June 30, 2012

Living Without Breathing: Scientists Keep Rabbits Alive With Oxygen Injections

Rabbits with completely blocked windpipes were able to stay alive for up to 15 minutes without a single breath after researchers injected tiny oxygen-filled microparticles into the animals' blood stream, in a "potential breakthrough" that may help save many lives in the emergency room.

Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital have come up with a way to bypass the lungs and deliver oxygen to the bloodstream of patients who cannot or have stopped breathing by using injectable oxygen.

Patients who stop breathing, may it be from an obstruction in their airway or acute lung failure, need another way to get oxygen to their blood fast or risk going into cardiac arrest or serious brain injury. Scientists believe that the new technique has the potential to hold off injuries like cardiac arrest, brain injury and cerebral palsy induced by oxygen deprivation.

Science Translational Medicine - Oxygen Gas–Filled Microparticles Provide Intravenous Oxygen Delivery

Stanford researchers synthesize printable, electrically conductive gel

Stanford researchers have invented an electrically conductive gel that is quick and easy to make, can be patterned onto surfaces with an inkjet printer and demonstrates unprecedented electrical performance. The Jell-O-like material may have applications in areas as widespread as energy storage, medical sensors and biofuel cells. It is a kind of conducting hydrogel – a jelly that feels and behaves like biological tissues, but conducts electricity like a metal or semiconductor.

PNAS - Hierarchical nanostructured conducting polymer hydrogel with high electrochemical activity

Solutions for Ocean Acidification

Ocean acidification is the name given to the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. About a quarter of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere goes into the oceans, where it forms carbonic acid.

As the amount of carbon has risen in the atmosphere there has been a corresponding rise of carbon going into the ocean. Between 1751 and 1994 surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.25 to 8.14, representing an increase of almost 30% in "acidity" (H+ ion concentration) in the world's ocean.

Iron Hypothesis
The Iron Hypothesis has been proven to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It works by adding finely ground iron into the ocean which stimulates photosynthesis in phytoplanktons. The phytoplankton converts the ocean’s dissolved carbon dioxide into carbohydrate and oxygen gas. In 1993 John Martin and his associates spread a soluble solution of finely ground iron into a small patch of ocean near the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Their results, along with a dozen other open-sea experiments confirmed that adding iron to the ocean increases photosynthesis in phytoplankton by up to 30 times.

Issues the scientist face includes producing the finely ground iron, dispersing the iron into the sea and increasing the iron solution’s shelf-life. The amount of soluble iron dispersed into the ocean needs to be closely monitored. Algae can bloom from the excess oxygen generated by the phytoplankton and possibly suffocate the marine life below. And when the algae die, their bodies dump massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the ocean all at once, harming calcareous sponges.

A Clearer View of Big Technology Impact

The first half of 2012 has solidification of what will be big impacts on day to day life for many people in the world over the period of 2013 to 2020.

I have made and track a list of technologies in what I call the Mundane Singularity. At the end of 2011, I had indicated what I thought the impact would be up to the end of 2016. I also projected a general outline out for 30 years.

Robotics will be a lot more capable and more common

There appears to be an increasing wave of major investment in robotics. Apple, Foxconn, Canon and other companies are investing many billions for the next generation of industrial robotics.

The near micron precision of the soon to be available 3D Leap Motion controller will revolutionize the surrounding awareness of robotics.

With higher resolution camera sensors the leap motion controller can mapout workspaces with hundreds of cubic feet.

There has also been the parallel use of many cheap camera sensors to form multi-gigapixel images. This is currently high cost. However, at the cost/resolution sweet spots for different camera sensors, we will be able to scale up resolution with linear cost increases. For example, if a megapixel sensor was available for $1 and the integration electronics could be added for $100. Then a gigapixel would cost $1100. A 100 megapixels would be about $200. The cost benefit sweet spot might shift to 5 megapixels for $1.50. Then a gigapixel would cost $400 (including the $100 electronics) and 100 megapixels would cost $130.

June 29, 2012

Sky City is not overcrowded according to Broad Groups Design Documents

A one page marketing document for the Sky City skyscraper has occupancy of 17,400 and not 174,000 There were previous reports that the occupancy would be 174,000 for the new 220 floor design. It is now clear that the 838 meter tall design is about half as thick as the old 666 meter design. The base is likely about 100 meters wide and deep instead 141 meters.

The building, with 220 floors (838 meters) and a construction area of 1 million square meters, is equipped with approximately 200,000 tons of steel and 104 elevators.

Sky City will work in close collaboration with architects and engineers of the Burj Khalifa and utilize BSB modular technology, a construction method which features 95% factory prefabrication at a five story per day construction speed.

Reviewing the previous design (666 meters tall, 1.6 million square meters, 200 floors), they had an occupancy level of 70,000 people. The new design is taller and thinner. (838 meters, 1 million square meters, 220 floors).

The old design for the first 120 floors had 6,690 apartments from 50 m2 (545 square feet) to 225 m2 (2368 square feet), for 30,000 inhibitors.

Bas Lansdorp wants to establish a Mars outpost by 2023

One of the main difficulties with any manned Mars mission that aims to land humans on the surface of Mars and return them to Earth is getting humans off of the surface of Mars. Mars has 40% Earth gravity, and overcoming such a gravity well would be problematic. But a European entrepreneur named Bas Lansdorp wants to send humans on a one-way trip to Mars, and to pay for it as a media event. If Mr. Lansdorp meets his goals, the first four settlers will arrive on Mars in 2023, and four more settlers will join them every two years. In an interview for Next Big Future with Sander Olson, Lansdorp discusses the Mars One project, and how he believes that the Mars One project could be done for $6 billion dollars and could eventually lead to a permanent manned presence on Mars.

Bas Lansdorp

Question: When and how did you conceive of the mars trip?

I came up with the project along with the cofounder, Arno Wielders. In early 2011, we began working on this project. About fifteen years ago, I came up with the idea of sending humans on a one-way trip to mars. But I couldn't think of a way to finance such a mission. But then Paul Romer, inventor of Big Brother, told us that we could finance this project by having it as a worldwide media event.

China Sky Cities Trying for Clean and Safe Versions of Judge Dredd's Stratoscapers and Megacities

China will be trying to make 200-700 story Sky City factory mass produced skyscrapers. These buildings will use less material (steel and concrete), be lower cost per square foot and will have other environmental and economic benefits.

From the Judge Dredd Comics there are the Stratoscrapers in Mega City One. They are described as often housing over 60,000 citizens and often reaching over 700 stories.

There is a video trailer for the new Dredd movie (2012 with Karl Urban)

The trailer for Dredd talks about 200 story buildings

Another screenshot from Dredd of Megacity One with scyscrapers towering over current buildings in the imagined future

The CEO of Broad Group Zhang Yue will be building a "Sky City" skyscraper which can fix many of the world's pollution, congestion, transportation and even disease problems by completely purifying the tower's air. The 838-meter-tall building (10 meters taller than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, currently the world's tallest) will hold schools, a hospital, 17 helipads and some 30,000 people. He has plans for a 2 kilometer (1.25 mile tall) 636 floor skyscraper.

