August 18, 2012

Genetically modified Golden Rice prevents Vitamin A deficiency and Blindness

Vitamin A is vital for preventing childhood blindness, which affects 500,000 children worldwide each year. Greenpeace is against using genetically modified rice which is enriched with a lot more Vitamin A. There are now clinical studies that show the rice is 100-150 grams of rice (half a child's daily intake) provides 60 per cent of the vitamin A that is needed.

Natural sweet potatoes has been shown to provide needed vitamin A. However, some children will prefer to eat rice and some may not have access to the sweet potatoes.

More controversial than the naturally bred sweet potatoes is Golden Rice - genetically engineered to contain 30 micrograms of beta-carotene per gram. Ordinary rice has none.

Critics had claimed that the rice is impractical. According to calculations by Greenpeace, people would need to eat huge amounts - as much as 18 kilograms of cooked rice a day - to obtain enough vitamin A, but they are wrong by over 100 times.

A study involving 68 Chinese children demolishes the criticism. Guangwen Tang of Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues have demonstrated that just 100 to 150 grams of the rice - about half the children's daily intake - provided 60 per cent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition - β-Carotene in Golden Rice is as good as β-carotene in oil at providing vitamin A to children

Some of the Full papers and presentations from ICCF-17

Protein-based coating prevents immune response against Brain Computer interfaces and duplicating the function of brain tissue onto a silicon chip

Brain-computer interfaces are at the cutting edge for treatment of neurological and psychological disorder, including Parkinson's, epilepsy, and depression. Among the most promising advance is deep brain stimulation (DBS) — a method in which a silicon chip implanted under the skin ejects high frequency currents that are transferred to the brain through implanted electrodes that transmit and receive the signals. These technologies require a seamless interaction between the brain and the hardware.

Researchers have developed a bioactive coating which not only "camouflages" the electrodes in the brain tissue, but actively suppresses the brain's immune response. By using a protein called an "interleukin (IL)-1 receptor antagonist" to coat the electrodes, the multi-disciplinary team of researchers has potentially found a way to turn a method for short-term relief into a long-term solution. These findings were originally reported in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research.

August 17, 2012

Being Right on Dwave and having correct coverage on Quantum Computers

I usually do not repeat and resummarize the key parts of 80 articles related to Dwave Systems for each new article.

I covered that Dwave got more funding to cover the next two years, so they should reach profitably and be able to reach an IPO in a few years.

I had an interview with DWave CTO Geordie Rose in Dec, 2011

The amount of speedup depends upon the different quantum algorithms that are being run.

If the (cancer radiation) treatment optimization problem were indicative of the speedup of different algorithms, then one might expect (I am extrapolating the 512/128 qubit example)

512 qubits 1000 times faster than 128 qubits
2048 qubits 1000 times faster than 512 qubits

Planetary Resources New Scientist interview

New Scientist - Planetary Resources would like to put up at least 10 or 15 asteroid spotting space telescopes into orbit in the next five years, some of them on Virgin Galactic rockets. The Planetary Resources telescopes will be a lot less capable than Hubble, which is a billion dollar space vehicle the size of a school bus.

Our telescopes - which we call the Arkyd 100 spacecraft - are cubes half-a-metre on a side and will cost around $1 million each, though the first one, of course, will cost much more. But when they are developed to a high level of performance, we want to print them en masse on an assembly line. They will have sub-arc-second resolution, which is just a mind-blowing imaging capability.

The smaller we can make them the lower they cost to launch. Making them the size of a mini fridge, with 22-centimetre-diameter optics, hits the sweet spot between capability and launch cost.

Lab-on-a-chip using Nanowires provides heart attack detection in minutes

Science News - Looking for a specific protein in a drop of blood is like trying to find a notorious white whale on the seven seas — it takes some time. But a new device quickly filters the ocean of molecules in a blood sample, capturing proteins that may warn of an impending heart attack or out-of-whack insulin levels. Besides detecting potential emergencies, such devices could minimize the fraught days a patient spends waiting for lab results, providing them in mere minutes.

Experiments showed the setup detected various levels of troponin T, a cardiac-regulating protein that can signal an impending heart attack, in less than 10 minutes.

In the future, people at home who are having chest pains might use the technology to find out quickly whether they need to get to an emergency room, says biomedical chemist Fernando Patolsky.

The sugar-cube–sized lab-on-a-chip consists of two small compartments connected by a thin channel. In the first compartment is a densely packed forest of silicon nanowires coated with antibodies, molecules that latch onto specific proteins. The researchers made these nanowires very rough and full of holes, greatly increasing the surface area for attaching the protein-grabbing antibodies.

“They are so rough and porous we can turn a 1-centimeter-square wafer into a 300-centimeter-square surface,” Patolsky says.

Nanoletters - Si Nanowires Forest-Based On-Chip Biomolecular Filtering, Separation and Preconcentration Devices: Nanowires Do it All

DARPA has a soft robot with microfluidic channels for camouflage and oozing movement

This robot is made of silicone. It can walk, change color and light up in the dark. It can even change temperature. And it can do all of this for less than $100. In the future, robots like this might be made for just a few dollars.

In a development to be reported in the August 17 issue of Science, researchers led by Drs. George Whitesides and Stephen Morin at Harvard University’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering demonstrated that microfluidic channels in soft robots enable functions including actuation, camouflage, display, fluid transport and temperature regulation. The work is being performed under DARPA’s Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program.

Why does this matter to the Department of Defense? DARPA foresees robots of many shapes and sizes contributing to a wide range of future defense missions, but robotics is still a young field that has focused much of its attention so far on complex hardware. Consequently, the costs associated with robotics are typically very high. What DARPA has achieved with silicone-based soft robots is development of a very low cost manufacturing method that uses molds. By introducing narrow channels into the molds through which air and various types of fluids can be pumped, a robot can be made to change its color, contrast, apparent shape and temperature to blend with its environment, glow through chemiluminescence, and most importantly, achieve actuation, or movement, through pneumatic pressurization and inflation of the channels. The combination of low cost and increased capabilities means DARPA has removed one of the major obstacles to greater DoD adoption of robot technology.

In DARPA’s soft robot, the microfluidic networks used for camouflage or display are contained in thin silicone sheets referred to as color layers. Various heated or cooled dye, chemiluminescent and fluorescent solutions and water can be pumped through the color layers to adjust temperature and appearance.

MIT has penny sized ion thruster for moving small satellites

A penny-sized rocket thruster may soon power the smallest satellites in space. The device, designed by Paulo Lozano, an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, bears little resemblance to today’s bulky satellite engines, which are laden with valves, pipes and heavy propellant tanks. Instead, Lozano’s design is a flat, compact square — much like a computer chip — covered with 500 microscopic tips that, when stimulated with voltage, emit tiny beams of ions. Together, the array of spiky tips creates a small puff of charged particles that can help propel a shoebox-sized satellite forward.

“They’re so small that you can put several [thrusters] on a vehicle,” Lozano says. He adds that a small satellite outfitted with several microthrusters could “not only move to change its orbit, but do other interesting things — like turn and roll.”

Mini ion thrusters are manufactured using micro-manufacturing techniques. This image shows an example of the different parts comprising a thruster. The finalized device is at the bottom right, measuring 1 cm by 1 cm and 2 mm in thickness.
Photo: M. Scott Brauer

These propulsions systems might be useful for the 20 kilogram Planetary Resources telescopes. Although converting the stationary Planetary Resources telescopes to prospecting would require quite a bit of fuel even for ion drive engines.

