March 17, 2012

Mitocondria RNA research as Potential Game Changer for rejuvenating Mitocondria of aging cells which could enable life extension

UCLA Researchers have exploited a recently-discovered mammalian system for the mitochondrial import of nuclear-encoded RNA to import, express, and demonstrate functional protein translation from engineered mRNA and tRNA constructs. They used this system, with modifications for mitochondrial targeting and orthotopic translation, to rescue respiration in human mitochondriopathy cells. While further characterization and extension is clearly needed, this approach appears offer great promise for the correction of age-related mitochondrial DNA mutations.

Nextbigfuture covered the UCLA work a few days ago

SENS describes the promise for life extension

The UCLA group's approach is highly promising. Their work builds upon and may potentially supersede several previous approaches to the problem of mitochondrial mutations that occur as a result of the degenerative aging process, including allotopic protein expression,(6) its optimization using an MTS,(3-5) and the exploitation of the multiprotein RNA import complex (RIC) of the protozoal parasite Leishmania tropica(7) (which the investigators characterize as "requir[ing] the introduction of nonnative tRNAs with foreign protein factors or the transfer of a large multisubunit aggregate into cells, which is of low efficiency and difficult to reproduce in desirable disease-relevant settings"(2)).

As compared to allotopic protein expression, an RNA-based approach has the theoretical advantage of abrogating the difficulties encountered thus far with the mitochondrial import of large and hydrophobic proteins. But as we suggested in discussion of their earlier, more discovery-phase research, allotopic protein and RNA approaches are not mutually exclusive: different mitochondrially-encoded proteins could be either allotopically expressed, or their mRNAs generated allopically and imported for in situ translation, depending on the ease or efficiency of each approach for the protein in question. The use of a dual-track approach might be speculated to have an additional advantage, in avoiding any hypothetical "saturation" of the relevant mitochondrial import machinery (PNPase or TIM/TOM complex) if only one approach is used for all 13 mitochondrially-encoded proteins.

Business Week describes the American Superconductor case Where China Stole Technology

China's Sinovel (maker of wind turbines) stole a version of American Superconductors (AMSC) software.

On April 5, AMSC had no choice but to announce that Sinovel -- its biggest customer, accounting for more than two-thirds of the company’s $315 million in revenue in 2010 -- had stopped making purchases. Investors fled, erasing 40 percent of AMSC’s value in a single day and 84 percent of it by September.

The print version of the Business Week article lists many other cases of Chinese theft of intellectual property.

However, the more common practice is for China to use its position as the largest customer for planes, high speed trains and nuclear reactors to negotiate with companies to require the transfer of technology and rights. China is also able to buy companies and technology such as in solar power and then have capable engineers improve and scale those processes.

Promising Graphene Supercapacitor

An Electrochemical capacitors (ECs) that combines the power performance of capacitors with the high energy density of batteries would represent a significant advance in energy storage technology. This requires new electrodes that not only maintain high conductivity but also provide higher and more accessible surface area than conventional ECs that use activated carbon electrodes. Now researchers at UCLA have used a standard LightScribe DVD optical drive to produce such electrodes. The electrodes are composed of an expanded network of graphene — a one-atom-thick layer of graphitic carbon — that shows excellent mechanical and electrical properties as well as exceptionally high surface area.

Graphene Supercapacitors. Schematic showing the structure of laser scribed graphene supercapacitors.

The process is based on coating a DVD disc with a film of graphite oxide that is then laser treated inside a LightScribe DVD drive to produce graphene electrodes. Typically, the performance of energy storage devices is evaluated by two main figures, the energy density and power density. Suppose we are using the device to run an electric car — the energy density tells us how far the car can go a single charge whereas the power density tells us how fast the car can go. Here, devices made with Laser Scribed Graphene (LSG) electrodes exhibit ultrahigh energy density values in different electrolytes while maintaining the high power density and excellent cycle stability of ECs. Moreover, these ECs maintain excellent electrochemical attributes under high mechanical stress and thus hold promise for high power, flexible electronics.

“Our study demonstrates that our new graphene-based supercapacitors store as much charge as conventional batteries, but can be charged and discharged a hundred to a thousand times faster,” said Richard B. Kaner, professor of chemistry & materials science and engineering.

Science - Laser Scribing of High-Performance and Flexible Graphene-Based Electrochemical Capacitors

A half-billion stars and galaxies from NASA’s WISE mission revealed

A new atlas and catalog of the entire infrared sky with more than a half-billion stars, galaxies and other objects captured by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission was unveiled by NASA

The individual WISE exposures have been combined into an atlas of more than 18,000 images and a catalog listing the infrared properties of more than 560 million objects found in the images. Most of the objects are stars and galaxies, with roughly equal numbers of each; many of them have never been seen before.

WISE observations have already led to many discoveries, including elusive failed stars, or Y-dwarfs. Astronomers had been hunting for Y-dwarfs for more than a decade. Because they have been cooling since their formation, they do not shine in visible light and could not be spotted until WISE mapped the sky with its infrared vision. WISE has also found that there are significantly fewer mid-size near-Earth asteroids than astronomers had previously feared. With this data, now more than 90 percent of the largest of the asteroids have been identified.
Mapping the infrared universe: The entire sky, as seen by WISE
This is a mosaic of the images covering the entire sky as observed by WISE. The sky can be thought of as a sphere that surrounds us in three dimensions. To make a map of the sky, astronomers project it into two dimensions. The projection used in this image, called Aitoff, takes the three-dimensional sky sphere and slices open one hemisphere, and then flattens the whole thing out into an oval shape. In the mosaic, the Milky Way Galaxy runs horizontally across this map. The Milky Way is a disk; our solar system is located in that disk about two-thirds of the way out from the center. Three of the four wavelengths surveyed by WISE were used to create this image.

China to Become the Largest Market for Smartphones in 2012 with Brazil and India Forecast to Join the Top 5 Country-Level Markets by 2016

IDC - According to the latest smartphone forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, China will become the leading country-level market for smartphone shipments in 2012, moving ahead of the current leader, the United States. Looking ahead to 2016, two additional emerging markets, India and Brazil, will enter the top 5 country markets for smartphone shipments.

Currently India is ranked 7th. Japan, UK and other mature markets are ahead.

Silicon electrodes for high density batteries

PNAS - Fracture of crystalline silicon nanopillars during electrochemical lithium insertion

From surface hardening of steels to doping of semiconductors, atom insertion in solids plays an important role in modifying chemical, physical, and electronic properties of materials for a variety of applications. High densities of atomic insertion in a solid can result in dramatic structural transformations and associated changes in mechanical behavior: This is particularly evident during electrochemical cycling of novel battery electrodes, such as alloying anodes, conversion oxides, and sulfur and oxygen cathodes. Silicon, which undergoes 400% volume expansion when alloying with lithium, is an extreme case and represents an excellent model system for study. Here, we show that fracture locations are highly anisotropic for lithiation of crystalline Si nanopillars and that fracture is strongly correlated with previously discovered anisotropic expansion. Contrary to earlier theoretical models based on diffusion-induced stresses where fracture is predicted to occur in the core of the pillars during lithiation, the observed cracks are present only in the amorphous lithiated shell. We also show that the critical fracture size is between about 240 and 360 nm and that it depends on the electrochemical reaction rate.

Fabrication of silicon nanopillars. (A and B) Schematic view of steps for fabrication of Si nanopillars. (C and D) SEM images after deep reactive ion etching (RIE) for 2min. The silica nanospheres on top of the pillars are used as an etching mask. The initial diameter of the silica particles is 600 nm but the final pillar diameter is around 400 nm.

Understanding the Inner workings of magnets could lead to faster computers

Using a light source that creates X-ray pulses only one quadrillionth of a second in duration, a Boulder, Colorado team was able to observe how magnetism in nickel and iron atoms works, and they found that each metal behaves differently. One quadrillionth of a second is a million times faster than one billionth of a second.

