December 25, 2010

DARPA glasses for zoom vision, night vision, heads up display and 360 degree awareness

DARPA is working on glasses that will endow the user with zoom vision, various forms of nightsight, and act as a heads-up display besides. Perhaps best of all, the proposed kit would also offer "full sphere awareness" – that is, eyes in the back of your head. It is the goals of the DARPA Soldier Centric Imaging via Computational Cameras (SCENICC) project.

All this is to be achieved, according to the specifications for the new project, by the use of "computational cameras". These are a radical new approach to camera design, which will shift much of the burden of forming images – which is handled optically in today's cameras – into software.

Darpa unveiled the Soldier Centric Imaging via Computational Cameras effort, or SCENICC

The system, which is purely theoretical at this point, will provide a 360 degree, three-dimensional field of view for soldiers in the field. This optical omniscience is obtained through the use multiple cameras, including images from airborne drones. Soldiers will have real time 10x zoom capabilities and can operate everything via voice commands. As if that weren't enough, SCENICC employs augmented reality to identify and track targets in a way (we presume) not unlike your garden variety T-800.

Robert Reich prescription for ending the US recession is to raise taxes to 70-90%

Robert Reich recommends raising the marginal income tax rate on the highest earners to 70-90% to end the US recession. This site does not agree with that recommendation but provides it as an FYI (for your information).

In the decades after World War II, legislation like the G.I. Bill, a vast expansion of public higher education and civil rights and voting rights laws further reduced economic inequality. Much of this was paid for with a 70 percent to 90 percent marginal income tax on the highest incomes. And as America’s middle class shared more of the economy’s gains, it was able to buy more of the goods and services the economy could provide. The result: rapid growth and more jobs.

Carnival of Space 181

Quantum dots are not dots

Sketch of the studied system. A QD (green trapezoid) is placed a distance z below a metal mirror. The lateral extension of a QD emitting at 1.2 eV is typically a=20 nm. The plasmon wavelength is λpl=262 nm (figure is not to scale). The field amplitude of the plasmon decays exponentially away from the interface with a change of the electric field over the extension of the QD. The arrow over μ indicates the orientation of the point-dipole moment and the arrows over Λ indicate the orientation of the first-order mesoscopic moment. b, Boundaries of a QD (green frame) with the spatial extension of electron (blue) and hole (red) wavefunctions indicated inside. c, Sketch of a QD placed near a metallic structure. The QD can decay by emitting a photon (γph), by exciting a propagating plasmon (γpl), by coupling to lossy modes in the metal (γls) or by intrinsic non-radiative recombination (γnr; not shown).

Researchers from the Quantum Photonics Group at DTU Fotonik in collaboration with the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen surprise the scientific world with the discovery that light emission from solid-state photon emitters, the so-called quantum dots, is fundamentally different than hitherto believed. The new insight may find important applications as a way to improve efficiency of quantum information devices.

Today it is possible to fabricate and tailor highly efficient light sources that emit a single photon at a time, which constitutes the fundamental unit of light. Such emitters are referred to as quantum dots and consist of thousands of atoms. Despite the expectations reflected in this terminology, quantum dots cannot be described as point sources of light, which leads to the surprising conclusion: quantum dots are not dots!

Nature Physics - Strongly modified plasmon–matter interaction with mesoscopic quantum emitters

Repulsive casimir force from metamaterials

Repulsive Casimir forces with finite-thickness slabs

We use the extended Lifshitz theory to study the behaviors of the Casimir forces between finite-thickness effective medium slabs. We first study the interaction between a semi-infinite Drude metal and a finite-thickness magnetic slab with or without substrate. For no substrate, the large distance d dependence of the force is repulsive and goes as 1/d^5; for the Drude metal substrate, a stable equilibrium point appears at an intermediate distance which can be tuned by the thickness of the slab. We then study the interaction between two identical chiral metamaterial slabs with and without substrate. For no substrate, the finite thickness of the slabs D does not influence significantly the repulsive character of the force at short distances, while the attractive character at large distances becomes weaker and behaves as 1/d^6; for the Drude metal substrate, the finite thickness of the slabs D does not influence the repulsive force too much at short distances until D=0.05\lambda_0.

