October 30, 2010

Craig Venter's Talks replacing your bacteria for better health, no infections and no cavities

Transterrestrial Musings covered the Craig Venter talk

His team has synthesized a megabyte chromosome. Everything in the cell was derived from the chromosome and the natural traces were all deleted. They are digitizing biology.

There is 1-3% difference between unrelated humans, which is ten times more than previously thought.

Had hoped for first synthetic species last year, but was wrong. Needed proofreading software. Had a sequence that could boot with ten synthetic sections and one natural one, so they knew where the problem was.

Parabolic Arc also has coverage of Craig's talk.

The Shanghai World Expo Closes

The British pavillion had large fiber optic elements that made an otherworldly look at a distance.

There were 72 million attendees of the Shanghai 2010 world expo. The vast majority of the attendees were from across China - visited pavilions staged by more than 240 countries and organisations. I went to the expo two weeks ago. It was well over 99% people from across China. China reportedly spent some $60bn (£37bn) preparing for the fair. There was a budget of US$ 4.2 billion on facility construction and event operation alone.

The Shanghai Municipal Government has spent an additional US$ 45 billion to upgrade the city’s transportation system and other infrastructure. Results can be seen around every corner - Thousands of aging buildings have been remodeled, walls repainted, new tunnels and highway constructed. A brand new terminal – T2 of Hongqiao Airport – went into operation in March. In a little over two years, the city has more than doubled its operating subway lines to 420 km

China's pavillion, 12 stories tall

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 25

The 25th Carnival of Nuclear energy is up at Yes Vermont ankee

I provide my article that looked at nuclear reactor build in China and the need for experience for more success with large construction projects

A study of past nuclear plant construction for lessons on future plants

Follow-on replica stations are cheaper than first-of-a-kind

Designs should be mature and licensing issues resolved prior to construction

A highly qualified design and planning team is essential

Sub contractors used must be experienced or taught nuclear-specific construction skills

Early and effective engagement with community is crucial

Miniature livers 'grown in lab' using stem cells

Scientists have managed to produce a small-scale version of a human liver in the laboratory using stem cells. They are the first to use human liver cells to successfully engineer miniature livers that function – at least in a laboratory setting – like human livers. The next step is to see if the livers will continue to function after transplantation in an animal model.

The engineered livers, which are about an inch in diameter and weigh about .20 ounces, would have to weigh about one pound to meet the minimum needs of the human body, said the scientists. [Note: Fava beans are 5-10 millimeters in diameter (or 0.2-0.4 inches. So the mini-livers are 10-20 times the size of a fava bean] Even at this larger size, the organs wouldn’t be as large as human livers, but would likely provide enough function. Research has shown that human livers functioning at 30 percent of capacity are able to sustain the human body,

Metal-insulator-metal diode Follow up

Laser motive powers a helicopter with a laser for over 12 hours

the Pelican quadrocopter is a prototype for a new generation of mini-drones designed for military use. The Pelican was powered by a Laser Motive system for 12 hours, 26 minutes and 56 seconds. Laser Motive won $900,000 last year in the NASA-backed Beam Power Challenge (Space Elevator Games).

October 29, 2010

High-performance “metal-insulator-metal” diode could enable energy harvesting at night time and faster computers

Researchers at Oregon State University have created for the first time a high-performance “metal-insulator-metal” diode. High speed computers and electronics that don’t depend on transistors are possibilities. Also on the horizon are “energy harvesting” technologies such as the nighttime capture of re-radiated solar energy, a way to produce energy from the Earth as it cools during the night. This could be a way to simply print electronics on a huge size scale even less expensively than we can now. And when the products begin to emerge the increase in speed of operation could be enormous.

This is a fundamental change in the way you could produce electronic products, at high speed on a huge scale at very low cost, even less than with conventional methods. It’s a basic way to eliminate the current speed limitations of electrons that have to move through materials.

A metal-insulator-metal, or MIM diode can be used to perform some of the same functions, but in a fundamentally different way as conventional electronics. In this system, the device is like a sandwich, with the insulator in the middle and two layers of metal above and below it. In order to function, the electron doesn’t so much move through the materials as it “tunnels” through the insulator – almost instantaneously appearing on the other side.

High speed rail from Hong Kong to Beijing by 2012 and other amazing facts about China's high speed rail buildout

click on the picture for a larger view of how Hong Kong will connect to China with high speed rail

The Shanghai-Nanjing and Shanghai-Hangzhou high-speed railways began operation this year, and the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway is also expected to be operational by the end of 2011.
The high-speed rail from Shanghai to Hong Kong is expected to begin service by the end of 2012 or in early 2013. By then, the fastest direct train from Shanghai to Hong Kong will take only 6 hours. Right now, traveling from Shanghai station to Kowloon Station takes nearly 19 hours. The Hong Kong-Shanghai high-speed rail journey is approximately 1,300 kilometers in length. So a transfer to the Shanghai-Beijing line would allow transit between Hong Kong and Beijing in about 10 hours.

Some amazing facts about China's build out of high speed rail :
* China now at 7400+ kilometers of high speed rail has more high speed rail than all of Europe
* China doubled its high speed rail with the completion and start of operation of new rail since May, 2010. China added nearly 4000 kilometers of high speed rail since May, 2010 which is more than the number 2 country France.
* China will nearly double its high speed rail by the end of 2012 to over 13,000 kilometers. This will put it at more high speed rail than the rest of the world has. Europe, Japan, Asia, etc...
* China is pushing to speed up high speed rail speed to 500 kph (312 mph)
* China high speed rail between Shanghai and Beijing will have 12 train cars with one leaving every 5 minutes. An estimated 220,000 passengers will use it every day
* By 2020, assuming budgets are met about $300 billion will have been spent to build 25,000 kilometers of high speed rail network that will span most of the country

Hong Kong high speed rail to China may be finished early. Trains will run at speeds of as high as 350 kilometers per hour (217 miles an hour) on the new line, which will form part of a 140-kilometer railway running to Shenzhen and Guangzhou. The line will save the Hong Kong public 40 million hours per year, generating an annual economic rate of return of 9 percent, according to a government paper.

China has started to develop high speed trains with a capability of reaching 500 kilometers per hour. (312.5 miles per hour)

China's high-speed railway have reached up to 7,413 kilometers in operation and 10,000 kilometers under construction. 13,000 kilometers should be in operation by the end of 2012. At the end of 2012, China could have more operational high speed rail than the rest of the world combined.

Spain, France and Portugal and other Asian countries are building quite a bit. So China will likely around the level of all of Europe combined. Perhaps in 2020 about 40% China, 40% Europe and 20% rest of Asia and the Americas.

BA-2100 module and other Bigelow Aerospace news

the Bigelow BA-2100 models
Hobbyspace reports that Bigelow Aerospace presented a model of the BA-2100 (2100 cubic meter volume space hotel module.) The current BA-330 has 330 cubic meters of volume) Bigelow, in addition to showing off his modules, revealed for the first time the six "sovereign clients" that have signed memoranda of understanding to utilize his orbital facilities: the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Australia, Singapore, Japan and Sweden.

