September 01, 2012

Singularity Summit 2012

The Singularity Summit is the world’s leading dialog on the Singularity, bringing together scientists, technologists, skeptics, and enthusiasts alike. It was created to provide a much needed forum to discuss the risks and opportunities presented by our expanding relationship with technology. Visit our registration page for the 2012 Summit, where you can buy tickets before prices increase on September 15th! Hope to see you all there for this momentous occasion.

Here is the link for registration

Singularity Summit 2012 - Create the Future from Singularity Institute on Vimeo.

Apple attempting to ban newer Samsung phones and tablets in futile attempt to fight the future

Ars Technica - Apple is trying to ban and expanded list of Samsung phones and tablets.

The products as listed Apple's new complaint are: the Galaxy S III, Galaxy S III–Verizon, Galaxy Note, Galaxy S II Skyrocket, Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch, Galaxy S II, Galaxy S II-T-Mobile, Galaxy S II-AT&T, Galaxy Nexus, Illusion, Captivate Glide, Exhibit II 4G, Stratosphere, Transform Ultra, Admire, Conquer 4G, and Dart smartphones, the Galaxy Player 4.0 and Galaxy Player 5.0 media players, and the Galaxy Note 10.1, Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus and Galaxy Tab 8.9.

John Dvorak at PC Mag makes the point that Apple actually lost the lawsuit.

Several times throughout the case, the same point was driven home: the Android phone is identical to, and perhaps better than, the iPhone. This "revelation," which Android users have always known, will easily cost Apple more than a billion dollars in sales.

I consider this situation to be dire for Apple. When the iPhone 5 arrives shortly, it will be crunch time for the company. If this is the end of the line for the iPhone, you can point to this lawsuit as the tipping point. It may be the last important iPhone.

I'm reminded of how the little-known MP3 gained popularity when the RIAA filed various lawsuits. Apple may have pulled a similar stunt by alerting the public that the Samsung phone is the exact same thing as an iPhone, or better.

A billion dollars well spent.

August 31, 2012

Decoherence induced deformation of the ground state in adiabatic quantum computation

Arxiv - Decoherence induced deformation of the ground state in adiabatic quantum computation (11 pages)

Adiabatic quantum computation (AQC), either in its universal form, or in the form of adiabatic quantum optimization, or quantum simulations, presents a viable alternative to gate-model quantum computation (GMQC). Although a part of the original motivation for introduction of the AQC was the promise of the increased stability against decoherence due to the energy gap between the ground and excited states, the question of the role of decoherence in AQC remains an open one. This uncertainty makes it important to quantify more precisely the decoherence properties of AQC. A crucial step towards this would be to de fine a quantitative characteristic of the decoherence strength in AQC, that plays a role similar to the decoherence time for GMQC. However, in the case of AQC, decoherence has qualitatively di fferent, static e ffect on the qubits, not limiting the operation time of an algorithm. In this work, we propose the ground state fi delity, defi ned as the distance between the open and closed system reduced density matrices normalized to the Boltzmann ground state probability, as a quantitative measure of decoherence-induced deformation of the ground state in AQC, analogous to the decoherence time for GMQC. We calculate the fidelity perturbatively at nite temperatures and express it through the same environmental noise correlators that determine the decoherence times in GMQC. We discuss the relation between fidelity and the relaxation and dephasing times of the qubits, and its projected scaling properties with the number of qubits.

Investigating the Performance of an Adiabatic Quantum Optimization Processor

Arxiv - Investigating the Performance of an Adiabatic Quantum Optimization Processor (14 pages) A paper discusses the performance of Dwave systems adiabatic quantum computer. This is based upon the 128 qubit system. Dwave has had a 512 qubit chip for nearly 1 year. Performance for the adiabatic quantum computer will vary by the problem and the algorithm, but for one class of problem they were seeing a speedup of 1000 times for the 512 qubit chip versus the 128 qubit. The 512 qubit chip can also handle larger problems.

Adiabatic quantum optimization offers a new method for solving hard optimization problems. In this paper we calculate median adiabatic times (in seconds) determined by the minimum gap during the adiabatic quantum optimization for an NP-hard Ising spin glass instance class with up to 128 binary variables. Using parameters obtained from a realistic superconducting adiabatic quantum processor, we extract the minimum gap and matrix elements using high performance Quantum Monte Carlo simulations on a large-scale Internet based computing platform. We compare the median adiabatic times with the median running times of two classical solvers and fi nd that, for the considered problem sizes, the adiabatic times for the simulated processor architecture are about 4 and 6 orders of magnitude shorter than the two classical solvers' times. This shows that if the adiabatic time scale were to determine the computation time, adiabatic quantum optimization would be signi ficantly superior to those classical solvers for median spin glass problems of at least up to 128 qubits. We also discuss important additional constraints that a ffect the performance of a realistic system.

Healthy living into old age can add up to 6 years to your life

Eurekalert - Living a healthy lifestyle into old age can add five years to women's lives and six years to men's, finds a study from Sweden published on today.

The authors say this is the first study that directly provides information about differences in longevity according to several modifiable factors.

It is well known that lifestyle factors, like being overweight, smoking and heavy drinking, predict death among elderly people. But is it uncertain whether these associations are applicable to people aged 75 years or more.

So a team of researchers based in Sweden measured the differences in survival among adults aged 75 and older based on modifiable factors such as lifestyle behaviours, leisure activities, and social networks.

China Economic Rebalancing and Goldman's worst case

1. Barron's - Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill, the man who will forever be described as the guy who coined the term BRICs, outlines what a Chinese hard landing would look like if nominal economic growth averaged 7% for the remainder of the decade.

Many others would not consider economic growth of 7% per year a hard landing. It does indicate what Jim O'Neill considers to be his worst case for China from now to 2020.

Here’s is O'Neill's 7% pessimistic outlook: “China’s GDP would still be some $ 13.5 trillion in 2020, and even if the consumer remained stuck at 35% of GDP, it will have increased by another $ 2.1 trillion. To put this in perspective, the total size of India is yet to breach $ 2 trillion,” O’Neill writes.

O’Neill says he finds it “very difficult to see the Chinese consumer representing such a low share of GDP with such low overall nominal GDP growth.” While Chinese economic growth is slowing, weak exports and investment are the primary culprits. Private consumption is already close to 40% of GDP. ”Even in a really persistently weak Chinese nominal GDP scenario, the numbers increase quite a lot, creating plenty of income for some,” O’Neill says.

Anyway, O’Neill argues that in a worse-case scenario the Chinese government is “surely to step in.” That leads him to conclude the Chinese leadership isn’t excessively bothered about what markets necessarily imply.

