January 22, 2011

Cost to convert to all nuclear powered economy

Brave new climate has a calculation for the cost of all-nuclear powered, fossil-carbon-free future.

An average American directly and indirectly uses about 10.8 kW of primary energy of which about 1.3 kW is electricity.

Joule Unlimited Claims to have engineered cyanobacterium that will produce biofuel equal to $30 barrel oil

Joule Unlimited is a US biotech company that claims to have a genetically engineered cyanobacterium that produces liquid hydrocarbons: diesel fuel, jet fuel and gasoline. This breakthrough technology, the company says, will deliver renewable supplies of liquid fossil fuel almost anywhere on Earth, in essentially unlimited quantity and at an energy-cost equivalent of $30 (U.S.) a barrel of crude oil

Globe and Mail coverage

Joule says it now has “a library” of fossil-fuel organisms at work in its Massachusetts labs, each engineered to produce a different fuel. It has “proven the process,” has produced ethanol (for example) at a rate equivalent to 10,000 U.S. gallons an acre a year. It anticipates that this yield could hit 25,000 gallons an acre a year when scaled for commercial production, equivalent to roughly 800 barrels of crude an acre a year. Cornell University’s David Pimentel, an authority on ethanol, says that one acre of corn produces less than half as much energy, equivalent to only 328 barrels.

DARPA project advances switch to fiber optics in aircraft

Scientists grow human liver tissue to be used for transplantation

A new study reports on the success of growing human liver cells on resorbable scaffolds made from material similar to surgical sutures. Researchers suggest that this liver tissue could be used in place of donor organs during liver transplantation or during the bridge period until a suitable donor is available for patients with acute liver failure.

Various predictions are for the Canadian dollar to trade at a premium to the US dollar

About half of the forecasts in a WSJ survey are for a premium for the Canadian dollar in 2011

Former CIBC economist Jeff Rubin believes that oil will be in the $100-200 per barrel range. Canada’s huge oil reserves would then cause the Canadian dollar soar to a 20% premium to the U.S. dollar. The dollar will probably not reach that level in 2011, but over the next few years.

UBS's Berry's view is that the Canadian dollar will outperform on the cross currency exchanges. He added the U.S. economy's impact on Canada was similar to that of China's on Australia.

Carnival of nuclear energy 36 and links to all past carnivals of nuclear energy

Teams of Quadcopters Robots have proven they can build tower structures

The General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory (University of Pennsylvania) integrates computer science, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering in a vibrant, collaborative environment

The autonomous quadrotors each have a gripper mounted on their underside that can lift and place either horizontal or vertical components.

The components snap together with the aid of magnets, and the quadrotors can jiggle the beams to ensure they are correctly in position.

January 21, 2011

Configurations to scale Solar electric sails hundreds of times more power without using propellant

Solar electric sails could have their first prototype launched in 2012 The electric sail is a new space propulsion concept which uses the solar wind momentum for producing thrust. A full-scale electric sail consists of a number (50-100) of long (e.g., 20 km), thin (e.g., 25 microns) conducting tethers (wires). The spacecraft contains a solar-powered electron gun (typical power a few hundred watts) which is used to keep the spacecraft and the wires in a high (typically 20 kV) positive potential. The electric field of the wires extends a few tens of metres into the surrounding solar wind plasma. Therefore the solar wind ions "see" the wires as rather thick, about 100 meter wide obstacles.

This article discusses the roadmap for solar electric sails to achieve hundreds and even thousands of newtons of propulsion. For comparison a VASIMR plasma rocket needs 40 kW/Newton, so 40 Megawatt VASIMR engines would be producing ~1,000 Newton. Five to ten 40 Megawatt VASIMR engines would be used for a 39 day manned mission to Mars scenario tied to three nuclear reactors.

Banking stem cells from teeth and cord blood

Dentists can ship baby teeth or healthy adult teeth in a temperature-controlled steel container to a lab in Massachusetts, where their stem cells will be spun out, frozen to more than 100 degrees below zero and stored StemSave is a New York City company that freezes the stem cells and stores them for later use. It's expensive, costing $590 upfront plus $100 a year to store the stem cells from up to four teeth for up to 20 years

More light efficient metamaterials may bring advanced optical technologies, cloaking

Researchers are developing a new class of "plasmonic metamaterials" as potential building blocks for advanced optical technologies and a range of potential breakthroughs in the field of transformation optics. This image shows the transformation optics "quality factor" for several plasmonic materials. For transformation optical devices, the quality factor rises as the amount of light "lost," or absorbed, by plasmonic materials falls, resulting in materials that are promising for a range of advanced technologies. (Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University)

Researchers are developing a new class of "plasmonic metamaterials" as potential building blocks for advanced optical technologies, including ultrapowerful microscopes and computers, improved solar cells, and a possible invisibility cloak.

Sign of the end of days - Duke Nukem Forever will ship May 3, 2011

Ars Technica - 2K Games has announced an actual release date for Duke Nukem Forever. The game is for real, people have played it, and we know when it will go on sale to gamers who have waited over a decade to play the official sequel to one of the most-loved PC games ever released. You'll be able to buy your copy on May 3 in North America, and May 6 internationally. The game is coming to the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.

Duke Nukem Forever was first announced in 1997

Google launches a competitor to Groupon with Google Offers

Google is preparing to launch Google Offers, the search giant’s Groupon competitor, Mashable has learned.

