March 26, 2011

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 45

Aerosol Chemistry of how Deep Water Oil spill became air pollution

Organic process. (A) Oil from the DWH well spread across the ocean surface in a narrow plume, from which the most volatile organic carbon compounds (VOCs) quickly evaporated. Semivolatile and intermediate-volatility compounds (SVOCs and IVOCs) spread over a wider area because they took longer to evaporate. Oxidation of IVOCs and SVOCs in the atmosphere contributed heavily to the formation of organic aerosols. (B) The distribution of mass fraction of the hydrocarbons as a function of their volatility in the oil, represented by the saturation concentration C* (8). At the DWH spill, the size of the oil slick that best matched the downstream plume of organic particulate was consistent with precursor compounds to aerosol formation with C* ≈ 10^5 µg m−3, which equates to hydrocarbons composed of 14 to 16 carbon atoms. "CREDIT: ADAPTED BY P. HUEY/SCIENCE"

Journal Science - Aerosol Chemistry and the Deepwater Horizon Spill

Japan Economy Minister re-affirms Japan's nuclear plan is unchanged and China continuing as well

On Tuesday, Japan's economy minister Kaoru Yosano said nuclear power would remain the primary source of energy for the Japanese economy, despite concerns over safety after the incident.

Japan estimated the nation will get 50 percent of electricity from nuclear power in 2030, compared to 33 percent at present, and Yosano indicated that the plan is not going to change.

Fukushima Reactor Status with Detailed Labelled Graphs

Penn researchers uncover novel immune therapy for pancreatic cancer

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center have discovered a novel way of treating pancreatic cancer by activating the immune system to destroy the cancer's scaffolding. The strategy was tested in a small cohort of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, several of whose tumors shrank substantially. The team believes their findings – and the novel way in which they uncovered them -- could lead to quicker, less expensive cancer drug development.

Fukushima reactors as of March 26


Japanese scientists yesterday detected higher levels radioactive iodine in seawater at water outlets near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

"Iodine 131 was detected at a level 1,250 times the national safety limit," Hidehiko Nishiyama of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said during a news conference. Officials said there is no immediate danger to residents near the plant from these levels.

Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency english website is here

March 25, 2011

Over the next ten years nearly 100 trillion will be spent on global construction

We expect global construction to grow by 67% from $7.2 trillion today to $12 trillion in 2020. Growth in China, India and the US will generate 54% of the $4.8 trillion increase in global construction output. A total of $97.7 trillion will be spent on construction globally during the next decade and by 2020 construction will account for 13.2% of world GDP.

Global Construction 2020 older executive summary.

China became world's largest construction market in 2010 During the period of the easy monetary policy of the Chinese government over the past two years, the prices of raw material and labor increased, as did the country's construction expenditure -- reaching US$1 trillion in 2010. By contrast, the construction market in the United States declined during the economic slowdown: investment in construction totaled only US$983 billion last year, lower than the US$1.5 trillion recorded in 2005.

Many Sensors Gathered Realtime Data on Whole body and muscle movement to Guide Improved Athletic Training and Performance Gains

The researchers brought together state-of-the-art technology to study the movement and force-generation patterns of the athletes during their block starts on the track, and various weight-training exercises. These included a high-speed motion capture system to precisely record whole body movements, electromyograph (EMG) sensors to measure real-time neuromuscular activity, in-shoe sensors that pinpoint pressures on the sole of the foot and an in-ground force plate that helps calculate the athletes’ power. Seventy percent of the sprinters participating in the research are consistently improving their personal bests in the weight room week by week, but more importantly, they continue to run faster and faster on the track.

“Children with degenerative muscular or neurological diseases, older people with loss of balance and people of all ages needing rehabilitation from injuries can benefit from this technology,” Ordelt says.

“We can provide mathematical data for building assistive devices for handicapped people,” he adds. “Our methods provide a deeper understanding of how the body moves. It’s unique that we have so many sensors synched at one time.”

Quantum dots could make solar panels more efficient

Illustration of multiple-exciton generation (MEG), a theory that suggests it is possible for an electron that has absorbed light energy, called an exciton, to transfer that energy to more than one electron, resulting in more electricity from the same amount of absorbed light. The left side shows an electron promoted to a high energy state (blue) plus the "hole" vacated by the electron (red). The right side shows the original exciton (now dark green/red) and a new exciton (light green/orange) after MEG. The top image shows a conceptualized version of the idea, while the bottom shows an actual exciton and bi-exciton using the same color scheme.

Credit: Mark T. Lusk, Department of Physics, Colorado School of Mines

Studies done by Mark Lusk and colleagues at the Colorado School of Mines could significantly improve the efficiency of solar cells. Their latest work describes how the size of light-absorbing particles--quantum dots--affects the particles' ability to transfer energy to electrons to generate electricity.

Picture of 10 billion tons of gas ejected after a sunspot erupted

Picture taken using a 4 inch (90 mm telescope) and some skill

Alan Friedman has a picture of section of the solar disk recorded in 30mph winds at the Winter Star Party on West Summerland Key. The massive detached prominence was visible for hours. Skies were quite steady despite the wind.

Phil Plait the Bad Astronomer explains

Alan used a filter that lets through only a very narrow wavelength of light emitted by hydrogen (called Hα for those of you keeping track at home), so this tracks the activity of gas on the solar surface. He also inverts the image of the solar disk (makes it a negative) to increase contrast. Somehow this adds a three-dimensional quality to the picture, and reveals an amazing amount of texture.

The scene-stealer is that detached prominence off to the left. That’s the leftover material ejected from the Sun by an erupting sunspot (you can see other sunspots in the picture as well). The gas is ionized — a plasma — and so it’s affected by magnetic fields. The material follows the magnetic field of the Sun in the explosion, lifting it off the surface and into space. Sometimes it falls back, and sometimes it leaves the Sun entirely. In this case, Alan caught some of the material at what looks like the top of its trajectory.

The beauty of this picture belies its violence and sheer magnitude: the mass of material in a prominence can easily top 10 billion tons! As for size, see that dark elongated sunspot near the base of the prominence, just to the right of the bigger, speckly one? That spot is roughly twice the size of the Earth.

Rollable laptops and displays

The Rolltop concept proposes wrapping a flexible OLED display around a central column for easy transport, and unrolling it when needed for tablet, monitor or laptop functionality (All images: Orkin Design)

Germany's Orkin Design proposes rolling up (like a yoga mat) both laptops and display devices into one ultra-portable package.

