June 09, 2012

Unintended Consequences Author Debates Jon Stewart

The debate is highly informative in regards to points of view of how the world works, economics, the banks, housing, mortgages, innovation, and regulation.

Edward Conard, of Bain Capital, talks about innovation and risk in his book, "Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You've Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong."

Edward Conard Bio

Ed Conard was a partner at Bain Capital from 1993 to 2007. He served as the head of Bain’s New York office and led the firm’s acquisitions of large industrial companies. He sits on several boards of directors including the boards of Waters Corporation and Sensata Technologies. Prior to Bain, Conard worked for Wasserstein Perella, an investment bank that specialized in mergers and acquisitions, and Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, where he headed its industrial practice. He is a graduate of Harvard Business School and the University of Michigan.

Here is link to Youtube interviews of Edward Conard.

Extended Interview on Daily Show

This is 33 minutes of the extended interview. There is only about 5 minutes of interview in the episode that aired on television.
The last 19 minutes of the interview get to the main heart of the debate and explanation of finance.

Here are the points that are made at different points in the 19 minute portion of the interview.
I list the time in the video and provide the point that is made.

About 2 minutes in
Wall street is about mortgages. 60% of the financial business in mortgages.

From 6:50 on

There are two separate problems for world economies. They are describe the main goals of national economic policy.

1. How do you incentive innovation ?

2. How do you put short term money to work ? These are the savings deposits that put into banks. This is an issue for national economies that have a lot of savings deposits.

The point is also made that economic growth is critical to economic sustainability.

At 9:40 in the video

The difference for Canada.
US homeowner is on the hook for the down payment.
Canadian homeowner is on the hook for 100% of the value of the house.
The 100% liability

11:30 in the video

Companies are working for customers. If they do not compete to do a better job for the customers successfully then the shareholders do not get rewarded.

12:30 in the video

The last time (from about 1980 to 2009) we recycled the short term money using mortgages (securitized and with a lot of the down payments provided by third party investors.) The system was designed to handle 20% loss and there was 30% loss.
$300 billion was lost on bad loans (loan losses).

$1.5 trillion was withdrawn (withdrawal risk). In spite of $15 trillion in guarantees from the government.

It was institutional run on the banks. Institutions (stock companies, insurance companies, other banks) took money out of other banks.

14:00 in the video
Solutions -
1. Expose banks to withdraw risk.
2. Charge banks for the government guarantees
3. Do not have zero % money from the Fed, charge the right amount to suck profits out of speculation

Guarantees did not hold the money in place, so not it sits on the sidelines.

Carnival of Space 253

China will have manned space docking mission within two weeks

China plans another manned space launch in the next two weeks.

China will launch its Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft sometime in mid-June to perform the country's first manned space docking mission with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module, a spokesperson said here Saturday. The spacecraft and its carrier rocket, the Long March-2F, were moved to the launch platform at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Saturday, a spokesperson with the country's manned space program said.

"The Shenzhou-9 will perform our country's first manned space docking mission with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module," Zhou Jianping, chief designer of the manned space program, said as he accompanied the spacecraft to the launch platform.

WISE Space Telescope finds only One Brown Dwarf Star for Each Regular Star

Recently, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has been turning up a new crowd of stars close to home: the coldest of the brown dwarf family of "failed" stars. WISE has a surprise in store: there are far fewer brown dwarfs around us than predicted.

"This is a really illuminating result," said Davy Kirkpatrick of the WISE science team at NASA's Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "Now that we're finally seeing the solar neighborhood with keener, infrared vision, the little guys aren't as prevalent as we once thought."

Previous estimates had predicted as many brown dwarfs as typical stars, but the new initial tally from WISE shows just one brown dwarf for every six stars. It's the cosmic equivalent to finally being able to see down a mysterious, gated block and finding only a few homes.

This image shows our own back yard, astronomically speaking, from a vantage point about 30 light-years away from the sun. It highlights the population of tiny brown dwarfs recently discovered by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE (red circles). The image simulates actual positions of stars. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

June 08, 2012

DARPA Effort Targets Illness Faster, Safer and More Effectively

The Military Infectious Disease Research Program reports that more warfighters are hospitalized each year for infectious diseases than are wounded in combat.

DARPA is developing a rapid and adaptable platform to treat military-relevant disease may reduce this logistical burden and increase operational readiness. In Vivo Nanoplatforms for Therapeutics (IVN:Tx) seeks revolutionary treatment methods to get sick warfighters back on their feet, fast. A solicitation posted today calls for development of nanoplatforms that treat a variety of diseases. Such nanoparticle therapeutic platforms could be rapidly modified to treat a broad range of diseases, but more importantly will be based on safe and effective technologies.

While the medical community has been using small-molecule therapeutics to treat diseases for years, traditional drugs are often effective against only one disease, are associated with significant side effects and are very expensive to develop. “Doctors have been waiting for a flexible platform that could help them treat a variety of problematic diseases,” said Timothy Broderick, physician and DARPA program manager. “DARPA seeks to do just that by advancing revolutionary technologies such as nanoparticles coated with small interfering RNA (siRNA). RNA plays an active role in all biological processes, and by targeting RNA in specific cells we may be able to stop the processes that cause diseases of all types—from contagious, difficult-to-treat bacteria such as MRSA to traumatic brain injury.”

Related There was recently reported progress for safer and improved RNA interference.
New particles, developed by researchers at MIT, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Harvard Medical School, appear to overcome several challenges. Because the particles are made of DNA and RNA, they are biodegradable and pose no threat to the body. They can also be tagged with molecules of folate (vitamin B9) to target the abundance of folate receptors found on some tumors, including those associated with ovarian cancer — one of the deadliest, hardest-to-treat cancers.

Nanocomp Technologies and DuPont Form Strategic Relationship

In addition to participating in Nanocomp’s current financing round, DuPont has agreed to work with Nanocomp to develop products utilizing its CNT sheet and yarn materials together with offerings from the DuPont Protection Technologies business unit, in support of further advancing ballistics protection and core structure applications for their markets.

DuPont becomes the latest entity to participate in Nanocomp’s larger, $25 million Series C investment round from a syndicate of current and new strategic investors, expected to close later this year. Nanocomp will use the funding to expand its manufacturing capacity and underwrite market expansion, as it completes transition into a new, volume production facility in Merrimack, N.H. Nanocomp’s CNT yarn and sheet products are finding use in advanced components in a number of critical U.S. Department of Defense and NASA programs.

Nanocomps website

RNA Interference with less risk of side effects and better targeting

Using a technique known as “nucleic acid origami,” chemical engineers have built tiny particles made out of DNA and RNA that can deliver snippets of RNA directly to tumors, turning off genes expressed in cancer cells.

To achieve this type of gene shutdown, known as RNA interference, many researchers have tried — with some success — to deliver RNA with particles made from polymers or lipids. However, those materials can pose safety risks and are difficult to target, says Daniel Anderson, an associate professor of health sciences and technology and chemical engineering.

The new particles, developed by researchers at MIT, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Harvard Medical School, appear to overcome those challenges, Anderson says. Because the particles are made of DNA and RNA, they are biodegradable and pose no threat to the body. They can also be tagged with molecules of folate (vitamin B9) to target the abundance of folate receptors found on some tumors, including those associated with ovarian cancer — one of the deadliest, hardest-to-treat cancers.

