April 30, 2011

IMF projects India’s GDP growth at 8.2% in 2011 and 7.8% in 2012 and China's GDP growth at 9.6% in 2011 and 9.2% in 2012

Applying the Union of Concerned Scientist analysis of Chernobyl to Commercial Aviation

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) All Things Nuclear blog has an analysis of how many deaths occurred at Chernobyl based on linear no threshold view of radiation. So 0.01 milliSieverts (1 milliRem) for each of 6 billion people in the world is calculated to add 4000 deaths from cancer. 0.3 milliSieverts (30 milliRem) for 500 million people in europe is calculated to add 9000 more deaths from cancer.

Using the same analysis (NEI Nuclear Notes) found that, 79,000 and 40,000 would be reasonable estimates of the number of excess cancers and cancer deaths attributable to the flying in the past decade. The numbers increase even more over the 25 years since Chernobyl and would be 200,000 excess cancers and 100,000 excess deaths from commercial aviation over the last 25 years.

As the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) explains, exposure to cosmic radiation depends on altitude, latitude, and solar activity, but the EPA estimates that "a typical cross-country flight in a commercial airplane" results in "2 to 5 millirem (mrem)" of dose from radiation.

Remote controlled camera shows Fukushima fuel pond 4 has no significant damage - the pond dry out and fuel overheated scenario did not happen

Peering through metres of warm water, no serious damage was found

A visual inspection by remote controlled camera has shown no significant damage to the used fuel pond of Fukushima Daiichi unit 4.

There had been fears of serious damage to nuclear fuel stored in the pond after a series of fires and explosions in the vicinity. Highly radioactive and heat-emitting used nuclear fuel is stored for a few years in the ponds before transfer to a larger storage pond shared by all six reactors at the site. However, the reactor was in a period of maintenance with the full core temporarily stored, requiring very much more cooling than the years-old fuel. This contributed to problems at the pond as water heated up and evaporated after the tsunami of 11 March disabled cooling and water top-up systems.

At least two fires as well as an explosion occurred in the area of the pond around 15 March, although at that time radiation levels prevented workers from making a direct check on the pond's status. Engineers became worried that the pool had dried out, the fuel overheated and zirconium cladding reacted with water to produce hydrogen, but this visual inspection initially discounts that scenario by showing no serious damage of the kinds that would be expected. Some debris was scattered in the pond as a result of the damage to the building but it is thought that fuel integrity has been maintained.

NIST Nanomagnets Offer Food for Thought About Computer Memories

Collage of NIST "nano-eggs" — simulated magnetic patterns in NIST’s egg-shaped nanoscale magnets. Credit: Talbott/NIST

Magnetics researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) colored lots of eggs recently. These "eggcentric" nanomagnets have another practical use, suggesting strategies for making future low-power computer memories.

NIST researchers used electron-beam lithography to make thousands of nickel-iron magnets, each about 200 nanometers (billionths of a meter) in diameter. Each magnet is ordinarily shaped like an ellipse, a slightly flattened circle. Researchers also made some magnets in three different egglike shapes with an increasingly pointy end. It's all part of NIST research on nanoscale magnetic materials, devices and measurement methods to support development of future magnetic data storage systems.

CAMISMA – New composites for lighter cars

Evonik has successfully developed materials and systems for lightweight solutions for the automotive sector. Together with three other industrial partners (Johnson Controls GmbH, Jacob plastics GmbH and Toho Tenax Europe GmbH) and the University of Aachen (Institute for textile technology [ITA] and Automotive Institute [IKA]). Creavis the strategic research and development centre of Evonik is developing a novel lightweight construction concept. In such that, both steel and lightweight metals are to partially replaced. The project is called CAMIMSA (translated from the German: carbon fibre/amide/metal-based interior structural elements in a multi-material system approach).

They have a three year project will to develop a complete solutions approach to enable the use of economically priced carbon fibre composites for multi-material systems. To determine the feasibility of this concept, an exemplary Seat Panel Structure will serve as a guide for the development, production and testing. The overall goal is to reduce the weight of a standard metallic system by 40%.

April 29, 2011

Carnival of Space 195

Earth if it was made of water and gravity was only thing shaping it

1. Universe Today - GOCE Data Close Up: Around the World in Lumpy, Geoidy 3-D New looks at the latest info from GOCE showing Earth's geoid, which is essentially a map of the shape our world would be if its surface were covered by water and if gravity were the only thing shaping this global ocean’s surface. These great 3-D images were created by Nathanial Burton-Bradford.

Vega00 also covered the GOCE data.

2. Centauri Dreams - Spacecraft no more than an inch square will fly aboard the next (and last) Shuttle flight to the International Space Station. The work of Mason Peck (Cornell University), the micro-satellites weigh in at less than one ten-millionth of the mass of the original Sputnik, yet can accommodate all the systems we associate with a spacecraft — power, propulsion, communications — on a single microchip.

The three Sprite chips scheduled for launch today (April 29) are going to be making any such journeys. They will be mounted on the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE-8) pallet, which will in turn be attached to the ISS. The idea is to expose the chips to space conditions to see how their systems hold up.

Mason Peck, a mechanical engineer at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and his colleague Justin Atchison have designed a 1-centimetre-square spacecraft that is 25 micrometres thick and weighs under 7.5 milligrams. Originally it was thought that they would go into space last year but were delayed.

Analyst Predict that China Is On The Brink Of A Yuan Revaluation

Societe Generale's Glenn Maguire and Wei Yao are predicting that China will make a fairly prompt move of the yuan to about 6.0 to 1 US dollar from today's 6.49 A 5% move would take the yuan to 6.17 to 6.2 and then another 2-3% would go to 5.98 to 6.0.

China’s quantitative approach to monetary tightening has almost certainly reached its limit. Between 2004 and now, the share of FX (foreign exchange) reserves sterilized by required reserves and open market operations declined from nearly 100% to around 80%. Meanwhile, the required reserve ratio was raised from 7% to an unprecedented 20.5%. Yet, China’s economic circumstance demands even more.

