June 23, 2012

China's current nuclear energy situation

Idaho Samizdat reviews the current nuclear energy situation in China.

The Chinese government reinvigorated its civilian nuclear energy program last week with three major actions.

First, it announced the release of a long awaited safety plan that will result in the lifting of a moratorium on new nuclear reactor projects.

Second, it announced approval of an IPO by China National Nuclear Power (CNNP), the country’s largest reactor developer, to raise the equivalent of US $27.3 billion.

Third, the central government announced a list of seven strategic industry initiatives to counter a sharp down turn in economic growth. One of them is building new nuclear power plants.

Tiny Liver Grown Indside a mouses Head using Stem Cells

New Scientist - A tiny human liver, just 5 millimetres in size, has been grown inside a mouse. It remains to be seen whether the organ can replicate all liver functions – and if it will be possible to scale up the tiny structure to useable dimensions.

Hideki Taniguchi and Takanori Takebe at Yokohama City University generated induced pluripotent stem cells from human skin cellsMovie Camera, then encouraged them to develop into liver precursor cells. They added two more types of cell – mesenchymal cells, and endothelial cells from umbilical cord blood vessels. Without the aid of any underlying scaffold, the cells "guided themselves" and generated a microstructure almost identical to normal liver tissue, says Takebe.

"We mixed and graded the cells onto the culture dish and they moved to form a cluster," he says. "It was a surprising outcome from what was, to be honest, an accident."

NTDTV - The team took stem cells, derived from human skin cells, and placed them in a specially-concocted culture medium. Nine days later, the team detected the same chemicals that hepatocyte, or liver cells, would produce. Endothelial and mesenchymal cells were introduced in the hope of creating a more organ-like environment.

In two days, the tissue had developed into a 5-millimeter long, three-dimensional “liver bud.” The liver-like tissue was implanted into the head of a mouse, where it was able to metabolize some drugs that human livers can handle, but that their murine counterparts cannot. Tests also show much gene expression typical of human livers, the team said.

This marks the first time a functional organ with a vascular network has been grown from stem cells, with enormous potential from the findings.

Planetary Resources Looks at Kickstarter support of additional space telescopes

MSNBC Cosmiclog - Planetary Resources, the billionaire-backed private venture that's aiming to hunt down and mine near-Earth asteroids, is looking for suggestions about projects that could attract extra funding through Kickstarter-style campaigns.

"To offer you a chance to actually get involved, we’ve been tossing around the idea of adding additional capacity in our production run, and either offering you access to a portion of our orbiting spacecraft — or — if there’s enough demand, actually build you an additional Space Telescope for your own use," Diamandis wrote. "We'd probably do this through a Kickstarter campaign, but ONLY if there's enough interest."

Among the ideas that Diamandis is floating:

* $100 for a chance to direct the Arkyd-100 and take a high-resolution photograph of anyplace on Earth, or a celestial body.
* A desktop-scale model of the Arkyd-100.
* A half-day at the controls of a satellite, allowing you to take up to 50 photos from space.
* Invitations to the Planetary Resources launch party.

The suggestion box (which also serves as a ballot box for the suggestions) takes the form of a Facebook-style comment section on Diamandis' Web posting.

Translation of Handelsblatt Interview with Planetary Resources Peter Diamandis

Peter Diamandis of Planetary Resources was interviewed by Handelsblatt.com of Germany

The first Planetary Resource Arkyd space telescope should be launched within 21 months.

Planetary Resources wants to launch five telescopes into orbit within the next two years to prospect for asteroids. Each of the space launches and telescopes including transportation cost should only cost only a few million dollars. Within seven years the company plans to send spacecraft to asteroid remote, looking there for raw materials. Such a trip will cost 25 to 30 million dollars.

The most difficult task is to process (refine) the resources. Robots will get the platinum or palladium not only from the ground, but the process of ore on the spot. From one ton of ore, one gets less than an ounce of palladium. For weight reasons, it may not be worth the bringing the ore back to earth for processing.

Asteroids also have water. Water is a precious space commodity. It can be split into hydrogen and oxygen. It can be used as fuel for a spaceship or satellite. They are dreaming of fuel depots, "The cost of fuel would drop by a factor of 100."
Planetary Resources plan for Asteroid Mining

Planetary Resources Arkyd Space Telescope

Nanowire Phase Change Materials Could Lead to Better Computer Memory

University of Pennsylvania - “For many years there has been a push to find memory storage that is at once scalable, non-volatile and fast,” Agarwal said. “Phase change materials could meet all of those criteria, but the problem is that we don’t know much about how these materials actually work.”

Now we have shown that there is a way to achieve this transition without melting the material,” said Ritesh Agarwal, associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, who conducted the research, along with members of his research group.. “We show that short electrical pulses of a few hundred nanosecond duration gradually induce disorder in the material until it amorphizes.”

Their advance was made possible by fashioning a PCM into thin nanowires, rather than a more bulky counterpart. This enabled the researchers to observe the phase change as it happened using a high-resolution transmission electron microscope at an atomic level of detail. Earlier researchers could only look at cross sections of their bulkier PCMs after the switching process was over.

Some kinds of memory, like a computer’s RAM, can switch between states very quickly, allowing for the computation necessary to run programs. But this kind of memory is “volatile” in that it needs a constant supply of power to maintain its states. Other kinds of memory, like the kind found on a flash drive, is non-volatile in that it retains its data even after the power is turned off. This kind of memory, however, has low switching speeds. Researchers have long attempted to find a “universal memory” which combines both non-volatility and high switching speeds, along with scalability, the ability to store large amounts of data.

The top figure shows the jammed dislocation cloud, while the bottom shows the amorphous mark spanning the nanowire cross-section

Science - Electrical Wind Force–Driven and Dislocation-Templated Amorphization in Phase-Change Nanowires

Direct printing of nanostructures by electrostatic autofocussing of ink nanodroplets

ETH-Zurich researchers have developed an economic, fast and reproducible method for printing tiny structures in a way similar to printing art by an ink-jet printer. Now they are planning a spin-off.

Using a new nanodroplet printing method, tiny structures can be applied to different surfaces in a quick and reproducible manner. It is fast because the printer can be programmed in such a way that material is applied precisely where it is needed. The removal of excess material, as is necessary with other methods on a micro- and nanoscale structuring, is no longer required, saving precious resources.

Moreover, compared to established methods that perform similar functions at the nanoscale, the new technique is considerably less expensive. It does not need large-scale facilities, high calssification cleanrooms, exceedingly high temperatures or special pressure ratios. It works perfectly without laborious and time-consuming vacuum steps needed in many other processes.

As a result, the throughput and size of the printed surfaces may be increased considerably during industrial production, says Poulikakos. Additionally, prototyping at the smallest scale could be performed fast and affordably. All this will make the method considerably more attractive than the alternatives already available.

Solvent containing nanoparticles (yellow dots) flows out of a capillary and forms controllably ultra-small droplets. The solvent evaporates rapidly from the droplets, leaving a structure made of accumulated nanoparticles in its wake (credit: Patrick Galliker/ETH Zurich)

Nature - Direct printing of nanostructures by electrostatic autofocussing of ink nanodroplets

June 22, 2012

Graphene from any Lab

Eurekalert - Researchers have developed a low cost method for manufacturing multilayered graphene sheets. The new method does not require any specialized equipment and can be implemented in any laboratory.

The existing methods for fabricating graphene – including deposition of epitaxial layer on a metallic substrate or silicon carbide, or chemical or physical vapour deposition – require expensive, specialized equipment and complex manufacturing procedures. Meanwhile, the only more complex apparatus used in the method for producing graphene sheets developed at the IPC PAS and the IRI is an ultrasonic cleaner, an equipment common in many laboratories.

