January 07, 2012

China Broad Group constructs 30 story building in 15 days

We have been closely tracking China's Broad Group and their prefabricated factory mass produced 'Can be Built' skyscraper technology. Six months ago they had earthquake certified a scale model of their 30 story building. now they have built an actual 30 story building in 15 days at the end of 2011.

UPDATE - There is a follow up article that discusses the impact of this technology on skylines of cities in the future. A big factor will be the lowering of costs by three times to ten times. It will become affordable to build three times higher for the same price.

China's Broad Group site for their Can Be Built technology is here

This is one of the key technologies to watch for the next decade or two. The reason is the construction methods use far less cement and are more energy efficient. They will also enable faster urbanization of the developing world (not just China.) With state backing Broad Group will have this technology in use for more high rise commercial construction by 2020. This is part of the mundane singularity of technologies that mostly exist now and can high impact on the world.

The buildings are five times more energy efficient in operation and use about 6 times less cement.

They plan to build one hundred and fifty 30-story apartment building, hotel, office plans using the new system. They have started building a 1.33-million-square meter “NO.1 Sustainable Building Factory” and it will be able to produce 10 million square meters of mass produced skyscrapers (about 100 million square feet) each year. The 30 story building is 183000 square feet so the factory can produce about 500 of the 30 story building each year and many more factories will be built.

January 06, 2012

Implanted biofuel cell converts bug's chemistry into electricity

An insect's internal chemicals can be converted to electricity, potentially providing power for sensors, recording devices or to control the bug, a group of researchers at Case Western Reserve University report.

The finding is yet another in a growing list from universities across the country that could bring the creation of insect cyborgs – touted as possible first responders to super spies – out of science fiction and into reality. In this case, the power supply, while small, doesn't rely on movement, light or batteries, just normal feeding.

The Next Big Step Toward Atom-Specific Dynamical Chemistry

Berkeley Labs Belkacem’s research focuses on creating better ways to track the evolution of energy and charge on the molecular level. For this purpose, one of the sharpest tools in his chemist’s kit goes by the jawbreaking name “nonlinear multidimensional spectroscopy.”

For an outstanding example of the vital questions nonlinear multidimensional electronic spectroscopy can answer, Belkacem points to the work of Graham Fleming, founder of Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division. Fleming has tracked energy flow in photosynthesis, demonstrating the electronic coherence among structures in the photosynthetic reaction centers that transform sunlight energy into chemical energy.

“That was done with visible light,” Belkacem says. “We want to do this same kind of chemistry with x-rays.” That’s because understanding photosynthesis and other complex systems means learning how electronic charge is transferred among specific atomic sites, in particular by grasping how valence states are correlated.

A neon atom has two electrons in the 1s orbital, two in the 2s orbital, and six in the 2p orbital; the 3 shell is normally unoccupied. In the first test of nonlinear multidimensional spectroscopy with neon, Belkacem’s team will boost an electron in the relatively low-energy 2s orbital into the 3p orbital, an excited valence state. Within quadrillionths of a second a 2p electron will fill the 2s “hole,” so that when the 3p electron relaxes, it will emit a photon signaling the transaction.

Molecular motor controls molecular transformation

Reserachers demonstrate control of a chemical reaction by an artificial molecular machine. They constructed a light-driven molecular motor that catalyses different chemical reactions as the motor is stepped through its rotary cycle.

Dynamic Control of Chiral Space in a Catalytic Asymmetric Reaction Using a Molecular Motor (5 pages)

Enzymes and synthetic chiral catalysts have found widespread application to produce single enantiomers, but in situ switching of the chiral preference of a catalytic system is very difficult to achieve. Here, we report on a light-driven molecular motor with integrated catalytic functions in which the stepwise change in configuration during a 360° unidirectional rotary cycle governs the catalyst performance both with respect to activity and absolute stereo control in an asymmetric transformation. During one full rotary cycle, catalysts are formed that provide either racemic (R,S) or preferentially the R or the S enantiomer of the chiral product of a conjugate addition reaction. This catalytic system demonstrates how different molecular tasks can be performed in a sequential manner, with the sequence controlled by the directionality of a rotary cycle

(H/T Foresight nanodot)

Schematic illustration of an integrated unidirectional light-driven molecular motor and bifunctional organocatalyst (top) and the molecular structure of (2R,2′R)-(P,P)- trans-1 (bottom). The motor comprises a rotor and stator connected by an alkene moiety that functions as the axle. A and B are DMAP and thiourea catalytic groups, respectively, that can cooperate as Brønsted base and hydrogen bond donor in an organocatalytic conjugate addition. Clockwise rotation (seen from the stator side) of the rotor around the axle, by photochemically and thermally induced steps, controls the position and helical orientation of the catalytic groups A and B, providing sequentially catalysts I, II, and III with different activities and stereoselectivities. The last two isomerization steps [steps 3 and 4 of the 360°C rotary cycle (see Fig. 2)] reset the catalyst to its initial stage I.

Carnival of space 230

Carnival of Space 229

First white space radio communication device approved three years after white space spectrum was allocated

Three years after broadcast television had to switch to digital over the air transmission, there has finally been the first approval of a white space communication device

The Agility White Space Radio system from Koos Technical Services, which is targeted towards broadband service providers or industrial customers. Capable of handling IP-based traffic at data rates that range from 1.5 to 3.1 megabytes per second, the new radio is limited to fixed-point installations and has approval for operation only in Wilmington, North Carolina, but nationwide expansion is expected.

Ars Technica - In 2007, the White Spaces Coalition promised download speeds of up to 80Mbps to our homes using the white spaces in the analog TV spectrum. They also expect 400 to 800 Mbps for white space short-range networking.

The white space technology is still capable of theoretically delivering on those promises if the regulators would allow them to operate in that mode.

Bloodstream robots for medicine about 3-5 years away for clinical use

Journal of Applied Physics - Precise manipulation of a microrobot in the pulsatile flow of human blood vessels using magnetic navigation system (3 pages)

This paper proposes a method to precisely manipulate a microrobot in the pulsatile flow that simulates the flow characteristics of human blood vessels by utilizing the electromagnetic transfer function of a magnetic navigation system (MNS). The frequency response characteristics of the MNS were utilized so that the input voltages in each coil can precisely generate the required time varying magnetic force of a microrobot. An experiment which successfully anchoring a microrobot in a pulsatile flow was conducted to verify the proposed method.
The bloodstream robot is inside simulated blood vessels

There are many other researchers working on bloodstream robots but we are still about 3 to 5 years away from clinical use because of the regulatory timeline.

Only one in five Chinese cities have satisfactory air quality for 2.5 micron air quailty standard

China Daily - The chinese public will be able to view Beijing air-quality monitoring data using the PM2.5 (2.5 micron particle) gauge for the first time, as authorities plan to release it before the Spring Festival holiday begins on Jan 23, an official with Beijing's Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said Thursday.

Inquirer News - China Daily has said that if PM2.5 were used as China’s main standard, only 20 percent of Chinese cities would be rated as having satisfactory air quality, against the current 80 percent.

This is in response to a public outcry against plans to only provide the data nationally 2016. PM10 is reported but PM2.5 has more health impacts. The public debate on PM2.5 and PM10 first began when it came to light that air-quality monitoring results released by Beijing's weather forecast station and the US Embassy in Beijing often differed. The public has urged government authorities to apply the tighter PM2.5 standard, which measures finer matter that is considered more hazardous to people's health, as it can go deeper into the lungs.

PM2.5-airborne pollutants smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter-monitors are unveiled for the first time in Beijing.

Lancet conservatively estimates 149—271 million people used an illicit drug worldwide in 2009

Lancet - Extent of illicit drug use and dependence, and their contribution to the global burden of disease

* The illegality of opioids, amphetamines, cocaine, and cannabis precludes the accurate estimation of how many people use these drugs, how many people are problem users, and what harms their use causes.

