April 02, 2011

Energy Secretary Steven Chu Said that Fukushima Reactor 1 Core was 70% damaged and worst of crisis is behind at Fukushima

NY Times - Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Friday that roughly 70 percent of the core of one reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan had suffered damage. Chu, a Nobel laureate in physics, suggested that the worst moments of the crisis appeared to be receding, saying that the best information the United States had received from the Japanese authorities indicated that water was once again covering the cores of the stricken reactors and that pools of spent fuel atop the reactor buildings were “now under control.”

Tepco Finds Source Of Highly Radioactive Water Leak

Nucnet - Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) says it has identified a source of a leak of highly radioactive water leaking into the ocean from unit 2 at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant.

The power company said today (Saturday) that water has been seeping from a 20 cm crack in the wall of a two-metre-deep pit that contains power cables near the reactor's water intake.

Going Beyond the One third Reduction in Oil Imports

President Obama had a recent energy speech where he called for a reduction of US Oil imports by one third from the level of 2008 imports by 2025.

Oil imports in 2008 were 11.1 million barrels a day. The EIA (Energy Information Administration) reports that net imports for have averaged 9.0 MBD for the first two months of 2011 — and 8.9 MBD over the last 6 months. The US needs to get to 7.4 million barrels per day or less to achieve Obama’s goal.

The EIA weekly oil status reports are here The usage of oil below is a conversion of earlier EIA oil status from about 2006. The basic distribution of oil usage is broadly similar.

I agree with proposals to save 1.2 to 1.6 million barrels per day of oil with a prompt conversion of commercial trucking from oil to natural gas. The US now has more natural gas. Natural gas is used to power over 11 million cars already worldwide. It would be easier to convert enough refueling stations for commercial truckers to use and it would be easier and faster to mandate a conversion of commercial trucking. There would not be the issues involved in getting private buyers of cars to like vehicles with different power systems. For commercial trucking it is all about efficiency and costs.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 46

1. Rod Adams at Atomic Insights provides a summary of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident from Murray Miles.

Murray Miles happens to know something about these Japanese plants. Oyster Creek on Barnegat Bay in New Jersey went on line one year before the number one Fukushima Daiichi plant and has the same design. He worked there for 20 years, and was a member of their President’s nuclear safety board.

Murray provides analysis of the Fukushima plants, the spent fuel pools, radiation and the 50 mile exclusion zone requests.

April 01, 2011

Momentum builds for 3-D chips

Greater versatility of adult stem cells thanks to 3D lab experiments

3D mesenchymal stem cells labelled with green and red fluorescent dyes. Image: Dr Paul Genever

A type of adult stem cell is now proving itself more versatile for research and therapies thanks to revolutionary 3D experiments. These cells have already shown great promise for repairing damaged bone and cartilage but until now have been fairly limited in the types of cells they can form in the laboratory.

Mexico should be in the BRIC instead of Russia

We had looked at a recent McKinsey study of which countries will add the most urban GDP growth by 2025

In terms of urban GDP growth from 2007-2025 by country
1. China        17.1 trillion
2. USA           5.9 trillion
3. India         2.0 trillion
4. Brazil        1.5 trillion
5. Mexico        0.87 trillion
6. S. Korea      0.82 trillion
7. Russia        0.68 trillion
8. UK            0.62 trillion
9. Taiwan        0.59 trillion
10. Turkey       0.53 trillion
11. Germany      0.52 trillion
12. Indonesia    0.50 trillion

Mexico and South Korea are ahead of the projections for Russia. South Korea is considered a developed country as of 1997.

Mexico is still considered to be developing and is expected to have 4-5% GDP growth for the next several years and a growing population.

Spacex will officially announce the Falcon 9 Heavy rocket on April 5, 2011

Previous look at existing, planned and proposed Spacex rockets

It appears from a video that SpaceX will be announcing the Falcon 9 heavy rocket on April 5, 2011 A planned "Falcon 9 Heavy" will launch 32 tons.

Screenshot of a video showing the engine profile of the rocket

Regenerative medicine success for muscles

An innovative strategy for regenerating skeletal muscle tissue using cells from the recipient’s own body is outlined in University College of London research published today.

Damaged muscle tissues treated with satellite cells in a special degradable hydrogel showed satisfactory regeneration and muscle activity. Muscle activity in repaired muscle in a mouse model was comparable with untreated muscles. This is the first time muscle function has been proved by physiological tests. Satellite cells (SCs), freshly isolated or transplanted within their niche, are presently considered the best source for muscle regeneration. They are located around existing muscles. Hence, a patient’s own cells can be used, from a muscle biopsy.

Advances for studying cells and simulating whole cells

1. Researchers have shown that cells can grow and function on a carpet of small upright needles made of semiconductors – so-called nanowires.

"We have developed a new method that makes it possible for us to see how the cells function when they are impaled on carpets of nanowires. We think that the technique has great potential and that it could be used in laboratories within a couple of years to develop. For example, it could be used by the pharmaceutical industry to test new drugs for a variety of diseases including neurological problems, cancer and heart disease", explains Karen Martinez, who is group leader of the BioNano group, Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology at the University of Copenhagen.

Technological Singularity, Judgement day, Mayan end of the world all today

Pinnacle Engines opposed-piston engine could have 30-50% more efficiency by 2013

Pinnacle engines is anther venture funded company with an opposed-piston engine that they claim will achieve 30-50% greater efficiency over existing engines

Pinnacle Engines today unveiled plans to commercialize a breakthrough ultra-efficient engine by 2013. The new engine design enables significant reductions in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions without increasing vehicle cost. Pinnacle also announced it has raised $13.5 million in venture funding from NEA, Bessemer Venture Partners and Infield Capital.

China's highways buildout to 2020

The worst traffic jam in human history" happened on the Beijing-Tibet Highway in August 2010. It trapped some drivers for more than 20 days and stretched more than 60 miles (97 kilometers). The cause of the auto standstill was thousands of trucks transporting coal from Inner Mongolia's coal fields to power plants in Beijing's suburbs to satisfy the country's surging electricity demand. The lack of railways connecting the two regions often results in trucks crowding highways, and excessive road damage from heavy vehicles blocks parts of the highway from maintenance.

China plans to finish a highway network suitable for the entire Chinese population by 2020. China included highway and infrastructure expansion as key part of its 12th Five Year Plan, effective from 2011 - 2015.

In the top 200 overall Technorati Authority

Update - April 4, 2011 Nextbigfuture edged up in Technorati authority

Temporarily at least Nextbigfuture is in the top 200 of overall blogs in terms of Technorati authority.

So we are behind topless robots and icanhazcheesburgers (funny cat pictures).

Also, ahead of craftzine, climate progress and lots of other sites. At least for today.

We also passed 10 million page views last month and had over 800,000 page views in March.

Alexa indicates nextbigfuture is ranked in the top 15,000 sites in the United States and top 50,000 overall.

Calculations with 14 confined and entangled Quantum Bits and 64 qubits confined in an ion trap

Photo: Up to 14 quantum bits were entangled in an ion trap.