The new process for producing graphene sheets starts with graphite, one of carbon allotrope, on the molecular level resembling a sandwich composed of many graphene planes. These sheets are hardly separable. To weaken interactions between them, graphite must be oxidized, which is usually accomplished with the Hummers method. A powder obtained in that way – graphite oxide – is subsequently suspended in water and placed in an ultrasonic cleaner. The ultrasounds exfoliate oxidized graphene sheets from each other and the resulting colloid contains single graphene oxide flakes with diameter of about 300 nanometers.

MIT LENR device publicly running for 6 months but Mainstream Researchers Still Able Block Funding

Energy Catalyzer - A Low Energy Nuclear Device (LENR) device in Professor Peter Hagelstein’s lab at MIT has been running since January (nearly six months) and may have produced 1000 times the energy of a comparable chemical reaction.

The device is the NANOR created by Mitchell Swartz of JET Energy Inc. Hagelstein revealed details of the device’s operation in a talk at the Atom Unexplored Conference in Turin, Italy on May 4. A series of videos of the conference is now available on YouTube and it indicates some exciting results. The video quality is pretty lousy and Mr. Hagelstein isn’t a good public speaker but they’re well worth watching.

Hagelstein said Swartz used nano technology to embed palladium in a zirconium matrix. He said this was a revolutionary design. This enabled Swartz to build an LENR device that Hagelstein can take into his laboratory and observe the reactions first hand. The device apparently produces an energy gain of 14.

This is reproducible and reliable excess heat. It is not at the level of power of the more extraordinary claims of Rossi and Defkalion but it is enough to show that there is a real effect that requires proper investigation.

Water Desalination across Nanoporous Graphene

Two materials scientists from MIT have shown in simulations that nanoporous graphene can filter salt from water at a rate that is 100 to 1000 times faster than today’s best commercial desalination technology, reverse osmosis (RO). The researchers predict that graphene’s superior water permeability could lead to desalination techniques that require less energy and use smaller modules than RO technology, at a cost that will depend on future improvements in graphene fabrication methods.

Nanoletters - Water Desalination across Nanoporous Graphene

We show that nanometer-scale pores in single-layer freestanding graphene can effectively filter NaCl salt from water. Using classical molecular dynamics, we report the desalination performance of such membranes as a function of pore size, chemical functionalization, and applied pressure. Our results indicate that the membrane’s ability to prevent the salt passage depends critically on pore diameter with adequately sized pores allowing for water flow while blocking ions. Further, an investigation into the role of chemical functional groups bonded to the edges of graphene pores suggests that commonly occurring hydroxyl groups can roughly double the water flux thanks to their hydrophilic character. The increase in water flux comes at the expense of less consistent salt rejection performance, which we attribute to the ability of hydroxyl functional groups to substitute for water molecules in the hydration shell of the ions. Overall, our results indicate that the water permeability of this material is several orders of magnitude higher than conventional reverse osmosis membranes, and that nanoporous graphene may have a valuable role to play for water purification.

Plastination for Preservation of Brain Information Needs $45,000

An anonymous donor has funded a $100K Brain Preservation Prize, paid to the first team(s) to pass this test on a human brain, with a quarter of the prize going to those that first pass the test on a mouse brain. Cryonics and plastination teams have already submitted whole mouse brains to be tested. The only hitch is that the prize organization needs money (~25-50K$) to actually do the tests.

Economist Robin Hanson has donated $5000 towards the testing of plastinated whole mouse brains.

The Brain preservation prize is a cash prize for the first individual or team to rigorously demonstrate a surgical technique capable of inexpensively and completely preserving an entire human brain for long-term (over 100 years) storage with such fidelity that the structure of every neuronal process and every synaptic connection remains intact and traceable using today’s electron microscopic (EM) imaging techniques.

June 21, 2012

Extensive Water in Interior of Mars and Details on the Ice in the South Crater of the Moon

1. Until now, Earth was the only planet known to have vast reservoirs of water in its interior. Scientists analyzed the water content of two Martian meteorites originating from inside the Red Planet. They found that the amount of water in places of the Martian mantle is vastly larger than previous estimates and is similar to that of Earth’s. The results not only affect what we know about the geologic history of Mars, but also have implications for how water got to the Martian surface. The data raise the possibility that Mars could have sustained life.

The scientists analyzed what are called shergottite meteorites. These are fairly young meteorites that originated by partial melting of the Martian mantle—the layer under the crust—and crystallized in the shallow subsurface and on the surface. They came to Earth when ejected from Mars approximately 2.5 million years ago. Meteorite geochemistry tells scientists a lot about the geological processes the planet underwent.

Flattened nanotubes are full of potential

Squashed nanotubes may be ripe with new possibilities for scientists, according to a new study by Rice University.
Researchers at Rice’s Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology have come up with a set of facts and figures about carbon nanotubes that appear to collapse during the growth process; they found that these unique configurations have properties of both nanotubes and graphene nanoribbons.

What the researchers call “closed-edge graphene nanoribbons” could kick-start research into their usefulness in electronics and materials applications.

ACS Nano - Closed-Edged Graphene Nanoribbons from Large-Diameter Collapsed Nanotubes

Path to 50 gigapixel cameras

Here is the AWARE2 Multiscale Gigapixel Camera website

This program is focused on building wide-field, video-rate, gigapixel cameras in small, low-cost form factors. Traditional monolithic lens designs, must increase f/# and lens complexity and reduce field of view as image scale increases. In addition, traditional electronic architectures are not designed for highly parallel streaming and analysis of large scale images. The AWARE Wide field of view project addresse these challenges using multiscale designs that combine a monocentric objective lens with arrays of secondary microcameras.

Currently, a two-gigapixel prototype camera has been built and is shown below. This system is capable of a 120 degree circular FOV with 226 microcameras, 38 microradian FOV for a single pixel, and an effective f-number of 2.17. Each microcamera operates at 10 fps at full resolution. The optical volume is about 8 liters and the total enclosure is about 300 liters. The optical track length from the first surface of the objective to the focal plane is 188 mm

The AWARE-10 5-10 gigapixel camera is in production and will be on-line later in 2012. Significant improvements have been made to the optics, electronics, and integration of the camera. Some are described here: Camera Evolution. The goal of this DARPA project is to design a long-term production camera that is highly scalable from sub-gigapixel to tens-of-gigapixels. Deployment of the system is envisioned for military, commercial, and civilian applications.

Foxconn Chairman hates Samsung and says iPhone 5 will put Samsung's Galaxy III to shame

Focus Taiwan - Foxconn Chairman Gou also urged consumers to wait for the launch of Apple's iPhone 5, saying that the new model will put Samsung's Galaxy III to shame. Foxconn builds iPhones and iPads for Apple.

With Hon Hai's (Foxconn) marketing and manufacturing strengths and Sharp's key technologies, the two will be able to defeat their arch-rival Samsung, the chairman said.

Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou said at the company's annual shareholders' meeting that the alliance with the Japanese company will allow Hon Hai to beat Samsung Electronics Co. in three to five years.

The new partnership will help Hon Hai upgrade its competitiveness in the cut-throat display panel business, in addition to gaining ownership of the Taiwanese flat-panel maker Chimei Innolux Corp

Hon Hai announced in late March its acquisition of a roughly 10 percent stake in Sharp for US$800 million, which made it the Japanese company's largest shareholder.

