October 09, 2010

Personal Life Extension Conference

Michale Anissimov has live twitter coverage of the Personal Life Extension conference 2010.

* Gregory Benford unveils stemcell100.com, a nutraceutical developed by Genescient which has been tested on humans.

After several years of development Stem Cell 100 will be available for sale in about one month. It extends fruit fly lifespan by 20%.

Google has robotic self driving cars that have already logged 140,000 miles of robotic driving

Google has automated cars (Toyota Prius) use video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to “see” other traffic, as well as detailed maps (which we collect using manually driven vehicles) to navigate the road ahead. This is all made possible by Google’s data centers, which can process the enormous amounts of information gathered by our cars when mapping their terrain.

Google gathered some of the very best engineers from the DARPA Challenges, a series of autonomous vehicle races organized by the U.S. Government. Chris Urmson was the technical team leader of the CMU team that won the 2007 Urban Challenge. Mike Montemerlo was the software lead for the Stanford team that won the 2005 Grand Challenge. Also on the team is Anthony Levandowski, who built the world’s first autonomous motorcycle that participated in a DARPA Grand Challenge, and who also built a modified Prius that delivered pizza without a person inside

Our automated cars, manned by trained operators, just drove from our Mountain View campus to our Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard. They’ve driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge, navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, and even made it all the way around Lake Tahoe. All in all, our self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles. We think this is a first in robotics research.

Christopher Urmson, a Carnegie Mellon University robotics scientist, was behind the wheel but not using it. To gain control of the car he has to do one of three things: hit a red button near his right hand, touch the brake or turn the steering wheel. He did so twice, once when a bicyclist ran a red light and again when a car in front stopped and began to back into a parking space. But the car seemed likely to have prevented an accident itself

The Google researchers said they had carefully examined California’s motor vehicle regulations and determined that because a human driver can override any error, the experimental cars are legal.

There is even the farther-off prospect of cars that do not need anyone behind the wheel. That would allow the cars to be summoned electronically, so that people could share them. Fewer cars would then be needed, reducing the need for parking spaces, which consume valuable land.

DNA springs mechanically control the reaction of an enzyme

UCLA researchers attached a controllable molecular spring made of DNA to the enzyme. The spring is about 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. They can mechanically turn the enzyme on and off and control how fast the chemical reaction occurs. In their newest research, they attached the molecular spring at three different locations on the enzyme and were able to mechanically influence different specific steps of the reaction.

(H/T Foresight Institute)

October 08, 2010

Nautilus Minerals the first commercial ocean floor gold and copper mining company

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Previously we had talked about a researcher who indicated that ocean floor mineral resources could provide current world demand for over 6000 years. Now we review a company that could launch full scale ocean floor mining happen within 3 years.

Nautilus is the first company to commercially explore the ocean floor for gold and copper seafloor massive sulphide deposits and is currently developing its first project. The Company's main focus is the Solwara 1 Project, which is located in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea in the western Pacific Ocean. Nautilus is listed on the TSX and on AIM, and has among its largest shareholders two of the world's leading international resource companies, Teck (6.8%) and Anglo American (11.1%). Epion (21%) is controlled by the founder of Metalloinvest one of the largest and fastest growing mining and metallurgical holdings in Russia.

The company has a market value of about $300 million.

Design work is proceeding on the Seafloor Production Tools and preparations continue for the drilling program in Q4 2010. With US$185 million in cash and cash equivalents, we continue to maintain a strong financial position

Solwara 1 Development Project

* Competitive offshore production cost with high grade
* US$70 per tonne offshore production cost (w/ 10% contingency) with resources that have a value averaging about $1000 per tonne
* Offshore production equipment capital US$383 million
* Environmental Permit granted
* Engineering well advanced (24 months work)
* Sourcing JV development partner
* Full scale mining at 1.2 million tonnes/yr with capability to increase to 1.8 million tonnes per yr
* 30 month build schedule to first ore (as of June 2010)