Innsbruck physicists have set another world record: They have achieved controlled entanglement of 14 quantum bits (qubits) and, thus, realized the largest quantum register that has ever been produced. With this experiment the scientists have not only come closer to the realization of a quantum computer but they also show results for the quantum mechanical phenomenon of entanglement.

Arxiv - 14-qubit entanglement: creation and coherence (4 pages)

March 31, 2011

Real-Time Monitoring of Atomic-Microscope Probes Adjusts for Wear

As an atomic force microscope’s tip degrades, the change in tip size and shape affects its resonant frequency and that can be used to accurately measure, in real time, the change in the tip’s shape, thereby resulting in more accurate measurements and images at nanometer size scales. Credit: Jason Killgore, NIST

Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a way to measure the wear and degradation of the microscopic probes used to study nanoscale structures in situ and as it’s happening. Their technique can both dramatically speed up and improve the accuracy of the most precise and delicate nanoscale measurements done with atomic force microscopy (AFM).

Quadcopters playing ping pong and Quadcopter with Kinect Enhancement

Here is a video of quadcopters being used to bounce a ball and then bounce balls between two quadcopters.

George Monbiot describes the double standard against nuclear power

George Monbiot is a reporter and environmentalist at the UK Guardian. He describes his support for nuclear power and for a clean environment. He lists the double standards against nuclear power

Double standard one: deaths and injuries

Chinese coal mining alone kills as many people every week as the worst nuclear power accident in history – the Chernobyl explosion – has done in 25 years.

And this is to say nothing of the far larger number of injuries that coal mining inflicts, in particular the hideous lung diseases which plague so many miners and cause long, lingering and terrible deaths. When was the last time you heard an anti-nuclear campaigner drawing attention to this daily carnage?

Middle sized cities will be the source of world GDP growth

Today, developed economies such as the U.S., Western Europe and emerging market megacities—cities with more than ten million people—contribute 73 percent of world GDP growth. By 2025, their contribution diminishes to a mere one-third of global GDP. McKinsey has a report - Urban world: Mapping the economic power of cities (62 pages)

23 megacities and 577 middleweights make up one-fifth of the world’s population and two-thirds are located in emerging market countries, including China, India and Latin America. Most of the economic growth will come from the 577 middle weight (population 150,000 to 10 million) cities in the emerging markets.

The population of these 600 cities is estimated to grow 1.6 times faster than global population, and 250 million new households are expected. China and Sub-Saharan Africa are two areas with the fastest pace of household growth, and both are expected to double by 2025. The growth in these emerging market cities could be so tremendous that by 2025, one out of every three developed market cities will likely be replaced by emerging world middleweights. China hosts the majority of these growth hotspots, but others include the cities of Fortaleza and Manaus in Brazil, Sharjah in the Middle East, and Nagpur and Vadodara in India.

In terms of urban GDP growth from 2007-2025 by country
1. China        17.1 trillion
2. USA           5.9 trillion
3. India         2.0 trillion
4. Brazil        1.5 trillion
5. Mexico        0.87 trillion
6. S. Korea      0.82 trillion
7. Russia        0.68 trillion
8. UK            0.62 trillion
9. Taiwan        0.59 trillion
10. Turkey       0.53 trillion
11. Germany      0.52 trillion
12. Indonesia    0.50 trillion
13. Japan        0.49 trillion
14. Australia    0.47 trillion
15. France       0.41 trillion
16. S Africa     0.41 trillion
17. Canada       0.36 trillion
18. Saudi Arabia 0.33 trillion
19. Malaysia     0.29 trillion
20. Columbia     0.29 trillion


India has 1.21 billion people in 2011

India's census 2011 provisional data, puts the country's headcount at 1.21 billion.

Overall, there has been a decline in the number of children under the age of 6, down 5 million since 2001 to 158.8 million in 2011. During this time, India's population has increased by more than 181 million. The proportion of children between 0 and 6 to total population is indicative of a fall or rise in fertility.

Lower cost molding of Microstructures at the millimeter to micron scale

They have made 5 micron pillars on copper

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) has selected Hoowaki, LLC as one of the seven recipients for the 4th Annual SME List of Innovations That Could Change the Way You Manufacture.

The award was presented for Hoowaki’s surface engineering technology that increases energy efficiency by improving friction, fluid drag and heat transfer. This innovation comes from the laboratory of William King, Chief Technology Officer of Hoowaki and Professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois. “Microstructures molded onto a surface can change the properties of that surface,” says King. “By molding microstructures into a surface, we can engineer the surface friction, heat transfer coefficient, or water repellency. All of these are in demand for energy efficiency applications, from hydraulic equipment to air conditioners to batteries.”

Near Earth Asteroid Surveys and Mission Proposals

Between the Moon and Mars: NEO Redux Part 1 by Rob Landis, Ames Research

As of March 30, 2011, 7922 Near-Earth objects have been discovered. Some 824 of these NEOs are asteroids with a diameter of approximately 1 kilometer or larger. Also, 1214 of these NEOs have been classified as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs). The next phase of discovery (over ten years) is expected to find over 50,000 NEOs.

NEO Next Gen Search (2010 – 2021) will be at 100 times the current discovery rate
– First month of PanSTARRS-4 and LSST operation is estimated to discover more asteroids than are currently known
– ~500,000 new asteroids
– ~50,000 near-Earth objects (Diameter greater than 140meters)
– ~10,000 PHOs (Potentially hazardous object )140 meters and larger by 2021

Many PHOs could be possible candidates for Crewed NEO Missions.

Working to increase 90% treatment success against Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia

chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is currently treated with a class of drugs called Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors and in the majority of cases this treatment is successful, with around 90% of patients recovering from the disease. However in the majority of patients a subset of cancer cells – CML stem cells – are resistant to Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors.

Professor Tessa Holyoake from the University of Glasgow's team discovered that CML stem cells avoid the impact of Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor treatments by going into a state called autophagy in response to the drug. This means that they begin to shut down and use nutrients from within the cell to survive in what is effectively suspended animation. In this state the drug cannot kill them and so later they can initiate a resurgence of the disease. Hydroxychloroquine has been shown to kill cells that are undergoing autophagy and the trial is designed to test whether this is a potential route for treatment in patients.

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Samsung is mass producing transparent LCD displays panels that are 90% more power efficient than backlit LCD

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. announced today that it began mass production of the 22-inch transparent LCD panel in March this year. The panels come in two colors, the black-and-white type and the color type, and they have a contrast ratio of 500:1 with WSXGA+(1680*1050) resolution.

Compared with the conventional LCD panels that use back light unit (BLU) and have 5% transparency, Samsung’s transparent LCD panel boasts the world’s best transparency rate of over 20% for the black-and-white type and over 15% for the color type.