Entangling Superconductivity and Antiferromagnetism

Science - Entangling Superconductivity and Antiferromagnetism

Today we have two families of high-transition temperature (Tc) superconductors, based respectively on compounds in which copper and iron atoms occupy a layered square lattice. An open question is how the quantum mechanics of electrons moving cooperatively on such lattices leads to high-Tc superconductivity. Both families display antiferromagnetism as their chemical compositions are varied. It is the interplay between the magnetic and electronic properties that is thought to be controlled by intricate quantum entanglement among the electrons, and to be at the origin of the superconducting properties. The antiferromagnetism is strongest at compositions at which Tc is either zero or small. As the composition is varied and the antiferromagnetism decreases, a critical composition is reached at which the antiferromagnetism vanishes at zero temperature—an example of a quantum phase transition. There is a report of observations of an especially well-characterized example of such a quantum critical point in a high-Tc superconductor, crystals of BaFe2(As1-xPx)2 with minimal chemical disorder. A novel feature of their experiments is that the signature of a magnetic critical point is observed in an electrical property: The antiferromagnetic quantum critical point leads to a change in the ability of the electrons to carry a super-current. The results demonstrate the close connection between antiferromagnetism and high-Tc superconductivity.

Low-temperature microwave resistivity 1 of BaFe2(As1xPx)2 at 4.9 GHz for various
P-concentrations. The arrow indicates a kink anomaly observed for x = 0:27, which is attributed to the structural or SDW transition. The lines are guides for the eye.

Science - A Sharp Peak of the Zero-Temperature Penetration Depth at Optimal Composition in BaFe2(As1–xPx)2

Graphene Drumheads Tuned to Make Quantum Dots

Tightening or relaxing the tension on a drumhead will change the way the drum sounds. The same goes for drumheads made from graphene, only instead of changing the sound, stretching graphene has a profound effect on the material's electrical properties. Researchers working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland have shown that subjecting graphene to mechanical strain can mimic the effects of magnetic fields and create a quantum dot, an exotic type of semiconductor with a wide range of potential uses in electronic devices

NIST researchers showed that straining graphene membrane creates pseudomagnetic fields that confines the graphene's electrons and creates quantized quantum dot-like energy levels. The background is a false color image of the graphene drumheads made from a single layer of graphene over 1 micron-sized pits etched in a silicon dioxide substrate. Credit: N. Klimov and T. Li, NIST/UMD

Science - Electromechanical Properties of Graphene Drumheads

Video From China's Space Mission

A Post By Professor Bruce Charlton On Why Genius Is So Rare

A guest post by Joseph Friedlander.

I ran across an interesting pair of articles by Professor Bruce Charlton on the difficulty of reliably channeling  genius and creativity into science and technology.  If we could double the number of great geniuses who thread through the educational and societal maze to a productive career in the arts of science and technology our world would be vastly more creative. If we could increase the incidence of genius 10 times we would live in an entirely different world. Indeed such a transition would be singularity-like,  dividing history into before and after periods (and raising the interesting question of diminishing returns or no).

One can imagine an analogue to the Gates Foundation but which recruits young geniuses and guides them through the maze Charlton describes. Only a small fraction of potential genius becomes actual genius--

How Sky Cities and Robotic Cars will boost Productivity and GDP

Here I lay out the research which I believe shows that Sky City Skyscrapers (200-300 stories) and robotic cars (4 times the density of road traffic) will make certain megacities (future New York, Shanghai, Tokyo etc...) one third to one half of the overall world population and they would have 75% more GDP per capita than they do today. There would be rural, regular urban then super-urban. Research shows that doubling population and increased urban density boosts productivity by about 15%.

Serious study of the role of location and density in economic development probably owes its origins to Alfred
Marshall’s work on location and economic development in the early 1900s. Cities are economic drivers – the very core of economic growth and development. Higher earnings paid to urban workers and premiums paid by firms to be in urban areas are evidence of cities’ productive advantages. In the US, for example, earnings in cities are around 33% more than those in non urban areas (Glaeser and Mare, 2001). Even within Greater London, the urban premium is high: the average earnings for a worker in inner London (£49,400) was nearly double that of the average for outer London workers (£26,700) in 2007.

The ways in which density is linked to productivity has been developed in a wide array of research projects. Six key impacts are discussed in this section:
* density allows a higher degree of specialisation, increasing efficiency;
* reduced transport time and costs for products/goods/services from one stage to the next, or from producer to consumer, occurs in denser areas if the transport infrastructure is sufficient;
* increased density increases the prevalence of knowledge spillovers, increasing innovation
* density allows firms to have access to larger markets of suppliers (especially labour supply) and consumers, allowing competition to enhance the quality of inputs and outputs;
* efficiencies of scale are created in denser markets where suppliers are reaching more potential customers;
* reduced land take in denser areas allows more economic activity to take place on a fixed piece of land than less dense designs;

In addition to understanding the nature of the linkages between density and productivity, economic research estimates the scale of these linkages.

Seminal work by Ciccone and Hall (1996) assessed the impacts of density on productivity in the US, and found that doubling employment density, and keeping all other factors constant, increased average labour productivity by around 6%. Subsequent work by Ciccone (1999) found that in Europe, all other things being equal, doubling employment density increased productivity by 5%. A third paper (Harris and Ioannides, 2000) applies the logic directly to metropolitan areas and also finds a 6% increase in productivity with a doubling of density.

More recent work by Dan Graham (2005b, 2006) examines the relationship between increased effective density (which takes into account time travelled between business units) and increased productivity across different industries. Graham finds that across the whole economy, the urbanisation elasticity (that is, the response of productivity to changes in density) is 0.125. This means that a 10% increase in effective density, holding all other factors constant, is associated with a 1.25% increase in productivity for firms in that area. Doubling the density of an area would result in a 12.5% increase in productivity.

Economist Robin Hanson noted that doubling the population of any city requires only about an 85% increase in infrastructure, whether that be total road surface, length of electrical cables, water pipes or number of petrol stations. This systematic 15% savings happens because, in general, creating and operating the same infrastructure at higher densities is more efficient, more economically viable, and often leads to higher-quality services and solutions that are impossible in smaller places. Interestingly, there are similar savings in carbon footprints — most large, developed cities are ‘greener’ than their national average in terms of per capita carbon emission.

Google told the world it has developed computer driving tech that is basically within reach of doubling (or more) the capacity of a road lane to pass cars. Pundits don’t seem to realize just how big a deal this is – it could let cities be roughly twice as big, all else equal.

Capable AI and Robots Will be Able to Leverage Super precise cameras and sensors to lessen software challenges

Super multi-gigapixel cameras and micron precision 3D motion detection and other advanced sensors will provide the awareness of the surroundings to make it easier to program robotics and artificial intelligence to perform useful tasks. Humans can get by with less precise vision and sensors to competently perform tasks like walking around buildings and driving cars. Super-sensors will make it easier for developers to make robots and AI more competent.

The self-driving car developed by Google uses expensive sensors such as LIDAR to help the robotic car to get real time understanding of the environment in which it is driving. Alternative super-accurate sensors could be more affordable alternatives. For different situations and applications the different cameras and devices and sensors could be the enabling technology for feasibility or to achieve cost targets for commercialization.

Different devices could make the programming problems more solvable. Currently the bottlenecks are around software complexity and affordability.

Yesterday we covered the scientific paper that described how the parallel camera approach uses off the shelf technology and will lead in the near term to 50 gigapixel point and shoot cameras.

Leap Motion has a 3D motion detector with ten micron precision.

Breakthrough that will lead in a few years to affordable 50 gigapixel cameras

Technology Review - The AWARE camera has 98 micro-cameras similar to those found in smart phones, each with 10-megapixel resolution. By positioning these high quality micro-cameras behind the lens, it becomes possible to process different portions of the image separately and to correct for known distortions. "We realized we could turn this into a parallel-processing problem," Brady says.