* An estimated 149—271 million (2 to 4% of world population) people used an illicit drug worldwide in 2009: 125—203 million cannabis users; 15—39 million problem users of opioids, amphetamines, or cocaine; and 11—21 million who injected drugs.

* Levels of illicit drug use seem to be highest in high-income countries and in countries near major drug production areas, but data for their use in low-income countries are poor.

* Cannabis use is associated with dependence and mental disorders, including psychoses, but does not seem to substantially increase mortality.

* Illicit opioid use is a major cause of mortality from fatal overdose and dependence; HIV, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B infections from unsafe injection practices are important consequences in people who inject opioids, cocaine, or amphetamines.

* Adverse health outcomes such as mental disorders, road-traffic accidents, suicides, and violence seem to be increased in opioid, cocaine, and amphetamine users. To what extent these associations are causal is unclear, because confounding variables are not always controlled and quantification of risk is poor.

* Global burden of disease estimates suggest that in high-income countries, the contribution of illicit drug use is a substantial proportion of that attributable to alcohol.

* These estimates probably underestimate the true burden because only a few effects of problem use of opioids, cocaine, and amphetamines are included. The global burden of disease 2010 study will address these limitations.
Estimated mortality attributable to injecting or problematic drug use according to several major causes, compared with alcohol and tobacco—2000 Global Burden of Disease comparative risk assessment

Beer belly is biggest body issue for men

A major national study examining British men's attitudes to their appearance reveals that over four in five (80.7%) men regularly engage in conversation about one another's body and that most are unhappy with their muscularity. The study found that men talk most about their unhappiness with their stomach, referred to most commonly as their beer belly.

This desire for more muscle mass may explain why one in five (18.2%) men questioned is on a high protein diet, and nearly one in three (32%) use protein supplements.

Stem Cell 100 is a herbal mixture that has been tested for improving longevity enhancement on fruit flies. Fruit flies have 70% of the same genetic material as humans

Stem Cell 100 claims the following benefits

* Loss of belly fat that was resistant to other efforts.
* Younger looking, smoother and more elastic skin.
* General mood elevation.
* Sinus clearing and better breathing.
* Improvement in gum health.
* Improvement in eye sight.
* More endurance during vigorous workouts.

I have personally used Stem cell 100 for one year and I believe that it has helped me to lose weight and keep it off and to lose belly fat that was resistant to other efforts. However, this is part of a program of fairly regular exercise and trying to keep to a South Beach diet (different phases depending upon weight situation at the time).

Brain function starts to decline as early as age 45

British Medical Journal - Timing of onset of cognitive decline: results from Whitehall II prospective cohort study University College London researchers found a 3.6% decline in mental reasoning in women and men aged 45-49.

Tests of memory, reasoning, vocabulary, and phonemic and semantic fluency, assessed three times over 10 years.
Decline in cognitive test scores over 10 years (% change=change/range of text×100) as function of baseline age cohort in men and women, estimated from linear mixed models. P values denote test for linear trend across age categories, derived by entering them as continuous variable


All cognitive scores, except vocabulary, declined in all five age categories (age 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, and 65-70 at baseline), with evidence of faster decline in older people. In men, the 10 year decline, shown as change/range of test×100, in reasoning was −3.6% (95% confidence interval −4.1% to −3.0%) in those aged 45-49 at baseline and −9.6% (−10.6% to −8.6%) in those aged 65-70. In women, the corresponding decline was −3.6% (−4.6% to −2.7%) and −7.4% (−9.1% to −5.7%). Comparisons of longitudinal and cross sectional effects of age suggest that the latter overestimate decline in women because of cohort differences in education. For example, in women aged 45-49 the longitudinal analysis showed reasoning to have declined by −3.6% (−4.5% to −2.8%) but the cross sectional effects suggested a decline of −11.4% (−14.0% to −8.9%).

Individual GaN Nanowires Exhibit Strong Piezoelectricity in 3D

Nanoletters - Individual GaN Nanowires Exhibit Strong Piezoelectricity in 3D

Semiconductor GaN NWs are promising components in next generation nano- and optoelectronic systems. In addition to their direct band gap, they exhibit piezoelectricity, which renders them particularly attractive in energy harvesting applications for self-powered devices. Nanowires are often considered as one-dimensional nanostructures; however, the electromechanical coupling leads to a third rank tensor that for wurtzite crystals (GaN NWs) possesses three independent coefficients, d33, d13, and d15. Therefore, the full piezoelectric characterization of individual GaN NWs requires application of electric fields in different directions and measurements of associated displacements on the order of several picometers. In this Letter, we present an experimental approach based on scanning probe microscopy to directly quantify the three-dimensional piezoelectric response of individual GaN NWs. Experimental results reveal that GaN NWs exhibit strong piezoelectricity in three dimensions, with up to six times the effect in bulk. Based on finite element modeling, this finding has major implication on the design of energy harvesting systems exhibiting unprecedented levels of power density production. The presented method is applicable to other piezoelectric NW materials as well as wires manufactured along different crystallographic orientations.

Researchers create a wire 4 atoms wide, 1 atom tall

The smallest wires ever developed in silicon - just one atom tall and four atoms wide - have been shown by a team of researchers from the University of New South Wales, Melbourne University and Purdue University to have the same current-carrying capability as copper wires.

Experiments and atom-by-atom supercomputer models of the wires have found that the wires maintain a low capacity for resistance despite being more than 20 times thinner than conventional copper wires in microprocessors.

* For engineers it could provide a roadmap to future nanoscale computational devices where atomic sizes are at the end of Moore's law. The theory shows that a single dense row of phosphorus atoms embedded in silicon will be the ultimate limit of downscaling.

* For computer scientists, it places donor-atom based silicon quantum computing closer to realization.

* And for physicists, the results show that Ohm's Law, which demonstrates the relationship between electrical current, resistance and voltage, continues to apply all the way down to an atomic-scale wire.

Wires just one atom tall have been created by inserting a string of phosphorus atoms in a silicon crystal by a team of researchers from the Univeristy of New South Wales, Melbourne Univeristy and Purdue University. This image from a computational simulation run of the wires shows electron density as electrons flow from left to right. The wires are 20 times smaller than the smallest wires now available and measure just four atoms wide by one phosphorus atom tall. (Purdue University image/Sunhee Lee, Hoon Ryu and Gerhard Klimeck)

3-D cameras for cellphones

Clever math could enable a high-quality 3-D camera so simple, cheap and power-efficient that it could be incorporated into handheld devices.

At MIT, researchers have used the Kinect to create a “Minority Report”-style computer interface, a navigation system for miniature robotic helicopters and a holographic-video transmitter, among other things.

Now imagine a device that provides more-accurate depth information than the Kinect, has a greater range and works under all lighting conditions — but is so small, cheap and power-efficient that it could be incorporated into a cellphone at very little extra cost.

Depth-sensing cameras can produce 'depth maps' like this one, in which distances are depicted as shades on a gray-scale spectrum (lighter objects are closer, darker ones farther away). Image: flickr/Dominic

January 05, 2012

Scientists ‘hijack’ bacterial immune system

A team of University of Georgia researchers has discovered how to harness this bacterial immune system to selectively target and silence genes. The finding, published today in the early online edition of the journal Molecular Cell, reveals a powerful new tool that has far-reaching implications for biotechnology and biomedical research.

The bacterial immune system consists of two components. The first is an RNA (a molecule that, like DNA, contains genetic information) that acts as a homing signal to target a virus or another cellular invader. The second component is a complex of proteins that cleaves the invader's genetic material. In a 2009 paper published in the journal Cell, Terns, co-principal investigator Becky Terns and their colleagues were the first to describe how this pathway, known as the Cmr branch of the CRISPR-Cas immune system, works.

