February 03, 2012

DARPA wants novel security technology to protect SCADA, embedded systems

The goal of the DARPA High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems (HACMS) program is to create technology for the construction of high-assurance cyber-physical systems, where high assurance is defined to mean functionally correct and satisfying appropriate safety and security properties. Achieving this goal requires a fundamentally different approach from what the software community has taken to date. Consequently, HACMS will adopt a clean-slate, formal methods-based approach to enable semi-automated code synthesis from executable, formal specifications. In addition to generating code, HACMS seeks a synthesizer capable of producing a machine-checkable proof that the generated code satisfies functional specifications as well as security and safety policies. A key technical challenge is the development of techniques to ensure that such proofs are composable, allowing the construction of high-assurance systems out of high-assurance components.

Bullet Proof Polymer with equal parts graphene and carbon nanotubes tougher than Kevlar

University of Wollongong researchers have used graphene to develop a new composite material which can produce the toughest fibres to date- even tougher than spider silk and Kevlar!

Graphene, the latest discovery in the nano world of carbon, has proven to be an amazing building block for advanced materials. The new graphene composite can be wet-spun into fibres with potential applications in bullet-proof vests and reinforcements for advanced composite materials.

As published today in Nature Communications, researchers from the UOW-based Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) have shown that graphene can work just as carbon nanotubes, a more common toughening agent, in polymer composites. It is also a much cheaper material and can be produced easily in large quantities.

“Quite surprisingly, we found that a ‘magic mixture’ of equal parts carbon nanotubes and graphene added to the polymer gave exceptionally high toughness,” he said.

“Fibres made from other combinations of these materials were not especially tough at all.”

Professor Spinks explained that the super tough fibres can be produced easily by a wet-spinning method and can be readily up-scaled. In this case, fibres were spun by collaborators at the Centre for Bio-Artificial Muscle at Hanyang University, Korea.

Nature Communications - Synergistic toughening of composite fibres by self-alignment of reduced graphene oxide and carbon nanotubes

The Rise Of The Chinese Consumer and US Manufacturing Growth

Forbes - Multinationals are investing more in the service sector than in the manufacturing sector as recent as 2008, marking a structural shift in the Chinese economy. Rising wages, in addition to the changing policy landscape, have cooled investment in the manufacturing sector, especially on the coastal cities of Shanghai and Beijing. Monthly wages in China have risen by an average of nearly 12% a year in real terms over the past five years, pushing investors into higher-end sectors requiring more capital and less labor.

Within five years, says Victoria Lai, editor of Access China at EIU, nearly one-half of foreign direct investment will go to areas outside of the eastern seaboard, compared with less than 20% in 2000. That’s not just a geographical shift. It’s a shift away from the export driven markets and into a China state of mind.

“The bulk of FDI (foreign Direct Investment) is going towards service sectors now,” says Lai. “Over the last five years you’ve seen a 40% spike in investments in retail. That’s not for retail to be exported. It’s for Chinese consumers.”

China's pollution

Economist - "PM2.5” refers to the smallest solid particles in the atmosphere—those less than 2.5 microns across. Such dust can get deep into people’s lungs; far deeper than that rated as PM10 (10 micron particles). Having 50 microns per cubic meter means hospitalizations go up 4% for strokes and 6% for heart attacks on those days. Long term exposure to air pollution causes even more health problems and fatalities.

Society can pay to fix the pollutions at the source of coal and gas plants and on vehicles and there are air pollution mitigation devices.

The particulate control technology costs about $50,000,000 per 1 gigawatt coal plant to achieve 99-99.5% reduction in particulates. A total of about $400 million for the more effective air pollution technologies for Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates.

In US studies, a microgram per cubic meter increase in PM2.5 exposure was related to increases in hospitalizations for cerebrovascular disease [strokes] by 0.81% (95% CI 0.3% to 1.32%), peripheral vascular disease by 0.86% (95% CI −0.06% to 1.79%), ischemic heart disease by 0.44% (95% CI 0.02% to 0.86%), arrhythmias by 0.57% (95% CI −0.01% to 1.15%), and heart failure by 1.28 (95% CI 0.78% to 1.78%). The most rapid effects, which occurred largely on the same day of PM2.5 elevation, were seen for cerebrovascular, arrhythmia, and heart failure admissions. Ischemic heart disease events tended to increase to a greater extent 2 days after exposures.

New super-Earth detected within the habitable zone of a nearby star

University of California at Santa Cruz- An international team of scientists has discovered a potentially habitable super-Earth orbiting a nearby star. With an orbital period of about 28 days and a minimum mass 4.5 times that of the Earth, the planet orbits within the star's "habitable zone," where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on the planet's surface. The researchers found evidence of at least one and possibly two or three additional planets orbiting the star, which is about 22 light years from Earth.

The newly discovered planet is depicted in this artist's conception, showing the host star as part of a triple-star system. The diagram below shows the orbits of the detected planets around the host star in relation to the habitable zone. Images courtesy of Guillem Anglada-Escudé, Carnegie Institution.

Six behavioral factors of longevity

IOwa State identified the behaviors of people who live a longer life

1. It takes a village (and a family, some money, and a care facility). You've got to have family, or community, or care facilities. And you also need economic support -- the financial resources to last into very late life.

2. Individual characteristics. If you have right mix of characteristics then you could have a big advantage. Gender, ethnicity, and personality.

3. You need good coping skills, be an active person and do things to keep your mind active.

Improved understanding of magnetism and electrons could help enable advanced spintronics

Knowing how to control the combined magnetic properties of interacting electrons will provide the basis to develop an important tool for advancing spintronics: a technology that aims to harness these properties for computation and communication

Arxiv - Dynamics of Skyrmion Crystal in Metallic Thin Films

We study the collective dynamics of the Skyrmion crystal (SkX) in thin films of ferromagnetic metals resulting from the nontrivial Skyrmion topology. It is shown that the current-driven motion of the crystal reduces the topological Hall effect and the Skyrmion trajectories bend away from the direction of the electric current (the Skyrmion Hall effect). We find a new dissipation mechanism in non-collinear spin textures that can lead to a much faster spin relaxation than Gilbert damping, calculate the dispersion of phonons in the SkX, and discuss effects of impurity pinning of Skyrmions

The paper is published in Physical Review Letters B

Wikipedia on Skyrmion

The skyrmion is a hypothetical particle related to baryons. It was described by Tony Skyrme and consists of a quantum superposition of baryons and resonance states. Skyrmions have been reported, but not conclusively proven, to be in Bose-Einstein condensates, superconductors, and thin magnetic films.

New kind of high-temperature photonic crystal for better thermoelectric microreactors that last ten times longer than batteries by 2016

A team of MIT researchers has developed a way of making a high-temperature version of a kind of materials called photonic crystals, using metals such as tungsten or tantalum. The new materials — which can operate at temperatures up to 1200 degrees Celsius — could find a wide variety of applications powering portable electronic devices, spacecraft to probe deep space, and new infrared light emitters that could be used as chemical detectors and sensors.