In Q1, liquidity added via FX reserves accounted for 40% of new broad money supply. If China were to sterilize even 80% of that, then the RRR (required reserves) would need to be set at 32%. Such a level would cripple the fluidity of the banking system.

Many other analysts are expecting China to fight inflation using yuan appreciation.

China has some room to do this because the US dollar is so low against everything else including the Euro and other currencies.

One of the two $150 million tickets on Space Adventures's 2015 lunar flyby have been sold

One of the two available tickets on Space Adventures' planned 2015 flyby of the moon has been sold, astronaut Byron Lichtenberg confirmed at an MIT conference today. If you're sitting on a small fortune and want to see the far side of the moon, act fast before the last seat on the Soyuz spacecraft is gone.

Canada election riding projections from May 1 showed a minority Conservative government but actual results Conservative Majority

Trendlines has a riding by riding projection for the Monday, May 2, 2011 Canadian election

UPDATE: Election night: 7:44PM PST.
Leading/Elected 155 needed for majority
Conservatives 165
NDP 105
Liberals 35
Bloc 2
Other 1

by Ron Nurwisah, National Post at 5/3/2011 9:03 PM

The most recent pre-election projection (May 1st) out of 308 ridings (155 needed for majority)
147 for Conservatives
78 NDP
55 Liberal
27 Bloq Quebec

Nanos Research's latest nightly tracking poll released Friday shows the Conservatives have 36.4% support, with the NDP at 31.2% and the Liberals trailing with 22%. The gap between the Conservatives and NDP narrowed to five points from six points in the previous day's polling. This is a dramatic shift from March 30, when the pollster found the NDP had just 15.9% support against 39.1% for the Conservatives and 32.7% for the Liberals.

NDP that is taking from Liberals and Bloc Quebecois. Both Liberals and the Bloc are collapsing. Conservatives are mostly holding steady. However, it is only a one or two poll surge. So the polling could be off, since the NDP has never been close to being this strong historically. We will know for sure on Monday.

The NDP platform is no longer flat out socialist (like in decades past) and tries to be pro-small business and is committed to a balanced budget.

We’ll give small businesses a 2 percentage points tax cut, and bring in targeted tax credits for companies that hire here in Canada.

We will maintain Canada’s commitment to balance the federal budget within the next 4 years, as per the Department of Finance projections

Russia is reconfirming plans to build 32 nuclear reactors by 2020

Russia is planning to build 32 new reactors by 2020.

Russia plans to increase the share of nuclear produced energy to about 23% of total energy production for the whole country, and to about 32% for European Russia, by 2020.

The plan is to achieve this by commissioning 2 GW of capacity a year after 2013 through the construction of standardized nuclear reactors. With funding that is guaranteed, Russia should have 32.3 GW of new nuclear capacity by 2020 – with additional funding, this would rise to 38.1 GW – while 3.7 GW of nuclear capacity would be decommissioned.

Duke University has found neutron "fingerprints" that will enable better detectors for Port Security

New neutron "fingerprints" discovered with polarized gamma-rays at Duke could be the foundation for new port security scanners. Graphic: Ashley Yeager, Duke.

Two teams of North Carolina physicists are mapping the intricacies of the atomic nucleus, which could provide better security at the ports. The scientists have identified new "fingerprints" of nuclear materials, such as uranium and plutonium. The fingerprints would be used in new cargo scanners to accurately and efficiently identify suspicious materials. The physics might also be used to improve analysis of spent nuclear fuel rods, which are a potential source of bomb-making materials.

Ahmed said these fingerprints could eventually be used to distinguish special nuclear materials, like weapons-grade uranium, from naturally occurring uranium or ordinary objects such as clothing or granite countertops, distinctions that current port scanners cannot make.

US Solar Startup TenKSolar matches low cost of Chinese Solar companies but can produce 25-50% more power in the same area

A startup called TenKsolar, based in Minneapolis, says it can increase the amount of solar power generated on rooftops by 25 to 50 percent, and also reduce the overall cost of solar power by changing the way solar cells are wired together and adding inexpensive reflectors to gather more light. TenKsolar says its systems can produce power for as little as eight cents a kilowatt-hour in sunny locations. That's significantly more expensive than electricity from typical coal or natural-gas power plants, but it is less than the average price of electricity in the United States.
Meyer says the system costs about the same as those made by Chinese manufacturers but produces about 50 percent more power for a given roof area. Power output is about 25 percent higher than from the more expensive, high-performance systems made by SunPower, he says.

The new wiring approach does have a drawback: because it's new, the banks that finance solar-power installations may have doubts that the system will last for the duration of the warranty, and this could complicate financing, says Travis Bradford, an industry analyst and president of the Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development.

TenKSolar, which has so far raised $11 million in venture funding and has the capacity to produce 10 to 12 megawatts of systems a year, is working on partnerships with larger companies to help provide financial backing for guarantees of its products.

Two groups set world records by sending more than 100 terabits per second over a single optical fibre

NEC and Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology have reported separate development of 100 terabit per second over a single optic fiber.

At the Optical Fiber Communications Conference in Los Angeles last month, Dayou Qian, also of NEC, reported a total data-sending rate of 101.7 terabits per second through 165 kilometres of fibre. He did this by squeezing light pulses from 370 separate lasers into the pulse received by the receiver. Each laser emitted its own narrow sliver of the infrared spectrum, and each contained several polarities, phases and amplitudes of light waves to code each packet of information.

At the same conference, Jun Sakaguchi of Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology in Tokyo also reported reaching the 100-terabit benchmark, this time using a different method. Instead of using a fibre with only one light-guiding core, as happens now, Sakaguchi's team developed a fibre with seven. Each core carried 15.6 terabits per second, yielding a total of 109 terabits per second. "We introduced a new dimension, spatial multiplication, to increasing transmission capacity," Sakaguchi says.