Parallel Dip-Pen Nanolithography

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new nanolithography technique that is less expensive than other approaches and can be used to create technologies with biomedical applications.

“Among other things, this type of lithography can be used to manufacture chips for use in biological sensors that can identify target molecules, such as proteins or genetic material associated with specific medical conditions,” says Dr. Albena Ivanisevic, co-author of a paper describing the research.

Small - Parallel Dip-Pen Nanolithography using Spore- and Colloid-Terminated Cantilevers

NASA funding Development of Aneutronic fusion power for Spacecraft Applications

Federal Business Opportunity - NASA/JSC is currently looking at the development of aneutronic fusion power for spacecraft applications. Research focus is radiation protection, architecture utilizing high temperature superconducting magnets, and anuetronic fusion. NASA/JSC intends to purchase research and development services from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) for a continuation of an aneutronic fusion research project currently being conducted at the Johnson Space Center. EPRI possesses highly specialized technical skills, knowledge, and data specifically concerning the research and development of aneutronic fusion power as it relates to spacecraft applications. By previously providing consulting and research services, EPRI has pre-existing knowledge and intrinsic insight into the research and development of the existing project for aneutronic fusion power for spacecraft applications. The Government intends to acquire a commercial item using FAR Part 12.

SRI International will soon Sign Contract with Brillouin Energy

E-catsite - SRI International, a research lab in Menlo Park, CA, one of the largest contract research institutes in the world, will soon sign a contract with Brillouin Energy Corporation of Berkeley, CA, to further evaluate and “scale up” that company’s cold fusion device, the Brillouin Boiler. SRI scientist and long-time cold fusion researcher Michael McKubre announced this in an interview with PESN’s Sterling Allen.

Per McKubre:
“As early this week, or next week, we will sign a contract with Brillouin with two purposes. One being to better understand what they have; and two, scale it up for almost exactly the same purposes that you just described…to have something that can be shown to engineers. Engineers will understand the significance of it and take if from that point forward.”

August 30, 2012

New Wave of automation and the future of jobs

NY Times - A new wave of robots, far more adept than those now commonly used by automakers and other heavy manufacturers, are replacing workers around the world in both manufacturing and distribution. Factories like the one here in the Netherlands are a striking counterpoint to those used by Apple and other consumer electronics giants, which employ hundreds of thousands of low-skilled workers. The dutch factory here has several dozen workers per shift, about a tenth as many as the plant in the Chinese city of Zhuhai.

At an automation trade show last year in Chicago, Ron Potter, the director of robotics technology at an Atlanta consulting firm called Factory Automation Systems, offered attendees a spreadsheet to calculate how quickly robots would pay for themselves.

In one example, a robotic manufacturing system initially cost $250,000 and replaced two machine operators, each earning $50,000 a year. Over the 15-year life of the system, the machines yielded $3.5 million in labor and productivity savings.

Robot arms like those at a Philips Electronics factory in the Netherlands can perform the same tasks as hundreds of low-skill workers.

While the many robots in auto factories typically perform only one function, in the new Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., a robot might do up to four: welding, riveting, bonding and installing a component.

Making the study of aging faster and more affordable through intelligent collaboration

SENS - A new Shared Ageing Research Models (ShARM) will make the testing and development of antiaging faster and more affordable.

The new Shared Ageing Research Models (ShARM) resource is now up and running. Headed by CIMA mesenchymal stem cell biologist Dr. Ilaria Bellantuono, ShARM uses a collaborative, decentralized, and "lean" approach to increasing scientists' access to aging animals for biogerontology research. The approach is quite different from the system used by the NIA. Instead of providing more mice to the scientists that need them for research, ShARM gives more scientists access to the limited supply of aged animals and tissues that are already in the British and international research system, allowing them to unlock lifesaving information out of biological materials that would otherwise be lost to science.

Imagine a biogerontologist who has raised a colony of rats into senescence in order to study (for example) the relationship between age-related decline in cognitive function and associated changes in hippocampal gene expression. She runs the aged animals and young controls through a Morris water maze, and then sacrifices them to obtain brain tissue for a microarray study. Under status quo ante, two or three years' worth of investment in those mice -- and an unquantifiable amount of additional data on the impact of aging on the remainder of the aged organism -- would simply go out in the biological waste material stream. But by participating in ShARM's biorepository, the researcher can open up access for multiple additional laboratories to mine what the degenerative aging process has seared into the same animals' otherwise-forfeited tissues and serum.

To participate in ShARM, the original researcher collects and flash-freezes multiple young-control and old animal tissues in accordance with a standardized protocol -- tissues that would otherwise be so much biological waste material. A small fund is available within ShARM to award researchers whose samples meet certain minimum criteria with up to £55 per donated mouse; these monies not only defray the original researcher's costs for raising the animals (and for then harvesting, submitting, and documenting the tissues), but incentivize donation and the taking of the care required to submit better-quality tissue samples.

Modular Engineering Approach to Extending Lifespan in C. elegans by 130% and a platform for progressive extensions

PLoS Genetics - Stanford University Researchers have taken an engineering approach to extending the lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans. Aging stands out as a complex trait, because events that occur in old animals are not under strong natural selection. As a result, lifespan can be lengthened rationally using bioengineering to modulate gene expression or to add exogenous components. Here, we engineered longer lifespan by expressing genes from zebrafish encoding molecular functions not normally present in worms. Additionally, we extended lifespan by increasing the activity of four endogenous worm aging pathways. Next, we used a modular approach to extend lifespan by combining components. Finally, we used cell- and worm-based assays to analyze changes in cell physiology and as a rapid means to evaluate whether multi-component transgenic lines were likely to have extended longevity. Using engineering to add novel functions and to tune endogenous functions provides a new framework for lifespan extension that goes beyond the constraints of the worm genome.

We used bioengineering to extend the lifespan of C. elegans by expressing genes acting in critical aging pathways. We overexpressed five genes that act in endogenous worm aging pathways, as well as two genes from zebrafish encoding molecular functions not normally present in worms. For example, we used zebrafish genes to alter mitochondrial function and innate immunity in ways not normally available to C. elegans and extended worm lifespan by ~40%. Next, we used a modular approach to extend lifespan by 130% by combining up to four components in the same strain. These results provide a platform to build worms having progressively longer lifespans. This project is conceptually similar to using engineering to increase the useful lifespan of a primitive machine (1931 Model T) using both parts from the model T as well as parts from a more advanced machine (2012 Toyota Corolla). Our results open the door to use engineering to go beyond the constraints of the C. elegans genome to extend its lifespan by adding non-native components.