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 22

Extrapolating todays technology towards the J Storr Hall Weather Machine

The Hall Weather Machine is a thin global cloud consisting of small transparent balloons that can be thought of as a programmable and reversible greenhouse gas because it shades or reflects the amount of sunlight that hits the upper stratosphere. These balloons are each between a millimeter and a centimeter in diameter, made of a few-nanometer thick diamondoid membrane. Each balloon is filled with hydrogen to enable it to float at an altitude of 60,000 to 100,000 feet, high above the clouds. It is bisected by an adjustable sheet, and also includes solar cells, a small computer, a GPS receiver to keep track of its location, and an actuator to occasionally (and relatively slowly) move the bisecting membrane between vertical and horizontal orientations. Just like with a regular high-altitude balloon, the heavier control and energy storage systems would be on the bottom of the balloon to automatically set the vertical axis without requiring any energy. The balloon would also have a water vapor/hydrogen generator system for altitude control, giving it the same directional navigation properties that an ordinary hot-air balloon has when it changes altitudes to take advantage of different wind directions at different altitudes.

By controlling a tenth of one percent of solar radiation is enough to force global climate in any direction we want. One percent is enough to change regional climate, and ten percent is enough for serious weather control.

The surface are of the earth is 510 trillion square meters.

So getting to 0.1% coverage is 510 billion square meters.

There is mylar that is 2 microns thick and weighs about 2.4 grams per square meter. Office Paper is usually 80 grams per square meter.

Improved noninvasive communication between brains and computers

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MIT Technology Review reports that scientists led by Eduardo Iáñez of Miguel Hernandez University have for the first time combined a number of desirable features into a single brain-computer interface that is noninvasive, spontaneous and asynchronous. They use four different models, each with assumptions that are sometimes the opposite others. This way, however a subject's brain happens to be wired up, all the computer has to figure out is whether they mean "left" or "right" in order to direct a robot arm in two dimensions.

Future research goals include moving this interface out of two dimensions and into three. If they succeed, they'll have at least matched in humans an experiment performed with Macaques in which an EEG-driven arm was used by the monkeys to feed themselves. That would be quite a feat for patients who are currently unable to engage in such activities, and the main barrier appears to be how clever computers can be about processing the signal. In other words, the sophistication of their algorithm.

Active metamaterials might be used in solar cells that change properties with the weather

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Tunable materials: When this array of optical resonators, made of silver printed on a stretchy polymer, is strained, the filters respond to different frequencies in the infrared spectrum.Credit: Atwater group, Caltech

Caltech have shown that by mechanically stretching an optical filter made from a metamaterial, they can dynamically change which wavelength of infrared light it responds to.

Metamaterials that could be tuned, rather than working solely in a fixed wavelength, might lead to thermal photovoltaics that change their properties with the weather to maintain high efficiency, goggles that respond to blinding glare to block it out, or devices for processing optical signals to speed telecommunications, for example.

National Ignition Facility Starts Nuclear Laser Fusion integrated ignition experiments

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The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) today announced that the National Ignition Facility (NIF) recently completed its first integrated ignition experiment. In the test, the 192-beam laser system fired 1 megajoule of laser energy into its first cryogenically layered capsule, raising the drive energy by a factor of thirty over experiments previously conducted at the Omega laser at the University of Rochester. With the completion of this test, NIF is beginning its next phase of the campaign to culminate in fusion ignition tests.

October 07, 2010

Minerals on the Ocean floor could provide resources for over 60 centuries

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In a review paper published June 23 online in the journal Mineralium Deposita, Cathles, Cornell professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, writes that while land-based deposits may be a dwindling source of valuable minerals, deposits on the ocean floor could power humanity for centuries.

The minerals, including sulfur, copper, zinc, iron and precious metals, are contained in volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposits that form on the ocean floor where tectonic plates pull apart and allow magma (molten rock) to invade the Earth's 3.7-mile- (6 kilometer-) thick crust. The magma heats seawater to 662 degrees Fahrenheit (350 degrees Celsius) and moves it through the ocean crust via convection; and the seawater deposits the minerals where it discharges along the ridge axis.