Google Offers looks and operates much like Groupon or LivingSocial. Users receive an e-mail with a local deal of the day. They then have the opportunity to buy that deal within a specific time limit (we assume 24 hours). Once enough people have made the purchase, the Google Offer is triggered and users get that all-too-familiar $10 for $20 deal for that Indian restaurant they’ve never tried.

From what we can tell, Google Offers will be powered by Google Checkout. It also includes Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, Google Buzz and e-mail sharing options.

Aluminum foam could reduce the weight of ships by 30 percent

Researchers from Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology in Chemnitz, Germany, have experimented with an aluminum powder that foams when heated up.

The aluminum foam could cut the weight of ships by 30 percent. For an average sized freight vessel with a capacity of 7000 m³ this corresponds to a weight reduction of more than 1000 tons.

* Less weight for the structure can mean more weight for payload.
* A lighter ship can also be designed to have a shallower draft so that it can go into shallower water
* A lighter ship can use less fuel relative to the amount of payload
* there could also be seasteading applications

The new material is lighter than water and has a high stiffness. Within seconds a cube made from aluminum starts to inflate into the shape of a sponge under the impact of heat. The secret of this reaction lies in the compounds of the new material. The metal is a mixture of aluminum and titanium hydride powder, which acts as a blowing agent just like yeast makes dough rise.

Translation of a finnish page on a aluminum foam ship design, bioship 1

Helical molecules that contract reversibly when oxidized pave the way to new single-molecule electrochemical switches

o-Phenylene oligomers can be envisaged as springy chairs. When oxidized (red), the molecule is contracted and less dynamic than its neutral counterparts (white).

New, small spring-like polymer chains, or oligomers, from organic compounds called o-phenylenes have been created by Eisuke Ohta, Takanori Fukushima, Takuzo Aida and colleagues at RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Wako1. These oligomers consist of benzene rings that connect to each other at a sharp angle, leading to their helical structure. The team’s oligomers can change shape and become more rigid when subjected to an electrochemical signal. They could soon serve as single-molecule machines for application in molecular computers.

The degree of twisting of natural helical structures, such as the DNA double-helix, plays an essential role in many important biological functions. Because of their twisted architecture, artificial helices can facilitate the separation and the synthesis of chiral compounds—asymmetric molecules that cannot be superimposed with their mirror image.

Microwave and laser beam arrays for space launch

Laser propelled spacecraft would be small, simple and expendable with the complicated launch system on the ground. Credit: Jordin Kare

Astrobio.net - NASA is now conducting a study to examine the possibility of using beamed energy propulsion for space launches. The study is expected to conclude by March 2011.

With the beam shining on the vehicle continually, it would take 8 to 10 minutes for a laser to put a craft into orbit, while microwaves would do the trick in 3 to 4 minutes. The vehicle would have to be designed without shiny surfaces that could reflect dangerous beams, and aircraft and satellites would have to be kept out of the beam’s path. Any launch system would be built in high-altitude desert areas, so danger to wildlife shouldn’t be a concern.

Laser array- each beam module can fit on a shipping container. Credit: Jordin Kare

January 20, 2011

Estimates of North Dakota's Bakken Oil and oil formations around the world like the Bakken

South Korea commercialization Lithium-Extraction from Seawater

POSCO will seek to commercialize technologies to extract lithium from sea water together with the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs and the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources.

POSCO and the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs will each invest 15 billion KRW ($13.2 million) and 30 billion KRW ($26.4 million) for five years from this year until 2014 respectively, and the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources and POSCO`s RIST will be in charge of the research and development to establish related commercialization facilities.

Fractal “metasurface” metamaterial can transfer heat

Broadband infrared (IR) resonators have been developed by Fractal Antenna Systems Inc. Infrared development for efficient fractal “metasurface” heat transfer is likely to be 2 to 5 years away

With a photocopier and transparency film anyone can create a polymer lab on a chip

A student in the new Microfluidics Lab peels back the polymer, showing engraved channels, from an ink-transparency template

A local high school physics teacher Joe Childs had a better idea for creating microfluidics lab on a chip.

1. Design the layout of the channels in PowerPoint
2. Print the image, and photocopy it onto a classroom-style transparency film several times until the layers of ink create raised ridges.
3. The process results in a negative mold that can then be used to create channels in the polymer chip

With little more than a conventional photocopier and transparency film, anyone can build a functional microfluidic chip.

Larry Page will take over as CEO of Google on April 4

Nanosail-D has been ejected and should deploy in three days

Free Electron Laser Program Demonstrates injector for megawatt laser beams

Office of Naval Research's Free Electron Laser (FEL) program, demonstrating an injector capable of producing the electrons needed to generate megawatt-class laser beams for the Navy's next-generation weapon system.

The team is nine months ahead of schedule which provides plenty of time to reach goals set for end of 2011. The research team hopes to have a full-power prototype by 2018, which would have the ability to instantly blast targets in the sky.

Zubrin proposes a transorbital railroad to jumpstart affordable space access and Rand Simbergs Space Proposal

1. First, we could set up a small transorbital railroad office in NASA, and fund it to buy six heavy-lift launches (100 tonnes to low-Earth orbit) and six medium-lift launches (20 tonnes to low-Earth orbit) per year from the private launch industry, with heavy- and medium-lift launches occurring on alternating months. (A tonne is a metric ton — 1,000 kilograms, or about 2,200 pounds.) The transorbital railroad office would pay the launch companies $500 million for each heavy launch and $100 million for each medium launch, thus requiring a total program expenditure of $3.6 billion per year — roughly 70 percent of the cost of the space shuttle program.