Compared to earlier attempts to make high-temperature photonic crystals, the new approach is “higher performance, simpler, robust and amenable to inexpensive large-scale production.

A microscope image of the tungsten photonic crystal structure reveals the precise uniform spacing of cavities formed in the material, which are tuned to specific wavelengths of light. Image courtesy of Y.X. Yeng et al.

PNAS - Enabling high-temperature nanophotonics for energy applications

New procedure repairs severed nerves in minutes, restoring limb use in days or weeks

American scientists believe a new procedure to repair severed nerves could result in patients recovering in days or weeks, rather than months or years. The team used a cellular mechanism similar to that used by many invertebrates to repair damage to nerve axons.

UPDATE- There has also been recent progress to use fracture putty to repair and completely heal broken bones in under two weeks in rats. The work is progressing to larger animals like sheep.

"We have developed a procedure which can repair severed nerves within minutes so that the behavior they control can be partially restored within days and often largely restored within two to four weeks," said Professor George Bittner from the University of Texas. "If further developed in clinical trials this approach would be a great advance on current procedures that usually imperfectly restore lost function within months at best."

The team studied the mechanisms all animal cells use to repair damage to their membranes and focused on invertebrates, which have a superior ability to regenerate nerve axons compared to mammals. An axon is a long extension arising from a nerve cell body that communicates with other nerve cells or with muscles.

This research success arises from Bittner's discovery that nerve axons of invertebrates which have been severed from their cell body do not degenerate within days, as happens with mammals, but can survive for months, or even years.

Journal of Neuroscience Research - Cellular mechanisms of plasmalemmal sealing and axonal repair by polyethylene glycol and methylene blue

Journal of Neuroscience Research - Rapid, effective, and long-lasting behavioral recovery produced by Microsutures, methylene blue, and polyethylene glycol after completely cutting rat sciatic nerves

February 02, 2012

Graphene electronics moves into a third dimension

A University of Manchester team lead by Nobel laureates Professor Andre Geim and Professor Konstantin Novoselov has literally opened a third dimension in graphene research. Their research shows a transistor that may prove the missing link for graphene to become the next silicon.

Graphene – one atomic plane of carbon – is a remarkable material with endless unique properties, from electronic to chemical and from optical to mechanical.

One of many potential applications of graphene is its use as the basic material for computer chips instead of silicon. This potential has alerted the attention of major chip manufactures, including IBM, Samsung, Texas Instruments and Intel. Individual transistors with very high frequencies (up to 300 GHz) have already been demonstrated by several groups worldwide.

Unfortunately, those transistors cannot be packed densely in a computer chip because they leak too much current, even in the most insulating state of graphene. This electric current would cause chips to melt within a fraction of a second.

Tunnelling transistor based on vertical graphene heterostructures. Tunnelling current between two graphene layers can be controlled by gating

Science - Field-Effect Tunneling Transistor Based on Vertical Graphene Heterostructures

An obstacle to the use of graphene as an alternative to silicon electronics has been the absence of an energy gap between its conduction and valence bands, which makes it difficult to achieve low power dissipation in the OFF state. We report a bipolar field-effect transistor that exploits the low density of states in graphene and its one atomic layer thickness. Our prototype devices are graphene heterostructures with atomically thin boron nitride or molybdenum disulfide acting as a vertical transport barrier. They exhibit room temperature switching ratios of ≈50 and ≈10,000 respectively. Such devices have potential for high-frequency operation and large-scale integration.

Panetta concerned Israel months from striking Iran

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expressing new concerns about Iran's underground nuclear program. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reported Panetta said

Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June — before Iran enters what Israelis described as a “zone of immunity” to commence building a nuclear bomb. Very soon, the Israelis fear, the Iranians will have stored enough enriched uranium in deep underground facilities to make a weapon — and only the United States could then stop them militarily.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t want to leave the fate of Israel dependent on American action, which would be triggered by intelligence that Iran is building a bomb, which it hasn’t done yet.

Zinc-Finger Proteins for Site-Specific Protein Positioning on DNA-Origami Structures

DNA can be folded into nearly any three-dimensional shape desired with the use of short DNA fragments. The DNA nanostructure can also be equipped with specific docking sites for proteins. A team led by Takashi Morii at the University of Kyoto (Japan) has now introduced a new method for attaching the proteins by means of special "adapters" known as zinc-finger proteins.

The scientists produced rectangular origami structures with several defined cavities. At these locations, the origamis contain various DNA-recognition patterns for different zinc fingers. The researchers then made proteins that contain zinc-finger units at one end and a fluorescing protein or biotin molecule at the other end. Biotin binds specifically to the large protein streptavidin. Atomic force microscopic images show that the streptavidin molecules always bind specifically to the intended cavity in the origami rectangle.

"Our results demonstrate that zinc fingers are suitable site-selective adapters for targeting specific locations within DNA-origami structures," says Morii. "Several different adapters carrying different proteins can independently bind at defined locations on this type of nanostructure."

Angewandte Chemie International Edition - Zinc-Finger Proteins for Site-Specific Protein Positioning on DNA-Origami Structures

Zinc-finger proteins are convenient and site-selective adaptors for targeting specific locations within DNA-origami structures. Orthogonal targeting of the specific locations in the structures was demonstrated by using two adaptors, and the application of Escherichia coli lysate that contained the adaptor-fused proteins successfully afforded the expected protein–DNA assembly.

XPrize founder Peter Diamandis talks Asteroid Mining as his Next Big Venture

Peter Diamandis X PRIZE Founder/Chairman on his next big venture (asteroid mining).

Forbes -

Peter Diamandis’ $10 million X Prize bounty sparked a boom in commercial space tourism.

Other Xprizes -

* Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin raised $30 million to put a robot on the moon
* Bill and Melinda Gates are sponsoring a better device to detect tuberculosis
* Qualcomm’s Jacobs is helping turn the medical tricorder into reality.

The X Prize Foundation is a ­mini-industry, with 50 employees. It is ­holding competitions in education, global development, energy and the ­environment, life sciences and space and undersea exploration (see box, p. 76). Its board of trustees crackles with ­celebrities: director James Cameron; Huffington Post cofounder Arianna Huffington; inventors Dean Kamen and Kurzweil; Craig Venter, the entrepreneur and biologist who raced the U.S. government to decode the human genome; Indian billionaire Ratan Tata, who ­presides over the world’s fifth-largest steel empire; Larry Page; Tesla Auto’s Elon Musk.

iRobot targeting robots for telemedicine

iRobot, a leader in delivering robotic technology-based solutions, today announced a $6 million investment and expanded partnership with InTouch Health, a leading remote presence telemedicine solution provider.

InTouch Health provides telemedicine services to eighty hospitals in the U.S. and around the world.