Researchers successfully used this nanoparticle, made from several strands of DNA and RNA, to turn off a gene in tumor cells. Image: Hyukjin Lee and Ung Hee Lee

Technology Review - A DNA and RNA nanoparticle brings gene-silencing siRNAs to tumor cells.

Nature Nanotechnology - Molecularly self-assembled nucleic acid nanoparticles for targeted in vivo siRNA delivery

Petaflop in a cubic meter

HPCWire - Last year, John Kelly from IBM suggested that a byproduct of success in building an exaflop computer would be a petaflop in 1/3 of a rack. If we assume that DOE’s target of 20 megawatts (MW) power consumption for an exascale system is achieved and that 1/3 of a rack is about one cubic meter, then a petaflop in a cubic meter box would consume about 20 kilowatts (kW).

Such a system would consume about as much power as 4 electric clothes dryers. If we wanted to purchase a dedicated off-grid power supply for a petaflop box, we could find one on the internet for about $5,000. (Then we could measure flops/gallon!) On the US electric grid, the average price of 1 kWh in 2011 was 11.20 cents. So, one could operate the system continuously for a year at a power cost of about $20,000. These may be oversimplifications, but you get the point.

Currently, one Blue Gene/Q cabinet has a volume of just over three cubic meters, holds hardware with a theoretical peak performance of just over 200 teraflops, and typically consumes about 65 kW. So using this technology as an example, to get a petaflop in a cubic meter we’d need to reduce the volume and power consumption by a factor of three and increase performance by a factor of five.

In 2011 the initial IBM pricing for a petaflop was $150 million.

A balanced configuration, with eight Power 775 nodes and two disk nodes, will run you about $8.1m per rack and deliver 64 teraflops of raw computing oomph. Scale that up to 1,365 compute nodes and 342 storage nodes – assuming the workload needs a reasonable amount of local disk – and you are at 10.9 petaflops of raw performance, 2.7PB of memory, and 26.3PB of disk/flash storage. That will also run you something around $1.5bn at list price.

June 07, 2012

Self Assembling Polymer Materials Form Wires and Junctions in 3 Dimensions

Researchers at MIT have found a new way of making complex three-dimensional structures using self-assembling polymer materials that form tiny wires and junctions. The work has the potential to usher in a new generation of microchips and other devices made up of submicroscopic features.

Although similar self-assembling structures with very fine wires have been produced before, this is the first time the structures have been extended into three dimensions with different, independent configurations on different layers. The current work appears to have 10 nanometer precision.

Science - Templating Three-Dimensional Self-Assembled Structures in Bilayer Block Copolymer Films

SEM of a [(1 1),(2 0)] 3D structure on a substrate. White and light grey shades represent HSQ and ox-PDMS, respectively.

Global Middle Class Definition based on a household with a Car

Foreign Policy - The world has never agreed on a universally accepted definition of what constitutes "middle class." The broadest classification is too low; it suggests the middle class is anyone who is not poor, which according to the World Bank means those who earn an income in excess of $2 a day after adjusting for purchasing power. That level has now been achieved by more than 4 billion of the world's 7 billion people, but while many people earning $2 a day are able to afford a cell phone, their income is far too low to afford amenities such as a regular power supply or clean water.

The narrowest classification defines middle class as individuals with an income close to or above the median income in advanced countries -- roughly $85 a day at U.S. prices. Only about 12 percent of the world's population lives in countries whose average per capita income is higher than that threshold, and only a very tiny minority in developing countries would qualify. This level of income, moreover, exceeds by a factor of seven the income needed to buy a car (around $4,000), not to mention most other big-ticket consumer items, indicating that the definition is far too narrow and too high.

Many other measures have been proposed in between these extremes. The most widely used measure was proposed in 2002 by World Bank economist Branko Milanovic and Hebrew University professor Shlomo Yitzhaki, who counted people with daily incomes between roughly $10 and $50 a day, after adjusted for purchasing-power parity, as middle class. If one uses this definition, there are an estimated 369 million people in the developing G-20 economies -- Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, and Turkey -- who qualify as "middle class."

India in a hard landing

Economist - In a world economy as troubled as today’s, news that India’s growth rate has fallen to 5.3% may not seem important. But the rate is the lowest in seven years, and the sputtering of India’s economic miracle carries social costs that could surpass the pain in the euro zone. The near double-digit pace of growth that India enjoyed in 2004-08, if sustained, promised to lift hundreds of millions of Indians out of poverty—and quickly. Jobs would be created for all the young people who will reach working age in the coming decades, one of the biggest, and potentially scariest, demographic bulges the world has seen.

It seems that the economic doom forecasters are always predicting for China to have a hard economic landing and slow growth but they seem to miss predicting problems for India, Europe and America.

After a slump in the currency, a drying up of private investment and those GDP figures, the miracle feels like a mirage. Whether India can return to a path of high growth depends on its politicians—and, in the end, its voters. The omens, frankly, are not good.

Back in 2011, economists have predicted that a triumphal ‘moment’ will come in the next three years when India is declared the fastest growing large economy in the world.

In 2010, Morgan Stanley’s report - ”India and China: New Tigers of Asia” – suggested that India will soon be Asia’s growth pace-setter and start rising up the economic size rankings, albeit from its current lowly position outside the top ten.

“We believe that, over the next two years, India should start matching China’s GDP growth of around 8.5-9.5%, barring another global financial crisis. More importantly, we think that, by 2013-15, India will start outpacing China’s GDP growth notably.”

CU-Boulder physicists use ultrafast lasers to create first tabletop X-ray device

An international research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder has generated the first laser-like beams of X-rays from a tabletop device, paving the way for major advances in many fields including medicine, biology and nanotechnology development.

For half a century, scientists have been trying to figure out how to build a cost-effective and reasonably sized X-ray laser that could, among other things, provide super-high-resolution imaging, according to Henry Kapteyn, a CU-Boulder physics professor and fellow at JILA, a joint institute of CU-Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Such a device also could be used by scientists to peer into a single cell or chemical reaction to gain a better understanding of the nanoworld.

CU-Boulder researchers have created a tabletop device that uses atoms in a gas to efficiently combine more than 5,000 low-energy mid-infrared laser photons to generate each high-energy X-ray photon.

CU-Boulder physics professors and JILA fellows Henry Kapteyn and Margaret Murnane stand next to one of their laser devices. (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

Science - Bright Coherent Ultrahigh Harmonics in the keV X-ray Regime from Mid-Infrared Femtosecond Lasers

High-harmonic generation (HHG) traditionally combines ~100 near-infrared laser photons to generate bright, phase-matched, extreme ultraviolet beams when the emission from many atoms adds constructively. Here, we show that by guiding a mid-infrared femtosecond laser in a high-pressure gas, ultrahigh harmonics can be generated, up to orders greater than 5000, that emerge as a bright supercontinuum that spans the entire electromagnetic spectrum from the ultraviolet to more than 1.6 kilo–electron volts, allowing, in principle, the generation of pulses as short as 2.5 attoseconds. The multiatmosphere gas pressures required for bright, phase-matched emission also support laser beam self-confinement, further enhancing the x-ray yield. Finally, the x-ray beam exhibits high spatial coherence, even though at high gas density the recolliding electrons responsible for HHG encounter other atoms during the emission process.