In their latest study, the researchers further their understanding of the system and use that in-depth knowledge to essentially hijack the bacterial immune system to direct its homing system to a target of their choosing. Using customized CRISPR RNAs with a modified homing signal, the scientists were able to destroy the message for a protein that is responsible for resistance to the most commonly prescribed family of antibiotics, the beta-lactam antibiotics (that includes, for example, amoxicillin).

Photoinduced write-once read-many-times memory device based on DNA biopolymer nanocomposite

Eurekalert - In an effort to make data storage more cost-effective, a group of researchers from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany have created a DNA-based memory device that is "write-once-read-many-times" (WORM), and that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to make it possible to encode information. The device, described in a paper accepted to the AIP's Applied Physics Letters, consists of a thin film of salmon DNA that has been embedded with silver nanoparticles and then sandwiched between two electrodes. Shining UV light on the system enables a light-triggered synthesis process that causes the silver atoms to cluster into nano-sized particles, and readies the system for data encoding. In some cases, using DNA may be less expensive to process into memory devices than using traditional, inorganic materials like silicon, the researchers say.

At first, when no voltage or low voltage is applied through the electrodes to the UV-irradiated DNA, only a low current is able to pass through the composite; this corresponds to the "off" state of the device. But the UV irradiation makes the composite unable to hold charge under a high electric field, so when the applied voltage exceeds a certain threshold, an increased amount of charge is able to pass through. This higher state of conductivity corresponds to the "on" state of the device.

Interview of technocrat Mayor of Chongqing gives insight into how China is managing real estate

Wall Street Journal - Huang Qifan is the mayor of the southwestern China metropolis Chongqing and one of the country’s most well-known voices on property market issues. He is now spearheading one of the largest buildups of subsidized housing in China, which itself is undertaking one of the world’s largest-ever such projects. He discussed Chongqing’s goals for real-estate affordability, regulation and development, supporting his technocratic arguments with an array of figures and by making comparisons with the situation in the U.S. property market.

From the interview, it appears the technocrats in China have a reasonable handle on the property market situation.

NOTE - if the metrics and ratios that the Mayor of Chongqing cites are correct then they can also be used to manage and limit real estate bubbles in other countries (like the US and Europe).

Mayor Huang - We have already adopted four specific measures to regulate and address the property market in Chongqing. First of all we look at property as consumer goods, so we struck a balance between the supply and demand. Each year the government investment in the property market will be no larger than 20% of government investment in fixed assets. Thirdly, we have already initiated some pilot projects here in Chongqing in collecting property tax. Fourthly, we also came up with a rational leverage ratio in terms of mortgage loans. The first time buyers have to pay 30% down payment, the second home needs you to pay 60% down payment and purchasing the third home you have to pay fully.

I think my model here covering these four aspects is really working very well here in Chongqing and I think it will also work very well in China at large, and even I think we can provide this model to the United States for its reference.

I think with these four measures effectively implemented we will accomplish that objective to enable the home buyers to buy a home with six or seven years of family income. If there is any one of these four measures that fails to be properly implemented I think there will be two kinds of scenarios: first of all excessive bubbles on the market and secondly sluggishness of the market.

In the past 10 years in the United States we saw that around the year 2000 the financial companies came up with the sub-prime loan products and it only took six or seven years to create excessive bubbles on the market, which led to the crisis in 2008. That crisis cut the value of the market by 30%. I think this is something triggered by the policy of zero down payment.

Diabetic Mice Provide a Surprising Breakthrough for Multiple Sclerosis Research

By using a mouse model for diabetes Israeli researchers may provide a surprising breakthrough for research into a cure for Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

The team has discovered that when mice with Type 1 Diabetes are injected with myelin protein — the insulating material that coats neurons — they experience the periods of relapsing and remitting disability associated with brain lesions in humans. And for the first time, they've been able to monitor this brain lesion process using magnetic resonance imaging.

Dr. Frenkel believes his finding will lead to the development of more effective treatments for MS.

Fund Managers consider China Hard Landing Fears are overblown

Morningstar - In general, [Prominent emerging market fund managers] managers say that concerns about a "hard landing"--meaning that the Chinese economy will head south quickly and suffer a serious slowdown or even a recession--are overblown. Many, though, do expect China's economy to continue slowing, partly due to government actions, and they do worry about the country's financials sector in particular.

"In China, we expect growth will slow, but by how much remains the question," Artio International Equity (BJBIX) managers Rudolph-Riad Younes and Richard Pell wrote to shareholders recently. "We do not see the hard landing expected by the markets ... in our view, China has ample latitude from both a monetary and fiscal perspective to deal with a slowing global economy."

Goldman Sachs forecasts the BRIC economies with concerns on aging demographics

Blomoberg - Aging and shrinking labor pools are also poised to curb expansion across the other so-called BRIC nations that contributed almost half of global growth in the past decade. With fewer youths keeping factories going and more pensioners to support in those markets, the world economy is set to slow, Goldman Sachs says.

The number of people older than 65 in Brazil, Russia, India and China will rise 46 percent to 295 million by 2020 and to 412 million by 2030, according to United Nations projections. The pool of 15 to 24-year-olds, the mainstay for factories like Liu’s that drove China’s boom for three decades, will fall by 61 million by 2030, about the population of Italy.

As the BRICs slow down, global growth probably will peak at about 4.3 percent this decade and fall to 3.9 percent in the 2020s, according a Dec. 7 report by Goldman analysts. That’s prompting fund managers including Mark Mobius to invest in so- called frontier markets such as Nigeria, Vietnam and Argentina, where average annual growth is set to rise to 5.1 percent this decade, from about 4.3 percent in the previous 10 years.

Goldman Sachs Asset Management Chairman Jim O’Neill, who coined the BRICs acronym a decade ago, said other emerging economies may now be better investments -- especially Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt and Mexico.

BRIC Country average annual GDP growth by decade per Goldman
2000-2009   7.9% 
2010-2019   6.9%
2020-2029   5.3%

With a little less ineptness the world economy could muddle through

1. Economist - Self-induced sluggishness - This year will probably be a pretty bad one for the world economy; it doesn’t have to be The Economist makes that case that with a little less ineptness the world economy could muddle through. There is no excuse for the lack of clarity around the euro zone’s future, nor for America’s fiscal paralysis. Europeans do not need to compound the peripheral economies’ problems with even deeper austerity. A more calibrated approach with more financing and more structural reforms makes far more sense.

The pessimism looks a little overdone. The worst outcomes—a collapse of Europe’s single currency or a hard landing in China—are avoidable. The latest crop of statistics, particularly better-than-expected figures on global manufacturing prospects, argue against a sudden slump. America may do a bit better than forecast. The overall effect should be sluggish, not dire: global output may grow by 3%, the slowest since 2009 and well below the average of the past decade.

One reason why the outlook is so lacklustre is that politicians—especially in the West—will do little to help (and may harm) their economies.

The euro zone has almost certainly already slipped into recession, which most forecasters expect to be short and shallow: a group of seers polled regularly by The Economist estimates that output will fall by 0.5% in 2012. The case for a mild downturn assumes that Europe’s policymakers, however haltingly, are on course to solve their debt crisis; that the European Central Bank (ECB) has reduced the risk of a debt calamity with its recent provision of three-year liquidity to banks; and that the impact of fiscal austerity on growth will be brief and modest.

Those hopes may be misplaced. Uncertainty about the euro zone’s future is still acute, not least because its politicians are more focused on preventing future profligacy than supporting embattled economies today.

Emerging markets may stumble. China’s economy is clearly cooling. And even if, as seems likely, Beijing loosens macroeconomic policy deftly enough to prevent a sharp slowdown, growth this year is likely to be no more than 8%.

US planning to reduce military spending by $450 to $950 billion over the next decade

NY Times - President Obama outlined a broad new military strategy for the United States on Thursday, one that refocuses the armed forces on threats in Asia and the Pacific region, continues a strong presence in the Middle East but makes clear that American ground forces will no longer be large enough to conduct prolonged, large-scale counterinsurgency campaigns like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The US is dropping the "able to fight and win two wars at the same time" doctrine.