Lightweight Aerospace Plastics can be used to build radically cheaper pipelines

Mo Ehsani, professor emeritus of civil engineering at the University of Arizona, has designed a new, lightweight underground pipe he says could transform the pipeline construction industry.

Radically cheaper pipelines will be able to transform many industries. There are many transformative transportation systems that can be made with cheaper pipelines. It could also enable faster deployment of plumbing and water infrastructure in developing countries. Carbon fiber fabric and lightweight honeycomb materials, plus mobile manufacturing platform, make infinite pipeline technology cheaper and greener while boosting local economies.

Cheap Pipelines Will Enable Many Things. A Small Sample

There are low pressure and vacuum tube trains.

There is the Shweeb monorail.

Details on the new pipeline Manufacturing system

Instead of conventional concrete or steel, Ehsani's new pipe consists of a central layer of lightweight plastic honeycomb, similar to that used in the aerospace industry, sandwiched between layers of resin-saturated carbon fiber fabric.

In combination, these materials are as strong, or stronger, than conventional steel and concrete pipes, which are time consuming and expensive to manufacture and transport.

Concrete and steel pipes are built in short sections to fit on standard 18-wheel trucks, but Ehsani's new pipe can be built onsite as a single section of virtually infinite length, hence the product name InfinitPipe.

DARPA autonomous robotic surface vessel to track and follow enemy subs for months

The growing number of adversaries able to build and operate quiet diesel electric submarines is a national security threat that affects U.S. and friendly naval operations around the world. To address this emerging threat, DARPA recently awarded a contract for Phases 2-4 of its Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program to Science Applications International.

During Phases 2-4 the ACTUV program will attempt to design, construct and demonstrate an unmanned vessel that tracks quiet diesel electric submarines for months at a time spanning thousands of kilometers of ocean with minimal human input.

“Key features and technology for the vessel include advanced software, robust autonomy for safe operations in accordance with maritime laws, and innovative sensors to continuously track the quietest of submarine targets,” said Scott Littlefield, DARPA program manager.

If successful, ACTUV would create a technological strategic advantage against the burgeoning quiet submarine threat and reduce manpower and other costs associated with current ASW trail operations.

“Our goal is to transition an operational game-changer to the Navy,” said Littlefield. “This should create an asymmetry to our advantage, negating a challenging submarine threat at one-tenth their cost of building subs. The program also establishes foundational technologies for future unmanned naval systems.”

Scalable printed electronics: an organic decoder addressing ferroelectric non-volatile memory

Nature Scientific Reports - Scalable circuits of organic logic and memory are realized using all-additive printing processes. A 3-bit organic complementary decoder is fabricated and used to read and write non-volatile, rewritable ferroelectric memory. The decoder-memory array is patterned by inkjet and gravure printing on flexible plastics. Simulation models for the organic transistors are developed, enabling circuit designs tolerant of the variations in printed devices. We explain the key design rules in fabrication of complex printed circuits and elucidate the performance requirements of materials and devices for reliable organic digital logic.

Microphotographs of (a) printed OTFTs and (b) via connections. (c) Schematic of an OTFT cross-section.

Offshore wind should use steel cables to hold towers in place for more efficient use of material

A Cambridge University study suggests that offshore wind farms could be 100 per cent more efficient in terms of energy payback if manufacturers embraced new methods for making the structures that support the turbines.

As wind farms are increasingly sited offshore rather than on land, and installed at water depths of up to 40 metres, a Cambridge University engineer is urging the wind power industry to look again at the design of the heavy supporting towers and foundations used out at sea in order to improve the energy payback achieved.

Jim Platts of the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) believes that the wind power sector could achieve significantly higher payback ratios if turbine manufacturers used guyed towers (towers held in place by steel cables) made in composite materials rather than free-standing towers made in conventional steel materials.

A preliminary study undertaken at IfM suggests that payback ratios for offshore wind farms could be doubled if the industry embraced new construction methods.

Wind turbines use about 10 times more steel and 5 times more concrete to generate the same amount of power as a nuclear power plant. One thousand 3 megawatt wind turbines are needed to equal one 1 GW nuclear power plant. The wind turbines have about 30% capacity factor. Those wind turbines would be 60 stories tall. Apparently the offshore wind turbines use 2.5 to 3 times more steel and concrete for the same power and are more inefficient in terms of material needed than onshore wind.

Per Peterson, Prof at Berkeley provides information on construction material for energy. 95% of construction inputs are steel and concrete.

China is making 1250MW AP1000's now, 1400MW in the next batch and 1700MW for the ones after that

Apple is over $600 billion in valuation

August 16, 2012

A $1.2bn Living Earth Simulator

Technology Review - Professor Dirk Helbing of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich wants to build a “living earth simulator” to probe the kind of dangerous cascading effects that he believes threaten financial markets, power grids and other complex systems that modern life relies upon. He has a good chance at getting €1bn ($1.2bn) of EU research funding to build it, as co-leader of one of six projects competing for two huge research grants.

The ultimate goal of the FuturICT flagship project is to understand and manage complex, global, socially interactive systems, with a focus on sustainability and resilience.

The FuturICT flagship project will align the research of hundreds of the best scientists in Europe through a 10 year, 1 billion euro research programme to develop new methods which integrate different scientific models, data and concepts. To build capacity, regional support will be developed alongside educational programmes for young researchers.

FuturICT will build a sophisticated framework for simulation, visualisation and participation, called the FuturICT Platform. A suite of models forming the Living Earth Simulator will power Observatories, to detect and mitigate crises plus identify opportunities in specific areas.

Gene Control, Delivered Directly to the Brain

Technology Review - A biotech company called Alnylam announced today that a small clinical trial for a genetic therapy based on RNA interference, or RNAi, suggests that the technique can have a powerful effect on its target gene. The therapeutic effect lasted for over a month with just one dose. The company is also working with a medical device maker, Medtronic, on a way to deliver RNAi treatment directly to the brain, in order to treat the degenerative brain disease Huntington's.

The patients in the trial have a genetic disorder that originates in the liver and leads to the buildup of protein deposits in many organs. Alnylam, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company, says its RNAi therapeutic, given at its highest dose, reduces the amount of the faulty protein that spurs the disease by almost 94 percent.

The positive results add weight to the notion that RNAi therapeutics could eventually help patients with a range of genetic diseases. RNAi therapy involves researchers producing snippets of RNA, a close relative of DNA, that match a portion of a gene of interest. When administered, this so-called small interfering RNA (siRNA) causes the destruction of that gene's products before it can be turned into a protein.

In Vivo Drug Factories to produce drugs in a specific spot and a specific time

The Scientist - researchers use UV light to stimulate protein production in nano-sized delivery capsules in mice.

Science is one step closer to producing drugs in the right place at the right time in the body, avoiding the collateral damage of untargeted treatments. Researchers led by Daniel Anderson at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have designed nanoparticles that can be stimulated via UV light to produce proteins on demand in vivo.

The new method, which involves packaging the molecular machinery for making proteins into a membraned capsule, allows the researchers to spatially and temporally regulate protein production, said Zhen Gu, who also researches nanoparticle drug delivery at North Carolina State and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, but did not participate in the research. “They can control generation of a protein at any time with a trigger of light.”

The scientists created the nano-sized “protein factories” by using lipids to encapsulate polymerase and other machinery necessary for protein production from E. coli, along with a DNA plasmid containing a gene of interest. To block transcription until the right moment, they added a DNA “photo-labile cage” to the plasmid—a small chemical that inhibits transcription but is cleaved by exposure to UV light.