The upcoming iRobot Ava bot will likely have telemedicine as one application.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 89

The Carnival of Nuclear energy 89 is up at Idaho Samizdat

ANS Nuclear Cafe - The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is working with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a long-term strategy to embrace and implement these directives for military installations that includes small modular reactors (SMRs) in the mix of clean energy technologies.
Dept of Defense wants power systems located within the boundaries of a military installation (or possibly on federal land to service a number of agencies within a region) for providing secure and uninterruptable power supplies for mission-critical base facility energy requirements.

Eighty installations were considered with peak power ranging from 0.6 to 132 MWe (the majority in the 1 to 75 MWe range).

With a yearly cost escalation of 3-5 percent for electricity, the allowable overnight costs for breakeven increased to $3000-4000 per KWe. These preliminary analyses led to the conclusion that the DOD requires an energy business model that reconciles operational importance with cost. In other words, the principle of a “secure energy premium” will be required to balance energy-assurance-with-affordability.

Flibe Energy is one of several companies that are trying to develop reactors to supply the military bases.

Bold Adventurers and Entertaining Storytellers will Profitably lead the way into Space

This is an update to my previous article about true industries and reasons for space.

Some people talk about mining helium 3. Helium 3 is valuable when you first have working commercial aneutronic nuclear fusion. Even in my more optimistic assessment that is not until the 2020s. Earth can get billions of tons of rare earth materials off the ocean bottom (recent Japan find) or can get uranium from the ocean (Japan can do it for about $150 per pound, there is 4 billion tons in the ocean).

The true larger industries for space :
Information and satellite servicing

Information and satellite servicing

The satellite business is already a $168 billion a year business. An $8-20 billion market for improved servicing of satellites with space tugs for raising orbits, repairs, refueling seems like a reasonable estimate of a near term market.

Space Tourism in More Detail

Bladerunner quote -
I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate.

Space tourists may not see what Roy Batty saw. But there are amazing real life views and experiences to be had in space. They will see things that people who have not gone to space would not be able to truly experience even if they watched an IMAX movie from the space station.

Currently 7 space tourists have made 8 trips into space. Dennis Tito can brag about being first and Charles Simonyi can brag about going to orbit twice. In total, they paid $205 million for the trips (an average of $25 million per trip). There have been about 500 sub orbital flights that have been pre-sold at $200,000 per trip with $20,000 down payments.

Adventure tourism by some measures is an $89 billion market (excluding airfare and gear/clothing). (15 pages)

Conducted in late 2009, the final study surveyed people from representative countries within Latin America, North America and Europe, regions that account for 72.8% of all international tourism expenditures1 and 68.7% of all international departures. Based on UNWTO-reported departure figures, as well as the percentage of adventure trips reported by the respondents in the survey, statistical analysis was used to estimate that nearly 150 million adventure trips are taken every year.

Hard adventure includes trekking, climbing (mountain, rock and ice) and caving. This is about 2% of the market in terms of number of trips, but hard adventure is more expensive. The next trip question on the survey suggests that hard adventuring could be increasing to 3.5% of the adventure market. Expeditions to Everest cost $70,000 to 200,000. $200,000 is needed for an attempt at the summit. About 10 to 16% of the people who go to Everest die. Mountaineering and caving have real danger and statistically can be more dangerous than what has been experienced by astronauts (about 2% fatalities).

Orbital space hotels where people will be able to see the curvature of the Earth or even the whole Earth (from a Lagrange point or from the moon for Earthrise) for the view of earth against the blackness of space.

Soft adventure tourism is possible for space with a focus on views and other experiences and this market is 10 to 15 times bigger than the hard adventure market. Selling space this way is possible if the safety can be increased.

Orbital space hotels will also provide opportunities for space sex (400 mile high club).

Space adventure (hard and soft) tourism seems like it could be a $10 billion per year with potential to grow even more.

Nano Quadrotors formation flying and the X-RHex for modular payloads

The protein dynein 'walks' along filaments to transport material inside cells

Harvard - Molecular motors, built from proteins, are a kind of transport service that keep cells functioning. They traffic essential chemical packages between the heart of the cell, the nucleus, and the cell periphery. In elongated cells such as neurons, this can be a big commute in cellular miles, equivalent to a person walking from Boston to Manhattan. The constant shuttling of materials by motors keeps cells alive and allows cells to move and divide, and talk to their neighbors.

It’s no surprise, then, that when these motors stop functioning, serious problems can result. In fact, defects in dynein-based transport have been linked to Lou Gehrig’s and Parkinson’s disease and the neurodevelopmental disease lissencephaly.

Nature - Molecular motors: A staggering giant

The protein dynein 'walks' along filaments to transport various cargoes within the cell. Two studies reveal that, unlike other motor proteins, dynein's steps are not strictly coordinated.

February 01, 2012

NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities

NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities: Restoring NASA's Technological Edge and Paving the Way for a New Era in Space (468 pages)

The report is designed to give the agency feedback on draft roadmaps they submitted in 2010 and to help the space agency prioritize its research. The council took into account NASA's "likely" level of funding for new technology, about $500 million to $1 billion a year.

Self-Assembling Nanorods: Berkeley Lab Researchers Obtain 1, 2 and 3D Nanorod Arrays and Networks

A relatively fast, easy and inexpensive technique for inducing nanorods – rod-shaped semiconductor nanocrystals – to self-assemble into one-, two- and even three-dimensional macroscopic structures has been developed by a team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). This technique should enable more effective use of nanorods in solar cells, magnetic storage devices and sensors. It should also help boost the electrical and mechanical properties of nanorod-polymer composites.

Leading this project was Ting Xu, a polymer scientist who holds joint appointments with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and the University of California (UC) Berkeley’s Departments of Materials Sciences and Engineering, and Chemistry. Xu and her research group used block copolymers – long sequences or “blocks” of one type of monomer bound to blocks of another type of monomer – as a platform to guide the self-assembly of nanorods into complex structures and hierarchical patterns. Block copolymers have an innate ability to self-assemble into well-defined arrays of nano-sized structures over macroscopic distances.

Future work will look at assembling nanorods into tetrapod and other shapes.

Transmission electron micrograph (a) shows cadmium sulfide nanorods forming arrays that are aligned and oriented parallel to the cylindrical microdomains of block copolymers. Schematic drawing (b) illustrates copolymers with nanorods.

Nanoletters - Direct Nanorod Assembly Using Block Copolymer-Based Supramolecules

Spacex successfully tests fires SuperDraco engine for the Dragon capsule

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has successfully test fired SuperDraco, a powerful new engine that will play a critical role in the company’s efforts to change the future of human spaceflight. The engine will enable launch escape at any point in the launch.

“SuperDraco engines represent the best of cutting edge technology,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and Chief Technology Officer. “These engines will power a revolutionary launch escape system that will make Dragon the safest spacecraft in history and enable it to land propulsively on Earth or another planet with pinpoint accuracy.”

