July 21, 2012

Strategic Building and Infrastructure Reserve and Expanding the idea of Defence

Summarizing the concepts needed to transform to a more robust and faster recovering (from disaster) society.

1. Pre-sort and have system for quickly resolving the politics of rebuild
2. Bring infrastructure up to a fast maintainable or fast fixable state. (R&D needed)
3. Strategic reserve of building and infrastructure
4. Defense beyond defense against war. to include civilization hardening and fast reconstruction and recovery

The US Strategic Petroleum Reserve holds about $65 billion worth of oil for an emergency supply that can replace all of the oil used in the USA for 36 days. The United States started the petroleum reserve in 1975 after oil supplies were cut off during the 1973-74 oil embargo, to mitigate future temporary supply disruptions. The EIA shows that the United States imports a net 10 million barrels (9 million barrels per day of crude) of oil a day (MMbd), so the SPR holds about a 70-day supply. However, the maximum total withdrawal capability from the SPR is only 4.4 million barrels (700,000 m3) per day, making it a 160 + day supply.

I propose that all countries should have strategic building and infrastructure reserves and/or participate in regional or global strategic building and infrastructure reserves. I also propose that the concept of defense be expanded to consider more than defense against war and to expand national guards with engineering and rebuilding guard. I propose that the engineering, new super-heavy equipment for fast rebuilding and replacement and rebuilding guard should have 15-50% of the defense budget. The vast majority of the work and issues associated with the idea of fast and streamlined rebuilding is to have an effective system of pre-sorting all of the political issues and clearing away enough of the legacy incompatibilities with infrastructure that was put in piecemeal over one hundred years or more. There has to be work and money spent to bring everything up to an easily maintainable baseline. This is similar to the issues with keeping and retiring software and hardware in large data centers and companies. When something is no longer easily maintained then it has to be replaced and retired. Old infrastructure that is no longer maintainable or easily replaceable but still functional is left in place for decades. The data center concepts of "hot swapping" when something is broken needs to be designed into infrastructure and cities.

The Japanese Tsunami destroyed some 120,000 buildings and damaged 220,000 others.

There have been multiple situations the Katrina hurricane, Japan's Tsunami, Indonesia's tsunami, flooding and earthquakes in China where about million people up to five million get displaced and lose their homes.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) provides thousands of mobile home trailers which end up getting used for years after disasters.

China's Broad Group has developed factory mass production of skyscrapers. They have assembled a 15 story skyscraper in 6 days and a 30 story building in 30 days. They will soon assemble a 220 story building in 90 days. The technology can also build shorter buildings quickly. 6 story buildings or less in one day.

A strategic building and infrastructure reserve the size of the strategic oil reserve could provide housing, offices, hospitals, infrastructure, schools and stores for 1 million people and could be fully built in about 2 months.

Japan restarted a second Nuclear reactor

Kansai Electric Power Co said its 1,180-megawatt No. 4 reactor at its Ohi nuclear plant resumed supplying electricity to the grid on Saturday, Japan's second nuclear unit to regain power since last year's Fukushima crisis led to the shutdown of all units.

The move came three days after the unit was restarted, and the reactor is set to begin full-capacity power generation around July 25-28.

All but two of the country's 50 nuclear reactors have been offline for checks amid concerns about safety, and the gap is being met by firing up costly fossil fuel units and through energy-saving steps.

In 2011, Japan had to severely reduce its use of electricity with a big impact on domestic and industrial routines, while the utilities have switched to alternative fuels for power generation. The result was a jump of 25.2% in fossil fuel imports, which last year made up almost one third of Japan's total overseas spending. Oil, gas and coal were all in demand from foreign markets.

In total during 2011 Japan spent ¥21.7 trillion ($277 billion) on fossil fuel imports, up from ¥17.4 trillion ($222 billion) the year before. This increase of ¥4.3 trillion ($55 billion) is clearly a major factor in the country's overall trade deficit of ¥2.5 trillion ($32 billion), the first posted by Japan since 1980.

For 2011 and 2012, it will probably cost Japan more than $100 billion in extra fossil fuel imports to have the vast majority of its nuclear power shutoff. This does not include the business and econonomic cost caused by rationing of electricity.

UK Reactor Update - China likely to build and not France

Guardian UK - China is poised to make a dramatic intervention in Britain's energy future by offering to invest billions of pounds in building a series of new nuclear power stations.

Greenpeace complains that Chinese nuclear players have state backing, which could help solve the issue of financing colossally expensive new nuclear power stations in the UK. But this just means that the money from UK taxpayers will flow to the Chinese government, rather than to France.

France EDF has a lot of state support and as was seen in the financial crisis most of the big banks, car companies will have state bailouts when needed. Japan also provided bailouts in the energy industry. The energy industry worldwide gets over $500 billion per year in various forms of government subsidies. This is for oil, solar, wind, coal, hydro, biofuel and nuclear etc... If you have an energy company and you are not getting state support, then you are incompetent.

July 20, 2012

Memristor Random Number Generator

IEEE Spectrum - Engineers in Taiwan say they’ve invented a tiny low-power circuit based on memristors that could improve the security of data transmission over the Internet and of using Near Field Communication (NFC) from smartphone wallets. The security of many digital transactions depends on generating truly random numbers, something that’s difficult to do using today’s digital circuits, which typically produce numbers that aren’t completely random. The new memristor circuit rapidly spits out true random numbers while consuming less energy compared with other techniques, according to research in an upcoming issue of IEEE Electron Device Letters.

For those who do not have a degree in computer science, it is a pain in the butt to make a pseudo random number generator program and the result is not true randomness.