Many technology experts believe that next-generation computer disk drives will use optically-assisted magnetic recording to achieve much higher drive capacities, according to NIST scientist Tom Silva, who worked with CU-Boulder physics professors Margaret Murnane and Henry Kapteyn on the research. However, many questions remain about how the delivery of optical energy to the magnetic system can be optimized for maximum drive performance. And this finding could help researchers answer some of their questions.

“The discovery that iron and nickel are fundamentally different in their interaction with light at ultrafast time scales suggests that the magnetic alloys in hard drives could be engineered to enhance the delivery of the optical energy to the spin system,” according to NIST scientist Tom Silva, who worked with CU-Boulder physics professors Margaret Murnane and Henry Kapteyn on the research.

PNAS - Probing the timescale of the exchange interaction in a ferromagnetic alloy

If you have Comcast Add another DNS

Comcast DNS has frequently has problems with

OpenDNS and Google Public DNS both offer free and faster DNS support.

Switching to Google Public DNS is not only more reliable it also makes surfing faster on you android phone, iphone or computer.

With Google Public DNS, you do the same thing except you use these DNS Internet Protocol addresses: and

To use OpenDNS’ DNS service, you can set up a free Basic Account, but to just get the benefit of its DNS, all you need do is set up your local router and/or PCs to use and for their DNS settings.

How you do this depends on your network devices and your PCs’ operating systems. Here are the basics for the major desktop operating systems.

Setting Microsoft Windows 7 DNS Settings
1. Go the Control Panel.
2. Click Network and Internet, then Network and Sharing Center, and click Change adapter settings. 3. Select the connection for which you want to configure Google Public DNS. To change the settings for an Ethernet connection, right-click Local Area Connection, and click Properties. To change the settings for a wireless connection, right-click Wireless Network Connection, and click Properties. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
4. Select the Networking tab. Under This connection uses the following items, click Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4), and then click Properties.
5. Click Advanced and select the DNS tab. If there are any DNS server IP addresses listed there, write them down for future reference, and remove them from this window.
6. Click OK.
7. Replace any existing addresses with the IP addresses of the Google or OpenDNS DNS server addresses.
8. Restart the connection.

Setting Mac OS X DNS Settings

* 1. From the Apple menu, click System Preferences, then click Network.
2. If the lock icon in the lower left-hand corner of the window is locked, click the icon to make changes, and when prompted to authenticate, enter your password.
3. Select the connection for which you want to configure DNS. To change the settings for an Ethernet connection, select Built-In Ethernet, and click Advanced. To change the settings for a wireless connection, select Airport, and click Advanced.
4. Select the DNS tab.
5. Click + to replace any listed addresses with, or add, IP addresses of the Google or OpenDNS DNS servers.
6. Click Apply and OK.

Setting Ubuntu Linux DNS Settings

* In many modern Linux distributions, DNS settings are configured through Network Manager.
1. In the System menu, click Preferences, then click Network Connections.
2. Select the connection for which you want to configure DNS. For example: To change the settings for an Ethernet connection, select the Wired tab, then select your network interface in the list. It’s probably called eth0. To change the settings for a wireless connection, select the Wireless tab, then pick your wireless connection.
3. Click Edit, and in the window that appears, select the IPv4 Settings tab.
4. If the selected method is Automatic (DHCP), open the drop-down menu and select Automatic (DHCP) addresses only instead. If the method is set to something else, do not change it.
5. In the DNS servers field, enter the addresses of the Google or OpenDNS DNS servers.
6. Click Apply to save the change. If you are prompted for a password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Personally, I prefer to use DNS addresses from both OpenDNS and Google.

Electric Industry replaces a major transformer in a few days instead of 6 to 8 weeks using simple innovations

NY Times - The electric grid depends on about 2,100 major high-voltage transformers spread throughout the country. There are about 200,000 smaller transformers but there are 2106 major ones. Replacing transformers is not technically difficult, it is a logistical and time-consuming nightmare that can take up to two years.

From Impact of Severe Solar Flares, Nuclear EMP and Intentional EMI on Electric Grids by John G Kappenman (40 pages)

HEMP Fast Pulse exposure covers a total of 1765 substations exposed or ~83% of 2106 major HV and EHV substations. In addition some 35,000 to 40,000 Distribution Class Substations may also be of concern for Fast Pulse Exposure.

46 Nuclear Reactors Starting fom 2012 to 2014

The World Nuclear Association has an update of the nuclear reactors that are starting (or restarting after complete overhauls) from 2012 through 2017 There are 46 reactors that are scheduled to start from 2012 to 2014.

14 Reactors in 2012
2012  India, NPCIL            Kaiga 4        PHWR        202
2012  Iran, AEOI              Bushehr 1       PWR        950
2012  Russia, Rosenergoatom   Kalinin 4       PWR        950
2012  Korea, KHNP             Shin Kori 2     PWR       1000 (Jan)
2012  Korea, KHNP             Shin Wolsong 1  PWR       1000 (Jan)
2012  Canada, Bruce Pwr       Bruce A1        PHWR       769 (April)
2012  Canada, Bruce Pwr       Bruce A2        PHWR       769 (Sept)
2012  Canada, NB Power        Point Lepreau 1 PHWR       635
2012  Argentina,              Atucha 2        PHWR       692 (July)
2012  India, NPCIL            Kudankulam 1    PWR        950
2012  India, NPCIL            Kudankulam 2    PWR        950
2012  China, CNNC             Qinshan phase II-4 PWR     650
2012  China, CGNPC            Hongyanhe 1     PWR       1080
2012  China, CGNPC            Ningde 1        PWR       1080
14 Reactors in 2013
2013  Slovakia, SE            Mochovce 3      PWR        440
2013  Korea, KHNP             Shin Wolsong 2  PWR       1000
2013  Korea, KHNP             Shin-Kori 3     PWR       1350
2013  USA, TVA                Watts Bar 2     PWR       1180
2013  Russia                  Leningrad II-1  PWR       1070
2013  China, CNNC             Sanmen 1        PWR       1250
2013  China, CGNPC            Ningde 2        PWR       1080
2013  China, CGNPC            Yangjiang 1     PWR       1080
2013  China, CGNPC            Taishan 1       PWR       1700
2013  China, CNNC             Fangjiashan 1   PWR       1080
2013  China, CNNC             Fuqing 1        PWR       1080
2013  China, CGNPC            Hongyanhe 2     PWR       1080
2013  Slovakia, SE            Mochovce 4      PWR        440
2013  India, Bhavini          Kalpakkam       FBR        470
18 or 19 Reactors in 2014  
2014  Finland, TVO            Olkilouto 3     PWR       1600
2014  Russia                  Vilyuchinsk     PWR x 2     70
2014  Russia                  NovovoronezhII-1 PWR      1070
2014  Taiwan Power            Lungmen 1       ABWR      1300
2014  Japan, Chugoku          Shimane 3       ABWR      1375
2014  China, CNNC             Sanmen 2        PWR       1250
2014  China, CPI              Haiyang 1       PWR       1250
2014  China, CGNPC            Ningde 3        PWR       1080
2014  China, CGNPC            Hongyanhe 3     PWR       1080
2014  China, CGNPC            Hongyanhe 4     PWR       1080
2014  China, CGNPC            Yangjiang 2     PWR       1080
2014  China, CGNPC            Taishan 2       PWR       1700
2014  China, CNNC             Fangjiashan 2   PWR       1080
2014  China, CNNC             Fuqing 2        PWR       1080
2014  China, CNNC             Changjiang 1    PWR        650
2014  Korea, KHNP             Shin-Kori 4     PWR       1350
2014?  Japan, EPDC/J Power  Ohma 1           ABWR       1350
2014  Russia, Rosenergoatom  Rostov 3         PWR       1070
2014  Russia, Rosenergoatom  Beloyarsk 4      FNR        750

There are 436 nuclear reactors in the world now, but 48 of them in Japan are shutdown. The Japanese reactors are older and smaller then the new reactors that are starting up. Japan has also operated their reactors with a lower capacity factor than many other nuclear reactors in the United States or South Korea or China.