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

Judge Dredd has a dystopian view of skyscrapers and megacities. However, Manhattan, Hong Kong and Singapore are relatively clean, safe, efficient and productive. The new Sky Cities will enable chinese cities to be far less dusty and to use cement and steel more efficiently.

Urban Development economic studies indicate that the higher density could enable a near doubling of per capita GDP.

Apple appears to be investing $5 billion in robots for Foxconn Factories

Seeking Alpha - Apple is about to become one of the world's biggest buyers of industrial robots. The company has announced a 78% increase in its non-retail capital expenditure to $7.1bn. Analysts in Asia and America believe that the size of Apple's robot purchases could tie up the market for several years. The increase is actually $5 billion. (78% of $7.1 billion).

Frank Tobe of the Robot Report and Everything Robotic provided this commentary.

Apple and Foxconn have yet to confirm Seeking Alphaª's report which said Apple plans to invest up to $7 billion in robots and place them in Foxconn factories.

As I see it, this is an important story for at least three reasons:

Exclusivity - a strategic move on Apple's part to tie up a huge chunk of global robot and electronics production and stay ahead of the competition.

Forward thinking - by investing so much in robotics at this point in time, Apple retains it's leadership in manufacturing technology and product quality for the next few years.

Productivity - by deploying robots to do the dull, dirty and dangerous tasks previously done by low-paid humans, Apple will be improving not only it's image, but also work conditions, product quality, and worker efficiency.

No mention was made of Foxconn's launch last year of its own robot R&D and manufacturing facilities in Taiwan. Will Apple's investment supplement Foxconn's activity ?

High Resolution Radar can track Individual Raindrops from over 1 mile away

US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) scientists are leading a multi-agency study which reveals that a very high-resolution Doppler radar has the unique capacity to detect individual cloud hydrometeors in the free atmosphere. This study will improve scientists' understanding of the dynamics and structure of cloud systems.

This Doppler radar was previously used to track small debris shed from the NASA space shuttle missions during launch. Similar to the traces left behind on film by sub-atomic particles, researchers observed larger cloud particles leaving well-defined, nearly linear, radar reflectivity "streaks" which could be analyzed to infer their underlying properties. Scientists could detect the individual particles because of a combination of the radar's 3 Megawatt power, narrow 0.22 degree beamwidth, and an unprecedented range resolution as fine as 0.5 meters. This combination of radar attributes allows researchers to sample a volume of cloud about the size of a small bus (roughly 14 m3) when operating at a range of 2 km. With such small pulse volumes, it becomes possible to measure the properties of individual raindrops greater than 0.5mm in diameter due to the low concentration of such drops in naturally occurring cloud systems and the overwhelming dominance such drops have on the measured radar reflectivity when present in a field comprised of smaller particles.

The image was obtained as a deep convective cloud system passed over the vertically pointed radar on August 27, 2010. The image displays a time-height plot of both the bulk radar structure obtained from the MCR's lower resolution (37m range resolution) waveform (inset) as well as the peculiar, nearly linear sloping radar reflectivity features (or "streaks") determined to have been generated by individual raindrops as they traversed the higher resolution (0.5m range resolution) radar beam. The bulk radar structure revealed in the inset shows that the higher reflectivity values (warmer colors) resulted from a high concentration of larger ice particles generated aloft (top of the image) which then settled through the melting layer and contributed to the population of individual raindrops observed in the lower portion of the cloud by the MCR's high-resolution waveform. The location of the higher-resolution radar streak observations is denoted by the small orange box depicted in the lower-left portion of the inset. The small colored circles within the inset show the locations of the research aircraft while it was obtaining in situ cloud measurements over the radar just below the melting level. The left-to-right downward sloping streaks evident in the outer image indicate the movement of particles toward the earth's surface. The along-streak reflectivity values, measured Doppler phase shift, and slope can be exploited to determine the concentration, size, velocity (or other properties) of the individual cloud particles, as depicted graphically for an isolated streak with the labeled white lines. Note that the vertical scale of the inset (ordinate) represents a range of approximately 5.5 km while that of the streak image is 63m. The time scale of the inset (abscissa) represents approximately 21 minutes of elapsed time while that of the streak image is roughly 25 seconds. This image was created from the raw MCR data by Dr. Jerome Schmidt and placed in final form using Adobe Photoshop with the assistance of Ms. Cynthia Karengin (NRL)

Ultrafast nickel-iron battery with a Graphene Boost

The Stanford team has created an ultrafast nickel-iron battery that can be fully charged in about 2 minutes and discharged in less than 30 seconds. The team managed to increase the charging and discharging rate by nearly 1,000 times. Edison created the nickel-iron battery as an inexpensive alternative to corrosive lead-acid batteries. Its basic design consists of two electrodes – a cathode made of nickel and an anode made of iron – bathed in an alkaline solution.

To improve the Edison battery's performance, the Stanford team used graphene – nanosized sheets of carbon that are only 1-atom thick – and multi-walled carbon nanotubes, each consisting of about 10 concentric graphene sheets rolled together.

"In conventional electrodes, people randomly mix iron and nickel materials with conductive carbon," Wang explained. "Instead, we grew nanocrystals of iron oxide onto graphene, and nanocrystals of nickel hydroxide onto carbon nanotubes."

Schematic drawing of the ultra-Ni–Fe battery made from inorganic/carbon hybrid materials. A Ni(OH)2/MWNT hybrid was used as the cathode and a FeOx/graphene hybrid was used as the anode. 1 M aqueous KOH solution was used as the electrolyte. On charging, Ni(OH)2/MWNT and FeOx/graphene were converted to NiOOH/MWNT and Fe/graphene

Nature Communications - An ultrafast nickel–iron battery from strongly coupled inorganic nanoparticle/nanocarbon hybrid materials

June 28, 2012

New sea and air delivery systems to enable direct support to disaster zones from offshore container ships

DARPA’s Tactically Expandable Maritime Platform (TEMP) program has completed the design of innovative technologies to transform commercial container ships into self-contained floating supply bases during disaster relief operations, without needing port infrastructure. The program envisions a container ship anchoring offshore of a disaster area, and the ship’s crew delivering supplies ashore using DARPA-developed, modular on-board cranes and air- and sea-delivery vehicles.

DARPA recently completed the first phase of the program, which developed four key modular systems, all of which are transportable using standard 20-foot or 40-foot commercial shipping containers.

After Factory Production of the World's Tallest Building there will be one three times taller

CEO of Broad Group Zhang Yue, 52, says the "Sky City" skyscraper can fix many of the world's pollution, congestion, transportation and even disease problems by completely purifying the tower's air. The 838-meter-tall building (10 meters taller than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, currently the world's tallest) will hold schools, a hospital, 17 helipads and some 30,000 people. It will, indeed, be a city in the sky.