Rolltop is a portable computer development concept for designer, architect and everyone, who would like to have a gadget, which, from an aesthetic standpoint alone, certainly hits the mark. By virtue of the OLED-Display technology and a multitouchscreen the utility of a laptop computer with its weight of a mini-notebook and screen size of 13 inch easily transforms into the graphics tablet, which with its 17-inch flat screen can be also used as a primary monitor due to the support attached to the back of the screen. Rolltop 2.0 is a further development of Rolltop with some visible and mostly invisible improvements (e.g. internal design, placement of certain components etc.)

BrainGate neural interface system reaches 1,000-day performance milestone

Expanding the power of thought The implantable BrainGate neural interface can detect and record brain signals, allowing persons who have lost the use of arms and legs to have point-and-click control of a computer. A BrainGate device has remained functional for 2.7 years (1,000 days). Credit: BrainGate Collaboration

An investigational implanted system being developed to translate brain signals toward control of assistive devices has allowed a woman with paralysis to accurately control a computer cursor at 2.7 years after implantation, providing a key demonstration that neural activity can be read out and converted into action for an unprecedented length of time.

The BrainGate research team website

New plastic processor and printed memory enable the first plastic computer

Plastic power: This microprocessor is made from organic materials. It is puny compared to most silicon processors, but is flexible and cheap.
Credit: IMEC

MIT Technology Review - Two recent developments—a plastic processor and printed memory—show that computing doesn't have to rely on inflexible silicon.

Researchers in Europe used 4,000 plastic, or organic, transistors to create the plastic microprocessor, which measures roughly two centimeters square and is built on top of flexible plastic foil.

Fukushima Daiichi Worker details and the radioactive water and overall levels of Cesium and Iodine

World nuclear news - Tokyo Electric Power Company has been criticized over yesterday's exposure to workers operating in ankle-deep water, but continues to make progress towards stabilising the site two weeks after the natural disasters of 11 March.

Nuclear Energy Institute - Tokyo Electric Power Co. is stepping up efforts to switch from sea water to fresh water for cooling the reactors and used fuel storage pools. The United States government has urged the switch to fresh water as soon as possible and is providing two U.S. Navy barges, each of which can carry up to 1,000 tons of water. The ships are scheduled to reach port about 60 kilometers from the Daiichi plant in about three days. Japanese workers at the site will install pipes and hoses to carry the water to the plant.

It is of course understandable that the lower part of the turbine building of unit 3, in which three workers were installing cables, had not been fully checked. But it is thought that contractors ignored alarms from their dosimeters, while ankle-deep in contaminated water for about three hours. They received doses of 170-180 millisieverts and seem to have suffered shallow burns to their skin from beta radiation.

Linkedin passes 100 million members and I was in the first 100,000 members

Linkedin just passed 100 million members. Linkedin is a social media network with a business/professional focus.

I got a thank you email for being in the first 100,000 members.

[Reid Hoffman Co-founder and Chairman]wanted to personally thank you (with a computer generated email) because you were one of LinkedIn's first 100,000 members (member number 92922 in fact!*). In any technology adoption lifecycle, there are the innovators, those who help lead the way.

The Status of eDiscovery

Clearwell Systems datasheet on their e-discovery (Artificial Intelligence - Data mining product) system which automates the discovery process for lawyers.

* High-performance architecture processes and analyzes documents at rates of up to 1 TB per day.

* Robust File Support: Processes and analyzes over 400 different file types, including support for OCR of images containing text.

* Intelligent De-Duplication: Automatically de-duplicates data across multiple data stores and across the entire data set.

* Multi-Language Support: Provides full Unicode compliance and enables automatic language identification of documents.

March 24, 2011

Lawyers replaced by Artificial Intelligence for eDiscovery

NY Times - advances in artificial intelligence, “e-discovery” software can analyze documents in a fraction of the time for a fraction of the cost. In January, for example, Blackstone Discovery of Palo Alto, Calif., helped analyze 1.5 million documents for less than $100,000. In 1978, hundreds of paralegals and lawyers six million documents at a cost of more than $2.2 million in an antitrust lawsuit.

Automation of higher-level jobs is accelerating because of progress in computer science and linguistics.

Some Companies that offer e-discovery
Blackstone Discovery
Clearwell Systems

Tom Mitchell, chairman of the machine learning department at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “We’re at the beginning of a 10-year period where we’re going to transition from computers that can’t understand language to a point where computers can understand quite a bit about language.”

The US government is using more advanced versions and more hardware of the same capabilities to analyze large volumes of documents for counter terrorism and other purposes.

Epitaxial silicene formed on single-crystalline ZrB2 thin Films: structure and electronic properties

The experimental realization of extended, two-dimensional sheets of silicene, the silicon counterpart of graphene, has been elusive so far.

Researchers have demonstrated that such a two-dimensional, epitaxial honeycomb Si layer forms through surface segregation on a metallic zirconium diboride (ZrB2) Film grown itself epitaxially on Si(111). The honeycomb Si layer uniformly covers the ZrB2(0001) surface forming a (2£2) reconstruction. Surface-sensitive core-level photoelectron spectroscopy performed using a photon energy of 130 eV identifies Si atoms in different chemical states that are either in contact with Zr atoms or not, con¯rming details of the slightly-buckled honeycomb structure obtained through scanning tunneling microscopy. Angle resolved ultraviolet photoelectron spectra reflect surface electronic states related to the predicted band structure of slightly-buckled, free standing silicene together with those of the uppermost Zr layer

42 Mbps HSPA+ networks are live now, 84 mbps later in 2011 and future speeds from 168-672 Mbps

T-Mobile has lit up 42 Mbps Speed in Las Vegas, New York and Orlando using HSPA+

Ericsson has shown off a demo of multi-carrier HSPA with 168Mbps downlink and 24Mbps uplink The first demonstration showcased multi-carrier HSPA with 168Mbps on the downlink and 24Mbps on the uplink using a prototype consumer device and commercial network equipment.

Dual-carrier HSPA with 84Mbps was also demonstrated for the first time ever, using commercial network products. By using two 5MHz carriers in the connection to the same consumer, peak speeds of 84Mbps are reached, doubling the maximum speed that is offered today by the fastest commercial HSPA networks.

The first commercial network implementations of single-carrier HSPA with 42Mbps and dual-carrier HSPA with 84Mbps can be expected during 2011, followed by higher HSPA speed implementations in later on.

Future revisions of HSPA+ (evolved GSPA) support up to 168 Mbit/s using multiple carriers and up to 672Mbps is proposed for 3GPP Release 11 using advanced antenna techniques.

Michio Kaku's Physics of the Future reviewed by Glenn Reynolds

Michio Kaku has a largely optimistic view of the future.

Artificial intelligence will continue to grow, he says, as the size of transistors continues to shrink, until we reach a silicon plateau in 20 years or so, after which the growth of computer power will slow dramatically unless nanotechnology provides a new path.