Rice University’s coaxial nanocable outperforms previous microcapacitors

researchers at Rice University have created a tiny coaxial cable that is about a thousand times smaller than a human hair and has higher capacitance than previously reported microcapacitors.
The study reports that the capacitance of the nanocable is at least 10 times greater than what would be predicted with classical electrostatics. The capacitance of the new nanocable is up to 143 microfarads per centimeter squared, better than the best previous results from microcapacitors.

The nanocable, which is described this week in Nature Communications, was produced with techniques pioneered in the nascent graphene research field and could be used to build next-generation energy-storage systems. It could also find use in wiring up components of lab-on-a-chip processors, but its discovery is owed partly to chance.

“We didn’t expect to create this when we started,” said study co-author Jun Lou, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Rice. “At the outset, we were just curious to see what would happen electrically and mechanically if we took small copper wires known as interconnects and covered them with a thin layer of carbon.”

An artist's impression of Rice University's new coaxial nanocable, which is about a thousand times smaller than a human hair.

Nature Communications - Anomalous high capacitance in a coaxial single nanowire capacitor

A new paradigm for space-based solar power

Although the concept of space-based solar power has existed since the 1970s, several intractable technical problems have impeded its development. In particular, thousands of tons of equipment would need to be sent into orbit to create a single large power satellite. A space-based solar power advocate, John Mankins , has created a concept that could substantially ameliorate the concept. Mankins has come up with a concept that employs vast numbers of identical, modular components, which can be sent up in repeated rocket launches. Although the initial cost for electricity from a modest sized power satellite would be high, the cost would drop as a robotic space-based infrastructure is built up, standards emerge, solar cell efficiencies increase, and the industry benefits from economies of scale. In an interview with Sander Olson for Next Big Future, Mankins discusses how the first prototype power satellite could be up and running within a decade, and how space-based solar power could eventually supply a significant fraction of the entire earth's energy requirements.

John Mankins

Question: How long have you been examining the idea of space-based solar power?

I have been researching the concept since 1995. My background is in physics, and I have worked for Caltech and at NASA. About seven years ago I left Government service and founded Artemis innovation Management Solutions with my wife. Artemis Innovation has a number of projects, but concentrates on space-based solar power.

US Crude Oil Production at 6.245 million barrels per day

US Crude oil production has increased 18,000 barrels per day from the previous week and is up 612,000 bpd from the same time in 2011.

US Crude oil production was at 6.245 million barrels per day.
US Oil Liquid Production was 10.7 million barrels per day.

Steel-Strength Plastics and Environmentally Friendly

Prof. Moshe Kol of Tel Aviv University's School of Chemistry is developing a super-strength polypropylene — one of the world's most commonly used plastics — that has the potential to replace steel and other materials used in everyday products. This could have a long-term impact on many industries, including car manufacturing, in which plastic parts could replace metallic car parts.

Durable plastics consume less energy during the production process, explains Prof. Kol. And there are additional benefits as well. If polypropylene car parts replaced traditional steel, cars would be lighter overall and consume less fuel, for example. And because the material is cheap, plastic could provide a much more affordable manufacturing alternative.

Using resources more efficiently

By 2020, the consumption of plastics is estimated to reach 200 million tons a year. Prof. Kol says that because traditional plastics aren't considered green, it's important to think creatively to develop this material, which has become a staple of daily life, with the least amount of harm to the environment. Cheaper and more efficient to produce in terms of energy consumption, as well as non-toxic, Prof. Kol's polypropylene is good news for green manufacturing and could revolutionize the industry. The durability of the plastic results in products that require less maintenance — and a much longer life for parts made from the plastic.

A new Polyurethane system is being developed in Cambridge to reduce car weight by 30%

A 10% mass reduction increases fuel economy by 6-7%.

Self-inflating Adaptable Membrane for Space based solar power

Last month, a team of science and engineering students at Strathclyde University developed an innovative ‘space web’ experiment which was carried on a rocket from the Arctic Circle to the edge of space.

The experiment, known as Suaineadh – or ‘twisting’ in Scots Gaelic, was an important step forward in space construction design and demonstrated that larger structures could be built on top of a light-weight spinning web, paving the way for the next stage in the solar power project.

The current project, called SAM (Self-inflating Adaptable Membrane) will test the deployment of an ultra light cellular structure that can change shape once deployed. The structure is made of cells that are self-inflating in vacuum and can change their volume independently through nanopumps.

“The structure replicates the natural cellular structure that exists in all living things. The independent control of the cells would allow us to morph the structure into a solar concentrator to collect the sunlight and project it on solar arrays. The same structure can be used to build large space systems by assembling thousands of small individual units.”

The project is part of a NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) study led by Dr John Mankins of Artemis Innovation. The University of Strathclyde represents the European section of an international consortium involving American researchers, and a Japanese team, led by Professor Nobuyuki Kaya of the University of Kobe, a world leader in wireless power transmission.

The Self-inflating Adaptive Membrane (SAM) concept was developed at the Advanced Space Concepts Laboratory of the University of Strathclyde. SAM is a semi-flexible membrane consisting of hexagonal elements. The main difference of this structure is the coupling of the stiff properties of the pillows and the flexibility of the seam lines which enables the structure’s adaptability to various mission stages. The design is ultra-lightweight, fully autonomously deployable, expandable due to its modular shape, resistant against micro meteoroids and space debris impacts because of its separated pillow volumes and adaptable to various environmental conditions.
LS-DYNA simulation of inflated SAM module

June 06, 2012

China plans 27 billion IPO of China National Nuclear Power

China's main developer of nuclear power plants says it plans to raise money with an initial public offering, suggesting an industry building boom is resuming after being suspended following Japan's nuclear disaster last year.

The IPO will help to pay for a 173.5 billion yuan ($27 billion) program to build or expand five nuclear power plants, China National Nuclear Power Corp. said in a statement on the Environment Ministry website.

China has ambitious plans to have more than 100 reactors operating by 2020 to help curb surging demand for coal and imported oil and gas. But development was suspended after Japan's March 2011 tsunami crippled the Fukushima power plant, causing the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

IPO proceeds will help pay for work on nuclear power plants in Fujian, Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces in the southeast, Jiangsu province north of Shanghai and on the southern island of Hainan

Taiwan carbon nanotube company targets projected $4 billion carbon nanotube market in 2017

Taiwan's Cabinet-level National Science Council has approved the establishment of a company to produce carbon nanotubes in Hsinchu Science Park in northern Taiwan.

The council on May 31 approved the NT$200 million (US$6.6 million) investment proposal to set up the company, which will be a joint venture between local investors and Japanese technology groups.

The investment was made in light of the expanding market for carbon nanotubes, which are tiny hollow cylinders of carbon that are ultra thin and more than 100 times stronger than steel.

According to studies by nanotechnology researchers, global carbon nanotube output could reach US$1 billion in 2014 and US$4 billion in 2017.

NASA working on lightweight Z-pinch and Dense plasma focus Pulsed Nuclear Fusion Propulsion Feasability Tests

A physics team from The University of Alabama in Huntsville's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering soon will take delivery of a specialized system to see if they can "Z-pinch" a tiny bit of that salt into the heart of a star.

Popular Mechanics has coverage of this research project (H/T Instapundit)

“We are trying to develop a small, lightweight pulsed nuclear fusion system for deep space missions,” explained Dr. Jason Cassibry, an associate professor of engineering at UAHuntsville. “If this works we could reach Mars in six to eight weeks instead of six to eight months.”