Memristors and resistive random-access memories (RRAMs) store information as resistance rather than charge, as other memories do. They are made by sandwiching a resistive material or a stack of materials between two electrodes. The device’s resistance can be reversibly increased or decreased by applying a certain level of voltage across the device.

Contact RRAM: The resistive memory cell sits between a tungsten contact and the transistor's drain region.

Smart Suit Improves Physical Endurance

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University today announced that it has received a $2.6 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a smart suit that helps improve physical endurance for soldiers in the field.

Note: I know the pictures look like something being worn by two extroverted homosexual men in San Francisco. They look not a little gay but very gay. However, they are supposed to be worn under a uniform.

This seems to be DARPA warrior web project. DARPA is seeking to make a lightweight, conformal under-suit that is transparent to the user (like a diver’s wetsuit). The suit seeks to employ a system (or web) of closed-loop controlled actuation, transmission, and functional structures that protect injury prone areas, focusing on the soft tissues that connect and interface with the skeletal system. Other novel technologies that prevent, reduce, ambulate, and assist with healing of acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries are also being sought.

The novel wearable system would potentially delay the onset of fatigue, enabling soldiers to walk longer distances, and also potentially improve the body’s resistance to injuries when carrying heavy loads.

Lightweight, efficient, and nonrestrictive, the proposed suit will be made from soft wearable assistive devices that integrate several novel Wyss technologies. One is a stretchable sensor that would monitor the body’s biomechanics without the need for the typical rigid components that often interfere with motion. The system could potentially detect the onset of fatigue. Additionally, one of the technologies in the suit may help the wearer maintain balance by providing low-level mechanical vibrations that boost the body’s sensory functions.

Courtesy of the Wyss Institute. The new wearable system would be made from soft, stretchable, assistive devices, which would help improve physical endurance for soldiers in the field.

The Warrior Web graphic looks less gay by showing cutaway of the suit under a regular uniform

Commercial operation at Shin-Kori 2 and other nuclear news

1. World Nuclear News - South Korea's newest nuclear power reactor has entered commercial operation. The country now has 22 nuclear units that together supply about one third of its electricity. Construction work started in January 2007, and in January this year it was synchronised to the grid to produce its first power.

Shin-Kori 2 is the tenth OPR-1000 model pressurized water reactor in South Korea. The indigenous design was developed from Westinghouse units imported through the 1970s and 1980s. Under a licensee relationship, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power was able to develop variants of Westinghouse's System 80 for its own requirements: first the Korean Standard Nuclear Plant (KNSP), then the OPR-1000 design and finally the APR-1400.

One other OPR-1000 is under construction at Shin-Wolsong, while two APR-1400 units are currently being built at Shin-Kori. A further six APR-1400s are planned to begin operation in the next nine years as part of a program to establish nuclear power at 59% of supply by 2030.

2. Since 1977, more than 6,500 megawatts-electric (MWe) of nuclear uprates have been approved, and most of these have already been implemented. Through July 10, 2012, these cumulative uprates are roughly the equivalent of constructing six new nuclear power plants.

Elon Musk, Tesla Electric Cars, Predicts Half of New Cars will be Electric around 2024-2032

EETimes - In the midst of the Tesla Model S rollout at the company's California manufacturing plant recently, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made a startling prediction: "In 20 years more than half of new cars manufactured will be fully electric," he said, according to a Reuters article. "I actually feel quite safe in that bet. That's a bet I will put money on."

That's a strong statement, but Musk apparently didn't think it was strong enough, so he quickly amended it. "It's probably going to be in the 12- to 15-year time frame," he added.

Most forecasters do not see the battery technology being good enough, being produced in sufficient volume or being low enough in cost to support that much market share.

However there are improvements occurring with beaming power wirelessly.

X-prizes could spur robotics development

Google has offered $20 million to the first privately funded group to send a robot to the moon. This prize, which is the largest X-prize ever offered, will expire at the end of 2015. There are currently 26 teams actively trying to win the prize. One of those teams, Astrobotic, is lead by "Red" Whittaker. Dr. Whittaker is a Carnegie Mellon roboticist who is determined to win the prize. In an interview with Sander Olson for Next Big Future, Astrobotic CEO Whittaker discusses how the X-prize will spur robotics development and competition, why AI isn't essential to the development of robotics, and why the capabilities of robots could equal those of biological systems within a decade.

July 19, 2012

Another Solar Company Shuts Down

Technology Review - Solar company Amonix, which was backed by government incentives, is shutting down a factory in Nevada a year after it opened and is selling off equipment.

Amonix, which makes utility-scale concentrating photovoltaic systems, plans to close down its 214,000-square-foot facility in North Las Vegas by August.

In 2010, they had a $129 million in investment from venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers.

Adaptable and Effective Mitigation for Nuclear Accidents and other Situations

While I have been slamming what I think is faulty nuclear energy and safety analysis by Mark Jacobson at Stanford University, I do believe that it is reasonable and necessary to make energy safer.

Efforts and money should be spent to mitigate air pollution from power plants, construction activity, vehicles and industry.

There should be improved containment structures built at nuclear power plants and their should be improved facilities for the spent nuclear fuel ponds. There were explosions from gas build up during Fukushima and radiation releases which resulted which are easily containable.

* establish better protection for the backup generators and backup fuel for those generators (bury them underground, so they cannot be washed away by waves. Look at the specifics for each site).

* Other preventative steps should be taken. There have been safety reviews and remediation is being carried out.