Artificial intelligences may ultimately wind up much smarter than human beings. We're likely to embrace all sorts of upgrades—like those helpful contact lenses—that will make us much more competitive. Second, Mr. Kaku believes that research into "friendly AI"—computers programmed to want to be nice to humans—will likely bear fruit as well. The result will be more like the benign man/machine collaboration envisioned by Ray Kurzweil and other futurist scientists than the apocalyptic scenes in the "Terminator" movies.

Superconducting pseudogap is a new state of matter

In this phase diagram common to many cuprate superconductors, the insulating phase typical of undoped cuprate compounds appears at the far left (black). Other phases appear with increased hole doping – the dome-shaped superconducting phase below Tc (blue), the mysterious pseudogap below T* (red), and a “normal metallic” phase (white). New evidence from studies of Bi2201 (crystal structure inset) along the temperature range shown in greeen strongly supports the idea that the pseudogap is in fact a distinct phase of matter that persists into the superconducting phase. If so the T* phase transition must terminate in a quantum critical point (Xc) at zero temperature. (Click on image for best resolution.)

A collaboration organized by Zhi-Xun Shen, a member of the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Science (SIMES) at SLAC and a professor of physics at Stanford University, used three complementary experimental approaches to investigate a single material, the high-temperature superconductor Pb-Bi2201 (lead bismuth strontium lanthanum copper-oxide). Their results are the strongest evidence yet that the pseudogap phase, a mysterious electronic state peculiar to high-temperature superconductors, is not a gradual transition to superconductivity in these materials, as many have long believed. It is in fact a distinct phase of matter.

A Hopefully Unbased Universal test of intelligent for nonbiological systems, animals and humans

Lack of Micronutrient impacts on Health

Iodine deficiency is the world’s most prevalent, yet easily preventable, cause of brain damage. So whether you want to use IQ or some other measure. The goal of correcting iodine deficinecy is to help avoid significant brain damage for a lot of people (up to 2 billion).

Understanding Global Health details the effect of undernutrition and lack of micronutrients

Terrorism is a subset of murder

There is on the order of 7000 deaths per year from terrorism.

state department stats on terrorism

Most of it is terrorism within Afghanistan and Iraq. Global terrorism has far lower numbers of about 300-700 per year (other than in 2001).

There were about 200,000 murders in the world (2000).

2-3% are likely arson, which would be 4000-6000.

If Terrorists attacked a coal mine or coal plant and killed hundreds would you be able to tell the difference from coal death as usual ?

Terrorist could easily attack coal mines and coal plants and trigger accidents that kill hundreds. It would just take lighting a match to the coal dust. Their problem would be that no one would be able tell the difference between the terrorist attack from business as usual.

Coal can have accidents and standard operation effects that are far more deadly than the equivalent effect of 100 mSv. 100 milli-sieverts has a 40 year risk increase of 1 in 1000 of cancer. 2 weeks of life expectancy impact. Coal and oil air pollution - without accidents take out 2 years from everyone's life expectancy.

Terrorist scenarios related to nuclear material are so shocking and worrisome because they are usually no deaths from that source. Coal and oil killing hundreds, wrecking towns, rivers, or large areas of land can happen multiple times in one year. A dirty bomb that killed a dozen people and made a hundred people sick and had an expensive cleanup... well that would be new. It would not be worse than what actually went on with coal or oil in that year and probably in that same week, but it would be new and a confirmation of fears. It is like the movie series Saw. It is not how many people are killed, it is that they are killed in a scary way.

Saving 37 million lives per year, boosting IQ by 20 points for 4 billion people and a better world economy - micronutrients, vaccines, air pollution control and more

WHO estimates that better use of existing preventive measures could reduce the global burden of disease by as much as 70%. Affordable steps can be taken to reduce the burden of disease and accidents.

More creativity is needed to identifying and better solve these problems. The problems can be more difficult to solve then expected on a first pass. The Economist describes how it requires some stealth to get needed micronutrients into foods that people will eat. The healthier choice needs to be in an automatic process. The solution need to just happen without resistance or dodging.

- One hundred thousand non-grid connected generators and refrigerators could help maintain the cold chain for vaccines. This would help reduce under-vaccination and save 5 million lives per year. This also has a tricky component in that many people avoid vaccination because of misinformation and incorrect beliefs.

A richer and healthier society is safer and stronger (more robust). Japan was hit by an earthquake and tsunami that was 100 times stronger than the one that hit Haiti. Japan had over ten times lower deaths. Many aftershocks that hit Japan were stronger than the initial Haiti earthquake.

37 million lives per year are very savable. The UN millennium projects are a good start. More creativity is needed. The problems have multiple vulnerabilities to be more deeply and creatively analyzed and exploited. The World economy could be sustainably increased several times.

Japan develops Atomic switches: atomic-movement-controlled nanodevices for new types of computing

Science and Technology of Advanced Materials - Atomic switches: atomic-movement-controlled nanodevices for new types of computing It is a review of new types of nanodevices and computing based on cationic-based atomic switches. The researchers describe the fundamental mechanisms governing the operation of nanoionic atomic switches with detailed examples of their own three terminal devices, and predict a bright future for integrating atomic switches with conventional silicon devices by using ionic conductive materials.

Atomic switches are nanoionic devices that control the diffusion of metal cations and their reduction/oxidation processes in the switching operation to form/annihilate a metal atomic bridge, which is a conductive path between two electrodes in the on-state. In contrast to conventional semiconductor devices, atomic switches can provide a highly conductive channel even if their size is of nanometer order. In addition to their small size and low on-resistance, their nonvolatility has enabled the development of new types of programmable devices, which may achieve all the required functions on a single chip. Three-terminal atomic switches have also been developed, in which the formation and annihilation of a metal atomic bridge between a source electrode and a drain electrode are controlled by a third (gate) electrode. Three-terminal atomic switches are expected to enhance the development of new types of logic circuits, such as nonvolatile logic. The recent development of atomic switches that use a metal oxide as the ionic conductive material has enabled the integration of atomic switches with complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) devices, which will facilitate the commercialization of atomic switches. The novel characteristics of atomic switches, such as their learning and photosensing abilities, are also introduced in the latter part of this review.