The International Space Station has a pressurized volume of 837 cubic meters

Popular Mechanics had info. The BA-2100 is over six times as large as the BA-330 and has multiple decks. The BA-2100's docking ends are about 25 feet in diameter, and one source told PM that the module's dry mass could be as low as 70 tons. In other words, in its uninflated state, it could be placed into orbit by the heavy-lift launcher. The massive structure could then be inflated and subsequently outfitted with materials carried aboard additional launches. With its radiation and micrometeoroid shielding, the BA-2100 could provide a trip for a large crew to the outer solar system.

Here is a link to a 4 minute interview with Bigelow

Here is a 6 minute interview where Bigelow talks about the next 50 years in space

He thinks that dozens of countries will be involved in space and that it will be business driven activity.

Internet Points of control map

Web 2.0 summit has started creating a points of control map of the internet

From top to bottom, and in reasonably defensible order: We start with the Clouds of Infrastructure, securing the top of the map. We then cross the Oceans of OS and UI to The Platform Plateau, where you’ll find those aforementioned hardware players. From there you’ll see two major “continents” of service providers, groups of companies that leverage cloud, OS/UI, and hardware platforms to deliver the services we now take for granted.

The continent on the left consists of location, social, identity and activity stream services. On the right is the continent of search, commerce, and content services. If you feel like the two are interrelated, you’re certainly not alone. We had to fight the temptation to create a Pangea, if only for aesthetic purposes.

Below the service layer is what might be called the firmament of marketing – the SubContinent of Advertising Platforms that have provided much of the oxygen to the networked economy so far.

All these masses interact with each other, a fact you will see by the various arrows indicating how owners of one territory – Apple in Mobile, for example – are pushing into new strategic points of control – Apple in advertising platforms, for example.

Built on top of Google’s map API, this initial map has two layers of detail. Zooming in from the initial view one can see a second layer where more details emerge, including pods of insurgents headed for the beaches of various territories

The interactive map is online here

Using an inkjet printer and cartridges full of living tissue, researchers demonstrate rapid healing in animals

In Situ Bioprinting of the Skin for Burns was presented at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress Researchers from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (Weixin Zhao, Tamer Aboushwareb, Dennis Dice BS, Anthony Atala, James J Yoo) showed off the results of a unique experiment involving a printer that uses living cells as its "ink." Using an inkjet printer and cartridges full of living tissue, the researchers demonstrate rapid healing in animals. Tests on mice revealed advanced healing by both the second and third week of recovery, with complete closure and formation of scar tissue by week three in treated (but not untreated) subjects. Covering burns and related wounds is of critical importance because any loss of full-thickness skin of more than 4 cm in diameter will not heal by itself. This treatment will be important for 10,000 to 40,000 people in the USA each year and about twenty times that number worldwide.

The printer has two heads, one of which ejects skin cells mixed with fibrinogen (a blood coagulant) and type I collagen (the main component of the connective tissue in scars). The other head ejects thrombin (another coagulant).

Like the components of quick-setting resins which must be kept separate until mixing causes a chemical reaction that hardens the resin, the products of the two print heads mix to immediately form fibrin, yet a third protein involved in the clotting of blood. The whole confection is topped by a layer of keratinocytes (i.e. skin cells), which are also printed.

India's nuclear energy expansion gets funding and Germany's nuclear reactors are officially extended

1. A October 28 agreement India's PFC (Power Finance Corporation) intends to provide a combination of debt financing, equity financing and consultancy services to NPCIL, India's sole nuclear operator. This should fund the expansion of India's nuclear fleet of 19 reactors with a generating capacity of 4560 MWe to reach 9580 MWe by 2017. The company's vision is for 20,000 MWe by 2020, and 60,000 MWe by 2032 based mainly on imports.

NIA's ITP Confirms: Resveratrol Does Not Extend Lifespan; Limited Benefit to Rapamycin

SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) reserachers reviewed the results of the serendipitous late-life lifespan study of rapamycin (sirolimus/Rapamune®), an inhibitor of the mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, through the NIA's Interventions Testing Program (ITP), "a multi-institutional study investigating treatments with the potential to extend lifespan and delay disease and dysfunction in mice." This study was hailed as a breakthrough, being the first robust demonstration of lifespan extension in mammals by a pharmacological agent, although as we reviewed, the absolute effect of rapamycin was limited, and in fact not entirely clear in males.

Rapamycin was administered in food to genetically heterogeneous mice from the age of 9 months and produced significant increases in life span, including maximum life span, at each of three test sites. ... Rapamycin was found to lead to improved survival in both males and females when pooling across test sites, and to significant effects at each test site considered separately. ... For males, rapamycin led to an increase of 10% in median age, averaged across the three sites, and an increase of 16% in the 90th percentile age [ie, by operational definition, maximum lifespan -MR]. For females, the corresponding values were 18% for median, and 13% for 90th percentile ages. ... Rapamycin attenuated age-associated decline in spontaneous activity in males but not in females. Causes of death were similar in control and rapamycin-treated mice.

SENS researchers reviewed a long list of putative CR (Calorie restriction) mimetics that have failed in lifespan studies. Amongst these was the phytoalexin polyphenol resveratrol, famously found in trace amounts in wine and widely anticipated to be one of the first effective life-extending, youth-preserving compound, but found ineffective in testing in nonobese, longevous mice

Bad Astronomer estimates 2.5 to 13 billion habitable planets in the Milky Way Galaxy

First Phil Plait assumes Gliese 581g is the closest potentially habitable planet to us. Given that assumption, he estimates the number of potentially habitable planets in the entire Milky Way.

There are 20 trillion cubic light years of volume in the Milky Way. Divide the volume of the galaxy by the density of stars with planets to get 2.5 billion habitable planets.

Acer Will Release Multiple Tablets Nov23 and targets 20% of tablet market

Acer plans to launch "multiple" tablet devices at an event in New York on Nov. 23, with different OSes and multiple form factors, the CEO Gianfranco Lanci said Friday. Acer is the number 2 computer maker behind HP and ahead of Dell.

Acer CEO Lanci is optimistic about tablet sales and forecast a market of 40 million to 50 million globally next year. Eventually, he believes, Acer can take a 15 percent to 20 percent share of the tablet market.

Acer's tablet offerings will range from $299 to $699, effectively undercutting the starting price of Apple's iPad by $200. The $299 price point is also home to many netbooks,

Previous rumors have had Acer trying three models, including a five-inch competitor to the Dell Streak, a seven-inch model with a hardware keyboard and a 10-inch version. They may use as much as a dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 and may use the Gingerbread build of Android, which was just completed almost exactly a month before Acer's event.

High Speed Rail in the USA, South Korea, China and the world

High-speed rail projects in 23 U.S. states will share $2.4 billion in federal aid, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today, adding to $8 billion in stimulus money already awarded for passenger train service.

South Korea had an assessment of high speed rail capabilities for countries in the world.