To test the principle in vivo, the researchers used luciferase as the reporter protein and injected mice with the nanovesicles. After zapping them with UV light at the site of injection, they were able to measure a local burst of luminescence.

Peter Thiel Invests in 3D Bioprinted Meat Startup

CNET - Peter Thiel's philanthropic foundation gives up to $350,000 to a company named Modern Meadow, which plans to use 3D bioprinting to create an "edible prototype" that's a meat replacement.

Modern Meadow, is pitching bioprinted meat as a more environmentally-friendly way to satisfy a natural human craving for animal protein. Co-founder Andras Forgacs has sharply criticized the overall cost of traditional livestock practices, saying "if you look at the resource intensity of everything that goes into a hamburger, it is an environmental train wreck."

Modern Meadow prepared a summary of its work as part of a submission to the Department of Agriculture's small business grant program.

Unlocking more of Canada's Oilsands While Emitting Less Pollution and Using Less Water

1. Wall Street Journal - oil companies here are experimenting with technologies that could unlock even more reserves from what is some of the world's heaviest and stickiest petroleum. The new technologies could also drive down the cost of producing oil in Canada.

One consortium aims to get oil flowing to the surface by sending radio waves from huge antennae pushed through wells deep underground—adopting technology first developed for the U.S. government to eavesdrop on underground bunkers.

Another company is working on inserting electrical heating coils into wells to melt the oil, while other firms are tinkering with petroleum-based solvents they hope to pump into wells to get more oil out.

Superhard Diamond-Denting Material Created

A superhard mixture of crushed carbon spheres and a hydrocarbon solvent is the world’s first hybrid crystalline/amorphous material. Its creation by an international scientific team that included Wendy Mao, a Stanford University professor and SLAC researcher.

The new material is one of a class that is hard enough to dent diamond, the hardest known material. The team created it by squeezing a mixture of soccer-ball-shaped carbon-60 molecules (popularly known as “buckyballs”) and a xylene solvent to extremely high pressures – up to 600,000 times atmospheric pressure – in a device called a diamond anvil cell. The cell holds a tiny amount of material that is pressed between the flattened tips of two opposing diamonds. Scientists can shine lasers or X-rays through the transparent diamonds to observe and identify any atomic-scale changes caused by the rising pressure.

These new materials were created at Argonne National Laboratory's Advanced Photon Source by a team mostly associated with the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Carnegie Institution of Washington - The team discovered that there is a narrow window of pressure, about 320,000 times the normal atmosphere, under which this new structured carbon is created and does not bounce back to the cage structure when pressure is removed. This is crucial for finding practical applications for the new material going forward.

The structure of carbon-60 solvate made with C-60 cages and m-xylene solvent.

Science - Long-Range Ordered Carbon Clusters: A Crystalline Material with Amorphous Building Blocks

Dwave Adiabatic Quantum Computer used by Harvard to solve Protein folding problems

A team of Harvard University researchers, led by Professor Alan Aspuru-Guzik, have used Dwave's adiabatic quantum computer to solve a protein folding problem. The researchers ran instances of a lattice protein folding model, known as the Miyazawa-Jernigan model, on a D-Wave One quantum computer.

The research used 81 qubits and got the correct answer 13 times out of 10,000. However these kinds of problems usually have simple verification to determine the quality of the answer. So it cut down the search space from a huge number to 10,000. Dwave has been working on a 512 qubit chip for the last 10 months. The adiabatic chip does not have predetermined speed up amounts based on more qubits and depends upon what is being solved but in general the larger number of qubits will translate into better speed and larger problems that can be solved. I interviewed the CTO of Dwave Systems (Geordie Rose back in Dec, 2011). Usually the system is not yet faster than regular supercomputers (and often not faster than a desktop computer) for the 128 qubit chip but could be for some problems with the 512 qubit chip and should definitely be faster for many problems with an anticipated 2048 qubit chip. However, the Dwave system can run other kinds of algorithms and solutions which can do things that regular computers cannot. The system was used by Google to train image recognition systems to remove outliers in an automated way.

ABSTRACT - We present the first quantum-mechanical implementation of lattice protein models using a programmable quantum device. We were able to encode and to solve the global minima solution for a small tetrapeptide and hexapeptide chain under several experimental schemes involving 5 and 8 qubits for the four-amino-acid sequence (Hydrophobic-Polar model) and 5, 27, 28, and 81 qubits experiments for the six-amino-acid sequence under the Miyazawa-Jernigan model for general pairwise interactions. For the experiment with 8 qubits, we simulated the dynamics of the quantum device with a Redfield equation with no adjustable parameters, obtaining excellent agreement with experiment. Since the quantum annealing algorithm not only finds the ground state but also the low-lying excited states, it provides information about the relevant minimum energy compact structures of protein sequences and it is useful to evaluate designability and stability such as that found in natural protein sequences, where the global minimum of free energy is well separated in energy from other misfolded states. The approach employed here can be extended to treat other problems in biophysics and statistical mechanics such as molecular recognition, protein design, and sequence alignment.

This was 81 qubit work. Dwave announced a 512 qubit chip was created late in 2011 and was being prepared for commercialization in 2012. The published research work generally lags the current work by 1-2 years. 512 qubits used for protein folding solutions would be a lot faster and should be able to solve far larger problems. Dwave should also be developing 2048 qubit chips in the next few years.

Dwave recently landed the funding that will keep them going for another two years, which will hopefully take them to the point of financial profitability. At that point they would be able to IPO

"The D-Wave computer found the ground-state conformation of six-amino acid lattice protein models. This is the first time a quantum device has been used to tackle optimization problems related to the natural sciences," said Professor Alán Aspuru-Guzik from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University.

Proteins contribute to virtually every process that occurs within a cell. The shape of a protein is closely related to its function. Understanding the shape of a protein helps researchers understand how it behaves, accelerating advances in many different areas of life sciences, including drug and vaccine design.

A cornerstone of computational biophysics, lattice protein folding models provide useful insight into the energy landscapes of real proteins. Understanding these landscapes, and how real proteins fold into the shapes that help give them their function, is an extremely difficult problem for today's computers to solve.

Dr. Alejandro Perdomo-Ortiz, the lead author of the paper, stated that: "Knowing that we can use real quantum computers to solve hard problems in biology is an exciting and important result. The techniques developed in this report can also be used to tackle other biophysical problems such as molecular recognition, protein design, and sequence alignment."

Prisoner Dilemma, which was used Cold War Politics Strategizing, has Winning Solutions

Technology Review - The world of game theory is currently on fire. In May, Freeman Dyson at Princeton University and William Press at the University of Texas announced that they had discovered a previously unknown strategy for the game of prisoner's dilemma which guarantees one player a better outcome than the other.

That's a monumental surprise. Theorists have studied Prisoner's Dilemma for decades, using it as a model for the emergence of co-operation in nature. This work has had a profound impact on disciplines such as economics, evolutionary biology and, of course, game theory itself.

The game is this: imagine Alice and Bob have committed a crime and are arrested. The police offer each one a deal--snitch and you go free while your friend does 6 months in jail. If both Alice and Bob snitch, they both get 3 months in jail. If they both remain silent, they both get one month in jail for a lesser offence.

What should Alice and Bob do?