Seven aging components that individually are capable of extending lifespan 25–50%.

Asian collective military spending about to overtake Europe for the first time in modern history

The Economist magazine discusses military spending in Asia.

For the first time, in modern history at least, Asia's military spending is poised to overtake Europe's, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a think-tank in London. China is doubling its defence budget every five years and India has just announced a 17% rise in spending this year, to about $40 billion.

Wikipedia has a list of countries by military expenditures

China          143 billion (2.0% of GDP, 8.2% of world total)
Japan           59 billion (1.0% of GDP)
India           46 billion  (2.5% of GDP)
South Korea     31 billion  (2.7% of GDP)
ASEAN           25 billion  (1.1% of GDP)

United Kingdom  63 billion (2.6% of GDP)
France          63 billion (2.3% of GDP)
Germany         47 billion (1.3% of GDP)
Italy           35 billion (1.6% of GDP)

United States spends 711 billion on defense (4.7% of GDP, 41% of world total.) The US military spending does not include the operational spending on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Europe's budgets are under pressure with the financial crisis. Asian economies continue to perform relatively better.

Europe still has superior actual military capabilities than Asia. Europe has had more spending than Asia for decades. Europe has more military gear and facilities that have been developed and purchased over decades. Europe has more trained personnel and those people have more actual combat experience.

In spite of having less than half of the annual military budget of China, the UK can project military power around the world while China only has semi-competent regional capabilities.

Iran's Supreme Leader Rules Out Nuclear Bomb

Voice of America - Iran's Supreme Leader says his country will never develop an atomic bomb, but will not abandon its controversial nuclear program.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told leaders of developing nations Thursday at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran that Iran will "not give up its national right to peaceful nuclear energy."

If this is what happens, that would match up to predictions made by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita several years ago

The Washington Post reports that Iran has been speeding up enriched uranium production at its underground plant

U.N. nuclear officials who regularly monitor Iran’s facilities documented a jump of 60 percent in Iran’s total stockpile of so-called medium-enriched uranium, from 159 pounds in mid-May to 255 pounds in mid-August. But the rate of production since May has more than doubled, as more than 300 new gas centrifuges were added to Iran’s underground plant near the city of Qom, inspectors confirmed.

Hukou Reform is a key part of China's Future Urbanization and Economic Growth

Goldman Sachs has a 32 page report Hukou reform: a mid to long term goal, picking up pace (Feb 2011)

Migrant workers make about twice as much as people in the rural areas but only about half as much as city dwellers with full Hukou rights.

Summarizing - Urbanization will happen in China. There are economic benefits to having more urban people as they are about 3-4 times more economically productive. It will require further modernization agriculture and it will require each local area in China to develop a plan and social safety net and infrastructure to support the urbanization. It will cost about US$7000 per person over 10-15 years to enable the system for each person that is fully brought into the cities. The cost will increase over time as other costs increase and the economy develops.

Goldman Sachs Expectation on Hukou Reform

We believe that hukou reform progress will accelerate but vary by location. Given China’s size and diversity in relevant aspects (demographics, economic development, urbanization stage, etc), the need for reforms and capacity to fund reforms vary significantly. We believe that some key determining factors include:

* Urbanization need and talent demand: Some already quite urbanized areas have less need to retain or attract new talent (migrant workers, university graduates).

* Existing infrastructure readiness: Some areas have already prepared for a greater influx of population in their past urban planning, while others may lack the schools, hospitals, roads, housing etc to relax hukou requirements. Most first tier cities, for example, are already quite congested in terms of such resources and infrastructure.

* Financial capability to fund migrations and future infrastructure investment:

Hukou migration should be viewed as a city’s investment into its future – that it can bring a myriad of benefits over time (as aforementioned), but with significant upfront (and ongoing) costs to the local government as well as local enterprises. Overall, we believe that western/central provinces and third or fourth tier cities may be the key candidates in terms of urbanization need, talent demand and infrastructure readiness. However, individual cases will vary because the third factor, financial capability, may be lacking in certain areas. Cities like Chengdu and Chongqing are in the ‘sweet spot’ of hukou reform progress because they possess the motivation and the capability.

The Financial Times highlights a paper which indicates that lack of hukou reform will prevent urbanization from driving future higher GDP growth rates in China.

Carnival of Space 264

August 29, 2012

Atomic Clusters of gold nanoparticles could lead to 3D real time telepresence

Central Florida Professor Jayan Thomas is working with gold nanoparticles and studying their properties when they are shrunk into a small size regime called nanoclusters. Nanoclusters are on the small end and nanocrystals are on the larger end of the nanoregime. Nano clusters are so small that the laws of physics that govern the world people touch and smell aren’t often observed.

“Nanoclusters occupy the intriguing quantum size regime between atoms and nanocrystals, and the synthesis of ultra-small, atomically precise metal nanoclusters is a challenging task,” Thomas said.

Thomas and his team found that nanoclusters developed by adding atoms in a sequential manner could provide interesting optical properties. It turns out that the gold nanoclusters exhibit qualities that may make them suitable for creating surfaces that would diffuse laser beams of high energy. They appear to be much more effective than its big sister, gold nanocrystal which is the (nano)material used by artists to make medieval church window paintings.

Nanoletters - Evolution of Nonlinear Optical Properties: From Gold Atomic Clusters to Plasmonic Nanocrystals

'Nano machine shop' shapes nanowires, ultrathin films

A new "nano machine shop" that shapes nanowires and ultrathin films could represent a future manufacturing method for tiny structures with potentially revolutionary properties.

The structures might be tuned for applications ranging from high-speed electronics to solar cells and also may have greater strength and unusual traits such as ultrahigh magnetism and "plasmonic resonance," which could lead to improved optics, computers and electronics.

The researchers used their technique to stamp nano- and microgears; form tiny circular shapes out of a material called graphene, an ultrathin sheet of carbon that holds promise for advanced technologies; and change the shape of silver nanowires, said Gary Cheng, an associate professor of industrial engineering at Purdue University

This illustration depicts a new nano machine shop's ability to shape tiny wires, an advance that represents a possible future manufacturing method for applications ranging from high-speed electronics to solar cells. (Purdue University image/Gary Cheng)

Nature Photonics - Laser nanofabrication: New regimes for nanoshaping

My God, It is full of black holes, millions of black holes

NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission has led to a bonanza of newfound supermassive black holes and extreme galaxies called hot DOGs, or dust-obscured galaxies.

Images from the telescope have revealed millions of dusty black hole candidates across the universe and about 1,000 even dustier objects thought to be among the brightest galaxies ever found. These powerful galaxies, which burn brightly with infrared light, are nicknamed hot DOGs.

