November 19, 2011

Nvidia Exascale Vision

HPCWire - there are 35 TOP500 systems with NVIDIA GPUs (twice as many as in June). Of these, three of the top five supercomputers are equipped with GPUs, with more on the way in 2012 with the 20-petaflop Titan system at Oak Ridge National Lab and the 11.5 petaflop Blue Waters super at NCSA.

In Huang's SC11 keynote, he pointed out that the rise of HPC-style GPU computing has come about because traditional CPUs, especially x86 ones, have become rather inefficient at compute- and data-intensive computation. For example, he said CPUs use 50 times the energy to schedule the instructions and 20 times the energy to move the data than doing the actual calculation.

GPUs, by contrast, are designed to reduce data movement, and although they have poor single threaded performance because of their simple processing engines, there are many more of them to do the work in parallel. That makes for more efficient computation, assuming the application can be molded into the GPU computing model.

Interesting scenario where an Independent Run by Ron Paul forces the selection of president into the House of Representatives

Interesting polling indicates that while Ron Paul only has 8% of the Republican nomination vote, he would get 18% in a three way race between Obama, Romney and him.

NBC/WSJ polled multiple hypothetical matchups between the candidates in the 2012 presidential general election. The head-to-head matchup between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney shows Obama leading Romney by a 6 percent margin with Obama garnering 49 percent of the vote to Romney’s 43 percent. NBC/WSJ also polled a matchup between three candidates, Democrat Barack Obama, Republican Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul as an Independent. The results are underwhelming for the supposed favorites – but for Ron Paul, this is an opening. Barack Obama easily wins again, but with only 44 percent of the vote compared to Romney’s 32 percent. However, Paul captures a whopping 18 percent.

Ron Paul could potentially capture enough Electoral votes to prevent both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney from reaching the 270 Electoral votes needed to become president. If this scenario plays out, the presidential election would be decided in the House of Representatives with the top three highest electoral vote getters being decided on who becomes president. In 2012, the House will most likely still be Republican controlled, leaving Mitt Romney and Ron Paul vowing for the highest office. With the growing number of tea party representatives in Congress, the election could look more similar to a European parliament vote, in building coalitions with many factions to support a prime minister.

Dwave Systems announces 512 Qubit Adiabatic Quantum Computer before end of 2012

The D-Wave One Quantum Computer: Technology and Applications (30 pages) Dwave System's CTO Geordie Rose gave a presentation at SC11. Previously Dwave had sold a 128 qubit system and services for $10 million

It appears from the chart Dwave will have a 256 qubit by mid-2012 and a 512 qubit by the end of 2012.

Memristive excitable cellular automata

Arxiv - Memristive excitable cellular automata

The memristor is a device whose resistance changes depending on the polarity and magnitude of a voltage applied to the device's terminals. We design a minimalistic model of a regular network of memristors using structurally-dynamic cellular automata. Each cell gets info about states of its closest neighbours via incoming links. A link can be one 'conductive' or 'non-conductive' states. States of every link are updated depending on states of cells the link connects. Every cell of a memristive automaton takes three states: resting, excited (analog of positive polarity) and refractory (analog of negative polarity). A cell updates its state depending on states of its closest neighbours which are connected to the cell via 'conductive' links. We study behaviour of memristive automata in response to point-wise and spatially extended perturbations, structure of localised excitations coupled with topological defects, interfacial mobile excitations and growth of information pathways.

Measurement of the neutrino velocity with the OPERA detector in the CNGS beam

Arxiv (32 pages)- The OPERA neutrino experiment at the underground Gran Sasso Laboratory has measured the velocity of neutrinos from the CERN CNGS beam over a baseline of about 730 km with much higher accuracy than previous studies conducted with accelerator neutrinos. The measurement is based on high-statistics data taken by OPERA in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011. Dedicated upgrades of the CNGS timing system and of the OPERA detector, as well as a high precision geodesy campaign for the measurement of the neutrino baseline, allowed reaching comparable systematic and statistical accuracies. An early arrival time of CNGS muon neutrinos with respect to the one computed assuming the speed of light in vacuum was measured. This anomaly corresponds to a relative difference of the muon neutrino velocity with respect to the speed of light. The above result, obtained by comparing the time distributions of neutrino interactions and of protons hitting the CNGS target in 10.5 {\mu}s long extractions, was confirmed by a test performed using a beam with a short-bunch time-structure allowing to measure the neutrino time of flight at the single interaction level.

Personal Manufacturing

Researchers take a step toward bringing three-dimensional printers to the masses by developing new materials compatible with the object-building technology

Hod Lipson (Cornell) thinks that three-dimensional printers—those robotic machines that build solid objects layer by layer from powders, liquids, and pastes—are sitting on the verge of a parallel personal manufacturing revolution. “In 20 years, many people will have a 3-D printer in their kitchen for printing designer foods and other products,” says Lipson, who works with the technology. A surgeon could have one in the operating room for printing bone grafts or replacement blood vessels, and a chef might have one in the restaurant for printing gourmet meals with varying textures and tastes. “In 40 years, we’ll have a hard time explaining to our grandchildren how we lived without one.”

Although Lipson doesn’t see 3-D printers ever being able to compete with mass production facilities in terms of cost-effectiveness and manufacturing speed, he says that right now “there are a lot of things we don’t make because they’re not viable in small quantities.” Manufacturing objects with 3-D printing offers people the opportunity to design custom-made pieces—lampshades, jewelry, artistic knobs, and furniture—with complex geometries.

Fabrication of some everyday objects that are now being mass produced could even shift into the realm of 3-D printing. Eye-glass frames, for instance, are pumped out of factories in large quantities. Based on a head scan, however, consumers could use modeling software to design and print custom-fit frames at home,

Micro-Cavity Arrays: Lighting the Way to the Future

It was not too long ago that basic science lectures began with the three forms of matter: gases, liquids and solids--and somewhere along the line plasmas were occasionally added to the list. But to be precise, a plasma is an ionized gas; thus, a subset of the big three. But this subset has coexisted with the other forms since the Big Bang and actually makes up 99 percent of the universe. It is found in our Sun and all the other stars, and in more down to earth applications: in neon signs, Plasma TVs, Cathode Ray Tubes, and the ubiquitous fluorescent light.

It is now also found in a new form of lighting. A research team funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research has pioneered the use of micro-plasmas in a revolutionary approach to illumination

China May Resume Nuclear Plant Construction by end of 2011

Bloomberg - China may resume some nuclear reactor construction that was stopped earlier this year while continuing a halt on approvals of new projects amid a nationwide safety check following Japan’s Fukushima crisis, said Xu Yuming, vice secretary-general of the China Nuclear Energy Association.

Some construction may restart by the end of the year, Xu said in an interview today at a conference in Beijing. The country won’t be able to maintain its previous pace of nuclear- plant building because of the disruption.

Reviewing the air pollution death and health impact numbers and peer reviewed epidemiological studies

There was a World Bank 2007 study of the economic cost of air pollution on China (151 pages)

According to conservative estimates, the economic burden of premature mortality and morbidity associated with air pollution was 157.3 billion yuan in 2003, or 1.16 percent of GDP. This assumes that premature deaths are valued using the present value of per capita GDP over the remainder of the individual’s lifetime. If a premature death is valued using a value of a statistical life of 1 million yuan, reflecting people’s willingness to pay to avoid mortality risks, the damages associated with air pollution are 3.8 percent of GDP. These findings differ in two important ways from previous studies of the burden of outdoor air pollution in China. First, they are based on Chinese exposure-response functions, as well as on the international literature; and second, they are computed for individual cities and provinces. Previous estimates by WHO (Cohen et al. 2004) were based on the assumption that increases in PM beyond 100 micrograms/m3 of PM10 caused no additional health damage.( In the base case considered by WHO relative risk does not increase beyond 50 micrograms/m3 of PM2.5, which is approximately equivalent to
100 micrograms/m3 of PM10.) This assumption implies that the WHO estimates cannot be used to evaluate the benefits of specific urban air pollution control policies.