December 24, 2010

Ray Kurzweil reviews all of his predictions for dates up to 2010

Ray Kurzweil responds to the IEEE Spectum article about his predictions.

While I appreciate some of the things John Rennie has to say, his review of my predictions is filled with inaccuracies, including misquotes of mine, and misunderstandings of the meaning of my words and the reality of today's technology. For starters, he takes note of my point about selection bias, but his entire article suffers from this bias. While he acknowledges that I wrote over 100 predictions for 2009, in a book I wrote in the late 1990s, he only talks about a handful of them. And he persistently gets these wrong. He writes that I predicted "widespread, foolproof, real-time speech translation." We do in fact have real-time speech translation in the form of popular phone apps. But who ever said anything about "foolproof?" Rennie just made that up like a lot of the factoids in this article. Not even human translators are foolproof. Apparently that has now been removed from the online version.

Ray Kurzweil has provided his own comprehensive review of his predictions. (148 pages)

Better control of building blocks for quantum computer using electrical fields

Scientists from the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University of Technology and Eindhoven University of Technology have succeeded in controlling the building blocks of a future super-fast quantum computer. They are now able to manipulate these building blocks (qubits) with electrical rather than magnetic fields, as has been the common practice up till now. They have also been able to embed these qubits into semiconductor nanowires.

A nanotrampoline built out of graphene can directly detect radio frequency signals

A nanotrampoline built out of graphene can directly detect radio frequency signals, paving the way for a new generation of radios.

For some time now, physicists have been hoping to find ways of using nanoelectromechanical resonators to filter and generate radio signals directly. At present, this has to be done with various kinds of mixing techniques. The problem is that nanoelectromechanical devices all suffer from parasitic capacitance, which tends to drown out the signals that physicists are interested in at radio frequencies.

Xu and co say their graphene sheet device is immune from this because its design causes the effects of stray capacitance essentially to cancel out. And they prove it by using their device to pick out a radio frequency signal at 33.27 MHz.

The device has the potential to do much better, they say. Graphene sheets are two orders of magnitude less massive than similar devices made of silicon and so can measure signals at much higher frequency. Xu and co say that with smaller sheets, they should be able to measure signals in the GHz range.

Growing seaweed can solve ocean acidification and solve global food supply

Large-scale cultivation of sea lettuce can help reduce acidification of the oceans. And help solve the global food supply problem to boot.

Ocean acidification is an effect of having too much carbon dioxide. The other effect of too much carbon dioxide is global warming. Growing 180,000 square kilometres of sea lettuce (ulva lactuca) could be part of geoengineering a fix for too much CO2.

This idea, presented by Wageningen (UK) biologist Ronald Osinga, came as a surprise to delegates at the international coral symposium held in Wageningen last week. The symposium was an initiative by the International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS) and focused on the effects of climate change on coral reefs. Acidification of the oceans is one of the problems, and corals are highly sensitive to it. They become bleached and the calcium they contain dissolves.

World’s First Diamond Nanoelectromechanical Switch Toward New Functionality of Diamonds and Nano/Microelectromechanical System

Scanning electron microscope images of the suspended structures of single crystal diamond, (a) cantilever, (b) bridge, and (c) 3-terminal NEMS switch.
Air gap structure has been formed in the substrate side.

Dr. Meiyong Liao, a Senior Researcher of Sensor Materials Center, National Institute for Materials Science (Japan), and his colleagues, succeeded in the batch fabrication of suspended structures (cantilevers and bridges) of single crystal diamond for nano/micro electromechanical system (NEMS/MEMS). Based on this process, they achieved in the world the first single crystal diamond NEMS switch.

In comparison with the existing MEMS switches, the diamond NEMS switches are expected to show greatly improved functions, including reliability, lifetime, speed, and electrical handling capacity, etc. The developed devices can be applied as microwave switch for next-generation wireless communications and logic circuit under harsh environments. These research results also establish the infrastructure for diamond NEMS/MEMS with novel functions, opening the way for the development of various chemical, physical, and mechanical sensors.

Angstron Materials has a graphene based supercapacitor with specific energy density of 136 watt hours per kilogram

Angstron Materials has invented a graphene-based supercapacitor with ultra high energy density, a feature that permits storage of a significant amount of energy This development has pushed the specific energy density of an electrical double-layer (EDL) graphene-enabled supercapacitor to an unprecedented level of nearly 90 watt hours per kilogram at room temperature and a level of 136 watt hours per kilogram at 80° Celsius."