The corrections are made possible by eight graphical processing units working in parallel. Breaking the problem up this way allows more complex techniques to be used to correct for optical aberrations.

The prototype camera capable of capturing and processing an entire image in just 18 seconds.

Eventually, as computer processing power improves, the hardware needed for such a camera should shrink. Portable gigapixel resolution could be useful in a number of ways. For example, additional pixels already help with image stabilization. "Also, if you increase the resolution, you increase the chances of automated recognition and artificial intelligence systems being able to accurately recognize things in the world," Nourbakhsh says.

Simple, Fast, Cheap, and Unpowered Test Uses Paper Origami Technology

Chemistry Views - American researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have now introduced a particularly clever concept print on one side of the paper, fold it up origami-style, laminate it, and the test is ready. Test evaluation requires only a voltmeter.

The team of researchers uses chromatography paper fabricated by wax printing. The printed areas become hydrophobic, while the unprinted paper remains hydrophilic. On one half of the paper, the researchers led by Richard M. Crooks and Hong Liu created a sample inlet and two hydrophilic channels, each leading from the inlet to a small chamber. The two chambers are connected to each other through a narrow opening. The required reagents are also “printed” onto the paper. On the second half of the paper, a screen-printing process is used to add two electrodes made of conductive carbon ink. When the paper is then folded down the middle according to the principles of origami—no tape or glue—a three-dimensional structure is formed. This causes the electrodes to come into contact with the chambers. Finally, the folded paper is laminated.

Two Channels Create Easy-to-Detect Potential Difference
When a drop of the sample is put into the inlet, the liquid moves through the two channels. One of the channels contains microspheres coated with an aptamer. An aptamer is a strand of DNA that can be constructed so as to selectively bind nearly any desired analyte molecule. For the purpose of demonstration, the researchers chose an aptamer for adenosine. If adenosine is in the sample, the aptamer binds to it. This releases an enzyme that was coupled to the aptamer. The enzyme continues to flow through the channel and reaches the chamber, which contains glucose and Prussian blue (iron hexacyanoferrate). This complex contains trivalent iron. The enzyme, glucose oxidase, oxidizes the glucose, which causes the iron in the Prussian blue to be reduced to the divalent form.

The second channel contains spheres with no aptamer. In the second chamber, therefore, no iron is reduced. Because the oxidation state of the iron in one chamber has been changed, the two chambers no longer have the same composition and an electric potential builds up. This can be measured by means of a capacitor and a measuring device like those used to test the voltage of a battery.

This principle can be used to easily and inexpensively produce rapid tests for a broad spectrum of different target molecules.

Angewandte Chemie International Edition - Aptamer-Based Origami Paper Analytical Device for Electrochemical Detection of Adenosine

Electromagnetically Induced Invisibility Cloak Can be Switched On and Off

Arxiv - Electromagnetically induced invisibility cloaking (5 pages)

Invisibility cloaking imposes strict conditions on the refractive index pro files of cloaking media that must be satis fied to successfully hide an object. The first experimental demonstrations of cloaking used arti ficial metamaterials to respond to this challenge. In this work we show how a much simpler technique of electromagnetically induced transparency can be used to achieve a partial, carpet cloaking at optical frequencies in atomic vapours or solids. To generate a desired combination of low absorption with strong modi fications of the refractive index, we use chiral media with an induced magneto-electrical cross-coupling. We demonstrate that high-contrast positive refractive indices can be attained by ne tuning the material with a gradient magnetic field and calculate the parameters required to construct a carpet cloak.

An incident magnetic field B is applied to control the detuning of the chiral media implemented by a magnetoelectric cross-coupling in a solid. The coupling eld strength is kept at a constant value across the media. The refractive index can be tailored to achieve the needed profi les. The insert shows the actual cloaking, the curved physical space, delivering desired straight lines in virtual space.

Technology Review - Physicists have worked out how to build invisibility cloaks that hide objects with the flick of a switch

Wharton looks at Economic Growth in China and Indonesia

Wharton - Asia Grows, but Holds Its Breath (22 pages)

Indonesia’s Economy Is Surging Forward, but Challenges Abound
With GDP growth of more than 6% expected this year, Indonesia’s economy is stronger than it has been in years. The country is soon expected to join the club of nations with an annual GDP of more than $1 trillion, and foreign direct investment is at a record high. The stock market is booming and net foreign debt is less than 10% of GDP. Still, according to experts from Wharton and elsewhere, Indonesia faces several challenges. The country will need to continue economic reforms in order to sustain its performance.

Indonesia is in the middle of an unprecedented consumer boom. Scooters, cars, smartphones, ice-creams and skincare products are all in demand. The middle class is growing, and newly affluent Indonesians are spending. Big brand names are visible on televisions, bill boards and on Jakarta’s streets. When it comes to commodities, the growth of China and India has given a fillip to the Indonesian economy. Both demand coal and gas while the entire world is hungry for palm oil.

Indonesia should focus on infrastructure and human capital formation to wean itself away from its resource base.

Nanowire Transistors two times smaller

A*Star Research - A new design reduces the areal footprint of nanowire transistors by a factor of two. Researchers have now integrated two transistors onto a single vertical silicon nanowire, pushing the areal density limit of nanowire transistors even further.

The researchers used wrap-around gates, or ‘gate-all-around’ gates, in the making of their device. These gates consist of a vertical cylinder, at the center of which lies the nanowire. They are much better at controlling the transistor current than traditional planar gates. Li and co-workers decreased the area required for a gate-all-around nanowire transistor by a factor of two by constructing two transistors out of a single vertical nanowire. Their design involves two wrap-around gates, one above the other, separated by a thin dielectric layer to isolate them electrically (see image). Unlike other independent double-gate transistor designs, such as those employing a vertical fin-like channel, changing the gate voltage applied to one transistor does not change the threshold (or turn-on) voltage of the other. This means that either of the gates can modulate the nanowire current independently.

The nanowire transistor uses two wrap-around metal gates to define two distinct transistors on a single nanowire (vertical rod) © 2011 IEEE

Plasmonic Silver Nanostructures for many sensings applications

A*Star Research - Silver nanostructures exhibit a resonance feature that is useful for a multitude of sensing applications.

A dual-disk ring (DDR) structure with broken symmetry and weakly dissipating material, silver, is proposed to achieve Fano resonance in visible wavelength range. Symmetry breaking of a metallic ring is realized by placing two disks inside the ring. The excitation of the Fano resonance is interpreted in terms of coupling of the ring and the dual-disk plasmonic modes. The potential of using an array of such DDR nano structures as a biochemical sensor is evaluated with the figure of merit (FOM). Based on our design and simulation, arrays with DDR structures are fabricated and the Fano resonance peak is observed in visible wavelength range of extinction spectra of individual silver DDR nanostructures.

The nanostructure comprises a dual-disk ring consisting of two silver disks, measuring tens of nanometers wide, placed inside a silver ring. The researchers calculated the optical modes of the structures using the finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) method. They found that the coupling between one of the dual-disk eigenmodes and one of the ring eigenmodes produces a Fano resonance just below 700 nanometers in wavelength, well within the visible spectrum.

Scheme (top) of the dual-disk ring structure and scanning electron micrscosopy images of fabricated devices (bottom)

Optics Express - Fano resonance in dual-disk ring plasmonic nanostructures

Fujitsu Develops World's First Compact, High-Output, Single-Chip 10 GHz Transceiver Using GaN HEMT

Fujitsu Laboratories today announced that it has successfully developed the world's first single-chip transceiver using gallium nitride (GaN) high electron mobility transistor (HEMT) technology that features an output of 6.3 W and that operates at a frequency of 10 GHz. The chip footprint is reduced by over 90% which enables more compact radars and wireless communications equipment.