March 16, 2012

China's Air Force Modernizes On Dual Tracks

Aviation Week - As China starts to put together a modern, integrated air force, which could reach 1,000 fighters by 2020, it is developing the components of a future force of stealthier combat aircraft, new bombers and unmanned, hypersonic and possibly space-based combat platforms. These could emerge as soon as the early 2020s.

This dual track was illustrated in late 2010 by two events. One was the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (Plaaf) first foreign demonstration of its modern capabilities: a combined-force mission of Xian Aircraft Co. H-6 bombers supported by Chengdu Aircraft Co. J-10 multi-role fighters, KJ-2000 airborne early warning and control aircraft. and H-6U tankers for an exercise in Kazakhstan. The other was the unveiling four months later of the Chengdu stealth fighter prototype, widely known as the J-20, followed in early 2011 by its first official flight.

Canada Bruce Power Unit A2 reactor cleared to Restart

Canadian regulators have cleared Unit 2 of the Bruce A nuclear power plant in Ontario to restart after a nearly two-decade-long slumber.

Bruce Power said Friday it can complete final safety checks and prepare to synchronize the reactor, which has been out of service since 1995, to Ontario's electrical grid.

"A project of this magnitude has never been done before on a CANDU reactor and that cannot be overlooked," said Bruce Power CEO Duncan Hawthorne in a release.

"We have learned many lessons from our work on Unit 2 and have implemented them on Unit 1 which is following very closely behind Unit 2 and should achieve a similar milestone in a few short months.

Work on Unit 1 of Bruce A is still underway, and operations on that reactor should restart during the third quarter of 2012.

Bruce Power, on the shores of Lake Huron in Ontario, consists of two generating stations: Bruce A and Bruce B. Together they house eight reactors, six of which have been operational for the past several years.

Bruce A units are rated at 750MW of electricity net, and 805MW gross.

Straintronics: Engineers create piezoelectric graphene

By depositing atoms on one side of a grid of the “miracle material” graphene, researchers at Stanford have engineered piezoelectricity into a nanoscale material for the first time. The implications could yield dramatic degree of control in nanotechnology. Piezoelectricity is the property of some materials to produce electric charge when bent, squeezed or twisted. Perhaps more importantly, piezoelectricity is reversible. When an electric field is applied, piezoelectric materials change shape, yielding a remarkable level of engineering control.

This illustration shows lithium atoms (red) adhered to a graphene lattice that will produce electricity when bent, squeezed or twisted. Conversely, the graphene will deform when an electric field is applied, opening new possibilities in nanotechnology. Illustration: Mitchell Ong, Stanford School of Engineerin

ACS Nano - Engineered Piezoelectricity in Graphene

MIT Designing cheaper, quieter and fuel-efficient supersonic biplanes

Qiqi Wang (MIT), Rui Hu (MIT) and Antony Jameson (Stanford) have shown through a computer model that a modified biplane can, in fact, produce significantly less drag than a conventional single-wing aircraft at supersonic cruise speeds. The group will publish their results in the Journal of Aircraft.

The design changes could cut the amount of fuel needed for a supersonic aircraft by half. That could also help hypersonic military weapons or hypersonic civilian jetliners that travel at more than five times the speed of sound. The two wing can be designed to cancel out each sonic boom.

With Wang’s design, a jet with two wings — one positioned above the other — would cancel out the shock waves produced from either wing alone. Wang credits German engineer Adolf Busemann for the original concept. In the 1950s, Busemann came up with a biplane design that essentially eliminates shock waves at supersonic speeds.

Normally, as a conventional jet nears the speed of sound, air starts to compress at the front and back of the jet. As the plane reaches and surpasses the speed of sound, or Mach 1, the sudden increase in air pressure creates two huge shock waves that radiate out at both ends of the plane, producing a sonic boom.

Through calculations, Busemann found that a biplane design could essentially do away with shock waves. Each wing of the design, when seen from the side, is shaped like a flattened triangle, with the top and bottom wings pointing toward each other. The configuration, according to his calculations, cancels out shock waves produced by each wing alone.

However, the design lacks lift: The two wings create a very narrow channel through which only a limited amount of air can flow. When transitioning to supersonic speeds, the channel, Wang says, could essentially “choke,” creating incredible drag. While the design could work beautifully at supersonic speeds, it can’t overcome the drag to reach those speeds.

Adjoint based aerodynamic optimization of supersonic biplane airfoils (24 pages)

Japanese also working on supersonic biplane

A new theory that significantly reduces shock waves for supersonic transport (SST) has been established by Prof. Kusunose’s group at Tohoku University under the 21st Century COE Program. The theory introduces a second wing nearly parallel to the conventional wing. Kusunose team verified that the biplane configuration reduces shock wave effects felt on the ground by 85%.

Shock waves created by airfoils during supersonic flight. single airfoil (diamond airfoil) shock canceling biplane airfoils

A supersonic biplane concept created by Kazuhiro Kusunose and colleagues at Tohoku University in Japan.

Hewlett-Packard Scientists Envision 10-Teraflop Manycore Chip

Nextbigfuture covered the HP Corona chip and its on chip photonic communication a couple of weeks ago.

HPCWire covers the Corona chip as well. HP has been devising a manycore chipset, which would outrun the average-sized HPC cluster of today. The design represents a radical leap in performance, and if implemented, would fulfill the promise of exascale computing.

The architecture, known as Corona, first conceived back in 2008, consists of a 256-core CPU, an optical memory module, integrated nanophotonics and 3D chip stacking employing through-silicon-vias (TSVs). At peak output, Corona should deliver 10 teraflops of performance. That's assuming 16 nm CMOS process technology, which is expected to be on tap by 2017.

The Corona design is aimed squarely at data-intensive types of application, whose speed is limited by the widening gap between CPU performance and available bandwidth to DRAM -- the so-called memory wall. Basically any workload whose data does not fit into processor cache is a candidate. This includes not just traditional big data applications, but also a whole bunch of interesting HPC simulations and analytics codes that have to manipulate large or irregular data sets, and are thus memory-constrained.

Supercomputers model nuclear bomb deflection of Asteroid

MSNBC - Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy facility in New Mexico, used a supercomputer to model nukes' anti-asteroid effectiveness. They attacked a 1,650-foot-long (500-meter) space rock with a 1-megaton nuclear weapon — about 50 times more powerful than the U.S. blast inflicted on Nagasaki, Japan, to help end World War II.

HPCWire - the simulation shows that a nuclear blast of that power would indeed “fully mitigate” the threat to Earth.

Modeling the reaction required a lot of computing horsepower, so the researchers turned to Cielo, a Cray-built supercomputer, rated at 1.1 Linpack petaflops. The machine consists of 8,944 dual-socket nodes and 286 TB of memory, and is powered by 8-core AMD 6136 Opteron CPUs. According to Weaver, the simulation was able to use 32,000 processors (although in this case he probably means cores given that Cielo only has 17,888 CPUs. Weaver noted the simulation he ran on the Cray super was unable to run on any previous machine he had access to at the lab.

March 15, 2012

First Digital Message Sent Using Neutrinos

Technology Review - a team at FermiLab in Batavia, Illinois, reveal that they have sent a digital message using a neutrino beam for the first time.

These guys used an experiment called NuMI (NeUtrino beam at the Main Injector) to generate an intense beam of neutrinos. The beam consisted of about 25 pulses each separated by 2 seconds or so, with each pulse containing some 10^13 neutrinos.

The beam is pointed at a detector called MINERvA weighing about 170 tonnes and sitting in an underground cavern about a kilometre away. To reach MINERvA, the beam has to travel through 240 metres of solid rock.