The military be able to carry out two sustained ground wars at one time, as was required under past national military strategies.

Instead, the military would be required to fight and win one war, spoil the military aspirations of another adversary in a different region of the world, and all the while be able to conduct humanitarian relief operations and other contingencies, like continuing counterterrorism missions and enforcing a no-fly zone.

Mr. Panetta has concluded that the Army has to shrink even below current targets, dropping to 490,000 soldiers over the next decade, but that the United States should not cut any of its 11 aircraft carriers, according to Pentagon officials and military analysts briefed on the secretary’s budget proposals.

The new military strategy is driven by at least $450 billion in Pentagon budget cuts over the next decade. An additional $500 billion in cuts could be ordered if Congress follows through on plans for deeper reductions.

More Than a Million Cancer Deaths Avoided in 2 Decades

American Cancer Society - A total of 1,638,910 new cancer cases and 577,190 deaths from cancer are projected to occur in the U.S. in 2012. Between 1990/1991 and 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, overall death rates decreased by about 23% in men and 15% in women. This translates to more than 1 million deaths from cancer that were avoided.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about one-third of cancer deaths in 2012 will be caused by tobacco use and another third will be related to overweight or obesity, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition.

The 5-year relative survival rate for all cancers diagnosed between 2001 and 2007 is 67%, up from 49% in 1975-1977. Cancer death rates are continuing to fall, dropping by 1.8 percent per year in men and 1.6 percent per year in women between 2004 and 2008.

68 page 2012 cancer report - Cancer Facts and figures 2012

DARPA and others develop more effective anti-radiation treatments and reminder of Toshiba new system for removing radiation contamination

There are several new treatments for radiation. They can taken up to a day after exposure and at least one can be taken to mitigate damage before exposure. There is also new systems for more effectively removing radioactive material from contaminated land. There are several ways to reinforce buildings to make them more damage and fire resistant.

Nextbigfuture believes that civil defense should be reinvented to reduce the property and health damage by hundreds of times.

The antiradiation treatments would also help those who are undergoing radiation treatment for cancer. Dwave system quantum computer also enable treatment plans that reduce unneeded radiation exposure for cancer treatment.

1. Scientists working on a DARPA-funded research effort have determined that an antibiotic and a protein fight radiation sickness more effectively when they are combined than when used separately. While doctors already use antibiotics to treat radiation sickness, researchers have found that adding bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein (BPI), a protein found in immune systems, allowed them to increase the survival rates of mice exposed to toxic levels of radiation to nearly 80 percent. More important, this treatment with BPI and antibiotics was effective up to a day after exposure to radiation.

“The fact that this treatment can be administered up to a day after radiation exposure is so important,” said Millie Donlon, DARPA’s program manager for this effort. “This is because most of the existing treatments we have require they be administered within hours of exposure to potentially lethal radiation – something that might not always be possible in the confusion that would likely follow such an exposure event.” Humans are known to be more sensitive than mice to the endotoxins treated by BPI, making a treatment such as this potentially more effective in humans. These are commonly used drugs that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in other scenarios such as bone marrow transplants and radiation treatment. They also have a long shelf life, making them easy to stockpile for future use.

Researchers have yet to determine why the combination of BPI and antibiotics work so well together. They’ve found, however, that mice that received both of these drugs not only had higher survival rates, but also started generating new bloods cells more quickly. This has potential for positive impact on many logistical considerations tied to radiation exposure, such as need for hospital time and requirements for donors and transfusions.

This research is the result of earlier efforts in this area conducted as part of DARPA’s Radiation Bio-Dosimetry (RaBiD) program. RaBiD was an effort to develop non- or minimally invasive, portable and low-cost radiation bio-dosimeters, as well as novel radiation mitigation technologies that can be administered 12 or more hours after exposure and provide better than 90-percent survivability to humans

Japan plans robotic farms for tsunami damaged land

Taipei Times/AFP - Japan is planning a futuristic farm where robots do the lifting in an experimental project on land swamped by the March tsunami, the government said yesterday.

This report also shows that Japan is working to remediate land by removing more widespread salt from soil. There is also new technology for removing radioactive material from a smaller area of land.

Under an agriculture ministry plan, unmanned tractors would work fields where pesticides would have been replaced by LEDs keeping rice, wheat, soybeans, fruit and vegetables safe until robots can put them in boxes.

Carbon dioxide produced by machinery working on the up to 250 hectare site would be channeled back to crops to boost their growth and reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers, the Nikkei newspaper said.

The agricultural ministry will begin on-site research later this year with a plan to spend around ¥4 billion (US$52 million) over the next six years, a ministry official said.

Land in Miyagi Prefecture, about 300km north of Tokyo, which was flooded by seawater on March 11, has been earmarked for the so-called “Dream Project.”

The tsunami, sparked by a magnitude 9 earthquake, inundated the country’s northeast, killing more than 19,000 people, according to the latest figures.

It also badly polluted the land, leaving it laden with salt and depositing oil on fields, with about 24,000 hectares of once-fertile farmland damaged by the tsunami, earthquake and fallout from the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Nanowhisker superconductor at 17K will enable light weight cloth like superconductors

The National Institute for Materials Science succeeded in realizing superconductivity in fullerene nanowhiskers, which are a nanosized carbon material that is lightweight and has a fine fibrous shape. This is a giant step toward the birth of lightweight, flexible superconducting materials.

The National Institute for Materials Science succeeded in realizing superconductivity in fullerene nanowhiskers, which are a nanosized carbon material that is lightweight and has a fine fibrous shape. Among the conventional superconducting materials, superconductors with comparatively high superconducting transition temperatures were mainly intermetallic compounds or ceramics, and those were often heavy, hard materials.

Critical current density of the developed fullerene nanowhisker superconductor (5K). The critical current density remains constant over a wide range of field intensities, showing that this material has excellent superconducting properties.

January 04, 2012

Economist predicts ten fastest countries by GDP growth for 2012

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s forecast the ten fastest growing national economies for 2012 The list is countries recovering from war, Mongolia's resource fueled boom, some other small oil economies and China.

The Next Big Things in Tech according to CIO

CIO publishes the PC world predictions for the next big thing in tech. The list is ok, but several will take many years to have impact.

* Smartphones Will Replace Desktops. Tablets, smartphones and ultrabooks are crushing the traditional desktop computers
* Battery technology announced in September by the National University of Singapore reportedly will hold 20 times the charge of a traditional lithium ion battery and be ten times cheaper This will take many years to commercialize and scale up.
* Augmented reality - mostly found in smartphone apps, as a convenient way to display info for user, but could come to car windshields and windows in homes eventually
* Health Tech - there are eight different health tech companies on the 2011 Wall Street Journal list of the top 50 venture funded companies.

Case that More than Free Markets are Needed

Bitworking makes the argument that it is time we stopped believing in the Free Market Fairy.

Now no one on the right is using the term Free Market Fairy - they use is "free markets", or very rarely "invisible hand" - but let's be very clear that they are invoking not a general theory of markets nor a deep understanding of economic systems, but instead a magical mythical benevolent force that can do only good and can never do harm and will solve all the world's problems if only we'd let it. I will refer to that force as the Free Market Fairy.

The Free Market Fairy is a very different creature from the original Invisible Hand of Adam Smith, who only mentions it briefly in all of his works where it is couched in a whole framework of economic theory. Today we know that Adam Smith's Invisible Hand is the operation of free markets to maximize efficiency. It is the beginning of an understanding of emergent behavior, the power of individuals, acting locally, that can produce globally things no individual could produce.

So let's retire the myth of the Free Market Fairy and get back to a reality-based strategy of using free markets, taxes, regulation and public spending to make the world a better place. Little things like rebuilding our transportation and energy infrastructure, expanding broadband access to everyone, and providing universal health insurance.