Pinned up on his office wall are plans for a two kilometers (1.25 miles) high building. When asked to estimate the odds of this 636-floor skyscraper ever being built, Zhang responds without hesitation, "One hundred percent! Some say that it's sensationalism to construct such a tall building. That's not so. Land shortages are already a grave problem. There's also the very serious transportation issue. We must bring cities together and stretch for the sky in order to save cities and save the Earth. We must eliminate most traffic, traffic that has no value! And we must reduce our dependency on roads and transportation."

The prefabricating building-floor slabs with pipes and wires built in, are ready to be connected once modules are in place. The buildings go up much faster, and with only 1 percent of materials discarded as waste.

Last December, Broad Sustainable Building, his construction unit, erected a 30-story hotel in Hunan province in just 15 days.

Zhang next plans a 50-story building, and perhaps a couple more with 30 floors, while he drums up funding for Sky City 220. He's also hoping to set up franchises so such buildings can go up anywhere; he has seven in China so far, and is aiming for 150 around the world.

Here is a translation of a groundbreaking for another new factory with one of Broad Groups franchisees.

Private Space Telescope will scan for dangerous asteroids

The B612 Foundation has unveiled its plans to build, launch, and operate the first privately funded deep space mission – SENTINEL – a space telescope to be placed in orbit around the Sun, ranging up to 170 million miles from Earth, for a mission of discovery and mapping. The Foundation leadership and technical team include some of the most experienced professionals in the world to lead this effort.

A new infrared space telescope will be put into solar orbit, up to 170 million miles from earth. It will protect humanity, map the inner solar system and enable exploration.

Spray on Paintable Batteries and Spray on Solar Power for Windows

1. Researchers at Rice University have developed a lithium-ion battery that can be painted on virtually any surface.

The rechargeable battery created in the lab of Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan consists of spray-painted layers, each representing the components in a traditional battery. The research appears today in Nature’s online, open-access journal Scientific Reports. Technique could turn any surface into a lithium-ion battery; may be combined with solar cells.

Scientific Reports - Paintable Batteries

Paintable Battery concept - (a) Simplified view of a conventional Li-ion battery, a multilayer device assembled by tightly wound ‘jellyroll’ sandwich of anode-separator-cathode layers. (b) Direct fabrication of Li-ion battery on the surface of interest by sequentiall

First 3D Nanoscale Optical Cavities from Metamaterials

3D Nanoscale optical cavities from Berkeley Lab should enable better Nanolasers, LEDs, Optical Sensors and Photonic Communications.

The world’s smallest three-dimensional optical cavities with the potential to generate the world’s most intense nanolaser beams have been created by a scientific team led by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley. In addition to nanolasers, these unique optical cavities with their extraordinary electromagnetic properties should be applicable to a broad range of other technologies, including LEDs, optical sensing, nonlinear optics, quantum optics and photonic integrated circuits.

This schematic shows (a) an indefinite metamaterial structure with alternating silver and germanium multilayers; and (b) its iso-frequency contour of light wave vectors with negative refractions along the x- and y-directions, and positive along the z-direction. (Courtesy of Xiang Zhang group)

Understanding What’s Up With the Higgs Boson

Lawrence Berkeley Labs - CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, will hold a seminar early in the morning on July 4 to announce the latest results from ATLAS and CMS, two major experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that are searching for the Higgs boson. Both experimental teams are working down to the wire to finish analyzing their data, and to determine exactly what can be said about what they’ve found.

Confirming that there is something at say the 125 GeV area to 5 standard deviations will just be the beginning. In particle physics the standard for discovery is 5 standard deviations above background. They then have to figure out exactly what is going on and how that particle is decaying.

Last December, not long after the LHC had shut down for the winter, ATLAS and CMS both reported slight excesses over background of two kinds of signals consistent with the expected signature of a Higgs boson. The LHC started running again at a higher energy this spring, and, says Hinchliffe, “In that short time we’ve already doubled the data. But even if both experiments were to confirm what they saw last year with new data, no one can be certain that it is the Higgs.”

Why can’t they know? And what’s a Higgs boson anyway?

Space-time crystals of trapped ions

Arxiv - Space-time crystals of trapped ions (6 pages)

One of the basic properties of spatial crystals is that they form when a system drops to its lowest possible energy state. They are not the result of adding energy to a system, but of taking it away. All of it.

Another basic property is that when these objects reach their lowest energy configuration, their symmetry breaks down. Instead of being the same in all directions, like the laws of physics, these objects become the same in only a few directions. It is this symmetry-breaking and the periodic structure it produces that defines crystals.

Wilczek and Shapere persuasively argued that there's no reason why similar periodic structures couldn't exist in time. And they said that finding them would give physicists a new way to study the process of symmetry-breaking and the laws of physics behind it.

Researchers say they know how to create an object in its lowest energy state that shows periodic structure both in space and time--a space-time crystal.

Their idea is remarkably simple. Their space-time crystal consists of a cloud of beryllium ions trapped in an circular electromagnetic field. The ions naturally repel each other and so spontaneously form a circle. That's a type of spatial ionic crystal, something physicists have played with for years.

June 27, 2012

China and the USA partner for molten salt thorium reactor project and India plans a Thorium Reactor

1. The U.S. Department of Energy is quietly collaborating with China on an alternative nuclear power design known as a molten salt reactor that could run on thorium fuel.

China plans to have a 5 megawatt molten salt reactor in 2015.

DOE’s assistant secretary for nuclear energy Peter Lyons is co-chairing the partnership’s executive committee, along with Jiang Mianheng from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), according to a March presentation by CAS on thorium molten salt reactors. Beijing-based CAS is a state group overseeing about 100 research institutes. It and the DOE have established what CAS calls the “CAS and DOE Nuclear Energy Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding.”

Outside of the DOE, at least three companies in the West are privately developing thorium reactors: Flibe Energy, Huntsville, Ala, which has dusted off 1960s ORNL technology; Thorenco, San Francisco; and Ottawa Valley Research, Ottawa. Baroness Bryony Worthington of the UK House of Lords has emerged as the West’s political champion for thorium. India, home to huge reserves of thorium, also has ambitious plans. Japanese utility Chubu Electric is considering it.

2. India Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairman R K Sinha said - India is planning to establish a nuclear power plant that uses thorium as main fuel instead of uranium, which is used in conventional reactors.

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics makes progress on science and soon should have big experimental improvements

Here is a 6 page progress report on the Dense Plasma Focus fusion work at Lawrenceville Plasma Physics (LPP)

Every doubling of current means 30 times power. So some relatively simple modifications which are being developed should boost power levels by 300 times.

Total elimination of arcing, which they are working on now, may drop the resistance to as low as 2 mOhms.

Full power, shorter electrodes, and our existing switches, FF-1 will produce over 2.3 MA, over twice our current output.