Mechanical Amazonian fish could pave way for highly agile underwater robots

Researchers at Northwestern University have created a robotic fish that can move from swimming forward and backward to swimming vertically almost instantaneously by using a sophisticated, ribbon-like fin.

The robot -- created after observing and creating computer simulations of the black ghost knifefish -- could pave the way for nimble robots that could perform underwater recovery operations or long-term monitoring of coral reefs.

Flexblue underwater power plants

France's DCNS is proposing small offshore nuclear power plants called Flexblue.

Akin to the submarines that DCNS has been making for the French navy for 40 years, Flexblue is a cylindrical unit 100 metres in length and 12 to 15 metres in diameter. Inside would be a small nuclear power reactor and well as steam generators, turbines and a generator to produce 50 to 250 MWe.

Kirk Sorensen at Energyfromthorium has been promoting underwater nuclear reactors since at least 2006

10 billion bits of entanglement achieved in silicon

Electron and nuclear spin phase rotations reveal the off-diagonal elements of the density matrix.

Scientists from Oxford University have made a significant step towards an ultrafast quantum computer by successfully generating 10 billion bits of quantum entanglement in silicon for the first time – entanglement is the key ingredient that promises to make quantum computers far more powerful than conventional computing devices.

The researchers used high magnetic fields and low temperatures to produce entanglement between the electron and the nucleus of an atom of phosphorous embedded in a highly purified silicon crystal. The electron and the nucleus behave as a tiny magnet, or 'spin', each of which can represent a bit of quantum information. Suitably controlled, these spins can interact with each other to be coaxed into an entangled state – the most basic state that cannot be mimicked by a conventional computer.

January 19, 2011

New Magnets Could Solve Our Rare-Earth Problems

MIT Technology Review - Researchers are working on composites that would make strong magnets that need less of the hard-to-get ingredients.

Stronger, lighter magnets could enter the market in the next few years, making more efficient car engines and wind turbines possible. Researchers need the new materials because today's best magnets use rare-earth metals, whose supply is becoming unreliable even as demand grows.

So researchers are now working on new types of nanostructured magnets that would use smaller amounts of rare-earth metals than standard magnets. Many hurdles remain, but GE Global Research hopes to demonstrate new magnet materials within the next two years.

Eyeball camera better than the human eye

The “eyeball camera” has a 3.5x optical zoom, takes sharp images and is only the size of a nickel.

Researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are the first to develop a curvilinear camera, much like the human eye, with the significant feature of a zoom capability, unlike the human eye.

The “eyeball camera” has a 3.5x optical zoom, takes sharp images, is inexpensive to make and is only the size of a nickel. (A higher zoom is possible with the technology.)

Spacecraft on a chip for propellantless maneuvers as a solar sail, atmospheric reentry sensor and lorentz propulsion

Length Scaling in Spacecraft Dynamics A candidate spacecraft-on-chip bus is considered as a solar sail, a reentry vehicle, and a Lorentz propelled spacecraft. In each case, the magnitude of nongravitational acceleration suggests the potential for meaningful propellantless maneuvers.

Length-scaling represents a new degree of freedom for spacecraft mission design. This paper presents a method for comparing the length scales of arbitrary spacecraft and uses this approach to evaluate the relevance of 12 environmental forces and torques. Three sample spacecraft geometries are considered: a sphere, a cube, and a thin square plate, at three near-Earth altitudes: 500, 1000, and 10,000 km. This analysis offers a guide for orbit and attitude simulations of small bodies, by suggesting which effects can and cannot be neglected for a given environment and error tolerance. This approach to length scaling may enable extremely small spacecraft to exploit unfamiliar dynamic behaviors that result in solar sail maneuvers, atmospheric reentry, and Lorentz propulsion.

Another $100 trillion in Credit with Fewer Crises - World Economic Forum

World Economic Forum - More Credit with Fewer Crises: Responsibly Meeting the World’s Growing Demand for Credit

To support economic development, global credit levels must grow substantially over the next decade. At the same time, public and private decision-makers must avoid a repeat of the credit excesses that recently brought the world financial system to its knees. Can the world’s growing demand for credit be met responsibly, sustainably – and with fewer crises? The answer, this report shows, is “yes”. But to achieve this goal, financial institutions, regulators, and policy-makers need more robust indicators of unsustainable lending, contagion risk, and credit shortages – and better mechanisms to ensure credit drives development.

IEA Oil Market Report up to the month of December, 2010

IEA Monthly oil market report covering up to December, 2010 has been published as of Jan 18, 2011

• Global oil product demand for 2010 and 2011 is revised up by an average of 320 kb/d on higher‐than‐expected submissions, reflecting buoyant global economic growth and cold northern hemisphere weather. Global oil demand, assessed at 87.7 mb/d in 2010 (+2.7 mb/d year‐on‐year), rises by 1.4 mb/d to 89.1 mb/d in 2011.

• Global oil supply fell by 0.3 mb/d to 88.1 mb/d in December, as non-OPEC output was reduced, on short‐lived outages. An Alaskan pipeline leak and a fire at a Canadian oil sands upgrader also cut January output. Overall, 2010 and 2011 non‐OPEC estimates are unchanged at 52.8 mb/d and 53.4 mb/d, respectively. OPEC NGLs contribute 5.3 mb/d in 2010 and 5.8 mb/d in 2011.

2011 Breakout year for 3D gesture control

EEtimes reporst that several years after its first consumer market appearance in the wireless gaming interface for Nintendo’s Wii, MEMS sensor-based gesture recognition is extending its reach to smartphones and is set to take hold of that most iconic of consumer interfaces: the TV remote.