Energy-storage membrane outstrips existing rechargeable batteries and supercapacitors in energy density and cost

Researchers from the NUS Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Initiative (NUSNNI) have developed the world's first energy-storage membrane. It is claimed to hold 20 times the charge of a traditional lithium ion battery and to be ten times cheaper How fast can this technology with superior charasteristics be scaled up to large scale commercialization ?

This was previously covered here

This translates to an energy cost of 10-20 watt-hour per US dollar for the membrane, as compared to just 2.5 watt-hour per US dollar for lithium ion batteries. This is 4 to 8 times cheaper.

The research team, led by Principal Investigator Dr Xie Xian Ning, used a polystyrene-based polymer to deposit the soft, foldable membrane converted from organic waste which, when sandwiched between and charged by two graphite plates, can store charge at 0.2 farads per square centimetre. This capability was well above the typical upper limit of 1 microfarad per square centimetre for a standard capacitor. The cost involved in energy storage is also drastically reduced with this invention, from about US$7 to store each farad using existing technologies based on liquid electrolytes to about US$0.62 per farad.

Dr Xie said: "Compared to rechargeable batteries and supercapacitors, the proprietary membrane allows for very simple device configuration and low fabrication cost. Moreover, the performance of the membrane surpasses those of rechargeable batteries, such as lithium ion and lead-acid batteries, and supercapacitors."

Strategic need for ultrabroadband and Sonic.net fights to be permited to provide $70/month gigabit internet

NY Times - Thomas Friedman notices no one running for president (or who is president) is pushing an aggressive plan for gigabit per second or faster internet for cities with top universities.

The best of these [innovation] ecosystems will be cities and towns that combine a university, an educated populace, a dynamic business community and the fastest broadband connections on earth. These will be the job factories of the future. The countries that thrive will be those that build more of these towns that make possible “high-performance knowledge exchange and generation,” explains Blair Levin, who runs the Aspen Institute’s Gig.U project, a consortium of 37 university communities working to promote private investment in next-generation ecosystems.

America is focused too much on getting “average” bandwidth to the last 5 percent of the country in rural areas, rather than getting “ultra-high-speed” bandwidth to the top 5 percent, in university towns, who will invent the future. By the end of 2012, he adds, South Korea intends to connect every home in the country to the Internet at one gigabit per second. “That would be a tenfold increase from the already blazing national standard, and more than 200 times as fast as the average household setup in the United States."

The critical questions for America today have to be how we deploy more ultra-high-speed networks and applications in university towns to invent more high-value-added services and manufactured goods and how we educate more workers to do these jobs — the only way we can maintain a middle class.

So for those watching U.S. broadband policy, between Google’s plans to deploy fiber to the home in both Kansas Cities, a few municipal networks, Verizon’s FiOS network and Sonic.net’s plans, we’re getting more people to a gigabit. It can be done, so let’s see what we can learn as these companies push ahead. And when others say it can’t be done, perhaps we’ll have the information that proves them wrong.

Noninvasive medical diagnostics using lights and lasers for medical tricorder technology

A pocket-sized device checks blood sugar levels through the skin of people with diabetes — no pinprick or blood sample needed. This is an example of new medical imaging technology that's giving doctors and scientists noninvasive views into the body to diagnose and study diseases. Strategies Unlimited projects that the optical molecular imaging market will double between 2010 and 2014, reaching into the $400 million range.

Infraredx, a Massachusetts-based company, has developed a diffuse optical spectroscopy instrument that relies on a fiber-optic probe that can be threaded into blood vessels. The device can collect both ultrasound images and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy data, which cardiologists can use to pinpoint lipid core plaques within blood vessels. Because the optic probe operates at near-infrared wavelengths, it can ‘see’ straight through blood, a problem that confounds other intravascular imaging methods.

TVC Imaging System is a first-in-class intravascular imaging system with the unique ability to assess vessel composition and structure via integrated NIRS (near infrared spectroscopy) lipid core plaque detection and enhanced IVUS imaging technology.

Zinc air batteries and other potentials batteries for grids

SolarNovus - Researchers around the globe are making headway developing batteries for large-scale, and grid-capable solar energy storage.

EOS Energy Storage of Easton, Pennsylvania, is developing a high-energy rechargeable zinc-air battery for use in the grid. It’s expected to store three times the energy of lithium-ion batteries for half the cost. Initial manufacturing is expected next year with megawatt-scale systems delivery is anticipated for 2013.

* Most cycles ever realized by metal-air battery over 2000 battery cycles demonstrated to date with no physical degradation
* Proprietary innovations overcome historical limitations to electric rechargeability of zinc-air batteries
* Safe, non-toxic, stable electrolyte and materials, safe and self-healing battery operation
* Low cost per kWh, due to low cost materials, architecture, and manufacturing methods

Reviewing the Life Science XPrizes in Development or Consideration

The goal of the Life Sciences Prize Group is to stimulate innovative breakthroughs in molecular biology, stem cell research, bionics, organogenesis, synthetic biology, and artificial intelligence in order to improve health care and extend healthy living.

Active - The $10 million Archon Genomics X PRIZE will usher in a new era of preventative and personalized medicine by challenging scientists and engineers to create better, cheaper and faster ways to sequence genomes. The prize purse will be awarded to the first team to sequence 100 human genomes within 10 days for $10,000 or less per genome with an accuracy of no more than one error in every 100,000 bases sequenced.

Xprizes in development are
- Tricorder X PRIZE
- Tuberculosis Diagnostics X PRIZE
- Vision Restoration X PRIZE

January 03, 2012

Future History Scenarios

Tau Zero founder Marc Millis has a future history with a focus on space development over the next forty years at Centauri Dreams Marc Millis also headed the NASA breakthrough physics program.

By 2015: Virgin Galactic has flown dozens of tourists into low earth orbit. The Google Lunar X-Prize will have been won and a few companies vying to dominate the resulting private space probe market.

NBF - There should be a mention of whether there is success with the Spacex Heavy rocket and the reusable launch development of Spacex and Blue Origin. The Solar electric sail will also be critical. Another high impact possibility is if there are real development of LENR (Rossi, Brillioun and others) or with the nuclear fusion innovations at General Fusion, EMC2, Lawrenceville plasma physics, Tri-Alpha Energy, Helion Energy, high frequency laser fusion, muon fusion or other approaches.

By 2020
The effect of citizen space travelers is seeping into the cultural psyche. As more people see Earth from space — the ‘Overview Effect,’ where borders are invisible and Earth’s atmosphere is but a thin fragile coating — there is now a greater sense of protecting Earth’s habitability and a growing disrespect for war. And yes, the numbers in the “200 mile high club” (“sextronauts” – wink-nudge) continue to grow despite the fact that microgravity adaptation sickness spoils many weekend getaways. At universities, it is now common to see mini space programs of their own using probes of ever-advancing capabilities – in step with continually advancing Artificial Intelligence and sensors. Asteroid prospecting has begun, and new X-Prizes are conceived to encourage the first mining operations.

NBF - The key variables for how much space development there is if

1. Spacex has successfully developed reusable launchers and lowered costs by 100 times.

2. Room temperature superconductors have been developed to enable ground launched magnetic sails and other applications.

3. The extent and scope of the energy breakthroughs with hot or cold fusion.

4. How much enhanced capability from nanotechnology in materials and with manufacturing ?

Tianjin Aircraft Carrier Hotel

A luxury hotel built on a former aircraft carrier in North China's Tianjin municipality will open at the end of Jan 2012

Spending $15 million on the transformation, China took the ship, originally intended to carry fighter jets, and made it into a luxury hotel with modern amenities and Asian-themed décor.

According to reports, the ship used to be part of the Binhai Aircraft Park project and was primarily used to display modern military equipment. Now, there are 148 high-end rooms including 2 presidential suits, 3 VIP guest rooms and 137 standard rooms. The ship also features dining and common areas decked out in traditional oriental color and pattern schemes.

Bookings are expected to begin towards the end of January, 2012.