The SuperDraco is an advanced version of the Draco engines currently used by SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft to maneuver on orbit and during reentry. As part of SpaceX’s state-of-the-art launch escape system, eight SuperDraco engines built into the side walls of the Dragon spacecraft will produce up to 120,000 pounds of axial thrust to carry astronauts to safety should an emergency occur during launch.

SuperDraco engines will provide the Dragon spacecraft with the capability to perform on target propulsive landings anywhere in the solar system. Credit: SpaceX

Defkalion releases video of Hyperion Cold Fusion Device test and an online Project to send testers to Defkalion

1. Ecat World - Defkalion Green Technologies released a short video of some testing taking place on one of their “bare” reactors. Recently the company issued an invitation for qualified professional organizations to come and do some testing at their Greek facilities — so this gives some idea of what they will be dealing with.

Cold Fusion with over ten times energy gain was demonstrated at MIT

Cold Fusion Times - As part of the IAP Course on COLD FUSION at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Mitchell Swartz, JET Energy, and Prof. Peter Hagelstein demonstrated cold fusion openly for scientists and engineers. The demonstration was a two day part of the detailed, yet overview, seven day course run by Prof. Hagelstein and Dr. Swartz, and followed the first open demonstrations of cold fusion at MIT in 2003. This JET Energy NANOR(TM) demonstrated a significant energy gain greater than 10, much larger than the previous open demonstration. This exhibition is also remarkable because it confirmed the role of the nanoengineered lattice in enabling the CF/LANR activity. It followed Prof. Hagelstein sharing his breakthrough explanatory theory of cold fusion during the first 5 days.

Note - there does not appear to have been a demonstration to convince skeptics. It was part of a class which appears not to be closely associated with MIT. The location for the demonstration was at MIT. The prior demonstration in 2003 showed an energy gain of 2.3. The power levels are not as high as Rossi is claiming. Detailed technical information has not been published on the 2012 demonstration. From pictures there appeared to be data recorded measurements.

802.11ac or 5G Wi-Fi will let tablets stream wirelessly to televisions

EEtimes - newer versions of Wi-Fi will improve connectivity and enable content to be streamed from tablets to TVs. Broadcom is pushing what it calls 5G Wi-Fi, based on the 802.11ac version of the Wi-Fi spec.

The next major innovation in Wi-Fi (6G Wi-Fi) will be the emergence of the 802.11ad standard, which operates in the 60-gigahertz band and offers tremendous speed improvements, though has a shorter transmission range, Hurlston said. He called 802.ad a "revolution," as opposed to the "evolution" offered by 802.11ac.

Wireless power that is 97 percent efficient could revolutionize highway transportation

Stanford researchers have designed a new technology that could lead to wireless charging of electric vehicles while they cruise down the highway. This wireless transfer scheme has an efficiency of 97 percent. The transfer range is one fifteenth of the wavelength. The range is 2 meters for a 10 megahertz system. The transfer efficiency can be further increased by fine tuning the system design increasing the size of the metallic plane will result in a slightly higher transfer efficiency.

A Stanford University research team has designed a high-efficiency charging system that uses magnetic fields to wirelessly transmit large electric currents between metal coils placed several feet apart. The long-term goal of the research is to develop an all-electric highway that wirelessly charges cars and trucks as they cruise down the road.

The new technology has the potential to dramatically increase the driving range of electric vehicles and eventually transform highway travel, according to the researchers.

Applied Physics Letters - Wireless energy transfer with the presence of metallic planes (3 pages)

Computer memory with 3.3 Terabits per square inch

ASTAR Research Singapore - A fabrication method that does not require etching and pattern transfer pushes recording densities in bit-patterned media to 3.3 terabits per square inch.

There are two common approaches to increasing the recording density of granular media: one is to reduce the grain size and the other is to reduce the number of grains per bit. Unfortunately, the general consensus is that both approaches will have difficulty pushing beyond the one terabit per square inch limit.

Researchers have now come up with an alternative approach using so-called bit-patterned media (BPM). In contrast to granular media, BPM consists of ordered arrays of individual 'superbits' (see image) that are larger than the grains in granular media and can be individually addressed on a disk platter to improve signal-to-noise ratio. However, the fabrication of BPM requires lithographic patterning, a costly process that necessitates substantive viability studies to meet commercial requirements. Yang and his team have now demonstrated the fabrication of BPM with densities as high as 3.3 terabits per square inch — or 15 nanometer pitch — using a method that does not require pattern transfer processes such as etching and liftoff, which typically reduce pattern fidelity.
Tilted-view scanning electron microscope (top) and cross-sectional transmission electron microscope (bottom) images of high-density bit-patterned media consisting of magnetic cobalt–palladium bits formed on hydrogen silsequioxane nanoposts defined by electron beam lithography.© 2011 IOP

Nanotechnology journal - Fabrication and characterization of bit-patterned media beyond 1.5 Tbit/in²

Magnetic random-access memory advances in Singapore

ASTAR singapore research - Magnetic random-access memory based on new spin transfer technology achieves higher storage density by packing multiple bits of data into each memory cell.

Solid-state memory is seeing an increase in demand due to the emergence of portable devices such as tablet computers and smart phones. Spin-transfer torque magnetoresistive random-access memory (STT-MRAM) is a new type of solid-state memory that uses electrical currents to read and write data that are stored on magnetic moment of electrons. Rachid Sbiaa and co-workers at the A*STAR Data Storage Institute1 have now enhanced the storage density of STT-MRAM by packing multiple bits of information into each of its memory cells.
Enhanced magnetic storage devices. An electrical current passing through a stack of magnetic layers (left) is used to write and read magnetic information. The relative orientation of the soft magnetic layers encodes up to four bits (right).

Ultra-fast photodetector and terahertz generator in graphene

Technische Universitaet Muenchen - Extremely thin, more stable than steel and widely applicable: the material graphene is full of interesting properties. As such, it is currently the shining star among the electric conductors. Photodetectors made with graphene can process and conduct both light signals and electric signals extremely fast. Upon optical stimulation, graphene generates a photocurrent within picoseconds (0,000 000 000 001 second). Until now, none of the available methods were fast enough to measure these processes in graphene. Professor Alexander Holleitner and Dr. Leonhard Prechtel, scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM), have now developed a method to measure the temporal dynamics of this photo current.

Nature Communications - Time-resolved ultrafast photocurrents and terahertz generation in freely suspended graphene
Ultrafast photocurrent circuitry for graphene

Update on China's nuclear plans

China Daily - China will likely be approving only three or four projects each year from 2012-2015. This will be 12 to 15 reactors in the remainder of the five year planning period. The country had been accelerating its nuclear development since 2008, with 14 reactors approved in 2008 and six in 2009.