Qualcomm will have single/dual and quad core snapdragon mobile chips at 2.5 Ghz by the end of 2011

A leaked Qualcomm presentation shows single/dual and quad core Snapdragon mobile chips at 2.5 Ghz by the end of 2011. The MSM8270, MSM8930, MSM8960, and APQ8064, all based on the future Krait architecture, are expected to be as much as five times faster than their predecessors in raw CPU power and four times faster in graphics with console quality gaming.

They will support
* 1080p displays
* 3D video
* 7.1-channel Dolby Surround
* Up to 20-megapixel camera should one exist.

Qualcomm also claims they will outperform other dual and quad core chips that exist or are expected (Tegra 3 is a quad core that is expected from Nvidia). They claim more computing performance per watt of power.

Samsung Galaxy smartphones have used current versions of Qualcomm snapdragon chips.

April 28, 2011

Tiny robots self-assemble with a single command - robots use electrostatic power

wafer holds many individual microrobots. Each robot consists of a body (about 100 micrometers long) and an arm that it uses to turn. Several of these robots can be controlled at once. Credit: Igor Paprotny

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Duke University have shown how to use a single electrical signal to command a group of microrobots to self-assemble into large, complex shapes. The researchers hope to use this method to build biological tissues. But for microrobots to do anything like that, researchers must first figure out a good way to control them.

Bruce Donald, a professor of computer science and biochemistry at Duke, developed a microrobot that responds to electrostatic charges and is activated with voltage through an electric-array surface. Now he and others have demonstrated that they are able to control a group of these microrobots to create complex patterns. They do this by tweaking the design of each robot a little so that each one responds to the same amount of voltage with a different action, resulting in complex behaviors by the swarm.

DARPA GoQbot a fast caterpillar robot

Researchers have been examining the diverse behaviors of caterpillars to find solutions for the new generation of search and rescue soft robots.

Despite their extreme flexibility and adaptability, current soft-bodied robots are often limited by their slow speed, leading the researchers to turn to terrestrial soft-bodied animals for inspiration.

Some caterpillars have the extraordinary ability to rapidly curl themselves into a wheel and propel themselves away from predators. This highly dynamic process, called ballistic rolling, is one of the fastest wheeling behaviors in nature.

Researchers from Tufts University, Massachusetts, saw this as an opportunity to design a robot that mimics this behavior of caterpillars and to develop a better understanding of the mechanics behind ballistic rolling.

Bioinspiration and Biomimetics - GoQBot: a caterpillar-inspired soft-bodied rolling robot

Carbon nanotube transistors could enable large OLED screens

New technology employs organic light emitting diodes, or OLEDs, tiny thin films that create light in response to electrical current. But making OLED displays that are much bigger than a smart phone’s has been problematic. While they consume less power overall, a serious burst of current is needed to fire up each pixel. Transistors that provide this much current are bulky and take up valuable screen space; they also require elaborate, expensive construction and yield pixels that aren’t uniform, a problem that grows with display size.

To skirt these issues, Rinzler and his colleagues used a network of carbon nanotubes to drive current. The nanotube layer is porous, letting light through, so the transistor and light-emitting layers can be stacked vertically instead of sitting side-by-side, saving real estate. Without having to squeeze in transistors right next door to the OLEDs, more area is devoted to emitting light. In fact, 98 percent of the device emits light.

Journal Science - Low-Voltage, Low-Power, Organic Light-Emitting Transistors for Active Matrix Displays

Basic civilized housing at $300 per house

"The basic idea – low-cost, low-tech, incrementally self-improvable housing." When Vijay Govindarajan and Christian Sarkar issued a challenge to the corporate world to help design highly scalable housing to replace the world's slums, we didn't know the response from the HBR.org community would be so immediate and passionate. Support, suggestions, and links to similar work poured in from around the world. Govindarajan and Sarkar quickly expanded the blog series to look at the challenge from many perspectives.

Last year Vijay Govindarajan, of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, along with Christian Sarkar, a marketing expert, issued a challenge in a Harvard Business Review blog: why not apply the world’s best business thinking to housing the poor?

They laid down a few simple guidelines. The houses should be built of mass-produced materials tough enough to protect their inhabitants from a hostile world. They should be equipped with the basics of civilised life, including water filters and solar panels. They should be “improvable”, so that families can adapt them to their needs. And they should cost no more than $300. On April 20th Mr Govindarajan launched a competition inviting people to submit designs for a prototype of the house.

300house.com is where designs are being submitted

China announces a new 60 ton space station project to complete by 2020

NRL researchers take a step toward valleytronics - a competitor to spintronics

The band structure of graphene with its two valleys is shown in blue and red.

Valley-based electronics, also known as valleytronics, is one step closer to reality. Two researchers at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have shown that the valley degree of freedom in graphene can be polarized through scattering off a line defect. Unlike previously proposed valley filters in graphene, which rely on confined structures that have proven hard to achieve experimentally, the present work is based on a naturally occurring line defect that has already been observed.

Physical Review Letters - Graphene Valley Filter Using a Line Defect

Can valleytronics ever compete against spintronics? We remain a bit skeptical. Although scattering from K to K′ calls for a large momentum transfer, it may still happen in realistic graphene devices. The reason is that the edges of the graphene flake or adatoms that stick to the surface can provide sharp enough scattering potentials to mix K and K′. Once K and K′ are mixed, the performance of the valley filter will be altered. A big advantage of the proposal by Gunlycke and White based on the line defect observed is that it should suffer much less from this type of disorder compared to previous proposals based, for instance, on edged graphene nanoribbons

China 2010 Census reports age distribution

China has released more preliminary results from the 2010 census

* The population of the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities and of servicemen on the mainland of China was 1.340 billion.

* The population of Hong Kong was 7097600 persons.

* The population of Macao was 552300 persons.

* The population of Taiwan was 23162123 persons.