CNNgo - “The hotel will serve as a unique experience for a high-end clientele,” Liu told us. “It will not be ranked by stars, nor will it have a swimming pool or a gym.”

While the aircraft carrier hotel has yet to welcome guests, Binhai Aircraft soft-opened the hotel’s restaurant on December 22, 2011, calling it “the world’s first Western restaurant on an aircraft carrier.”

Decked out in black, green and white, the 30-seat restaurant pays tribute to the Kiev’s heritage by serving mostly Russian dishes.

Mainstream journal review is optimistic about atomically precise nanotechnology

Foresight noted that the Chemical Society Review - "Great expectations: can artificial molecular machines deliver on their promise?" article describes a promising pathway to molecular nanotechnology

The fundamental theory of molecular machines is applied to two questions. (1) Can artificial molecular machines be developed to manipulate or chemically transform other molecular or nanoscale structures? (2) Can artificial molecular machines be assembled into integrated systems that work together to manipulate or fabricate structures at the meso- and macroscopic levels? The overall conclusion of these authors with respect to these two questions is optimistic:

Indeed, nanoscale-based machinery has been envisaged ever since the days of Feynman and today the Feynman’s Grand Prize offers a $250,000 reward to the first persons to create a nanoscale robotic arm, capable of precise positional control. While, in pursuit of this goal, the “top-down” fabrication strategies have so far failed rather dismally, we are convinced that a “bottom-up” approach, utilizing AMMs [artificial molecular machines], can deliver. Engineering a macromolecular architecture capable of robotic function will no doubt be a considerable synthetic challenge. We feel, however, that the time is ripe for such an undertaking—for instance, by combining AMMs with the DNA-origami materials, such that the former would provide the actuation within precisely folded DNA nanoscaffolds of the latter.

The original article was reviewed here in November.

Google Android increases US smartphone market shreto 46.9 percent

Comscore - 91.4 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in November, up 8 percent from the preceding three month period. Google Android ranked as the top smartphone platform with 46.9 percent market share, up 3.1 percentage points from the prior three-month period. Apple maintained its #2 position, growing 1.4 percentage point to 28.7 percent of the smartphone market.

Iowa Republican caucus appears to be a close three way race between Ron Paul, Romney and Santorum

Realclearpolitics - Iowa entrance polls indicate a tree way race between Romney, Ron Paul and Santorum for the lead.

How much of a bump in the New Hampshire and other races will it be for Ron Paul and Santorum to do well in Iowa ?

How much will it hurt Gingrich in later races to come in fourth or fifth in Iowa ?

It seems likely that Ron Paul will at least have a competitive campaign throughout the entire process and would have hundreds of delegates at the convention. This would be important only if there is split and Romney (or one of the others) does not win an outright majority.

With 99% of precincts reported, Ron Paul will finish behind Romney and Santorum.
Santorum 24.6%
Romney 24.5%
Ron Paul 21.5%
Gingrich 13.2%

Bachman and Huntsman will drop out soon. Perry and Newt have resources to see if the next few races can bring better results.

Rick Perry has suspended his campaign after a fifth place in Iowa.

Romney, Paul, Santorum and Gingrich could all still be at the convention. If Romney stays at 22-24% then what would happen at a brokered convention ?

Cigar Lake Uranium mine is ontrack and China reactor milestone

1. Cameco today announced it has reached the main mine workings with the second shaft at the Cigar Lake uranium mining project in northern Saskatchewan.

Miners removed the final section of rock connecting shaft 2 with the mine workings 480 metres below surface on January 3, 2012. The second shaft will provide for increased ventilation of the underground workings as well as additional means of entering and exiting the mine.

“The breakthrough is a key milestone on our path to safe, clean and reliable production from this exceptional orebody,” said president and CEO Tim Gitzel. “We expect to resume full mine development and construction activities in 2012 and remain on track to start ore mining by mid-2013.”

Cigar Lake is the world's largest undeveloped high-grade uranium deposit. The deposit has proven and probable reserves of more than 209.3 million pounds U3O8 at an average grade of 17.04% (Cameco's share is 104.7 million pounds).

They will ramp up Cigar Lake the production to 5000 tons per year. 5000 tons per year would be about 9% of the world's 2010 mined uranium production.

Gordon Chang Repeatedly predicts the Fall of the Communist Party and the Chinese Economy

Foreign Policy - In the middle of 2001, Gordon Chang predicted in his book, The Coming Collapse of China, that the Communist Party would fall from power within a decade (and probably by 2006), in large measure because of the changes that accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) would cause. A decade has passed; the Communist Party is still in power. In an article in the Foreign Policy journal Gordon Chang updates his prediction and says that 2012 is definitely the year of the collapse of growth in the Chinese economy and the fall of the Communist Party.

China outperformed other countries because it was in a three-decade upward supercycle, principally for three reasons. First, there were Deng Xiaoping's transformational "reform and opening up" policies, first implemented in the late 1970s. Second, Deng's era of change coincided with the end of the Cold War, which brought about the elimination of political barriers to international commerce. Third, all of this took place while China was benefiting from its "demographic dividend," an extraordinary bulge in the workforce.

Nextbigfuture has discussed why China doomer Gordon Chang has been wrong and is still wrong I will add three predictions, that China's economic growth will not drop below 7% for the next two years and not below 6% growth in 2014-2016 and that the communist party will remain in power for at least the next five years and that Gordon Chang will predict the downfall of the Chinese economy and the communist party every one of those years.

Chang claims the following will cause China's downfall

1. The Communist Party has turned its back on Deng's progressive policies. Hu Jintao, the current leader, is presiding over an era marked by, on balance, the reversal of reform. Strengthening "national champion" state enterprises (like Baidu instead of Google) at the expense of others, Hu has abandoned the economic paradigm that made his country successful.

NBF- I do not see this favoritism as being fatal to Chinese growth.

AVIATR - A Titan airplane mission concept

AVIATR—Aerial Vehicle for In-situ and Airborne Titan Reconnaissance, A Titan airplane mission concept (H/T Universe Today)

Jason Barnes (University of Idaho) and a team of 30 scientists and engineers created an unmanned mission concept to explore Titan called AVIATR (Aerial Vehicle for In-situ and Airborne Titan Reconnaissance). The plan, which primarily consists of a 120 kg plane soaring through the natural satellite’s atmosphere, was published online late last month.

We describe a mission concept for a stand-alone Titan airplane mission: Aerial Vehicle for In-situ and Airborne Titan Reconnaissance (AVIATR). With independent delivery and direct-to-Earth communications, AVIATR could contribute to Titan science either alone or as part of a sustained Titan Exploration Program. As a focused mission, AVIATR as we have envisioned it would concentrate on the science that an airplane can do best: exploration of Titan’s global diversity. We focus on surface geology/hydrology and lower-atmospheric structure and dynamics. With a carefully chosen set of seven instruments—2 near-IR cameras, 1 near-IR spectrometer, a RADAR altimeter, an atmospheric structure suite, a haze sensor, and a raindrop detector—AVIATR could accomplish a significant subset of the scientific objectives of the aerial element of flagship studies. The AVIATR spacecraft stack is composed of a Space Vehicle (SV) for cruise, an Entry Vehicle (EV) for entry and descent, and the Air Vehicle (AV) to fly in Titan’s atmosphere. Using an Earth-Jupiter gravity assist trajectory delivers the spacecraft to Titan in 7.5 years, after which the AVIATR AV would operate for a 1-Earth-year nominal mission. We propose a novel ‘gravity battery’ climb-then-glide strategy to store energy for optimal use during telecommunications sessions. We would optimize our science by using the flexibility of the airplane platform, generating context data and stereo pairs by flying and banking the AV instead of using gimbaled cameras. AVIATR would climb up to 14 km altitude and descend down to 3.5 km altitude once per Earth day, allowing for repeated atmospheric structure and wind measurements all over the globe. An initial Team-X run at JPL priced the AVIATR mission at FY10 $715M based on the rules stipulated in the recent Discovery announcement of opportunity. Hence we find that a standalone Titan airplane mission can achieve important science building on Cassini’s discoveries and can likely do so within a New Frontiers budget.
An artist's conception of AVIATR, an airplane mission to the second largest moon in our solar system: Titan. Credit: Mike Malaska 2011

Rossi talks about Household energy catalyzer units starting in Fall of 2012 and talks with Home Depot

ColdFusionnow - Rossi claims that distribution to the public of household energy catalyzer units is expected to begin “in autumn of 2012” adding that “We are in talks with Home Depot for the diffusion distribution”.