* create fast deployment inflatable structures that can be flown to any of the nuclear reactors to provide extra containment to localize any radiation release. This is like making the adjustable caps for underwater oil pipe leaks for the BP oil spill. There is no reason the oil leaks or the radiation releases should go on for more than a few days. Unforeseen situations can arise and an adaptable, effective mitigating response should be ready

Background Radiation Levels

The U.K. Health Protection Agency estimates the typical Briton receives about 2,200 microsieverts of radiation per year from background radiation, or about 0.251 microsieverts per hour -- more than double the levels registered in Tokyo. Rome is also about 0.25 microsieverts per hour.

“Half of the average annual radiation to people in the U.K. comes from radon -- an invisible, colorless, radioactive gas present in all soils,” John Harrison, deputy director of the agency’s radiation center. Cornwall, a popular tourist destination in southwest England, has four times the level of radon as other parts of the country.

The highest level of background radiation is in the state of Kerala and city of Chennai in southern India, where people receive average doses above 30 millisieverts per year, or 3.42 microsieverts an hour, according to the World Nuclear Association. India has vast amounts of thorium in its soil. A millisievert is 1,000 microsieverts.

In Brazil and Sudan, exposure can reach 40 millisieverts a year or 4.57 microsieverts an hour.

Background radiation is 50 times higher than New York in the Sudan and parts of India.
Background radiation is 5 times higher than New York in India in general
Background radiation is almost 3 times higher than New York in the UK

Radiation levels are also far higher on planes.
Long term studies do not show increased deaths from the radiation

Here is a Japanese paper about radiation around the world

Here is a site that discusses radiation risks and levels from various common sources.

Jacobson Fukushima Analysis Applied to Japan Airlines

NEI Nuclear notes applies the Mark Jacobson method of radiation death analysis to Japan Airlines.

Stanford University released a study that projected 130 people, primarily in Japan, will die from cancer over the next 50 years as the result of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The group of companies that comprise Japan Airlines Co. Ltd. (JAL) has a fleet of about 280 aircraft and carries around 52 million passengers each year. Thus, using the same crude estimate of radiation exposure during a flight that I used before—which is roughly comparable to the crude estimate of radiation exposure calculated by "a 3-D global atmospheric model," since I rely on measured statistics, while the Stanford paper relies on a computer model of dubious quality using inputs with unspecified uncertainties—I can calculate a collective dose. The result is about 2100 passenger-Sv of equivalent dose in a 16-month period.

So using the same lazy reasoning, back-of-the-envelope estimation, and LNT assumption that Ten Hoeve and Jacobson use in their paper (e.g., on page 12 of the PDF), I conclude that their methodology predicts that, since March 2011, the date of the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami, JAL has been responsible for an additional 240 passenger cancers and 120 eventual cancer deaths

War and Terrorism and Energy and Environment

Mark Jacobson has a paper with a review of global energy and the environment where he allocates hypothetical carbon emissions to nuclear energy based on terrorism and war.

He allocates for a hypothetical nuclear war to nuclear power.

I have addressed some of this before.

For the nuclear proliferation

Proliferation is more a matter of key knowledge. The key knowledge was proliferated by Pakistan's AQ Khan back in the seventies through the nineties. Knowledge of bombs and centrifuges. The first 64 years of the nuclear weapon age has seen zero deaths from proliferated nuclear weapons. Plus there is no example of proliferation from a commercial nuclear energy program to nuclear weapons other than India and Pakistan using it as cover, but they got the materials from special centrifuges.

AQ Khan was the source of proliferation of nuclear weapons knowledge. Any new commercial nuclear reactors are not related to that historical proliferation of knowledge. There would need to be shown incremental risk from new nuclear reactor build for the case to be made that building more commercial nuclear reactors increases the risk of proliferation. The case needs to then be made showing that increased nuclear weapons increases the risk for nuclear war.

The belief that there is nuclear power leads to nuclear weapons is wrong. Countries get nuclear weapons firstly and directly.

USA bombs first. (Hiroshima, Nagasaki - pre-nuclear power). 1957 first reactor

USSR bombs first. 1949 first bomb. first nuclear reactor June 27, 1954

United Kingdom first nuclear weapon 1952, first reactor 1956

France tested its first nuclear weapon in 1960, first reactor 1963

China first nuclear weapon in 1964, reactor 1991

India 1974, first reactor 1969 (exception to the bomb first)

Pakistan 1998, Karachi 1972 (exception to the bomb first). they used

Pakistan achieved their nuclear weapon material with secret enrichment, centrifuges, not with material from the commercial program.

North Korea 2005 bomb, no commercial reactor

Israel late 1960s, bombs no commercial reactor

Incremental Risk and Lack of Correlation
Where is the incremental risk from more commercial reactors ? There were tens of Thousands of nuclear bombs before there were significant commercial nuclear power.

30,000 nuclear bombs existed by about 1960 and there were only a handful of small commercial nuclear reactors.

France added about 50 commercial nuclear reactors in the 1980s. But only USSR/Russia were making a lot more bombs during that period. Mainly USSR/Russia.

By 1990, there were 70,000 nuclear bombs with about 98-99% in USSR and USA.

The nuclear weapons buildup was independent of the civilian nuclear energy build.

Where is the correlation between those 70,000 bombs and actual nuclear war and nuclear deaths ? It was the military posture of hair triggers that had some accident risk, but that policy is no longer in place. A strong case is made that nuclear weapons deterred wide conventional war. Thus there needs to be the calculation for lives saved from prevented wars.