Two-thirds of the rural population is without piped water, which contributes to diarrheal disease and cancers of the digestive system. The cost of these health impacts, if valued using a VSL of 1 million, are 1.9 percent of rural GDP. Analysis of data from the 2003 National Health Survey indicates that two-thirds of the rural population does not have access to piped water. The relationship between access to piped water and the incidence of diarrheal disease in children under the age of
5 confirms this finding: the lack of access to piped water is significantly associated with excess cases of diarrheal disease and deaths due to diarrheal disease in children under 5 years of age.

Updated analysis of pollution costs for China have been made.

A combined paper by researchers from Harvard and Tsinghua universities in 2009 estimated air pollution alone contributed to health damages equivalent to 1.8 percent of GDP.

China, the world’s worst polluter, needs to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product a year -- 680 billion yuan at 2009 figures -- to clean up 30 years of industrial waste, said He Ping, chairman of the Washington-based International Fund for China’s Environment. Mun Sing Ho, a senior economist at Dale W. Jorgenson Associates and a visiting scholar at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, put the range at 2 percent to 4 percent of GDP.

Failure to spend that much -- equivalent to the annual GDP of Vietnam -- may cost the Chinese economy half as much again in blighted crops, health costs and pollution-related expenses

November 18, 2011

LENR "Cold Fusion" phenomenon details to be revealed December 7th

Brian Ahern received his PhD in material science from MIT, holds 26 patents and was a senior scientist for 17 years in research and development at USAF Rome Lab at Hanscom Air Force Base. Ahern was the U.S. Air Force’s expert on nano-materials. Ahern has discovered the LENR phenomenon is occurring on the nanoscale and involves a formerly misunderstood and rarely explored attribute of nano-magnetism.

Nextbigfuture has been in correspondence with Brian Ahern for a few years. I believe that his work is thorough and precise. I have a lot of unpublished background material on Brian Ahern's research. I will be able to publish part of that on December 7th as well as having full coverage of Brian Ahern's presentation.

This will not be a big reveal of a new major power system. This is a presentation of scientific work which is accumulated understanding of the processes. He has replicated Arata and earlier Piantelli/Rossi work and other systems. Plus his work at Air force research with materials and nanomaterials. Someone interviewed him about his work and a presentation he will be making. He described it and they have maximized the descriptions. I think it is important insights into the science and it is getting towards understanding the processes, but it is not something that is combined with a reveal of breakthrough in power generation at this time. So I know that he is not pulling a Rossi reveal of a power system.

Apparently, energy localization at the nano-scale circumvents the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Nature evolved to take advantage of these energy exchange mechanisms available only at this size scale (which is why ordered structures can be created from chaos, such as after the big bang.) This phenomenon was identified in 1996 as Oscillons in relation to Chaos Theory, but has never been clearly understood until now.

Ahern states ” In 1995 we made a major and fundamental discovery regarding nano-material properties. This almost completely unknown to most technologists. All materials processed within certain tolerances experience very different vibrational modes than all other aggregations of matter. It provides a concise explanation for the bioenergetics observed in all aspects of nature.”

Another attempt to make the case for Project Orion nuclear pulse propulsion

Gary Michael Church makes the case for reviving project Orion on the Lifeboat Foundation blog (H/T Centauri Dreams)

Psychological limits of human beings limit space journeys to a few years. Chemical propulsion is not capable of taking human beings to the outer solar system and back within those crew limits. The solution is a reaction one million times more powerful. Nuclear energy is to the space age as steam was to the industrial age.

The term “ISP”, expressed in seconds, is used in measuring the efficiency of a rocket engine and chemical rockets have low ISP numbers but high thrust. The most efficient rocket engines, such as the space shuttle main engines, with a listed ISP of 453 seconds are also among the most powerful. Atomic bomb propulsion, thanks to the billions of dollars poured into star wars weapons research, would have an ISP exceeding 100,000 seconds.

Space travel as not only a speed and distance problem, but also a time and distance problem, low thrust lengthens any missions to the outer solar system beyond crew limits. The thrust imparted by atomic bombs can in a short period easily accelerate thousands of tons to the comparatively extreme speeds necessary and then coast. Unlike an electric propulsion failure, a few dud bombs need not doom a mission or crew.

The first serious work on bomb propulsion was done by physicist Freeman Dyson and weapon designer Ted Taylor on the top secret project Orion. Dyson’s son, in his book Project Orion, refers to the classified star wars project Casaba Howitzer. This device focused most of the energy of a nuclear explosion in one direction. Ted Taylor’s specialty was small warheads and he designed the Orion bombs, aka “pulse units.” The “unclassified” state of the art in nuclear weapons can direct 80 percent of bomb energy into a slab of propellant, converting this mass into a jet of superheated plasma. A pusher plate would absorb the blast without melting for the fraction of a second it lasts and accelerate the spaceship in steps with each bomb. Perhaps the closest experience to riding in an atomic bomb propelled spaceship would be repeated aircraft carrier catapult launches. Instead of the ocean, space. Instead of supersonic fighters, a thousand ton spaceship.

Engineered, drug-secreting blood vessels reverse anemia in mice

System combining gene therapy with tissue engineering could avoid the need for frequent injections of recombinant drugs

Patients who rely on recombinant, protein-based drugs must often endure frequent injections, often several times a week, or intravenous therapy. Researchers at Children's Hospital Boston demonstrate the possibility that blood vessels, made from genetically engineered cells, could secrete the drug on demand directly into the bloodstream. In the November 17 issue of the journal Blood, they provide proof-of-concept, reversing anemia in mice with engineered vessels secreting erythropoietin (EPO).

The technology could potentially be used to deliver other proteins such as Factor VIII and Factor IX for patients with hemophilia, alpha interferon for hepatitis C and interferon beta for multiple sclerosis, says the study's principal investigator, Juan Melero-Martin, PhD, of the Department of Cardiac Surgery at Children's.

Blood Journal - Induction of erythropoiesis using human vascular networks genetically engineered for controlled erythropoietin release

Quadcore Tablets heading to sub-$300 prices in first half of 2012

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said he expects Tegra 3 quadcore tablets to plummet to $299 in just "a couple quarters." The first Tegra 3 table Transformer Prime hasn't even gone on sale yet, and when it does it'll cost $500.

HTC has revealed the HTC Quattro quad core tablet HC Quattro will be a 10.1-inch Android tablet with 1280 x 768 resolution (iPad: 9.7 inches at 1024 x 768) and will use the AP30 Tegra 3 system-on-a-chip from Nvidia.
16GB internal plus microSD expansion
Bluetooth 4.0
5GHz Wi-Fi
full complement of sensors
It will be less than nine-millimeter thick

Soldiers Modify MK48 with belt feeding rig inspired by the movie Predator

Members of the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, discussed a 2.5 hour firefight engagement and how three-man teams manning crew-served weapons struggled to stay together over difficult terrain in fluid battles. Someone mentioned actor Jesse Ventura in the movie "Predator." His character brandished an M-134 Mini-gun fed by an ammo box on his back. After the Soldiers had a good laugh over that thought, Staff Sgt. Vincent Winkowski asked why a gunner couldn't carry a combat load (500 rounds) of ammo.