“We have already started the sales of the industrial plants of 1MW, but now focusing on the household, we have to resolve the issue of certifications, and we are working on those, and we are organizing the production.

The target price will be between $1000-$1500 US for an E-Cat with a power between 10-20 kilowatts. Such an E-Cat is able to give the thermal energy and air conditioning for an average family house.

With this price, in a few months the E-Cat is paid back, and the expected life of an E-Cat is around 30 years.”

He believes that his team will be able to start production with one million units “in 2012 with the help of God.”

This is from an hour-long conversation between Rossi and the Achieve radio Cash flow show.

Researcher predicts AIs with dog-level intelligence within a decade

During the past several years an increasing number of AI researchers, including Ben Goertzel and Itamar Arel, as well as Josh Hall and Peter Voss have all predicted that human-level AIs could emerge within the next decade. While not quite so sanguine, Sandia National labs researcher Brandon Rohrer believes that creating an AI with a canine level of intelligence could happen within the next ten years. In an interview with Sander Olson, Rohrer describes his approaches to the reinforcement learning problem, "deep learning", and how a human level AI might be created within the next twenty years.

Question: Does Sandia national labs have an AGI program?

I just completed a three year, internally funded AGI-related project, so at the moment I am only working on AGI evenings and weekends. My day work consists of other research. Like most AGI researchers, I am seeking outside sources of R and D funding. Sandia does have a cognitive modeling group, but is not explicitly engaged in funding AGI research.

Probing Loop Quantum Gravity with Evaporating Black Holes

Arxiv - Probing Loop Quantum Gravity with Evaporating Black Holes (5 pages)

Researchers have used algorithms to show that primordial black holes are expected to reveal two distinct loop quantum gravity signatures, while larger black holes are expected to reveal one distinct signature. One of the biggest challenges will be simply detecting evaporating black holes. The researchers are also working on specific footprints in the cosmic microwave background might be detected in the future.

The paper is also published in the peer reviewed Physical Review Letters

This letter aims at showing that the observation of evaporating black holes should allow the usual Hawking behavior to be distinguished from Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG) expectations. We present a full Monte Carlo simulation of the evaporation in LQG and statistical tests that discriminate between competing models. We conclude that contrarily to what was commonly thought, the discreteness of the area in LQG leads to characteristic features that qualify evaporating black holes as objects that could reveal quantum gravity footprints.

Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG) is a promising framework to nonperturbatively quantize General Relativity (GR) in a background invariant way. Interestingly, it has now been demonstrated that different approaches, based either on quantizations (covariant or canonical) of GR, or on a formal quantization of geometry lead to the very same LQG theory. As for any tentative theory of quantum gravity, experimental tests are however still missing. Trying to find possible observational signatures is obviously a key challenge. In this article we address the following question : could there be objects in the contemporary universe whose observation would lead to a clear signature of LQG ? Fortunately, the answer turns out to be positive. Although small black holes have not yet been directly observed, they could have been formed by different mechanisms in the early universe or even by particle collisions. We don’t review here the well-known possible production mechanisms, but instead we focus on how to use the evaporation of microscopic black holes to investigate the discriminating power of the emitted spectrum. Three different possible signatures will be suggested. Although one should be careful when pushing the limits of the LQG approach to black holes to the microscopic limit, our results rely on features of the area spectrum and are rather insensitive to small modifications in the theoretical framework.

Spectrum of emitted particles in LQG, in the pure Hawking case, and in the Mukhanov-Bekenstein approach, from top to bottom.

Breast and Pancreatic cancer vaccine could being human clinical trials by end of 2012

researchers at the University of Georgia Cancer Center have synthesized a carbohydrate-based vaccine that - in mice - has successfully triggered a strong immune response to cancer cells. It activates all three components of the immune system to reduce tumor size by an average of 80 percent.

The finding, published in the October issue of the journal Nature Chemical Biology, brings the scientists one step closer to a much-sought-after "cancer vaccine."

"In mice we can elicit very strong antibody responses and we have shown that the antibody responses are functional - that they can kill cancer cells," said lead author Geert-Jan Boons, Franklin professor of chemistry and researcher in UGA's Complex Carbohydrate Research Center.

Graphene FET mixer prototype brings terahertz electronics closer to commercial reality

Researchers at Chalmers have for the first time demonstrated a novel subharmonic graphene FET mixer at microwave frequencies. The mixer provides new opportunities in future electronics, as it enables compact circuit technology, potential to reach high frequencies and integration with silicon technology.

A mixer is a key building block in all electronic systems – a device that combines two or more electronic signals into one or two composite output signals. Future applications at THz frequencies such as radar systems for security and safety, radio astronomy, process monitoring and environmental monitoring will require large arrays of mixers for high-resolution imaging and high-speed data acquisition. Such mixer arrays or multi-pixel receivers need new type of devices that are not only sensitive but also power-efficient and compact.

IEEE Electron Device Letters - A subharmonic graphene FET mixer (4 pages)

We demonstrate a subharmonic resistive graphene FET (G-FET) mixer utilizing the symmetrical channel resistance vs. gate voltage characteristic. A down-conversion loss of 24 dB is obtained with fRF=2 GHz, fLO=1.01 GHz and fIF=20 MHz in a 50 Ω impedance system. Unlike the conventional subharmonic resistive FET mixers, this type of mixer operates with only one transistor and does not need any balun at the LO port which makes it more compact.

Global Auto Forecasts 77.7 million in 2012 and 96 million in 2016

Worldwide new vehicle sales in 2012 are expected to rise 6.7 percent over 2011 volumes to 77.7 million vehicles, according to Polk, a leading global automotive market intelligence firm. China is expected to have a 16 percent increase in new car sales over 2011. If the Polk forecasts are correct the world is on track to have 100 million new car sold in 2017. China will be passing Europe for new cars in 2015, 2016 or 2017. China would have about 23 to 24 million cars sold in 2016. Polk analysts anticipate much of this growth to occur outside of the large metropolitan cities of Shanghai and Beijing.

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics uses Axial Field Coil to boost Xrays by 10 times and Fusion by 2 times

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics has a 6 page report on their Dense Plasma Focus fusion project.

They were able to use an axial field coil (AFC) to a ten-fold increase in x-rays emitted from a billion-degree plasma at the center of a magnetic vortex The AFC’s electric current of four amperes generated a magnetic field that, despite being relatively weak, was still able to manipulate FF-1’s main electric current pulse of over a million amps.

Fusion reactions were also enhanced by the AFC, although by a factor of 2, not 10. The difference in fusion yield between the 4-amp and zero-amp settings is still four times as much as the variation in yield between the two shots at 4 amps, indicating a significant effect. The greater enhancement of x-rays from the electrons shows that the electrons were both hotter and the plasmoid was larger, while the fusion reactions were only increased by the size of the plasmoid, as predicted by LPP’s theory.

The ability to control the spin of FoFu-1’s magnetic tornado will be crucial in future experiments, when the density of the gas is increased to generate far higher fusion yields, and more spin is required for the denser, slower-moving plasma. LPP’s team then expects to see even more dramatic results from our magnetic butterfly.

The Axial Field Coil inside FF-1’s 10-inch diameter vacuum chamber is a single insulated wire, invisible here because it is protected by a ¼ inch diameter coil of copper. It produces a magnetic field along the vertical axis of the device.