MINERvA is one of world's most sensitive neutrino detectors and yet, out of 10^13 neutrinos in each pulse, it detects only about 0.8 of them on average.

The FermiLab team used a simple on-off protocol to represent the 0s and 1s of digital code and transmitted the word "neutrino".

The entire message took about 140 minutes to send at a data rate that these guys later worked out to be about 0.1 bits per second with an error rate of less than 1 per cent.

Arxiv - Demonstration of Communication using Neutrinos (10 pages)

West Texas Wolfcamp Oil

Pioneer Natural Resources is now deepening its wells to include the Wolfcamp Shale and other, deeper zones that contribute additional oil reserves. Pioneer is also in the early stages of a new horizontal drilling program in the Wolfcamp Shale and has reported very encouraging results to date. Wolfcamp is below the Spraberry field and is getting Bakken like results with per well peak 24 hour production of 2000 barrels per day (although most are still in the 800-1000 bpd range).

EOG's wells in the Wolfcamp are producing 2,000 barrels a day. Pioneer will drill 80 Wolfcamp wells in 2012 and 2013.

Pioneer is the largest acreage holder, driller and producer in the West Texas Spraberry field.

Iraq and Libya Oil Production is up

Business Week - Libyan production rose to 1.3 million barrels a day last month, up 150,000 barrels from the previous month, according to IEA estimates. The country’s output is about 300,000 barrels less than its average before the uprising against Muammar Qaddafi last year.

Saudi will probably produce 9.8 million barrels a day this month, roughly matching last month’s level, a person with knowledge of the kingdom’s oil policy said today. According to OPEC’s monthly report, Saudi output fell to 9.66 million barrels a day in February.

Gulf News - Iraq's oil production has risen above 3 million barrels per day for the first time in more than three decades, it announced March 5, and said it will sharply increase exports when a major new floating oil terminal began operations on March 8.

Iraq aims to double its oil output over the next three years and has a long-term goal of 12 million bpd. Although that target may be out of reach, Iraq is still expected to be the world's biggest source of new oil supplies over the next few years.

Cyborg Snail - Implanted biofuel cells produce electricity from glucose in blood

Nature - Snails have joined the growing ranks of animals whose own metabolism can be used to generate electricity. Next lobster implants and rats and eventually human bio-blood powered implants. Designing devices that are far more energy efficient or only needs occasional bursts of power will increase the range of applications. This technology clearly has transhuman implications.

Into each mollusc, Katz and his team at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, have implanted tiny biofuel cells that extract electrical power from the glucose and oxygen in the snail’s blood. Munching mainly on carrots, the cyborg snails live for around half a year and generate electricity whenever their implanted electrodes are hooked up to an external circuit.

Katz’s snails, for example, produced up to 7.45 microwatts, but after 45 minutes, that power had decreased by 80%. To draw continuous power, Katz’s team had to ramp down the power they extracted to 0.16 microwatts.

Scherson says that he thinks he will be able to get a few hundred microwatts out of cockroaches (his biofuel cells feed on trehalose, a different sugar from glucose). Singhal reports similar results for beetles. Scherson, who is working with a large company to build microelectronics circuits for his cockroaches, points out that power need not be drawn continuously, but could be stored up in capacitors and released in pulses; he has already been able to produce and detect a radio signal from the cockroaches this way

More Designer Electrons- Artificial Molecular Graphene used to Mimic Higgs Field and Relativity

Researchers arranged carbon monoxide molecules to form the same hexagonal pattern found in graphene, except that they could adjust molecular spacing slightly. They placed individual molecules of carbon monoxide onto a copper sheet. The material's electrons behave remarkably like relativistic particles, with a "speed of light" that they can adjust. Additionally, the researchers could change the spacing between molecules in a way that the masses of the quasiparticles changed, or cause them to behave as though they are interacting with electric and magnetic fields—without actually applying those fields to the material.

Manoharan has indicated that his team will be working on using the new material as a test bed for future exploitation as well as creating new nanoscale materials with new properties.

This is a follow up to the design electron article from yesterday

Manoharan lab covers their own work here

The work could lead to new materials and devices.

Graphical summary of this work. Artificial “molecular” graphene is fabricated via atom manipulation, and then imaged and locally probed via scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). Guided by theory, we fabricate successively more exotic variants of graphene. From left to right: pristine graphene exhibiting emergent massless Dirac fermions; graphene with a Kekulé distortion dresses the Dirac fermions with a scalar gauge field that creates mass; graphene with a triaxial strain distortion embeds a vector gauge field which condenses a time-reversal-invariant relativistic quantum Hall phase. In the theory panel, images are color representations of the strength of the carbon-carbon bonds (corresponding to tight-binding hopping parameters t), and the curves shown are calculated electronic density of states (DOS) from tight-binding (TB) theory. In the experiment panel, images are STM topographs acquired after molecular assembly, and the curves shown are normalized conductance spectra obtained from the associated nanomaterial.

In this work we combine a central tenet of condensed matter physics—how electronic band structure emerges from a periodic potential in a crystal—with the most advanced imaging and atomic manipulation techniques afforded by the scanning tunnelling microscope. We synthesize a completely artificial form of graphene (“molecular graphene”) in which Dirac fermions can be materialized, probed, and tailored in ways unprecedented in any other known materials. We do this by using single molecules, bound to a two-dimensional surface, to craft designer potentials that transmute normal electrons into exotic charge carriers. With honeycomb symmetry, electrons behave as massless relativistic particles as they do in natural graphene. With altered symmetry and texturing, these Dirac particles can be given a tunable mass, or even be married with a fictitious electric or magnetic field (a so-called gauge field) such that the carriers believe they are in real fields and condense into the corresponding ground state. We show an array of new phenomena emerging from: patterning Dirac carrier densities with atomic precision, without need for conventional gates (corresponding to locally uniform electric fields which adjust chemical potential); spatially texturing the electron bonds such that the Dirac point is split by an energy gap (corresponding to a nonuniform scalar gauge field); straining the bonds in such a way that a quantum Hall effect emerges even without breaking time-reversal symmetry (corresponding to a vector gauge field). Along the way, we make use of several theoretical predictions for real graphene which have never been realized in experiment

Nature - Designer Dirac fermions and topological phases in molecular graphene

Reforms Needed For India to Reach Potential of Double Digit GDP Growth

Baker Institute - Limits of the Jugaad Growth Model: No Workaround to Good Governance for India (12 pages)

Indian industry has gained fame in management circles for jugaad, or persevering despite limited resources. This skill has proven particularly important in overcoming inadequate public services. However, the economy appears to have reached the limit of using jugaad in the place of good government, suggesting a lower growth trajectory in the absence of a major improvement in political dynamics.
India’s economy performed exceedingly well in the past decade, averaging an impressive 7.8% growth across 10 years, even sustaining 5% growth during the peak of the financial crisis. A common refrain holds that growth occurred “despite the government,” requiring India’s celebrated expertise in jugaad, or creative workarounds to poor resources. The exceptional growth of India’s service industry exemplifies this success.

Infrastructure experts like Vinayak Chatterjee, president of Feedback Ventures, caution that the pipeline for infrastructure projects has thinned out significantly and does not reflect the average annual value of projects needed to meet India’s ambitious target of investing $1 trillion over the coming five years. Poor infrastructure, more than low investment in other areas, presents a serious obstacle to India once again exceeding 8% growth.

The report cites lagging government services like education (India's adult literacy rate is 64 percent), energy systems and transportation as major issues facing the Indian people and private sector. "The road systems in India have been expanding but at too slow of a pace, and the rail system used today is basically the same now as in British times

China will supply Westinghouse AP1000 components to Projects Worldwide

China Daily - Most of the Westinghouse AP1000 reactors that are being built in the world are being built in China. Chinese nuclear companies will become suppliers for Westinghouse Electric Co's AP1000 reactor projects in other countries as the nation approaches completion of the world's first AP1000 project.