New, faster switches now under design for LPP by Raytheon will get us the rest of the way to our goal of 2.8 MA.

In May, 2012, the LPP plan for the next 12 months was laid out.

Wages for Executives, Managers and Professionals in China are Near US levels

Forbes - Based on 2011 salaries, some Chinese workers are earning as much as their American counterparts.

Position                             Annual Salary (US$)

Engineering supervisor                25,000 – 42,000
General manager                      130,000 – 330,000
R and D director                     100,000 – 167,000
Procurement director                  67,000 – 150,000
Quality director                      67,000 – 150,000
Chief technology officer             167,000 – 330,000
Marketing director                   100,000 – 130,000
PR/communications manager             34,000 – 67,000
Regional sales manager                67,000 – 100,000

Source: Hays 2012 Salary Guide – Asia

Of course, most Chinese do not have professional jobs, and minimum wage and social safety net comparisons to the U.S. are dismal. The federal minimum wage level in the U.S. is $7.25 per hour. A 40 hour work week means $290 a week gross for the lowest full-time workers in America. In Shenzhen and Shanghai, two of the highest earning cities in China, minimum wage is $238 and $230, respectively…per month.
There is 25 page salary survey from Gemini. It quotes monthly salary ranges by position in RMB.

High Speed Robotic Vision Enables a Robotic Hand to Always beat Humans at Rock, Paper Scissors

IEEE Spectrum - A robot (from the Ishikawa Oku Lab at the University of Toyko) is unbeatable at rock, paper scissors. It's one of those high speed hands that works with a high speed vision system. And when we say 'high speed,' we mean fast enough that you can't really tell that the robot is cheating.

It only takes a single millisecond for the robot to recognize what shape your hand is in, and just a few more for it to make the shape that beats you.

Ishikawa Oku Lab website

New Leap Motion Controller Video

Technology Review - Leap Motion will launch a $70 superaccurate gesture control system that simply plugs into any computer and, apparently, just works. If you've seen the gesture interfaces in Minority Report, you know what it does. More importantly, if you're familiar with the touch modality -- and at this point, most of us are -- the interface is entirely intuitive.

Verge has the technical details on the Leap Motion Controller

The Leap uses a number of camera sensors to map out a workspace of sorts — it's a 3D space in which you operate as you normally would, with almost none of the Kinect's angle and distance restrictions. Currently the Leap uses VGA camera sensors, and the workspace is about three cubic feet; Holz told us that bigger, better sensors are the only thing required to make that number more like thirty feet, or three hundred. Leap's device tracks all movement inside its force field, and is remarkably accurate, down to 0.01mm. It tracks your fingers individually, and knows the difference between your fingers and the pencil you're holding between two of them.

Google Glasses can only be bought at I/O Developers conference

CNN Money - Google's science-fiction-like virtual reality glasses will start shipping next year with a price tag of $1,500 -- but most buyers won't be able to get their hands on a pair just yet.

The under-development glasses, a stealth project hatched in the company's mysterious Google X lab, are still buggy, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said Wednesday at Google's I/O developer conference. Google also faces regulatory hurdles that prevent the glasses from being shipped anywhere but the United States.

So for now, only U.S.-based attendees of this week's I/O developers conference will be eligible to buy the "Google Glass Explorer Edition." Those who want the glasses can pre-order today and will get the gadget early next year.

Theoretical M-Carbon matched to Superhard compressed Graphite

Researchers used a novel computational method to demonstrate that the properties of what had previously been thought to be only a hypothetical structure of a superhard form of carbon called “M-carbon” – constructed by Oganov in 2006 – matched perfectly the experimental data on “superhard graphite.” M-carbon is almost as hard as diamond.

Another result of this study is a set of detailed mechanisms of formation of several potential carbon allotropes. These could be used to engineer ways of their synthesis for potential technological applications.

“We don't know yet which applications M-carbon will find, but most forms of carbon did manage to find revolutionary applications, and this amazing material might do so as well,” said Oganov.

The story of yet another form of carbon started in 1963, when Aust and Drickamer compressed graphite at room temperature. High-temperature compression of graphite is known to produce diamond, but at room temperature an unknown form of carbon was produced. This new form, like diamond, was transparent and superhard - but its other properties were inconsistent with diamond or other known forms of carbon.

"The experiment itself is simple and striking: you compress black ultrasoft graphite, and then it suddenly turns into a colorless, transparent, superhard and mysterious new form of carbon – ‘superhard graphite,’” said Oganov. “The experiment was repeated several times since, and the result was the same, but no convincing structural model was produced, due to the low resolution of experimental data.”

The new work confirms that experiments produced M-carbon, which has a known structure.

Jerry Pournelle linked to a Nextbigfuture article by Joseph Friedlander

Jerry Pournelle linked to an article by Joseph Friedlander from Chaos Manor

Jerry Pournelle said -

There is a long bit on McNamara and the Strategy of Technology http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/05/where-did-future-go-strategy-of.html which will be worth the attention of those interested in those subjects.

The article is - Where did the future go-- The Strategy of Technology and The Space Race, McNamara and LBJ and the Lost Future of 2001.

Abstract of the article- Robert McNamara killed X-plane experimentation. Technological development needs a lot of trial and error with rapid build and test and modify iterations. By removing rapid development cycles the cost of technology has increased and the pace of technology has slowed. This has become a fundamental flaw in many US technology development programs. There is a lot of links and extracts from Freeman Dyson and Jerry Pournelle about the flaws in Technology Development policy which are traced back to what McNamara did.

wikipedia - Jerry Eugene Pournelle (born August 7, 1933) is an American science fiction writer, essayist and journalist who contributed for many years to the computer magazine Byte.

Since 1998, Pournelle has maintained a website with a daily online journal, "View from Chaos Manor", a blog dating from before the use of that term. This is a continuation of his 1980s blog-like online journal on GEnie. He says he resists using the term blog because he considers the word ugly and because he maintains that his "View" is primarily a vehicle for writing rather than a collection of links.

Google Nexus 7 and Nexus Q announced at Google IO

The Google IO conference has had the announcement of the $199 Google Nexus 7 tablet and the Nexus Q for $299. They are also showing off the google glasses. Google's Nexus Q is a streaming media player. Nexus 7 is a 7 inch tablet.

Android 4.1, Jelly Bean was announced as well.

Android has crossed 400 million activations.

20 billion apps have been downloaded from Google Play.

Nexus 7

The 7-inch tablet will come pre-loaded with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google's latest operating system. Available in black or white, an 8GB version will be priced at $199, with 16GB for $249. A quad-core Tegra 3 processor, 1280 x 800 IPS display, 1.2-megapixel camera, 1GB of RAM, and a 4,325mAh battery. It is made by ASUS.