If they co-operate, they both spend only one month in jail. Nevertheless, in a single game, the best strategy is to snitch because it guarantees that you don't get the maximum jail term.

However, the game gets more interesting when played in repeated rounds because players who have been betrayed in one round have the chance to get their own back in the next iteration.

Until now, everyone thought the best strategy in iterative prisoner's dilemma was to copy your opponents behaviour in the previous round. This tit-for-tat approach guarantees that you both spend the same time in jail.

That conclusion was based on decades of computer simulations and a certain blind faith in the symmetry of the solution.

So the news that there are other strategies that allow one player to not only beat the other but to determine their time in jail is nothing short of revolutionary.

The new approach is called the zero determinant strategy (because it involves the process of setting a mathematical object called a determinant to zero).

Arxiv - Winning isn't everything: Evolutionary stability of Zero Determinant strategies (5 pages)

Zero Determinant (ZD) strategies are a new class of probabilistic and conditional strategies that are able to unilaterally set the expected payoff of an opponent in iterated plays of the Prisoner's Dilemma irrespective of the opponent's strategy, or else to set the ratio be- tween a ZD player's and their opponent's expected payo ff. Here we show that while ZD strategies are weakly dominant, they are not evolutionarily stable and will instead evolve into less coercive strategies. We suggest that ZD strategies with an informational advantage over other players that allows them to recognize other ZD strategies will be evolutionarily stable (and able to exploit other players). However, such an advantage is bound to be short-lived as opposing strategies evolve to counteract the recognition.

Scaling Mach Effect Propulsion

Talk Polywell has a description of scaling Mach Effect (M-E) Propulsion from the current work by James Woodward.

M-E and the thrusts from M-E devices are 2 different things. The thrusts from the current UFG design (Woodward design) noted in this paper scale with the cube of frequency, and the frequency is limited only by the ionic limits of the material or "phase angle" that describes how quickly the ceramic can move. It is limited to the low Ghz region, so we're looking to start with an ability to scale up this thrust efficiency many orders magnitude. The current test article operates at 38kHz, so at least 5 orders magnitude frequency. The simplest reason for not building test items in the microwave region is that the electrical engineering for such power systems is really "black magic" indulged in by the best PhD EE's. Without a real staff with such people onboard, Ghz UFG's are not an option.

The thrust efficiency also scales with the cube of the k of the ceramic used. The PZT in the current test items is cheap Steiner-Martin stuff available on EBay. It has a k of about 1,000. By contrast, the PMN-15 available from TRS has a k value of ~ 20,000-25,000. Simple substitution would yield an increase of thrust of about 8,000X.

The trouble of course is, there is no such thing as "simple substitution" when you are doing a pure research program. This work reported wasn't R&D. Future work with PMN-PT will be closer to R&D, but it's important to recognize that for instance, the PZT used in the past is a piezo-active material that possesses both a 1w piezo bulk acceleration response, and a 2w electrostrictive response. The current design makes use of both of these. PMN-PT is an electrostrictor with no characterization available about it's 1w piezo response, so using it may require a new design.

Reinventing the toilet prize winners

About 2.5 billion people use unsafe toilets or defecate in the open. Poor sanitation causes severe diarrhea, which kills 1.5 million children each year. Smart investments in sanitation can reduce disease, increase family incomes, keep girls in school, help preserve the environment, and enhance human dignity.

In July 2011, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced an initiative to reinvent the toilet, along with $265 million in grants spread across a variety of efforts to spur greater innovation in sanitation.

The California Institute of Technology received the first prize of $100,000 for a solar-powered toilet design and generates energy in the form of hydrogen and electricity. Loughborough University won the $60,000 second-place prize for a toilet that produces charcoal, minerals and clean water by product. The $40,000 third place prize went to the University of Toronto for developing a toilet that turns human waste into clean water and other clean resources.

Miracle Economic Growth from Global Supply Chains

The Economist magazine examines the question - Is the age of the growth miracle at an end?

Harvard economist Dani Rodrik, in which he argued that the age of the "growth miracle" was over. Industrialisation, long the engine of economic development, is becoming less able to support catch-up growth, he suggested, thanks to the falling labour-intensity of manufacturing, Chinese competition, and a rising mercantilist tide across the rich world.

Michael Pettis agrees with Rofrik and thinks that growth miracles are investment booms and they end with misinvestment, debt and inflation.

Richard Baldwin, whose research on a supply-chain-oriented view of globalisation and development was recently featured in the print edition, strongly disagrees:

The truth is that globalization has been driven by advances in two very different types of "connective" technologies: transportation and transmission. Up till the late 1980s, globalization was mostly about lower trade and transportation costs. This "first unbundling" of production was associated with rising G7 shares of world income and trade...

Since then, globalization has mostly been about lower communications and transmission costs. This "second unbundling" of production has seen G7 shares of world income and trade fall dramatically. Globalization’s second unbundling involves two phenomena:

* Fractionalisation (unbundling of supply chains into finer stages of production); and
* Geographic dispersion of the unbundled stages.

Global supply chains (GSCs) are the connective tissue that allows fractionalized and dispersed stages to operate as a harmonious whole.

GSCs transformed the world by allowing poor nations to join supply chains rather than investing decades in building up their own. This is where Rodrik’s analysis falls down. He calls these "growth miracles" because he overlooks the fundamental change in the nature of globalization that enabled them

August 15, 2012

Printed Buildings Update in a TED talk

We have had frequent coverage of contour crafting aka printing buildings using a big inkjet printer with cement as the ink

There is a TEDx talk from a fellow named Behrokh Khoshnevis, who is a professor of engineering at USC, where he directs something called the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies. CRAFT has stated as its grand challenge “building a custom-designed house in a day while drastically reducing the costs, injuries, waste and environmental impact associated with traditional construction techniques.” The applications of such rapid-fire housing are endless: affordable housing for the poor; “extraterrestrial buildings constructed from in situ materials”; emergency FEMA-style housing, and the like.

Contour crafting looks interesting but it is developing far more slowly than China's factory mass produced skyscraper system (being developed by Broad Group of China. Still it is good to see progress on this method as well.

New nanoparticles shrink tumors in mice

Eurekalert - By sequencing cancer-cell genomes, scientists have discovered vast numbers of genes that are mutated, deleted or copied in cancer cells. This treasure trove is a boon for researchers seeking new drug targets, but it is nearly impossible to test them all in a timely fashion.

To help speed up the process, MIT researchers have developed RNA-delivering nanoparticles that allow for rapid screening of new drug targets in mice. In their first mouse study, done with researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad Institute, they showed that nanoparticles that target a protein known as ID4 can shrink ovarian tumors.

Science Translational Medicine - Targeted Tumor-Penetrating siRNA Nanocomplexes for Credentialing the Ovarian Cancer Oncogene ID4

Progress to a vaccine for heart disease?

Eurekalert - Most people probably know that heart disease remains the nation's No. 1 killer. But what many may be surprised to learn is that cholesterol has a major accomplice in causing dangerous arterial plaque buildup that can trigger a heart attack. The culprit? Inflammatory cells produced by the immune system.

A number of research studies have demonstrated inflammation's role in fueling plaque buildup, also known as atherosclerosis, which is the underlying cause of most heart attacks and strokes, but knowledge of which immune cells are key to this process has been limited – until now.

Researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology have identified the specific type of immune cells (CD4 T cells) that orchestrate the inflammatory attack on the artery wall. Further, the researchers discovered that these immune cells behave as if they have previously seen the antigen that causes them to launch the attack. "The thing that excites me most about this finding is that these immune cells appear to have 'memory' of the molecule brought forth by the antigen-presenting cells," said Klaus Ley, M.D., a renowned expert in vascular immunology, who led the study in mouse models. "Immune memory is the underlying basis of successful vaccines. This means that conceptually it becomes possible to consider the development of a vaccine for heart disease."

Science Fiction Author Harry Harrison has died

BBC News- American science fiction author Harry Harrison, who also created the Stainless Steel Rat series, has died aged 87.

His 1966 dystopian novel Make Room! Make Room! also inspired 1973 film Soylent Green starring Charlton Heston.

Harrison's first novel, Deathworld, was published in 1960, while the first book in the Stainless Steel Rat series was published a year later.

The last of the series was published just two years ago in 2010 and the books are widely regarded as producing one of science fiction's great anti-heroes, Slippery Jim diGriz, aka The Stainless Steel Rat.

The author also parodied the sci-fi genre in his seven Bill the Galactic Hero books, which were first seen in 1965. He saw his work as anti-war and anti-militaristic.

Room-temperature solid-state maser

Nature - The invention of the laser has resulted in many innovations, and the device has become ubiquitous. However, the maser, which amplifies microwave radiation rather than visible light, has not had as large an impact, despite being instrumental in the laser’s birth. The maser’s relative obscurity has mainly been due to the inconvenience of the operating conditions needed for its various realizations: atomic and free-electron masers require vacuum chambers and pumping; and solid-state masers, although they excel as low-noise amplifiers and are occasionally incorporated in ultrastable oscillators typically require cryogenic refrigeration. Most realizations of masers also require strong magnets, magnetic shielding or both. Overcoming these various obstacles would pave the way for improvements such as more-sensitive chemical assays, more-precise determinations of biomolecular structure and function, and more-accurate medical diagnostics (including tomography) based on enhanced magnetic resonance spectrometers incorporating maser amplifiers and oscillators. Here we report the experimental demonstration of a solid-state maser operating at room temperature in pulsed mode. It works on a laboratory bench, in air, in the terrestrial magnetic field and amplifies at around 1.45 gigahertz. In contrast to the cryogenic ruby maser, in our maser the gain medium is an organic mixed molecular crystal, p-terphenyl doped with pentacene, the latter being photo-excited by yellow light. The maser’s pumping mechanism exploits spin-selective molecular intersystem crossing10 into pentacene’s triplet ground state. When configured as an oscillator, the solid-state maser’s measured output power of around −10 decibel milliwatts is approximately 100 million times greater than that of an atomic hydrogen maser, which oscillates at a similar frequency (about 1.42 gigahertz). By exploiting the high levels of spin polarization readily generated by intersystem crossing in photo-excited pentacene and other aromatic molecules, this new type of maser seems to be capable of amplifying with a residual noise temperature far below room temperature.

Anatomy of the maser. A crystal of p-terphenyl doped with pentacene is located in the a.c. magnetic field of the TE01δ mode of a microwave resonator and illuminated with a beam of yellow light from a pulsed dye laser.

Discover Magazine 80 beats has coverage

Lasers and masers work on the same principle, amplifying light through a process called stimulated emission, except that lasers amplify visible light while masers act on microwaves. Light and microwaves are both forms of electromagnetic radiation, but microwaves have a wavelength 100,000 times greater than that of visible light. But although the maser has been used for deep-space communications and atomic clocks, lasers have always outshone their predecessors.

While the room-temperature maser is currently a solution with few applications, it may rise to prominence for its amplifying ability. Amplifiers are a vital component in any electronic circuit. The lower their noise, the better amplifiers perform—and masers have very little noise.

Hypersonic X-51A WaveRider lost over the Pacific

After approximately 15 seconds of flight, the experimental aircraft designed to fly at six times the speed of sound was unable to maintain control during a test run Tuesday and was lost, the Air Force said in a statement.

The unmanned X-51A WaveRider was expected to reach Mach 6 after it was dropped by a B-52 bomber off the Southern California coast near Point Mugu, but a faulty control fin compromised the flight.

"It is unfortunate that a problem with this subsystem caused a termination before we could light the Scramjet engine," Charlie Brink, the X-51A program manager, said in a statement. "All our data showed we had created the right conditions for engine ignition and we were very hopeful to meet our test objectives."

AI, Robotics and Sensors everywhere timeline

There is a Less Wrong article about AI timeline predictions. I think far better sensors, cameras and motion detection will drive AI capabilities and bring robots effectively into the wild and out of the labs. Sensors and smart tattoo tagging will make the task of figuring out the environment easy for robots and less of a sodoku puzzle for the blind problem that robots currently have using inferior cameras and not having objects tagged and able to be wireless queried.

Here is my timeline of the next few years in AI, robotics and sensors everywhere.

By 2018
* Terascale neuromorphic chips (memristors synapes, nanostore memory (logic and memory together)

* Many billions and probably trillions of electronic tattoos (less than a penny each in most cases) with processing, sensors, memory, wireless

* 2000 qubit adiabatic quantum computers

* 50 gigapixel cameras for a few thousand dollars, a gigapixel for a few hundred
motion detection at ten micron precision (next generation the size of a quarter or so, added to smartphones and tablets) and slightly more expensive versions with the super high resolution cameras to cover large volumes.

* Very capable robotics and car automation. Robotics still at the co-operation and assistance level for people. Some simple tasks can be fully automated.

By 2025
* The human brain project (if funded would be done and if not there are other DARPA and asian projects of comparable scale)
* Memristors at exascale (supercomputer class), petascale for very affordable systems
* Sensors even more capable
* Electronic tattoos even cheaper and more capable.
* Deep robotics commercialization adoption.
* Beamed power and persistent UAVs
* Megascale or gigascale adiabatic quantum computers

More tracking of the $5.3 million two year extension of funding for EMC2 Fusion

Talk Polywell - is tracking the US Navy EMC2 Fusion funding.

In May, 2012, Nextbigfuture reported: The Navy is funding EMC2 an additional $5.3 million over next 2 years to work on the problem of pumping electrons into the Polywell. Big new pulsed power supply to support the electron guns (100+A, 10kV). WB-8 has been operating at 0.8 Tesla (8 times stronger magnetic field than any previous version). There was a review done of the work and the recommendations were to continue and expand the effort.

General Services Administration - Description Of Requirement: Plasma Wiffleball 8.0

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy) : 05/03/2012
Effective Date (mm/dd/yyyy) : 05/03/2012
Completion Date (mm/dd/yyyy) : 10/31/2013
Est. Ultimate Completion Date (mm/dd/yyyy) : 09/10/2014

Action Obligation:...........................$0.00.....$7,855,504.14
Base And Exercised Options Value:....$5,247,611.00....$16,319,940.95
Base And All Options Value:..........$5,247,611.00....$17,558,191.74 

Back in late 2010 and early 2011 they had indicated the WB8 would be done by now. Below are the old quotes. they show the slippage of two years to work on the electron injection problems.

Novel nano-structures could enable commercializable hydrogen storage

Eurekalert - For the first time, engineers at the University of New South Wales have demonstrated that hydrogen can be released and reabsorbed from a promising storage material, overcoming a major hurdle to its use for energy storage and part of a system that displaces oil for cars.

Researchers from the Materials Energy Research Laboratory in nanoscale (MERLin) at UNSW have synthesised nanoparticles of a commonly overlooked chemical compound called sodium borohydride (NaBH4) and encased these inside nickel shells. Their unique nanostructure has demonstrated remarkable hydrogen storage properties.