Mineralium Deposita - What processes at mid-ocean ridges tell us about volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits

Episodic seafloor spreading, ridge topography, and fault movement at ridges find (more extreme) analogs in the arc and back-arc setting where the volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposits that we mine today were formed. The factors affecting sulfide accumulation efficiency and the extent to which sulfides are concentrated spatially are the same in both settings, however. The processes occurring at mid-ocean ridges therefore provide a useful insight into those producing VMS deposits in arcs and back-arcs. The critical observation investigated here is that all the heat introduced by seafloor spreading at mid-ocean ridges is carried out of the crust within a few hundred meters of the ridge axis by ∼350°C hydrothermal fluids. The high-temperature ridge hydrothermal systems are tied to the presence of magma at the ridge axis and greatly reduce the size and control the shape of axial magma intrusions. The amount of heat introduced to each square kilometer of ocean crust during its formation can be calculated, and its removal by high-temperature convection allows calculation of the total base metal endowment of the ocean basins. Using reasonable metal deposition efficiencies, we conclude that the ocean floor is a giant VMS district with metal resources over 600 times the total known VMS reserves on land and a copper resource which would last over 6,000 years at current production rates.

UPDATE - Review of Nautilus Minerals, the first commercial ocean floor gold and copper mining company.

Twenty Passenger Hybrid Airplane Design and Battery Technology

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The twenty passenger hybrid plane design assumes that 750 Wh/kg batteries or energy storage devices can be created. The plan covers candidate technologies for energy storage and considers if the current 7.6% improvement can be maintained. The flight profile is examined in detail as are all engineering aspects in the 297 page report.

IMF has new GDP and PPP estimates

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You can click on the graphic to see what changes have been made in the new Oct 2010 GDP by PPP forecast against the April 2010 forecast on the left. The IMF increased its estimate for China by 2-3% and lowered the forecast slightly for the USA
Wikipedia has a list of the IMF projections for GDP and GDP by PPP.
The IMF is indicating that China will pass the United States GDP in PPP around 2015-2016. It would be 2015 if the IMF was consistently making underestimations that had to be revised upwards. China would pass the PPP of the combined EU about the same time. India is tracking to China's growth path but about ten years behind.

Here are direct links to the IMF World Economic Outlook (Oct 2010).

* Africa’s Growth Is Accelerating from 5 to 5.5%.
* Asia and Latin America have solid growth

For Facebook to make more money than Google they must get a lot more efficient or dominate over 98% of todays web traffic

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Techcrunch's Adam Rifkin makes the case that Facebook can become bigger in revenue than Google is today within 5 year.

Facebook already passed Google for page views.

Alvin Wang points out - Currently, Google makes fourteen times as much revenue per impression as Facebook. Currently, Facebook has 7.07% of Internet traffic. To increase revenue by 14 times, they would need to serve 98% of today's web traffic. Admittedly, web traffic will increase but it still requires Google to push less than 7% of Facebook traffic to equal the same revenue.

The reason for the lower revenue per impression is that people surf Facebook for friends and social and not to buy. That is why Facebook Marketplace failed.

Rifkin tries to make the case that Facebook will take away from Television and other brand building advertising venues.

Polarized Laser Pulses could improve control of molecules enabling more efficient isotope separation and molecular nanofabrication

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Arxiv - Molecular Frisbee: Motion of Spinning Molecules in Inhomogeneous Fields

MIT Technology Review notes that this new technique for controlling the trajectory of spinning molecules with two polarized laser pulses could make isotope separation even easier and more efficient. This technique also could be used for improving molecular nanofabrication.

Several laser techniques have been suggested and demonstrated recently for preparing polarizable molecules in rapidly spinning states with a disc-like angular distribution. We consider motion of these spinning discs in inhomogeneous fields, and show that the molecular trajectories may be precisely controlled by the tilt of the plane of the laser-induced rotation. The feasibility of the scheme is illustrated by optical deflection of linear molecules twirled by two delayed cross-polarized laser pulses. These results open new ways for many applications involving molecular focusing, guiding and trapping, and may be suitable for separating molecular mixtures by optical and static fields.