IBM making good progress on racetrack memory

Eetimes reports that IBM is making good progress on racetrack memory and can control the spin bits

Next they will try to make it work at density ten times greater than flash and then increase it to one thousand times flash density.

December 22, 2010

Printable batteries at 400 Watt hours per kilogram and other ARPA-E funded battery projects

Planar Energy claims its solid-state lithium-ion battery design can deliver three times the energy density of today’s lithium-ion batteries at less than half the cost per kilowatt-hour. The solid-state inorganic nature of the battery is the key to its high performance, says M. Scott Faris, the firm’s chief executive officer.

Planar Energy has received $4 million in funding from the ARPA-E program, known as Batteries for Electrical Energy Storage in Transportation (BEEST) Performance targets for the BEEST program are to exceed 500 Wh/kg and 500 cycles at commercially viable recharge rates. By 2016, the goal is to produce a cell with 600 Wh/kg and 1,000 cycles.

IEEE Spectrum reports that Planar Energy batteries store 400 watt-hours of energy per kilogram

Friedwardt Winterberg has an improved method for generating impact nuclear fusion

Friedwardt Winterberg has an improvement on a method to generate the ultrafast jets that are needed for impact nuclear fusion.

It is shown that in contrast to the electric pulse power driven implosion of a single conical wire array, the implosion of a nested conical wire array with opposite alternate opening angles can lead to the generation of fast jets, with velocities of the order 10^8 cm/s. This technique can be applied for the supersonic shear flow stabilization of a dense z-pinch, but possibly also for the fast ignition of a pre-compressed dense deuterium-tritium target.

The Largest Synthetic Structure with Molecular Precision is now 200 million Daltons

(Angewandte Chemie International Edition) The Largest Synthetic Structure with Molecular Precision: Towards a (macro) Molecular Object

Pushing the limits: A 200 million dalton structurally defined, linear macromolecule (PG5) has a molar mass, cross-section dimension, and cylindrical shape that are comparable to some naturally occurring objects, such as amyloid fibrils or certain plant viruses. The macromolecule is resistant against flattening out on a surface; the picture shows PG5 embracing the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV).

The unified atomic mass unit, also called the dalton (symbol: Da), is a unit used for indicating mass on an atomic or molecular scale. It is defined as one twelfth of the rest mass of an unbound atom of carbon-12 in its nuclear and electronic ground state

Swedish researchers have discover a better rocket fuel called Trinitramid

Trinitramid is a new rocket fuel which could increase rocket payloads by four to eight times.

Trinitramid is a new molecule which, among other things, is a possible component in future rocket fuels. Trinitramid should be 20-30 percent effective in comparison with the best rocket fuel available today.

A rule of thumb is that for every ten per cent increase in efficiency of rocket fuel rocket's cargo can be doubled. In addition, the molecule only has nitrogen and oxygen, which would make the rocket fuel more environmentally friendly. Today's solid rocket propellant generates the equivalent of 550 tonnes of concentrate hydrochloric acid with each space shuttle launch.

Poor mans X-ray Free Electron laser for only half a million dollars

Thijs van Oudheusden has developed a machine that in many respects can compete with billion-euro X-Ray free electron laser facilities, based on ideas from his co supervisor Jom Luiten. The essence of their 'poor man's X-FEL' is that it uses electrons instead of X-rays. "Why convert electrons into X-rays if you can use the electrons themselves?", asks Van Oudheusden. "As well as that you only need to give the electrons a low energy, so you can accelerate them in just a centimeter. That's why the whole system fits on a tabletop."

Stanford University in the USA has an X-FEL (X-ray Free Electron Laser) with a pricetag of hundreds of millions. It provides images of 'molecules in action', using a kilometer-long electron accelerator. A European X-FEL, which will cost a billion euro, is currently under construction in Hamburg (Germany).

George Soros has funded an institute to fix economic theory

George Soros provided $50 million to set up the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET).

It was the crash of 2008, which brought home the fact that there is something broken in economic theory. Two ideas - rational expectations theory and the efficient market hypothesis - have a monopoly of thought.