"WISE has exposed a menagerie of hidden objects," said Hashima Hasan, WISE program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We've found an asteroid dancing ahead of Earth in its orbit, the coldest star-like orbs known and now, supermassive black holes and galaxies hiding behind cloaks of dust."

With its all-sky infrared survey, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has identified millions of quasar candidates. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

Arxiv - Mid-Infrared Selection of AGN with the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer. I. Characterizing WISE-Selected AGN in COSMOS

Arxiv - The First Hyper-Luminous Infrared Galaxy Discovered by WISE

Arxiv - Submillimeter Follow-up of WISE-Selected Hyperluminous Galaxies

Samsung Announces the Galaxy Note 2 at IFA and other products

TheVerge - Samsung officially released the Galaxy Note II. It is thinner and lighter than the first Note. The new Note device comes with a redesigned S Pen stylus, a bevy of new software features layered atop Android 4.1, and an enlarged 5.5-inch display. It has an 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos processor.
The physical design and materials, however, are a direct match to Samsung's Galaxy S III, which launched earlier this year. The Note II even uses the same 8-megapixel camera. The software interface looks identical to the GS III's, but for the S Pen-specific "Magic Wand" sub-homescreen and a selection of other stylus enhancements. NFC, a choice of two colors (Mountain White and Titanium Gray), and three storage options (16GB, 32GB, or 64GB) are other similarities to Samsung's flagship smartphone. 2GB of RAM will come standard on the Galaxy Note II.

It has a high 3100mAh capacity battery.

New technique could mean super thin, strong graphene-based circuits

Integrated circuits, which are in everything from coffeemakers to computers and are patterned from perfectly crystalline silicon, are quite thin -- but Cornell researchers think they can push thin-film boundaries to the single-atom level.

Their materials of choice are graphene, single atom-thick sheets of repeating carbon atoms, and hexagonal boron nitride, similarly thin sheets of repeating boron and nitrogen atoms. Researchers led by Jiwoong Park, assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology, have invented a way to pattern single atom films of graphene and boron nitride, an insulator, without the use of a silicon substrate

Provided/Jiwoong Park. Schematic illustration of single-atom-thick films with patterned regions of conducting graphene (gray) and insulating boron nitride (purple-blue).

Nature Nanotechnology - Tailoring Electrical Transport Across Grain Boundaries in Polycrystalline Graphene

Flat lens offers a perfect image

Harvard - Applied physicists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have created an ultrathin, flat lens that focuses light without imparting the distortions of conventional lenses. Lens are a major part of cameras that can make them heavier and bulkier. Flat lens could remove a roadblock to making cameras smaller, lighter and cheaper. Smaller and cheaper cameras would also enable the affordability multi-gigabit cameras that use a few hundred or a few thousand cameras to combine images.

At a mere 60 nanometers thick, the flat lens is essentially two-dimensional, yet its focusing power approaches the ultimate physical limit set by the laws of diffraction.

Operating at telecom wavelengths (i.e., the range commonly used in fiber-optic communications), the new device is completely scalable, from near-infrared to terahertz wavelengths, and simple to manufacture.

Nanoletters - Aberration-Free Ultrathin Flat Lenses and Axicons at Telecom Wavelengths Based on Plasmonic Metasurfaces

August 28, 2012

Robotic Vehicles and Highway Capacity

An IEEE paper assessed the increase in highway capacity.

The increase in highway capacity when using sensors alone is about 43%.

The increase in highway capacity when using both sensors and vehicle to vehicle communication is about 273%.

Current maximum throughput is 2200 vehicles per hour per lane of highway.

Highway capacity increases was also analyzed by the California PATH program. Automation will allow shorter vehicle gaps and narrower spacing from more precise turning.

Platooning cars could get to 400% increase in highway capacity with 25% margin for merging. Longer platoons with smaller gaps enable higher capacity. The most capacity is not always needed and under most circumstances larger gaps and shorter platooning can be used. Platooning also allows the following cars to draft behind the lead vehicle in order to save on fuel.

Top 75 cities of 2025 and cities of the future

Foreign Policy magazine and McKinsey have a list of the cities that will have the most economic growth between 2010 and 2025

Foreign Policy also features the 29 cities from China that are in the list of the top 75

Although Shanghai had no skyscrapers in 1980, it now has at least 4,000 -- more than twice as many as New York. In 2010, 208 million square feet of real estate, nearly 80 times the square footage of New York's massive One World Trade Center, was constructed in the city. Above, the Jinmao Building and Oriental Pearl TV Tower can be seen dominating the Shanghai skyline as its rises from the banks of Huangpu River.

China is repeating many of the mistakes that the United States made when the US urbanized.

The choices China makes in the years ahead will have an immense impact not only on the long-term viability, livability, and energy efficiency of its cities, but also on the health of the entire planet. Unfortunately, much of what China is building is based on outdated Western planning ideas that put its cars at the center of urban life, rather than its people. And the bill will be paid in the form of larger waistlines, reduced quality of life, and choking pollution and congestion. The Chinese may get fat and unhappy before they get rich.

If anything, due to China's high population density, the Chinese urban reckoning will be even more severe than America's. Already, traffic in Beijing is frequently at a standstill despite the incredible pace of road construction (a "solution" akin to trying to lose weight by loosening your belt). The situation is so dire that Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai are using a lottery to allocate a limited number of vehicle registrations. In August 2010, a 60-mile traffic jam stopped a highway outside Beijing for 11 days. There's a reason no high-density city has ever been designed around the car: It simply doesn't work.

Singapore develops onchip antenna for 135 GHz WiFi that can support 20 Gigabits per second

Researchers from A*STAR’s Institute of Microelectronics (IME) have developed the first compact high performance silicon-based cavity-backed slot (CBS) antenna that operates at 135 GHz. The antenna demonstrated 30 times stronger signal transmission over on-chip antennas at 135 GHz. At just 1.6mm x 1.2mm, approximately the size of a sesame seed, it is the smallest silicon-based CBS antenna reported to date for ready integration with active circuits. IME’s innovation will help realize a wireless communication system with very small form factor and almost two-thirds cheaper than a conventional CBS antenna. The antenna, in combination with other millimetre-wave building blocks, can support wireless speed of 20 Gbps – more than 200 times faster than present day Wi-Fi, to allow ultra fast point-to-point access to rich media content, relevant to online learning and entertainment.