In hockey, a slapshot digs the head of the hockey stick into the ice to bend the shaft, like an archer’s bow, storing energy for a sharper snap against the puck and drive it down the ice rink. Cassibry and his team will attempt to drive a hollowed-out puck in on itself, fusing lithium and hydrogen atoms and turning a little of their mass into pure energy.

The “pucks” are approximately two inches wide and an inch thick, smaller than a regulation three-inch puck. They are made of lithium deuteride (LH 2), the lightest metal combined with the middle-weight form of the lightest element.

In May, 2012, big flatbed trucks were unloading combine-sized pieces of equipment at the lab deep on Redstone. When assembled, they will make a Decade Module Two (DM2) pulsed power generator. It was originally designed for the Department of Defense for weapons testing in the 1990s and is coming to Huntsville from Tullahoma, Tenn.

The DM2 consists of banks of capacitors that store an electrical charge for release on command. The analogy is a photographer's flash. That electrical charge will slam lithium and hydrogen atoms into each other and turn their mass into a tiny burst of pure energy.

The reactions of the lithium deuteride to the energy pulse will tell Cassibry and the team if their theory is correct and their fusion propulsion model is valid. If it is, they will begin crunching the numbers to see how to "scale up" a tiny project into something that might power a rocket.

Z-Pinch Engine: Physical nozzle shown for illustrative purposes only.

Design of Z-pinch and Dense Plasma Focus Powered Vehicles (11 pages)

Nuclear Power can have a lot of CO2 when you allocate imaginary wars and make up reasons to assign 19 years of coal pollution to it

The Toronto Star had an opinion piece about nuclear power versus wind power that referenced a 2009 Scientific American article that said that nuclear power generates 25 times more carbon dioxide than wind power.

The Scientific America article refers to a paper by Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson. I dissected all of the problems with the Mark Jacobson paper back in 2009. However, it boils down to a bunch of big lies.

The actual paper is at this link.

Second, nuclear energy results in 9-25 times more carbon emissions than wind energy, in part due to emissions from uranium refining and transport and reactor construction (e.g., Lenzen, 2008; Sovacool, 2008), in part due to the longer time required to site, permit, and construct a nuclear plant compared with a wind farm (resulting in greater emissions from the fossil-fuel electricity sector during this period; Jacobson, 2009), and in part due to the greater loss of soil carbon due to the greater loss in vegetation resulting from covering the ground with nuclear facilities relative to wind turbine towers, which cover little ground.

Adding in imaginary wars and 19 years of coal CO2

Mark Jacobson is the Stanford professor who adds the CO2 from burning cities into his calculation of CO2 generated by nuclear power and the deaths from nuclear war from his calculation of deaths from commercial nuclear power. Incidentally, even if there were nuclear wars the calculated CO2 after-effects are about 20 times too high. Many people do not like to dig into those details, but I researched it. It is part of their tactic of piling lies on top of lies. Each lies takes a bit of time to reveal as a lie and by then the casual reader has lost interest and cannot follow the full debunking.

Jacobson assigns CO2 from coal plants against nuclear because he assumes that there will be a 19 year delay in construction, so there is a "CO2 opportunity cost".

They also use the Sovacool paper, which references the Storm paper.

126 trillion barrels of oil equivalent biomass in Bazhenov Oil shale in Russia

The Bazhenov Formation (Tithonian to Berriasian) occupies about 1 million km 2 in the central part of the West Siberian plate and is buried by 2,000 to 3,000 meters of younger sediments. The aggregate mass of organic matter in the Bazhenov Formation is as high as 18 trillion tons (126 trillion barrels of oil equivalent). It is known as one of the largest oil sources in the world. About 500 samples from 39 oil wells throughout the formation were analyzed; it was shown that Bazhenov rocks contain more U, Mo, V, Cu, Zn, and Ni than average black shales; moreover, the concentrations of these elements increase toward the center of the paleobasin.

There can be 6 to 8 barrels of oil in a ton, depending on density.

This is a follow up on a prior article that detailed the Bazhenov is similar to the Bakken Oil formation in North Dakota but covers 80 times the land area

Bazhenov-Neocomian oil formation

The formation feeds conventional oil fields. Those conventional oilfields have over 144 billion barrels of oil. There have been some wells drilled into the Bazhenov tight oil area and those are producing 400 barrels of oil per day, which is similar to the productivity of Bakken oil wells.

Geopolitical implication

Russia has the potential to develop the Bazhenov Formation to remain and energy superpower for another 100 years.

Replicating Synthetic DNA

An international team of researchers discovered that the body's copying machine for DNA works in the same way for manmade, artificial building blocks of DNA as it does for the natural kind.

If scientists find artificial DNA building blocks work well and are safe to use, the extra building materials could create DNA that codes for new molecules that the body can't make now. The artificial DNA could also form the basis of a partly synthetic organism.

The DNA code in living things is made of four different molecules, called bases, that are nicknamed A, T, C and G. In a double row of DNA, the bases always link up to each other in a specific way, with A's matching with T's and C's matching with G's. In 2008, a team of researchers created a third, artificial pair of DNA molecules made to match with each other, named NaM and 5SICS. In this new study, some of the same researchers used a technique called X-ray crystallography to take pictures of A, T, C, G, NaM and 5SICS while they were getting copied in a test tube.

KlenTaq polymerase induces the dNaM-d5SICS unnatural base pair to adopt a natural, Watson-Crick–like structure.

Nature Chemical Biology - KlenTaq polymerase replicates unnatural base pairs by inducing a Watson-Crick geometry

June 05, 2012

SpaceX flight opens door for U.S. military payloads

The recent successful Spacex test flight means they can start working off a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to fly cargo to the space station. It also clears a key hurdle for SpaceX to compete for Department of Defense business as well, which would mean launching military satellites.

Flying three times successfully was among the criteria the company needed to meet to become eligible to compete for military business under a new program designed to draw competition into a field now monopolized by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

“"The new entrant criteria did say three launches are required (for Falcon 9) before certification can happen for national security payloads," said SpaceX Communications Director Kirstin Brost Grantham.

There are several paths toward certification, and the requirements can vary, Air Force spokeswoman Tracy Bunko said.

The recently launched Spacex Falcon 9 and the upgraded version that should fly later this year.

Mars One backed by Reality TV Big Brother Creator

Daily Mail UK - The Dutch company Mars One is backed by Big Brother co-creator Paul Romer, as well as Nobel Prize-winning physicist Gerard 't Hooft. With Romer involved, it's no surprise that the company wants to publicize its astronaut-selection and training process as a "media event."

Mars One claims that a new crew of four will join every two years as the explorers build their settlement, and that by 2033 there will be 20 people living on Mars.

The company has been in talks with independent space suppliers such as Space X, which recently launched the first privately owned rocket to the Space Station.
The company aims to start training astronauts next year - and will turn the selection and training programme into a 'media event' similar to a reality show.

Mars One claims that a new crew of four will join every two years as the explorers build their settlement, and that by 2033 there will be 20 people living on Mars

Every Black Hole Contains a New Universe

Our universe may exist inside a black hole. This may sound strange, but it could actually be the best explanation of how the universe began, and what we observe today. It's a theory that has been explored over the past few decades by a small group of physicists.

The Big Bang and inflation theories leave major questions unresolved. For example: What started the big bang? What caused inflation to end? What is the source of the mysterious dark energy that is apparently causing the universe to speed up its expansion?