Nvidia rumored to launch Tegra 3 mobile chip next month

Hexus reports that Nvidia is expected to launch the Tegra 3 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month. The Tegra 3 should be on a 28nm manufacturing process. Tegra 2 is on a 40 nm process.

Project Denver is the NVIDIA/ARM design partnership, with a view to using it in high-end computers. We asked Rayfield to elaborate.

"As well as licensing Cortex A15, we also have an architectural license with ARM to produce an extremely high performance ARM CPU, which be combined with NVIDA GPUs for super-computing," he said. When we asked for timescales, Rayfield revealed: "The Maxwell generation will be the first end-product using Project Denver. This is a far greater resource investment for us than just licensing a design."

NVIDIA had revealed its GPU roadmap back in September. It has Maxwell launching sometime in 2013, and offering a massive increase in processing power over even the previous Kepler generation. The mystery of how this will be achieved now seems to have been solved.

Singapore research on stem cells, MEMS, photonics, computer aided molecular design and more

1. Photonics and microelectromechanical systems fabricated separately on different wafers can now be aligned precisely by finishing with a single processing step. Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), which consist of tiny moving parts driven by electrical signals, have found ready applications in optical communication systems. They are attractive in part because they can be integrated with other electrical and optical components to create a multifunctional device in a single package, which reduces fabrication costs and allows for greater performance.

A schematic view of the MEMS actuators integrated with silicon photonics on a silicon-on-insulator substrate. Red arrows indicate the direction of light or mechanical motion.

Barrier to RNA Nanotechnology overcome with stable RNA nanoparticle

ACS Nano - Fabrication of Stable and RNase-Resistant RNA Nanoparticles Active in Gearing the Nanomotors for Viral DNA Packaging

The chemical instability of RNA and its tendency to breakdown in the presence of enzymes have slowed progress in the field. Researchers have developed a highly stable RNA nanoparticle. They tested its ability to power the nano-sized biological motor of a certain bacteriophage — a virus that infects bacteria — that operates using molecules of RNA. The modified RNA showed excellent biological activity similar, even in the presence of high concentrations of enzymes that normally breakdown RNA. The finding show that "it is practical to produce RNase (an enzyme that degrades RNA) resistant, biologically active, and stable RNA for application in nanotechnology

Reactor for producing fuel from sunlight

Sossina Haile and William Chueh next to the benchtop thermochemical reactor used to screen materials for implementation on the solar reactor.

This is a follow up to prior coverage on this project to make fuel from sunlight

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) are using a common metal most famously found in self-cleaning ovens to change our energy future. The metal is cerium oxide—or ceria—and it is the centerpiece of a promising new technology developed by Haile and her colleagues that concentrates solar energy and uses it to efficiently convert carbon dioxide and water into fuels.

The researchers designed and built a two-foot-tall prototype reactor that has a quartz window and a cavity that absorbs concentrated sunlight.

China close to completing a refurbished aircraft carrier

China has taken a major step toward commissioning its first aircraft carrier by largely completing the restoration of a derelict ship purchased from Ukraine

The restoration includes all living and working compartments, engines, navigation systems and power-generating equipment, Hong Kong-based Kanwa Asian Defense magazine said. Additional work is still needed on the elevator and flight deck, it said, but it was unclear when the restoration would be completed.

The U.S. Department of Defense has said it expects the ship to be relaunched at any time as a platform for training pilots - a major turning point in the military's wide-ranging modernization drive.

Reports summarized on wikipedia indicate that China will probably have two new aircraft carriers built by 2015. It is not clear if they will be nuclear powered.

In late 2008, and through early 2009, there have been foreign reports that China will start building two 50,000-60,000 ton aircraft carriers due to be finished by 2015. Whether the two ships will be similar to the Varyag (ski jump) or American carriers (catapult) or even if these reports are accurate, is not yet known.

There are also some reports of a possibility of China building two nuclear powered aircraft carriers, though how reliable these are can be questioned. According to the Nippon News Network (NNN), research and development on the planned carriers is being carried out at a military research facility in Wuhan. NNN states that the actual carriers will be constructed at a shipyard in Shanghai. Kanwa Intelligence Review reports that the second carrier to be constructed will likely be assigned to Qingdao.

Reports are that China is working hard to build an estimated 5 aircraft carriers (between 2012 and 2020) will extend its military power to wherever the oceans reach

Five medium sized aircraft carriers will not be able to compete against the US in any direct matchup but it is more than any other regional power.

BP has an energy projection to 2030 and a Stanford delusion for 2030

BP has a projection of world energy usage until 2030

The BP projection can be compared to the comedic proposal by Stanford's Mark Jacobson to shift to energy generation that only uses wind, solar, hydro and geothermal. Details of this fantasy are below

BP projection

The growth of oil in transport slows even more dramatically, largely because of displacement of oil by biofuels and is likely to plateau in the mid-2020s. Currently, biofuels contribute 3% on an energy basis and this is forecast to rise to 9% at the expense of oil’s share.

Rail, electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, and the use of compressed natural gas in transport is likely to grow, but without making a material contribution to total transport before 2030.

The major factors that BP sees changing their projection are higher or lower economic growth, some stronger policy action against climate and what China does energy wise. The weaker the economic growth then the less energy is used. Exceptionally strong policy action could reduce the use of coal by about 20% by 2030 and reduce the growth in coal usage.