Going forward China, India, Russia, South Korea, Japan are going to be building most of the new commercial nuclear reactors and the USA depending on politics will also build several. How does this correlate to increased proliferation and increased risk?

Highly enriched uranium (HEU) is being down-blended for reactor fuel. Thus commercial nuclear reactors reduced any risks from higher stockpiles of HEU.

The Future will seem Normal

When I consider what will happen the future. I look at how much money and how aggressive the people, companies and nations are who are trying to bring about technology.

Some people forecast some kind of shocking upheaval and the junking of capitalism.

I also try to cast a broader view at what can substitute and the economics and business of the competition for new technology or ways of doing things.

I try to think like the consumer (individuals or big companies or governments) in terms of adoption. Adoption goes better if the new thing is way superior in some way and not worse in the other aspects.

What will have to happen to get best various stages of acceptance to alter purchasing decisions ?

I also consider if the group making it has a better business plan or approach to get across the chasms and how strong
the early adopters are for that area.

Books - Lean Startups and Crossing the Chasm discuss adoption and successfully launching new products and companies.

Also, I try to analyze in detail the real differences and advantages in something new.

Getting the London Olympics without Cable or Satellite

A couple of years ago I dropped cable and satellite TV and just watch Netflix and Hulu over my internet connection via a Nintendo Wii (Playstation and Xbox or more advanced DVD/Blu Ray players or Roku type devices work as well.

However, I also want to watch the London Olympics which start in 8 days on July 27, 2012.

Here are the details about getting NBC and other channels over the air in the USA.

BTW- Canada switched to digital channels in 2011.

1. Receive Digital Channels

To receive the digital signals that are broadcast now your TV needs to have an ATSC tuner. (Advanced Television Systems Committee)

* By July 1, 2005 all televisions with screen sizes over 36 inches (91 cm) must include a built-in ATSC DTV tuner

* By March 1, 2006 all televisions with screen sizes over 25 inches (64 cm) must include a built-in ATSC DTV tuner

* By March 1, 2007 all televisions regardless of screen size, and all interface devices that include a tuner (VCR, DVD player/recorder, DVR) must include a built-in ATSC DTV tuner.

If your desired TV does not have the ATSC DTV tuner then you either need to get DVD player that has one or get a digital to analog converter.

Nanoscale scaffolds and stem cells show promise in cartilage repair

Johns Hopkins tissue engineers have used tiny, artificial fiber scaffolds thousands of times smaller than a human hair to help coax stem cells into developing into cartilage, the shock-absorbing lining of elbows and knees that often wears thin from injury or age.

Investigators have produced an important component of cartilage in both laboratory and animal models. While the findings are still years away from use in people, the researchers say the results hold promise for devising new techniques to help the millions who endure joint pain.

PNAS - Bioinspired nanofibers support chondrogenesis for articular cartilage repair

July 18, 2012

Current Limits of Human Strength

One aspect of transhumanism is to exceed current human limits in various aspects of performance, intelligence, longevity and health.

The New Yorker has a lengthy article about Brian Shaw and the history of Strongmen Competitions and the curretn limits of human strength.

It wasn’t until 1953 that the first five-hundred-pound bench press was done. Today, you have guys who are doing a thousand pounds. How much can the human body take?

Mike Jenkins, an up-and-coming strongman from Hershey, Pennsylvania, had placed second to Shaw the year before. Mike Jenkins is six feet six and three hundred and ninety pounds. He won this years Arnold Strongman Classic.

Brian Shaw is six feet eight and four hundred and thirty pounds. His torso is three feet wide at the shoulders; his biceps are nearly two feet around. His neck is thicker than other men’s thighs. In 2011, he became the only man ever to win the two premier Strongman competitions in the same year. He has become, by some measures, the strongest man in history.

The Hummer Tire Dead Lift is up to eight oversized tires hung on a bar with steel plates—the heaviest of all the lifts. Shaw lifted a thousand and seventy-three pounds (while having a tendon injury in his left arm).

A new world record in the dead lift: eleven hundred and seventeen pounds.

Anti-nuclear Mark Jacobson estimated ie Made up, what he expects for future deaths resulting from Fukushima

Mark Jacobson is antinuclear so his estimates skew high. Examples of his bias is when he calculated greenhouse gas emissions. He has previously assigned carbon emissions to nuclear from coal power for the time during which a nuclear plant is being built. He has also assigned his estimate for carbon emissions from a hypothetical nuclear war to nuclear power.

If the right lessons are to be learned then the numbers need to be as correct as possible. Being off by orders of magnitude leads to more mistakes and unnecessary deaths.

I would think that the elderly should not be evacuated since they will not have time to develop cancer from low levels of radiation. Also, hospitals and care facilities should be built to enable more effective sheltering in place.

It is not clear that low levels of radiation effects and the linear no threshold (LNT) theory is valid. If LNT were valid then there are 200,000 deaths that would result from commercial air travel. Studies of air crews show no excess deaths from more radiation The possible exposure does not take into account that people at the time were mostly indoors and more sheltered from any radiation.

A report from Hiroshima University that was published in the Lancet: no significant contamination was found in the patients evacuated from the 20 km zone despite the fact that 48 h had passed between the first explosion and their evacuation.

Mark Lynas has addressed problems with the methods used by Mark Jacobson. There have been other even more stupid and insane claims of higher expected deaths tolls. One of those claims were made by Chris Busby, who was trying to scare the Japanese victims to sell them products at ripoff prices.

Ten Hoeve and Jacobson used a 3-D global atmospheric model, developed over 20 years of research, to predict the transport of radioactive material. A standard health-effects model was used to estimate human exposure to radioactivity.