The slowdown will effect the number of nuclear reactors that come online in the 2016 to 2020 period. The reactors under construction and the backlog of approvals will be for reactors that will be built by 2015. China should still have about 40 reactors and about 40 Gigawatts of nuclear power by 2015. Then China could slow to about 60-70 Gigawatts by 2020. I expect a return to more in reactor approvals to occur before 2015. In the meantime China will ensure that any generation 2 reactors get generation 3 safety improvements. They will also increase the percent of the reactors that are produced domestically.

China has 26 reactors under construction now.

Here is a link to a profile of nuclear reactor plans in China

Carnival of Space 234

Dear Astronomer has Carnival of Space 234

Vintage Space has a take on Newt Gingrich's plan to have an American lunar base up and running by the end of his second term in 2020. Vintage Space thinks a Moon base is a horrible idea, and suggest we shouldn't take his plans of lunar domination too seriously. Vintage Space does not want to lose the Space Science and other projects that NASA works on for any ambitious project that would take over NASA's budget.

Readers of Nextbigfuture know that I disagree with Vintage Space and believe an affordable moon base can be established. I also believe that the primary focus of NASA and any space policy is to lower the cost of getting to space and ultimately enable true industry in space. True industry means building up power generation to many megawatts and gigawatts. Everything are extras that will be more affordable once the primary goals are met. The historical model that should be examined are the establishment of affordable commercial aviation and the building of a national highway system and the building of national power grids. Space science will be great when we have affordable access and infrastructure in space. Right now every mission costs hundreds of millions to billions. Get that science horse behind the cart of affordable and robust space infrastructure. Once missions cost a few million or less we will have hundreds of times more science too, along with space tourism, a bigger satellite service market, space entertainment linked to terrestrial movie, video games and theme parks and colonization. Colonization is the ultimate goal and purpose.

Colossal Dielectric Constants and Mach Effect Propulsion

The development of new materials with high ("colossal") dielectric constants is prerequisite for the further miniaturization of electronic devices. The search for such materials and especially the clarification of the microscopic mechanisms that can lead to an enhancement of this material parameter are important goal.

Most of the capacitive materials employed in modern electronics have relatively low values of ε' of the order of 10. Currently applied materials with higher ε' are mostly based on ferroelectrics, which, however, are hampered by various setbacks limiting their applicability.

Colossal dielectric constants (CDCs), i.e. values of ε' exceeding 1000, are found in various materials and can be caused by different physical processes.

In recent times there are strong efforts to find new high-ε' materials with better properties and indeed there are some promising candidates. The most prominent CDC material is CaCu 3Ti 4O 12 (CCTO) [Sub00,Hom01]. Compared to ferroelectrics-based dielectrics, CCTO exhibits a nearly temperature independent CDC around room temperature, which is highly advantageous for possible technical application (Fig. 2). Only at low temperatures and/or high frequencies it shows a marked and strongly frequency-dependent decrease of ε' from values up to 10³5 to magnitudes of the order of 100.

Mach Effect Propulsion

Much of the work is continuing to use the same sorts of materials and designs from more than a decade ago. I'm hoping that when Jim Woodward's book comes out, we'll see an explosion of interest that opens up some finding and allows access to new materials like single crystal CCTO, that has k values up to 100,000. Right now, Jim is using PZT that has a k of less than 1,000. Force generated by his UFG scales with the square of the k, so you can see why access to CCTO could be a breakthrough that increases the mach effect by 10,000.

CCTO is fabulous stuff in a single crystal, but there are no commercial providers for single crystal CCTO. With BaTiO3, you can find cheap single crystal targets but they are unpolarized and have no electrodes sputtered on. That is an obtainable goal if one can find a cheap way to sputter.

LTE spending projected to boom in 2013

EE Times - Global capital spending on 4G Long Term Evolution wireless technology is expected to reach $24.3 billion in 2013, nearly triple the projected spending of $8.7 billion of 2012, according to a report by market research firm IHS iSuppli.

January 31, 2012

DARPA Working with Innovega for virtual reality contact lens and eyeware combination

Innovega iOptiks are contact lenses that enhance normal vision by allowing a wearer to view virtual and augmented reality images without the need for bulky apparatus.

Instead of oversized virtual reality helmets, digital images are projected onto tiny full-color displays that are very near the eye.

Innovega Demonstrates Megapixel Contact Lens Eyewear

Over the past months we have demonstrated contact lens enabled eyewear for mobile devices including smartphones, portable game devices and media players that deliver panoramic, high-resolution experiences for entertainment and planned Augmented Reality (AR)* applications”, said Steve Willey, Innovega CEO. “During this same period, we collaborated with partners to finalize initial specifications of launch platforms which include a screen size that is equivalent to a 240 inch television (viewed at a usual distance of 10 feet)”.

Willey added, “Unless the display industry can deliver transparent, high-performance and compact eyewear, developers of AR and other compelling media applications will simply fail to create the excitement that consumers crave and the functionality that professional users absolutely need”.

Innovega’s new and natural interface comprises familiar, light-weight eyewear working with advanced contact lenses. One hundred million global consumers, including more than 20% of America’s 18 to 34 year-old, already wear contact lenses. With low switching costs, Innovega expects many will join other early adopter groups who wish to access rich media while remaining fully involved in their real-world activities. Management believes that consumers will be thrilled to wear and benefit from its new lens-based eyewear given the unique combination of benefits that this new interface offers.

Innovega designers and partners considered the future of personal media, social networking, and mobile computing, and converged upon an aggressive design-point that meets today’s needs as well as demands of high-performance AR which require a see-through and panoramic display interface. Innovega refers to its innovative product as a ‘lifestyle interface‘, since consumers view their digital content in a way that is similar to how they see the world around them. By providing a transparent, fashionable, and comfortable interface that is consistent with today’s active lifestyles, the architecture also eliminates the social barrier that traditional opaque and bulky video eyewear seems to create.

The Innovega iOptikTM architecture meets the demanding performance requirements of AR by eliminating the focusing optics that tend to limit the field of view of displayed media. Innovega replaces them with micro- and nano-fabricated optical elements that are integrated into otherwise conventional contact lenses. The recent demonstration of stylish, megapixel eyewear has proven the power of this proprietary architecture.

Innovega will provide the new system to media and consumer electronics OEMs who wish to design natural display interfaces that consumers want and need. Innovega believes that its new personal display interface will become an essential social media and entertainment accessory.

The contact lens work with the eyeware (glasses) for a better image

Romney wins with 48% of the vote in Republican Florida Primary

With almost half of the votes counted in Florida the results in the Republican primary are as follows

Mitt Romney   47.7%
Newt Gingrich 31.0%
Rick Santorum 12.9%
Ron Paul       6.9%

DARPA pays hacker to develop $50 spy computer that can be dropped from drones

MSNBC - security researcher Brendan O’Connor is trying a different approach to spy hardware: building a sensor-equipped surveillance-capable computer that’s so cheap it can be sacrificed after one use, with off-the-shelf parts that anyone can buy and assemble for less than $50.