* Since Nov 1, 2000, population increased by 73.9 million, or 5.84 percent over the past 10 years. The average annual growth rate was 0.57 percent.

Here is a 25 page study of population projections for China to 2050 based on various fertility and life expectancy assumptions from the University of Monash.

There have been discussions about loosening population restrictions and targeting a fertility rate of 1.8. The current fertility rate in China is between 1.5 and 1.8 depending upon how many female births are being hidden.

New Technique reveals quantum phase transition in Superconductors

Schematics of a typical LSCO-LCO heterostructure used to fabricate EDLT devices. For clarity, the polymer electrolyte (or the ionic liquid) is not shown; we just show the anions adsorbed to the film surface and the cations attracted to the negatively charged Pt gate electrode.

Like atomic-level bricklayers, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory are using a precise atom-by-atom layering technique to fabricate an ultrathin transistor-like field effect device to study the conditions that turn insulating materials into high-temperature superconductors. The technical break-through, which is described in the April 28, 2011, issue of Nature, is already leading to advances in understanding high-temperature superconductivity, and could also accelerate the development of resistance-free electronic devices

Nature - Superconductor–insulator transition in La2 − xSrxCuO4 at the pair quantum resistance

Piezoelectric MEMS boosts vibration harvester by ten times

A new energy harvester developed by University of Michigan researchers can harness energy from vibrations and convert it to electricity with five to ten times greater efficiency and power than other devices in its class. Credit: Erkan Aktakka

Electrical engineers from the University of Michigan claim to have invented a technique for micro-machining piezoelectric MEMS that generate 10-times more energy than conventional energy harvesters. The research team said a penny-sized piezoelectric MEMS could generate enough electricity to power medical implants in the body and wireless sensors on motor vehicles.

It is the most powerful millimeter-scale energy harvester.

April 27, 2011

Memristors should perform better when bathed in certain types of noise

Arxiv - memristors be immune to most types of noise, their memory ought to be enhanced by it. Researchers calculate that high frequency noise has little effect on memristance because the device cannot respond quickly enough to the changes that this noise produces. Low frequency noise also has little effect because it produces changes that are too slow to effect the memory.

Technology Review - Next Generation Memories Will Be Improved By Noise

Researchers Create Terahertz Invisibility Cloak

Researchers at Northwestern University have created a new kind of cloaking material that can render objects invisible in the terahertz range.

Though this design can’t translate into an invisibility cloak for the visible spectrum, it could have implications in diagnostics, security, and communication.

National Supercomputer Strategies for ExaFLOP, ZettaFLOPs and YottaFLOPs

It seems likely that the National Security Agency is spending about ten times more money and using a generator that is ten times larger to bring an exaFLOP supercomputer into existence 4-5 years earlier than a 2019/2020 expectation. $896 million and 60 megawatts instead of $100 million and 6 megawatts.

A similar increase in budget and effort and power could bring a zettFLOP supercomputer into existence 8 years earlier than the 2030 expectation. $9 billion and 600 megawatts instead of $900 million and 60 megawatts.

Is this a misallocation of resources and effort ?

If it was a one and done effort probably. However, if it was part of a long term strategy to step up to greater developments in high performance computing then it could be justified.

The grand supercomputer that is at the top of the heap is like an aircraft carrier that needs support ships. A supercomputer needs to be surrounded by smaller mini-supers so that algorithms and programs can be tested and developed. By stepping up a couple of orders of magnitude on a sustained basis then a nation could achieve certain advantages over nations that were less committed to achieving computational advantages. There would need to be success in driving economic growth or military advantages that offset the costs.

Sufficient Urgency and Budget of $9 billion could enable a ZettaFLOP supercomputer by 2022

The ASCI Red supercomputer first broke the teraFLOPS barrier in December 1996.

On May 25, 2008, an American military supercomputer built by IBM, named 'Roadrunner', reached the computing milestone of one PetaFLOP by processing more than 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second The budget was $100 million.

A 20 PetaFLOP supercomputer is being completed in 2012 that uses 6 megawatts of power. The budget is believed to be over $100 million.

The NSA (National Security Agency, spies and code breakers) appear to be building an ExaFLOP supercomputer in 2015 using $896 million and a 60 megawatt power source.

Normally 12 years is expected between supercomputers that are 1000 times faster. The NSA appears to be shaving 4 to 5 years off the schedule by spending about nine times as much money and increasing electrical power by ten times.

A similar time shaving could be possible for the ZettaFLOP supercomputer by further increasing budget to about $9 billion and power supply to 600 Megawatts. The ZettaFLOP supercomputer could then be brought forward from 2030 for a $100 million system to 2022 using $9 billion and 100 times the power. There would be a lot more project risk and construction schedule risk and the need for construction innovation.

HPU4Science achieves 12.5 to 20 TeraFLOPS and costs $30,000

Ars Technica describes the creation of the HPU4Science cluster. The cluster, known as HPU4Science, began with a $40,000 budget and a goal of building a viable scientific computation system with performance roughly equivalent to that of a $400,000 "turnkey" system made by NVIDIA, Dell, or IBM. They spent $30,000 and built a system with estimated computational power of the whole system is 20 TFLOPS in theory, and 12.5 TFLOPS in practice.

The HPU4Science system costs $1.80 per GFLOP for the hardware and costs $3 per TFLOP per day in electricity to operate.

In November, 2010, the entry level to the Top 500 supercomputers moved up to the 31.1 TFLOP/s mark on the Linpack benchmark, compared to 24.7 TFLOP/s six months before.

The cluster is built in a master-worker configuration in which the master dispatches jobs to the workers, compiles and processes the results, and handles data storage. The master is equipped with a dual Intel XEON processor, a four-SSD RAID array for short-term storage, and an array of five 2TB hard drives for archival storage. The networking is a simple Gigabit Ethernet.