"No one has ever tried to synthesise these particles at the nanoscale because they thought it was too difficult, and couldn't be done. We're the first to do so, and demonstrate that energy in the form of hydrogen can be stored with sodium borohydride at practical temperatures and pressures," says Dr Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsou from the School of Chemical Engineering at UNSW.

Considered a major a fuel of the future, able to bridge the gap between renewables and fossil fuels, hydrogen could be used to power buildings, portable electronics and vehicles – but this application hinges on practical storage technology.

Lightweight compounds known as borohydrides (including lithium and sodium compounds) are known to be effective storage materials but it was believed that once the energy was released it could not be reabsorbed – a critical limitation. This perceived "irreversibility" means there has been little focus on sodium borohydride.

The core-shell NaBH4@Ni nanoparticles show high reversible hydrogen storage under reasonable conditions. Credit: ACS, Christian and Aguey-Zinsou

ACS Nano - A Core-Shell Strategy Leading to High Reversible Hydrogen Storage Capacity for NaBH4

August 14, 2012

Latest Mach Effect Propulsion work by James Woodward

Talk Polywell has a summary of the latest Mach Effect experiment and paper by James Woodward.

Full Paper - Recent Results of an Investigation of Mach Effect Thrusters (15 pages)

ABSTRACT - The theory underlying Mach effects – fluctuations of the restmasses of accelerating objects in which internal energy changes take place – and their use for propulsion is briefly recapitulated. Experimental apparatus based on a very sensitive thrust balance is briefly described. The experimental protocol employed to search for expected Mach effects is laid out, and the results of this experimental investigation are presented. A series of tests conducted to explore the origin of the thrust signals seen are described, and two of those tests – the most likely spurious sources of thrust signals – are considered in some detail. The thrust signals seen, if genuine Mach effects, suggest that “advanced and exotic” propulsion can be achieved with realistic resources.

Conclusion - We have seen that when the results of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe project are taken into consideration, together with the work of Dennis Sciama, Carl Brans, Keneth Nordtvedt, and others, it follows that inertial forces are gravitational in origin. Moreover, an inertial effect that results from the acceleration of bodies with changing internal energies produces fluctuations in the restmasses of the accelerating objects. Those fluctuating restmasses can be used to demonstrate the reality of these “Mach” effects, as described above. That demonstration involves only one of the two Mach effects predicted by theory. But if it is present, then the other effect must exist too. And if it exists, then in principle it should be possible to produce the gargantuan amount of exotic matter needed to make starships and stargates technically feasible. We therefore recommend that the exploration of Mach effects be pursued with resolve.

The thrust balance used in the experiment whose results are reported here. C-flex flexural bearings in the central column support the balance beam and provide the restoring torque for thrust measurements. The position of the beam is sensed with a Philtech optical position sensor whose probe is attached to the stepper motor to the left of the damper.

Experimental Protocols

When experiments with PZT stacks were first designed over a dozen years ago, two procedures were used in collecting data. Sweeps of chosen ranges of frequencies were done, chiefly to identify the presence and locations of resonant behaviors. Once found, the frequency of the applied signal(s) was adjusted to the resonant frequencies (one at a time) and sustained pulses of power with a half second to several seconds duration were administered. In addition to the applied voltage and thrust response, several other data channels were recorded – including the response of an accelerometer embedded in the PZT stack and the temperature measured with a thermistor embedded in the aluminum cap that clamps the stack to the brass reaction disk. The cycles of data were computer controlled so as to be identical to each other, simplifying the task of signal averaging with multiple cycles to suppress random noise in the data.

North Dakota reaches 660,332 barrels of oil per day in June

North Dakota has reached another oil production record of 660,332 barrels of oil per day. It was over 20,000 barrels of oil per day more than the previous month. It was over 100,000 barrels of oil per day more than in February, 2012. It was 300,000 barrels of oil per day more than in March of 2011.

Elon Musk: Next Six Months Crucial to Tesla's future

Technology Review - Elon Musk is considered one of today’s most audacious technology entrepreneurs. But even he recognizes that Tesla Motors is entering a challenging period for the electric vehicle company.

Tesla began production of its second car, the Model S sedan in June. This month, the company said that it would meet its target of delivering 5,000 Model S vehicles this year.

Aol Energy - Elon said "The challenge Tesla faces over the next several months, which is a very difficult one, is to scale up production and achieve enough of a gross margin on the product that we get to a situation where we're cash flow positive. If we aren't able to do that we will join the graveyard of all the other car company startups of the last 90 years."

Musk said that if margins improve, Tesla would begin making "a couple of 100,000 units" of its 3rd generation car with a $30,000 sticker price and 20%-25% lighter than the Model S.

"We can show that it's technologically possible to other manufacturers. If Tesla doesn't make it I hope we have nonetheless served that purpose. I don't want to sound dour but it's definitely going to be a tough six months."

Reports from the 17th International Conference on Cold Fusion

Ecat World - Tyler van Houwelingen provides a report from the 17th International Conference on Cold Fusion

After seeing the DGT (Defkalion) presentation, speaking with them and speaking with people who have been onsite to see the hyperion in Greece, my take is that they are farther away from having a commercial ready device than we had hoped. Based on what people are telling me here with first hand knowledge, as recently as 3 weeks ago they were still unable to obtain stable demos of their technology (problems with the spark plugs failing), thus I suspect no chance of any 3rd party results soon as we had hoped and they had promised.

DGT does appear to be pretty sound both with the science and engineering, however I believe they will need more resources and a bit of luck to get this to market in the next 6-12 months. IMHO

Brillouin is also very solid, as we knew, but still probably at least 1 year from commercial readiness as well. IMHO

That just leaves Rossi in the short term and there are lots of mixed messages about him. Some things people with first hand knowledge are telling me makes me more confident, some things less.

Defkalion released a paper (3.8 MB word document, 6 pages) with technical descriptions.

Ecat World - Defkalion reports that their reactors are manually fired around 10 times per hour to create the reactions, and that the COP ratio (energy in/energy out) ranges from 1:8 – 1:22, with maximum temperatures of 849 C. The maximum heat energy produced “per reaction cycle” is 92Wh. The longest test run reported lasted for six weeks and no degradation in performance was reported over that time.

DGT state that their path towards industrialization involves expanding lab facilities in Canada and Switzerland during the latter part of this year, carrying out industrial prototype tests and securing certification ‘within the next months’, and setting up production lines and support networks ‘within the next year’

Jed Rothwell reports on the Celani Demo and plans to make it self sustaining

An Artificial Retina with the Capacity to Restore Normal Vision

Two researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have deciphered a mouse's retina's neural code and coupled this information to a novel prosthetic device to restore sight to blind mice. The researchers say they have also cracked the code for a monkey retina — which is essentially identical to that of a human — and hope to quickly design and test a device that blind humans can use.

The breakthrough, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), signals a remarkable advance in longstanding efforts to restore vision. Current prosthetics provide blind users with spots and edges of light to help them navigate. This novel device provides the code to restore normal vision. The code is so accurate that it can allow facial features to be discerned and allow animals to track moving images.

The researchers envision making the visual visor of Geordie LaForge in Star Trek hte Next Generation a reality and combining it with gene therapy to restore the vision of 25 million people.