Because of inherent uncertainties in the emissions and the health-effects model, the researchers found a range of possible death tolls, from 15 to 1,300, with a best estimate of 130. A wide span of cancer morbidities was also predicted, anywhere from 24 to 2,500, with a best estimate of 180.

Those affected according to the model were overwhelmingly in Japan, with extremely small effects noticeable in mainland Asia and North America. The United States was predicted to suffer between 0 and 12 deaths and 0 and 30 cancer morbidities, although the methods used were less precise for areas that saw only low radionuclide concentrations.

"These worldwide values are relatively low," said Ten Hoeve. He explained they should "serve to manage the fear in other countries that the disaster had an extensive global reach."

In a July 17, 2012 CNN article titled "Researchers estimate 130 might die from Fukushima-related cancers" , Kathryn Higley, head of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics at Oregon State University, was quoted in the following context.

"The methods of the study were solid, and the estimates were reasonable, although there is still uncertainty around them, said Kathryn Higley, head of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics at Oregon State University. But given how much cancer already exists in the world, it would be very difficult to prove that anyone's cancer was caused by the incident at Fukushima Daiichi. The World Health Organization estimates that 7.8 million people died worldwide in 2008, so 130 out of that number is quite small, says Higley."

Higleys Response to Rod Adams Email Inquiry

Here are some of Higleys thoughts on the article

1. The authors used some fairly standard methods to estimate where the radioactive material went, and how people were exposed and the doses that resulted.

2. That being said – they used calculational tools, and estimated many values that had to be plugged into their computer models. Those input values have uncertainty associated with them, and the “true” values might not be known for a while (they suggest as much in the text)

3. Because of that, I take exception to their first statement in the abstract – namely that they are “quantifying” world-wide health effects. I would argue instead that they are “estimating” impacts. Yes, they are calculating numbers, but there is considerable uncertainty in them.

4. They estimate worldwide mortality 130 deaths with a range of 15–1100, and it appears that this number is from exposure occurring over a 50 year time period (although most mortality is presumed contributed from the early months of the release).

5. They conclude that the estimated 130 deaths are non trivial. I do not want to minimize the pain and suffering of any individual with cancer, but the World Health Organization estimates that in 2008, 7.8 million people died of cancer world wide. In the US alone, the American cancer society estimates that this year, 28,170 men will die of prostate cancer. So I take exception to the authors stating, in their conclusions that ” Fukushima nuclear accident may cause nontrivial cancer mortality and morbidity”. There is still considerable debate in the radiobiology community if the LNT theory is valid at doses below 1 mSv, and if the response is linear, has a threshold, or is something else altogether.

6. They do go on to compare their estimated numbers and make the final recommendation that “Nevertheless, long-term cancer risk studies should be conducted in Japan to compare with the estimates developed here as well as with future modeling studies of the health effects from Fukushima”. I believe that the Japanese are already doing this, even though their expectation (and epidemiologists in the US as well) is that it will be very unlikely for them to detect excess cancers in the exposed population, simply due to the high background incidence of cancer.

Drones deliver fresh batteries to Long Duration Electric Plane

Recently there has been successful demonstrations of microwave and laser power beaming to recharge batteries wirelessly.

Military aircraft have hooked up to flying tankers to refuel in midair for decades — an inspiration for the idea of replacing the electric airplane's batteries in midair. In this case, drones turned into flying batteries would tether and dock with the Long-ESA plane to deliver a fresh charge.

Dropping used batteries in midflight also represents a way to save on power by shedding dead weight. The Long-ESA team has designed a way for battery packs to parachute from the plane and use GPS guidance to reach collection stations below.

A successful 2014 flight could do more than shatter some world records. The U.S. military could possibly find some interest in the idea of stretching out the flight times for electric drones.

Switching batteries in mid-air is also analogous to Formula one and NASCAR racing cars making quick pitstops to swap out parts.

This prototype represents the first step toward an electric plane that could fly across the Atlantic. CREDIT: Flight of the Century

UAVs of 2035 from blimps

July 17, 2012

Successful prototype of 10kW high efficiency rectenna for wireless power for electric trucks

Volvo Technology Japan Co., Ltd. and Nippon Dengyo tools, aim to commercialize wireless power transmission. It is essential to the spread of environmentally friendly electric trucks and buses. Power from the outside of the vehicle is provided wirelessly. They have built a high efficiency rectenna.

A high efficiency system (84%) could be used to beam power to electric cars and trucks that are parked at stop lights or in parking lots. There would be no need to use plugs and outlets.

The prototype high efficiency rectenna is uses microwaves. It beams power from outside the vehicle and rectifier circuit is mounted on the vehicle side to gather the power. It was previously thought that the development of microwave power beaming would be a long, difficult process and practical efficiency of the rectenna would be low.

There were able to double the efficiency (from 40% to 80% efficiency) when 10 kilowatts of power were supplied to a vehicle 4 to 6 meters away in an experiment.

Nihon Dengyo Kosaku and Volvo Technology Japan succeeded in wirelessly transmitting more than 10kW of electricity to a distance of 4m or more.

Self assembly of functionalized rectangular nanostructures

Advanced Materials - Rectangular Symmetry Morphologies in a Topographically Templated Block Copolymer

Using an array of majority-block-functionalized posts makes it possible to locally control the self-assembly of a block copolymer and achieve several morphologies on a single substrate. A template consisting of a square symmetry array of posts produces a square-symmetry lattice of microdomains, which doubles the areal density of features.

This follows up work on self assembling nanowires and junctions.