At the Shmoocon security conference Friday in Washington, D.C., O’Connor presented the F-BOMB, or Falling or Ballistically-launched Object that Makes Backdoors. Built from just the hardware in a commercially-available PogoPlug mini-computer, a few tiny antennas, eight gigabytes of flash memory and some 3D-printed plastic casing, the F-BOMB serves as 3.5 by 4 by 1 inch spy computer. And O’Connor has designed the cheap gadgets to be dropped from a drone, plugged inconspicuously into a wall socket, thrown over a barrier, or otherwise put into irretrievable positions to quietly collect data and send it back to the owner over any available Wifi network. With PogoPlugs currently on sale at Amazon for $25, O’Connor built his prototypes with gear that added up to just $46 each
A prototype of O'Connor's $50 F-BOMB with its case open.

Brian Wang on Fast Forward Radio Tomorrow

Corrected an Affluent earth based civilization with all clean energy would still warm the planet by 3 degrees celsius

Rising greenhouse gases are causing roughly 380 Terawatts less heat to escape from the atmosphere. Result: the planet is warming. The warming due to the 16 Terawatts from waste heat produced by humans is tiny in comparison. If the demand for power grew to 5000 Terawatts, it would warm the planet by 3 °C.

If 9 billion people all became affluent at about $430,000 $100 million per person, then the energy utilization would reach the level of 5000 terawatts. The physics of energy production means that there will be waste heat.

NOTE - I made an error on my calculation of energy growth.

I was looking at 5000 trillion dollars and not 5000 terawatts. Assuming that GDP and energy stay mostly connected and that energy intensity improves at 1-2%, then at 1000 quadrillion economy and per capita $100 million each is where the 5000 terawatts would hit. The Al Gore / Romney examples would then hold where they have 7 big houses, cars and planes. Using 20 to 300 times the energy. Getting everyone to western per capita usage and wealth is say at 8 billion and $50K each or 400 trillion economy. 80 terawatts.

Everyone living in 4500 square foot homes. Say each person nine times richer and three times the energy usage and 300 terawatts (up to say 10 billion people).

Going to 15 to 20 times more. People driving around high performance mobile homes, living with ten 20,000 sf mansions, having yachts, going up to orbit and hypersonic travel around the world. That would be the level that it would take to get to 5000 terawatts with 10 billion people. Perhaps less per person if population went up to 30 billion people and they each were using tons of utility fog and 100 robots each.

GDP per capita is strongly correlated to energy per capita.

It would be a significant restructuring of the world economy to strongly decouple power consumption from GDP. Energy intensity goes up with economic activity. The trend and correlation of energy intensity and wealth has been maintained for hundreds of years. There is a video below which shows the statistics over time.

China, India and Southeast Asia have been growing GDP by about 8% per year and increasing energy usage by about 6% per year. The level of wealth where even with clean energy civilization effects temperature will arrive sooner than many expect. This is another reason to aggressively pursue space colonization and / or to implement the Hall weather machine.

The Hall Weather Machine is a thin global cloud consisting of small transparent balloons that can be thought of as a programmable and reversible greenhouse gas because it shades or reflects the amount of sunlight that hits the upper stratosphere. These balloons are each between a millimeter and a centimeter in diameter, made of a few-nanometer thick diamondoid membrane. Each balloon is filled with hydrogen to enable it to float at an altitude of 60,000 to 100,000 feet, high above the clouds. It is bisected by an adjustable sheet, and also includes solar cells, a small computer, a GPS receiver to keep track of its location, and an actuator to occasionally (and relatively slowly) move the bisecting membrane between vertical and horizontal orientations. Just like with a regular high-altitude balloon, the heavier control and energy storage systems would be on the bottom of the balloon to automatically set the vertical axis without requiring any energy. The balloon would also have a water vapor/hydrogen generator system for altitude control, giving it the same directional navigation properties that an ordinary hot-air balloon has when it changes altitudes to take advantage of different wind directions at different altitudes.

By controlling a tenth of one percent of solar radiation is enough to force global climate in any direction we want. One percent is enough to change regional climate, and ten percent is enough for serious weather control.

Geophysical Research Letters -Integrating anthropogenic heat flux with global climate models

Lifetime deaths and life exceptancy impact from air pollution

I am fairly regularly asked about the peer reviewed sources for my deaths per terawatt hour articles and my lifetime deaths per twh from energy article. Reporters or university students will ask if my articles have been submitted for peer review and been published.

No, I have not submitted and gotten my articles on deaths per terawatt hour peer reviewed and published. However, there are a lot (hundreds) of published studies on which I build my case. All that I do is use simple math and the citation of respected peer reviewed published sources.

Various energy department reports for energy generation in TWH by type and peer reviewed sources for deaths caused.

I am very conservative on the air pollution deaths, because the numbers are so high that there is no need to go for any high estimate. I can also go primarily at the best epidemiology studies for Particulate matter. Air pollution has a bunch of other health impacters (ozone, smog - nitrous oxide, arsenic in water, etc..) But I do not need to tally up some things that may only be killing hundreds or thousands per year.
Increase in percent of cases over period of exposure. It is up to 16% after ten years and the trend is still increasing

Pollution levels are higher in China and India. Studies show that more air pollution makes health and mortality impacts worse. People in many cities in China will cough up black. This is why people in China protested to get the PM 2.5 reading tracked, because they knew they and their children were being poisoned every day. There is a lot of tracking of PM2.5 and PM10 levels. China until recently tried to avoid publishing PM2.5 numbers.

We have also reviewed the obviousness of air pollution harm from the history of the London Fog in 1952 that killed 14000 people over 2 weeks.

Cribb was then a mortician's assistant, working for Tom Cribb, his elderly uncle. On Friday Dec. 5, they were driving to a wake, with a line of cars full of mourners close behind. Neither man knew a catastrophe was brewing. They didn't know that a mass of stagnant air had just clamped a lid over London, trapping the smoke from millions of residential coal fires at ground level.

Cribb remembers being stunned by the blackness of the gathering fog. After a few minutes he couldn't see the curb from his spot behind the wheel. After a few more minutes, Tom Cribb got out and started walking in front of the hearse, to keep his nephew on the road. He carried a powerful hurricane lantern in one hand, but it was useless.

"It's like you were blind," says Cribb.

Everyone in London walked blind for the next four days

By Sunday, Dec. 7, visibility fell to one foot. Roads were littered with abandoned cars. Cattle in the city's Smithfield market were killed and thrown away before they could be slaughtered and sold — their lungs were black. On the second day of the smog, Saturday, Dec. 6, 500 people died in London. When the ambulances stopped running, thousands of gasping Londoners walked through the smog to the city's hospitals. The lips of the dying were blue. Heavy smoking and chronic exposure to pollution had already weakened the lungs of those who fell ill during the smog. Particulates and acids in the killer brew finished the job by triggering massive inflammations. In essence, the dead had suffocated.