PNAS - Retinal prosthetic strategy with the capacity to restore normal vision

Abstract - Retinal prosthetics offer hope for patients with retinal degenerative diseases. There are 20–25 million people worldwide who are blind or facing blindness due to these diseases, and they have few treatment options. Drug therapies are able to help a small fraction of the population, but for the vast majority, their best hope is through prosthetic devices. Current prosthetics, however, are still very limited in the vision that they provide: for example, they allow for perception of spots of light and high-contrast edges, but not natural images. Efforts to improve prosthetic capabilities have focused largely on increasing the resolution of the device’s stimulators (either electrodes or optogenetic transducers). Here, we show that a second factor is also critical: driving the stimulators with the retina’s neural code. Using the mouse as a model system, we generated a prosthetic system that incorporates the code. This dramatically increased the system’s capabilities—well beyond what can be achieved just by increasing resolution. Furthermore, the results show, using 9,800 optogenetically stimulated ganglion cell responses, that the combined effect of using the code and high-resolution stimulation is able to bring prosthetic capabilities into the realm of normal image representation.

Image reconstructions using only the responses of OFF ganglion cell encoders; this provides a measure of the quality of vision when only these cells
are used. (A) Original images; these are frames from a short movie. (B) Images reconstructed using the responses of both ON and OFF ganglion cell encoders.
(C) Images reconstructed using the responses of just ON ganglion cell encoders. (D) Images reconstructed using the responses of only OFF ganglion cell encoders.
Each movie was reconstructed in blocks of 10 pixels by 10 pixels by 5 frames. As in Fig. 4 in the main text, the decoding was performed using maximum
likelihood; that is, for each block, we found the array of gray values that maximized the probability of the observed responses (following ref. 4 for high
dimensional searches). (E) Image reconstructed from the responses of real ganglion cells using the standard method (only ChR2, no encoder), using the same
resolution as the images in A–D.

Workforce size, Urban Workforce and Automation in China and the World

China has about 4.1% urban unemployment now and one of the big arguments about collapsing future GDP growth is that China's working age population will shrink as the population ages.

From Wikipedia on growth accounting, we have the economic formula for growth

Y= (F,K,L)

Y is total output, K is the stock of capital in the economy, L is the labor force (or population) and A is a "catch all" factor for technology, role of institutions and other relevant forces which measures how productively capital and labor are used in production.

You get more growth out of more labor and/or more technology and/or more capital.

If the overall labor growth slows or decreases that would be a problem, but I am saying for the next 20-40 years there is still urban workforce growth for China and there will be developing automation, But automation takes time. Even with Foxconn scaling out a million industrial robots over three years that is only a fraction of the labor force growth of ten million more urban worker per year.

There is about ten million robots now and about 1.5 million industrial robots.

Robotics turnover 2010: $17.5 billion

Another 180,000 industrial robots in 2012.

WaveRider hypersonic jet targets Mach 6

BBC News - Hypersonic jet WaveRider is to undergo another test flight above the Pacific Ocean aiming to reach Mach 6.

At this speed - more than 4,300mph (6,900km/h) - it could travel from London to New York in about an hour.

WaveRider is one of several projects currently under way to create an aeroplane able to reach much higher speeds than today's jets, after Concorde was decommissioned in 2003.

During a test in June 2011, WaveRider failed to reach the target speed.

A B-52 bomber will lift the wingless unmanned jet from US Edwards Air Force Base in California to 50,000 feet (15,250m).

We covered the previous 2011 test last year.

Google Will Use a DARPA Strategy for Smartphones

Technology Review - Google has also created a department within Motorola—Advanced Technology and Projects—comprised of researchers charged with finding cutting-edge technologies that could give Motorola's products an edge. And the executive refresh includes a new senior vice president, Regina Dugan, a former director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon's long-term research arm.

They plan to reduce the number of devices Motorola makes from the 27 it introduced last year down to just a few, and wants those devices to have super-long battery life, improved cameras, and possibly even new features such as voice recognition technology that can recognize people chatting in a room. Dugan is reportedly hiring metal scientists, acoustics engineers, and artificial intelligence experts, too.

They will try to have related to projects that are leaps, versus incremental steps

India has the money to fix malnutrition, illiteracy but corruption and mismanagement hold it back

India will be a US$2 trillion economy by the end of 2013

Despite having a fast-growing economy, 40% of India's children are malnourished.

Almost 160 million are in the 0 to 6 year old age range. 64 million of them would be malnourished. 170 million children in the whole world are malnourished.

The food is there: world agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase.

A BBC News video explains how there have been consistent food surpluses in India and there are warehouses full of grain capable of providing food for millions. However there is corruption and mismanagement in the existing internal food aid programs.

Malnutrition will also stunt the growth of the children who do survive. This will cause physical development and brain development problems. This will impact India's future growth potential.

August 13, 2012

IBM Scientists "Waltz" Closer to Using Spintronics in Computing

Aiming to use electron spins for storing, transporting and processing information, researchers from IBM (NYSE:IBM) and scientists at ETH Zurich, a leading European university, today revealed the first-ever direct mapping of the formation of a persistent spin helix in a semiconductor.

Dailytech - Squeezing spintronics on the mobile devices of the future could give Moore's Law new life by catapulting computer chips over the fundamental limits of atomic physics, into the realm of subatomics. But figuring out how to chill a cell phone CPU to 40 K -- or alternatively how to coax the finnicky electronics to behave and more terrestial temperatures -- is a daunting task.

Dwave Systems landed $22.8 million in funding in June 2012

In June Venture Deal reported that D-Wave Systems, adiabatic quantum computing company, landed $22.8 million in new venture capital investment, according to an SEC filing.

D-Wave was still seeking $12.2 million in additional financing, according to the filing back in June 2012.

Nextbigfuture has had extensive coverage of Dwave systems. In December. 2011, I interviewed Dave CTO Geordie Rose.

The next 18 months will be a critical period for Dwave systems. Raising private money has become far more difficult in the current economic conditions. If Dwave were profitable, then they could IPO. If Dwave were not able to become profitable and IPO and could not raise private capital, then there would be the risk of having to shutdown.

It takes 1 month and dozens of steps (even after automation) to get any of the chips tuned up and ready for use.

One application of the Dwave system is for the optimization problem of creating treatment plans for cancer radiation treatment based on a 3D body scan. This treatment plan takes 1 week using the 128 qubit system but minutes with the 512 qubit system. The optimization algorithm runs 1000 times faster at 512 qubits versus 128 qubits. Cancer radiation treatment plans normally have one person developing the treatment plan and uses a $20 million machine to deliver the precision radiation. The Dwave optimized treatment plan would boost the safety of the treatment by several percent.

The amount of speedup depends upon the different quantum algorithms that are being run.

If the treatment optimization problem were indicative of the speedup of different algorithms, then one might expect (I am extrapolating the 512/128 qubit example)

512 qubits 1000 times faster than 128 qubits
2048 qubits 1000 times faster than 512 qubits

At the end of 2010, Dwave sold its first 128 qubit quantum computer to Lockheed for $10 million.

Computer vision systems can now recognize thousands of objects

The field of computer vision has vastly improved since it began in the 1960s. Computers can now quickly and accurately recognize thousands of faces, as well as a growing number of other objects. Although computer vision currently lacks the subtlety, versatility, and general capabilities of human vision, the gap is steadily closing. Dr. Fei Fei Li is an expert on the field of computer vision, and she and her colleagues at Stanford University are working on advancing the state of the art. In an interview with Sander Olson for Next Big Future, Dr. Li describes the importance of math and algorithms to computer vision, and why she believes that computer vision systems may be able to match human visual systems within the next twenty years.