The new system is being refined and modularized so that gunners of all types of machine guns will each be able to carry 500 rounds.

"The ammunition sacks that came with new MK48 made it too cumbersome and heavy to carry over long, dismounted patrols and especially when climbing mountains. Initially, we came up with using 50-round belts and just reloading constantly, which led to lulls of fire and inefficiency."

So Winkowski grabbed an old ALICE (all-purpose lightweight individual carrying equipment) frame, welded two ammunition cans together--one atop the other after cutting the bottom out of the top can--and strapped the fused cans to the frame. To that he added a MOLLE (modular, lightweight load-carrying equipment) pouch to carry other equipment.

The Mk 48 Mod 0 is a gas-operated, air-cooled, fully automatic, belt-fed machine gun. The Mk 48 Mod 1 is an update of the Mk 48 Mod 0. Like the Mod 0, it is essentially an M249 scaled up to fire the 7.62×51mm NATO round. The Mod 1 utilizes a 19.75" barrel, weighs in at 18.37 lb unloaded, and has a rate of fire of 500–625 rpm

Carbon Foam for better half capacitor and half battery hybrid

Researchers at Michigan Technological University are working on an asymmetric capacitor, a new type of electrical storage device that’s half capacitor, half battery. “Being lighter will give them a real advantage in handheld power tools and consumer electronics and hybrid electric vehicles are another potential market, since an asymmetric capacitor can charge and discharge more rapidly than a normal battery, making it useful for regenerative braking.

Capacitors store an electrical charge physically and have important advantages: they are lightweight and can be recharged (and discharged) rapidly and almost indefinitely. Plus, they generate very little heat, an important issue for electronic devices. However, they can only make use of about half of their stored charge.

Batteries, on the other hand, store electrical energy chemically and can release it over longer periods at a steady voltage. And they can usually store more energy than a capacitor. But batteries are heavy and take time to charge up, and even the best can’t be recharged forever.

Enter asymmetric capacitors, which bring together the best of both worlds. On the capacitor side, energy is stored by electrolyte ions that are physically attracted to the charged surface of a carbon anode. Combined with a battery-style cathode, this design delivers nearly double the energy of a standard capacitor.

Carnival of Space 224

Carnival of Space 224 is up at Smaller Questions

Universe Today - engineers at JPL sent commands across 14 billion kilometers (9 billion miles) out to Voyager 2, enabling it to switch to the backup set of thrusters that controls the roll of the spacecraft. This will reduce the amount of power that the 34-year-old probe needs to operate, giving it better “gas mileage” and — hopefully — the power to operate for at least another decade. Voyager 2 will save about 11.8 watts of electric power by turning off the heater that kept the hydrazine fuel to the primary thrusters warm.

Splitting hairs on definitions to deny progress and greater potential for exponential progress

Alex Knapp at Forbes talks about the example of the limits of airplane speed as an example of real world limits to exponential progress. The speed of rockets continue the speed curve slightly.

What made us really fall of the speed of vehicle improvement curve was abandoning the development of nuclear pulse propulsion. Nuclear bombs have worked since 1945. Project Orion could have technically been accomplished by 1970 and interstellar versions would have worked and still can work. Humanity could be traveling at 3.3% of the speed of light with these systems.

In the comments Alex talks about the Kurzweil’s performance predictions, check out the Age of Spiritual machines (published in 2000 and written in 1999). Ray predicted a teraflop processor in a desktop machine for $1000 in 2009. Alex says you couldn’t get a teraflop for $1000 in 2009 and you still can’t now.

In 2005, The xbox360 was capable of 1 Teraflop performance and the Playstation 3 of 1.8 Teraflops.

Alex counter that the better performance was for GPU (graphical processing units) and not CPUs.

Sorry teraflops for less than $1000 count even if they are GPUs.

Game Changing tech from NASA high temperature infrared sensors and Woven heat shields

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will use advanced compound semiconductor materials to develop new technologies for the High Operating Temperature Infrared Sensor Demonstration. The higher the temperature at which an infrared detector can operate, the less power is required to cool it. Reduced power needs can translate into operational cost and system weight savings. If successful, this sensor technology could be used in many future NASA Earth and planetary science instruments, as well as for U.S. commercial and defense applications.

The overall goal for this technology development effort is to achieve 100 percent cost savings as compared with traditional cryogenically cooled infrared sensors. The weight and volume savings allow for more compact instruments -- an important consideration for a spacecraft's payload size and cost. This state-of-the-art technology also will have spinoff applications for commercial instrument manufacturers.
This picture shows three High Operating Temperature Infrared Sensors, mounted on leadless chip carriers. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

University of Twente has alternative to semiconductor optical amplification for faster and cheaper optical communication

Researchers at the University of Twente’s MESA+ research institute have developed a material capable of optical amplifications that are comparable to those achieved by the best, currently available semiconductor optical amplifiers. The researchers expect that this material will accelerate data communication and, ultimately, provide an alternative to short distance data communication (at the μm-cm scale).

Electron microscope image of a waveguide structure, superimposed with a measured intensity profile of the light trapped within it.

New ‘super’ yeast turns pine into ethanol

Researchers at the University of Georgia have developed a "super strain" of yeast that can efficiently ferment ethanol from pretreated pine-one of the most common species of trees in Georgia and the U.S. Their research could help biofuels replace gasoline as a transportation fuel.

"The big plus for softwoods, including pine, is that they have a lot of sugar that yeast can use," she said. "Yeast are currently used in ethanol production from corn or sugarcane, which are much easier materials for fermentation; our process increases the amount of ethanol that can be obtained from pine."

Before the pinewood is fermented with yeast, however, it is pre-treated with heat and chemicals, which help open the wood for enzymes to break the cellulose down into sugars. Once sugars are released, the yeast will convert them to ethanol, but compounds produced during pretreatment tend to kill even the hardiest industrial strains of yeast, making ethanol production difficult.

Ultrathin, ultraflexible brain implant or 50 time higher resolution

A new, ultrathin, ultraflexible implant loaded with sensors can record the electrical storm that erupts in the brain during a seizure with nearly 50-fold greater resolution than was previously possible. The level of detail could revolutionize epilepsy treatment by allowing for less invasive procedures to detect and treat seizures. It could also lead to a deeper understanding of brain function and result in brain-computer interfaces with unprecedented capacity.

This is follow up coverage on the brain implant that we first covered four days ago

Current technology has stalled out at a sensor array with about eight sensors per square centimeter; the new array—built in collaboration with John Rogers, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign—can fit 360 sensors in the same amount of space. To create a small device so densely packed with sensors, Rogers integrated electronics and silicon transistors into the array itself, drastically reducing the amount of wiring

Brain map: An ultrathin array of electrodes, shown at top being inserted into the brain of a cat, allows for data acquisition far greater than ever before possible. At bottom, the electrode array is so flexible that it can fold around even the slimmest objects, allowing for easy insertion and good coverage of uneven surfaces.
Nature Neuroscience

Nature Neuroscience - Flexible, foldable, actively multiplexed, high-density electrode array for mapping brain activity in vivo

November 17, 2011

OECD energy statistics for August 2011

IEA reports energy usage in the OECD from January through August 2011

OECD Nuclear energy production was down 9% in August 2011 versus August 2010.

Germany and Japan were way below their 2010 levels for nuclear generation because of shutdowns after the tsunami.

China recorded an 11.35 percent year-on-year rise in power consumption to 379.7 tWh in October, and power consumption in the first 10 months totaled 3,895.1 tWh, up 11.87 percent China had about 40% of the energy consumption of the OECD.