Nuclear Power is the cheapest energy option for Sweden and Russia is boosting Uranium fuel exports

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1. Nuclear power could be the lowest-cost option for new electricity generating capacity in Sweden, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted for an electricity-intensive industry group.

The report shows that when taxes, fees and contributions are excluded, both nuclear and hydro power are far more cost effective than investments in wind power. Wind power, the study suggests, is some 65% more expensive than hydro and about 50% more expensive than nuclear.

October 06, 2010

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics Achieves Reliable Firing

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Shot 9-09-10-02, 0.225 microsec before pinch

Right - Shot 9-15-10-07, magnified plasmoid at the pinch. We see the plasmoid on axis, which is about 150 microns across. The small dots are individual pixels, and do not represent actual fluctuations in intensity.

On September 29, Lawrenceville Plasma Physics finally achieved repeatable dense plasma focus nuclear fusion firing of all attached capacitors. That day, and on September 30 and October 1, we fired all eight attached capacitors in 11 successive shots with only three pre-fires.

* Even with this partial bank, we achieved over 1 MA current, which is very encouraging.
* We are now rebuilding the four missing trigger heads to a new and more rugged design, a task that should be completed in October. We are confident that we will then be able to repeatably fire all 12 capacitors together.
* DPF researchers have long known that it is important to match the time that the pinch occurs with the time that the current from the capacitors peaks. Last month, we plotted the fusion yield for FF-1 against the time of the pinch (see Figure 1). We found that for the shots in March and early April, the yield was tightly correlated with pinch timing, and there was a sharp peak right around the time of greatest current, close to 1.8 microseconds. All the high-yield shots had short pinch times, and none of the lower yield shots did. The same pattern was followed at the higher pressures and currents that we used in September, but the whole curve was shifted upwards by about a factor of 5. This shift implies a good scaling with current to the fifth power.

Design space and details for airplanes for 2030

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NASA had published proposals from Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed and their partner universities and companies for aircraft for 2030.

Besides the previously described Boeing 737 and Beoing 777 replacements there were other planes.
MIT had a 181 page report

The next step in NASA's effort to design the aircraft of 2030 is a second phase of studies to begin developing the new technologies that will be necessary to meet the national goals related to an improved air transportation system with increased energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact. The agency received proposals from the four teams in late April and expects to award one or two research contracts for work starting in 2011.

* Just beneath the skin of these concepts lie breakthrough airframe and propulsion technologies designed to help the commercial aircraft of tomorrow fly significantly quieter, cleaner, and more fuel-efficiently, with more passenger comfort, and to more of America's airports.

* You may see ultramodern shape memory alloys, ceramic or fiber composites, carbon nanotube or fiber optic cabling, self-healing skin, hybrid electric engines, folding wings, double fuselages and virtual reality windows.

* Boeing also proposed an optimal cruise speed of Mach 0.6 (slow) if liquid fuel is expensive, or up to Mach 0.8 if it is cheap.

US Airplane Research and Development goals

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The US National Aeronautics Research and Development Plan, Feb 2010 Biennial update

• “N” refers to the current generation of tube-and-wing aircraft.
• “N+1” represents the next generation of tube-and-wing aircraft.
• “N+2” refers to advanced aircraft in the generation after N+1, which are likely to use revolutionary configurations (such as hybrid wing-body, small supersonic jets, cruise-efficient short takeoff and landing and advanced rotorcraft).
• “N+3” refers to the generation of aircraft after N+2, which have dramatically improved performance and reduced noise and emissions.

China could end one child policy nationwide by 2013 or 2014

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Chinese experts have told The Age that five provinces are set to relax the policy next year and this trial may spread nationwide by 2013 or 2014, at which point China's working-age population will have stopped growing and the policy's ''demographic dividend'' will have become a headwind.

While no official announcement has been made, some family planning experts expect a pilot policy will soon permit a second birth in families where at least one spouse is an only child.

''Next year they will relax the policy in Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces,'' said He Yafu, an independent demographic expert who has connections with the Family Planning Commission.