The idea that our universe is entirely contained within a black hole provides answers to these problems and many more. It eliminates the notion of physically impossible singularities in our universe. And it draws upon two central theories (general relativity and quantum mechanics) in physics.

At the center of spiral galaxy M81 is a supermassive black hole about 70 million times more massive than our sun. Image credit: NASA/CXC/Wisconsin/D.Pooley & CfA/A.Zezas;NASA/ESA/CfA/A.Zezas; NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA/J.Huchra et al.; NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA

Bazhenov-Neocomian oil formation covers 80 times the land area of the Bakken in the US and Canada

Forbes - another oil shale play that dwarfs the Bakken. It’s called The Bazhenov. It’s in Western Siberia, in Russia. And while the Bakken is big, the Bazhenov — according to a report last week by Sanford Bernstein’s lead international oil analyst Oswald Clint — “covers 2.3 million square kilometers or 570 million acres, which is the size of Texas and the Gulf of Mexico combined.” This is 80 times bigger than the Bakken.

Welcome Instapundit readers.

Note : This formation has 126 trillion barrels of oil equivalent biomass If the Bazhenov is Similar to Bakken, then a year 2000 estimate of 140 to 210 billion barrels of recoverable oil could be 15 to 100 times too low. The increase would be because of the improved horizontal drilling technology enabling a higher recover rate.

Bazhenov-Neocomian oil formation

This unconventional assessment unit includes fractured Bazhenov siliceous shales, which are also source rocks for these reservoirs. The shales cover most of the basin, but their productivity has been demonstrated mainly in the Greater Salym area. In-place resources of oil are apparently very large, but the ability of the reservoir rocks to produce varies greatly and is poorly understood. There is much similarity between this unit and the Bakken play of the Williston basin.

Source rocks are deep-marine siliceous and calcareous shales and siliciliths of the Volgian-lower Berriasian Bazhenov Formation. The formation is 20 to 50 m thick and contains 5 to 20 percent TOC. The kerogen is of Type II.

MATURATION: The Bazhenov Formation is presently in the oil window zone over most of the petroleum system area. Maximum maturation was achieved in the Oligocene.

The West Siberian basin is the largest petroleum basin in the world covering an area of about 2.2 million km 2.

Previous estimates for Western Siberian oil were 144 to 350 billion barrel. This is from the oil that leaked out of the Bazhenov oil formation.

There is also over a thousand trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the formation.

Russia already produces about 10 million barrels of oil per day, putting it about a million barrels a day ahead of Saudi Arabia, the largest producer in the Middle East.

Russia’s emerging shale oil play hasn’t escaped the attention of Robert Johnston, director, energy and natural resources at New York-based Eurasia Group, a geopolitical consulting firm. Johnston was in Edmonton recently to talk about global oil markets and the issues facing oilsands producers.

“The story for Alberta is what’s happening in the Russian market right now. All the focus is on China’s shale gas but it’s the tight oil play in Russia that I’m starting to get really interested in,” he told the Journal.

There will be no political or environmental factors to block development of the Russian oil and gas resources.

Those concerned about the climate and air and water pollution effects oil and natural gas will have to hope for development of some other energy breakthrough as the economics and political interests are in line for this to be developed. Only radically cheaper nuclear fission, new nuclear fusion or some other lower cost energy will shift development from this energy.

Canada will have 35 million people in 2013 and could have 40 million in 2023 and 50 million in 2042

Canada has just published a completed 2010 census and has projected population out to 2060.

Canada will have 35 million people in 2013 and could have 40 million in 2023 and 50 million in 2042. The low growth scenario is to have 40 million in 2042 and the mid-growth scenario is to have 45 million in 2040.

Canada could catch up to the population of Spain in 2042 and Germany in 2060. Germany population is projected to fall by quite a bit.

Laser-cooled quantum gas are simultaneously superfluids and crystals which enable cryogenic atom chip microscopes

Last week a Stanford team announced in Physical Review Letters that it has created the world's first dipolar quantum fermionic gas from the metal dysprosium – "an entirely new form of quantum matter," as Stanford applied physics Professor and lead author Benjamin Lev put it – represents a major step toward understanding the behavior of these systems of particles. And this understanding makes for a leap toward the supernatural-seeming applications that condensed-matter physics conjures.

* The quantum matter are simultaneously superfluids and crystals.

* The work presents an exciting opportunity to study a large spectrum of phases that have been predicted to occur in strongly dipolar quantum gases.

* The researchers have already begun developing a microscope to make use of the dipolar quantum fluid's unique characteristics. Their "cryogenic atom chip microscope" is a magnetic probe that should measure magnetic fields with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution. This kind of probe may even allow for a more stable form of quantum computation that uses exotic quantum matter to process information, known as a topologically protected quantum computer.

* Beyond these applications, the study offers physicists another line of attack toward understanding unconventional quantum effects.

Physics Viewpoint - Quantum Dipolar Gases in Boson or Fermion Flavor

Arxiv - Quantum degenerate dipolar Fermi gas (6 pages)

At extremely low temperatures, the properties of an atomic gas of bosons (atoms with integer spin) are dramatically different from those of a gas of fermions (atoms with half-integer spin). A confined gas of bosons can be cooled into a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), where all of the atoms fall into the same quantum mechanical state to form a macroscopic matter-wave. Fermionic atoms, however, avoid each other. At very low temperatures, a trapped gas of these atoms forms a Fermi sea, where the atoms fill the allowed energy levels of the gas up to the so-called Fermi level. Although the low-temperature states of boson and fermion gases result from purely quantum statistical effects, interactions between the atoms can lead to collective behavior, like superfluidity.

In Physical Review Letters, two experimental groups report they have prepared cold quantum gases in which the atoms have unusually strong magnetic dipolar interactions: In an experimental first, scientists at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and Stanford University, California (M. Lu et al.), have shown they can cool fermionic dysprosium-161 to form a Fermi sea of particles, while a group at the University of Innsbruck, Austria (K. Aikawa et al.), have prepared a cold quantum gas of erbium-168, which is a boson. In both systems, the quantum statistics of the particles (bosons or fermions), and the dipolar interactions between them, are probed by analysing how these gases expand after being released from a trap.

Dipolar interactions in a quantum gas of bosons or fermions. (a) The interaction between two particles with large dipole moments has a characteristic d-wave symmetry. (b) In a Bose-Einstein condensate, this interaction causes the gas to implode with a similar d-wave symmetry, as shown here for a gas of erbium-168. (c) In comparison, a quantum gas of fermions is stable, as shown for dysprosium-161.

Physical Review Letters - Quantum Degenerate Dipolar Fermi Gas

Hybrid Silicon Nanocone-Polymer Solar Cells

Nanoletters - Hybrid Silicon Nanocone−Polymer Solar Cells (6 pages)

Recently, hybrid Si/organic solar cells have been studied for low-cost Si photovoltaic devices because the Schottky junction between the Si and organic material can be formed by solution processes at a low temperature. In this study, we demonstrate a hybrid solar cell composed of Si nanocones and conductive polymer. The optimal nanocone structure with an aspect ratio (height/diameter of a nanocone) less than two allowed for conformal polymer surface coverage via spin-coating while also providing both excellent antireflection and light trapping properties. The uniform heterojunction over the nanocones with enhanced light absorption resulted in a power conversion efficiency above 11%. Based on our simulation study, the optimal nanocone structures for a 10 μm thick Si solar cell can achieve a short-circuit current density, up to 39.1 mA/cm2, which is very close to the theoretical limit. With very thin material and inexpensive processing, hybrid Si nanocone/polymer solar cells are promising as an economically viable alternative energy solution.