March 30, 2011

The First Non-Trivial Atom Circuit: Progress towards an Atom SQUID

Atom circuit: False color images of an "atom circuit" made of an ultracold sodium gas. Red denotes a greater density of atoms and traces the path of circulating atoms around the ring. A laser-based barrier can stop the flow of atoms around the circuit (left); without the barrier the atoms circulate around the ring (right)

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland (UM) have created the first nontrivial “atom circuit,” a donut-shaped loop of ultracold gas atoms circulating in a current analogous to a ring of electrons in a superconducting wire. The circuit is “nontrivial” because it includes a circuit element—an adjustable barrier that controls the flow of atom current to specific allowed values. The newly published* work was done at the Joint Quantum Institute, a NIST/UM collaboration.

Superflow in a toroidal Bose-Einstein condensate: an atom circuit with a tunable weak link. Physical Review Letters

Berkeley Lab Researchers Make First Perovskite-Based Superlens Follow up

We previously covered the Berkeley Lab development of perovskite superlens that can image 1/14 th of a wavelength

Photonics online has some more information

Superlenses from perovskite oxides that are simpler and easier to fabricate than metamaterials, and are ideal for capturing light in the mid-infrared range, which opens the door to highly sensitive biomedical detection and imaging. It is also possible that the superlensing effect can be selectively turned on/off, which would open the door to highly dense data writing and storage.

Dark Matter could make some planets habitable even without a host star

Arxiv -Dark Matter And The Habitability of Planets

In many models, dark matter particles can elastically scatter with nuclei in planets, causing those particles to become gravitationally bound. While the energy expected to be released through the subsequent annihilations of dark matter particles in the interior of the Earth is negligibly small (a few megawatts in the most optimistic models), larger planets that reside in regions with higher densities of slow moving dark matter could plausibly capture and annihilate dark matter at a rate high enough to maintain liquid water on their surfaces, even in the absence of additional energy from starlight or other sources. On these rare planets, it may be dark matter rather than light from a host star that makes it possible for life to emerge, evolve, and survive.

‘Spincasting’ Holds Promise For Creation Of Nanoparticle Thin Films

This is an orientation map of a spin-cast array of FePt nanoparticles. Most nanoparticles are enclosed by a hexagon of six neighboring nanoparticles. Each nanoparticle was color coded according to the angle (in degrees) of the hexagon's orientation.

Researchers from North Carolina State University have investigated the viability of a technique called “spincasting” for creating thin films of nanoparticles on an underlying substrate – an important step in the creation of materials with a variety of uses, from optics to electronics.

Spincasting, which utilizes centrifugal force to distribute a liquid onto a solid substrate, already has a variety of uses. For example, it is used in the electronics industry to deposit organic thin films on silicon wafers to create transistors.

Progress against Hepatitis C with a drug cocktail

Hepatitis C has infected 180 million people in the world and causes about 60,000 deaths each year. In the USA about 5 million people have Hepatitis C and about 8,000-12,000 people die each year. African-Americans and Hispanics are respectively three- and two-fold more likely to be HCV positive than whites. Currently hepatitis C causes 8,000 10,000 deaths each year and accounts for almost half of the ~4,000 liver transplantations done each year. Since death from HCV liver disease usually occurs 20 or more years after the initial infection, the HCV death rate is anticipated to triple in the next 15 to 20 years.

Researchers at St. Louis University have been testing a new drug that could increase the cure rate for hepatitis C by half or more.

Siemens Superconductor Generator project at 4 Megawatts now with a target of hundreds of megawatts

Siemens and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) plan to demonstrate that high-temperature superconductor technology is suitable for power generation in everyday operation. The research project, which was recently launched, aims to improve generator efficiency by 0.5 percentage points to 99.5 percent. Large power plants would achieve significant fuel savings and thus greatly reduce their carbon dioxide emissions as a result of such an increase. The picture shows the prototype of a coil in a container with liquid nitrogen for cooling.

Siemens and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) plan to demonstrate that high-temperature superconductor technology is suitable for power generation in everyday operation. The research project, which was recently launched, aims to improve generator efficiency by 0.5 percentage points to 99.5 percent. Large power plants would achieve significant fuel savings and thus greatly reduce their carbon dioxide emissions as a result of such an increase. The project will be presented at the SuperConducting City during the Hanover Fair (April 4 to 8, 2011).

Israel's Shefela Oil Shale

Oil Shales in Israel by the Geological survey of Israel 35 page presentation

The Shefela Oil shale occurance is 1000 square kilometers.
It is from 25 to 400 meters thick.
It could have over 250 billion barrels of oil reserves
It could be extracted with insitu methods.
EOM (easily oxidized material) is 15-16%

Maximum wind and wave power limited by free kinetic energy and maximum wind power extraction would be as bad as doubling atmospheric CO2

Earth System Dynamics journal - Estimating maximum global land surface wind power extractability and associated climatic consequences

The availability of wind power for renewable energy extraction is ultimately limited by how much kinetic energy is generated by natural processes within the Earth system and by fundamental limits of how much of the wind power can be extracted. Here we use these considerations to provide a maximum estimate of wind power availability over land. We use several different methods. First, we outline the processes associated with wind power generation and extraction with a simple power transfer hierarchy based on the assumption that available wind power will not geographically vary with increased extraction for an estimate of 68 TW. Second, we set up a simple momentum balance model to estimate maximum extractability which we then apply to reanalysis climate data, yielding an estimate of 21 TW. Third, we perform general circulation model simulations in which we extract different amounts of momentum from the atmospheric boundary layer to obtain a maximum estimate of how much power can be extracted, yielding 18–34 TW. These three methods consistently yield maximum estimates in the range of 18–68 TW and are notably less than recent estimates that claim abundant wind power availability. Furthermore, we show with the general circulation model simulations that some climatic effects at maximum wind power extraction are similar in magnitude to those associated with a doubling of atmospheric CO2. We conclude that in order to understand fundamental limits to renewable energy resources, as well as the impacts of their utilization, it is imperative to use a "top-down" thermodynamic Earth system perspective, rather than the more common "bottom-up" engineering approach.

Full 12 page report

Israel has Saudi Arabia level oil reserves - 250 billion barrels of oil

The Israeli Shefela oil shale is on land. The natural gas is under the water

Harold Vinegar, the former chief scientists of Royal Dutch Shell, has devised an ambitious plan that would, if successful, turn Israel into one of the world’s leading oil producers. Now chief scientist for Israel Energy Initiatives (IEI), Vinegar maintains that the 238 sq km Shefela Basin holds the world’s second largest shale deposits outside the United States, from which around 250 billion barrels of oil – about the same as Saudi Arabia’s proven reserves, could be extractable. IEI estimates the marginal cost of production at between US$35 and US$40 per barrel. That, says Vinegar, would be cheaper than the US$60 or so per barrel it would cost to extract crude oil in more hospitable locations such as the Arctic, and even favourably with the US$30-US$40 in Brazilian deepwater.
Levantine Basin could have 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas

Sea-Water Electronic Circuits for Salinity, Temperature and Pollution Monitoring

Two Pieces of thin plastic tube of 2 cm (a little less than one inch) diameter and length 1.2 meters (4 feet long) each were filled with Sea water and a twin wire plastic transmission line was electrically connected to the sea water contained in the two plastic tubes as shown. A TV set was also electrically incorporated in the circuit. TV (band-1) signals from the radiating TV tower of Trivendrum state capital city of Kerala, India where successfully received with good quality video signals. Thus a Sea-water TV antenna can be realized by sea ship travelers for their entertainment.