Currently, there are three workers in the cluster running Intel i7 or Core 2 Quad processors and using GPUs for highly parallelized computation. In the last paper, the third and newest worker had four GTX 580s that give four TFLOPS of measured, peak computational performance (this equates to six TFLOPs of theoretical performance, which is the measure used for the Top500 supercomputers list). The hardware for a fourth worker with the same configuration as the third has just arrived, so the cluster will soon comprise a total of four workers with eight GTX 580s, three GTX 480s, three GTX 285s, a C1060 Tesla GPU, and a GTX 295 dual GPU. Some brand new GTX 590s are currently being ordered for a fifth worker, so the total computational power is still increasing.

The GTX590 (40 nanometer process) should be 57% faster on graphics and 71% faster on memory than a GTX580 an uses 50% more electricity. A complete GTX590 version should have 18 to 30 TFLOPs of performance.

The expectation is that GPU based on the 28 nanometer Kepler will be released by the 4th quarter of 2011. There would probably be a GTX670 It should be three times faster and more energy efficient than the GTX590.

The HPU4Science could then upgrade processors to achieve 54-90 TFLOPS before the end of 2011 and edge onto the Top500.

Manned Submarines in the Race to Ocean Bottom - Triton 36000, Virgin Oceanic and James Cameron Submarines

The world’s most advanced submarine company, Triton Subs,and high pressure glass fabricator Rayotek Scientific, have joined forces to design a full ocean depth submersible that will revolutionize man’s relationship with the deep ocean.

James Cameron is working on a submarine powered with an electric motor and made of composite materials.

Richard Branson is working on his flying underwater craft and is constructed with carbon fiber and titanium with a quartz viewing dome.

With a planned descent rate of 500 feet per minute, the deepest spot in the ocean, at 35,800 ft., can be reached in approximately 75 minutes.

The Triton 36,000 Full Ocean Depth Submersible's pressure hull utilizes Rayotek’s patented manu-facturing process and proprietary technologies to produce a sphere of high-strength specialty glass. Glass has been successfully used in deep submergence for more than 40 years and some spheres have been rated to almost 30,000 ft. (9,000 meters).

Rayotek’s proprietary technology is capable of overcoming previous manufacturing limitations and producing perfect spheres of sufficient diameter to accommodate three occupants.

NIST finds that Two Graphene Layers May Be Better Than One

NIST measurements show that interactions of the graphene layers with the insulating substrate material causes electrons (red, down arrow) and electron holes (blue, up arrow) to collect in "puddles". The differing charge densities creates the random pattern of alternating dipoles and electon band gaps that vary across the layers. Credit: NIST

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have shown that the electronic properties of two layers of graphene vary on the nanometer scale. The surprising new results reveal that not only does the difference in the strength of the electric charges between the two layers vary across the layers, but they also actually reverse in sign to create randomly distributed puddles of alternating positive and negative charges. Reported in Nature Physics,* the new measurements bring graphene a step closer to being used in practical electronic devices.

Arxiv - Microscopic Polarization in Bilayer Graphene (26 pages)

April 26, 2011

North Dakota and Montana Oil production to 2017

North Dakota’s Oil Transportation Infrastructure report projects North Dakota and Montana Oil production to 2017 (7 pages by the North Dakota Pipeline Authority)

The state also has been setting new production records almost every month, the report states. Studies conducted by the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources in 2008 and 2010 indicate 4 billion to 6.3 billion barrels of recoverable reserves in North Dakota, it said.

Newly discovered reserves in formations dubbed Lodgepole, Tyler, and Spearfish -- along with improvements in extraction technology -- could double the Peace Garden State’s oil output by the end of the decade, from the 350,000 barrels a day produced at the end of 2010.

“Experts predict at least an additional ten to twenty years of intense drilling and development, followed by several more decades of continued petroleum production,” the report noted

Is the National Security Agency Building an Exaflop Supercomputer using $895.6 million ?

The National Security Agency is designing a new $895.6 million supercomputing center that will be constructed at its Fort Meade, Md., headquarters over the next several years, Department of Defense budget documents reveal. The NSA's new High Performance Computing Center, slated to be complete by December 2015, will be designed to with energy efficiency, security, and lots of "state-of-the-art" computing horsepower in mind, according to unclassified specs found in the documents.

* Power requirements are 60 megawatts

There is another supercomputer that is being completed, which shows that the higher power requirement of the NSA facility supports the estimation that the NSA is building an exaflop supercomputer. The IBM "Sequoia" BlueGene/Q supercomputer will be 20 petaflops and use 6 MW of power. It is scheduled to be delivered to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2011 and fully deployed in 2012.

The NSA will be using ten times as much power as the Sequoia. The NSA would only need to have 5 times the energy efficiency for computing and they would be able to get to 1 exaflop.

The 2012 Sequoia design will perform 3GFLOPS/watt, about 7 times as efficient as the Blue Gene/P design it is replacing, and more than 5 times as efficient as the current (as of 2008) leader. So a 5 times gain in computing efficiency would be the normal amount of improvement. As part of Intel's Tera-Scale research project, the Intel team produced an 80 core CPU that can achieve over 16 GFLOPS/Watt. That level of efficiency would almost be enough for an exaflop with 60 megawatts of power. The 2015 NSA machine will need about 17 GFLOPS/Watt to get to an exaflop.

UPDATE - Ten times the budget and ten times the power level could also accelerate the ZettaFLOP supercomputer to 2022. $9 billion and 600 Megawatts could do it. There would be a lot more project risk and construction schedule risk and the need for construction innovation.

New “nanobead” approach could revolutionize sensor technology

Researchers at Oregon State University have found a way to use magnetic “nanobeads” to help detect chemical and biological agents, with possible applications in everything from bioterrorism to medical diagnostics, environmental monitoring or even water and food safety.

When fully developed as a hand-held, portable sensor, like something you might see in a science fiction movie, it will provide a whole diagnostic laboratory on a single chip.