Korea, China, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are the only countries capable of exporting high-speed rail technology. It takes more than just trains to operate a high-speed rail service. Signal systems, communications networks, construction and operating knowhow are also necessary and must be developed in conjunction. Korea is seeking to export its technology to Brazil and the U.S. state of California.

Korea ranks fourth in the world in terms of technology in high-speed rail networks after France, Germany and Japan. The country was the fifth in the world to build a high-speed rail network and rose to fourth place just 16 years after it began development of the KTX bullet train.

Korea now stands on par with advanced countries when it comes to the maximum speed. The KTX makes 300 km/h, which is the same as other bullet trains. China's high-speed train is faster, traveling between 330 km/h to 350 km/h, but it trails behind Korea in terms of technology. However, Korea still has some catching up to do when it comes to train manufacture and signaling equipment.

UPDATE : I have a follow up article that discusses the speed and magnitude of China's high speed rail push

High speed rail for California at the federal railway administration.

Phase I calls for an approximately 500-mile system connecting Anaheim and Los Angeles through the Central Valley to San
Francisco by 2020. Phase II would extend the system north to Sacramento and south to San Diego by 2026. Trains will reach
speeds of 220 miles per hour, providing a travel time between Los Angeles and San Francisco of under 2 hours 40 minutes,
compared to 6 hours by car. When fully developed, California expects up to 100 million passengers per year, making it one of the
busiest passenger rail lines in the world

Global Cellphone rankings and statistics for Third Quarter of 2010 from IDG

The worldwide mobile phone market grew 14.6% in the third quarter of 2010 (3Q10), the fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth, driven in part by the fast-growing converged mobile device category. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped 340.5 million units in 3Q10 compared to 297.1 million units in the third quarter of 2009.

The growing popularity of converged mobile devices, or smartphones, with consumers and businesspersons is evidenced by the appearance of a second smartphone-only vendor in the top 5 ranking. Apple moved into the number 4 position worldwide in 3Q10, joining Research In Motion (RIM) as one of the world's largest mobile phone suppliers.

Top Five Mobile Phone Vendors, Shipments, and Market Share, Q3 2010 (Units in
           3Q10                         3Q09
           3Q10 Unit Market             3Q09 Unit Market  Year-over-year
Vendor     Shipments Share              Shipments Share   Change
1. Nokia         110.4  32.4%           108.5     36.5%   1.8%
2. Samsung        71.4  21.0%            60.2     20.3%  18.6%
3. LG Electronics 28.4   8.3%            31.6     10.6% -10.1%
4. Apple          14.1   4.1%            7.4       2.5%  90.5%
5. R.I.M.         12.4   3.6%            8.5       2.9%  45.9%
Others           103.8  30.5%           80.9      27.2%  28.3%
Total            340.5 100.0%          297.1     100.0%  14.6%
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, October 28, 2010

New research on visual imagination could one day let computers tap into our dreams

Illustration of the experiment. Right panel shows an illustration of the entire experiment, broken into 5 blocks. The experiment had 3 repetitions of the control presentation (blocks 1, 3, 5), and 2 fading blocks (2 and 4). Real feedback in block 2 was given to two out of the four units, while the remaining two received feedback from a previous trial (sham feedback). The pairs alternated in block 4. Central panel shows an illustration of 6 targets in a fading block, corresponding to fading 1 on the right. While in this example the subject is receiving feedback coming directly in real‐time from four MTL units in his head that respond selectively to pictures of Johnny Cash and the first author, he receives false feedback (from a previous trial) for the picture of the spider and the man. Left panel illustrates a single trial in the experiment (corresponding to a single trial in the central panel), where the subject had the first author as his target, after which he faded in and out of images of the author and Johnny Cash until he reached a 100% visual presentation of Johnny Cash (‘failed’ trial).

Scientists from Germany, Israel, Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States have performed experiments in which they were able to monitor individual neurons in a human brain associated with specific visual memories. They then taught people to will one visual memory onto a television monitor to replace another.

The results suggest that scientists have found a neural mechanism equivalent to imagination and daydreaming, in which the mental creation of images overrides visual input. And, if technology someday advances to enable reading the electrical activity of many thousands or millions of individual neurons (as opposed to the dozens typically available by hard-wiring methods today), scientists might begin to access snippets of real daydreams or actual dreams.

Moran Cerf of Caltech was one of the researchers

Nature - On-line, voluntary control of human temporal lobe neurons

Daily life continually confronts us with an exuberance of external, sensory stimuli competing with a rich stream of internal deliberations, plans and ruminations. The brain must select one or more of these for further processing. How this competition is resolved across multiple sensory and cognitive regions is not known; nor is it clear how internal thoughts and attention regulate this competition. Recording from single neurons in patients implanted with intracranial electrodes for clinical reasons here we demonstrate that humans can regulate the activity of their neurons in the medial temporal lobe (MTL) to alter the outcome of the contest between external images and their internal representation. Subjects looked at a hybrid superposition of two images representing familiar individuals, landmarks, objects or animals and had to enhance one image at the expense of the other, competing one. Simultaneously, the spiking activity of their MTL neurons in different subregions and hemispheres was decoded in real time to control the content of the hybrid. Subjects reliably regulated, often on the first trial, the firing rate of their neurons, increasing the rate of some while simultaneously decreasing the rate of others. They did so by focusing onto one image, which gradually became clearer on the computer screen in front of their eyes, and thereby overriding sensory input. On the basis of the firing of these MTL neurons, the dynamics of the competition between visual images in the subject’s mind was visualized on an external display.

Adsorped water molecules tunes bandgap for graphene and Research on properties of bilayer Graphene

1. Tunable Bandgap in Graphene by the Controlled Adsorption of Water Molecules

Lack of a bandgap limits the utilization of graphene in nanoelectronic and nanophotonic devices. It is shown that a tunable bandgap of up to ≈0.2 eV can be engineered by controlled adsorption of water molecules to a graphene surface. The effect is reversible, and the energy gap reduces to ≈0.029 eV as the humidity is brought down to zero.

Eurekalert has the press release

Koratkar's team demonstrated how to open a band gap in graphene based on the amount of water they adsorbed to one side of the material, precisely tuning the band gap to any value from 0 to 0.2 electron volts. This effect was fully reversible and the band gap reduced back to zero under vacuum. The technique does not involve any complicated engineering or modification of the graphene, but requires an enclosure where humidity can be precisely controlled.

Large-Diameter Graphene Nanotubes Synthesized Using Ni Nanowire Templates

Nanoletters - Large-Diameter Graphene Nanotubes Synthesized Using Ni Nanowire Templates

We report a method to synthesize tubular graphene structures by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) on Ni nanowire templates, using ethylene as a precursor at growth temperature of around 750 °C. Unlike carbon nanotubes that are synthesized via conventional routes, the number of graphene layers is determined by the growth time and is independent of the tube diameter and tube length, which follow those of the nanowire template. This allows us to realize large-diameter tubes with shells comprising a few or many layers of graphene as desired. Thin graphene layers are observed to be highly crystalline, and of uniform thickness throughout the length of the nanowire. Raman analysis shows the presence of a small level of defects typical of CVD-grown graphene. The metallic core could be removed by chemical etching to result in a collapsed tube. Backgated field-effect transistor measurements were conducted on the collapsed graphene tube. This approach to the realization of tubular graphene offers new opportunities for graphene-based nanodevices.