January 18, 2011

Discussion of the Rossi and Focardi demonstration at the New Energy Times Blog

The New Energy Times has been covering low energy nuclear reactions (LENR - what was called cold fusion) from the beginning. There is an article which discuses the Rossi 10 KW demonstration.

* The original nickel-hydrogen LENR research was developed by Francesco Piantelli, of Siena, Italy. Piantelli was not involved in the recent Rossi demonstration

New Energy Times received the following first-person report from Francesco Celani, a physicist with the Instituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, INFN (National Institute of Nuclear Physics)

A spy blimp with a supercomputer could be over Afghanistan by the fall of 2011

Wired Danger room reports of an ambitious, $211 million crash program called “Blue Devil” to put up a giant spy blimp with an extremely powerful supercomputer over Afghanistan. It will be seven times the size of the Goodyear Blimp.

The idea behind the Blue Devil is to have up to a dozen different sensors, all flying on the same airship and talking to each other constantly. The supercomputer will crunch the data, and automatically slew the sensors in the right direction: pointing a camera at, say, the guy yapping about an upcoming ambush.

The goal is to get that coordinated information down to ground troops in less than 15 seconds.

A Nanoscale Rope, and Another Step Toward Complex Nanomaterials That Assemble Themselves

Uranium from Seawater and current flow in the Ocean

One of the peak energy writers at the Oil Drum Ugo Bardi has written up a 13 page paper criticizing the extraction of uranium and other minerals from seawater. There are flaws in the paper, which will be discussed but there is some useful information for calculations.

Ugo Bardi first calculation is for "evaporating the ocean", which no one is proposing and he unsurprisingly finds that has very poor energy return.

We need to process at least 2 × 10^13 tons of water per year to produce enough uranium for the current park of nuclear reactors in the world. To process this amount of water, we must rely on oceanic currents to move water through the membranes. In marine science, current strength is sometimes measured in “Sverdrups”, a unit that corresponds to one million tons of water per second, or 3 × 10^13 tons of water per year. Ugo looks at the Strait of Gibraltar which carries a current of about 1 Sverdrup.

Japan has proposed various scaling up plans for uranium from seawater They look at the Black Current (42 Sverdrup, 42 times stronger than the current Ugo looked at) 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.

Nanocrystals of rock salt into lead telluride create breakthrough thermoelectric

Nature Chemistry - Strained endotaxial nanostructures with high thermoelectric figure of merit The crystallographic alignment of SrTe and PbTe lattices decouples phonon and electron transport and this allows the system to reach a thermoelectric figure of merit of 1.7 at ~800 K. The material exhibits a high thermoelectric figure of merit that is expected to enable 14 percent of heat waste to electricity, a scientific first

Researchers at Northwestern University have placed nanocrystals of rock salt into lead telluride, creating a material that can harness electricity from heat-generating items such as vehicle exhaust systems, industrial processes and equipment and sun light more efficiently than scientists have seen in the past.

Thermoelectrics with higher conversion efficiency will have more impact on smaller applications. Cars and refridgerators and smaller devices will benefit more. Larger generators have higher conversion efficiencies of heat to electricity. Thermoelectric conversion efficiency increases with higher temperature differential.

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

China ends 2010 with GDP of US$6.1 trillion (39.8 trillion yuan)

RUSNANO investing to make largest plastic electronics facility for flexible plastic displays

Plastic Logic’s flexible backplane is combined with a frontplane material
(e.g. electronic paper) to make a flexible display

Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies (RUSNANO) and Plastic Logic today announced they have finalized details of RUSNANO’s investment in the company, which is the global leader in the emerging field of plastic electronics. The investment project, which will total $700 million, includes building the world’s largest volume production factory for Plastic Logic’s next-generation plastic displays in Zelenograd, and aims to establish a commercial plastic electronics industry in Russia.

Plastic logic has flexible plastic displays.

IBM and ARM collaborating to achieve design platform for 14 nanometer chips

IBM and ARM are jointly developing technology which will provide a suite of optimized physical and processor IP by ARM tuned to IBM’s advance manufacturing process down to 14 nanometers (nm); providing streamlined development and earlier introduction of advanced consumer electronics into the marketplace.

EETimes - Japan's Toppan Printing Co. Ltd. has extended a joint development agreement with IBM for a leading-edge photomask process, covering the 14-nm technology node for logic devices. The firms will extend 193-nm immersion lithography for that node.

The 14-nm logic technology node is likely to be the final node capable of being produced with optical lithography alone, and may prove to be an early transition point into EUV development. Future nodes are expected to deploy EUV lithography in order to print features beyond the diffraction limit associated with 193-nm lithography

Optimal Scientist super artificial intelligence project researcher Juergen Schmidhuber interviewed by Sander Olson

Here is the Juergen Schmidhuber interview by Sander Olson. Sander Olson is a nextbigfuture corrospondent who provides original first hand interviews. Dr. Schmidhuber is a German artificial intelligence researcher who has worked on recurrent neural networks, Godel machines, universal learning algorithms, artificial evolution, robotics, and neural network based financial forecasting. Dr. Schmidhuber aims to build an "optimal scientist" superintelligence within the next several decades.

Question: You have a plan to build an "optimal scientist". What do you mean by that?

Answer: An optimal scientist excels at exploring and then better understanding the world and what can be done in it. Human scientists are suboptimal and limited in many ways. I’d like to build an artificial one smarter than myself (my colleagues claim that should be easy) who will then build an even smarter one, and so on. This seems to be the most efficient way of using and multiplying my own little bit of creativity.