Penn scientists develop a new way to re-grow cartilage

A group of Penn scientists working across disciplines—in this case engineering and medicine—has developed a novel way to allow patients to re-grow cartilage in their own bodies, using their own cells, directly in the site that has been damaged through injury or disease

Carnival of Space 194


AstroEngine - Screaming Exoplanets: Detecting Alien Magnetospheres According to a new study presented at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, Wales we could detect the radio emissions from a distant Jupiter like worlds that possess a magnetosphere.

“Jupiter and Saturn take 12 and 30 years respectively to orbit the Sun, so you would have to be incredibly lucky or look for a very long time to spot them by a transit or a wobble,” said Nichols.

By assessing how the radio emissions for a Jupiter-like exoplanet respond to its rotation rate, the quantity of material falling into the gas giant from an orbiting moon (akin Enceladus’ plumes of water ice and dust being channeled onto the gas giant) and the exoplanet’s orbital distance, Nichols has been able to identify the characteristics of a possible target star. The hypothetical, “aurora-active” exoplanet would be located between 1 to 50 AU from an ultraviolet-bright star and it would need to have a fast spin for the resulting magnetospheric activity to be detectable at a distance of 150 light-years from Earth.

What’s more, the brand new LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR) radio telescope should be sensitive enough to detect aurorae on Jupiter-like exoplanets, even though the exoplanets themselves are invisible to other detection methods.

Background information and analysis to help Educators present the full case for Deaths per TWh by Energy Source

I have had requests from educators for the background information and sources of my deaths per twh by energy source articles. Here us a compilation of links to references and to other related articles that I have written.

Most of the data for deaths per twh by energy source (wind, biofuels, natural gas, oil) was from the ExternE) ExternE - a european study with data up to 2005.

World Health Organization air pollution information was used for coal deaths.

Replacing time with numerical order of material change resolves Zeno problems of motion

With clocks, we measure the numerical order of a material change, i.e., motion running in space. There is no experimental evidence that clocks measure time. It is convenient to replace the concept of time with the numerical order of material change. This view corresponds more adequately to the physical world and resolves Zeno problems of motion.

Zeno's paradoxes of motion at wikipedia

Achilles and the tortoise - In a race, the quickest runner can never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point whence the pursued started, so that the slower must always hold a lead.

The dichotomy paradox - That which is in locomotion must arrive at the half-way stage before it arrives at the goal.

3-D Maps accurate to 15 centimeters

Using aerial photos, image-processing software created this 3-D model of San Francisco, accurate to 15 centimeters. Credit: C3 Technologies

Technology originally developed to help missiles home in on targets has been adapted to create 3-D color models of cityscapes that capture the shapes of buildings to a resolution of 15 centimeters or less. Image-processing software distills the models from aerial photos captured by custom packages of multiple cameras.
Collecting and processing rapidly is C3 Technologies’ core advantage. Since our spin out from the aviation and defense company, Saab AB, C3’s expertise in image processing and systems integration of airborne and terrestrial data capture systems ensures that our products are calculated with extremely high precision.

C3’s Technologies’ process is fully automated, producing large amounts of 3D data with minimal manual work. We are expanding our terrestrial collection capabilities to pedestrian and waterway locations and offer integration tools for those interested in interior places.

April 25, 2011

Netflix has 23.6 million subscribers and HBO has 28.6 million

Netflix has 23.6 million subscribers (March 30, 2011)

Comcast (as of the end of 2010): 22.8 million

HBO (as of the end of 2010): 28.6 million

Showtime (as of the end of 2010): 20 million

Hulu Plus (projected by end of 2011): 1 million

Netflix is morphing into a premium pay TV channel, with the licensing of original content," Nissen said in an e-mail. "It is likely that Netflix will have to adopt a multitier pricing system, so that subscribers pay more for the original content. It appears the industry is ganging up on Netflix, with content producers refusing to license their most popular programs to them, thereby aiding the broadcast premium channels and the cable/network TV online portals. I think we are going to see quite a bit of change in Netflix over the next year."

Hurricane suppression system - Salter Sink

Energy from the sun heats up the surface of the ocean. As that heat irradiates up and fuels storms, they can become ever more dangerous hurricanes. Reducing their destructive potential is possible if we can just cool off the surface of the ocean. Even just one degree centigrade might be the difference between a category 4 or category 5 hurricane. This is a nearly ridiculous notion because of the scale involved. Thousands of square miles of ocean surface might need to be cooled off.

The Salter Sink is a simple idea, with massive potential. Two insights make it very compelling: Everywhere there is hot water on the surface of the ocean, there is cold water down below.

The Salter Sink works as a wave powered pump. Waves push hot water into the top of the cylinder, which pumps the water inside down. It comes out the bottom (around 200 meters below) and mixes with colder water. This brings the temperature on the surface down over time. A Salter Sink can move about a gigawatt of thermal energy! It may take thousands of these to protect America’s Gulf region (for example) but we estimate the cost would be much lower than the damage caused by one of these storms.

Low income countries with the same GDP nominal and GDP PPP as richer countries are not predictive of national power

China will be passing the United States in GDP on a PPP basis and then passing the US in GDP on a exchange rate basis. Here are some low per capita income countries that overall have more GDP than a richer country.

Overall GDP, per capita GDP, and military spending levels are not that great at predicting the actual military capability of a country of the level of actual science and technology capability.

Mexico          1.039 trillion GDP exchange rate 2010 (112 million people)
South Korea     1.007 trillion GDP exchange rate 2010 (48.9 million people)

PPP Countries GDP PPP Population Per Capita PPP

Japan            4.31 trillion (128 million people)   33,828
India            4.06 trillion (1.21 billion people)   3,290
Germany          2.94 trillion (81.7 million people)  35,930
Russia           2.22 trillion (142.9 million people) 15,837
United Kingdom   2.17 trillion (62 million people)    34,920
Brazil           2.17 trillion (191 million people)   11,239
France           2.15 trillion (65.8 million people)  34,077  
Italy            1.77 trillion (60.6 million people)  29,400
Mexico           1.63 trillion (112 million people)   14,430
South Korea      1.46 trillion (48.9 million people)  29,836

India is well ahead of Germany, Russia and the UK in PPP GDP. India is massively inferior in terms of military and science and technological contribution. India did start to make significant progress in global contributions in key industries.