Quantum dot graphene photodetector is a billion times more sensitive and Graphene bolometer out performs commercial silicon bolometers by 100,000 times

1. ZDNet - Researchers working at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) in Barcelona have built a super-sensitive photodetector by combining graphene with semiconducting quantum dots that outperforms other graphene based devices by a billion times.

This is a follow up on an article from the middle of May.

Speaking to PhysicsWorld , lead researcher Gerasimos Konstantatos explains: “We managed to successfully combine graphene with semiconducting nanocrystals to create complete new functionalities in terms of light sensing and light conversion to electricity."
Nature Nanotechnology - Hybrid graphene–quantum dot phototransistors with ultrahigh gain

Graphene is an attractive material for optoelectronics1 and photodetection applications because it offers a broad spectral bandwidth and fast response times. However, weak light absorption and the absence of a gain mechanism that can generate multiple charge carriers from one incident photon have limited the responsivity of graphene-based photodetectors to ~10−2 A W−1. Here, we demonstrate a gain of ~10^8 electrons per photon and a responsivity of ~10^7 A W−1 in a hybrid photodetector that consists of monolayer or bilayer graphene covered with a thin film of colloidal quantum dots. Strong and tunable light absorption in the quantum-dot layer creates electric charges that are transferred to the graphene, where they recirculate many times due to the high charge mobility of graphene and long trapped-charge lifetimes in the quantum-dot layer. The device, with a specific detectivity of 7 × 10^13 Jones, benefits from gate-tunable sensitivity and speed, spectral selectivity from the short-wavelength infrared to the visible, and compatibility with current circuit technologies.

Will Facebook become the next Yahoo ?

Seekingalpha - Facebook's stock is currently burdened with billions of shares poised to be released from lockup in 2012. There are 1.7 billion shares of Facebook currently locked up. 271 million shares will be available for sale in 74 days. A majority of shares, 1.2 billion, will be released from lockup in mid-November. A small portion of shares are scheduled to be released from lockup past the end of the year. The release of shares from lock up prior to the end of the year is important due to the fact that capital gains tax rates are expected to rise in 2013. I believe this is why the IPO was scheduled for May. Zuckerberg has maximized profits on the IPO at every turn.

Facebook is currently trading at $26.44 per share with a market cap of $56.6 billion.

Facebook had a private valuation of $50 billion since January 2011

Rossi claims 40 days of continuous operation for a 10 kilowatt Energy Catalyzer at 600 degrees celsius

Ecat World - Andrea Rossi stated in the email that the new high temperature E-Cat — that can produce 600 degree steam with a COP of 6 — has been operating continuously for 40 days.

The Rossi work is super-controversial and most people believe he is a fraud.

With 600C steam high efficiency turbines, Stirling engines, and even thermal photovoltaic systems can be used to produce electricity from E-Cats.

This test has lasted so far for 960 (nine hundred and sixty) hours, and is planned to last at least 90 days.

Continuous operation for 90 days under constant video surveillance and some public viewing generating 10 kilowatts of thermal power and providing over 3 kilowatts of electricity would be pretty conclusive and very, very simple to prove.

There are still some undisclosed issues that are still being worked upon. It would seem that this should either be a product / service by the end of 2013 at the latest or the fraud claims would be proven.

New E-Cat Details

This test is being conducted with a new model of E-Cat. The test is using a single module that contains a single reactor core. The reactor core is rated to have an output of 10 kilowatts, and a maximum safe output of 20 kilowatts. We have previously been told this reactor core is smaller than the previous version, but uses more shielding. Instead of many grams of nickel, it only uses 1.5 grams. Instead of a hydrogen canister, a small tablet is placed into the reactor that absorbs and releases hydrogen depending on the temperature.

Interestingly, atomic hydrogen is being produced both by “catalysts” (one or more chemical elements placed into the reactor core in addition to nickel and hydrogen) and by another method. Perhaps by being able to carefully control how much atomic hydrogen is generated the system can remain more stable. Perhaps this is what allows for 600C steam in a stable manner?

Like previous E-Cats, a drive has to be applied approximately half the time to keep the reactions stable. If the drive is not applied the reactor can run away, the reactor core can get too hot, the nickel can melt, and the nuclear reactions will cease. Also, a radio frequency generator is used as in previous E-Cats. Finally, it has been confirmed that copper is still the main transmutation product.

In a matter of weeks test data from this extended E-Cat test should be posted. In a matter of weeks the test will not be complete, but hopefully we will get test data from at least part of the test. Perhaps several days or weeks.

Picture from January 2011 demonstration

This is following up on the Rossi and Focardi energy production device, which was demonstrated in January 2011.

Growth Sustainability of the BRIC, Mexico, Korea, Turkey and Indonesia

Jim O’Neill (Goldman Sachs coiner of the BRIC term) argues that fears of a China hard landing are misplaced and that the Chinese economy is more likely to see a “softer” landing.

While it now looks as though Q2 real GDP growth will be weaker than Q1’s “disappointing” 8.1 pct, our proprietary leading indicators have turned upwards in the past couple of months. It is quite clear that Chinese financial conditions are starting to ease.

Brazil is certainly facing more genuine challenges in its effort to achieve the growth rate that satisfies our criteria for BRIC status. We are assuming Brazil will grow by a bit more than 5 pct this decade. It got offto a very good start by virtue of its exceptionally strong performance in 2010. However, the second half2011 and the first quarter of 2012 have clearly disappointed.

India was described as “the most disappointing of them all".

Russia still has a lot of strength.

He also includes Mexico, Korea, Turkey and Indonesia in a Growth 8 group as the most important sources of global growth for the next decade.

June 04, 2012

Rosatom signs international nuclear deals

Nigeria signed a cooperation accord with Russia towards the construction of its first nuclear power plant today at the AtomExpo event in Moscow. Bangladesh also furthered its work with Russia and South African officials were in attendance.

In 2010 Nigeria said it aimed to have 1000 MWe of nuclear generation in place by 2019 with another 4000 MWe online by 2030. Increasing power production is a major priority in order to end the unreliability of power supply that millions of people suffer, while adding non-fossil generation also would allow Nigeria to capitalise on exports of liquified natural gas.

Another country that has been cooperating with Russia on its road to employing nuclear power is Bangladesh and Kiriyenko also used AtomExpo as the public event to announce two new memorandums with that country.

How Many Hubble Class or Better Spy Satellites does the US have ?

It was revealed today that NASA was given two better than Hubble-class space telescopes that were extra spy satellites. So how many Hubble or better spy satellite space telescopes ?

Strategy Page - details about the Keyhole Spy satellites were leaked or accidentally revealed over the last two decades.

About 15 KH-11 Hubble class spy satellites were launched but only four are left.

Global Security - ADVANCED CRYSTAL / IKON - Often called ADVANCED CRYSTAL or more recent third, fourth and fifth generations called IKON. In fact “KH-11 KENNON” no longer exists and was replaced by the nuclear war, laser, and battle hardened ADVANCED CRYSTAL imaging spacecraft now the more recent third and fourth generations called IKON.