Our Formal Theory of Curiosity & Creativity & Fun already specifies a theoretically optimal, mathematically rigorous method for learning a repertoire of problem solving skills that serve to acquire information about an initially unknown environment. But to improve our current artificial scientists (and artists) we still need to find practically optimal ways of dealing with a finite amount of available computational power.

Fiber Supercapacitors Made of Nanowire-Fiber Hybrid Structures for Wearable/Flexible Energy Storage

Angewandte Chemie International - Fiber Supercapacitors Made of Nanowire-Fiber Hybrid Structures for Wearable/Flexible Energy Storage

Current clothing trends: A wearable and flexible fiber supercapacitor with a fully encapsulated electrolyte is formed by entangling plastic wire covered with ZnO NWs (see SEM image) around a Kevlar fiber covered with gold-coated ZnO NWs. This supercapacitor shows promise as a highly efficient, wearable energy storage device.

Flexible batteries can also be put into voids in car and other vehicle panels and enable more flexible designs for electric vehicles. The vehicle structure can be used for energy storage.

Dream chaser mini space shuttle

The Dream Chaser’s carbon-composite frame, seen from the front right side, is undergoing stress tests in an earthquake-simulation lab at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The decals bear the names of companies involved with the project. Credit: Katherine Bourzac

MIT Technology Review - NASA funded the Sierra Nevada Corporation with $20 million to develop the Dream Chaser. This spacecraft, the size of a business jet, will take cargo and up to eight people into low Earth orbit, where the space station is located, and then return and land on commercial airport runways.

Long Trucks and Road Trains

Originally posted November, 2009. Yesterday, there was news that platooning of cars had begun road tests. The issue of the length of car platoons was brought up. The benefit of car platoons is that cars behind the lead car can save 30-60 on fuel usage, there is potential for increased traffic without traffic jams.

In discussions of the road trains of 6-8 vehicles that are kept in close formation for higher fuel efficiency and as a step toward robotic driving there is concern that the long line of vehicles would present issues for vehicles entering and exiting the highway.

In this 46 page pdf presentation on Truck Weight Reform Future Truck Loadings there is a discussion of existing long trucks

State regulations vary but legal permission for 65 foot long trucks is common. Certain sections of highway and other countries allow longer trucks up to 110 feet in some cases.

The road trains of 6-8 vehicles should be at least as safe as the long trucks. Signage and electronic indicators transmitted from the lead bus or truck could provide warning to other drivers of the road train behind. Electronic systems allow more adaptability and flexibility to increase the separation gap if needed in a middle section for safety and courtesy to other cars on the road.

January 17, 2011

Edge Question 2011 - What scientific concept would improve everybody's Cognitive Toolkit ?

What scientific concept would improve everybody's Cognitive Toolkit ?

The term 'scientific"is to be understood in a broad sense as the most reliable way of gaining knowledge about anything, whether it be the human spirit, the role of great people in history, or the structure of DNA. A "scientific concept" may come from philosophy, logic, economics, jurisprudence, or other analytic enterprises, as long as it is a rigorous conceptual tool that may be summed up succinctly (or "in a phrase") but has broad application to understanding the world.

OECD electricity usage from Jan to Oct 2010

Advances in the field of nanooncology - nanotechnology against cancer

BMC Medicine - Advances in the field of nanooncology (nanotechnology against cancer)

Nanooncology, the application of nanobiotechnology to the management of cancer, is currently the most important chapter of nanomedicine. Nanobiotechnology has refined and extended the limits of molecular diagnosis of cancer, for example, through the use of gold nanoparticles and quantum dots. Nanobiotechnology has also improved the discovery of cancer biomarkers, one such example being the sensitive detection of multiple protein biomarkers by nanobiosensors. Magnetic nanoparticles can capture circulating tumor cells in the bloodstream followed by rapid photoacoustic detection. Nanoparticles enable targeted drug delivery in cancer that increases efficacy and decreases adverse effects through reducing the dosage of anticancer drugs administered. Nanoparticulate anticancer drugs can cross some of the biological barriers and achieve therapeutic concentrations in tumor and spare the surrounding normal tissues from toxic effects. Nanoparticle constructs facilitate the delivery of various forms of energy for noninvasive thermal destruction of surgically inaccessible malignant tumors. Nanoparticle-based optical imaging of tumors as well as contrast agents to enhance detection of tumors by magnetic resonance imaging can be combined with delivery of therapeutic agents for cancer. Monoclonal antibody nanoparticle complexes are under investigation for diagnosis as well as targeted delivery of cancer therapy. Nanoparticle-based chemotherapeutic agents are already on the market, and several are in clinical trials. Personalization of cancer therapies is based on a better understanding of the disease at the molecular level, which is facilitated by nanobiotechnology. Nanobiotechnology will facilitate the combination of diagnostics with therapeutics, which is an important feature of a personalized medicine approach to cancer.

First demonstration of SARTRE vehicle platooning

Platooning cars will provide fuel savings by allowing cars to draft behind other cars and face less wind resistance. They may used on motorways in as little as ten years time. This is the first time the EU SARTRE team tried their systems together outside the simulators.

Vehicle platooning, as envisaged by the SARTRE project, is a convoy of vehicles where a professional driver in a lead vehicle drives a line of other vehicles. Each car measures the distance, speed and direction and adjusts to the car in front. All vehicles are totally detached and can leave the procession at any time. But once in the platoon, drivers can relax and do other things while the platoon proceeds towards its long haul destination.