Nexus Q Social Streaming Media Appliance

The Verge -The Nexus Q, an audio and video streaming appliance for users at home. It's a cloud-oriented device, designed to pull media from the Google Play Store as well as YouTube. The Q delivers the media to your television or a set of external speakers — it features a 25-watt amplifier as well — and is powered by the same chipset as the Galaxy Nexus. It features ethernet, Bluetooth, and NFC connectivity, and owners will be able to use their Android devices to control the streamer. Optical audio and micro-HDMI output are included, and the device also features banana-style connectors for connecting speakers.
Nexus Q (social Streaming Media Appliance) is shaped like a black sphere

Multiple Qs can be controlled from a given Android device, turning it into a multi-room solution, but the big selling point here is the social aspect. Different users can add music from their own Google Play music collection to the Q's queue, turning it into a clever option for parties or group events

VoiceTra4U-M will translate 31 languages and is Ready for the London Olympics

U-Star is a spinoff from the Singapore government A*Star research institute. U-Star has a translation application. The Universal Speech Translation Advanced Research Consortium is an international research consortium conducting research and development on a network-based speech-to-speech translation (S2ST) system, with the aim of breaking the language barriers of the world. U-STAR are implemented with ITU-T standardization protocols, F.745 and H.625.
This application is the multi-device application "VoiceTra4U-M." It helps multiple users (up to 5) communicate in different languages, in real time either face to face or remotely.

The application contributes to breaking the barriers of modalities other than language as well. For instance, it helps users to communicate with the visually-impaired via spoken word, or with the hearing-impaired via text input.

This application mainly targets the field of travel-related conversations in airports, hotels, shops, or restaurants. The application covers 31 languages. (See below for the list of the Languages)

U-STAR has also initially focused on translating words and phrase related to tourism, making it 80 to 90 per cent accurate versus Google's 40 to 60 per cent accuracy - though of course, this accuracy falls if you want to discuss a topic not covered by the app.

The app will soon be available for free from the App Store and U-STAR hopes that tourists visiting the UK will use it during the Olympics, allowing the researchers to gather experimental data and improve the service.

India Nuclear Reactor Project News Roundup

1. Business Standard - Work on additional two 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor units at BHAVINI at Kalpakkam, India would commence by 2015

Kumar said around Rs 2500 crore has been spent so far on the project, which began in 2009.

He replied in the affirmative when asked whether they have to raise funds for the additional 2x500 MW projects.

"Approximately, I will say, we will be raising funds of Rs 1000 crore", he said and added that they planned to begin construction for the two plants by 2015.

1200 Megawatt fast reactor approved for Beloyarsk

World Nuclear News - The government of the Sverdlovsk region of Russia has approved the construction of the country's first BN-1200 fast reactor at the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant. The unit will be built to replace the existing smaller BN-600 reactor at the plant, which is scheduled to be shut down by 2020.

The government said that the planned 1200 MWe unit will produce around 9 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually and help avoid the emission of "millions of tonnes" of carbon dioxide. In addition, it would completely remove the region's need to import fossil fuels. With a 60-year operating life, the reactor is expected to have an annual capacity factor of at least 90%.

The technical design of the BN-1200 is scheduled for completion by 2013, while the manufacture of equipment will start in 2014. Construction of the Beloyarsk unit is set to begin in 2015.

Harvard Study Predicts World Oil Production at 110 million barrel per day in 2020

Oil: The Next Revolution, The Unprecedented Upsurge of Oil Production Capacity and What it means for the World. (86 pages) The figure is an all oil liquids prediction (which includes crude oil, natural gas liquids, biofuels etc...).

The natural endowment of the initial American shale play, Bakken/Three Forks (a tight oil formation) in North Dakota and Montana, could become a big Persian Gulf producing country within the United States. But the country has more than twenty big shale oil formations, especially the Eagle Ford Shale, where the recent boom is revealing a hydrocarbon endowment comparable to that of the Bakken Shale. Most of U.S. shale and tight oil are profitable at a price of oil (WTI) ranging from $50 to $65 per barrel, thus making them sufficiently resilient to a significant downturn of oil prices.

The combined additional, unrestricted liquid production from the aggregate shale/tight oil formations examined in this paper could reach 6.6 mbd by 2020, in addition to another 1 mbd of new conventional production. However, there remain obstacles that could significantly reduce the U.S. shale output: among them, the inadequate U.S. oil transportation system, the country’s refining structure, the amount of associated natural gas produced with shale oil, and environmental doubts about hydraulic fracturing, one of the key technologies for extracting oil from shale. After considering risk factors and the depletion of currently producing oilfields, the U.S. could see its production capacity increase by 3.5 mbd. Thus, the U.S. could produce 11.6 mbd of crude oil and NGLs by 2020, making the country the second largest oil producer in the world after Saudi Arabia. Adding biofuels to this figure, the overall U.S. liquid capacity could exceed 13 mbd, representing about 65 percent of its current consumption.

The analysis in this paper is subject to a significant margin of error, depending on several circumstances that extend beyond the risks in each project or country. In particular, a new worldwide recession, a drastic retraction of the Chinese economy, or a sudden resolution of the major political tensions affecting a big oil producer could trigger a major downturn or even a collapse of the price of oil, i.e. a fall of oil prices below $70 per barrel (Brent crude).

June 26, 2012

Status of Lab Grown Organs

ABC News - Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, currently heads up more than 300 researchers in the Wake Forest University lab who are working on growing more than 30 different organs and body tissues.

Currently, scientists are able to create some types of tissues for human transplant use. The simplest kind are flat, simple structures such as skin that consist of one cell type. Tubular structures that involve two cell types, such as blood vessels, are also possible using current techniques and technology. Most recently, scientists have been able to create hollow organs, like the stomach and bladder, that only require two cell types but have a more complex shape.

What still lies out of reach are the solid organs, such as the liver or kidneys.

Cutting the Cost of Micro- and Nanomanufacturing

With a new manufacturing technology, researchers at KTH Microsystem Technology hope to bring mass innovation capabilities to smaller companies and markets — just as affordable computers have dramatically increased innovation in information technology.

Production of silicon micro- and nanosensors with today’s technologies requires a full-scale clean-room laboratory costing millions of euros – facilities that few organisations can afford. What’s more, integrated-circuit manufacturing technologies used in sensor production are highly standardised processes, optimised for extremely large production volumes of hundreds of millions of devices per year. These sensors, known as Micro Electromechanical Systems (MEMS), are engineered from thin slices of silicon, the same material used to manufacture integrated circuits and other micro-sized electronic devices.

Researchers at KTH Microsystem Technology have demonstrated a manufacturing concept that could pave the way toward simple, inexpensive “printing” of 3D silicon structures

Schematic of the 3D printing process and an image of a manufactured microstructure

Advanced Functional Materials - 3D Free-Form Patterning of Silicon by Ion Implantation, Silicon Deposition, and Selective Silicon Etching

Google Will have twice the Research and Development Budget of DARPA in 2012

Google research budget will be twice as large as DARPA in 2012

Google will be spending about $6 billion on research and development in 2012

Google reported revenues of $10.65 billion for the first quarter which ended March 31, 2012, an increase of 24% compared to the first quarter of 2011 ($8.58 billion). But minus traffic acquisition costs, Google pulled in $8.14 billion in revenue. Google spent about $1.5 billion on research and development. Google spent about 18% of revenue (after traffic acquisition) on research and development.