Nanolipogel delivers multiple cancer treatments to boost survival rates

NSF - researchers have developed a novel system to simultaneously deliver a sustained dose of both an immune-system booster and a chemical to counter the cancer's secretions, resulting in a powerful therapy that, in mice, delayed tumor growth, sent tumors into remission and dramatically increased survival rates.

This illustration depicts a nanolipogel, developed at Yale University with NSF support, administering its immunotherapy cargo. The light-blue spheres within the blood vessels and the cutaway sphere in the foreground, are the nanolipogels (NLGs). As the NLGs break down, they release IL-2 (the green specks), which helps recruit and activate a body's immune response (the purple, sphere-like cells). The tiny, bright blue spheres are the additional treatment, a cancer drug that inhibits TGF-beta (one of the cancer's defense chemicals). Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, NSF

Nature Materials - Combination delivery of TGF-β inhibitor and IL-2 by nanoscale liposomal polymeric gels enhances tumour immunotherapy

NASA Mars Rovers for 2018 to 2020 will have larger parachute and atomic clocks

A possible rover mission to Mars within the next eight years may rely on a larger parachutes, atomic clocks and inflatable decelerators, NASA's Mars exploration chief says. NASA expects to have up to $800 million to spend on mission in 2018 or 2020. The 1 ton Curiosity rover that is arriving Aug 5, 2012, had a $2.5 billion budget.

The inflatable decelerators, also known as ballutes, and big parachutes would help the spacecraft reduce its speed through the Martian atmosphere, while the atomic clocks would improve its landing accuracy.

Vacuum to Antimatter-Rocket Interstellar Explorer System (VARIES): A Proposed Program for an Interstellar Rendezvous and Return Architecture

Vacuum to Antimatter-Rocket Interstellar Explorer System (VARIES): A Proposed Program for an Interstellar Rendezvous and Return Architecture (9 pages)

H/T to Discovery Space News (Ian O'Neill) Using Lasers and Antimatter to Trek to the Stars.

While interstellar mission have been explored in the literature, one mission architecture has not received much attention, namely the interstellar rendezvous and return mission that could be accomplished on timescales comparable with a working scientist’s career. Such a mission would involve an initial boost phase followed by a coasting phase to the target system. Next would be the deceleration and rendezvous phase, which would be followed by a period of scientific data gathering. Finally, there would be a second boost phase, aimed at returning the spacecraft back to the solar system, and subsequent coasting and deceleration phases upon return to our solar system. Such a mission would represent a precursor to a future manned interstellar mission; which in principle could safely return any astronauts back to Earth.

In this paper a novel architecture is proposed that would allow for an unmanned interstellar rendezvous and return mission. The approach utilized for the Vacuum to Antimatter-Rocket Interstellar Explorer System (VARIES) would lead to system components and mission approaches that could be utilized for autonomous operation of other deep-space probes. Engineering solutions for such a mission will have a significant impact on future exploration and sample return missions for the outer planets. This paper introduces the general concept, with a mostly qualitative analysis. However, a full research program is introduced, and as this program progresses, more quantitative papers will be released.

VARIES Mk 1 design based on discussions of critical systems with project artist. Solar panels extract energy from the target star and power either quantum batteries or ultra powerful capacitors. These, in turn, power a laser which generates Schwinger antiparticle pairs from the vacuum, which are then stored for propulsion. (Adrian Mann)

July 16, 2012

Population change and CO2 Emissions are not Correlated

Population changes are a minor factor in CO2 emissions. The chart below shows that you can have an increase in population and a decrease in CO2 emissions. The bigger factors are GDP increases and the economy.

The group Population Matters pushes for draconian state controls on birth rates and on immigration because they feel that the first solution to CO2 emissions should be population policies.

Long-Term Trend in Global CO2 Emissions (2011, 42 pages, EU Commission)

Fossil fuel combustion accounts for about 90% of total global CO2 emissions excluding forest fires and woodfuel use. As the global economy rebounded strongly in 2010, both in mature industrialised countries and in developing countries, global energy consumption also saw a very strong growth of 5.6%, which is the largest annual growth since 1973 when the world was recovering from the recession caused by the first oil price crisis

Like Russia, Ukraine has seen a greater reduction in CO2 emissions since 1990 than laid out in the Kyoto Protocol - the reason being the collapse of national industry in the 1990s. The result was such a dramatic drop in emissions that in recent years, the country saw a welcome boost to state funds received from the trade of carbon emission quotas.

The reduction was not because of lower population.

Nanozyme shuts down production of hepatitis C virus in the body

University of Florida researchers have moved a step closer to treating diseases on a cellular level by creating a tiny particle that can be programmed to shut down the genetic production line that cranks out disease-related proteins.

In laboratory tests, these newly created “nanorobots” all but eradicated hepatitis C virus infection. The programmable nature of the particle makes it potentially useful against diseases such as cancer and other viral infections. The researchers created and tested a nanoparticle that targets hepatitis C virus in the liver and prevents the virus from making copies of itself.

The new virus-destroyer, called a nanozyme, has a backbone of tiny gold particles and a surface with two main biological components. The first biological portion is a type of protein called an enzyme that can destroy the genetic recipe-carrier, called mRNA, for making the disease-related protein in question. The other component is a large molecule called a DNA oligonucleotide that recognizes the genetic material of the target to be destroyed and instructs its neighbor, the enzyme, to carry out the deed. By itself, the enzyme does not selectively attack hepatitis C, but the combo does the trick.

“They completely change their properties,” Cao said.