This is a review of the work and research in the area of novel atom transisors that was covered here in Feb, 2011

Novel Transistor with Combined Logic and Memory Functions with Power Consumption Reduced to One-Millionth that of Conventional Devices

Oil and Gas Extraction Accidents and World Oil and Gas fatality estimates

Here is a Center for Disease Control description of the oil and gas extraction industry deaths

Oil and gas extraction (i.e., removing oil and natural gas from the ground) is a growing industry in the United States, employing approximately 380,000 workers in 2006. In recent years, activity in this industry has increased substantially, from an average of 800 actively drilling rigs in the United States during the 1990s to approximately 1,300 during 2003--2006. In August 2005, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) asked CDC to investigate a 15% increase in fatalities among oil and gas extraction workers (from 85 fatalities in 2003 to 98 in 2004). CDC analyzed data from the BLS Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) for the period 2003--2006. This report describes the results of that analysis, which indicated that increases in oil and gas extraction activity were correlated with an increase in the rate of fatal occupational injuries in this industry, with an annual fatality rate of 30.5 per 100,000 workers (404 fatalities) during 2003--2006, approximately seven times the rate for all workers (4.0 per 100,000 workers). Nearly half of all fatal injuries among these workers were attributed to highway motor-vehicle crashes and workers being struck by machinery or equipment.

Russia employs about 2 million people in the oil and gas industry and produces about ten million barrels per day. 87 million barrels of oil (and oil equivalent) is produced per day worldwide. The US produces about 5.5 million barrels of oil and 3 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Plutonium in perspective

Bernard L. Cohen, describes the situation with Plutonium

One often hears that in large-scale use of plutonium we will be creating unprecedented quantities of poisonous material. Since plutonium is dangerous principally if inhaled, it should be compared with other materials which are dangerous to inhale. If all of our electricity were derived from breeder reactors, we would produce enough plutonium each year to kill a half trillion people.* But as has been noted previously in Chapter 5, every year we now produce enough chlorine gas to kill 400 trillion people, enough phosgene to kill 18 trillion, and enough ammonia and hydrogen cyanide to kill 6 trillion with each. It should be noted that these materials are gases that disperse naturally into the air if released, whereas plutonium is a solid that is quite difficult to disperse even intentionally. Of course, plutonium released into the environment will last far longer than these gases, but recall that the majority of the harm done by plutonium dispersal into the environment is due to inhalation within the first hour or so after it is released. The long-lasting nature of plutonium, therefore, is not an important factor in the comparisons under discussion.

March 23, 2011

Quantum measurement beyond the Heisenberg Uncertainty Limit

Experimental schematic: an ensemble of 700,000 Rubidium atoms, held in an optical dipole trap, is prepared in the state by optical pumping (OP). Probe pulses are used.

Nature - Interaction-based quantum metrology showing scaling beyond the Heisenberg limit

New Scientist - They used a beam of photons to measure the small magnetic field produced by a gas made up of a million ultra-cold rubidium atoms. Normally, the spin of each photon would rotate by a certain amount, thanks to its interactions with the magnetic field of the atoms. But the frequency of the photons was chosen so that the photons also interacted with each other when they were in the gas, so that the presence of one photon altered the way a second behaved. These interactions led to a measurement accuracy that grew in proportion to N3/2 - greater than Heisenberg's limit

Diamond Quantum Memory - Chip-Scale Nanofabrication of Single Spins and Spin Arrays in Diamond

Nanoletters - Chip-Scale Nanofabrication of Single Spins and Spin Arrays in Diamond

Scientists have developed a new way to manipulate atoms inside diamond crystals so that they store information long enough to function as quantum memory, which encodes information not as the zeros and ones crunched by conventional computers but in states that are both zero and one at the same time. Physicists use such quantum data to send information securely, and hope to eventually build quantum computers capable of solving problems beyond the reach of today's technology.

* Awschalom has now figured out how to link the spin of a electron to the spin of the nearby nitrogen’s nucleus. This transfer, triggered by magnetic fields, is fast — about 100 nanoseconds, comparable to how long it takes to store information on a stick of RAM. The fidelity is 90-99%.

* This diamond memory works at room temperature.

* The spins inside the diamond can be both changed and measured by shining laser light into the diamond. This could make diamond an attractive material for scientists developing nanophotonic systems designed to move and store information in packets of light.

* It lasts for a very long time by quantum standards. The nuclear spin remains coherent for more than a millisecond, with the potential to improve to seconds.

* it can be scaled up to larger sizes.

* They have developed a technique for creating customizable patterns of nitrogen atoms inside a diamond, using lasers to implant thousands of atoms in a grid.

* Awschalom’s diamond quantum memory could also be useful for building large quantum networks many kilometers in size and with quantum repeaters over larger scales.

China is forecast to be the number one source of tourists by 2015

In 2010, 57.4 million Chinese traveled out of China to see the world and to spend money on outbound tourism.For 2015, the China National Tourism Administration CNTA forecasts that 100 million travelers spending US$100 billion will turn China into the worldwide No. 1 international tourism source market.

In 2010, the number of domestic tourists reached 2.1 billion, an increase of 10.6% against the previous year; domestic tourism income reached RMB 1.26 trillion, marking an increase of 23.5%; the number of inbound tourist reached 134 million, marking an increase of 5.8%; the number of inbound overnight tourists reached 55.66 million, marking an increase of 9.4%; tourism foreign exchange earnings reached USD 45.8 billion, marking an increase of 15.5%; the number of outbound tourists reached 57.39 million, marking an increase of 20.4%; total income of the national tourism industry reached RMB 1.57 trillion, marking an increase of 21.7%.

Germany exploring a transition from nuclear power at a cost of at least $210 billion and want the rest of Europe to pay more for energy too

Germany currently gets 23 percent of its energy from nuclear power - about as much as the U.S. It's ambitious plan to shut down its reactors will require at least euro150 billion ($210 billion) investment in alternative energy sources, which experts say will likely lead to higher electricity prices.

Germany now gets 17 percent of its electricity from renewable energies, 13 percent from natural gas and more than 40 percent from coal. The Environment Ministry says in 10 years renewable energy will contribute 40 percent of the country's overall electricity production.

Oak Ridge National Lab will have 20 petaflop supercomputer soon and the path to exaflop supercomputers

Oak Ridge presents its path to exascale computing (17 pages, Oct 2010) Their 20 petaflop machine starts getting built this year and will be done in 2012. There is a path to exaflop machines in about 2018.

Polymer-dipped carbon nanotube catalysts better than platinum and 650 time cheaper

Forecast of 1.8 billion tons of steel per year in 2015 driven by Urbanization in China

DARPA Crowd-Derived Combat-support Vehicle competition winner is Flypmode

DARPA had an open call to design a vehicle for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) XC2V Challenge.

IEA comparison of Sources of Electricity

New Scientist compiled the fatality information in the IEA report into a graphic

Environmental and Health Impacts of electricity Generation by the IEA (2002, 239 pages) - A Comparison of the Environmental Impacts of Hydropower with those of Other Generation Technologies

They used an estimate of eventually reaching 9000 deaths from Chernobyl. They included mining deaths from Uranium and other life cycle assessments for all of the energy sources. They also compared land use and carbon generation over the life cycle for each energy source. The results are similar to the ones that I had from compiling other information sources.