In the last quarter of 2011, top US public companies for R&D spending were:

Microsoft $2.517 billion
Intel $2.401 billion
IBM $1.6 billion
Google $1.44 billion
Oracle $1.226 billion
Apple $842 million

Darpa has an annual budget of about $3.2 billion which is a quarterly budget of $800 million.

Microsoft and Intel are each over three times the R&D budget of DARPA.
I expect Google to increase its R&D to match its 24% growth. This should put Google ahead of IBM in R&D spending in 2012. If Google is able to maintain growth then in 2014 it could have the largest R&D spending.

Intel, IBM and Microsoft have had relatively little revenue growth. Microsoft did have about 4.5-6% revenue growth in its first quarter. Intel and IBM have had flat revenue.

Internet advertising is still projected to grow in the double digits each year.

Google develops Artificial Intelligence to identify a cat

NY Times- Inside Google’s secretive X laboratory, known for inventing self-driving cars and augmented reality glasses, a small group of researchers began working several years ago on a simulation of the human brain. Google scientists created one of the largest neural networks for machine learning by connecting 16,000 computer processors, which they turned loose on the Internet to learn on its own.

The neural network taught itself to recognize cats, which is actually no frivolous activity. This week the researchers will present the results of their work at a conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The Google research team, led by the Stanford University computer scientist Andrew Y. Ng and the Google fellow Jeff Dean, used an array of 16,000 processors to create a neural network with more than one billion connections. They then fed it random thumbnails of images, one each extracted from 10 million YouTube videos.

“It is worth noting that our network is still tiny compared to the human visual cortex, which is a million times larger in terms of the number of neurons and synapses,” the researchers wrote.

Despite being dwarfed by the immense scale of biological brains, the Google research provides new evidence that existing machine learning algorithms improve greatly as the machines are given access to large pools of data.

There is an estimate that Google had computational capacity of 40 petaflops at the beginning of 2012

Google Nexus 7 tablet

Computerworld - the expected price of the Google Nexus 7 tablet is $199, Google could be spending $130 to $210 for materials and manufacturing costs for each device, according to a preliminary estimate from IHS iSuppli. Google may announce the Nexus 7 at the start of its Google I/O conference tomorrow.

In general, a tablet's three biggest costs are the screen, the memory and the processor. Together, those three component might make up 60% to 70% of a tablet's costs, said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. A tablet's processor could cost $25 to $50

China passing the historic peak of the Soviet Union in terms of nominal GDP compared to the USA

At its peak the USSR was about 50% of the GDP of the USA. At the end of 2012, China, Hong Kong and Macau GDP will be about $8.3 trillion. The USA will have about $15.6 trillion. China will be about 53.2% of the US economy. China's nominal GDP compared to the USA is passing the peak level of the Soviet Union nominal GDP estimate compared to the USA.

Macau had 20.7% GDP growth in 2011, and is projected to have 18% in 2012 and 14.4% in 2013 Macau had GDP of $36.1 billion at the end of 2011. At the end of 2012 it would have 43 billion in GDP and 50 billion at the end of 2013.

China has 3 times as much GDP now than the combined countries that make up the old Soviet Union (if they were still unified.)

On a purchasing power parity basis China has 3.5 to 7 times the PPP GDP of the soviet union. China has 4.75 times as much population.

The Atlantic looked at historical World GDP shares for the last 2000 years.

The Daily Beast looked at China's economy compared to the Soviet Union.

Japan had a peak nominal GDP in 1995 (with a very strong yen) of 71% of the US economy.

Rewriting Quantum Chips with a Beam of Light

The promise of ultrafast quantum computing has moved a step closer to reality with a technique to create rewritable computer chips using a beam of light. Researchers from The City College of New York (CCNY) and the University of California Berkeley (UCB) used light to control the spin of an atom’s nucleus in order to encode information.

Researchers have developed a technique to use laser light to pattern the alignment of “spin” within atoms so that the pattern can be rewritten on the fly. Such a technique may one day lead to rewritable spintronic circuits.

Digital electronics and conventional computing rely on translating electrical charges into the zeros and ones of binary code. A “spintronics” computer, on the other hand, would use the quantum property of electron spin, which enables the electron to store any number between zero and one.

Stray-field apparatus for imaging nuclear magnetism. The strong gradient in the stray field of a superconducting magnet provides the means for NMR imaging in one-dimension. Circularly polarized illumination is directed to the sample through an optical window on the sapphire sample support

Nature Communications - Optically rewritable patterns of nuclear magnetization in gallium arsenide

Spacex Merlin 1D Full Duration test firing and Orbital fires up the AJ-26 engine

Nasa Space Flight - SpaceX and Orbital both fired their new engines. SpaceX’s Merlin 1D rumbled for a full mission duration firing, while Orbital’s AJ-26 continued its testing ahead of its debut on their Antares launch vehicle

The Spacex Merlin D has improved performance. Thrust is increased from 95,000 lbf (sea level) to 140,000 lbf (sea level). Added throttle capability for range from 70-100 percent. Currently, it is necessary to shut off two engines during ascent. The Merlin 1D will make it possible to throttle all engines. Structure was removed from the engine to make it lighter.

The Merlin D has improved manufacturability. A simplified design is used lower cost manufacturing techniques. Reduced touch labor and parts count. Increased in-house production at SpaceX.

The engine firing was for 185 seconds with 147,000 pounds of thrust, the full duration and power required for a Falcon 9 rocket launch.

The extra power and multiple restart elements are major steps towards achieving the highly complex task of making Falcon 9 reusable, a vehicle known as F9r or Grasshopper.

Sugar Fuel cell for Powering Medical Implants and Brain Machine Interfaces

MIT engineers have developed a fuel cell that runs on the same sugar that powers human cells: glucose. This glucose fuel cell could be used to drive highly efficient brain implants of the future, which could help paralyzed patients move their arms and legs again.

The fuel cell, described in the June 12 edition of the journal PLoS ONE, strips electrons from glucose molecules to create a small electric current. The researchers, led by Rahul Sarpeshkar, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, fabricated the fuel cell on a silicon chip, allowing it to be integrated with other circuits that would be needed for a brain implant.

The new twist to the MIT fuel cell described in PLoS ONE is that it is fabricated from silicon, using the same technology used to make semiconductor electronic chips. The fuel cell has no biological components: It consists of a platinum catalyst that strips electrons from glucose, mimicking the activity of cellular enzymes that break down glucose to generate ATP, the cell’s energy currency. (Platinum has a proven record of long-term biocompatibility within the body.) So far, the fuel cell can generate up to hundreds of microwatts — enough to power an ultra-low-power and clinically useful neural implant.