Unlike Earth Space elevators, Lunar space elevators look feasible and economic

Lunar space elevators are flexible structures connecting the lunar surface with counterweights located beyond the L1 or L2 Lagrangian points in the Earthmoon system. A lunar space elevator on the moon’s near side, balanced about the L1 Lagrangian point, could support robotic climbing vehicles to release lunar material into high Earth orbit. A lunar space elevator on the moon’s far side, balanced about L2, could provide nearly continuous communication with an astronomical observatory on the moon’s far side, away from the optical and radio interference from the Earth. Because of the lower mass of the moon, such lunar space elevators could be constructed of existing materials instead of carbon nanotubes, and would be much less massive than the Earth space elevator. We review likely spots for development of lunar surface operations (south pole locations for water and continuous sunlight, and equatorial locations for lower delta-V), and examine the likely payload requirements for Earth-to-moon and moon-to-Earth transportation. We then examine its capability to launch large amounts of lunar material into high Earth orbit, and do a top-level system analysis to evaluate the potential payoffs of lunar space elevators.

A flat ribbon of M5 material, 30 mm wide and only 0.023 mm thick, similar to aluminum foil, could support a mass of 2000 kg at the lunar surface, or 100 cargo vehicles of 580 kg each spaced evenly up the length of the elevator ribbon. The average velocity of the cargo vehicles might be reasonably maintained at 100 km/hour for the ascent, without producing undue wear on the elevator ribbon.

A lunar space elevator system with a mass of 6,100 tonnes including a massive counterweight would be capable of lifting or depositing loads of 2,000 newtons (450 lbf, or at lunar surface gravity, masses of 1233 kg / 2700 lbm) at the base. The counterweight could potentially be lifted from the lunar surface.

A lunar space elevator can be made with current materials which exist in sufficient commercial quantities and an entire system could be delivered in one rocket launch. The materials and rocket launch will provide benefits that will pay for themselves by supporting lunar development and to lower costs for operating in earth orbit by delivering fuel and supplies from the moon at lower cost than materials from earth going to earth orbit.

Pearson had a 71 page NASA study of a lunar space elevator

A lunar space elevator using existing high-strength composites with a lifting capacity of 2000 N at the base equipped with solar-powered capsules moving at 100 km/hour could lift 584,000 kg/yr of lunar material into high Earth orbit. Since launch costs may be about $1,000/kg then, this material would be worth more than half a billion dollars per year, resulting in greatly reduced costs and creating a new paradigm for space development.

Private Fund Raising on Track

The Liftport lunar space elevator kickstarter has raised over $27,000 and has 15 days to go. They have raised over $10,000 from yesterday to today. They should get well over $100,000 and could reach $250,000 assuming they can maintain the fund raising pace.

$50,000 - new robot and at least 3 to 5 kilometer
$75,000 - transition from altitude to endurance
$100,000 - back in business for real
$250,000 - try for to climb to the limit of balloon technology , about 20 miles / 30 kilometers
$500,000 - tests with plants and animals at 30 kilometers

Earth Based Space Elevator Economics not that compelling and many hurdles beyond material we don't have

Wikipedia - For a space elevator, the cost varies according to the design. Bradley C. Edwards received funding from NIAC from 2001 to 2003 to write a paper describing a space elevator design. In it he stated that: "The first space elevator would reduce lift costs immediately to $100 per pound" ($220/kg). However, as with the initial claims for the space shuttle, this is only the marginal cost, consisting of the electricity required to lift the elevator payload, but not operating overhead and maintenance; whereas the fixed costs would be US$6 to 12 billion, for construction; and one-way designs (such as Edwards') will add to the cost of the elevators.

There are cheaper and feasible ways to lower the costs to get to earth orbit than to try to build an earth based space elevator.

The gravitational potential energy of any object in geosynchronous orbit (GEO), relative to the surface of the earth, is about 50 MJ (15 kWh) of energy per kilogram (see geosynchronous orbit for details). Using wholesale electricity prices for 2008 to 2009, and the current 0.5% efficiency of power beaming, a space elevator would require USD 220/kg just in electrical costs. Dr. Edwards expects technical advances to increase the efficiency to 2%. It may additionally be possible to recover some of the energy transferred to each lifted kilogram by using descending elevators to generate electricity as they brake (suggested in some proposals), or generated by masses braking as they travel outward from geosynchronous orbit (a suggestion by Freeman Dyson in the 1980s.

A space elevator built according to the Edwards proposal is estimated to cost $20 billion ($40B with a 100% contingency). This includes all operating and maintenance costs for one cable. If this is to be financed privately, a 15% return would be required ($6 billion annually). Subsequent elevators would cost $9.3B and would justify a much lower contingency ($14.3B total). The space elevator would lift 2 million kg per year per elevator and the cost per kilogram becomes $3,000 for one elevator, $1,900 for two elevators, $1,600 for three elevators, until construction costs are recovered, after which this drops significantly.

A fully reusable Spacex rocket could have better economics than a space elevator. A Falcon Heavy should have a one time launch cost of $1000/kg. A reusable Falcon Heavy could have costs 60 times less at a little less than $50/kg.

Various Things That We Do Not Have or Are Unable to Do Are Needed

The Earth based space elevator is 90,000 miles long. It goes past geosynchronous orbit. It is double the distance to geosynchronous at least. A space pier uses towers that are 100 kilometers tall and can use 5 GPa material. A space pier would be 1300 times shorter than a space elevator and can use materials that are 10 times weaker.

A space pier seems to strain credulity for some but is far easier to build than a space elevator

Very tall inflatable towers are under development.

7 meter proof of concept

The space elevator needs thousands of tons of carbon nanotube or graphene cables that are 5 to 10 times stronger than what we are making in any kind of volume now.

The space elevator needs better robotic climbers. Faster and more powerful climbers than what we have now. In the lower part of the climb the climbers have to deal with wind and weather without critical failure.

Different Space Elevator Deployment to work with 42 GPa materials

Exponential Tethers for Accelerated Space Elevator Deployment (10 pages)

Reel-to-Reel buildup is the absolute best choice for strengths greater than 72 GPa. At 65 GPa it is nearly identical to climber-based buildup with a three day climber interval. This is remarkable, given how close 65 GPa is to the critical strength of 63 GPa. If climbers can only depart every three days, redeploy and splice is the method ofchoice from 42 GPa to 67 GPa.

An exponential space elevator is a space elevator with a tether cross-section that varies exponentially with altitude. With such an elevator it is possible to reel in tether material at one end of the elevator while reeling out at the other end, without changing the overall taper pro file. I show how to use this property to build up or clone a space elevator much more e fficiently than with standard climber-based methods.