China invested 276 billion yuan ($43.53 billion) in power projects from January to October. The total included 70.8 billion yuan for hydroelectric power projects, 81.8 billion yuan for thermal power projects, 60 billion yuan for nuclear power projects and 55 billion yuan for wind power projects.

4800 mph hypersonic weapon has successful test

The Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon went 2,400 miles from Hawaii to its target by the Kwajalein Atoll in the south Pacific. Darpa recently crashed a hypersonic glider had a radical, wedge-like shape: a Mach 20 slice of deep dish pizza, basically. The Army’s vehicle relies on a decades-old, conventionally conical design. It’s designed to fly 6,100 miles per hour, or a mere eight times the speed of sound. In this test it flew just over 5 times the speed of sound and covered the distance in less than 30 minutes

The Advanced Hypersonic Weapon effort could wind up playing a key role in the military’s so-called “Prompt Global Strike” effort to almost instantly whack targets half a world away. A glider like it would be strapped to a missile, and sent hurtling at rogue state’s nuclear silo or a terrorist’s biological weapon cache before it’s too late.

Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos: OPERA Confirms and Submits Results, But Unease Remains

New high-precision tests carried out by the OPERA collaboration in Italy broadly confirm its claim, made in September, to have detected neutrinos travelling at faster than the speed of light. The collaboration today submitted its results to a journal, but some members continue to insist that further checks are needed before the result can be considered sound.

OPERA (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-Tracking Apparatus) measures the properties of neutrinos that are sent through the Earth from the CERN particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, and arrive in its detector located under the Gran Sasso mountain in central Italy. On 22 September, the collaboration reported in a paper on the arXiv preprint server that it had measured neutrinos arriving some 60 nanoseconds earlier than they would have if travelling at light speed. The researchers obtained that result by statistically comparing the temporal distribution of protons within the 10.5 microsecond pulses that produce the neutrinos at CERN with that of the neutrinos observed in its detector.

The new tests, completed 6 November, did away with the statistical analysis by splitting each pulse into bunches just 1- to 2-nanoseconds long, allowing each neutrino detected at Gran Sasso to be tied to a particular bunch produced at CERN. These tests were carried out over 10 days and provided 20 events. The researchers confirmed that the neutrinos arrived 60 nanoseconds early, with an uncertainty of about 10 nanoseconds, comparable to that of the initial result.

Ultralight Metallic Microlattices

A team of researchers from UC Irvine, HRL Laboratories and the California Institute of Technology have developed the world’s lightest material – with a density of 0.9 mg/cc – about one hundred times lighter than Styrofoam

Science - Ultralight Metallic Microlattices

Ultralight (less than 10 milligrams per cubic centimeter) cellular materials are desirable for thermal insulation; battery electrodes; catalyst supports; and acoustic, vibration, or shock energy damping. We present ultralight materials based on periodic hollow-tube microlattices. These materials are fabricated by starting with a template formed by self-propagating photopolymer waveguide prototyping, coating the template by electroless nickel plating, and subsequently etching away the template. The resulting metallic microlattices exhibit densities ρ greater than or equal to 0.9 milligram per cubic centimeter, complete recovery after compression exceeding 50% strain, and energy absorption similar to elastomers. Young’s modulus E scales with density as E ~ ρ2, in contrast to the E ~ ρ3 scaling observed for ultralight aerogels and carbon nanotube foams with stochastic architecture. We attribute these properties to structural hierarchy at the nanometer, micrometer, and millimeter scales.
The metal lattice is 99.99% air

Microfabrication breakthrough could set piezoelectric material applications in motion

IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer can scale to 100 petaflops

EETimes - IBM’s officially unveiled its next generation Blue Gene/Q (BGQ) supercomputer, the third generation in its Blue Gene family, with 16 multi-processing core technology and a scalable peak performance of up to 100 petaflops. It can produce 2 gigaflops per watt. A 100 petaflop system would need 50 megawatts of power.

Mysterious Structures In Chinese Desert seem to be for spy satellite callibration and radar testing

Jonathon Hill, a research technician at the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University, who works with images of the Martian surface taken by rovers and satellites, as well as data from Earth-orbiting NASA instruments has provided some explanation for unusual structures in China's desert. These are newfound Google Maps images which reveal an array of mysterious structures and patterns etched into the surface of China's Gobi Desert.

(H/T Singularity Hub)
This strange grid of randomly zigzagging white lines, which are probably painted onto the land surface, is most likely used to calibrate China's spy satellites, Hill said. Satellite cameras focus on the grid, which measures approximately 0.65 miles wide by 1.15 miles long, and use it to orient themselves in space

Two ACP100 modular reactors have been given construction go ahead

CNNC New Energy Corporation will construct two small ACP100, modular nuclear power reactors at a cost of some RMB5 billion ($787 million). Although it has not been disclosed what specific reactor technology will be used for the Zhangzhou units, CNNC has been developing the ACP100 modular design. This is a 100 to 150 MWe pressurized water reactor designed for electricity, heat or desalination. A plant utilizing the design will have a flexible configuration, with between one and eight modules.

The ACP100 uses heat from the reactor for desalination, industrial purposes and residential heating. So it will a cogenerating system. Two other primary benefits are smaller modules are easier to finance and are the size to directly replace the common smaller coal plants and the 30 month construction time is about half the construction time of larger reactors (even the speedy construction times for reactors in China.

China is developing a modular, multipurpose nuclear reactor based on third generation technology (24 pages). The reactor is called the ACP100

Europa Sub Surface Lakes

Data from a NASA planetary mission have provided scientists evidence of what appears to be a body of liquid water, equal in volume to the North American Great Lakes, beneath the icy surface of Jupiter's moon, Europa.

The data suggest there is significant exchange between Europa's icy shell and the ocean beneath. This information could bolster arguments that Europa's global subsurface ocean represents a potential habitat for life elsewhere in our solar system. The findings are published in the scientific journal Nature.

One of the most significant discoveries was the inference of a global salt water ocean below the surface of Europa. This ocean is deep enough to cover the whole surface of Europa and contains more liquid water than all of Earth's oceans combined. However, being far from the sun, the ocean surface is completely frozen. Most scientists think this ice crust is tens of miles thick.

The university of Texas at Austin is involved and has a lot of material

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab is involved as well

Nature - Active formation of ‘chaos terrain’ over shallow subsurface water on Europa

HP project Moonshot for new architecture for extreme low-energy computing

HP has announced a Project Moonshot, which encompasses a new development platform, a discovery lab and an industry ecosystem that will enable HP’s partners to bring cost and energy savings to large-scale, data-intensive computing.
The expected improvements are dramatic, notes HP Fellow Partha Ranganathan. “Our research suggests that for the kinds of workloads and applications that we’re now seeing in hyper-scale environments, we ought to be able to reduce energy consumption by 89%, use 94% less space and see costs that are 63% lower compared to traditional systems,” he says.
HP Redstone Development Platform is the industry’s first server development platform to feature extreme low-energy server processors that consume almost 90 percent less energy.

November 16, 2011

ARM processors and memristors

HP has new ARM hyperscale servers are designed specifically for web loads like video streaming, or data analytics and even web server hosting. Using technology from partner Calxeda, HP presented that a typical web hosting site with 400 servers on 10 racks using 20 switches and 1,600 cables could be consolidated onto their ARM based Redstone platform which, even though it would require 1,600 servers for the same load, would only take up a half of a rack, two switches and 41 cables. Savings is massive with power requirements dropping from 91 kilowatts to 9.9 kilowatts and costs for the system dropping from $3.3M to $1.2M.