“It will be a few more years into the future before you see people with spinal-cord injuries receive such implantable systems in the context of standard medical care, but those are the sorts of devices you could envision powering from a glucose-based fuel cell,” says Benjamin Rapoport, a former graduate student in the Sarpeshkar lab and the first author on the new MIT study.

Rapoport calculated that in theory, the glucose fuel cell could get all the sugar it needs from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that bathes the brain and protects it from banging into the skull.

Power Extraction from Cerebrospinal Fluid by an Implantable Glucose Fuel Cell. Conceptual schematic design for a system that harvests power from the cerebrospinal fluid, showing a plausible site of implantation within the subarachnoid space. The inset at right is a micrograph of one prototype, showing the metal layers of the anode (central electrode) and cathode contact (outer ring) patterned on a silicon wafer. Image Credit: Meninges and Vascular Anatomy courtesy of the Central Nervous System Visual Perspectives Project, Karolinska Institutet and Stanford University.

PlosOne - A Glucose Fuel Cell for Implantable Brain–Machine Interfaces

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 110

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 110 is up at Atomic Power Review

ANS Nuclear cafe looks at India's nuclear plans

Between now and 2022, India plans to build 39 reactors for a total of 45 Gwe. U.S. firms may wind up building about 10-12 GWe of the market in that timeframe as part of India’s massive new build.

The market will be divided up between U.S. firms, Areva, Russia’s Rosatom, and India’s drive to technology self-sufficiency with a 700-MW PHWR. Also, India claims it will start work in 2013 on two 500-MW fast reactors.

There are conflicting reports that India’s targets by 2022 have been reduced to as little as 14 Gwe. The economy is slowing down. India’s bureaucratic government, endemic corruption, and localized opposition could present huge frustrations, and costs, to American firms. Whether the market share they seek will be worth the price remains to be seen.

June 25, 2012

Discovery of Material that can be magnetically or electrically polarized at the same time

Normally a material can be either magnetically or electrically polarized, but not both. Now researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute at University of Copenhagen have studied a material that is simultaneously magnetically and electrically polarizable. This opens up new possibilities, for example, for sensors in technology of the future.

“We have studied the rare, naturally occurring iron compound, TbFeO3, using powerful neutron radiation in a magnetic field. The temperature was cooled down to near absolute zero, minus 271 C. We were able to identify that the atoms in the material are arranged in a congruent lattice structure consisting of rows of the heavy metal terbium separated by iron and oxygen atoms. Such lattices are well known, but their magnetic domains are new. Normally, the magnetic domains lie a bit helter-skelter, but here we observed that they lay straight as an arrow with the same distance between them. We were completely stunned when we saw it,” explains Kim Lefmann, Associate Professor at the Nano-Science Center, University of Copenhagen.

The ‘8-armed candlestick' in this unusual image of the measurements is proof that the ‘walls’ of the domains in TbFeO3 repel each other at certain temperatures and therefore lie at a fixed distance from each other. The signal from the ‘ordinary’ chaotic domain walls would more resemble a fly swatter.

Nature Materials - Solitonic lattice and Yukawa forces in the rare-earth orthoferrite TbFeO3

Sea Level Rise Lags Change in Atmosphere Temperature

Even if ocean levels rose to similar heights as during the Last Interglacial, they would do so at a rate of up to three feet per century.

Therefore, any projected maximum global sealevel increase of 8.5 meters would take 850-1200 years to happen.

From now until 2040, if you want to have a 0.75 degree celsius increase instead of a possible 1.25 degree celsius temperature increase then soot mitigation should be targeted. Measure against CO2 would have an effect by around 2070.

Soot makes the ice darker and melt faster and increases the amount of heat that is absorbed instead of reflected.

"Even though the oceans are absorbing a good deal of the total global warming, the atmosphere is warming faster than the oceans," McKay added. "Moreover, ocean warming is lagging behind the warming of the atmosphere. The melting of large polar ice sheets lags even farther behind."

"As a result, even if we stopped greenhouse gas emissions right now, the Earth would keep warming, the oceans would keep warming, the ice sheets would keep shrinking, and sea levels would keep rising for a long time," he explained.

They are absorbing most of that heat, but they lag behind. Especially the large ice sheets are not in equilibrium with global climate," McKay added. "

Here is a site that is tracking the sea level rise at different points around the world.

The average sea level has been flat since late 2009.

There has been an average global sea level increase of 2 inches since the early 1990s.

Quantum metamaterials offer new ways to control light matter interactions

A new approach to quantum metamaterials proceeds along two paths. The first kind of structure is a set of nanowires containing quantum dots.

Sketch of a quantum metamaterial made of an array of nanorods doped by quantum dots.

Such a structure is interesting for several reasons: it is simple, it has many interesting properties (negative index, effective magnetism, all-dielectric cloaking), and it can be experimentally realized fairly easily. Furthermore, the quantum dots have a dipole with a controllable orientation. Each nanorod can be characterized by its scattering matrix, which relates the diffracted field to the incident field. For a wavelength that is sufficiently large compared to the diameter of the nanorod, the diffracted field can be characterized by an electric dipole and a magnetic dipole.

By pumping the dots, it is possible to switch this dipole on or off, opening or closing a conduction band. This kind of structure thus possesses a quantum reconfigurable band structure.

The Alternative Optimistic spin for Microsoft Tablets

A reader took offense with coverage of negative spin on the Microsoft Surface and Microsoft tablets.

Seeking Alpha has an article with a positive view of the potential for the Microsoft Surface and Microsoft tablets in general.

The positive spin is that these will be highly successful and double Microsoft tablet market share in 2013 to 10% and again to 20% in 2015. I do not see Microsoft growing to 10% tablet market share next year or in 2015.

The Next Web says a source close to Microsoft let slip on the tablet pricing, claiming the Surface tablet sporting Windows RT, and powered by Nvidia's Tegra 3 chip, will set you back $599 (around £380).

The Intel powered Ivy Bridge slate, which will run Windows 8 Pro, will apparently retail at a rather eye watering $999 (around £640).

Do any readers feel that the prices and features are compelling ?
Are there 1 in 10 or 1 in 5 who would want to buy these devices ?

Microsoft Surface website

Megabus Update

BBC News - The straddle bus design was announced nearly two years ago but has seemingly stalled.

We reported on it in 2010.

It is now called the 3D Fast Bus. It is to be built by the Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Company. This prototype behemoth could carry up to 1,000 passengers its designers believe. But its most innovative feature is not its size, but its design. It is designed to skip traffic problems by straddling the road, allowing it to cruise over gridlocked traffic or allowing traffic to flow underneath it when it is stopped. Passengers ride in a cabin 5 meters above the ground, on wheels supported on streamlined stilts. Its designers say the electric bus could reduce traffic jams by up to 30%, and cost only 10% of the price of a subway to build.

Stalled Straddle megabus

Superlong megabus
Two cities – Beijing and Hangzhou – have just announced that they will take delivery of fleets of what could be the world’s largest bus named Youngman JNP6250G.