Edwards, like his predecessors, considers that the tether has a cross-section that depends on altitude. Indeed, to maximize the payload, the cross-section of the tether should be chosen so that it is fully loaded along its full length. Indeed, if some parts of the tether were not fully loaded, material could be removed from those parts, resulting in a lighter elevator with a greater lift capacity. We shall refer to these tethers as uniform-stress tethers. They are skinny at the surface of the Earth, increase in cross-section with altitude up to GEO, after which they decrease in cross-section.

Emerging Big Future from now through 2015

A lot of significant developments are queuing up through the end of this year and through 2015. There will be even more after that but things are shaping up so that naysayers against significant technological change will have problems.

Heartland Robotics is now Rethink Robotics. They will be unveiling a radically cheaper and more capable robot in weeks.

Leap Motion should be shipping its radically more precise motion sensing system by February, 2013

August 27, 2012

IBM Watson 2.0 for your smartphone and tablet for mobile assistance and analystics

Business Week - International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) researchers spent four years developing Watson, the computer smart enough to beat the champions of the quiz show “Jeopardy!” Now they’re trying to figure out how to get those capabilities into the phone in your pocket.

Finding additional uses for Watson is part of IBM’s plan to tap new markets and boost revenue from business analytics (IBM) to $16 billion by 2015. After mastering history and pop culture for its “Jeopardy!” appearance, the system is crunching financial information for Citigroup Inc. and cancer data for WellPoint Inc. The next version, dubbed “Watson 2.0,” would be energy- efficient enough to work on smartphones and tablets.

IBM expects to generate billions in sales by putting Watson to work in finance, health care, telecommunications and other areas.

It takes a while for Watson to do the “machine learning” necessary to become a reliable assistant in an area. Watson’s deal with WellPoint (WLP) was announced in September of last year, and the system won’t master the field of oncology until at least late 2013.

Researchers also need to add voice and image recognition to the service so that it can respond to real-world input, said Katharine Frase, vice president of industry research at Armonk, New York-based IBM.

Heartland Robotics Changes name to Rethink Robotics and will be unveiled in Weeks

Rethink Robotics is developing a new generation of robots to improve productivity in manufacturing environments. They will be easy to use, adapt to their environment, autonomously sense and will be flexible and versatile. They will be easy to buy, train and deploy and will be much less expensive than traditional industrial robots.

NY Times - Thomas Friedman visited Rethink Robotics.

Rethink’s goal is simple: that its cheap, easy-to-use, safe robot will be to industrial robots what the personal computer was to the mainframe computer, or the iPhone was to the traditional phone. That is, it will bring robots to the small business and even home and enable people to write apps for them the way they do with PCs and iPhones — to make your robot conduct an orchestra, clean the house or, most important, do multiple tasks for small manufacturers, who could not afford big traditional robots, thus speeding innovation and enabling more manufacturing in America.

The Rethink robot will be unveiled in weeks. I (Thomas Friedman) was just given a sneak peek — on the condition that I did not mention its “disruptive” price point and some other unique features.

“Just as the PC did not replace workers but empowered them to do many new things,” argues Brooks, the same will happen with the Rethink robot. “Companies will become even more competitive, and we will be able to keep more jobs here. ... The minute you say ‘robots’ people say: ‘It’s going to take away jobs. But that is not true. It doesn’t take away jobs. It will change how you do them,” the way the PC did not get rid of secretaries but changed what they did.

Car ownership in China

BBVA predicts that in the following three years China’s car ownership rate will reach 113 cars per 1,000 people.

World Bank statistics indicate China was at
47 cars per 1000 people in 2009 (this is about 68 million cars)
37 cars per 1000 people in 2007

Wikipedia lists China as having 83 cars per 1000 in 2011.

China car sales rose to 18.5 million in 2011.

By the end of 2012, China will have about 123 million vehicles. Adding 55 million cars to the 68 million total. This is 91 cars per thousand by the end of 2012.

My projection based on China adding 25 million cars per year from 2013 through 2015

China should have about 108 cars per 1000 people by the end of 2013.
China should have about 120 cars per 1000 people by the end of 2014.
China should have about 138 cars per 1000 people by the end of 2015.

I am forecasting about 187 million cars at the end of 2015 in China.

High Speed rail is way safer than driving in China

A commercial van slammed into a truck Monday in northwest China, killing nine people and bringing the overall death toll to 56 in three big accidents on the country's notoriously dangerous roads over the past two days. On Sunday, 36 people were burned to death when a double-decker bus rammed into a tanker loaded with high flammable methanol on another highway in Shaanxi, causing both vehicles to burst into flames. Road safety is a serious problem in China. According to Xinhua, poorly maintained roads and bad driving habits result in about 70,000 deaths and 300,000 injuries a year.

The United States has about 33,000 traffic deaths each year which is down from about 43,000 deaths per year before the recession.

There was an infamous high speed rail accident which killed 43 people in 2011 in China.

China rail safety: 876.22 billion passenger-km/year, 317 deaths over 20 years. This is one death per 55.3 billion passenger-km.

China's railway safety statistics appear to be under-reported. However, the roads in China seem far more dangerous than the rail.

Refinery Fire hospitalizations and increased prices

More than 9,000 people sought treatment at local hospitals for health problems stemming from the massive fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California.

Dr. Wendel Brunner, the county's public health director, said residents who were exposed to particulate matter complained of a variety of problems, including irritation to the nose, throat and eyes, as well as asthma attacks, wheezing and difficulty in breathing.

Plumes and flames visible from San Rafael of the Richmond Chevron refinery fire early Monday night, Aug. 6, 2012. Credit Barbara Schiff/BCN

Gas prices in California have increased by 25 to 40 cents per gallon and are likely to remain high for several months.

The death toll from a Venezuelan oil refinery fire is now at 48 with dozens injured.

Lunar Space Elevator Kickstarter is over $46,000 and could get over $100,000 for 5 kilometer climbing experiments

Lunar Space Elevator Kickstarter is over five times its original $8000 fundraising goal. The Lunar space elevator kickstarter is over $46,000 and still increasing. The Kickstarter will run until September 13, 2012.

They need to complete a 1-year Feasibility Study, beginning next year. That will cost $3 Million.

At $8000, they wanted to :
* Build a robot that can climb 2 kilometers straight up.
* Build a test platform of high-altitude balloons - tethered to the ground.
* Our Robot (which you can NAME) will climb the test platform – and set a world record.
* Let the world know that we didn’t quit, give up, or fail… we just had to ‘pause’ for a while.
* Rebuild our connection with the global community of supporters.
* Raise a little money to cover the cost of this specific experiment.