Gift of God-the Sea-water (containing abundant charged nano particles) is an ionic media with dominating presence of ions like Na+, Cl-, SO-4, Mg+, Ca+, K+, H+CO-3, Br+, BO+3, Sr+, F+ etc. Subjecting a portion of sea-water to varying EMF (amplitude and frequency) one can generate-transmit-receive E-M waves/pulses (in and around its surroundings) for creating electronic circuits. These circuits may find useful applications in sea-water salinity, temperature and pollution monitoring and thus can contribute significantly to new sensor technology, sea-water movement and possibly identify fish flock positions.

Researcher demonstrated for the first time realization of electronic components and circuits (R-C, Electronic Diode, R-C Filter, Logic Circuits, OR/AND gates, TV antenna, Amplifier Circuit made from Sea water (obtained from Surat city Gujarat, India).

Human blood liquid memristors could be the key to cyborg interfaces

Eurekalert - Simplifying cyborg circuitry using human blood

Could electronic components made from human blood be the key to creating cyborg interfaces? Circuitry that links human tissues and nerve cells directly to an electronic device, such as a robotic limb or artificial eye might one day be possible thanks to the development of biological components. Writing in the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics, a team in India describes how a "memristor" can be made using human blood.

They constructed the laboratory-based biological memristor using a 10 ml test tube filled with human blood held at 37 Celsius into which two electrodes are inserted; appropriate measuring instrumentation was attached. The experimental memristor shows that resistance varies with applied voltage polarity and magnitude and this memory effect is sustained for at least five minutes in the device.

Having demonstrated memristor behavior in blood, the next step was to test that the same behavior would be observed in a device through which blood is flowing. This step was also successful. The next stage will be to develop a micro-channel version of the flow memristor device and to integrate several to carry out particular logic functions. This research is still a long way from an electronic to biological interface, but bodes well for the development of such devices in the future

Human blood liquid memristor

America's Next Top Energy innovator - You can license up to 3 National Laboratories patents for $1000 each

The Department of Energy has a new program, dubbed “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator,” that would drastically reduce the costs for startup energy companies of licensing any of the roughly 15,000 patents held by the federal government’s National Laboratories, where basic scientific research is done.

The program allows startups to license up to three National Laboratories patents for just $1,000 each, between May 2 and Dec. 15. Normally those patents cost from $10,000 to $50,000 to obtain. The plan would also simplify the technology-licensing process, making it easier and cheaper for startups to develop new products.

Pathfinder Cells Demonstrate Ability to Regenerate Damaged Tissue and Restore Pancreatic Function in a Diabetic Mouse Model

A unique cell-based therapy is able to completely reverse diabetes in a mouse model.

"Though preliminary, the robustness of these results is very encouraging," stated Paul G. Shiels, Ph.D., University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom. "With only two treatments with PCs, just days after induction of diabetes, we were able to quickly regenerate critically damaged pancreatic tissue, restoring and maintaining normal glucose levels and healthy body weight. Importantly, these results enhance our understanding of the mechanisms of self-repair, elicited by PCs, which may represent a novel cell therapy-based approach to treating diseases marked by tissue damage and loss of organ function."

Novel materials could make practical air conditioners and refrigerators that use little or no electricity

Hot pack: A display at a conference shows a new material (light green) packed into a metal foam. The material is being used to improve a technology that uses heat energy to drive a cooling process.
Credit: Kevin Bullis

MIT Technology Review - It could soon be more practical to cool buildings using solar water heaters and waste heat from generators. That's because of new porous materials developed by researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. These materials can improve a process called adsorption chilling, which can be used for refrigeration and air conditioning.

Adsorption chillers are too big and expensive for many applications, such as use in homes. Peter McGrail, who heads the research effort, predicts that the materials could allow adsorption chillers to be 75 percent smaller and half as expensive. This would make them competitive with conventional, compressor-driven chillers.

March 29, 2011

Aberfan coal disaster where a school was destroyed

Merthyr Vale Colliery was a coal mining facility above the town of Aberfan (Wales, England). For approximately 50 years, millions of cubic metres of debris from the mine had been deposited on the side of Merthyr Mountain. On October 21st, 1966, heavy rains brought a torrential flood of liquefied debris rushing down the mountain and into the town, killing 144 people; 116 of them were children.

Heavy metal pollution from coal waste remain in river bottoms

A study at Duke University could help researchers more precisely determine the ecological impacts of coal ash, a byproduct of coal combustion at power plants.

Coal ash is disposed of in liquid form at large surface impoundments and in solid form at landfills. These residuals contain contaminants such as mercury, cadmium, and arsenic, which are related to cancer and other health effects.

The Environmental Protection Agency is presently deliberating whether to define coal ash as hazardous waste, and the Duke study’s authors stress that it’s important to look deeper than surface water to truly gauge its environmental ramifications. The US coal industry produces 130 million tons of coal ash each year. Close to one billion tons of coal ash is produced in the world each year. About 12% of the 7 billion tons of coal used each year ends up as coal ash.

The study comes as the EPA is considering whether to define ash from coal-burning power plants as hazardous waste. The deadline for public comment to the EPA was Nov. 19; a final ruling -- what Vengosh calls “a defining moment” -- is expected in coming months.

The study assessed water contaminant levels following a massive coal sludge spill in 2008 at a Tennessee Valley Authority power plant in Kingston, Tenn. Researchers collected more than 220 water samples over an 18-month period following the spill. They found that high concentrations of arsenic from the ash remained in water trapped within river-bottom sediment, called pore water, long after contaminant levels in surface waters returned to safe levels.

Samples of sediment extracted from 10 centimeters to half a meter below the surface in downstream rivers contained arsenic levels of up to 2,000 parts per billion. The EPA’s thresholds are 10 parts per billion for safe drinking water and 150 parts per billion for protection of aquatic life.

The potential impacts of pore water contamination extend far beyond the river bottom, he explains, because “this is where the biological food chain begins, so any bioaccumulation of toxins will start here.”

The TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal fly ash slurry spill occurred just before 1 a.m. on Monday December 22, 2008, when an ash dike ruptured at an 84-acre (0.34 km2) solid waste containment area at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant in Roane County, Tennessee, USA. 1.1 billion gallons (4.2 million m³) of coal fly ash slurry was released. The coal-fired power plant, located across the Clinch River from the city of Kingston, uses ponds to dewater the fly ash, a byproduct of coal combustion, which is then stored in wet form in dredge cells. The slurry (a mixture of fly ash and water) traveled across the Emory River and its Swan Pond embayment, on to the opposite shore, covering up to 300 acres (1.2 km2) of the surrounding land, damaging homes and flowing up and down stream in nearby waterways such as the Emory River and Clinch River (tributaries of the Tennessee River). It was the largest fly ash release in United States history.