The massive mover will carry up to 300 passengers at a time and will have two concertinaed sections to allow it to turn corners like a regular bus is 25meter (82ft) long - around 13meter longer than a regular bus. To ensure they cut through urban traffic they will use dedicated lanes in both cities, something that may allow drivers to test their top speed. One driver reportedly told the Chinese Youth Daily newspaper that he reached 51mph (82km/h) on a drive from Zhejiang Province to Shanghai.

All-carbon solar cell harnesses infrared light

MIT - About 40 percent of the solar energy reaching Earth’s surface lies in the near-infrared region of the spectrum — energy that conventional silicon-based solar cells are unable to harness. But a new kind of all-carbon solar cell developed by MIT researchers could tap into that unused energy, opening up the possibility of combination solar cells — incorporating both traditional silicon-based cells and the new all-carbon cells — that could make use of almost the entire range of sunlight’s energy.

The new cell is made of carbon nanotubes and C60, otherwise known as buckyballs. “This is the first all-carbon photovoltaic cell,” Strano says — a feat made possible by new developments in the large-scale production of purified carbon nanotubes.

The early proof-of-concept devices have an energy-conversion efficiency of only about 0.1 percent.

An atomic-force microscope image of a layer of single-walled carbon nanotubes deposited on a silicon surface, as the first step in manufacturing the new type of solar cell developed by an MIT team. Individual nanotubes can be seen in the image.
Photo: Rishabh Jain et al

Putin Wants a Russian Darpa, new long range bombers and lots of UAVs

Wired - Russian industry and defense leaders announced plans last week to bankroll the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects in the Defense Industry. (RFARPDI) Russia’s newly re-coronated president, Vladimir Putin, has already sent a bill to parliament to authorize the agency, which will be tasked with keeping track of projects that “can ensure Russian superiority in defense technology,” according to news service RIA Novosti.

Russia wants to modernize, and needs its own far-out research department to do it. Its military is getting old and risks becoming dependent on other (read: more advanced) countries. It’s also a part of a larger Russian push for more military tech.

Note- Russia has often talked big about more military and space spending but budget realities have rendered most of it to be empty talk.

Putin talks about new bomber and drones

Putin has indicated - “We need a program for unmanned aircraft. Experts say this is a most important area of development in aviation,” he said. “We need a range of all types, including automated strike aircraft, reconnaissance and other types.” Russia is allegedly spending $13 billion on unmanned aerial vehicles through 2020.

“We have to develop work on the new PAK-DA long-range bomber aircraft,” Putin said. “I know how expensive and complex this is. We have talked about this many times with ministers, and with the head of the General Staff. The task is not easy from a scientific-technical standpoint, but we need to start work.” Putin also said Russia needs to finish development of its new AWACS early-warning aircraft, the A-100.

Microsoft's bumbling management and Zuning of Tablets

Semiaccurate - Microsoft unveiled not one but two tablets, called ‘Surface’. Only one is WART (Windows 8 on ARM Runtime) based, SemiAccurate’s sources say it is a Tegra CPU, the other is x86, probably an Atom. Either way, Microsoft just did the dumbest and most self-destructive thing imaginable, and did it with their usual lack of style.

NOTE: Here is coverage of the alternative optimistic spin on the Microsoft tablets

The Next Web says a source close to Microsoft let slip on the tablet pricing, claiming the Surface tablet sporting Windows RT, and powered by Nvidia's Tegra 3 chip, will set you back $599 (around £380).

The Intel powered Ivy Bridge slate, which will run Windows 8 Pro, will apparently retail at a rather eye watering $999 (around £640).

Do any readers feel that the prices and features are compelling ?
Are there 1 in 10 or 1 in 5 who would want to buy these devices ?

Microsoft paid Taiwanese OEMs to make tablets and then Microsoft came out with their own competing tablet. Microsoft can then undercut the Taiwanese OEMs. It then seems unlikely that Taiwanese OEMs will put effort into Microsoft tablets.

Windows 8 on ARM Runtime does not run the large library of windows software.

Anandtech - Microsoft Surface, was detailed by Steven Sinofsky. Surface is a stage for windows, 9.3mm thick, USB 2.0, beveled edges to feel natural in hand. Full magnesium case, in a liquidmetal forming process called VaporMg. It's a 1st party Windows RT tablet. 10.6" optically bonded display designed specifically for the Surface (a screen size that hasn't been seen since the old Sony VAIO T series). Interestingly, the demo unit crashed while Sinofsky was showing it off.

Adding a Twist dimension to communication for 2.5 terabits per second now and hundreds of times more later

Extreme Tech - American and Israeli researchers have used twisted, vortex beams to transmit data at 2.5 terabits per second. This twist encoding technique is likely to be used in the next few years to vastly increase the throughput of both wireless and fiber-optic networks.

These twisted signals use orbital angular momentum (OAM) to cram much more data into a single stream. In current state-of-the-art transmission protocols (WiFi, LTE, COFDM), we only modulate the spin angular momentum (SAM) of radio waves, not the OAM. If you picture the Earth, SAM is our planet spinning on its axis, while OAM is our movement around the Sun. Basically, the breakthrough here is that researchers have created a wireless network protocol that uses both OAM and SAM.

According to Thide, OAM should allow us to twist together an “infinite number” of conventional transmission protocols without using any more spectrum. In theory, we should be able to take 10 (or 100 or 1000 or…) WiFi or LTE signals and twist them into a single beam, increasing throughput by 10 (or 100 or 1000 or…) times.

The next task for Willner’s team will be to increase the OAM network’s paltry one-meter transmission distance to something a little more usable. “For situations that require high capacity… over relatively short distances of less than 1km, this approach could be appealing. Of course, there are also opportunities for long-distance satellite-to-satellite communications in space, where turbulence is not an issue,” Willner tells the BBC. In reality, the main limiting factor is that we simply don’t have the hardware or software to manipulate OAM. The future of wireless networking is very bright indeed.

Nature - Terabit free-space data transmission employing orbital angular momentum multiplexing

Concept and Principle - a, Generation of an information-carrying OAM beam with a helical phase front. b, Recovery of an information-carrying beam with a planar phase front. c, Multiplexing/demultiplexing of information-carrying OAM beams together with polarizatio

Real Life Technology Billionaires compared with James Bond Movie Villains

Blofeld had a space vehicle capable of entering orbit and effecting a controlled landing and he had an enormous base constructed within the caldera of an extinct volcano on an island.

Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, is paying $500-600 million to buy most of the 141 square mile Hawaiian island of Lanai. Self-made billionaire David Murdock, who owns Castle & Cooke, said he would keep his home on Lanai and the right to build a wind farm, a contentious project that would place windmills on as many as 20 square miles of the island and deliver power to Oahu through an undersea cable.

In the James Bond movie Moonraker Hugo Drax is a billionaire who owns Drax Industries, which constructs space shuttles.

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