set to exceed 1.2 billion by 2015, well over three times the rates of the U.S. and Japan combined, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In 2009, the BRICI countries represented about 45 percent of the world’s population and about 15 percent of global GDP, and had some 610 million Internet users.

China will be over 52% urban in 2015 and about 60% urban in 2020 and about 70% urban in 2030

The trends are toward a mostly middle class population of city dwellers with mobile phones and high levels of internet usage.

The combined population of Brazil, Russia, India, China and Indonesia will be about 3.7 billion people in 2020 (out of about 7.5-8 billion worldwide).

Quadcopter UAVs - the Aeryon Scout and AR Drone

DARPA's Flying Humvee for 2015 and Nearterm Improved Unmanned Helicopters Leveraging the New Technology

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working to develop a “flying Humvee” that could be piloted by troops with about the same amount of training it takes to drive an armored truck.

A working prototype could be ready by 2015. In the weeks to come, DARPA is expected to turn to several defense companies for research, and some have already created conceptual designs. The Transformer would carry four combat-ready troops and equipment, totaling more than 1,000 pounds, according to DARPA. It would be able to fly and drive about 250 miles on a single tank and could take off and land vertically. It would also be capable of flying autonomously to a designated location.

Gordon Murray Design's T25 car that would take half of regular traffic lane

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Gordon Murray Design's T.25 will not be just a small ‘big car’ but will have a radically innovative architecture and the flexible layout will support a variety of uses.

Its compact size will allow ‘2’ T.25’s to travel in one UK motorway lane. Trebling the capacity and reducing congestion.

‘3’ T.25’s can easily fit into ‘1’ standard UK parallel parking space, trebling much needed urban parking, reducing pressures for inner cities as well as the disruption to traffic flow.

* ultra lightweight by design (approximately 550kg)

* Will still achieve the highest safety standards (at least 4* Euro NCAP).

* has a top speed of almost 100mph and is expected to cost about £6,000 ($9,000).

* there is a T27 electric car with a similar form factor.

* The 30 staff members are secretly developing a number of different vehicles based on the T.25 manufacturing principles. A five-seater, an eight-seater, a bus, or a two-seater.

Goals on reducing poverty and making safe drinking water available are on track but some other goals while improving are not on target

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The UN Millennium Development Goals Report for 2010 (80 page pdf) is available.

Encouraging trends before 2008 had put many regions on track to achieve at least some of the goals. The economic growth momentum in developing regions remains strong and, learning from the many successes of even the most challenged countries, achieving the MDGs is still within our grasp:

Progress on poverty reduction is still being made, despite signifi cant setbacks due to the 2008-2009 economic downturn, and food and energy crises. The developing world as a whole remains on track to achieve the poverty reduction target by 2015. The overall poverty rate is still expected to fall to 15 per cent by 2015, which translates to around 920 million people living under the international poverty line—half the number in 1990.

• Major advances have been made in getting children into school in many of the poorest countries, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

• Remarkable improvements in key interventions—for malaria and HIV control, and measles immunization, for example—have cut child deaths from 12.5 million in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008.

• Between 2003 and 2008, the number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy increased tenfold—from 400,000 to 4 million—corresponding to 42 per cent of the 8.8 million people who needed treatment for HIV

• Major increases in funding and a stronger commitment to control malaria have accelerated delivery of malaria interventions. Across Africa, more communities are benefiting from bed net protection and more children are being treated with effective drugs.

• The rate of deforestation, though still alarmingly high, appears to have slowed, due to tree-planting schemes combined with the natural expansion of forests.

• Increased use of improved water sources in rural areas has narrowed the large gap with urban areas, where coverage has remained at 94 per cent—almost unchanged since 1990. However, the safety of water supplies remains a challenge and urgently needs to be addressed.

• Mobile telephony continues to expand in the developing world and is increasingly being used for m-banking, disaster management and other non-voice applications for development.

Radio Transmitters that can withstand 900 degrees Celsius (1,652 F) could provide early warning on volcanoes

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Silicon Carbide Radio transmitters that can withstand temperatures of up to 900 degrees Celsius could soon be dropped into the depths of the earth to provide early warning of a volcanic eruption.

Measuring subtle changes in the levels of key volcanic gases such as carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide, the wireless sensor would feed back real-time data to the surface, providing vital information about volcanic activity and any impending eruption.

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