MIT Implant Monitors for Cancer and Heart Attacks

The sensor consists of a reservoir containing MRSw particles enclosed by a size-exclusion membrane. T2 changes are produced when analytes diffuse across the membrane and initiate particle aggregation.

During about 30 percent of all heart attacks, the patient experiences no symptoms. However, unmistakable signs of the attack remain in the bloodstream for days. MIT researchers, working with Massachusetts General Hospital’s Cardiovascular Research Center, have now designed a tiny implant that can detect those signs, which could help doctors more rapidly determine whether a patient has had a heart attack. The technology could also be adapted to monitor cancer and other diseases.

Singularity hub has coverage These implants aren’t ready for the clinic but the lead researcher Cima thinks 5 years for some applications. If MIT continues to see good results with these early prototypes, there’s a good chance we’ll see similar devices in clinical trials in the near future. Cima thinks that such experiments could be as little as five years away. The lowest hanging fruit are implants that could monitor for pH levels – acidity is often a hallmark of cancer cells. After that, we may see versions that can accurately detect hormone levels and drug responses.

In a study of mice, the team showed that the new implants can detect three proteins whose levels spike after a heart attack. Such devices could be used to monitor patients who are at high risk of heart attack, allowing doctors to respond more quickly if an attack occurs, preventing more severe heart disease from developing.

Most surprisingly, the researchers discovered that the sensors not only detect the proteins, they also reveal how much protein has ever been present. This is useful because it allows biomarkers (biological molecules that indicate a disease state) to be detected even if they are no longer in the bloodstream, says Michael Cima, professor of materials science and engineering and senior author of a paper on the work appearing in the Feb. 13 issue of Nature Biotechnology.

Nature Biotechnology - Implantable magnetic relaxation sensors measure cumulative exposure to cardiac biomarkers

Brain cell regeneration helps repair learning and memory after injury

Newborn nerve cells may help heal the brain after a traumatic injury. In a study in mice, blocking the birth of new neurons hindered the mice’s ability to learn and remember a water maze after a brain injury, researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas report in the March 30 Journal of Neuroscience. The new study suggests that newborn neurons made in the hippocampus — an important learning and memory center in the brain — are beneficial, at least in aiding recovery after traumatic brain injuries.

Some newborn brain cells wire into the wrong places and can lead to seizures. So the trick would be in controlling the new cells once they are born.

In other research, semiconducting tubes were used to control the growth of neurites. The controlled growth of neurites could be used to place the new neurons in the locations needed to restore function.

Kansas Biosensor May Improve Food, Water Safety and Cancer Detection

A nanotechnology-based biosensor being developed by Kansas State University researchers may allow early detection of both cancer cells and pathogens, leading to increased food safety and reduced health risks.

Lateef Syed, doctoral student in chemistry, Hyderabad, India, is developing the biosensor with Jun Li, associate professor of chemistry. Their research focuses on E. coli, but Syed said the same technology could also detect other kinds of pathogens, such as salmonella and viruses.

Universal detector for antibiotics, narcotics and explosives is made from DNA building blocks

Versatile yet selective: Among a great variety of aptamers, there are the right detectors for countless substances. The analyte molecules - in this case AMP - bind to points suitable for them; as a result, the force with which bonds between the two halves of the aptamers can be removed changes. © R. Berger/MPI for Polymer research

A method for detecting such diverse substances as antibiotics, narcotics and explosives - a universal detector, so to speak - has been developed by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz. The key element of this is an atomic force microscope that can be used to subject individual molecules to a tensile test. The Mainz-based researchers are therefore focussing on aptamers, which are composed of the building blocks of the genetic material DNA. If the substance researched binds to the aptamers, the force at which they tear apart changes. In this way, the substance can not only be accurately detected at small concentrations, but can also be studied more precisely. It is therefore possible for instance to investigate how the substances researched bind to aptamers, and how great their binding strength is

Nanomembrane tubes support the controlled three dimensional of neurites

Semiconductor Nanomembrane Tubes: Three-Dimensional Confinement for Controlled Neurite Outgrowth (H/T Alfin)

In many neural culture studies, neurite migration on a flat, open surface does not reflect the three-dimensional (3D) microenvironment in vivo. With that in mind, we fabricated arrays of semiconductor tubes using strained silicon (Si) and germanium (Ge) nanomembranes and employed them as a cell culture substrate for primary cortical neurons. Our experiments show that the SiGe substrate and the tube fabrication process are biologically viable for neuron cells. We also observe that neurons are attracted by the tube topography, even in the absence of adhesion factors, and can be guided to pass through the tubes during outgrowth. Coupled with selective seeding of individual neurons close to the tube opening, growth within a tube can be limited to a single axon. Furthermore, the tube feature resembles the natural myelin, both physically and electrically, and it is possible to control the tube diameter to be close to that of an axon, providing a confined 3D contact with the axon membrane and potentially insulating it from the extracellular solution.

Singapore considers buried small nuclear reactors

New Scientist - Singapore, a tiny island country whose population would have no place to go in the event of a wide-scale evacuation, is giving buried nuclear reactors a closer look.

The thinking is that you could bury a small reactor in a shallow layer of bedrock, perhaps 30-50 meters underground. Then, if things at the plant go south for any reason, the granite will provide natural containment; simply cement in any access tunnels going down to the facility and walk away.

The idea was first floated last fall by Hooman Peimani an energy security specialist at the National University of Singapore. Countries with nuclear power typically build large-scale reactors 15 to 20 km away from heavily populated residential areas. Singapore, a country of roughly 700 square kilometers, doesn't have a potential site even 3 km from residential areas, Peimani says.

Going underground would significantly increase the costs of any reactor. Peimani says only small reactors 30-50 megawatts in size, one-twentieth the size of conventional large-scale reactors, would be cost effective.

Ironically the fly ash coal waste can protect concrete from acid rain caused by coal and oil air pollution

More than 450 coal-burning electric power plants in the United States produce about 130 million tons of "flyash" each year. Before air pollution laws, those fine particles of soot and dust flew up smokestacks and into the air. Power plants now collect the ash.

This waste could become a valuable resource as a shield-like coating to keep concrete from deteriorating and crumbling as it ages. Laboratory tests have shown that the coating has excellent strength and durability when exposed to heat, cold, rain, and other simulated environmental conditions harsher than any that would occur in the real world, Carraher said. The coating protected concrete from deterioration, for instance, that involved exposure to the acids in air pollution that were 100,000 times more concentrated than typical outdoor levels environment. Coated concrete remained strong and intact for more than a year of observation, while ordinary concrete often began to crumble within days.

Energy Safety violations quick context

ABC is reporting that there were 56 safety violations at the 104 US Nuclear plants over the last 4 years. They should strive to do better. There should be zero safety violations. However, I will put it into context.

MSHA cited the Upper Big Branch mine for more than 1,300 safety violations from 2005 through April 2010. They had the accident that killed 25 people last year.

In 2009, MSHA inspectors issued 82,126 citations and orders at underground coal mines

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.