In order to simultaneously handle strong transmission signals and weak incoming signals in the same chip, it is necessary to efficiently switch between outgoing and incoming signals, while reducing the impact that outgoing signals have on incoming signals. However, until now, it has been technologically difficult to accomplish both of these objectives in tandem.

Fujitsu Laboratories has resolved this issue by developing a duplexer with low signal loss using a GaN-HEMT, and through high-output circuit integration design technology that controls signal interference between the outgoing and incoming signals. The result is a transceiver chip operating at a frequency of 10 GHz with output of 6.3 W that measures only 3.6mm x 3.3mm, representing a footprint that is less than 10% of the size of the multiple chips that have been needed until now.

With this technology, it is now possible to configure a high-output transceiver using just one chip, enabling systems such as radar equipment and wireless communications equipment to be made more compact.

June 20, 2012

Samsung Galaxy Note Positive Long Term Test Usage Review

PCMag has a positive review from a Samsung Galaxy Note usage of several weeks.

The Galaxy Note is a "phablet" because its 5.3-inch display lands it somewhere between a phone and a tablet. For me, it seems mostly like a very large phone, with the addition of a stylus to enable a few unique applications.

Despite its odd size, or maybe because of it, the Galaxy Note has been finding a niche in the market. It's great for people who want a device that is larger than a typical smartphone, but don't want to carry a tablet too.

The Galaxy Note is an Android device with a 5.3-inch, 1,280-by-800 pixel Super AMOLED screen and stylus capabilities, running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). The OS firmly roots the device on the phone side, as "tablet" applications don't run on it. But then again, there aren't that many Android tablet apps and nearly all the phone applications I tried looked at worked quite well on the larger screen. I found it particularly good for applications like email, where the larger (and higher-resolution) screen lets me see more of my messages.

The size does take some getting used to. It's large, but surprisingly slim and light. Carrying it in a coat or trouser pocket is easy, but I find it just a bit too big for most jean pockets. My hands are small, and I can't reach all the corners of the device with a single hand, so I find myself most often using two hands. If you have larger hands, you might like it more.

The 5.3 inch Galaxy Note beside an iPhone 4S

World Oil at a record 91.1 million barrels per day

IEA Monthly World Oil Report showed Global oil supply rose by 200,000 bpd to 91.1 million bpd in May. Non-OPEC liquids increased by 0.2 mb/d to 53.1 mb/d and by 1.0 mb/d versus year ago. In 2012 rising North American supply more than offsets record-low North Sea output, as well as outages in the Sudans, Syria, and Yemen, taking non-OPEC supply growth to 0.7 mb/d.

The 91.1 million barrels per day includes crude oil and oil like liquids (natural gas liquids, ethanol etc...).

The EIA is showing a new peak in world crude oil production in January 2012 at 75.67 million barrels per day.

US crude oil production at 6.353 million barrels per day

US crude oil production was up to 6.353 million barrels per day for the week ended June 15, 2012

This was an increase of 117,000 barrels per day from the prior week and an increase of 700,000 barrels per day from the same time last year.

The 6.353 million bpd level is the most since 1999.
If there was an increase of 350,000 bpd, then 6.7 million barrel per day level would be the most since 1994.

This was the about the level of US crude oil production from the middle 1997 to February of 1999.

Greek coalition government successfully formed

A conservative-led government took power in Greece on Wednesday promising to negotiate softer terms on its harsh international bailout, help the people regain their dignity and steer the country through its biggest crisis for four decades.

Antonis Samaras, a Harvard-educated economist from a prominent Greek family, will head an alliance of his New Democracy party and Socialist PASOK rivals - the same discredited establishment parties which have dominated politics since 1974.

The cabinet has yet to be named, although a technocrat banker is expected to become finance minister.

Party leaders said a team would be formed to renegotiate the terms of the hated 130 billion euro ($165 billion) rescue plan with the European Union and IMF, setting up a showdown with the lenders led by paymaster Germany who say they will adjust but not re-write the document.

50 gigapixel point and shoot camera from off the shelf parts

Nature - Gigapixel camera catches the smallest details. In mass production, this will enable gigapixel cameras and video cameras for about $1000.

Super-capable cameras and sensors will make it easier to program artificial intelligence and robotics to do more useful things

A prediction that I made in 2006 was that Gigapixel cameras would be common in 2009-2015.

There is a robotic gigapixel camera mount for $484. Robotic gigapixel camera mounts are for taking a few hundred digital pictures and stitching them into a gigapixel image.

The new technology would let you take all of the pictures at once.

David Brady, an engineer at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and his colleagues are developing the AWARE-2 camera with funding from the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The camera’s earliest use will probably be in automated military surveillance systems, but its creators hope eventually to make the technology available to researchers, media companies and consumers.

AWARE-2 sidesteps the size issue by using 98 microcameras, each with a 14-megapixel sensor, grouped around a shared spherical lens. Together, they take in a field of view 120 degrees wide and 50 degrees tall. With all the packaging, data-processing electronics and cooling systems, the entire camera is about 0.75 by 0.75 by 0.5 metres in volume.

The current version of the camera can take images of about one gigapixel; by adding more microcameras, the researchers expect eventually to reach about 50 gigapixels. Each microcamera runs autofocus and exposure algorithms independently, so that every part of the image — near or far, bright or dark — is visible in the final result. Image processing is used to stitch together the 98 sub-images into a single large one at the rate of three frames per minute.

“With this design, they’re changing the game,” says Nourbakhsh.

The Duke group is now building a gigapixel camera with more sophisticated electronics, which takes ten images per second — close to video rate. It should be finished by the end of the year. The cameras can currently be made for about US$100,000 each, and large-scale manufacturing should bring costs down to about $1,000. The researchers are talking to media companies about the technology, which could for example be used to film sports: fans watching gigapixel video of a football game could follow their own interests rather than the camera operator’s.
A one-gigapixel image (top) shows minute details (bottom) of the skyline in Seattle, Washington.

800 Foot Tall Wind Turbines are Feasible and Doubling power of a wind turbine reduces emissions by 14% per kwh

Environmental Science and Technology - Wind Power Electricity: The Bigger the Turbine, The Greener the Electricity? The average size of commercial turbines has grown 10-fold in the last 30 years, from diameters of 50 feet in 1980 to nearly 500 feet today. On the horizon: super-giant turbines approaching 1,000 feet in diameter. For every cumulative production doubling, the global warming potential per kWh was reduced by 14%.

Wind energy is a fast-growing and promising renewable energy source. The investment costs of wind turbines have decreased over the years, making wind energy economically competitive to conventionally produced electricity. Size scaling in the form of a power law, experience curves and progress rates are used to estimate the cost development of ever-larger turbines. In life cycle assessment, scaling and progress rates are seldom applied to estimate the environmental impacts of wind energy. This study quantifies whether the trend toward larger turbines affects the environmental profile of the generated electricity. Previously published life cycle inventories were combined with an engineering-based scaling approach as well as European wind power statistics. The results showed that the larger the turbine is, the greener the electricity becomes. This effect was caused by pure size effects of the turbine (micro level) as well as learning and experience with the technology over time (macro level). The environmental progress rate was 86%, indicating that for every cumulative production doubling, the global warming potential per kWh was reduced by 14%. The parameters, hub height and rotor diameter were identified as Environmental Key Performance Indicators that can be used to estimate the environmental impacts for a generic turbine.

Nextbigfuture covered the large wind turbine designs in 2011.