The tests carried out included a lead vehicle and single following car. The steering wheel of the following car moves by itself as the vehicle smoothly follows the lead truck around the country road test track. The driver is able to drink coffee or read a paper, using neither hand nor foot to operate his vehicle.

China discovers more coal, oil, uranium and lithium

Chinese geologists have detected "super-thick" oil and gas-bearing stratums in the northern part of the South China Sea and identified 38 offshore oil and gas-bearing basins. The outskirts of Songliao Basin in Northeast China, Yin'e Basin in North China and Qiangtang Basin on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau have also been found to have rich oil and gas resources.

192.7 billion tons of coal resources have been found in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. China will be using 3.2 to 4.2 billion tons of coal per year from now until 2015 So the new discovery would provide China with about 40 years of coal supply.

Four 10,000-ton sandstone-type uranium mines have been located in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. By 2020, China will be using about 20,000 tons of uranium per year using current once through reactors.

Towards a radical treatment for leukemia from Japanese Researchers

Major blood cells that differentiate from hematopoietic stem cells.
Hematopoietic stem cells differentiate into various types of blood cells. Acute myelocytic leukemia develops when phagocytic-lineage cells become cancerous.

Humanized mouse models help clarify the origins of leukemia and the cellular processes that lead to its recurrence, providing hope for a cure for this intractable blood disease.

When viruses or bacteria enter the body, they are eliminated by white blood cells. Yet white blood cells, which are so instrumental to our immune function, can become cancerous and proliferate abnormally and uncontrollably, resulting in a loss of the ability to produce normal blood cells. This disease is called leukemia, and it can occur in people of almost any age, from infants to the elderly. Several types of this intractable disease exist, including acute myelocytic leukemia, which has a higher incidence in adults. About three in every 100,000 people are thought to develop the disease. A small number of leukemia patients can now be cured completely through anticancer drug treatment or bone-marrow transplants, but acute myelocytic leukemia has a particularly high relapse rate, leading to death in many cases. In 2007, Fumihiko Ishikawa and the members of his Research Unit for Human Disease Model at the RIKEN Research Center for Allergy and Immunology (RCAI) discovered that the major cause of this high relapse rate lies in leukemia stem cells, which are resistant to anticancer drugs. In 2010, they presented new research results on two approaches to killing leukemia stem cells.

New Type Of Entanglement Allows "Teleportation in Time"

Arxiv - Extraction of timelike entanglement from the quantum vacuum

Recently, it has been shown that the massless quantum vacuum state contains entanglement between timelike separated regions of spacetime, in addition to the entanglement between the spacelike separated regions usually considered. Here, we show that timelike entanglement can be extracted from the Minkowski vacuum and converted into ordinary entanglement between two inertial, two-state detectors at the same spatial location -- one coupled to the field in the past and the other coupled to the field in the future. The procedure used here demonstrates a clear time correlation as a requirement for extraction, e.g. if the past detector was active at a quarter to 12:00, then the future detector must wait to become active at precisely a quarter past 12:00 in order to achieve entanglement.

MIT Technology Review - Conventional entanglement links particles across space. Now physicists say a similar effect links particles through time

New Research Shows Certain Genetic Profiles Increase Risk of Coronary Artery Disease, While Others Increase Risk of Heart Attack

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the single largest cause of death in adults in the United States. Until recently, the genetic basis of CAD has been largely unknown, with just a few proven genes (typically genes for cholesterol disorders) accounting for very little of the disease in the population. Now, a new study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine shows that certain genetic profiles increase risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) while others uniquely increase risk of heart attacks in those with CAD. Researchers also discover blood group O Offers protection from heart attacks.

Brief Description of the Calorimetry in the Rossi Experiment at U. Bologna, January 14, 2011 by Jed Rothwell

Jed Rothwell and the leading cold fusion website LENR-CANR.org had a description of the Rossi-Focardi experiment. (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, also known as Cold Fusion. (CANR, Chemically Assisted Nuclear Reactions)

The experiment has been underway at U. Bologna since mid-December 2010. It has been done several times. Several professors with expertise in related subjects such as calorimetry are involved.


A hydrogen tank and a method of measuring the hydrogen flow accurate to 0.1 g
10 liter tank reservoir, which is refilled as needed during the run
Displacement pump
Tube from pump to Rossi device (The Rossi device is known as an "ECat")
Outlet tube from the Rossi device, which emits hot water or steam
Thermocouples in the reservoir, ambient air and the outlet tube
An HD37AB1347 IAQ Monitor (Delta Ohm) to measure the relative humidity of the steam. This is to confirm that it is “dry steam”; that is, steam only, with no water droplets.
Alternating-current heater used to bring the Rossi device up the working temperature

January 16, 2011

Woolly Mammoth could come back from extinction in 2015 or 2016, Pleistocene park already exists in Siberia

Previous efforts in the 1990s to recover nuclei in cells from the skin and muscle tissue from mammoths found in the Siberian permafrost failed because they had been too badly damaged by the extreme cold. But a technique pioneered in 2008 by Dr. Teruhiko Wakayama, of the Riken Centre for Developmental Biology, was successful in cloning a mouse from the cells of another mouse that had been frozen for 16 years.