Livermore science confirmed that liquidators received damage consistent with low doses of ionizing radiation

Lawrence Livermore studies on Chernobyl liquidators have focused on three techniques-two of them developed at Livermore in the 1980s-that are in wide use today to monitor genetic damage in people. The techniques are called biodosimeters because they measure changes in cells to infer the biological consequences of the "dose," or energy deposited in human tissue from ionizing radiation.

A technique called FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization), which was developed at Livermore and is currently used around the world, has been applied to Chernobyl liquidators as well as to others suspected of receiving ionizing radiation or of being exposed to potentially damaging chemicals. FISH measures chromosome damage by detecting the number of reciprocal translocations, or broken pieces of chromosomes, in lymphocytes that rejoin in a mismatched way. Livermore scientists have shown that the number of reciprocal translocations is proportional to exposure to ionizing radiation at low doses. What's more, unlike some biodosimeters, including other types of chromosome alterations, the frequency of reciprocal translocations is sufficiently stable with time (even over several decades) to permit retrospective dosimetry and can be measured accurately at low levels of radiation.

There was a claim that radiation from Chernobyl was 10 billion curies. However, the detailed work shows that this claim is wrong (100 times higher than actually was there) and there was not the higher levels of radiation exposure.

First practical nanogenerator produces electricity with pinch of the fingers

A nanogenerator, which scientists used to energize an LED light and an LCD display, could power portable electronics in the future using electricity generated by body movement. Credit: Zhong Lin Wang, Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology

After six years of intensive effort, scientists are reporting development of the first commercially viable nanogenerator, a flexible chip that can use body movements — a finger pinch now en route to a pulse beat in the future — to generate electricity. Speaking here today at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, they described boosting the device's power output by thousands times and its voltage by 150 times to finally move it out of the lab and toward everyday life.

Berkeley Lab Researchers Make First Perovskite-based Superlens for the Infrared

This atomic-force microscopy image shows the subwavelength strontium ruthenate rectangles that were imaged with perovskite-based superlens using incident IR light of 14.6 micrometer wavelengths. Image from Kehr, et. al)

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have fabricated superlenses from perovskite oxides that are simpler and easier to fabricate than metamaterials, and are ideal for capturing light in the mid-infrared range, which opens the door to highly sensitive biomedical detection and imaging. It is also possible that the superlensing effect can be selectively turned on/off, which would open the door to highly dense data writing and storage.

Nature Communication - Near-field examination of perovskite-based superlenses and superlens-enhanced probe-object coupling

Alcoholism in the countries of the old Soviet Union not because of Chernobyl

Some people try to blame alcoholism deaths in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus on Chernobyl. Alcoholism causes about half of all premature the deaths in Russia.

Alcohol has been a very important part of Russia’s social history since around the 10th century AD. Nearly every class and both genders appeared to over indulge regularly. Effectively, there was a culture of alcohol use that has continued into modern times

The main difference between alcohol consumption in Russia vs. other countries was that the vast majority (as much as 90%) was hard liqueur like vodka (other countries favored wine or beer), and the consumption occurred in binges. Modern studies show that this type of alcoholic beverage is more damaging and many times more quickly addicting.

Because alcohol provided an excellent source of revenue, drinking was often encouraged throughout Russia. In the mid 1500s, for example, many towns built a spirit production house the monies from which went right to the treasury. By the 19th century about 33% of government money came from the sale of alcohol.

Alcohol and alcoholism in Russia continues to influence the overall morality, crime rates, social behavior and legislation.A Mikhail Gorbachev enacted an anti-alcohol campaign in 1985 that was successful for about a year, during which time male life expectancy improved by 2 years. Sadly like the prohibition in the US, it ended up spurring even greater amounts of alcohol consumption in Russia (particularly illegally made beverages), followed by a decrease of three years in life expectancy by 1993.

The fall of the Soviet Union prevented the state government from having communist control which was keeping alcoholism under some restraint.

The fact that so many in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are alcoholics (50 bottles of vodka per year on average) is ridiculous to blame on Chernobyl. There was alcoholism before and there was alcoholism after. The difference was that there was Soviet control before and there was not Soviet control after.

This Month in Fossil Fuel Safety - German Oil Tanker Fire and Refinery Fires and Pakistan Coal mine kills 52

Firefighters battled an inferno on a German canal after a tanker caught fire while being loaded with highly-flammable fuel. The ship, which had around 900,000 liters (238,000 gallons) of premium gasoline on board, eventually sank next to the dock, with one section still sticking up out of the water. The gasoline also leaked onto the dock and caught fire, a police spokesman said.

Sorensen Rebuttal of IEER/PSR Thorium Paper

There is a “fact sheet” about thorium issued by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) called “Thorium Fuel: No Panacea for Nuclear Power.” The authors of this sheet were Arjun Makhijani and Michele Boyd. A letter was sent to them in 2010 to correct errors, but no corrections were made

Thorium “fuel” has been proposed as an alternative to uranium fuel in nuclear reactors. There are not “thorium reactors,” but rather proposals to use thorium as a “fuel” in different types of reactors, including existing light-water reactors and various fast breeder reactor designs.

It would seem that Mr. Makhijani and Ms. Boyd are unaware of the work done at Oak Ridge National Laboratory under Dr. Alvin Weinberg from 1955 to 1974 on the subject of fluid-fueled reactors, particularly those that used liquid-fluoride salts as a medium in which to sustain nuclear reactions. The liquid-fluoride reactor was the most promising of these fluid-fueled designs, and indeed it did have the capability to use thorium as fuel. It was not a light-water reactor, nor was it a fast-breeder reactor. It has a thermal (slowed-down) neutron spectrum which made it easier to control and vastly improved the amount of fissile fuel it needed to start. It operated at atmospheric pressure rather than the high pressure of water-cooled reactors. It was also singularly suited to the use of thorium due to the nature of its chemistry and the chemistry of thorium and uranium.

China's target for nuclear energy in 2020 may be back to 80 GWe

China may lower its 2020 nuclear construction target from 90 GWe to 80 GWe.

It will be interesting to see if this target sticks as China has raised its nuclear construction targets from 40 GWe over the last 5 years. China could shift the target several more times and have a different level of construction in a couple of years.

China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group backdoor stock listing
China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, which operates atomic plants 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Hong Kong’s financial center, will buy pharmaceutical supplier Vital Group Holdings Ltd. (1164), giving its uranium unit a listing in the city. This will provide a backdoor stock listing on the Hong Kong Exchange.

March 28, 2011

Why US broadband is so slow, there is a competitive truce

In 1996, the US Congress kicked off the broadband revolution when it passed the Telecom Act. The 1996 Act created a level playing field for competitive carriers, and brought about widespread deployment of DSL and other broadband technologies.

Then in 2003 and 2004, the then Republican led FCC reversed course, removing shared access to essential fiber infrastructure for competitive carriers and codifying instead a policy of exclusive use and “multi-modal competition”.

This concreted our unique US duopoly: cable versus telco, the two broadband choices that most Americans have today.

In exchange for a truly competitive market, the US received promises of widespread deployment. And, to some degree this has worked. Unfettered by significant competition or price pressure, broadband in at least in its most basic form can now be delivered to most homes in America, albeit at a comparatively high cost to the consumer.