June 19, 2012

DARPA Synapse Project Status

SyNAPSE is a DARPA-funded program to develop electronic neuromorphic machine technology that scales to biological levels. More simply stated, it is an attempt to build a new kind of computer with similar form and function to the mammalian brain. Such artificial brains would be used to build robots whose intelligence matches that of mice and cats.

SyNAPSE is a backronym standing for Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics. It started in 2008 and as of June 2012 has received $102.6 million in funding. It is scheduled to run until around 2016. The project is contracted to IBM, HRL Laboratories, and four US universities: California Merced, Columbia University Medical Center, Cornell, and Wisconsin-Madison. he program is currently progressing through phase 2 - as of June 2012.

This involves, among other things, designing a multi-chip system capable of emulating 1 million neurons and 1 billion synapses. The program requirements are that no phase last longer than 18 months. This means the million-neuron design should be completed by February 2013. Construction of the system will come in phase 3, to be completed around August 2014.

The ultimate aim is to build an electronic microprocessor system that matches a mammalian brain in function, size, and power consumption. It should recreate 10 billion neurons, 100 trillion synapses, consume one kilowatt (same as a small electric heater), and occupy less than two liters of space.

Europe within months of selecting two of six projects - Two Possibles are Human Brain and Graphene Project

The Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) is the EU pathfinder programme in information technologies.

6 Pilot Actions have been funded for a 12-month period starting in May 2011. In the second half of 2012 two of the Pilots will be selected and launched as full FET Flagship Initiatives in 2013.

The six FET Flagship Pilot Actions are:

* FuturICT - The FuturICT Knowledge Accelerator and Crisis-Relief System: Unleashing the Power of Information for a Sustainable Future
* Graphene - Graphene Science and technology for ICT and beyond
* Guardian Angels - Guardian Angels for a Smarter Planet
* HBP - The Human Brain Project
* ITFoM - IT Future of Medicine: a revolution in healthcare
* RoboCom - Robot Companions for Citizens

Report of the Human Brain Project (108 pages)

We propose that the HBP should be organised in three phases, lasting a total of ten years.

For the first two and a half years (the “ramp-up” phase), the project should focus on setting up the initial versions of the ICT platforms and on seeding them with strategically selected data. At the end of this phase, the platforms should be ready for use by researchers inside and outside the project.

For the following four and a half years (the “operational phase”), the project should intensify work to generate strategic data and to add new capabilities to the platforms, while simultaneously demonstrating the value of the platforms for basic neuroscience research and for applications in medicine and future computing technology.

In the last three years (the “sustainability phase”), the project should continue these activities while simultaneously moving towards financial self-sustainability – ensuring that the capabilities and knowledge it has created become a permanent asset for European science and industry.

The Human Brain Project would enormously accelerate progress towards a multi-level understanding of brain structure and function, towards better diagnosis, better understanding, and better treatment of brain diseases and towards new brain-inspired Information and Communications Technologies. The impact on European science, European industry, the European economy and European society is potentially very large.

A breakthrough in the understanding of high-temperature superconductivity

Eurekalert - Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) are unveiling a novel theoryfor high-temperature superconductivity. The team hopes the new finding gives insight into the process, and brings the scientific community closer to achieving superconductivity at higher temperatures than currently possible. This is a breakthrough that could transform our world.

Superconductors are composed of specific metals or mixtures of metals that at very low temperatures allow a current to flow without resistance. They are used in everything from electric devices, to medical imaging machines, to wireless communications. Although they have a wide range of applications, the possibilities are limited by temperature constraints.

"Understanding how superconductivity works at higher temperatures will make it easier to know how to look for such superconductors, how to engineer them, and then how to integrate them into new technologies," says Josef Ashkenazi, associate professor of physics at the UM College of Arts and Sciences and first author of the study. "It's always been like this when it comes to science: once you understand it, the technological applications follow."

Europhysics Letters - Pairing Glue Activation in Curates within the Quantum Critical Regime

Intel Xeon Phi Steps towards Exascale Computing in late 2012

At the International Supercomputing Conference today, Intel announced that Knights corner, the company's first commercial Many Integrated Core (MIC) product will ship commercially in 2012. The Descendent of the processor formerly known as Larrabee also gets a new brand name -- Xeon Phi.

The Xeon Phi alone will deliver an estimated 800GFlops of double-precision floating point performance (the total figure of 1TFlop includes the two Xeon E5 processors in the system).

PC World - The Phi chip will be used in a supercomputer called Stampede, which could go live as early as the end of this year at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas. The supercomputer will deliver peak performance of 10 petaflops (or 10,000 trillion operations per second). The E5 processors will take on 20 percent of the supercomputer's performance, while Knights Corner will handle 80 percent of the load.

To get to exascale, about 40 to 50 gigaflops of performance-per-watt is needed, and the first Phi chip would deliver roughly four to five gigaflops per watt, said John Hengeveld, director of marketing for high-performance computing at Intel.

Sky City will be over Seven Times Cheaper than Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa is the tallest manmade structure in the world, at 829.84 m (2,723 ft). It was featured in the movie "Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol". The total cost for the project was about US$1.5 billion. It has a floor area of 309,473 m2 (3,331,100 sq ft). It cost $450 per square foot. Burj Khalifa can hold up to 35,000 people at any one time. A total of 57 elevators and 8 escalators are installed. The elevators have a capacity of 12 to 14 people per cabin, the fastest rising and descending at up to 18 m/s.

China's Broad Group is building the Sky City One using factory mass production. It is to be completed January 2013 after 90 days of assembly and projected cost for the building is RMB 4 billion (US$628 million). Sky City will boast 220 floors, 1 million square meters (11 million square feet) of floor space and 104 elevators, according to the preliminary plans. It will cost $63 per square foot.

Reach for the sky: the world's tallest buildings, once the 838-meter Sky City is completed, projected for January 2013.

Simulations show slower growth will enable defect free Meter Long Carbon Nanotubes

Through simulations, researchers at Rice, Hong Kong Polytechnic and Tsinghua universities find it theoretically possible to grow perfect nanotubes up to a meter long. A nanotube growing about 1 micrometer a second at 700 kelvins could potentially reach the meter milestone. The length would be reached in 11.5 days.

At the right temperature, with the right catalyst, there’s no reason a perfect single-walled carbon nanotube 50,000 times thinner than a human hair can’t be grown a meter long.

That calculation is one result of a study by collaborators at Rice, Hong Kong Polytechnic and Tsinghua universities who explored the self-healing mechanism that could make such extraordinary growth possible. That’s important to scientists who see high-quality carbon nanotubes as critical to advanced materials and, if they can be woven into long cables, power distribution over the grid of the future.

They determined that iron is the best and quickest among common catalysts at healing topological defects – rings with too many or too few atoms – that inevitably bubble up during the formation of nanotubes and affect their valuable electronic and physical properties. The right combination of factors, primarily temperature, leads to kinetic healing in which carbon atoms gone astray are redirected to form the energetically favorable hexagons that make up nanotubes and their flat cousin, graphene. The team employed density functional theory to analyze the energies necessary for the transformation.

Physical Review Letters - Efficient Defect Healing in Catalytic Carbon Nanotube Growth

Want to win an Intel Science Competition ? Find cures and early detection for cancer

Jack Andraka, 15, of Crownsville, Maryland, was awarded the Gordon E. Moore Award for his development of a new method to detect pancreatic cancer. Using an approach similar to that of diabetic test strips, Jack created a simple dip-stick sensor to test the level of mesothelin, a pancreatic cancer biomarker, in blood or urine, to determine whether or not a patient has early-stage pancreatic cancer. His study resulted in over 90 percent accuracy in detecting the presence of mesothelin. Further, his novel patent-pending sensor proved to be 28 times faster, 28 times less expensive and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests.