''In 2012 I expect it will be extended to Shanghai, Beijing and other places and I am personally optimistic that it will be extended to the whole country in 2013 or 2014.''

Presentation of Uncommon Wisdom about Energy at TEDxBayArea by Brian Wang

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Here are the slides for the talk that I gave last night. I removed one slide that showed a comparison of different types of nuclear reactors (this is so that I could get the document below 10 megabytes for Google docs). A video of the talk should be available by the end of the month.

I was trying to give a high level view of energy and had 18 minutes to present it. some key points - * per capita energy usage is strongly correlated to per capita GDP
* effective use of energy can save a lot of lives. Providing off grid power for keeping vaccines cool could save 5 million lives per year by 2015
* fixing pollution from energy and using energy for clean water could save another 5 million lives per year

Building new and fixing old energy infrastructure could reduce deaths per year by 20%.

China Emissions Won't Peak Until GDP Per Head Matches Developed Nations

About 26,000 dams in the US pose a high or significant hazard to life and property if a failure occurs

Tri-alpha Energy Fusion Project releases some information

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Tri-alpha Energy has released a paper in the Physical Review Letters

(H/T Talk Polywell)

Dynamic Formation of a Hot Field Reversed Configuration with Improved Confinement by Supersonic Merging of Two Colliding High-β Compact Toroids

A hot stable field-reversed configuration (FRC) has been produced in the C-2 experiment by colliding and merging two high-β plasmoids preformed by the dynamic version of field-reversed θ-pinch technology. The merging process exhibits the highest poloidal flux amplification obtained in a magnetic confinement system (over tenfold increase). Most of the kinetic energy is converted into thermal energy with total temperature (Ti+Te) exceeding 0.5 keV. The final FRC state exhibits a record FRC lifetime with flux confinement approaching classical values. These findings should have significant implications for fusion research and the physics of magnetic reconnection.

October 05, 2010

Wool and seaweed derived polymer make bricks 37% stronger

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Bricks were made with sheep’s wool and a polymer derived from seaweed to make bricks that were reportedly 37 percent stronger than regular unfired bricks.

“These fibers improve the strength of compressed bricks, reduce the formation of fissures and deformities as a result of contraction, reduce drying time and increase the bricks' resistance to flexion,” the study’s authors concluded.

Unveiling thermal transitions of polymers in subnanometre pores

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Nature Communications - Unveiling thermal transitions of polymers in subnanometre pores Knowing how to build nanosized assemblies of polymers (long molecular chains) holds the key to improving a broad range of industrial processes, from the production of nanofibers, filters, and new materials to the manufacture of low-energy, nanoscale circuits and devices. Scientists in Japan at Kyoto University and Nagoya University have succeeded in manufacturing custom-designed sub-nanometer scale channels, or pores, which can be manipulated to trap polymers and allow researchers to observe how these chains respond to temperature changes. Previously this level of observation was not possible, and hence much about polymer behaviors in subnanometer spaces -- in particular thermal transitions -- was unknown. The technique uses specially designed substances known as porous coordination polymers (PCPs), which are notable for the high-degree to which their pore sizes and other characteristics can be controlled. PCPs enables custom designed cages in which to trap specific molecules. This could lead to future breakthroughs in nanoscale manufacturing based on assemblies of small numbers of polymer chains.

MIT proposes the Boeing D Series to Reinvent the 737 for 70% greater fuel efficiency

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Instead of a single-fuselage cylinder, the D series melds two partial cylinders into a distinctive “double-bubble” shape. This adds to the lift and allows for longer, skinnier wings and a smaller tail, reducing drag. The engines sit at the top rear of the fuselage, where they draw in slower-moving air that passes over the plane, using less fuel for the same amount of thrust—a technique known as boundary layer ingestion. To mitigate the engine stress this creates, the plane would travel about 10 percent slower than a 737; the researchers anticipate making up this time through quicker loading and unloading via the plane’s second aisle.

UPDATE: A have a summary and links to the detailed reports that were provided to NASA by MIT, Boeing, GE and Northrop Grumman.