HP Labs said this is the first step to replace processor architectures, networking, and storage as we know it with a fabric based on their unique Memristor technology which is apparently close to initial test fabrication.

This would suggest HP is actually on the cusp of a revolution similar to the transistor. If properly executed, the new paradigm could put the company at the heart of an intense technology storm.

Overview of the Mont Blanc ARM-GPU supercomputer project

European scalable and power efficient HPC platform based on low-power embedded technology (12 pages)

Objective 1: To deploy a prototype HPC system based on currently available energy-efficient embedded technology
•Scalable to 50 PFLOPS on 7 MWatt
•Competitive with Green500 leaders in 2014
•Deploy a full HPC system software stack

This will need
•7 GFLOPS / Watt efficiency
•Required improvement on energy efficiency
•3.5x over Blue Gene/Q
• 5x over ATI GPU systems
• 7x over Nvidia GPU systems
•8.5x over SPARC64 multi-core
• 9x over Cell systems

Nanoparticle-Mediated Measurement of Target–Drug Binding in Cancer Cells

Weissleder's team measured drug targeting in live cells and blood samples. From samples as small as 1500 cells, the investigators found that their system could detect differences in PARP expression and drug binding across different tumor types. The results, wrote the researchers, "suggest the potential for a future 'treatment index,' where patients with high drug-binding efficacy would receive lower therapeutic doses, while patients with low drug-binding efficacy would require higher doses or be candidates to receive alternative drugs." The investigators are already at work on a second-generation system that would require even fewer, or even single, cells that might enable clinicians to identify the development of rare drug resistant cells.

ACS Nano - Nanoparticle-Mediated Measurement of Target–Drug Binding in Cancer Cells

Responses to molecularly targeted therapies can be highly variable and depend on mutations, fluctuations in target protein levels in individual cells, and drug delivery. The ability to rapidly quantitate drug response in cells harvested from patients in a point-of-care setting would have far reaching implications. Capitalizing on recent developments with miniaturized NMR technologies, we have developed a magnetic nanoparticle-based approach to directly measure both target expression and drug binding in scant human cells. The method involves covalent conjugation of the small-molecule drug to a magnetic nanoparticle that is then used as a read-out for target expression and drug-binding affinity. Using poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibition as a model system, we developed an approach to distinguish differential expression of PARP in scant cells with excellent correlation to gold standards, the ability to mimic drug pharmacodynamics ex vivo through competitive target–drug binding, and the potential to perform such measurements in clinical samples.

Theory supports existence of subsurface lakes on Europa which would make Europa the most likely place for non-Earth life in the Solar system

A new theory explains the huge piles of jumbled-up icebergs strewn across the cracked and mottled surface of Europa as the tips of subsurface lakes that well up and warm the surface. The existence of such lakes would thrill scientists seeking life beyond Earth, a group long drawn to Europa.

“Europa has the best chance of having life there today,” said Britney Schmidt, who studies the moon at the University of Texas at Austin and led the new study appearing in the journal Nature.

Such lakes could provide a habitat for life or act as channels for organic compounds on Europa’s surface to be drawn into the moon’s far deeper ocean, said Don Blankenship, a geophysicist and Europa specialist also at the University of Texas.

Implanted liver cells acted like a temporary liver to save a boys life

BBC News - Doctors in London say they have cured a baby boy of a life-threatening disease which was destroying his liver. They implanted cells which acted like a temporary liver, allowing the damaged organ to recover.

A virus had damaged his liver causing it to fail.

Instead of going on a waiting list for a transplant, doctors injected donor liver cells into his abdomen.

These processed toxins and produced vital proteins - acting rather like a temporary liver.

The cells were coated with a chemical found in algae which prevented them from being attacked by the immune system.

After two weeks his own liver had begun to recover.

Diseased hearts to heal themselves in future

Cellular reversion processes arise in diseases of the heart muscle, for example myocardial infarction and cardiomyopathy, which limit the fatal consequences for the organ. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim and the Schüchtermann Klinik in Bad Rothenfelde have identified a protein which fulfils a central task in this reversion process by stimulating the regression of individual heart muscle cells into their precursor cells. It is now planned to improve the self-healing powers of the heart with the help of this protein.

In order to regenerate damaged heart muscle as caused by a heart attack, for example, the damaged muscle cells must be replaced by new ones. The number of cells to be replaced may be considerable, depending on the extent of the damage caused. Simpler vertebrates like the salamander adopt a strategy whereby surviving healthy heart muscle cells regress into an embryonic state. This process, which is known as dedifferentiation, produces cells which contain a series of stem cell markers and re-attain their cell division activity. Thus, new cells are produced which convert, in turn, into heart muscle cells. The cardiac function is then restored through the remodelling of the muscle tissue

Crystal erbium compound offers superior optical properties

Arizona State University researchers have created a new compound crystal material that promises to help produce advances in a range of scientific and technological pursuits.

ASU electrical engineering professor Cun-Zheng Ning says the material, called erbium chloride silicate, can be used to develop the next generations of computers, improve the capabilities of the Internet, increase the efficiency of silicon-based photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electrical energy, and enhance the quality of solid-state lighting and sensor technology.

Optical Materials Express - Single-crystal erbium chloride silicate nanowires as a Si-compatible light emission material in communication wavelength

Lightbridge developing larger surface area fuel and all metal nuclear fuels for uprating Pressure Water Reactors by 17 to 30%

Lightbridge is developing two fuel product families for power uprates in existing and new build reactors:

Lightbridge has until recently been focused on nuclear plant fuels that are a mix of Thorium and uranium. They now are developing fuels that appear to be similar to the annular fuel work at MIT, which is also being commercially developed in South Korea.

Nuclear plant uprates are cheaper (2-5 times cheaper per kilowatt) and can be done faster (12-24 months) than building a new nuclear plant (4-6 years in Asia and 6-12 years in the USA).

Lightbridge signed up a new advisory board including executives from Exelon and Duke Energy and Dominion, two other leading nuclear generators, in a sign of their interest in the new fuel. Lightbridge only has about a $39 million stock market valuation, so they will need to partner closely with the larger utilities to bring this technology to market.

Full scale tests of the fuel are scheduled for 2014-2017. The first uprates using the fuel could be in the 2019-2025 timeframe. An aggressive push by the US DOE could enable and expediting approvals from the Nuclear Regulatory agency would enable the uprates to start in 2017 and incentives for a faster deployment through 2025 would have all of the nuclear plants that are in condition to be uprated to have their power increased. This would add about 150 TWh of non-polluting energy.

All-Uranium, seed-and-blanket fuel technology – up to 17% power uprate in existing PWRs;
All-metal fuel technology – up to 30% power uprate in new build PWRs.

Uranium Seed and Blanket Fuel

IBM moving to liquids to cool and power 3D chips and achieve 10 to 100 times more density for compact mobile supercomputers in 2015-2020

New Scientist - To power chips using liquids, Bruno Michel of IBM has chosen a redox flow battery, which exploits the energy released when the oxidation state of a chemical changes. In this set-up, two electrolytes supplied by tanks outside the chip are pumped into the device in parallel channels. These fluids contain different types of vanadium ions, and electrons will flow from one to the other in an external circuit to create a current. Recharging the battery involves applying a voltage to reverse the process.
Flow batteries are ideal for chips because of their high power density, says Michel. The design is usually bulky, but Michel miniaturised it by lining the microfluidic channels with an electrode catalyst.

It takes about 85 kilowatts to run Watson, for example - enough to heat a dozen homes. And the machine's servers take up the same amount of space as 10 large refrigerators.