Different Fund Raising Levels in Brief

$20,000 - better sensors
$30,000 - at least 3 to 5 kilometer
$50,000 - new robot and at least 3 to 5 kilometer
$75,000 - transition from altitude to endurance
$100,000 - back in business for real
$250,000 - try for to climb to the limit of balloon technology , about 20 miles / 30 kilometers
$500,000 - tests with plants and animals at 30 kilometers
$3,000,000 - Full feasibility study and tests

Again, the link to the Lunar Space Elevator Kickstarter is here and in the first line of this article.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 119

The Carnival of Nuclear energy is up at Yes Vermont Yankee.

At Atomic Insights, Rod Adams asks why radiation health professionals are so reluctant to talk about radiation hormesis ?

William Tucker at Nuclear townhall discussed how talking about radiation hormesis makes the public think the speaker is a zonked out weirdo. Ted Rockwell responded.

Ted Rockwell, who was troubleshooter at Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project and later served as Admiral Rickover’s technical director when Naval Reactors developed the first nuclear powered submarine (USS Nautilus) and the first commercial light water reactor (Shippingport) provided the first comment. In other words, he is not only deeply experienced in nuclear energy and its associated radiation, but he is also a rather mature 90 years old.

I’m really frustrated! I’ve been involved with radiation protection since I edited The Shielding Manual in 1956. And with radiation, since I wrote “Frontier Life Among the Atom Splitters” for the SatEvePost (Dec 1, 1945). Continuously since then, I’ve been told that we should never mention hormesis, never try to tell people that radiation behaves like everything else in the world: a little is beneficial, too much is harmful. Like sunshine, like exercise, like all those nasty poisons in our daily vitamins. I’ve been writing, and lecturing, and talking to the person next to me on the airplane. And I’ve never met anyone who had trouble understanding or believing that simple concept. Yet “the experts” keep proclaiming that, although we all understand and believe it ourselves (how can you deny the data?), we shouldn’t try to tell it to the public or the Congress or the media.

Adjusting superconductor properties with light

Eurekalert - Scientists have long sought ways to increase the critical temperature of superconducting materials, making them more practical. One of these methods includes chemical doping, removing or adding ions such as oxygen to alter the critical temperature of the material. But Prof. Dagan said that he and his fellow researchers were inspired to find a simpler way.

In the lab, they put a thin layer, one organic molecule thick, atop a superconducting film, approximately 50 nanometers thick. When researchers shined a light on these molecules, the molecules stretched and changed shape, altering the properties of the superconducting film — most importantly, altering the critical temperature at which the material acted as a superconductor.

The researchers tested three separate molecules. The first was able to increase the critical temperature of the superconducting film. With the second molecule, they found that shining an ultraviolet light heightened the material's critical temperature, while visible light lowered it. Finally, with the third molecule, they found that simply by turning a light on, critical temperature was raised — and lowered again when the light was switched off. Prof. Dagan calls this discovery a new "knob" for controlling the temperature of superconducting materials.

One of the potential future applications of this finding might be a "non-dissipated memory," which would be able to save data and run continuously without generating heat and wasting energy.

Smart Sutures Can Detect Infections and Speed Healing

Technology Review - Plastic or silk threads covered with temperature sensors and micro-heaters could keep tabs on infections and provide therapy.

Researchers have now coated sutures with sensors that could monitor wounds and speed up healing.

The electronic sutures, which contain ultrathin silicon sensors integrated on polymer or silk strips, can be threaded through needles, and in animal tests researchers were able to lace them through skin, pull them tight, and knot them without degrading the devices.

The sutures can precisely measure temperature—elevated temperatures indicate infection—and deliver heat to a wound site, which is known to aid healing. And John Rogers, professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and inventor of the smart sutures, imagines that they could also be laden with devices that provide electrical stimulation to heal wounds. "Ultimately, the most value would be when you can release drugs from them in a programmed way," he says. The researchers could do that by coating the electronic threads with drug-infused polymers, which would release the chemicals when triggered by heat or an electrical pulse.

Stitches that sense: New smart sutures use ultrathin silicon sensors to measure temperature at a wound site. John Rogers

Journal Small - Thin, Flexible Sensors and Actuators as ‘Instrumented’ Surgical Sutures for Targeted Wound Monitoring and Therapy

Harvard researchers grow cyborg tissues with embedded nanoelectronics

Harvard scientists have created a type of “cyborg” tissue for the first time by embedding a three-dimensional network of functional, biocompatible, nanoscale wires into engineered human tissues.

Researchers developed a system for creating nanoscale “scaffolds” that can be seeded with cells that grow into tissue.

“The current methods we have for monitoring or interacting with living systems are limited,” said Lieber. “We can use electrodes to measure activity in cells or tissue, but that damages them. With this technology, for the first time, we can work at the same scale as the unit of biological system without interrupting it. Ultimately, this is about merging tissue with electronics in a way that it becomes difficult to determine where the tissue ends and the electronics begin.”

Nature Materials - Macroporous nanowire nanoelectronic scaffolds for synthetic tissues

Beryllium Copper and Beryllium Aluminum

Beryllium Aluminum is more than three times stiffer than aluminum with 22% less weight and can be precision-cast to simple and complex configurations. This material is very lightweight with a high modulus of elasticity and can be precision cast for three-dimensional stability. The alloy is ideally suited for certain demanding semiconductor manufacturing equipment, computer components and other commercial and aerospace applications and allows for a near-net shape to be cast for maximum manufacturing efficiencies.

Beryllium Copper mold materials have hardness properties comparable to tool steels, but with superior thermal conductivity.

There is a four page document about how beryllium copper can be used for aerospace applications

Wear is moved from expensive (Titanium) parts and assemblies to easily replaceable,
lower cost beryllium copper parts with optimal wear and galling properties as well as excellent load capacity and corrosion resistance. Maintenance is required less frequently, and is less expensive to perform as a result.

Beryllium is more common than tin or uranium in the earth's crust but the production levels are tiny at about 600 tons per year.

Beryllium Oxide for Nuclear Fuel will enable 4% efficiency increase for uranium and 25% enhanced safety margin

Research, funded by IBC Advanced Alloys and conducted at Purdue and Texas A and M Universities has indicated that the inclusion of Beryllium Oxide (BeO) can increase both the efficiency with which fuel is used, as well as increase the safety with which the reactor operates. These improvements are largely realized through increasing the thermal conductivity of the fuel, thus decreasing its average temperature.