One of the people at INET has written an explanation in the Economist

Russia will build at least 18 nuclear generation units in India and have an MOU to cooperate on Fast reactors

Sergey Kiriyenko, CEO of the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, talked about plans to expand cooperation with India in the nuclear energy sector.

We have completed all construction activities at the first Kudankulam generating unit and have begun pre-commissioning tests. We believe we will be able to launch hot functional testing in early January and then reach the minimum controlled power level by the end of the first quarter of 2011. Within a maximum of another twelve months, the second power unit will come on line, too. Its construction is mostly finished and we are in the final phase of pre-operational testing.

The key contractual terms have been agreed for the third and fourth Kudankulam units. Today we have reached agreement on basic credit terms

Our Indian partners have confirmed their commitment to the roadmap according to which we are to build nuclear facilities on three sites in India. We expect, and it has been duly confirmed, that the Indian government will soon finalise its approval of the allocation of a third construction site. Currently, we have Kudankulam, with six to eight generating units, to build. We have been given another site in West Bengal, near Kolkata. And a third one is being reviewed by the government. Each site will accommodate at least six power generating units. All in all, there will be at least 18 units.

China's first AP1000 reactor in still on track for completion in 2013 and other nuclear energy news

1. Construction of AP1000 units in China has seen three milestones this month: on-site, at a new module factory and in fuel fabrication.

* Building work on the first of the Westinghouse-designed units at Sanmen moved on with the lifting in of the fourth ring of the reactor's containment vessel. Shandong Nuclear Power Company said the lift went well despite cold weather and took place 14 days ahead of schedule. This major part of the reactor building now stands about 40 metres high.

* In central Hubei province, China's second factory for the modules that make AP1000 major structures was opened. This is owned by Hubei Nuclear Power Equipment Company Ltd, based in Wuhan. The factory will make the large components, such as containment vessel sections, for AP1000s as well as for later Chinese derivatives like the larger CAP-1400.

December 21, 2010

Thermoelectrics could be improved from 5% to 20% effciency for heat to electricity conversion

Certain configurations of the filler element barium will be very effective in lowering the materials' thermal conductivity and thus increasing their conversion efficiency.

Today's state-of-the-art thermoelectric materials are only five percent efficient. Skutterudites, and this new knowledge about how best to arrange their atoms, could help improve their performance to 15- or 20-percent, at which point they become useful in many practical applications, said Massoud Kaviany, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

"We explained the physics of these materials for the first time. This will help to advance the development of these materials. If you are designing them based on fundamental physics and materials and not just by trial and error, then you need to know how they work so you can avoid haphazard experimentation," Kaviany said.

ZT for the temperature ranges (700K) for best TE materials (mid-2010) are about 1.4 and need to be closer to 3.0 to reach the efficiency goals requested by DOE.

The conversion efficiency changes with ZT (figure of merit) and temperature difference. I have included the chart of ZT and temperature differential below to show how percentage of efficiency is effected by those two values. The researchers are claiming that their barium alloys can get ZT into the 2 range up from current lab work in the 1.4 range and commercially at the 1.0 range. The temperature differential varies according to the heat source that you are attempting to convert. (like steam from a powerplant or exhaust from a car)

The emerging field of RNA nanotechnology

Nature Nanotechnology - The emerging field of RNA nanotechnology

Like DNA, RNA can be designed and manipulated to produce a variety of different nanostructures. Moreover, RNA has a flexible structure and possesses catalytic functions that are similar to proteins. Although RNA nanotechnology resembles DNA nanotechnology in many ways, the base-pairing rules for constructing nanoparticles are different. The large variety of loops and motifs found in RNA allows it to fold into numerous complicated structures, and this diversity provides a platform for identifying viable building blocks for various applications. The thermal stability of RNA also allows the production of multivalent nanostructures with defined stoichiometry. Here we review techniques for constructing RNA nanoparticles from different building blocks, we describe the distinct attributes of RNA inside the body, and discuss potential applications of RNA nanostructures in medicine. We also offer some perspectives on the yield and cost of RNA production.