Using this biologically inspired approach to combine the electrical and cooling systems into one should make it possible to reduce that power consumption considerably. Michel says he and his colleagues have demonstrated that it is possible to use a liquid to transfer power via a network of fluidic channels, and they plan build a working prototype chip by 2014. If successful, we could end up with Watsons in our pockets, powered by a battery akin to that found in a cellphone.

Nanocomp Technologies got a big Defense contract for carbon nanotube yarn and sheets

Nanocomp Technologies, Inc., a developer of performance materials and component products from carbon nanotubes (CNTs), today announced it has been selected by the United States Government to supply CNT yarn and sheet material for the program needs of the Department of Defense, as well as to create a path toward commercialization for civilian industrial use. Nanocomp’s CNT yarn and sheet materials are currently featured within the advanced design programs of several critical DoD and NASA applications.

Nanocomp Technologies has committed to building large-scale manufacturing facility, delivering assured supply of superior nanotube-based materials for critical national defense needs. They have entered into a long-term lease on a 100,000 square foot, high-volume manufacturing facility in Merrimack, N.H., to meet projected production demand.

An example of four seamed CNT panels. Note: the people are for scale only. Image: Nanocomp Technologies Inc.

Breakthrough in loading gold nanorods into cells could lead to new cancer treatment

Rice University chemists have found a way to load more than 2 million tiny gold particles called nanorods into a single cancer cell. The breakthrough could speed development of cancer treatments that would use nanorods like tiny heating elements to cook tumors from the inside.

Angewandte Chemie International Edition - Quantitative Replacement of Cetyl Trimethylammonium Bromide by Cationic Thiol Ligands on the Surface of Gold Nanorods and Their Extremely Large Uptake by Cancer Cells

Stable and biocompatible: The chemical composition of synthesized cationic thiolate-monolayer-protected gold nanorods was precisely determined. In vitro cell culture experiments showed no cytotoxicity of these nanorods, and the number of nanorods that were taken up by each cancer cell exceeded two million particles

HTC Zeta 2.5 Ghz quad-core, HTC Edge and HTC Ville quadcore smartphones

Engadget - the HTC Zeta is a quad-core device but with a faster chip than the HTC Edge at 2.5GHz. It will have a Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8064 CPU. The APQ8064 will have five times the power and use 75% less power.

It will have 4.5in screen size with an HD 720p resolution display.

The processor will be supported by 1GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage and an 1830mAh battery. The leak includes a lot of details including an 8 MP rear facing camera, 1.3MP front facing camera, Bluetooth 4.0 and Beats Audio.

First Spacex Falcon Heavy Demo Launch scheduled for 2012

Spacex has posted a new launch manifest.

The Falcon Heavy Demo Flight is scheduled for late 2012 out of Vandenberg.
Spacex has 2 to 3 International space station resupply missions for each year from 2012-2015.
Spacex has a launch for Bigelow Aerospace in 2015 (presumably to launch one of Bigelow's inflatable commercial space stations)

Spacex also has a posting from Elon Musk which indicates that he is happy with the detailed criteria the U.S. Air Force will use to certify new companies to provide launches for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. He indicates it will open and fair competition.

Spacex Falcon Heavy

New biosensor benefits from melding of carbon nanotubes, DNA

Purdue University scientists have developed a method for stacking synthetic DNA and carbon nanotubes onto a biosensor electrode, a development that may lead to more accurate measurements for research related to diabetes and other diseases.

Standard sensors employ metal electrodes coated with enzymes that react with compounds and produce an electrical signal that can be measured. But the inefficiency of those sensors leads to imperfect measurements.

Carbon nanotubes, cylindrically shaped carbon molecules known to have excellent thermal and electrical properties, have been seen as a possibility for improving sensor performance. The problem is that the materials are not fully compatible with water, which limits their application in biological fluids.

New quantum-dot LED design

By nestling quantum dots in an insulating egg-crate structure, researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have demonstrated a robust new architecture for quantum-dot light-emitting devices (QD-LEDs).

Quantum dots are very tiny crystals that glow with bright, rich colors when stimulated by an electric current. QD-LEDs are expected to find applications in television and computer screens, general light sources, and lasers.

In an early design (left), the path of least resistance was between the quantum dots, so the current bypassed the dots and produced no light. Using the atomic layer deposition (ALD) technique (right), researchers were able to funnel current directly through the dots, creating a fully functional, single-layered QD-LED. Image courtesy of Edward Likovich.

Advanced Materials - High-Current-Density Monolayer CdSe/ZnS Quantum Dot Light-Emitting Devices with Oxide Electrodes
Films of semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) are promising for lighting technologies, but controlling how current flows through QD films remains a challenge. A new design for a QD light-emitting device that uses atomic layer deposition to fill the interstices between QDs with insulating oxide is introduced. It funnels current through the QDs themselves, thus increasing the light emission yield.

November 15, 2011

Lang Xian ping claims a depression has started in China

Economist (Larry) Lang Xianping had for a long time the most popular talkshow on TV in Shanghai until he was sacked because his mandarin did not meet the official standards. Lang was popular because he told his audience the truth about finance, corruption and the people who were involved, a unique take in Chinese TV.

The research publications list of Larry Lang (Lang Xianping) at Hong Kong University.

Larry Lang seems to be saying things for shock value. Like a Rush Limbaugh or a Bill O'Reilly. China has the currency reserves and resources to bail itself out. The concern of the state enterprises has been around in some form for decades. China grew more of a fast growth private sector and the share of the economy from state enterprises shrank. China can manage around $1-3 trillion of non performing loans.

The high rises, highways, and high speed rail are real and very well functioning. I have been in the buildings and on the transportation. The power is being utilized. China would not be burning 3.2 billion tons of coal if the power plants and industry was running at 30% capacity.

China's Debt level and actual inflation are key to the truth or falseness of the claim

The case that the debt levels are not too high first.

Li Yan, a senior analyst at the China Chengxin International Credit Rating Co, told a conference that China's total local and central government debt combined, at 43.6 percent of gross domestic product at the end of 2010, was well below the international alarm level of 60 percent.

China's state auditor has estimated that local governments had chalked up 10.7 trillion yuan in debt by the end of 2010, about half of which amassed during Beijing's stimulus spending at the height of the 2008/2009 global financial crisis.

Local governments have been servicing much of that debt through land sales and real estate ransaction taxes, both of which are slowing in response to a slew of tightening steps to curb the exhuberant property market and fanning worries of a new wave of debt defaults and bad bank loans.

The weighted-average capital adequacy ratio (CAR) of Chinese banks stood at 12.2 percent at the end of June, up from 11.8 percent at the end of March, while the banking system had a bad loan coverage ratio of 218 percent.

E. coli could make biodiesel at extraordinary rate and Venter microbial vision to increase agricultural yield by ten to one hundred times

1. Stanford researchers studying how biodiesel can be generated using E. coli as a catalyst have determined the bacteria have what it takes to produce high volumes of the fuel. Now they need to figure out how to tweak its cellular controls in order to kick it into high gear.

"The good news is that the engine that makes fatty acids in E. coli is incredibly powerful," Khosla said. "It is inherently capable of converting sugar into fuel-like substances at an extraordinary rate. The bad news is this engine is subject to some very tight controls by the cell."

It turns out that like any high performance engine, the catalytic process in E. coli can only attain peak efficiency when all the controls are tuned just right.

Biodiesel has so far lagged behind ethanol as a means of cutting fossil fuel use in vehicles because ethanol is easier and cheaper to make. But biodiesel has a higher energy density and lower water solubility than ethanol, which offer significant advantages.