There also appear to be about five KH-12 spy satellites with 2.9 to 3.1 meter mirrors (larger than the Hubble and KH-11 2.4 meter mirrors).

So there should be at least 9 Hubble Class or better US spy satellites and there were 11 others that were launched but then had their orbits decay after many years of usage.

The IMPROVED CRYSTAL’s sophisticated electronics provides sharper images than the KH-11, comparable in quality to the best of the film return satellites, with a resolution approaching ten centimeters.

Low Tech Improvements to Nuclear and Coal Plants could Increase Efficiency by 5-10%

Electricity output at privatized reactors (nuclear) increased 10 percent compared with those that stayed in the hands of tightly regulated utilities. That small boost in carbon-free power, she notes, “helped offset more greenhouse gas emissions in the 2000s than all of the wind and solar generation in the country combined.”

How did these nuclear plants magically become so much more effective? It all comes down to incentives. After deregulation, Wolfram told me in a phone interview, plant owners could now make a profit by selling as much electricity as possible on the wholesale market. That gave the owners incentives to make small tweaks like reducing the amount of time that the reactors needed to be shut off for refueling. That involves a lot of tricky organizational maneuvers, and until deregulation, operators rarely felt the need to figure it out.

And there are all sorts of small tweaks like this that get ignored because of misaligned incentives. Even today, Wolfram notes, many U.S. power plants still don’t have incentives to operate as efficiently as possible. There are many coal plants in the Southeast that are regulated under “cost-of-service” rules, in which power plants can pass their fuel costs onto consumers. That means there’s less reason to operate as efficiently as possible. And a carbon tax wouldn’t necessarily fix this — not if utilities could just pass costs onto consumers.

The National Bureau of Economic Research - Deregulation, Consolidation, and Efficiency: Evidence from U.S. Nuclear Power

NASA gets two Space Telescopes Better than the Hubble Telescope but Needs to Launch them into Space

The U.S. government’s secret space program has decided to give NASA two telescopes as big as, and even more powerful than, the Hubble Space Telescope. They just have to put cameras, spectrographs or other instrument, put the staff in place to manage them, and launch them into space.

Designed for surveillance, the telescopes from the National Reconnaissance Office were no longer needed for spy missions and can now be used to study the heavens.

They have 2.4-meter (7.9 feet) mirrors, just like the Hubble. They also have an additional feature that the civilian space telescopes lack: A maneuverable secondary mirror that makes it possible to obtain more focused images. These telescopes will have 100 times the field of view of the Hubble, according to David Spergel, a Princeton astrophysicist and co-chair of the National Academies advisory panel on astronomy and astrophysics.

The surprise announcement Monday is a reminder that NASA isn’t the only space enterprise in the government — and isn’t even the best funded. NASA official Michael Moore gave some hint of what a Hubble-class space telescope might do if used for national security:

“With a Hubble here you could see a dime sitting on top of the Washington Monument.”

It is believed that the US has about seven Hubble class spy satellite telescopes in operation.

What Enhancements will Matter in a Transhumanist Future ?

Cognitive enhancement is a core aspect of Transhumanism. What has some limited benefit now is Nootropics. Nootropics are also referred to as smart drugs, memory enhancers, neuro enhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers, are drugs, supplements, nutraceuticals, and functional foods that improve mental functions such as cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration.

There are Skills and Methods for Better Memory and Productivity

To attain the rank of grand master of memory, you must be able to perform three seemingly superhuman feats. You have to memorize 1,000 digits in under an hour, the precise order of 10 shuffled decks of playing cards in the same amount of time, and one shuffled deck in less than two minutes. There are 36 grand masters of memory in the world.

Though every competitor has his own unique method of memorization for each event, all mnemonic techniques are essentially based on the concept of elaborative encoding, which holds that the more meaningful something is, the easier it is to remember. The brain isn't built to remember abstract symbols like numbers and playing cards, but if one can translate those symbols into vivid visual images, even the dullest series of binary digits can be made as memorable as your own address. The key is to develop a system that allows quick encoding and easy recall.

Some memorizers arbitrarily associate each playing card with a familiar person or object, so that the king of clubs is represented by, say, Tony Danza. The grand masters associate each card with a person, an action, or an object so that every group of three cards can be converted into a sentence. The first card of the triplet is encoded as a person, the second as a verb, and the third as an object. For example, when Cooke sees a three of clubs, a nine of hearts, and a nine of spades, he immediately conjures up an image of Brazilian lingerie model Adriana Lima in a Biggles biplane shooting at his old public-school headmaster in a suit of armor. The more vivid the image, the more likely it is not to be forgotten.

There are other tips for improving your memory in general. These tips including getting enough sleep, working in ten minutes of meditation a day and maintaining cardiovascular fitness.

For day to day life, people who are organized and productive would have systems for handling and processing tasks so that they are not depending upon good memory.

The book "Getting Things Done" describes a task management system for staying on top of tasks.

David Allen developed a task-management methodology made popular in his best-selling book, Getting Things Done. Rather than organizing tasks in a rigid, hierarchical fashion, he developed a flexible system for organizing tasks according to the context in which they are done (e.g., while online, while at the office, while at home, errands, phone calls, etc.)

* Apply the "do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it" rule to get your in-box to empty
* Reassess goals and stay focused in changing situations
* Plan projects as well as get them unstuck

The Wall Street Journal discussed soon to be popular implants for cognitive enhancement.

Direct Current Stimulation has been able to double visual memory performance.

There are methods for inducing the optimal brain states for optimal learning or other desired modes.

There would be minimal immediate impact on society from successful nootropics, implants and other means of marginal enhancement of mental functions such as cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration.

The effect of enhanced intelligence and learning would be felt over time with upgraded and wider adoption of useful skills, knowledge and capabilities.

Having enhancements that result in better test scores and some improved learning are trivial in the overall societal situation.

Sharma of Morgan Stanley Predictions for China, India and Other Emerging Markets

Break­out Nations is Ruchir Sharma’s book on the Bric countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China – and the rest of the developing world. In his day job, Sharma is head of emerging market equities and global macro at Morgan Stanley Investment Management.

He warns that today’s “mania” for emerging markets is driven largely by the supply of cheap money that developed world central banks are pumping out to keep their economies afloat. Sooner or later, the bubble has to burst.

Only six countries – Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Hong Kong – have maintained annual gross domestic product growth rates of 5 per cent or more for four decades. The rapid growth of the past decade has been unusual and will decelerate.

In its place, the new normal in emerging markets will be much like the old normal, dating back to the 1950s and 1960s, when growth averaged 5 per cent and gains by some countries were offset by crises in others. “Failure to sustain growth is the general rule,” Sharma writes, “and that rule is likely to reassert itself in the coming decade.”

In China, the great challenge is managing expectations as its economy gets bigger and GDP growth inevitably slows – from 10 per cent annually to, say, 6 per cent. Those who feared China’s rise will experience “tremendous relief” while those who “bet everything” on China growing at 8 per cent or more “will face a much nastier surprise”.

India’s chances of achieving breakout Sharma puts at 50-50. Its young population and entrepreneurial drive give grounds for hope, as does the fact that per capita incomes are only a quarter of China’s, giving lots of scope for growth. But all this is set against India’s many weaknesses, not least the recent “national overconfidence”.