The construction of RNA nanoparticles is a multistep process that starts with a conception step in which the desired properties of the nanoparticle are defined. A computational approach is then applied to predict the structure and folding of the building blocks and the consequences of inter-RNA interactions in the assembly of RNA nanoparticles. After the monomeric building blocks are synthesized (either by enzymatic or chemical approaches), the individual subunits assemble into quaternary architectures by either templated or non-templated methods. The assembled RNA nanostructures are characterized (by atomic force microscope (AFM), electron microscope (EM), gel electrophoresis and so on) to ensure proper folding with desired structural and functional capabilities. After thorough evaluation, the nanoparticles will be used for various applications.

Carbon nanotubes could be ideal optical antennae

Cornell researchers have discovered that carbon nanotubes can transmit and receive light at the nanoscale. Carbon nanotubes, cylindrical rolled-up sheets of carbon atoms, might one day make ideal optical scattering wires -- tiny, mostly invisible antennae with the ability to control, absorb and emit certain colors of light at the nanoscale.

The researchers used the Rayleigh scattering of light -- the same phenomenon that creates the blue sky -- from carbon nanotubes grown in the lab. They found that while the propagation of light scattering is mostly classical and macroscopic, the color and intensity of the scattered radiation is determined by intrinsic quantum properties. In other words, the nanotubes' simple carbon-carbon bonded molecular structure determined how they scattered light, independent of their shape, which differs from the properties of today's metallic nanoscale optical structures.

Nature Nanotechnology - Single-walled carbon nanotubes as excitonic optical wires

Artificial Intelligence Algorithm beat crowdsourcing

How a machine learning algorithm beat the assembled masses of's Mechanical Turk.

Amazon's Mechancial Turk is the ultimate in nearly anonymous outsourcing: any task that can be completed online can be accomplished by the combination of automated marketplace and human labor. Those who sign up to complete tasks - Turkers - are paid wages as low as pennies per chore to do everything from data entry to folk art.

Mechanical Turk is designed to complete tasks that are easy for humans and hard for machines, such as categorizing or identifying the content of images. The problem for Amazon and all its imitators, however, is that machines are getting better at many tasks, while the humans on Mechanical Turk, for reasons I'll explore in tomorrow's post, are getting worse.

* Only 79 out of 4660 human applicants could pass a basic multiple choice test
* A Bayes classifier correctly identified the category of a business a third more often than the humans. In the automotive category, the computer was twice as likely as the assembled masses to correctly identify a business.

Adding Cornstarch to the Mud would have led to a successful Top Kill and stopped the BP Oil Spill Two months earlier

Following the blow-out of the Macondo well (BP oil spill) in the Gulf of Mexico (April 20, 2010) Prof. Katz was appointed to Secretary of Energy Chu's scientific advisory panel. This experience led him to conceive a novel composition of drilling mud, involving a dilatant polymer that could make the mud viscoelastic, in order to suppress instabilities that would otherwise occur. In collaboration with Richard Garwin (also on the panel) he predicted that attempts at top kill with conventional muds would only lead to that mud being spat out the well-head with the escaping oil. This prediction was borne out when top kill was attempted with conventional muds and failed. Prof. Katz then organized, in collaboration with Peter Beiersdorfer and his team at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, an experimental effort to test the prediction that a viscoelastic mud would not suffer such instabilities. The prediction was verified, and a paper reporting these results has been submitted for publication.

Adding cornstarch to the mud used for the Top Kill would have changed the mud so that it would have not broken up when trying to suppress the high pressure oil.

Jonathan Katz website.

Arxiv - Viscoelastic Suppression of Gravity-Driven Counter
ow Instability

2010 Feynman Prizes in Nanotechnology Awarded by Foresight Institute

The winner of the 2010 Feynman Prize for Theory is Gustavo E. Scuseria (Rice University) for his development of quantum mechanical methods and computational programs that make it possible to carry out accurate theoretical predictions of molecules and solids, and their application to the chemical and electronic properties of carbon nanostructures.

“The answer to Feynman’s 1959 question ‘What would happen if we could arrange the atoms one by one the way we want them…’ has come a step closer to reality,” said Ralph C. Merkle, Chairman of the Foresight Institute Feynman Prize Committee. “Our ability to simulate and manipulate atoms will enable us to design and build engineered molecular machinery. This coming nanotechnology revolution will transform our world and our lives for the better.”