Maureen Scholes, a nurse at the Royal London Hospital in 1952, says the smog penetrated through clothes, blackening undergarments

Counting the increase in the dead from the fog was not hard. There was a massive jump. The correlation between people falling down dead was also pretty easy to work out

There would be air inversions that would trap the air pollution and cause mass deaths
* 1948, October 30–31, Donora, PA: 20 died, 600 hospitalized, thousands more stricken. Lawsuits were not settled until 1951.
* 1953, November, New York: Smog kills between 170 and 260 people.
* 1954, October, Los Angeles: heavy smog shuts down schools and industry for most of the month.
* 1963, New York: blamed for 200 deaths
* 1966, New York: blamed for 169 deaths

I guess when you reduce the obviously visible air pollutants and slow down the deaths by about 80%, then people need to have peer reviewed studies. Even though the overall mortality increase can be 20% and the number of hospitalizations caused is 30%. There are all of the arguments about the affordability of medical coverage in the US. However, paying to mitigate car and fossil fuel air pollution could be widely enforced and paid for by the government and we would come out ahead. Instead we are choosing to pay for 30% more hospitalizations instead of paying to turn the tap and reducing the level of poisoning by 99%.

Chinese, Indian and Ukrainian nuclear power generation

1. Power Engineering - China saw its nuclear power generation in 2011 hit 87.4 billion kilowatt-hours, a jump of 16.95% on-year, according to recent figures released by China Electricity Council.

This was an increase of 17.3 TWh from 2010

2. The capacity factor of Indias 20 operational nuclear reactors, adding up to an installed capacity of 4,780 MWe, is now projected to top 80 per cent in 2012-13. 80 percent capacity of 4780 MWe is 33 TWh. However an 11% increase over 2010 would take generation to about 23 TWh.

In 2006-07, the capacity factor was 64 per cent, but plummeted to 50 per cent in 2008-09. (The capacity factor is the ratio of the actual output to its output if operated at full potential.) It bounced back to 61 per cent in 2009-10 and increased further to 71 per cent in 2010-11. In the first nine months of this fiscal, it has reached 78 per cent.

India is up 11% over last year.

India generated 20.5 TWh in 2010.

January 30, 2012

Terahertz Polarizer using carbon nanotubes allows 100 percent to pass or blocks 99.9 percent

Researchers at Rice University are using carbon nanotubes as the critical component of a robust terahertz polarizer that could accelerate the development of new security and communication devices, sensors and non-invasive medical imaging systems as well as fundamental studies of low-dimensional condensed matter systems. It is the most effective polarizer ever reported; it selectively allows 100 percent of a terahertz wave to pass or blocks 99.9 percent of it, depending on its polarization.

Nanoletters - Broadband Terahertz Polarizers with Ideal Performance Based on Aligned Carbon Nanotube Stacks

Lawrence Krauss - Future Low Orbit Space Stations must cost $150 billon, Hammers $436 and Moon Bases trillions

Lawrence Krauss (physicist and author of the Physics of Star Trek) wrote in New Scientist that Newt Gingrich's proposal to put a permanent base on the moon will have to cost about $1 trillion because the International Space station cost $150 billion and the Space Shuttle program cost over $200 billion.

Apparently once the government has paid for one over priced project then all future projects have to be planned on the same over pricing. There can be no corrections of the system to use different vendors or plans to achieve lower costs.

All future tunnel projects will have to be priced at the cost of the Big Dig which is $6 billion per mile of tunnel. (Boston highway tunnel project that cost $22 billion for 3.5 miles of tunnel. There were another plan (the Boston Bypass), which was ten miles of elevated highway. Elevated highway in Los Angeles in 1996 cost $20 million per mile.).

All hammers have to be purchased at $436 per hammer and all coffee makers must cost $7600.

We must forever have government projects at maximum inefficiency. Any attempt to do anything with lower costs must be ridiculed. Any attempt to make plans that do something different from what led to past cost overruns must be ridiculed.

All mistakes must be repeated.

All planning must be timid and scoped to be within the limited capabilities of what was done by past over priced government projects. If I bought a Ford Pinto, I cannot buy a new car next time. I have to plan on car trips with the assumption that I must always own a lemon.

Quoting Homer Simpson (and apparently Lawrence Krauss)
“You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.”

An astronauts life is worth $1 million to 8 million until they get into a rocket and then it becomes about $1 billion

Reason - Based on data from hundreds of programs, policy analyst John D. Graham and his colleagues at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis found in 1997 that the median cost for lifesaving expenditures and regulations by the U.S. government in the health care, residential, transportation, and occupational areas ranges from about $1 million to $3 million spent per life saved in today’s dollars. The only marked exception to this pattern occurs in the area of environmental health protection (such as the Superfund program) which costs about $200 million per life saved.

The Superfund inefficiency has been called “statistical murder,” since thousands of additional lives could be saved each year if the money were used more cost-effectively. To avoid such deadly waste, the Department of Transportation has a policy of rejecting any proposed safety expenditure that costs more than $3 million per life saved. That ceiling therefore may be taken as a high-end estimate for the value of an American’s life as defined by the U.S. government.

Recent decisions show that NASA cancelled a mission to save Hubble that cost the taxpayer $5 billion but they did not put a want to take a 2% risk for the Space shuttle Columbia for $67 million. The remaining value was for the Shuttle crew at nearly $1 billion per person.

So as they shuttle astronauts drove up to NASA, the Department of highways value their life at $5 million. As the Shuttle astronauts went to the store and bought products the Consumer safety department valued their life at $5 million. As they went about their daily routine various other government agencies valued their life at $1 million, but once they stepped into a rocket decisions were made that valued their life at nearly $1 billion.

NASA’s manned spaceflight effort has been spending more and more to accomplish less and less. If we are to achieve anything going forward, we have to find some way to strike a balance between human life and mission accomplishment.

NASA takes some $4 billion in taxpayer money per year to fly humans into space, it really has to fly them there and put them to good use. That amount of money, if spent on ground-based life-saving efforts such as childhood vaccinations, swimming lessons, fire escape inspections, highway repairs, body armor for the troops, save (at the government average of $2 million per life) roughly 2,000 lives. This is the sacrifice that the nation makes so NASA can run a human spaceflight program. In the face of such sacrifice, real results are required.

Minirailguns for commerical nuclear fusion update

HyperV Technologies is trying to develop minirailguns for the world’s first commercially viable fusion reactor technology. Their research could result in the development of a controlled hot fusion reactor that is scalable to provide between 100 MW and 2,000 MW of clean base load electric power.

There was a 20 page presentation from June of 2011. Imploding Plasma Liners as a Standoff Driver for Magneto-Inertial Fusion

They are firing milligrams of plasma at 140 times the speed of sound. The commercial energy generating version will fire the plasmas at 285 times the speed of sound. The breakeven nuclear fusion facilities will cost less than $100 million.