Modified X-51A Waverider ready for next hypersonic test

An Air Force Flight Test Center B-52 Stratofortress from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., carries an X-51A Waverider prior to the scramjet’s first hypersonic flight test on March 26, 2010. Air Force engineers have made design modifications to the three remaining X-51A demonstrators and plan to resume the hypersonic flight test program in early spring of 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force engineers currently plan to fly the second X-51A Waverider hypersonic flight test demonstrator today. The craft will be carried to 15,240 meters (50,000 ft.) by a B-52 from Edwards Air Force Base in California, and be dropped over the Pacific Ocean. A booster rocket will fire, getting the Waverider to Mach 4.5; then the scramjet will kick in, and designers hope it will reach Mach 6 or more

UPDATE- They are testing again in August, 2012. The previous test in 2011 was not successful.

UPDATE August 15, 2012 - After approximately 15 seconds of flight, the experimental aircraft (waverider) designed to fly at six times the speed of sound was unable to maintain control during a test run Tuesday and was lost. A faulty control fin caused it to lose control before they ignited the scramjet engine.

NASA find possible Y-class brown dwarf star or big planet and European Telescopes found other brown dwarfs

1. A pair of brown dwarfs named CFBDSIR 1458+10. Observations with ESO's Very Large Telescope and two other telescopes have shown that this pair is the coolest pair of brown dwarfs found so far. The colder of the two components (shown in the background) is a candidate for the brown dwarf with the lowest temperature ever found -- the surface temperature is similar to that of a cup of freshly made tea.

This research was presented in a paper, “CFBDSIR J1458+1013B: A Very Cold (greater than T10) Brown Dwarf in a Binary System”, (link to Arxiv version) Liu et al. to appear in the Astrophysical Journal.

Poland continues construction of large reactors and small modular reactors may have increased appeal

1. Poland rejects a German request to stop nuclear plant construction in Poland

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk Wednesday rejected a German call on Poland to cancel the planned construction of nuclear power plants, saying the Polish public supports the project.

“We can’t succumb to hysteria about it,” Mr. Tusk said in remarks from northwestern Poland, near the border with Germany. “The reason for radiological risks in Japan isn’t an accident at the nuclear plant, but an earthquake and tsunami.

China 210 MWe pebble bed reactor starts construction April, 2011

China suspension of new nuclear reactor licensing does not impact already approved nuclear reactors. In an exclusive interview with the China Business News, Mu Zhanying, president of China Nuclear Engineering Group (CNEG) Co., said construction of the Rongcheng plant would begin by the end of March or early April. The Rongcheng Shidaowan Nuclear Power Plant is China's first high temperature gas-cooled pebble bed reactor power plant.

“This fourth-generation reactor will make cooling totally independent of external power sources, making it much more safer,” said Jerzy Grynblat, nuclear business director at Sundbyberg, Sweden-based consultant Scandpower AB, said in Singapore today. “Developing new technologies where safety will be increased is very significant after what happened in Japan and countries re-looking their nuclear future.”

The 10MW pilot plant was shown to be walkaway safe. Cooling was shutoff and the reactor safely cooled off by itself without further action.

Feb 2009 status of China's High Temperature modular pebble bed reactor project ( 8 page pdf) by Zhang

The expected project construction period from pouring the first tank of concrete to generating electricity for the grid is scheduled to be 50 months. Although the workload of building, construction and installation is relatively clear and straight forward, the project schedule, nevertheless, leaves certain time margins allowing for possible uncertainties. The current plan aims for feeding electricity to the national power grid in 2013 2015

Current status and technical description of Chinese 2×250MWth HTR-PM demonstration plant

The HTR-PM plant will consist of two nuclear steam supply system(NSSS), so called modules, each one comprising of a single zone 250MWth pebble-bed modular reactor and a steam generator. The two NSSS modules feed one steam turbine and generate an electric power of 210MW. A pilot fuel production line will be built to fabricate 300,000 pebble fuel elements per year. This line is closely based on the technology of the HTR-10 fuel production line.

The main goals of the project are two-fold. Firstly, the economic competitiveness of commercial HTRPM plants shall be demonstrated. Secondly, it shall be shown that HTR-PM plants do not need accident management procedures and will not require any need for offsite emergency measures. According to the current schedule of the project the completion date of the demonstration plant will be around 2013 2015. The reactor site has been evaluated and approved; the procurement of long-lead components has already been started.

After the successful operation of the demonstration plant, commercial HTR-PM plants are expected to be built at the same site. These plants will comprise many NSSS modules and, correspondingly, a larger turbine.

The spherical fuel element with a diameter of 60mm contains a multitude of ceramic coated particles. The coated fuel particles are uniformly embedded in a graphite matrix of 50mm in diameter; while an outer fuel-free zone of pure graphite surrounds the spherical fuel zone for reasons of mechanical and chemical protection. Each spherical fuel element contains about 12,000 coated fuel particles. A coated fuel particle with a diameter of nearly 1.0mm is composed of a UO2 kernel of 0.5mmdiameter and three PyC layers and one SiC layer (TRISO). The heavy metal contained in each spherical fuel element is chosen to be 7.0 g. The design burn-up will be 90GWd/tU, while the maximum fuel burn-up will not be in excess of 100GWd/tU. In order to reach a fairly uniform distribution of fissile material throughout the whole core a “multi-pass” scheme of fuel circulation had been adopted.

Hydroelectric Dam Failures - Fujinuma Dam in recent Japan Earthquake

The Fujinuma Dam, also known as the Fujinu Dam, was an embankment dam on a tributary of the Abukuma River 16 km (10 mi) west of the city office of Sukagawa City in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. The dam failed on 12 March 2011 after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake. The flood washed away five houses while damaging others, disabling a bridge and blocked roads with debris. Eight people were missing and four bodies were discovered after searches began at dawn. Note: This does not count against deaths per TWH because it was a dam for irrigation and not for power generation.

On 12 March, 252 dams were inspected and seven dams were found to be damaged. Six embankment dams had shallow cracking on their crests and the reservoir at one concrete gravity dam had a slight slope failure. Four dams, including the Fujinuma, were inaccessible and could not be inspected. When the roads clear, further inspections are expected to take place.

Sydney Morning Herald - a dam used for hydroelectric power in the Fukushima district collapsed, obliterating, according to some reports, 1800 homes.