Scuseria website at Rice University

Arxiv - Constrained-Pairing Mean-Field Theory. IV. Inclusion of corresponding pair constraints and connection to unrestricted Hartree-Fock theory

H+ TV show will have cinematic quality for other forms of distribution and not just a Web Series

More information about the H+ TV show.

The epic nature of the story combined with its interactive components makes it an ideal web series. In addition, the high cinematic quality of H + will make it viable for other forms of distribution.

If successful, both digital series (H+ and Aim High) could spin-offs into the TV shows or films. Failing that, the installments could be collected to make a two or two-and-a-half hour TV movie or DVD movie.

OLED displays will have a breakthrough year in 2011

2011 should be the decisive market and production breakthrough for OLED technology in displays and lighting. By mid-2011 Erich Strasser expects global OLED production to have multiplied tenfold and promises numerous new, exciting products in the future. Strasser is very biased as he runs the site

George Soros targets Taiwan dollar

Billionaire investor George Soros' hedge funds are targeting the Taiwan dollar for speculative trading, a Taiwan local newspaper reported.

Executives from HSBC Taiwan noted that recently they noticed the hot money from Hong Kong has been flowed in Taiwan, which is unusual, because the hot money was normally flow from Europe and the U.S.

Last month, Soros' hedge-fund firm Soros Fund Management LLC opened its first Asian office in Hong Kong. The new operation will focus on investment in A-share, China concept and RMB related products, according to an earlier report from China Knowledge.

Key risks to watch in Asia in 2011 and what may happen in the US and the World if China has high inflation

The 2011 Asia outlook is clouded by China's growing clout, the volatile situation on the Korean peninsula and corruption scandals in India

1. Currency tension between China and the United States.
2. How China uses its regional influence and the maritime territorial disputes with several countries
3. China's inflation looks like it will significantly exceed the 4% target, policymakers may raise interest rates sharply.
4. Will there be war with North Korea or will North Korea implode or will things muddle along
5. India's corruption issue may continue to paralyze parliament with an emboldened opposition blocking proceedings, or that the scandals result in a less business-friendly policy environment.
6. The current leadership in Japan and Australia may not be strong enough to enact needed reforms
7. Southeast Asia's financial markets may run out of steam in 2011

US Population is 308.7 million

December 20, 2010

Polymer-Coated Tips for Patterning of Viruses by Dip-Pen Nanolithography

One process used to produce nanoscopic structures like ever-smaller integrated circuits, biosensors, and gene chips is known as dip-pen nanolithography, in which the nanotip of an atomic force microscope is used to “write” a pattern directly on a substrate. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, a Korean research team led by Jung-Hyurk Lim at Chungju National University in Chungju have now introduced a refined nanotip for this technique. With their “nanoquill”, it is possible to produce complex nanopatterns from large biomolecules—such as complete virus particles—rapidly, precisely, and flexibly.

Polymer-Coated Tips for Patterning of Viruses by Dip-Pen Nanolithography

Direct-write dip-pen nanolithography (DPN) using a tip coated with nanoporous poly(2-methyl-2-oxazoline) allows the creation of precise patterns of large-sized biomaterials such as viruses. The hydrogel tip absorbs the virus-containing ink solution and atomic force microscopy is used to transport it to a surface

The researchers selected virus particles bound to a fluorescence dye as their ink. They were able to use this to produce patterns with more than 1000 individual nanodots without having to refill the quill. Unlike the conventional technique, increasing contact time between the surface and the tip of the quill increases the number of individual viruses within the dot, but not its diameter. However, the researchers were able to generate dots of various sizes (400, 200, and 80 nm) by varying the diameter of the tip. This variation can be quite easily controlled by the duration of the polymerization reaction.

Cigar Lake Uranium Mine update for third quarter 2010

Cameco provided an update on Cigar Lake Uranium Mine for the third quarter of 2010

Cameco continues to target initial production in mid-2013 and ramping the production up to 5000 tons per year.