Nearly 44,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012, the National Cancer Institute estimates. High levels of a protein called mesothelin in the blood can reveal the presence of such tumors. But the lack of a quick, cheap diagnostic test for the protein means that the disease tends to be caught late, making it an especially lethal cancer.

Searching for a better detector for mesothelin, Andraka coated paper with tiny tubes of atom-thick carbon. Antibodies stuck to the carbon nanotubes can grab the telltale protein and spread the tubes apart. The carbon’s resistance to the flow of electricity drops measurably as more protein attaches. Tests of the paper using blood samples from 100 people with cancer at different stages of the disease identified the presence of cancer every time, Andraka reported.

Earlier in 2012, the Intel Science Talent Search was won by 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.

Changsha Economy and Rents

This is background about the economy of Changsha where the worlds tallest building will be built.

KPMG Changsha Investment Environment Study 2011 (16 pages)

In 2010, Changsha’s GDP was RMB 454.7 billion with an annual growth rate of 21.4% — much higher than the national average of 18.7%
–– Changsha’s GDP ranked second among central cities in 2010
–– Industrial structure is improving. The ratio of agriculture, manufacturing and services was 4:54:42 in 2010 from 7:44:49 in 2006. This indicates a more rapid growth in industrial output (26% compound annual growth rate from 2006 – 2010)
• In 2010, Changsha’s GDP per capita was USD 10,000 — 2.2 times the national average, and first among the six central capitals

Future Sky City Skyscraper - apartments for 17,400 people and 104 elevators

This is follow up news about the tallest skyscraper project that is expected in Changsha from Broad Group.

Reach for the sky: the world's tallest buildings, once the 838-meter Sky City is completed, projected for January 2013.

The Wall Street Journal had some more details about the Sky City project.

Once it’s done, Sky City will boast 220 floors, 1 million square meters of floor space and 104 elevators, according to the preliminary plans. More than 80% of the floor area will be devoted to housing for 174,000 17,400 people, with a hotel, school, hospital, offices, shops and restaurants taking up the remainder. The building would use up 200,000 tones of steel and be able to accommodate as many as 31,400 people at any given time, Broad said, adding that the official plans will be released around August.

Note- the Wall Street Journal article incorrectly quoted Broad Group plans. They willl hold 17,400 people and not 174,000.

China pessimist Gordon Chang discusses his view of the politics of the Broad Group's Sky City project

Changsha, the capital of China’s Hunan province, has just granted approval for the world’s tallest building. On the fifth of this month, the Wangcheng district government signed a contract with Broad Group, a local firm, which promised to put up the 838-meter tower in seven months.

Seven months? If all goes according to plan, Tiankong Chengshi—Sky City—will be completed sometime next January.

Broad originally planned a 666-meter skyscrapper, but the local government wanted the world’s tallest. That’s a dead giveaway politics are distorting the economics of the project.

Voyager 1 Detecting Interstellar wind

Voyager 1 is detecting an increase in cosmic rays. This could be indicating it is crossing over into interstellar space. This crossover could take some time.

In 2011, NASA was indicating that Voyager is close to the edge of the solar system.

Scientists analyzing recent data from NASA's Voyager and Cassini spacecraft have calculated that Voyager 1 could cross over into the frontier of interstellar space at any time and much earlier than previously thought. The findings are detailed in this week's issue of the journal Nature.

The Voyager-1 spacecraft was launched on September 5, 1977 and subsequently encountered Jupiter on March 5, 1979 and Saturn on November 12, 1980.

The Voyager-2 spacecraft was launched on August 20, 1977 and subsequently encountered Jupiter on July 9, 1979; Saturn on August 25, 1981; Uranus on January 24, 1986, and Neptune on August 25, 1989.

Both space craft are now traveling out of the Solar System in the "termination shock" phase of their interstellar mission. The trajectory of Voyager-1 is taking it toward the nose of the Sun's heliosphere above the ecliptic while the trajectory of Voyager-2 is taking it toward the nose of the Sun's heliosphere below the ecliptic.

Voyager 1 crossed the termination shock on December 16, 2004, and Voyager 2 crossed on August 30, 2007, on their way to the heliopause and interstellar space.

Nature - Zero outward flow velocity for plasma in a heliosheath transition layer

June 18, 2012

Ukraine, India and UK on the verge of new nuclear investments

1. Ukraine could invest up to $25 billion by 2030 in the construction of new nuclear power facilities.

The country plans to build nuclear reactors with combined capacity of 5,000 MW by 2030, according to the basic scenario of a draft updated energy strategy posted on the Energy and Coal Ministry's website.

By the end of this year there are plans to make a decision at the legislative level to build third and fourth generating units at the Khmeltnytsky Nuclear Power Plant with combined capacity of 2,000 MW. They are to be launched in 2018 and 2020 respectively. The approximate cost is estimated at UAH42 billion.

The cost of building another 3,000 MW of new nuclear capacity is estimated at UAH96 billion. Construction is expected to begin in 2022, with the capacity coming on line in 2025-2030. However, the projects could be accelerated if demand for electricity grows.

Construction of new nuclear power capacity will require anywhere between UAH138 billion, according to the basic scenario, and UAH202 billion under the optimistic scenario, or $17.25 billion to $25.25 billion.

In addition, Ukraine plans to extend the life of eleven existing generating units at NPP by 20 years in the period to 2030. Ten generating units with combined capacity of 10,000 MW will reach the end of their service life in 2012-2019, and one more with capacity of 1,000 MW will come to the end of its service life in 2025.

Nuclear power generates 47-48% of Ukraine's electricity. All of the country's NPP are operated by state company NAEK Energoatom.

2. India and France are close to signing a deal regarding to establishing India's largest Nuclear Power plant that will generate 9,900 Mega Watt (MW) of electricity.

OLEDs are hitting their stride this year in all segments

EETimes - OLEDs are finally living up to their long-promised potential and the next few years will present plenty of opportunities for organic light emitting diode materials suppliers to break out of their niche, specialty status according to a new report by market research firm NanoMarkets.

The growth of Samsung's Galaxy smartphone products have exceeded iPhones in the first quarter of 2012. What's more OLED TVs from both LG and Samsung are entering the market this summer and fall, and other manufacturers are likely to follow in the near term.

OLED TV street price for 55 in. sets are expected to be $8,000 when launched in Q3’12, according to Paul Semenza, Senior Vice President at DisplaySearch. At a Society for Information Display presentation Semenza remarked that "by 2014, if the 55 in. OLED TV price can be reduced to $2,500, it will be similar to current high end 55 in. LCD TV.

Nth Degree Technologies - OLED Mass Printing Process

Air pollution damage and the full cost of Coal power and Natural Gas

1. Annals of the New York Academy of Science - Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal (2011)

Each stage in the life cycle of coal—extraction, transport, processing, and combustion—generates a waste stream and carries multiple hazards for health and the environment. These costs are external to the coal industry and are thus often considered “externalities.” We estimate that the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually. Many of these so-called externalities are, moreover, cumulative. Accounting for the damages conservatively doubles to triples the price of electricity from coal per kWh generated, making wind, solar, and other forms of nonfossil fuel power generation, along with investments in efficiency and electricity conservation methods, economically competitive. We focus on Appalachia, though coal is mined in other regions of the United States and is burned throughout the world.

Our comprehensive review finds that the best estimate for the total economically quantifiable costs, based on a conservative weighting of many of the study findings, amount to some $345.3 billion, adding close to 17.8¢/kWh of electricity generated from coal. The low estimate is $175 billion, or over 9¢/kWh, while the true monetizable costs could be as much as the upper bounds of $523.3 billion, adding close to 26.89¢/kWh. These and the more difficult to quantify externalities are borne by the general public.