October 28, 2010

Microwave-Assisted Fabrication of Carbon Nanotube AFM Tip

Nanoletters - Microwave-Assisted Fabrication of Carbon Nanotube AFM Tip

A new, fast, alternative approach for the fabrication of carbon nanotube (CNT) atomic force microscopy (AFM) tips is reported. Thereby, the tube material is grown on the apex of an AFM tip by utilizing microwave irradiation and selective heating of the catalyst. Reaction times as short as three minutes allowed the fabrication of CNT AFM tips in a highly efficient process. This method represents a promising approach toward a cheaper, faster, and straightforward synthesis of CNT AFM tips

They can make carbon nanotube AFM probes utilizing the microwave-assisted growth of CNTs directly on the apex of a commercially available AFM tip.

An All-Electric Single-Molecule Motor

ACS Nano - An All-Electric Single-Molecule Motor

Many types of molecular motors have been proposed and synthesized in recent years, displaying different kinds of motion, and fueled by different driving forces such as light, heat, or chemical reactions. We propose a new type of molecular motor based on electric field actuation and electric current detection of the rotational motion of a molecular dipole embedded in a three-terminal single-molecule device. The key aspect of this all-electronic design is the conjugated backbone of the molecule, which simultaneously provides the potential landscape of the rotor orientation and a real-time measure of that orientation through the modulation of the conductivity. Using quantum chemistry calculations, we show that this approach provides full control over the speed and continuity of motion, thereby combining electrical and mechanical control at the molecular level over a wide range of temperatures. Moreover, chemistry can be used to change all key parameters of the device, enabling a variety of new experiments on molecular motors.

A gravity loading countermeasure skinsuit

A gravity loading countermeasure skinsuit Made of an elastic material, the suit is deliberately cut too short for the wearer, and has stirrups that wrap around the feet so that it stretches when the wearer puts it on. The elasticity of the stretched material then pulls the wearer's shoulders towards their feet just as gravity would.

Despite the use of several countermeasures, significant physiological deconditioning still occurs during long duration spaceflight. Bone loss – primarily due to the absence of loading in microgravity – is perhaps the greatest challenge to resolve. This paper describes a conceptual Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit (GLCS) that induces loading on the body to mimic standing and – when integrated with other countermeasures – exercising on Earth. Comfort, mobility and other operational issues were explored during a pilot study carried out in parabolic flight for prototype suits worn by three subjects. Compared to the 1- or 2-stage Russian Pingvin Suits, the elastic mesh of the GLCS can create a loading regime that gradually increases in hundreds of stages from the shoulders to the feet, thereby reproducing the weight-bearing regime normally imparted by gravity with much higher resolution. Modelling shows that the skinsuit requires less than 10 mmHg (1.3 kPa) of compression for three subjects of varied gender, height and mass. Negligible mobility restriction and excellent comfort properties were found during the parabolic flights, which suggests that crewmembers should be able to work normally, exercise or sleep while wearing the suit. The suit may also serve as a practical 1 g harness for exercise countermeasures and vibration applications to improve dynamic loading

Researchers Find ‘Goldilocks’ Of DNA Self-Assembly

Researchers from North Carolina State University have found a way to optimize the development of DNA self-assembling materials, which hold promise for technologies ranging from drug delivery to molecular sensors. The key to the advance is the discovery of the “Goldilocks” length for DNA strands used in self-assembly – not too long, not too short, but just right.

DNA self-assembly technology is not a new concept, but it has historically faced some significant stumbling blocks. One of these obstacles has been that DNA segments that are too short often failed to self-assemble, while segments that are too long often led to the creation of deformed materials. This hurdle can lead to basic manufacturing problems, as well as significant changes in the properties of the material itself.

U.S. and China currency deal?

Behind the scenes, China and the U.S. may already have struck a currency agreement, said Douglas Borthwick, head trader of Connecticut-based Faros Trading.

Borthwick thinks China and the U.S. may have agreed to gradually appreciate the Chinese yuan over 5 years. This could occur at an average annual rate of 7.8 percent, which would amount to 40 percent at the end of 5 years. Western academics estimate the yuan is currently 30 to 40 percent undervalued.

NOTE: An increase of 40% in the yuan will not mean a 40% increase in China's product prices. Higher currency rate will lower the cost of oil and other input materials and whatever else they buy, so prices might go up by 1.4 times what is value added inside China.

Escape Velocity Infrastructure spending in China and AI is one of three things in IT that China sets out as Strategic

Raghav Bahl is the Rupert Mudoch of India. He owns several TV Stations.
Recently he has written a book 'Super Power?' which compares the two developing country China and India.

Raghav writes in Forbes

China today is investing nearly half its GDP, something that is simply unprecedented. Over 200 years of economic experience tells us that hyper-investment creates a bubble and ends in a dreadful collapse. But China has consistently defied all such prophesies of doom.

The time has come to acknowledge a truth: either conventional economic theory will have to be rewritten, or China will eventually collapse. The two cannot coexist.

I would venture a 50 per cent wager on China actually trumping conventional theory. Why do I say that? Because by investing on a scale hitherto unknown and untested, China may have defined a new "escape velocity" of capital spending. By putting so much capital, not in factories, but in infrastructure, China may have escaped the "gravitational pull of low thresholds."

Big factories create waste, while big infrastructure, especially life-enhancing social assets, empowers people. The sheer scale of your activities could end up swelling the tide in which everybody and everything rises together; a new model of "tidal wave investing" could buoy the whole ocean to a much higher watermark.

China has identified 7 strategic sectors that they want to be major GDP contributors. IT is one of the seven and AI (artificial intelligence is one of three things mentioned as important in the IT goal.

Upgraded Lockheed HULC Exoskeleton and Panasonic Powerloader Lite Exoskeleton

1. Lockheed Martin recently began laboratory testing of an improved next-generation design of its HULC advanced robotic exoskeleton.

The ruggedized HULC (Human Universal Load Carrier) system incorporates multiple design changes to increase reliability and performance in operational environments. New environmental sealing and packaging give the system’s electronics increased protection from natural elements and battlefield hazards. Lockheed Martin also leveraged commonly-used, military-standard rechargeable batteries to increase operational run time.

The testing now under way will validate the ruggedized system’s capabilities and reliability in a variety of simulated battlefield conditions.

Lockheed Martin further refined the HULC’s form and fit, allowing the operator to adapt to the exoskeleton in less time. The ruggedized structure allows for rapid, repeatable adjustments to the torso and thigh length, without special tools, to better suit a wider variety of users. It also conforms to the body and incorporates lumbar padding for comfort and support. Additionally, the upgraded HULC features improved control software to better track the user’s movements.