Cameco plans include:

* continuing to restore the underground mine systems, infrastructure and underground development areas so we can resume construction
* working to obtain regulatory approval of the environmental assessment that will allow the release of treated water directly to Seru Bay of Waterbury Lake
* beginning to freeze the ground around shaft 2 in preparation to resume shaft sinking
* implementing a surface freeze strategy we expect will shorten the ramp up period for the project by bringing forward uranium production (up to 10 million pounds) into the early years and improve mining costs and project economics
* continuing the surface drilling program designed to upgrade mineral resources

Cigar Lake is a key part of our plan to double annual uranium production to 40 million pounds by 2018 (up from 22 million pounds in 2010), and we are committed to bringing this valuable asset safely into production.

Heartland Robotics targets a $5000 robot that is an alternative to low wage workers

Scott Kirsner’s Innovation Economy blog reports on Heartland Robotics

Heartland Robotics targets a $5000 robot that is an alternative to low wage workers. It will be a hardware platform that will use an iPhone application model to customize its software.

The one-armed Obero robot is the basis from which this two armed robot is being developed.

Since the company isn’t talking, I spoke to three people who have visited Heartland and seen demos of its technology. All were impressed — “The road map is pretty compelling,’’ said one. They had questions, though, about how long it will take to get the product ready for customers, and how to market a general-purpose robotic technology. It is not focused on addressing a specific pain point that one particular industry faces (such as the robotic agricultural helpers being developed by Harvest Automation Inc., another Massachusetts robotics company that has raised significant funding).

Visitors to Heartland describe a robot that looks like a human from the waist up, with a torso; either one or two arms with grippers; and a camera where you might expect the head to be. The robot is on a rolling base rather than legs; it can be moved around but doesn’t move autonomously. The arm and gripper can be quickly trained to do a repetitive task just by moving them, no software code required.

And I’m told the robot has a sense for when people get close, so it doesn’t pose a safety hazard to humans working alongside it.

The company is apparently targeting a $5,000 price point.

NASA studies issues for very high altitude wind power generation and the latest on Kitegen's 3 MW prototype

In Mark Moore's world, long nanotubes reach into the clouds, serving at once to tether a turbine-vehicle flying at 2,000 feet, or 10,000 feet, or 30,000 feet (610, 3,050 and 9,150 meters); and also to conduct the power that vehicle can harvest from the wind back to Earth.

* eight to 27 times the power production just by getting 2,000 feet (610 m)
* Forty to eighty times the energy density at 30,000 feet.

Aloft might be a funnel-shaped blimp with a turbine at its back; or a balloon with vanes that rotate; a truss-braced wing; a parachute; a kite. Any and all of them are ideas being considered by nascent renewable energy industry that is flexing its imagination.

Kitegen is building a 3 megawatt kite based wind power system for accessing wind at up to 300 meters. (1000 feet)

It appears that the 3 MW prototype has been built, but it is unclear what the status is of the testing.

Scaling up Uranium from Seawater extraction

Japan has lab scale work for extraction of uranium from seawater that is about twice the current cost of traditionally mined uranium.

Japan has proposed various scaling up plans for uranium from seawater They look at the Black Current in the ocean off of Japan and how much materials it is moving. They would put uranium extraction materials in its path and collect uranium and other resources as they are moved past the materials that would trap the resources.

The Black Current off Japan carries approximately 5.2 million tons a year. This amount is equivalent to the earth's remaining inventory of this ore. At present, Japan consumes about 6,000 tons of uranium per year. So even if only 0.1 percent of what flows along Japan can be recovered.

Resources carried by the Black Current
Rare metals  Annual Amount
(unit: 10,000 tons)  Annual amount per cross section of Black Current(tons/m2)
Cobalt            16     0.005
Titanium         170     0.059
Vanadium         340     0.119
Uranium          520     0.182
Molybdenum     1,580   0.553

* Average speed of Black Current       1.75 m/s
* Average flow amount of BlackCurrent  50 millions m3/s

UCLA Engineers create new transparent electrodes for highly flexible electronics

Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have now developed a new transparent electrode based on silver nanowires (AgNW) that could replace ITO (indium-doped tin oxide). The new electrode uses low-cost, non-toxic and stable materials and is easy to fabricate. It is produced on a cross-linked, transparent polyacylate substrate, which is cheaper than glass and can be stiff and rigid or flexible and stretchable.

Currently, indium-doped tin oxide (ITO) technology is used for electrodes in LCD displays, solar cells, iPad and smart-phone touch screens, and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays for televisions and computer monitors. But ITO can be fragile and toxic, and it is becoming increasingly more expensive to produce.