Popular Mechanics shows the MIT proposed Boeing D Series plane for 70 percent less fuel usage.

A reinvention of this Boeing 737 workhorse, called the D series, could burn 70 percent less fuel, emit 75 percent less nitrogen oxide and dampen noise from takeoffs and landings. In short, it could transform air travel into a more environmentally benign practice.

Significant tweaks to the 737’s basic tube-and-wing design add up “like compound interest” on the craft, says MIT aeronautics and astronautics professor Edward Greitzer. The MIT-led team, which includes two commercial partners, developed the D series in response to a $2.1 million NASA research program challenging engineers to design aircraft for 2035, by which time air travel is expected to have doubled

New Graphene Fabrication Method Uses Silicon Carbide Template

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Georgia Tech researchers have fabricated an array of 10,000 top-gated graphene transistors, believed to be the largest graphene device density reported so far.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new “templated growth” technique for fabricating nanometer-scale graphene devices. The method addresses what had been a significant obstacle to the use of this promising material in future generations of high-performance electronic devices.

The technique involves etching patterns into the silicon carbide surfaces on which epitaxial graphene is grown. The patterns serve as templates directing the growth of graphene structures, allowing the formation of nanoribbons of specific widths without the use of e-beams or other destructive cutting techniques. Graphene nanoribbons produced with these templates have smooth edges that avoid electron-scattering problems.

"Using this approach, we can make very narrow ribbons of interconnected graphene without the rough edges," said Walt de Heer, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Physics. "Anything that can be done to make small structures without having to cut them is going to be useful to the development of graphene electronics because if the edges are too rough, electrons passing through the ribbons scatter against the edges and reduce the desirable properties of graphene."

The new technique has been used to fabricate an array of 10,000 top-gated graphene transistors on a 0.24 square centimeter chip – believed to be the largest density of graphene devices reported so far.

Amino Acid Supplementation helps Middle-aged mice live 12% longer

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Cell Metabolism - Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplementation Promotes Survival and Supports Cardiac and Skeletal Muscle Mitochondrial Biogenesis in Middle-Aged Mice Branched-chain amino acids, (3 of the 20 amino acids, specifically leucine, isoleucine, and valine) helped mice to live 12% longer.

Recent evidence points to a strong relationship between increased mitochondrial biogenesis and increased survival in eukaryotes. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) have been shown to extend chronological life span in yeast. However, the role of these amino acids in mitochondrial biogenesis and longevity in mammals is unknown. Here, we show that a BCAA-enriched mixture (BCAAem) increased the average life span of mice. BCAAem supplementation increased mitochondrial biogenesis and sirtuin 1 expression in primary cardiac and skeletal myocytes and in cardiac and skeletal muscle, but not in adipose tissue and liver of middle-aged mice, and this was accompanied by enhanced physical endurance. Moreover, the reactive oxygen species (ROS) defense system genes were upregulated, and ROS production was reduced by BCAAem supplementation. All of the BCAAem-mediated effects were strongly attenuated in endothelial nitric oxide synthase null mutant mice. These data reveal an important antiaging role of BCAAs mediated by mitochondrial biogenesis in mammals.

Airlifter for longer duration heavy lift

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An Australian company is developing the Airlifter, a giant balloon, that will one day be capable of carrying 150 tons payloads at up to 83 km per hour for over 24 hours of flying time. The inventors hope the balloons will be able to carry disaster relief centers and even modular hospitals into remote areas. The SkyLifter balloon is a discus shape (150 meters (500 ft) in diameter and is driven by specially-designed propellers in a control pod suspended from the helium-filled aerostat balloon space.

A flexible diamond-studded electrode implanted for life

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Two Case Western Reserve University researchers are building implants made of diamond and flexible polymer that are designed to identify chemical and electrical changes in the brain of patients suffering from neural disease, or to stimulate nerves and restore movement in the paralyzed.

The work of Heidi Martin, a professor of chemical engineering, and Christian Zorman, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, is years from human trials but their early success has drawn interest worldwide.

“Right now, we’re trying to develop diamond-coated electrodes for implantable devices which last a lifetime,” Martin said. “A patient would have one surgery and that’s it.”