Sharma has little time, though, for the other two Bric economies, Brazil and Russia. Both have grown on the back of the past decade’s commodities boom, which Sharma forecasts cannot last because technological advances will reduce reliance on raw materials, as they have in the past. The “this time it’s different” argument is just wrong.

Sharma’s larger point is that “China has already emerged.” It is, after all, the second largest economy in the world.

I would agree that China only needs 6% annual gdp growth for the 2012-2030 period. China can still do better than that level.

Princeton Nanotechnology could make immunoassays 3 million times more sensitive for early cancer and Alzheimer's disease detection

A laboratory test used to detect disease and perform biological research could be made more than 3 million times more sensitive, according to researchers who combined standard biological tools with a breakthrough in nanotechnology.

The increased performance could greatly improve the early detection of cancer, Alzheimer's disease and other disorders by allowing doctors to detect far lower concentrations of telltale markers than was previously practical.

Princeton researchers dramatically improved the sensitivity of immunoassays, a common medical test, using the nanomaterial shown here. The material consists of a series of glass pillars in a layer of gold. Each pillar is speckled on its sides with gold dots and capped with a gold disk. Each pillar is just 60 nanometers in diameter, 1/1,000th the width of a human hair.

Nanotechnology Journal - Giant and uniform fluorescence enhancement over large areas using plasmonic nanodots in 3D resonant cavity nanoantenna by nanoimprinting (10 pages)

Using a new nanoplasmonic architecture and an optimized spacer, we observed the following: (a) the average fluorescence of an infrared dye (indocyanine green) is enhanced by 2970 fold uniformly (variation less than 11%) over a large sample area and over a wide range of dye concentrations (380 to 380 000 molecule per square micons), laser excitation powers and laser beam sizes; and (b) for a single molecule placed at a ‘hot spot’, the fluorescence enhancement is 4:5 10^6 fold. The giant and uniform enhancements (orders of magnitude higher than before), plus easy and inexpensive large area fabrication (over 4 inch wafers), should open up wide applications.

Analytical Chemistry - Enhancement of Immunoassay’s Fluorescence and Detection Sensitivity Using Three-Dimensional Plasmonic Nano-Antenna-Dots

Protein detection is universal and vital in biological study and medical diagnosis (e.g., cancer detection). Fluorescent immunoassay is one of the most widely used and most sensitive methods in protein detection. Improvements of such assays have many significant implications. Here, we report the use of a new plasmonic structure and a molecular spacer to enhance the average fluorescence of an immunoassay of Protein A and human immunoglobulin (IgG) by over 7400-fold and the immunoassay’s detection sensitivity by 3 000 000-fold (the limit of detection is reduced from 0.9 × 10^−9 to 0.3 × 10^−15 molar (i.e., from 0.9 nM to 300 aM), compared to identical assays performed on glass plates). Furthermore, the average fluorescence enhancement has a dynamic range of 8 orders of magnitude and is uniform over the entire large sample area with a spatial variation ±9%. Additionally, we observed that, when a single molecule fluorophore is placed at a “hot spot” of the plasmonic structure, its fluorescence is enhanced by 4 × 10^6-fold, thus indicating the potential to further significantly increase the average fluorescence enhancement and the detection sensitivity. Together with good spatial uniformity, wide dynamic range, and ease to manufacture, the giant enhancement in immunoassay’s fluorescence and detection sensitivity (orders of magnitude higher than previously reported) should open up broad applications in biology study, medical diagnosis, and others.

A Prediction of nuclear power in Australia by 2030

Professor Barry Brook, University of Adelaide scientist, believes it is inevitable that Australia will become a user of the world's most advanced nuclear power technology, if the country is serious about cutting carbon emissions.

Barry Brook blogs at Brave New Climate

Professor Barry Brook, Director of Climate Science at the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute, says Australia will eventually turn to nuclear power to meet our sustainable energy needs - and when we do, we will choose to focus on next-generation nuclear technology that provides major safety, waste and cost benefits.

Professor Brook's forecast timeline for nuclear power in Australia:

2020 - Public and political debate heightens as need for reliable low-carbon electricity mounts
2025 - First reactor contracts issued, Small Modular Reactors (SMR) built in outback mining sites
2030 - 3 GWe (gigawatt electrical) of nuclear power connects to national electricity grid
2040 - Up to 5 GWe of new capacity being installed per year
2050 - A total of 30-50 GWe installed, located at a dozen 'energy park' sites and various remote areas
2100 - >100 GWe installed for total energy displacement, including replacing oil and gas needs

June 03, 2012

Surrey engineers use Xbox Kinect games console technology to make “space building blocks”

Space innovators at the University of Surrey and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) are developing ‘STRaND-2’, a twin-satellite mission to test a novel in-orbit docking system based upon XBOX Kinect technology that could change the way space assets are built, maintained and decommissioned.

STRaND-2 is the latest mission in the cutting edge STRaND (Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Demonstrator) programme, following on from the smartphone-powered STRaND-1 satellite that is near completion. Similar in design to STRaND-1, the identical twin satellites will each measure 30cm (3 unit Cubesat) in length, and utilise components from the XBOX Kinect games controller to scan the local area and provide the satellites with spatial awareness on all three axes.

Nvidia forecasts XBOX 360 graphics power in mobile systems in 2014

Games Industry - A slide given to AnandTech by NVidia shows that the graphics-chip manufacturer expects mobile Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to surpass the GPU in Microsoft's Xbox 360 by 2014. While home consoles are released and then sit for years in homes, mobile devices are refreshed and updated by hardware vendors every year.

The dotted lines are trends, while the solid lines are estimated performance. The estimated performance of mobile GPUs will catch the Xbox 360 in 2013, which is shown by the higher step in the light blue line. If trends continue, mobile will even catch PC a few years after 2014.

Neuroscientists reach major milestone in whole-brain circuit mapping project

Neuroscientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) reached an important milestone today, publicly releasing the first installment of data from the 500 terabytes so far collected in their pathbreaking project to construct the first whole-brain wiring diagram of a vertebrate brain, that of the mouse.

The data consist of gigapixel images (each close to 1 billion pixels) of whole-brain sections that can be zoomed to show individual neurons and their processes, providing a “virtual microscope.” The images are integrated with other data sources from the web, and are being made fully accessible to neuroscientists as well as interested members of the general public (http://mouse.brainarchitecture.org)

Composite image generated with Mouse Brain Architecture project data. Injections of two fluorescently marked (red and green) adeno-associated viral (AAV) tracers indicate neural pathways, superimposed upon a whole-brain image stained to reveal the protective sheathing around myelinated axons. Axonal paths leaving the injection site are seen, including horizontal ones crossing over to the other side of the brain along the Corpus Callosum.

Shell Estimates Iraq could Produce 6 to 10 million barrels of oil per day in the early 2020s

NY Times - Iraq produces around three million barrels a day, and few analysts believe it can reach its goal of 10 million barrels a day by 2017, a target Baghdad recently reduced from a previous estimate of 12 million barrels a day by that year. But Hans Nijkamp, Royal Dutch Shell’s Iraq country chairman, estimates that Iraq could produce 6 million to 10 million barrels a day by early next decade, “which is really substantial.”

Exxon Mobil has by far the largest stake of any American company in Iraq, but most of the major players are European and Asian, like Lukoil and Gazprom from Russia, and Chinese companies like China National Petroleum and China National Offshore Oil Corporation.

Carnival of Space 252

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