March 22, 2011

Netflix could become a model that enables Firefly and other Science Fiction shows to return

Techcrunch describes how Netflix is getting into original content and scenario for further decline in cable TV

Many cult hits are often science fiction shows, which are also often the most DVR’d shows on television. This also plays into the low ratings and advertising woes. DVR does not matter in the Netflix universe.

Firefly averaged about 4.5 million viewers when it was on the air in 2002. Let’s say that Netflix could convert just 500,000 of those to paying customers (who weren’t previously) in order to continue watching the show. That would be a half million people paying at least $8 a month. That’s $4 million a month in revenue. And $48 million a year. And you can assume most would end up as multi-year subscribers.

The Netflix model could be a path to new shows for Stargate SG1, SG Atlantis and SG Universe. There would then also be the secondary revenue sources (DVDs, foreign markets, etc...)

How to Rebuild Japan and More Economic Impact

Eduardo Kausel is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at MIT has written an opinion on how Japan should rebuild.

This is the second devastating tsunami to hit the Far East in just over six years. Isn't it time some lessons were learned? Shouldn't schools and hospitals, for instance, now be rebuilt on higher ground? Shouldn't entire coastal settlements be relocated further inland? These are the sort of questions the country's civil engineers and infrastructure planners will be asking themselves as the rebuilding process gets underway.

I hope the Japanese authorities act responsibly, and if necessary, relocate and redesign entire towns and villages, as well as future nuclear power stations. We know now that you can't tsunami-proof a town or building; all you can do is move it out of the way.

Health Problem of Uranium miners was related to uranium mined for nuclear weapons before commercial reactors

There were only a handful of very tiny nuclear reactors before 1970. Almost all of the mined uranium went for nuclear weapons and not for generating power

Here was a uranium mining tragedies during the 1940s through the early 1960s

The competition with the Soviet Union to build atomic arsenals spurred a uranium boom. In the late 1940s, there was a perceived need for a large and reliable domestic source of uranium to replace supplies predominantly from the Belgian Congo and, to a lesser degree, Canada. The AEC's announcement in 1948 that it would purchase at a guaranteed price all the ore that was mined set off a stampede on the Colorado Plateau. Hundreds of mines, ranging from mines run by the prospectors themselves to larger corporate operations, were opened in the Four Corners area of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado, and several thousand miners, many of them Navajo, went to work.

Finally, in 1967, Secretary of Labor Willard Wirtz announced the first federally enforceable standard for radon and its daughters in uranium mines that supplied the federal government.

All before commercial nuclear reactors.

Yes, a tragedy but again not related to commercial nuclear power

New Batteries for electric cars could charge in minutes

A diagram of a lithium-ion battery with a new nanostructured bicontinuous cathode (left), and a scanning electron microscope image of the nanostructure (right) (Image: Paul Braun, University of Illinois)

University of Illinois researchers have developed a three-dimensional nanostructure for battery cathodes that allows for dramatically faster charging and discharging without sacrificing energy storage capacity. The researchers’ findings will be published in the March 20 advance online edition of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

IEEE Spectrum notes that cell phones could be charged in seconds using this technology

Nature Nanotechnology - Three-dimensional bicontinuous ultrafast-charge and -discharge bulk battery electrodes

Seth Godin Marketing Guru Simplifies the Death per TWH article

Seth Godin is a famous internet marketing guru. He boils down the death per TWh article

For every person killed by nuclear power generation, 4,000 die due to coal, adjusted for the same amount of power produced... You might very well have excellent reasons to argue for one form over another. Not the point of this post. The question is: did you know about this chart? How does it resonate with you?

Philip Moriarty discusses mechanosynthesis with Sander Olson

Philip Moriarty

University of Nottingham physicist Philip Moriarty is one of the few scientists who has been able to do extensive research into molecular mechanosynthesis. In 2004 Moriarty engaged in a debate with Chris Phoenix over the feasibility of molecular manufacturing. In 2008 Moriarty received a grant from the British Government to examine the viability of mechanosynthesis. In this Next Big Future interview with Sander Olson, Moriarty discusses the progress that has been made during the past decade, the challenges of working with diamond, and the prospects for building components out of silicon and diamond.

Fukushima nuclear plant update log, the first ten days

IAEA update log for Fukushima nuclear plant.

Japanese authorities have notified the IAEA that efforts to restore power for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are on-going. As of 19 March at 21:46 UTC, the power centre at Unit 2 had received electricity. Work to restore electricity to Units 3 and 4 is continuing.

White smoke was reported seen emanating from Unit 2 on 21 March at 9:22 UTC. Grayish smoke was reported seen emanating from unit 3 at 6:55 on 21 March, and this was reported to have "died down" two hours later. All workers at Units 1 through 4 evacuated after the smoke at Unit 3 was seen. The IAEA is seeking further information at this time on the status of workers at the site.

Japanese authorities have also reported that water has been sprayed over the Common Spent Fuel Pool.

A graphic from the Wall Street Journal Summarizes the first ten days.

RezQu a Scalable Quantum Computer Architecture Built and its Future Potential

Navy Aegis System is getting upgraded to Ballastic Missile Defense starting in 2012 with continuing improvements through 2020

A series of increasingly demanding flight tests have demonstrated that US Navy Aegis system is, achieving an 84 percent success rate versus missile that far surpasses the performance of other systems in the planned missile defense network.

The Aegis Combat System is an integrated naval weapons system developed by the Missile and Surface Radar Division of RCA, and now produced by Lockheed Martin. It uses powerful computers and radars to track and guide weapons to destroy enemy targets. It is used to protect ships from attack. Over 100 Aegis-equipped ships have been deployed in five navies worldwide.

The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System (Aegis BMD) is a United States Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency program developed to provide defense against ballistic missiles. It is part of the United States national missile defense strategy. Aegis BMD (also known as Sea-Based Midcourse) is designed to intercept ballistic missiles post-boost phase and prior to reentry.

March 21, 2011

First Lens to Produce Nanometre Images With Visible light

Optical microscopy with visible light has been limited to a resolution of 200 nanometers. Now Allard Mosk at the University of Twente in The Netherlands haved uses 561nm laser light to image gold nanoparticles just 97 nanometres across and say it should be possible to do even better.

Arxiv - Scattering Lens Resolves sub-100 nm Structures with Visible Light

The results open the way to improve resolution in a wide range of optical imaging techniques. The robustness of a HIRES-lens against distortion and abberation, together with their ease to manufacture, makes them ideal for the imaging of fluorescent labeled biological samples or for the efficient coupling to metamaterials and plasmonic nanostructures. Recent developments in spatio-temporal control of waves in disordered materials suggest the possibility for HIRES-lenses to create ultrashort pulses in a nano-sized focus. The fact that a HIRES-lens is a linear technique opens the possibility to use it for resolution improvement of a large range of existing linear and non-linear imaging techniques, such as confocal microscopy, STED, PALM,and STORM.