Still these figures do not represent the full societal and environmental burden of coal. In quantifying the damages, we have omitted the impacts of toxic chemicals and heavy metals on ecological systems and diverse plants and animals; some ill-health endpoints (morbidity) aside from mortality related to air pollutants released through coal combustion that are still not captured; the direct risks and hazards posed by sludge, slurry, and CCW impoundments; the full contributions of nitrogen deposition to eutrophication of fresh and coastal sea water; the prolonged impacts of acid rain and acid mine drainage; many of the long-term impacts on the physical and mental health of those living in coal-field regions and nearby MTR sites; some of the health impacts and climate forcing due to increased tropospheric ozone formation; and the full assessment of impacts due to an increasingly unstable climate.

The true ecological and health costs of coal are thus far greater than the numbers suggest. Accounting for the many external costs over the life cycle for coal-derived electricity conservatively doubles to triples the price of coal per kWh of electricity generated.

2. DOE National Energy Technology Lab looks at the Life Cycle Analysis of a Natural Gas Combined Cycle plant (151 pages)

Natural gas costs about 9.3 cents per kwh including pollution costs but not including CO2. Including CO2 it is about 13 cents per kwh assuming that is safely captured and stored.

IBM Supercomputer in Germany Points the way to Water Cooled 3D chips for Desktop Supercomputers

IBM is developing energy-efficient run-time thermal control strategies to achieve energy-efficient cooling mechanisms to compress almost 1 Tera nano-sized functional units into one cubic centimeter with a 10 to 100 fold higher connectivity than otherwise possible. This will hopefully enable compact mobile supercomputers with the power of todays room sized systems in a desktop package in the 2017-2025 timeframe.

"The long-term vision of a zero emission data center we may eventually achieve a million fold reduction in the size of SuperMUC, so that it can be reduced to the size of a desktop computer with a much higher efficiency than today," said Dr. Bruno Michel, manager, Advanced Thermal Packaging, IBM Research.

SuperMUC combines its hot-water cooling capability, which removes heat 4,000 times more efficiently than air, with 18,000 energy-efficient Intel Xeon processors. In addition to helping with scientific discovery, the integration of hot-water cooling and IBM application-oriented, dynamic systems management software, allows energy to be captured and reused to heat the buildings during the Winter on the sprawling Leibniz Supercomputing Centre Campus, for savings of one million Euros ($1.25 million USD) per year.

There are flickr photos of the IBM SuperMUC


A new DARPA program seeks to cool chips, chip stacks from within

The continued miniaturization and the increased density of components in today’s electronics have pushed heat generation and power dissipation to unprecedented levels. Current thermal management solutions, usually involving remote cooling, are unable to limit the temperature rise of today’s complex electronic components. Such remote cooling solutions, where heat must be conducted away from components before rejection to the air, add considerable weight and volume to electronic systems. The result is complex military systems that continue to grow in size and weight due to the inefficiencies of existing thermal management hardware.

Recent advances of the DARPA Thermal Management Technologies (TMT) program enable a paradigm shift—better thermal management. DARPA’s Intrachip/Interchip Enhanced Cooling (ICECool) program seeks to crack the thermal management barrier and overcome the limitations of remote cooling. ICECool will explore ‘embedded’ thermal management by bringing microfluidic cooling inside the substrate, chip or package by including thermal management in the earliest stages of electronics design.

Carnival of Space 254

Intel Reveals Spin-based Neuromorphic Chip Design with up to 300 times lower energy computation

Arxiv - Proposal For Neuromorphic Hardware Using Spin Devices (4 pages)

We present a design-scheme for ultra-low power neuromorphic hardware using emerging spin-devices. We propose device models for ‘neuron’, based on lateral spin valves that constitute of nano-magnets connected through metal-channels. Such magneto-metallic neurons can operate at ultra-low terminal voltage of ~20 mV, resulting in small computation energy. Use of domain wall magnets as programmable ‘synapse’ and as ‘integrating-neurons’ is proposed. Magnetic tunnel junctions are employed for interfacing the spin-neurons with charge-based devices like CMOS, for large-scale networks. Device-circuit co-simulation-framework is used for simulating such hybrid designs, in order to evaluate system-level performance. We present the design of different classes of neuromorphic architectures using the proposed scheme that can be suitable for different applications like, analog-data-sensing, data-conversion, cognitive-computing, associative memory, programmable-logic and analog and digital signal processing. We show that the spin-based neuromorphic designs can achieve 15X-300X lower computation energy for these applications, as compared to state of art CMOS designs.

(a) On sensor image processing architecture (b) SAR-ADC using spintronic neuron, and simulation results for (c) edge-detection, (d) half-toning, and (e) digitization (using spin-CMOS hybrid SAR-ADC : lowering ΔV increases % noise and hence degrades accuracy)

Neuromorphic chips are item 5 in my list of mundane singularity technologies.

By the end of 2012, there will likely be integrated one square neuromorphic chips with about ~10 billion synapses and ~1 million neurons. This work is in the DARPA Synapse project. In 2015, the neuromorphic chips are targeted to have 100 times more capability. The military is developing neuromorphic chips for autonomous, unmanned, robotic systems and natural human-machine interfaces and diverse sensory and information integration applications in the defense and civilian sector.

Technology Review - Intel's goal is to build chips that work more like the human brain. Now its engineers think they know how.

United States Regains Supercomputer Crown with 16.32 Petaflop IBM Sequoia

Top500 - For the first time since November 2009, a United States supercomputer sits atop the TOP500 list of the world’s top supercomputers. Named Sequoia, the IBM BlueGene/Q system installed at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory achieved an impressive 16.32 petaflop/s on the Linpack benchmark using 1,572,864 cores.

Fujitsu’s “K Computer” installed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe, Japan, is now the No. 2 system with 10.51 Pflop/s on the Linpack benchmark using 705,024 SPARC64 processing cores. The K Computer held the No. 1 spot on the previous two lists.

The new Mira supercomputer, an IBM BlueGene/Q system at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, debuted at No. 3, with 8.15 petaflop/s on the Linpack benchmark using 786,432 cores. The other U.S. system in the Top 10 is the upgraded Jaguar at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, which was the top U.S. system on the previous list and now clocks in at No. 6.

Rank  Site                 Computer
1     DOE/NNSA/LLNL USA    Sequoia - BlueGene/Q, Power BQC 16C 1.60 GHz,
2     RIKEN Japan          K computer, SPARC64 VIIIfx 2.0GHz, Fujitsu
3     DOE/SC/Argonne USA   Mira - BlueGene/Q, Power BQC 16C 1.60GHz
4     Leibniz Germany      SuperMUC - iDataPlex DX360M4, Xeon E5-2680 8C 2.70GHz
5     Tianjin China        Tianhe-1A - NUDT YH MPP, Xeon X5670 6C 2.93 GHz, NVIDIA 2050
6     DOE/Oak Ridge USA    Jaguar - Cray XK6, Opteron 6274 16C 2.200GHz, Cray Gemini interconnect, NVIDIA 2090 Cray Inc.
7       CINECA Italy       Fermi - BlueGene/Q, Power BQC 16C 1.60GHz, Custom
8     Juelich Germany      JuQUEEN - BlueGene/Q, Power BQC 16C 1.60GHz, Custom
9     CEA France           Curie thin nodes - Bullx B510, Xeon E5-2680 8C 2.700GHz, Infiniband QDR Bull
10    Shenzhen China       Nebulae - Dawning TC3600 Blade System, Xeon X5650 6C 2.66GHz, Infiniband QDR, NVIDIA 2050 Dawning

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