"It is closer in chemical properties to a barrel of oil from Saudi Arabia than any other biologically derived fuel," Khosla said. Thus it could easily be blended into diesel and gasoline, or used alone as a bona fide transportation fuel.

If researchers can figure out how to manipulate the cellular means of production in E. coli, biodiesel could be made cheaply enough that the little engine of E. coli could end up powering a lot of larger engines at far less cost to the environment than with fossil fuels.

PNAS - In vitro reconstitution and steady-state analysis of the fatty acid synthase from Escherichia coli

Burt Rutan has a Wing in Ground Effect High Speed Seaplane project

Legendary aerospace engineer Burt Rutan is working on a new project, a high-speed winged boat that can double as a seaplane, so he can fly between lakes and rivers near his new home in Coeur d'Alene, a lakeside resort in northern Idaho.

He has his sights set on designing a short-takeoff and landing (STOL) plane. "Getting out and exploring little lakes and rivers in a STOL seaplane is a fantasy, I think, for a pilot," he told the Experimental Aircraft Association.

His plans draw inspiration from large wing Russian ships or "ekranoplans" built during the Cold War (see below). Essentially boats with wings and aircraft engines, they could rise up to 20 or 30 metres above the water. Rutan is thinking of a much smaller wing-boat that could reach high speeds in boat-mode on the water then take off and fly.
(Image: Vincent Rollet/Flickr)

Walmart and China have launched new green standards for 20,000 suppliers and Why China is not Doomed

1. The Atlantic - Walmart and China have launched a bold experiment in consumer behavior and environmental stewardship: to set green standards for 20,000 suppliers making several hundred thousand items sold to billions of shoppers worldwide.

With some 30,000 Chinese factories making things for Walmart, the company’s future was tied to China in the most elemental way. So Scott and his team knew that Walmart could never truly “green” its supply chain without taking on its Chinese partners. But, if China was going to be the laboratory of the future, it was difficult to imagine how even Walmart could wrangle such a far-flung and disparate range of suppliers into a responsive group.

Dealing with China’s out-of-control industrial pollution has in many ways been far harder for Walmart than greening its agricultural product lines. One thing the company did early on was enlist the help of NGOs to monitor and train workers at its suppliers’ factories. This was a bold move, especially in a country where not only are NGOs still relatively undeveloped, but the government and the Party have a deeply ambivalent relationship with civil society.

Walmart has many programs to help advise suppliers on how to reduce energy and water use and reduce emissions. One supplier Loftex has invested more than 4 million RMB (about $650,000) and cut electricity use by 25 percent and water use by 35 percent, achieving its 2012 energy-reduction goals a year ahead of schedule.

Starbase Jupiter and Other Femtotech Possibilities

Joseph Friedlander's ideas on future engineering with AB-Matter (Bolonkin Femtotech). A guest article by Joseph Friedlander.

If Professor Bolonkin's AB-Needles and AB-Matter can be formed and used in quantity then what would be possible in far future space technology ?

Nextbigfuture has reviewed Prof Bolonkin's AB Needle proposal and paper.

Earlier Bolonkin femtotech speculation.

Going beyond molecular nanotechnology to Femtotech

Speculation on a possible path to passive Femtotech

In my correspondence with Professor A.A. Bolonkin he has advanced many wonderful new conceptions but the most amazing of these has got to be the idea of AB-Matter, and its sub-variant of AB-Needles, a hypothetical class of (possibly) buildable nuclear matter, stabilized degenerate matter in small amounts on the femtotech scale (10e-15 m, a million times smaller than nanotech) if it works at all. The basic principle is assembly of nuclear particles in non-clumping nuclear strings, and alignment of these strings with others to make the various perfect linear forms of net, grid, tube, plate, girders and other constructions. They depend on specialized construction rules: Note that the very strength and structural integrity of AB-Matter requires following the design rules and keeping close protons well spaced away on either side of the string of to avoid the attractions that produce the conventional tangled nucleus. A sphere with radius 3 fm cannot contains more than 238 nucleons. That means in a cube 6x6x6 =216 fm3 cannot be more than 238 nucleons.

Stanford LED Nanophotonics uses two thousands of times less energy at 0.25 femto-joules per bit of data

A team at Stanford's School of Engineering has demonstrated an ultrafast nanoscale light-emitting diode (LED) that is orders of magnitude lower in power consumption than today's laser-based systems and is able to transmit data at the very rapid rate of 10 billion bits per second. The new nanoscale device transmits data at ultrafast rates while using thousands of times less energy than current technologies. The nanophotonics device is a major step forward for on-chip data transmission.

Nature Communications - Ultrafast direct modulation of a single-mode photonic crystal nanocavity light-emitting diode

Compact, low power onchip photonics is key to developing zettaflop supercomputers.

Commenting on China income imbalances and how third and fourth tier cities are catching up

There are comments about China's income imbalances.

Some points that I have on coastal versus interior income differences

1. Rural poor are getting lifted up the city levels with the urbanization of 15 to 25 million people every year. Those move to the cities move up to city level wages over a few years.

2. People who live in the cities in the interior can often have more disposable income than people who live in Shanghai and Beijing. There are various statistics which show less of a gap and real life contacts indicate that there are significantly higher levels of disposable income when it is not tied up in expensive property.

Here is an article about the top cities in China in 2010 for per capita disposable income.

China's third and fourth tier cities are catching up.

Over the past decade locations such as Chengdu, Dalian, Nanjing, Qingdao, Shenzhen, Suzhou and Tianjin and so on are well established locations with plenty of infrastructure, international airports, (Suzhou aside, which is so close to Shanghai it doesn’t require one) metro systems and all the mainstream conveniences one could possibly want.

Economic growth has been moving from the coastal regions to the inland regions.

Peter Thiel talks about technological progress, countries, predicting the future and reinvention

Peter Thiel spoke to a group of student entrepreneurs at Stanford and he was asked what he thought the U.S. government should be doing to spur innovation.

Predicting the future and influencing the future

Thiel responded "The U.S. government is socialism without the five-year plan. As a result, we have much worse outcomes than the Soviet Union in the 1950s."

It is considered folly to think that humans can predict and influence the future. Both the right and the left believe that, although may have different opinions about who's in control -- God, free markets, psychology, fashion, or the environment, for instance.

He thinks that's wrong -- people can and should try to predict the future.

New computer chip models neuron communication at the synapse level

MIT researchers have now taken a major step toward brain emulation by designing a computer chip that mimics how the brain’s neurons adapt in response to new information. This phenomenon, known as plasticity, is believed to underlie many brain functions, including learning and memory.

With about 400 transistors, the silicon chip can simulate the activity of a single brain synapse — a connection between two neurons that allows information to flow from one to the other. The researchers anticipate this chip will help neuroscientists learn much more about how the brain works, and could also be used in neural prosthetic devices such as artificial retinas, says Chi-Sang Poon, a principal research scientist in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

Fabricated analog very-large-scale integration (VLSI) chip used to mimic neuronal processes involved in memory and learning.
Image: Guy Rachmuth

DARPA's Robotic Ostrich will over 50 miles per hour and vastly outrun humans

Wired - MIT and the Florida Institute of Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) are in year one of a four-year research contract. They are showing off stunning results that are expected to produce the fastest, most agile robot ever. He’s called FastRunner, and he’ll zip along at 10 times the speed of a standard mobile robot, which clocks a mere 3 miles per hour.

The team has developed a simulation of FastRunner’s eventual capabilities and a full test leg that can zip along at 27 miles an hour — the same pace as Usain Bolt’s record-setting 2009 sprint. Eventually, they hope to see the ‘bot hit speeds in excess of “30, 40, 50 miles an hour,” according to Dr. Russ Tedrake at MIT.