Fei-Fei Li

Question: You have been working in the field of computer vision for more than a decade. How has the field changed since you started?

The field of computer vision has grown in all dimensions since I began studying this technology in the late 1990s. There are many more active researchers, more students, more startup companies, more money. The technology has evolved as well. For example, when I began, scientists were concentrating almost exclusively on getting computers to recognize faces. Now, researchers are getting computers to quickly and accurately recognize all manner of objects. So it is an exciting time to study computer vision.

China Has not Peaked

The Diplomat tries to make a case that China's Rise peaked in 2008. (BTW - thediplomat site is not visible from some common domain name servers.) This article was heavily discussed on reddit.

They list of issues which they argue will prevent China from continuing to outperform economically or to otherwise rise in power are:

1. State capitalism.

The most serious long-term obstacle to Chinese growth is its state capitalist system. In the last decade, Beijing has largely reversed pro-market reforms and embarked on a decidedly statist developmental path. Consequently, state-owned enterprises have gained enormous clout in the economy and enjoy monopolistic privileges. The financial system favors such firms at the expense of private entrepreneurs. Household income, at 43 percent of GDP, is too low to support a higher level of consumption, a critical factor in rebalancing the Chinese economy and providing a source of future growth. Without systemic reforms, according to an influential World Bank study, growth in the coming two decades will fall well below 7 percent per annum. But reforming state capitalism is almost impossible politically because that will undermine the very foundations of the Communist Party's rule.

NBF Counter - There are successful examples of state capitalism. Those are Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea.

Some will say so those are small countries which China cannot copy. China goal is have about 200 cities like Singapore of 2020. 200 cities with a population of 6 million. It could also be considered 26 provinces like South Korea (50 million each).

Some will say that China has to have the exports to maintain high growth. Net exports does not seem to have been a major component of GDP growth for the last 30 years.

Iraq Daily Oil Output Reaches 3.2 Million Barrels and will be 3.4 million barrels by the end of 2012

Bloomberg - Iraq’s crude-oil production has risen to 3.2 million barrels a day and will increase as planned to 3.4 million barrels a day by year’s end Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs Hussain al-Shahristani said.

The country’s output has now surpassed that of Iran and Kuwait, al-Shahristani told reporters today in Baghdad. The figure would be the highest level in more than 20 years.

Crude oil pumped from fields in the northern Kurdish region “remains less than required, at a total of 116,000 barrels since Aug. 8,” when pumping from the area resumed, he said. The semi-autonomous area halted pumping for export April 1 following a dispute with the central government over payments to foreign companies. The requirement for the region is 175,000 barrels a day, al-Shahristani said.

Physicists have designed the building blocks of quantum computer that works using sound

Arxiv - On-chip quantum phonodynamics (6 pages)

ABSTRACT - Sound can be just as quantum as light. But our toolbox for single quanta of sound, i.e. phonons, is currently insufficient. Here we describe a new component that enables a chip-based, solid-state analogue of cavity-QED utilizing acoustic phonons instead of photons, phonitons instead of polaritons. We show how long-lived and tunable acceptor (hole) impurity states in silicon nanomechanical cavities can play the role of a matter non-linearity for coherent phonons just as, for example, the Josephson qubit plays in circuit-QED. This system enables the control of single phonons and phonon-phonon interactions, dispersive phonon readout of the acceptor qubit, and compatibility with other nano/optomechanical components such as phonon-photon translators. Phonons, due to their unique properties, enable new opportunities for quantum devices and physics.

(and of lowest acceptor states) corresponds to particles of spin J = 3=2.
(b) Ground state splitting via external magnetic field along [0;0;1] direction; allowed (forbidden) phonon transitions and qubit phonon driving (text). Level rearrangement is via additional strain. System manipulation via electric static/microwave fields is possible. (c) Examples of nanomechanical 1D and 2D phonon bandgap cavities reminiscent of already fabricated high-Q cavities in a patterned Si membrane. The acceptor is enclosed in the cavity and an on-chip phonon waveguide allows phonon coupling in/out of the system.

Technology Review has coverage

August 12, 2012

First full colour images at 100,000 dpi resolution

Inspired by colourful stained-glass windows, researchers from Singapore have demonstrated an innovative method for producing sharp, full-spectrum colour images at 100,000 dpi which can be applicable in reflective colour displays, anti-counterfeiting, and high-density optical data recording. So long as the pillars don’t corrode and change shape, the image won’t change over time. Potential uses could include nanoscale watermarks, cryptography, and as a method of packing vast amounts of data onto physical media, like a DVD. As the nanostructures are permanent, the technology could be useful for archiving content for long periods of time.

Researchers from A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) have developed an innovative method for creating sharp, full-spectrum colour images at 100,000 dots per inch (dpi), using metal-laced nanometer-sized structures, without the need for inks or dyes. In comparison, current industrial printers such as inkjet and laserjet printers can only achieve up to 10,000 dpi while research grade methods are able to dispense dyes for only single colour images. This novel breakthrough allows colouring to be treated not as an inking matter but as a lithographic matter, which can potentially revolutionise the way images are printed and be further developed for use in high-resolution reflective colour displays as well as high density optical data storage.

The inspiration for the research was derived from stained glass, which is traditionally made by mixing tiny fragments of metal into the glass. It was found that nanoparticles from these metal fragments scattered light passing through the glass to give stained glass its colours. Using a similar concept with the help of modern nanotechnology tools, the researchers precisely patterned metal nanostructures, and designed the surface to reflect the light to achieve the colour images.

Simulated spectra of Ag/Au nanodisks hovering above a reflective Si surface. The spectra for both (A) 140 nm disks and (B) 50 nm disks in periodic arrays with gaps
of 30 nm are presented here.

Nature Nanotechnology - Printing colour at the optical diffraction limit

Brillouin Paper from ICCF-17 Conference

A paper by Brillouin has recently been uploaded by New Energy Times that will be presented at the upcoming ICCF-17 conference in South Korea.

From Brillion Website - Brillouin Energy has entered into its first international licensing agreement covering three nations and is involved in on-going negotiations for other potential international partners.

via E-cat world

Controlled Electron Capture and the Path Toward Commercialization (5 pages)

Abstract—We have run over 150 experiments using two different cell/calorimeter designs. Excess power has always been seen using Q pulses tuned to the resonance of palladium and nickel hydrides in pressurized vessels. Excess energies of up to 100% have been seen using this excitation method.

Leaked picture and information on the high temperature energy catalyzer

Energy Catalyzer3 - What is supposed to be leaked data from a July 16 test of Andrea Rossi’s ecat low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) device seems to verify Rossi’s claims that his device can now generate temperatures up to 1200 degrees Celsius. The tests were apparently conducted by nine professors (who are not identified) and a man named Domenico Fioravanti was described as an army engineer.

Rossi also stated that Fioravanti is a military consultant and that he holds the rank of Colonel (presumably in the Italian army or air force). Fioravanti was conducting thermodynamic tests on the ecat for Rossi’s military customer which is not identified. The online rumor military has identified the customer as the US Navy or the US military research outfit DARPA. The Independent Ecat News log has identified Fioravanti as the mysterious colonel who attended Rossi’s 1 MW ecat last October. The shutdownrossi blog even created a wanted poster for Signor Fioravanti. - has descriptions of the July 16 test.

Carnival of Space 262

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