New switching device could help build a dream: the ultrafast quantum Internet

Northwestern University researchers have developed a new switching device that takes quantum communication to a new level. The device is a practical step toward creating a network that takes advantage of the mysterious and powerful world of quantum mechanics. The research demonstrates the first all-optical switch suitable for single-photon quantum communications.

The researchers can route quantum bits, or entangled particles of light, at very high speeds along a shared network of fiber-optic cable without losing the entanglement information embedded in the quantum bits. The switch could be used toward achieving two goals of the information technology world: a quantum Internet, where encrypted information would be completely secure, and networking superfast quantum computers.

The device would enable a common transport mechanism, such as the ubiquitous fiber-optic infrastructure, to be shared among many users of quantum information. Such a system could route a quantum bit, such as a photon, to its final destination just like an e-mail is routed across the Internet today.

This is a follow up of this article about ultrafast 10-200 picosecond switching of quantum photonic entanglement

DARPA Kicks Off Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) Program

Compared to humans and animals, however, the mobility and manipulations capability of robots currently in service is poor. If these limitations were overcome, robots could much more effectively assist warfighters and other DoD personnel across a greater range of missions. DARPA’s Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program seeks to create and demonstrate significant scientific and engineering advances in robot mobility and manipulation capability. If successful, M3 will significantly improve robot capabilities through new approaches to engineering better design tools, fabrication methods and control algorithms. M3 expected to reach its final review stage by 2014.

Life expectancy and morale character

The US added 2 more months to life expectancy and is lagging behind the UK and Europe and countries like Hong Kong and Japan by a couple to several years.

Some consider this lag to be a problem for US public health.

However, Leon Kass (previously George Bush's science advisor) would interpret this as americans having more shorter lives that have the benefit of

1. more interest and engagement in a shorter life
2. more seriousness and aspiration in a shorter life
3. more ­beauty and love.
4. more virtue and moral excellence.

Perspectives on Fukushima from George Monbiot and New Scientist while Amory Lovins mongers fear

George Monbiot- Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power

A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.

Some greens have wildly exaggerated the dangers of radioactive pollution.

Amory Lovins is one of those greens wildly exaggerating the dangers of radiation

Fukushima I-4's spent fuel alone, while in the reactor, had produced (over years, not in an instant) more than a hundred times more fission energy and hence radioactivity than both 1945 atomic bombs. If that already-damaged fuel keeps overheating, it may melt or burn, releasing into the air things like cesium-137 and strontium-90, which take several centuries to decay a millionfold. Unit 3's fuel is spiked with plutonium, which takes 482,000 years.

Pure, pure crap and misdirection.

Controlling the spin state of single atoms using lasers is a step towards quantum computing

With the addressing scheme arbitrary patterns of atoms in the lattice can be prepared. The atomic patterns each consist of 10 - 30 single atoms that are kept in an artificial crystal of light.

Using a laser beam, scientists could address single atoms in a lattice of light and change their spin state. They managed to exert total control over individual atoms and 'write' arbitrary two-dimensional patterns.

The laser-cooled rubidium atoms were loaded into an artificial crystal of light, created by superimposing several laser beams together. They were then kept in the lattice of light in a manner described by the team as being akin to keeping marbles in the hollows of an egg carton. The lattice of light slightly deforms the electron shell of an atom and as a result changes the energy difference between its two spin states.

Nature - Single-spin addressing in an atomic Mott insulator

Quantum optics group in Munich

Allergy vaccine against dust mites

Monash University researchers are working on a vaccine that could completely cure asthma brought on by house dust mite allergies. If successful, the vaccine would have the potential to cure sufferers in two to three doses. This could save tens of thousands of lives each year worldwide and billions of dollars each year in medical costs.

Dust mites may be the most common cause of year-round allergy and asthma. About 20 million Americans have dust mite allergy. Dust mites are well adapted to most areas of the world—they are found on every continent except Antarctica. Too small to be seen with the naked eye, a dust mite measures only about one-quarter to one-third of a millimeter. Under a microscope, they can be seen as whitish bugs. Having eight rather than six legs, mites are technically not insects but arthropods, like spiders. Dust mite waste contains a protein that is an allergen—a substance that provokes an allergic immune reaction—for many people. Throughout its life a single dust mite may produce as much as 200 times its body weight in waste.

Occupational fatality statistics from 1992-2009 in the USA

Compiled fatal work injury statistics Above is the fatalities for mining with a lot from oil and gas extraction. The US only produces about 6-7% of the world's oil and safety in some other countries is a lot worse than it is in the USA.

Shortage of oil in Japan and refinery, utility, natural gas and coal shutdowns

The Oildrum has covered the situation at the japanese oil refineries and the shortage of oil in Japan.

Nine of the Japanese refineries were damaged and put out of action, and this dropped the amount of fuel being refined from 4,500,000 bd down to 3,100,000 bd

There are several different aspects to the problem; first the oil has to come ashore. With ports closed and unable to re-open for possibly months, shipments from the Middle East, which supplies 80% of Japan’s need, have now been curtailed until the situation becomes clearer. Within the country, the Japanese Government has released around 8 million barrels of oil from their strategic reserve. It is also shipping 250,000 barrels of refined product to the area affected by sea (though this runs into the issue of how to get into the ports and distribution network). At Chiba some of the port has been able to re-open but not the terminal that fed to the Cosmo refinery (since that had burned).

10,796 MW of thermal power generation shut after the quake. Affected nuclear capacity 2,174 MW. So 8,522 MW of non-nuclear power is shutdown. Over four times more non-nuclear power is out than nuclear. Japan's 54 reactors usually 30% of the country's electricity.

There is a claim in the comments that
A lot of people, especially elders, died because of lack of medicine in the aftermath because there was not sufficient oil to use in order to ship the supplies(food, water, medicine) people needed.

There is also claims that the evacuation from fear of radiation resulted in the death of 14 elderly people. This is certainly possible as there are many elderly in a fragile state, so the larger than what turned out to be necessary (in hind sight) evacuation certainly did not help. It would have been better if Japan had been able to maintain better control and avoided any evacuation. There was the need for evacuation from the coast because of further tsunami risks and from earthquake areas from the many aftershocks that followed.

There are various reports online of the impact on the elderly in Japan (UK Telegraph and other sources)

New peanut allergy treatment works and increases peanut tolerance by 1000 times

Allergy experts at the University of Cambridge have convincing evidence that a new treatment for peanut allergies is effective, following a three-year trial.