Using ionized plasmas as cheap sterilizers for developing world

University of California, Berkeley, scientists have shown that ionized plasmas like those in neon lights and plasma TVs not only can sterilize water, but make it antimicrobial – able to kill bacteria – for as long as a week after treatment.

Devices able to produce such plasmas are cheap, which means they could be life-savers in developing countries, disaster areas or on the battlefield where sterile water for medical use – whether delivering babies or major surgery – is in short supply and expensive to produce.

“We know plasmas will kill bacteria in water, but there are so many other possible applications, such as sterilizing medical instruments or enhancing wound healing,” said chemical engineer David Graves, the Lam Research Distinguished Professor in Semiconductor Processing at UC Berkeley. “We could come up with a device to use in the home or in remote areas to replace bleach or surgical antibiotics.”

A brief spark in air produces a low-temperature plasma of partially ionized and dissociated oxygen and nitrogen that will diffuse into nearby liquids or skin, where they can kill microbes similar to the way some drugs and immune cells kill microbes by generating similar or identical reactive chemicals. (Courtesy of Steve Graves)

Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics - Long-term antibacterial efficacy of air plasma-activated water

Wood smoke from cooking fires linked to pneumonia, cognitive impacts

Two new studies led by University of California, Berkeley, researchers spotlight the human health effects of exposure to smoke from open fires and dirty cookstoves, the primary source of cooking and heating for 43 percent, or some 3 billion members, of the world’s population. Women and young children in poverty are particularly vulnerable.

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children worldwide. Pneumonia kills an estimated 1.4 million children under the age of five years every year – more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi.

In the first study, the researchers found a dramatic one-third reduction in severe pneumonia diagnoses among children in homes with smoke-reducing chimneys on their cookstoves. The second study uncovered a surprising link between prenatal maternal exposure to woodsmoke and poorer performance in markers for IQ among school-aged children.
An estimated 3 billion people in the world still cook with open fires and dirty cookstoves, including this mother in Guatemala. (Photos by Nigel Bruce, University of Liverpool)

Nextbigfuture has tried to highlight the important issue of indoor air pollution and the need for smoke free cooking before.

700 million black carbon free cookers would save over one million lives per year, reduce birth defects and reduce global warming.
Prior PNAS research - Association of selected persistent organic pollutants in the placenta with the risk of neural tube defects.

Fixing black carbon soot pollution could save almost 2 million lives per year and fixing portions of this soot problem would be the equivalent of lowering one ton of CO2 at a cost of $6 per ton.

Carbon Nanotube Active-Matrix Backplanes for Conformal Electronics and Sensors

NanoLetters - Carbon Nanotube Active-Matrix Backplanes for Conformal Electronics and Sensors (12 pages)

In this paper, we report a promising approach for fabricating large-scale flexible and stretchable electronics using a semiconductor-enriched carbon nanotube solution. Uniform semiconducting nanotube networks with superb electrical properties (mobility of ∼20 cm2 V^-1 s^-1 and ION/IOFF of ∼10^4) are obtained on polyimide substrates. The substrate is made stretchable by laser cutting a honeycomb mesh structure, which combined with nanotubenetwork transistors enables highly robust conformal electronic devices with minimal device-to-device stochastic variations. The utility of this device concept is demonstrated by fabricating an active-matrix backplane (12 X 8 pixels, physical size of 6 X 4 cm2) for pressure mapping using a pressure sensitive rubber as the sensor element

Quantum Confinement Effects in Nanoscale-Thickness InAs Membranes

A team of researchers working out of the University of California, Berkeley, has developed an entirely new class of two-dimensional semiconductor made of indium arsenide. Called quantum membranes, the new material has a band structure and can be turned from a bulk material to a two-dimensional one, simply by reducing its size.

NanoLetters - Quantum Confinement Effects in Nanoscale-Thickness InAs Membranes (24 pages, 5 pages article, 19 pages supplemental )

Nanoscale size effects drastically alter the fundamental properties of semiconductors. Here, we investigate the dominant role of quantum confinement in the field-effect device properties of free-standing InAs nanomembranes with varied thicknesses of 5–50 nm. First, optical absorption studies are performed by transferring InAs “quantum membranes” (QMs) onto transparent substrates, from which the quantized sub-bands are directly visualized. These sub-bands determine the contact resistance of the system with the experimental values consistent with the expected number of quantum transport modes available for a given thickness. Finally, the effective electron mobility of InAs QMs is shown to exhibit anomalous field and thickness dependences that are in distinct contrast to the conventional MOSFET models, arising from the strong quantum confinement of carriers. The results provide an important advance toward establishing the fundamental device physics of two-dimensional semiconductors.

November 14, 2011

Toshiba Portege Z835 Ultrabook for $799

Toshiba is poised to launch a model in its Z830 Portege Ultrabook series for $799.99 at Best Buy, which will be a new low price point for this emerging laptop category. It will be $500 cheaper than the most inexpensive Apple Mac Air.

The Portege Z835 at Best Buy (model: Z835-P330) packs a "Sandy Bridge" 1.4GHz Core i3-2367M processor, 4GB DDR3 memory, 13.3" LED-backlit display (1366x768), and 128GB solid-state drive.

The 0.6-inch thick, 2.5-pound laptop also includes Intel HD 3000 graphics, built-in webcam and microphone, one USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet LAN, Wi-Fi, and Windows 7 Home Premium.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 78

1. Cool Hand Nuke - The Dalai Lama and nuclear energy - An amazing surprise for anti nuclear groups

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama, a revered spiritual leader whose influence is felt far beyond the boundaries of Tibetan Buddhism, startled his followers and the anti-nuclear community this week. In an interview with the news media in Tokyo, he said that there is a role for nuclear energy in the development process. His comments follow a tour of the earthquake and tsunami devastated areas in Japan about 40 miles from Fukushima.

The China Bust Case

Jim Quinn makes the case that China has been inflating an economic bubble and that collapse is imminent within two years.

The Chinese government has created a commercial and residential real estate bubble in an effort to keep peasants employed and not rioting in the streets. In the case of the US subprime mortgage bubble, critical thinkers like Steve Eisman and Michael Burry figured out it was a bubble three years before it burst. Jim Chanos and Andy Xei have been warning about this Chinese bubble for over a year. They have been scorned by the same Wall Street shills who denied the US housing bubble

Jim Chanos has been calling a China bubble for over two years.

Jim Quinn made the same case 18 months ago and there has been no major collapse yet.

The supposed pieces of China house of cards do not add up to an economic collapse

Obese Monkeys Lose 11% of Weight on Drug that Attacks Blood Supply of Fat Cells

Obese rhesus monkeys lost on average 11 percent of their body weight after four weeks of treatment with an experimental drug that selectively destroys the blood supply of fat tissue, a research team led by scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Body mass index (BMI) and abdominal circumference (waistline) also were reduced, while all three measures were unchanged in untreated control monkeys. Imaging studies also showed a substantial decrease in body fat among treated animals.

“Development of this compound for human use would provide a non-surgical way to actually reduce accumulated white fat, in contrast to current weight-loss drugs that attempt to control appetite or prevent absorption of dietary fat,” said co-senior author Renata Pasqualini, Ph.D., professor in MD Anderson’s David H. Koch Center for Applied Research of Genitourinary Cancers.

Science Translational Medicine - A Peptidomimetic Targeting White Fat Causes Weight Loss and Improved Insulin Resistance in Obese Monkeys

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