Groundbreaking Graphene work gets the Noble Prize in Physics and Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2010 to Robert G. Edwards for the development of in vitro fertilization

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Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for their work with Graphene. They have shown that carbon in such a flat form has exceptional properties that originate from the remarkable world of quantum physics.

Robert Edwards is awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize for the development of human in vitro fertilization (IVF) therapy. His achievements have made it possible to treat infertility, a medical condition afflicting a large proportion of humanity including more than 10% of all couples worldwide.

October 04, 2010

Nuclear fission, Nuclear Fusion, antimatter and beamed propulsion for interstellar travel

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Recently we looked at metamaterials for modelling warp drive and the Icarus project to develop detailed plans for achieving interstellar missions. I now read the paper as indicating that advanced metamaterials provides an accurate simulation of the warp drive in the lab but does not actually enable the drive.

I think they have the metamaterials model to find ways to work around instabilities and possibly get around the issue of negative energy density.

It should be noted that Stephen Hawking seems to think that negative energy density is feasible (feasible in not impossible by his understanding of physics).

Toshiba to release in Japan Dec 2010 3D Televisions with 20 inch screens that do not need glasses for viewing

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Toshiba Corporation today unveiled the world's first LCD TVs that offer comprehensive 3D capabilities without any need for dedicated glasses. The new "Glasses-less 3D REGZA GL1" series offers two models with screen sizes specifically designed for personal use: the 20-inch 20GL1 and the 12-inch 12GL1. Both TVs will be available in Japan from the end of December. In Japan, Toshiba plans to sell the 20-inch TV for $2,900 and the 12-inch version for $1,450

The new 3D TVs with no need for glasses employ an integral imaging system and a perpendicular lenticular sheet to display smooth, natural images, and Toshiba's image processing technology to create nine parallax images from the original content and create to 3D images. The result is precise rendering of high quality 3D images whatever the viewing angle within the viewing zone.

The 20GL1 integrates a high definition LED backlit LCD panel specially designed for 3D capability without any need for glasses that offers approximately four times the pixels of a standard Full HD panel. It also integrates the Cell REGZA Engine designed for 3D capability without glasses and based on the Cell Broadband Engine™ to deliver superior multimedia processing. The result of this combination is stunningly sharp, dynamic 3D images.

Brian Wang will Present and Discuss - Uncommon Wisdom about Energy at TEDxBayArea Tomorrow October 5th

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TED (short for Technology, Entertainment, Design) is devoted to what it calls "ideas worth spreading"

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxBayArea. At our TEDxBayArea event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.

On October 5th, 2010 at 1077 Independence Avenue, Mountain View from 6:30-8:30 Brian Wang of Nextbigfuture.com will discuss

Uncommon wisdom about Energy - What is and is not dangerous and what are the best options.

What are the deaths per TWH for all energy sources? How should this factor into energy plans
What is the big view of energy subsidies and energy infrastructure costs ?
75% of the energy over the next few decades will be built outside the OECD (not north america or europe), so cost estimates for making a US nuclear reactor is not that important.

Where will the real energy future be ?
What are the costs and timeframes and supply chains ?
Why proliferation from commercial nuclear reactors was never that important and will be even less important.

The importance of advanced uprating and factory mass production.
Advances in nuclear fission technology
Promising Nuclear fusion possibilities for 2015-2025
Wind - kite generation and 1000 foot turbines
What are the best ways to improve energy efficiency ?
Biofuel - seaweed, weeds and algae

October 03, 2010

Silicon Nanomesh with Breakthrough Thermoelectric Effects Followup

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This is a follow up to the article about silicon nanomesh that has breakthrough thermoelectric performance.

Technology Review has some more information

Researchers at Caltech have demonstrated new materials that could boost the efficiency of thermoelectric devices. They've demonstrated the design using silicon, but say it should improve the performance of other thermoelectric materials, too. A good thermoelectric material conducts electricity very well but conducts heat poorly.