MiniFuji Thorium Reactor Group Talks to Potential Partners and Customers and Prototype GE-Hitachi Prism Integral Fast Reactor for Savannah River Gets Closer

1. Charles Barton heard a presentation by Dr. Kazuo Furukawa and Keishiro Fukushima of the "International Thorium Energy & Molten-Salt Technology Inc." (IThEMS) They want to build their first prototype of the Thorium Molten Salt 10 MW Mini-Fuji.

Mr. Fukushima stated that IThEMS is negotiating with Korean Shipbuilders over the potential sale of Mini-Fujis for ship propulsion systems. According to Mr.Fukushima the Korean shipbuilders are in competition with the Chinese, and view mini-Fuji power as potentially offering a competitive advantage. It should be noted that in the long range energy picture decarbonization would require that fossil fuel powered engine technology be replaced by energy from non-carbon emitting source. The options appear to be nuclear power, or synthetic liquid fuel. IThEMS claims that it can build the Fuji for 30% less than conventional water cooled reactors. Thus ship propulsion would appear to represent a market opportunity for the Mini-Fuji. Industrial process heat would be another. The Mini-Fuji would also serve as the energy source for a stand alone nuclear battery system, although that field looks crowded at the moment. The Mini-Fuji would have some advantages over its competitors including superior safety and low cost.

China Has the Worlds Most Powerful Supercomputer and it is Nvidia Powered

Tianhe-1A, a new supercomputer revealed today at HPC 2010 China, has set a new performance record of 2.507 petaflops, as measured by the LINPACK benchmark, making it the fastest system in China and in the world today It uses Nvidia GPGPUs, Intel chips and a chinese built interconnect that is twice as fast as Infiniband.

The computer, known as Tianhe-1A, has 1.4 times the horsepower of the current top computer, which is at a national laboratory in Tennessee, as measured by the standard test used to gauge how well the systems handle mathematical calculations, said Jack Dongarra, a University of Tennessee computer scientist who maintains the official supercomputer rankings.

Although the official list of the top 500 fastest machines, which comes out every six months, is not due to be completed by Mr. Dongarra until next week, he said the Chinese computer “blows away the existing No. 1 machine.” He added, “We don’t close the books until Nov. 1, but I would say it is unlikely we will see a system that is faster.”

October 27, 2010

Future Movies - Avatar 2, Avatar 3, Batman 3 - The Dark Knight Rises and Star Wars

James Cameron will direct Avatar 2 for 2014 and Avatar 3 for 2015 (shot back to back and in 3D of course) The first Avatar grossed $2.8 billion, so the new movies will be the top priority for 20th Century Fox.

The third Chris Nolan Batman movie will be called the Dark Knight Rises. It will be shot in 2D and Imax and will not have the Riddler as one of the villains.

Self-assembly technique could make optical metamaterials cheaply and easily for the first time

MIT Technology Review - Self-assembly technique could make optical metamaterials cheaply and easily for the first time

Materials scientists have been puzzling over how to make metamaterials cheaply and easily. Metamaterials consist of repeating patterns of elements that interact with an electromagnetic wave so as to control and distort its path

At millimetre and microwave wavelengths, these elements are things like wires and c-shaped pieces of metal called split-ring resonators. To make them into metamaterials, they have to be assembled into arrays with vital statistics of the order of the light they are intended to interact with.

Belgium researchers took a handful of polystyrene balls just a few hundred nanometres in diameter and spread them onto a flat gold surface where they naturally self assemble into a hexagonal array with few, if any, defects.

This array then serves as a template for the metamerial. Using a series of steps in which the surface is covered in masks and then etched, the team create a thin slab consisting of a gold-silicon oxide-gold sandwich. However, this slab is punctured by a hexagonal array of holes that correspond to the position of the polystyrene beads.

This is clever, cheap, quick and could be easily scaled

China's Nuclear Reactors and Bridges and budgets and schedules

Construction commenced for Qinshan 2 Nuclear Power Station (Phase 2) in 2006, for another twin 650 MW class PWR nuclear power station based on the same design as Qinshan 2 Nuclear Power Station. Phase 2 is planned for completion in 2010 and with 70% localization in contents.

Qinshan 2 phase 2 went into commercial operation this month. So it was done on time and budget.

China's nuclear reactors are getting built for about US$2 billion per gigawatt of reactor. Nuclear skeptics have a tough time believing that China, South Korea and Asia in general can build for far about half cost of Europe and the USA. They think either the low cost estimates will not be realized in actual construction completion or that safety and other factors are compromised. I will review the recent costs of actual completions. I will also compare the situation with bridges. The cost and schedule of the Bay bridge with China's bridges.

Interestingly the nuclear skeptics do not worry about the budgets and schedules for China's massive wind power build or the fact that those are also cheaper than US and Europe build. Chnia has a 170 GW wind power project pipeline.

NASA Spitzer Telescope finds a lot of Buckyballs in Space

An infrared photo of the Small Magellanic Cloud taken by Spitzer is shown here in this artist's illustration, with two callouts. The middle callout shows a magnified view of an example of a planetary nebula, and the right callout shows an even further magnified depiction of buckyballs, which consist of 60 carbon atoms arranged like soccer balls. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope found carbon nanospheres throughout our Milky Way galaxy -- in the space between stars and around three dying stars. Spitzer detected buckyballs around a fourth dying star in a nearby galaxy in staggering quantities -- the equivalent in mass to about 15 of our moons.

Buckyballs, also known as fullerenes, are soccer-ball-shaped molecules consisting of 60 linked carbon atoms. They are named for their resemblance to the architect Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes, an example of which is found at the entrance to Disney's Epcot theme park

Artificial General Intelligence Toddler Project Needs $25 million

Ben Goertzel has finished writing the last chapter of his co-authored two-volume book on how to create beneficial human-level AGI, Building Better Minds (expected 2011 publish date)

This site had an interview by Sander Olson of Ben Goertzel last year

The last chapter describes, in moderate detail, how the CogPrime cognitive architecture (implemented in the OpenCog open-source framework) would enable a robotic or virtual embodied system to appropriately respond to the instruction "Build me something surprising out of blocks." This is in the spirit of the overall idea: Build an AGI toddler first, then teach it, study it, and use it as a platform to go further.

From an AGI toddler, I believe, one could go forward in a number of directions: toward fairly human-like AGIs, but also toward different sorts of minds formed by hybridizing the toddler with narrow-AI systems carrying out particular classes of tasks in dramatically transhuman ways.

NASA creates a warning system to protect the electrical grid from damage from solar storms and Germany needs grid upgrade to protect against solar power

NASA's Solar Shield is a new and experimental forecasting system for the North American power grid

The troublemaker for power grids is the "GIC" – short for geomagnetically induced current. When a coronal mass ejection (a billion-ton solar storm cloud) hits Earth's magnetic field, the impact causes the field to shake and quiver. These magnetic vibrations induce currents almost everywhere, from Earth's upper atmosphere to the ground beneath our feet. Powerful GICs can overload circuits, trip breakers, and in extreme cases melt the windings of heavy-duty transformers.