The trial, from the group of Dr Pamela Ewan of the Department of Medicine and conducted at Addenbrooke's Hospital, involved a careful regime of feeding chocolate containing peanut flour in gradually increasing doses to patients with severe peanut allergies.

Work on Fukushima Daiichi power connections

World Nuclear News - Workers continued to restore external power to the stricken Fukushima Daiichi units, although work was briefly interrupted when smoke was seen coming from unit 3. Efforts at the plant have been helped by assistance from both domestic and foreign companies.

Workers at the site have already successfully connected an external power cable to the distribution switchboard for units 1 and 2. The integrity of each of the unit's electrical systems is being investigated before they are connected. Efforts to restore an external source of electricity to units 3 and 4 are continuing. At unit 4, cabling has been completed from a temporary substation to the main power centre. External power for units 3 and 4 should be in place 'in a few days' time', according to Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco).

Fukushima update

Brave New Climate has a new update on Fukushima which compiles IAEA, NEI and other information sources.

Radiation Levels

* At 07:00PM (JST) on March 20, radiation level outside main office building (approximately 1,640 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 2,623 micro Sv/hour.
* Measurement results of ambient dose rate around Fukushima Nuclear Power Station announced at 4:00PM and 7:00PM on March 20 are shown in the attached two PDF files respectively.
* For comparison, a human receives 2,400 micro Sv per year from natural radiation in the form of sunlight, radon, and other sources. One chest CT scan generates 6,900 micro Sv per scan.

Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor

* At 3:00PM on March 20, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.187MPa.
* At 3:00PM on March 20, water level inside the reactor core: 1.7 meters below the top of the fuel rods.
* At 3:00PM on March 20, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.17MPaabs.
* As of 6:00PM on March 20, the injection of seawater continues into the reactor core.
* As of 7:00PM on March 20, activities for recovering the external power supply are underway.

LEDs microchip manufacturing methods could slash the cost of lighting from $40 LED bulbs to $5

MIT Technology Review - Bridgelux, a startup in California has developed a manufacturing technique that could substantially cut the cost of LED lightbulbs—a more energy-efficient type of lighting.

The Livermore, Calif., company on Tuesday claimed a breakthrough in using silicon to fabricate light-emitting diodes, the new-wave components that are finding a place in many lighting applications because of their superior energy-efficiency and longevity. A key barrier to their wider use is high cost–$40 price tags aren’t uncommon for 60-watt equivalent bulbs–and that’s where silicon could come in. They have managed to use eight-inch silicon wafers to make components that achieved 135 lumens per watt–essentially reaching commercial-grade performance with the material for the first time. It will take two or three years to improve production yields to make the process commercially viable, but Watkins sees no barriers to using the approach to reduce production costs by 75%. “This is a game-changer around the whole cost structure,” Watkins says. “We think we can get to $5 bulbs.”

March 20, 2011

Fukushima Tsunami data, over 14 meters at Daiichi and Dainii

Picture of Tsunami wave hitting Japan at another location

The Fukushima power plants were required by regulators to withstand a certain height of tsunami. At the Daiichi plant the design basis was 5.7 metres (18.7 feet) and at Daini this was 5.2 metres (17.1 feet).

Tepco has now released tentative assessments of the scale of the tsunami putting it at over 10 metres (over 32.8 feet) 14 meters (46 feet) at Daiichi and over 12 metres (over 39.4 feet)14 meters at Dainii.

UPDATE: The latest assessment from TEPCO is that the tsunami height was 14 meters (46 feet) at Fukushima Daiichi and 14 meters at Fukushima Dainii.

TEPCO believes the tsunami that inundated the Fukushima Daiichi site was 14 meters high, the network said. The design basis tsunami for the site was 5.7 meters, and the reactors and backup power sources were located 10 to 13 meters above sea level.

The plant sites were inundated, causing the loss of residual heat removal systems at both sites as well as emergency diesel generators at Daiichi.

More robots are being used at Fukushima

The robots heading to Units One and Two were driving into the reactor to shovel earth and bulldoze walls, as well as carrying out more complex tasks such as sampling the atmosphere, detecting radiation and recovering debris for analysis. Some can even climb walls.

They were designed after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster by GIE Intra, a company owned by EDF Energy, which is masterminding Britain’s nuclear rebuilding.

A plane took off from Paris last night with 130 tons of the robot vehicles, some as large as tanks. Also on board were six EDF engineers who can control the robots from six miles away.

Tepco hopes to restore power to all six reactors tomorrow, which would allow the site’s water cooling pump system to be restarted. Workers are also drilling holes in roofs to prevent gas explosions.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 44 - Fukushima Edition

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 44 is up at cool hand nuke

Rod Adams, Atomic Insights, reviews the situation at the spent fuel pool at reactor 4 and determines that NRC Chairman Jaczko was wrong and not fully informed when he declared them empty.

Getting the actual risk situation right is important - [Japanese] Officials have warned that the nuclear incident is hampering efforts to deliver aid to victims of last Friday's earthquake and tsunami, with reports that drivers are reluctant to travel to areas even outside the exclusion zone.

I have done a lot of fact checking and communicating. One of the nice things about being an old ring knocker (I graduated from the Naval Academy almost 30 years ago) is that you can have a pretty useful set of highly placed friends. Some of them gave me enough information to confirm what I suspected. I cannot think of any way to say this gently - Dr. Jaczko was wrong. It is possible someone in his staff provided bad information, but it should not be all that difficult to see the problem with some simple, back of the envelop calculations.

Power restored to Fukushima reactor 2 and Unit 3 and 4 should have power in a few days

Wall Street Journal report - Tepco also said Sunday afternoon that it restored power supply to the No. 2 reactor. Power restoration to reactors No. 1 and No. 2 had been expected by Sunday afternoon, after being pushed back from Saturday afternoon. The delay was due to workers having to shield many pieces of equipment from the water spraying operations.

Earlier, there were signs that the battle may have turned a corner, with cooling functions at two reactors apparently working again, a development that could ease a nuclear emergency that has gripped the nation for more than a week after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck March 11.

External power for units 3 and 4 should be in place 'in a few days time', said Tepco.

That would mean that power would be restored to all six of the reactors at that point. (unit 5,6 were first and now units 1 and 2 and in a few days 3 and 4.

Fukushima update from IAEA and Japanese sources 20 March 2011 14:00 UTC

Here is a summary of spent fuel conditions at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, based on documents and confirmed by Japanese officials (new information in bold):

Unit 1

Unit 1 experienced an explosion on 12 March that destroyed the outer shell of the building's upper floors. No precise information has been available on the status of the spent fuel pool.

Unit 2

No precise information has been available on the status of the spent fuel pool. Authorities began adding 40 tonnes of seawater to the spent fuel pool on 20 March.

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