Caltech researchers have come up with a new nanoscale design for thermoelectric materials. They believe their design works by a different mechanism--instead of diverting the phonons, it slows them down considerably. The researchers have demonstrated the nanomesh design in thin films of silicon riddled with a regular array of nanoscale pores. Compared to an unpatterned silicon film, the nanomesh conducts 10 times less heat.

Carnival of Space 172

Genetically altered plants, algae and trees could sequester carbon

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BioScience journal invited several scientists with relevant expertise to contribute to this issue's Special Section on biological carbon sequestration.

Our authors have a range of perspectives on the topic. They include some (Christer Jansson and colleagues, and Steven H. Strauss and his coauthors) who are pursuing the prospects for genetically engineered trees that might one day contribute to amelioration of global warming—if they can meet safety requirements for testing. Richard Sayre outlines the possibilities for cultivating algae as biofuel feedstock. Others (Robert B. Jackson and Justin S. Baker, and Rattan Lal) analyze the big-picture ecological and economic constraints on expanding sequestration in forests and in soil generally through agriculture. Emily Boyd discusses societal understanding of the choices that large-scale enhanced biological carbon sequestration would necessarily bring, and considers how they could play into economic development.

Genetically Altered Trees and Plants Could Help Counter Global Warming Forests of genetically altered trees and other plants could sequester several billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year and so help ameliorate global warming. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, outlines a variety of strategies for augmenting the processes that plants use to sequester carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into long-lived forms of carbon, first in vegetation and ultimately in soil. Besides increasing the efficiency of plants' absorption of light, researchers might be able to genetically alter plants so they send more carbon into their roots—where some may be converted into soil carbon and remain out of circulation for centuries. Other possibilities include altering plants so that they can better withstand the stresses of growing on marginal land, and so that they yield improved bioenergy and food crops.

Photosynthetic assimilation of atmospheric carbon dioxide by land plants offers the underpinnings for terrestrial carbon (C) sequestration. A proportion of the C captured in plant biomass is partitioned to roots, where it enters the pools of soil organic C and soil inorganic C and can be sequestered for millennia. Bioenergy crops serve the dual role of providing biofuel that offsets fossil-fuel greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and sequestering C in the soil through extensive root systems. Carbon captured in plant biomass can also contribute to C sequestration through the deliberate addition of biochar to soil, wood burial, or the use of durable plant products. Increasing our understanding of plant, microbial, and soil biology, and harnessing the benefits of traditional genetics and genetic engineering, will help us fully realize the GHG mitigation potential of phytosequestration.

Emerging Oil Plays

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Emerging North American Oil plays are reviewed

13 emerging oil plays are reviewed in a 219 page document which is embedded below. They are being enabled with horizontal drilling and are mostly tight oil shale.

Alberta Basin Bakken Shale
North Dakota Bakken
Barnett Combo
Horizontal Niobrara
Three Forks Sanish
Lower Amaranth
Southeast Saskatchewan Bakken
Western Alberta Cardium
Ante Creek Montney
Lower Shaunavon

Personal Rapid Transportation and Pod like Cars

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Podcars (Personal Rapid Transportation) are being deployed at some Airports and city centers The podcar system at Heathrow is 40% cheaper to operate than the bus system that was replaced.

Personal Rapid Transit (PRT), also called Podcar, is an innovative and sustainable transportation concept, which works emission-free with fully-automated and driverless vehicles on a network of specially-built, elevated guideways.

PRT is on-demand and point-to-point. Passengers travel non-stop on the shortest way from their chosen start to the destination point. Like in a horizontal elevator the vehicle (podcar) arrives when a button is pressed. Intermediate stations, running on seperate tracks parallel to the main track, are intelligently bypassed via switching control systems. PRT can offer faster end-to-end journey times than other forms of transit, depending on running speed and the nature of the network. The matrix or looped layout structure of the network allows for more passenger convenient transit. Intelligently designed PRT can complement conventional mass transit in the form of feeder-networks.

PRT has a small spatial footprint, which means that areas below could be re-greened. Parts of the guideway can also be attached to or integrated into buildings, for example into airports, shopping malls or business complexes.

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