Magneto-inertial fusion (MIF): Pulsed fusion approach with a magnetic field in the compressed fusion fuel

* Magnetic field:
o reduces thermal transport
o enhances α-particle deposition within burning fuel
o Lowers ρr ignition threshold
* Lower required implosion velocities (1–100 km/s) compared to ICF (350 km/s)
* Allows use of more efficient and cheaper pulsed power (few $/J)
* MIF energy concepts aim for ηG ~ 0.5×20 rather than ηG ~ 0.1×100 as for ICF
* Several approaches being studied: solid liner MTF (LANL/AFRL), MagLIF (Sandia), magnetized ICF (Rochester), plasma liner driven MIF (LANL)

Navy is scaling up a component to connect bigger capacitor banks to railguns

Raytheon Company has been awarded a $10 million contract from Naval Sea Systems Command to develop a pulsed power system that will enable railguns to fire projectiles without explosive charges or rocket motors.

The contract for the preliminary design of a Pulse Forming Network (PFN) is part of a larger effort by the U.S. Navy to develop a multimission weapon system for use on naval warships to defend and attack with pinpoint accuracy.

Under the contract, Raytheon will provide the research and development of an advanced Integrated Power Systems power load module that may be used for PFNs to power future lasers, railguns or radars.

The PFN is a large power system providing the electromagnetic energy for the railgun projectile, which will travel up to 220 miles in less than six minutes and exit the atmosphere before hitting its target at a velocity of 5,000 feet per second.

The upcoming phase of railgun development includes demonstrating that it's possible to fire a railgun at a rate of 10 rounds per minute, as well as doing new kinds of thermal and cooling tests.
A pulse forming network for an Nd:YAG laser rangefinder.

Wikipedia on pulse forming networks

Tilera announces multicore Gx processors

The computer industry has become almost fixated on power issues. Power-per-watt is the new metric for CPUs and GPUs, and everything from chips to data centers are now power-limited. The Tilera corp. has developed a series of multicore processors which could dramatically reduce power consumption for certain computing tasks. For tasks not requiring floating-point performance, such as networking, serving web pages, wireless infrastructure,and digital video, Tilera's chips offer an unprecedented level of compute efficiency. Tilera today has officially introduced the third generation, 40 nm, Gx-16 and Gx-36 64-bit processors, with 16 and 36 cores respectively. The company is claiming that these solutions offer twice the performance at half the power and size and 1/3 the cost compared to current solutions. In certain applications the tile Gx-36 can offer performance equivalent to a xeon for one-fifth the power and one-eighth the space. Tilera has already garnered 20 design wins, and plans to unveil a 100 core product later this year. In a 2010 interview Tilera's Bob Doud predicted 1,000 core chips by 2020. Some have speculated that a combination of low-power processors coupled with next-generation GPUs may be the optimal way to build an exaflop supercomputer.

If you liked this article, please give it a quick review on ycombinator or StumbleUpon. Thanks

Desalination Battery

Nanoletter - Water desalination is an important approach to provide fresh water around the world, although its high energy consumption, and thus high cost, call for new, efficient technology. Here, we demonstrate the novel concept of a “desalination battery”, which operates by performing cycles in reverse on our previously reported mixing entropy battery. Rather than generating electricity from salinity differences, as in mixing entropy batteries, desalination batteries use an electrical energy input to extract sodium and chloride ions from seawater and to generate fresh water. The desalination battery is comprised by a Na2-xMn5O10 nanorod positive electrode and Ag/AgCl negative electrode. Here, we demonstrate an energy consumption of 0.29 Wh l–1 for the removal of 25% salt using this novel desalination battery, which is promising when compared to reverse osmosis ( 0.2 Wh l–1), the most efficient technique presently available.

Electronic Tattoo Monitors Brain, Heart and Muscles

National Science Foundation - Elastic electronics offer less invasive, more convenient medical treatment

Imagine if there were electronics able to prevent epileptic seizures before they happen. Or electronics that could be placed on the surface of a beating heart to monitor its functions. The problem is that such devices are a tough fit. Body tissue is soft and pliable while conventional circuits can be hard and brittle--at least until now.

"We're trying to bridge that gap, from silicon, wafer-based electronics to biological, 'tissue-like' electronics, to really blur the distinction between electronics and the body," says materials scientist John Rogers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

India will have two ungovernable urban messes and China will not

BBC News- We tend to think of 3 concepts of the city -

1. a municipal definition - the legal city if you will
2. the urbanised area, or the physical city - the built-up portion
3. the metropolitan area, which some people refer to as the influence of the city - how far out does the city go in terms of its influence, such as commuting patterns

Most of China's cities actually have a lower population than many believe. A lot of the population near large cities are still rural and the roads cannot be commuted in a short time. It seems that most of China's cities will stay in the sub-10 million range. There will be clusters of cities in an area.

Mumbai and Dehli in India have the problems if too many slums, homeless people and traffic gridlock

A successful megacity like Tokyo has affluent development and sufficient infrastructure for housing, water, sanitation, wnergy, traffic and other services. The other model of development is to have a national or regional plan to manage the growth of cities and divert growth from stressed cities to mid sized cities that can better handle the growth. Mckinsey did a study that showed that midsized cities in India and China are growing more productivelyvthan the megacities.

There can still be economic integration of clusters of cities into megaregions but the infrastructure has to be scaled effective.

January 29, 2012

It’s Hurricane Season and They’ve Hocked The Storm Shelter

By Joseph Friedlander

One line summary:

Irresponsible governmental behavior has made us most vulnerable at the precise time a major societal crisis—and choice of futures-- is due to be faced.

30 Second version: Reckless government manipulations and spending often with a conscious attempt to ‘smooth out’ the short term economic cycles, may have adversely affected the (speculative) ‘long wave’ cycles which affect great sweeps of technological progress, exploration and society itself (as well as peace and war) leading to highly unfavorable results (A delay of beneficial new technologies exploding from 2015-25 to as late as 2071). In addition, funds needed to prevent great civilian suffering in case of national emergency have been squandered on maintaining the appearance of normality (to the tune of 12% of GDP per year added to the national debt) These are funds sufficient to fight a world war and this can’t keep up for more than a couple years at most. The President inaugurated in 2013 will help lead us out of it or we fall off the economic cliff. A possible way out is outlined.

What if we get super cheap D-D (Deuterium-Deuterium fusion power?

A guest article by
Joseph Friedlander

What if thermonuclear power was as easy to build as a plasma torch, or rocket engine-- some simple electromechanical assembly (with precise electronic controls) that could be built in a home workshop and unleash a horrific fusion plasma with the power output of a rocket engine not in vacuum but from induced direct fusion of D-D (Deuterium-Deuterium fusion power--using just a tiny feed line of gas from a bottle of D.?)

Knowledgable readers will know this is quite a what if-- [this article will only be considering if the end result happens and not how it could be achieved.)

First of all no prospective fusion reactor exceeds breakeven (all take huge multiples of the energy they produce, in grid electricity, to even keep the machine running)

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