In laboratory tests, the treatment led to almost a 100 percent decrease in hepatitis C virus levels. In addition, it did not trigger the body’s defense mechanism, and that reduced the chance of side effects. Still, additional testing is needed to determine the safety of the approach.

Future therapies could potentially be in pill form.

Chongqing pushes for a 100 Petaflop supercomputer

China is considering a 100 PetaFLOP Super Computing Center in Chongqing. The proposed design would use the “Dawn-7000″ high-performance computer design.

The article at Chinatechgadget does not give a clear indication that this project has been fully funded.

China will start to build the ACP100 Pressure Water Nuclear Reactor in 2013

On July 3, Hunan Hengyang city government with CNNC signed a project cooperation agreement of intent to jointly promote the the Hengyang ACP100 small PWR (Pressurized Water Reactor) Project.

In late 2011, the budget for two ACP100 modular reactors was allocated.

The first ACP100 reactor will start construction at the end of 2013 in Putian, Fujian.

THE ACP100 will be a cogenerating system. The ACP-100 will use heat from the reactor for desalination, industrial purposes and residential heating.

Primary benefits are
* smaller modules are easier to finance
* the size allow for direct replacement of common small coal plant burners
* the 30 month construction time is about half the construction time of larger reactors (even the speedy construction times for reactors in China).

CNNC has a strong research interest in larger reactors as well (ACP600/1000 600 MWe and 1000 MWe units). The ACP600 is developed from the CNP-600 (also referred to as CP600).
Model of the modular ACP100 reactor

Lab-Engineered Muscle Implants That receive Pre-condition exercise restore 70 percent strength versus 30 percent without repair

New research shows that exercise is a key step in building a muscle-like implant in the lab with the potential to repair muscle damage from injury or disease. In mice, these implants successfully prompt the regeneration and repair of damaged or lost muscle tissue, resulting in significant functional improvement.

"While the body has a capacity to repair small defects in skeletal muscle, the only option for larger defects is to surgically move muscle from one part of the body to another. This is like robbing Peter to pay Paul," said George Christ, Ph.D., a professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's Institute for Regenerative Medicine. "Rather than moving existing muscle, our aim is to help the body grow new muscle."

EU Super Coated Conductor Cable

High temperature superconducting (HTS) cables have gained attention in the last couple years as a solution to the shortage of transmission capabilities. Superconductors are materials that lose their resistance to the flow of electrons when cooled to temperatures close to absolute zero – hence, they conduct electricity almost ideally. European researchers initiated the ‘Super coated conductor cable’ (Super3c) project to develop, manufacture and test a 30 meter prototype system expected to be the first in the world based on low-loss HTS cable technology using CC tapes.

Several High temperature superconducting (HTS) cable prototypes have been manufactured in the world with HTS bismuth-based multi-filamentary wires as current carrying elements. This technology is now moving towards the pre-commercial stage through already announced or under discussion multi-hectometre cable projects. However, these multi-filamentary wires are expected to be replaced in the near future by a generation of cheaper HTS tapes, the Coated conductors (CC). According to their final report, SUPER3C is one of the first cables in the world using second generation (2G) HTS tapes as current carrying elements. The 2G-hybrid conductor utilises the advantages of both superconductivity and copper, enabling it to work and interconnect smoothly with conventional network components.

30 meter prototype of the Super Coated Conductor Cable (expected to be cheaper than multi-filament superconductor wires

IMF slightly lowers GDP Forecasts but Sees More Downside Risks

The IMF provided a regular update to its World Economic Outlook (WEO).

The latest World Economic Outlook projects that the global economy will grow 3.5 percent this year, down 0.1 percentage points from the April forecast, and 3.9 percent in 2013, 0.2 percentage points lower.
“More worrisome than these revisions to the baseline forecast is the increase in downside risks,” said Olivier Blanchard, the IMF chief economist and director of the IMF’s Research Department, which prepares the WEO.

The IMF emphasized that the relatively minor setback to the global outlook under its baseline projections is based on three important assumptions:

• that there will be enough policy action for financial conditions in the so-called euro area periphery, which includes Greece and Spain, to ease gradually through 2013;

• that U.S. fiscal policy does not tighten sharply in 2013; and

• that steps by some major emerging markets to stimulate growth gain traction.

Carbon-Based Transistors Ramp Up Speed and Memory for Mobile Devices

Tel Aviv University - Working with carbon molecules called C60 (buckyballs), Mentovich has successfully built a sophisticated memory transistor that can both transfer and store energy, eliminating the need for a capacitor.

This molecular memory transistor, which can be as small as one nanometer, stores and disseminates information at high speed — and it's ready to be produced at existing high-tech fabrication facilities. Major companies in the memory industry have already expressed interest in the technology, says Mentovich, who was awarded first prize for his work at May's European conference in the session on Novel Materials Approaches for Microelectronics of the Materials Research Society.

As many as 15 years ago, technology experts realized that the problem with shrinking electronics would be the physical size of the hardware needed to make them run. The idea of a sophisticated transistor, which could do the job of both the transistor and the capacitor, was a technological dream — until now.

In order to tackle this technology gap, Mentovich was inspired by the work of Israel Prize winner Prof. Avraham Nitzan of TAU's Department of Chemistry, who proved that, due to its special structure, a molecule can store both an electric charge and information at the same time. To apply this finding to transistors, Mentovich used C60 molecules, made up of 60 carbon atoms, and put them in the channels of a transistor, creating a smaller-than-silicone, high-speed transistor that could also do the job of a capacitor.