Numenta Artificial Intelligence Update

MIT Technology Review provides an update on Numenta

Numenta (artificial intelligence company) has been working on their algorithms since 2005 and are finally preparing to release a version that is ready to be used in products. Numenta's technology is aimed at variety of applications, such as judging whether a credit card transaction is fraudulent, anticipating what a Web user will click next, or predicting the likelihood that a particular hospital patient will suffer a relapse.

The Numenta algorithms can analyze and extrapolate from complex patterns because they borrow techniques from parts of the human brain that have evolved to interpret complex data streaming in from our senses and use it to predict what might be coming.

The system's ability to make predictions about unfolding events is rooted in its unique capacity for processing temporal, or time-dependent, data. Conventional learning software cannot do that, because it can't handle input consisting of many variables that change over time. Instead, engineers generally have to extract the handful of variables they think are useful and feed them into the algorithms.

That "pre-processing" isn't necessary in models inspired by studies of biological brains, Arel says. Instead, the learning system can decide for itself what is important and what isn't. This is an emerging field dubbed deep machine learning. "Most academic efforts are focused on processing images, though," he says. "What's unique about Numenta is that it's able to handle temporal data, which opens up different kinds of applications." Among the examples Hawkins envisions: businesses could better analyze human speech or patterns of electricity use in buildings.

But while this approach raises the prospect of systems that can learn about any kind of data rather than being specialized to just one task, Numenta still has to prove that its technology is widely applicable and cost-effective. It's also unclear how the company will bring the technology to market, but it will probably be in the form of development tools rather than off-the-shelf products. "Now that the technology is really working," Hawkins says, "next year will see us switch into product-development mode."

Germany may restart the Krümmel and Brunsbüttel nuclear power plants and Russian Uranium plans

1. A sweeping review of operations for Krümmel and Brunsbüttel nuclear power plants is to start, with the aim of rapidly bringing them back into service.

Both are boiling water reactors with capacities of 1260 MWe and 771 MWe respectively. A review by the companies follows changes in Germany's energy laws enacted this year, under which Brunsbüttel and Krümmel and can expect to operate until 2018 and 2030 respectively. These dates represent an addition nine years of operation for Brunsbüttel and 14 years for Krümmel compared to dates originally slated in 2001 after the 'nuclear exit law'.

December 19, 2010

Considering charity donations before the end of year ?

Donate to SENS life extension research SENS research is to develop ways to repair aging damage.

SENS is an acronym for "Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence". It is best defined as an integrated set of medical techniques designed to restore youthful molecular and cellular structure to aged tissues and organs. Essentially, this involves the application of regenerative medicine to the problem of age-related ill-health. However, regenerative medicine is usually thought of as encompassing a few specific technologies such as stem cell therapy and tissue engineering, whereas SENS incorporates a variety of other techniques to remove or obviate the accumulating damage of aging. This broadly defined regenerative medicine - which includes the repair of living cells and extracellular material in situ - applied to damage of aging, is what we refer to as rejuvenation biotechnologies.

Currently, SENS comprises seven major types of therapy addressing seven major categories of aging damage, and you will find details of these therapies throughout this section of the website.

Your support will help us in our mission to develop, promote and ensure widespread access to rejuvenation biotechnologies which comprehensively address the disabilities and diseases of aging.

Reviewing three bets on uranium production and nuclear power generation

Michael Dittmar wrote a series of posts about nuclear energy that was published on The Oil Drum in 2009. In the first post of the series, he said that uranium "civilian uranium stocks are expected to be exhausted during the next few years" and "the current uranium supply situation is unsustainable". Basically lack of uranium production from uranium mines would cause lack of nuclear fuel which would result in steadily dropping nuclear power generation. I made a series of three bets with Dittmar

1. World Uranium production
2. World Nuclear power generation bets going to 2018
3. Uranium production in Kazakhstan

All three bets should be handily won by me this year and I should be winning by larger and larger margins for future years of the bets.

Michael Dittmar's incorrect articles were also featured in an MIT Technology Review blog about arxiv articles.

Dittmar also was cited in an article in the Economist (Green View - Fuelling fears : A uranium shortage could derail plans to go nuclear to cut carbon emissions)

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