Tensilica Dataplane and Signal Processing Boost Data Bandwidth 4X

Tensilica's has a new Xtensa LX4 dataplane processor (DPU) for SOCs (system-on-chips).
The new Xtensa LX4 DPU supports wider local data memory bandwidth of up to 1024 bits per cycle, wider VLIW (very long instruction word) instructions up to 128 bits for increased parallel processing, and a cache memory prefetch option that boosts overall performance for systems with long off-chip memory latency. Tensilica is already using many of these capabilities in its recently introduced ConnX BBE64 DSP for LTE Advanced communications.

Hybrid Quantum Computers combining topological qubits and conventional superconducting qubits

Quantum computers come in two forms, depending on how localized the information is. Researchers are looking into hybrid models that could combine the best of both systems. Two papers in Physical Review Letters describe possible interfaces for relaying information between the two quantum platforms.

Quantum computers store information in “qubits,” which are quantum combinations of ones and zeros. Traditionally, qubits have been recorded in some intrinsic property of an isolated system, like the spin of a trapped electron. The trouble is that any slight interaction with the environment will force the qubit to collapse into a specific state and lose information.

One possible solution to this problem is to use topological quantum computers, which store information in intertwined particle states, called anyons. If one imagines these anyons as checkers on a board, a computation would consist of swapping the pieces in a precise sequence. The quantum information is not localized on individual checkers, but is instead encoded in the way the anyon trajectories weave around each other in spacetime.

Topological qubits have yet to be fully realized, but they show promise as robust quantum storage units. By contrast, conventional qubits appear better suited for a variety of logic gates. To take advantage of both types of “quantum hardware,” Liang Jiang, from Caltech, and his colleagues have proposed a way to link topological qubits on the surface of a topological insulator to conventional qubits made from superconducting wire loops. Parsa Bonderson and Roman Lutchyn at the University of California, Santa Barbara, have devised a similar sort of quantum bus to connect anyon-carrying nanowires with conventional quantum dots

Topological Quantum Buses: Coherent Quantum Information Transfer between Topological and Conventional Qubits

Arxiv - Topological Quantum Buses: Coherent Quantum Information Transfer between Topological and Conventional Qubits (5 pages)

We propose computing bus devices that enable quantum information to be coherently transferred between topological and conventional qubits. We describe a concrete realization of such a topological quantum bus acting between a topological qubit in a Majorana wire network and a conventional semiconductor double quantum dot qubit. Specifically, this device measures the joint (fermion) parity of these two different qubits by using the Aharonov-Casher effect in conjunction with an ancilliary superconducting flux qubit that facilitates the measurement. Such a parity measurement, together with the ability to apply Hadamard gates to the two qubits, allows one to produce states in which the topological and conventional qubits are maximally entangled and to teleport quantum states between the topological and conventional quantum systems.

One million cases of Atrial Fibrillation - Irregular Heart beat are avoidable

More than 2 million Americans live with atrial fibrillation (AF), an irregular heart rhythm that occurs when the heart’s two upper chambers beat erratically, causing the chambers to pump blood rapidly, unevenly and inefficiently. Blood can pool and clot in the chambers, increasing the risk of stroke or heart attack. AF affects about 3 percent to 5 percent of people over age 65 and is related to about 15 percent of all strokes.

57 percent of the AF episodes were linked to specific risk factors, including high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, overweight and other heart diseases. Of these risks, high blood pressure was the strongest predictor, accounting for more than one-fifth of all cases.

Blood pressure control, diabetes control, weight control and not smoking could help one million people avoid or reduce risks of atrial fibrillation.

Stanford researchers use river water and salty ocean water to generate electricity

Stanford researchers have developed a rechargeable battery that uses freshwater and seawater to create electricity. Aided by nanotechnology, the battery employs the difference in salinity between fresh and saltwater to generate a current. A power station might be built wherever a river flows into the ocean.

Stanford researchers have developed a battery that takes advantage of the difference in salinity between freshwater and seawater to produce electricity.

Anywhere freshwater enters the sea, such as river mouths or estuaries, could be potential sites for a power plant using such a battery, said Yi Cui, associate professor of materials science and engineering, who led the research team.

The theoretical limiting factor, he said, is the amount of freshwater available. "We actually have an infinite amount of ocean water; unfortunately we don't have an infinite amount of freshwater," he said.

Nanoletters - Batteries for Efficient Energy Extraction from a Water Salinity Difference

Heavy metals open path to high temperature nanomagnets

How would you like to store all the films ever made on a device the size of an Apple iPhone? Magnets made of just a few metallic atoms could make it possible to build radically smaller storage devices and have also recently been proposed as components for spintronics devices. There's just one obstacle on the way. Nano-sized magnets have only been seen to work at temperatures a few hairs above absolute zero.

A chemistry student at the University of Copenhagen has demonstrated that molecular magnets using the metals ruthenium and osmium retain their magnetic properties at higher temperatures. Most likely due to the larger spin-orbit coupling and more diffuse electron cloud present in these heavier elements. Some of his findings have recently been published in Chemistry - A European Journal.

Enhancing the Blocking Temperature in Single-Molecule Magnets by Incorporating 3d–5d Exchange Interactions

MEMS over carbon nanotubes non-volatile memory

(a) Schematic illustration of an ordinary flash memory cell. A floating gate surrounded by an insulating layer is located on the MOSFET. Electrons are injected/tunnel through the thin oxide layer and are stored in the floating gate. (b) Schematic diagram of the MEMS-based non-volatile memory device. The CNT is used for the source/drain channel and a MEM cantilever is added to transfer charges to the floating gate. (c) Field-emission scanning electron microscope image of the device. Colour-coded to show the main elements: source/drain (red), floating gate (yellow) and cantilever/actuating electrode (blue). Scale bar, 2 μm. (d) Diagrams demonstrating the programming (upper three panels)/erasing (lower three panels) processes. Blue/red colours indicate the polarities± of the applied voltages.

Nature Communications - A fast and low-power microelectromechanical system-based non-volatile memory device

Several new generation memory devices have been developed to overcome the low performance of conventional silicon-based flash memory. In this study, we demonstrate a novel non-volatile memory design based on the electromechanical motion of a cantilever to provide fast charging and discharging of a floating-gate electrode. The operation is demonstrated by using an electromechanical metal cantilever to charge a floating gate that controls the charge transport through a carbon nanotube field-effect transistor. The set and reset currents are unchanged after more than 11 h constant operation. Over 500 repeated programming and erasing cycles were demonstrated under atmospheric conditions at room temperature without degradation. Multinary bit programming can be achieved by varying the voltage on the cantilever. The operation speed of the device is faster than a conventional flash memory and the power consumption is lower than other memory devices.

Iraq Oil update

Lifetime deaths per TWH from energy sources

I previously wrote an article about deaths per TWH by energy source, which looked at annual deaths by energy source. This had some cumulative effects worked in as air pollution accumulates and then people have increasing health problems and then die. Air pollution from fossil fuels that were used decades ago can be part of the mix that finally kill people in any particular year. There has also been much concern about how many future deaths there will be from Chernobyl. This will be my first pass at determining what a lifetime impact on deaths is for all energy sources. This will handle deaths from Chernobyl because it will get at expected future deaths.