DARPA Manipulates and extinguish small flames using electric and acoustic suppression

DARPA performers demonstrate techniques to manipulate and extinguish small flames locally using electric and acoustic suppression; results could benefit combustion research.

Fire in enclosed military environments such as ship holds, aircraft cockpits and ground vehicles is a major cause of material destruction and jeopardizes the lives of warfighters. For example, a shipboard fire on the aircraft carrier USS George Washington in May 2008 burned for 12 hours and caused an estimated $70 million in damage. For nearly 50 years, despite the severity of the threat from fire, no new methods for extinguishing or manipulating fire were developed. In 2008, DARPA launched the Instant Fire Suppression (IFS) program to develop a fundamental understanding of fire with the aim of transforming approaches to firefighting.

New Scientist - By using specific frequencies, a fire is killed in a two-pronged attack. First, sound increases the air speed, thinning the layer where combustion occurs and thus making it easier to disrupt the flame. But the acoustics also disturb the surface of the fuel which increases vaporisation, widening the flame and cooling its overall temperature.

New Wave of Industrial Robots

Technology Review - Industrial robots, typically equipped with a movable arm, use lasers or pressure sensors to know when to start and finish a job. A robot can be operated 160 hours a week. Even assuming competition from nimble-fingered humans putting in 12-hour shifts, a single robot might replace two workers, and possibly as many as four.

It takes five days and 325 steps to assemble an iPad. It is a highly structured and predictable task which is well suited to automation.

Foxconn can't replace human workers right away because automating assembly lines would require rejiggering its entire manufacturing process. Larger changes in China also won't occur overnight. Smaller Chinese factories can't afford to invest in robotics, and factory wages are still relatively low—about $315 to $400 per month in the Pearl River Delta, according to Liu Kaiming, director of a Shenzhen-based labor organization called the Institute of Contemporary Observation.

July 15, 2012

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 113

1. Idaho Samizdat - TEPCO's managers didn't want to use salt water to cool the reactors at Fukushima because they had the ludicrous objective of thinking the units could be saved. Jaczko spiked the NRC's plan to review the Yucca Mountain license application because of loyalty to his political sponsor, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, who cares more about the livelihood of gambling casinos in Nevada than the nation's energy security.

Nextbigfuture had over 20 million page views from May 2008 Today

Google Analytics counted over 20 million page views from May 2008 to Today for Nextbigfuture.

Thanks to my readers for the success of Nextbigfuture.

The site was started in early 2005. However, articles before October, 2005 were lost when blogger.com had a problem. The site has been running for 7.5 years. There was about 200,000 pageviews from then until April 2007. Then another 2.5 to 3 million page views from April 2007 to April 2008. Google Analytics and Sitemeter do not agree on the amount of traffic to the site.

There are about 12,200 to 12,400 subscribers.
3468 likes on Facebook.

The most popular article is the March,2011 version of the deaths per TWH article with almost 200,000 pageviews and 9718 facebook shares.

There are 1843 followers on twitter.

DOE funds pre-Exaflop technology development from Intel, AMD, Nvidia and Whamcloud to set the stage for Main Exaflop Supercomputer project

HPCWire - Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, and Whamcloud have been awarded tens of millions of dollars by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to kick-start research and development required to build exascale supercomputers. The work will be performed under the FastForward program, a joint effort run by the DOE Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) that will focus on developing future hardware and software technologies capable of supporting such machines.

Although we're only six to eight years away from the first exaflops systems, the DOE's primary exascale program has yet to be funded. (And since this is an election year in the US, such funding will probably not fall into place until 2013.) In the interim, FastForward was devised in order to begin the needed R&D for some of the exascale foundational technologies, in particular, processors, memory and storage.

At least some of the impetus for the program came from the vendors themselves. According to Mark Seager, Intel's CTO for the company's High Performance Computing Ecosystem group, the DOE was told by multiple commercial partners that research for the component pieces needed to get underway this year if they hoped to field an exascale machine by 2020. That led to the formation of the program, and apparently there was enough loose change rolling around at the Office of Science and NNSA to fund this more modest effort.

Although all the FastForward subcontracts have yet to be made public, as of today there are four known awards:

* Intel: $19 million for both processor and memory technologies
* AMD: $12.6 million for processor and memory technologies
* NVIDIA: $12 million for processor technology
* Whamcloud (along with EMC, Cray and HDF Group): Unknown dollar amount for storage and I/O technologies

DARPA developing lightweight undersuit that reduces injury and augments muscles

DARPA is seeking to make a lightweight, conformal under-suit that is transparent to the user (like a diver’s wetsuit). The suit seeks to employ a system (or web) of closed-loop controlled actuation, transmission, and functional structures that protect injury prone areas, focusing on the soft tissues that connect and interface with the skeletal system. Other novel technologies that prevent, reduce, ambulate, and assist with healing of acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries are also being sought.

In 2013, this "Warrior Web" project has $10.25 million in funding.

We first covered this in September of 2011 and noted how this would be a supersuit like what Edna Mode provided for the Incredibles in the Pixar animation.

In addition to direct injury mitigation, Warrior Web will have the capacity to augment positive work done by the muscles, to reduce the physical burden, by leveraging the web structure to impart joint torque at the ankle, knee, and hip joints. The suit seeks to reduce the metabolic cost of carrying a typical assault load, as well as compensate for the weight of the suit itself, while consuming no more than 100 Watts of electric power from the battery source.

While injury mitigation is a primary goal, a Warrior Web suit system is not intended to interfere with current warfighter “soldier systems,” such as external body armor, rather it aims to augment them to improve warfighter effectiveness.

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