"Ultimately, we will include Chinese manufacturers in the international supply chain," said Tim Collier, Westinghouse's vice-president and managing director for China.

As the first developer of AP1000 technology, China hopes to export its expertise through a partnership with Westinghouse.

"By the time the US builds its AP1000 reactors, we will send Chinese teams to assist and advise on the project," said Zhang Fubao, director of equipment at the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp.

In February, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission authorized the construction of two AP1000 reactors at the Vogtle site in Georgia. Site preparation has been completed and the components for preliminary construction are in place.

China plans to focus less on solar and wind Energy and more on Nuclear and Hydro Power

China will accelerate the use of new-energy sources such as nuclear energy and put an end to blind expansion in industries such as solar energy and wind power in 2012, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says in a government report published on March 5.

China will instead develop nuclear power in 2012, actively develop hydroelectric power, tackle key problems more quickly in the exploration and development of shale gas, and increase the share of new energy and renewable energy in total energy consumption.

The guidance indicates a new trend for new-energy and renewable energy development in China from 2012. Analysts believe that the development of the solar and wind power industries will stabilize while hydropower will have the top priority in renewable energy development in China.

Hydropower to contribute two-thirds of renewable energy

Neutron orbits of an atomic nucleus for clock accurate to 1 second every 280 billion years

March 14, 2012

China and Russia Increasing Science Budgets

In a speech at the opening session of the annual National People’s Congress, China’s Premier, Wen Jiabao, lauded science and technology as key drivers of economic growth and individual prosperity, and backed up the rhetoric with hard cash. This year, central-government expenditure on science and technology is set to rise to 228.5 billion renminbi (US$36.1 billion), a 12.4% increase on last year’s spending, which slightly trails the country’s overall projected budget increase of 13.7%. Of that science budget, 32.5 billion renminbi will go towards basic research, a 10.1% increase on the 29.5 billion renminbi spent in 2011. Wen also stressed the government’s continuing commitment to improving agriculture, promising an additional 10.1 billion renminbi — a 53% rise on last year — for developing new agricultural technologies and modernizing China’s seed industry. Further details of funding allocations will emerge in the coming months, but sources close to government say that other areas likely to receive increased support include information technology, drug discovery, regenerative medicine, renewable energy and the exploitation of mineral and fuel resources.

In 2009, it overtook Japan to become the world’s second-largest investor in R and D after the United States.

2. Vladimir Putin has promised to pump funding into basic science and innovation as part of his plan to modernize and diversify Russia's stagnating economy, which is heavily dependent on energy exports

Molecular Graphene Heralds New Era of ‘Designer Electrons’

Researchers from Stanford University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have created the first-ever system of “designer electrons” – exotic variants of ordinary electrons with tunable properties that may ultimately lead to new types of materials and devices.

“The behavior of electrons in materials is at the heart of essentially all of today’s technologies,” said Hari Manoharan, associate professor of physics at Stanford and a member of SLAC’s Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences, who led the research. “We’re now able to tune the fundamental properties of electrons so they behave in ways rarely seen in ordinary materials.”

Precisely positioned carbon monoxide molecules (black) guide electrons (yellow-orange) into a nearly perfect honeycomb pattern called molecular graphene. Electrons in this structure have graphene-like properties; for example, unlike ordinary electrons, they have no mass and travel as if they are moving at the speed of light in a vacuum.

To make this structure, scientists from Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory used a scanning tunneling microscope to move individual carbon monoxide molecules into a hexagonal pattern on a perfectly smooth copper surface. The carbon monoxide repels the free-flowing electrons on the copper surface, forcing them into a graphene-like honeycomb pattern.
Image courtesy Hari Manoharan/Stanford University

Tailored optical material from DNA: Light-modifying nanoparticles

Technische Universitaet Muenchen - In the human body genetic information is encoded in double-stranded deoxyribonucleic acid building blocks, the so-called DNA. Using artificial DNA molecules, an international team of scientists headed by the Cluster of Excellence Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM) has produced nanostructured materials that can be used to modify visible light by specification.

They will try to use this DNA Origami to make metamaterial Super lenses

By combining theoretical calculations and the possibilities of DNA origami, the researchers are now able to produce nano-optical materials with precisely specified characteristics. Professor Tim Liedl describes the path the research might follow: “We will now investigate whether we can use this method to influence the refraction index of the materials we manufacture. Materials with a negative refractive index could be used to develop novel optical lens systems – so-called super lenses.”

Right-handed and left-handed nano spiral staircases differ visibly in their interaction with circular polarized light. Photo: Tim Liedl / LMU

Nature - DNA-based self-assembly of chiral plasmonic nanostructures with tailored optical response

Cheaper biochips

An EPFL invention has drastically reduced the cost of producing biochips, which are used to measure glucose and drug levels in the blood and to detect biomolecules and cellular signals. This development could make it possible to carry out analyses that are currently considered too expensive, and thus boost many areas of research.

Biochips, used to diagnose genetic diseases, detect tumor markers and measure substances in the blood such as glucose, drugs or doping agents, have become widespread in the medical world over the past 20 years. Scientists in EPFL’s Laboratory of Life Sciences Electronics (CLSE) have recently completely re-engineered the design of these semiconductor biochips, coming up with a way to make them re-usable. This in turn reduces their cost by a factor of ten, which otherwise would correspond to hundreds of francs a piece.

Electronics Letters - 3D integration technology for lab-on-a-chip applications

Latest microfluidic chip can generate microbubbles to break open cells for biochemical analysis

Dave Ow and co-workers at the A*STAR Bioprocessing Technology Institute and Institute of High Performance Computing have now developed a novel method to expose the internal contents of cells for biochemical analysis.

Currently there is a wide range of methods to disintegrate or lyse cell membranes and to release the biomolecules contained within. However, most of these methods can cause denaturation of proteins or interfere with subsequent assaying. Ow and co-workers explored the possibility of using ultrasound in microfluidics to lyse cells. They applied short bursts of ultrasound with periods of rest to prevent the proteins from overheating as a result of dissipation of mechanical energy.

Micrographs of GFP-expressing bacteria before and after lysis

Veteran of China Natural gas and Oil Companies pushes for slower restart to Nuclear Reactor Approvals in China

Google Android projected to pass Apple Tablets in Units Shipped in 2016

IDC projects that Google Android powered tablets will pass Apple iOS tablets in terms of units shipped by 2016. A lot of those will be Kindle class tablets so Apple will still be leading in terms of revenue sold and in terms of share of income.

The market experienced stronger-than-expected growth across many regions and at many price points, leading to a full-year 2011 total of 68.7 million units. Based upon the markets' strong 2011 finish, and the clear demand expected in 2012, IDC has increased its 2012 forecast to 106.1 million units, up from its previous forecast of 87.7 million units.

Despite an impressive debut by Amazon, which shipped 4.7 million Kindle Fires into the market, Apple continued to see strong growth in the quarter, shipping 15.4 million units in 4Q11, up from 11.1 million units in 3Q11. That represents a 54.7% worldwide market share (down from 61.5% in 3Q11). Amazon's shipment total put the company in second place with 16.8% of the worldwide market. Third-place Samsung grew its share from 5.5% in 3Q11 to 5.8% in 4Q11. Despite shipping more units, including its new Nook Tablet, Barnes & Noble saw its worldwide market share slip to 3.5% (down from 4.5%). Pandigital rounded out the top five, grabbing 2.5% of the market, down from 2.9% the previous quarter.

Canaccord Genuity raised its iPad sales estimate for 2012 to 65.6 million from 55.9 million, and to 90.6 million from 79.7 million for 2013.

China developing low to medium speed maglev as light rail alternative

China's first medium-low speed maglev line using Chinese technology is scheduled to launch in Beijing before March 2013

The medium-low speed S1 Line will make China only the second country, after Japan, to have such a line, said Chang, who led the research team that developed the magnetic levitation, or maglev, technology.