This actually happened in Quebec on March 13, 1989, when a geomagnetic storm much less severe than the Carrington Event knocked out power across the entire province for more than nine hours. The storm damaged transformers in Quebec, New Jersey, and Great Britain, and caused more than 200 power anomalies across the USA from the eastern seaboard to the Pacific Northwest. A similar series of "Halloween storms" in October 2003 triggered a regional blackout in southern Sweden and may have damaged transformers in South Africa. While many utilities have taken steps to fortify their grids, many have not. Modern electrical grid networks are sprawling, interconnected, and stressed to the limit.

Algae-Based Biofuels Production to Reach 61 Million Gallons per Year by 2020

According to a new report from Pike Research, algae biofuels production will grow rapidly over the next decade, reaching 61 million gallons per year and a market value of $1.3 billion by 2020. While barely a drop in the bucket for biofuels, this represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 72%, roughly on par with early development in the biodiesel industry.

Algae biofuels yield 2 to 20 times more oil per acre than leading oilseed crops. Algae’s productivity and scalability are seen as its greatest advantages, and a number of key industry players are gearing up their operations to meet the opportunity. Algae biofuels have the added advantage of utilizing non food-based feedstock, with the abilities to grow on non-arable land and utilize a wide variety of water resources including wastewater and seawater.

Hybrids and Electric Cars until 2020

JD Powers projects the hybrid (HEV), plug in hybrid (PHEV) and electric car (BEV) markets until 2020. They project that of the 1.2 billion passenger cars on the road that about 20 million might be HEV/PHEV and 4 million will be BEV by 2020. A 5% or greater improvement in the efficiency of the dominant internal combustion engine vehicles will have greater impact than the total HEV/PHEV and BEV vehicles in 2020. Greater impact also comes from electric bicycles (150 million already in China) and electric scooters and motorcycles.

J.D. Power research shows that US consumers’ interest in alternative powertrains drops considerably when they are advised of the price premium associated with the purchase of an HEV or BEV. For example, while 61% of consumers surveyed said they were interested in purchasing a hybrid vehicle, only 30% said they were still interested when they learned the price would be US $5,000 more than that of a comparable ICE-powered vehicle. Additionally, 17% of consumers surveyed initially said they were interested in buying a BEV, but this proportion dropped to 5% after they were advised that the price would be US $15,000 higher than a traditional ICE-powered vehicle.

What is the Optimal Bootstrapping Pathway Beyond Zyvex's 3D Atomically Perfect Layers of Silicon Nanotechnology ?

Zyvex Labs is making progress to realize their vision of Atomically Precise Manufacturing

The funding and work at Zyvex has been covered extensively on this site.

Nextbigfuture's Sander Olson interviewed the founder of Zyvex (Jim Von Ehr) earlier this year.

At the AVS Symposium 2010, John Randall (VP of Zyvex Labs presented their progress.

Zyvex Labs researchers have demonstrated removal of 50 hydrogen atoms per second

There are many paths to scale-up, including parallelism. A thousand-fold increase in speed will be fairly easy to achieve.

Within seven years, Randall expects that Zyvex Labs will be selling initial production tools that can remove more than a million hydrogen atoms a second using 10 parallel tips at a cost of about $2,000 per cubic micrometer of added silicon (48 billion atoms).

From the Jim Von Ehr interview -
we ultimately want to be able to employ trillions of tips so that we can adopt the massively parallel approach that nature uses when it makes biological nanostructures. Von Ehr hopes to have a primitive nanotechnology system that can create blocklike objects by 2015 and rudimentary molecular manufacturing by 2020. The big game-changer to my mind is Digital Matter. For enzymes, catalysts, and increasingly even for transistors, every atom has to be in the correct place in order for the molecule or component to function. Although we are not as proficient in engineering at that level as we want to be, we are clearly getting closer and closer to that level of capability.

Combining Randall's and Von Ehr projections then sometime after 2018 (perhaps before 2025) Zyvex would want to scale to trillions of tips that perform millions of hydrogen atom removals per second. This would get to perhaps several micro-moles and perhaps a millimole of atomic operations per second. A mole is 6.02 ×10^23.

How to advance beyond those capabilities ?
How to enable atomically precise manufacturing using other materials ?
How to bootstrap to a more advanced molecular nanotechnology capability ?
Perhaps combining better self assembly, graphene, carbon nanotubes, DNA nanotechnology and other emerging capabilities with what Zyvex is working on.

Talk - Atomic Precision Fabrication Using Patterned Si Atomic Layer Epitaxy: Processing Capabilities, Throughput Limitations, and Applications

October 26, 2010

Carnival of Space 175

The Carnival of Space 175 is at Out of the Cradle.

This site contributed two articles :

DARPA and NASA chip in small amount of funds for hundred year starship program and some nearer term space propulsion (microwave thermal and electric propulsion)

The science journal abstracts on the lunar water and other material discovery analysis are collected. We just need to send robotic rovers to dig around and analyze and prospect directly.

Laser Uranium Enrichment

IEEE Spectrum covers laser uranium enrichment. I have extracted the useful technical information and left out the IEEE Spectrum extra trash talking.

This site has covered the silex laser enrichment technology that is being commercialized by GE and its partners.

GE has called the laser method a "game-changing technology" and along with Hitachi and Cameco Corp., a Canadian nuclear fuel provider in Saskatoon, Sask., is devoting hundreds of millions of dollars to developing it and building the plant near Wilmington, N.C. The technology in question was licensed from Silex Systems, an Australian company that's been quietly conducting enrichment research at a small facility near Sydney for the last quarter century.

Toe-to-heel air injection update

Petrobank Energy and Resources is buying out its partners in two joint ventures that are to use its innovative fireflood heavy oil recovery technology (Toe-to-heel air injection - THAI). If THAI is fully successful it could increase oil recovery from the oilsands to 80% of oil in place.

Petrobank said it plans to spud (start drilling) its first expansion well at Kerrobert before month's end. The expansion, approved in August, includes a further 10 THAI well pairs and surface facilities.

The Kerrobert pilot developed good results over the summer and bodes well for production from the expansion.

"It's 10 wells and each well is expected to do 600 barrels per day," Knowles said. "So 100 per cent of 12 wells including the pilot . . . is a pretty good start for them."

Wired has a new interview with Aubrey de Grey

Wired has a new interview with Aubrey deGrey. Aubrey is the champion for Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence. It is focused on anti-aging.

Here are what I consider the highlights :

* A month or two ago, one of Aubrey's colleagues, Tony Atala, who runs an enormous group working in tissue engineering at Wake Forest, was on Oprah. He’s on my research advisory board and is associated with my journal and so on. Even though his work is not mainly focused on aging, the show was basically about aging. He was very, very gung-ho about the potential for regenerative medicine to postpone aging in the relatively foreseeable future.

* SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) progress rate -It took a whole regular-sized chapter just to cover one year of development across all of the various SENS components when making the softcover book update

Elpida, Sharp to ReRAM that is 10,000 times faster than NAND flash memory for 2013

Ray Ozzie, X- Microsoft Chief Software Architect writes about the post PC world

Ray Ozzie is (soon to be post) Microsoft Chief Software architect and writes a lengthy article about the post-PC world

It is considered to be a doomsday warning memo to Microsoft. He is saying that Microsoft must succeed in the cloud computing and the continuously connected wireless world or die.

Ironically he has a call for less complexity takes 3400 words and comes the person who is best known for bringing about Lotus notes

Dawn of a New Day

The past five years have been breathtaking. But the next five years will bring about yet another inflection point – a transformation that will once again yield unprecedented opportunities for our company and our industry catalyzed by the huge & inevitable shift in apps & infrastructure that’s truly now just begun.

Instead, to cope with the inherent complexity of a world of devices, a world of websites, and a world of apps & personal data that is spread across myriad devices & websites, a simple conceptual model is taking shape that brings it all together. We’re moving toward a world of 1) cloud-based continuous services that connect us all and do our bidding, and 2) appliance-like connected devices enabling us to interact with those cloud-based services.

Israel touts nano-material and nanoscale technology successes and prospects

Storing thermal energy in chemical form to make a rechargeable heat battery

There have been two approaches to capturing the sun’s energy: photovoltaics, which turn the sunlight into electricity, or solar-thermal systems, which concentrate the sun’s heat and use it to boil water to turn a turbine, or use the heat directly for hot water or home heating

The third solar approach is the thermo-chemical approach, in which solar energy is captured in the configuration of certain molecules which can then release the energy on demand to produce usable heat. And unlike conventional solar-thermal systems, which require very effective insulation and even then gradually let the heat leak away, the heat-storing chemicals can remain stable for years.

Signs of Superconductivity over 265 kelvin

Superconductors.ORG reports signs of superconductivity near 267K magnetic (-6C, 21F). This suggests a resistive Tc (temperature critical) around 264-265 Kelvin, which would be another world record for a 9223 copper-oxide structure

Sharif University (Iran) published some confirmation of Joe Ecks work with Ultra-YCBO in several peer reviewed physics journals (Physica C, European Physical Journal B)

After the recent discovery (also by Joe Eck) of superconductivity near 258 Kelvin, an effort was made to identify a small anomaly a few degrees above 260K in the magnetization plots of (Tl4Ba)-9223-Mg2. A stoichiometric mix with one less Mg and one more Cu atom was produced using the "layer cake" method. The resulting formulation (Tl4Ba)Ba2MgCu8O13+ produced diamagnetic transitions near 267K in five separate magnetization tests

Ikanos and Nokia have separate ways to speed up DSL and cable communication over copper wires

Ikanos Unveils NodeScale™ Vectoring to Deliver Broadband at 100 Mbps and Beyond for One-Tenth the Cost of Fiber

By deploying Ikanos’ state-of the-art NodeScale Vectoring technology, service providers will be able to extend very high-speed Internet access and new critical services – including multiple high-definition television streams, distance learning, video conferencing, telemedicine, and more – without having to incur the high costs of installing complete fiber-to-the-home networks.

Nokia Siemens Networks has successfully tested a technology that could drastically increase the data carrying capacity of standard copper wires. The company achieved data transmission speeds of 825 megabits per second (Mbps) over 400 meters of bonded copper lines and 750 Mbps over 500 meters

Carbon nanotubes can make building materials that move without motors

ARchitechtural company Decker Yeadon is using carbon nanotubes to make electrically conductive Nanoink, which can be used to make building material able to move without motors. This means that one day your windows might be able to open and close independent of you, but completely responsive to a number of other factors such as room temperature, with no mechanical parts required.

October 25, 2010

Rubber sandbag like robotic hands

A simpler robotic gripper that does not need tactile sensing. Instead a rubber bag that is 80% filled with 100 micrometer glass spheres is used.

ripping and holding of objects are key tasks for robotic manipulators. The development of universal grippers able to pick up unfamiliar objects of widely varying shape and surface properties remains, however, challenging. Most current designs are based on the multifingered hand, but this approach introduces hardware and software complexities. These include large numbers of controllable joints, the need for force sensing if objects are to be handled securely without crushing them, and the computational overhead to decide how much stress each finger should apply and where. Here we demonstrate a completely different approach to a universal gripper. Individual fingers are replaced by a single mass of granular material that, when pressed onto a target object, flows around it and conforms to its shape. Upon application of a vacuum the granular material contracts and hardens quickly to pinch and hold the object without requiring sensory feedback. We find that volume changes of less than 0.5% suffice to grip objects reliably and hold them with forces exceeding many times their weight. We show that the operating principle is the ability of granular materials to transition between an unjammed, deformable state and a jammed state with solid-like rigidity. We delineate three separate mechanisms, friction, suction, and interlocking, that contribute to the gripping force. Using a simple model we relate each of them to the mechanical strength of the jammed state. This advance opens up new possibilities for the design of simple, yet highly adaptive systems that excel at fast gripping of complex objects.

Deep Carbon Reduction development for China and the World

There is a 55 page pdf proposed low carbon development plan for China by a research group of Chinese economists 50 Forum There are several versions of the plan. I picked up a 128 page copy in Hong Kong and amazon has a longer hard cover version on sale. The longer versions go into more details. The plan was made and presented before the failed Copenhagen climate talks. China is still pursuing increasing energy efficiency needed to generate GDP and making coal plants more efficient and building up nuclear and renewable energy. However, not to the extent proposed in this plan.

They talk about getting to 90% lower carbon than was used in 2005 by 2050.

Approximate Per Capita Wealth of Kardashev Civilization using Energy Intensity and Relatively Stable Population Assumptions

The Kardashev scale is a method of measuring an advanced civilization's level of technological advancement.

Type I — a civilization that is able to harness all of the power available on a single planet — has approximately 10^16 or 10^17 W available. Earth specifically has an available power of 1.74 × 10^17 Watts (174 peta watts, see Earth's energy budget). 31.54 million seconds in a year. 5.488 * 10 ^ 24. 5.488 million exajoules.

Type II — a civilization that is able to harness all of the power available from a single star, approximately 4 × 10^26 Watts. Again, this figure is variable; the Sun outputs approximately 3.86 × 10^26 Watts. 1.22 * 10 ^ 34. 10220 trillion exajoules

Energy intensity is a measure of the energy efficiency of a nation's economy. It is calculated as units of energy per unit of GDP.

* High energy intensities indicate a high price or cost of converting energy into GDP.
* Low energy intensity indicates a lower price or cost of converting energy into GDP.

It has historically been a slow process to change energy intensity and coordinated national programs are needed to lower energy intensity (increase efficiency).

U.S. energy consumption in 2004 was estimated at 99.74 quadrillion Btus (1.05 × 10^11 GJ) (referred to as 'quads') from all sources (US DoE). Total GDP was estimated at $11.75 trillion in 2004 and US GDP per capita was estimated at roughly $40,100 in 2004 (CIA Factbook). Using a population of 290,809,777 (as per US Census Bureau). This would produce an Energy Intensity of 8,553 Btus (9 MJ) consumed to produce a single dollar of GDP (about 9,023 kJ/$).