Acer Iconia Tab - Tegra 2 chip and Android 3.0 for $449

The Acer Iconia Tab offers Android Honeycomb on a 10.1-inch screen along with GPS, front and rear cameras, Adobe Flash compatibility, full-size USB host port, HDMI output, and a reasonable price. Acer's Iconia Tab offers the features of the Motorola Xoom at iPad-beating prices but weighs in as the heftiest Android tablet yet. In spite of the $50 savings over an iPad 2, Apple doesn't have much to worry about when it comes to the Iconia Tab. Like the Motorola Xoom, the Iconia Tab is nearly twice as thick as the iPad 2, making it less comfortable to hold and less sexy in general. Acer's tablet also has the unfortunate distinction of being the heaviest Android tablet weighing in at 1.69 pounds.

Droidlife - Motorola is rumored to be developing Tegra 3 smartphones for the first quarter of 2012 Nvidia expects to be ready to ship their quad-core Tegra 3 in handhelds by the end of 2011 (tablets this summer).

IMF forecasts China will pass the USA in PPP by 2016

IMF forecasts China will pass the USA in Purchasing power parity GDP in 2016.

The latest IMF forecast report is here (World Economic Outlook
April 2011, 242 pages)

Under PPP, the Chinese economy will expand from $11.2 trillion this year to $19 trillion in 2016. Meanwhile the size of the U.S. economy will rise from $15.2 trillion to $18.8 trillion. That would take America’s share of the world output down to 17.7%, the lowest in modern times. China’s would reach 18%, and rising.

The Conference board predicted that China will pass the USA in 2012

The Peterson Institute finds that China passed the USA economy on PPP in 2010

The IMF PPP numbers are based upon the World Bank calculations of PPP from 2005. Based on the World Bank 2005 numbers, everyone in Asia starved in the 1950's because they had less GDP per capita than they needed to feed themselves. This shows how the World Bank statistics were wrong because they are not historically consistent.

New PPP analysis from the University of Pennsylvania show that the World Bank numbers underestimate China PPP by 20% and India's by 15%.

The weakening US dollar could make the get rid of the need for the PPP debate, because if the US dollar falls to 3 chinese RMB to 1 US$ then China will pass the US on an exchange rate basis in 2016 or 2017.

Willow Garage Turtlebots available at $500-1200

Willow Garage's TurtleBot is available for pre-orders.TurtleBot kits are expected to start shipping in early summer as units become available. You will not be charged until the kits ship.

The core kit is $500, which includes:

USB Communications Cable
TurtleBot Power and Sensor Board
TurtleBot Hardware
Microsoft Kinect
TurtleBot to Kinect Power Cable
USB Stick TurtleBot Installer

The complete TurtleBot (which is what's in the pictures and video) is $1200, and adds the following to the core kit:

iRobot Create Robot
3000 mAh Ni-MH Battery
Fast Charger
Asus EeePc 1215N

China Academy of Science Annual Budget is $3 billion per year and rising which is plenty for their Thorium molten salt reactor development and other projects

Although the budget for China's Innovation 2020 is yet to be announced, insiders say it will be part of a continuing surge in the nation's science spending. Indeed, the China Academy of Science (CAS's) expenditure on research and development (R and D) in 2009 was about 20 billion renminbi (US$3 billion), seven times the level in 1998, according to a KIP assessment report also released last week. This year's budget for the National Natural Science Foundation of China will increase by 70%, from 10 billion renminbi last year.

Innovation 2020 will kick off with new projects this year in seven key areas, including nuclear fusion and nuclear-waste management; stem cells and regenerative medicine; and calculating the flux of carbon between land, oceans and atmosphere. Other priority areas include materials science, information technology, public health and the environment.

The Chinese Academy of Science announced the thorium molten salt reactor project in January 2011. The CAS has the research budget to develop the Thorium molten salt reactor. There are many thorium molten salt reactor designs and research from prior molten salt reactors that are available online.

Documents Related to Liquid-Halide (Fluoride and Chloride) Reactor Research and Development (energy from thorium website has almost all of the public documents on molten salt and thorium reactor research)

Phil Bowermaster indicated that he would in 2012 I pledge my full support to the presidential candidate who outlines the most aggressive plan for implementing thorium-based nuclear power plants. And I'll go door-to-door for any candidate who hedges such a plan against the solar singularity.

The support would then be for the next President of China, Xi Jinping

Nintendo confirms that a Wii Successor is coming in 2012

Nintendo stated

Nintendo has decided to launch in 2012 a system to succeed the WII which has sold 86.01 million units on a consolidated shipment basis. We will show a playable model of the new system and announce more specifications at the E3 Expo.

Nintendo will announce a new game console at the trade show E3 in June, 2011

Speculation surrounding the new console has been scattershot at best. Some say it will be named the Stream. Some say it will have a triple-core PowerPC CPU. Some say it will natively output 1080p video. Some say its controllers will have their own screens, and will be able to emulate consoles

Purdue Solar Racing team will soon have a street legal solar car that can get about 2200 miles per gallon

The Purdue Solar Racing team's solar-powered urban commuter car achieved the equivalent of almost 2,200 miles per gallon in the 2011 Shell EcoMarathon international competition this week in Houston. The Purdue team achieved 64.5 miles per kilowatt hour.

The Celeritas prototype can handle a full-sized driver seated upright in a car equipped with headlights, taillights, a trunk, energy regenerative braking, pothole-handling suspension and rearview backup cameras. The car, equipped with five onboard computer systems, generated so much electricity it was in jeopardy of overloading its onboard batteries. Subsequent versions of the car may include an air-conditioning unit to make it even more comfortable and to consume excess electricity. The team is applying for a VIN number and license plate to make it a street-legal experimental vehicle.