January 02, 2012

Rumors of new mid-range and high end Apple iPads

Digitimes Research - Market watchers have mostly expected Apple to follow its traditional pricing strategy for its next-generation tablet device, which is likely to start from US$499 with the present iPad 2 to drop to US$399. Sources from Apple's supply chain have claimed that there will be two versions of the new iPad, one targeting the high-end segment and the other the mid-range. Digitimes Research believe the two new iPad models will both be equipped the A6 (quadcore) processor with high-end model coming with a high resolution panel (2048x1536) and the mid-tier model featuring the same grade of panel as iPad 2 (1024x768). The speculation is the mid-tier model would be priced as low as $299.

Digitimes - Apple is set to unveil its next-generation iPad - which will come in two versions - at the iWorld scheduled for January 26, 2012. The tablets would not be actually available until February or March. The new iPads should have an 8 megapixel and 5 megapixel camera.

US Senate looks likely to go Republican in 2012

Cook Political Report - Early tracking US 2012 senate races indicate that the Republicans have a good chance to get a majority. Currently there are 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans and 2 Independents.

33 Senate seats will up for election, 23 Democrat and 10 Republican.
9 are solidly Republican and 9 are toss up seats.
If the Republicans get 4 or 5 toss up seats then the Senate would become 51 Republican, 49 Democrat/Independent.

The House will stay a Republican majority with some chance for an increased majority.

ORNL computing chief says it will tough to compete with China's Supercomputers

Atomic City Underground blog written by Frank Munger at Knox News wrote about Oak Ridge national Labs computer chief discussing China's supercomputers.

Jeff Nichols, associate lab director in charge of scientific computing at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, visited China for the first time earlier this month and spoke at an Nvidia-sponsored conference in Beijing.

The folks at the Beijng conference included representatives from the top scientific computing labs, including those housing the No. 1 (Japan's K Computer) and No. 2 (China's Tianhe-1A system) on the latest list of the world's Top500 supercomputers. Nichols visited the nearby lab housing the Tianhe-1A computer as part of the conference, where he spoke about the scientific computing at ORNL -- including the transformation of the No. 3-ranked Jaguar.

Nichols said it's going to be difficult for the United States to gain or reclaim world leadership in supercomputing.

China is a particularly formidable competitor, he said. "They've got a lot of money. They can invest tons of money in computers. They're going to be hard to compete with. I think we have a better handle on applications and scalability and issues surrounding scalability, especially these unique heterogeneous nodes . . . But they can afford to build and buy these machines a lot faster than we are."

Korea aims to dramatically boost overseas nuclear business

State-run electricity provider Korea Electric Power Corp. Chief Executive Kim Joong-kyum said Monday in a statement that the company plans to boost the proportion of its overseas business to at least 50% from 3% currently as a way of increasing its profitability.

Kim didn't give a specific timeframe for the company's plans or mention what is meant by 'business' in this context.

Iran test fires missile and claims to have produced nuclear fuel rods

Telegraph UK - Iran claims to have successfully produced and tested nuclear fuel rods in an advance that Western experts have long stated is beyond Iran's technological capabilities.

Senior naval officers announced that a new medium-range missile capable of evading radar detection had been test-fired in the Persian Gulf, escalating tensions in one of the world's most sensitive and strategic waterways.

At the beginning of last year (2011), Iran claimed that it had begun the process of creating fuel plates and rods at its nuclear plant in the central city of Isfahan. The claims were given scant credence in the West because the ability to manufacture the rods is possessed by only a handful of major nuclear powers.

The process of making a fuel rod requires the conversion of enriched uranium into uranium dioxide powder, which must then be pressed into small pellets that are inserted into thin metal tubes. These are then assembled in clusters for use in the core of a nuclear reactor. The rods can be used for civilian purposes, but if reprocessed could produce fuel for a nuclear weapon.

Toshiba has a device that removes 97% of cesium from radioactive soil

Toshiba Corp says it has developed a revolutionary new technology designed to decontaminate radioactive soil from the area surrounding the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The technology was originally designed to purify radioactive water at the nuclear power plant, but its developers say it also removes 97% of cesium from radioactive soil.

Toshiba said in a statement that the device is currently capable of dealing with 1.7 tons of radioactive soil per day, but it is theoretically possible for a machine capable of processing 100 times that amount. The device uses crystalline adsorbents that have the ability to selectivity remove radioactive ions from liquids, soil and waste.
The equipment fits in a truck container

Toshiba Corp and IHI Corp co-developed the "Sarry-Aqua," a transportable treatment system for radiation-tainted water.

It pumps low-concentration contaminated water with a pump and removes radioactive caesium from the water in a container that stores adsorbent. It can process a ton of contaminated water in one hour and lower the density of radioactive caesium in the water to 10 becquerels per kilogram, which is the value that Japan's Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry is considering to use as the new upper limit of the contamination of drinking water, or lower.
The equipment stored inside the trailer

January 01, 2012

Euro Leaders working on plans to save the Euro

Some 157 billion euros ($203 billion) in debt will mature in the 17-member euro area in the first three months of 2012, according to UBS AG. By the end of March, 2012, european leaders have pledged to draft a stricter rulebook for controlling government spending. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet in Berlin Jan. 9 to work out details.

On Dec. 30, when Spain’s new government said 2011’s budget deficit would reach 8 percent of output, 2 percent more than the previous government had projected and more than the 6.9 percent expected by economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy responded by unveiling a new package of spending cuts and tax increases.

Internet usage at the end of 2011 for the world and countries

the International Telecommunications Union estimates that at the end of 2011 there were 2.42 billion internet users in the world (an increase from 2.04 billion internet users at the end of 2010)

There were just short of 6 billion active mobile subscribers in the world.

There are more than 500 million internet users in China, 250 million in the USA and over 120 million in India. Here are statistics from June 2011

1. China:  485,000,000 (23.0% of World users)
2. US:     245,000,000 (11.6%)
3. India:  100,000,000 (4.7%)
4. Japan:   99,182,000 (4.7%)
5. Brazil:  75,982,000 (3.6%)
6. Germany: 65,125,000 (3.1%)
7. Russia:  59,700,000 (2.8%)
8. UK:      51,442,100 (2.4%)
9. France:  45,262,000 (2.1%)
10 Nigeria: 43,982,200 (2.1%

22 of 31 Provinces in China will top 1 trillion yuan in GDP

Local governments in China have published their yearly economic reports at the yearend. Guangdong is likely to be the first to report a GDP of 5 trillion yuan (US$793 billion), while more than two-thirds of provinces could see GDP figures of 1 trillion yuan (US$158 billion), according to the Chinese-language First Financial Daily. Shandong and Jiangsu will record over 4 trillion yuan (US$635.5 billion).

Guangdong will be surpassed by Jiangsu sooner or later because the southern province's income mainly depends on traditional and low added-value industry and trails in new emerging industries.

Besides the leading group of provinces, more and more regions are expected to join the "RMB1 trillion GDP" and "RMB2 trillion GDP" clubs. Sichuan and Liaoning are expected to join the latter group, joining Zhejiang, Henan and Hebei. The number of provinces and regions with GDP of 1 trillion yuan and above will also increase from 17 to 22.

Fujitsu developing cyber counter attack virus and Kaspersky labs identifies Stuxnet variations

1. Japan has been developing a virus that could track down the source of a cyber attack and neutralise its programme. The weapon is the culmination of a 179 million yen (USD 2.3 million) three-year project entrusted by the government to technology maker Fujitsu Ltd to develop a virus and equipment to monitor and analyse attacks, the Yomiuri Shimbun daily reported today.

2. Venture beat - Stuxnet has been called the most sophisticated computer worm ever created. We know there are siblings to the malware which took down Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, but now Kaspersky labs is saying there may be up to four other worms in the family tree.

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