Now that hurdle has been overcome, Akira Iritani, a professor at Kyoto University, is reactivating his campaign to resurrect the species that died out 5,000 years ago. All they need is a good sample of soft tissue from a frozen mammoth

Quantum money from Knots

Peter Shor who developed a quantum algorithm for factoring primes, is now discussing quantum money. Money, either in the form of bills or information on a computer, should be impossible to copy and also should be verifiable as good money when tendered to a merchant. Quantum mechanics may make this possible to achieve with far greater security than can be achieved without quantum mechanics. Quantum money is a cryptographic protocol in which a mint can produce a quantum state, no one else can copy the state, and anyone (with a quantum computer) can verify that the state came from the mint without sending the money back to the mint. I will present a concrete quantum money scheme based on quantum superpositions of diagrams that encode knots. This scheme is hopefully secure against computationally bounded adversaries.

'Electron Vortices' Have the Potential to Increase Conventional Microscopes' Capabilities

NIST researchers twisted the flat electron wavefronts into a fan of helices using a very thin film with a 5-micron-diameter pattern of nanoscale slits, which combines the wavefronts to create spiral forms similar to a pasta maker extruding rotini. This method produces several electron beams fanning out in different directions, with each beam made of electrons that orbit around the direction of the beam.
Credit: B. McMorran/NIST

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have found a novel and potentially widely applicable method to expand the capabilities of conventional transmission electron microscopes (TEMs). Passing electrons through a nanometer-scale grating, the scientists imparted the resulting electron waves with so much orbital momentum that they maintained a corkscrew shape in free space.

Nanotechnology Strategies for tissue engineering

an example of a tissue engineering concept that involves seeding cells within porous biomaterial scaffolds. a, Cells are isolated from the patient and may be cultivated (b) in vitro on two-dimensional surfaces for efficient expansion. c, Next, the cells are seeded in porous scaffolds together with growth factors, small molecules, and micro- and/or nanoparticles. The scaffolds serve as a mechanical support and a shape-determining material, and their porous nature provides high mass transfer and waste removal. d, The cell constructs are further cultivated in bioreactors to provide optimal conditions for organization into a functioning tissue. e, Once a functioning tissue has been successfully engineered, the construct is transplanted on the defect to restore function.

Nature Nanotechnology - Nanotechnological strategies for engineering complex tissues

Full pdf of the article

Tissue engineering aims at developing functional substitutes for damaged tissues and organs. Before transplantation, cells are generally seeded on biomaterial scaffolds that recapitulate the extracellular matrix and provide cells with information that is important for tissue development. Here we review the nanocomposite nature of the extracellular matrix, describe the design considerations for different tissues and discuss the impact of nanostructures on the properties of scaffolds and their uses in monitoring the behaviour of engineered tissues. We also examine the different nanodevices used to trigger certain processes for tissue development, and offer our view on the principal challenges and prospects of applying nanotechnology in tissue engineering.

Elemental Abundance in the Earth's Crust

Abundance (atom fraction) of the chemical elements in Earth's upper continental crust as a function of atomic number. The rarest elements in the crust (shown in yellow) are not the heaviest, but are rather the siderophile (iron-loving) elements in the Goldschmidt classification of elements. These have been depleted by being relocated deeper into the Earth's core. Their abundance in meteoroids materials is relatively higher. Additionally, tellurium and selenium have been depleted from the crust due to formation of volatile hydrides.

Wikipedia on elemental abundance in the earth's crust

From the table below we can see that currently civilization is using 8.6 billion tons/year of carbon materials and 1.2 billion tons of iron.

Global steel production is forecast to have rebounded back to nearly 1.4 billion tons in 2010 and should be at 1.6 billion tons in 2014

Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade.

World cement usage is forecast to be 3.1 billion tons for 2011, 3.2 billion tons for 2012 and 3.5 billion tons for 2013

Cement is made by heating limestone (calcium carbonate), with small quantities of other materials (such as clay) to 1450 °C in a kiln, in a process known as calcination, whereby a molecule of carbon dioxide is liberated from the calcium carbonate to form calcium oxide, or quicklime, which is then blended with the other materials that have been included in the mix . The resulting hard substance, called 'clinker', is then ground with a small amount of gypsum into a powder to make 'Ordinary Portland Cement', the most commonly used type of cement

There are four chief minerals present in a Portland cement grain: tricalcium silicate (Ca3SiO5), dicalcium silicate (Ca2SiO4), tricalcium aluminate (Ca3Al2O5) and calcium aluminoferrite (Ca4AlnFe2-nO7). . A typical example of cement contains 50–70% C3S, 15–30% C2S, 5–10% C3A, 5–15% C4AF, and 3–8% other additives or minerals (such as oxides of calcium and magnesium). It is the hydration of the calcium silicate, aluminate, and aluminoferrite minerals that causes the hardening, or setting, of cement

Materials used above 1 billion tons/year

carbon 8.6 billion tons/year
iron 1.4 billion tons/year
cement 3.1 billion tons/year (calcium carbonate)

Materials used above 100 million tons/year

Phosphorous 153,000,000 Tons/Year
calcium 112,000,000 tons/year
oxygen 100,000,000 tons/year

Materials used above 10 million tons/year

Sulfur 54,000,000 Tons/Year
hydrogen 50,000,000 tons/year
nitrogen 44,000,000 tons/year
potassium 36,000,000 tons/year
aluminum 30,000,000 tons/year
copper 15,000,000 tons/year
zinc 12,500,000 tons/year

Making fuel from sunlight

Researchers have developed a reactor that can rapidly produce fuel from sunlight, using carbon dioxide and water, plus a compound called ceric oxide.

"High-Flux Solar-Driven Thermochemical Dissociation of CO2 and H2O Using Nonstoichiometric Ceria," by W.C. Chueh et al. Science, January 2011

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