As one of eight rail transit lines under construction in Beijing designed to form an urban transit network and help ease traffic gridlock, the S1 Line will extend from the western Mentougou district to Pingguoyuan subway station, the western terminal station of Line 1.

Construction is expected to cost about 6 billion yuan (US$1 billion) and be completed in 2013, according to earlier reports.

"The maglev line will be a safe, low-noise and economical transport choice for people," Chang said, explaining that, at 65 decibels - about the level of normal conversation - it will not affect nearby residents and could save the huge expense of large-scale relocations.

"Compared with road vehicles, the spending on repairing maglev trains will also be reduced as wear and tear by friction can be avoided," he said.

Chang said the maglev line will consume about 15 percent more power than a subway or light rail service, although it produces less noise and needs less maintenance.

A newly developed maglev train is seen at a factory of the Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co. Ltd. of China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corporation in Zhuzhou, Central China's Hunan province, Jan 20, 2012. The three-carriage train is designed to run at a maximum speed of 100 km per hour and carry 600 passengers. It is more environmental-friendly than conventional trains. [Photo/Xinhua]

The three-carriage train is designed to run at a maximum speed of 100 km per hour and carry 600 passengers, said Xu Zongxiang, general manager of Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co. Ltd. of China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corporation (CSR).
"It's ideal for mass transportation, as it is quiet and environmental-friendly. Its manufacturing cost is about 75 percent of a conventional light-rail train," said Xu.

The maglev train has a minimum turning radius of 50 meters and can easily run in residential communities or on hilly slopes. "It's an ideal public transport option for Chinese cities and major tourist destinations," said Xu.

Japan Makes Seat Cushion Sized Amoeboid Blob-like Robot

A new blob-like robot described in the journal Advanced Robotics uses springs, feet, "protoplasm" and a distributed nervous system to move in a manner inspired by the slime mold Physarum polycepharum.

Umedachi's goal isn't simply to create a new kind of locomotion, however. He's exploring the way in which robots that lack a centralized command center -- i.e. a brain -- can accomplish things anyway. Slime molds are a perfect model for this sort of thing, because they don't even have the primitive neural nets that characterize the coordinated swimming and feeding actions in jellyfish.

Advanced Robotics - Fluid-Filled Soft-Bodied Amoeboid Robot Inspired by Plasmodium of True Slime Mold

This paper presents a fluid-filled soft-bodied amoeboid robot inspired by the plasmodium of the true slime mold. The significant features of this robot are 2-fold. (i) The robot has a fluid circuit (i.e., cylinders and nylon tubes filled with fluid), and a truly soft and deformable body stemming from real-time tunable springs — the former seals protoplasm to induce global physical interaction between the body parts and the latter is used for elastic actuators. (ii) A fully decentralized control using coupled oscillators with a completely local sensory feedback mechanism is realized by exploiting the global physical interaction between the body parts stemming from the fluid circuit. The experimental results show that this robot exhibits adaptive locomotion without relying on any hierarchical structure. The results obtained are expected to shed new light on the design scheme for autonomous decentralized control systems.

Technology Review Coverage of Amoeboid Robot

GM, NASA Jointly Developing Robotic Gloves for Triple Power Grip and Fewer Injuries

General Motors and NASA are jointly developing a robotic glove that auto workers and astronauts can wear to help do their respective jobs better while potentially reducing the risk of repetitive stress injuries.

The Human Grasp Assist device, known internally in both organizations as the K-glove or Robo-Glove, resulted from GM and NASA’s Robonaut 2 (R2) project, which launched the first human-like robot into space in 2011. R2 is a permanent resident of the International Space Station.

Research shows that continuously gripping a tool can cause fatigue in hand muscles within a few minutes. Initial testing of the Robo-Glove indicates the wearer can hold a grip longer and more comfortably.

“When fully developed, the Robo-Glove has the potential to reduce the amount of force that an auto worker would need to exert when operating a tool for an extended time or with repetitive motions,” said Dana Komin, GM’s manufacturing engineering director, Global Automation Strategy and Execution. “In so doing, it is expected to reduce the risk of repetitive stress injury.”

Electricity Generation in the OECD for 2011

The International Energy Agency has the electricity usage statistics for the OECD for 2011

Production from geothermal/solar/wind/other increased in all OECD regions. The largest percentage increase was seen in OECD Asia Oceania (80.7%), followed by OECD Europe (28.9%) and OECD Americas (28.5%)

Teenager Unlocks Potential Pathways for Breast Cancer Treatments, Wins 2012 Intel Science Talent Search

From medical treatments to alternative energy solutions, innovation has been top of mind in our nation’s capital this week. Honoring high school seniors with exceptional promise in math and science, Intel Corporation and Society for Science & the Public (SSP) recognized the winners of the nation’s most elite and demanding high school research competition, the Intel Science Talent Search.

Nithin Tumma, 17, of Fort Gratiot, Mich., won the top award of $100,000 from the Intel Foundation for his research, which could lead to more direct, targeted, effective and less toxic breast cancer treatments. He analyzed the molecular mechanisms in cancer cells and found that by inhibiting certain proteins, we may be able to slow the growth of cancer cells and decrease their malignancy. Nithin is first in his class of 332, a varsity tennis player and a volunteer for the Port Huron Museum, where he started a restoration effort for historical and cultural landmarks.

High Speed Rail Problems in China and California

1. Washington Post - Part of a high-speed railway line collapsed in central China following heavy rains, state media reported, jolting railroad shares and reviving worries over safety.

About 7 kilometers (4 1/2 miles) of track were being removed after it sank at points where the line runs across a floodplain, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday. Initially the agency reported that only 300 meters (984 feet) of track had been affected by the collapse Friday near Qianjiang city in Hubei province. The railway line is due to open in May.

“We discovered the problem during the evaluation phase, and invited experts to reinforce the rails,” it quoted Wang Zujian, a director for Hubei’s provincial railway construction bureau, as saying.

March 13, 2012

James Camerons Deep Dive Technical Innovations and Other Deep Sea Targets

Popular Mechanics interviewed James Cameron about his deep sea quests and his technological innovations

Cameron pioneered the use of syntactic foam as a structural material. What are the benefits of making the sub’s structure double as the flotation system?

Syntactic foam is an epoxy matrix containing glass microspheres that are hollow. It’s been the standard of deep-ocean construction for about the last 20 years. It had always been used as passive flotation. We thought it was silly to build a vehicle out of negatively buoyant substances, like aluminum or steel, and then have to add all this flotation to get it neutrally buoyant so it could operate at the bottom of the ocean.

We had to make syntactic foam stronger, and we had to make it a more uniform, more consistent material.

Costs $8 million

It’s going to be in the zone of $8 million. I spent two and a half million dollars building the ROVs that we used to explore the inside of the Titanic and the Bismarck, and then we took them to the hydrothermal vents in 2003, and then we took them to the Titanic again in 2005. Those things eventually paid for themselves twice over, so there’s no reason to assume that I can’t make money with this vehicle as well, or at least pay for it.

Anybots and other Robots

Anybots has robots that help provide mobile telepresence. Mobile telepresence is the most interactive form of communication, short of being face-to-face. Adding remotely controlled mobility to videoconferencing is a transcending experience that will change how you perceive distance and make your world feel dramatically closer.

Wall Street Journal - The Anybot QB Robot sells for $9,700 and costs about $3,000 for an eight-hour rental.

The QB robot grandmother is used for mobile attendance by a grandmother for a wedding in Paris.

Other companies, like VGo Communications Inc., in Nashua, N.H; Xaxxon Technologies, in Vancouver; and iRobot Corp., in Bedford, Mass., have introduced personal-presence robots that range in price from $270 for a simple model that connects to a laptop to $50,000 for a machine that could allow doctors to log in and diagnose illnesses remotely.