MIT researchers use genetically modified virus to produce structures that improve solar-cell efficiency by nearly one-third

In this diagram, the M13 virus consists of a strand of DNA (the figure-8 coil on the right) attached to a bundle of proteins called peptides — the virus coat proteins (the corkscrew shapes in the center) which attach to the carbon nanotubes (gray cylinders) and hold them in place. A coating of titanium dioxide (yellow spheres) attached to dye molecules (pink spheres) surrounds the bundle. More of the viruses with their coatings are scattered across the background.
Image: Matt Klug, Biomolecular Materials Group

The new MIT research, published online this week in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, is based on findings that carbon nanotubes — microscopic, hollow cylinders of pure carbon — can enhance the efficiency of electron collection from a solar cell's surface. With this virus approach, they have achieved a power conversion efficiency in the dye-sensitized solar cells of 10.6%. The process would just add one simple step to a standard solar-cell manufacturing process, it should be quite easy to adapt existing production facilities and thus should be possible to implement relatively rapidly, Angela Belcher says.

Nature Nanotechnology - Virus-templated self-assembled single-walled carbon nanotubes for highly efficient electron collection in photovoltaic devices

April 24, 2011

Very light Mars mission using local resources

The speculative Spacex manned mission to Mars would involve Falcon Heavy Rockets to send Dragon capsules on Mars and being refuelled, and then perhaps being lifted back to orbit atop boosters running on Mars locally-produced methane.

The martian atmospheric composition will allow the Mars astronauts to take advantage of in-situ resource utilization to provide them with life support reserves as well as the propellant required by the MAV. The martian atmosphere is composed of approximately 95.3% carbon dioxide, 2.7% nitrogen, 1.6% argon, 0.13% oxygen, 0.08% carbon monoxide, and trace amounts of water, nitrogen oxide, neon, krypton and xenon. By utilizing simple reactions between martian carbon dioxide and imported hydrogen, the astronauts will be able to produce methane, water, and oxygen. Direct atmospheric extraction of nitrogen and argon will also be possible.

The Sabatier process involves the reaction of hydrogen with carbon dioxide at elevated temperatures to produce methane and water. The ISRU module will react imported hydrogen with atmospheric carbon dioxide in order to achieve this. For each metric ton (tonne) of imported hydrogen that is reacted, 2 tonnes of methane and 4.5 tonnes of water will be produced.

Ice has been found in large quantities on Mars. Water ice can have its hydrogen extracted.

Landing small nuclear power modules on Mars would allow for all local materials to be used to produce rocket fuel and other resources to enable a very light Mars Mission.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 49

The 49th Carnival of Nuclear Energy is up at Yes Vermont Yankee

The ANS Nuclear cafe has a collaborative post about why is there an irrational fear of radiation

A critic of a reactor re-licensing application, writing in a political news magazine, said that a tritium release was 500 times more than expected, which was none. What he failed to realize is that the measured quantity was still 500 times less than the EPA drinking water standard.

Calling this type of mistake “junk science” misses an important point. What the public thinks is that regardless of how much radiation you are talking about, it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. FUD fosters fear.

Stewart Brand - The aversion to nuclear would be due to aversion to the uncertainty of radiation risk, itself a product of lack of familiarity with the weird units of measurement. With its Babel of measurements, the nuclear power industry has guaranteed that all of its communications with the public are maddeningly confusing and frightening.

EIA reports a new peak in crude oil at 75.282 million barrels per day

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) is reporting a new monthly peak in crude oil and lease condensates for January 2011 at 75.282 million barrels per day. This is 600,000 barrels more than July, 2008 (74.669 million barrels per day).

The IEA had reported a new peak in world oil supply (that includes other fuel liquids at 89 million barrels per day in February 2011)

These are important for the whole peak oil argument. World oil production is still slowly moving up. It is not declining yet. Claims of peak oil having already occurred in 2008 or 2005 are wrong. Even with Libyan oil production out, there could still be new highs in world oil production.

If world oil production keeps going up slowly to 2018-2025 then so what ?

It means more time for improved biofuels to be created. Algae biofuel or other kinds of synthetic fuel.

Helion Energy - Nuclear fusion by supersonic field reversed configuration plasmoids

Nuclear Fusion Journal - Creation of a high-temperature plasma through merging and compression of supersonic field reversed configuration plasmoids (H/T Talk Polywell)

A new device, the Inductive Plasma Accelerator, was employed to simultaneously form and accelerate two oppositely directed field reversed configurations (FRCs) where the relative velocity (600 km s−1) of the plasmoids was much larger than their internal thermal motion. Upon collision all of the FRC directional energy was observed to be rapidly thermalized concurrent with complete magnetic reconnection of the two FRCs. Upon merging, the resulting FRC was compressed to kilovolt ion temperatures exhibiting a configuration lifetime better than predicted by past scaling of in situ formed FRCs. With the improved FRC confinement scaling, a pulsed plasma device based on this approach capable of achieving fusion gain is examined. For an FRC with a poloidal flux 20 mWb or greater, the fusion energy yield per pulse exceeds the plasma energy for compression fields of 10 Telsa or more. The scaling is insensitive to the compression chamber radial scale, providing for the possibility of a very compact fusion neutron source.

Given the scaling and the desire to optimize at smaller radius and higher power
density, it is worth determining the parameters of a device capable of a gain of five. From equation 10 the following values will yield such a gain:
length (s)          2 meters  
Poloidal Flux      25 mWb 
Compression fields 16 Telsa
Q (gain)            5 times more energy out than put in .

Helion Energy has now performed what was previously described as the Phase 2 work The next step would be a full power component test facility which would cost about $20-30 million and could be done in 1-2 years.

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