There are several complications to this. Someone could get sick from air pollution or Chernobyl but then they might get killed in a car accident, from some other disease or they die from other causes.

Carnival of Space 190

This image of the brown dwarf binary CFBDSIR 1458+10 was obtained using the Laser Guide Star (LGS) Adaptive Optics system on the Keck II Telescope in Hawaii. Adaptive optics cancels out much of Earth’s atmospheric interference, improving the image sharpness by a factor of ten and enabling the very small separation binary to be resolved. This is the coolest pair of brown dwarfs found so far—the colder and dimmer of the two components is a candidate for the brown dwarf with the lowest temperature ever found. This color picture was created from images taken through four different filters at near-infrared wavelengths. Credit: Michael Liu, University of Hawaii.

The Carnival of Space 188 is up at Centauri Dreams

Centauri Dreams looked at Brown Dwarfs and Planets: A Blurry Boundary

Doubling the size of a city boosts per capita income and creativity by 15%

The three major economic mega-urban zones are the pearl river delta in the south (merging into one 42 million person city) and Yangtze River delta around Shanghai and the Bohai economic rim

Geoffrey West and the Sante Fe Institute performed a study of cities and found that if the size of a city doubles, then, on average, wages, wealth, the number of patents, and the number of educational and research institutions all increase by approximately the same degree, about 15 percent. They refer to this systematic phenomenon as “superlinear scaling”: The bigger the city, the more the average citizen owns, produces, and consumes, whether it’s goods, resources, or ideas. As urban creatures we all participate in this process, manifested in the metropolitan buzz of productivity, speed, and ingenuity. Doubling the size of a city increases wealth and innovation by about 15 percent, but it also increases the amount of crime, pollution, and disease by roughly the same amount.

China is trying to capture superlinear scaling effects by economically integrating cities into regions that are 8-16 times larger. Success would mean a 45-60% boost in per capita income, productivity and creativity.

Catching cancer with carbon nanotubes

These posts, made of carbon nanotubes, can trap cancer cells and other tiny objects as they flow through a microfluidic device. Each post is 30 microns in diameter. Image: Brian Wardle

A Harvard bioengineer and an MIT aeronautical engineer have created a new device that can detect single cancer cells in a blood sample, potentially allowing doctors to quickly determine whether cancer has spread from its original site.

The microfluidic device, described in the March 17 online edition of the journal Small, is about the size of a dime, and could also detect viruses such as HIV. It could eventually be developed into low-cost tests for doctors to use in developing countries where expensive diagnostic equipment is hard to come by, says Mehmet Toner, professor of biomedical engineering at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

March 27, 2011

UCLA Cancer Roadmap could help combat resistance to targeted drug therapies

New drugs that specifically target the mutated genes responsible for cancer growth have shown great success in extending the lives of patients, with far fewer side effects than conventional anti-cancer therapies. Unfortunately, many patients become resistant to these drugs due to secondary mutations.

Now, a multidisciplinary team of researchers at UCLA has developed a "roadmap" of the complex signaling processes involved in cancer that could lead to new methods for diagnosing and overcoming such drug resistance.

Websockets in HTML5 turbocharges web communications

Under the original HTTP protocol, a client, such as a Web browser, must open a connection to a server, make a request, wait for a response, and then close the connection. If the client needs more data, it must open a new connection. It's like hanging up the phone and redialing after every sentence of a conversation. And if the server has new info for the client, it must wait until the client requests it rather than sending it over instantly.

The nearly-complete HTML5 standard for current and future Web software includes just such a solution, a new protocol called WebSockets. This protocol allows a Web client to create a connection, keep it open as long as it wants, and both send and receive data continuously.

Theory of corrosion and backflow through feedwater lines to explain Fukushima radiactive water leaks

So how DID Reactor Vessel water get into the Pacific Ocean? at Dailykos by kbman

During normal operations steam flows out the top of the reactor in the main steam line which feeds the turbines. There are several devices involved and a number of turbine stages which use as much of the energy in the steam as it is practical to extract. The "dead" steam then passes through a condensing unit and heat exchange process to remove enough heat that it becomes water again. This is done by feeding the steam/condensate through a huge number of small tubes which are surrounded on their outside by cooling water drawn from the ocean. The ocean water absorbs the heat and carries it away and the condensate - water - is then pumped by the feedwater pumps back into the reactor.

When the plant(s) shutdown during the earthquake, their main steam line isolation valves would have shut immediately. (This theory applies to varying degrees to each plant.) The flow of water through the core would have switched to another cooling system which uses a heat exchanger to cool the reactor water. This and other similar systems were the ones which could not be used after the power failed.

Debut of the first practical “artificial leaf”

Daniel Nocera and his fellow researchers today claimed one of the milestones in the drive for sustainable energy — development of the first practical artificial leaf. Speaking here at the 241st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, they described an advanced solar cell the size of a poker card that mimics the process, called photosynthesis, that green plants use to convert sunlight and water into energy.

“A practical artificial leaf has been one of the Holy Grails of science for decades,” said Daniel Nocera, Ph.D., who led the research team. “We believe we have done it. The artificial leaf shows particular promise as an inexpensive source of electricity for homes of the poor in developing countries. Our goal is to make each home its own power station,” he said. “One can envision villages in India and Africa not long from now purchasing an affordable basic power system based on this technology.”

DARPA has 3D Holographic Display Technology that does not require goggles

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has just completed a 5-year project called “Urban Photonic Sandtable Display”, or UPSD, that creates realtime, color, 360-degree 3D holographic displays. Without any special goggles, an entire team of planners can view a large-format (up to 6-foot diagonal) interactive 3D display.

Zebra Imaging has developed the system. Zebra also has a regular business for producing 3d prints

3d Hologram sheets available commercially now

Zebra Imaging in Austin, Tex., sells holographic prints that at first glance look much like ordinary 2-by-3-foot pieces of plastic — until an LED flashlight is shined at them. Then the patterns, burned into the plastic with high-power laser beams, come to life, said Al Wargo, chief executive. Out of the surface springs a model of a complicated building or an intricate network of pipes and mechanical equipment.
Portable light stand collapses to fit in 8" x 20" tube. Includes turntable for print display.

No special eyewear is required to view the holographic prints, which typically cost $1,000 to $3,000 each. The company has also demonstrated moving holographic displays in prototype at conferences, Mr. Wargo said. (It introduced color holograms in September.)

At the University of Arizona in Tucson, Dr. Peyghambarian created his displays using 16 cameras. Software rendered the images in holographic pixels, and laser beams directed by the software recorded the information on a novel plastic that can be erased and rewritten in two seconds. Dr. Peyghambarian says that the group is working on speeding up the rate and expects versions to be in homes in 7 to 10 years. Slower versions may be useful far sooner, for example, for long-distance medical consultation.

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