Technology company executives are prominent among the early adopters. Bert Navarrete, co-founder and managing partner of Tigerlabs LLC, a company that helps start-ups get off the ground, ordered an Anybot robot to create an office presence for his offsite workers, including a developer in Hungary.

India Plans To Create 12 Times The Number Of Colleges As The U.S. By 2020

Singularity Hub - After 20 years of economic reforms, India is emerging into a new prosperity thanks to progressive polices and globalization, which has reduced poverty and helped its middle class thrive. But now, the country faces a seemingly insurmountable task: educate a generation of workers over the next decade to compete in a global workforce. So how big is the problem? Try 100 million young people entering the workforce between now and 2020. In a country with about 600 million citizens under the age of 25, India has a golden opportunity to live up to the projections of becoming the next China. But its current educational infrastructure cannot support this volume of learners, and the government has stated it needs 1,000 universities and 50,000 colleges to meet the pressing demand.

China to step up uranium imports; plans to buy mines abroad

Firstpost - China plans to import more uranium this year and is busy scouting to buy uranium mines abroad especially in Canada as it gears up to resume its nuclear power projects in a big way after a year-long halt to review security measures following Fukoshima nuclear disaster.

China at present buys 95 percent of the uranium from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Namibia and Australia. Canada has “agreed to cooperate” more uranium trade during Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper’s recent visit to China, it said.

China’s Guangdong Nuclear Power Group Co has offered to buy 261.9 million shares from Kalahari Minerals Plc, global resource company owning uranium and gold reserves in Namibia.

The deal, which concerns 98 percent of the ownership of Kalahari Minerals, was approved in February.

China can produce 850 tons of uranium a year, an amount expected to increase to 2,500 tons in the future, Ux Consulting, a researcher on uranium said.

Kurion System Responsible for Approximately 70 Percent of the Radioactivity Removed from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant

Market watch - Kurion, Inc., an innovator in nuclear waste management, today announced that since the June 17 start-up of its proprietary cesium removal system at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant it has processed more than 137,340 Metric Tons (MT)(36 million gallons) of waste water and was responsible for removal of approximately 3.5 x 10^17 Becquerel (9.4 million curies) of cesium.

UCLA scientists find way to repair mutations in human mitochondria

Researchers at the UCLA stem cell center and the departments of chemistry and biochemistry and pathology and laboratory medicine have identified, for the first time, a generic way to correct mutations in human mitochondrial DNA by targeting corrective RNAs, a finding with implications for treating a host of mitochondrial diseases.

Mutations in the human mitochondrial genome are implicated in neuromuscular diseases, metabolic defects and aging. There currently are no methods to successfully repair or compensate for these mutations, said study co-senior author Dr. Michael Teitell, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and a researcher with the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA.

Between 1,000 and 4,000 children per year in the United States are born with a mitochondrial disease and up to one in 4,000 children in the U.S. will develop a mitochondrial disease by the age of 10, according to Mito Action, a nonprofit organization supporting research into mitochondrial diseases. In adults, many diseases of aging have been associated with defects of mitochondrial function, including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

PNAS - Correcting human mitochondrial mutations with targeted RNA import

Breakthrough on salt-tolerant wheat to boost yields by 25% and 20% of agricultural land that is salty

A team of Australian scientists involving the University of Adelaide has bred salt tolerance into a variety of durum wheat that shows improved grain yield by 25% on salty soils.

Using 'non-GM' crop breeding techniques, scientists from CSIRO Plant Industry have introduced a salt-tolerant gene into a commercial durum wheat, with spectacular results shown in field tests. Researchers at the University of Adelaide's Waite Research Institute have led the effort to understand how the gene delivers salinity tolerance to the plants.

"This work is significant as salinity already affects over 20% of the world's agricultural soils, and salinity poses an increasing threat to food production due to climate change," Dr Munns says.

Dr Gilliham says: "Salinity is a particular issue in the prime wheat-growing areas of Australia, the world's second-largest wheat exporter after the United States. With global population estimated to reach nine billion by 2050, and the demand for food expected to rise by 100% in this time, salt-tolerant crops will be an important tool to ensure future food security."

New VTOL concept could result in helicopter/airplane hybrids

During the past several decades a number of different proposals for Vertical Take Off Landing (VTOL) craft have been considered. The most famous of these designs has been the controversial V22 Osprey, which has a maximum speed of 316 MPH and a 1,000 mile range. Although there have been plans to create civilian aircraft based on the V-22, a number of other VTOL approaches are being considered. In the 1960s the Fairey rotodyne concept was successfully tested but abandoned because of noise concerns. In more recent years Kareem Aircraft's JHL heavy-lift VTOL craft, as well as Oliver VTOL's hexplane six-engine concept have been examined. But another VTOL concept may be superior. Two aerospace engineers have come up with a VTOL approach that uses both a helicopter rotor and jet engines. In an interview with Sander Olson for Next Big Future, Eli Alexander, a 97 year old aircraft designer who once worked for Hughes aircraft and consulted with Howard Hughes, describes the merits of a hybrid rotor/Jet design. If Alexander is correct, VTOL passenger jets the size of A-330 aircraft could someday be ferrying passengers on both short and long-range flights.

Augusta Westland tiltrotor

Eli Alexander Interview

Question: How long have you been working in aviation?

Answer: I have been working in this field for 76 years. I recently turned 97 but am still active.

Oliver VTOL Hexplanes

A 12,500 pound class Hexplane can carry 1,000 pounds, 1,000 statute miles at 400 miles per hour. This meets the recent DARPA performance challenge to the VTOL industry. This same aircraft is predicted to achieve speeds of approximately 450 mph at 25,000 feet.

Gerbino Flight Systems FAQ has an image of the Fairey Rotodyne.

From the FAQ - This is such a great idea because no one has ever done it like this before". Sadly, there's a very good reason why no-one has done it like that before.

How to control the rotor blades in and out has always been the problem. It has to be positive all through the transition within 1/10’s of a degree for balance and control.

Cloning a Woolly Mammoth So Soon We can have a Live Action Version of the Ice Age Movie

Daily Mail UK - Russian academics signed a deal with a controversial Korean scientist to clone the animal. Hwang Woo-Suk – who created the world’s first cloned dog, Snuppy, in 2005 – will implant the nucleus from a mammoth cell into an elephant egg to create a mammoth embryo.

The embryo will then be implanted into an elephant’s womb. The Koreans say research could begin this year.

The agreement follows the discovery of mammoth bones with well-preserved bone marrow in Siberia last summer.

The Russian academics are already in negotiation with Japan's Kinki University for joint research next year aiming to recreate the giant mammal.

So in a few years we could have live action version of the movie Ice Age.

DARPA developing On-demand Satellite Imaging for Soldiers

DARPA - Today, the lowest echelon members of the U.S. military deployed in remote overseas locations are unable to obtain on-demand satellite imagery in a timely and persistent manner for pre-mission planning. This is due to lack of satellite overflight opportunities, inability to receive direct satellite downlinks at the tactical level and information flow restrictions.

DARPA’s SeeMe program (Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements) aims to give mobile individual US warfighters access to on-demand, space-based tactical information in remote and beyond- line-of-sight conditions. If successful, SeeMe will provide small squads and individual teams the ability to receive timely imagery of their specific overseas location directly from a small satellite with the press of a button — something that’s currently not possible from military or commercial satellites.

DARPA research on Biological Clocks

From the time we eat breakfast to when we leave work, mechanical clocks control a large part of our lives. But we, and other creatures, also have biological clocks that regulate just about every function in our bodies.

Scientists know our biological clocks are coordinated -- from our daily rhythms to our metabolism, and the growth, development and death of cells -- but they aren't sure how. Using a $14 million grant from DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a team of biologists and mathematicians at Duke and other universities will be looking more closely at the timepieces that drive life.