The USA cut energy intensity in half over 55 years (1949-2004) from 1.55 to 0.7.

FCC moving forward with mobile broadband plan that could provide half a trillion economic boost when deployed

The Federal Communications Commission this week moved closer to advancing its goal of reallocating large swaths of wireless spectrum to power new, next-generation mobile broadband networks.

The FCC projects a 35-fold increase in mobile broadband traffic over the next five years. (Mostly from tablets, netbooks and portable computers that substitute for PCs using fixed broadband).

The FCC has a goal of freeing up 300 MHz of spectrum for mobile broadband in the next five years would create a market value of $120 billion for the spectrum alone, with a several-fold multiplier effect across the economy once that spectrum is deployed.

Estimates of the broadband multiplier effect on the economy are 4.1 times. This would be $492 billion based on the $120 billion value of the spectrum.

Hydrogen-generating technology might power boats, store energy from wind, solar sources

Purdue University researchers have developed a method that uses aluminum and a liquid alloy to extract hydrogen from seawater to run engines in boats and ships, representing a potential replacement for gasoline and diesel fuel in marine applications.

The technique had previously worked only for freshwater, but a new formulation also enables the method to generate hydrogen from seawater, said Jerry Woodall, a Purdue University distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 24

Davide Faconti of PAL Robotics is interviewed by Sander Olson

Here is the Davide Faconti interview by Sander Olson. Dr. Faconti is the project leader for PAL Robotics, a Spanish company that is funded by investors in Abu Dhabi. PAL recently introduced the REEM H2 robot for the commercial market, and has demonstrated the REEM-B robot. The company is currently working on the REEM-C humanoid robot, which should become available next year. There are a now a number of humanoid robots in existence or being designed, including REEM-C, Virginia Tech's Charlie Heavy, Honda's Asimo, Korea's Hubo 2, and Iran's Surena robot.

Here is a link to their life in the robotics lab blog

Question: The PAL project is focused on humanoid robotics. What is the current status of this project?

Answer: The PAL project began about six years ago with 4 workers. Today there are about 25 researchers, and we are focused on rapidly improving these humanoid robots, in particular the REEM robot. We are headquartered in Spain but are owned by investors in the United Arab Emirates.

October 24, 2010

Order-of-magnitude enhancement of wind farm power density via counterrotating vertical-axis wind turbine arrays

Arxiv - Order-of-magnitude enhancement of wind farm power density via counter-rotating vertical-axis wind turbine arrays by John O. Dabiri of the California Institute of Technology

Modern wind farms require significant land resources to separate each wind turbine from the adjacent turbine wakes. These aerodynamic constraints limit the amount of power that can be extracted from a given wind farm footprint. We conducted full-scale field tests of vertical-axis wind turbines in counter-rotating configurations under natural wind conditions. Whereas wind farms consisting of propeller-style turbines produce 2 to 3 watts of power per square meter of land area, these field tests indicate that power densities approaching 100 Watts per square meter can be achieved by arranging vertical-axis wind turbines in layouts that enable them to extract energy from adjacent wakes. In addition, we calculated that the global wind resource available to 10-meter tall turbines based on the present approach is approximately 225 trillion watts (TW), which significantly exceeds the global wind resource available to 80-m tall, propeller-style wind turbines, approximately 75 TW. This improvement is due to the closer spacing that can be achieved between the smaller, vertical-axis wind turbines. The results suggest an alternative approach to wind farming, in which many, smaller vertical-axis wind turbines are implemented instead of fewer, large propeller-style turbines.

Fermilab Holometer will measure smallest details of space time and test if the universe is a hologram in 2011

If you "lived inside" a hologram, you could tell by measuring the blurring. Fermilab is building a interferometer to test space time for holographic blurring.

Welcome Redditors - This article has made the front page of Reddit

Possible consequence of holography

Hypothesis: observable correlations are encoded on light sheets and limited by information capacity of a Planck wavelength carrier (“Planck information flux” limit)

Predicts uncertainty in position at Planck diffraction scale

Real-space observation of emergent magnetic monopoles and associated Dirac strings in artificial kagome spin ice

Nature Physics - Real-space observation of emergent magnetic monopoles and associated Dirac strings in artificial kagome spin ice

Magnetic monopoles have been predicted to occur as emergent fractional quasiparticles inside pyrochlore spin ice, a frustrated magnetic insulator. Experimental signatures of such emergent monopoles accompanied by Dirac strings have been detected by means of neutron scattering in reciprocal space in pyrochlore spin ice at sub-Kelvin temperatures, but their real-space observation has remained elusive. Here we report on direct, real-space observations of emergent monopoles and their associated Dirac strings in two-dimensional (2D) artificial kagome spin ice at room temperature using synchrotron X-ray photoemission electron microscopy. Magnetization reversal proceeds through the nucleation and avalanche-type dissociation of monopole–antimonopole pairs along 1D Dirac strings. This is in sharp contrast to conventional domain growth in 2D systems, providing a striking example of dimensional reduction due to frustration. The observed hysteresis, monopole densities and 1D Dirac-string avalanches are quantitatively explained by Monte Carlo simulations.

Tabletop source of bright, coherent X-rays

a,b, Single-shot X-ray beam profile (a) and sum of five consecutive shot profiles (b) show the imprint of a wire grid and a 4×13 mrad2 beam with 5 mrad pointing stability. c–h, X-ray radiographic images of wire triplets and a resolution test

Producing tightly focused beams of high energy X-rays, to examine everything from molecular structures to the integrity of aircraft wings, could become simpler and cheaper according to new research.

Today, in Nature Physics, researchers from Imperial College London, the University of Michigan and Instituto Superior Téchnico Lisbon describe a tabletop instrument that produces synchrotron X-rays, whose energy and quality rivals that produced by some of the largest X-ray facilities in the world.

Nature Physics - Bright spatially coherent synchrotron X-rays from a table-top source

Each successive generation of X-ray machines has opened up new frontiers in science, such as the first radiographs and the determination of the structure of DNA. State-of-the-art X-ray sources can now produce coherent high-brightness X-rays of greater than kiloelectronvolt energy and promise a new revolution in imaging complex systems on nanometre and femtosecond scales. Despite the demand, only a few dedicated synchrotron facilities exist worldwide, in part because of the size and cost of conventional (accelerator) technology. Here we demonstrate the use of a new generation of laser-driven plasma accelerators, which accelerate high-charge electron beams to high energy in short distances to produce directional, spatially coherent, intrinsically ultrafast beams of hard X-rays. This reduces the size of the synchrotron source from the tens of metres to the centimetre scale, simultaneously accelerating and wiggling the electron beam. The resulting X-ray source is 1,000 times brighter than previously reported plasma wigglers and thus has the potential to facilitate a myriad of uses across the whole spectrum of light-source applications.

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