The eff ect of the inclusion of BeO to the fuel pellets has been modelled. The system modelled kept the mass of uranium-235, the energy generating isotope, constant as compared to a normal pellet , but included 10% BeO by volume. The modelled results of this composition pellet are dramatic. At the simulated average power density, the temperature at the centerline of the pellet, the hottest point, was decreased by 200oC from 800oC to 600oC while keeping the surface temperature constant. This is crucial as it is the surface temperature of the pellets which determine their power output. Therefore, the same power is generated, but with a far lower centerline temperature than in a tradition UO2 fuel pellet. This reduces the likelyhood of cladding interaction as well as cracking of the pellets due to uneven thermal expansion. It also means that the average temperature of the pellet is reduced by approximately 100oC.

The fuel pellets, at a given amount of U-235, can last longer, requiring less frequent refueling, or the amount of U-235 could actually be decreased, allowing the same refueling schedule to be used. It is currently estimated that these improvements could directly lead to a 4% reduction in fuel consumption.

August 26, 2012

Johns Hopkins Researchers Return Blood Cells to Stem Cell State

Johns Hopkins scientists have developed a reliable method to turn the clock back on blood cells, restoring them to a primitive stem cell state from which they can then develop into any other type of cell in the body.

“Taking a cell from an adult and converting it all the way back to the way it was when that person was a 6-day-old embryo creates a completely new biology toward our understanding of how cells age and what happens when things go wrong, as in cancer development,” Zambidis says.

“Chapter One,” Zambidis says, was work described last spring in PLoS One in which Zambidis and colleagues recounted the use of this successful method of safely transforming adult blood cells into heart cells. In the latest experiments, he and his colleagues now describe methods for coaxing adult blood cells to become so-called induced-pluripotent stem cells (iPS) --- adult cells reprogrammed to an embryonic like state, and with unprecedented efficiencies.

Zambidis says his team has managed to develop a “super efficient, virus-free” way to make iPS cells, overcoming a persistent difficulty for scientists working with these cells in the laboratory. Generally, out of hundreds of blood cells, only one or two might turn into iPS cells. Using Zambidis’ method, 50 to 60 percent of blood cells were engineered into iPS cells.

A colony of blood-derived human stem cells (center) Courtesy of Dr. Tea Soon Park, Johns Hopkins

Plos - Growth Factor-Activated Stem Cell Circuits and Stromal Signals Cooperatively Accelerate Non-Integrated iPSC Reprogramming of Human Myeloid Progenitors (22 pages)

Nanocrystalline Cellulose from Celluforce

NanoCrystalline Cellulose (NCC) is the primary structural building block of trees and other plants, and can be economically extracted from the wood fibres of Canada’s vast forests - an abundant and renewable resource. This high-value nanomaterial will be used to manufacture a wide range of uniquely enhanced products. It will enable development of new products, while transforming the performance of existing products.

This is a follow up on a report that nanocrystalline cellulose could have a $600 billion impact on the US economy by 2020.

Nextbigfuture first covered nanocrystalline cellulose in July, 2011

NanoCrystalline Cellulose is a uniform, redispersible natural nanoparticle obtained from the crystalline regions of cellulose fibres.

Cellulose is milled, and then hydrolyzed to remove amorphous regions. The resulting NCC is then separated and concentrated before being customized for various uses.

* NCC is composed of crystallites with average dimensions of 100nm length and 5nm diameter.
* NCC is tested to be practically non-toxic
* NCC is tested to be renewable, recyclable and biodgradable
* NCC has a measured surface area of about 500 m^2/g allowing for high reactivity

Plant for 1 ton per day

To produce one tonne per day of NCC, CelluForce has built a 35,000 sq.ft. plant in Windsor (Quebec), which is unique in the world. It was designed based on the technology developed by FPInnovations before being adapted to the specific needs of Celluforce. The technologically cutting edge equipment from around the world have been brought together for the first time in order to produce NCC commercially. Carried out at a cost of $33M, the construction of the plant was completed under the supervision of Domtar.

Adapteva chip has 50 gigaflops per watt

HPCWire - Chipmaker Adapteva is sampling its 4th-generation multicore processor, known as Epiphany-IV. The 64-core chip delivers a peak performance of 100 gigaflops and draws just two watts of power, yielding a stunning 50 gigaflops/watt. The engineering samples were manufactured by GLOBALFOUNDRIES on its latest 28nm process technology.

Epiphany is essentially a stripped down general-purpose RISC CPU that throws out almost everything but the number-crunching silicon. But since it doesn't incorporate features needed by operating systems, like memory management, it relies on a host processor to feed it application kernels in the same manner as a GPGPU. The current implementation supports single precision floating point only, but plans are already in the works for a double precision implementation.

The general layout of Epiphany is a 2D mesh of simple cores, which talk to each other via a high-speed interconnect. In that sense, it looks more like Intel's manycore Xeon Phi than a graphics processor, but without the x86 ISA baggage (but also without the benefit of the x86 ecosystem).

NVIDIA's new K10 GPU computing card can hit about 20 single precision gigaflops/watt, but that also includes 8GB of GDDR5 memory and a few other on-board components, so it's not an apples-to-apples comparison.

Developers can now use standard OpenCL source to program the Epiphany processor

Neil Armstrong - first man to walk on the moon - has died at 82

Rand Simberg has an excellent obituary.

Several years ago, at one of his rare public appearances, when he accepted an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Southern California (he had gotten his Masters degree in engineering there decades before while living in Southern California) and gave a commencement address. Note that he understands that a commencement address is not about the speaker, but about those graduating:

Custom dictates that a commencement speaker give a word of advice to the new graduates. And I feel a sense of discomfort in that responsibility as it requires more confidence than I possess to assume that my personal convictions merit your attention. The single observation I would offer for your consideration is that some things are beyond your control. You can lose your health to illness or accident. You can lose your wealth to all manner of unpredictable sources. What are not easily stolen from you without your cooperation are your principles and your values. They are your most important possessions and, if carefully selected and nurtured, will well serve you and your fellow man. Society’s future will depend on a continuous improvement program for the human character. And what will that future bring? I do not know, but it will be exciting.

The author of “The Little Prince,” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was a pilot in World War II, which, unfortunately, he did not survive. Fortunately, his writings did survive, and I will pass along one piece of his advice. In Saint-Exupéry’s “Wisdom of the Sands,”he wrote: “As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.”
Wikipedia - Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor and United States Naval Aviator. He was the first person to walk on the Moon. Before becoming an astronaut, Armstrong was a United States Navy officer and had served in the Korean War. After the war, he served as a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics High-Speed Flight Station, now known as the Dryden Flight Research Center, where he logged over 900 flights. He graduated from Purdue University and the University of Southern California.

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