One specific DARPA application would be to adjust soldiers' biological clocks when they travel, to speed recovery from jetlag or slow down their metabolism after an injury. There's also interest in the signals that genes and cells send to each other, despite a lot of noise from their surroundings. If scientists can figure out how timing signals are sent, that could be useful for improving the way we send, receive and decipher our own communication signals, Harer says.

Artificially Structured Metamaterials May Boost Wireless Power Transfer

Journal of Applied Physics - Magnetic superlens-enchanced inductive coupling for wireless power transfer

Researchers from Duke University in Durham, N.C., and the Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories in Cambridge, Mass., have proposed a way to enhance the efficiency of wireless power transfer systems by incorporating a lens made from a new class of artificial materials.

A superlens has a property call negative permeability. This means it can refocus a magnetic field from a source on one side of the lens to a receiving device on the other side. By running numerical calculations, the team determined that the addition of a superlens should increase system performance, even when a fraction of the energy was lost by passing through the lens.

When the researchers first began studying how a superlens might affect wireless energy transfer, they focused on lenses made from metamaterials that exhibited uniform properties in all directions. In their new study, accepted for publication in the American Institute of Physics’ Journal of Applied Physics, the team also considered materials with magnetic anisotropy, meaning the magnetic properties are directionally dependent. Their results suggest that strong magnetic anisotropy of the superlens can offer further improvements to the system, such as reduction of the lens thickness and width.

March 12, 2012

Chinese researchers outline 5 key areas of future research to realize rechargable Li-air batteries

International Journal of Smart and Nano Materials - The development and challenges of rechargeable non-aqueous lithium–air batteries

Lithium–air (Li–air) batteries have recently received much attention due to their extremely high theoretical energy densities. The significantly larger theoretical energy density of Li–air batteries is due to the use of a pure lithium metal anode and the fact that the cathode oxidant, oxygen, is stored externally since it can be readily obtained from the surrounding air. However, before Li–air batteries can be realized as high-performance, commercially viable products there are still numerous scientific and technical challenges that must be overcome, from designing the cathode structure, to optimizing the electrolyte compositions and elucidating the complex chemical reactions that occur during charge and discharge. The scientific obstacles that are related to the performance of Li–air batteries open up an exciting opportunity for researchers from many different backgrounds to utilize their unique knowledge and skills to bridge the knowledge gaps that exist in current research projects. This review article is a summary of the most significant developments and challenges of practical Li–air batteries and the current understanding of their chemistry.

A comparison of current and developing batteries.

Nomura increases China's GDP growth forecast to 8.2% and Yuan could stop appreciating

1. Business Insider - Nomura has revising their 2012 China GDP growth forecast up to 8.2% from 7.9% for three reasons. First, economic momentum slowed sharply in the first two months of 2012, but was still slightly better than we expected. In particular, fixed asset investments (FAI) grew by 21.5% y-o-y versus our previous estimate of 18% for full Q1. Second, import growth was much lower than we expected (7% in the first two months, versus our full Q1 forecast of 15%), leading to a smaller-than-expected trade deficit. Third, inflation dropped sharply in February, leaving policy makers with room to loosen monetary policy.

2. Business Week - Over the weekend, China reported a $31.5 billion trade deficit for February. While it was the third time China’s trade balance went negative in the last two years, this deficit dwarfs its previous ventures into the red. China posted a $7.3 billion trade deficit in February 2011, and a $7.2 billion deficit in March 2010.
The first two months of China’s balance of trade data tends to be cloudy since it includes the Chinese new year, the country’s biggest holiday, when people take a week off work and exports tend to fall. That said, February’s deficit was China’s biggest since December 1989, when it soared to $66 billion. Still, most China analysts are hesitant to read too much into the February number.

Ion Accelerator that is ten times as powerful enables 20 micron silicon wafers for solar power modules at 40 cents per watt

Technology Review - Twin Creeks Technologies—a startup that has been operating in secret until today—has developed a way to make thin wafers of crystalline silicon that it says could cut the cost of making silicon solar cells in half.

Twin Creeks Technologies website provides details on the technology and economics of their process.

Siva Sivaram, the CEO of Twin Creeks, says the company's technology both reduces the amount of silicon needed and the cost of the manufacturing equipment. He claims the company can produce solar cells for about 40 cents per watt, which compares to roughly 80 cents for the cheapest solar cells now. Twin Creeks has raised $93 million in venture capital, plus loans from the state of Mississippi and other sources that it used to build its solar factory.

The conventional way to make the crystalline silicon wafers—which account for the bulk of solar cells—involves cutting blocks or cylinders of silicon into 200-micrometer-thick wafers, a process that turns about half of the silicon into waste. The industry uses 200-micrometer wafers because wafers much thinner than that are brittle and tend to break on the manufacturing line. But in theory, they could be as thin as 20 to 30 micrometers and still be just as efficient, or more efficient, at converting sunlight into electricity.

Twin Creeks's process makes 20-micrometer-thick wafers largely without waste. It involves applying a thin layer of metal that makes them durable enough to survive conventional solar-cell processing equipment. Sivaram says that by greatly reducing the use of wire saws and related equipment and making thinner wafers, Twin Creeks reduces the amount of silicon needed by 90 percent and also greatly reduces capital costs. He says the technology can be added to existing production lines. The company's primary plan is to sell manufacturing equipment, rather than produce solar cells. "I expect that by this time next year, we'll have a half a dozen to a dozen of these tools in the field," he says.

Accelerating solar power: Twin Creeks’s Hyperion 3 is an ion accelerator that bombards plates of silicon with hydrogen ions to produce very thin solar wafers for solar cells. The silicon plates are arranged around the outside of the spoke structure, which spins as the wafers are hit with ions.
Twin Creeks

China plans to be more creative managing its $3.2 trillion of foreign currency reserves

Reuters - China will manage its $3.2 trillion of foreign currency reserves more creatively to ensure "effective" results, its central bank said on Monday, as it vowed to work harder to free the country's tightly controlled financial markets.

In a wide-ranging statement highlighting its goals for 2012, the People's Bank of China (PBoC) promised to reduce state control over China's interest rates and currency markets to allow market forces to have a bigger play.

"Continued efforts will be made to manage China's reserve assets with new ideas and in a more effective manner," the central bank said before its annual press conference on Monday.

Beijing wants the yuan, also known as the renminbi, to be basically convertible by 2015 when it will trade with fewer government restrictions, in the hope that it lays the ground for China's ambitions to be a global financial centre by 2020

But many analysts argue much still needs to be done, saying China needs to free its interest rate market before it frees its currency. Some are sceptical that China has the political will to push through rate reforms that may hurt the health of its giant state-owned banks.

Reviewing Some of Michael Pettis World Economic Predictions made in 2011

Michael Pettis made several economic and political predictions from 2011 through 2020 back in August, 2011. Several predictions such as China have slower GDP growth after 2013 or 2014 is too early to review, but several European predictions can have some review. Nextbigfuture noted the Michael Pettis predictions when he made them last year.

Spain and several countries, perhaps even Italy (but probably not France) will be forced to leave the euro and restructure their debt with significant debt forgiveness.

Germany will stubbornly (and foolishly) refuse to bear its share of the burden of the European adjustment, and the subsequent retaliation by the deficit countries will cause German growth to drop to zero or negative for many years.

So far those appear to not be happening.

Greece has had significant debt foregiveness. But so far no countries have been forced to leave the Euro. So far, Germany has made partial steps to bear a share of the burden of the European adjustment.

NY Times - The Germans are grumbling about it about it, but the European Central Bank (ECB) has had massive lending to Banks. The Germans are substantially on the hook for the ECB lending.

The ECB lent 529.5 billion euros ($705 billion) to 800 banks for three years, the second big infusion of cash in two months.

Banks could borrow as much money as they wanted at the benchmark interest rate, currently 1 percent, provided they posted collateral like bonds or marketable securities.

To make it easier for small community banks to participate, the central bank expanded its definition of collateral to include mortgages or other outstanding loans.

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